Baltimore Orioles Organization
When Ryan Long made his first visit to Driveline in 2018, he was a self-proclaimed skinny, weak kid who had just finished up his freshman year at Division III Pomona Pitzer in Claremont, California.
At present, he’s a Baltimore Oriole farmhand who used his mid-90s fastball to strike out Mike Trout during last spring’s World Baseball Classic as a member of Team Great Britain.
How, exactly, did Long get from Point A to Point B? A good throwing program can do wonders, and as it turns out, that’s exactly what the doctor ordered back in 2018.
“My first year at school, I was injured most of the year,” Long said. “I realized I didn’t have a good training plan and didn’t have a sustainable way to stay healthy and keep improving. I was kind of on my own, just doing stuff.”
Enter Driveline. Long, who grew up about 35 minutes away from Kent in Woodinville, Washington, had heard about and knew of guys who had trained at Driveline and loved it, so he figured he’d give it a shot.
It was pretty eye-opening for him.
“There were a lot of different things that I could do better,” Long said. “My lower half wasn’t working very efficiently. I didn’t have good hip-shoulder separation. I was just kind of moving down the mound without any sort of purpose or intention.”
Long is a tough self-critic – he actually came to Driveline with a lot of tools already in his tool box. It was just a matter of learning how to use those tools in concert with each other to build something that would strike out modern day Mickey Mantle in the World Baseball Classic.
Maybe that wasn’t exactly the goal at first, but Driveline pitching trainer Juan Rodriguez knew Long had good stuff back then.
Long basically followed a “What To Expect When You’re Expecting To Throw Hard” plan when he first got to the facility. Driveline has drills and strength programs that help you throw harder, but before you get to that point, you have to properly learn how to do those drills.
As time moved on, his training got more refined. These days when he’s throwing, he’s really focusing on his scap retraction during his pivot picks, or he’s really trying to stay back with his upper half while he moves down the mound. Something along those lines.
The foundation Long laid by learning Driveline’s throwing program, paired with training that specifically targeted his needs, has led to Long’s professional success.
In just over 60 innings at High A Aberdeen this past summer, Long pitched to a 2.52 ERA and punched out 71 hitters before getting a promotion to Double A Bowie.
All that from a guy whose fastball was topping out at 90 mph and sitting around 88 mph when he first visited Driveline five years ago.