Playing High School Baseball Is Not Enough

October 23, 2014




An athlete furthering his or her career is extremely important.  Working hard and trying to maximize potential, or see how far they can go with a sport has so many positive effects on an individual’s life.  One, they won’t look back when they are 25 years old and think, “I could of done more, or could of performed better.”  That is one thought that dwells on people as they get older, and makes them wish they could go back and do it all over again.  Two, it develops skills they need such as; work ethic, critical thinking and organization skills, making adjustments, and networking.  A lot of the positive attributes I developed as a person and people I have met that helped me along the way is mainly due to furthering my career as an athlete.  This brings me to why it is important to not just play high school baseball, but travel as well.

Let’s take a look at high school baseball first.  If you are considered a good athlete in high school, you have to play for the school team.  That gives you the sense of confidence that you are one of the better athletes in your area and it gives you something to work towards and prove.  If a college or professional scout sees that you did not play in high school that sparks up a pretty big red flag in their mind.  That is not a positive mark on your track record that you want people to see if you are serious about furthering your career as an athlete.  Most importantly, the high school season prepares you for travel baseball in the summer and fall.  You are keeping your body in shape and your mental focus sharp by playing high school athletics.  People under estimate how important it is to be in constant game situation competition throughout the year.  Which is why it is so important to play in a travel program.

Let’s face the fact that in-town athletics is depleting all over the country.  The sport of baseball and softball are becoming so competitive now, which is why the number of travel programs are rising exponentially and have been for the past 10 years.  If you have the athletic ability and drive to get better, it is a must to get involved in a travel program.  Twenty years ago, there weren’t even 12u travel teams out there.  Now, it’s starting as young as 8 years and under.  Playing travel ball is the way to stay competitive and improve as a player.  If you don’t, you can fall behind and have a really difficult time catching up.  This progression is changing the way college scouts recruit.  They are more likely to get recognized during the travel season rather than the high school season.

Playing high school ball and travel ball is key, they feed of each other.  The easiest way to look at the big picture, which a lot of people don’t understand, is the percentages.  These percentages are roughly estimated, but are honestly the truth.  The amount of players that play baseball until the age of 14 has a significant reduction as they get to high school.  Well less than 50% of kids that play baseball to the age of 14 actually end up making the high school team.  Then only about 20% of that 50% end up furthering their career and play in college.  So my point is, the more you play, the more you have a chance of being a part of those percentages.  Playing in the spring, summer, and fall is an absolute must if an athlete wants to further his or her career and maximize potential.  That constant game situation competition keeps an athlete physically and mentally sharp so they can keep up with other athletes and hopefully surpass them.   On top of it all, high school seasons only last about two months.  They start around April 1st and are concluded around June 1st.   One who is serious about playing baseball needs to look at playing eight to nine months of the year.


Written by Carl Taylor




Obtaining Velocity the Correct Way

August 26, 2012

People look at Tim Lincecums’ mechanics and think, “That is so unorthodox, it can’t be the correct way to pitch.” Yes, they are unorthodox, but I like to use the term “over dramatic”. Lincecums’ mechanics are actually very good, they are just over dramatized because he has to generate a ton of arm speed due to his small stature. He generates a lot of power from his lower half, which is why he is able to throw as hard as he does and has prevented any kind of arm injury in his 6 years of professional baseball. Before he was a starting pitcher, he use to reach velocity as close to 100 mph when he was a closer at the University of Washington. One tip on how to achieve this velocity by including your lower half is getting shoulder tilt. As your stride foot goes towards the catcher it is key to have your back shoulder tilted towards second base. This is one of many mechanical adjustments you can make to put most of the stress on your lower half and not your arm to prevent injury and increase velocity. Although, there are no pitchers that have the same exact mechanics. Different adjustments are made based on a lot of characteristics. As you can see, it is a common mechanical trait throughout the MLB if you take a look at the pictures of great pitchers such as Roy Hallday and Felix Hernandez.

Written by Carl Taylor – Head Pitching Instructor at We Drop Bombs Baseball

What Makes A Nightmare Sports Parent — And What Makes A Great One (written by Steve Hensen)

July 21, 2012

The vast majority of dads and moms that make rides home from games miserable for their children do so inadvertently. They aren’t stereotypical horrendous sports parents, the ones who scream at referees, loudly second-guess coaches or berate their children. They are well-intentioned folks who can’t help but initiate conversation about the contest before the sweat has dried on their child’s uniform.

In the moments after a game, win or lose, kids desire distance. They make a rapid transition from athlete back to child. And they’d prefer if parents transitioned from spectator – or in many instances from coach – back to mom and dad. ASAP.

Brown (pictured below at podium), a high school and youth coach near Seattle for more than 30 years, says his research shows young athletes especially enjoy having their grandparents watch them perform.

“Overall, grandparents are more content than parents to simply enjoy watching the child participate,” he says. “Kids recognize that.”

A grandparent is more likely to offer a smile and a hug, say “I love watching you play,” and leave it at that.

Meanwhile a parent might blurt out …

“Why did you swing at that high pitch when we talked about laying off it?”

“Stay focused even when you are on the bench.”

“You didn’t hustle back to your position on defense.”

“You would have won if the ref would have called that obvious foul.”

“Your coach didn’t have the best team on the field when it mattered most.”

And on and on.

Sure, an element of truth might be evident in the remarks. But the young athlete doesn’t want to hear it immediately after the game. Not from a parent. Comments that undermine teammates, the coach or even officials run counter to everything the young player is taught. And instructional feedback was likely already mentioned by the coach.

“Let your child bring the game to you if they want to,” Brown says.

Brown and Miller, a longtime coach and college administrator, don’t consider themselves experts, but instead use their platform to convey to parents what three generations of young athletes have told them.

“Everything we teach came from me asking players questions,” Brown says. “When you have a trusting relationship with kids, you get honest answers. When you listen to young people speak from their heart, they offer a perspective that really resonates.”

So what’s the takeaway for parents?

“Sports is one of few places in a child’s life where a parent can say, ‘This is your thing,’ ” Miller says. “Athletics is one of the best ways for young people to take risks and deal with failure because the consequences aren’t fatal, they aren’t permanent. We’re talking about a game. So they usually don’t want or need a parent to rescue them when something goes wrong.

“Once you as a parent are assured the team is a safe environment, release your child to the coach and to the game. That way all successes are theirs, all failures are theirs.”

And discussion on the ride home can be about a song on the radio or where to stop for a bite to eat. By the time you pull into the driveway, the relationship ought to have transformed from keenly interested spectator and athlete back to parent and child:

“We loved watching you play. … Now, how about that homework?”


Nearly 75 percent of kids who play organized sports quit by age 13. Some find that their skill level hits a plateau and the game is no longer fun. Others simply discover other interests. But too many promising young athletes turn away from sports because their parents become insufferable.

Even professional athletes can behave inappropriately when it comes to their children. David Beckham was recently ejected from a youth soccer field for questioning an official. New Orleans radio host Bobby Hebert, a former NFL quarterback, publicly dressed down LSU football coach Les Miles after Alabama defeated LSU in the BCS title game last month. Hebert was hardly unbiased: His son had recently lost his starting position at LSU.

Mom or dad, so loving and rational at home, can transform into an ogre at a game. A lot of kids internally reach the conclusion that if they quit the sport, maybe they’ll get their dad or mom back.

As a sports parent, this is what you don’t want to become. This is what you want to avoid:

• Overemphasizing sports at the expense of sportsmanship: The best athletes keep their emotions in check and perform at an even keel, win or lose. Parents demonstrative in showing displeasure during a contest are sending the wrong message. Encouragement is crucial — especially when things aren’t going well on the field.

• Having different goals than your child: Brown and Miller suggest jotting down a list of what you want for your child during their sport season. Your son or daughter can do the same. Vastly different lists are a red flag. Kids generally want to have fun, enjoy time with their friends, improve their skills and win. Parents who write down “getting a scholarship” or “making the All-Star team” probably need to adjust their goals. “Athletes say their parents believe their role on the team is larger than what the athlete knows it to be,” Miller says.

• Treating your child differently after a loss than a win: Almost all parents love their children the same regardless of the outcome of a game. Yet often their behavior conveys something else. “Many young athletes indicate that conversations with their parents after a game somehow make them feel as if their value as a person was tied to playing time or winning,” Brown says.

• Undermining the coach: Young athletes need a single instructional voice during games. That voice has to be the coach. Kids who listen to their parents yelling instruction from the stands or even glancing at their parents for approval from the field are distracted and can’t perform at a peak level. Second-guessing the coach on the ride home is just as insidious.

• Living your own athletic dream through your child: A sure sign is the parent taking credit when the child has done well. “We worked on that shot for weeks in the driveway,” or “You did it just like I showed you” Another symptom is when the outcome of a game means more to a parent than to the child. If you as a parent are still depressed by a loss when the child is already off playing with friends, remind yourself that it’s not your career and you have zero control over the outcome.


Let’s hear it for the parents who do it right. In many respects, Brown and Miller say, it’s easier to be an ideal sports parent than a nightmare. “It takes less effort,” Miller says. “Sit back and enjoy.” Here’s what to do:

• Cheer everybody on the team, not just your child: Parents should attend as many games as possible and be supportive, yet allow young athletes to find their own solutions. Don’t feel the need to come to their rescue at every crisis. Continue to make positive comments even when the team is struggling.

• Model appropriate behavior: Contrary to the old saying, children do as you do, not as you say. When a parent projects poise, control and confidence, the young athlete is likely to do the same. And when a parent doesn’t dwell on a tough loss, the young athlete will be enormously appreciative.

• Know what is suitable to discuss with the coach: The mental and physical treatment of your child is absolutely appropriate. So is seeking advice on ways to help your child improve. And if you are concerned about your child’s behavior in the team setting, bring that up with the coach. Taboo topics: Playing time, team strategy, and discussing team members other than your child.

• Know your role: Everyone at a game is either a player, a coach, an official or a spectator. “It’s wise to choose only one of those roles at a time,” Brown says. “Some adults have the false impression that by being in a crowd, they become anonymous. People behaving poorly cannot hide.” Here’s a clue: If your child seems embarrassed by you, clean up your act.

• Be a good listener and a great encourager: When your child is ready to talk about a game or has a question about the sport, be all ears. Then provide answers while being mindful of avoiding becoming a nightmare sports parent. Above all, be positive. Be your child’s biggest fan. “Good athletes learn better when they seek their own answers,” Brown says.

And, of course, don’t be sparing with those magic words: “I love watching you play.”

written by Steve Hensen

Keeping your upper half back

November 22, 2011

Keeping the upper half of your body back is key when attempting to hit the ball hard.  It keeps your head still allowing for better eye hand coordination on contact.  It also allows your hands to get out quicker in to the palm up / palm down power position.  Moving your upper half forward will give the ball approximately a 5 mph increase towards the hitter and cause many balls to be topped and hit towards the ground.  Don’t get me wrong, weight does transfer on to the front foot on contact but not the way most people think. The head should finish over top of the rear knee on contact.  If you are in the most powerful and correct position on contact, it should be very hard to hold that position for more than a second without hurting or stressing out your rear knee or foot.

The upper half coming forward is the old way which was used more in teaching methods in the 1980’s.  Since slow motion video analysis has become a big part with swing analysis in the 90’s, the upper half back has proved out to be for the better.  Bat speeds are at a much higher speed and players with rotational mechanics are quickly becoming the best hitters of all time.  Hitters with rotational mechanics can be seen in pictures included in this article.  Notice how all of them have their upper half back on contact. Players pictured are: Barry Bonds, Kash Beauchamp, Mark McGwire, Joe Mauer, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, Cody Ross, Chris Cresenzi and Al Roach.

Now I am not saying a player can’t still hit a home run or a line drive double with their upper half coming forward, but chances are a lot less.  Look at the mechanics of a player who hits a home run in to the 5th deck and then look at the mechanics of that very same player who got fooled on a pitch and hits a home run that goes out by a row or two.  Chances are that when he got fooled, he was out in front and reaching for the ball or shall we say upper half forward. These results show that his bat speed was much slower in the upper half forward swing resulting in the ball not going as far. Who would want to have a slower bat?  Hopefully no one.  The goal is not try and hit the ball out of the park every time but rather maximize bat speed so the hitter can hit the ball harder.  If a hitter mazimizes bat speed, chances are he will have a lot more base hits and be more successful at the plate.

Trevor Bauer Will Not Be Babied

February 13, 2011

Written by Sports Illustrated author Lee Jenkins

Young power arms are the game’s most valued currency, so what to make of the Diamondbacks’ phenom who wants to change the way we think about pitchers’ development? Front offices aren’t so sure.

Drivers on Texas Loop 336 head east to the town of Cut and Shoot, west to the land of Rock and Fire. The gunslingers of America have a choice to make. Those who bear west steer onto a winding two-lane road lined with sprawling ranches, soaring oak trees and signs that remind them to DRIVE FRIENDLY. Many of the ranches off 336 are raising longhorns. One is breeding pitchers.

Down a hill, past a barn, next to a tractor, 60 young men gather in the 103° morning air. Some are freshly minted first-round draft picks. Others are Little Leaguers just trying to make local All-Star teams. They have come to the Texas Baseball Ranch in the town of Montgomery (population 600) to watch video of Whitey Ford and Bob Feller, run wind sprints with tires strapped around their waists and launch baseballs as hard and as far as they can.

Among them is a precocious 20-year-old from the Los Angeles suburbs named Trevor Bauer, the third pick in this year’s major league draft, the most decorated amateur thrower since Stephen Strasburg, the most intriguing pitching prospect since Tim Lincecum and the fault line along which big league teams will debate the handling of the game’s most valued commodity: the young hurler. While Strasburg stood out for his velocity and Lincecum for his mechanics, Bauer’s defining characteristic is harder to measure. He has an insatiable mind.

Bauer will tell you that virtually every play in a baseball game takes 12 seconds or less, so his workout regimen consists of vigorous exercises that last no more than a fifth of a minute. He will tell you that every hitter must decide to swing no later than the first 20 feet a pitch is in the air, so he practices throwing into a metal grid 20 feet in front of the mound to ensure that all his pitches start on the same plane. Bauer has at one time or another deployed 19 different pitches, some of which he may have invented: They include the “reverse slider” (a harder variation of the screwball) and “the bird” (a splitter thrown with the middle finger raised).

Here is the modern pitcher, New Age but down-home, a product of both Southern California think tanks and East Texas back roads. Bauer throws at least six days a week with baseballs, weighted balls or medicine balls. He long-tosses 380 feet, even before starts. He warms up for his outings with about 45 pitches in the bullpen, and during especially long innings when his team is at bat, he heads back to the pen for more work. On his first warmup toss between innings, he crow hops across the mound and unleashes a fastball more than 100 miles per hour. This past season at UCLA, where Bauer was National Pitcher of the Year, he led the country in strikeouts (203 in 136 2/3 innings), led the Pac-10 with a 1.25 ERA and held opposing hitters to a .154 batting average. More remarkably, his last nine outings were all complete games, and in only one did he throw fewer than 130 pitches. After each of them he was out long-tossing the next day.

Major league executives have been conditioned to wince at such a regimen, assuming all that throwing will weaken the arm and eventually lead to injury. Over the past 20 years most organizations have tried to protect young starters by barring them from long-tossing more than 120 feet, or from throwing more than 30 pitches in the bullpen or more than 100 in a game. The intentions were admirable. The results, as evidenced by thousands of elbow and shoulder surgeries, have been catastrophic.

Bauer saw what those organizations did and then weighed it against information he collected from coaches, classes, books, videos and personal experience. “I just felt like there was a more efficient way for me,” he says. He concluded that his throwing regimen actually strengthened his arm, as long as it was in concert with extensive stretching and sound mechanics. Before this year’s draft, he arranged face-to-face meetings with representatives from the clubs interested in him. He wanted to explain the specifics of his routine and the rationale behind it. He was willing to sacrifice a better slot in the draft—and therefore potentially accept a lower signing bonus—to be with an organization that trusted him.

“I told them all: ‘This is what I do, it’s what I believe in, and if you let me stick with it, I’ll pitch in the major leagues for 20 years,'” Bauer says. “Some were open. Some weren’t. But they needed to know what they were getting into.”

Kevin Towers grew up in Medford, Ore., throwing with friends every day in pickup games, hot box contests and home run derbies. He spent eight seasons pitching in the Padres’ minor league system, but when he became their general manager in 1995, he strayed from his rubber-armed roots. “We all did,” Towers says. “With the big signing bonuses, people were afraid to push the envelope, because if something happened, it was, How dare you? But maybe that thinking hurt us in the long run. Maybe it’s why we have so many problems now. Guys don’t go deep into games, and then when they do, they’re not used to it. Thirty years ago, you threw and threw and threw. To me, that’s healthy.”

Towers took over as the Diamondbacks’ G.M. last September, and in June, with his first draft choice with the franchise, he picked Bauer third overall and signed him to a major league contract that could be worth as much as $7 million. In his professional debut, for Class A Visalia on July 30, Bauer threw two scoreless innings; last Friday night, he gave up two runs in three innings but struck out six batters.

Bauer is entering pro ball at an opportune time. Complete games are up for the fourth year in a row, from 112 in 2007 to 134 already this season. Several organizations, including Arizona, have reconsidered elements of their throwing program. The D-Backs were obviously drawn to Bauer because he can reach 97 miles per hour and command 10 different pitches, but they also view him as a catalyst for further examination of arm issues. “This is a chance for us to really explore what pitchers are capable of doing,” says Jerry DiPoto, the club’s senior vice president in charge of scouting and player development.

While the Diamondbacks negotiated Bauer’s contract, he flew to Texas for a final summer at the Texas Baseball Ranch. Lounging in the barn one afternoon next to Chasey, a golden retriever–Labrador mix named for her pursuit of wild pitches, Bauer thought about a way he might treat himself when he officially becomes a multimillionaire. He is eyeing a video camera that can shoot 1,000 frames per second, which would allow him to study how each pitch is coming off his fingertips. He makes the camera sound as fun as a Ferrari, and far more essential. “Look, I’m not that big,” says Bauer, who is 6’1″, 185. “I’m not that strong. I’m not fast. I’m not explosive. I can’t jump. I wasn’t a natural-born athlete. I was made.”

Warren Bauer is a chemical engineer, and even though he didn’t play much baseball as a boy, he taught his son to view pitching through a scientific prism. They read about Cubans who threw coconuts to build arm strength, so they soaked baseballs in water to make them heavier. They drove nails into softballs, a trick Nolan Ryan used to add weight. They sometimes hollowed out balls, shoving sand and fishing weights inside. “We wanted Trevor to learn how to throw the right way,” Warren says. “We never imagined there was such a huge divide in how you go about doing that.”

At age 10 Trevor took pitching classes in Valencia, Calif., with a family friend and former college pitcher named Jim Wagner. Wagner was a police officer in nearby Glendale at the time, and Bauer was his only client. Most of what Wagner taught came from an instructional video recorded by somebody else. “It was what everybody taught in the ’90s,” Wagner says. “Lift your knee, pause over the top of the rubber, keep your head straight, get your elbow up, put your foot down, glide out along the ground and finish in a fielding position. I guess that might have worked if [Trevor] were 6’4″, 230. But [in high school] he was 5’10”, 150. We needed to be more athletic, less robotic.”

Wagner junked the video and encouraged Trevor to experiment. They pulled back his front hip, angling it toward the third base line and uncoiling it toward home plate like a slingshot. Warren made Velcro harnesses that Trevor wore around his chest to isolate the lower body. Radar-gun readings climbed. Wagner introduced Trevor to L.A. long-toss guru Alan Jaeger, who tutored one of the most durable pitchers in the big leagues, the Angels’ Dan Haren. When Trevor was 12, Jaeger put him on an arm-care program similar to what physical therapists prescribe for pitchers rehabilitating from rotator-cuff surgery. Trevor had to perform six shoulder exercises with Thera-Band tubing strapped to his wrists before he could make a throw. But once he was warm, Jaeger urged him to let fly. Trevor would bike to a park near his house with a milk crate full of balls and hurl them 300 feet against an adjacent tennis court’s fence before the pro ran him off.

On the recommendation of Wagner and Jaeger, Trevor fled every summer to East Texas, where he could long-toss until midnight, and often did. Ron Wolforth and his wife, Jill, opened the 20-acre Texas Baseball Ranch in 2003 to nurture young pitchers and channel ancients. “Back in the ’40s and ’50s, guys came up with their own motions, and they had more complete games with fewer injuries,” says Wolforth, a former college baseball player and private pitching coach. “We interrupted the natural flow of Warren Spahns and Sandy Koufaxes and Bob Gibsons. We overinstructed the delivery.”

Wolforth’s pitchers do not work the land, the way old-timers did every off-season, but they do drag tires and pull 25-pound ropes, developing muscles that are integral to a full-body delivery. When Wolforth once ordered the pitchers to push a tractor across the ranch for 30 seconds, Bauer interrupted, saying that no play lasts that long. They should push harder, the youngster argued, for 12 seconds.

Bauer grew so comfortable at the ranch that he moved from the local motel into the Wolforth house, signed for mail delivered to the barn and started every day with high-minded questions such as: How do seams create spin? What is the effect of high finger pressure versus low pressure placed on a ball? When does a hitter have to commit? Wolforth once went to watch TV in the barn and found Bauer placing yellow dots all over the screen because he was mapping the plane of his pitches. Yet when Wolforth asked everyone to identify a historical pitcher with similar mechanics, someone they could pattern themselves after, Bauer struggled to pinpoint anybody.

Then, on March 31, 2006, on a 50° night in Seattle, a junior at Washington struck out 18 batters and threw a two-hit shutout against UCLA. Bauer called up the footage on a website. It was the first time he had seen Lincecum—the narrow frame, tilted head, the furious hip turn, the massive stride. “I watched it at 30 frames a second,” Bauer says. “Before he gets to the top of his leg lift, his pelvis has been in motion six to eight frames toward the plate.”

The next year, as a sophomore at Hart High School in Newhall, Calif., Bauer took physics and applied the lessons to what he had seem Lincecum do. “It started making sense why he did what he did,” Bauer says, standing to demonstrate. “The more you delay your hip and shoulder from opening up, as long as you’re moving toward home, you’re shortening the distance to the plate and adding tension to the body, stretching the elastic band. If you fire your back hip and keep the front side of your body closed, you get more torque. The more torque you get, the more impulse you will get when you release.”

Bauer heard the doomsday predictions about Lincecum, that his build was too slight and delivery too violent to avoid injury, so he searched for the red flags Wolforth taught him to recognize. Lincecum’s throwing elbow didn’t rise above his back shoulder. His throwing arm didn’t sweep across his midsection. He used his entire body to generate velocity but decelerated his arm gradually. The motion was unorthodox yet unstrained. Bauer had discovered his model.

Lincecum was the friend he didn’t have. In elementary school Bauer was teased by classmates because he wore baseball pants instead of jeans. In high school he was taunted by teammates because he carried a six-foot plastic shoulder tube that loosened his arm. Coaches called it Linus’s blanket. “A lot of people don’t want to be different,” Bauer says. “And if they are, they hide it so no one holds it against them. But I didn’t want to be at the mall at 10 p.m. I wanted to be at the park.”

Bauer, who was 12–0 with a 0.79 ERA and 106 strikeouts in 70 2/3 innings as a junior, would have been drafted if he stayed at Hart for his senior year. But he was miserable there, and he learned from Jaeger that about 80% of pro organizations opposed long-toss programs like his. “I’d have just been some dumb high school kid,” Bauer says. “But if I went to college and made a name for myself, maybe they’d see that it worked.”

Bauer graduated early and enrolled at UCLA at the start of 2009, where his routine stayed the same, only he was not ostracized for it. He refused to lift weights because he felt they diminished his flexibility. He didn’t run poles because he believed the distance compromised his explosiveness. His short-burst workouts with cones, ladders and hoses were just as demanding. “Good coaching,” says UCLA head coach John Savage, “is allowing a guy like that to be himself.” Bauer still carried his shoulder tube, and when an airline lost it on a road trip to Houston, he said he couldn’t throw without it for fear of injury. The tube was recovered, and Warren made a PVC case to protect it.

When UCLA flew to Omaha last year for the College World Series, Bauer checked the case but carried on “Downright Filthy Pitching,” a series of books written by Perry Husband, a former junior college coach who runs a baseball academy north of L.A. Husband has tracked millions of pitches in major league games and concluded that a 90-mile-per-hour pitch appears to a hitter roughly five miles per hour faster if it’s on the inside corner and five miles per hour slower on the outside corner. Husband’s theory, known as Effective Velocity, provided Bauer with the basis for his complex pitch sequences this season. When he returned from Omaha, he called Husband and asked him one question that Wolforth was never able to answer: When does a hitter have to commit? Husband calculated the point of no return at the 20-foot mark. Bauer was concerned that his pitches were traveling on different planes before they reached 20 feet—Husband calls the planes “tunnels”—and therefore weren’t deceptive enough. He sent film of the pitches to Husband, whose advanced video system makes it possible to overlay them on the same screen and show how each one differs at 20 feet. Husband sent back the clips with a narration of his findings.

“I’ve talked to other pitchers about this, and they’re like, ‘O.K., great, thanks a lot,'” Husband says. “There are only a few people in the world like Trevor.” Warren promptly assembled a six- by seven-foot metal grid so Trevor could practice throwing through the same tunnel.

In the movie Bull Durham, Crash Davis tells rookie pitcher Nuke LaLoosh, “Don’t think. It can only hurt the ball club.” Baseball has traditionally struggled with its intellectuals, dismissing them as quirky or zany. But in the three years Bauer spent in college, some of his beliefs came to be more accepted in pro ball. Ryan, now the Rangers’ CEO and president, has pushed pitchers to work deeper into games, and in 2009, hired Jaeger as a consultant to develop a long-toss program for Rangers pitchers. The Twins, Angels and Padres met with Jaeger as well. The Diamondbacks brought him to their instructional league last fall. As this year’s draft approached, Jaeger quizzed executives on Bauer’s behalf and then relayed the good news: At least 50% of organizations were now open to his long-toss program.

General managers regarded this draft as one of the best ever for college pitchers, with UCLA boasting two candidates for the top spot: righthander Gerrit Cole, 6’4″, 220, with a classic delivery and a triple-digit fastball; and Bauer, three inches shorter and 35 pounds lighter, hurtling his body toward home plate like Lincecum with a buzz cut. Scouts were torn all season. Many pegged Cole as the safer choice but predicted Bauer would make the big leagues sooner. “If you try to change him, he won’t sign,” a scout said in April. “Or he’ll be at the mall at 2 a.m. throwing 400 feet.”

The Pirates chose Cole, the second time in three years a pitcher from Southern California went No. 1 overall.

Some scouts acknowledged that their bosses were put off by Bauer’s flair—he wore a faded cap at UCLA, played hacky sack before games and listened to his iPod in the bullpen to enhance the rhythm of his delivery—but the Diamondbacks were enthralled. What others labeled quirky they called committed. When DiPoto met Bauer, the Arizona executive blurted out a line from statistician Bill James: “Oftentimes you measure a player’s potential greatness by his uniqueness.” Here was an organization that understood. DiPoto pitched in the majors from 1993 through 2000, long-tossing daily, even as coaches cautioned him, “You’ve only got so many bullets in that arm.” DiPoto has studied the difference between high- and low-stress innings. He downplays simple pitch counts.

“There’s a wave of this,” Bauer says. “The wave is coming.” He rattles off names of other top pitching prospects who have embraced similar training methods, such as Dylan Bundy, whom the Orioles took No. 4 overall. Bauer rejoices that the Mariners hired a Harvard Medical School–educated doctor, Marcus Elliott, who removed the weights from the weight room. Bauer is part of a broad movement, but he has the biggest platform.

Stunningly, the Diamondbacks were only a half game behind the Giants in the National League West through Sunday, after finishing last a year ago. They have placed Bauer on the 40-man roster and will consider promoting him for the pennant race, likely as a reliever. A September duel between Bauer and Lincecum, with a division title on the line, is an enticing possibility.

Bauer realizes that he must make some concessions before then. He already leaves his six-foot shoulder tube outside the dugout so as not to cramp any colleagues. He bought a smaller version at Brookstone, and even though he prefers the longer one sold by Oates Specialties, he understands the realities of the workplace. He will adjust when logic dictates it.

Until he signed his pro contract on July 25, Bauer incubated on the ranch, reminding the Little Leaguers to keep their throwing elbow below their shoulder. When Bauer first saw Strasburg pitching with his elbow above his shoulder, he felt a pit in his gut, and when he saw the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright doing the same, he felt it again. Both are currently recovering from Tommy John surgery. “I was like, ‘No!’ because I love watching those guys,” Bauer says. “And I feel so sorry for them because it’s not their fault. They were taught this way. I was just lucky enough to be taught a different model.”

He is eager to share it, and on a steamy summer afternoon he sat in the barn next to an 18-year-old righthander from Oakland named Joe Ross. Ross is 6’3″, 190, throws a 95-mph fastball and was picked 25th overall by the Padres, an organization that has squandered first-round picks for the better part of two decades. Bauer and Wolforth deconstructed video of Ross’s delivery, which reminded them of Roy Halladay’s, with only two minor fixes recommended. “You need to guard these mechanics like a junkyard dog with foam coming out of your mouth!” Wolforth shouted.

He barked to punctuate his point. Chasey jumped. Ross froze. Bauer nodded. This is no joke. The gunslingers of America are entering an industry that for more than 20 years has failed to protect them. The most promising one of all has done what he can to protect himself.

Training Starts Now

January 6, 2011

Every year around the 2nd of January, all the baseball players nationwide begin to practice on their baseball mechanics. This gives them a couple months to work on a few issues they might be having or tune up with where they left off last season.

Even if your new to the sport or a recreational player, pushing yourself to practice in January – March is a good idea to help you get a head start on everyone else. Don’t wait until the last minute. You need to push yourself if you want to make it to the next level. Most retired baseball players that never made it to the Big Leagues regret not training harder when they were younger. You can never hit, throw, field, lift and run enough. So do it all and do it as much as you can and I guarantee it will pay off whether it be a starting position on your high school team, a college scholarship or a professional baseball contract.

A lifting or sports performance program may also be a good idea during this time of year. We Drop Bombs Baseball Academy also offers a great training program for athletes to develop in body awareness, quickness and strength. Check out our Performance Training page for more information.


The Mental Game

July 2, 2010

Once you obtain your high level of skill and your ability to perform is the best at your level, the game of baseball then becomes 90% mental. I can’t even count how many times I have seen great players go through big slumps. Every baseball player out there goes into a slump, it’s just a matter of how well and how fast you come out of it. Sometimes your mind can be focused on other issues, which distracts you from your game. It could be a girlfriend, it could be another family issue or it could just be frustration from not performing at your best. You can’t let these issues rip apart your mind and bring you down. When you step on that diamond, there is nothing else there, just you and the game. You have to put yourself into another world. The fans aren’t there, your parents aren’t there, your girlfriend isn’t there, its just you and baseball. You are there to take care of business.

Getting out of a slump:
In order to be real successful at baseball, you need to have confidence. If you don’t believe you can hit, then you won’t hit. The goal is to believe you are the best player in the world, there is no one better than you. YOU ARE THE MAN. Get a little cocky if you have to but just make sure your nice and sweet off the field. Concentration is also important. If you don’t swing at strikes, your chances are limited with hitting the ball hard. In addition to that, if your not relaxed and loose you will also struggle. It is key to prevent yourself from getting nervous. Remind yourself it is just a game and enjoy it.
As a hitter, when you step into that box you need to have it in your mind that your the best baseball player on that field and everyone there is scared of you. Sometimes the player will still think he is the best there but deep down in his gut he has doubt and fear. “Don’t strike out” or “Don’t get out” are the two phrases sitting there and keeping you from excelling. Those are two of the worst things you can think. Another one is “Just make contact.” If you are thinking any of those phrases, you will not play to your ability. You need to get angry but not tense. Put this phrase in your head, “I’m going to hit a line drive off the pitcher’s face.” If you have that stamped in your brain, then you will have a much better chance of coming out of your slump.

Another thing you obviously need to do is check on your mechanics and make sure your eye hand coordination is up to snuff. Get some extra batting practice, during this time, film yourself from the side. Watch for important flaws, such as your head, feet and hands. Then go and watch it and see if you see anything going wrong. Many players go into slumps without there even being any physical error. It is just mental.

Key Point:

Baseball is the only sport you can do everything perfect and fail and it is the only sport where you can do everything wrong and succeed. So accept the success and accept the failure.

Player / Manager Relationship

June 25, 2010

Having a good relationship with your manager or coach is very important, that’s of course if you want to play. Many players take advantage of their ability to play the game and think that they can do whatever they want on and off the field. These type of players almost always have it come back to haunt them one way or another. Shortly after, they find themselves riding the bench.

Many kids while growing up get to have their father coach or at least volunteer to help out. With this, the young players seem to think they can run the team whenever their father is not around. As a player you would want to get away from that. Always be the nice guy on the field that works really hard. Keep yourself out of trouble and always respect the manager or coach no matter if it is your father or your friend’s father.

Obviously in high school or college it is extremely rare to have your father involved with the team. At this point you need to make sure you respect your coach and follow their direct instructions. If you are an underclassmen, it is best to not talk to much and just bust your butt. You want to make sure you are well liked. Don’t think because your that good, that you can control what happens at practice or what you do in a game. Remember your coach always has the power to take you out of the game whenever they want. Obviously upperclassmen that are all-stars have a little bit of an advantage and their coaches will allow them to get away with almost murder because they are one to not make an example. This is mainly because they cant afford to lose their best player or have him out of the lineup for even an inning.

In professional baseball everything changes. There is no room for attitude. Very few get away with it. Usually if you are the first pick in the draft overall, you can. However I do not recommend it as this could always come back to haunt you. Just because the organization invests a lot of money in you, doesn’t mean you are the new owner of the team. Many organizations find that if you have an attitude, your gone, you my friend are released. They will find someone else to replace you that’s just as good. There are so many good players out there running around just waiting for their opportunity. As a professional baseball player, it wouldn’t hurt to talk to your manager whenever you can. It can be about anything. If he is a good manager you will think of him as like a second father. He is there to help you get better and be a well rounded individual. If you are losing, you might not want to get in his way or ask him a lot of questions. If you lose, you probably don’t want to talk to him after the game, wait until the next day prior to your next game or practice. If your winning by a lot, that’s when your manager will be more lenient for you to tell a joke or something in between innings. If you win the game, afterwards would be a great time to talk to him if you have anything on your mind.

One of the most important things as a player is to make sure that you have your ears open. There is nothing more annoying and irritating to a manager than mental mistakes. Whether it be being late to the bus or missing a sign on the field. Keep your eyes and ears open at all times. Forget about the hot brunette in section 121 row 5. Deal with that after the game.

Sometimes a manager will take an issue out on you because your standing next to him. Don’t let something like this bother you. Just ignore it and go on with what your doing. It will blow ever and everything will be fine. If you get angry and talk back to your manager, he might do something that you both will regret.

Injuries keeping talent from the SHOW

June 20, 2010

Season after season, a professional baseball player’s worst fear is injury. No matter how much they stretch and how great they take care of their body, the injuries keep coming and coming. Most tend to be muscle strains and broken bones. The worst part is that fans expect their favorite player and teammates to perform at a certain level and if they don’t, well in their eyes they aren’t any good. Unfortunately fans and managers don’t always know what’s going on in the player’s body. Some players remain silent as they play through injuries because they love playing, they don’t want to lose their starting position or they don’t want to let their team down. I for one have battled injuries my entire professional career which kept me from performing at my best. In fact I have even played an entire season with 3 different injuries at the same time. There is nothing more frustrating in the game of baseball than playing hurt and not performing to your abilities. Many players only get one or two opportunities to prove themselves and if at that time
they aren’t healthy, well then they are out of luck. They actually may never play a professional baseball game again. This is what we call the system. The worst part was that when I finally got healthy and to the prime of my game, I started to rake. I was hitting home runs and doubles all over the place in preseason only to later be released. I got a few offers after that from teams but nothing worth taking. The system needs to change. If you have the talent then you shouldn’t be overlooked. Never give up, it only takes one scout or manager to see something in a player that really impresses them to get that player a contract.

Next Page »