LHP, Seattle Mariners Organization
Rob Kaminsky was drafted in the first round by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2013. He made his MLB debut with the Cardinals in 2020, pitching to a 1.93 ERA in five appearances during that COVID season.
Yet, he still wanted more of a professional routine. More eyes on him to make sure he was always on the right path. More clarity on what he should be throwing. That’s when the Driveline connections started to happen.
One day it was a Twitter back-and-forth between Kaminsky and Driveline’s Director of Pitching Chris Langin–and the left-hander liked what Langing was saying. At that same time he was playing with Jackson Sigman, now a Pitching Coordinator at Driveline, with the Arkansas Travelers, the Double A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners.
The two talked Driveline a lot, and Kaminsky put plans together to train over the offseason in Seattle. Then, plans changed.
“I liked what [Langin] was doing, so I decided why not hire Driveline to get some more eyes on me and get stuff figured out,” Kaminsky said. “I was going to do it in the offseason, but [last May] I figured why not do it now, what’s the wait?”
Since he was in the middle of the season, Kaminsky didn’t have time to get out to Seattle for a motion capture. He set one up in St. Louis and sent it out to Driveline, and Driveline sent feedback so that he could train remotely.
Kaminsky immediately started tinkering with with The Blob, a tool in TRAQx that allows athletes to input pitch data and see how it grades out in Stuff+. Seattle had talked to him about throwing a cutter, and it turned out he had pretty good ingredients for one.
That cutter, along with a sinker and slider to round out his repertoire, has proven to be a successful pitch mix for Kaminsky. After missing out on Spring Training in 2022 waiting for an opportunity, Kaminsky appeared 39 times out of the bullpen for the Travelers. Over his final 30 appearances, starting at the time he signed on with Driveline in late May, he pitched to a 2.51 ERA with a .153 batting average against.
That stretch was plenty to convince Seattle to re-sign Kaminsky, and send him to Triple A Tacoma to start this season. There, he currently holds a 3.52 ERA with nine strikeouts in 7.2 innings.
In between those two stops at Double A Arkansas and Triple A Tacoma? A trip to the World Baseball Classic playing for Team Israel.
“That was the coolest thing,” Kaminsky said. “It was the best time I’ve ever had playing baseball. I don’t even know how to describe it. People have asked, and I don’t know what to say. It was the best few weeks of my career.”
Kaminsky’s adrenaline gets pumping any time his name gets called down in the bullpen, he said. It got pumping a little extra when he got the call against the Dominican Republic, tasked with facing the heart of that order.
He got Juan Soto to roll over to first base for the first out. Julio Rodriguez beat out an infield single next, but Kaminsky got Manny Machado to ground into a double play to end the inning. He got sent out for one more hitter the next inning – Rafael Devers flew out to center field, and Kaminsky’s WBC experience was a success.
“You’re facing Hall of Famers in a competitive environment in front of 40,000 people. It’s the kind of thing you dream about as a kid.”
The next dream Kaminsky wants to realize is getting back to the Big Leagues – this time with fans in the stadium. He knows he has all the tools at his disposal to make it a reality, and a whole lot of people in Seattle, both inside and outside of the Mariners organization, on his side.