Well, it finally came down to this...
A tryout with Major League Baseball!
Looking back was bittersweet. This young name with the winning baseball fields completed ten years in little league, four years of high school ball, and now four years of college baseball. Baseball was life. Sure there were plenty of other activities, but none dominated his life like baseball.
His junior year in college he led the league in innings pitched per start. His strike to ball ratio got him deep into games as a starter. Then in his senior year he became the closer. Fewer innings pitched, but many pressure situations late in the game as his team won 30 games that year. His senior year he set school records for saves and games pitched.
As good as he was, he did not get drafted in the annual June draft. That just goes to show you how competitive it is at this level.
In fact, here's another "making it to college baseball and the pros" probability table that I found while going through some information from the NCAA. These make good food for thought when you have a student-athlete that is more interested in sports than in the classroom.
Odds of making it to pro baseball
Less than three in 50, or about 5.6 percent, of high school senior boys baseball players will go on to play men's baseball at a NCAA member institution.
Less than eleven in 100, or about 10.5 percent, of NCAA senior male baseball players will get drafted by a Major League Baseball (MLB) team.
Approximately one in 200, or approximately 0.5 percent of high school senior boys playing interscholastic baseball will eventually be drafted by an MLB team.
There are about a dozen MLB tryouts held across the county each spring.
Arrive early. Very early.
Even if it starts at 9am, show up well before 8:30 or you are actually late.
300 college and high school players arrived for the tryout camp. After a brief time of stretching and playing catch, the pitchers and catchers were put in one group and the fielders in another.
Fielders were quickly culled out first by a running speed test. If you could not run a 40 yard dash under some predetermined time, you were immediately cut. No matter how well you could hit, you were cut. Good-bye. This eliminated 80% or more.
Then a test of throwing speed. By simply fielding a slow grounder at 3B the remaining players were radar gunned by a scout to see how fast they could throw across the field to 1B. If you couldn’t hit at least 90 mph you were cut. This got it down to about 20 players. Enough to make two teams that would scrimmage each other.
Now over at the pitcher and catcher group, another test quickly reduced the field of contestants. There were about 7 catchers and 80 pitchers. They all played catch on another field to warm up again.
Then the pitchers lined up behind 3B and each got to throw 8-10 pitches from a mound to a catcher. A scout held a radar gun behind the catcher. You can image that if you were waiting in line your arm would could go cold, right? So our player with the winning field saw what was happening and quickly got in line near the front. He was number 7.
Pitchers got their 8 throws. Obviously some didn’t realize it was all about speed, not their curveball or change up. The scout was looking for at least 90mph and preferably 95. And he didn’t really care if you threw a strike either. Most of the first 6 pitchers did not throw many strikes. After the 8 pitches a scout talked with each pitcher. Most hung their head and left the field to go home. Later on a few were asked to stay and pitch in the scrimmage game.
It was a beat up mound for the MLB tryout!
Here our player is checking where he will land.
Then it was time for the player with the winning field to take the mound. He threw his pitches. All fastball sinkers. All low in the strike zone. The scout could tell it was a good sinker and asked the catcher if he thought these pitches were hittable. The catcher grunted, but no one could tell what he said. The player finished up and left the mound to talk with the scout.
Pitching before a couple MLB scouts
Talking with the MLB scout after pitching
The scout said, ‘We both know pitching it is about location, location, location. But today we are looking for speed. 89mph is not fast enough today!’
Our player with the winning field left the complex and headed home. Disappointed, but still determined.
He attended one more MLB tryout a month later in southern CA. This time he had the speed as a pitcher, but the scout told him he was too old. 23 and too old!
This was the end of the line. Hard to believe, but 18 years of increasingly competitive baseball had ended. Lots of good memories. Lots of character building. Lots of lifelong friendships.
The dream to be a MLB player had ended... and the next chapter of life was just beginning.
But a little boy had become a young man who is now building his family and career.
Was it all worth it? Absolutely.
Here's a bonus for you baseball enthusiasts.
These are notes about conversations between this pitcher we've been following and a 13 year MLB professional catcher - Chris Bando.
This advice for pitchers was written down back on 11-24-07:
1. Watch your hand in glove position so the runner on second can not tell what you are throwing. Hold glove in front of you with back of throwing hand over the ball.
2. Arm action for a pitcher is different than that of an infielder. You need to go down, back, and up. Not straight back. Elbow should be bent, not straight.
3. You need to make the same motion on every pitch. The same glove action, same leg action, same arm action. The same.
4. Land on the line from ball of posting foot to home plate. Not across and not too open.
5. Going out to landing from post position – lead with the hip; do not push off the rubber.
6. Post position (RHP) is the balance on the right leg with the left leg up and left foot over the right foot. Not behind the right foot.
7. Look at your stride. Try to get to 100 percent or more of your height.
8. Throw three different pitches max. It is near impossible to master more than three. You need three pitches that you can throw for a strike in any count. Fastball, changeup, and either a curve or fastball variation.
9. Make one of your first two pitches a strike. Don’t worry if the first pitch is a strike or not. Just make sure one of your first two are.
10. Have a plan with your catcher.
11. Don’t throw on 2-2 what you would not throw on 3-2.
12. This is a key performance stat: what is the ratio of your strikes on 1-1 and 2-2 counts. The goal is 75-80%.
13. Focus on the landing position – foot plant and arm in the high cocked position. Everything else before this is just to get you to this position. Everything else after this is a result of the landing position.
14. Watch video of model pitching mechanics – very smooth delivery – not too slow, but not too quick and jerky. Smooth and actually fast.
15. Sometimes you need to see your mechanics in a mirror. Look at how your body is moving. Is it right? Does it need some correction?
The young man who wanted to be a professional baseball player had his chance at the real thing. Will yours? Eventually every young man needs to become a productive, responsible citizen in our great country.
How about you and your baseball field? Is it going to get in the way or help your players?
Some of you get all the information you need by browsing my website.
I hope you use it to make a difference for your players.
Others need a plan. A handbook. You see what you need to do.
But, you need to know how. The handbook gives you that and more.
[Note: Take five minutes right now to see if the handbook is right for you and be a part of a special group that understands the need to give our youth hope! Click here to read more…]
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To your success,