Dirtbags Baseball Announces Maryland Director, Shawn Miller

Dirtbags Baseball Announces Maryland Director, Shawn Miller

Shawn Miller is the new Maryland Director of the Dirtbags Organization and will lead the Mid-Atlantic Dirtbags. Miller has an extensive baseball coaching experience that includes coaching from the youth level to the varsity level.

Mr. Miller is partnering with Ryan Wolfsheimer to lead the state of Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic Dirtbags. Wolfsheimer and Miller were together at Dulaney High School prior to joining Calvert Hall College.

Wolfsheimer spent 11 seasons at coaching Dulaney High School where he accumulated a 175-58 record, won five Baltimore County titles and won District Coach of the Year three times.

Testimonial Tuesday: Davis Schneider

Testimonial Tuesday: Davis Schneider

By: Eric Leary

Winning attracts winners. So it makes perfect sense that when given the chance, Davis Schneider, a 2017 grad out of Eastern Regional High School, in Voorhees Township, NJ, took advantage of an opportunity to be a Dirtbag when it presented itself. Prior to the summer of 2016, the right-handed hitting infielder was well aware of the Dirtbags and their reputation as an organization that competes for championships. 

According to Schneider, the process of becoming a Dirtbag began with a teammate on a previous team whose dad knew Andy Partin, the founder and CEO of the Dirtbags. With that connection, the prospect to join the Bags became a reality. Needless to say, with the role Davis would go on to play with the Bags over the next summer and fall it was a good move for both parties. 

Recalling the decision, Schneider stated, “Always knew Dirtbags were a great program. They had a winning culture and had previously been us.”

With the “if you can’t beat, join ‘em” seemingly in effect, Andy Partin was mighty glad about the Schneider contact, as he quickly realized the skills held by the player. 

“I knew Davis was a really advanced hitter when we got him. But I didn’t realize how good of a defender he was at third base. He made some spectacular plays for us,” stated Partin. 

Already committed to Rutgers when he came South to play with the Dirtbags, Schneider quickly found himself at home with his new teammates. The comfort he experienced on the club was undoubtedly due to some like-minded goals he shared with the squad. He also admits it allowed him to elevate his own game even more. Ultimately, Davis attributes the team’s demeanor and culture which strives to win back to Partin.  

“He put that into us in every game and situation,” Schneider said of his Dirtbags skipper. 

More specifically, Schneider says Partin was able to take instances and use them to build a successful program. While those moments in time could help cultivate an attitude for an individual, the collective result is a winning culture for the organization.

A prime example for Schneider occurred that summer. He remembers a game at a non-descript high school versus a team the Dirtbags should have easily beaten. They didn’t, and as their coach, Partin let them know who they were and how they should play. The moment left an impact on Schneider.

“He expected 100% everytime and we didn’t give it,” said Schneider.

Perhaps one of his best memories is connected to a great moment in Dirtbags history – winning the WWBA in the fall of 2016. Not only was he a member of such a prominent championship for the organization, Schneider was also named the MVP of the event. For him, the memories center on how happy everyone, especially Andy, was that they had accomplished the feat together. 

When pressed, Schneider would single out one moment in particular. It was during the quarterfinals vs. a top-notch opponent with the score sitting at 0-0. During his at-bat in the 4th inning, Davis would jack a 3-run bomb down the line for what would be the game winner as pitcher Antonio Menendez tossed a complete game shutout.

Partin saw it all just fitting into the type of player the New Jersey product is, saying, “Davis was born to hit. Every time he stepped in the box you felt like something good was getting ready to happen. His WWBA MVP performance in Jupiter will go down in history as one of the best of all-time.” 

But even beyond the winning and the awards, Schneider reminisced the relationships were the most beneficial product of his time as a Dirtbag. He further eluded to the connection between those relationships and the success the club experienced. 

As he first met up with his team, Schneider says he felt like a loner initially but by the end of the summer he had found his place. He gives a lot of that credit to Kier Meredith, the captain of that group of Dirtbags. 

“(Kier) put me under his wing and introduced me. He tied everyone together,” stated Schneider. 

And those bonds have not been easily broken. Players from the team have stayed close and frequently use social media to keep up with Dirtbags and one another. 

Going on, Davis remarked, “The friendships and memories will never go away, no matter what. Even after baseball. (Dirtbags) is not just about baseball.”

By Partin’s account, it was easy to see why such strong ties between Schneider and the Dirtbags grew. He said, “The kid loves to play the game. He always had that smile on his face and carried a quiet confidence about him. His coaches and his teammates loved him.”

Being a part of the Dirtbags was a big part of a baseball journey that is continuing for Schneider. After getting drafted by the Blue Jays in the 28th round in 2017, Schneider signed and is currently an infielder (now at 2B) in the Toronto farm system. He has spent time at Vancouver and Lansing, Michigan in previous seasons.

Looking back, Schneider admits when he had played against the Bags he didn’t much like them. But he recognized they played hard and he came to understand once he became a member of the fraternity, their style of play is a result of the collective desire to win. 

Like many, Schneider was able to gain a new perspective once the events were seen through a different lens. In this case, the realization became both he and Dirtbags held the same point of view – winning is about the people.

Testimonal Tuesday: Chris Munnelly

Testimonal Tuesday: Chris Munnelly

By: Eric Leary

Making the most of one’s opportunities has always been considered words of wisdom. Count Chris Munnelly, a Dirtbag alum and member of the 2009 class, among those considered a believer of the view. As a right-handed pitcher, he overcame an initial insecurity of whether he belonged to becoming one of the greats in the history of the organization.

By 2007, Dirtbags were already known for having rosters of top flight talent and while Munnelly had played for a different group out of the area, he decided to attend an Impact Baseball event. The rest, as they say, is history. He quickly caught the attention of Dirtbags founder and head honcho, Andy Partin.  

“I remember seeing Chris throw for the first time at our showcase at Wake Forest University. I was blown away! I didn’t even let him cross the foul line before I ran down and introduced myself,” Partin said.

Munnelly recalls that day as well. After popping an 88 on the radar gun, he says the conversation with Andy quickly went to an invitation to be a Dirtbag. Having played against the Bags, he had some idea what he was joining and says it was clear they were the best. But in agreeing to … he may not have envisioned he would be considered one of the best of the best. 

As a student at Forsyth Country Day School, in Lewisville, NC, Munnelly was aware of and even competed against some of the players. This included someone he’d known his whole life, Wil Myers who attended rival High Point Christian. On his first day in a Dirtbag uniform, Munnelly was about to find out just how special his new team was.

According to Munnelly, the game was at Wingate University and he wasn’t scheduled to pitch. So after entering the dugout and meeting his new teammates, he began a conversation with Myers. Suddenly Partin asked Wil what he was doing because he was up next. Without even changing his shoes into cleats, the future AL Rookie of the Year strolled to the plate, hit a BOMB and returned asking Munnelly to remind him what they were talking about before he departed. 

“That was a big league moment,” remembers Munnelly, who says he realized then he was now with a special group. 

Assuredly,  Munnelly would have plenty of his own moments with the Dirtbags. And that success would be leveraged again and again to offer even greater opportunities to succeed on the field and beyond. 

When asked to reflect on a personal achievement or memory as a Dirtbag, Munnelly settled on a game versus a top club in Jupiter in the fall of 2008. He tossed a complete game, only giving up two or three hits. With plenty of scouts and coaches in attendance, he cited the atmosphere as a highlight. Many of his other recollections centered on the team’s accomplishments, relationships with teammates and lessons learned from the experiences.  

By the time he was completing his time with the Dirtbags, Munnelly was a top prospect. And plenty of credit for his rise can be given to the stuff he took to the mound. In high school, he says he pitched 88-90mph, with an occasional 91-92. The curveball was slurvy curveball and he had a change. Once he reached college he said he needed more so he developed a legit slider by his sophomore year. The slider would eventually end up being his best pitch for the rest of his career even as the velo increased to 94mph. 

But a lot of his drive was internal and he says that came from the chip on his shoulder, being a smaller kid. Though he was 6’2” and 200 pounds in college, the growth spurt was late and Munnelly felt he had to prove himself. The bulldog mentality that resulted became the difference maker even as the physical attributes showed.

“I wanted to be the fiercest competitor. Knowing that always someone could be watching,” said Munnelly.

Being the total package of talent and makeup is definitely what sets Munnelly apart. Partin weighed in on this by saying, “Munns will go down as one of the top pitchers we have ever had in our program. He was the guy that you knew you were going to win with every time he took the mound and our players knew it too. He was the epitome of what you wanted in a pitcher. He had that all-business demeanor on the mound and the stuff to dice up hitters.”

Success with the Dirtbags increased his confidence while in high school. As he started to realize he did belong, Munnelly remembered, “I thought I was good. With success I realized ‘you are that good’.”

While Munnelly says he believes players will eventually get “found” if they can play, he credits the Dirtbags for creating the platform to put him in front of the best schools and scouts. He says the success he experienced gave him the confidence to be motivated to get even better. Playing with “physically mature dudes” provided the incentive to get in the weight room and be motivated to eat right. 

So the success, the stuff, the work and the attitude all culminated in Chris Munnelly moving on to play for the North Carolina Tarheels after high school and the Dirtbags. The next four years would be filled with even more personal and team successes.  

As a weekend starter his freshman through junior year he solidified his reputation of being a go-to guy for a national powerhouse. In his senior year at Chapel Hill, he actually started mid-week games and was used to “finish” on the weekends. The experiences, again far outweighed the personal gains according to Munnelly. He was part of a team that made two College World Series appearances, captured three ACC titles, and won the ACC tourney his senior year. 

But most of all he says he gained the next steps for success in day to day life. Once again, for Munnelly it goes back to taking advantage of opportunities. He had come to realize some very important lessons in the game that have continued to be impactful in his life. 

For Munnelly, it was a continued recognition he still had to work, no matter the task, saying “A lot of guys have a rude awakening in college. They don’t realize the commitment of work necessary.”

Without surprise, the next chapter in Munnelly’s journey was a stint as a pro. He joined the Astros as a free-agent in 2013, after considering a few other offers. He then entered into what he called a loaded minor league system from 2013 to 2015. 

Though he spent just a short time in pro ball, the experiences continue to be leveraged by Munnelly. Spring training was spent learning from Nolan Ryan or interacting with the likes of Biggio and Bagwell, the opportunity to “be a sponge” wasn’t lost on Munnelly. 

Here, between stories of playing with future big leaguers who were the starters on his teams “throwing 100mph and I’d come into close with 94”, Munnelly offers some sage advice what he learned way back as a Dirtbag.

“Before I was intimidated because of (the) notoriety (of others). I had read about the ‘top dogs’. But I belonged. The Dirtbags was a confidence moment,” Munnelly stated. 

For Munnelly it seems to be more of what he took away from his experiences at all levels. Today, as a wealth management advisor who finds himself working with athletes, he tries to relate to their quest to perform.

“(I) encourage guys to put it all in perspective. People struggle with identity when the game is over. Don’t let it consume who you are,” he said. 

But perhaps the most valuable nugget in the conversation was one he shared when talking about the process of improving and achieving. 

“We only have a limited time, or window, to play this game; make the most of it.”

From a Dirtbag legend, wisdom indeed.

Nikko Andre

Nikko Andre

Congratulations 2020 graduate Nikko Andre on his commitment to Newberry College.

Testimonial Tuesday: Bradley Keller

Testimonial Tuesday: Bradley Keller

By: Eric Leary

The Testimonial Tuesday series has been an opportunity for the Dirtbags to regularly spotlight players in the organization and tell their stories. Each piece has intended to reveal moments of their  journey and show how the organization has fit into their experiences. The next several installments into this series will provide the accounts of several Dirtbag alumni who traveled these same paths to develop, gain exposure and access opportunities to play at higher levels.

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As he prepared to enter high school, Bradley Keller – a 2015 graduate – wanted to enhance his opportunities to get seen by college baseball coaches and pro scouts. While he could have chosen a route to play Legion Ball in his hometown of Shelby, NC, he took a tip from a buddy to check out the Dirtbags. That suggestion prompted him to attend a tryout and soon join the organization. He would later find that the decision provided so much more than just a team to play with in the summer and fall. It would bring life changing experiences and relationships.

Playing on teams the next four years coached by Dirtbag mentors such as Trey Daly, Axel Smith, and ultimately Andy Partin on the famed All Blacks, Keller got what he was looking for in terms of development and exposure. But the expectations placed on him also brought out traits not measurable by a stopwatch or a batting average.

He leveraged his drive and determination to get better into making him a definite prospect by the time he was a senior. Keller cites the role being a Dirtbag played in providing the fuel for his quest. Combined with his competitive nature, the access to tools and skills to enhance his game. More specifically, he saw the weight room as a key element.  

When asked about how this dynamic played out for him and his teammates, Keller responded, “Lifting to get stronger, we tried to be the strongest person. It really showed. We hit harder. Threw harder. Ran faster.”

As the architect of this process, Andy Partin (founder and CEO of the Dirtbags) remembers the strides he saw Keller make on the field as a result of his efforts off the field. Partin said, “Bradley was always a good athlete but really made himself into a tremendous baseball player in his years with us. He’s truly the definition of hard work.”

The benefits of the training and the skill development was recognized by Bradley who saw it shaping the team’s approach to the game and beyond.  

“Every time we stepped on the field everyone of them wanted to win. That mentality I learned from the Dirtbags. They teach you to be a great person and a great man,” recalled Keller.

As a baseball player, Keller had built the tools to perform. As a competitor, he showed he could access those tools from a variety of positions and in a number of ways. Partin saw the multiplicity as a plus and knew his attitude towards success was infectious. 

“Bradley was a throwback. He could play any position on the field. He could run, he could throw, he could hit. He was just a lot of fun to coach. Everytime he showed up at the field, you could just see the life in his body. He loved his teammates and coaches and he loved to play the game,” remarked Partin.

The ability to perform from multiple positions on a baseball field wasn’t just a generalized adage. Keller was more than proficient no matter where he was tabbed to play on a given day. Evidence exists too! He even played all nine positions in a game for his Crest High School Chargers as a senior. Beginning the contest at catcher, he rotated to each spot in the outfield, and manned each infield position before finishing on the mound. Nonetheless, he spent much of his time for the Bags at third baseman and in the outfield.

Interestingly, it was his ability to catch that opened a door for him. Keller says he got a call from Partin in the off-season prior to senior season, some scouts were coming to Burlington to see some pitchers and a few catchers were needed for the bullpen sessions. Afterwards, a few of the Dirtbags including Keller began hitting in the cage. He says it was then the scouts seemed to take notice and that senior spring he was on their radar.

“Only way I got seen by pro scouts was because Andy,” Keller said. 

It was after that senior campaign he was drafted in the 15th round by the Atlanta Braves. Bradley would go on to spend 3 seasons as a pro, playing for teams in Rome (Ga.) and Danville (Va.) in the Braves’ organization.

Had pro ball not made itself available after high school, Keller was set to play at Western Carolina for the Catamounts. Again, he credits the Dirtbags for that opportunity coming together. According to Bradley, the reputation the brand brings makes those seeking top level talent take notice. 

“The name (Dirtbags) itself draws attention. Anytime a college coach hears it they will go watch,” stated Keller. 

This was the case with WCU coaching staff, who got a glimpse of Bradley as a 10th grader. Admittedly, Keller says he was raw early on, but after constant messaging and encouraging from Andy the opportunity blossomed. By the time he was a senior, Keller had found his groove at the plate and it all opened up.  

Remembering his call from WCU head coach Bobby Moranda to come visit, Keller says he immediately called Andy to tell him the good news. He says Andy let him know he was already aware and which was no real surprise the Dirtbag honcho was involved the whole time. 

It was after patrolling those outfields in the Appalachian and Sally Leagues as a minor leaguer, the time came for Bradley to make another decision. Baseball was coming to close and the next career would surely be one that allowed the same personal qualities he relied on as a player to continue. He now looked to a path to patrol the highways of North Carolina as a State Trooper.  

Just like when he was accessing skills on the ballfield, he found out becoming a trooper meant hard work. Bradley would find out the same dedication and desire to succeed he used on the diamond was necessary for his transition to the asphalt.   

The program to become a N.C. State Trooper, candidates face 27 weeks of grueling training. While Keller now calls it a “great career” and really appreciates being a respected member of the community he noted the process was exceedingly difficult. 

In fact, Keller found the same source of mentoring and lessons that had brought him success in baseball would again serve him in this next chapter. Keller remembers a particular message he left for his skipper during the process. 

“I said, Andy, this is ridiculous. Hardest thing I’ve ever done. But I wouldn’t be able to persevere without the teachings privately on the side from you.”

But, one could say Andy had already seen that coming. 

“He left his mark on me with his competitive spirit when we would train as a team in our weight room in Burlington. He never backed down from a challenge, and rarely – if ever – lost in any type of contest we had. His spirit was contagious.”

All this speaks to the level of experience Bradley Keller had as a player and as a person with the Dirtbags. According to him it was way more than what he had anticipated. While the Bags already had quite a reputation in baseball by the time he joined, it proved to be all that and more. 

In the end, it is the words Keller uses to describe what being a Dirtbag means. For him it’s “family” and “grit”. True evidence the entire experience was about the relationships and lessons as much as it ever was about throwing and hitting.

Testimonial Tuesday: Tyler Herkey

Testimonial Tuesday: Tyler Herkey

Pitchers work to have control of their pitches. Such ability gives them a chance to not only get outs, but to be in control of the game. Tyler Herkey, an uncommitted 2022 LHP out of Southlake Christian Academy in Huntersville, NC, seems to be on his way to taking this idea of control beyond the context of a pitcher versus a batter. 

One move Herkey made showing his intent to access more control on his future was joining the Dirtbags as a 13u player and becoming a member of an elite fraternity of players who play the game a certain way. Since then, Tyler says he has come to understand the standards of the organization and how it reaches well beyond the field. 

Being a Dirtbag has allowed Tyler to learn more about the organization and even become aware of previous WWBA championships won by the Bags. He admits this knowledge serves as a motivator for his own trips to Lake Point, which have been highlight moments in his baseball journey. 

Even still, the experience of being a part of the whole process seems to be the ultimate reward  for the sixteen year old, who said of his being a Dirtbag, “I love it. Great organization all around. Great people. Great coaches. All really there to help you out.”

The idea of being in control also is how Tyler sees being a Dirtbag, saying, “It means staying on top of everything. Non-stop effort to get better and never quitting.”

On the mound, Herkey’s use of both 4-seam and 2-seam fastballs in the upper 70’s with pin-point accuracy allows him to go right at hitters and establish who’s in control of the at-bat.  His coach in the summer of 2019, Ben Cassillo, recognized these skills and how the lefty is able to use them to establish a command presence. 

“While Tyler still has plenty of room to grow and add velocity, there is no denying his command and overall understanding of how to pitch. He understands how to move the ball in and out, up and down, ando do that while mixing speeds,” said Cassillo. 

Herkey also spins a solid 11:5 curveball to go along with his change, which are huge swing-miss offerings in his arsenal. And it’s not uncommon for him to even use his secondary stuff in different ways versus batters to create a multitude of attack options. 

Cassillo continued, “He’ll pitch batters backwards, trusting his breaking ball when behind in the count and keep hitters on their toes. Every AB for opposing hitters is different when they face Tyler. You can’t sit on one pattern, because he treats every AB in every situation differently. You don’t see that in a lot of kids his age.”

Loving the thrill of the strikeout, Herkey describes himself as a fierce competitor. The mentality in conjunction with the control allows the 5’10” and 150 pounder to compete way bigger than the roster lists him. 

According to Cassillo, this element of Herkey’s skill set may be his biggest, seen in him saying, “Plain and simple, Tyler Herkey is a competitor. Nobody believes in his stuff  and his ability to consistently get outs more than Tyler.”

Without hesitation, Tyler recognizes being a Dirtbag has helped him. The opportunity to measure himself up to the established reputation of those Dirtbags who have gone before him has been a tool he has used to leverage performances.  

While it may unnerve some, Herkey seems undaunted saying his goals are clear. “Try to be the next great Dirtbag. I want to be the best on the field.”

And that’s no matter the role. The southpaw can perform at a high level in a number of scenarios. It’s again the mental approach which appears to give access to such versatility.

As Cassillo puts it, “He has the perfect mentality for a pitcher. It’s that mentality that made Tyler successful in any role, whether it was starting games, coming into a bases loaded jam, or getting the final three outs of a tight ballgame.” 

The evidence supports it too. Prior to the halt of the 2020 high school season, Herkey had made three starts as a varsity hurler for his Eagles and came away with two wins. The experience served as a proving ground the sophomore is prepared to rise to the next challenge. 

His motivations from being a Dirtbag, along with the addition of a personal pitching coach to help fine tune the mechanics and elevate those mound skills even greater.  Additionally, Tyler has traded in the stereotypical teenage video game habits for weight lifting sessions with a  trainer. All factors are providing the push to make those next steps he wants to make, and give him even more control over what takes place on the field and the opportunities available due to his successes. 

As he looks at the chance to play baseball beyond high school, the sophomore is looking to be in control. He is clear in wanting to focus on finding a smaller school with a strong baseball program. He cited his current structure in a private school where he is thriving as an incentive.

The right match must also have a high academic standard since grades are a high priority. A coaching staff who can continue to pour into his development and also make a personal connection will be essential. 

For now, Tyler Herkey is just looking to, well, control what he can control. And that probably means the strike zone next time he gets on the mound.

A Pitcher’s Routine

By: Everett Hancock

As a former pitcher, I understand the importance of this position to the team.  The pitcher bears quite a bit of responsibility on the outcome of the game.  The team relies heavily on their pitchers to bring a certain competitive mindset and intensity to the mound on game day.  I chose to be a pitcher for just those reasons.  I loved the pressure, the responsibility, and the fact that the “spotlight” so to speak was shining directly on me. I knew that I had to perform at a high level to help give my team a chance to be successful and I embraced those moments each time I took the mound! I enjoyed the competition between myself and the hitter.  Each batter was a new “battle”.

In order to prepare accordingly to step on the mound, pitchers must develop a well-defined routine to get themselves both physically and mentally ready to pitch.  I believe that there are many “layers” to developing a solid pre-game routine. First, a pitcher must be well rested.  It takes a lot of energy to pitch.  It is vital that the day before a scheduled start, a pitcher be properly hydrated and able to get 8-10 hours of sleep.  Making sure your arm and body receive proper rest in between outings is essential to the success and health of a pitcher.

Second, it is important that the pre-game routine has a time associated with it. The timed routine should be specific and should work backwards off the scheduled first pitch game time. The plan should include some involvement from a pitching coach and should also be communicated to the pre-game catcher for that given day.  Having a defined, specific routine will not only allow the pitcher to get physically “loose” but will also enable him to work more effectively to become more mentally prepared and focused as well.

Third, warming up the body is the next key ingredient to a sound pre-game routine for pitchers.  Performing a routine of both static and dynamic stretching, arm band work, and some light cardio are all effective methods to help warm up the body.

Next, playing catch and long tossing are an integral piece to a pitcher’s pre-game routine.  A common mistake made by young pitchers is being so anxious and/or excited to jump right on the mound without first properly playing catch and getting their arm warmed up.  Pre-game throwing should include long toss, which stretches out further than the mound distance of course. Each pitcher is different regarding   pre-game long toss distance, but I encourage pitchers to simply “listen” to their arm on game day and long toss according to how they feel.  Flat ground work during pre-game is acceptable and encouraged.  This allows time for an emphasis on mechanics before stepping into the bullpen to get ready to pitch.

Lastly, it is vital that pitchers have a plan once they step into the bullpen.  It’s important that the pitcher prepares for a variety of situations that he may find himself over the course of a game.  A simple pre-game plan should include throwing out of the wind up and the stretch, as both situations will likely arise during the game. Mixing locations is another important element of the pre-game bullpen routine, as pitchers should try and work their pitches to both sides of the plate and up/down.  I prefer to begin working off my fastball and establishing that pitch, then begin to mix in my secondary pitches with mixed location as well.  Finally, a pitcher may choose to pitch to a “simulated” hitter or two prior to finishing up his pre-game bullpen routine.  At the conclusion of his bullpen routine, the pitcher should hopefully feel loose, confident, and ready to take the mound.

 

Testimonial Tuesday: Scott Hosmer

Finding prosperity through making connections brings some to realize accessing and nurturing opportunities to connect is a ticket to succeed. Count Scott Hosmer as one who has learned this lesson. As an uncommitted 2021 catcher/utility player out of Charlotte Country Day School, Scott  has found out first hand the benefits of making connections, both on the field and off. 

He could make a long list of ways connecting with others has brought in his game and in each situation the building of trust plays a role. One connection Scott sees as having an enormous positive impact was becoming a Dirtbag, which he did his freshman year.  

Hosmer can identify a number of areas in baseball he has found growth due to his teammates and coaches with the Bags. More specifically, as a catcher he pointed to the skills garnered in working with talented pitchers. He was able to raise his ability to receive and communicate a pitching plan that helped everyone. And the development didn’t go unnoticed.  

Playing for Alex Krivanek in 2019 as a Dirtbag, Scott made quite an impression on his coach.  Krivanek took note of Hosmer’s effectiveness, saying, “As a former pitcher, Scott is exactly the type of catcher I would want as my battery mate.”

The connection and trust between Hosmer and Krivanek was built on a style of communication the player came to appreciate. Referring to the sometimes brutally honest advice or guidance his Dirtbags skipper would provide, Scott said, “He’d say it to my face and not sugar coat it. I value that.”

Through the learning moments, the hard work building on those connections made the impact. Each step seemed to escalate to the next level. Again, Krivanek recognized the connections being a vital cause, as well as an effect. 

“The trust all of our staff had in him was undeniable. He is the type of player you dream about as a coach. He works hard, loves the game and is always asking questions to learn more,” said Krivanek.

Working hard is something Hosmer is not afraid to do. Whether in the weightroom to prepare or on the field executing his craft, he used words like “relentless” and “tenacity” to describe his own effort. 

And it shows, as noted by Krivanek when he says, “He puts everything out on the line on every play and  that’s  the attitude you love seeing as a coach. 

Such a blend of effort and attitude isn’t confined to just one skill set for Hosmer. He brings those same attributes to the contest whether he’s behind the plate, manning third base or stepping into the right-handers batting box. Each responsibility gets the same measure of intensity and desire to perform. 

That brings results. Blocking balls. Diving for line-drives. Not laying down on an at-bat. All those together brings one theme to mind. Scott Hosmer is a fighter. Fighters are tough and they don’t back down. His physical 5’9” 205 pound frame gives him authority to succeed in all of those tasks. 

Again, coach Krivanek sees attributes translate to the field, saying, “He’s a tough out at the plate and has a linebacker mentality defensively.”

Which becomes an interesting analysis, due to the fact that Hosmer is in fact a linebacker, on the football field for his Buccaneers of Charlotte Country Day. And he epitomizes the position, as seen when he played most of last football season with a broken hand (which happened while playing baseball). 

Being a multi-sport athlete brings still more chances for Hosmer to develop valuable connections. He also cites the benefits of learning effective time management needed to succeed in both sports. 

While many may struggle to access off-season work in the weight-room to grow their strength, Hosmer says he has found great opportunities to benefit both sports largely through the relationship he’s built with S&C coaches at his school. Seeing their experiences as collegiate athletes, Scott knows their guidance is coming from a perspective he can trust.

Getting better at whatever he does, often by connecting with others and then working to the point of excellence can be seen so much in Hosmer’s activities. From his favorite subjects of math and science, to football, to being a self-taught guitar player, but most of all as a baseball player. 

As the next phases of life come at Hosmer, the opportunities to study and play at the collegiate levels will surely be driven by making valuable connections. Having been on campuses to play or attend camps, he hopes to further those experiences and find an intersection of baseball and academic worlds where both operate with the highest of standards. 

Wherever that may be, it won’t take long for Scott Hosmer to make an impactful connection that benefits others as much as it does him. 

Development Is The Key

By: Everett Hancock

Why is it important to develop the proper fundamentals and skill set at an early/young age? As I’ve gotten older and more involved in baseball at the youth level, I’ve been intrigued to see how much less the fundamentals of the game are being taught and/or valued now in comparison to when I was growing up. As I think about this issue, I attribute various reasons to the increase of this problem across the country. I will not dive into those reasons today, although perhaps that would be a wonderful topic for a future article.

Rather, today I want to briefly discuss why teaching the fundamentals at an early age is so vital to the development of young players. Players develop physically at different stages and times. Each player is different.  At the youth level what I see a lot, is that the “bigger” kids tend to have a lot of “success” at the early ages because they can hit the ball farther or throw the ball harder than some of their “smaller” counterparts. Some of this success can be tied directly to talent level.  However, I believe a portion is simply just related to physical strength.  In many cases, by the time these players hit the “big” field, their size/strength advantage isn’t as large or obvious as it once was.  For instance, those “dingers” that they used to hit on smaller fields are now being caught by outfielders (many of whom were perhaps the smaller but more athletic) kids in prior years.

I say all of that to illustrate that if kids are taught proper fundamentals early, those skills will not only help them at 8,9, 10 years old but also as they grow and mature at 13/14 and beyond. If a proper skill set is developed (physically, mentally, athletically) then it will help all players. The bigger, stronger kid will continue to have success because they have built a solid foundation of skills and athleticism to go along with their physical strength.  For the smaller players, they have their foundation established so that when the “physical” maturity begins to take place they will be a great spot for continued success as well

Many coaches at the youth level do a tremendous job coaching and developing their kids and teams!  However, there is a certain percentage of youth coaches and/or parents that just don’t put enough emphasis on the fundamentals. These skills are often overlooked either due to a lack of knowledge that limits what coaches/parents can teach, or in some cases winning at all cost is what is most important to many at the youth level.  The focus shifts to rings and trophies instead of the correct footwork/posture for fielding a ground ball or the proper way to catch a fly ball.  Bad habits are formed at such an early age that it becomes difficult for some players to make the adjustments necessary to be successful as they get older.

The baseball world is much different now than it was years ago.  We now live in an age of analytics, launch angle, spin rate, and velocity. And while there is validity and value in each of those dynamics, proper technique and fundamentals existed long before any of those topics were introduced.

Everyone wants to see the home run or the strikeout.  Lost is the art of bunting and hitting a line drive in the backside gap at the plate or changing speeds and locating pitches on the mound.

After my playing career ended and I moved on to be a high school coach, I was simply amazed at seeing players lack the ability to have and/or perform some of the most basic fundamentals in the game or who told me that “they were never taught the correct way” growing up. Having been involved with youth baseball now for several years, I now have a much better understanding of the lack of time and dedication that is spent teaching these skills to the young players in our sport today.

I know and see so many youth coaches and parents who do value skill development and they are to be commended, and their future high school coach thanks you as well!

As coaches and parents, we all are competitive and want to win. I’m one of the most competitive people on the planet. But I challenge everyone to not let the importance that you place on winning (short term) take away from the time you spend actually teaching your kid and players the basic skills and fundamentals that will stick with them for a lifetime (long term).

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