Pro Scout JD Elliby
Be prepared for the unexpected during a tryout…
Parents, it’s our job to have our young players ready to put their best foot forward at a tryout. This means that we’ve done enough prepping as we lead up to the moment and when the tryout begins, we (parents) exit stage right.
Don’t let the first impression be one of a potential “management intensive parent.” It’s hard, but let the coaches take care of everything. Your son will reach out to you if he needs you.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about prepping the player.
First off, he should look the part (most of the players that I’ve encountered definitely look like ballplayers). Secondly, they should maintain eye contact with the coaches as they are giving instructions (this is more for the younger participants). The next step is to show that your motor runs properly; that means hustle at all times.
It will be hard for the coaches to “truly” assess every player at once. There will be times when a young man slips through the cracks. One thing that will help you avoid slipping through the cracks is having “visible” signs of baseball actions (i.e. solid fundamentals and the ability to perform your basic baseball tasks). Now if these actions are performed at game speed, you will definitely stand out.
****Ok, enough of the small talk.
Hitters, you don’t have to step into the cage and pull every ball that you see! I see this at many of the tryouts that I conduct with older prospects. The special hitters have a plan and they work through their progressions.
As a scout, when I watch hitters during BP; the ones who stand out are the ones who have bat control and show the ability to follow a plan. First round, up the middle/opposite field (with balance). ***There is a sense of urgency to show your POWER, I know I know I know! Well, show them that you know how to handle the bat and that you have some rhythm at the plate (this catches my attention during the early rounds; and I pay closer attention as you rotate through).
***Now if you are brutally strong and a dead pull HR circus act type – then by all means, turn and burn from the moment your feet touch the dirt – but there are only a handful of those around & they can be pitched to (holes on the outer 1/3).
Parents of hitters – prepare them to face a BP pitcher who throws slower than what they are used to hitting off of. It never fails; a young man is having trouble timing the BP pitcher’s soft loopy pitching style. You have to be able to adjust. The idea is to not be overlooked. Once you make the adjustment, work your routine (even if you have to shorten the program; take a pitch or bunt one; work opp field or up the middle; up the middle; turn it loose). You have to come up with a game plan with your parents or preferably your hitting instructor. If hitting lessons aren’t in the budget, send me a private message and we can try and figure out a game plan; but hopefully you can lean on your coaching staff.
Parents of pitchers – know the distance that you will be throwing from and make sure that you are capable of taking your bullpen session mindset to the tryout mound with you. We have to return to the “just playing a game of catch” thought process. Arm strength is a precious commodity, but the ability to command the strike zone trumps pure arm strength at all levels. Now, if arm strength is your calling card, then by all means, show it (arm strength is definitely a separator). They can hit 100 mph fastballs in the TV League – I also see the big boys swing and miss on a well placed change-up. **Now 100 mph is special, don’t get me wrong!** Play to your strengths – but remember that strikes are important. ***’1st pitch strikes’ – is actually a stat line***
Enough of this rambling. Just be prepared. It’s tough to have a crash course right before tryouts. It’s often counter-productive, especially if the coaches have never seen you before.
Best of luck!