Ryan Watson didn’t seek out a trainer during the offseason to decrease his chances of being injured. It was more about eliminating some mobility issues, concentrating on hip work and “becoming very aware of his body because he’s so tall,” said Theo Aasen, a strength and conditioning coach who owns Optimal Athlete Kollective in Tampa.
Never did the 6-foot-5 Watson imagine that he’d rise above others in the Orioles organization to be named its minor league Pitcher of the Year. An unexpected byproduct of the many improvements that included a sharper slider and an uptick in fastball velocity.
Watson often worked in the 89-91 mph range last year in his first professional season. He climbed to 93-95 mph this summer and was able to reach 96-97.
Watson’s representative, Francis Marquez of The MAS+ Agency, suggested that the right-hander meet with Aasen.
“He’s never really lifted in a style that I train, so we taught him how to lift properly and use a full range of strength,” said Aasen, who also worked with Austin Hays, changing the outfielder’s weightlifting routine to get his body more in baseball shape, with improved flexibility, rather than just bulking up. Hays avoided the injured list this year.