Thursday, November 19, 2009

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.


Anonymous said...

You continue to talk about College DEVELOPMENT Programs that do three things (1) develop, (2) market, and (3) expose players. Quite frankly calling these "Development" programs is frequently misleading.

There are many travel teams in my area. Two or three do a good job with marketing and exposure. But development is sorely lacking.

Why? Primarily because these are Show Up And Play teams. There is little or no practice and preparation for games, other than what the player does on his on. Why? When you have players scattered across the state, or several states, it is difficult to get them together to practice and work on fundamentals.

So the only "development" they get is during games. Games against good competition are valuable, but games are better for testing skills than building them. It's hard to have a lot of development when you never practice. That's why most of these kids have private coaches on the side.

There was one quote in your article about high school coaches: "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."

This is the fundamental flaw to most upper travel teams. Most want the kid who is ALREADY developed. How much additional develpment will he get playing Show Up and Play Ball?

You really should change your designation for high level teams to College Marketing Programs. Calling them development programs gives the impression that this is their primary purpose, when that is far from the case.

These teams serve a valuable purpose. But lets call them what they are.

Rounding Third Staff said...

Most programs that are worth their salt and place the most players on college programs ARE development programs. We are going to come out with another Top 5 CDP list and I guarantee that they develop later. Yes, there are programs that are show up and play. There always will be...but for my buck a true CDP...and there are plenty of them...are the best value out there.

Anonymous said...

Don't just tell me they're Development programs. Tell me what they actually do that makes them that. How often to they practice? Do they include private lessons? Where do their players come from geographically? What are they actually doing to develop player skills?

I am very familiar with the teams that are considered to be the better teams in North and South Carolina, i.e. the Diamond Devils, Upstate Mavericks, Carolina Cyclones, Dirtbags, etc. They are all basically show up and play teams.

And I'm not really knocking that. When you have kids scattered across the state, or several states, you really can't do much skill work.

I look forward to your report on exactly how much "development" work the top programs actually do. I am not saying such programs do not exist, but they are a VERY small minority.

Rounding Third Staff said...

Teams in California, where we are from are all mostly Development programs. Norcal, EDH Vipers, up north and ABD Bulldogs, San Gabriel Arsenal and many others down south all practice multiple times a week, and have off-season practices as well to give the players a true sense of what they need to work on to play at the next level. The East Cobb, Houston Heat and Dallas Tiger programs are also developmental programs and my favorite is the New England Ruffnecks. They have great facilities, excellent staff and teach first. Their placement record along with Norcal and East Cobb is incredible.

Anonymous said...

That's terrific. You're lucky. But I think you're assuming that things are the same all across the country. They are not. In this part of the country facilities alone would make it difficult to do what you are able to do in California. Few areas have access to an East Cobb.

Around hear public fields with high school dimensions are almost nonexistent. There is one in my county, and it is kept under lock and key. And most HS's will not open their fields to travel teams, unless they are loaded with players from the HS. Even then, some HS's STILL will not allow use of their fields.

Geography is also a MAJOR factor. The upper level teams here have players from across the state, sometimes several states. Logistically it is darn near impossible to get those kids together for regular practices.

There are some very good teams in this area that have done extremely well at WWB and other tournaments. Some of them have helped kids get the exposure they need to play college ball. But they are all show up and play teams. You've got to get all the way to East Cobb to find teams like you're talking about.

The bottom line is the type teams you are talking about do not exist in areas where facilities are a problem and where the better players are spread out geographically. If you consider the country as a whole, I suspect the type programs you are talking about are the exception rather than the rule.