Friday, October 31, 2008

Hitting Secret: Early Bat Speed

RT Staff Note: Here's another article from Jon Doyle of Baseball Training Secrets.

By Jon Doyle

Within the next 3-5 years the term “Early Bat Speed” will trickle down to all levels of baseball, becoming the next buzz term within the game. And with good reason.

Early bat speed is one of the most light-lipped hitting secrets ever. Improving early bat speed is an extremely quick method to improved hitting. In fact, there are a great deal of player’s who aren’t even sure what the term means, but they certainly have it. To them it just comes naturally. For those of us who aren’t so lucky, it needs to be developed.

Consider yourself very lucky because I am going to break down what early bat speed is and how you can develop it. You won’t find this type of information down at your local batting cage!

This is real inside baseball training information only found . Chances are if you ask a local coach to explain Early Bat Speed he will look at you like you have 3 heads.

Basically early bat speed is the ability to generate a large amount of force early in the swing. The great ones all do this.

Think about a car engine. A 4 cylinder may be able to get up to 80 mph, but it takes forever to get there. However, a supercharged 6 or 8 cylinder engine can get way above 80 and reach it’s max speed in a few seconds flat.

The great hitter’s have “supercharged engines” and tremendous early bat speed.

Early bat speed is the key to Major League power and strength. The great thing is you do not have to be the biggest guy around or have the best weight room numbers to develop early bat speed. You simply need to develop proper loading patterns.

They know how to utilize the “Load” phase of the swing perfectly. Everyone knows the load is used as a timing mechanism, but it should also be used as a source of power.

While most coaches teach the load coming from the hands, it actually comes from the shoulders and hips.

It is individual to every hitter, but it should be a smooth transition from the stance to the load to the swing.

Most hitter’s will do best if they are slightly moving and loose the entire time they are in the batters box. This makes it easier to develop a rhythm and proper loading skills.

Be sure not to just throw your hands back and stop, then having to restart the swing. Again, a smooth transaction from the load to the swing will create early bat speed that will add distance and power to every ball you hit.

So now the question is “Can I develop early bat speed in the weight room?”

The answer is YES!

The key is to work on movement patterns. Become a better athlete. Continue to push the limits.

Without further ado, here are my “Award Winning”

5 Weight Room Steps To Lightning-Quick Early Bat Speed & Awesome Hitting

1. Perform medicine ball circuits every day. Follow medicine ball circuit #1 and Circuit # 2 (Found in Diamonds Baseball Training Manual) every day. Focus on movement coming from the torso and shoulders. This will have a dramatic carryover into the batter’s box.

2. Spend a great deal of time on Hip, Torso and Shoulder Range Of Motion – Both Dynamic and Static. Do these everyday.

3. Perform tumbling drills every day. Forward somersaults, backwards somersaults and spider lunges.

4. Perform One-Arm Snatches, starting with a dumbbell or kettlebell and quickly moving a barbell.

5. Really focus on being loose on each and every rep you perform. Again think movements and do not try to muscle anything. The key is to train your body to move explosively in a relaxed state. This is how you need to be when you are hitting. Your strength work needs to mimic the batter’s box in this regard.
There you have it. It may look simple, yet it is extremely effective in combination with batting practice and tee work. This is a great beginning that anyone can perform to improve early bat speed and overall hitting.

Now, in three years when someone thinks they are on the cutting edge and mentions early bat speed, you will simply laugh as your son is crushing balls over the fence!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Improving Collegiate and Pro Baseball Relations

For the past several weeks, we have been suggesting that it would be in College Baseballs best interest to have a synergistic relationship with Major League Baseball. More and more top college players are spending less time in the minors and are often on a fast track to the Bigs. We have stated many times that college provides a controlled, disciplined environment that is governed by professors, teachers assistants, tutors, strength and conditioning coaches, baseball coaches and involves incredible time management skills. Combined with the excellent brand of coaching available in colleges today, you can start to see why many pro scouts are beginning to put their emphasis on college stars.

Now it seems that the NCAA has started to recognize that such a synergy can indeed exist and has begun to take the necessary steps to explore such a relationship. The following story is from CBS College Sports...

SAN DIEGO, Calif. - The University of San Diego head baseball coach Rich Hill has been selected as one of 11 collegiate coaches to participate in a meeting between Major League Baseball and the NCAA baseball coaches to help improve the relations between the two. Hill will be joined on this committee by the legendary head coach at the University of Texas, Augie Garrido, Pate Casey from Oregon State and Ray Tanner from South Carolina, among others.

This years meeting will take place in Las Vegas, Nev. On December 10th, and the meeting will consist of all the MLB Scouting Directors and their assistants, MLB Operations people (Joe Garagiola, Jr., Roy Krasik and Brian Porter), other selected MLB personal and the 12 college coaches.

The two Sides will come together to discuss ways to improve the relationship between college baseball and professional baseball and is put on by the American Baseball Coaches Association.

The one obvious change should be for all baseball players to be introduced as products of their college alma mater like they do in football and basketball. Every college, student, fan and alumni likes to hear their alma mater mentioned in a national or regional broadcast. Everyone knows that Tom Brady went to Michigan or Shaq went to LSU. Imagine the smooth Jon Miller announcing on an ESPN broadcast..."Now batting, from Illinois Central University, Jim Thome." How exciting is it for the students and alumni of this small midwestern college to hear that on a national broadcast?

Another change is limiting the players drafted out of high school to hardship cases...but only if the NCAA increases the scholarship limits to 20. High school players need to experience college. They also need to be able to afford college...and that means more scholarships...And, College Baseball will benefit greatly from those top blue chippers attending their schools. Networks will benefit as well, because colleges have a broader base of customers (present student body, plus decades of alumni) that will grow as more and more blue chip athletes infiltrate the college ranks.

Major League Baseball also benefits from the blue chips going to college by making the MLB draft the type of spectacle that football and basketball enjoy. There's school pride at stake when you involve College players to be a part of a pro sport's future.

The only downside is that more high school players going to college will decrease the need for the plethora of minor league teams. Do we really need an instructional league, rookie league, High A, Low A, AA, AAA. Can't that be pared in half? A college player that has had three years of grueling everyday practices, 56+ games a year, combined with a 40-60 game wood bat summer league experience, will be a bit ahead of the curve and might be a bit over qualified for an instructional league assignment.

We love the College game. We want to see it grow for today's fans and tomorrows future stars. We hope that this meeting of college coaches and MLB officials will be productive to bring this game to new and exciting heights. The way we see it, December 10th can't come soon enough.
RT Staff

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Life After Professional Baseball.

RT Staff Note: Yesterdays article discussed the pros and cons of going pro after high school. Today's article is from Lori Gilbert and deals with issues of finding a career after sports are over. Our take on this subject is that if a high school star decided to go to college, get a degree, or at least completes 3 years of his college studies before he goes pro, he will have a better transition into the real world to find a job after the pro career is over. (MLB can only draft college baseball players after they finish their junior year in college.)

We aren't talking about A-Rods post career plans. He is an exception and represents only a small fraction of the pro baseball universe. He is set. We are talking about the 95% of the other athletes that infiltrate the minors that have their careers cut short due to on the field or off the field struggles, injury and the myriad of other reasons why the attrition in baseball is so high. Despite all of the economic benefits of going pro after high school, we could make a MasterCard commercial about all of the reasons why a college education is Priceless!

Now if only the NCAA would make baseball a higher priority and rule that college baseball can fund as many as 20 or more scholarships, then going to college to play ball, get an education and mature as a person in a more controlled environment would be the first choice of most high school stars. Every athlete should experience college period, get a degree, and acquire the building blocks necessary to seek a career as if sports were not part of the scenario. The problem with a player that signs out of high school is that he is forced to grow up in a hurry at 17 or 18 years old. Many players still need that transitional period as a buffer to the real world that college offers.

The following article is a glimpse of post professional life and the struggles and issues that athletes face after sports.

Record Staff Writer

Published Sunday, May 28, 2006

When the spotlight goes off, it's not easy finding a comfort role in society

Ed Sprague went to spring training with the Texas Rangers in 2002, and when a reporter asked him what he brought to the team, Sprague was stumped.

"I couldn't think of one thing," Sprague said.

After 11 years in the major leagues, he knew it was time to leave.

He returned to Stockton, to his home, to his wife and three kids, and moved on.

"I always knew I'd be a coach, but I didn't know at what level. Little League, high school, college," he said.

Sprague, who is finishing his (fifth) season as the head coach at University of the Pacific, is one of the lucky ones. Or at the very least, a rare exception.

If throwing a touchdown in the Super Bowl, sinking a free throw with the game on the line or hitting a 95 mph fastball is tough, athletes who have excelled at such feats will tell you that not being asked to do those things anymore is even tougher.

Living your life after a career in sports is one of the hardest professions out there.

"You put everything you have into it, all you have, and when it's gone, most guys at the end of their careers are being told, 'You're no longer useful,' " said Guy McIntyre, who played guard in the NFL for 13 years, 10 of them for the 49ers.

It goes beyond being told that, though.

"The hardest thing was that my whole identity was tied up in being a volleyball player," said Pacific graduate Elaina Oden, a two-time Olympian. "When volleyball wasn't there, it was hard to make the adjustment."

She's not alone.

"My identity was always as Adrian the football player, Adrian the baseball player, Adrian the athlete," said Adrian McBride, a University of Missouri graduate who spent three years in the NFL "Since I was 10 years old, I was pushed to be the best. All of a sudden the (NFL) didn't need me. I was working in a meat factory and didn't like that. I thought it was beneath me. I was a bellman at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Columbus. That was beneath me. It was devastating to me. They were paying me to carry other people's bags."

Life in the NFL, NBA or Major League Baseball means someone carrying your bags. Elite athletes are accustomed to their every need being addressed.

"The hardest part was making the transition from a really controlled environment, all the time knowing what you're going to do next," champion Olympic swimmer Brad Schumacher said. "We planned two or three years out. It was easy to focus on a goal and a result. When I no longer had that obvious goal, the difficult part was figuring out what my new goal was going to be."

He swam his last competitive race at the 2004 Olympic trials. He played professional water polo in Australia and Greece. He also completed his master's degree in business administration at Pacific and teamed up with former teammate Wolf Wigo to form Kap7 Water Polo, a company that creates and sells water polo products and consults on new pool construction.

Oden eventually earned a master's degree, too, and works for New York Life as a financial consultant. Getting there from the disappointed 29-year-old who'd endured knee surgeries and cortisone injections only to see her team finish seventh in Atlanta after winning bronze in Barcelona was a long journey.

"The Olympics were on, and I couldn't watch,'' she said. "There was too much angst watching them try to do what I tried and failed to do. It was hard to watch them lose."

A weekend at a Landmark Forum, a motivational program, inspired her to put her frustration with the past behind her and focus on her future.

It's led her to financial planning, where 90 percent of her clients are athletes and former athletes.

"Eventually, I'd like to have nothing but athletes, to help them," Oden said.
Helping athletes is a path many former players have taken.

McIntyre works for the 49ers as the director of player development, implementing an NFL program begun in the '90s whose purpose is to prepare rookies for their careers and life after football.

McIntyre is in his third year with the program, so he doesn't know if the information provided on continuing education, financial education, offseason internships and personal assistance has helped.

"Very few guys have come back and said it's helped," McIntyre said.

One person who doesn't expect it to help is agent Bob Lamonte. "The NFL program is a Band-Aid solution," Lamonte said. A history teacher for 25 years, Lamonte used his education background to develop a program of his own to prepare athletes for their post-career lives.

It began with a personality test to determine interests and included a step-by-step program to prepare an athlete to move into that job upon retirement. The Toronto Blue Jays were one of the few professional teams to pay for the program for its players. It's how Lamonte met Sprague.

"Ed Sprague's a model for what to do when you retire," Lamonte said.

Sprague's model was his dad, Ed Sprague Sr., who played in the days when athletes worked in the offseason.

Those players were better prepared to move on to life after sports.

"You would try to become a spokesperson, or a (public relations) person for a brewery or soft drink firm," said R.C. "Alley Oop" Owens, who played pro football from 1957-64. "You'd beat the bushes looking for one of those jobs."

Owens worked as a recreation leader in Menlo Park in the offseason, then through his college football coach he landed a job with J.C. Penney giving motivational speeches across the country to youngsters. He earned more in the offseason than he earned playing football.

Athletes have always moved into roles as broadcasters, but those jobs are precious.

Some spend their retirement years giving back. Some enter politics.

Others serve as cautionary tales. From former Astros pitcher J.R. Richard, who was found homeless and sleeping under a bridge, to Dwight Gooden's recent return to prison for drug abuse, there are plenty of bad examples.

"Studies show 70 to 80 percent are bankrupt and/or divorced within five years of the end of their career," McBride said.

He never fell to those depths, but it took several years of meat-cutting, bag-carrying and employment recruiting before McBride found his niche.

"I was watching the NCAA basketball tournament in 2002, and they kept showing this NCAA commercial about 360,000 athletes all going pro in something other than sports," McBride said. "It was a great commercial, but extremely misleading to former athletes. The perception is they'll ride off into the sunset like any average student."

He and his wife, a former All-American gymnast, knew better.

They began a nonprofit program called Life After Sports and set up shop in the athletic department at Missouri.

Like Lamonte, they begin with assessment tests to determine athletes' interests. From there, they prepare them to be non-athletes.

McBride has run golf and tennis events, as well as dinners, to train them in proper decorum. He provides lessons on business etiquette and résumé writing. He's worked to get them internships, geared around their sports schedules.

"Slowly but surely, we're making a difference," McBride said.

He hopes eventually to spread his program across the country.

Women may have an easier time making the transition than men.

"For women, there aren't a lot of opportunities (in pro sports)," said former Pacific point guard Selena Ho, who dreamed of playing professionally but knew it was a long shot. She has stayed in the game as a coach, currently as an assistant at Oregon.

"They generally have the desire, but they are more honest with themselves, have a more honest assessment of what their capabilities are and can be."

Not so much with men, McBride said.

"Especially in the big sports - basketball, football, baseball - guys are here for one reason, to get to the NFL, NBA or major leagues. When I was playing 20 years ago, I don't remember talking about going to the NFL. That was something you kept to yourself."

Now, it's more of an expectation than a dream, which can make the disappointment of not making it even more devastating.

Helping athletes make the transition is now the work of McBride and McIntyre, among others, who understand that the toughest job an athlete will ever have is not being one anymore.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pro or College?

We have been writing a lot lately about college and it's impact on developing future pro athletes. If the NCAA would increase the scholarship limits to 20 or more per team, then the decision to go pro or not would be limited to hardship cases and a strong majority of players would most definitely opt to go to college. That's the way it should be.

But right now, that's just not the case and high school players that get drafted have to make a choice. If the out of pocket college costs of $12,000 or more a year is too much for a family to handle and student loans are not an option, then a player may want to consider the pro option. If that is the case, we came across an article written several years ago by retired Director of Team One Showcases, Jeff Spelman that might help. The draft isn't until next June, but as the fall showcase circuits wind down, a lot of high school seniors have been ranked and have been told where they stand. Those players have a lot to ponder between now and June. Enjoy this article...It's dated, yet still holds true even in todays competitive recruiting environment.
Enjoy...RT Staff.

College vs. Pro
By Jeff Spelman

For many "blue chip" high school baseball players the most difficult decision to make is not which college to attend.


Thousands of high school senior baseball players will be looking forward with great anticipation and hope to the Major League Amateur Free Agent Draft, held each June.Four or five seniors will become instant millionaires.Perhaps a hundred or so others will be very happy with the draft. All others will likely be disappointed because they were chosen late or not selected at all.

WHAT'S BEST FOR YOUR SON? Be realistic and look at the numbers. Pro teams thrive on players that think they will overcome the long odds against becoming a major league player. Actually only 5 to 6 percent of drafted players ever play a day in the major leagues And about 40 percent of the first round draft picks never make it either.

If your son chooses a pro career, he is a least significantly delaying if not giving up a college education. Questions to consider; What's a degree worth, and how far will he be behind his peers if he enters the work force four years after they do?

If a high school player signs a bonus of $100,000 (roughly third round money), how long will it last? Uncle Sam claims 31%, for taxes, leaving your son with $69,000. He may use $10,000 for a down payment on a car. That leaves $59,000. His minor league salary will be about $850 per month - during the six month season only. So if he wants to live on $20,000 a year, he'll have to use his bonus money. At that rate, he'll use it up in four or five years. By then, he'll be out of baseball, still be making $15,000 a year in the minors, or possibly be in the Major Leagues.

On the other hand, major league teams do offer players entry into professional baseball at a younger age, which can translate into earlier higher earnings and additional benefits. And although many college coaches disagree, Major League Baseball says the best instructors in the world are available to your son.

WHEN DEALING WITH SCOUTS, always be honest and consistent. But remember, you do not have to give them direct answers to all of their questions. For example, scouts commonly ask if your son wants to sign out of high school and how much money it would take to sign him. Don't give a range or a figure. Many parents simply respond, "My son would definitely be interested in signing, if it's the right offer."

Teams not only draft for talent but also for signability. If you do not want your son to sign a pro contract, out of high school and you let the pro scouts know that, then be prepared for the fact that he probably won't be drafted at all. Players who have signed scholarships with to top academic universities often go undrafted or get chosen later than expected because teams are worried about their signability.

If your son may be a high draft pick, you'll notice large numbers of scouts at his games late in the high school season, and a major league team's top scouts - regional supervisors, cross checkers, and even scouting directors - will attend.

AS A PARENT OF A POTENTIAL draft pick, try to keep your son from being distracted by all the hype. The only way he can enhance his draft status is by performing well on the field -- and distractions can hurt his performance.

Prepare your son emotionally for what might happen in the draft. It's nice to dream, but you and your son need to be realistic.

Always consider not taking a team's first offer. Many players earn more by holding out a week than they would have earned in a whole season had they taken the first offer. However, this strategy may have diminishing returns if the hold out lasts too long.

Deciding between college and an immediate pro career can be a difficult decision. There's no magic formula. Look at all of your son's options, which may include a couple of years of college first, then discuss them with him.

And enjoy the attention your son receives. It's a "once in a lifetime" experience. So be sure you are prepared.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Imperfect Practice Makes Perfect

We have run articles from time to time featuring the wisdom of Jon Doyle,owner of Baseball Training Secrets Here's yet another feature article on how to approach practices.

By Jon Doyle

Perfect practice does not make perfect unless the practice is imperfect. Make sure you read that again and let it sink in. Training in a perfect environment for sport is not optimal because that perfect environment never exists. Competition is ALWAYS a reactive environment. Nothing is ever controlled. Who wants to look like Tarzan and play like Jane? Lets look and play like Tarzan!

When an athlete builds their conditioning in a pristine environment they are doing themselves a disservice. Do Navy Seals train in immaculate environments? How about fighter pilots? Would you send a teacher into a classroom of 20 screaming children without putting them through real life situations as student teachers? As silly as those questions may seem I think you get my point.

An athlete needs to be able to adjust their body while making split second decisions. The ability to “slow down” game speed is crucial in the development of a superior athlete. The great ones anticipate what is going to happen next and react to that. Some athletes have the natural ability to do this, but would still benefit from this type of training. Imperfect training has a more profound effect on those that do not have these instincts “built-in.” As the old saying goes, “Experience is our best teacher” and the more an athlete trains to adapt to an ever changing environment the better off they are.

You must be asking the question, “How do I incorporate imperfect training into what I am doing already?” There are many ways to do this. Have your training partner tell you what exercise you are doing next. Everything becomes a surprise because you do not know what is coming next. Have that partner nudge you slightly in different directions during a pause squat or Indo Board session. Blindfolded training works wonders. How about not listening to your favorite workout music and see how you perform?

These are just a few of the many ways that imperfect training can be incorporated into your current regime. Become an athlete, not a weight room warrior or a five o’clock hitter.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Evan Almighty

RT Staff Note: The following article is from and it shows how grit and determination can trump opinion in some cases. Evan Longoria had no D-I offers out of high school and ended up going to a JC first before tearing up that league and getting a scholarship to Long Beach State. If any players are reading this, Evan Longoria should be your role matter how good you think you are...or how many pro and college scouts are after you. He should be your role model for the work ethic and attitude he puts into the everyday challenges life throws at him to succeed. The experts didn't believe in him, but he believed in himself and proved everyone wrong. (Why they didn't like a player with his body type is beyond us) Evan was not going to be denied his dream to play pro ball, and he worked with fiery passion to eventually get there. Good luck Evan! We will be rooting for you.
RT Staff

By Corey Gottlieb /

To watch Evan Longoria at the plate is not to be moved by a thing of particular beauty.

Practically motionless, the young slugger appears to meet the pitch solely with his hands, intentionally omitting his body from the equation.

Then he connects, and it becomes clear that there is much, much more to the rookie's approach than the mere half-step that distributes his weight. Such is a metaphor for Longoria the ballplayer; unassuming and thoroughly unpretentious, he possesses a complexity -- and a talent -- that belies his 23 years.

"He's the type of player that can carry a team for a while," Rays manager Joe Maddon told USA Today. "He's going to hit for average. He's going to hit for power. He's going to be a force for a long time."

He wasn't always this good, though -- or at least, he wasn't always believed to be this good. Like a host of ballplayers initially regarded as big league long shots (read: Mike Lowell, Jason Bay, Roy Oswalt and John Smoltz, all of whom were drafted before the 20th round), Longoria has found fuel in others' skepticism, rewriting his own story in the ink of faith rewarded.

That story began in Downey, the small California city where he was born and raised. As is the case for practically every teenage boy from Santa Barbara to Riverside, the game was less a choice for Longoria than a preordained reality.

Birthright aside, the then-undersized slugger met with mixed results at St. John Bosco High School, as he was not pursued by a single Division I program in his senior year. A bit of mathematical perspective: There are 292 teams in D-I baseball, each with roughly 30 players on its roster; in other words, Longoria was not considered among the top 8,500 prospects in the nation in 2003.

"We have more scouts per square inch than anywhere in the country," Kris Jondle, Longoria's high school coach, told the Los Angeles Times, "and not one of them had the guts to sign him out of high school."

Gutsy is an apt description for that which the young infielder displayed after such a disappointment. Inspired by the example set forth by his father, a phone technician, and his mother, a receptionist, Longoria gritted his teeth and enrolled at Rio Hondo Community College, sticking with a dream that stretched well beyond his blue-collar roots.

Longoria's determination paid rapid dividends. In his freshman season, he batted .430 and was offered a scholarship from Long Beach State University. There, he would face another obstacle, as the Dirtbags already had a shortstop by the name of Troy Tulowitzki. Typically unfazed, Longoria shifted to the hot corner, where he cemented his status as a rising star by earning Big West Conference Co-Player of the Year honors as a junior.

The rest is history: Longoria was a rising star, slashing his way through the Cape Cod League and into the crosshairs of every scout in the country.

And apparently, this time, the scouts got it right. Five years and countless innings later, the kid from Downey has gone from undrafted prospect to community college standout to postseason hero.

The baseball world will never, ever overlook him again.

Corey Gottlieb is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Write the NCAA

We received over one hundred e-mails from readers that have given us their viewpoint on the future of college baseball. Some suggestions were great, some absurd, but all of the e-mails had one theme.

College baseball needs more scholarships.

We remember when our sons first started the process years ago. We were at at tournament and a speaker at one of parent meetings stated that baseball only gives 11.7 scholarships. We were shocked at the amount of scholarship money available. I even remember a bunch of dads trying to rationalize this bit of information and thinking that surely he meant 11.7 scholarships were given to new freshman and transfer recruits.

Of course, we later found out that it was the number of scholarships for the entire team. It was disheartening to say the least and a poor assumption on our part and partially why we decided to start this web site. We felt compelled to make sure everyone was made aware of all nuances of collegiate ball and never be as naive as we were when we started our sons along the path.

With permission from our readers that sent e-mails, here are some of their comments and suggestions:

John from Germantown, TN:
Baseball is one of the hardest sports to master and it takes a special mindset to come to the realization that failing at something 7 times out of 10 makes you a huge success and one hit either way is the difference between a short career and the Hall of Fame. It takes a special person, a freakish dedication and long, long hours of work to realize how great this sport is. The kids that reach that realization are the players on those college teams. They are the ones giving it more effort, more passion and more heart than any sport on this planet. And they are getting the least amount of love from the NCAA and the colleges.

Baseball is a major sport in this country. It has more tradition than basketball and football. It has more passionate fans. Why can't the NCAA see this? Why aren't ALL colleges on board? I see a huge divide between the northern schools and the southern schools. The schools in C-USA like Rice, Houston, East Carolina, UTEP etc., get it. They have invested money into their facilities and promote their programs. Some of the northern schools that Memphis plays treat baseball as an afterthought. You can see it in their facilities, their players attitudes, their low turnouts at ball games. They don't seem to care. Yet, from what I am hearing, it's these northern schools that are crying foul and holding college baseball back.

Here's a bit of advice. If there are any colleges out there that complain that they can't compete, spend the money and make it happen. Many schools like East Carolina didn't always compete, but they made it happen. My son will be attending one of those C-USA schools to play ball soon. College baseball needs more scholarships. It would be nice if he could get rewarded for all of the passion, dedication and heart he put into this game.

Ed from Chandler, AZ
I have always wondered why baseball players in the majors were not ever identified with their college that they attended. Maybe it's because there are still a lot of players that didn't go to college and they didn't want them to feel bad. But, if colleges would increase their scholarships, making baseball a fully funded sport like football, more high school baseball players would opt for college rather than the pros. You'd even have a few International players, like you do in basketball and track applying to universities in the U.S too. I think that would be great for the game. It strengthens the core of the college fan base and the major league fan base.

I went to U of A and although I live in the Phoenix area, I follow all of the Wildcats sports religiously, including baseball. I am proud that Trevor Hoffman, Gilbert Arenas and Tedy Bruschi went to U of A. I watch college sports to see who the next pro star will be. As much as I like baseball, I haven't seen that passion in the college game as much. It's getting better, but it has a long way to go.

I would like nothing more than to see all future pros in baseball get their education in life and in baseball from college. But to do that the NCAA will have to award the colleges that care and give them the opportunity to give out more money to recruits. The colleges that can't afford to fully fund need to make a decision. Get in or get out. But those northern schools can't continue to hold back the rest of college baseball because they can't hack it.

Mark from Columbia, SC
I am writing the NCAA thanks! Baseball is big here in South Carolina, but football is bigger. However, I think baseball would be a lot bigger if the scholarship money was the same as football. I can tell you that our baseball players here are more dedicated to their sport than football players. The play more and they work harder. I don't understand why the colleges don't complain.

Clemson and South Carolina draw near sell-outs to their games. The Gamecocks new stadium will be unbelievable and is really stirring up excitement in this town. Somebody is going to make money off of that new stadium. It should all go to the players that made it happen!!!

Don from Nashville
A comment on your web site mentioned David Price. He has done a lot for this Vanderbilt baseball program no doubt. Vanderbilt is taking advantage of that and building upon their successes in baseball. The program here is growing because it has to. The rest of the SEC is nuts about their college baseball. And yes, it is VERY DISTURBING why college baseball won't raise its scholarship limits now! This is a prime time to give this sport a boost. NCAA baseball is on the rise. I see it here, in the newspapers, on TV. Like you said, it is Americas past time.

Jon from Buena Park, CA
I think the NCAA feels that families of baseball players have the money and don't need scholarships. That couldn't be farther from the truth. I know a group of guys that has tried to organize a national tournament down in Southern California, but they just couldn't get anyone from the East to attend. The cost of travel an hotels is too much to handle for a lot of teams and their families. So, if a West Coast team wants to play a Florida, Texas or Georgia team, we have to go there.

Believe me, it's a stretch for a lot of families to come up with that kind of money. It doesn't seem right that in order to get a baseball scholarship, a family has to dig deep into their pocket to go to showcases, tournaments and camps. They have to play on a elite team and pay money that they sometimes don't have. When their sons get an offer, the families find out that they have to pay even more for college than the stretched out budget they had to endure in the summer teams they were on. It's a convoluted system. While some have planned well enough and have a college fund, there are many that don't. Many sports families seem to fall into this category for whatever reason.

Maybe the lesson learned here is for all families to save for college no matter what. Or, maybe the powers that be in College baseball should realize that it's always been the rule that athletes get rewarded for their efforts. You are right in that college baseball is on the rise. If that is the case, scholarships should rise with it.

There were many more e-mails that basically said the same thing. These were the best of the bunch. Do you agree with these readers? Then write the NCAA. All of their information is to the right of this column under NCAA contact information.

RT Staff

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Prove The Experts Wrong...Watch the World Series.

An article in the Hollywood Reporter, (no we don't read that, we found it on the Reuters News Wire) stated:

...With Sunday night's seventh game of the American League Championship Series drawing record ratings for TBS, Fox Sports is hoping that some of that magic rubs off on the baseball World Series.
Good luck.
The match up between the Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays, however exciting in terms of baseball purism, isn't likely to set the TV ratings world afire. In fact, some fear it could be the lowest-rated World Series ever.
"You could hear the groans coming up because it isn't the Red Sox-Dodgers," said Aaron Cohen, chief media negotiator at New York-based ad buyer Horizon Media.

It's really frustrating when reporters with little or no knowledge of the game of baseball make statements like this. The title of the article read " World Series Baseball Set to Strike Out in Ratings" If anything, this World Series could be the most watched not only by baseball purists, but by the very same fan that has been making ESPN's coverage of the College World Series a ratings hit.

The key is a good showing by Tampa Bay. If they continue to defy their supposed pro inexperience and treat this World Series contest like a collegiate conference show-down, a WWBA national championship or some other youth event that is still fresh in their minds...they will fare very well.

The younger players of today's MLB are used to the big stage...throughout all stages of their lives, due to the recent influx of showcases, College Development Programs, national youth tournaments and so on that were not as prevalent with any of the older players in the league. As a result of this connection, we predict that the youth of the Rays will resonate with youthful fans.

Many of today's young baseball players that are playing on College Development Programs, travel teams or rec ball have a lot in common with the twenty something Rays team. It wasn't that long ago for many of these young professionals when they were playing in complexes like East Cobb, GA, Peoria, AZ, Cary, NC, or Orlando, FL themselves. Many were on top rated youth teams that made them the seasoned ball players they are today.

Many of today's families with young aspiring baseball players will be rooting for these Rays. College campuses like Long Beach State, Fresno State, Vanderbilt, Texas, Dallas Baptist, Auburn, Oklahoma and Southern Mississippi, to name a few will be rooting for their former stars too.

Today's College Web Sites are run very well by savvy Public Relations types that know how to latch onto a highlight, such as a former player that is in a high profile event like the World Series. Don't believe us? Click on the following links to the Vanderbilt, Fresno State, Long Beach State web sites and see for yourself. This is exciting news for these college programs, their students, alumni and local fans. And, the more NCAA baseball schools start to make those connections to top stars, the better it will be for the game of baseball to continue its string of ratings and attendance increases.

Of course, the Phillies also have their share of youth. It wasn't that long ago that Pat Burrell was knocking homers over the elevated highway exit ramp in deep, deep left field at PAL Stadium in San Jose for his Bellarmine High School team. A few years later he was setting records for the Miami Hurricanes. Eric Bruntlett will try to take his 3 College World Series appearances while at Stanford and channel that into a successful Series later this week and Chase Utley was THE MAN at UCLA, just as he is with the Phillies.

Yes, we think the experts are dead wrong on this one. This could be the most watched Series, just as the Phillies and a young Royals match-up was the most watched at that time back in 1980. That Royals team was led by a youthful George Brett, Willie Wilson, Hal McRae and Frank White. Small market KC was supposed to be a ratings disaster yet the networks wonks underestimated how significant Brett's assault on .400 had been durng the regular season. Plus, the Royals were built on team speed and that had fascinated fans too.

Philadelphia itself had star power of it's own with Pete Rose, Mike Schmidt, Bake McBride, Manny Trillo, Steve Carlton and WS hero Tug McGraw. There are a lot of similarities between that 1980 Series and this years contest. We know that baseball purists will love the Rays/Phillies contest...but our bet is that the rest of the world will tune in as well.

RT Staff

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

College Players in the World Series

The World Series is set and it should be one for the ages. In todays post we thought we would show how this years Series is proof that college players are a big part of the success of professional baseball. The players and their college stats are as follows (courtesy of the official MLB web sites):

First, the Phillies do have their share of college stars on their roster. Brad Lidge was a graduate of Notre Dame and was named the Big East Conference Pitcher of the Year in 1998 and led the conference with 93 strikeouts in 80.1 innings.

Joe Blanton attended the University of Kentucky...led the Southeastern Conference and finished eighth among all NCAA Division I pitchers with 133 strikeouts in 2002

Jamie Moyer attended St. Joseph's University (PA), ( a long time ago) setting records in wins (16), ERA (1.99) and SO (90) in 1984. He had his jersey (#10) retired in November 1997 and was one of three inductees into the first class of the St. Joseph's Baseball Hall of Fame and the first-ever retired number. Completed his college degree from Indiana University in 1996,

Chase Utley attended UCLA and hit .342 with 174 RBI in 177 career games at UCLA; hit .382 with 22 HR, 69 RBI in 64 games his junior year...Ranks 4th on school's all-time HR list (53)...108 hits ranks tied for 2nd on UCLA's single-season list...Named Outstanding Player of the 2000 Oklahoma City Regional...Selected as 1st-team All-American by The Sporting News and NCBWA.

Eric Bruntlett graduated from Stanford University with a degree in economics...helped the Cardinal to three appearances in the College World Series, including the title game in 2000, and at least a share of four Pac-10 titles...twice named to the NCAA Regional All-Tournament team (1999, 2000)

Ryan Howard attended Southwest Missouri State (now call Missouri State)...
and, finally Pat Burrell attended University of Miami and in three years hit .442, 61 HR, 187 RBI, 170 BB, 94 SO, 162 games. His career .442 average ranked seventh on the NCAA's all-time list...His career .888 slugging % ranked 2nd all-time in NCAA behind Pete Incaviglia (Oklahoma State), .915...As a freshman, named 1st-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball, Baseball America; 1st freshman to win NCAA batting title (.484)...Most Outstanding Player in Central I Regional, .772, 4 HR, 8 RBI, 1.611 slugging %, 5 games...MOP in College World Series, .500, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 1.071 slugging % in 4 games...As a sophomore, named 1st-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball, Baseball America, The Sporting News...1998 winner of Golden Spikes Award as the nation's top amateur player.

The Tampa Bay Rays on the other hand are the new MLB. Players with college pedigrees and short stints in the minors. Starting with their pitching staff…

Matt Garza is a product of Fresno State, where he was named Most Outstanding Pitcher and second team All-Western Athletic Conference in 2004...named WAC Pitcher of the Year and first-team All-WAC in 2005.

J.P. Howell was 10-0 with a 0.09 ERA as a senior earning the Cal-Hi Sports Player of the Year Award and later attended the University of Texas.

David Price was a number one pick from Vanderbilt and is only 17 months removed from his last pitch there.

Chad Bradford attended Hinds Community College in Raymond, where he earned NJCAA Second Team All-America honors in 1995...Also played one year at Southern Mississippi University, going 5-4 with a 3.59 ERA in 1996

Evan Longoria studied criminology at Long Beach State and was named the Cape Cod League's Most Valuable Player in 2005 after leading the wood-bat league in homers (8), RBIs (35), slugging (.500), extra-base hits (16) and ranked third in hits (49)...Baseball America named him a first-team summer All-American.

Carlos Pena attended Wright State University in Ohio in 1996 before transferring to Northeastern University in Massachusetts. As a junior at Northeastern University in 1998, he batted .342 (50x146) with 45 runs, seven doubles, a triple, 13 home runs, 52 RBI and 12 stolen bases.

Gabe Gross attended Auburn University, where he played baseball and football (quarterback).

Ben Zobrist was drafted out of Dallas Baptist University...also attended Olivet Nazarene (IL) and played two summers in the Northwoods Summer League for the Wisconsin Woodchucks in Wausau, WI and was named team MVP in 2003.

Andy Sonnanstine is a recent graduate of Kent State and Jason Bartlett attended the University of Oklahoma.

So there’s proof that college is having a major impact on today’s top MLB programs. We doubt that Fox will tell you where they attended school…it probably won’t be in their graphic...But, someday both the NCAA and MLB will get together and realize how just a mere mention of what college a pro player attended can have a exponential affect on awareness and the growth of the college game. It's that way in football and basketball...It will get to that level in baseball too. We can't wait.

As a side note, we would like to thank all of those that read our blog yesterday. It was the most visitors we have ever had in our history.

Monday, October 20, 2008

College Baseball...The Future is NOW!!!

RT Staff Note: We like to spread our opinions around the nation to various web sites and last week we wrote a post on College baseball that got some good response from their editor. We added in some additional thoughts below, but would like your opinions as well. Many parents and high school players that read our blog may not think that any of the decisions made on the behalf of college baseball means a lot now because...well, just getting through high school is on the minds of families. However, the future of College Baseball is at a major crossroads...hopefully for the better...and that affects all aspiring collegiate players and their families. The following is what we posted on Rivals with some additional comments.

College Baseball...The Future Is Now
I'd like to know what coaches and administrators in collegiate baseball think about the future of their sport. Do they think it is heading towards more of an alliance with the pros like college football and basketball? The way we see it, it sure seems that way. And if that is the case, the NCAA should move to reward the progress rather than cut back. Let me explain.

College basketball and football are popular because it's a combination of tradition, great competition AND a glimpse into the future of what the careers of those superstars might be in the professional ranks. The draft day coverage of both the NBA and NFL draw incredibly large audiences on ESPN and on local channels. Fans want their pro team to pick one of those high profile players they have watched on College Game Day for the past several years.

Baseball is trying to mimic that success. For the past two years, ESPN has been televising the MLB draft...not to nearly the audience ratings of football and basketball, but they ARE covering it nonetheless. And those that watch the MLB draft are a step ahead and a bit more educated about their favorite pro teams up and coming stars.

Extensive televised game day coverage of the major sports educates fans too. After three or four years of watching collegiate stars like football's Reggie Bush or Darrin McFadden on TV, fans have become experts and are aware of each star and their abilities from the start. By the time these stars are eligible for the draft, and draft day nears, those draft picks become hope for the future of that pro franchise and their star starved fans.

In baseball however, despite the recent coverage, the draft picks often go unnoticed and the everyday casual fans don't really know much about a young prospect when they are brought up. There's hasn't been as much draft day excitement like there is with a top basketball or football college player.

Lately however, the quick accent to the majors with players like Longoria, Price, Pedroia, Ellsbury (all of whom had success in the ALDS and ALCS) and others have seemed to be game changers. The more competitive college baseball becomes, the better the chance top players have to make that leap into the big show. There are others like Joba Chamberlain from Nebraska that made it to Yankee Stadium in a hurry and up and comers like Buster Posey, Matt Weiters and Max Scherzer that are on the fast track to the bigs.

We can identify with these young players more because we saw them play in the College World Series or on CBS, Fox or ESPNU regular season coverage. Players like Longoria have more top of mind awareness with the fans and bring hope that the success he and others had at colleges such as Long Beach State, Vandy, Arizona St., LSU, Miami, USC and more can translate into a boost for a Major League team. That theory has sure served the World Series bound Rays very well this year...The Red Sox with Ellsbury and Pedroia haven't done too bad either.

Throw in the coverage that young players are also getting with televised draft day coverage and college baseball is on the brink of the kind of top of mind awareness that can open up all kinds of opportunities for both the NCAA member institutions and the MLB as well.

For instance, when a football player is introduced in the pre-game ceremonies or when his profile is shown on a TV graphic, the college he attended is part of his identity...That has never been the case with baseball.

This year, for the first time, after watching the ALCS, we know now where Longoria, Price, Pedroia and Ellsbury went to school. Why? Because, all of these guys hardly had a cup of coffee in the minors. College baseball provided them with the kind of experience, discipline and knowledge of the game that enabled them to quickly make the transaction to the bigs.

When a player is drafted out of high school, the minor leagues are his training ground to help him adjust to the hard knocks of everyday baseball life. Players that attend college, it can be argued, not only gain that same level of knowledge about baseball that the minor leagues teach, but may have an edge with better discipline, strength and conditioning, time management and social maturity. It seems many MLB clubs are noticing that type of edge too with the top prospects. It's no coincidence that more college players were drafted this year than any time in the MLB drafts history.

Hopefully, as collegiate baseball becomes known as more of a fast track to the pros, we will be able to identify each player with the college he attended, just like football and basketball...And, as more and more pro players are identified with their school, you get more interest at the fan and alumni level supporting their programs, increasing ticket sales, donations and revenue to help grow those programs.

It's that type of association with top athletes and school pride that has made college football a great tradition and NCAA basketball a huge TV revenue generator. With new venues, more TV coverage and bigger fan bases, can baseball be far behind?

From a recruiting standpoint, we would hope that more high school players set their sites toward earning a scholarship to their favorite college as the number one goal. In essence, that change is already beginning to take shape with top prospects like Gerrit Cole, spurning a first round draft pick by the Yankees and representation by Scott Boras to become a UCLA Bruin. But, if more players opt for college like Gerrit, there has to be more incentive in terms of scholarships for them to turn the tide.

As we stated earlier, MLB scouts love college players because they have at least three years of great work ethic and discipline that is arguably more stringent than what the minors offer. The collegiate player puts more time into their off season and during the season, squeezes up to three times more games into a week than any other collegiate sport. Their day starts at 6:00AM with strength and conditioning and doesn't end until 10:00PM after study hall...everyday...fall, winter and spring.

Despite this grueling schedule, they get the least number of scholarships of any major sport. That's probably the single most issue keeping college baseball from landing every top recruit. The out of pocket costs for some families of top prospects is too much too handle.

Like football and basketball, baseball families have invested a lot of time and money with travel ball, showcases, camps and so on, yet the reward is nothing but a 25%-50% discount to the college of their choice. We like the direction that baseball is headed, but the one disconnect is the scholarship. There are 30 roster spots divided by 11.7 scholarships... there has to be a better solution.

With dozens of newer, bigger, fan friendly stadiums and the subsequent increased TV coverage, college baseball is on track to be a major NCAA revenue sport. In Ron Polk's much publicized letter last year, he stated that NCAA D-I level is the second largest producer of revenue for NCAA championships behind men's college basketball. That revenue will continue to escalate. So, with increased attendance, bigger venues, more TV money...why are athletes playing a major college sport...America's Past Time... for the scholarship equivalent of minimum wage?

Is there a long term plan to make baseball a fully funded sport with 20-30 scholarships? Has there been discussion within the NCAA on baseball's growing popularity?

How will the NCAA change it's policies to take advantage of the growth of the sport?

Are their lessons/case studies to be learned from a similar growth acceleration of NCAA championship basketball that can be applied to baseball?

Do fans want to see more regionalism of the NCAA baseball tournament or more fair distribution of top rated teams throughout the country?

With the price of fuel spiraling downward, are there more opportunities for expansion to give the country the bragging rights kind of match-ups of West Coast vs. Texas, Florida and Georgia that would garner far more interest than a ho-hum "I can see that match-up during their regular season" affair that is being proposed for the first round regionals?

Are the Northern schools and their inability to fully fund their programs a barrier to change? If so, is it right to have the same rules in place for those schools that invest tens of millions into their programs?

Collegiate Baseball is headed into the big time...That, we are sure of...Write the your concerns...write them often. Tell them your thoughts and how passionate you are about this sport. If collegiate baseball is in your sons future...if you have a vested interest, are employed by, are a partner of, a media representative, or are just a fan... you should take a stand now.
Let's help college baseball move forward with a plan to take advantage of it's fast growing popularity.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Facility Upgrades Changing College Baseball

RT Staff Note: As many families travel the country going to tournaments such as this weeks Arizona Senior Classic, it's more than likely that the players will play in outstanding facilities. The Peoria, AZ complex, the Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, the East Cobb facility in Georgia and many more are some of the most impressive facilities anywhere in the country. In other words, many players will play in nicer facilities in their youth than the colleges they are trying to get into. But, all of that is changing. There is a building boom of sorts and finally, colleges are heeding to the words that the blog and web site editors have been saying for years....Baseball CAN be a revenue generating sport. Baseball CAN draw big time fans in a sport that has always had big time numbers in all levels of the pros. Rounding Third has written no fewer than 10 articles over the past year ranting about the missed opportunities of today's colleges.

Yesterday, Kendall Rogers of College Baseball, wrote a fine article on a few programs that are not only making improvements, they are building palaces that are unlike anything this great collegiate sport has seen in its history. Will this cause a new building boom for collegiate baseball? There's no question that in a down economy the college game is a great value and more than adequate substitution for the pro game. It costs over $100 a game to take the family to see a pro team these days. For under $20, a family can not only enjoy a college game, but have enough money left for peanuts and Cracker Jacks too!

Plus, colleges seem to be immune to the bad economy. According to The National Center for Education Statistics, College enrollment hit a projected record level of 18.0 million in the fall 2007. College enrollment is expected to continue setting new records throughout the fall 2008 through fall 2016 period. That means more revenue for the schools and more fans for the sport of baseball too. Colleges are not hurting for money and students need a release in the spring, especially after mid-terms. And, what a better way to unwind, than to take in a highly competitive collegiate baseball game. We hope other college AD's are reading this and Kendalls article. Maybe it's time for your college to upgrade too.

Kendall Rogers College Baseball Editor

When actor Kevin Costner walked through the cornfields in the movie "Field of Dreams," a voice so famously proclaimed to him, "If you build it, he will come."
That quote is arguably the most famous quote from a baseball movie, and sure, it's just one line of words in a movie script. But for some college baseball coaches, the quote creates even more excitement around their program and gives them hope for the future. In their cases, the "he" in the quote refers to conference and national titles.

There was a time when college baseball wasn't a big deal. Many programs played in dilapidated stadiums, some programs weren't even fully funded, and the sport rarely was broadcast on national television.

For the most part, those days are long gone.

Salaries for college baseball coaches are increasing, many programs are receiving more funds, and perhaps for the first time ever, athletic directors around the country are figuring out that the sport can be profitable for the university.

The dynamic of the sport has changed drastically, and it's probably most evident in the facilities department, where many programs are building baseball versions of the Taj Mahal.

If you ask South Carolina and LSU, we're in the midst of college baseball's "Golden Age."

"I think athletic directors are starting to look at baseball as a revenue producer when you see all the college baseball facilities going up," said South Carolina coach Ray Tanner, who will move into a new office in the spring. "Not only do you have an opportunity to pay your bills with baseball, but also people are realizing this is a great sport."

South Carolina athletics director Eric Hyman has joined the list of administrators that believes college baseball is in its greatest state. The Gamecocks are finishing construction this fall on a new stadium that will end up with a price tag around $35-40 million.

South Carolina's new stadium includes a new clubhouse, locker room, staff offices, hitting facility, classrooms and meeting rooms. Oh yeah, the facility -- which already is sold out of tickets for the 2009 season -- has a capacity of more than 8,000 spectators.

"When I took the South Carolina job a long time ago, I had dreams that we'd build a stadium like this," Tanner said. "With South Carolina's tradition of having great fans, I knew this would be a possibility at some point. It really is a dream."

Tanner's dream-turned-reality has far-reaching ramifications for college baseball, especially in power conferences such as the SEC, Big 12 and ACC, where other programs are trying to keep up.

Even perennial power LSU once was at a disadvantage because of inadequate facilities.

"When I was hired, I'm not sure I would've accepted the LSU job without knowing a new stadium was soon going up," said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. "When it comes to recruiting and getting better players, the stadium is like a French word termed "lagniappe", which means 'something a little extra.' "

As with South Carolina, LSU's stadium certainly will be one of the nation's best. The Tigers are spending around $40 million for the ballpark, and the capacity of the facility will be 8,800 with the ability to eventually get 10,000 on the stadium grounds.

From showing potential donors you care about making the baseball program a consistent winner to rolling out the red carpet for prospective players, LSU and South Carolina are just two of many schools changing the landscape of college baseball.

"When you have a premier facility, it shows prospective players that your university is serious about its commitment to the baseball program," Mainieri said. "If a school is going to make this kind of commitment to the baseball program, recruits view that as a school willing to give them the resources possible to succeed at the highest levels."

Tanner, like Mainieri, already is reaping the benefits of his new stadium. The program, Tanner said, is gaining more exposure on the recruiting front because of the stadium. He also suggested recruits view a new stadium as a program making more progress.

"When the beams and concrete started coming out of the ground this past summer, it really paid off with some of our prospective players," Tanner said. "When a young player walks into this building and says, 'Wow,' it makes you feel good."

While South Carolina and LSU lead the way in facilities upgrades this season, many more programs have taken advantage of the increased popularity of college baseball. Texas essentially unveiled a new stadium last season, North Carolina is finishing up its rebuilding project of Boshamer Stadium, and Miami is in the middle of renovations.

Ole Miss, an SEC competitor, also knows what stadium renovations can do for a program. The Rebels, like many others, are in the middle of a massive renovation campaign that will increase seating capacity from around 5,000 to around 7,000 chair back seats with the possibility of 10,000 total on the stadium grounds.

Stadium renovations, Ole Miss recruiting coordinator Rob Reinstetle said, are programs' way of saying they're willing to pump resources into the baseball program. Reinstetle also believes stadium renovations are needed to compete in the SEC against teams such as LSU, South Carolina and Arkansas, who also has an excellent facility.

"To compete in a conference like the SEC, it's just imperative to have a great facility," Reinstetle said. "It's also a huge factor in the recruiting process because recruits want to come in for a visit and see new facilities."

For some, though, progress can be a tricky word. College football and basketball were the first college sports to go through the crazy facilities race. Oregon has a football locker room that is borderline ridiculous, while some basketball programs feel the need to construct NBA-like locker rooms and practice gyms.

The crazy price tags for facilities in football and basketball also bring with them high expectations, and college baseball is next in line. But do coaches see the facility developments ultimately as a good thing for the sport?

"The money for these facilities is coming from somewhere, and people want to see a winner," Reinstetle said. "Expectations at Ole Miss are high no matter what stadium we're in, but people definitely want to see dividends when you renovate stadiums."

For Tanner, the dance definitely is worth the impending rise in expectations.

"You get into the coaching profession for a few reasons, and one of them is winning," he said. "Having a new facility should only make your desire even stronger."

Kendall Rogers is the college baseball editor for He can be reached at

Thursday, October 16, 2008

All The Best CDP's Are In Arizona Today!

Is your team at the Arizona Senior Classic today through Sunday? All of the best College Development Programs will be there. They will be showcasing their best players in front of over 150 scouts from D-I, II, III, NAIA and all levels of JC's colleges in Peoria, AZ at the Padres and Mariners spring training complex. Go to their web site at This tournament/showcase is a wood bat event. The senior Classic was started as a way to showcase uncommitted this case, all 2009's...but it has become a must-attend for all 2010's. All of the top juniors will actually be at this weeks Senior Classic.

If any player out there has aspirations of playing college ball, then this is a great showcase to attend. It's obviously too late for this years events, but for you freshmen and sophomores, look seriously into trying out for a team that will be attending this event next year. In our opinion, it is the years most important showcase. It also doesn't matter where you live. All schools from every state will be there...East Coast to West Coast.

The format is better than most regular showcases too. 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 each game. There are teams from all over the country attending the Classic. See Schedule for the list of teams.

Next weekend is the Arizona Junior Classic, which is intended for 2010's and up, but mostly 2011's and 2012's will be there. Like the Senior Classic, it is well attended by scouts, and very worthy of a trip. We have talked with many CDP's over the years and they think that the Junior Classic is a great way to kick off a freshman and sophomores showcase experience. For a list of teams to next weeks event... See Schedule.

Look it up or at least put it on your calender for next year. It is well worth your time and money!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Best Of The Rest

There are other CDP's that deserve to be recognized around the country. As we stated yesterday, coming up with a Top 5 was very hard, but it was clear in the end, an important gauge for our Top 5 Teams selection was meeting ALL of the criterion, not just bits and pieces of it. Yesterday's Top 5 not only met those benchmarks, but in many cases exceeded them.

The following list of organizations are great too and provide a service to their players beyond the description of travel ball. These teams are true College Development Programs and have the players in college to prove it.

New England Ruffnecks
This organization is the perfect definition of College Development Program. They may not have as many AFLAC All Americans or MLB prospects, but they deliver on their promises. The Ruffnecks develop players and give them more opportunities than they will find anywhere else in the Northeast.

In just the 2008 season their teams attended tournaments at the University of South Carolina, Wake Forest University, the East Cobb Baseball Complex in Georgia, the College of Charleston (SC), and numerous other locations such as Nashville, New York, Virginia, and elsewhere.

The Ruffnecks have consistently competed very well and have advanced to the playoff or championship rounds of high-level tournaments. This past year the 2008 14U team played a total of 62 games, and never once played in a consolation game at any of the seven tournaments they attended. At its highest level, the 18U College Prospect Team assembles the best talent to compete on a national stage. There are few programs in the United States that undertake the scope of what they do at the 18U level, which is significantly subsidized. They have had three players named to the East Coast Pro Showcase and Area Code teams in the past two years.

More important they had 11 players from last years team sign NLI's to D-I colleges and this years Class of 2009 has 5 verbally committed to great schools such as Stanford, North Carolina, and Holy Cross. Who says that good talent doesn't come from the northeast? The program got a huge boost when Ryan Westmoreland inked a $2 million deal with the local favorite Boston Red Sox.

The thing we like about this program is their well organized web site. Like NorCal, they continually update it and keep their players and families in the know with practices, results of games and upcoming camps and events.

All American Prospects
The All American Prospects, Inc. are only three years old, but have had a tremendous impact in that short period of time. Recently re-organized to accommodate the growth of their program, they are dedicated to the end result and that's a college scholarship for their players.

As a result, since 2006 no less than 75 of their players have signed scholarships to attend schools such as Florida, Miami, Florida State, Louisville, North Carolina State, Stetson, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Yale, Brown, Oklahoma State, Arizona State, LSU, Samford, South Florida, College of Charleston, and Duke as well as several prominent junior college programs.

The Prospects have won two of the past three World Wood Bat Association 17-under National Championships, finishing third out of 152 teams in the 2007 event, as well as the 2006 USA Baseball Junior Olympic East Championship.

The Prospects have had 22 players selected in the 2006 and 2007 MLB draft, including six - Chris Marrero, Colton Willems, Adrian Cardenas, David Christensen, John Tolisano and Danny Rams - in the first two rounds. All six, along with several others are currently playing minor-league baseball.

In 2008, they had 1 first round draft pick in Casey Kelley and 13 drafted overall. In 2007 and 2005, they had 4 AFLAC All Americans each year. In 2006, they had 2. That's an impressive record of top talent.

Richmond Braves
Back in 2002 the program was dubbed "The Top Travel Program in the Nation" in a cover story in Jr. Baseball Magazine. Collectively the four teams ranging from 11 and up have accumulated nearly 100 tournament championships, including numerous state championships and World Series titles.

The program's status among America's elite travel baseball programs has provided it' s players with extensive exposure on the national stage, a long held goal of the program . The Richmond Braves National Baseball Club's ultimate legacy will be measured by the degree of success it's players find in college baseball and beyond.

This program has had its share of success. The Richmond Braves National '10 Team won the 2008 Perfect Game/WWBA 16U National Championship and it's 2010 teams finished 5th in the 14U category. They had 6 high profile drafted this year as well...Ty Morrison: Tampa Bay Rays, Tim Melville: Kansas City Royals, Danny Hultzen: Arizona Diamondbacks, Zak Sinclair: Boston Red Sox, Austin Stadler: San Francisco Giants, Will Roberts: Los Angeles Angels.

Houston Banditos
Bandito teams are select youth baseball teams consisting of players residing in and around the Houston, Texas area, with a division in Austin, Texas. All teams are affiliated with the Banditos Baseball Club, which directs teams beginning at 6U through 18U age divisions.

The Banditos Baseball Club was established in 1996. In just a few years, Banditos Baseball Club has become a highly successful nationally recognized powerhouse select baseball program. The Banditos teams have won numerous state and national championships at various age divisions across many competitive baseball associations sanctioned league and tournament play. This past summer, 6 Banditos were picked in the MLB draft, including J.P. Ramirez who signed a $1.2 million contract with the Washington Nationals. J.P has been playing with the Banditos for some time. At 11, he went 13 for 13 with 5 home runs and hit for the cycle twice in one weekend.

We like this program because of it's enthusiasm for its players. They have player evaluations, and end of year awards they give out. The evaluations are unique to this site. Most of these kids were developing with the Banditos Program when they were 8-12 years old. They were in the system and the coaches very familiar with their skill set.

The Class of 2008 saw 6 Banditos play at the next level. That's significant because they are an organization that made it's reputation on the younger age groups. Unlike other programs, the Banditos are committed to all levels...not just their core age groups.

Diamond Devils
The Diamond Devils of Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina won this summers 17U WWBA National Championship. That's not all they have done. Here's some of their accomplishments that we copied from their web site.

Three National Championships…256 Division I players…29 players drafted…16 players are presently in the Minor Leagues…Three 1st Rounders-Drew Meyer, Matt Campbell, Daniel Bard…One Major Leaguer-Drew Meyer…One Cape Cod League Player of the Year-Justin Smoak…24 Diamond Devil alumni have participated in the Cape Cod League…30 Diamond Devil alumni participated in an NCAA Regional in 2006…21 Diamond Devil alumni participated in an NCAA Super-Regional in 2006…12 Diamond Devil alumni participated in the 2006 College World Series…23 Diamond Devil alumni have played in the College World Series…30 Diamond Devil alumni have played in the Junior College World Series…

Best of all, 45 Diamond Devils from the Class of 2008 are playing college ball this year...Wow!!! That's exciting and a further proof that there are teams out there that truly do care about their players and not just winning. Yes, the Devils win..because they have players that know how to compete and a group of coaches that know how to channel that competitive spirit in their players.

Georgia Roadrunners
This program has 4 National Championships in the last 3 years. They have also had 14 players sign NLI's from the Class of 2008 including 4 to Tennessee, and the rest from top schools such as Georgia Tech, NC State, Auburn and Oklahoma State.

Last December, they had 5 Players named to the PG Underclass "All Prospect Team". They are an up and coming program and we hope they keep it up.

In fact, all of these teams exemplify what College Development Programs are all about. These are the type of programs that will greatly benefit your son and give him the extra edge he may need to play at the next level. Congratulations teams and keep up the good work!!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

2008 Top 5 College Development Programs (CDP's)

This is our second annual ranking of what we used to call "travel teams" in the United States. Of course, we now know that they is so much more to baseball development than just teams that travel. These elite clubs in our next two days of articles are true College Development Programs or CDP's. Our research and information was based on what is published on major baseball web sites as well as results gathered from the top tournament and showcase sites.

But mostly, we ranked the teams by using the following criteria...1) Former players that went on to college. 2) Present players that are verbally committed. 3) Former players that were drafted. 4) Former players playing in MLB. 5) Former or present players that have been named to a National Team or received national attention. 6) National Championships won.

So, based on that criteria, below is our top 5 College Development Programs. Actually there are 6. We have a tie for first. This stuff is hard folks. There's a lot to like about more than just 5 teams. In fact, tomorrow we will feature "The Best Of The Rest" and feature the NE Ruffnecks, Midland Redskins, All American Prospects and Richmond Braves to name a few. As for todays list, we have provided a link to each teams web site in case you want to see for yourself what these teams do different than the rest.

#1 (tie) ABD Academy
This Southern California club has been a force at the national level for over 5 years and is dedicated to developing some of the top players at the AFLAC games.

This past summer they had an amazing 5 players picked as AFLAC All Americans. They were...Matt Davidson, Jiovanni Miller, David Nick, Brooks Pounders and Chad Thompsen. In the past three years, ABD has had 12 players picked for the AFLAC All-American Games, more than any other program during this time frame. They also produced Gatorade National Player of The Year and first round draft pick, Kyle Skipworth, and another first rounder in Allan Dykstra, a former Bulldog and Wake Forest player. Tyler Chatwood was a second round pick.

Overall, they have had 11 players in the past six years get picked in the top four rounds. ABD has also placed over 110 players in college in the past 5 years, including 24 to the college ranks in the class of 2008 and 22 players from the classes of 2009 and 2010 that have verbally committed.

Presently, they have 4 age groups from 2009 to 2012 playing for the Academy. Altogether, they have 9 teams in California and one program in Hawaii.

#1 (tie) Norcal Baseball
This Northern California (Bay Area) powerhouse is tied for the top spot due to their continued loading and reloading of top talent, dedication to development and their great relationships with college recruiters.

They have 5 teams that are separated by grade...Junior High, Freshman, Sophomore, Junior and Connie Mack. They are one of the only teams that have teams by grade and not age because that's how recruiters look at players. NorCal gets it, and makes it easier for the recruiters. It's not always about winning trophies...although they do a lot of that...It's about proper exposure at the right time.

They also have an impressive roster of impact pro players that have graduated from their program. Three of their alumni are still playing in October. Jimmy Rollins and Pat Burrel of the Phillies and J.P. Howell of the Rays. A list of their alumni would be the envy of any pro roster. We have been writing this blog for over a year and we still haven't found another CDP with 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 - Tigerss
Xavier Nady - Yankees
J.P. Howell - Rays
Troy Tulowitzki - Rockies
Brandon Morrow - Mariners

They had 20 players drafted this year from the high school and college level. That included three first-rounders and former players, Jason Castro, Brett Wallace, and David Cooper... and two second-rounders Tyson Ross and James Darnell. NorCal had 11 guys go in the first 10 rounds and to date have had eight first round picks (Burrell, Tulowitzki, Morrow, Gruler, Mills are the others) and 16 big-leaguers.

Throw in a 2008 AFLAC All American in Scott Griggs and you can see why they are tied for the top spot. They are championship round regulars at the USA Baseball 16U Championships (formerly Junior Olympics), WWBA (won the 15U 2008 WWBA) and more and have have also placed over 260 players in college...with 99% of those colleges, NCAA Division I.

#2 San Gabriel Valley Arsenal
The Arsenal was established in the summer of 2001 with players throughout the San Gabriel Valley. They had 24 players from the Class of 2008 commit to college and 2 first round draft picks in Aaron Hicks and Gerrit Cole. Cole made the national news this year by opting out of playing for the Yankees in favor of a spot on the UCLA roster, where he is in the middle of fall workouts. Zach Collier was also a first round supplemental pick of the Phillies. Altogether, they had an impressive 10 players drafted...all but one in the 26th round or better.

Jonathan Singleton was their lone AFLAC All American, but that's coming off a year in 2007 when they had four AFLAC All-Americans on their squad. This program knows the in and outs of baseball and there is not a College Development Program in the west coast that doesn't have respect for the Arsenal. They play the right tourney's and get exposure for their players with regularity. Their fall schedule includes WWBA World Championships in Jupiter, Junior Fall Classic in Peoria, AZ. and the Cory Lidle Thanksgiving Tournament. That's a great line-up that will greatly benefit their players.

#3 East Cobb Baseball
The East Cobb Baseball program is recognized nationally as one of the premier youth baseball operations in the country. Under the direction of Guerry Baldwin for over twenty years, it has consistently delivered on its Mission Statement:

To teach the integrity of the game of baseball and to help players understand the greatness of the game while learning the life lessons associated with baseball. To guide and enhance the process of advancing to the college or professional level. To provide the best learning atmosphere, the best competition, and the most fun the game of baseball has to offer to its participants.

That mission statement is what CDP's are all about...In addition, when you look at the shear numbers of players that the East Cobb Program has delivered to the college and pro ranks, you can see why they have made our poll for the second straight year.

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, undeniably the best baseball complex in America, their home. It is an amazing complex, despite the rain-outs that often wash a tourney or two out. 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 past summer, they added Drew Steckenrider, Donovan Tate and Zack Wheeler to the AFLAC roster, further adding to their impressive string of great baseball players that seem to roll out of the complex each year.

#4 Dallas Tigers
Since 1993, 14 Tiger teams have won national championships. 18 Tiger players have been drafted by the Major Leagues, 15 have been selected to National teams, and 57 have played D-I baseball. The 2005 class, which Tommy Hernandez the founder of the Dallas Tigers and former Texas Ranger, coached himself, won 5 National Championships, plus numerous other Regional and State Championships.

This past summer, Jonathon Walsh and Jacob Morris were selected to the AFLAC All American Team. An impressive 16 players signed their NLI from the Class of 2008 including 2 to Texas and one each to Stanford, Oklahoma and Arkansas to name a few. Six have verballed to Texas (2), Oklahoma (2) and Arizona St (1) in the Class of 2009 thus far with more on the way. Last summer the Texas Rangers drafted Blake Beaven in the first round of the 2007 draft. Blake is no stranger to the Tigers program. Last summer marked the 7th year he had played under the tutelage of head coach Linty Ingram, former PAC-10 Player of the year and All American. That kind of longevity is a mark of a good program. It seems the Tigers are known for loyalty and that helps produce consistency with players and their development.

They also had 2 players selected to the 18U - USA Baseball National team and two more to the 16U team. We have been following the Tigers for years and it seems they are always in the thick of major tournament championships at just about every age group. This is their first year in our poll, but it probably won't be their last.

#5 Houston Heat
The Heat gets a top 5 nod once again because of their continued rise as a national power. Houston Heat Baseball was formed and designed to provide a complete baseball experience for the exceptional amateur baseball player by providing the highest level of competition, player development and exposure to college and professional scouts.

The Heat have 8 teams from 15 to 18 as well as a college team. For the past three summer seasons they have put together a Heat collegiate team for the collegiate players that are in Houston during the summer and need a place to play. They have recently joined the Gulf Coast AABC Stan Musial League. This wood bat league plays approximately 30 games locally during the weekday evenings and participates in two end of summer tournaments.

In the 7 short years that this club has been in existence, they have made a huge impact with 5 national Championships and some impressive alumni. This past summer, Matthew Purke made the AFLAC All American Team. Recent top draft picks have included Kyle Drabek, Scott Kazmir and Homer Baily. Kazmir is still playing ball in October. In addition to Drabek, they have another son of a famous father in Koby Clemens. Presently, they have 44 former players now in the pros.

But, the most impressive number in our opinion, is the fact that they have placed 250 players in JC and NCAA colleges since 2001. The Class of 2008 had 26 players go to college. So far, they have had 11 Class of 2009 players verbal to prestigious universities like Rice (4 players) Texas, Vanderbilt and Baylor.