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Sparks Journey from Little League to College

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  • He stopped working hard long ago and now he just plays but with little or no passion.... He doesn't even want to bat because batting practice takes away from his "fun" time...his grades are terrible.

    I disagree that Sparks should look into JUCO baseball opportunities for his son. College baseball is a job. You've got to love it. How about something more realistic: join the military. That was conventional wisdom back in the day, and it worked so well for so many.
    Sparks, my thoughts are with you and your son. 18 is a challenging time of life for so many young men.
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    • Originally posted by skipper5 View Post
      He stopped working hard long ago and now he just plays but with little or no passion.... He doesn't even want to bat because batting practice takes away from his "fun" time...his grades are terrible.

      I disagree that Sparks should look into JUCO baseball opportunities for his son. College baseball is a job. You've got to love it. How about something more realistic: join the military. That was conventional wisdom back in the day, and it worked so well for so many.
      Sparks, my thoughts are with you and your son. 18 is a challenging time of life for so many young men.
      When I saw Spark's comment last night I decided today I would post the following .... Before your son gets the college baseball bug here's what he's in for if the program is anything like both my kids.

      The off season:

      6:30 to 7:30am, swimming Mon-Sat for upper body strength
      3 hours of practice in the afternoon
      7:30 to 9:00pm, strength and agility training Mon to Fri

      All classes have to be taken in the morning due to practice. But you're already up due to swimming. Then there's homework STARTING at 9:30pm. They tried to get some homework in while eating dinner. My daughter said she did and my son still does sleep half of Sunday due to being tired. The season is much easier. There's less working out. Players learn how to study on long bus rides.

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      • Originally posted by skipper5 View Post
        I disagree that Sparks should look into JUCO baseball opportunities for his son. College baseball is a job. You've got to love it. How about something more realistic: join the military. That was conventional wisdom back in the day, and it worked so well for so many.
        Sparks, my thoughts are with you and your son. 18 is a challenging time of life for so many young men.
        Well, it may be a bit extreme to say that he shouldn't even "look into" JUCO opportunities, but as you and Jet note, college varsity ball is heckuva commitment and the kid should not take it lightly and shouldn't even ask the HS coach to now recommend him if he isn't willing to take it on. Fortunately, the no-no crystallizes for the kid what kinda upside it could be.

        Still, I'm hesitant to throw out the old "join the military" "conventional wisdom". My father threw out that line and my older brother took it and, surprise, surprise ended up in the jungles of Vietnam. He came back, thank God, but the experience was a mixed blessing as far as health and psyche. Since we haven't heard much about Sparks' boy over the last 9 months, it's tough for us to even guess if it's something that would fit for him. No longer does the military want to be a dumping ground for kids whose fathers have decided they need straightening out or toughening up. But, by the same token, it may be worth looking into. A local boy from my home town credits it with giving him the time he needed to grow in a lot of ways, and he was a different pitcher when he came out. Wonder what happened to that Tom Seaver kid anyway?

        Jet's recitation of the schedule is a good idea, but it may cut both ways. My wife and I were frankly (but privately) pleased that my son didn't make it onto the varsity of the D1 college he's attending - at best he would have been a benchwarmer and would have gone through the same thing he did in HS - no time for extra curricular activities or a real social life, because he'd have to devote all of his time to baseball and studies. On the other hand, for some kids the discipline of a sport combined with a firm hand from the athletic departments tutoring program (or whatever fancy name they give it) can force kids to shed bad habits. I know one fellow - an ex-college fullback with mediocre grades going into Washington University - who figured out he'd better take his studies seriously in order to stay eligible. He ended up at Yale Law School and became a prominent law professor and law school dean.
        sigpicIt's not whether you fall -- everyone does -- but how you come out of the fall that counts.

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        • update 2/26/2014

          My boy pitched his second start (he did save one game the first game of the year).
          He had a good night.
          He pitched a complete game gave up 1 run, walked 1, had 4 hits and 10k's. (We won)

          So far (early in the year) here are his numbers....

          ERA: 0.86
          Wins: 2
          Saves: 1
          Innings Pitched: 16.1
          Strikeouts: 29
          Walks: 3

          He has not batted this year and doesn't look like he will. He's changed his mind and wants to bat but it's too late. The other players put in the time and effort in the off season so they've earned the right.

          Don't know how his numbers will stack up at the end of the year but I don't think he could do much better than he has thus far. One no-hitter and tonight's game was a gem because he didn't' have his fastball. He had to fight every batter and use his off speed pitches.

          Sparks

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          • Update; Scout

            Our coach got a call from a college coach that wanted to look at my boy.
            Last night my boy pitched against a good team and the college coach was there with a radar gun and taking notes on my boy.

            He pitched a complete game with 8k's and no walks.
            Gave up 4 runs, all uneared according to Maxpreps.
            He got the win over a very good team.

            No word from the college coach yet.

            Sparks

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            • Updated numbers according to MaxPreps

              ERA 0.60
              Wins 3
              Innings Pitched 23.1
              Total Strike Outs 37
              Opponent BA .223
              Fielding Percentage .800
              Saves 1

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              • The first questions a college coach is going to ask are about GPA and SAT scores. Unless it's a JuCo poor scores will be an issue. Unless a kid is a draft prospect stud they're looking for 3.0 and 1000 (Math& English). They make an assumption a player's GPA could slip and entire point with the distraction of baseball. They don't want to be dealing with kids below 2.0. Don't discuss high school stats with a college coach unless they bring it up. They look for mechanics that can succeed at the next level, not stats. The only time stats were ever mentioned to either of my kids was when one of the college coaches saw an article on my son with a batting average so outrageous the article included "this is not a misprint" and spelled out the number. I saw it as ice breaking, sucking up.

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                • Seriously, it looks like he is getting serious awful late in the game. What he REALLY needs to do now is put his nose in the books and get VERY good grades this semester. If he can show a prospective coach that he is willing to turn things around and he is now serious he can offset the earlier grade problems with aa show of present and future commitment. Show coaches a reversal in the trend of his grades and attitude. I wish your boy the very best of luck.

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                  • Sparks, congrats on his continued success. I know consistency has been an issue for him (and has probably cumulatively aged you about ten extra years over the past ten years) - having three consecutive solid starts is a big plus. Any idea what the coach's gun read?

                    While we don't expect you to identify the coach or his college, can you give us a feel for the type of college or level of ball? This would help us both assess what level of attention he's apparently worthy of and suggest both academic and recruiting strategies for like colleges.

                    I throw this out for others to answer, as I don't want to suggest something where there are ramifications I haven't thought of. What about having SparksJr send the coach a handwritten note along the lines of:
                    Dear Coach X: I understand that you were at the game on February XX to watch me pitch against XYZ High School. I appreciate you taking the time to come up/down to see us. Both [Your College] and its baseball program are very highly regarded and I am interested in it, and I hope to be able to talk to you soon about my possibly attending [Your College]. VTY, Sparks Jr.

                    Just at thought.
                    sigpicIt's not whether you fall -- everyone does -- but how you come out of the fall that counts.

                    Comment


                    • Ursa,

                      Don't have a clue how fast he gunned my boy. Best guess is 86 to 89. (Just a guess).
                      The coach is from a juco college. From what I hear its a good baseball school.

                      We haven't heard from him as of yet.

                      It is very early in the season. This weekend we begin play against the top 6A schools in our state.
                      My boy will pitch against one of the top teams this Saturday. It will be a good test to see how he does against the top players.

                      Sparks

                      Comment


                      • Congratulations Sparks. Is your son now interested in playing college ball? Or is it just you who is excited? The recruiting effort is a job unto itself unless he only reacts to those who express interest in him. But waiting to be found is not the best strategy. If your son has had the fire rekindled the two of you should make a list of JuCos and contact them all asking how to get in front of them. While college coaches don't use stats for recruiting decisions, you can use them to draw attention for them to quantify his talent. Since your son is under six feet let them ask his height. But make them aware of cruise and max velocity.

                        Does his high school coach have experience with college prospects and recruiting? If you don't know don't ask the coach, investigate his background. Just a warning about JuCos. It's not uncommon for JuCos to bring in fifty players. So if your son takes this route use it to jump start the value of a college education as much as a chance to play baseball. (I hope Jake doesn't mind this) I recommend you join hsbaseballweb.com. It's a website geared towards giving advice on all the aspects of how to get from high school to college baseball and how to deal with recruiting and offers. I know some of the posters here are also there. I've been through the process with two kids. But JuCos are a different animal. Some of the answers may be different. Good luck!

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                        • Jet

                          His high school coach is almost an expert at getting kids scholorships.
                          He currently has 3 sons playing in the major league and one is a star player.
                          So his coach knows what he is doing. We are very blessed with him.

                          To be frank, my boys grades are so bad his only option is juco. I've done all I can do. It is up to him now and its my job to support him. Inn my opionion he could be a stud at second base and even a pretty good SS. But he doesn't want it anymore.

                          He is 18 now so it is time for him to step up and be a man....in ghe end its his life.

                          I told him he should play college ball and try to be a coach. Its a great life to be around the game and make a living at it.

                          Sparks

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                          • How did your grandson respond to finding out a JuCo was interested?

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by JetSixty View Post
                              How did your grandson respond to finding out a JuCo was interested?
                              Very excited

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by JetSixty View Post
                                Congratulations Sparks. Is your son now interested in playing college ball? Or is it just you who is excited? The recruiting effort is a job unto itself unless he only reacts to those who express interest in him. But waiting to be found is not the best strategy. If your son has had the fire rekindled the two of you should make a list of JuCos and contact them all asking how to get in front of them. While college coaches don't use stats for recruiting decisions, you can use them to draw attention for them to quantify his talent. Since your son is under six feet let them ask his height. But make them aware of cruise and max velocity.

                                Does his high school coach have experience with college prospects and recruiting? If you don't know don't ask the coach, investigate his background. Just a warning about JuCos. It's not uncommon for JuCos to bring in fifty players. So if your son takes this route use it to jump start the value of a college education as much as a chance to play baseball. (I hope Jake doesn't mind this) I recommend you join hsbaseballweb.com. It's a website geared towards giving advice on all the aspects of how to get from high school to college baseball and how to deal with recruiting and offers. I know some of the posters here are also there. I've been through the process with two kids. But JuCos are a different animal. Some of the answers may be different. Good luck!
                                Jet, good post and excellent point - which I was about to make - about JuCo rosters. You gotta do your research about the coach's proclivities. I don't know why, but JC's tend to pull out of the woodwork physical freaks who couldn't hack HS grades and only after HS graduation start to get serious about baseball, so you end up with these huge rosters.

                                A kid I coached for years was one of the best HS pitchers in our league, but not quite good enough for D1 attention. So, he decided to go to the local JC, get his grades and growth up, and transfer. He showed up in the Fall and discovered 20 other pitchers there, several who threw in the low 90's. What was worse is that the previous year there'd been a revolt because the coach'd played only his sophs, so his answer to keep his job was to promise the parents of the frosh players that they'd get all the playing time the following year, which of course screws the incoming freshman, like this kid. So, even though he was by far the most effective pitcher in intrasquad games, he couldn't find the field during the season. This of course screws your opportunity to get four-year schools' attention, as you don't get to pitch again until the spring of your sophomore year, when most schools have locked up their rosters. And, even if you do get into a four-year school, you're bucking the kids who've shown what they could do in the first two years.

                                There are tiny four-year colleges scattered around that no one's heard of and accordingly aren't too picky about grades. Time to talk to the school counselors to see if they can scare some up; you might be surprised. And, they may be better for the youngster as less focused kids tend to be monitored better for class attendance, behavior, etc. than in JC's.

                                Sounds like your coach is probably your best resource. It might be a good idea to see if you can set up an appointment with him to talk about the boy's future, with the two of you attending but you letting the boy doing most of the talking on your side.
                                sigpicIt's not whether you fall -- everyone does -- but how you come out of the fall that counts.

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