2019 Dirtbags Cup June 1-2, 2019

The Dirtbags will host the Dirtbags Cup in Burlington, NC. Please note that this is a wood bat event.

Locations
Southern Alamance High School – 631 Southern High School Road, Graham, NC 27253
Williams High School – 1307 South Church Street, Burlington, NC 27215

Saturday, June 1 2019

Southern Alamance High School
10:00 AM – Bad Company vs. All Blacks (7 innings)
12:30 PM – Skrap Pak vs. Bad Company (7 innings)
3:00 PM – All Blacks vs. Skrap Pak (7 innings)

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Williams High School
9:00 AM – Skrap Pak vs. All Blacks (5 innings)
10:45 AM – Bad Company vs. Skrap Pak (5 Innings)
12:30 PM – All Blacks vs. Bad Company (5 Innings)
2:15 PM – Championship 1-Seed vs. 2-Seed (5 innings)

Testimonial Tuesday: Brett Forbis

Testimonial Tuesday: Brett Forbis

 In a recent conversation with 2021 uncommitted shortstop Brett Forbis about some good times he’s experienced with the Dirtbags, he commented he really enjoyed visiting a “haunted trail” while playing in a tournament in Boone, NC in October 2018. As his team went on to win that event, Forbis has been looking to take his slick fielding to put his own scare in opponents.  

Just a sophomore at C.B. Aycock High School in Pikeville, NC, Brett is definitely a rising star in the Dirtbags organization while standing 5’11” and 150 pounds.  General Manager, Trey Daly dished on him with the following.

“Brett Forbis has been in the program for the past two years, and each year he makes jumps.  He’s continuing to grow and become stronger, which is great news for his future. Brett has barely scratched the surface as far as ability and where he’s going to get to.”

The near future will be with his left-handed swing in the lineup for the 16u Dirtbag squad led by Will James.  And Brett is looking to make more jumps while playing for James, saying he wants to show more power at the plate.  While describing his game now as “fast and explosive” that will make for some combination going forward.

While the immediate emphasis may be to produce more power at the plate, he’s working to build himself into a well rounded player by investing in multiple tools with a plan.  Forbis takes a weight training class at school on top of working with a personal trainer.

Add to that he’s getting some help from a track guru to develop better running form and stretching.  And don’t forget he is routinely at baseball workouts after school, saying “you can never get enough ground balls.

Daly summed it up by saying, “One thing about Brett is he loves the game and works at it.”

When ask why he choose to join the Dirtbags, Forbis recounted it was at an Impact Tourney that he met Trey Daly.  Already having recognized all the good players who were playing on Dirtbag teams he knew he’d benefit from a move to the organization.  He went on to remark that playing with good players allows a player to relax and not have to feel pressure to do it alone.

Though he has time before having to make any decisions on where he will play after high school, Brett said that he wants to attend an institution with academic offerings that match his interests in the sciences.  

Another key point will be the coaching staff as he stated, “I need a coaching staff that will push me and not just tell me I’m good because that’s not going to get you anywhere.”

Speaking of going places, when asked what he likes to do when not on the ballfield, Forbis suggested that hanging with friends and getting to the beach are high on his list.  With Emerald Isle less than 100 miles from his Wayne County home, surely he will get a chance to put his feet in the sand a few times in the summer months of 2019.

But where he will definitely be found is with his spikes on some infield clay while wearing the gold and black and making more moves up the Dirtbags prospect list.

 

Dirtbags Weekly Roundup

Dirtbags Weekly Roundup

Dirtbag Week in Review May 13-19

  1. Edwards wins it with a Walk-off for Marshall

Luke Edwards had a walk-off single in the 10th inning to help the Thundering Heard to a 4-3 victory over Rice on Saturday. 

  1. Goodman Leads Memphis

Hunter Goodman hit two homeruns this weekend and is now up to 13 for the season. He is also leading the Tigers in almost every offensive category.

  1. Clarke semifinalist for Vanderilt

Phillip Clarke was just named a semifinalist for the Buster Posey award which is given to the top Catcher in the country. Clarke is one of 14 in that group. 

  1. Wilson Named Pitcher of the Year for Western Harnett

Bradley Wilson (2019 ECU Commit) was named conference pitcher of the year. He led the conference with 10 Wins and posted a 1.12 ERA in 62 innings. 

  1. Norby Hits First HR for ECU

Connor Norby hit his first collegiate HR this past weekend in helping the Pirates win 2 games and clinch the #1 seed in the AAC tournament this week. 

  1. Johnston and Nelson help lead NC State to Series win

Reid Johnston picked up his 6th win of the season going 5 innings allowing only 1 run. Baker nelson threw 1.1 innings striking out 3 in relief. NC State will be the #3 seed this week in the ACC Tournament.

  1. Walker wins in first start for Mississippi Braves

Jeremy Walker (Atlanta Braves) went 6.0 innings striking out 8 and only allowing 3 runs to pick up his first win of the season. 

  1. Conference players and pitchers of the year will be coming out this week! Be on the lookout for a few Dirtbags picking up some Honors. 

14u Dirtbags Cup Schedule

We will be holding the 14u Dirtbags Cup at Southern Alamance High School located at 631 Southern High School Road, Graham, NC. All players must first come to the Dirtbags Training Center located at 3376 S. Church Street, Burlington, NC at 8 am Saturday morning to pick up their uniforms. Please see the schedule below:

Saturday, May 25
9:30 am – Lebeda v Dickens
11:45 am – Lebeda v Dickens
2:00 pm – Chin Music v Durden
4:15 pm – Chin Music v Durden

Sunday, May 26
9:30 am – Chin Music v Dickens
11:45 am – Chin Music v Dickens
2:00 pm – Lebeda v Durden

4:15 pm – Lebeda v Durden

Instructional Friday: 3 Answers on Pitching

Instructional Friday: 3 Answers on Pitching

The concept of developing a pitching arsenal is sometimes overlooked.  Perhaps it’s due to ignoring some of the complexities that go along with categorizing pitches.  Or it’s an acceptance of “these are the pitches I’m supposed to throw.” Whatever the reason, it makes sense for any pitcher – particularly one in the development stages of a career – to closely consider what pitches may work best and which versions are most practical.  

Factors that can drive these decisions are deep and wide.  Pitchers should seek out expert advice and instruction when making these determinations.  Additionally, the trial-and-error method of finding a right fit will supply the needed evidence as to what the hurler should pursue in working towards command of their efforts.  Simply said, pitchers should never stop learning or even tinkering with their craft. Pitchers need to find what will work, but continue to push to what can help them improve.

On this edition of Instructional Friday, the Dirtbags are going to tap into 3 of its staff/coaches for some direction on pitch development.

  • Brent Haynes – 15u & Dirtbags Director of Player Development
  • Alex Krivanek – 16u
  • Chad Rothlin – 17u

Question 1.

As players work to develop a breaking ball, what should be considered in a decision between a curve or a slider?

BRENT HAYNES – When it comes to picking a curve or a slider a lot of times the arm angle is going to help determine this.  If your arm angle is lower ¾ you will probably have more success with a slider. If your arm angle is more over the top you have more of a decision to make as this arm angle will allow you throw to either pitch and that’s when I let the feel for the pitch come in for a pitcher.  When I talk to kids I want them to pick one or the other and really get a good feel for the pitch. It’s not going to do a lot of good if you have both and neither one is an out pitch for you. So I would rather have someone who has one that is really good and an out pitch than someone who has both and neither is an out pitch for them.

ALEX KRIVANEK – First thing should be the age of the athlete. We never want to start breaking balls to early off. Second should be the arm angle at which the individual throws. It is much more difficult for a 3/4th pitcher to throw a 12/6 curve than it is for a true overhand pitcher. Lastly the velocity the pitcher throws at is something to consider as well.

CHAD ROTHLIN – When deciding between adding a curve or slider to your arsenal it’s important to keep true to your mechanics & arm slot.  Many young players will develop poor habits outside of their normal fastball arm slot in an attempt to make their breaking ball move more, which is the absolute wrong way to think.  This could lead to constant soreness and worst case scenario, a career ending injury. I personally struggled to “get on top of” the ball to throw a curve, so I never developed one. I also tended to put more pressure on the ball with my index finger rather than my middle finger, which made it more difficult to get on top & pull down for a curve.  Do NOT intentionally pull your elbow down to get that extra spin…it never works! Also being a low 3/4 arm slot, it was easier for me to develop a slider since it favors a more horizontal spin that the vertical spin of a curve, which naturally fit better with that slot. In summation, when players start experimenting with the curve and slider make sure you maintain your fastball mechanics, including arm speed & arm slot.  If you have a high arm slot, curves are generally more easy to get the end-over-end vertical spin you need to be effective. Sliders would be more easily developed by lower arm slots. Above all else, which ever one “feels” best and you have the most confident in will usually win over the other.

Question 2.

What are some top tips on throwing the change up effectively?

BRENT HAYNES – The Change-up is a hard pitch for kids to throw these days.  When it comes to throwing the change-up you first have to find a grip that is going to work for you.  When I was learning to throw the pitch everyone told me I needed to hold it as a circle change and back in my hand.  This did not work for me and I had no feel for it like this, even though I’m sure it’s how some people hold/throw the pitch.  For me the grip was a circle change but I held it out in my fingertips. This allowed me to have more feel and command of the pitch and it ended up becoming an out pitch for me in college.  Another thing I see a lot with kids and throwing a change-up is that they don’t allow the grip to help reduce the speed of the pitch, instead they want to slow their arm down to decrease the speed of the pitch which in return is the last thing we want them to do.  So I tell kids find the right grip and when you do trust that grip and throw the hell out of it.

ALEX KRIVANEK – First thing is to get a grip you are comfortable with. Palm, circle change, splitter what are you comfortable throwing. Second is practice throwing it in catch daily. Change ups should look exactly like a fastball but obviously aren’t as fast. You should throw it with the same arm speed as a fastball so working on throwing that when you play catch is a must.

CHAD ROTHLIN – To piggyback off of the previous answer, change-ups are best developed by a comfortable grip, maintaining arm speed, and practice practice practice.  With those 3 things confidence will build and you will maintain the integrity of your fastball mechanics. The biggest mistake young pitchers make in their change-up is intentionally slowing their arm down.  To that I say, NO. That’s the grips job. The whole point of a change-up is to come in looking like a fastball with just a few mph’s taken off of it. Try some different grips until it feels comfortable in your hand and ask you throwing partner what it looks like coming in.  Does it sink? Does it look like my fastball? Does it tail in? If you’re getting “Yes” responses to those questions then you’re on the right track. I tell players often that when they warm up to throw to start with their change-up grip. Since you’re just lobbing the ball back and forth from only a few feet away at the beginning to loosen up your shoulder, you might as well be working on something.  This will help build confidence in your change-up as well as you continue to practice it. Also, when throwing bullpens alternate back & forth between your fastball & change-up every pitch to really get a good feel for maintaining that arm speed.

Question 3.

Most pitchers work off the fastball. How should they decide between a 2-seamer & a 4-seamer? And what about a fastball grip can enhance results?

BRENT HAYNES – Choosing between a 2 seamer and 4 seamer depends on the pitcher.  I would tell a kid to choose between the one that they can command the best and then get the most movement out of.  I was a 4 seam guy with my fingers close together in high school but when I got to college and started playing with grips more I became a 2 seam guy.  I liked to move down the horse shoe some on the seams almost like a split finger. This gave me more sink on the fastball and allowed me to be a groundball pitcher in college.  But again I was more of a 4 seam fastball guy before going to college and didn’t go completely away from that as I felt I could command that pitch (4 seamer) in any count and throw it where I wanted it.  But with grips it’s all about what is going to work for you and give you the best results while you are on the mound.

ALEX KRIVANEK – Find out what one you are most comfortable with and also which one you can control most. It has always been true in baseball no matter if you are Greg Maddux or Steven Strasburg if you can’t control a fastball it doesn’t matter if you throw 88mph or 100mph, it will still get hit. Find which one you can control best and keep working on it. Personally I liked messing with a cutter as well as leaving the ball open on my thumb side so throwing it opposite of most four seamers as I felt I had more control over it that way. Find what works for you as far as grip.

CHAD ROTHLIN –  No pitch is more effective than a located fastball.  This is what you should spend the vast majority of your time working on.  When tinkering with 4-seam and 2-seam fastballs, it certainly doesn’t hurt to mix up grips.  4-seamers will always result in a slightly higher velocity, just based on pure physics. 2-seamers however can add some extra movement to your fastball if you’re struggling to get any out of your 4-seamer.  My 4-seamer was always straight but with a slight tail. I started messing with a couple different 2-seam grips and noticed that with my arm slot I was able to get more of a tail into right-handed hitters with my index & middle fingers touching together & over the right seam.  But when I did the same thing over the left seam it cut into left-handed hitters. Some pitcher experience different results depending on which seam they favor towards or directly in the middle, or with their fingers together or spread apart. Again, it really depends on your own personal “feel” and arm slot that will help you decide what works best.  To get the best results on fastball movement, make sure you are extending down the mound towards the catcher or “finishing” as we coaches often say. This will produce a higher spin rate and in return will equal more movement. I encourage pitchers to try different fastball grips because it only makes you a more dynamic threat on the mound to have another weapon like that in your arsenal.  Of course, others may argue towards the Chick-fil-a method and say master just one grip and be the best at that. I like a little variety though to keep the hitters guessing.

A big thanks to our coaches for their  insight in reference to pitch selection their expertise on some techniques or tactics to gain best results.  Come back next week when baserunning will be our topic.

 

Under The Gun: Neal Henry

Under The Gun: Neal Henry

 The Under the Gun series rolls on with a visit from North Carolina Central University assistant coach Neal Henry.  Coach Henry brings a number of experiences from around the southeastern portion of the country to his position with the Eagles.

What have been the stops in your coaching journey and how have they provided you the experiences and skills to becoming a D1 assistant?

My first job was right out of college and I was named interim head coach at Starkville Academy in Starkville, MS. I was the head coach there for 4 years. After those 4 years, I wanted to share the same passion for the game as the players and knew that I had to start somewhere in college. I moved everything I had (which wasn’t much) to West Palm Beach, FL and worked at Palm Beach State for 2 years. During those 2 years at Palm Beach State, I learned more baseball than I could have ever dreamed of. I would work in the morning, head to practice in the afternoon, and then go watch a HS game that night. During the time I was at Palm Beach, the area I was recruiting was littered with high draft picks. What a lot of people do not know is that a vast majority of MLB teams have an amateur scout just for the South Florida area. Whenever I would attend those games, I would ask baseball questions to baseball people to get their perspective about what they see and how everything works. After those 2 years at Palm Beach, I was offered the job I currently have at North Carolina Central. Being around the game more and asking various baseball people baseball questions has definitely helped me grow. I always try to learn something about the game or about recruiting or about scouting. You are either advancing or getting passed by.  

In considering your current position, share with those joining us what are some of the responsibilities D1 assistant coach may encounter while on the job of working with collegiate student athletes?

The first thing that comes to mind about this question would be making sure everything is about the student athlete. With that being said, we as a coaching staff try to make sure that every individual that decides to come to NCCU will be taken care of off the field as well as on the field. We try to make sure that we are turning boys into men and preparing them for the next 40 years of their life.

As a member of the MEAC, the Eagles play a schedule that has challenges both in and out of its conference. And homes games are at the historic Durham Athletic Park.  What insight can you give us on playing some of these programs in addition to the chance to coach in such a tradition rich venue?

We are very fortunate to have every practice and be able to play every home game at the DAP. Our grounds crew, who has a relationship with the Durham Bulls, does a tremendous job every year. It is a huge advantage to us on the recruiting side as well, especially for infielders. The playing surface really is second to none.

The high school coaches in state of North Carolina have done a great job in producing some fantastic ball players. With that being said, having a tough midweek schedule against historic programs has some great benefits. Being able to play Duke, NC State, and/or UNC always makes our program and team better. Between North and South Carolina there are 28 Division 1 baseball programs, so a lot of our midweek travel is very accessible.

All baseball coaches have their favorites when it comes to instruction.  Give us your favorite skill to teach and what drill do you use to help the player develop it?

With so many drills for specific skills running through my head, my favorite one to teach would be any drill for any skill development that deals with high intensity. What our coaching staff does a great job of is making practice harder than the game. We want a high intensity and fast practice so that during the game, the game does not speed up but slows down. If players are comfortable practicing at high intensity and being able to slow the game down, then they would be successful during the game.

Provide a brief message to youth baseball on where you’d like to see some emphasis or focus as it continues to be a starting point for players who aspire to one day play collegiately or beyond.

Make sure that kids have fun playing the game. It is very cliché but if you asked any coach or any player that has been fortunate enough to make it to a high level, every person would be able to tell you what Little League team they played for. I played for Shell Oil and Georgia Carpet Outlet amongst others. After the game, we would always get a snow cone. Do you want to teach them competitiveness and teach them the game and how to be a good team-mate? Absolutely, but just make sure kids are getting a snow cone or ice cream after the game.

We at Dirtbags Baseball want to thank Coach Henry for his time to share with us about himself, as well as his views on coaching and the game.  Best of luck Coach!

 

J.D. Everett Testimony

J.D. Everett Testimony

Who wants to be called upon to get the job done when it really counts?  Quite frankly, being a “go to guy” is a position for some that can bring some discomfort.  But for others, it is seen as a chance to come through and perform at a moment of truth. Left-handed pitcher  J.D. Everett assuredly ranks in the “go to guy” category and if all goes according to plan, plenty of those moments will be in his future.

As a 2020 lefty, the Wake Forest University commit out of St. Stephens High School in Hickory, NC, seems to be a total package of sorts.  He has a fastball that is regularly in the upper 80’s and the curveball is beyond serviceable.

After coaching Everett on the Dirtbags Skrap Pak squad last year, the organization’s founder and CEO Andy Partin shared a few words that capture J.D.’s abilities and personality, “J.D. is a bulldog on the mound.  He’s coming at you. He’ll pound you inside with the hard stuff and he’ll finesse you with the off-speed stuff.”

In respect to being a “go to guy” Partin added, “J.D. was terrific for us last year.  He was one of the guys we went to in jams. Our staff has so much confidence in him.”

At 6 foot and 195 pounds Everett has simply put himself in this position with hard work.  Having been with the Dirtbags since 9th grade the southpaw says the ability to play with good players on good teams has been tremendously impactful not only from an experience standpoint but also as a motivator to work harder.

In learning more about how he transformed from just being a run of the mill left-handed pitcher into becoming a dominant ACC-bound prospect,the theme of work becomes apparent. His velo was in the mid 70’s as a freshman and his initial efforts to improve got him to 80.  Once he committed to a pitching program that was dedicated to building strength and enhancing movements the numbers continued to climb. Now he works 2-3 hours a day on his body and pitching. He’s finding the results to allow him to throw harder and safer.

His commitment Wake Forest in fall of 2018 seems to have been influenced by this combination of wanting to elevate his game even further and the willingness to do the work. The recent implementation of a pitching lab at WFU was a critical point of interest for Everett. He recognizes the investment the program is taking to allow its pitchers to elevate their performance while also aiding those players to reach the next level.  With the ultimate goal to certainly be professional baseball, matching this opportunity at the collegiate level with a school that offers such a quality academic atmosphere made the decision obvious.

But being a member of the Dirtbags had so much to do with his opportunity to make such a decision according to Everett.  The organization’s ability through its reputation to have connections to serve its players find those best fits is not lost to him.  He mentioned his communications with Dirtbags GM Trey Daly and how he contacted programs about Everett and the interest just blossomed.  Stating, “He reached out and it all happened.”

Before the hurler dons the black and gold of the Demon Deacons, more work is still ahead.  His 2019 high school season didn’t go as planned and Everett wants to be a catalyst to lead to the  Indians of St. Stephens to the playoffs next year. Hoping his hard work will be an example to his teammates he’s excited for what lies ahead for them to accomplish together.  

Until next spring he is planning to pitch a lot with the Bags. J.D. says the summer will be a chance for him to hopefully hit 90 mph on a radar gun and work on getting that curveball sharper to be a close out pitch for more strikeouts.  As for the team, he says the Dirtbags will have a chance to win every tourney.

Partin agrees, saying, “We are going to have to win some big innings this summer and believe me, J.D. is going to be pitching a lot of those.  He’s a winner.”

And that’s all well and good with Everett.  He wants to be in those spots. And he’s ready, because he’s going to do the work.

 

Dirtbags Announce 11u Tryout June 5

The Dirtbags will be holding a tryout for 11u players on June 5 at 6:30 pm. More Details below:

Date: Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Location: Dirtbags Baseball Training Center
3376 S. Church Street
Burlington, NC 27215

Check-in: 6:30 PM

Ages: Open to 11u players only

Registration: Free – Register using the link below

Click here to register

Dirtbags Weekly Roundup

Dirtbags Weekly Roundup

Dirtbag Week in Review May 6-12

  1. Mack is Rookie of the Week for NC A&T

Tony Mack was named the MEAC Rookie of the week for the 2nd time this season! Mack went 9-13 with 4 R’s, 5 RBI’s, 1 HR, 1 2B. 

  1. Roupp named Pitcher of the Week for UNCW

Landon Roupp was named CAA pitcher of the week this past week. Roupp threw a complete game shutout against Elon. He allowed 1 R and struck out 5. 

  1. Sharpe dominates ties career high for UNCW

Zarion Sharp struck out 10 Elon hitters tying his career high. He went 6.1 innings only allowing 2 hits. 

  1. Ashburn named Defensive Player of the Year for BCC

Hunter Ashburn was named the Region X Defensive player of the year. He had just 1 error with 252 putouts and threw out 46% of the runners. 

  1. Toman stays hot For Hammond

Tucker Toman (2022 Oregon commit) Hit his second grand slam of the state playoffs and has helped Hammond to being 1 win away from winning it all. 

  1. ECU clinches AAC regular season crown

With so many Dirtbag alumni on the ECU roster wanted to send congratulations to them for clinching the regular season championship!!!

  1. Seager’s 5 RBI helps propel Dodgers to Win

Corey Seager went 1-3 with 1 R, 1 HR and 5 RBI’s Sunday to help the Dodgers to a win over the Nationals. 

Instructional Friday: 3 Answers On Catching

Instructional Friday: 3 Answers On Catching

INSTRUCTIONAL FRIDAY – 3 ANSWERS ON CATCHING

DATE – 5/10/19

The ability to play catcher at a high level is difficult to master when one considers all of the skills necessary.  The dexterity to receive, the strength to throw and the athleticism to block provide such a broad range that many times catchers may show high marks in one area, yet just be alright in another.  Being able to display the total package in terms of catching often requires demonstrated enhancements to one or more of the defensive toolkit.

This is where sound instruction met with a unquenchable work ethic provides the opportunity to elevate the overall status of a hind catcher. Areas of needed improvement perhaps create a focus for the catcher that wants to raise his standards to improved status. Yet, players must recognize to continue the work in areas where excellence already exists in order to meet the demands of the position as standards are raised; the result of playing at higher levels.    

Finding the instruction and the cues to implementation is where coaching enters the equation.  Thus, Dirtbags Baseball is providing some insight and direction from 3 of its coaches who have played and coached the catching position at a higher levels.  The focus will be on three specific catcher skills: receiving, throwing, and blocking.

The coaches joining the conversation today are the following Dirtbags mentors:

  • Ben Conner – 16u
  • Conner Durden – 14u
  • Ben Casillo – 15u

Question 1.

What is a top tip you have for catchers in regards to receiving the ball effectively?

BEN CONNER

My top tip for catchers when receiving would be to catch the bottom outside of the ball allowing the ball to come to you and not extending to get it, catching the ball with a flexed arm and relaxed hand.  Stopping the movement of the pitch as soon as it hits the mitt.

CONNER DURDEN

When it comes to receiving, my biggest focal point is first beating the ball to the spot.  Having a timing mechanism with your glove hand will help you do so. Another tip is to always keep your thumb under the ball.  This ensures good presentation for the umpire and will really help when it comes to receiving the low fastball or breaking ball.

BEN CASSILLO

Two things that go hand in hand:

1) Make sure that you are getting your left eye behind every ball that you catch.

Focusing on this will help ensure that you are receiving each pitch within the frame of

your body, and presenting more pitches as strikes to the umpire.

2) Keep your wrist loose before each pitch. A simple quarter turn down with your glove

will allow your wrist to be loose, and thus quicker and better able to beat the pitch to

the spot. This allows you to be in control, catch the ball instead of letting it catch you.

Question 2.

What are a few of your essentials when teaching a catcher footwork when throwing?

BEN CONNER

The essentials for footwork when throwing is letting the pitch dictate your line.  What I mean by line is the direction in which your feet move in sort of a T motion gaining some momentum towards 2B.  Allowing your right foot to ideally end up stepping directly under where your chin was in your stance. You have to know your pitcher and know what pitch you called with an idea  of what the makeup of the pitch will look like in order to be the quickest with your feet. In doing this, the right hip has to follow the line of where the pitch comes in, motivating your feet adn body around to square position to 2B.  The right hip starts to turn in towards the pitch as it’s on the way to “cheat” with the feet so they’re almost set or are set as the pitch is being received.

CONNER DURDEN  

First off, being in line with your feet and remaining linear to second base is extremely important.  What helps with getting linear is a good jab step/replacement step with the right foot. If that foot can get under your body athletically and linearly, then the rest of the body will follow suit.  Quickness with the feet and depending on your age, the amount of ground you gain are also important. The more mature a catcher becomes and the more arm strength he has, the less ground he has to gain which in turn will help with the quickness of his feet.

BEN CASSILLIO

I love to teach the throwing process as a series of smaller steps:

  • 1st step with the right foot gaining ground towards 2b
  • Stay low so as to maintain your power & potential energy that was built up in their initial squat
  • Exchange the ball in glove to throwing hand, making sure your shoulders are pointed toward 2b
  • Follow through on your throw with a towel instead of a ball or an empty hand to save your arm.
  • Do each step until you feel you have mastered it, then add the next step. Once you have each part down, put it together in real speed & then replace the towel with a ball and practice actually making the throws.

It’s hard to truly focus on footwork if the only time you work on it is when you’re making full throws to a base. Focusing on each step individually, will allow for you to truly make each step feel natural & allow you to master your craft.

Question 3.

What is your best blocking drill for catchers that both enhances the skill and the mentality necessary to stop the ball in the dirt?

BEN CONNER

The best drill for blocking that enhances skill and mentality would be getting in your 2 stance (runners on base stance) adn pre-setting your hands down.  Getting your right hand behind the mitt and making sure the glove is spread open as possible down in the dirt slightly in front of you. The C starts in this position and then drops behind his hands.  This prevents kicking teh legs back behind them when blocking and creates the mindset of glove first. This also prevents the C from jumping forward and gaining too much ground. We can alter this drill through pre-setting the hands to the right and to the left as well as the middle.  Once the hands are preset throw the catcher a block to the direction his hands are set. Don’t move the hands and let the body catch the ball with the belly button as the knees go down to block.

CONNER DURDEN  

My all-time favorite blocking drill has to be the hockey goalie drill.  The catcher sets up in his secondary stance and the coach stands approximately 25 feet away.  The coach can throw the ball anywhere, with any spin, and the catcher’s goal is just don’t let any ball get behind you. This drill is not the best for technical blocking, due to the pace and absence of time to reset but the mentality of this drill is as gritty as it can get.  It really emphasizes the “get it done” side of blocking. Meaning it doesn’t matter what it looks like as long as the ball is in front of you after the pitch. It’s a tough drill, but definitely my favorite. And it’s fun to watch.

BEN CASSILLO

Tennis balls single handedly taught me how to block pitches. Often, the mentality of not wanting to block pitches stems from a fear of getting hurt & hit by the ball. Tennis balls will allow the player to get comfortable reading the downward trajectory of the ball and give them a fearless approach to blocking. Additionally, make sure you are varying reps where the catcher needs to block & reps where they still need to receive the pitch as a strike. This variation will mimic a game like situation, and prevent the catcher from forming a habit of just dropping & blocking for the sake of a drill. One other advantage of using tennis balls is that they will bounce further, so you can better teach catchers that in addition to blocking a pitch, being able to deaden the ball so that it doesn’t bounce as far away, is a huge part of being an elite defensive catcher.

Thanks to our coaches for … sure these tips and insights will … join us next week when we move to the mound and talk some pitching.

 

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