By Will Greer
July 6, 2017
Before this summer, former Cotuit pitcher Jonathan King had only been able to watch his younger brother Dylan pitch a handful of times in the last four years.
But this summer, the Kettleers’ recently Georgia Tech-graduated pitching coach has a front row seat from the dugout every time his younger brother steps onto the mound.
Jonathan spent his 2015 summer in Cotuit, making eight starts and logging 28 strikeouts in 38 innings. So far this summer, his brother Dylan has made two starts, allowed just three runs in nine total innings and totaled 12 strikeouts.
“I didn’t get to watch him pitch very much during his high school career or even at the beginning of his college career just because I was always playing,” said Jonathan, who is three years older than Dylan. “So being here, it’s cool to be able to watch him throw consistently and just catch up on lost time.”
That lost time, in reference to watching Dylan in person, hasn’t prevented Jonathan from remaining a consistent mentoring presence in his younger brother’s development as a pitcher. And for that reason, when asked if it’s weird to be coached by his older brother, Dylan’s response was quick and simple: “Not at all.”
“Even during my college seasons when he couldn’t watch live, he would watch videos of my game and send me texts to tell me what I needed to be working on,” said Dylan, who will begin his junior year at Belmont this fall. “He’s always been a coaching type toward me, so it’s normal now. He’s helped me out a lot.”
Both brothers vividly remember talking about pitching while growing up. The two would throw when Jonathan returned home from Georgia Tech during winter break and Dylan would soak up the information that his brother had recently learned at school – everything from small mechanical fixes to better mental approaches to situational pitch selection.
That passing along of information has been central to Jonathan’s approach as a first-time coach so far this summer.
“The way Dylan and I used to talk is basically how I’m trying to be with all of the pitchers on the staff,” Jonathan said. “It’s not like I’m 15 years older than them or anything. I take the experience that I had playing and try to relate to what they’re going through. I try to tell them about how I handled it.”
At first glance, the list of baseball similarities between the two brothers seemingly begins and ends with their both being pitchers.
Jonathan is a lefty, while Dylan is a righty. Jonathan is a crafty, soft contact-inducing guy, while Dylan is one of the nation’s most prolific strikeout machines. He finished his sophomore season with the 20th highest strikeouts per nine innings number in the nation: 11.57.
But Dylan hasn’t always been the tall, high velocity righty he is now. He was a smaller guy in high school like his brother, he said, until he shot up six inches to 6 feet 4 inches and gained 40 pounds during his junior year.
“I was never a strikeout guy until college,” Dylan said, “but the velocity went from 87 mph during my junior year to 93 mph in my senior year.”
Not growing up with that kind of velocity was crucial to Dylan’s development as a pitcher, his older brother said.
“He learned how to pitch first because he was a smaller guy like me. Then, the velocity came.” Jonathan said. “It’s so important to learn how to pitch regardless of how good your stuff is.”
Jonathan and Dylan had the typical brotherly arguments that all brothers have, but the two rarely fought, Jonathan said. That being said, they were predictably competitive while growing up, with wiffle ball and basketball being the usual games of choice.
“We were never on the same team in the neighborhood wiffle ball games. We liked to compete against each other,” Jonathan said. “He was 8, I’d be 11, and he’d be out there pitching against me and trying to throw the ball as hard as he could and strike me out.”
That competitive spirit spilled into the driveway, where the brothers often played one-on-one basketball until Jonathan came home from school one winter break and Dylan had gained six inches in height.
“I was like, ‘We’re not playing anymore,’” Jonathan said.“It wasn’t fair or fun anymore.”
As for the pair’s competitive baseball history, one at-bat during a summer league game four years ago dictates the leader. Dylan, having finished up his freshman year of high school, pitched to Jonathan, who was a recent high school graduate.
“He broke my bat and got a weakly hit groudball,” Jonathan said. “He’s up 1-0 on me there.”
Maximizing a summer in Cotuit
Jonathan’s primary focus this summer is making Cotuit’s pitchers, Dylan included, better on the mound. But he also hopes he can pass along some deeper wisdom – things like perspective on how special pitching in the Cape League is and how lifelong the relationships built in Cotuit can be.
“The friendships I was able to form here a couple summers ago remain special, and I’ll never forget the people in this community,” Jonathan said. “This place demanded the best of me. It’s more than summer ball. It’s one, a chance to compete at the very highest amateur level and two, a chance to improve around some of the best players in the country.”
Dylan said he’s loved his first few weeks in the league, enjoying both of his starts up to this point and the ability to “learn little things from pitchers that come from all over the country.”
And although he didn’t know he would be coached by his older brother until a few weeks before the season began, he’s trying to enjoy every moment of the summer with his older brother never too far away.
“I never thought we’d both be up here at the same time,” Dylan said. “It’s been really, really cool.”