Sam Belisle-Springer’s path to professional baseball was not a traditional one. After wrapping up a Canadian college baseball career, the french-Canadian pitcher set his sights on baseball overseas. This landed him in Argentina of all places, for the 2017-2018 winter before returning home to play in a local league in Quebec in 2018. In October of 2018, he signed up with Baseball Jobs Overseas to continue with the overseas path while in the meantime, was in the early months of his first-ever weightlifting program.
This led to a 2019 signing with a team at the bottom of the German Bundesliga which led to a second signing in Germany with a team higher up the ladder for the 2020 season. By this time, he was about three years into his lifting program and his velo jumped into the 90’s.
“Definitely had a bump in velo from a lot of strength gains in the offseason that transferred to the mound. I went from 86-88 occasionally touching 90 to 89-92 touching 93. Wasn’t anything crazy, just put on some muscle and weight (175 to 188). Since I didn’t start lifting until the age of 22, I still had (and have) strength gains to catch up to. Mechanically there were no big changes.”
Whatever it was, a lot of success followed along with more durability. In the shortened 2020 season, Sam led the German Bundesliga North division in complete games with 6 and innings pitched with 45.1. He also finished top 3 in strikeouts and wins to go along with a 2.78 ERA.
Said Sam of the German competition, ‘For the lower tier clubs, it’s all about throwing strikes. With my velocity, I could pretty live mainly on fastballs and that would get me through the game rather quickly. Using that approach against teams like Bonn and Paderborn was a riskier proposition. Their lineups are much deeper with some guys who can really swing it, so hitting my spots and throwing breaking pitches for strikes was a must.”
Sam’s 2020 highlights:
Sam’s gains and success in 2020 led to a 2021 signing in the Frontier League with a home-town professional club in Quebec, the Aigles de Trois-Rivières, one of three teams in the independent professional league.
“I plan to keep getting stronger and hopefully bump up that velo another 1-2 mph. I also really want to refine my changeup. At times it has shown flashes of being a plus pitch, but it’s still a little too inconsistent. Frontier League lineups are going to be the deepest I’ve ever faced, so having three pitches I can go to with confidence in any count would be a major boost,” replied Sam when asked about how he will be preparing for the jump to the Frontier League.
Going from waiting for the weekend to play to playing more than twice as many games in a shorter season in itself will be a great experience for Sam.
“If I end up in the rotation, it’s only going to shave off a day or two in between starts. If I’m in the bullpen, then it’s a whole different animal,” anticipated Sam of what that change will be like.
“Either way, I’ll get to be one of the privileged ones who gets paid to be at the ballpark every day and you can’t beat that!”
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