Deception is a big part of a pitcher’s success. For twin brothers Jim and Ed Voyles of the North Adams Steeplecats, the ability to deceive has nothing to do with their pitching deliveries.
If it wasn’t for Jim’s beard, the 6-foot-7 right-handers from Florida State would be nearly impossible to tell apart -- until you step in the batter’s box to face them.
"They’re very different, so it’s not like you’re getting the same arm coming in," SteepleCats manager Chris Cates said. "Jim’s more aggressive with his fastball. [Jim’s] a guy that’s going to come at you and Ed’s more of a crafty guy. [Ed] can hit his spots and throw three pitches for strikes."
The sophomores from Atlanta did not see much time for the Seminoles last season as freshmen. Jim made four appearances while Ed didn’t appear in a game.
Because of their light college workloads, Cates said he wants to gradually increase their innings during their time with the team. Both are on pitch counts and the twins said they’re working to get use to the limitations.
"Having a pitch count is a good thing, but it’s also a bad thing," Ed said. "It’s bad because if there’s an error it can really throw off your rhythm and it makes you throw extra pitches. And if you have a pitch count you can’t go as deep into games."
For the time being, the pitch count seems to be working. Ed and Jim have split starts (Ed starts the game with Jim entering in relief) three times this season. Ed has been averaging about 65-75 pitches per start. His threw a season-high 89 pitches a in scoreless eight-inning, two-hit performance against the Valley Blue Sox on June 8. Jim is averaging about 60 pitches.
"We want to give them basically a whole start to see how they feed off each other and how they deal with their pitch count," Cates said. "It’s something we’re going to go back to. If we can build their pitch counts up as the season goes on, that might lead to both of them starting again."
Ed is 2-0 with a 3.64 earned-run average. In his most recent start against Danbury on Tuesday, he started but was not at his best. He allowed five runs on six hits in four innings. Jim relieved him in the fifth and threw two scoreless innings while allowing just one hit.
Ed has allowed nine runs in his last three starts, but he was dominant earlier in the season, highlighted his start against the Blue Sox.
Jim is 0-2 with 3.86 ERA.
The twins, along with Shaefer Shepard (2.70 ERA), T.J. Hunt (2.70 ERA) and Trevor Scott (1.29 ERA) gives Cates several solid options to start games.
The duo said they’re enjoying playing together at the NECBL level.
Though Cates wouldn’t allow it, when asked jokingly if a switcharoo would ever work, the brothers didn’t rule it out.
"[The batter] would probably notice a little difference in the form," Jim said. "But they wouldn’t look hard enough to notice. They’d really have to be paying attention."
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