LVBA Spotlight Series

Q: Over the last four years, the Allentown Railers of the local Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League have been hugely successful (three straight championships—’15, ’16, ‘17). Much of that success can be traced back to the dominance of their pitching staff (led ACBL in fewest runs allowed from ’15—’17, fewest hits allowed from ‘’15-’17, fewest walks allowed from ’14-’17, and most strikeouts from ’14-’17). What do you think has been behind this level of success for Allentown Railers’ pitchers?

A:

Dylan Dando

Allentown Railers Field Manager

In Allentown, it obviously starts with the players we recruit. Some of the key things I'm looking for are guys that don't walk people, that have the ability to command two pitches, the ability to get outs on their own, and being able to understand and embrace their role once they join the team. We're one of the few teams in the league that has set roles for the entire pitching staff. These roles can change based on performance, but they are set prior to the season starting. I'm not necessarily just recruiting pitchers with the best “stuff,” but also guys that fit into important roles. Obviously, top-of-the-rotation starters and back-end relievers are premium pieces of the staff, but it’s also essential to have multiple “looks” out of the pen. In other words, opposing hitters won’t see back-to-back guys coming out of our pen with the same arm slot or repertoire. We are constantly mixing up our bullpen looks to keep hitters off balance.

Sean Heimpel

Allentown Railers Pitching Coach

The Railers pitching staffs have been very successful and led in almost every pitching category over the past several years for a couple of reasons. The number one reason is that we don’t walk people—we have guys that are able to go out on the mound, and execute our game plan. The second reason is that Dylan and I are able to control and coordinate the defense’s positioning and the decisions of our battery pitch-by-pitch, which simplifies things for the pitchers. We tell all of our pitchers just to worry about what they can control—focusing on executing one pitch at a time. The third reason for our success is that we’ve had numerous talented pitchers who have not only been capable of our executing our game plan on a regular basis, but they have been coachable enough to buy into our pitching philosophy—that’s a recipe for success. Finally, our overall philosophy has been to make batters try to hit “our pitch,” or in other words, pitching to our strengths. Well-located fastballs and sliders away have always been Railers staples.”