Before each and every Springfield Cardinals game, you’ll find pitcher Jacob Patterson on his yoga mat.
“Honestly, now a days I feel like it’s my ‘me-time,’” Patterson said.
A short yoga session follows time in the weight room during Patterson’s daily routine.
He follows the yoga session with a little recovery drink.
“Spinach, strawberries, bananas, some frozen fruit. I put some low fat Greek yogurt in there for some protein, then we have some veggie greens and collagen for recovery,” Patterson said.
However, it’s not the yoga, or the smoothies that make Jacob most unique as a pitcher. Instead it’s his delivery, in which he faces away from home plate before turning to deliver his pitch.
“Last year when I was pitching in Single-A, guy yelled out ‘put in the tornado, we want the tornado,’” Patterson said.
Spinning like a twister, Patterson never used a traditional motion.
“I just, whenever I came set, I would turn my body around and then come back,” Patterson said.
That was in high school.
In college, coaches wanted him to adopt a typical delivery, before deciding it was best to let Jacob be Jacob.
“My coach was like you know what just turn all the way around,” Patterson said. “So I started slowly working my way around. At first I was right here and then eventually all the way around to where my back was towards home.”
Patterson found success once he settled on that delivery style, advancing to Double-A by age 23.
“I try to keep my arm as hidden as possible, whenever I open up, [I] keep my shoulder back so you can’t even see the ball until it’s already out of my hand,” Patterson said.
Springfield Cardinals Manager Joe Kruzel says he doesn’t care about how the delivery looks, as long as it works.
“If he wanted to stand on his head, but he threw strikes and got people out, I think we’d all be for it,” Kruzel said. “In the same regard, he’s taken his abilities and he’s crafted [them] and he’s found a way where he goes out there and has success.”
Just don’t ask Kruzel to try one of the smoothies.
“Everything I know is they’re green so I stay away from it,” Kruzel said.
Even though the smoothies aren’t his style, Kruzel does have a theory about Patterson’s success.
“Engineers, they can do a lot of things with numbers and diagrams,” Kruzel said.
Patterson, like his parents, already has his electrical engineering degree.
Now, he balances baseball while working toward an aerospace engineering degree.
“I always feel like I please my father on the field and please my mom in the classroom,” Patterson joked.
If you ask mom and dad, I’m sure they’d tell you he’s turned out just fine.