Milwaukee’s Peter Strzelecki wants to be a model

© Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

Peter Strzelecki is a success story who also strives to be a role model. Signed by the Milwaukee Brewers as an amateur free agent after being bypassed in the 2018 draft, the University of South Florida right-hander is now thriving as a 27-year-old rookie. Since his major league debut on June 2, Strzelecki has come out of the Brewers bullpen 13 times and allowed five earned runs in 16 innings. Quietly effective, he returned 15 hits, issued seven free passes and whipped up 20 batters.

Strzelecki discussed the repertoire and mindset that brought him to Milwaukee, and how his rags-to-riches journey can serve as an inspiration to others, when the Brewers played at Fenway Park in late July.

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Going from undrafted to reaching the major leagues:

“It’s mostly about having great self-confidence and having a lot of good people around me. It started with the scout who signed me, and then there’s my support system – my family and everyone else.

“I have definitely improved. At the same time, I always felt like I had the thing. It’s more the way the brewers helped me know how to use it. When you get to a level like this… in the major leagues, everyone has good things, so it’s a question of how you can best execute them. The location of the land is one of them.

“Another thing is that I had to prove myself over a long period of time. I had to prove to anybody that my stuff was good enough, that I was good enough, to pitch at this level.

On learning how his tricks play best:

“I had really good numbers in college, so I felt confident there. But before, everyone was preaching to throw low in the zone, throw low and far. When I got to High-A, my pitching coach, Cam Castro, said, “Hey, you know you might throw up in the zone.” As a guy who doesn’t throw 100 mph, I never thought I’d be a guy to throw the ball up there. But since… I mean, it’s helped my other stuff, and my fastball is playing better too.

“[Castro] said that my lower exit height, my slit, my entry level… it’s a whole bunch of stuff, analytically, that I had no idea that I’m starting to learn. I don’t have a super high vertical break on my fastball like a lot of guys, but because of the way my arm lunge is, it plays like it’s way above average.

On his arm cleft and deceit:

“I’m below three-quarters, I’m not a sub or a handgun, but I’m a little below three-quarters. I also throw on my body. Some guys told me it looked a little weird, a little different. I had a guy tell me it looked like it was coming out of my armpit.

On its secondary grounds:

“I’m a three-length guy. I was a rookie in college and was able to use all three as relief, both in the minors and here. I’m launching a lot of changes. It’s a direct change, but I’m tucking in my thumb. I am able to create movement by the way I pronounce the ball. I know my cursor spins a lot. I was told there were over 3,000 [rpm] often enough.

On his state of mind on the mound:

“Honestly, the way I think about throwing is… I mean, hitting is hard and throwing is hard. Neither is easy at this level. I’m just trying to simplify things and take it step by step. I give all the hitters credit — especially at this level, because they’re so good — so I focus on every pitch like it’s the most important thing in the game. That’s how I go about it. I never take anyone lightly, no matter where I am or who I’m dealing with. I’ve always had that mindset, and luckily it brought me here.

On how not being drafted got him a chip on his shoulder and being a role model:

“That was definitely a motivation. I have several motivations. It’s one of them, and I’m also thinking about doing it for people in my situation. I have a lot of buddies who weren’t drafted. When I went up, I met people who got by without [being drafted] and that gave me both motivation and hope. I want to be that person for those people. I want to show them that while it might be a little harder and it might take a little longer, as long as you work hard and stay focused and confident, it can happen. You can access the major leagues.

Rebecca R. Santistevan