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*the following are observations from games played the past few weeks involving ABC players. My purpose and intention is to share some insight into what is seen through the eyes of a teacher, a coach, a scout, development coordinator & a friend..

 

I evaluate players in three categories:

Tools- hitting, hitting for power, speed, defense, arm strength

Execution- ability to perform; BOTTOM LINE..you can or you can't; do your teammates say I want him in my fox hole

Presentation- how you go about your business; relate to others; hustle; rebound from adversity; handle success, handle failure; field awareness, etc

 

THERE IS A HUGE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ABILITY & PERFORMANCE

Talent without execution only looks good on paper

Average tools and average execution with average presentation = an average player

 

 

POSTED May 28th 

game notes are from ABC organizational tournament 5/21 & 5/22 

Play of the day Weston Warner, So. Bowie, made an over the shoulder dive to catch a ball hit over his head in center field. Full extension and lay out.  Jim Edmonds style
Hustle of the day Brent Imani, Jr. McNeil,  beat out a routine ground ball hit to the first baseman.
Mike Hancock, Jr. Stony Point, stretched single into a "bang-bang" double by hustling all the way out of the box
Best home to 1st time Michael Wright, So. Lockhart,  3.77 seconds from the left side. WELL below the Major League ave. Thats moving down the line GANG !
Offensive "Outburst" Tommy Williams, Jr. Austin High, 4 home runs in three games
"Take that" Adam Brick, So. Austin High, held onto the ball at home on a tag play at home plate after he was run over. Just like the Big Boys !
"Ready to play" Award Alex Truesdale, So. Austin High & Andrew Stauch, So. Westlake, arrived over 30 minutes BEFORE their scheduled arrival time

Michael Wright, So. Lockhart, arrived early enough to get some swings in the batting cage before his games

 

**understand that this commentary is simply an "objective" observation. The intention is to give both players and parents a more "sofisticated" overview of the two days of baseball.

ARRIVE EARLY. When you do it give off the perception that you can't wait to get going. When you are late it says that the game isn't as big a priority.

ALL PLAYERS MUST WEAR TENNIS SHOES TO THE BALL PARK. No flip flops. You can't take swings in the batting cage in flip-flops, plus, this isn't the beach
Wear a clean uniform to the ball park at all times. Have on the CORRECT uniform. The way you present yourself is a reflection of the type of player you are
On Sunday for the first game, ONLY 6 guys on one team and 5 on the other were there 3 or more minutes early
When you arrive at the field, go ahead and get your spikes on. No reason to sit around in your tennis shoes until it's time to be ready..Then, you're LATE
When your team is the home team and takes the field in the first inning of the game on defense, you need to gather and "take the field" together
Run the bases aggressively and intelligently. Run with your head up, watching the play unfold and then pick up the base coach.
Each time you are on 1st base you are thinking on a base hit I am going to 3rd. When you are on second you are thinking score.
TALK! TALK! TALK! When you are on defense you HAVE TO COMMUNICATE! ALL TEAMS WERE HORRIBLE IN THIS DEPARTMENT
Down in the count with two strikes, PUT THE BALL IN PLAY. Hitters must adjust their approach and "mind set" and make contact
1st baseman must "attack" the ball and come get it when a left handed pitcher picks off a runner at first. We were miserable at this !
Infielders, take pride in your throws to first during warm-ups. I was severely disappointed in the way you threw across the diamond between innings
Pitchers and 1st baseman must communicate clearly when there is a play involving the pitcher covering the bag. Both must hustle and TALK !
SLIDE! SLIDE! SLIDE!  You MUST realize how "little league" it looks when you do not slide! Scouts eyes roll back when you go "crashing" around the bases
KNOW THE SIGNS FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! You are in HS now and our signs are as BASIC as they get. Thats embarrassing.
Eliminate 4 and 5 out innings. In one game we had a 7 out inning followed by a 5 out inning.
Infielders, slow roller when a man is on first, forget the double play, go to first and get the sure out
ALL position players, know "when" to make a throw and "when" to just get the ball in
Marginal job lining up cut off men for relays. TALK to relay man and relay man turn your head around to be aware of where you are
Pitchers, with man on first you must communicate with middle infield as to who has the bag on a come backer (double play)
Outfielders adjust from hitter to hitter, even pitch to pitch. ALWAYS aware of how many outs, the count, and situation. PRO-ACTIVE
Infielders turn around and tell OF's how many outs after each batter. Not because they "forget" but it shows you are in the game as well. TALK
Middle INF's, IT'S YOUR JOB TO CATCH the throws from the catcher. In between innings, on stolen base attempts. GET IN THERE and catch the BALL !
Pitchers  & Catchers use an automatic "shake off" sign. Obvious fastball counts are a great time to show the hitter a "shake off"
Pitchers, NO TWO OUT WALKS ! THATS HOW YOU GET BURNED !
Base runner at first on hit and run. If batter lines out or bloops one in keep running. Get back to first on a long drive or high pop, otherwise, RUN!
Batters, get down base line. Scouts have the watch on you at all times whether you get a hit or not. GO HARD (notice some of the times next to guys names)
SHOW ATHLETICISM AT ALL TIMES
Pop-up priority. There is a protocol or who has priority over who when the ball is hit in the air. CF over LF & RF, OF over INF, SS over all other INF, 2B over 1B, etc
Infielders, know the speed of the runner. Knows which batter in the order is up at the plate and what position he plays
Outfielders, know the speed of the runners on base. A fast runner on second with two outs is going to score. Get ball into the INF to hold batter from taking extra bases
Exceptional base runners anticipate the ball in the dirt and read the "down angle" of the baseball when it leaves a pitchers hand. ANTICIPATE
Recognize the strategic "chemistry" of your team. Understand the offensive and defensive dynamic. Some teams have more offense and will score more runs, etc..
Runner on first, when you get he steal sign with a left handed pitcher on the mound you "go" on his first move. Don't wait until he "kicks and goes home"
On throws to first with no one on base, the 2B, C, P,  RF all need to be backing up first base in case of errant throw
Base runners must "shut it down" when given the steal sign and the pitcher uses a slide step on that pitch
Black Lexus RX330 was parked down at the baseball parking lot rather than the paved lots on Saturday. Please don't do that anymore
Base runners don't "wander" off bag for ANY reason. You've got to know whether you are safe or out from the umpire
Middle INF's, know where you are supposed to be on "forsure double cuts" and get there. You are in HS now and need to be well-rounded at your position.
Hitters, when there is a runner on third, less than two outs, you have got to put the ball in play to score the run
DEFENSE, don't make unnecessary throws
ABC Texas vs ABC Red, the first inning of your game took almost 30 minutes. Way to long

 

posted May 10th, 2004

I want to summarize a few thoughts and observations I made this past week both during our workouts and our games Saturday.

some of you received an e-mail from me after your practice session last week and I would like to share one with you at this time:

Great to see you and have the chance to watch you work last night.

After the workout, the coaches and I meet to recap the sessions for that evening in an effort to stay on the same page regarding each player.

One thing that came up from each of us was how impressed we were with your obvious skills, but, we did not get a good "feel" for your interest in listening or applying some of the things that we were working on.

By all means you were doing nothing WRONG. I offer you this feedback so that you have a better sense of the types of impressions coaches receive back when working with different ball players.

First and foremost, I respect your talent and your willingness to work at your skills to improve. Like the others, your "game" needs improvement. All areas. Tools, execution, and presentation.

Here, I am referring to your presentation. Part of my role is to help ball players recognize areas that need improvement and often times this area goes neglected.

Coaches are human. I am not saying that it is right, but many will "read into" a players demeanor. I want each player to be in tune with the kind of messages they are sending because ultimately, your baseball career (in many ways unfortunately) hinges upon what "others" (HS coach, college recruiter, scouts) observe and formulate about you. It is a very delicate process

Again, all is well.... I just wanted to pass that along. See you Saturday :)

This ball player took to heart my message and came out Saturday and again yesterday at our workout and was AMAZING! Pointing out the tiniest of detail made all the difference in his approach and guarantee it is going to pay off !! I am proud of his ability to process what was said and make an adjustment.

Second example:

As always, it was a pleasure to have the opportunity to work with you and watch you train last night. I wanted to let you know that I really appreciate your focus and your very apparent desire to improve and make adjustments.

You are a very talented ball player and you have a tremendous amount of athleticism. Right now, in my opinion, your focus should be on "fine tuning" different areas of your game. Drag bunts, putting the ball in play EVERY TIME you go to the plate, consistent throws to your target (EVERY TIME). You already know "HOW TO" do all those things..... now it's time to be more consistent :)

On another note, keep working on becoming more comfortable making eye contact when we talk or when a coach is talking. At times, I feel that you tend to "shy away" with your eyes.....

When you look someone in the eyes and keep that contact, to me, it communicates confidence and a sense that you are intent to listen to what that person has to say.

You're doing a GREAT job and I look forward to lots of good work !

Obviously a different "tone", yet still, in my opinion, something to work on.

Make no mistake, baseball, in my world, is less about "x's and o's" it's about making adjustments. Baseball affords us the opportunity, if we choose, to parallel life a little bit and often exposes what exactly what we are made of. When the going is "good", well you know "life is good". When times are rough, again you know "stay out of my way". Life's got it's own curve balls and pop-ups to the catcher.......lets prepare for both.... SHALL WE?

Saturday's games...

Let me focus, at this time on one tiny.... YET painfully obvious reality. We (players, coaches, parents) want our ball players to be "noticed". May I ask, "noticed for what?"

As I stood out in the middle of the field and observed, stop watch in hand, and at times as I observed from the sidelines, here are something's that stood out:

-Josh Troyer means business when he is at third playing defense. HE COMMUNICATES! LOUD! Reminding guys how many outs, etc....

-Steve Gonzales was not in the game for the first 4 innings but kept himself loose and in the game the whole time by swinging the bat back behind the dugout and staying in the game. Hustled every play in right field backing up 1st base on throws to first.

-Burns and Whiteley threw strikes like that's all they know how to do. GREAT tempo, excellent job.

-Steven Mazur takes pride in his position at 3rd. Hustled on and off the field, communicated how many outs, talked and encouraged his pitcher and other teammates, etc...

-NOBODY plays harder than Michael Wright! Busts his tail ALL the time. Made a Big League throw to 2nd on a guy trying to take two on a single.

-Kenny Matthews, great tempo on mound... "give me the ball, lets go" I LIKE IT !!!

I could truthfully go on and on and will have the remainder of the observations posted. Each player by name will have comments out to the side.

NOW, as I said, each ball player wants to be remembered...wants to be noticed....

(Today, I have CHOSEN to leave names out, but.....)

So Saturday, "you", were remembered by the scouts in the stands for:

-Struggling to throw strikes early in the count.

-Throws off line to your target resulting in errors and runners reaching safe (INF's, OF's, Catchers)

-No communication AT ALL !

-Not sure "where to be" or what your responsibilities are when you are the cut off man, backing up a base, etc... (P, INF's, OF's)

-POOR POSTURE! You would be embarrassed to know how many OF's and INF's we had with their hands on their hips, looking "non-athletic", and basically not looking ready.....

-There were a few cars parked down by the baseball field even AFTER I instructed everyone to please park by the gym or in the other paved lot (yes, I watched you do it)

-There was a Burger King cup left on my field. Big deal? Sure, I take pride in the facilities I own and operate. I, personally, wouldn't DARE leave trash on your living room floor.

-Base runners not sure how to react to certain situations (hit & run, secondary leads)

-SHOW Athleticism !!! OOZE with ATHLETICISM !!! I used the stop watch to time everyone running from home to first. Lets just say...... no so good. VERY LITTLE 100% effort !

Okay that's enough.

Understand the exercise please.

These are the "messages" ball players send.

Perception is a very delicate thing. I intend to help "expose" you to the realities of the actions that "speak volumes".

Coach Prater

 

 

posted Nov 1st

It has been said that failure is essential to the learning process. I seem to learn more after I have failed than before I failed. Although these lessons may hurt, rebounding after the failure can benefit us tremendously. There have been many people who have not been successful simply because they have successfully FAILED to FAIL or avoided failure at all costs.

 

Texas Tech Showcase

 

Situation:  runners on 1st & 3rd

Lesson: Outfielders, unless ball is hit directly at you or takes you in toward home, throw goes into 2nd base. A long throw home with no play will result in the runner at 1st advancing.

Base runners, be aware of how the outfielders react to this play. A long unnecessary throw home could result in your tagging up and advancing to 2nd.

 

Situation: Pitchers need to understand and anticipate which base to back up on a base hit. You always have a responsibility.

Lesson: Although we never assume a bad throw to a base, we need to anticipate one. With runners on, after each pitch and contact is made you should be moving off the mound to back up. With runners on 1st & 2nd and a base hit you position yourself between 3rd and home and then read where the throw is made before you commit to backing up.

 

Situation: Coach gives you the hit and run sign

Lesson: Hitters, just concentrate on hitting the ball on the ground. If it woks out that you hit it through the hole where either the SS or 2B are covering the bag then fine.

Base runner at 1st, this is not a straight steal. You must make sure the pitcher is going home, especially with a left hander on mound.

 

Scenario: Pitcher & catcher got together and threw 3-2 curve ball to the lead off batter.

Lesson: 3-2 curve balls are not always a bad idea, but to the lead off batter of the game is.

In three ball counts a pitcher must rely on their #1 pitch. A walk in this situation puts a potential threat on the base paths.

 

Scenario: Pitchers, runner on 1st or runners on 1st & 2nd

Lesson: Communicate with middle infielders regarding regarding who has bag if ball is hit back to pitcher (double play) Pitchers should initiate this communication (typically a gesture of pointing at each other) but middle infielders should tell pitcher to step off rubber if they fail to do so.

 

Scenario: Players coaching 1st base.

Lesson: Take an active role. You are there to do a job, not just stand there. Communicate where the 1st baseman is, when a pitcher moves to throw over to first yell back, remind how many outs, offer congratulations, etc...

 

Scenario: Outfielders ALWAYS throw THROUGH the cut off man.

Lesson: When throwing to a base, a strong accurate throw THROUGH the cut off man allowing him to have the opportunity to cut the ball or not freezes the trail runners and batter on the base paths and helps prevent them from taking extra bases. A LONG HIGH throw gives them a better chance to advance.

 

 

Scenario: Dugout awareness

Lesson: Each player, whether in the line up or not, has a responsibility during the game. Those in the dugout need to be in tune with what is going on in the game as well as the responsibilities of those who are not playing.

Ex. Warming up left or right fielder, shagging foul balls, coaching 1st base, warming up pitcher, encouragement, etc.....

 

Scenario: Uniform is on and stays on the minute you arrive at the all park until the minute you leave. Pants, jersey tucked in, hat on straight, tennis shoes, etc...

Lesson: Those who choose to dress or undress at the ball park or in the dug out appear sloppy and unprofessional. You are representing a TEAM. The ball park is not a dressing room.

 

Scenario: Batter & base runners, when running bases, find the ball and run with your head up.

Lesson: When you have an acute sense on the base paths you become your own base coach. You have the best feel for whether or not you can advance to the next base successfully. By the time the coach assesses the situation and relays it to you, t could be the difference between in a bang bang play.

 

Scenario: Use two hands when catching pop ups.

Lesson: Sure, it helps to secure ball in glove but equally as important, if you drop the ball, you wont have to hear in unison from those watching ... USE TWO HANDS!!

 

Scenario:  Infielders turn to the outfielders after each time the ball is put in play and remind outfielders how many outs Outfielders do the same to each other.

Lesson: Helps communicate how many outs as well as displays a sense of communication and team work and that cant hurt.

 

Scenario: Pitchers get off mound quickly to field balls back to you. Set, move feet, throw.

Lesson: You have time but the more time you take to get to the ball and get rid of it you (1) slowly create the need to hurry (2) the longer you take, the closer the runner gets to 1st. If you make a throw that is a little off line or up the line towards home you risk getting your 1st baseman tangled up with the runner.

 

Scenario: Teammates, do not tell your pitcher to throw strikes.

Lesson: Come on ______, throw strikes seems to be the #1 phrase ball players choose to hurl at their pitcher. STOP. (1) Trust me, HES TRYING ! (2) Pitchers are human, when they hear this (I know because I have asked several), there is a tendancy to thnk to themselves no kidding, Im trying, etc.... thus further distracting them from their job at hand which is ...... to THROW STRIKES !

 

Scenario: Batters, HUSTLE out of the box lie you are going to second everytime. Make the outfielders stop you.

Lesson: Hstling puts pressure on the defense. Added pressure at times can create mistakes.

Scenario: Pitcher and catcher get together on signs before you take the field in the first inning. Dont wait until after the catcher throws the ball down.

Lesson: Going over signs, signs with man on second BEFORE you get out on the field allows you to take as much time as you need to get on the same page and shows that you two are on top of you game. Waiting until after the throw down breaks into the tempo and rhythm of the game.

 

Scenario: Base runners, when you are on second base and there is a base hit to left come hard around third base. The third baseman is the cut off man and will be out in position to cut the throw home with no one on the bag. Added pressure on left fielder to get ball into infield can lead to a bad throw or a throw ALL the way home and allow the batter to advance to second.

 

 

posted Oct 28th

Perfect Game game #1

Scenario:Top 1st ABC on defense, 2 out man on 1st. Picked runner off, couldnt execute run down, safe at second; runner went on to score on bloop single.

Lesson: cant give teams 4 outs in an inning. Good teams finish each inning strong, right to the last out.

Scenario: Bottom 1st- ABC had man on second, 1 out. Failed to get run across plate with middle of order up. 2 Ks

Lesson: Good teams answer back and take momentum back in their favor. Middle of line up. You are there for a reason. With two strikes you too must shorten up and make something happen.

Scenario: Top 2- men on 2nd and 3rd, 2 out. Grounder to SS, unable to get out at 1st.

Lesson: another 4 out inning..

Scenario: Top 3- 2 strikes on 1st batter, batter hits double. 2 strikes on next batter, batter hits routine grounder to 2B , ball goes between legs.. run scores from second.

Lesson: another 4 out inning. Errors happen.. some are more costly than others.

Scenario: Defense was not executing very well behind pitcher. Pitcher was showing up teammates with hand gestures and verbal comments

Lesson: Nobody goes out on the field trying to make errors. PITCHERS, dont show up your teammates. Remember, they are your line of defense.

Scenario: Down by three runs late in the game. Runner on base, batter gets a hit that knocks in run BUT gets over aggressive on base paths and gets thrown out trying to make something happen.

Lesson: Base runners, know when to and when not to be overly aggressive on paths. In that situation we needed base runners.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Texas Tech Showcase

 

-Your not playing REC ball anymore. Pick up your intensity.

-play with intensity

-as soon as you arrive at ball park, get your spikes on and look for ways to begin to prepare for game.

-Display a sense of dug out awareness. There should always be someone coaching 1st base, playing catch with the left or right fielder, chasing foul balls on our side of the field

-Lay off 1st pitch off speed

-Pitcher, catcher, 2B, RF all hustle to back up 1st base on throws to 1st.

-Pitchers be aware of defensive players before you toe the rubber. They might not have gotten back into position by the time you are ready to throw the next pitch.

-Cut off men, have a sense of awareness as to where you are in relation to the base you are lining up. Dont rely on directions from teammates.

-Batters that hit behind players that can run, be ready for fast balls if they reach base ahead of you.

-Pitchers must vary moves and tempo to plate with runners on base.

-1st baseman must be aware of what the runner at 1st is doing at all times and communicate when he is stealing.

-AVOID 4 OUT INNINGS

-Players, when asked a specific question, give specific answer. Avoid talking back at all costs; this shows disrespect. If something needs to be discussed, WAIT !

-Catchers, man on 3rd, strike three in dirt. You have got to LOOK & freeze runner on third before you throw batter out at first.

-Hitters have got to have a plan when you go to the plate.

-Take off out of dug out when it is time to play defense.

-Base hit that lands in between two players (ex: ball lands in shallow outfield  between 2nd baseman and right fielder), the player with the stronger arm should pick up the ball.

-Catchers, recognize WHEN you HAVE a chance to throw a runner out at second or when you should just hold the ball.

 

Perfect Game

Game #2

-Pitchers vary tempo to the plate. Good base stealers will pick up on your routine

-Pitchers, KNOW THE RULES RELATED TO PITCHING !!! (balk, appeal, etc)

-Pitchers, throw over to first when a runner reaches !

-Pitchers HUSTLE to cover bags

-SS/2B be aware and communicate regarding cut off & bag coverage responsibilities

ex: who has the bag and who goes out to be cut off man when this happens..

-1st baseman, once there is a base hit, always be looking to back up a base or trail a runner. MOVE around

-Base runners, when running to first RUN HARD !!!! Get out of the box like you are going to second everytime !!!  Its 90 ft to 1st and it takes you less than 5 seconds to get there NOW COME ON !!!!!!!!

-Pitchers have GOT to have a STRIKE OUT PITCH

-AVOID 4 out innings !

 

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