Pitching Up

Cheyne Bickel pitched at Swayze Field this summer. As has been the case, he pitched against a team of older players.

Bickel, still 16 until August 11, pitched in a tournament in Oxford for Dulin's Dodgers out of Memphis.

"It was against the East Cobb (Ga.) 18-year-old team," said the rising junior who committed to Ole Miss last fall as a sophomore. "When I play in those tournaments, I usually play up with the 18s and 17s, then I'll play with the 16s when that week comes. I like that because it's good for me later on. I'm going to be facing those guys later. It will just help me when I'm 18 and I'll have that experience."

The right-handed pitcher, by some accounts, is already a top 50 national player for his Class of 2013. He said his commitment to Ole Miss is as strong as ever.

"I loved the campus when I was there again," said the 6-foot-2, 200-pounder. He still has some more baseball to play this summer before school starts back.

"I have the area code games in California at Long Beach State. I'm playing for the Washington Nationals Area Code Team in August. That's actually mainly seniors and juniors, mostly kids that are 2012 graduates.

"I've had a good summer. I've played in a lot of tournaments. The baseball's been good, and I've had good workouts. I'm just waiting for the Area Code Games in August."

Then it will be back to school for his junior year. He's ready to continue to grow as a pitcher.

"I topped out at 92 (mph) this summer, and I have been throwing a two-seam and a four-seam fast ball," he said. "But I don't throw much four-seam anymore. I'm throwing the two-seam the most. That's a pitch that's harder to hit."

His 12-6 curve is 72-74, his slider is 72-74, and his changeup 79-81. He's working hard on his velocity.

"I want to get (the fast ball) to 98 by my senior year," he said. "That's my goal. I've got two years to do it. I've got a lot of training to do this fall that will help me increase three to four miles per hour."

Bickel will work out with a former coach this fall and believes that will help him continue to improve.

Cheyne Bickel
Perfect Game
"He's only 5-9, but when he was in college he was hitting like 94. He knows what he's talking about. He's good with body work, and knows how to teach you to be more flexible, to use all the muscles to push off and drive and everything. I'm hoping that works and when I throw next year, I should be about where I want to be."

Bickel's a big fan of the Dulin's program as well.

"It's been great. They've helped me out with baseball the past few years. That's been the place for me to go. There's been no better place for me."

His sophomore season recently completed at William T. Dwyer High School in Jupiter, Fla., was successful. He was named the MVP of his team after the season. His ERA was a stellar 1.03, and he had the second most strikeouts in the state of Florida Class 5A with 122. He had an amazing three no-hitters this season in high school, and he lost only one game. That was a 1-0 loss and the run was unearned.

A student of the game with a drive to be the best he can be, Bickel knows where he needs to go from here.

"I've been working on my arm slot, like more over the top so my two-seam gets more break and downward movement to make it harder to hit. And my changeup being more over the top. Just trying to work on my velocity and more control of all my pitches. I'm really just working on speed now."

He said he understands the future has possibilities of both college and professional baseball, and he's just trying to focus on getting better.

"When I go to tournaments and stuff, people ask me, and I answer them," he said. "I tell them my goals, what I want to do, that I want to go to college, what I like about it. Nobody really harasses me about it. Mostly they'll ask how I like playing up as an underclassmen against 18 years olds who are getting drafted or going to D-I schools.

"I love college and I'd love to pitch there," he continued. "My dad was a professional skier, and he did NCAA skiing. He loved the experience of college. I'd love to go to college."

He's even getting some advice from a "pro" who didn't go to college but said maybe he should have.

"I have a friend, Rick Ankiel, who went right out of high school in the draft. I've known him three or fours years. He lives across the street from me in Jupiter. He said he wished he had gone to college just for the experience and everything. Baseball-wise, school-wise and everything. A lot of pro players now when they're traveling they're taking college courses online."

But Bickel still has some time to sort it all out. He committed to Ole Miss last fall. He looks forward to a future that has a lot of promise.

"I want to go to Ole Miss because I love the campus and everything," he said. "The pros doesn't sound like a bad idea either, but I'd love to go to college. I'm looking forward to the future."

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