Wednesday, October 31, 2007
We have been thinking and re-thinking this list for some time and our decisions boiled down to how many players within that organization played Next Level baseball. I am sure that there are some notable organizations that we left out and we are sorry. Our research and information was based on what is published on that travel clubs web site, as well as results gathered from the top tournament and showcase sites. We have also seen most of these teams play over the years and it's these top 5 that always seem to be in the championship round of a major tournament. If you have a well known travel team, and you want to be mentioned on Rounding Third, then we suggest that you add a section that lists your alumni. We suggest dividing the list by using the following criteria...1) Former players that went on to college. 2) Former players that were drafted. 3) Former players playing in MLB. Also list National Championship results.
So, based on that criteria, here's our top 5 Travel Select Teams. To view their web sites, go to the right of this post under Important Travel Baseball Links and Teams and click on the respective web site.
East Cobb Baseball
When you look at the shear numbers of players that they have delivered to the college and pro ranks, the East Cobb organization and their array of teams, most notably the Braves and Astros, win hands down. East Cobb Baseball has won over 130 National Championships, placed over 600 players in JC and four year colleges and has 96 players in the Pro's. They also call the East Cobb Baseball complex, arguably the best baseball complex in America their home. They are also wonderful hosts to the most prestigious wood bat tournament in the country, Perfect Games, WWBA National Championships. Some notable pro players include Corey Patterson, Adam Everett and Jeff Francouer.
This Northern California (Bay Area) powerhouse ranks a close second due to their impressive roster of impact pro players that have graduated from their program. A list of their alumni would be the envy of any pro roster. We haven't found any travel club with a list of recent impact pro players this impressive in our search. Among the 56 pro players that have played for Norcal, the most notable are:
Jimmy Rollins - Phillies
Pat Burrel - Phillies
Dontrelle Willis - Marlins
Xavier Nady - Pirates
Chris Carter - Diamondbacks
Troy Tulowitzki - Rockies
Brandon Morrow - Mariners
They are championship round regulars at the Junior Olympics, WWBA and Sunbelt Classic tournaments and have have also placed over 250 players in college...with 98% of those colleges, NCAA Division I.
The Heat gets our third place vote because of their meteoric rise as a national power. In the 6 short years that this club has been in existence, they have made a huge impact with 5 national Championships and some impressive alumni. Recent top draft picks have included Kyle Drabek, Scott Kazmir and Homer Baily. Presently, they have 16 in the pros. But, the most impressive number in our opinion, is the fact that they have placed 192 players in JC and NCAA colleges. That's an average of 32 players per year in the 6 years they have been a Travel/Select baseball organization.
This Southern California club has also recently been a force at the national level and is dedicated to developing some of the top players at the AFLAC games. In the past three years, ABD has had 7 players picked for the AFLAC All-American Games. They also produced Josh Vitters, the #3 overall in the 2007 draft and Nick Noonan in the first round supplemental draft. Overall they have had 7 players in the past six years go in the top four rounds. ABD has also placed over 80 players in college in the past 5 years, including 44 to the college ranks in 2007.
The Boys Of Baseball
Steve Cosgrove's teams have been a fixture of youth baseball for over 12 years and we have to give him some credit for putting together the best conglomeration of athletes from around the country, year after year. Some of his alumni include Prince Fielder, Colby and Corey Rasmus and Hank Conger from SOCAL. He has had 8 of his former players on the USA Youth National Team, 5 on the Junior Nationals Team and 4 on the USA National Team. Eight players are in the pro's and over 120 have gone on to play college ball.
So, there you have it...Our first, but not last TOP 5 Travel/Select Teams of 2007. There are other teams that are worth a mention and you will find those clubs listed in the top right hand column of this blog. As always, please feel free to comment or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
This post isn't just about dollars and cents, it's about how we have altered our lifestyles, to give our sons a chance to be the best they can be at baseball. The questions that we always hear are, after all of the travel and nights away from the rest of the family, work, friends, costly lessons, tournament fees, coaches per diems and $350 bats, are our sons better baseball players? Do they understand and love the game more? And, is it their passion or ours?
It's unanimous here at Rounding Third. It definitely was well worth the experience. All of our sons will be playing D-1 college ball. We think that if they had taken the route that most of their friends took, and had relied on their high school coaches and the local leagues to get them to the next level, our sons would not have had the offers or the opportunities to play D-1. Now we know that there are exceptions. Some of our sons friends may get a chance to play JC ball and if they step up their routines and become more serious about the game, they could get a chance to play at the next level.
But the one thing our sons have that their other friends do not, is a passion, self discipline and serious attitude about baseball and the knowledge that the game requires a devoted work ethic both in the off season and in pre-game preparations that we have witnessed many rec ball athletes do not have. It's not their friends fault. That's the way they were taught. There are distinct philosophical differences in the way a travel ball coach develops his players and a Babe Ruth coach develops his.
Nevertheless, below we have listed some characteristics of a travel club to look for and even some things we would have done differently based upon our last 6-7 years of travel ball.
What is a good travel program? Our definition is a team that has it's total focus on the development of the players and not just on winning that $5 piece of plastic for the sake of the coaches egos. The costs of a good travel program can be daunting, but make sure that your team is going to the right tournaments and showcases that will:
1) Get exposure for the players first and foremost. Many of the top high school tournaments will have scouts in attendance and you want your team to be there. There are many so called travel teams that beat their chest because they win a lot of local and regional tournaments. While it's great that they are playing good ball that is probably a step up from the rec alternatives, when you weigh the costs versus benefits, what was accomplished by winning that trophy that's bound for an old box in the garage?
2) Works with the tournament organizers to make sure your team is playing against the best competition. While winning is great for the psyche of the team as a whole, it's not always going to benefit them if they are playing patsies to get to the championship round. Some people will disagree with us on this, but we strongly feel that your sons will gain more grit playing the good teams early. And, if your travel team has a great reputation, you'll get more scouts at those early games against the better competition.
3)Be Organized! Be wary of the travel programs that don't have their summer of 2008 schedule completed by January...Yes that's right...January!!! Many of the top tournaments and showcases like the Junior Olympics are invitation only and if a newer organization wants in, they will have to campaign to get their team in the tournament early in the year. Other showcases tournaments have deadlines and they are usually very early. A lot of planning and logistics go into these national tournaments and they usually don't accept late entries unless there is a cancellation.
4)Have 90% of their roster in place by December of 2007. Many of the top clubs have already had their try-outs this fall. Some in the Sun Belt are still amidst the try-out process via fall ball. It's important that a club knows it's roster so that it can have the spring to create their own player profiles to send out to college recruiters. This does not negate your sons efforts to send out letters and profiles however. Your son needs to do his own marketing on top of what his coaches are executing. (Refer to our post from October 22...I AM GETTING LETTERS FROM COLLEGE BASEBALL COACHES)
5) Has a reputation as a winning, professional organization with the college and pro scouts. Look at the travel clubs web site and look at their alumni page. Many of the better organizations will have a section of their web site dedicated to former players that have gone on to college or even the pros. That says volumes about their dedication to player development. Many college coaches look to these organizations for help and player profiles. Also, ask them if they are communicating with college coaches and where they feel your son fits in with the type of colleges they will be contacting.
6)A payment plan that precedes the season. It is our experience that if a club has a payment plan that is paid prior to the season, then that team gets 100% participation with its players. These payment plans are usually monthly and more reasonable to budget for. These clubs also have travel agencies that they work with and their web site is like a one stop shop. If you have a good, competitive club and they don't have this set-up...have the coaches get it done this way. It's easy and web site set-up costs are usually free or very inexpensive. There are other clubs that have a pay as you go policy and they are the ones that usually are scrambling for players before every tournament. Those type of clubs are usually very frustrating and costly experiences.
7)Coaches as teachers. The best organizations have coaches that work with each individual player to help make him a better player. They are also the teams that gather as a group every inning before their at bats, going over the decisions that the players made in the field, talking about adjustments that need to be made at the plate and getting them in the right frame of mind. Most of these coaches really know the game and love spreading that knowledge to their players. That's the type of added value that makes a good travel team worth the investment for your son.
We have heard time and time again that travel ball is for rich dads that want to live vicariously through their kids. Not true! Yes, there may be a good number of parents that fall into this category and a good number of travel clubs that will accept any ones money to feed that parents desire. But, for the most part, good travel clubs are about developing and giving players the opportunity to take their game to the next level. And, those top travel clubs have a cost. And, we as parents are whipping out that check book like it was a sure stock tip.
The one thing we would have done differently, would have been to get our kids way more involved in the fund-raising aspect of their travel team. Many of these kids have it too easy and we as parents are guilty of making it easy for them. I know of several Georgia, Florida and Texas teams that raise 100% of their travel costs and coaches fees through candy drives, car washes, raffles and bake sales. Their kids are a part of that fund raising process. There's nothing wrong with parents bringing those candy bars to the office...that's usually pretty easy money...but so is a group of athletic looking kids in baseball caps going door to door or sitting up at the grocery store selling cookies, candy, and raffle tickets to help pay for that trip to East Cobb, Orlando or San Diego. This discipline also gives them ownership of their team and their accomplishments. It also keeps costs down for you, because depending on the organization, the total summer expenses for a high school travel team that is entered into all of the top tournaments and showcases can run in excess of $10,000.
That $10,000 is broken down as follows:
1) $1,500-$2,500 coaches fee/tourney fees. Fees vary by team and region.
2) $350 uniform and equipment costs
3) $3,000/Car Rental/Gas/Airfare for 2
4) $4,000+ (Two,1 Week Trips @ $85 a Night, Six 3 night Stays at $85 a Night) Plus../Food/Gate Fees/Entertainment For 2
These costs can be cut drastically if you room with another family and opt to go to the grocery store and barbeque by the hotel pool (much cheaper, healthier and more fun in our opinion)instead of eating out every night. Also, the advantage of having a travel team that plans ahead will allow you to shop for airfares and hotels well in advance and take advantage of discount rates.
Part Two tomorrow will rate the best travel teams.
Monday, October 29, 2007
If you are like most travel baseball parents, you just spent the weekend watching your son play either in a local tournament or in some far away place that required lots of driving or an expensive flight. People at my office think I'm crazy, but when I asked them what they did over the weekend, it wasn't that much different. Their weekend involved dinner and a few drinks with friends and some yard work. Some saw a movie, others a concert. Mine involved dinner and drinks with the parents of my sons team mates and some yard work. Substitute the concert and movie with a lot of baseball games and in my mind, we had similar weekends.
This week, we will be talking about the importance of a good travel ball team. Travel ball has grown into a mini industry in many parts of the country. Most of the better travel clubs have produced some of the top talent in college and the pro's. The topics will include why your son should play on a top travel team, an exclusive interview with the founder of a top California travel club, a complete data base of the top travel clubs in your area and most importantly, the costs involved with a good travel baseball organization. As always, do not hesitate to e-mail us, or comment on one of our posts...I hope you enjoy our travel team series this week...
Friday, October 26, 2007
In conversations with a few of our contributers, they have asked us to be a bit more detailed on the daily conditioning program during the school year, so that it can be applied to our popular 3-Part Series we published throughout this week.
Many strength and conditioning experts will have their own ideas and routines, and it would take three pages to give you all of the details...Plus, we are not licensed trainers...So, we have provided you an outline to use as a training template below. While you can do long toss, stretching, hitting, fielding and most core drills on your own, ask your conditioning coach at school or at the gym or a place like Velocity Training on the actual details as it relates to speed drills, equipment and amount of weight you should use. Or, just go to the right hand column of this site and click on the many different web sites that offer baseball training techniques and subscribe to their services.
Why is this important? Mostly to become a stronger player and above all to avoid injury...You are at the stage of your life as a High School Position Player or Two-Way Player, where you will be playing over 100 ball games a year, especially in the warm weather states where baseball is just about a year round activity. You need to be in top physical condition to be able to withstand that kind of schedule. Whether you pitch, play infield or outfield, you need to strengthen your legs, core, and turn your arm into an Iron Mike. You need to have a schedule and stick by that schedule everyday. As we mentioned in our 3-Part Series, take advantage of your schools facilities and work out at least two hours a day everyday with a different routine every other day. Also,it is very important that you eat a small snack prior to your school work-outs and then come home and eat a big, nutritious dinner. Consult your school trainer on the types and number of meals you should be eating every day. Because you are working out every day, be sure to drink at least 10 (8oz.)glasses of water everyday too..
Here's a sample schedule:
Monday, Wednesday, Friday
Stretch, band work, core conditioning....20 minutes
Long Toss....20 minutes
Hitting...200 swings Wood bat only
Speed conditioning...30 minutes
Weights...Upper body...30 minutes
Stretch, band work, core conditioning....30 minutes
Fielding drills...30 minutes
Hitting...300 swings Wood bat only
Weights...Lower Body...30 minutes
Games, fall, winter ball wood bat only even in games when they use metal, you should use only wood and work on hitting the ball in the sweet spot.
We hope this helps...Trainers, specialists are welcome to comment on this post.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
The early signing period is coming November 14, 2007 and many of the top players that were recognized earlier in the year will sign. That doesn’t mean that all of the best players will sign. Inevitably, a number of quality players will remain unsigned until the next signing period of April 9th, 2008. Some players will remain unsigned because of a lack of exposure, others because their body, skills, talent, speed and abilities have developed later, and others may have been just lost in the shuffle…Bottom line…DON’T GIVE UP!!! There is a reason the NCAA has two signing periods.
Now, if you are not signed and fall into one of the reasons stated above then read below. You still have a lot of the timeline left to finish. (SEE PARTS ONE AND TWO OF THE TIMELINE IN THE PRIOR POSTS)
However, if you are already set to sign your NLI, (National Letter of Intent) you can’t give up either!!!!! Continue and step up your daily work-outs even more. Too many athletes get complacent after they have committed to their college and therefore end up having less than stellar Senior seasons. Don’t let that happen to you! That includes your grades. Don’t get a case of senior-itus and let your grades suffer in the process! From this point on, baseball, school and life in general becomes more challenging and the challengers more competitive. Work hard and set yourself up to have the season and school year of your life.
For those that have not committed, relax…There are many out there that think that if you haven’t committed to a college by the fall of your senior year, then your chances of getting a college scholarship are slim. That’s not so. While many of the high profile players have committed early, there are still a lot of colleges throughout the country still recruiting. The questions are…Are you still trying hard to get noticed? Are you still sending out letters? Are you making visits and enrolling in the fall college camps?
Go to the links I have supplied you in the right column of this site and find out which organizations are offering showcases for “Uncommitted Seniors”.
One event out west is the Perfect Game 2007 West Uncommitted Showcase at Fitch Park Cubs Spring Training in Mesa, AZ November 3-4, 2007. Click on the Perfect Game link to the right.
There are other things you can also do:
· Send out your schedules for fall leagues, camps and showcases to all coaches
· Call the coaches…Remember, after July 1, you can now talk to them. You can contact college coaches by phone at any time.
· Step up your work out schedule.
· Have your fall and high school coaches start to make more calls on your behalf.
· Schedule official visits with your targeted schools and meet the coaches and staff.
· Send out Skills videos to those coaches that haven’t seen you play enough.
Bottom line...don't get discouraged. If you have a desire to play at the next level and the D-1 route isn't working for you, Try a D-2, D-3 ot NAIA school. Many JC's offer great academics and very competitive baseball programs, especially in the southern states. If you are still growing and maturing as a player, you may be told by coaches to develop your strength and game at a JC first anyway. Look at the rosters of your target colleges and you will see that many four year colleges recruit JC players to fill roster spots.
I hope that this three part series has helped you. Underclassmen, print these posts out and use it as your guide throughout high school. Upperclassmen, it's not too late. Remember, whatever age you are, there is never a substitute for hard work and discipline...Those that make that their daily mantra, will have success in their lives...whether that life includes baseball or not!!!
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
We continue our timeline through the sophomore and junior years. If you followed the plan that we detailed for you in our last post in your freshman year, you are used to the drill. This time however, you are playing for keeps, because sophomore and juniors ARE looked at by college and pro scouts alike...Follow this timeline and you may get what you want.
SOPHOMORE YEAR TIMELINE
· How did you do academically your freshman year? If the answer was great, then continue with the same routine of conditioning and work-outs you had as a freshman. Most of you are first timers to this site, so look at the last post and follow the same routine as we outlined for freshman.
* Now if your grades weren't so hot, then you need to plan your day better and make sure that you are carrying a 3.3 or higher. High school will get harder as you progress, so buckle down and get into a disciplined routine that includes the aforemnetioned work-outs AND will allow you at least 3 hours of studying (not in front of TV) a night. Sit down with your high school counselor and tell him your goals and make sure you are taking the curriculum necessary to get into the colleges you are targeting. As hard as maintaining grades and playing a varsity sport at the same time may seem to you now, wait until you go to college. A college student/athlete is a high school student athlete times 10! We will discuss this in another post, but the demands in college are far greater than what you think you are experiencing now...So our advice is to get yourself disciplined now, so you can transition to college more smoothly.
January-May· Enjoy your high school baseball season. Whether or not you are on varsity or JV, play hard and smart. If you think you are good enough to be on varsity, don’t worry, many high school coaches will favor their upperclassmen. If you are good, you will get your shot next year. Be thankful that you get to play everyday on JV.
· Summer travel ball is more important than ever…There are never too many games in travel ball. The more reps against the best, the better you will get.
July-August· Attend an Area Code Camp in your region or state – Log onto Area Codes web site…(Listed in the right green column).
· Scour the web sites to the right about the many showcases offered in your area. The summer of your sophomore year is when college scouts get serious. Start sending your profile sheets and letters with more frequency before every showcase and camp or tournament you attend and personalize the letters to each coach.
· If there is a Perfect Game or Team One in your area attend those. They will prove invaluable to your reputation as a player. If they don’t have a showcase, there are many more. Look to the right for the showcases in your area.
· If you get more letters back, respond to every one, no matter if they are not in your top 10. Leave all doors wide open.
JUNIOR YEAR TIMELINE
· Register for the fall SAT standardized tests ...We suggest the SAT because it is accepted by most all of the top schools and it is a bit harder. You should want the harder test right? There is one on November 3, December 1st of this year and March 1, May 3 and June 26 of 2008. Hopefully most you took yours in October as well.
· Get the best score that you can. Take it two to three times if necessary even if you qualified for the target schools minimum requirement the first time. Always strive to do better than what is required. You wouldn’t do the minimum required of you in a baseball game would you???
· Register for the NCAA Clearinghouse. The link is to the right.
· Step up your work-outs from the previous years work-outs. You are starting to mature and you are able to take more on physically.
· Double check if you are NCAA eligible with your counselor.
· GET GOOD GRADES!!!!!
Feb -May· Send out your high school schedule to all of your contacts. Find out what local paper covers your team frequently and send a link to each coach so that they can follow you. If your high school web site is up to date on the daily box scores and news, send them that link as well.
· Go visit the schools of your choice when you have time. Many have "Junior Days" during the spring, usually on Sundays. GO TO THEM!! THEY ARE IMPORTANT!! These are all “unofficial visits” and the bill will be on you.
· Plan your summer schedule!!! This is when the rubber hits the road…Attend all the important showcases. Go to the WWBA in Atlanta. Work to get invited to the Area Code try-outs and a USA Baseball try-out as an example. Have a plan in place and work towards getting as many phone calls as possible on July 1…the day when you can be officially contacted.
Summer· June and July are the primary showcase and camp months. If you followed the timeline, you will have gotten invitations to the camps of the schools of your choice, and to the invitation-only showcases. Continue sending out your letters and tell them of your successful Junior year on varsity. If you received any local awards such as first team in league or metro honors, tell them that up front!
· This is by far the most important time of a player’s baseball life. For instance, many of the better players will have received offers by the middle of the summer.
ON JULY 1, IF ALL GOES WELL, YOU SHOULD START RECEIVING YOU FIRST PHONE CALLS FROM COLLEGE COACHES!!!
· The NCAA allows phone contact after July 1 of your Junior year.
Monday, October 22, 2007
If you attended the recent Arizona Senior or Junior Classic in Peoria, AZ, then you may have already received that letter that reads...
"We saw you play at a recent showcase and have recognized you as one of the top players in your area"
Yes, this is sort of a standard letter that is sent out to just about every participant at a showcase. Part of the agreement of these showcases is the release of the database of the teams, players and coaches e-mails and home addresses. However, that doesn't mean that you ignore it. All of these coaches and organizers know that not every one is a talented prospect. However, not even every talented prospect can be a prospect if he doesn't respond to the questionnaires and letters that he receives from the college coach that sent the letter.
Bottom line, respond to every letter...Fill out every questionnaire...Get on their database...Because it will show that you are an interested athlete.
Well...one thing your son has that most baseball players that don't go to showcases and camps have is the desire to put their talent on display in front of the scouts. That says volumes about your sons character and desire for the game. That will make him a player to watch in future events. Now, it doesn't mean that they will recruit him. It just means that they will further evaluate him and see if the talent matches up to the desire and attitude. But, it's a start and a good position to be in.
Before we went to our first major camp (read my first post...we did some minor camps to get the kinks out first), my son and I sent out letters and e-mails to all of the colleges he thought he may want to go to school and play for and told them that he was attending the showcase. The letter and profile that we sent was very detailed. Below is a sample of the type of information you must put in a profile sheet. Include a good, "facing the camera" shot of your son...preferably torso up, so they can see his body type and frame.
<Travel Team Name
Coach: All Coaches Named Here
Address: 888 Baseball Rd, Baseball City CA 88888
Date of Birth: 01/01/1991 Age: 16
Height: 6'4" Weight: 190
High School: My High School Class of 2010
Phone / Web 888-999-0000 www.my highschool.org
HS Coach: Mr Coach (888) 777-8888
Bats: R Throws:R
Athletic Awards: Started Varsity as Freshman, All League 2nd team, County Times 2nd Team
Academic Awards: Frosh Deans List Honors Algebra Academic Award
Clubs/Activities: Freshman Class Treasurer
Hitting Coach: Coach Smith
Travel Baseball Background: 10U 7th Place USSSA Nationals, 11U 5th Place USSSA Nationals, 12U 2nd Place Cooperstown TOC, 13U USSSA 3rd Place Nationals, 14U National Champions USSSA, 15U National Champions Elite 16
Top Colleges Interested In: State U, State Tech, State A&M ______________________________________________________
ADDRESS EACH LETTER AND PERSONALIZE TO EACH INDIVIDUAL COACH AND MENTION THE COLLEGE AS WELL. NO SHORTCUTS!!!
PROVIDE AS MUCH INFO ABOUT YOUR SON AS POSSIBLE
As you can see from the profile info above, we included the following:
TRAVEL TEAM...This is important because the scouts and recruiters want to know how serious the players are about baseball and the way they challenge themselves against better competition. include your uniform number so they can spot you right away...this will vary...some showcases have pre-determined numbers that are given out...others will have the team just wear their travel ball uniforms. Also include your coaches phone number and e-mail so they can contact them with a profile of your abilities.
HIGH SCHOOL...High schools teams get the press, so if your player is on a high school team that gets a lot of local press, the scouts will know to look for you there. Also include the name, phone number and e-mail address of your high school coach. Depending on the league or the coaches reputation, they will contact that coach as well for an evaluation.
ACADEMICS...College baseball has always put more of an emphasis on grades than other sports...If a players grade point is above a 3.2, he will be recruited heavier than a student with a 2.8 or below...all things equal.
TRAVEL TEAM SUCCESS...While it doesn't matter what kind of success you had as a 10 year old, the fact that a player has had the discipline and desire to play those 100+ games and travel around the country for years, will help the coaches understand that you can handle the rigors of collegiate ball better than most.
LIST ALL COLLEGES YOU ARE INTERESTED IN...Don't be shy here..You will not make the coaches mad if their school is one of 10 listed. In fact, it shows that you have confidence in your ability to play there.
When we went through this process, we bought big 3" binders with the names of every college we sent letters and e-mails to and received letters from and organized the names on tabbed separators. We also wrote down notes of each and every showcase he attended and we did our own analysis of his performance....i.e. hits, plays made...60 yard time...SPARQ score etc.
This is just scratching the surface. There will be more on this subject later.
Friday, October 19, 2007
I just finished reading Senior Year by Dan Shaughnessy. Great book, and I'll have an extensive post about that in a few days...I came across another article on High School Baseball Web. This site is a wonderful resource for parents and players alike. Here's an excerpt from Bob Howdeshell about the Senior Year.
THE SENIOR YEAR
by Bob Howdeshell
High School Baseball Web
It seems like only last week that he was a nervous freshman just hoping to make the team. Now he has started his "Senior Year."
The evolution is almost complete. You have watched him grow from a skinny nervous kid that loved baseball but was not sure about his ability to compete on the high school level..... To a confident "near adult" senior that is hoping for a state championship this year.
Times have changed .... from Mom or Dad picking him up after practice to having his own car and being embarrassed if he needs to ride with his parents.
You have spent the equivalent of the cost of the finest big screen television / entertainment center on $250.00 bats and gloves, sliding shorts and athletic supporters, under-armor, batting gloves and cleats. And it was worth every penny!
You have endured weather that was better suited for the Iditarod Sled Dog Race than a baseball game. You know where every high school, within a 100 mile radius, is from your house.
You have been on "suicide watch" the nights that he went 0 for 4, made a crucial fielding error or had a bad pitching outing.
You have also cherished the nights that he had the game winning hit, went 4 for 4 with 2 doubles, made a spectacular game ending defensive play or was so dominating on the mound that it seemed like he was pitching to a group of "tee-ballers." He has "survived" girlfriends, proms, changing friendships, battles with his parents over shaving the 6 hairs on his chin and the English teacher that never smiles. You have had the discussion about how important good grades are so often that even the dog can recite it "word and verse."
They anxiously wait through the summer and fall and then through the endless winter for their "Senior Season" to arrive. He has started to learn how important the off-season work can be and has dedicated himself to it like no time before. He is READY!
Try-outs come for the rookies. The seniors get their chance to strut, posture and "look good." They finally get first choice of uniforms and numbers. The senior year means that they no longer have to carry equipment or clean-up locker rooms. They are now the "Senior Leadership" ..... whatever that means.
Two weeks, now five days, then one day until the first scrimmage game. Finally it is here! And it rains ........
Opening Day dawns bright and clear, all is right with the world. As you listen to the National Anthem you realize that he is within 25-30 games of the end of his high school athletic career. You wonder if he has thought about this. Just a few weeks until it is over.
For the majority of high school players this is the last organized baseball they will ever play. A few will play one more season with the summer team and a select fortunate few will continue on in college or professional baseball.
Before you realize it "Senior Day" is here. You ask one of the younger player's parents to take pictures for you. The senior players and their parents will be introduced before the game. Mom promises not to cry ... Dad is too tough to cry, the dust from the dry infield has made his eyes water!
The game begins and your concentration on the game is not as keen as it normally is. You think back to how cute he looked in his tee ball uniform, many years ago. You remember the team picture where his front teeth were missing -- and so were many of his teammate's.
You remember his first high school hit or pitching strike out. All the ups and downs, how you feel like his friends are a part of the family and you treat them the same as your own.
You have watched in amazement as these strapping young men, in the final years of being "teenagers," can act like a group of 6 year olds at a Chuckie Cheese.
He has made friends that will last a lifetime -- the parents promise to "stay in touch" but it usually doesn't happen. Everyone goes their own way. Hopefully your son has had a relationship with a coach that will remain positive with him for the rest of his life. Every athlete deserves that one special coach in his life.
It has been a wonderful ride and you wouldn't trade it for any amount of money. You hope that your children are as fortunate as you have been.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
What do college and pro scouts want from a potential recruit or prospect? They want a player that loves the games traditions no matter who participates. I don't have actual statistics to back this up, but a few scouts did tell us that they want dedicated diamond rats that love the sport.
So what does that have to do with the title of this post? Well, if you are a real baseball fan, you will watch the World Series for the tradition. You will watch this Series because you can't get enough of this game. You are a player that recognizes that all championships can't or shouldn't originate from New York, or L.A. to boost ratings. That's what scouts want...That's what baseball needs.
Personally, I think it's great that there is at least one team in the Fall Classic that is a WS newbie. The Rockies are good for the game. What a better way to give this game hope than watch a rookie of the year candidate like Tulowitzki showing his grit. Likewise, H Bombs...Holliday, Haupe and Helton have provided the veteran leadership and introduced the rest of the world to a new order...Let's face it, this decade we have been brainwashed with an east coast coercive persuasion technique that makes us boob tube lemmings of everything that has the Red Sox and Yankees attached to it. And don't get me started on the Mets and Dodgers in the NL. The Rockies are a rah-rah, feel good sports movie in the making. The rest of America is really missing out of they don't make this series one of the most watched in recent times...and I'm not even a Rockies fan. I'm just an avid, crazed baseball fan...like the one the scouts want to draft or recruit.
My point is that the Rockies are great role models for the game...Watch them closely prospects...Those are the type of players baseball needs more than any thing else. Give us hope for the future of the game and be the players that this team represents.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
If not, then hook up with a team that is. There will be over 75 scouts in Peoria, AZ at the Padres and Mariners spring training complex this weekend. October 19,20 and 21. Go to their web site at http://www.azfallclassic.com/ This tournament/showcase is a wood bat event.
If you have aspirations of playing college ball, then this is a great showcase to attend. The format is better than most regular showcases. Each team plays for at least two hours. There are 5 batters per inning and you play until time runs out. Depending on the size of the team, there are plenty of plate appearances for position players. Pitchers usually pitch 2-3 innings per "game". Again, depending on your team and the team you are playing, it will not be uncommon to see 40-50 scouts with radar guns and clipboards watching your game.
Last weekend was the Arizona Senior Classic, which was intended for uncommitted seniors. However, it has also become a preview for Juniors as well. The Junior classic will also mix in Freshman, Sophomores and Juniors. Not as well attended by scouts, but still worthy of a trip if you live near the area is the Sophomore Classic October 26-28.
Look it up or at least put it on your calender for next year. It is well worth your time and money!
Monday, October 15, 2007
For many baseball-playing high school sophomores, fall of 2007 is the start of the recruiting process. It's the time when colleges begin their anuual trek to find the next potential recruit. This process should be enjoyed, but it can also put pressure on you, especially if you are in the midst of a fall sport like soccer or football. I would like to review some of the key things that we have all experienced, as well as guidelines for anyone getting ready for this process. It can be daunting going through the showcase and camp process, but it can also be a whole lot of fun, if you keep it in the proper perspective. We know of one player in one of the top organizations in California that had two Pac-10 colleges on his top three from day one... and they treated him with the same enthusiasm as he treated them. It was a hard decision to make, but when it came down to it, the school from the Northwest seemed to be the better fit for him. And, the courting process started the fall of his sophomore year at a Perfect Game Showcase and a fall camp on the last week before a quiet period.
Here's some showcases to look out for this fall.
National Underclass Showcase - Session 1
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West Freshman Top Prospect Showcase
San Bernardino, CA
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National Underclass Showacase - Main Event
Ft. Myers, FL
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National Underclass Showcase - Session 3
Ft. Myers, FL
Saturday, December 8TEAM ONE PREVIEW2009 - 2011 GraduatesRoger Dean Sports Complex Jupiter, Florida
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Sunday, December 9TEAM ONE PREVIEW2009 - 2011 GraduatesBirmingham-Southern College Birmingham, Alabama
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Saturday, December 15TEAM ONE PREVIEW2009 - 2011 GraduatesCanada College Redwood City, California
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Sunday, December 16TEAM ONE PREVIEW2009 - 2011 GraduatesUC San Diego La Jolla, California
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At first, you will receive letters and e-mails from everyone...This is your time to figure out what is the best fit...
The first thing anyone must do, is find out which school you would be most comfortable at if baseball does not work out. Remember, school first, baseball second.
If for some unforeseen reason you couldn't continue to play, you do not want to be in a place where you hated the school and it's academic setting. It is also important to make sure that the school offers the particular academic curriculum you want. If you want to be a science major but the school doesn't offer science, then you might want to consider another school.
The fall season of your sophomore year can be overwhelming at times but it will set the table for the summer and eventually for the fall of your junior year...which for many is the time when the best athletes start getting serious letters and looks. The thing I think is most important, above and beyond everything else, is to enjoy the process. It's something that you will never forget.