July 22, 2024

MLB Draft Combine notes: Michael Massey healthy again after back surgery


PHOENIX — Michael Massey’s junior season at Wake Forest didn’t go according to plan. After a brilliant sophomore season for the Demon Deacons as a reliever, Massey was set to move into Wake’s rotation and help anchor a team that had aspirations of a national title. Instead, Massey battled a back injury all season, which limited him to 34 innings. Two weeks ago, he finally had surgery to correct the back issue. Now feeling like himself again, he has his sights set on a jump to professional baseball.

“Instantly after the surgery, I felt better,” Massey said Thursday at the MLB Draft Combine, 13 days removed from the procedure. “I couldn’t tell you the last time I felt this good.”

Massey knew about the back injury two weeks before the season started, but with Wake Forest entering the season as the favorite to return to Omaha and possibly win the national title that narrowly eluded it last season, he elected to pitch through the pain. Though Wake Forest fell just short of its goal of returning to the College World Series, Massey said it was worth it to get one more opportunity to play with that particular group of players.

“You only get so much time with these guys, and I wanted to go and play with them and do my part, even if it was a little bit less than we expected,” Massey said.

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Massey pitched his freshman season at Tulane, where he was primarily a starter. He threw 68 innings for the Green Wave that season, posting a 5.03 ERA and a 52:16 K:BB. The Demon Deacons saw significant potential in the 6-foot-5 right-hander, and he transferred to Wake for his sophomore season. A loaded rotation pushed Massey into the bullpen, where he became one of the nation’s top relievers. In 41 2/3 innings, he had a 2.59 ERA and a 76:16 K:BB. He allowed just 23 hits all season.

Though Massey was a reliever in 2023, the plan had always been to move him into a starter’s role this year. He often threw multiple innings, building up his pitch count and his overall arsenal. Taking advantage of the resources available through the Wake Forest pitching lab, Massey made several mechanical adjustments, including shortening his stride and raising his glove side to allow him to rotate more efficiently. The result was a significant velocity bump — a week later with the new mechanics he said he was throwing 3 mph harder on average — and sharper off-speed pitches. His fastball sat in the 93-97 mph range last season, and he had roughly 10 mph separation between the fastball and his slider.

“My average velocity my sophomore year was higher than my top velocity my freshman year,” he said.

He added a curveball this year and started throwing his changeup more.

“It’s been a lot of development at Wake,” he said. “It’s been an amazing ride.”

Massey has yet to throw more than 70 innings since starting college but said he believes he can be stretched out as a starter in the pros thanks to that deep arsenal of pitches. His dominance in a relief role gives him a good fallback if starting doesn’t work out. Though he envisions himself as a starter, he says his time in the bullpen was useful because he learned to attack his first inning more aggressively than he used to as a starter.

“I really struggled (as a starter) with the first inning settling in, and that was my biggest problem — I preferred to settle in,” he said. “You realize as a starter you can’t settle in, you have to just go be ready. I think a big thing I took away was learning how to get going from the first inning.”

Massey has met with several teams this week at the combine, and though he has a year of eligibility remaining, he’s expected to go in the first two days of the draft. He’s excited about the possibility of turning pro. He has four more weeks of rehab before he can start throwing again and is expected to be ready to face live hitters by October, which could match up with fall instructional league for whatever team selects him.

Depending on how things progress, it may not be that long from now before MLB has a Michael Massey vs. Michael Massey match-up (cue the pointing Spider-Man memes). Massey says he’d been following the Kansas City Royals second baseman for several years on social media. Last year when Massey pitched in Omaha for Wake Forest, the KC Massey saw him on TV and began following him back.

“He shot me a DM and said, ‘I’ll see you in the big leagues,’” Massey said with a laugh. “That was pretty cool.”


Strength and conditioning drills: Kellon Lindsey runs a 3.53

Thursday marked the beginning of the strength and conditioning drills portion of the combine. Kellon Lindsey cemented his reputation as the top runner in the class by running the two fastest 30-yard dashes on the day.

30-yard sprint

Player Time

Kellon Lindsey

3,538

Kellon Lindsey

3.552

Griffin Burkholder

3.601

Will Taylor

3.609

Will Taylor

3.615

Counter Movement Jump — without hands

Player Result

Peak Power / BM

[W/kg]

Griffin Burkholder

81.4

Mikey Ryan

81.1

Dente Nori

80.8

Tytus Cissell

79.9

Kellon Lindsey

77.9

Takeoff Peak Force

[N]

Cole Hertzler

4120

Greysen Carter

3942

Myles Bailey

3485

Rodney Green

3175

Nathan Knowles

3061

Takeoff Peak Force / BM

[N/kg]

Cole Hertzler

37.1

Will Taylor

35.6

Rodney Green

35.5

Greysen Carter

35.4

Jump height (flight time)

[cm]

Tytus Cissell

66.4

Mason Russell

65.3

Aiden May

64.6

Greysen Carter

63.5

Cade Obermueller

63.5

Counter Movement Jump — with hands

Player Result

Peak power / BM

[W/kg]

Tytus Cissell

99.3

Mikey Ryan

94.9

Griffin Burkholder

89.2

Andrew Patrick

88.5

Fenwick Trimble

88

Takeoff peak force

[N]

Greysen Carter

3459

Khal Stephen

3164

Myles Bailey

3134

Cole Hertzler

3121

Dalton Wentz

2933

Takeoff peak force / BM

[N/kg]

Cade Obermueller

38.5

Tytus Cissell

32.6

Khal Stephen

31.5

Greysen Carter

31.1

Will Taylor

30.9

Jump height (flight time)

[cm]

Tytus Cissell

79.8

Zach Ehrhard

76.1

Mikey Ryan

73.8

Greysen Carter

72.7

Trey Snyder

72.7

(Photo of Michael Massey: Matt Kelley / Associated Press)





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