This is a transitional season as they must tryout for their high school team and hopefully make it. Some players who don't make their high school team lose their heart for playing competitively in the summer. However, if you are receiving this message, I believe that your son will have a very good chance of making his high school team. If for some reason he does not, we would still want him on the team providing he is willing to keep working at it to try and make the team his sophomore year. The program moves to a "college developmental" program at that point and here is how the next three seasons will go. As a coaching staff, we are either friends, acquaintances, alumni or even teammates of almost all of the local college coaches (Kent State, Akron, Ohio State, Mount Union, Wooster, Walsh, Malone, Pitt and more). We also have contacts with professional coaches and major league scouts. That influence continues to grow as we have players who are going off to some of the other schools (Marietta, Miami, Lake Erie etc.). Every year, there will be some players who we will have to unfortunately part ways with as their careers turn away from potential college baseball but we will continue to bring in talent each year to keep up with the competition as the number of team and the player pool gets smaller and more competitive each year of high school.
Coach Rob Beahn will be coaching the boys next season. He is a former Division I college player (University of Pittsburgh) and played professionally for the Washington Wild Things as a catcher. He has been a friend and teammate for almost 10 years and he is very knowledgeable about baseball and the boys will like him. His expertise is in catching and hitting and he will be able to teach the boys quite a bit about the game of baseball and mentor them about becoming a better baseball player and teammate. The current plan is that he would stay with this group for several years as they progress through their high school careers.
The 15u and 16u teams will work out both at the academy AND at the Kent State field house with Coach Beahn and/or Coach Jimmy. We are awaiting the schedule from KSU but it is important to get them into a bigger space during the off-season and that's what we will do. Coach Scott Koenig is the 16u coach and he is in charge of the college developmental portion of our program. In addition to our skills training, we will be offering additional guidance as to how to get recruited such as: speed and athleticism benchmarks, creating recruiting video's of the player, advice on which showcases are beneficial, practice in the drills that are typical at showcases and professional tryouts, introductions to college coaches and professional scouts. This is all to build on the skills that they are already learning and what we are teaching them about becoming good teammates and students of the game.
Freshman year (15u) - This is their first year of playing up to 27 games in the spring for their high school. We follow that up with about a 30 game schedule which includes league play and two or three tournaments over about 6-7 weeks. The roster size grows to 16 and some of the boys may start to play one position only or be a pitcher only, like in high school. We play to win. Playing time is earned. But we still take an instructional view of our program. The boys will not necessarily play each game but they are expected to be good teammates if they are not in the game. If they are a pitcher only, they will not be required to be at each game. The coach will communicate to the boys if they are not needed at games but they are always welcome and you never know when they might be needed. The season is mostly to get them reps and to continue their development but there won't really be any college scouts watching them. The goal for the summer is to get better and prepare for the all important post sophomore and Junior summers.
Sophomore and Junior years (16u and 17u) - These are the two most important seasons when it comes to getting recruited for college baseball. We will play in a competitive league and showcase tournaments (more showcases after Junior year than sophomore year). Showcase tournaments have college and professional scouts present and the boys will start to get a feel for where they might be able to play college baseball. There are a lot of college baseball teams from Division I through Division III, plus NAIA and Junior college teams. If a player wants to continue playing in college, there are many opportunities. There is not a lot of athletic scholarship money available but schools WILL offer academic scholarship money if it is warranted to the players they want. The showcases will give players an opportunity to get in front of a lot of college and pro scouts so they get find out what their options are. Players do NOT need to attend all of the showcases. We will help to guide the parents and players towards enough of them for the right amount of exposure without having to attend every one under the sun. Players should have it narrowed down to 3 - 5 schools when they start their senior school year and probably make a commitment before their senior season is over (or even begins).
The plan is to fill about 10-12 roster spots in the fall and leave 4 - 6 spots remaining for players looking for a team in the spring. We will also be taking recommendations from boys who make their high school teams about serious players who are looking for a team.