With arm injuries soaring in the game of baseball, the Nanaimo NightOwls are making an organizational statement that they hope will lead to more discussion on the stewardship of the game going forward.

From our small corner of the West Coast, the NightOwls are hoping to spark conversations by stating the following ideals with the players entrusted by college programs each summer:


1. Arm health will the the foundational tenet of player development

2. The team’s recruiting will prioritize “pitchability” (ie, command of pitches and throwing strikes) over velocity and spin rate

3. Placing as much (or more!) value on ground outs and fly ball outs as strikeouts

“We are blessed with an amazing coaching staff led by Greg Frady, with Sean FitzGerald and Gorm Heimueller,” said NightOwls GM Jim Swanson. “Our pitching coach, Gorm has been in the game nearly 50 years, the last three in Nanaimo — and this stated organizational philosophy comes from repeated internal discussions about what is best for athletes and their health.


“With a rash of major arm injuries in the game, and Tommy John surgeries seemingly commonplace, our organization believes athletes are trying to do things that are outside their long-term development capacity, and it’s to the detriment of the game at the college and pro level.”

Heimueller has served as a minor league pitching coach and coordinator for many MLB organizations, most recently with the Padres. He has World Series rings for his work with the Twins and Phillies.


With the NightOwls, Gorm has enjoyed working with them all — but especially strong-command pitchers such as Nathan Buchan, Garrett Goodall, Jake Fleury and Josh Laukkanen.


“Gorm loves to say he’s never seen a ground ball leave the park,” said Swanson.


“We see athletes on our team and others using max effort rather than prioritizing strikes — that makes for longer games, too, another focus in baseball. If someone can throw 97, with healthy actions and commanding the baseball, that’s great — but few can and let’s stop turning our backs on pitchers who can get people out with pitch location as the priority.


“There is too much focus on radar gun ratings, on spin rate readouts, and Gorm and our coaching staff will be developing and rewarding pitchers who locate pitches and get batters out.”


The NightOwls are excited about the player roster for the coming season, and the mix of pitchers on the roster — different styles, to create different looks and get the 27 outs required to win games.


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