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LEONARD ORTIZ , STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Collin Quinn has increased his deceptiveness and moved into the starting rotation since changing from being a conventional pitcher to a sidearm hurler for top-ranked JSerra.

Sidearmer Quinn now front and center for JSerra

STAFF WRITER

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO – Sometimes, a little tinkering can go a long way, and JSerra pitcher Collin Quinn can attest to that.

The junior right-hander’s arm delivery is nearly 90 degrees lower than it was when he entered the Lions’ program in 2013. He has gone from an extra arm in the bullpen to one of JSerra’s most effective pitchers in 2015.

He came to JSerra as a conventional pitcher, but when his shoulders started to fill out, his arm angle dropped slightly. His accuracy was relatively unaffected as he’s always been known to pound the strike zone. But he hovered around the low 80s with his fastball and he fell behind others with more velocity.

In the fall, Quinn decided to experiment with a sidearm delivery. It was a decision all his own, with no persuasion from his coaches.

“I just started with David Berg at UCLA. I saw him throw and so I started throwing like that and (former JSerra pitching coach Jeff Robinson) said, ‘Hey, it looks pretty good, why not try it,’ so I stuck with it,” Quinn said.

The arm angle felt natural – felt great, actually.

With plenty of work through fall and winter ball, Quinn progressed. The fastball and changeup were easy adjustments, but his biggest out pitch has been his slider, which he worked on for months to perfect.

“I used to throw a slow, gliding slider but now it’s sharp and that’s what has gotten everybody (out),” Quinn said.

Quinn experimented with arm slots until he became comfortable.

“In the winter, it just popped. He was probably our best pitcher in the winter,” Lions coach Brett Kay said. “If I had to pick an MVP for our season right now it’d probably be him.”

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BORAS CLASSIC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

JSerra vs. St. Francis of Mountain View

Saturday, at Cal State Fullerton, noon

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Quinn has been playing sports since he could remember, but baseball stood above the rest. His father, Jay Quinn, coached women’s basketball and sometimes doubled as a coach of his Little League all-star teams. He credits his father with teaching him everything he knows about the game. He played Little League with current teammate Chase Strumpf and attended Kay’s youth camps early on.

“He’s been a guy who has always been on our radar since he started attending camps, but it was from an offensive perspective,” Kay said. “Now, he’s 81-83 (mph) with a ton of sink and a sweeping slider that you have to plan for. You have to alter your offensive approach around him and that makes it fun.”

Quinn toyed with different arm angles before settling at sidearm. The arm slot isn’t quite as low as the submarine-style of Berg, but it does force hitters to adjust to the different angles from which the ball approaches the plate.

In addition, he’s baseball savvy.

“He notices everything when he’s pitching,” JSerra catcher Christian Molfetta said. “There are times where guys are hitting and he notices their (batter’s) box adjustments and he applies that to the way he pitches. He’s always making adjustments with his off-speed pitches.”

Early in the season, Quinn was an option out of the Lions’ bullpen, cleaning up after the team’s top two starters, Quentin Longrie and Jack Owen.

After throwing eight perfect innings over two outings at the National High School Invitational in late March and following it up with a shutout over Alemany of West Hills in the Boras Classic, Quinn was elevated to a starting role as the team entered play in the Trinity League, in which teams play three games per week instead of two.

Quinn has helped the Lions move to the top of the Trinity standings. He pitched a three-hit shutout against Orange Lutheran on April 22, and he picked up the win Monday in the Lions’ victory over St. John Bosco.

The Lions might need Quinn’s help Saturday. JSerra (21-3 overall), ranked No. 1 in Orange County, will take on St. Francis of Mountain View in the championship game of the Boras Classic. The game at Cal State Fullerton starts at noon.

If the Lions use him today, he will be a far cry from where he was last year when he made his debut for the varsity team.

Quinn was asked to close out a 5-4 game against St. John Bosco. Nervous on the mound, he struggled. The team preserved the win, but center fielder Brady Shockey had to throw out a runner at the plate to do so.

“I wasn’t really comfortable. My arm slot wasn’t where I wanted it to be, but I worked through it,” Quinn recalled. “I almost blew my first save, but it turned out OK.”

From a nervous debut to being mentioned as the team’s possible MVP this season, Quinn has come a long way in a short time.

“I’m just really glad that we’re doing well. I just want to contribute in any way,” Quinn said. “I’ve really been working hard on getting the delivery and the movements and everyone here is a Division 1 guy, so I feel pretty good about our team.”

Sometimes, all it takes is a little tweak.

Contact the writer: npercy@ocregister.com


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