Michael Kohn was a senior catcher at College of Charleston when he tried a little experiment. He stepped on a mound, warmed up and made a handful of pitches.
One of the coaches had a radar gun on him and asked him how hard he thought he was throwing. Kohn hadn’t pitched since his freshman year at Camden High in South Carolina.
“I don’t know, 84?” he guessed.
Not quite, the coach said. Eight of his 10 pitches were at 96 or higher.
A pitcher was born that day, but Kohn, 24, never altered his delivery much and that’s part of the reason he could be a key reliever for the Angels this season.
A 13th-round draft pick in 2008, Kohn throws in the mid-90s with an unusual and deceptive short-arm delivery. He gets rid of the ball quickly, which is good for a quarterback and can be good for a pitcher. Hitters just don’t see it much.
“Being an infielder my entire life, short-arming was how I threw growing up,” Kohn said. “Nobody really ever tried to change me. They’re like, ‘Hey, he’s got a quick arm. That’s good for an infielder.’ I kept it as a pitcher.”
Kohn said he dealt with a “dead arm” period near the end of last season that accounted for a dip in velocity, to about 91 mph. His deception got him through -- he was 2-0 with a 2.11 ERA in 24 games after being recalled in late July -- but he could be more effective if he can return to mid-90s form.
“I don’t think velocity makes or breaks a pitcher,” Kohn said, “but to be a back-end bullpen guy, I’ll need to get back to my normal velocity.”