Chris Ruckdeschel needed a chance to pitch. With baseball games halted everywhere, the Florida state right-hander went back home in March and found a familiar spot to work out: his front yard.
“Once I came home from Florida State, I never stopped throwing,” Ruckdeschel said. “I have a net that I set up in front of my house and I would just throw flat grounds for a while until parks started opening up again and I started throwing bullpens again.”
Ruckdeschel felt he was able to fine-tune his change-up and was able to get plenty of work in. While his plans to play in one summer league fell through, he soon received a text from the South Florida Collegiate Baseball League asking if he would return for a second summer. For the native of Davie, Fla., the decision was easy as he could live at home and play baseball for the Boca Raton Blazers.
“It has been fun to be out there,” Ruckdeschel said. “Met a lot of cool people. It has been huge for me to try to develop other pitches. I’ve been trying to throw three or four pitches for a strike consistently. Just get back to the roots and figure out what I can do to improve as a pitcher.”
FSU and the rest of the college baseball world played their last games on March 11, nearly four months ago. A number of Seminoles have found a summer home the past few weeks as Robby Martin and Reese Albert are playing for the Orlando Scorpions, Parker Messick and Bryce Hubbart are pitching for the Winter Garden Squeeze and Doug Kirkland and Danny Andzel are playing for the Sanford River Rats of the Florida Collegiate Summer League. Brandon Walker is also pitching for the Savannah Bananas in the Coastal Plain League.
Ruckdeschel didn’t play this spring for FSU, throwing bullpen sessions and live at-bats during intrasquad games. But Ruckdeschel has made the most of his relief chances this summer, striking out nine batters in 6.1 innings while allowing three runs.
The time on the mound has helped Ruckdeschel develop his four pitches – a two-seam fastball, slider, curveball and change-up. Ruckdeschel says he can see the development in the change-up and feels the slider is more pronounced now.
“It’s a great league for me to face great hitters and learn how I should be pitching people, when to use pitches and learning how to locate,” Ruckdeschel said. “It will only be a huge benefit when I come back to Florida State.”
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