Thursday, December 14, 2017
Sports

Brandon High senior evolves from thrower to pitcher

BRANDON — All eyes are on the man on the mound.

In baseball, there are throwers and pitchers. More often than not, most at the high school level are the former.

Chris Toney is now the latter.

"He wasn't always that way," Brandon coach Matt Stallbaumer said. "Chris would, like most pitchers, try to throw the fastball by everyone or throw that nasty breaking pitch. But he's learned to become a pitcher."

That transformation has been a work in progress for the senior right-hander. Toney, who has been an integral part of Brandon's club since he was a freshman, has evolved from a thrower to a pitcher.

"His main goal coming into the season was to limit the walks and work on his control," Stallbaumer said. "And with the new BBCOR bats, there's now reason to do that. He understands that."

Toney, who was 5-1, a 1.19 ERA and 43/7 K-to-BB split in 41.1 innings as of press time, tweaked his pitching philosophy — and delivery — over the summer.

"I did some work with coach Gary (Cates Jr.) on my release," Toney said. "He suggested I drop down a little. It was comfortable."

By "dropping down," Cates was referring to Toney's arm slot, which had typically been at a three-fourths angle. Cates got Toney to throw more sidearm, which facilitated a different action on the ball.

"I do it about 25 percent of the time now," Toney said. "But I can throw any of my pitches, except for my curveball, from that angle."

The side-winding arm slot helps Toney's fastball and change­up dip down toward right-handed hitters. His cutter has different movement to it as well, giving Toney four legitimate pitches.

"He doesn't have that overwhelming fastball but because of the movement and location, he's been outstanding," Stallbaumer said. "He's really come a long way since (his freshman year)."

Toney has also assumed the role of leader on the team.

"When I came in here as a freshman, the team was already pretty set and I was just trying to help out any way I could," Toney said.

Stallbaumer said that has changed the past two years.

"Before he was a follower because of the guys we had," he said. "Now he's a leader."

When not pitching, Toney has been playing all over the field for the Eagles.

"We were joking the other day about Buster Posey when he played every position in a game for FSU," Stallbaumer said. "(Toney) even wants to catch."

Toney has played every outfield position, shortstop and first base when not on the mound. But the Eagles will likely go only as far as their No. 1 starter takes them as the postseason looms in the distance.

"We don't have a lot of power but we play small ball and do all the little things right," Toney said. "They are things that the coaches stress and I think we have a good chance of making it pretty far in the playoffs."

Comments
Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 4

Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 4

UPDATE, 10:40: Like most teams, Rays officials are heading out of the meetings though with only a drive across I-4 – though not always short – will continue trade discussions.As for the talks that had reached "advanced" stage last night, ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
NFL Power Rankings, Week 15: Carson Wentz's injury drops Eagles out of top five

NFL Power Rankings, Week 15: Carson Wentz's injury drops Eagles out of top five

What follows below is a ranking of all 32 NFL teams. To build this list, we consulted five objective measures of team strength: Pro Football Reference’s Simple Rating System, Football Outsiders’ Defense-adjusted Value Over Average ratings...
Updated: 3 hours ago

North shuts out South squad in Pinellas All-Star Football Classic

CLEARWATER — The players had so much fun, officials at Clearwater High School literally had to turn off the lights post-game to get everyone to go home.With more than 60 talented and motivated seniors participating in Wednesday's 23rd annu...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Does UCF have a shot at a split national championship?

Does UCF have a shot at a split national championship?

Reader Ken Kueker asked a great question yesterday:"If UCF beats Auburn in the Peach Bowl, what do you think of voting them #1 in your AP ranking?"My short answer is the obvious cop-out: It depends on how UCF looks (is it a triple-overtime win o...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rick and Tom podcast: Dirk Koetter, Evan Longoria, Stanley Cup and more

Rick and Tom podcast: Dirk Koetter, Evan Longoria, Stanley Cup and more

In their latest podcast, Rick Stroud and Tom Jones answer a lightning round of questions. Will Dirk Koetter be the Bucs’ coach next year? Where will Evan Longoria be on Opening Day? Will the Lightning win the Stanley Cup? Who will be better next year...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Marchand rallies Bruins by Wings

Marchand rallies Bruins by Wings

DETROIT — Brad Marchand assisted on the tying goal late in regulation and scored the winner 35 seconds into overtime to give the Bruins a 3-2 victory over the Red Wings on Wednesday.The Bruins managed only two shots on goal in the first period but tw...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Tampa Bay Rays making progress in trade talks

Tampa Bay Rays making progress in trade talks

Without getting into specifics – especially the who and the where – Rays officials are for the first time talking optimistically about making a trade before the winter meetings end Thursday.Speaking at around 5:15, senior VP Chaim Bloom s...
Updated: 12 hours ago

Winter meetings journal: Rays trade for money to sign top international free agent

LAKE BUENA VISTA — While most of the business conducted at the meetings impacts the big-league team one way or another, the Rays are working to finalize a move they hope pays off big sometime in the 2020s.In trading Wednesday to acquire $1 million in...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 3 – updated with news

Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 3 – updated with news

UPDATE, 5:55: Trade talks apparently picked up this afternoon, perhaps related to previous activity by other teams, and for first time Rays officials sound like something could happen tonight."At this point today, some of those conversations are movi...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Market starting to set itself as Rays’ trade talks intensify

Market starting to set itself as Rays’ trade talks intensify

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Alex Colome claimed he was just showing good social media manners Tuesday night in following four Cardinals-related Instagram accounts since they were saying nice things about him.In doing so, whether for that reason or another mor...
Updated: 12 hours ago