Héctor Berrios: “I think Aroldis Chapman is going to have an outstanding season.”

Hector Berrios has a lot of experience working with MLB teams. The former hurler has worked and pitched on the farms of various Major League teams. During his time in the minors with the Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Dodgers, California Angels, Kansas City Royals and Chicago Cubs he amassed a 31-25 record, 3.90 ERA and 11 saves.

In his 473 ⅔ innings pitched the Puerto Rican lefty fanned 435 and had a 1.44 WHIP. After his playing days ended, Berrios worked in the minors with the Phillies, Blue Jays, Mets and Dodgers. Today Berrios trains pitchers in his own practice and judging by the results of those pitchers it can be said that he has a great mastery over the art of pitching.

The list of players who have trained with Berrios includes Cubans Vladimir Gutiérrez, Johan Oviedo, Luis Danys Morales, Rubén Menes and Ronald Bolaños. This winter the pitching guru worked with one of the most dominant closers of our era, the lefty from Holguin,Cuba, Aroldis Chapman.

Although the Cuban flamethrower has only two innings pitched so far this season, he has struck out four and hasn’t allowed an earned run. The Cuban has regained supersonic speed on his pitches reaching a staggering 104 mph on the radar gun. Judging by the fast start to his season the planets might be lining up for a stellar campaign for “The Cuban Missle” in Kansas City.

You have worked with quite a few Cubans is there any method or technique you use when working with them?

When I work with Cubans or any other nationality I use a system that I learned via three decades of experience in professional baseball as a pitcher and coach.

Aroldis Chapman look like a totally different pitcher this season, on what did you work with him during the offseason? In other words, what deficiencies did you have to correct?

The work with Chapman was a special project for me as well as for him. At the end of last season in New York was in a dire situation in reference to his mechanics and performance. He recognized that he needed to make adjustments and finding himself as a pitcher was the only option. He had inadvertently changed his mechanics and that was where we started the reconstruction. We also worked with his grip and the pressure he put on the baseball to make him feel the effect of a whip as the ball left his fingers.

Following that we started in the visual and mental part of pitching. We worked on throwing the ball with his eyes closed to the point that he was comfortable and relying on his physical position through space while maintaining ground connection to release the ball. Then we entered the visual stage, which was to see a very small point in the glove to hit, basically where the light come through the webbing. If he missed he still he was still within the glove. “Aim small , miss small”, as the phrase goes. And finally we positioned eight gloves positioned in strategic areas in the strike zone , these gloves are in areas where MLB pitchers need to execute their pitches in order to have success. Chapman had hit these targets during the process.

How did you help Chapman regain his velocity from previous years?

We used a technique that combines the pitcher’s body weight with the ground forces and utilizes them together to maximize his output or torque, this results in more velocity.

Do you have any predictions on what type of season Chapman is going to have?

I think Chapman is going to have an outstanding season not just because of his velocity, but because he’s combining it with command. And we haven’t even mentioned his slider that comes at 90 mph, his split finger is also around the same speed and he has developed his changeup to an above average pitch. With this repertoire his set to compete with anyone this season.

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