Editor’s Note: Twenty-five-year old Mossy Oak Pro David Buchanan from Atlanta, Georgia, is living every young baseball player’s dream. He's a starting pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies professional baseball team. He made his debut in the Major Leagues on May 24, 2014, after signing a contract to play in the Philadelphia Phillies program in 2010.
I think my toughest game in the Major Leagues was when I was pitching for the Philadelphia Phillies against the Atlanta Braves. Atlanta was my hometown, and my entire family and a lot of friends, turned out to see me pitch. Atlanta was where I was raised and where I played all my baseball until I went to college. I was appearing on the biggest baseball stage in Atlanta as a pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies. I put a lot of pressure on myself, because I was trying to impress all my friends and family. On that day, in that game, and at that time, I didn’t pitch a very good baseball game. Looking back at the game, I realize now that I added a lot of pressure that really wasn’t there. But the first time you pitch in the Major Leagues with the bleachers full of family and friends, you want to show off your best stuff. I only pitched four innings in that game.
One of the biggest frustrations for a pitcher is when you feel like you’re throwing the ball where it’s supposed to go, and it doesn’t go where you’ve intended it to go. Then as the catcher throws the ball back to me, I’m wondering, “Why did that ball not do what it should do? What am I doing wrong? What kind of adjustments do I need to make, so the next time I pitch, the ball will do what it’s supposed to do?” Every pitch is an adjustment, and you have to make those adjustments in a very short time. The pitcher has a lot to think about before he makes his next pitch. Each pitch is a battle between me and the batter with thousands of people in the stands and often on television watching the outcome of that one pitch. So, I have to prepare myself every day and before every game to try and succeed at the highest level possible.
I've often been asked, “Why do you like that kind of pressure?” I've learned that the more pressure I face, the greater the reward when I'm successful. I also have the pressure of knowing that there are very few people in the world who can do what I do, at the level I'm playing. So, I take a lot of pride in that. Only 150 people in the world are Major League pitchers in the United States, out of the millions of youngsters who play baseball every season and hope to get to where I am. Knowing that I'm one of those 150 people is very humbling to me. I want to do the very best I can with each pitch, every game, each week and every season to stay at that 150 professional baseball pitcher level.
I'm often asked, “David, what are your best three pitches?” I always answer, “The three pitches that get me the most strikes that day.” Another question I'm often asked is, “How fast is your fastest fast ball?” My fastest pitch is in the low 90 mph. But to get my fast ball faster, I'm doing some exercises to strengthen my arms. Besides the fast ball, I like to throw a sinker ball, a cut fast ball, a change-up and a curve ball. If you’re wondering - a cut fast ball is a fast ball, but at the last second before the ball reaches the plate, the ball will bite the air and come down about 5 or 6 inches and just misses the barrel of the bat. I’ve seen some other pitchers having a lot of success with this particular pitch. I thought if I could have the ball spinning in the opposite direction as its path of flight, I could put a little something extra on the ball to fool the batter. This pitch came natural to me. The more I practiced it, the better I could throw it. The cut fast ball has been a really good weapon for me to use to defeat batters.
For more about David Buchanan and the Philadelphia Phillies, go to philadelphia.phillies.mlb.com.