Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Give Us Your Resolutions

We are a little late with our post today. Holiday Air traffic delayed us quite a bit. I don't like airports this time of year. With all of those crowds, lines, traffic, people with their bags of presents they are bringing home from Grandma's house, and with airports these days mimicking the look of shopping malls, my wife said it reminded her of the shopping weekend after Thanksgiving. So, in the spirit of that Black Friday weekend, I found a Friday's in the airport, had a beer and watched a football game...This time however, my wife joined me.

My colleagues and I had a post ready for New Year resolutions all ready to go...but we decided that we would like to hear from our readers too! What would you like to see changed or improved upon in 2009 as it relates to your son's high school team, travel team, the state of showcases and camps, baseball in general, or even your son himself.

E-mail us at and we will compile all of those for our January 1 post.

RT Staff

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Ready, Set, Go

It may seem incredulous to many of our readers in the North, but the Southern States start outdoor practice in about two weeks...OUTDOORS! That means stepping up the work-outs to avoid injury. The most common complaints are shoulder and elbow soreness and if you didn't follow our suggestion to long toss and build arm strength this past fall season, it's still not too late.

In addition to long toss and other arm drills, we have found that the Jaeger bands and similar band work is a sure way to strengthen that arm to limit any soreness or injury. A site that we really like and can give you a quick tutorial on what to do to strengthen your shoulders and arms between now and January 15th can be found at the aforementioned Jaeger Sports and at these links at or

Good baseball players don't crash course their work-outs, and the only sure way to decrease the risk of injury is to work out and strengthen your core and the rest of your body year round. But if you didn't have a year round program, starting now, while not ideal, is better than risking injury the first few weeks of practice...the most common time of arm soreness.

Good luck guys. Work Hard!

RT Staff

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Numbers Game

RT Staff Note: The following is from an e-mail we received from a reader who has a son that went through the recruitment process in California. His perspective provides some good advice for players in warm weather states that may not be getting the offers that they desired.

As a California parent of a son that was a pretty good high school baseball player, I had to broaden my horizons to help him find a college where he could play baseball. It wasn’t till I had been through the process that I really learned what the obstacles were and how to overcome them.

One thing that never dawned on me was as a California kid, the numbers are stacked against you. By this I mean that there are more kids playing baseball with far fewer college opportunities than exist in other states. I didn’t know how significant it was until a sat down, ran some number using public data.

By my estimate there are about 45 kids playing high school ball in California for every one roster spot at a 4-year college. I then did the same analysis for 5 other states to see how California stacked up versus; Texas (34 kids), Oregon (27 kids), North Carolina (16 kids), Ohio (16 kids) and Pennsylvania (12 kids). I suspect if I took it out and did all fifty states the variance would continue to grow.

The message for ball players in warm weather states is if you are not finding an opportunity in your back yard, expand your horizons.

The Analysis

I took the number of high schools from the Department of Education files and assumed that 80% of them play baseball. This accounts for small schools, single sex schools and those without athletic programs. I did not test the validity of the assumption but it should not materially change the relationship that exists.

I then assumed that each high school graduates 10 baseball players a year (some will do more some less). The number of schools times players graduated each year creates a population of college eligible players each year.

From I identified the number of 4-year schools that have baseball teams in each state.

I specifically eliminated junior colleges for the analysis because it represents the same group of kid’s only 2-years later; they will ultimately be replaced by the same number of high school graduates. Once I identified the number of schools, I assumed a 35 man roster with one-quarter being incoming freshman or alternatively transferring juniors. This defines the number of roster spots available each year.

When you compare the number of high school players to the number of roster spots available, you can see that California produces nearly three times the number of high school players per college roster spots for its state as compared to some eastern states.

My Point

My point is there is opportunity for kids to play ball. You need to understand how and where you fit into the maze of college baseball. A big part of that is “understanding the numbers” so that you can help your son find a place where they will get the opportunity. For my son, out of northern California he ended up in Texas where he has had the opportunity to get a great education and play on a team that has made it to the NCAA tournament.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Many Happy Returns

The day after Christmas is a big return day for all of the ugly ties, sweaters and and odd trinkets that relatives that didn't know what to give you, gave you something that they didn't really like themselves, but for some reason felt that you would never notice. Yeah OK, it hardly makes sense...but then, neither did the gift.

And, speaking of returns...from a baseball perspective (the only perspective that matters on this site)...the Christmas break is a great time for underclassmen to return all of those college profile sheets that the recruiters sent you a few weeks back. Unlike the relatives "thought that counts" gifts, the coaches and recruiters sent your sons stuff that is really valuable and important to follow up on.

Get In Their Database
The most important reason to fill out those profile sheets is to get on the colleges regular mailing list. That mailing list will provide your son with some useful information about their team, coaching philosophies, player updates and games and weekend series results. This will allow your son to make an educated decision about what kind of team they really are. Those mailers will also inform your son about key camps to attend. If your son is interested in that college, then it may be a good idea to attend that particular camp.

What To Add
While the profile sheets will give the college recruiters some basic information about your son, they are but a fraction of what is needed for them to make any kind of judgement about his abilities. This time of year is somewhat of a downtime for the coaches and an opportunity for them to view SkillShow tapes, stats, read any recommendations from past coaches, review his travel ball history and accolades, or read his upcoming varsity schedule. Make sure your son accompanies any correspondence with a personal letter directed at one person and not an entire staff. Your son should never send out generic letters. That's something that coaches would expect out of their insurance company at Christmas , but not from one of their potential recruits.

Follow-up on the Follow-up
It doesn't end there! This process is like interviewing for a job. Persistence can pay big dividends. Have your son follow up with his work-out routines and any goals he achieved in conditioning such as 60 times, or increasing his 1 RM. As the season progresses and he starts to compile stats, send those updates or send the coach links to articles or school web site summaries.

But it all starts now. Send those profile sheets in. Do NOT procrastinate. There are dozens of stories from people we know that didn't follow up and well, neither did any coaches.

RT Staff

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

The Staff at Rounding Third would like to wish every one of our fans and readers a very Merry Christmas!

Here's a parody on the night before Christmas we found on the web. Enjoy!

'Twas the night before baseball, when all through the park,
Not a creature was stirring, the lights were all dark.
The bunting was hung on the railings with care,
In hopes a World Series soon would be there.
The players were nestled in their beds for a rest,
Tho' some were out flunking a breathalyzer test.
And pennants and jerseys and team logo caps,
Were about to emerge from their long winter naps.

When out on the mound there arose such a clatter,
A noise like a child chanting "hey batter, batterŠ"
It rang Œcross the field and into the seats,
From the very first row to the luxury suites.
The stadium lights on the freshly mown lawn,
Gave the luster of afternoon baseball games gone.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a ghost telling stories for all that were near.

The little ole spirit so lively, so fast,
Was dealing out images hard from the past.
More rapid than eagles the memories came,
And he whistled and shouted and called them by name.
³Now Mickey, now Aaron, now Babe Ruth and Ty,
On Branch Rickey's Dodgers, on Shoeless and Cy.
From the dugout below to the top of the wall,
Remind us, remind us, the great things about ball.²

As dry leaves before the wild hurricanes fly,
When they meet with an obstacle mount to the sky,
So up to my mind the memories flew,
First one, then another, another, then two.
First, springtime of baseball, best time of the year,
Transistor radios close by the ear.

There's Ott, Mazeroski, and Carlton Fisk's dance,
And Ozzie, and ³Tinker to Evers to Chance².
Dizzy and Daffy, the memories linger,
Of Larson and Berra and good ol' Three Finger,
Gibson and Seaver, the pitchers were plenty,
Mays and Cepeda and Roberto Clemente.
Steinbrenner's Yankees with Martin back when,
He fired and hired and fired him again.
There's some things you do to make easy rhymes,
Like just pointing out he was fired five times.

The Bombers, the Whiz kids, the Miracle Mets,
The pine tar that flows up the bat of George Brett.
The 20-cent soft drink, the one dollar ticket.
The grounder that went right through Bill Buckner's wicket.
The day when Lou Gehrig decided he's through,
McGwire and Sammy as they chased sixty-two.
Cracker Jacks, hot dogs and baseball park dinners,
Home runs and gold gloves and 20 game winners.

The 91 series and who would've thought it?
The 97 series and the man who had bought it.
The race for the pennant to the end of September,
All this and more, The Spirit remembered.
The Spirit remembered the things that were right,
And then it was gone like a breeze in the night.
It blew through our minds after leaving it's call,
³It's Opening Day; it's time to Play Ball.²

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Compete Against The Best

We were at a tournament recently where a coach complained that their team was in the toughest bracket. Honestly, if you are a coach of a travel team with legitimate prospects and there are scouts at your tourney you should be very happy that you were placed in the tough bracket. How else are recruiters going to get a good gauge on the true talent of your players if they aren't playing against the best competition. As a coach, you should be requesting the toughest teams...At the 2010 graduating class level and above, it's not about just's about getting better and getting seen.

BTW, you should not be entering tournaments if there are not at least some scouts and recruiters there. If your team has a warm-up tourney to get ready for a big showcase event...fine...but if your team is consistently entering tournaments for the purpose of winning that $5.00 piece of plastic...shame on you.

Your players deserve to compete against the best players at any tournament you are playing in. Recruiters would rather see the best teams play each other as well. That way, they can scout and assess more promising prospects at one game. Economy of scale...everyone wins.

This is a short post today...Hey, it's Christmas Eve. Time to get back to the family Christmas gathering.

RT Staff

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


RT Staff Note: This is another article by TeachdGames Jim Giles. Go To for more articles.

I had an epiphany while reading a quote by USC’s football coach Pete Carroll. Carroll said the "football gods" cause the ball to bounce in your favor sometimes, in your opponents' favor on others. "You're going to have to overcome all that stuff. We're going to have to do it again," he said. "Maybe this week and maybe next week, the teams are going to have our number, or somebody's going to be hot and the wind is going to blow and things happen”. "That's why we talk all the time -- you have to respect the game."

This just hit me hard. I truly believe exactly what he was saying, but as I reread it over a second and third time…. OK, so I’m a nut, I love trying to get inside Pete Carroll’s head and understand his methods/theories…. But I think so many times all of us, coaches, players and parents need to really look hard at these 3 very important words :

“ Respect the Game “

Coaches – every time we step on the field, do we really exemplify the respect for our opponent, respect for our players, respect for the umpires and respect for those who have stepped on the field before us? This great game we all love and hate is so fickle. One day we win, the next we lose. If we win, HOW do we win? Do we walk off the field gloating and rubbing it in the nose of the other team? Do we shove it in the face of the opposing fans? Do we post on message boards our record? Do we really win even if the scoreboard shows the other team might have scored more points during the game?

I think it was John Wooden who said, “ some days we don’t lose, we just ran out of time”. Do we really respect our players, or are they just a mere means to an end of satisfying our own ego’s as we can no longer play the game ourselves? Do we remember that every time we step on the field and coach, it is an opportunity to lead by example to those young men who look at everything we do, even when we think their more worried about the hotties in the stands? As we run out to argue a questionable call or rant and rave about the idiots in blue, can in the next breath we really talk to our players about “worrying about what you can control”?

Players – every time you step on the field, it is one step closer to the day you will no longer be able to step on that field and compete. How do you want that step to be taken? Everyone wants the satisfaction of winning. Winning feels good. But can you win while still retaining the Respect of your opponent? Can you still respect an opponent if the scoreboard says you didn’t score more runs than they did that day? How will you respect the name on the front of that uniform? In most instances, there were guy’s that wore that uniform ahead of you that gave YOU the opportunity to wear it today. They played the game with respect which is the reason while you wear it today. People will look to you with respect just because of the name on the front. How are you respecting them?

For those that will wear the uniform behind you, how will you respect THEM??? By leaving a legacy so that when they wear that uniform tomorrow, next year or 5 years from now, they will get the same respect that you do just for wearing it. How do you respect the name on the back? In many of the days ahead of you, the name on your back will be a source of great pride. You should be proud of who you are. But, this comes with a price. The price that hopefully has been paid by those ahead of you. The price you pay for those behind you that will have to live with the legacy you leave behind by the way you respect it today. And one day hopefully, when you are in the stands and you get to look down on a little one who wears that same name, you will understand the pride that goes along with that price.

Parents – how do YOU respect the game? Every time you are in the stands or on the sidelines, you are a direct representative of the team / school that your child is playing for. Are you respectful of the opportunity your son has been given to wear that uniform? How do you respect those who have come before you and given you the opportunity to wear that cute little sweatshirt or hat with the team logo on it? How will you respect those behind you, who one day will hope to walk into a stadium and garner some level of respect just because of the logo they so proudly wear? Or will everyone look upon them as “ Oh, their one of them “. How will you respect your
CHILD? Every time you stand up and yell at the umpire, it is almost assured that your son is sitting in the dugout putting his head down in shame. Or worse, you are telling them directly that it is OK NOT to respect the officials. How do you respect the coach ?

In many instances, you have paid for this privilege, whether it is travel ball fees, tuition at school, or just athletic fees. How can you possibly expect your son to Respect the coach or opponents if there is no example coming from the stands? How can you even remotely expect your son to only worry about what he can control if during the entire ride home or dinner that night, you criticize the coach, the umpires, the opponent, fellow players or YOUR SON’s play?

God, this is what we all forget so often. IT IS JUST A GAME. It SHOULD NOT be the embodiment of who we are. It will many times however reveal WHO we are. It is NOT the end of the world! It just seems like it if we didn’t score enough runs that day. It is NOT the financing for my son’s college education. Oh yeah and think about this one….. Key word --- education, why do I want to go to college, to play baseball, NO – to get an education. It is NOT my personal retirement fund as God willing, my son will be a million dollar bonus baby and suddenly all MY WORRIES will be erased. He’ll take care of me when I get old. Remember, they’ll follow your example.

For those tiny select few, maybe one day it will be their JOB….. Getting paid to PLAY THE GAME….. but can you get paid and still Respect the Game? Respect the Fans? Respect the name on the Front of the Jersey? Respect the name on the BACK of the Jersey? I sometimes feel that this is forgotten. All those dollar bills come from somewhere. That “tight” ride you’ll be driving, the “dope” house you and your kids are living in and all the "blingage" is a direct GIFT from everyone sitting in the stands who has paid a huge amount just for the privilege of watching you play. You get to EARN a living playing THE GAME we all love. Those people in the stands don’t consider how they earn a living to be a GAME. Those same people are the one’s who buy the products you’ll endorse, which will bring you more cash. So when the spotlight is shining so bright and everyone wants a piece of you, remember why that desire even exists giving you something only a select few have – RECOGNITION – it is because of THE GAME. How will you Respect it?

So as we all walk out on the field this weekend, next week, next month or next year –we can all really think “ how will we RESPECT THE GAME “.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Major or Mid Major...Does it Really Matter?

There have been some web sites that have discussed the difference between majors and mid majors in baseball. As your son considers his baseball future and goes through the stacks of letters he has been receiving, should weight be given to the overall image of the conference as it relates to other sports? Or, should more weight be given to how that school rates as a baseball conference?

In football, a major is defined as residing in a BCS conference, while a mid major is a non-BCS conference. In basketball, the lines of distinction are less defined. While teams that are also strong in football in the ACC, PAC 10, Big East, SEC, Big 10 and Big 12 are considered the cream of the crop in basketball, there are still teams like Gonzaga, Davidson and Memphis is lesser conferences that rise to top consistently, year after year.

In baseball, the traditional basketball and football power conferences are hardly blips on the radar in baseball. The Big East is considered one of the best conferences in basketball, but one of the worst in baseball. The Big 10 is a football and basketball powerhouse, but a perennial baseball lightweight.

Likewise, the Southern Conference is hardly a powerhouse in any sport and three of the teams in their conference don't have football, but they can really compete in baseball with the emergence of Coastal Carolina, Elon. The Big West, West Coast Conference, WAC and Conference USA also are considered mid majors in other sports, but in baseball, are all national powerhouse conferences.

The Big West is considered by many to be one of the top 5 baseball conferences in the country. Yet, only two Big West schools have football, and the conference is rarely granted an at large NCAA berth in basketball. The West Coast Conference also is not a football conference.

Many students, it would seem, would prefer the total university experience and flock to schools that have football and competitive basketball. But except for the SEC, Big 12, PAC 10 and ACC, the traditional power conferences may not be a viable option for that player that wants the best choice for his baseball career. What should a recruit do?

First of all, we have stated time and time again that a student should pick the college with the mindset that if baseball wasn't in the picture, would he go there? That said, he certainly doesn't want his baseball experience at that school to be compromised either. The best advice we can give is for a recruit to take advantage of all of his official visits and to take as many unofficial visits to schools as well. College is a life altering decision in of itself...and a player needs to do his homework. If a team in the Southern conference or Big West do not have football, or do not compete well in basketball, ask the players on the team if they miss that.

Ask them about the total college experience and the life of a student athlete there. You may be surprised at the answers. Don't go into the process with a skewed view on what the college life is supposed to be about. College is what a student athlete makes of it. Besides, sometimes a student athlete is so busy with the rigors of daily practices, strength and conditioning, school and studying that the other extra-curricular activities sometimes become a distraction...It's best to ask a lot of questions when making that decision. The following is another whole list of questions from High School Baseball Web that a student should ask a coach and himself when picking a college. We hope this has been helpful.

Questions for Coaches

What kind of academic support does the college provide? (tutors, etc)
What is the team grade point average?
What is the team graduation rate?
What are some of the majors of team players?
Is my scholarship guaranteed for four years?
What are your red-shirt procedures?
Will I be red-shirted in my freshman year?
Does the scholarship cover summer school?
Will the scholarship cover a fifth year if necessary?
At my position, what does the depth chart look like?
Where do I stand on the recruiting list?
What are my scholarship opportunities?
How many assistant coaches are there?

Questions for Team Members

Does the coach teach at the school?
What is the morale of the team?
Does the team like the staff?
Is the coach interested in academics?
Do the athletes really have to go to all classes?
How long is practice?
Would you go to this school if you had to choose again?
What is the average class size?
What are the dorms like?
Are the professors accessible?
Do the athletic dept. tutors do a good job?

Questions for Admissions

What is the average class size and ratio per professor?
Who teaches classes? (Professors, teacher assistants)
What is enrollment of college?
How is my major regarded?
What percent of graduates from my major receive jobs within three months of graduation?
How many fraternities and sororities are available?
What are the housing policies?
May I sit in on a class in my major? (as a guest)
How accessible are counselors to me?

Summary Question for Yourself

Did I have a good overall feeling about the school?
Would I go to school here if I wasn't going to play sports?
Will I fit into the athletic program?
Am I satisfied with the living arrangements?
Am I satisfied with the academic opportunities?
Many additional questions will, and should, come up throughout your recruiting process. The bottom line in choosing a college is simple.... Choose a school that you would go to if you were not going to play sports!

Your chances of playing professional sports is very slim. Go to college to get an education, meet lifetime friends, play some sports & have fun! When the final whistle blows and you're 21 years old and out of college, what you will have is experience, memories and a college degree. Don't make the mistake of selecting a college only because they are the only school that offered you a scholarship.
Pick a college because that's where you would want to spend the next four to five years of your life.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Show Me

High School ball is approaching in a month or so and that often stirs up controversy between coaches and parents. We often hear complaints from parents that their son is being "shafted"(a 70's euphemism for what they really mean) by their high school coach and is not getting enough playing time. Of course, the player hears mom and dad complaining and it starts to reflect on his attitude towards the coach, his support for his team and eventually his production in practice. Before long, his game is mired in quicksand.

NOW...Unless the coach has sextuplets on the team and is showing gross nepotism, then we find it hard to believe that there are coaches out there that are that blind to talent if the player in question is really that good.

Somewhere along the line, the parents favorite son had a breakdown of sorts...Maybe it wasn't related to talent at all. Maybe it was attitude, lack of hustle, a listening issue or the failure to grasp the intricacies of the game.'s not always related to to whether or not you think he is good or not.

Baseball is a multi-dimensional game. It's not just about hitting and catching. It's about leadership, desire, enthusiasm, and above all the ability to UNDERSTAND and continue to be a student of the game... We have seen players with incredible amounts of talent that couldn't put it together for a string of consecutive innings. High School baseball players must play for seven innings not just one or two and maybe that's what the coaches see in those players in question. Maybe they see that players role as a pinch hitter or a role player. Whatever the case, it may be a good idea for the player to find out and then work on the missing pieces to his game, rather than mope and feel sorry for himself. Coaches don't want to see that in a player and WILL bench anyone that acts like that...for the betterment of the whole team. Poor attitude in any sport has to be nipped in the bud. It is then the job of the coaches to work it out with the player...and above all, it is the job of the player to WANT to work it out with himself.

The best way to play is to Play Hard...Play Smart...Play with Enthusiasm...Play to Win. Players must SHOW the coach that they are a player by example, not with words. Let the coach decide if a player is good enough by giving it his all in practice everyday and hopefully that will lead to game day success.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Do Warm Weather Players Have An Advantage?

This is a ongoing discussion that message boards from East Coast, West Coast and South Coast have been hotly debating for years. This week, Central and Northern California has experienced it's coldest and most miserable week of weather in recent memory. It got us to think how much of a disadvantage winter is to states that actually have a winter. Californians are spoiled...Highs in the 40's is a cause for panic here. A lot of December/Christmas tourneys were cancelled.. What indoor cages there are, were full to capacity with teams that can't play outdoors because of the cold, wet weather...but it doesn't seem the same, according to one of our correspondents. "It's tough to get excited about having a practice a cage", he stated. "we just aren't used to this".

The New England Ruffnecks in the Boston area, deal with this for more than four months, not a week. Yet, how do they have so many athletes that commit to D-I colleges year after year. We aren't convinced that weather has any thing to do with the fact that they have 11 or players committed to D-I's on this team every year. College recruiters didn't single these guys out because the pickings were slim. They signed them because they can play...all of them. They may have less games under their belt each year and may not be as "season ready" when the real season does finally start, but they have gotten used to the indoor practices and it's part of their culture in the Northeast.

And, that brings us to another point. Warm weather ballplayers aren't better all round athletes. They are just more seasoned. There may be just as good or better potential talent in Midland, Michigan...just not the ample time to play the game enough to be as good as many warm weather players that play year round. But, that's even changing. There are indoor facilities popping up everywhere. New Jersey could hold the record for the most indoor hitting facilities per capita. There seems to be a batting cage on every corner. Jersey does love it's does Virginia, Maryland, New York, Indiana, Michigan and other states that have something to prove to the rest of America that they too can play ball.

There are colleges such as Ohio State that have entire indoor fields to practice on. As baseball becomes more of a revenue generating sport, we may just see more and more frost belt states investing in more indoor facilities and increasing the competitiveness of the players and their ability to compete over their sunbelt competitors. The question is...if you build it will they come? Can today's youth be excited to play and practice indoors if there is a foot of snow on the ground? Do the passions run as deep as they do in SoCal, where a player can play outdoors 365 days a year? It seems that in places like Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, and Jersey...that they do. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the future.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Are JC's Right For You?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rounding Third Staff

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

You Make The Call...Literally

RT Staff Note: The following is from Carmen Bucci, President of The Complete Athlete. Carmen teaches high school athletes how to communicate better with their current coaches, college coaches and/or professional scouts. He is a great resource and if players want to get serious about the recruiting process...Carmen's site is a must see.

By Carmen Bucci...
Sometimes how you say something is more important than what you say. We’ve all heard the phrase, “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” In this day and age of text messaging, instant messaging, and whatever other kind of messaging that High School Students create on a daily basis, that phrase has never been more true…Especially in the realm of Athletic Recruiting.

Do you prefer to get an e-card wishing you a Happy Birthday or Congratulations, or a phone call? I know it’s the thought that counts, and sometimes those animated cards are very funny….sometimes. Personally, I like getting a phone call, and so do college coaches. You don’t have to call and wish them a Happy Birthday, but instead of sending emails all the time, do something to separate yourself from the pack. Sure emails are easy, quick, and it’s what we do now, but that doesn’t mean it’s always the best means of communication. Are you going to email everyone on your team during the game? NO. You need to be able to communicate with the coaching staff, and your teammates. Show that to the college coaches right now, in high school.

In the business of Athletic Recruiting, it’s essential to develop relationships with college coaches. Think of it this way….. In high school, people start to date. Doesn’t it feel good to get a phone call from someone that you like and find out that they like you too? Of course it does. Or, how about getting a call from someone that you didn’t know likes you, but they happen to be the perfect person for you? Great, right? Well, that goes for college coaches too, especially if you want to be the one that gets offered the scholarship. One way to start the relationship is to write a letter to a coach. Another way is to send an email. But one of the most effective ways is still verbal communication. You won’t have the opportunity to meet face to face with every coach during the recruiting process, and some of the time you’ll get recruited off of your video and through conversations over the phone. A coach is going to feel more confident about the decision to offer you a scholarship, if he’s gotten a chance to get to know you, over time, as a player and especially a person. Remember, their reputations and their jobs are on the line based on who they recruit, and the results that come of it.

If you’re interested in some schools, and you fit in there academically and athletically, pick up the phone and call the coaches. They would love to hear from you! I know what you’re thinking, “There are rules about when a coach can talk to me.” Not True! There may be rules about when coaches can call you, but there are no rules as far as you calling them…Big difference (See for phone call dates for each sport). As a student-athlete, you can call a coach anytime you’d like. By you picking up the phone, you’re showing those coaches that you’re really interested in their school and their athletic program. Coaches want to recruit athletes that want to be there. And many coaches use that phone call to get a better idea about you as a person. How you come across on that first phone call, whether initiated by you or the coach, can have a huge impact on whether the process goes any further. Some coaches translate how you communicate on the phone to your ability to handle the academic, social, and athletic environment at their school.

Always have some questions ready by the phone. Be prepared. You never know when a coach will call. Don’t you prepare for a test, or an athletic competition? Don’t tell me you’re not prepared for the phone call. This could be your one shot to make a great first impression. Remember, it’s not mom or dad’s job to call the coach. Coaches are recruiting you for their team, not your parents. The best line I’ve heard from a coach about parents calling is, “We’ve never recruited a kid whose parents didn’t think they were good enough.” Like anything else, if you want it, you have to go and get it.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Little Things Count

RT Staff Note: I guess the best thing about being a blog is that the rules are a bit different. We try to write as much of our content as we can, but our real jobs sometimes get in the way. We have always admired this article written by Bob Howdershell for High School Baseball Web…personally one of our favorite sites…just because it’s regular posters are the most passionate baseball fans we have ever seen. Enjoy this article…

By: Bob Howdeshell
High School Baseball Web

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to be allowed to sit with several college coaches as they evaluated talent at a very good high school baseball tournament. This was a small tournament with only six invited teams, held at a major division 1 college campus. A “showcase” tournament.

No player’s names are being used, no teams are being mentioned and I will try to stay as generic as possible with the description of these players. The focus of this article is to make a point, not to embarrass any particular player.
The following are some of the comments and discussions that I was allowed to listen in on:

The first involves a player with a “national reputation” listed as a top prospect in several sources that I am familiar with. He is a position player. The coaches were in agreement that this player had several nice tools …. Good arm strength, good glove and good speed. The question that each of them had was his ability to hit at the upper end of college baseball.

Some coaches told me that the solid tools that the player had would make him a prospect to them even without “plus” hitting abilities. What happened next amazed even me. The player was struggling with his bat but showed flashes of an “upside.” However on defense the player did not move well. Did not show good anticipation, did not follow foul balls (showing a jump). More often than not only moved from his position if he was involved in the play.

Some of the coaches REALLY did not like the “lazy” (their words – not mine) attitude shown. On a couple of stolen base attempts (where the player was covering the bag) he did not make an attempt to stop a “less than perfect” throw. Basically he flagged at the ball and got out of the way.

One coach told me that he wanted players that were interested in “sticking their nose in there and getting dirty.” This coach is with a team that would be considered a “national power.”

Some of the coaches told me that they would have to see the player again – later this summer before making any decision regarding a potential scholarship offer. Other coaches told me that they probably would not pursue this player any further.

Next Up - A right handed pitcher that was throwing solidly in the upper 80’s. He has a slight movement on his fastball, an okay breaking ball and a fair change-up.

This player however did impress many of the coaches. WHY ????
He did not have his best control at times. At times was getting penalized by a “moving” and small strike zone, and had 5 errors made behind him, by his defense. What caught the coach’s attention was his ability to battle and keep challenging the hitters. He did not drop his head or slump his shoulders when things went against him. He showed no expression when a ball was called on an obvious strike. He even went so far as to walk over and speak to his second baseman, after a costly error and then pat him on the back as he walked away. The coaches I was sitting near did not miss this!

Each of the coaches that I spoke to admitted that they did not have the player on their lists of potential recruits. Each also said that they would be making a point to see the player pitch again this summer. This player became a prospect with several “big time” schools on a day when he was the losing pitcher and did not have his best stuff. Because of his attitude and the heart he showed.

Third Example: Is a big first baseman. This young man does not run like a gazelle, does not have a great arm. (average at best) He is not what you would term “athletic” but he is not fat. However he made points with several of the coaches in attendance.

Of course you have guessed it by now …. The young man can hit with the best of them. There is a little more to the story though. He can hit to all fields with power. He displayed a good ability to “go with a pitch.” He showed a good knowledge of the strike zone. I personally did not see him chase a bad pitch.

With runners on second and third and no outs in a one run ball game this young man hit a ground ball to the right side of the infield. He did this with a 2-strike count. He made an out and the run scored. He did his job for his team.

He hit a home run or two over the weekend, a double or two to the spacious gaps, had several “screaming” singles, but more importantly he hustled! This player ran hard on and off the field, every inning He did not quit as most of his teammates did in a blow out loss at one point in the tournament. As one pro scout commented to me …. “A “player” never changes his game, no matter what the score. A “player” plays as hard if his team is behind seven runs or ahead seven runs, or if his team is in a one run ballgame."

If you think that college coaches and professional scouts do not notice the “little things” you are mistaken. As one coach told me …. “We have to pay attention to each of the intangibles, it is the only real separator between some of these guys.” He went on to explain that each recruiting year they will have several players on their board that are essentially equal in athletic skills and ability. What then makes the difference is the “Little Things.”

So the next time you think that it doesn’t matter how you hustle or present yourself maybe you should revisit that part of your game. As another coach told me … “A player can hustle and give his maximum effort even on a day when he and/or his team is not playing their best game. It doesn’t take any athletic ability to hustle.”

Friday, December 12, 2008

Rewind...What Colleges Should You Contact

Did you know that there are 270 NCAA Division I programs? Are you good at math? That's over 9,400 student/athletes on D-1 baseball rosters right now.

Want more? There are 1,200 Division II, Division III, NAIA, and Junior College teams. (See link of NCAA Colleges that have baseball teams in the Sidebar to the right under Useful Sites and Links)

Based on the same 35 man roster, there are 42,000 active players at D-2 or lower. No problem right? Your son should be a shoe-in to play college ball...Right???? Well, not exactly. There are several other factors you should consider before you start packing up the trailer for college. First and foremost, college baseball doesn't hand out 100% scholarships. In fact, they are required to only offer 25%. If you want more than that and want to attend a top school, the your son better be one of the top 100 players in the country. If he isn't, here's help...

If your son is a freshman, start researching camps and showcases and make sure he is on one of the top college development programs ...If he is a sophomore...start now!!!

Grades and Talent

You hear stories about how easy academics are for student athletes in college...Well, it is NOT! Especially in baseball. If your son is to play at the college level he must have good grades...period!!! He must also have projectable baseball tools that the college programs are looking for to fill their immediate needs.

As soon as he enters high school, his focus should be on the books. Establish a good grade point early, because as he gets older and the demands of high school baseball get greater, he will need some cushion. But high school baseball is only a small part of the process. In the summer, he needs to get serious and attend "select" camps at colleges where he might want to go to school, and play on a competitive select, CDP summer and fall team. Scouts tend to follow the teams with the better athletes that enter the better tournaments. Simple economy of scale.

In the summer following his sophomore year, he should develop a list of realistic schools -- Again be realistic...that list should be all inclusive...from junior colleges to top 50 D-I, II, and III programs. Parents should listen at the camp and showcase scouts...they will tell you what level your son can play or what he needs to work on to get there.

The following is an older excerpt from Baseball Parent Magazine that we found very helpful back in teh day when we were in your shoes...

...How do you market your son's baseball talents? Who might really be interested in him? How many -- if any -athletic "exemptions" (special academic consideration for athletes) do prospective colleges allow? Where does your son want to play? What will determine where he chooses to play? And will anyone help you with the search? Probably / maybe not. You and your son just may have to do it all by yourselves.

For starters, his high school coach may be too busy to worry about your son's college career. On the other hand, he might be a great help in steering your son to the best program, for him. He might take the initiative to send introductory letters to coaches notifying them of your son's interest in playing college ball and his legitimacy as a prospect. He might also provide spring, summer and fall game schedules and post-season statistics. Over the course of a several month recruiting process, he might spend hours on the telephone with coaches promoting your son. Some coaches may even spend still more hours helping your family weigh his decision.

Early on in the process you'll want to assess the reputations of college baseball programs that are of interest. Eventually you'll want to make visits to check out baseball facilities; the coaching staff; the quality of the program; the off-season conditioning and training facilities; the number of fall, intersquad, exhibition, and regular season games (which could be as many as 100); and to check out the community support.

Explore the possibility of signing early, in November of your son's senior year. For some families, this can be a good decision, because it could spare your son the frustration of a prolonged search and allow him to enjoy a less anxious senior year waiting to see who wants him. If an early signing is an option, college visits should begin during the fall or winter of your son's junior year.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Banking On Your Sons Baseball Future

Let's say you are in the market for a home. The present state of the real estate industry aside, do you buy a home just for the lowest price or do you research everything about a neighborhood before buying a new home, such as residents, nearby schools, environmental statistics and information about recently sold properties in your neighborhood? If you want a return on your investment, you will do your homework and research...because you will reap the benefits if you follow the age old mantra of real estate 101 and buy for location, location, location.

Finding a College Development Program for your athlete follows the same principals. It's all about where you locate your son in front of the right scouts that can see him play. If your son has the right tools and may project to play at the next level, then how will he be seen? Does your sons present team adequately do that? If not, then maybe it is time to sit down with the present coaches and see what their plans are.

About 90% of all signed, college bound senior players in Florida, Texas, Georgia, Nevada, Arizona and California played on college development programs or some higher level travel team. The numbers are proof that the travel teams produce results and a BIG return for your athlete. The good teams that is. As we recap our 2009 NLI's, we have found out that their are about a dozen teams that help place nearly 100% of their rosters. Those teams have managers that have influential contacts and know all or most of the key recruiters in all NCAA, NAIA and NJCAA schools in all divisions. Others may have the same influence with recruiters but will place only 25-50% of their players due to lack of recruitable players but even that's still good. At least they are trying.

The teams to stay away from, if there is any cost involved, are the teams that have little or no track record of success. If you are unsure of the integrity of a travel team, ask for references. Most good organizations like the teams we highlighted in our Top 5 will provide you with dozens of references from past players and parents, to college and pro scout references. If a College Development Program that is recruiting your son can't provide that, then it may not provide you the "return" you are looking for.

And a lot of the emphasis on College Development Programs depends on where you live. In the big baseball states of the West, South and Mid South CDP's are imperative if your son wants to play D-I in many instances. But in the north and rural states, a player may be OK playing for his Legion or Connie Mack club if that is the traditional resource for talent by the local colleges.

And that brings up the next point...the most important point...Where do the college recruiters in your area look to seek out talent? When sending out college letters, have your son ask them where they think he should play and where they go to find players. That will determine where he should play...But remember, most teams that play in competitive leagues will want your son to play baseball at the highest level, so that they can get a realistic look at his talents and the physical and mental reactions he projects against that level of competition.

Because the realities are...those same recruiters and coaches need to get a return on their investment as well. Especially in todays competitive, TV contract version of Collegiate baseball. So, the more confident they are that the player they recruited can transition to the next level, the better chance that player has. And, the best places a recruiter can be to ensure that a recruit can handle the rigors of college competition, is where the competition is at its best...and it won't be at the local Babe Ruth or Legion leagues in many cases...unless that is the preferred resource for that college or will be at the big national or regional showcases and tournaments...but ask college coaches definitely don't want to pay more than you have to. And, in these tough financial times, paying more than you need to is a big deal.

RT Staff

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Baseball Only? Day 3

RT Staff Note: The following is our response to a thread on NorCal that talks about the issue of whether or not players should baseball year round. The following is our take, but for the entire thread go to Baseball Message Board. Not everyone agrees with our viewpoint. It's a great discussion and this message board is a model for other message boards, especially during the off-season. For the record, our stats on players that play only baseball come from our readers. We have received hundreds of e-mails from parents announcing their sons NLI and their sports exploits during their time in high school.

I think there's some confusion. We have written over 300 articles on our web site on subjects like this and we have tried to combine all of what we have written into two short posts. This subject is a sensitive one and must be spelled out and we apologize for any misunderstandings we may have caused.

First...TU mentioned the education part. We have written many times that college is an "education first" choice. A player must ask himself the following, "If baseball was not in the equation, would I go to school here?"

We do not advocate a player going to a university for the sole choice of trying to play baseball. College is one of those life long choices...a decision that will affect the rest of their lives. We have colleagues that have daughters that play collegiate softball and they do it the right way. For them, since there is no "after" after their college softball career is over, they always pick the school of their choice...and no matter how good they are, it is not always a D-I or high profile school. It's the school they WANT to go to.

Boys must approach baseball in much the same way and good CDP's really take this into consideration. There is a CDP in the Boston Area that we really admire (New England Ruffnecks) that helps place their players on some of the finest schools on the East Coast. Last season eleven of their roster of 15 signed NLI's to colleges like Brown, Vandy, Georgetown, Columbia, Holy Cross, Marist, Dickinson and more. These were good ball players that had more than baseball on their mind. That said, they were mostly year round baseball players that worked out with the Ruffnecks in their winter programs at Harvard's indoor facility. They knew that if they wanted to attend both the school of their choice AND play baseball their, they needed to show something extra.

When we say baseball only, it doesn't apply to the universe. There are exceptions. But, we ran an article last year and received e-mails from our readers that helped us come to the conclusion that over 80% of D-I signees this year and last only played baseball. The figure is nearly 95% in the sunbelt states.

Kids that are playing at this level and get recruited at this level are passionate players. Baseball is not only fun for them, it's a dream. Burn-out, as the coach said he was concerned about, usually only occurs to players that feel that they must do it to please Dad. Many recruiters and scouts usually can tell through body language and other non-verbal clues, which kids are "players" and which kids are just "playing". This is not unlike some of those basketball stories you hear about where the star player carries around a basketball like it is an extension of himself.

All athletes have a love and deep passion for their main sport. And, let's give kids some credit. They also know what they need to do to achieve those goals that they may have in life. The Barry Bonds of the world have that swagger and confidence built in to their DNA. He felt confident enough about his baseball game that he knew he could play football and basketball and still play his game of choice at the next level.

Other athletes don't have that built in to them and let's give them credit for making the choices to play year round to achieve their dreams. Sports are not unlike other choices kids make to get to their next level dream. A student that wants to get into Harvard or Stanford, makes school and studying his year round activity. He has to show extracurricular activities, enroll in AP classes, and then gets tutors in the summer for SAT testing, so that they can compete against the braniacs of the world where a 2300 on the SAT is not enough.

As stated earlier, we could write for days on this subject and have. The one thing everyone must realize is while there are exceptions, many ball players that play at the next level aren't always the sure bet. They are still growing and developing and know what they must do to achieve their goals...especially in the highly competitive areas in the sunbelt states. In the sunbelt states, it's not always a level playing field like it is in many cold weather states.

Our advice is for the developing, growing, "projectable" players...not the sure-fire stud. Stats show that these kids benefit by playing more. Make sense?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Baseball Only?...Day 2

RT Staff Note: The following is our response to a thread on NorCal that talks about the issue of whether or not players should baseball year round. The following is our take, but for the entire thread go to Baseball Message Board. Not everyone agrees with our viewpoint. It's a great discussion and this message board is a model for other message boards, especially during the off-season.

There are a couple of interesting viewpoints and we have written about most of them in the past. We are big supporters of what we call College Development Programs. Those are programs whose main purpose is to develop, market and expose players to get seen by college recruiters. If one is to play year round ball, they must do so in the type of controlled and mentoring environment that these programs teach. Those are also the programs that recruiters tend to trust and keep coming back to, in order to fill annual roster spot needs.

One poster mentioned pitchers. We have talked about the teams that are only concerned about winning a cheap piece of plastic at the local weekend sports complex tournament. Pitchers need to stay away from those teams. A good pitcher shouldn't have to worry about over-use if he is on a good solid College Development Program that preaches development, fundamentals and puts their pitchers on strict, scheduled rotations. Most good pitchers that want to develop and strengthen their arms, throw a bullpen or two every five days in the offseason anyway...or at least they should if they want to avoid injury. Why not throw every five days against another team in the process?

Another post said that the trend is moving towards one sport. He is right and it has been that way now for most of this decade. Many high school and college coaches will be politically correct and say they like the multi-sport athlete, but as someone else on this board the back of their mind they want that guy all for themselves...especially if he is a difference maker.

I applaud the athletes that are good enough to play all sports and get what they want. Unfortunately, that doesn't apply to a majority of athletes. Most athletes are not wired for other sports. Some are too short or too slow for basketball and football, but dominate in baseball. Others are still developing and may need the year round repetition to get better. Others...well you get the idea. There are a lot of variables and of all the sports, baseball in our opinion is by far the hardest to master without extensive background in the sport.

For example...a majority of freshman high school football players never played football before...yet in a few short weeks, they are running plays and look fairly competent as football players. Basketball is much harder and usually requires an AAU summer league credential or two, but there are players that start later in the sport...especially if they are of considerable height and after a while, can look fairly competent as a player.

Baseball will make you look stupid at the first attempt at an at bat if you don't have the experience, passion or fundamentals of the game down pat. And that takes an inordinate amount of time. So, whereas a basketball coach may look at a 6'9" kid and say I can work with that...most baseball coaches would shy away from a kid that is that raw and will tend to default to the player that has put his many hours in on the field.

If I was from Wisconsin, I may have a different viewpoint on this subject because there is not a year round option to consider. I live in a warm weather state and warm weather states have different dynamics to consider. You can play year round here...many do play year round here...and frankly, with the Arizona Fall Classic, PG WWBA in Florida, and the plethora of college camps available to prospects in late fall and early winter in Florida, Texas, Georgia, Arizona and California, it really is in a prospects best interest to play year round if they aren't one of the few blue chippers available out there.

And that brings up another point. Blue chippers like the players you mentioned are few and far between. Of course there are exceptions...that's why they are called exceptions.

Most players in high school are still physically developing and need to get better in order to get seen...They don't have the "It Factor" just yet...and that means playing more often and under the tutelege of a good coach and being surrounded by good players. The combination of a great mentor and osmosis will help a player more often than not, but in baseball it's about time, repetition and the ability to absorb the intricacies of the game. More baseball is the only answer.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Baseball Only?

RT Staff Note: We occasionally scour Rivals message boards and came across a subject on NorCal Preps, one of the country's most active high school baseball message boards in the off-season. Maybe they are more computer and web site centric there because it's the center of the Silicon Valley, but a thread started a few days ago asking what a high school aged player should do in the off-season and nearly 40 posts later, the issue is still alive. The issue morphed into...should an athlete concentrate on baseball year round? We wish that more high school message boards would be this active. Rivals College Baseball board is arguably the most active baseball board in the off-season, but NorCal Preps had more responses to this one thread in three days than most high school baseball web sites have over the entire 3rd and 4th quarter months. Over the next few days, we will post our answers and comment on the entire subject...The following is our initial answer. For the entire thread, go to NorCal Preps Baseball Board.

The answer to your question depends on the ability, desire and goals of the player. For the purposes of this post...I will concentrate on High School only.

If a player desires to play baseball with a D-I college and has the ability, desire and work ethic to accomplish that, the choices are baseball and only play baseball...

If they want to play basketball, football, golf, tennis at the next level...the answer is the only that sport, unless the athleticism of that player is so off the charts that no matter what they do, they will be recruited and sign with a college team. In conversations with D-I college coaches, it's pretty unanimous. They want dedicated, hard nosed, impact players. A well rounded athlete is nice, but baseball especially, is a very specialized sport. Plus, if a player favors baseball and coaches find him projectable, recruitable and a potential player that could impact their team...they may not want that player to risk injury and play football or basketball.

Great athletes don't always succeed at baseball as a part time hobby. If you look at the top 80% of college recruits in warm weather states, they all played baseball only throughout high school. There's the 20% that didn't...but stats point out that a player has a better chance of becoming better, and getting noticed, by playing more because of the plethora of available talent in warm weather states for baseball.

Now I mentioned warm weather states because in cold weather states, the option of year round baseball doesn't more players play multiple sports...and those players still get recruited and play baseball right? Right! But, unless you are a pitcher or one of those exceptional, freakish athletes like a Ryan Howard who came from a cold weather state, the level of baseball has to be put into perspective. Those players are playing catch-up and may never live-up to the talent level of an SEC, BIG 12 or Pac 10 school. Rarely does a northern school get to Omaha, get nationally ranked or have the type of OOC like a Stanford, Fullerton. LSU or Texas to prove their true rank.

That said...if a player has no desire to play at the next level or wants to try out at a smaller school or JC and wants to enjoy the total high school all means, play all sports IF you have the talent...but again, that depends on the school. You can't just walk into a Mater Dei in SoCal and tell the coach you want to play baseball, basketball and football. You'd better have credentials, a summer team coaches recommendation and a gym and field rat mentality.

There are those that believe in the total athlete, but percentages say otherwise....again if that player wants to play at the next level. If you live in California, your son is competing against a higher percentage of year round baseball players. Those year rounders will get noticed first, because they will be seen the most. And, if your son is a position player and goes to a low profile school and competes in a lesser competitive league, that decreases the chances of exposure. The next option for that player is a California based College Development Program (CDP) like Norcal, ADB, SGV Aresenal or another program that exposes that player to recruiters. And, that becomes a year round task, because many of the better camps and showcases are also in the fall and winter.

I could write for days about this subject...the bottom line is...if a player wants to play at the next level...they better step up their game to that level. Stats don't lie.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Stocking Stuffers...Rating The Gloves

When you add the cost of a new top of the line baseball bat, with the cost of a new glove, shoes, accessories and tourney fees, your son's baseball exploits can be a budget buster. The good news is that they usually don't need a new glove every year at this age...A glove is a personal preference and in high school and college, players tend to hang on to their favorite glove for a while. It's an extension of their body and has to fit and feel just right. So, shopping for a glove for your son is like shopping for an evening gown with your wife. They need to try on just about every one on the rack...and that's the way it should be...they are a very personal thing.

So, if your son needs a new glove, now is the time to buy it to allow for it to be broken-in before the season starts in a month or two, depending on where you live. Today, we rate the top gloves and they aren't cheap...but they are the best and will last, so the value is there.


1. Rawlings Primo Series Infield 11 1/4" Baseball Glove $399.99

If mom and dad can buy $200-$300 Italian leather shoes or purse, why can't junior have an Italian leather glove?

Born in the Florence region of Italy, Primo leather exudes quality. Two layers of the finest Italian leather work in tandem to create a pocket built for performance at your position. Upon ball impact, the inner palm and lining adjust to the shape of the outer palm in order to absorb the impact. Additionally, position specific break points have been cut into the pattern to enable the glove to close naturally and easily giving you the durability and function you need at the moment of impact. And now you can get comfort without sacrificing function. With 100% wool padding and a third layer of Italian calf skin lining, the Primo creates a luxuriously smooth feel unlike anything you've ever touched.

It is the highest quality leather due to their small production runs and small local tanneries. Dual shell palm has both an inner and outer shell. Inner palm (like a double wall bat) is made of calf skin, with specifically cut break-points designed for each model glove. This helps with break in and shape of glove. Leather is also tanned with water resistant process and lace is water resistant as well. Carry bag is included.

2. Mizuno Pro Limited Series $299

Another soft feel that will reduce the break-in period. 4D Technology for position specific patterns developed from researching the dynamics of catching.
-Designed using data from the best players in the game.
-Japanese tanned Deguchi leather for the ultimate feel and softness.
-Utilizing only the best sections of hide. Mizuno has made huge inroads in the Bigs and many top athletes are wearing this brand.

3. Wilson A2000 Pro Stock $199

A2 is a Wilson Glove preferred pattern that has been used by the pros for years. The NEW A2000 A2K is made from the top 5% of Pro Stock hides. What are Pro-Stock Hides? Pretty self explanatory, but it is stock that has been selected by pro athletes for softness, durability, fit, thickness and protection. Pros actually do talk about things like low-rebound performance, optimal weight, extended durability, & unmatched pocket stability, like a surgeon would talk about a new non-invasive laser tool. This glove and the gloves preceding it in our rankings have the features professionals demand.


1. The Rawlings Heart of the Hide. $179

The meat and potatoes of the Rawlings sports empire...Preferred by more Gold Glove players than any other mitt. Like the Wilson featured below, this glove is a classic. Rawlings Heart of the Hide leather is used by more pro players than all others and comes from the top 5% of all leather available.

2. Mizuno Classic Pro X Series $189.99

Some pro athletes wear this glove like Andrew Jones, Tom Glavine and Adam Everett. Made from Deerskin, which is a soft leather and tough too. Has a good feel to it and many players may prefer this pattern to Rawlings and Wilson.

RT Staff

Thursday, December 4, 2008

More Stocking Stuffers...Rating The Bats

The weather outside may be frightful, but if you want to see a players face look delightful on Christmas day, put one of these bats under the tree. You can't go wrong with these brands. All are used by some of the top colleges baseball programs in the country.

1. DeMarini Voodoo Black...$299

In terms of performance, feel, distance, graphics and price, the DeMarini Voodoo Black, provides value and that alone makes it stand above the rest. DeMarini says that a Pitch Black Handle for strength and optimum flex, plus their exclusive SC4 Alloy that is is 12% stronger makes it the scariest bat in the DeMarini line-up. An Ion End Cap and BESR Certification top off the features of Voodoo Black.

1. Demarini's CF-3 Black...$399 is nothing short of an amazing bat...It looks, feels and sounds powerful. Pitch Black Double Wall Composite barrel featuring two independent Pitch Black composite walls with the thinnest layer and tightest weave possible, Pitch Black Handle featuring an exclusive composite material and weave, creating the strongest handle with optimum flex, BESR certified

2. Louisville 2009 TPX Triton -3...$399.99

The new 3X all composite Triton baseball bat features a unique 3-piece design that allows the barrel and handle to be designed and built as individual units. The Bubble Transition Zone area brings everything together to function as a more advanced 1-piece bat. The BTZone optimizes the relationship between barrel and handle for a stiffer, stronger bat. BTZ functions as the bonding of barrel and handle to provide a longer barrel, bigger sweet spot and a stiffer stronger handle and transition.

3.Louville Slugger EXOGRID

Still a great bat and one of the most popular in 2008. The innovative Exogrid® delivers power and performance through stiffness and strength. The combination of one-piece construction and carbon composite inserts for handle stiffness has made this bat a choice of champions throughout the country.

4. Easton 2009 Synergy IMX -3 Adult Baseball Bat...$379

"Instinct" Massive high performance hitting area made possible by the patented IMX - Intergrated Matrix Technology - optimizing composite design, materials and process for maximum performance. Stiff handle for increased balance and bat control through the hitting zone.
- Massive Hitting Area
- Ultimate Balance and Control
- Solid Feel

5.Easton 2009 Stealth IMX -3 Adult Baseball Bat...$379

"Clutch" Massive high performance hitting area made possible by the patented IMX - Intergrated Matrix Technology - optimizing composite design, materials and process for maximum performance. Increased handle flex through the patented Opti-Flex composite handle.


1. XBat Pro Maple 73 Wood Baseball Bat $139

The best in the business and the choice for major leaguers. The most popular new style in the Big Leagues is X-Bat's maple bat Model 73. The very large knob serves as a counter weight making the bat feel very light and balanced. He will need a wood for summer ball and we think it's a good idea to use wood for batting and cage practice. This is the cream of the crop in wood bats!

DeMarini Pro Maple Composite Baseball Bat...$129

Player's wanting more mass to drive the ball is why the DX243 was designed. It's patented design combines a wood barrel with a composite handle making the handle more durable without sacrificing the sound and performance of premium wood. Ideal for use in advanced wood bat leagues and serious baseball training. BESR as well as Short A and Rookie League approved.

SamBat Hardwood Black Maple Wood Baseball Bat...$119

The bat that changed professional baseball forever! The choice of Barry Bonds and more than 100 top MLB players was developed by Sam Holman using his proprietary lathe technology. Chosen from only the top 5% of Prime Hard Maple, unlike other maple bats available, the ZERO pressure process maintains the strength Hard Maple has in its natural state, while traditional processes fatigue the wood. Thus, the Sam Bat harnesses the power waiting for YOU to release it!

Mizuno MZP51 Pro Maple Black Wood Baseball Bat...$124

Crafted for two of the games best players, Hideki Matsui and Ichiro Suzuki.

Mizuno Pro Maple Bats feature grade hard North American maple. Utilizing only the best materials for the Mizuno Pro level of quality. Hand selected and turned in Japan for the highest level of craftsmanship. Unique models designed by Isokazu Kubota, Mizuno's master craftsman.

There were other bats we really liked, but most colleges and pros opt for these models and that's good enough for us and...for the price and popularity, we think the choices we made were pretty fair...

RT Staff