Pro pitcher Troy Terzi of Wallingford gets batters out with a heater and a nasty slider. He’s also developing a reputation as a showman on the mound.
Recently signed by the York Revolution of the Atlantic League, Terzi has earned the nickname “Toe Tap” due to the fact that he will tap his toes a varying amount of times on the rubber before delivering a pitch.
He also will deploy a varying number of leg kicks en route to the plate — sometimes two, sometimes the traditional one, sometimes none at all.
All these tactics are designed to throw off a hitter’s timing. Remarkably, they don’t throw off Terzi’s. Multiple deliveries are unusual for pitchers, who strive to repeat the same motion every pitch.
Terzi will also occasionally give a reaction after a strikeout. That, he says, is for the entertainment of the fans and no slight on the hitter.
With the combination of his antics on the mound and his arsenal of pitches, Terzi has frustrated hitters through his first few professional starts. Terzi earned his first pro win over the South Maryland Blue Crabs on Sunday in his second start since signing with York in August.
Terzi, a Notre Dame-West Haven grad, turned pro after an All-American season this spring at Division III Keystone College. He went 9-1 with a 1.85 ERA his senior year and was 18-1, 2.16 for his career at the Pennsylvania school.
While the Texas Rangers had been in contact, his name went uncalled in the MLB Draft in June.
“A mock draft had me going in the sixth round with the Rangers,” Terzi said this week. “Maybe they saw another opportunity for someone else. After I didn’t get drafted, I was doing everything I could to throw in front of MLB scouts. I was just grinding every day. On rainy days, I was throwing into a net indoors.”
Terzi said he threw in front of several MLB scouts and his fastball was clocked between 89-92, which is just below the MLB average of 93. Terzi said some scouts may rule him out because of his height (6 fee) and size.
“But they don’t see everything else I bring to the table,” Terzi said. “I go out and perform. I wear the opposing team down, even mentally. I play with the hitters’ timing. I always feel I’m stronger than my opponent and if I give up a double off the top of the wall to start an inning, it fires me up to strike the next three guys out. If someone gets a hit or run off of me, I would always come back stronger.”
Terzi signed with York after playing amateur ball with the Brunswick Orioles in Maryland.
“I threw with them for the majority of the summer,” Terzi said. “(Kansas City) Royals’ and (Baltimore) Orioles’ scouts watched me and I dominated. I didn’t give up any runs. But it was the same thing every time: The velocity wasn’t there. They would tell me I wasn’t tall enough. I’m six feet, but I’m getting guys out. I don’t know why they don’t take a chance on me. I know I can get guys out at the next level if they give me the right program.
“I tried to get picked up by the Orioles, Royals and (Miami) Marlins,” he added. “I even went to the Phillies’ open tryout. They don’t care how good you do on the mound. They care about height, weight and velocity and they want really young guys. I’m 23. They aren’t looking for that. They judge a book by its cover. They said I’m still small and I want to prove them wrong.”
Terzi said he’s studied the art of pitching without the assistance of a pitching coach through most of his career.
“I have always developed myself,” Terzi said. “I have a good eye. I’m good with my mechanics. My pitching coach for York said I could throw 95 or 96 with some improvements.”
With his MLB dreams still alive, Terzi is hoping to make a splash in the remaining weeks with York.
Terzi’s first start for York was on Aug. 15. He tossed three scoreless innings against the New Britain Bees, allowing one hit, walking one and fanning four before departing early with a blister.
On Sunday, he downed the Blue Crabs by allowing four runs in six innings.
Terzi is attacking with his heater and changeup, but puts most hitters away with his slider.
“I’m playing against former major leaguers in the best independent league to play in,” Terzi said. “Everyone said it’s similar to Double-A and Triple-A.”
As for the toe taps, that’s something Terzi developed on the fly at Marlins Stadium during the winter when he felt a hole in the mound.
“I said, ‘I should use this,’” Terzi recounted. “I also look at the hitter in my windup and smile. I want him to focus on my face and not the ball. I’m bringing something new to the game. I wish the MLB would see it.
“After I strike out someone, I do a pickoff move or a bow and arrow in the sky,” he added. “I celebrate. I don’t do it to [tick] anyone off. I want to have fun out there. Baseball can be really boring sometimes and you have to bring enjoyment to the game. It makes the lineup more loose and they feed off of my energy.”
As far as immediate goals, Terzi said he wants to finish the season strong — York’s final game on Sept. 16 — and then shut down for 2-4 weeks. He wants to add 4-5 miles per hour to his fastball with work on mechanics and in the weight room.
“If my velocity is in the mid-to-upper 90s, I think I will be untouchable,” Terzi said. “I could be even better.”
Terzi is expected to toe the rubber this weekend in York for his third pro start.
“My advice to anyone looking to play at the next level is to have fun,” Terzi said. “Don’t think too much when you are on the mound. Just go out there and have fun. Baseball is such a mental game. If you start thinking, you are done. My junior year of college, I was thinking too much. When I just had fun I was calm and composed, and everything happened naturally.”
Terzi’s goal is to continue to have fun and give a show to the fans who watch him pitch.