Pitcher Trevor DeLaite was the recipient of the John Winkin Mr. Baseball Award and the Maine Gatorade Player of the Year his senior year at Bangor High School in 2016.
He lost only two games during his high school career.
But that success didn’t follow DeLaite to the University of Maine. During his first two seasons, he questioned whether he could be a productive pitcher at the Division I level.
UMaine’s only left-handed pitcher, who struck out 100 and walked 14 in 68 innings as a senior at Bangor and posted a 0.30 earned run average, registered ERAs of 5.96 and 8.61 during his first two seasons at UMaine.
“I definitely had my doubts,” DeLaite said. “But that’s pretty normal when you have so much success coming up through and then you don’t. It’s something I had never had to deal with.”
He has rediscovered some success this spring as UMaine’s closer, allowing 11 hits in 18 innings with 25 strikeouts and six walks. DeLaite has a 3.00 ERA and two saves in 10 appearances and opponents are hitting .172 against him.
Four of the six earned runs he has allowed came in one outing against nationally-ranked Mississippi State.
“I had always thrown strikes,” DeLaite said. “But I wasn’t noticing what the real issue was. I wasn’t attacking the strike zone. I was focusing too much on my mechanics. I had to be more aggressive and make people hit me.”
He altered his mechanics with the help of UMaine head coach Nick Derba and Jim Clem, the pitching coach for his summer league team in Bellingham, Washington.
“We shortened up his arm action last year,” Derba said. “And he has a lower-leg drive.”
“By shortening my arm path, I’ve been a little quicker [to the plate],” DeLaite said. “A lot of pitchers are doing that now like [former Red Sox pitcher] Joe Kelly.”
He said the change has helped him throw strikes more consistently and takes stress off his arm.
Clem helped him with his breathing and encouraged him to be aggressive. DeLaite pitched 27 innings for the Bellingham Bells and logged a 1.66 ERA with one save.
Last year, DeLaite began toying with a “cut” fastball which evolved into a slider. It has become an important pitch along with two-seam and four-seam fastballs and a changeup.
Derba said the slider has improved significantly.
“I can throw it to righties and lefties and throw it in any count,” said DeLaite, who added that he has been getting a lot of ground-ball outs with his changeup.
His four-seam fastball is clocked at around 87 mph and naturally tails away from right-handed hitters and his two-seamer is 84 to 86 mph and acts more like a sinker.
DeLaite’s confidence got a huge boost in February’s season-opening series at nationally ranked Florida State. In two relief stints, he allowed one hit and an unearned run while striking out seven in 3 2/3 innings.
“All the work I put in during the offseason paid off. I saw the results. I was confident that my stuff was good enough to get anyone out if I went out and made my pitches,” DeLaite said.
He said he loves being in the closer role, which puts him in high-pressure situations.
“Having the team’s fate in your hands and going out and making pitches on a big stage is always fun,” DeLaite said.
He has been dealing with a rib issue for a few years but said he does exercises for it and seems to have it under control. DeLaite places high value on catch-play, which is his throwing routine during the week.
“He’s a competitor and he works at his craft every day,” said junior right-hander Cody Laweryson of Moscow.
“Trevor has figured out a lot about himself, how he wants to work and how he wants to pitch,” said UMaine sophomore first baseman Joe Bramanti. “He has done an unbelievable job this year.”