Friday, January 11, 2008
RT Staff Note: We found this article in a little local paper called The Acorn that serves Agoura Hills, Calabassas, Westlake Village and surrounding other towns in Southern California. Scout Teams are great resources for players wanting to get exposure and improve their game...Most play in the late summer or fall, but some teams in various parts of the country play all summer. Learn from this article.
Club teams allow area baseball players to display their skills
So Cal Cardinals' rosters featured many local high school standouts
By Steve Ames Special to The Acorn
Cardinals scout team baseball program, the 2007 campaign was a successful one. With home games against Southern California Scout League opponents at Conejo Creek Park in Thousand Oaks, the So Cal Cardinals' two local affiliates- teams Blue and Red- compete in games where scores aren't kept.
"This league is all about exposure," said Chuck Fick, manager of the Cards Red team, earlier this year as he looked toward the opposing dugout where he could see Bill Gentry of Bakersfield, manager of the Cards Blue team. "It's not about wins and losses," Fick said. "It's about getting seen. (Players) never know what happens when (they) go to the ballpark. You don't know who's going to see you."
The scout-ball season runs from September through November each year for high school age players. The Cardinals' opponents include the Astros, Devil Rays, Indians, L.A. Braves, Red Sox, the Wahoo's and the White Sox.
Additional games were held in Nevada and Arizona, where the Cards Blue and Red teams played in the Arizona Senior Fall Classic in October at the Peoria Sports Complex. Scores were kept during those contests.
In addition, players from the So Cal Cardinals faced former Dodgers hurler Hideo Nomo the same month at the MLB Urban Youth Academy in Compton. Fick is the national crosschecker scout and Gentry is an associate scout covering the Central Valley and Southern California for the St. Louis Cardinals. "This (scout team program) is totally separate from the St. Louis Cardinals," Fick said.
"The St. Louis Cardinals do not give me one baseball. This whole team is financed through the players. What I try and provide for them is the exposure and the experience I can give to them from my knowledge of the game." The cost for players is $500. "You can spend $500 for one camp at a college, or you've got me and my whole staff for 12 weeks," Fick said.
In attempting to make either Cards squad, players attended a daylong workout in front of team scouts. Forty-three players were selected for each team from the 250 to 300 who tried out, 30 of whom represent local high schools. The key to the scout program, Fick said, is to teach the players how to slow the game down in their minds. "Baseball gets a little fast for some people," Fick said. "I think that the mental part of the game is what I really try and walk them through. The mental part is so important. You can't write a manual on it."
Assisting Fick as Red team coaches were Wayne Smith, Bill Fick, Derron Speller and Mike Lara. The Red team's roster included shortstop Adam Landecker of Calabasas, catcher/first baseman Nathan Johnson and third baseman/shortstop Bryan Willson from Camarillo, and third baseman/pitcher Wes Wright of Moorpark.
Representing Newbury Park High were second baseman Christian Fick, outfielder Cameron Forbes, shortstop Jack Marder and catcher Jojo Sharrar. Outfielder Mitchell Halpert from Oak Park, pitcher Matt Nestlerode of Oaks Christian, pitchers Matt Magill and Tanner Peters from Royal, catcher Drew Sandler of Simi Valley, catcher Jett Bandy and pitcher Jeff Johnson of Thousand Oaks and pitcher Alex Gillingham from Westlake also played for the Cards Red.
Wright, a senior at Moorpark in his second year with the Cards, said in scout baseball a player can work on pretty much anything to improve his game. "I'm just building arm strength, working on getting stronger," Wright said. "I've got all my pitches down, so building arm strength is my thing."
Other coaches who worked with Gentry on the Cards Blue team were Mike Glendenning and Joe Giarraputo. Area players on the Blue team included pitcher Matt Gallinot of Agoura, as well as Calabasas third baseman Justin Fredlender, outfielder/pitcher Dalton Saberhagen and outfielder Jordan Yallen. Outfielder Danny Wilson, second baseman Michael Erb and pitcher Nick Richardson represented Camarillo. Outfielder Ben Cohen, second baseman/ shortstop Brian Pede, outfielder Derek Taylor and first baseman Troy Williams all came from Newbury Park.
Those Cards Blue players were joined by shortstop/second baseman Sean Spear of Oaks Christian, outfielder Chance Cross from Simi Valley and third baseman Mitchell Korey of Thousand Oaks.
Erb, a sophomore at Camarillo High, has always played second base and enjoys the position. He focused on improving his defense with the Cards. "I'm getting more fine-tuned on reading hops better, reading hops off the bat," Erb said. "It's an instinctual thing."
Major League Baseball's scouting community and college recruiters from across the nation attended these games. Many players are recruited annually by college programs and sign letters of intent to play college baseball, in addition to several players who are taken in the MLB First Year Player Draft held in June.
Gentry said the exposure for the student-athletes is paying off. "Just in the early signing alone, we've already signed 35 or 36 kids to fouryear college programs, and there's still more coming," Gentry said. "We're going to conceivably have 40 to 45-plus kids signed into college baseball programs, and every year we have 10 to 15 kids drafted."
The scout league games are played with only an umpire behind home plate. Pitchers throw for 1 2/3 innings, and games are 14 to 18 innings long with hitters getting three or four at-bats each. "If the pitcher has played 15 games," Fick said, "he's thrown almost 30 innings during the fall. If he throws another 60 innings during the spring, that's 90 innings for the year. That's enough. That's a lot of innings for a high school pitcher."
The So Cal Cardinals' next tryout sessions will take place in August. -