Guardians Prospect Andrew Misiaszek Knows His Blueprint For Success

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Checking in at no. 47 on our recently published Cleveland Guardians prospect list, Andrew Misiaszek was drafted in a round that no longer exists. Taken with the 23rd pick of the 2019 draft’s 32nd round, he had pitched four years at Northeastern University, serving mainly as a reliever and eventually as the team’s closer. Since being drafted, he has worked his way up the minor league ladder, finishing 2022 in Triple-A Columbus.

Beginning last season in Double-A, Misiaszek dominated to the tune of a 0.56 ERA in 32 innings. After he was promoted to the highest level of the minors, he threw 29.2 additional innings of 3.64-ERA ball while striking out over 32% of the batters he faced. I spoke with him early last December about the various mechanical adjustments he has made in the minors, as well as his progress in connecting the dots in his repertoire and how that has impacted his blueprint for success.

Esteban Rivera: What point are you at in your offseason as the winter starts?

Andrew Misiaszek: “I just got into our complex in Arizona last night. This is the earliest I’ve been out here since we all came after the draft in December 2019.”

Rivera: Do you have any specific goals in mind while you’re out there?

Misiaszek: “We’re velocity training here. I’m using the first half of the offseason to try and tack on a little more velo by moving a bit faster and getting myself into better positions.”

Rivera: Where do you think there’s room for improvement in your mechanics?

Misiaszek: “I actually made a significant velocity jump last year. In 2021, I was sitting 89 and topping 91. Last year, I ranged from 90-95. By the end of the season, I averaged 93. I’m trying to get a little more out my body so I can average 93-plus for the entire season. A big reason for my jump last year was getting my body composition in a much better spot. From 2020 to spring training ’22 I dropped about 7% of my body fat and added more lean muscle.”

Rivera: And that allowed you to fix parts of your delivery?

Misiaszek: “Yeah. I started to get my arm up in a better position at foot strike by leveraging my pec during my delivery. Part of that change in sequencing was lengthening my arm path more compared to what it was in ’19 and ’20. I had a short and more stabby arm path that forced me to be pushy at ball release.”

Rivera: Were there any specific cues you had in mind that helped you get into those positions?

Misiaszek: “I told myself to throw with my armpit when I initially started to make the change. A lower half cue that allowed me to better sequence my hip rotation was to close off to the plate when coming set.”

Rivera: Did you have any specific drills you used to try and engage the pec more? I know that mobility in that muscle is an important part of the delivery for trying to get out of a pushy or late arm state.

Misiaszek: “Yes, that’s 100% right. There were a few things that I did. Part of it was consistent deep tissue work, another was corrective exercises, but plyo drills really hammered it home for me. A huge breakthrough for me was pre-setting my throwing arm in the position I wanted it to be in during my plyo ball drills. I alternated between a pre-set throw and regular throw in 10-toe drills, figure eights, step backs, etc.”

Rivera: That makes a ton of sense. You basically had to remind your body how it felt until it was permanently engraved.

Misiaszek: “Exactly. And it took a long time to really feel it on the mound. It can still be better, but I’m comfortable with where it’s at right now.”

Rivera: When you were doing this, how did you keep in mind that you needed to preserve your fastball shape?

Misiaszek: “So, I did end up losing a few inches of vertical break on my fastball, but a lot of that break came from a pushy arm action. But my arm slot actually ended up lowering a little bit as well, so my vertical approach angle on the fastball improved. The sacrifice of a little vertical break for an improved vertical approach angle was well worth it, though, since my fastball is playing even better at the top of the zone.”

Rivera: Related to that, was there any impact on your breaking and offspeed pitches?

Misiaszek: “My gyro slider ticked up from 78-82 in ’21 to 82-87 last season. The changeup got a bit better in terms of the entire profile, but I still want to kill more velocity off it and get it to the low 80s so it can be a more viable option against righties.”

Rivera: So basically, you’re looking to create a three-pitch mix with three levels of velocity separation?

Misiaszek: “Yes, exactly.”

Rivera: Generally speaking, do you think you handle lefties better because the slider is such a weapon against them?

Misiaszek: “Yeah, my splits this year were tighter than in the past, but I generally have batter command against lefties.”

Rivera: Do you think that’s a mental thing?

Misiaszek: “I think it stems from not having my changeup where it needs to be. Knowing that I have to get my slider in a more precise location against righties opens up room for misses. Against lefties, I can trust the slider anywhere in or around the zone. With a more consistent changeup at a slightly lower velo, I think I’ll have the confidence to attack with my heater and play the other two pitches off of it.”

Rivera: You have your blueprint then, and it’s just a matter of executing it.

Misiaszek: “Exactly. After seeing some advanced stats on my fastball at the end of the season, I realized how unique it is, and now I know more than ever to trust it in the zone to both sides. I don’t have to be too fine with it.”

Rivera: Let’s end it with this. What is your favorite part about being in an organization that’s known for its pitching development?

Misiaszek: “The environment is unreal here. I think we do an awesome job of drafting guys with similar mindsets and work ethics. It pairs very well with the support staff we have. We also build an awesome culture, too. It makes it so much easier to show up every day, continue to want to improve, and grow both physically and mentally.”

Esteban is a contributing writer at FanGraphs. You can also find his work at Pinstripe Alley if you so dare to read about the Yankees. Find him on Twitter @esteerivera42 for endless talk about swing mechanics.

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