Monthly Archives: April, 2016

“All-Star” Events

I am amazed with the number and variety of “all-star” events that select level players get invited to.   Every year, it grows and grows and grows.  Soon, everyone will be an “all-star”— just sign-up early before the spots sell out.  

Parents and player are now asking “should I do this event or that event”.  It is crazy.  I am not talking about showcase events — which serve a recruiting purpose and can be great events.  I am talking about 10-15u “all-star” events that are devoid of any pretense of development, college recruiting or scouting.  Just pay some money and you are an “all-star”.

For all the players and parents asking me, here is the answer:

USA Baseball NTIS events are the only “all-star” type events worth doing.  The reasons are simple.  First, it is THE USA Baseball — you know, the one that competes in the World Baseball Classic and all the USA National Teams from professional down to 12u.  Second, the USA Baseball NTIS process is an important part of the National Team selection process and the BEST players in the country participate in these events.    

Want proof?  — just check out the Twitter stream at @USABaseballNTIS for all the highlights of NTIS alumni.  It is incredibly impressive.  And, here is a stat — since 2008, 263 NTIS alumni have been drafted by MLB, with 23 First Round Picks.  This is the best of the best, including #2 overall pick Alex Bergman in 2015.  No other even series in the country come close to this.

If you have discretionary cash and want to spend it on a baseball weekend for your son, then maybe you should consider the multitudes of “all-star” events.  Just recognize that this event will have little meaning once it is over.  

USA Baseball NTIS events offer much more meaning.  If you get a chance to represent your Region in Cary, NC, it is an incredible honor and a great baseball experience.  After all, this is USA Baseball and you are on the field with the top players in the country.  And if you get a chance to be invited to a National Team trial, or get named to a National Team … that is an experience of a lifetime.




Thoughts on Freshman and Sophomore HS Baseball

This is a post sent on April 1st for the past 6 years.

This posting is primarily directed to 15u and 16u Gamers .

We have now had hundreds of players go through high school baseball as freshmen and sophomores. Some have had great experiences. Others had bad experiences. It is important to have your expectations set properly and go into the high school baseball experience with the right mindset.

First a little grounding in reality. Of the Gamers playing college baseball right now, here is what they did during their freshman and sophomore years in high school:

  • During their freshmen year, 40% played freshman ball, 40% played JV and 20% played varsity
  • During their sophomore years, 60% played JV and 40% played varsity.

Every situation is different. Some of our players go to huge high schools, some to small high schools. Some high school coaches push younger players to play “up”, while other coaches have firm policies to play juniors and seniors.

So, don’t get too caught up on whether you play freshman, JV or varsity baseball. Obviously, we would like you to play at the varsity level and hope that you get that opportunity to face better competition on better fields, etc..

But, we have had a number of players go on to play D1 college baseball that never played “up” in high school and did not even start as juniors. High school baseball is not necessarily a good indicator of college baseball potential or opportunities.

The opportunity to play “up” depends on a lot of factors, many of which are entirely outside of your control. My observation is that the process of selecting players to play “up” is not necessarily based on a players’ baseball talent, skill or attitude. Other factors clearly come into play, making the process seem almost random.

This randomness can be quite frustrating for high school athletes and parents. But, it is outside of your control.

So, if you are selected to play “up”, congratulations. You need to work hard, continue to improve, earn playing time, be a leader and play like a Gamer.

Your challenge is to get pick up good habits from older teammates, and not pick up bad habits. I have seen too many freshmen play at the varsity level for all four years, and never get significantly better. By the time they are juniors, they start getting passed by. It happens all the time…don’t let it happen to you.

If you are not lucky enough to be selected to play “up”, just relax and focus on the things that can control. You need to do the same things as the players that are playing “up” — work hard, continue to improve, earn playing time, be a leader and play like a Gamer.

Your challenge is to overcome lower quality competition, fields and umpires to use the high school experience to improve your game, develop your skills and prepare you for the summer. With the right mindset, you can have a very successful and productive high school season without playing “up”.

This is what “pursuing excellence” is all about. You compete against yourself to get better, day by day, regardless of the level of competition you are facing. This is how you can take control of your high school baseball experience.

Remember John Wooden’s definition of success — “Success is the peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best that you are capable of becoming“.

Learning and mastering this mental approach is 10x more important than whether or not you play “up” as a freshman or sophomore in high school baseball. This is the mental approach that will ultimately help you succeed at higher levels of baseball and other aspects of your life.