Pfeiffer Succeeding With Deception

We in America have always been in love with speed. That's why NASCAR has the fastest-growing sport in our land while in baseball, most of the newer parks have a clock installed on the scoreboard that records how swiftly every pitch arrives for the benefit of the fans. Certainly, no talent evaluator is complete without his radar gun. These days if a pitcher doesn't rack up a bunch of 90-plus deliveries, he invites skepticism if not downright scorn.

There is more to pitching, though, than sheer velocity. There is, of course, location. And, then, there's movement -- the ability to have ball change planes so that the batter swings at where he thinks the ball will arrive only to find it elsewhere. And that's what David Pfeiffer is relying on.

Pfeiffer's fast ball gets clocked regularly at around 86-87 mph, which to a lot of people sounds like it belongs in a slo-pitch softball game. Hold on, however, for it's a two-seamer and what it does is sink -- a lot. So, when Pfeiffer needs a key pitch, that's likely to be the one he throws for he's not a strikeout kind of guy, who racks up an impressive total of K's. No, give him a ground ball and he'll do just fine.

There's a lot to be said for a ground-ball, particularly with men on to give the infielders a chance for the double play. And Pfeiffer has been developing his skills at moving the ball around enough to get outs. He's been doing it enough to get signed, enough to rack up wins and more than enough to impress the coaches who observe him in the Instructional League where he's currently playing. Kenny Howell, one of the more discerning ,men you'll find, calls him one of the more impressive pitchers in the camp.

Pfeiffer is a 6-3, 190-pound lefthander from Fort Pierce, a town about a dozen miles south of Dodgertown. Pitching for Lincoln Park Academy there, he did well enough to be the Dodgers' 14th-round selection in the 2003 draft. Instead of signing immediately, he enrolled in near-by Indian River Community College where he became a dependable member of a staff that carried the team in the National Junior College Tournament.

Signed by L.A. as a draft-and-follow, he started professionally for the Gulf Coast team. There he became noticeable for two things, one being that he had a fan base. In a league where four or five people constitutes a crowd, Pfeiffer drew a following of about 25 family and friends to games. They didn't get to view him there long, though, for after five outings, three of which were starts, he was 2-0 with an 0.40 ERA.

So, he was moved up to Ogden for the rest of the season but there he ran into trouble, winding up 1-4, 6.20. This dictated a return to the Pioneer League this season. He began in the bullpen, then earned some starts in the second half, and wound up the team's leading winner with a 7-3 mark.

A pitcher who isn't able to simply rear back and fling a ball past a flailing batter has to keep moving the ball around and hit spots. That Pfeiffer is constantly working to do. He's getting better at it all the time as the staff at Dodgertown has noticed.

Oh, that probably won't convince the skeptics who'll wonder what he can achieve at the next level. That's something Pfeiffer plans to do -- all the way up.