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Sparks Journey from Little League to College

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  • Boys, we're all speculating as to what Sparks meant by the term 'showcase', and it frankly sounds a little snobbish to sniff that something at that age can't be a "true" showcase, whatever that means. Obviously, the kids attending think it has some importance. Many JC and D2 coaches start to keep their earn to the ground to learn of talented sophs in their area, so it's possible that this tourney does indeed attract some smaller schools and maybe even assistants at larger schools. But, rather than speculating, it might be helpful for Sparks to tell us what he was told about who would be attending the tourney and what his observations were as to who, if anyone, was actually there.
    sigpicIt's not whether you fall -- everyone does -- but how you come out of the fall that counts.

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    • Originally posted by Ursa Major View Post
      Boys, we're all speculating as to what Sparks meant by the term 'showcase', and it frankly sounds a little snobbish to sniff that something at that age can't be a "true" showcase, whatever that means. Obviously, the kids attending think it has some importance. Many JC and D2 coaches start to keep their earn to the ground to learn of talented sophs in their area, so it's possible that this tourney does indeed attract some smaller schools and maybe even assistants at larger schools. But, rather than speculating, it might be helpful for Sparks to tell us what he was told about who would be attending the tourney and what his observations were as to who, if anyone, was actually there.
      Ursa, all I know is what they told is. They told us it was a showcase tournament and it was very expensive to enter at $550 a team. I do know the tournament was put on by one of the elite showcase teams in the south.
      Here is the website.... http://www.knightsbaseballtn.com/16u-classic

      If there were any scouts or anything there we didn't see them. I would dare to say there weren't any. As with most tournaments we've been too looks like this was a way for the tournament to make money. But there is no getting around that there were some of the top travel teams in the South at the tournament so you can take that for what it's worth.

      I did notice one thing in this tournament. Most all of the good pitchers threw just as hard as my boy. Seems they all throw in the 82mph to 85mph range. Some only throw a fastball and get by with it for a couple of innings. I think what separated my boy from a few of the other pitchers was his curve ball.
      Still, it looked to me like 85mph was some kind of magic number.

      In the end I don't think it was a true showcase either.....after all showcase is just a word. If there were any scouts there then they came on the last day of championship day and we didn't play the last day.

      Never the less, if you take away the huge cost of the tournament it was good to play against these good players. It was kind of an eye opener. The wood bats really separated the good hitters from the average hitters. Even if a kid didn't get a hit you could tell if he was a hitter or not by the way the ball left the wood bat. My boy actually broke three bats while pitching..... that was a lot of fun.

      I put my boy in a couple of showcases down through the years. They all promise scouts will be there. You pay your money and when the day comes you see nothing but parents.

      Most all of them lie just to get your money. We had one showcase last year where they promised all these huge scouts would be there. Not a single one was there....... not one.

      Do I think this last tournament was a showcase? No, I think they just told everyone that to get teams in the tourny. Then again, there were 4 fields several miles apart and we only played on one. Two of the top teams which have the so called best players played on another field and I never saw them. Maybe scouts where there looking at them I don't know. I was told one of those teams had a kid throwing 94mph but I never saw him.

      Sparks

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      • The good thing your son learned was there are many more out there with the same level of ability. Therefore if he wants to take it to the next level after conquering high school ball, it's going to take a lot of work and mental focus. Don't give up on showcases. Select the right ones. I always asked for a history of what colleges have attended in the past. Never fall for "We've invited ......" Anyone can be invited even by a clown. It doesn't mean anyone shows up. When the time comes I can help you with the processs if you would like.

        I went to the website. If you look around the website it talks about showcasing and Knights players who have signed NLI's and/or gone pro. But this is with their 17U teams. The word showcase does not appear in the description of the 16U tournament your son's team participated. I'm guessing the word showcase got passed around based on the reputation of the sponsoring program rather than the actual tournament. It's not the first time I've heard of this happening.
        tg643
        Team Veteran
        Last edited by tg643; 05-29-2012, 10:11 AM.

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        • Originally posted by Sparksdale View Post
          I did notice one thing in this tournament. Most all of the good pitchers threw just as hard as my boy. Seems they all throw in the 82mph to 85mph range. Some only throw a fastball and get by with it for a couple of innings. I think what separated my boy from a few of the other pitchers was his curve ball.
          Still, it looked to me like 85mph was some kind of magic number.
          Sparks,

          As you will find out fairly shortly, 85 mph is basically batting practice for the best hitters. There are very few really good college pitchers in the 85 mph range. They have to have something else exceptional to get by (great curveball, change, etc.). The magic number is 90 mph. If your boy can hit 90 mph, even once, that's usually a ticket to someone's college program. I've known kids that were signed basically for that number. One tryout, one 90 mph, they were signed on the spot. It's amazing the big difference going from 85 mph to 90 mph does. There are lots of great hitters at 85 mph, a LOT fewer at 90 mph. I've seen some high school guys look like Barry Bonds at 85 mph that couldn't hit 0.100 off the guys in the 90's.

          That's why he needs to keep working, and keep working hard to see if he can hit 90 mph. High '80's is even a lot better than mid-80's. These last few mph really do matter.

          Good luck - JJA
          The outcome of our children is infinitely more important than the outcome of any game they will ever play

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          • Originally posted by JJA View Post
            Sparks,

            As you will find out fairly shortly, 85 mph is basically batting practice for the best hitters.
            For some perspective, it's important to note that 85mph 16u pitching--while apparently unremarkable in California, Fla., etc.--is very rare up here in the frozen north.
            Skip

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            • There are many pitchers in D3 to mid major D1 cruising at 85. It's the major conference pitchers who throw harder. 85 is good for a high school junior to be. With growth along with the right pitching and physical training he could be up to 88 by next summer. My son had 4 mph added to his high school velocity with a mechanics change he wouldn't make when I told him. Typical kid. I had to pay someone $90 an hour to tell my son what I knew.

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              • Big difference between "throwing" 85 and "pitching" 85.

                My son's been to pitching camps at two colleges (both of which are in this year's field of 64). I heard their pitching coaches both say nearly word for word the same exact thing. They've got numerous types of pitchers - power arms, sinker/slider pitchers, pitchers who use deception and are great first time through the lineup, pitchers that throw 95, and others that top out at 85. They like them all, so long as they can get outs.
                There are two kinds of losers.....Those that don't do what they are told, and those that do only what they are told.

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                • I don't want to get into semantics definitions. There are two speeds scouts and coaches look at, cruising speed and max speed. When I use the word throw I'm not defining the pitcher as someone who just stands on the mound and flings the ball.

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                  • Point is that 85 works even in the SEC, ACC, PAC12, etc. Especially now with the bats. If a kid is skilled and especially if he can sink the baseball and keep it in the ballpark, he can pitch in major D-1 with 85 mph velocity.

                    I went to a lot of D-1 games this year (hopefully going to a few more!). When you see teams like St. Mary's, or University of Portland, or U. of Seattle you're going to see a higher % of pitchers in that 85 or even below range. However, it's still very common to see the big schools with the same pitchers (velocity wise). I saw one kid from Oklahoma who threw 98. That was what I found shocking. There's nowhere near as many kids on the high end as one would think.
                    There are two kinds of losers.....Those that don't do what they are told, and those that do only what they are told.

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                    • There are plenty of high schoolers throwing 90 across the country. There aren't many thowing 95. Lance McCullers Jr is hitting 100 in high school. 85 at D1 mid majors is very common. There are also plenty of mid 80's in D3. They are just pitchers who developed late. A friend's son went off to a D3 throwing 82. He left/signed throwing 92.

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                      • Saw some 90+ guys this weekend at PG 18U in Ft. Myers. However also saw many hovering in the 84-87 range who were nonetheless very effective against teams with as many as 13 D1 commitments. I was really surprised at how many 2012s were playing. In any case I didn't get a sense that 85 was BP pitching. Sure if it was laid up right down the middle, but many of these guys locate well, have good off-speed and deceptive speed. At least in this state almost every big name 2013 was there, meaning the kids signed with Fla., Fla. State, UCF, Clemson, South Carolina etc. I'll check the blogs but I am not sure how many hit 90. The kid from IMG who is committed to Stanford was above 90.

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                        • The PG site breaks down things like how many at the event hit 90. The reason 2012's were there is they are now focusing on the possibility of getting drafted next week. With the right offer they will pass on college. Two showcase teammates of my son passed on college when offered 1.5M and 1.3M. They were both committed to ranked programs.

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                          • A boy on our schools varsity team is a senior and graduated this year.
                            He's 6' 4" and a good pitcher. We had a couple of scouts from smaller colleges come look at him and another kid during a game this year. This 6' 4" boy threw 85 and 86mph.
                            He made straight A's and is an incredible student from a very good family.

                            He didn't get a single offer from any school..... no offer of any kind. Not even a Jr. College offered him a partial scholarship.

                            He had the disadvantage of playing on a bad team. Our Varsity team was just plain terrible this year and they were beat up on by everyone even the 1A schools. I thought with his size someone would take a chance on him but not one college in the entire united states offered him anything.

                            You would think with his size, grades and the fact the throws in the mid 80's he would have gotten some kind of offer. But he didn't.

                            Last year we had a kid on our schools team that was 5' 7" and 140lbs soaking wet. Probably the best pitcher our school has ever had. To my knowledge he never threw over 83mph but had the control of Maddux. He could literally nip the corners with his pitches. Again one of the top students our school has ever had grades wise.... he finished with a 4.0 average. He got a scholarship to a D2 school for his grades. The baseball team had no interest in him because of his size and lack of MPH. He tried out for the team and made the team as a pitcher. Now he is one of the top relief pitchers on his college team. It just so happens that next year his college is going to D1 level. So at 83mph he's a D1 pitcher and doing very well, but I have to tell you that you wouldn't believe his control unless you saw it for yourself. It is a site to see a boy hit spots like he does..... amazing.

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                            • Look if that is his true speed, there is no way there isn't a school he can pitch for. Now you might be stuck in area that's not as heavily recruited. Now I am trusting that this speed has been independently verified. I went over to a tournament once around Lakeland Fla. (Auburndale) specifically out of curiosity we wanted to watch a Big Ten school who happened to be playing a Service Academy. Since the fields were kind of wide open so were the dugouts. Big10 School happened to have the Academy scouting reports on their pitchers posted. There were maybe two kids on the roster hitting 90. In watching the game most of the guys were living right around 85, some would dip lower, some inch up to say 88, but I never saw 90, and this is Division 1 baseball. I made the kid stand back there and watch so he could see it's no different than HS kid signed with Florida or whomever who we face that is touching 89 but living mostly around 86. (other than the college kids were much bigger). Point being a true 85 guy can pitch lower-tier D1 and many D2/D3/Juco/NAIA schools could get some use out of him. Some of these kids throw harder when they get to college I can't believe a 6'4" kid doesn't project.

                              Word of advice too, it takes a lot of work by the parents and kid outside of the diamond. Emailing teams, contacting coaches, etc. You have to go to their sites and fill out all the information, tell them where you are playing etc. At some point someone might bite. It's extremely rare these days for a kid to get found at a HS game. What is his off-season routine, travel ball, showcase ball?

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                              • Sparks ... Your example is why a player should never buy into "if you star they will find you." If the kid had chosen a handful of the right showcases he would have received some mid major D1 offers. With his size and a college program someone would see his upside as potentially 88-90.

                                I saw a late bloomer D3 college pitcher throwing 92 his senior year. I saw his first walk ... in his 93rd inning. He was drafted in the 26th round. He was the first pitcher promoted up from short season A ball to low A. He made it as far as AAA. His command was fantastic at every level until AAA.

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