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OU baseball: Damien Magnifico's 100 mph pitch draws a crowd

Sooner pitcher Damien Magnifico is getting plenty of attention for his velocity, but he had struggled with control in the past.
BY JOHN HELSLEY Published: April 19, 2012
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Golloway and Magnifico watched tapes of Nolan Ryan, another power arm who had adjusted to his own gifts before becoming one of baseball's legendary pitchers. From Ryan, they learned from the forward momentum he gained with his knee-to-chest windup, which was in contrast to Magnifico's motion that tended to lean back.

Then there was the epiphany Magnifico experienced in his hotel room in College Station, Texas, watching Detroit Tigers' star Justin Verlander pitch effectively in the low-to-mid 90s, with the ability to dial it up a few notches when necessary.

“I watched Verlander pitch against the Red Sox,” Magnifico said. “He was at 91 or 93, then he'd bump it up when he needed to.”

With adjustments to his setup, and his approach, Magnifico was magnificent against Arkansas. He pitched to contact low in the strike zone at times, yet also reminded the Razorbacks he had that 100 mph bullet in the chamber, too.

That one outing doesn't mean Magnifico has figured it all out.

A former high school standout from Mesquite, Texas, Magnifico was a fifth-round draft pick by the New York Mets in 2009, yet didn't come to terms on a pro contract and instead landed in junior college. An arm injury resulted in a redshirt season his first year at Howard College. Then last year, he posted a 3-2 record and 5.23 earned run average in limited innings, due to the lack of control.

Now he's throwing harder than ever, with the 100 mph readings representing a magic number for him, too.

“This is the first year that my velocity has bumped up,” Magnifico said. “God gave me a gift. That's all I can ask for. How I harness it is going to tell how it eventually plays out, really.”

And Magnifico's bound to draw a crowd for his journey. More than a dozen scouts showed up for one of his scheduled outings — in the fall.

“It's like a 7-footer in basketball,” said one area scout. “You can't teach height and you can't teach velocity. That's what makes those guys different.

“It doesn't ensure success, but it's something we just can't teach. And it's attractive.”

And it's rare.

That same scout said in all his years of scouting, he's personally seen three pitchers touch 100 mph. Meek, in the scouting business since the early 90s, reported similar experiences.

“There are a few guys who do it in the major leagues,” Meek said. “But I would still say you could probably count on two hands the guys who will touch 100. I'd say probably between five and 10 in the whole major leagues, and that's the best of the best.

“And there are a few guys in the minor leagues who would throw up to that. But very few.

“It's very much a magic number.”


Coming up

Cowboys

Friday: Texas Tech, 6:30 p.m.

Saturday: Texas Tech, 2 p.m.

Sunday: Texas Tech, 1 p.m.

Tuesday: Oklahoma, 6:30 p.m.

April 27: at Kansas State, 6:30 p.m.

April 28: at Kansas State, 4 p.m.

April 29: at Kansas State, noon

Sooners

Friday: Alabama State, 6:30 p.m.

Saturday: Alabama State, 2 p.m.

Sunday: Alabama State, 1 p.m.

Tuesday: at Oklahoma State, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday: Dallas Baptist, 6:30 p.m.

April 27: at Kansas, 6 p.m.

April 28: at Kansas, 6 p.m.

April 29: at Kansas, noon

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