The best pitcher you never heard of: Maels Rodriguez, founder of ‘100 MPH Club’

Upcoming Cuban player relief pitcher Maels Rodriguez makes a throw during his team's game against Mexico at the Panamerican games in Winnipeg, Canada 25 July 1999. He has reportedly had his throw clocked at 98 mph. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO/Roberto SCHMIDT (Photo by Roberto SCHMIDT / AFP) (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images)
Upcoming Cuban player relief pitcher Maels Rodriguez makes a throw during his team's game against Mexico at the Panamerican games in Winnipeg, Canada 25 July 1999. He has reportedly had his throw clocked at 98 mph. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO/Roberto SCHMIDT (Photo by Roberto SCHMIDT / AFP) (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images) /
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Maels Rodriguez: The Best Pitcher You Never Heard Of

Hanging Up His Cleats

Even with various injuries to your arm, you were still able to throw 92 mph. When did you come to the realization it was time to hang it up?

It was throwing 91-92 mph but it was forced, nothing was done with the fluidity I once did it with. My body just wasn’t the same. I had two or three surgeries trying to regain the level of comfort I once had on the mound but it never came. When I noticed that it would never come I decided to quit. I was now better suited for passing on my knowledge to others.

What do you do in the current day?

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Today I work with the next generation of pitchers. I opened an academy on 117 Avenue and 123 Court in southwest Miami. There anyone who wants to learn to pitch is welcome to stop by. I’m very eager to show young pitchers everything I’ve learned via my experiences.

Do you still watch the Serie Nacional?

Yes, I catch an inning or three every so often. I watch mostly guys who played with me in Cuba and wish they keep doing well in the sport they love.

Cuba will always spawn new talents. Baseball in Cuba will never die. I love to see players not only triumph in Cuba but in foreign leagues. This gives me great pride because at the end of the day we are all Cuban.

Do you have any advice for today’s young pitchers?

Yes, I do. The most important thing for a young pitcher is to always train hard and properly. Also always be conscious of the health of your arm, remember the arm was not made to pitch. This isn’t a natural movement.

One has to be cognizant of the stress and labor one puts on their arm. There is an old pitcher’s saying in Cuba,” Wasted bullets never come back.”

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We need to be conscious of our capabilities and keep pitch counts. One also needs to be aware of who we have train us. We need to train with people who see you as a person not as merchandise.