We’re just fiddling with [the curveball]. We’re still working on pitch design just a little bit, but the curveball is definitely gonna be the one that we’re gonna be messing around with a lot of changing grips, changing arm slots.Luke Little
A special thanks to Luke Little for joining
If you only know Luke Little from his Instagram posts where he showcased ridiculous velocity, then you aren’t alone. Little received widespread attention after he showed a video hitting 102 mph and then followed up with another hitting 105 mph. For reference, the record for a pitch was a 105.8 mph fastball from former Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman. That Chapman pitch was originally listed as 105.1 mph, but that has been officially changed to 105.8 mph. Little acknowledged the notoriety from sharing his heat on social media; however, for a player trying to put himself in a solid position to be drafted, even he couldn’t have imagined major league all-stars reaching out to him.
“It was honestly crazy to me. Because when I was in college, my bullpens weren’t that intensified like I was I couldn’t get up into the upper 90s, like I do in games and bullpens just because the intensity wasn’t there for me, but I was on a new throwing program once the season got caught so I was on, I was just feeling so much better and then bullpen comes around. I wasn’t expecting much come to find out I was sitting like 100 and that bullpen. And then I posted all that I posted on Twitter posted on Instagram he got so much buzz. And then two weeks later I had the 105 and I posted that on Twitter post that on Instagram and that way, crazy, on, on Twitter I had like almost a million views. And some of the stars that had reached out to me like Christian Yelich had retweeted my stuff, talking about bats and stuff. And then I posted on my Instagram story and Josh Donaldson was DM’ing me a little bit about it so I thought it was really cool to talk to those two. Of course, since those are two of the best players in the league right now of course Christian Yelich is probably top five in the league right now. So it was all crazy.
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There’s no denying that velocity will be Luke Little’s calling card. Whether he’s bringing heat out of the pen or trying to maintain velocity in a starter’s role, the fastball will be a critical pitch for Little to command and execute. Elite velocity from the left side is still elite velocity from the left side. However, Little knows that his fastball can only take him so far. As he builds up to prepare for his first professional, pitch design of his other three pitches (curveball, slider, changeup) is a key focus. The curveball, in particular, is the pitch that has Little intrigued about its future projection. I asked him if he would be adopting the spike-curve (like so many of the Cubs pitchers have), and Little noted that he and the pitching development staff are still in the design phase for the pitch.
“We’re just kind of fiddling around with it,” Little said. “We’re still working on pitch design just a little bit, but the curveball is definitely gonna be the one that we’re gonna be messing around with a lot of changing grips, changing arm slots. So that’s going to be the big kind of construction pitch.”
As soon as the Cubs called Luke Little’s name during the 4th round of the 2020 draft, I remember hearing commentary that the Cubs took the two best left-handed relief pitchers in the draft. Admittedly, I thought the same. With his elite velocity, the Cubs could have Little focus on one secondary pitch and fast-track him out of the pen. There’s always a possibility that the future plays out exactly as advertised, but he’s open to any role, according to Little. As someone who has started and relieved in his collegiate career, Little acknowledges each role’s different mentality.
“I think when I come in to start, I have to be a little bit more strategic just because all my pitches have to be working. When I’m coming in as relief, obviously in college, I could work off a fastball and just kind of stick with that just because of how explosive it was (especially in a junior college setting, or even in a college setting). But I think, definitely starting, I’ll have to be more strategic in getting all four pitches down in the bullpen before [being on] the mound. And then also, I’m not supposed to (I’m not allowing myself to) go out there and blow it out in the first inning. Whereas, if I’m coming in for a relief appearance or closing appearance, which is what I like, I could go out there and blow it out. And if anything happens, I have a secondary pitch or slider, and I don’t really need a change[up] or breaking ball.”
Luke Little may have received major publicity with velocity readings, but he knows there’s more to a pitcher than bringing the heat. He’s eager to get involved work with the pitch development team. Most fans first heard about the anything but “little” lefthander after he posted those tweets, but Luke Little is excited to make many more highlights in his future.
Full interview coming soon to
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