Winter 2015 recap

finnegan coverProud partners with ABCA! Read the official release and comments from Publisher Keith Madison

It’s been great keeping up with what’s been an exciting 2015 in college baseball. turned two right out of the gate: Catch up with college baseball’s new faces in new places for 2015 and how coaches are dealing with the new ball Another addition for the 2015 campaign, the Dudy Noble Field Master Plan is coming along nicely

TCU head coach Jim Schlossnagle talks mental game and the development of Brandon Finnegan: Finnegan spent some time with IP to break down the magical ride of a season he had in 2014

Darren Fenster discusses ‘Moving up in baseball- the game’s simple truths’

Check out the latest version of our coaches questionnaire

USA Baseball and MLB team up to help reduce youth arm injuries

Read what Louisville Slugger did for the first time in its history

TCU head coach Jim Schlossnagle on…

Finnegan Interview…the mental game

“We spend as much time, effort and resources in the mental game as any program in the country. There is no doubt that it has a positive effect on our players both while they are here and in their careers beyond TCU. To see Brandon exemplify all of that on a national stage helps justify with our players all that we do. Brandon is a living, breathing example of the fact that the only way you can control your performance is if you are in control of yourself.”

…Brandon Finnegan’s development as a strike-thrower

“Brandon had always been a guy in search of strikeouts, which led him to higher pitch counts and walk totals. One day in practice Coach Saarloos and I challenged him to just try and throw every single pitch for a strike and let the results take care of themselves. When he truly committed to that, he took an amazing jump in his performance.”

… ‘if the team goals are met, individual goals will be met too’

“That is a mantra in our program. We talk about being selfless on a daily basis for the good of the team. When everyone truly does that, it’s amazing how everyone’s individual goals get met…..when the team wins, we all win.”

Finnegan and again

finnegan coverThe baseball world got to know Brandon Finnegan after he put his name on the map in 2014, when the 21-year old heard his name called on June 5 after the Kansas City Royals selected him in the first round of the MLB draft. Two days later, Finnegan earned the win over Pepperdine in the opening game of the Fort Worth Super Regional best-of-three series that the Horned Frogs would ultimately win. Ten days after the Pepperdine performance, the Fort Worth native sailed through eight innings and allowed two runs (one earned) in a 15-inning loss to national runner-up Virginia that tied a record for the longest game in the history of the College World Series.

It was one of the better performances that college baseball saw in 2014, as Finnegan tallied a 9-3 record with a 2.04 ERA for TCU. In just over 105 innings pitched, he racked up 134 strikeouts, yielded just 79 hits and walked only 29.

And he wasn’t done.

Finnegan’s name came up again when he made a similar splash in the professional ranks. Just three months and one day after he was drafted and 81 days after his Frogs finale (after dominating the minor leagues in class A-advanced and AA to the tune of 27 innings pitched, 26 strikeouts, 20 hits, four walks and a 1.33 ERA), he was called up to the big leagues and would make his debut at Yankee Stadium, striking out two in two perfect innings. He and the rest of the Kansas City Royals caught fire down the stretch of the regular season and carried their momentum right into the playoffs. The 5-11 lefty threw two more perfect innings in a wild card-elimination game against Oakland that ended in a 12-inning, 9-8 Royals victory and began an eight-game winning streak that put K.C. in the World Series. After retiring the only two batters he faced in Game 3 of the Fall Classic, Finnegan became the first player in the history of baseball to have appeared in the College World Series and the MLB World Series in the same year. Continue reading

Moving Up in Baseball: The Game’s Simple Truths

Darren Fenster Minor League Manager, Boston Red Sox Founder & CEO, Coaching Your Kids, LLC @CoachYourKids

Darren Fenster
Minor League Manager, Boston Red Sox
Founder & CEO, Coaching Your Kids, LLC

So you made the varsity team as a freshman? Congratulations!

You got offered a scholarship to play in college? Great news!

You were drafted to play professionally? Awesome!

You got called up to the Major Leagues? Unbelievable!

Reaching higher levels in the game by all means should garner a sense of achievement.  Each step higher, however, is not ‘making it,’ but rather the makings for more work.  As players advance in the game, each rung of the baseball ladder is melded together by one simple thing: good old fashioned work ethic. Those who are never complacent with where they are- regardless of how high- are the ones who have a constant inner drive that will enable them to maximize their true potential and reach the pinnacle of their own individual game, whatever level that may turn out to be.

As a minor league manager, the question “what does it take to play professional baseball” gets asked often.  And while there is a pretty good general understanding amongst the baseball community of the tools and athletic ability that scouts are looking for when it comes to the amateur draft, we wanted offer a different kind of insight for aspiring big leaguers (and their coaches) to digest.

There are a handful of simple truths when it comes to understanding what it takes to move up in baseball, whether that be from middle school to high school or from the minor leagues to the big leagues.  As players embrace these ideas, they’ll put themselves in a better position to accomplish their goals on the diamond.

Simple truth #1: With each new level reached should come the understanding of getting out of the kiddie pool and jumping into the ocean.

Just about every single player that signs a professional contract or commits to a college scholarship is a stud, the best of the best.  They have grown accustomed to being the man, constantly being the center of attention.  By far, the biggest adjustment a player must make upon advancing ranks is to understand the fact that they are no longer ‘the man’ and will no longer be the guy who everyone’s eyes are on.  The sooner this sets in, the sooner our next meaning can take over. Continue reading

New faces, new places

new facesWith the ever-changing landscape of the college baseball coaching industry, the winter offers a time to take a look at the ‘coaching carousel’ and check in on how some of our game’s new head coaches are doing at their respective programs. Inside Pitch caught up with some of the best and checked in on how they are implementing their philosophy and foundation at their new landing spots:

What are the challenges to moving from one place to another and taking over the reins at a new program?

“Most young coaches want to be a head coach one day, so they’re working towards that goal with everything they do. There are so many good coaches out there nowadays, it’s tough because there are only so many head Division I jobs to go around. So when you do get that opportunity, you have to jump on it. It didn’t come as quick for me as I thought it might, but this is an incredible situation at Sam Houston State; we’re very, very blessed to be here at a proven winner and place you can win at a high, high level. The program that Mark Johnson and David Pierce built here speaks for itself, with six regionals in the last eight years and three straight conference championships. There’s a lot to live up to and there are gigantic shoes to fill.”

-Matt Deggs

“It’s always hard to leave a place. You normally have relationships with players for 2-3 years before they ever step on campus. Then you get to work with them each day. It was really tough to leave the players and the coaching staff at Ole Miss. Coach Bianco, Carl Lafferty, Stephen Head and Andrew Case weren’t just co-workers, they’re friends as well, so it’s hard to leave them. The players and coaches were my family. Ole Miss & Oxford will always have a special place in my heart. It’s my second home.”

-Cliff Godwin

“The new job was bittersweet in the fact that Louisville was such a special place. I had a chance to coach with my college teammate and best friend [Dan McDonnell], but our whole staff had been together for eight years, with Roger Williams and Brian Mundorf, all the guys we were there with. We won a lot of games, but we had a lot of fun doing it.

new facesIndiana is a dream job in a lot of ways, and I’m very fortunate to be able to stay in the same part of the country in terms of moving. Tracy Smith has done a great job of building the program and getting it to where it was, and our goal is to move the program forward, to keep Indiana at the top of the Big Ten. I think with the last two years with the College World Series, a number four overall seed, and a brand new ballpark, the program is in a great place.

We also feel very fortunate because Indiana is one of the best states in the country to recruit out of, there’s a lot of talent in our state.”

-Chris Lemonis

“The immediate challenge is retention of all our players. The players and the game seem to be the easiest part, the tough part is dealing with all the domestic side of a move. Leaving a good place like SHSU and starting over with moves, selling and buying houses are the biggest challenges. The players have always been very receptive to our staff and I’m thankful for that.”

-David Pierce

“The hardest part of leaving Young Harris college after sixteen years wasn’t leaving behind a program that my family and the administration that hired me had put so much time, effort, and resources into. It wasn’t removing myself from the program we had transformed from an obscure, small college in the middle of nowhere into a national power that was recognized in the baseball community as a program that developed young men into major leaguers, as well as quality husbands, fathers, and community leaders. The hardest part was leaving behind a community and church that we invested our lives into, which had, in return, given my wife and I a wonderful place to watch our children grow and mature. The greatest memories are not of the championships we won, but of the relationships we developed over the years in that small town community. That small town community always made this small time coach feel like a big league manager.”

-Rick Robinson

“You just evaluate as a professional whether you want to be comfortable or you want to challenge yourself, and with the two moves [from Miami of Ohio to Indiana and then from Indiana to Arizona State], the opportunities were better, so that’s how I looked at it. Are you wired to be comfortable, or are you wired to challenge yourself? At the end of the day, it was a very simple answer. It’s tough moving away from family and friends, but the bigger regret would’ve been sitting back and wondering what could’ve been.”

-Tracy Smith
Continue reading