The Science of Scouting

By: Austin Alexander – October 16, 2011 Topic: The art of evaluating and the science of projection. Any scout worth his salt will tell you that experience certainly helps and it is not an exact science at all, most evaluators recall their “misses” over the years more than their finding “diamonds in the rough”. There is no question that the more baseball one sees, the more you understand the game… also how to ‘project’ a player’s future. But there are several things that I want to address here for the layman that are sure that he/she has it all figured out. Definition: First, there are the several aspects of the term “scouting”. What are you looking for? Are you trying to replace an infielder, find the next superstar in Omaha, the next first-rounder or the next perennial MLB all-star? Or are you attempting to create a game plan against an opponent through citing weaknesses? Perhaps you are doing a lesson with a player or working an instruction camp. All require different scouting binoculars. Pro Scouts: For example, take the same scout that is evaluating a high school senior or college junior prior to the draft. When it comes to projection, you need that collegian to be much more polished at the present time, whereas the prep guy can be a little more raw, but has similar, or more, upside. During the summer, that same scout may be assigned some minor league games to follow up on players he once saw as an amateur or that may be the conversation in future trade talks for his organization. A week later, this same scout may be at Major League games eyeballing players in “the show”. His aim on that trip is to detail tendencies on players to put together an “advanced scouting report” in the event they match-up against that given club in the post-season. To recap that scenario, same scout, four different assignments, four completely different sets of eye adjustments that he must make to fulfill the requested task. College Coaches:  High School stats don’t matter, even if your scorebook person is “really tough”. Bottom line, too many outs land for extra base hits, too many double play balls get through the infield for singles, and most line-ups may have minimal (if any) college hitters in them. Each of these aspects skew prep stats for hitters and pitchers. College coaches must project whether that slider will miss DI barrels, if that swing path will turn around quality fastball’s in the Peach Belt Conference or if that shortstop will be good enough to win in Grand Junction. College coaches are safe in assuming that a prospect will put up good numbers, their knowledge comes into play when looking into their crystal ball on his own education in the game. With all of the things that college coaches must juggle, they also have to determine their need, their financial availability, the prospect’s grades, roster spots… and of course, if the player is good enough to play in his program. Diamond Prospects: When we attend high school games, we do not evaluate a freshman, like you do a sophomore, a junior, a senior. The age of the player largely affects our estimation as to how that player “projects”. That’s why having rosters present are so imperative but that a topic for another day! Here at DP, our guys pride themselves on seeing plenty of higher level baseball beyond high school. If one is going to safely put their name on a guy and predict his future, then you better know what baseball looks like past high school. AA’s Soapbox: Over my history of dealing with ‘xyz’, way too many prep coaches and parents deem a player as a DI, DII, JC, pro guy, etc. How can you honestly make a remark of that magnitude when you have not seen a college or pro game with any frequency? And not just watch the game, dissect the breaking ball, examine the swing and watch the game with a radar gun and/or stopwatch? In other words, see on-field action through more than just a fan’s eyes, which are very result-oriented. During the spring I am unable to see as much college baseball as I’d like to. During the fall I make an effort to see as much as I can, be it a practice or scout day for every level of college baseball. Even though most of my background is in college baseball, if you see as much prep ball as I do now, it’s real easy to be lured into the world of pseudo-talent. With some regularity, I find it necessary to clean up my eyesight and be reminded of what wins in college/professional baseball. I do it simply by making a point of leaning on cages during BP, hitting fungos to very good infielders and bearing down behind the plate to see quality arms. Another important thing that I always walk away with is seeing kids that I have been watching for 6-8 or more years. I think back to how I projected that player once upon a time, then self-grade myself on how he has turned out. Sometime you nail it, sometime you miss. But I will always maintain that educational misses are a little easier for me to accept. Beware: I caution anyone offering his (or her) opinion to classify a player as a “definite” DI, DII and JC prospect. It is true that some guys just ooze of tools and talent but I hear the above expression at nausiam. Bottom line, there are DII clubs that are more talented than some DI programs and JC’s exist that could win games against DI teams. When we write up a player, we don’t pigeon-hole them into a certain level of the college game. That can become a dangerous and foolish proposition. Don’t Say This: When talking to a college coach/pro scout, refrain from these comments… “Well, he can’t play at University X, but he can …

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Let Freedom Ring

By: Austin Alexander – October 3, 2011 -Let Freedom Ring- It only happens every two or three years that I chime in on a personal matter. In this case, it may be a situation that many families are dealing with on some level. My only sibling is a little brother, he has a name, it is Myles. He will always be my little brother, even though he is 5-11/192 and chiseled like a Greek God. He used to terrorize me and I would boss him around too. But 99 percent of the time, we were playmates around the house and very successful teammates in the backyard! Myles eventually became a solid player in his own right. As an outfielder at the College of Charleston he earned the nickname "Bull" for his tendency to run face first into walls and fences in pursuit of fly balls! He now resides in Beaufort and has covered a number of games for DP over the years too. This week my ‘little’ brother turned 34 and will report to Afghanistan as an officer in the Air Force, with his baseball glove packed in hopes of using it at some point. He has turned into the man that every parent raises their child to be. He would also look better in a baseball uniform than anybody that will wear one this year!  My family was able to spend this past weekend in Charleston with he and his wife, Liz. On Saturday, he and I took my oldest son to the College Charleston intra-squad practice. Both of us had once played with head coach Monte Lee and Coach Lee kindly shared the dugout with us, it was a great day! But on this Friday, Myles and others will begin a mission in a foreign country to defend our nation. We are so fortunate to have brave people to leave their ego’s in the United States then board a plane and dive directly into enemy territory. It takes a special person to consider doing that… it takes a true warrior to actually enlist and carry through with their patriotism. Myles and I watched several baseball games together this weekend and it was surreal when he made it clear that none of these games made a difference in the grand scheme of things. Myles was correct, there is a much bigger game being played outside the white lines and beyond our borders. It was a very emotional moment for me when I had to depart from Myles on Sunday morning. He assured me that he would be okay because, in his words, "You forced me to be tough, I will be fine." This weekend was a good break away from my sense of normal to get a feel for reality. If you are reading this final line, then you probably agree: Tonight, say a prayer for our country, our soldiers and their safe return home, Amen. .

A First Round Experience

This past fall Taylor Guerrieri landed at Spring Valley High School and a scouting frenzy followed. When a prospect of this caliber is on campus and is in uniform, quite a bit of pressure can befall teammates but especially the coaching staff. Charlie Wentzky is now the AD at AC Flora, but in the spring of 2011, he was in charge of managing the circus that became "Guerrieri-palooza". Wentzky took time for DP for a Q&A to take us into their implemented program and his job of juggling this new responsibility. This article will serve as a blueprint for future coaches of high-rounder’s, for the rest of us it is simply a very interesting read. Q. Did you know how good he was when he transferred, or when did you realize what you had? A: Did I know? Yes. Did I completely grasp how good he was? No. I knew he was a highly projectable pitcher and had been in the mid-90’s at the Palmetto Games. I had heard that he was in the mid to high-90’s over the summer in a game, so I knew that he was pretty good. I didn’t understand how good he was as a position player and/or athlete until our first day of fall practice. For me, the realization of how good he really was as a pitcher came in late December when he threw his first bullpen for us. That’s when I saw how much movement he had and was able to see how easy his mechanics were. Our first scrimmage was when it all came full circle for me when he was 94-97 MPH for two innings. That night I knew that everything around him could get real crazy this year. Q. Were there any worries on your end about him coming? A: Absolutely. I had two main concerns and was put at ease with both of them fairly quickly. I never had the concern if he would help us. I knew that we had just gotten better on the mound and knew that we added a quality player to our team. My first worry would be how well he would fit in with our guys and how they would receive him. That was put at ease when on his first day to conditioning (first day enrolled in the school). I was walking to the field and saw him talking to a few guys that he had played with previously. Next thing I know, there were 10 kids in the circle and they were all laughing and talking like they had known each other for years. The next day he walked into conditioning with three kids that he had just met the day before and they were carrying on like they had been friends for years. My second concern was how he was going to be from an ego standpoint. You hear a lot about high school kids who are projected high in the draft being all about themselves, so I was concerned that he would be that way and use us to enhance himself. However, I couldn’t have dreamed of him handling the situation any better. He embraced our program, the goals of team, and emotionally put as much into it as our kids that had been there for 5 or 6 years. He never made the season about him or the draft. He just wanted to win like everyone else did. He fit in well and I am not sure that I could have scripted the situation any better. Q. At what point did professional scouts start contacting you about Taylor? A: Late November once word was out that he had transferred to Spring Valley.  Q: How frequent was that contact then and during the year? A: Before the season started it was an occasional contact and mostly from guys that I have known for a few years. Once the season started, it became a weekly thing and it varied from team to team. Some scouts would call weekly to check in, some would come over and say hey at games, and others did neither. Q: How did you get your info out to the professional scouts? A: Gary Randall, who is the area scout for the Major League Scouting Bureau, set up an email distribution list and sent it out every Sunday. This included me and every professional scout who covered the area. I replied to this email so that everyone who covered our area would get it all at once. I had to relay when he would start, how long he would throw and how he was feeling after the last start. What I tried to do was map out three weeks for them, so that they could plan ahead as well. I knew that if I did it week to week, that I would get 25 plus individual calls or emails wanting to know when his next start was and I didn’t want to deal with that. I still reminded them every Sunday of the upcoming week just so they could feel at ease that the schedule hadn’t changed.  Q: Along the same lines, did you learn anything about a scout’s job that you didn’t know before? A: Without hesitation, yes. A lot of people think a professional scout just goes and watches players and reports back to their team what they saw. They do that but, they are also assisting their supervisors, scouting department, cross checkers, and even general managers with getting info to watch certain guys play. So in doing this, they have to be 100% sure that a pitcher is going to throw on a certain night. I would imagine that it is easier with a position player because they will play unless it rains. Once I understood this, I was able to understand why they wanted to know so much in advance, and why they would often call the day before just to double check my info. You are talking about guys flying …

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A Champion’s Tribute: Sumter Gamecocks

By: Brooks Shumake – June 21, 2011 Coming into the 2011 baseball campaign, our team, as every other team, was setting goals and making strategic plans to make them come to fruition. The Region Championship is always our first goal. We began to work towards that goal with intense instruction and hard work and commitment.  Sum… The new DP website is here. For all the great DP content, subscribe. If you have any login/subscription issues, please contact our support team. Your feedback on the new experience is appreciated as well. Username Password Remember Me     Forgot Password

Scouting 101

By: David List – June 16, 2011 It’s that time of year again, when we sit down here at DP and compile another ranking list for the graduates in the 2012-2014 class and select a roster for Palmetto Games. As many people already know, it’s not a science. The purpose in this article is to make sure that people understand the process as best as possible and hopefully can appreciate it for what it is. I will now try to tell you what scouting is and what it is not. In a general sense of scouting, there are three pieces to the puzzle. They are Skill, Athleticism and Projectability. The combination of the amount of these three things is different for every player on the planet. No one piece of this puzzle will make you a college or pro player, but the culmination of the three will make you what you are going to be. There are many sub-sets in these three general pieces such as tools, size, weight, make-up etc. Each position on the field requires a different combination of the sub-sets for a player to be successful at a certain level. For example, "Player A" has been an all-star for his Dixie youth program and has always played shortstop, until his try-out for his high school team in the seventh grade. He is fortunate enough to make the "C-team" but is moved to third base. The parents don’t understand why, but the high school coach has deemed his tools as a better fit for the program or his future at third base. Is that wrong? Nope. He has probably done the young man a favor because he will get the reps he needs in a position that fits his tools better. College scouts and Pro scouts will figure out the player’s best fit position also, regardless of whether he plays that position or not in high school or during the summer.  We at DP spend a lot of time on the road in the spring, watching high school contests, analyzing players that we know well and those that we have yet to identify. Contrary to whether you may know me or not, or speak to me at a game, your son will be ranked according to what he shows on the field, his tools, etc. We don’t rank every player that we see because at the time of the viewing we may not have deemed that the player projects to the next level. Please understand that all evaluators do this and the only way that you keep being a respected evaluator is by being objective.  Now let’s look at what scouting is not. This may help you more than what I wrote above.  •·  Scouting is Objective, not subjective. I am a parent of baseball players and there is no way that I can be totally subjective with my own kids. Keep that in mind given I don’t know a scout that is not about their own offspring! •·   Scouting is not Political! Most of you reading this have status one way or another in your community or in baseball programs. Your status is a result of who you are, what you have done, or what you do for the community/baseball program. In those cases your son may benefit more because of those things, but DP/College/Pro scouts will not succumb to political lobbying. In fact, it can red flag a player, doing more harm than good.  •·  Scouting is not about Stats! It’s about tools. Every high school player sees different levels of competition during the spring. Every bookkeeper keeps stats differently. It’s about tools! There is the old adage that "numbers don’t lie" but those numbers were not against SEC or ACC pitching. I tend to believe that the reason the general population gets stuck on numbers is because they don’t really know what else to go by. There is nothing wrong with that and it’s the easiest way to make some judgments about a player. It is one of the last things an evaluator may look at though. Example: I was a first team all-state player as a designated hitter, with a .560 average during my sophomore year of high school. That honor was only evaluated by numbers because I would have had no chance of hitting above .200 in college. I ended up being a 13-0 starting pitcher by my sophomore year at a junior college and was offered a free agent contract at the end of the season. Hopefully that example helps get my point across.  I could go on and on and get much more in-depth about what scouting is and is not. I don’t have all the answers myself and I learn new things every day. Every pro/college scout is in the same boat with the previous sentence and if we had it all figured out, everyone that went to the pro or college system would be highly successful. There would be no college players cut and no guys stuck in double A farm systems. Although we don’t have it all figured out all the time, sending us an email about your son will not help us figure it out either. If we have seen him play, we have a pretty good idea of what we saw. If we haven’t seen him play, the only thing you have to offer us is stats. Enough said.  Take what all of the above for what it’s worth, respect the decisions made by the scouts and if that does not sit well with you, then go out and work hard enough to get where you want to go in the game. Use immediate failure or disagreement as motivation. Almost every single scout is comfortable with being proven wrong and will tip the cap toward the player whose resolve will not be denied. For further information on scouting and DP, please visit our FAQ page by clicking here.

2011: MLB Draft Breakdown

  By: Austin Alexander, June 7-9, 2011 In a year that professional scouts will admit there was more prep talent in South Carolina than recent years, 12 young men managed to have their names called over the three-day event. The longer you follow the draft, the more you think you understand it. Just the opposite is true, however! Any baseball sage will tell you it is really a crapshoot! Many variables come into play when you sit back and look at the picks, the rounds they fell in and the names that get passed over. One term people must understand is “signability”. Especially near the top of the draft. In many cases, most of the players selected in the first 4-7 Rounds are similar in ability. Maybe in the Top 15 Rounds? Conventional wisdom tells you that the first pick in the draft must be the best player and that the last pick is the 1,530th best player in the country. Not so. A player’s signability can vault him near the top of the board; low signability can force that player to fall through the draft entirely. Scouts often spend more time researching a player’s signability than they do evaluating their talent. We’ve all heard of clubs that take a kid in the top two rounds and cannot come to terms with him. Sometimes it is because the area scout has not done his due research or he would have known better than to select that player that high in the draft. But it has also happened before that a player and his family or advisor was not truthful as to their dollar figure. Sometimes a player’s "advisor" or his known desire to attend school will force his draft stock to fall, though he may be a first rounder ability-wise. A couple of examples: In 2006, Florida University first baseman Matt LaPorta fell to the 15th round and 433rd pick of the draft. It was believed LaPorta was a sure-fire first-rounder but in the days before the draft he hired agent Scott Boras to represent him. Boras’ reputation with big-leaguers is well-earned as he has some of the top clients in the game. But, some big league organizations had begun a trend, however, of steering away from his players in recent drafts to avert expensive, drawn-out negotiations. As high school seniors, South Carolina products Justin Smoak and Reese Havens were projected to go high in the draft. In the moments leading up to early picks for the Boston Red Sox, both were contacted once more in an attempt to agree to terms before they were selected. Both declined lucrative deals citing that their intention was to play college baseball. As a result, Smoak fell to the 16th round, Havens to the 29th. Both were later selected in 1st Round as college juniors out of USC.  In each case, though for opposite reasons, these players had a “low signability” tag, thus falling to lower rounds. Clubs have until midnight of August 15th to agree to terms with a draft pick. Some of the early rounders will forego the drama and sign quickly so they can begin their journey to the big leagues. Others will drag it out until the deadline in an attempt to drain every penny out of a club. Many players chosen will continue to be under the watchful eye of the organization that selected them in case they make a significant jump during the summer, in which the club may, then, offer a contract or "up the ante" in an attempt to sign the player. Draft picks are made largely on a players present “tools” and how he “projects” down the road. Many selections will turn the heads of baseball people. More selections will blow the mind of casual fans because the layman only sees black or white, ie. base hit versus out, win versus loss. Understand, just because a pitcher strikes out Tanner English does not automatically vault that arm to prospect status. If a good high school pitcher beats Stratford High School with Taylor Guerrieri on the mound, it does not mean he will see his name on a draft board. When a "punching judy" flairs one into the outfield off of Andrew Faulkner, that does not guarentee that he will even play past high school. If a fast runner steals two bases off of Grayson Greiner, it does not necessarily mean he has a future in professional baseball! See where I am going with this? Scouting is not a science. Players do get over-scouted and some do get over-looked. By in large, however, these guys who scout for a living are good at what they do. VERY good, in fact! They run up tens of thousands of miles riding the countryside away from their families looking for the next David Price and Josh Hamilton. Sure, they’ll miss on guys from time to time but they are still smarter than most of us and their eyes keener than you can imagine. Did they find the next MLB All-Star in our state in 2011? Only time will tell. Below we have broken down the 2011 Draft: *Note: Players accounted for either played high school or college baseball in South Carolina this spring. Selected Day 1 (1st Rd) Day 2 (2-30 Rds)  Day 3 (31-50 Rds)  Total SC Players 2  28  19  49 College players 1  23   13  37 HS players 1  5   6  12 Pitchers 1  14   10  25 Catchers 0 2   3  5 Infielders 0  8   2  10 Outfielders 1  4   4  9 Division I 1  20   12  33 Division II 0  1   0  1 Junior College 0  1   0  1  HS 4A 1 4  4   9  HS 3A 0 1  0   1  HS 2A 0 0 2  2 Rd 1-10 11-20 21-30 31-40 41-50 * 10  11  9  7  12  By College: 11-South Carolina, 8-Clemson, 5-Coastal Carolina, 4-College of Charleston, 2-Winthrop, six others with one apiece.  -2010 MLB Draft in Review- Selected Day 1 (1-3 rds) Day 2 (4-30 rds)  Day 3 (31-50)  Total SC Players 2 29  16  47 College players 2  24   12  38 HS players 0  5   6  11 Pitchers 1  16   12  29 …

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A Champion’s Tribute: St. James Sharks

By: Robbie Centracchio – May 2011 -St. James Baseball: A Champion’s Tribute- Every high school coach reaches closure on a season by looking back and looking forward at the same time. Who are we losing, who is coming back, what did we accomplish, and what could I have done differently? So how do you look back and summarize a fifteen week journey that ends in a AAA State Championship? That’s easy, with a thankful smile. The Beginning: After two successful runs to the lower state, our school received an initial invite to the IP Classic. The week before the IPC, our seven senior college signees were celebrated in a signing ceremony at St James. The ceremony was emotional and each of the seniors (Tanner English, Gunnar Heidt, Anthony Cossentino, Robert Troiano, Roddy Cross, Carl Buddin and Gunnar Kines) deserved the recognition they received. At the same time it ignited a media frenzy that, at times, was distracting and also developed a huge bullseye on our backs. The excitement carried over into the IP Classic where we battled fellow pre-season favorites Brookland-Cayce and BHP. We trailed in both games before making dramatic comebacks, one by the way of a Gunnar Heidt (left) homerun (Gunnar hit three homeruns in the tourney despite going  0-fer in the home run derby). We became the first "local team" to win the prestigious tourney defeating a very good Blythewood team in the finals. We left Georgetown with confidence having met our first team goal, and also aware that each of the previous AAA winners had gone on to win the state championship. A special thanks to the Mike and Alicia Johnson for putting on an elite, first class tournament and to the Ward family for taking care of us during our stay. Regular Season: First home game and the scouts are awaiting our batting practice at 3:15, thank you Mr. Tanner English. A steady theme for the rest of the season is that each and every moment at Shark Park would be captured by some MLB affiliated scout. The first part of our region schedule starts off with a bang and we are rolling right along until we run into a Myrtle Beach team, headed by Alex Roberts, on a mission. We end up losing two region games and needed Myrtle Beach to beat Georgetown in the end to claim our second, consecutive region crown. Not exactly how we intended to end the region season, but we had to fight (and get some help) in order to reach our second team goal (Region Champs), a consistent theme in our season. A late spring break meant that we would participate in the Mingo Bay Classic the week before the playoffs started. After winning the tourney in 2009 we finished second last season to eventual Virginia state champs South County. We made it to the finals where we defeated an up-and-coming Carolina Forest team in the pouring rain. The game was highlighted by back-to- back jacks by Heidt and Robert Troiano (each hit two in the game). What a way to enter the playoffs, three goals set and three goals accomplished. Districts: We matched up with Brookland-Cayce, Midland Valley and Myrtle Beach, quite a district with the #4 seed having been pre-season #1 in the state. We dropped game one at home, and I have to tell you that Michael Gilroy is, by far, the best pitcher we faced in three years at St James. We now faced the task of winning four straight games in five days, or planning our end of year banquet. Two clutch pitching performances by Gunnar Kines and Preston Lane led us toward a return trip to historic BC. The task of defeating them twice, including defeating a well-rested Mr. Gilroy, was what we faced. We won the first game behind Gunnar Kines pitching on three day’s rest. The game was also highlighted by bombs from Heidt and Chase Shelton (one of the best sticks we faced, ps. Sorry for all the changeups Chase). The nightcap was a re-match of game one starter’s Anthony Cossentino and Gilroy, and what a battle it was. Tanner English (right) led off the game with a solo homerun and, in the second inning, made the best high school catch I have ever seen. Going back on a Zach Sightler drive, he left his feet crashing head first into a bar on the outfield fence in centerfield. I remember going out to see how he was and seeing the imprint of the black fence pole on his hat, what a player! He left the game and controversially was not allowed to return. As fate would have it, his replacement, Hugh Benton, would come to bat in the last inning with the tying run at 3rd base, two outs, and two strikes. Hugh fought off a couple of tough Gilroy pitches before blooping a single that saved our season. An already tearful Anthony Cossentino followed Benton with the game winning hit and pandemonium would follow. What a clutch performance by Cossentino battling for the "W" with Gilroy and having six hits in the double-header. Our fourth team goal to three-peat as district champs had been our toughest challenge. What a rivalry we started with BC, each of us ending the others season the past three years. We played each other seven times in three years, and ended up on the winning side five times. Lower State: Our senior’s third trip to lower state felt different following the struggle it took to get there. Using momentum, we beat Hilton Head and snuck by Player Loving and AC Flora to reach the lower state finals. What an experience playing at AC Flora and opposite Andy Hallett. You read about program and coaches online, but to meet them, compete with them, and see how they run their programs is special. We faced them again in the finals at St. James before a record Murrells Inlet crowd, needing one win to play for it all. We …

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Draft Preview: Prep Seniors – 2011

Compiled By: Austin Alexander – June 5, 2011 The workouts have concluded, the notes have been made, scouting miles have been logged and final organizational meetings have been had… and now it’s finally draft time! As we mosey around South Carolina throughout the calendar, we are often asked to make predictions on the upcoming dr… The new DP website is here. For all the great DP content, subscribe. If you have any login/subscription issues, please contact our support team. Your feedback on the new experience is appreciated as well.

DP Spotlight: Heroes Do Exist – Josh Hamilton

 By: Austin Alexander – March 31, 2011 -Hamilton relishes role: Heroes do exist in 2011- In this day and age, it is difficult to find a modern day hero that measures up to our image of what a role model should be versus what he is in reality. I have been so fortunate to spend time recruiting, employing,  playing with, working camps with, coaching, some very good players, people. I have been fortunate enough to attend a ton of MLB games. On Tuesday I took an afternoon/evening to be a dad that transcended everything before that time. In the process I became a fan. Coastal Carolina was set to play an exhibition with the Texas Rangers, not the minor league version, but Friday’s Opening Day lineup of players that were in the World Series just a few months ago. Kinsler, Young, Beltre, Cruz, Andrus and some guy named Hamilton, among others… The Coastal coaches were gracious enough to let my son and me enter the park with them, and grant our access to the ballpark before a sold out crowd rolled in. After my son spent a ton of time playing catch with anyone that would play along, it was pointed out that Josh Hamilton was in the opposite corner, just sitting on a shortened wall. My 5-year-old son and I walked over there just to speak, of course I had a camera in pocket. By the time we made our way over there, Hamilton was cornered by men in suits, but when he saw an awaiting child, he immediately excused himself and made my kid his priority. I spend my life in baseball, and Josh Hamilton and I had rubbed elbows before, but he really had no idea who I was… or my son, Nolan. He asked Nolan a ton of questions for five minutes, Hamilton was as accommodating as anyone could be… much less for a decorated player of his stature. Shortly after we left his inviting area, most of the CCU players (right) brought their balls, bats, pens, cameras, etc to the same corner of the ballpark. Hamilton spent the next 30+ minutes answering questions, sharing stories with them and engaging a swarm of players just wanting to talk baseball. After my son was dragged from the clubhouse with a mouthful of gum, animal crackers and blue Gatorade… it was time for Texas’ BP. Nolan ran out to leftfield, smacked Josh Hamilton on the hind-quarters and spent the next 15 minutes side-by-side with the reigning AL MVP and batting champion. Josh Hamilton’s story is well-documented. Alot of people have had an acquaintance with him. Others may have their own opinion of him, that’s fine. But in an age when heroes often fail you, should not be trusted, plus should be nothing more than just eye-candy for the team you root for, Josh Hamilton is a person that is gifted, has overcome the addictive odds, is comfortable being an icon and very comfortable in his skin. The guy has ZERO ego and is a very easy person to pull for. I am not a huge fan of tattoos. However, Hamilton has been clear that his decorations are a reminder of where he has been. Fine with me! Largely because I am now of the belief that every young player, pro prospect, parent and/or person should have the opportunity to spend five minutes, five seconds in the presence of this guy. Josh Hamilton is celebrated in every city that he arrives in. He is a Rock Star when he walks down the street. He is the poster child of a 5-tool player, a modern day Mickey Mantle… But on a day where he was scheduled for two AB’s following a flight from Arizona, then right back to Texas, this guy took everything in stride and treated it like his first day in a baseball uniform. When Charles Barkley states and, often times, proves that athletes should not be viewed as role models, it is really refreshing to see some superstars embrace the idea of being something bigger than themselves. Thumbs up to a person that embraces his place in the game, even when atop the pyramid of baseball success. His example is a good model for the rest of us that think we have accomplished something in baseball.