Ruffnecks Pitchers Benefit From Blake Effect

Monday, May 12th, 2014

This post was first published at here and I would like to thank the New England Ruffnecks for kindly allowing republishing here.

Pitching Coordinator and Seniors/18U Pitching Coach, Matt Blake has had a positive impact on the Ruffnecks program for the past five years.  Blake joined the Ruffnecks program in 2009 and enters his sixth season with the Ruffnecks in 2014.  During that time Matt Blake’s hard work, his passion for pitching, and his relentless pursuit of the most current information regarding the science of pitching have earned him the reputation as one of the foremost pitching instructors in New England.  Coach Blake enjoys notoriety well beyond the borders of the region.  Vanderbilt University Head Coach Tim Corbin regards Blake as a valuable resource for identifying talent in the northeast.  New York Yankees scout Matt Hyde uses Coach Blake as another set of eyes in the capacity of an associate scout.  Hyde comments, “Matt has a great ability to teach, and he also understands that each pitcher is different.  He has a great feel for the mechanics of the delivery and what leads individual pitchers to give themselves the best chance for success.”

The beneficiaries of Matt Blake’s efforts are his students, many of whom are Ruffnecks.  The “Blake Effect” ripples through the college ranks with Ruffnecks alums such as Adam Ravenelle (Vanderbilt), John Gorman (Boston College), Thomas Crispi (Columbia), Keelan Smithers (Princeton), Max Tishman (Wake Forest), David St. Lawrence (Brown), Tim Superko (Tufts), and others enjoying the experience of pitching at the collegiate level.  Third round pick Jordan Cote of the New York Yankees credits his Ruffnecks experience under Coach Blake as instrumental in his career path.

Four Ruffnecks Hurl No-Hitters this Spring in High School

At the high school level, Matt Blake has contributed to the success of many more Ruffnecks.  Four current Ruffnecks have thrown no-hitters for their high school teams this spring of 2014: Joe Walsh (Plymouth North), Jack Dolan (Wellesley HS), Brooks Parker (Weston HS) and Matt Messier (Lake Region Union HS – Vermont).  Sid Warrenbrand of Lincoln-Sudbury also pitched a 1 hitter with 15 K’s to his credit.  Coach Blake is the pitching coach at Lincoln-Sudbury where he teams with Head Coach Kirk Fredericks to form a formidable coaching staff for the perennial Massachusetts contender.  Fredericks also serves as a Ruffnecks skipper (16U Ruffnecks) during the summer.

Pitching Coaches: A Staff Priority

The contributions are not solely the result of Matt Blake’s efforts alone.  Nevertheless, Coach Blake has been instrumental in establishing a focused, deliberate, and systematic pitching culture in the Ruffnecks program since 2009… and each year it gets stronger.  The Ruffnecks prioritize pitching and are fortunate to have other talented pitching coaches on board.  Three years ago former Babson standout and Chicago Cubs draft pick Jason Kosow joined the staff.  His impact has also resonated throughout the program.  Kosow has worked tirelessly with each of the past three 13U teams all winter and through early June before moving to the 15U team during the summer months.  He provides a calming effect, knowledge about the craft of pitching, and hands-on involvement with every young Ruffnecks pitcher.  Kosow ushers pitchers along the journey as they discover the difficulties and complexities of pitching on the big diamond.  Blake acknowledges, “Kosow’s contribution provides an invaluable foundation for Ruffnecks pitchers.”  Coach Ted Novio (14U Ruffnecks) also brings a wealth of experience to the pitching culture in the program.  Novio pitched at the University of Maine during the glory years of the early 1990’s and coached in the Cape Cod League and in Europe for MLB International.  During the Fall and Winter Baseball sessions the Ruffnecks augment the staff with the likes of Brian Conroy (former Red Sox pitcher), Jack McGeary (currently with the LA Dodgers), and others.  Indeed, the Ruffnecks commit to having dedicated pitching coaches work with all our college prospect teams.  This means that our coaching staff for each team numbers three and sometimes four coaches.

But for many young Ruffnecks, the culture and the passion for pitching is defined by the enthusiasm and commitment of Matt Blake’s efforts.  Blake formed his own entity Elite Pitching Development, which he operates out of Cressey Performance in Hudson, MA.  Indeed, Blake and Cressey Performance have collaborated to provide tremendous resources for aspiring collegiate pitchers, professional pitchers, and high school pitchers throughout the region.  The synergy with a program such as the Ruffnecks is a natural one that attracts talented and focused pitchers to Ruffnecks rosters.  It has even generated referrals from college coaches interested in seeing future pitchers benefit from the Ruffnecks experience.  As one former Ruffnecks pitcher remarks, “You know the Ruffnecks aren’t going to just use you to win a tournament.  The coaches are careful and Coach Blake never puts winning first.”  We look forward to continued growth with Coach Blake and his efforts to contribute his expertise to the Ruffnecks and to the culture that will be established at the New England Baseball Complex in Northborough, Massachusetts.  He has been integrally involved in the design and considerations for planning and constructing the NEBC.

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