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.