Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mr. Personality

RT Staff Note: The following is from Carmen Bucci, President of The Complete Athlete. Carmen teaches high school athletes how to communicate better with their current coaches, college coaches and/or professional scouts. Since our theme for the past several weeks has been about recruiting, colleges and such, we welcome Carmen's contribution to help you with communicating to the scouts that recruit you.

By Carmen Bucci, The Complete Athlete

Talking on the phone, or meeting face to face with a college coach is an important step in the college recruiting process. If you receive a phone call or are offered a visit by a college coach, it means that a coach likes your ability as a player, and is interested in learning more about you as a person. Believe it or not, there’s more to you than just being a baseball player. You all have things about you that are interesting…things that make you unique. You may not think certain things about you are interesting, but others (college coach or professional scout) just might.

The more coaches or scouts know about you, your character, your background, your hobbies & interests, and your personality, the better they know you. In turn, the better they know you, the more they like you. And, finally, the more they like you, the better the chance you have to get recruited or drafted. Remember, when a college coach offers a scholarship or a chance to play at their school, and a professional team considers drafting you, they are making an investment in you.

Another reason to allow others to get to know you is that you just might find you have things in common. Finding things in common makes both of you more comfortable around each other and it makes a conversation go a little smoother. You’ll always have something to talk about with that person. Finally, if you don’t let people get to know you, they’re going to draw their own conclusions. And, those conclusions may not be right.

In my workshops, at the multiple Perfect Game Showcases, I had the pleasure of working with a number of dedicated baseball players. Before the workshop, they were each just 1 of the hundreds of players in attendance. While working together for only an hour, I was able to get to know them as more than just baseball players. I found out that one of the players speaks Italian, another is interested in physiology, a few of them have traveled overseas, another lived in 6 different cities growing up, another had a great sense of humor, and another was cut from his freshman team, only to come home and begin to work on his hitting in the basement 2 hours later. Not only did he make the team his sophomore year, he started. Most of the players didn’t think that what they were telling me was interesting. However, by the end of the workshop, each player left some type of impression on me.

I had a chance to really get to know the players, and each left an impression on me. Getting to know their personalities, and getting to know each of them as people, led to me wanting to see them succeed. You can have the same effect on a coach or scout.

How do you do that? How do you show your character, your personality, or your confidence without bragging? Stay tuned for next weeks article. We’ll cover how to show vs. tell.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Picking Your Baseball Heaven

The series we had on Baseball Heaven was one of our most pospular ever according to our Google analytics research. If anything, it was timely in that most of high school underclassmen out there are testing the waters and about to embark on a college camp or two in the next few weeks.

A few weeks ago, we talked about the recruiting timeline and getting your sons name out to the targeted colleges he wants to play for. One reader e-mailed us and said that if a kid is good enough, the colleges will find him. Well, let me put that comment in perspective. There are far more job opportunities than baseball roster spots. So, when a student graduates from college…if he is smart enough, there’s no need for resumes or interviews…the jobs will find him right? Getting the right offer is like interviewing for a job. As we stated over a hundred times in past articles, your son needs to be proactive and aggressively go after the colleges to ensure that they indeed know about him. Rounding Third is one of many sites dealing with college recruiting and yet we have received nearly a thousand responses in just the last three weeks asking for advice and suggesting topics for us to write about. All of the parents and players that wrote us are in the recruiting process. And, they are just a fraction of the tens of thousands of students wanting to play college ball. In fact, the real numbers are: 114,159 graduating high seniors versus 13,137 slots open. Now, do you begin to see the need to step up the recruiting effort?

Picking the Right Colleges

Pick the school first and the baseball program and it’s coaches second. First of all, they are STUDENT athletes. Players should ask themselves, “Would I go to school here if I wasn’t playing baseball?” Other criteria that must be at the top of your list are:

1) The schools academic reputation. This goes both ways. If your son is in the top percentile in GPA and his SAT’s, then target the schools that will benefit him academically first. If your son is in the middle of the pack academically, then your choices may be limited, so a bit more research on the eligibility requirements of the schools must be done. Either, way, there’s a good chance that baseball may not be a career choice. So, does the school offer the faculty support, study environment, student-teacher ratios and most importantly, in-season tutoring and curriculum that your son wants to major in to advance his own post college career? In–season tutoring is very important, especially since there will be increased time away from the classroom starting that started last year. It's old news now, but the NCAA, in an effort to supposedly even the playing field between Northern and Sunbelt schools, moved the season start date last season from February 1 to February 22. That means that the same 56 game schedule had to be condensed into 3 1/2 fewer weeks. Not enough people complained the February 22 start dates will continue. Your already time-stretched son will have as many as 5 games a week to balance with his academic workload. Many top programs offer student-athlete tutoring, so make sure that this is offered at his school of choice.

2) What about the cost? Baseball does not offer full rides. The average scholarship is about 50-60% of the total expenses depending on position. Pitchers usually get more in many cases and position players less. There are exceptions of course. A typical good offer for a top prospect will pay for 100% tuition and books, but the cost of out of season meal money and housing for the year is the responsibility of the student. Also, look at the costs of in-state vs. out of state. If you are on a budget, ask if the scholarship covers the increase of out of state fees. If not, it may be better to stay in-state. Now, there are ways to close the cost gap, if you haven't had the opportunity to invest in a college education fund. There are Pell Grants and need based student loans that can help off-set the $12,000 in room and board costs you will be responsible for.

3) Location. This is a personal choice. Does the player want to be close to family? Do the parents want to be able to travel to watch some games? Families need to sit down and discuss these issues. But remember, a school is a very important lifelong decision. The school that best fits him, his goals and his abilities may be far, far away.

4) Be Realistic. As we stated in past posts, match your son's evaluated baseball talent with the school that will offer him the best opportunities. Not everyone can play at Fresno State, UNC or ASU. It’s Ok to target as many as 40-50 schools, but make sure you mix in some smaller D-I’s, D-II’s, D-III’s (no scholarships offered at D-III) or NAIA schools in your areas as well. All of the schools are listed in the column to the right under, USEFUL NCAA AND HIGH SCHOOL PROSPECTS BASEBALL SITES. There have been many instances where players were determined to walk on at a Division I college, when they could have had a better chance to get an offer from a DII or NAIA. Research some of the smaller colleges. In more cases than not, you will be surprised at the quality of education, atmosphere, and social life are just as rewarding at a smaller school, then at the big state universities…So is the Baseball.

5) Reputation of the baseball program. Now after you have evaluated all of the above, then look at the program itself. Look at the tenure of the coaches, the facilities, and the alumni. A wonderful resource that we have used is called the Official Athletic College Guide: Baseball from Sports Source. It costs $34.95 and is well worth the investment.

6) Oh yeah, we almost forgot. Social Life... An important and not always easy thing to admit as a top criteria. But come on, wasn't college the best time of your life? It's an important life experience and one that will stick with your son forever.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Is This Heaven? Mid Atlantic Region

RT Staff Note: This is the final in our series on baseball heaven. Today we scoured the Mid Atlantic region for some of the best places to play colegiate ball. Actually, in our opinion, there isn't a place in this country that's a bad place...they are all good. We're just having some fun with some of our nations finest. If your son is playing collegiate baseball, then he is in baseball matter where it is located.

North Carolina

Cary C. Boshamer Stadium provides the Carolina baseball program one of the most beautiful home facilities in the nation.

Boshamer Stadium was a gift from 1917 Carolina graduate and textile industrialist Cary C. Boshamer of Gastonia, N.C. The Tar Heels have been playing at the current location since the late 1960s when Emerson Field was razed due to University expansion.

The Tar Heels have hosted 758 games at Boshamer Stadium and have a record of 568-188-2 (.751), including a 27-3 mark last year. Boshamer has been home to five Atlantic Coast Conference Tournaments, in 1973, 1975, 1981, 1982 and 1983, and the 1983 NCAA East Regional.

Carolina hosted the New York Yankees in exhibition games in 1977, 1979 and 1981 and Boshamer also played host to the 1987 U.S. Olympic Festival.

For five straight years, from 1989 through 1993, the Carolina Invitational brought some of the nation's finest programs to do battle with ACC competition just prior to the NCAA Tournament. In 1989, ESPN was on hand to televise two games live from Boshamer. That year, North Carolina upended No. 1-ranked Arizona 5-3 in 10 innings.

The stadium houses the Carolina baseball offices, team room, training room and dressing rooms. Tar Heel players take advantage of a private weight training and conditioning area which supplements the equipment found at the 8,000 square foot workout room at the Student-Athlete Development Center located at Kenan Stadium. Boshamer also has indoor pitching and hitting areas and outdoor cages which allow off the field work in all weather conditions.

Over the past several years, Boshamer Stadium has undergone a number of exciting renovations to keep it one of America's finest college baseball facilities. Among those things new to the stadium in 2000 are expanded dugouts, new awnings over the press box and office space, new field tarp and roller, new fencing and a new training room for the Tar Heels.

The University of North Carolina is fortunate to call home one of the finest all-around facilities in the nation. Boshamer has it all -- outstanding playing conditions maintained by a dedicated and knowledgeable grounds crew, excellent lighting, close to the field seating and purposeful training and relaxation environments for Carolina's players and coaches.

South Carolina

Sarge Frye Field is part of a 30-acre complex of athletic fields and buildings at the Rex Enright Athletic Center, named for the late University of South Carolina director of athletics and head football coach. Other facilities include the "Roundhouse" office building and the George Terry Olympic Sports building which houses dressing and sports medicine facilities.

A new baseball player's lounge and locker room was added to this facility in 1997. The first stage of extensive renovations scheduled for Sarge Frye Field included the locker room, lounge, which features a 60" big screen televison, and enlargement of the home dugout.

A two-tier press box was completed in 1987. A 10-foot foot fence surrounds the outfield and there is a large batter's background, 20 feet high and 40 feet side behind the center field fence. A computerized scoreboard and message center was installed in 1984.
Sarge Frye Field was the site of 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2004 NCAA Regional Tournaments and 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004 NCAA Super Regionals. In 1993, the Southeastern Conference Division Baseball Tournament was held at Sarge Frye Field. South Carolina ranked sixth in the nation in attendance for the 2004 season.

Prior to that, the facility hosted six NCAA regional baseball tournaments (1975-76-77-81-82-85) and the Metro Conference championship tournaments in 1987 and 1989. The South Carolina High School League often uses the facility for state championships and all-star games.


Doug Kingsmore Stadium, the home of Tiger baseball since 1970, has seen many changes and improvements over the years, but it has not lost its aesthetic beauty and unique feel on the west side of the Clemson University campus.

Doug Kingsmore Stadium has seen steady improvement since its first season in 1970, and is now one of the top facilities in the country. Just ask people at Baseball America, who released a coaches’ ranking that named Doug Kingsmore Stadium one of the best college facilities in the nation in 2003. And that ranking was done before any of the recent renovations were finished. Evidence of its rating among facilities across the nation has been demonstrated in recent years, when Doug Kingsmore Stadium was named as a site for a 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, and 2006 NCAA Regional.

And during the 2002 and 2003 offseasons, Doug Kingsmore Stadium underwent radical renovations. Over $5 million was spent to make the facility among the best in the nation.

There is a patio area outside the press box that is above the existing stands along the first and third-base lines. It is used for receptions and other events throughout the year.

The players also realize improvements, as four batting cages have been constructed beyond the right-field fence. The dugouts have been almost doubled in length and width. And the players have a newly-renovated locker room and lounge.

Prior to 2005, PawVision, the replay screen that was used in the football stadium, was moved to Doug Kingsmore Stadium. Prior to the 2008 season, new lights were also installed.

The facility is also equipped with a “Super-Sopper,” which cuts down on rainouts. Clemson is one of a few schools with this machine that removes water from the field.
The stadium has 3,500 permanent seats, but it is capable of holding 6,217 fans thanks to a hill area down the left-field line that is popular with the Clemson student-body. In 2001, the ballpark shrank its dimensions. The fences are now 320 feet down the left-field line, 370 feet in left-center, 400 feet to straight-away center, 375 feet in the right-center alley, and 330 feet down the right-field line.


The Tennessee baseball program embarked on a new era in 1993 as the gates opened to the newly-built Lindsey Nelson Stadium for the first time on Feb. 23 of that year.
The $2.2 million facility gave UT one of the finest collegiate ballparks in the nation.

The main grandstand area in the stadium has a permanent seating capacity of 2,300, which includes 696 chairback seats and 1,604 bench seats. In 2003, a state-of-the-art scoreboard was installed with a video screen. Permanent grandstands, along with another fully-stocked concession stand are located down the right-field line. New left-field bleachers expanded capacity to 3,712 in 2006.

Among the features are a state-of-the-art press box which includes radio booths for both home and visitor, a television broadcast booth, an operations room and a hospitality area.

On the field, both the Vols and the visiting team benefit from spacious dugouts. The space beneath the seating area was renovated in 1994. It includes a spacious locker room for the Vols players and a locker room for the coaching staff. Also featured is an equipment room, a training room, a video room, a traditions room, a hitting tunnel, a mound and a team lounge area which has a flat-screen TV, pool table and ping-pong table.

Fans to UT baseball games benefit from elevated seating, which affords a clear view of the playing field from any angle. Spacious restrooms as well as a large concession area also help create an ideal atmosphere for fans.

Provided with excellent conditions in which to enjoy the games, Vols fans come out by the thousands each weekend as witnessed by the fact that Tennessee drew 81,801 spectators and ranked ninth nationally in 1995 after drawing 58,300 in 1994 and 44,704 in 1993. In 1997, a record average of 2,137 fans saw the Volunteers play, for a total of 64,107, the largest regular-season total ever.

To top it all off, Lindsey Nelson Stadium was the host site for NCAA Regionals in 1993, 1994, 1995, 2001 and 2005. In 1995, the Mideast Regional ranked fifth among the eight sites with 18,787 fans attending the games. Tennessee had three crowds among the top-10 largest to ever see a game at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. In the regional final, a record crowd of 5,086 saw the Vols earn a trip to the College World Series by defeating Oklahoma State, 3-1.

Coastal Carolina

Coastal Carolina University is a dynamic, public comprehensive liberal arts institution located in Conway, just minutes from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. That’s always a plus when looking for your baseball heaven.

The Coastal Carolina baseball team calls Charles Watson Stadium/Vrooman Field home. The stadium has received significant upgrades for the 2008 season, making the field one of the best in both the conference and the Southeast. Watson Stadium/ Vrooman Field will have new seats and new turf outside of the bases and home plate for 2008. The clubhouse also has been renovated, with new lockers, a new lounge and a new training facility for the Chanticleers. Coastal also had five games at BB&T Coastal Field in 2007, including the 2007 NCAA Myrtle Beach Regional. Further improvements to the facilities include a brand new hitting complex beyond the center field wall.

RT Staff

"Is this heaven?"
"It's collegiate baseball."
"Collegiate baseball? I could have sworn this was heaven.."

"Is there a heaven?"
"Oh yeah. It's the place where dreams come true."
"Maybe this IS heaven."

Monday, July 28, 2008

Is This Heaven? Southeast

RT Staff Note: This is part three of our collegiate baseball series on baseball heaven. Enjoy our southeastern picks.

Florida State

We love this place! Dick Howser Stadium will take its place as one of the top collegiate baseball facilities in the country after a two-year, $12 million dollar project was completed in 2004. Located on the campus of Florida State University, the stadium has provided almost two million fans with the feeling of having "the best seat in the house" to watch the finest in college baseball action.

Florida State's players and coaches enjoy the convenience and luxury of a clubhouse and locker room currently located behind the Seminole dugout. The Griffin Family Clubhouse was moved to the first base side for the 2004 season as the construction process was completed. The main locker room area is fully-carpeted and contains a personalized wooden locker for each player, a separate locker room for the Seminole coaches, and a video area where FSU players and coaches can watch film. The coaches' offices look over the stadium behind home plate. A built-in stereo system blares the players' latest favorites. There is also a weight room and training area adjacent to the clubhouse. Each of the areas were expanded and improved during the renovation process.

There are on-going efforts to keep Dick Howser Stadium one of the top facilities in college baseball. Truly a "player's ballpark," the stadium has had many upgrades since it opened in 1983: the addition of a 30-foot screen to the top of the right field wall, the adding of a roof to the grandstand and state-of-the-art video board.

Dick Howser Stadium, named after the late Kansas City Royals and Florida State manager who was also Florida State's first-ever baseball All-American, is a showcase befitting one of the top collegiate teams in the nation. From the beautifully-manicured playing surface to the chairback seats, Howser Stadium is one of the best places in the country to watch a game.

Stadium capacity increased to 6,700 as additional seats were added during the two-year construction process. Florida State annually ranks in the top 10 nationally in attendance. In 2003, Florida State baseball fans set records in both total attendance (131,223) and average attendance (3,281). In 1994, the one-millionth fan walked through the gates of Howser Stadium in only its 12th season of operation. Total attendance will reach two million early this season. Since the 1983 opening, FSU has averaged almost 2,500 fans per game.

Florida State fans are simply the best and most knowledgeable in college baseball. Although they live and die with "their" Seminoles, the FSU faithful are known nationwide for their sportsmanship and appreciation of good baseball - by both teams, as well as their sometimes "creative" brand of support. Fans, along with the stadium and a professional game operation, are a large reason Dick Howser Stadium has been the site of 19 NCAA Regional Tournaments in 20 years since its' opening in 1983.

The stadium was dedicated in honor of Dick Howser in March of 1988 prior to an exhibition game between Florida State and the Kansas City Royals, two of Howser's former teams. As part of the stadium dedication, Kansas City all-stars George Brett and Bo Jackson helped unveil a new $150,000 matrix scoreboard and a bronze bust of Howser.


In 1971, former Miami coach Ron Fraser had a dream of building a state-of-the-art college baseball field and Hurricane supporter George Light came forward with the funding. In 1974, when more assistance was needed, Light again was the savior. However, Light never got to see the Hurricanes reach the College World Series. He died shortly after that second donation as the Hurricanes finished second in their first CWS. The field, dedicated in 1977, is named for Light's son, Mark, who died of muscular dystrophy.
Several additional renovations were made in the fall of 1996. The locker room, training room and umpire's room were each revamped. A new hitting backstop and sound system were also added. The facility currently holds 5,000 spectators.

Mark Light Field will undergo renovations in the near future. A $3.9 Million contribution by New York Yankees All-Star Alex Rodriguez got the fundraising campaign underway. The gift was the largest ever to the Universtiy of Miami baseball program. The University will name the newly renovated facility Alex Rodriguez Park upon its construction. The first will assist the program in continuing to develop first-class facilities. The entire place is expected to cost in the neighborhood of $11 million.


Foley Field, constructed at a cost of $3.5 million in 1990, is one of the finest baseball complexes in the country. The stadium's capacity of 3,291 includes chairback and bleacher-style seating. The grandstand area is covered by a partial roof with both concession stands and rest rooms located in the stadium. A new playing surface and drainage system was installed in the summer of 2003.
The complex continues to get better with new chairbacks on the lower level and in the covered area of the grandstand added in 2003. There are indoor and outdoor bullpens and indoor hitting cages. The lower portion of the stadium includes a spacious locker room, players lounge, a coaches office, an equipment room plus exercise and athletic training facilities.

The first home for the Diamond Dogs was Herty Field where they played from 1886 until 1911. After that, they moved to Sanford Field until 1943.

After World War II, the Diamond Dogs played on a field with no name located on "Ag. Hill," where Stegeman Coliseum is today. When construction for the Coliseum began in 1962, the Diamond Dogs moved to their freshman field, which was next to where the Butts-Mehre building is now. In 1966, the Diamond Dogs moved to their current location, and two years later, it was named Foley Field. On May 5, 1990, a $3.5 million refurbished Foley Field was dedicated.

Named after Judge Frank Foley, Foley Field is consistently ranked among the nation's top collegiate baseball stadiums. Frank Foley is considered one of Georgia's all-time greats for his contributions both on and off the field. Foley was part of the 1908 Southeastern championship team that recorded a mark of 20-2. He was a distinguished alumnus who is remembered by many as a kind and caring gentleman. His enthusiasm for the University of Georgia was second-to-none.


Auburn's Samford Stadium-Hitchcock Field at Plainsman Park placed itself among the nation's finest college baseball facilities after receiving a $4.2 million facelift nine years ago.

The commitment to excellence of Auburn's baseball program is evident by the continuing efforts to keep Plainsman Park on the forefront of college baseball. Those efforts have included three additions to the facility since its initial renovations in 1996.

The most recent projects included a new drainage system and playing surface in the Summer of 2003 and the completion of the Strength and Rehabilitation Center adjacent to Plainsman Park in January of 2004.

The Strength and Rehabilitation Center is a two-story, 13,274 square foot facility that houses a weight room for the baseball team on the first floor and a rehabilitation and research center on the second floor.

The weight room is unrivaled in collegiate baseball and features nearly 50 pieces of equipment. The facility also has its own locker room.

Upon completion in February 2002, the new landscape now provides a more intimate setting for the nation's top facility, allowing fans to have seats down each foul line within feet of the playing surface. Renovations also included additional concession and restroom facilities behind the newly added seats along the right field foul line.

The bullpens, which once existed where the seats down the foul line were added, have found new locations in Plainsman Park. Auburn's bullpens are located behind the Green Monster in left field, while the visiting bullpen rests beyond the right center field fence, next to the K Corner.

Georgia Tech

Scenically nestled in downtown Atlanta, Russ Chandler Stadium provides a brilliant backdrop for college baseball and offers one of the best atmospheres for the game in the country.

Russ Chandler Stadium, the home of Georgia Tech baseball for more than 70 years, has a long and storied history from its original construction in 1930 with funds from Tech's 1929 appearance in the Rose Bowl game to its use as a training facility for the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games. The facility underwent a complete reconstruction for the 2002 season in less than eight months at a cost of $9.7 million, making Russ Chandler Stadium one of the top collegiate ballparks in America.

With a seating capacity of 4,157, Georgia Tech's baseball facility more than doubled in size from the previous stadium. Russ Chandler Stadium features approximately 1,100 chairback seats behind the home plate area in addition to nearly 3,000 bleacher seats. Space is available down the left field line for future expansion that would bring the capacity to over 5,000.

The facility includes locker rooms for both Georgia Tech and the visiting team, as well as one for the umpires. Tech's locker room area, which has moved to the third base side of the stadium, includes a player's lounge with a large-screen television, a video room where players and coaches can break down game film, and a separate locker area for the coaching staff. A state-of-the-art athletic training room is adjacent to the Tech locker room in addition to a sizeable weight room and workout facility.

The stadium features three covered batting cages and pitching mounds. One is located underneath the grandstand, while an enclosed area above the left field grandstand houses two additional cages and mounds.

Two enclosed luxury suites are located to one side of the press box, while six open-air, covered suites are on the other side of the press area. The stadium was designed by the architectural firm of HOK, which also designed Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Jacobs Field in Cleveland and AT&T Park in San Francisco among others. The joint venture of Carter & Associates and Turner Construction handled the construction of the project.

In 2002, the Yellow Jackets enjoyed a record-setting season with attendance. Tech set a Chandler Stadium regular season single game attendance record when 4,264 watched the Yellow Jackets defeat Georgia, 9-1 on March 27. Tech attracted over 15,000 fans for its games in the NCAA Atlanta Regional and Super Regional. The Yellow Jackets opened the new stadium with 22 straight victories and went 36-4 for the season on their home field.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Is This Heaven? Southwest/Mid South

RT Staff Note: We continue our Baseball Heaven series with the Mid South/Southwest. Baseball in this part of the country is huge, well attended and doesn't quite have the distractions, competition for events and activities that some California schools have. The stadiums are incredible and the fan base, the best in the college ranks. Enjoy the Mid South/Southwest's version of Baseball Heaven.
RT Staff

1. University of Texas

The University of Texas averages 5,492 fans a game. Until the Tampa Bay Rays started winning, the Longhorns were almost matching them in attendance. But we digress. UT has one of the more storied programs in the country and although UFCU Disch-Falk Field is under renovation, it still is one of the great places to play ball.

Like our California counterparts, the weather is conducive to play ball in late February and that’s important information to know if you are going to commit to three or four years of college baseball.

Disch-Falk Field opened in 1975 and the Longhorns, with the aid of All-American campaigns from Keith Moreland and Jim Gideon capture the program's third National Championship behind a 56-6 overall record. Notably, the national title was the first for UT in 25 years. Some other notable moments in UT baseball history was Junior right-hander Eric Stone becomes only the second pitcher in Texas history to strike out 19 opposing batters in one game when he fans 19 Ragin' Cajuns on March 18, 1998, to help UT claim a 2-0 victory over Southwestern Louisiana. Notably, the other pitcher to strike out 19 batters was Burt Hooton, who turned the trick against Texas Tech during a 1-0 victory in 13 innings on March 19, 1971.

The UT campus, like the state is huge, but very aesthetically pleasing campus and is everything a student athlete would want in a university. Outside of the west coast, you can’t go wrong with the Texas version of baseball heaven. Yep, everything is big in Texas (see the clock tower to the right) and the Longhorns score big on our top places to play ball in this part of the country. Yeehaw!

2. Oklahoma State

In 1981, the start of a new chapter in Oklahoma State baseball history was written. The Cowboys began play in one of the nation's finest facilities and returned to national prominence. Allie P. Reynolds Stadium has now been home to Cowboy baseball for over 20 years. Located on the northeast side of campus, Reynolds Stadium is located on the same site as the old baseball facility, University Park, and is named in honor of former OSU and major league pitching great Allie P. Reynolds.

The $2.2 million structure, with approximately 1,000 chairback seats, 2,000 bleacher seats in the main grandstand and 1,000 bleacher seats down the left-field foul line, Reynolds Stadium has a capacity near 4,000.

The Cowboys have added 693 games in the win column against only 144 losses for an impressive winning percentage of .828 in their home stadium. During the 1986 and '87 seasons, the Cowboys amassed a 54-game winning streak at home.

In addition to nine NCAA Regionals, Reynolds Stadium has played host to several of the nation's elite teams including: Arizona, Auburn, Cal State-Fullerton, Stanford, Texas, UCLA and Wichita State.
Allie P. Reynolds also has one of the nation's finest press boxes, featuring three radio booths and seating for 25 members of the media. In June 2005, the Cowboys moved into a new clubhouse along the third base dugout. The 6,200-square foot facility was built at an approximate cost of $700,000 and includes spacious wooden lockers for each player and a lounge area with leather couches, a big screen television and top of the line audio equipment. There is also a new locker room for the OSU coaches, a locker room for umpires, showers, an equipment room, a training room and a kitchen area for pre-game meals.

3. LSU

Alex Box Stadium, the home of the LSU Fighting Tigers, has a storied history which spans several decades. Always known as an excellent facility, recent efforts to upgrade the stadium have made it comparable to that of many professional minor-league clubs.In 2007 , the Tigers drew 256,537 fans to Alex Box Stadium as LSU finished first in the nation in total attendance for the 12th straight year. The Tigers set an NCAA record in 2004 for average attendance with 7,898 per contest. LSU established an NCAA total attendance mark in 2003 as 291,676 fans purchased tickets for “Baseball at the Box.”

LSU has been among the nation's attendance leaders for the past 17 seasons, finishing No. 5 in 1991, No. 6 in 1992, No. 4 in 1993, No. 3 in 1994 and 1995, and No. 1 from 1996-2007.

Over the past 24 seasons, the Tigers have attracted over four million fans to Alex Box Stadium. A total of 4,231,830 patrons have watched the Tigers play at "The Box" since 1984.

The stadium is recognized both for its oldfashioned charm and for its modern renovations. Since 1985, it has been the site of four SEC tournaments, 17 NCAA regional tournaments, three NCAA super regional series and one ABCA Hall of Fame tournament. “The Box” has undergone several facility-improvement projects designed to enhance the comfort and enjoyment of LSU baseball fans.
Prior to the 1999 season, the stadium scoreboard was moved from leftcenter field to right-center field. Bleachers were then installed in left-center field, increasing seating capacity to 7,760.

Visitors to Alex Box Stadium in 1998 had for the first time the opportunity to enjoy a concessions/picnic area behind the rightfield bleachers, complementing a similar facility behind the left-field bleachers.

4. Rice
Entering its ninth season in 2008, Reckling Park underwent extensive renovations in the summer of 2007 and is now even better than ever before. The recent renovations include a brand new playing surface and state-of-the-art drainage system.

A padded outfield wall and warning track that surrounds the entire field was added to improve player-safety. For the fans, a new grass berm and bleachers beyond the left field wall, a new hospitality plaza on the third-base side were all added and a new scoreboard and video display center are to be added in-season.

Reckling Park was always one of the best places in the country to watch the college game. The changes now make among the very best places in the country to watch and play the college game. These improvements give Rice student-athletes a venue befitting its status as one of the top programs in the nation.

From its picturesque setting on the Rice campus facing the Texas Medical Center, to the comfort of the more than 3,700 chairback seats (most with cupholders), to the nine private suites, to the spacious locker rooms for both teams and umpires, to the best press box in college baseball, every visitor has raved about Reckling Park.

Rice baseball is completely housed in the facility. Head coach Wayne Graham and his assistants work in a spacious office suite which includes their private locker room, equipment storage areas and clerical areas.

For the players, the Rice clubhouse is one of the best anywhere, adjacent to the weight and aerobic workout areas and athletic training room. In 2004, a brand new climate-controlled, indoor hitting and pitching practice facility was constructed under the third base stands.
On game day, the Owls and their guests use some of the largest dugouts in the country. Visiting teams and umpires also have use of large, functional locker room areas.

Fans continue to flock to the stadium. Rice has averaged more than 3,100 fans per game the last four seasons, ranking among the top draws in the nation. Those fans have access to three large concession areas, a large novelty shop and comfortable rest rooms.

5. Ole Miss
The stadium’s first action saw the Rebels sweep a doubleheader from Cumberland University on a bitter cold day, February 19, 1989. Still, a crowd of 1,016 braved the elements to be a part of that historic day in the school’s baseball history.

Ole Miss officially dedicated its new home on April 22, 1989, with a ceremony attended by many dignitaries, including Hall of Famer Whitey Ford and Ole Miss great Archie Manning. A sellout crowd of 2,967 attended and watched the Rebels down Kentucky, 4-3.

of a roof. A seating area was added beyond the right field fence in 1993, where hundreds of Ole Miss students have become accustomed to spending their sunny spring afternoons at the ball park.

The right field area has since undergone another transformation as a left field and right field lounge area was constructed during the 2000 season. The area is complete with picnic tables and barbeque stands to make this unique vantage point even more enjoyable.

Oxford-University Stadium’s features also include ample parking, concession stands, restrooms, an electronic scoreboard equipped with a full-size message board and television production facilities. The stadium is also equipped with AAA lighting that surpasses virtually every minor league ballpark in terms of quality.

Underneath the stadium, the Ole Miss players have a spacious locker room. Head coach Mike Bianco and his staff also have a separate office underneath the stands that is located adjacent to an all-purpose room, which serves as a player lounge and press interview area.

In the fall of 2003, a new 6,800-square-foot indoor batting facility was built down the first base line. With the new addition, the Rebels have been able to turn the indoor batting tunnel that is located underneath the first base stands, into a workout area for the pitchers.

"Is this heaven?"
"It's collegiate baseball."
"Collegiate baseball? I could have sworn this was heaven.."

"Is there a heaven?"
"Oh yeah. It's the place where dreams come true."
"Maybe this IS heaven."

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Is This Heaven? West Coast

RT Staff Note:
"Is this heaven?"
"It's collegiate baseball."
"Collegiate baseball? I could have sworn this was heaven.."
We are ranking our collegiate baseball heaven by region the rest of this week. The West, by virtue of being our first in this series is our number one region because of these four words..."No Chance of Rain".

Yes folks, California and the western United States may be seen as a nutty place to be, but it's a dry, nutty place to live. In our many years out here, we have only seen a handfull of rain outs...and that was in January or February when it does actually rain here. Of course, the rest of the country is shoveling snow at that time, so we'll forgive the rain gods for two or three rain-outs every ten years. As you and your sons decide on what colleges to target, we thought that a bit of dreaming is in order. These places are our pick for great places to play ball. Thanks to the University web sites for the info and to our sons for the chance to see these places first hand in past tourneys and camps.

1. Arizona State

Our number one for several reasons. Tradition, Alumni and National Titles. They are the baseball version of UCLA basketball and USC football. They also reside in one of the best baseball climates in the country. If you like to play in warm weather (it’s near perfect in the spring and late winter), then this is your baseball heaven.

Winkles Field-Packard Stadium at Brock Ballpark, home of Arizona State baseball since 1974, is one of the nation's most beautiful collegiate ballparks. Known for its wonderful aesthetic features, the outfield wall is lined with palm trees, and just beyond the right-field fence is the award-winning Karsten Golf Course. In left field, sparkling Tempe Town Lake and the Tempe construction boom is visible. In the distance, the Superstition Mountains offer a picturesque backdrop. But for every bit of beauty that envelops the facility, there is an equal dose of tradition.

The facility is the home of two national championship teams and 14 NCAA regional tournaments. Arizona State's all-time record at Packard is 894-257-1, for a winning percentage of .776. Last season, ASU was 26-6 at home and over the last five seasons, ASU has won over 80% of its games at home.
In 1995, the Sports Turf Manager Association awarded groundskeeper Brian Johnson and Packard Stadium Field of the Year honors. In addition, a 2003 coaches survey published in Baseball America ranked ASU's baseball facilities among the Top 15 in the nation.

Just before the 2003 season, ASU installed a brand new playing surface featuring major league quality drainage and irrigation systems. The playing surface consists of tiff green grass in the infield and Bermuda grass in the outfield. The dirt portion of the infield is crushed red brick, which can be found at many major league stadiums. The playing surface is annually referred to as one of the nation's best.

A new players' facility, opened in August 2004, includes a clubhouse and a state-of-the-art sports medicine facility. The clubhouse also includes a video room, study area and meeting room.

2. Pepperdine

Pepperdine's home baseball games are played at Eddy D. Field Stadium, one of the nation's most picturesque collegiate facilities. The baseball field looks out over the Pacific Ocean. The campus is like a Club Med and is in tony Malibu. Oh yeah, Pamela Anderson is kind of like their team mascot and big athletic supporter. If this kind of thing gives you baseball sized goose bumps, (it does us) then this is your baseball heaven.

Original field construction was completed prior to the 1973 season, and the facility was then known as Waves Park. Pepperdine won the first game played at Waves Park, defeating Whittier by a final score of 5-2 on Feb. 16, 1973.

Bleacher and stadium seating was added in 1980, and the facility was officially dedicated as Eddy D. Field Stadium on March 30, 1980. Pepperdine defeated Nebraska by a final score of 5-4 on that date.

Eddy D. Field Stadium has seating for up to 1,800 fans. The facility includes a fully equipped press box, self-contained clubhouses underneath the grandstands, restrooms and a concessions booth. A significant portion of the playing surface was refurbished during the summer of 2003 and a state-of-the-art scoreboard with a video screen was added prior to the 2007 season.

Other recent improvements include additional batting cages, new lockers in the home clubhouse, an upgraded weight room and new blue plastic chair back seats installed during the summer of 2003. Fundraising is currently underway for a new screen backstop.

Pepperdine has posted a winning record at Eddy D. Field Stadium each year since 1974 and the Waves have won more than 70 percent of their home games over the years. The 2006 season marked a first in program history as Eddy D. Field Stadium was selected as the host site for an NCAA Regional.

The Eddy D. Field Stadium complex has been used extensively for the filming of several commercials and movies and has been the site for the University's commencement exercises.

3. Stanford

Often called the most beautiful college baseball facility in the country.
Located a short distance from Stanford Stadium (football field), the facility was originally constructed in 1931 and continues to have a seating capacity of 4,000.

In addition to being the home of Stanford Baseball, Sunken Diamond has also served as a host site for nine NCAA Regional Tournaments - 1983, 1985, 1987, 1990, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001, 2002, as well as NCAA Super Regionals in 1999, 2000 and 2002. A Sunken Diamond record of 4,172 fans witnessed the 1997 NCAA West Regional Final between Stanford and Fresno State.

It is also situated on one of the most beautiful campuses in the country. Arguably the nations top academic school, Stanford has had 93 Olympic Gold Medal winners and has won 109 national championships in various sports. If you are a sports fan, then this is your heaven.

4. UC Santa Barbara

The baseball field, it’s hitting facilities and locker rooms are top notch. The baseball stadium is average but has a charm about it… but the location of this school, its size and the weather makes this Big West school tops on our list.

See the picture to the right? It isn't altered. This is baseball heaven for the Oakley set. The school of 20,000+ students IS on the ocean. That whole area/peninsula shot you see there is the university. As if the Ocean wasn't enough, the school has a lake too. Dorms have million dollar ocean views at relatively inexpensive college prices. The stadium gets a nice breeze towards left, making it a bit easier for right handed hitters. The campus is gorgeous and so are the people that go there. Why this school doesn’t compete at Omaha year after year with the recruiting tool they have is beyond us.

They are competitive though. Last year the Gauchos won 36 games and return most of their team. This is a bonafide baseball school folks, not just a pretty place to go to school. When you go on their web site you’ll find former Gaucho and 5 Time All-Star Michael Young’s picture blasted on the front page. His sac fly in the All-Star game ended the 15 inning marathon. It’s his 2nd game winning at bat in the All Star game in 3 years. Barry Zito, the Cardinals Skip Schumacker are active major leaguers and ex-Gauchos.

5. San Diego State

Tony Gwynn Stadium is home to SDSU’s Aztec baseball team. The $4 million facility was made possible through the generosity of San Diego Padres owner John Moores, and is named in honor of SDSU alum and Padres’ Hall-of-Fame inductee Tony Gwynn.

Like UC Santa Barbara, the location and the fact that one of the greatest hitters of our time sits in the dug-out makes this our 5th choice for baseball heaven. The campus is also one of the most beautiful of all the state schools in California. Its Mission Style architecture, palm trees and patented warm climate is so very conducive to playing ball.

In fact, you will find that this week, our baseball heaven entries are all in warmer weather climates. Why? Baseball is a warm weather sport boys. That's our take anyway. You will never see us crying over the fact that Texas, California and Mississippi aren't part of Hockey heaven places to play.

Enjoy our series. You may be disappointed that your school is not one of the chosen few, but you can't argue with who we picked either. There are others of course. For sheer fan support, Fresno State packs them in game after game in a great baseball atmosphere. You gotta love a field named after Jackie Robinson at UCLA. Oregon State has a great field, just lousy weather. West Coast Conference schools such as LMU and Santa Clara have great stadiums but lack a bit on the fan support. If your school is your baseball heaven, then comment below. It's all fun and all good.

"Is there a heaven?"
"Oh yeah. It's the place where dreams come true."
"Maybe this IS heaven."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Timing Is Now

We had a friend travel with his son (a Senior at the time....since graduated) to see a few schools this past spring and they happened to visit a very small D-1 school that told him that one of their position player recruits had to have major shoulder surgery and in all likelihood, would not be able to play next year. Because this visiting player had a near perfect GPA and SAT score, and also played for a top rated travel program, the coach at this university told him timing was everything and made him an offer. He had almost given up hope that he could play college baseball. That brings up a good subject for today's post. This player took a different approach and visited colleges he wanted to attend. And, if you have the time, this is a great way to get to know a school that you may be unsure of. Just because you haven't heard of a school or aren't that familiar with a school, doesn't mean it's not a good school. This player was surprised by the beauty of the schools he visited. Interestingly, many small D-II, D-III and NAIA colleges look very picturesque...more so than their big D-I counterparts. And believe it or not, school aesthetics are a big part of many decisions to go to a school.

However, most players don't have that luxury or time, but there is a lot you can still do from your home to help you get noticed by colleges that still have needs.

Timing is only everything if a players name is top of mind with that coach at the time of the need. In other words, if a player is a unsigned senior, one letter to your target colleges won't do. You need to step up your creative and supply them with a bit more than what you previously have given them.

For instance, companies advertise to attract consumers to their stores and buy their products. You must do the same. Do you have a video of your skill? If you are a position player, provide an edited video of you fielding your position from various angles. Video yourself at the plate...preferably at a 90 degree angle (facing the batter), then from behind the plate. Time and film your throws to first if you are an infielder and to third from right field if you are an outfielder. Pitchers parents have tons of game videos usually, so edit the best performances. Do a brief intro of your name, grade, height, weight, side you throw and bat, high school, travel team and send it off to one of your target colleges with your complete profile.

But be smart who you send it to. As a senior, letters to Top 50 D-I programs are probably not realistic. Our friend's scenario at the top of this post is the exception. Barring injuries, most top D-I's have completed their recruiting and as we stated yesterday, the colleges with needs are the smaller D-I's, most D-II's, D-III's, NAIA and JUCO's. That should be your target.

If you can't visit these colleges, many have virtual tours on their web sites. Some are quite good and provide 360 degree views of the campus and it's main attractions. Look and see if the targeted school has the educational curriculum that interests you... Go to their baseball site and look at who they play, their record, who they graduated and who they have signed thus far. If everything looks good, send them the packet. It's tedious and time consuming, but so is college life, so this is a great exercise to tackle.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Who Do You Believe?

There are so many showcase services, letters from college coaches about their camps, and player rankings from a multitude of services, it's hard to put it all into perspective. What does all of this contact from these people mean? It means your son is in a bunch of datatbases. That's not such a bad thing...but beware, some of the services, to paraphrase former football coach Dennis Green.."They aren't who they say they are".

We get dozens of e-mails from services claiming to get you noticed by managing the paper flow to the coaches. Today, we received one that claims is a web based management tool that helps players manage and upload their information, videos, news clippings etc for $19.95 to send to coaches. Why can't a player do that himself? Why does he need a web based management tool to store that info?

We got e-mail blasted from another "showcase" organization three times a week to reserve our players chance to be seen by a bunch of coaches of colleges that we hardly heard of. Most were D-III and NAIA schools, yet they made it sound like an elite camp and it wasn't...Not that a showcase for players interested in attending a small college isn't a good is a great just wasn't being marketed as such.

And of course, we have all received that letter that stated that our son was a Pre-Season All-American to something...And for $375, he'll get a t-shirt to prove it. And many families spend that money so they can have something to talk about at the water cooler that next Monday morning.

When it comes to legitimacy, it's our opinion to stick with the brand names and the basics...

Do you want bang for your buck? Attend a Perfect Game showcase. They are the grand-daddy of showcases nationwide and also run the Statewide and regional BCS and WWBA national tournaments...Team One/Baseball Factory has a few good showcases in many parts of the country as well. However, there are privately run showcases by established organizations like Boys of Baseball, Impact Baseball Showcases in the mid-south, Best In Virginia, Blue Chip Prospects in the Northeast that are excellent events for scouts to attend. There will be many others that claim to be The One Showcase You Must Attend and they may be...but, just be careful and do your homework.

Do you want a bigger bang to compliment the above? Have your son try-out for a major travel team that goes to all of the aforementioned top showcase tournaments and has contacts with college coaches...However, having college contacts are only useful if the coach on the other end of the phone respects the messengers opinion. As, we stated in yesterday's post...ASK FOR REFERENCES!

Is your son the best on his high school team, but money is tight? Have your son's high school coach nominate him for your states North/South or East/West games run by the state high school association...or have him nominate him for the Area Code games in your area. In many states, these are free and many local and regional scouts attend these events. Since it's the best high school players in the state or area, it's a good benchmark for the recruiters and scouts to assess talent. However, if you can get a sponsorship or scholarship, (many top travel teams have scholarship options) we stress the importance of having your son play the entire summer in a competitive environment on a travel team to compliment the free showcases. If a scout shows interest, he'll want to see him play later in the summer or fall.

Do you want a targeted approach? If your son has the tools, enroll him into his targeted colleges high school prospect camps. These are usually week long or weekend events. The week long events are more expensive, but it will give your son the closest thing to a college environment. These events require the player to stay overnight in dorms and they are there the same time as the schools other sports camps...boys and girls. So the athletes all eat and have twilight activities together throughout the week. They are also very intense. Many overnight camps have wake-up calls at 7:00...are on the field by 8:30AM and don't usually end until 8-8:30PM. About 20% of a colleges signed athletes are found at these camps.

Bottom line, if your son has attended any high profile event, he will be spammed by dozens of so-called "experts". If you doubt any of these letters, ask your travel coach or private instructor what they think. If you're still unsure, send us an e-mail at We'll do the research and we will give you our best assessment to determine whether it's legit or not.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Are JC's Right For You?

We have mostly talked on this site about how to go about getting recruited by 4 year colleges and little about Junior Colleges. We don’t mean to slight JC’s. In fact, Junior College baseball is in many cases a perfect fit for some high school players. And, like D-I, D-II and NAIA, JC’s offer scholarships at the NJCAA-I and NJCAA-II level.

There are many reasons to go to a JC, but like the four year colleges, we at Rounding Third stress that you go to a place of higher get an matter if it's a D-I or JC. If a player is going to a JC to improve his academic standing to get into a better four year college, then that needs to be the focus. While he is accomplishing that goal, he can also enjoy the great, competitive baseball environment that many JC’s offer. JC baseball is sort of a hybrid that combines the local schedule of high school ball with the rigors of long bus rides to other regional or cross state match-ups. This provides many young freshmen a chance to ease into what it would be like at a four year, while they concentrate on getting their academics in order at the same time.

Another reason to attend a JC is if certain players didn’t get accepted into their list of four year selections, due to size or developing ability. Many four year coaches and recruiters will tell a prospect with potential to use the Junior College to work with the strength and conditioning coaches to develop a stronger core, build more muscle and quickness. That alone, in many cases can build a players confidence as well. After that, it is up to the baseball coaches to develop the talent. Many JC’s have year round conditioning that include fall scrimmages and games, winter work-outs to get ready for the long season ahead. But more importantly, it gives that player a chance to play.

Let’s say a very good player gets a small offer from a D-I, but he has two established sophomores ahead of him in his primary and secondary positions. It may behoove that player to go to a JC to develop and play, rather than sit the bench his first two years in college. And yet another scenario involves enrolling in a four year college and playing for a close-by JC that is known to be a feeder to that school. That's a win-win for both the player and the 4 year coach, because the player gets a better chance to play and also enjoy the atmosphere of college life away from home. The 4 year coaches have the advantage of keeping close tabs on what could be their future player in their own backyard.

Finally, there are some players that may have been drafted in the later rounds (15th and higher) and choose to play at the JC to improve their draft status the following year. Unlike four year colleges, in which a player is not eligible for the draft until after his junior year, a JC player is eligible both years that he attends that JC. Including the year after high school, that player could possibly be drafted three times before his junior year. In some cases, a MLB team could draft a player and then hold the rights to that player until next year. That way, they have a full year to evaluate his progress throughout the summer. If into the fall and spring seasons, all goes well with the players progress, that MLB team could then exercise their right to sign him in the ten days prior to the next draft. This is called a “Draft and Follow”.

So we have covered D-I, small colleges and now JC’s and there are advantages to all. Bottom line, really study all of your options hard and do what is best for you and the career path you choose to follow in your adult life.

Rounding Third Staff

Friday, July 18, 2008

Big Things Can Happen At Small Schools Too!

Jeff Francis, the 6'-5", 2007 17-game winner for the Colorado Rockies played a significant role in the teams red-hot winning streak that propelled them into the World Series last year. However, the path Francis took to the Majors is quite different then the majority of today's big leaguers. The Vancouver native chose to hone his skills at University of British Columbia, a small NAIA school. Since Francis’ success, 10 former UBC Thunderbirds have been drafted.

NCAA Division II schools had 67 players taken in the 2008 MLB draft and D-III schools have an average of 30 players taken each year. Our point is...There is great baseball at the small colleges and in many instances a more well rounded education as well.

While the smaller schools aren’t as loved by the national press, they are the darlings of the local media, especially in the smaller communities. Many of these small schools are the pride of the small towns they reside in and have a great fan base as well. (Not all small schools are in small towns, but many are) And many of these smaller schools have every bit as much tradition and history as the D-I’s too.

And here’s a couple of interesting facts…Did you know that while D-III doesn’t offer athletic scholarships, more athletes play in D-III than any other NCAA division? Another interesting note is that NAIA schools can actually offer more funded scholarships. (not a lot more…but more nevertheless) NAIA can give out 12 scholarships, while D-I is stuck at 11.7.

Division III and NAIA colleges and universities offer some of the best education in the country as well. Ranked D-III schools, Johns Hopkins (42-8 in 2008) lost in the finals to another great academic school in Trinity University in the NCAA D-III World Series. Many NAIA, D-II and D-III schools provide greater student-teacher ratios, attractive settings, and some of the best job placement opportunities in the nation after graduation.

High school student athletes who want to play sports in college, and are not being recruited by major college programs may still have a chance to play baseball at NCAA Division II, III or NAIA colleges. So, expand your letter and e-mail campaign to the many smaller colleges in your area as well. In the right hand column of this site, you will find a list that includes all D-I, D-II, D-III and NAIA schools that offer baseball. Look at their sites and see which one may fit your goals academically, while satisfying that competitive urge to play a college sport. Good Luck..till next time..

The Rounding Third Staff

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Is it Time To Verbal?

It's July and the summer baseball season is half over or half started, however you like to look at it. If you are an incoming senior, should you verbal now? There are several answers that relate to various scenarios.

Incoming Seniors
You have probably gone to most of the major showcases by now. Many of you have been approached and called. It's an honor to have a college coach court you, but there is still a lot of summer left. If you were lucky enough to get invited to participate in your local Area Code games, you may get more even calls and offers. If there is one word of advice that we can give you, it's don't say yes to the first college that shows interest. Play your summer season through...Unless of course your offer comes from your #1 Dream School. Then and only then, after a heart to heart with your coaches, parents and yourself...make the RIGHT decision. The recruiting process can be a lot of fun if you follow this timeline.

The heart to heart with your family and coaches is very important, especially in today's new NCAA. A player can't transfer without sitting out a year under any circumstances, so make sure your decision is permanent. Another thing to remember is that although you may want to go to a top rated school, they may offer you less money than a competitive but lesser rated D-I that wants you. Depending on their needs, the top schools may limit a freshmans playing time as well. A lesser known, but respectable university may have a starting spot for you. This is especially important if that lesser school plays in a good conference. Everyone wants to be recruited by UCLA or Arizona State, but Oregon or Washington may provide the better chance to play. You still get to play in the tough Pac 10, but you get to PLAY and to many competitive athletes, that is important. Look at the rosters of all schools that ask you to verbal and find out if there are player positions that have been vacated from graduation or the draft. Also, pick the school that you would go to IF baseball was not an option. It's important to like where you are going.

Once you figure all of that out, it CAN be a relief to finally concentrate on playing ball for the next year. Many elite athletes get bombarded with mountains of e-mails and regular mail everyday and it gets old after a while. Verbally announcing the decision usually stops the activity. Now, verbals are non-binding for both you and the school at this stage...but, that doesn't mean that a you can or should change your mind. Barring any injuries to you, a school should not back down on it's offer either. You both can legally, but it's not really acceptable, unless there has been a change in the coaching staff or other outside influences that change the ground rules a bit. Bottom line, you as a player must be absolutley sure that this is your number one choice. If so, then make the announcement.

Incoming Juniors
First of all, the majority of incoming Juniors will not get "offers" or solid interest just yet...Yes, you will get letters and e-mails...that doesn't necessarily imply solid interest.. So, Incoming Junior players and patient! That said, we do know literally a handful of incoming Juniors that have verballed. (Literally, less than 5 exceptionally talented players that we know of.) And, unless a player is one of those handful of super-studs that comes around every once in a while, there is absolutely no reason an incoming Junior should be thinking that he is missing out on something at this age. Physically, mentally, and practically, there is so much baseball ahead. A player should just use this time to play exceptional ball. This is the time to concentate on being a leader on his HS varsity team. That should be priority number one. Continue to play hard for your travel team. That is priority number two. Get seen at showcases and major tourney's. That's priority number three. Your Junior year is a time when a player should be scaling up his game to a higher level. You may have dominated at a younger age, but how does that scale to playing against other players two to three years your senior? It can be a wake-up call and all the more reason to relax and just play the game, work-out, get stronger, smarter and better.

We hope this helps. Any personal experiences that players, parents or coaches want to add? Use the comment section below. Don't worry. You can reply as anonymous.

RT Staff

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

High School Sports Coverage Takes A Hit

According to ESPN/Cal-Hi Sports and venerable writer Mark Tennis, Martin Henderson, of the L.A. Times has been laid off, along with others from the prep sports department.

According to Martin, the Times' prep coverage is going to be scaled back to columns by legendary reporter/writer Eric Sondheimer combined with some Friday game coverage and then whatever scores and stats come in via the phone.

This is bad news for Southern California prep athletes and coaches because their opportunities for coverage in the media just took a major hit.

During the last school year, the layoffs in the newspaper industry caused layoffs to the prep sports departments at the San Jose Mercury-News, Alameda Newspaper Group and Stockton Record. The L.A. Times is just the latest in a trend that is nationwide in scope and may not be stopping anytime soon.

This is very unfortunate news for high school sports in general. The one main thing we like about high school sports is the local and metro coverage of each team. As popular and important travel and select teams are, they don't get a fraction of the media coverage that high school sports enjoy. We like the polls, the box scores, the pre-season prognostications and the play-off coverage. How great is it to see your sons high school teams success featured in the major metro daily?

My own son has a ritual during the year no matter what season it is to grab the sports page, and read it before school over breakfast. He turns to the high school section first...especially the morning after his high school's football, basketball or baseball game. Young men like him are the future readers, subscribers and the type of consumers advertisers like. Many parents read the paper for the high school sports as well and clip the articles, copy them and send them to the grandparents.

We aren't sure why high school sports staffs are the ones getting laid off, but like Mark Tennis said, it is happening all over the country and if newspapers are feeling the pinch and streamlining, they have pinched the wrong section of the paper.

High school sports are the backbone of all college and pro sports. The business of pro sports owes its existence to high school sports. There is nothing more pure than to reminisce about a former high school star in your area that made it big. Many programs like Oaks Christian in SoCal, Moeller High in Cincy and DeLaSalle in NorCal owes it's continued power house reload of talent because of alumni that made it big. Without newspaper coverage, we would have never known about those powerhouse teams and their stars.

While there are a plethora of new high school web sites now available including this one, it still doesn't have the panache and elicit as much excitement as a player opening up the sports page and seeing his name in the paper. Maybe it's because there is an aura of authenticity that is associated with a daily newspaper. Many still don't really trust the integrity of Internet sites yet. That's because there's no personality attached to a Internet site writer like there is with a newspaper. Our local newspaper writers routinely attend high school contests and are as recognizable as the 11:00 network TV news anchor. Can anyone name or visually identify an Internet writer?

In this day of surveys, polls, focus groups and on demand tracking of information, maybe the newspapers know some stats that justify the move...yet to us, that doesn't make it right. If newspapers are just trying to save ink, then eliminate the antiquated method of displaying day old stock quotes. If anything makes sense to write about in a newspaper, it's a high school sport that wasn't seen on any broadcast or heard on any radio. To us, it's really news...not a rehash of stuff we already saw on Sports Center.

Monday, July 14, 2008


How well has your son been hitting this summer? If he is playing on a top travel team that has its teams best interests in mind...that is, playing the best competition possible and challenging its players, then there are one of two scenarios.

First, if he had a great high school season, then the expectations to continue that pace through the summer are high. And, that player can achieve similar results...IF... he continues the same routine he had in high school. That routine being, 2-3 hours of practice each day...If he does all that, your son will impress every scout and every recruiter this summer.

The second scenario involves the player that had the same successful high school season, but has a more laid back approach to the daily routine this summer. Many young players do need a doubt...especially pitchers...BUT, complacency has its consequences. Many top prospects are coming off great high school seasons. But let's analyze why that high school season was so successful...

One of the main reasons why talented players succeed in high school is that they thrive on the repetitions that high school ball offers. The weeks prior to the season, players primarily concentrate on hitting...for hours upon hours each day. It' not uncommon for players to take 500 or more swings per day in many pre-season practices. Some of the better programs continue that routine throughout the season by dedicating at least 60 to 90 minutes to hitting each day. As long as it's meaningful and tutorial hitting, players WILL greatly benefit from those reps. All college and pro programs take batting practice before each and every game as well. There's a reason for that....

A local MLB team game announcer once was describing an ailing player who had to fore go batting practice to nurse a back injury. He went on to talk about the importance of a daily routine and his concern for this player laying off BP. He made a statement that really made sense. "When a player lays off batting practice for more than 24 hours, he really begins to notice a difference in his swing...when he lays off of BP for more than 48 hours, the FANS really begin to notice the difference in his swing."

A-Rod takes up to 1000 swings a day. That doesn't take as long as you think, by the way. If you average 10 swings a minute..that's 600 swings an hour or a little over an hour and one half to complete 1000 swings. For a guy making well over $20 million a year...don't you think he owes it to himself, the Yankees and his adoring fans to take 90 minutes out of his day to maintain his stature as one of the greatest hitters of our time?

If you are an incoming high school junior or senior on the college recruiting circuit, then it will be in your best interest to try to maintain that same hitting routine that you had in your high school season. You must also realize that the overall pitching you have faced this summer on average is better than it was in high school, especially if you compete on a top travel team that travels to top tourneys and showcases. Even if you maintain the same hitting routine, you still may not experience the same stats and numbers you had in high school...but you will really disappoint yourself if you do nothing and try to rely on you natural athletic ability to get you through the summer.

A-Rod may be one heck of an athlete, but he and the hundreds of other pro players like him would never risk their careers by reducing their daily routine.

Neither should any of you players that desire to play at the next level. And, hitting practice can be as simple as soft tossing or hitting off of a batting tee into a screen, to hitting the punching bag in your garage or basement before you leave for your game.

Encourage your coach or team to invest in whiffles or a portable screen and get as many swings as possible before each game. You'd be surprised at how many teams DO NOT do this. Many so-called travel coaches think that if they have a team full of great athletes, that you can just wind them up and watch them play.

Well, a college team is such a team of all-stars and all staters and they certainly don't take that approach. Yes, they are accountable for the sake of school pride and their salary to produce results...But, travel coaches are just as accountable to help their players look good in front of those same college coaches. They owe it to the parents that shell out hundreds of dollars to give their sons the opportunity to be seen to make sure that the players are at the top of their game.

Get in the swing of things now incoming seniors and juniors...It's not too late. There's plenty of recruiting time left.