Shane Reynolds during Spring Training (Getty)
In the first installment of BravesCenter's summer interviews series, we interview Bobby Eggleston, the head baseball coach for Kinkaid High School in Houston, who was an integral part in getting Shane Reynolds back on the road to Major League Baseball after being cut by the Houston Astros during Spring Training.
Shane Reynolds, who has been a pleasant surprise so far this season for the Atlanta Braves was cut by the Houston Astros during Spring Training. The Astros cited their reasons for releasing Reynolds as economical, and a drastic decrease in velocity in his pitches.
After his release, Shane Reynolds that he needed to keep himself in rhythm if he wanted to start the season in the Major Leagues, so he called Kinkaid High School in Houston, Texas and asked if he could start a throwing program to keep himself in sync.
Here enters Bobby Eggleston, coach of Kinkaid's baseball team. After receiving a call from a friend asking if he would be interested in helping Reynolds out, Bobby invited Shane to come throw at Kinkaid and recounts with us his story.
Tell us the story behind Reynolds coming to pitch at Kinkaid.
When Shane was released by the Astros he came back into Houston and was talking to a friend of his by the name of John O'Malley, who is a lacrosse coach here at Kinkaid. Shane was telling John that he needed to keep up his throwing regimin and John responded by saying that he would check with me to see if he could throw at our school. Obviously, I said yes.
How did the simulated games progress? Did any of the players on your team help out?
When Shane threw his first simulated game, I had four or five of my seniors stand in there on him. It helped give him a true look of throwing to hitters. The second time he threw, I had our catcher get behind the plate with him. That was only a bullpen session. The next two times that he threw I got behind the plate for his next two simulated games. He started out by preparing just like it was a game day: 30 minutes of stretching and light weight workout followed by twenty minutes of throwing and getting loose. When he started his game, he would do it just as though he was throwing in a real game, 7-8 warm up pitches and then he would begin his inning with me calling the pitches. I had an assistant coach, Steve Leisz, either stand in as a left or right handed hitter. Shane would throw in the 15-20 pitch per inning range and if he threw a pitch down the middle it would be considered a base hit. After three outs Shane would go to the dugout, get a drink of water, sit for 5-7 minutes and go out and do it again. Normally, it would go 5-6 innings.
Were you present at any of the times where scouts from Major League teams came to look at Reynolds pitch? If so, how did that work?
The last simulated game had about 10-11 scouts from various teams, Braves, Rangers, Reds, Yankees etc. They wanted to make sure that his back was ok by seeing him throw an inning, sit for a while and then have to get back up and throw again. He did this without any problem. One of the scouts said, "Was this guy even hurt?"
Having personally caught Reynolds during some of the simulated games, what kind of stuff does he have?
Shane is the type of pitcher that nibbles at the plate throwing the four seam and the two seam fastball and the splitter. He also has a pretty tight curve. I felt pretty comfortable catching him because he was always throwing with great control.
How much do you believe the back injury has affected him over the past few seasons?
The back injury obviously bothered him over the past couple of years with the Astros, but I never saw him flinch one time while he was out here. He never complained about the back and he never showed that it was bothering him at all.
Considering the type of pitcher he is, how well do you believe he fits in with the Braves.
I think that Atlanta is a great place for Shane. Leo Mazzone has dealt with pitchers just like him in Glavine and Maddox. If I am not mistaken, Mazzone's philosophy is not how hard you throw, it's where the ball ends up.
There is no doubt that Shane still believes that he can pitch in the big leagues and he is proving that he is correct. He is a quality person that has done alot for the community here in Houston. Everyone here at Kinkaid wishes Shane the best of luck