-Fall GENERALS Team – Tryouts Age Requirements

FALL 2014 and WINTER –SUMMER 2015

15u Born on or after May 1, 1999

14u Born on or after May 1, 2000

13u Born on or after May 1, 2001

12u Born on or after May 1, 2002

11u Born on or after May 1, 2003

10u Born on or after May 1, 2004

9u Born on or after May 1, 2005

8u Born on or after May 1, 2006

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-TB Rays Maddon on Wil Myers Rookie of the Year – “He hits the ball hard….That’s why he’s a very good hitter.”

Maddon pushing Myers to be better all-round player

“His ability to hit the ball hard,” Maddon said. “He hits the ball hard. That’s what good hitters do. When you hit the ball that hard, you miss defenses. Guys that don’t hit the ball that hard, defenses can cover. Why’s he going to be so good? Because the ball comes off the bat hot for him. That’s why he’s a very good hitter.”

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20140405&content_id=71076396&notebook_id=71088950&vkey=notebook_tb&c_id=tb

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-“The batting average is Satan”…For some…

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130425&content_id=45814282&vkey=news_tor&c_id=tor ….mental approach is far from average “The batting average is Satan.” Let’s just start right there. Of all the disparaging, discrediting and overall disapproving things that have been said in recent years about the statistic we’ve turned to throughout our baseball cognizance, none cuts to the core quite so swiftly and mercilessly. Steve Springer is the man uttering those words. They are the backbone of his belief that a game Yogi Berra supposedly once described as “90 percent mental and half physical” is, indeed, very much conditioned to mind over matter. Springer is both a pro scout and a “performance coach” for the Toronto Blue Jays. His chief responsibility is working with the club’s Minor League position players on the mental side of their approach at the plate, on feeling confident when they take the field. And the batting average, Springer will tell you, can absolutely crush that confidence. “The batting average, for me, is the biggest trap in baseball,” Springer said. “You can do everything right and go 0-for-4. How can that be? You can hit three rockets right at somebody. The pitcher knows you beat him, the pitcher’s mom knows you beat him, but your confidence goes down because your batting average goes down? How does that make sense?” Baseball fans, media and evaluators have gained a greater understanding and appreciation for the other statistical measures of a player’s output. And yet this is still a game inherently built on hits, or lack thereof. When they’re not falling, a sport fixated on failure can eat up even the most strong-minded of men. “I’m telling you,” said Adam Dunn, whose batting average has dropped in recent seasons, “if people didn’t post people’s batting averages on the scoreboard or in the media, people would be batting .400. I’m serious. I believe that. You look at Spring Training, and I know it’s a small sample, but you’ve got guys hitting .500 in 50-60 at-bats. They know they’re hitting good, but they don’t know what they’re hitting.” * * * While Dunn’s hypothesis is impossible to prove, the primary point that must be made here is that batters of every age and rank do pay attention to their batting average, warts and all. They know that even the most consistent of hitters is going to fail, on average, more than six times out of every 10 at-bats. But the ones who can mentally separate themselves from the implications of their average are the ones who can approach each at-bat with a fresh set of eyes. “The approach I’ve started to take over the past year is quantifying success in a different way,” said Reds slugger Jay Bruce, who has struggled with consistency in his career. “Because I ran into the problem where no matter what I did, I was wondering why I wasn’t doing more. Getting in good counts, not getting overanxious, those are things I can control. That’s how I quantify success now. So you’re not chasing the 2-for-4s or 3-for-4s. You’re chasing good pitches to hit and mental preparation and the work you do in the cage.” This is the approach Springer adopted late in a 14-year professional career that netted just 18 plate appearances (and four hits) in the big leagues. Springer realized — much too late, he’ll tell you — that he was overly invested in the results, and not the process. “When a guy is scuffling, it is very rare that it’s a mechanical problem,” Springer said. “Eighty percent of the time, it’s a compete problem, a confidence problem.” Springer came to the conclusion that he was at his best when he worked with longtime hitting coach Tommy McCraw, who was a rover for the Mets when Springer was in their system in the late 1980s. McCraw taught Springer to watch the pitcher, to pay deep attention to what he was throwing in certain counts on that specific day. It engendered in Springer an all-for-one, one-for-all mentality, in which he was as invested in his teammates’ at-bats as his own. He’s been preaching it ever since, recording two audio CDs (sold through his web site, qualityatbats.com) that became staples of pregame prep for the likes of Jose Bautista, Mark Trumbo and Paul Goldschmidt, among others. “If you start hearing those voices saying, ‘You’ve got to get a hit right here,’ the pressure is through the roof,” Trumbo said. “If you keep it simpler and say your goal is to hit the ball hard, you can deal with whatever happens and it makes it easier.” Trumbo has embraced the idea of “wanting the fifth at-bat,” which is a difficult idea to embrace on those days when you’re 0-for-4 and your spot in the lineup is coming due. Just last week, against the Tigers, Trumbo was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts when he came to the plate to lead off the bottom of the 13th inning against Phil Coke. Five pitches later, Trumbo had smacked the ball over the left-field wall, and the game was over. “I can’t tell you how many times you go through a whole game 0-for-3 or 0-for-4 with some absolutely terrible at-bats,” Trumbo said. “The easiest thing to do would be to just shut it down and say, ‘This isn’t my day.’ But if you can keep that mindset that there’s still damage to be done and you can be the hero, that can keep you where you need to be mentally.” Sometimes those 0-for-3 days become 3-for-30 stretches that prompt players to make dramatic changes to their fine-tuned mechanics or approaches. Trumbo went through a miserable second half last season, batting .227 with a .630 OPS after the break, after hitting .306 with a .965 OPS before it. He says he had to remind himself that his swing wasn’t fundamentally broken. “You’ve got to rely on the facts,” Trumbo said. “The facts are that I’ve gotten thousands of hits over my career, from youth on up. They’re going to come. It’s just a matter of when they’re going to come. You’d like the gaps and down periods as short as possible, but sometimes they’re not.” * * * Sure, a positive mental mindset is beneficial, but it can be awfully difficult to maintain over the course of the long season. And handwritten notes or video tutorials, while helpful, are not always handy. Springer, therefore, records an audio file for each of the players he works with in the Blue Jays’ system, so that they can put it on their iPod and listen to it on the way to the park or the cage. “It’s gotten a great response from the players,” said Tony LaCava, the Blue Jays’ assistant general manager. “They definitely embrace the information. Each guy gets his own CD with keys specific to him. It’s not a generic, one-size-fits-all approach.” A little meal money does its own share of talking. At each of the Blue Jays’ Minor League affiliates, three $25 Outback Steakhouse gift cards are given out per team per week to the three guys who log the most quality at-bats. So if a guy has one of those 3-for-30 stretches one week, he can report to work Monday feeling the slate is clean, on some level. What is considered a quality trip to the plate? Anything that falls into one of these eight categories: 1. A hard-hit ball 2. Any hit (Springer himself has his quibbles with this one, as the squibblers through the hole are inherently going to qualify, but he knows every hitter gets them from time to time) 3. Moving a guy over 4. Any RBI 5. A successful bunt 6. A walk 7. A hit-by-pitch 8. An at-bat of eight pitches or more “If you’re not in the hunt for this award,” Springer said, “there’s something wrong mentally.” Springer believes there would be value in expanding the program across the Major League level. “Let’s say every big league team invested $200,000 back into its hitters,” he said. “You offer $100 for every quality at-bat, but only on the nights you win. Let’s say every guy averages two a night. That’s 20 quality at-bats. You’re going to win a whole bunch of games with 20 quality at-bats a night. Let’s say you win 100 games, times $2,000 a night. That’s $200,000 invested back in your hitters to get them to think right.” Money well spent? Well, depends on who you ask. Many organizations have embraced the concept of “quality at-bats,” yet runs, walks, hits and homers have been in decline the last few seasons. Strikeouts have reached historic levels. Proponents of a mental mindset that downplays the importance of batting average, however, believe they are putting their players in a better position to be productive. “So many guys’ self-confidence and self-esteem gets tied to a base hit,” said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, a longtime advocate of “quality at-bat” counts. “It’s amazing that they’d rather hit a ball off the knuckles that dives in-between two diving fielders than hit a line-drive rocket right at somebody. So knowing that’s the mentality, how can we come up with some type of other agenda or grading system that would bring some calmness and some sanity to all of it?” That’s why Hurdle, in his days as a Minor League manager, began marking a “Q” next to guys’ names on his lineup card when they’d log a quality at-bat. It’s a practice he has had the Pirates adopt in their in-house evaluations. “We’ve done research of the last five years in the National League,” Hurdle said. “If you can come up with 15 productive team plate appearances a game, you will win over 60 percent of your games.” Of course, you won’t find such numbers logged on the in-house scoreboard or flashed on the TV screen when a player comes to the plate. The batting average is still the most cited barometre of player performance. But that won’t stop Springer and others from training their minds to ignore it. “My whole thing is hit the ball hard and you win,” Springer said. “Change what you think success is and there’s freedom for your abilities to come out. The batting average has no brain. It doesn’t know if you’re going up with confidence or not. It’s the biggest trap in the game.” You might even say the devil is in its details.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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-The Batting Average – Who Cares!

This was shared with me from a great baseball man, and I am sharing it with you.

The Batting Average

Those who focus on winning today really don’t care that much about hitting the ball hard.

Why?   They know at the younger levels a ground ball has a great chance of creating a baserunner.  At the younger levels a ground ball to the left side of the infield is at times almost a 50-50% chance of becoming a hit.

Since winning is so important, coaches will encourage hitters to hit the ball on the ground NOT in the air.   They will say it takes three defensive plays to get the out.    This is true.    This also does not encourage a hitter to drive the baseball.

My other favorite is coaches that have their players take the first pitch or take to a strike.

The real Sparky Anderson’s out there will have the first 2 batters in the order taking pitches to set up the big hitters in the middle who are allowed to swing away

The reality is drawing walks, taking pitches, and slapping balls on the ground will help your winning percentage, your batting average but it does not help your ability to become a better hitter.

Real baseball people don’t care what your batting average was last season.

I love it when I have a parent contact me and tell me what their kid batted last year.    They will say my kid was pretty good last year, he it .455.

I don’t think I ever had a parent contact me and say my kid really stinks.  It seems like the whole world is hitting around .500.    I DON’T CARE ABOUT YOUR BATTING AVERAGE!

Ironically at the youth and high school levels you will notice the hitters who hit the ball the hardest and the farthest also have a tendency NOT to walk very much.    They don’t walk because they are too busy being aggressive.

A player with speed should utilize his speed by turning singles into doubles and doubles into triples.     The typical coach will tell a fast player to slap the ball on the ground so he can utilize his speed to beat out a base hit.    After about 4 years of hearing this, the hitter has become a slap hitter.

Scouts want to see players who hit the ball hard even when they are making outs.    Can you drive the baseball into the gaps or over the fence?    The difference maker between the best hitters and the average hitters will be how hard you hit the baseball and how often you do it.

When a player swings and misses we don’t see failure like the rest of the world.    We encourage aggressiveness.   If we are aggressive we will fail.

We might not get on first base as much as other teams but we will drive the baseball.   Developing aggressiveness is a direct result of mindset which often is a result of the environment.    Are Dominican hitters aggressive?     Do they grow up looking for walks?     Think about it.

In my opinion hitting a ground ball should be by mistake most of the time.    If you do hit a ground ball it should be the hardest hit ground ball the hitter has ever hit.   We don’t accept weak ground balls or weak pop flies in our hitting system.

The last time I checked major league hitters look bad far more than they look good.   For some reason at the youth level and high school level we can’t seem to get past failure.    We sell out just to slap the ball into play because we are afraid of swinging and missing a pitch because we think it makes us look bad.

If you are tired of seeing your son or daughter not drive the ball with power, stop and think:

A.    Is it because he does not have the genetics to hit the ball hard?

B.    Is it because he lacks the proper mindset, environment, and training?

I guarantee you that your son can hit the ball harder than he does today.

I also guarantee you that much of what’s holding him back is mindset, environment and training.

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Fundamentals: establish a foundation

Often, when making corrections and adjustments with a player’s swing, or when a player is very young and just starting the game, the foundation is critical.  Jason Heyward from the Atlanta Braves shares some insight about his off-season process regarding making corrections to his swing.  I have bolded a few excerpts that address his approach.  He mentions that he did not take a swing at a pitch for several weeks.  At BCBA, we develop the foundation by hitting of a batting tee.  Without developing the rudimentary skills, ball players cannot advance to more complex aspects of the swing.   Hitting off a tee helps promote these fundamentals.

After tough ’11, Heyward goes back to basics

 By Richard Justice / MLB.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Braves are quick to say that Jason Heyward absolutely, positively is not the key to their 2012 season. Got that?”It’s overall offensive consistency,” general manager Frank Wren said, “and certainly Jason is part of that.”

So many things happened to the Braves last season that it would be silly to put it everything on one guy. There were injuries in almost every corner of the clubhouse. There were some slumps, too.

Despite being 26 games over .500 on Sept. 1, the Braves never felt they were the team they envisioned being.

That’s a huge reason Wren didn’t make wholesale changes. For one thing, there was no way he could have fixed all that went wrong with the Braves. Wren believed that the Braves were still good enough “to get to the playoffs and beyond.”

This Spring Training is ending with Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson seemingly past last season’s injuries, while Dan Uggla and Brian McCann could be on their way to monster seasons.

And there’s Heyward.

His second season in the Major Leagues was a nightmare almost from start to finish. In Spring Training 2011, he suffered a shoulder injury that forced him onto the disabled list.

Everything fell apart from there. Pitchers adjusted. He didn’t. At times, the shoulder prevented him from doing the things he wanted to do. At other times, he seemed not to know what to do.

His batting average fell 50 points, to .227. His OPS declined from .849 to .708. His home-run total went from 18 to 14.

The thing that makes these numbers significant is that the Braves still have seen only glimpses of the player they believe he can be. Based on his numbers in the Minor Leagues and the flashes of greatness he showed in 2010, there’s some expectation that he’s going to be the Braves’ next great thing.

He snapped out of a tough start this week with two monster home runs and a fabulous defensive play in center. He had a good winter working with new Braves hitting coach Greg Walker on both his mechanics and his confidence.

“Just a normal Jason Heyward year would be like going out and getting a top free agent,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “You’re seeing an aggressive Jason Heyward at the plate. I didn’t see that last year. Maybe it was the injury. When you don’t feel right, it’s hard to play this game. This year, he has been unbelievable.”

When last season ended, Heyward took a deep breath and started over. He began working with his longtime hitting coach C.J. Stewart, and then with Walker.

With Stewart, he spent a couple of weeks never even hitting a pitch. Instead, they refocused on his approach, swing, footwork, etc. He also lost 20 pounds off his 6-5 frame (to 220 lbs.) because he felt the extra weight took away from his comfort level — both at the plate and in the outfield.

“It was laying the groundwork, starting from scratch,” Heyward said. “Get in your stance. Get comfortable. Everything. It was getting back to the groundwork, the basics.”

Heyward is still only 22 years old, having made the jump from being a first-round pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft to the Major Leagues with just over 1,000 plate appearances in the Minors.

He sprinted from Class A ball to Triple-A in a year, and then was in the big leagues. At times, he was so good and so smooth that he made the game look easy.

“Let me stop you right there,” Heyward said. “It was never easy. I got here with a lot of hard work. There was not one day it felt easy.”

Besides, he said, that rookie year didn’t exactly punch his ticket to the Hall of Fame. He reels off the numbers: .277 batting average, 18 home runs, 72 RBIs.

“That’s nothing to get complacent about,” Heyward said. “That season was a good starting point for my career.”

He spent two weeks on the disabled list with a thumb injury and finished second to Buster Posey in the 2010 National League Rookie of the Year Award voting.

Then, he played through the shoulder pain last April, and after hitting .098 in May, went on the DL again. When he returned, he never really looked like the player he’d been in 2010.

“It’s tough,” Heyward said. “When you’re hurting and can’t make an adjustment, there’s a lack of confidence. When you can’t make adjustments in a game of adjustments, that’s pretty tough. You know what you need to do, but you’re body isn’t able to do it.”

Wren said he was impressed by how resolute Heyward was about putting his game back together.

“I don’t think he could ever feel like he could get on track,” Wren said. “Sometimes you need to get that season over with, and forget it and move forward. To his credit, he started almost immediately when the season was over getting his body in shape.”

His .216 batting average and 22 strikeouts in 74 Grapefruit League at-bats entering play on Sunday don’t reflect how much progress he has made this spring. The Braves hope this last week has been a window into what 2012 will be.

“Right now, it feels great,” Heyward said. “That’s hard work paying off. For me, this spring has been great. I love to work and to practice. It’s great to see it paying off. I had to be patient. It’s definitely a process working back from injury. Now, I feel I’m ready to start the season.”

Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Practice tempo: Make it authentic

This article echoes our philosophy at BCBA regarding practice tempo, intensity, and organization.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Diamondbacks begin their morning with a set of warmup exercises — nothing strenuous, just something to get the body moving. And then it’s out to the practice diamonds for a couple of hours of work on baserunning, bunting, relay throws, pickoff moves, positioning, etc.

D-backs manager Kirk Gibson goes over situation after situation, instructing his players where to go and what to do. He demands they do it fast, too, with the intensity of a game. His pitchers have practiced covering first base so much that they may be seeing the drills in their sleep.

Actually, that’s the whole idea. Every Major League team practices this stuff during Spring Training, and every Major League team talks about how important it is. There’s just one difference with the D-backs: they practice what they preach every single day, over and over and over.

The D-backs spend a couple of hours each morning on fundamentals, and then they knock off for lunch and go take batting practice and play a Spring Training game. Frankly, at this point, the boys could be worn out.

They were worn out around this time last spring, too, and Gibson makes no apologies for it.

“It’s all an exercise of what you want to be able to do,” he said. “It’s the execution, both mentally and physically. I don’t think what I do is unreasonable, and I don’t think we do that much more than anybody else. Maybe a little bit more. I believe in it. I think it helps us. It helped us last year. It’ll help us again. When we go into the season, I want to know what weapons we have for situations.”

The D-backs, who dropped nine of their first 12 this spring, could end up with the worst record in the Cactus League for a second straight year, and that’s a price they’re willing to pay, because Gibson believes Spring Training is about paying attention to details.

“He’s working us like crazy,” veteran infielder Geoff Blum said. “It may not translate into Spring Training wins, just because you’re busting your butt [from] nine [in the morning] to noon and then going out and playing as hard as you can. Sometimes the energy level might drop a little bit. I appreciate the fact that he warned us. He stuck to his guns. I don’t think it’s going to hurt us. It worked last year.”

Yes, it worked last year. The D-backs finished the Cactus League at 12-25, and then went out and won 94 games, making a 29-game improvement over 2010 and going from worst to first in the National League West.

They did it, in part, because they took care of the small things, the very things they’d gone over and over during Spring Training so often. They made the fourth-fewest errors in the NL and allowed the fourth-fewest unearned runs.

They got huge years from Justin Upton, Ian Kennedy and a bunch of others. But making almost all the routine plays was part of the deal, too.

“Doing it so often helps get back into the routine of things,” third baseman Ryan Roberts said. “You’ve got to have repetition and polish everything over and over, no matter how long you’ve done it. There are so many things to work on. During the season, it’ll come about way more times than you think. To have it in the back of your mind, so you just react when it comes up in a game, that’s where you want to be.”

That’s true for pitchers, too. Gibson stresses that they must be able to get bunts down, move runners over, etc.

 

“I don’t want to work around my pitcher in the lineup,” he said. “If I hit-and-run with my No. 8 guy, I want the pitcher to be able to get the guy in, either by a bunt or putting the bat on the ball. We just want to be able to do more things, make big plays. I think that’s all part of it.”

The D-backs believe the essential fundamentals of the game haven’t changed. Executive vice president and general manager Kevin Towers, who has done an amazing job in reworking the roster, is an old-school guy who trusts his scouts and their instincts, judgment and knowledge.

Towers and Gibson put together a coaching staff with men who were once among the most-respected players in the game — Don Baylor, Alan Trammell, Matt Williams, Charles Nagy, Eric Young. There’s almost nothing that’ll come up during the season they haven’t seen before.

“Spring Training is monotonous,” Blum said. “There are only so many ways you can run a cutoff or a relay or a bunt play. They want it ingrained in us. In the stress of the season, you want to be able to just react. You don’t want to think about what you’re doing. I think it definitely helped us last year.”

Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Young arms & curveballs: A scientific twist

Below is a link to an interesting article on the impact of curve balls on young pitchers.  You might find it intriguing.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46720341/ns/health-childrens_health/

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