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Sparks Journey from Little League to College

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  • Well what I noticed in playing good teams is that my son had to get better as a baseball player.

    Yeah sure he could be the top dog in most leagues but in travel ball he has to continually work to get better and beat some of the best hitters I've seen at 13 yo level.

    Your grandson has finally met some competition that should push him to get better (if he wants). This is where he will know if he likes the game because if gets to play college ball the hitting will be similar to what he faced in the "showcase" tournament.

    Your grandson's hitting was off because he faced really good pitching. The pitchers he faced, I would bet, were fairly accurate with their off-speed pitches.

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    • Originally posted by Sparksdale View Post
      Still, if he had thrown 90 they would have pounded him. He gave up 3 runs in three innings. The coach pulled him after the SB hit a two run homer off him. It's only the second time in my boys life he's given up a homerun..

      I'll say this.... my boy has a lot of work to do to get better and frankly he's stopped doing what it takes to get better. He thinks all he has to do is go to practice and show up for the games..... impossible. The other kids his age are too good and you can bet they are working on their game.

      I don't know........ time to just step back and see what he does from here. It's up to him.

      Sparks
      On your first point, nope, almost certainly not true. As I posted before, at 85 mph (what you said your boy pitches at) some guys look Barry Bonds but at 90 mph they can't hit 0.100. I've seen this phenomenon literally countless times. Our high school and travel ball teams are loaded with guys who can hit 85 mph, but very few can do anything at 90. If your boy was really 5 mph slower and only throwing 80 mph, well, then of course he will get killed by such strong teams unless he has the control of Greg Maddux.

      Yes, it's all about the work to get better. If you read through the responses that many of us have made throughout this thread during your boy's journey, it's all about improving day to day, month to month, year to year. If he does that, he will have a good opportunity to go to the next level. If he does not, he will get passed up, end of story. He appears to have the athletic ability to play at college based on the film you shot of him - he's a VERY good athlete - but there are TONS of kids with equal or better athletic ability. If he works very hard, he will outwork many of these kids who don't have the drive and he will pass them up. This age group has kids with lots of interests compared to when they were 10. At this age some decide to pursue baseball, but others it's girls, motorcycles, just hanging out with friends and not baseball. But he if doesn't put in the work, unless his arm gets much stronger simply due to getting older so he can touch 90 mph just based on genetics, he won't make it.

      A lot of kids get discouraged getting beat up by strong teams. The kids who make it, however, are the ones who decide that next time they are going the ones who are going to do the beating. Hopefully your boy will be the latter.

      Thanks again for keeping us updated. Highly appreciated.

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

      Comment


      • The jump from 85-90 is massive. Watch these College regional playoffs and start to take note of how many pitches hit 90. There are some who hit it on every fastball but most do not. Getting to that speed and throwing strikes in HS means you are a stud. There is a kid in our hometown at the big public school who they are talking about getting drafted in the top 20, as RHP who's touched 97, and lives around 94. It's just not as normal as everyone thinks it is.

        Also 85 is usually not BP for many travel teams from what I see. If you are using wood/bbcor etc. 85 can keep scores pretty reasonable if there is an offspeed to go with it.

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        • if he had thrown 90 they would have pounded him
          Wrong. He could have got them out throwing 85. But successful pitching is about upsetting the timing of hitters. It takes location and mixing it up properly.

          It's only the second time in my boys life he's given up a homerun.
          Maybe he should be playing against tougher competition more often.

          Also, my boy left his hitting in the last tournament. His first two at bats he struck out and he looked bad striking out. I think he may have got 4 hits in the 7 games we played. But in some games the coach either didn't let him bat or he batted 9th and they were time limit games so if you batted down in the order, and your team didn't hit then you got 2 at bats at most. One game he batted 9th and when his second at bat came up the coach pinch hit for him.
          Stop making excuses. Your son didn't leave his hitting behind. He faced better pitching than he's accustomed to seeing.


          I'll say this.... my boy has a lot of work to do to get better and frankly he's stopped doing what it takes to get better. He thinks all he has to do is go to practice and show up for the games..... impossible. The other kids his age are too good and you can bet they are working on their game.
          You're right. The kids who go on are either jaw dropping studs or they work their tails off. Even most of the jaw dropping sruds work their tails off.

          I guess you could say I'm a little disappointed. Mostly in his attitude. I miss the days when he would get mad at striking out or making an error. Now it doesn't seem to bother him.
          He shouldn't get mad. He should stay composed. Baseball is as much mental as physical. The part of his attitude that is noticeable is the lack of desire to work at the game.
          What is crazy is he doesn't want to play with his school anymore. He would rather just play travel ball and it just doesn't work that way.
          Bad sign. Bad Attitude. Does he think he's too good to play for the high school team? Is is so good he stood the studs on the other teams on their head this past weeks? It seems you don't even see him as a starter on a less than stellar high school team. Maybe the coaches sense attitude.

          The funnel started with all the kids who signed up for tee ball. As the years pass the funnel gets narrower and narrower. It becomes more challenging to pass through the funnel to the next level. If your son wants to continuing to pass through the funnel he better get his act together.

          If your son would prefer not to work at the game and just to play for fun on a summer team that's fine. But it ends at 16U unless he goes back to rec league ball such as LL Big League. 17/18U travel is about kids who want to play college ball. Then you'll hear him complain about the lack of talent around him.
          Last edited by Jake Patterson; 06-03-2012, 02:51 PM.

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          • unless his arm gets much stronger simply due to getting older so he can touch 90 mph just based on genetics, he won't make it.
            Not true. Mid Major D1, D2 and D3 pitchers cruise in the mid 80's. It's the D1 major conference pitchers who mostly cruise at 88-92. A few throw harder. 85 is great for a kid ending his soph year of high school. Now he needs to be committed to the physical training and pitching training to get to the upper 80's junior year. Unless Sparks-son has physically peaked he's a potential 90 mph pitcher. But it takes a lot of work and commitment. But it's about more than just hitting a certain velocity. If a college pitcher can't locate even a pitcher throwing 90 will get his tits ripped off except by low level D3's.
            Last edited by Jake Patterson; 06-03-2012, 02:51 PM.

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            • When our travel team was 16U with mostly fifteen year olds entering soph year of high school we put them in a minor showcase tournament that fall. One game they got no hit by two pitchers who went D1. The classic line by one of our hitters after getting called out on a curve where he hit the deck (it's embarassing), "That was some nasty ****!" I told the kids this is what they will need to be able to hit in the next two years to prove they can play college ball. The hard workers made the adjustment.

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              • Originally posted by tg643 View Post
                unless his arm gets much stronger simply due to getting older so he can touch 90 mph just based on genetics, he won't make it.

                Not true. Mid Major D1, D2 and D3 pitchers cruise in the mid 80's. It's the D1 major conference pitchers who mostly cruise at 88-92. A few throw harder. 85 is great for a kid ending his soph year of high school. Now he needs to be committed to the physical training and pitching training to get to the upper 80's junior year. Unless Sparks-son has physically peaked he's a potential 90 mph pitcher. But it takes a lot of work and commitment. But it's about more than just hitting a certain velocity. If a college pitcher can't locate even a pitcher throwing 90 will get his tits ripped off except by low level D3's.
                TG,

                My point is that if a kid doesn't have the work ethic, he'd better be touching 90 if he thinks he's going to be recruited. Colleges most certainly will take a chance at a kid throwing 90 even if they aren't deemed to have a high motor, or even questionable character. If you're the kid throwing 85, you'd better be bringing a big work ethic along with 85 if you're going to get recruited. At least that's my experience, and as I stated before I've seen very good pitchers throwing 85 that haven't goteen a sniff of a college offer, end up going the JC route. Biggest shock I even saw was a lefty who regularly hit 87 mph, all-city pitcher in LA, but ended up at JC's with no offers from any D1 or D3 school. In his case, I'm sure it was because he didn't get enough exposure as his family didn't have a lot of money, but it did happen and made a big impression on me at the time.

                But I totally agree. If the kid is throwing 85 mph as a sophomore, he certainly has the potential to hit 90 mph, and that's what I would emphasize if he were my son. Hopefully he has the internal drive to make it, because I 100% believe he has enough talent to play in college based on the video Sparks posted.

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

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                • We're all discussing Spark-son's college future without a key component. How are his grades?

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                  • Originally posted by JJA View Post
                    TG,

                    My point is that if a kid doesn't have the work ethic, he'd better be touching 90 if he thinks he's going to be recruited. Colleges most certainly will take a chance at a kid throwing 90 even if they aren't deemed to have a high motor, or even questionable character. If you're the kid throwing 85, you'd better be bringing a big work ethic along with 85 if you're going to get recruited. At least that's my experience, and as I stated before I've seen very good pitchers throwing 85 that haven't goteen a sniff of a college offer, end up going the JC route. Biggest shock I even saw was a lefty who regularly hit 87 mph, all-city pitcher in LA, but ended up at JC's with no offers from any D1 or D3 school. In his case, I'm sure it was because he didn't get enough exposure as his family didn't have a lot of money, but it did happen and made a big impression on me at the time.

                    But I totally agree. If the kid is throwing 85 mph as a sophomore, he certainly has the potential to hit 90 mph, and that's what I would emphasize if he were my son. Hopefully he has the internal drive to make it, because I 100% believe he has enough talent to play in college based on the video Sparks posted.

                    -JJA
                    JJA ... Spark-son is at the point where he needs to be asked an important question: Do you prefer to succeed? Or do you have the drive and motivation to do what it takes to ensure succeeding? There's a big difference between the two. Everyone prefers to succeed. Far less have the passion to make sure it happens.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by tg643 View Post
                      JJA ... Spark-son is at the point where he needs to be asked an important question: Do you prefer to succeed? Or do you have the drive and motivation to do what it takes to ensure succeeding? There's a big difference between the two. Everyone prefers to succeed. Far less have the passion to make sure it happens.
                      Yes, 100% true. It's really up to the kid. Many parents believe they can instill that drive in their child, but I don't agree. It comes from within. Does he want to put in the hard work in order to play college ball? Don't make any mistake about it, it's a lot of hard work to get to the next level, many hours required to get to that level. Is that what the child/man want to do with their time? It's easy on a baseball bulletin board to think that the kid should put in the work, but ultimately it's up to the kid, a kid with a lot going on in their lives outside of baseball as they are transitioning to adulthood.

                      The key is that he keeps playing the game. As a very smart coach once told me, all players eventually quit playing. It's a matter of when. Even if he doesn't feel like putting in the work this year, maybe he will next year. If he quits, he's done.

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

                      Comment


                      • Here's what many kids and their parents dont know as they dream of playing college ball. Here's a typical schedule in the offseason:

                        6am to 7:30 - Monday to Friday swimming for upper body strength
                        8am to noon - classes Monday to Friday
                        1pm to 4m - practice Monday to Friday, weekends 9-1
                        7:30 to 9pm - weight and agility training Monday to Friday
                        Homework - fit it into the schedule

                        The season is a vacation compared to the offseason. But players miss Friday classes on alternate weekends and often return home late Sunday night. It's not an excuse not to get to class.

                        After all this if a player doesn't meet expectations his scholarship won't be renewed for the following year. And there won't be a roster spot. Transferring at the same level D1 to D1 and D2 to D2 or any level upward requires sitting out a season. In order to transfer and play the next season the player must go to a JuCo or transfer down a level. 50% of all D1 baseball players transfer out of their first college to play. Take the summer off and rest? No. Your college coach arranged a collegiate summer ball commitment for you. You get three weeks of August to rest. But don't show up for fall ball not ready to perform.

                        Still sound good? It takes a lot of effort to get it. It takes even more effort to hold on to it.
                        Last edited by tg643; 06-04-2012, 12:10 AM.

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                        • Being a D1 football player is a lot easier and more scholarships available.

                          You also get tutors and sometimes they even take the tests for you. :scholar:

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                          • Originally posted by tradosaurus View Post
                            Being a D1 football player is a lot easier and more scholarships available.

                            You also get tutors and sometimes they even take the tests for you. :scholar:
                            Cute answer, but the bottom line is that all college sports associated with scholarships demands a huge time commitment. The player is far more of a "athlete-student" these days than a "student-athlete". Here out west most baseball curriculums are similar to what TG wrote, though almost all of the UC's demand a mandatory tutoring session in the evening, with the conditioning from typically 6-8 AM, and tutoring from 7-9 PM. It's just a heck of a lot of work no matter how you cut it.

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

                            Comment


                            • I forgot about tutoring and mandatory study halls. My daughter (softball) got a pass. She graduated PBK. My son was given a pass after the first semester by making honors.

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                              • The more I think about it the more it appears that unless you get drafted out of high school that chasing the small quantity of baseball scholarships are not worth the time and effort.

                                You are better off going after academic scholarships or going the football route.

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