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  • Youth Phenoms

    This is just a place where you can tell stories about incredible youth ballplayers.

    I'll start us off with a story about myself. My name is Al Bundy.

    Just kidding.

    Let's see. I heard about this 12-year-old kid from our Little League who can throw 80. I'm not sure I believe it. Apparently, he had a growth plate problem and had a screw put in last fall. I don't think he's been pitching much since then. But he's impressive with the bat, too. At an all star game on Sunday, he hit a ball over the fence in center. It's almost silly to say that he hit it over the fence. The ball was 100 feet high by the time it reached the fence. Behind the fence was a sidewalk and street and then some really tall utility poles and large Live Oak trees. The trees were probably 250 feet from home plate, and the ball went over the wires at the top of the utility pole and through the trees. That part of the tree was probably 50 feet off the ground. His dad went to retrieve the ball and couldn't find it for awhile. This kid is 5-foot-8. His dad said he started to grow a lot last year. He's actually league age 12. So he might be closer to 13 in actual age. I've never seen a kid hit a ball like that one.

  • #2
    After 40 seasons, coaching hundreds of kids and seeing thousands more - all over the country - I've only seen 1 phenom.... Bryan Lahair..
    I've coached dozens who made it to college and beyond - they simply played until they ran out of talent.

    I've had hundreds of parents who FELT their son was a phenom - few ever made it past HS...
    "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
    - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
    Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Jake Patterson View Post
      After 40 seasons, coaching hundreds of kids and seeing thousands more - all over the country - I've only seen 1 phenom.... Bryan Lahair..
      I've coached dozens who made it to college and beyond - they simply played until they ran out of talent.

      I've had hundreds of parents who FELT their son was a phenom - few ever made it past HS...
      At what age did you have/see Bryan? What stood out to you at that time?

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      • #4
        I never went overboard on youth phenoms. My first thoughts have always been can they maintain it on the 60/90 field at the next level. I never wondered if a LL'er would be all-state. One of my friends led his LL in homers. I think he hit fifteen in the first ten games before teams stopped pitching to him. He was all-state in high school, all-american in college, a high draft choice and AAA player of the year. He broke his ankle stepping in a pothole getting out of his car at the Columbus airport on his way to reporting to the Yankees. The next year his agent told him if the Yankees deal for Rod Carew happened he would be starting in left for the Twins the following night. The Yankees wouldn't give him up. The next year he was hit on the wrist, it broke and he never recovered his swing. He never played a day in the majors.

        The kids I saw hitting the 250 foot homers in LL were flying out when they got to the 60/90 field. The kids who hit fence scraping, line drive homers in LL went on to become high school players. The kid from a neighboring LL who threw 78 down the pipe in LL, got hammered in high school JV ball throwing 80 down the pipe. This kid also hit homers off the rooftops across the street in LL. He swing like a rusty gate. By 14U he couldn't make contact.

        My son may have been a LL phenom. I never gave it a thought. I only thought about learning the game and playing it properly. When he was twelve in LL he hit in the high .700's, Almost every hit went to or over the fence. He hit over .700 in all-stars over twelve games. Plus he was very fast. Early bloomer? He was 5'. He weighted 90 pounds (sweated off 10) by the time he finished catching all-stars in August. Due to an injury senior year my son was a guaranteed walk on (no scholarship) at a Big Ten school. A kid from a rival LL all-star team hit a homer off our pitcher in all-stars that hit the centerfield scoreboard on the next field. From LL to the LLWS the kid hit 36 homers. He walked on at a Big East school.

        A kid who hit seventh for my 13U team started in the SEC as a freshman. He was a better than average LL all-star. I don't know how many times I consoled him striking out isn't the end of the world. By his soph year of high school, when he walked on the field at Perfect Game events the coaches and scouts started drolling. He looked like a ball player at 6'4", 215.
        Last edited by tg643; 07-03-2012, 09:15 AM.

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        • #5
          I grew up with two phenoms in the alry 80's.

          One guy was THE Nolan Ryan of LL. He blew it past everyone.......Best 12 y/o pitcher I have ever seen. He was 5'10 in 8th grade but barley 6' once he stopped growing. He ended up being a good HS pitcher, but not great. His fastball never got past 80mph.

          Another guy was 5'9" in 6th grade but only made it to 6'1. He hit the ball all over the yard and ran like the wind. By his senior year in HS he was choking up on a 33" bat just trying to slap it into right.

          Both were very old for their grade. As youths, these guys were at the top of everyone's wish list.
          "Smith corks it into right, down the line. It may go...........Go crazy folks! Go crazy! Jack Buck

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          • #6
            I think it is all a matter of perspective and depends upon the level of competition available.

            My son started travel ball last year on a 12U major level team. He was below average when he started and ended up about average for his team and the level of competition.

            That same year a friend of mine ask if my son could play on his league team for a weekend tournament. My son looked like a phenomenon during that tournament (batting over .750 and one game with 21 S.O.) but I knew that the level of competition wasn't close to the travel ball competition.

            This year my son played on a 14U league team that I helped coach while he played 13U majors level tournament ball. His batting average for league play was almost .900 while his batting average for travel ball is about 0.225. His ERA though was about even between both levels which was about 0.50.

            Don't get caught up in the phenom status because there is always someone or some team better.

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            • #7
              I've seen ONE.

              I'm not referring to the kids that are big for their age, hit puberty first, have the "right" birthday, etc. I'm talking about the kid that's pretty much like everyone else, except the ball just "flies out of his hand" or "jumps off the bat" like no one else you've ever seen.

              I coached a 10yo pitcher threw harder than any 10yo kid I've ever seen, and that includes TB from Chicagoland to Bloomington.

              He's 65 pounds and very thin. He's also the fastest runner I've ever seen. He's the kid that you put in CF and hit leadoff UNTIL you see him throw, then he's on the mound.

              His dad is 6'2 230 ... and ALL of it is a "good 230" (former MiLB pitcher), so this kid has a very good chance of winning what I call the "Puberty Lottery".

              There aren't any kids that I've seen where I thought "he's got a legit chance at the pros", except this one. There are good players everywhere, just as there are big kids everywhere. There just aren't that many kids like this.

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              • #8
                My father in law was a long time high school football coach. During his retirement speech he talked about the two best players he ever coached. Mark Hutson who was a two time AA at OU and currently is an NFL assistant, and Keniko Logan, a RB who is on death row for a triple murder. The moral of the story, you never know how they are going to end up.

                There is an 11 year old in our area that can run. He is an average travel ball player, but his speed is remarkable. I'll be interested to see how he progresses. I doubt he plays baseball much longer, due to his love for basketball, but I hope he continues to play football. I could see him becoming a really good CB as he gets older.

                I posted in one of the other threads about the 10 year old from the small town about 20 miles away. At two Super NIT's he was the only kid that stood out to me. Others might hit bombs, but they are usually big kids that don't project well. This kid is lean with a big frame and natural strength. The kid hit the genetic lottery as well. Dad was D-1 football, mom was D-1 track.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by utseay View Post
                  At what age did you have/see Bryan? What stood out to you at that time?
                  Age 11/12.... He hit 26 homeruns in 14 games in LL and some teams would not pitch to him. He caught everything hit at him and was bigger/stronger/faster than most. IMHO at 12 he could have played U16.

                  More important is I remember him as having incredible desire to learn and succeed. Please note: I did not coach him.... he played in the same league as my son and would always draw a crowd.
                  "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
                  - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
                  Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by tg643 View Post
                    I never went overboard on youth phenoms. My first thoughts have always been can they maintain it on the 60/90 field at the next level.
                    I believe the real point is MOST people never get to see a "phenom," they are 1:many thousands and the average baseball dad/coach doesn't see that many players. What they see, and thus report, is the best they see without context - or the ability to compare to the very, very best. The average young ball player has a better chance of being a genius, than a MLB'er.
                    "He who dares to teach, must never cease to learn."
                    - John Cotton Dana (1856–1929) - Offered to many by L. Olson - Iowa (Teacher)
                    Please read Baseball Fever Policy and Forum FAQ before posting.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Jake Patterson View Post
                      The average young ball player has a better chance of being a genius, than a MLB'er.
                      Interesting.

                      I often tell people "You'll know more people that graduate from Med School than play pro sports, and you know how hard it is to graduate from med school."

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                      • #12
                        Genetics are so key to make it in pro sports.

                        Our society has always pushed you can be anything you want if you simply work hard. Hard work will only maximize your genetic potential and very very few have the potential to go pro.

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                        • #13
                          Only one I can think of would be a kid that was 1 yr older than me growing up. The most natural athlete I've ever had the pleasure to watch. Dominated in everything from football (RB/LB) to baseball (CF/P) to track (100m) and built like a truck. Nicknamed "Bo" because he reminded everyone of Bo Jackson.

                          Unfortunately, if you looked up "bad apple" in dictionary, there's a picture of him so to speak. Came from a great family with 3 now successful brothers, but for some reason just never had his head on straight (from as early as I can remember). Brought a gun to school 1st semester of HS and was arrested, sent to juvie. Murdered a 7/11 clerk immediately upon getting out and then killed himself in the ensuing chase. What a waste.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by TexAg View Post
                            Only one I can think of would be a kid that was 1 yr older than me growing up. The most natural athlete I've ever had the pleasure to watch. Dominated in everything from football (RB/LB) to baseball (CF/P) to track (100m) and built like a truck. Nicknamed "Bo" because he reminded everyone of Bo Jackson.

                            Unfortunately, if you looked up "bad apple" in dictionary, there's a picture of him so to speak. Came from a great family with 3 now successful brothers, but for some reason just never had his head on straight (from as early as I can remember). Brought a gun to school 1st semester of HS and was arrested, sent to juvie. Murdered a 7/11 clerk immediately upon getting out and then killed himself in the ensuing chase. What a waste.
                            Not a waste, but a shame. We all know guys like this. The one I know had severe bipolarity but was only diagnosed far too late in life. Ended up taking his own life when he dropped his medication in favor of "street drugs".

                            We all talk genetics when it comes to physical ability, but there's a lot of genetics in the mental & personality aspects as well.

                            I just dealt with the youngest brother of 4. An 8th grader, was expelled/arrested for selling drugs at school. The 3 older brothers are all successful college grads, including one through law school. The low-income, single mom, is overcome with what "she did wrong" ... but in actuality I knew this kid since 2nd grade, and he was never "like the others" (who are all "yes, maam" "yes sir" types).

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by CircleChange11 View Post
                              Interesting.

                              I often tell people "You'll know more people that graduate from Med School than play pro sports, and you know how hard it is to graduate from med school."
                              There's 22 times as much college academic money as athletic money. In our house we emphasized academics more than sports. My daughter joked "If dad's car had a bumper sticker it would say, "My kids better make honor roll, or else." When my son didn't get the desired results on his first round of SAT's I spent 1K on a private tutor for six weeks leading up to the next test date.

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