Submarine pitcher Steve Visnic leads by example.
Every baseball team’s bullpen needs a solid go-to guy. The Owls have discovered their go-to pitcher is one with an unorthodox style.
Redshirt-junior relief pitcher Steve Visnic, the submarine-style throwing right hander out of Glenwood, Md., put up respectable numbers last year, recording a 2-1 record with a 4.15 ERA, along with three saves.
For Visnic, 2012 has been a much different story.
The fourth-year reliever has been one of the few bright spots during a dismal campaign for Temple (14-25). Currently Visnic has gone 2-1 with a 1.50 ERA in 36 innings pitched in his 21 relief appearances thus far.
“I’ve been working hard to keep my fastball down, because that’s what I’ve had trouble with in the past,” Visnic said. “Good hitters will take advantage of poorly located pitches. I’ve been working hard to locate my pitches and minimize any damage, and it’s paid off so far.”
Visnic has primarily been the eighth-inning setup man this season and has adjusted to his new role.
“It helps a lot of guys to know what their role is, and I’m definitely one of them,” Visnic said. “It’s good to know what your job is, and it makes it easy to focus. My goal is to get it to the next guy and knowing the task at hand keeps me focused because I know exactly what I have to do.”
Visnic’s success can be attributed to keeping the ball down and locating pitches. However, it can also be attributed to his unique pitching style.
Submarine-style pitchers throw the ball in an underhand motion while rotating the shoulder at a horizontal axis in order to throw the ball harder. These pitchers are rare and, in cases such as Visnic’s, can bring on success.
“He has a different pitching style and it’s something that hitters aren’t used to seeing,” coach Ryan Wheeler said. “That helps a lot.”
“He has also been throwing strikes consistently and keeping his pitches down,” Wheeler added. “That along with his pitching style is why he’s been so good this year.”
Despite its apparent success, the submarine style was not always Visnic’s way of pitching. An injury in his first career appearance with Temple changed everything.
“When I came on in my first career appearance for Temple, I hurt my shoulder and I was kind of forced to change to submarine style from there,” Visnic said. “It’s given me a chance to pitch a lot and it’s not as bad on my arm anymore. It’s ironic, but I’m a better pitcher because of it.”
During the summer when Visnic isn’t donning the Temple uniform, he pitches for the Baltimore Redbirds of the Cal Ripken Collegiate League.
“Playing in the summer really helps because it keeps me fresh and gives me a chance to pitch in the offseason,” Visnic said. “Sometimes you get a little rusty in the offseason if you don’t play as much and playing in the summer helps me avoid that problem.”
Pitching summer ball has not only helped Visnic keep his game sharp, but it has also given him a chance to play with and against players of top collegiate programs such as North Carolina, South Carolina and Rice University.
“It’s a cool experience because it’s like being on an all-star team for the summer,” Visnic said. “I’m playing with kids from some pretty big programs there and that’s really cool to me.”
“There’s a certain camaraderie that comes with being on a team like that,” Visnic added. “Even though we’re not teammates at school, we’re still teammates in the summer and we still root for each other during the school year too.”
While he might look up to some of the top players on the Redbirds, Visnic has a knack for leading by example, which has earned himself a leadership role with the Owls.
“Because of [Visnic’s] success on the field, other players look to him for guidance, especially the young guys on the pitching staff,” Wheeler said. Guys have a lot of respect for him, not only because of his success but because of who he is. He’s a player who is dedicated and works harder than anybody.”
“I guess I’m something of a leader,” Visnic said. “It’s my fourth year here and I’ve seen a lot of baseball. I know the system, the game and the other teams in our conference.”
“I’ve been around for a while and if anything I try to lead by example and with my past experience,” Visnic added. “When younger guys make mistakes, I try to help them and give them a little advice on how to get better.”
While his playing career is nearing a close, Visnic is trying to enjoy the ride while he still can.
“I’d like to soak this up for as long as I can,” Visnic said. “My dream was to play Division I baseball since I was a young kid, and I feel extremely fortunate and blessed to be living that dream.”
“When the time comes to hang it up, I’m sure there will be something else for me to do,” Visnic added. “If I get an opportunity to coach I’ll take it, and if not, then I guess I’ll just see where life takes me. I guess I’ll find out in a year and a month.”
Drew Parent can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.