Chasing the Dream

Well I’ve finally broken down and given in to doing a log on this forum. I figure that it will be neat to look back at this in the future and to see where I’ve been and where I’m going.

Less than a month ago I finished up my college eligibility. I played at Ball State University (a DI school in Indiana) and enjoyed every second of it. I would do it all over again except for one thing. I had to have shoulder surgery right before the start of my senior year. I had a Type II SLAP tear of the labrum and partial fraying of my rotator cuff. I was fortunate to have Dr. James Andrews perform the surgery. The surgery itself went well and my rehab was long but it went well also. I was able to get healthy enough to pitch in the last month and a half of our season.

Pre-surgery I had set myself up pretty well for having a chance at the next level. The summer before I had surgery, I was sitting at 90-92 with a solid change-up and curve to compliment it.
Post-surgery I have been throwing 88-90 but I feel that I have more consistency with my off-speed (I also added a slider).

So right now, I sit here as an interested onlooker at the draft this year. I have talked to several teams that have said that they would be interested in a free agent deal depending on how their drafts go. So right now I am praying that those teams take all position players this year. If that does not work out, then I become a road warrior. I plan on traveling to the MLB team’s open tryouts and hope to show that I have fully recovered from my surgery.

I also have some added motivation at this point as Baseball America pretty much labeled me as a disapointment this past year because I couldn’t get healthy. While I know that you can’t always control what others write about you, it still fired me up. Time to go out and prove the critics wrong. It is time to go out and make it to the next level and continue chasing my baseball dreams.

I also forgot to add that if anyone ever has any questions on recruting, showcases, summer camps, college ball, college summer leagues, equipment, workouts, or anything else, to feel free and respond in either this thread or PM me. I started this thread for myself but I want it to be interactive as well.

More power to ya’ man! I hope you catch that dream.

Did you get drafted?

I don’t know if you were talking about this year or in the past. This year I was a fifth-year senior, which means that after my college season was completed, I became a free agent. Any team that is interested did not need to draft me in order to sign me. That is why I am going around and working out for teams.

Today I went to the San Diego Padres tryout here in Ft. Wayne, IN. I met some other guys there that were in the same boat as me, college guys that had just gotten done using up all of their college eligibility and are looking for a place to keep on playing. The tryout was long as pitchers were the last guys to workout. My warm-up felt pretty solid. I long tossed out to 120 feet and didn’t really have to push it at all. I brought it back in, took a 5 minute break, hopped on the mound and fired about 20 warm-up pitches, and then it was time for me to throw in front of the gun. I felt pretty good about the fastball, slider, and curve. The slider was nice and tight even with throwing the small seam minor league balls. My change left something to be desired. It is normally my best pitch and for some reason today I was leaving it low. Not a bad place to miss when you’re facing hitters, but I was wanting to throw it for a strike in this workout.

After I got done throwing, the scout pulled me to the side and said that my velo was a little low for his liking today but he liked that fact that I can throw a ton of strikes with my other pitches. He recommended working out for some independent teams and hooking on with one of them. So I guess right now I don’t know which way to turn. Do I keep on attending these tryouts or do I switch my attention to some independent teams and hook up with one of them? It is a tough decision. I don’t know which direction I’m going to try at this point. I’m going to call my college coach, my sports psychologist, and a couple of scouts, and just have everybody lay it on the line with me. In the mean time, I’ll keep working out, I’ll keep in shape, and I’ll keep waiting for that one phone call. I have a quote that keeps on popping up in my head…“JUST BELIEVE.”

What was your velocity at the workout?

I was at 86-88 with my fastball today, 77-78 with my slider, 68 with my curve, and 73-75 with my change.

Like I said, I was almost overjoyed with my slider today. Real tight spin with good explosion at the end. I almost wonder if my arm angle has been coming up a little bit to get on top of the curve and slider more. I had a similar problem earlier in the school year, and when I got back into my 3/4 arm slot, my velo jumped almost 2 mph immediately. I’m going to workout with my pitching guy this weekend and fool around with it. The next tryout that I’m planning on attending is next Tuesday with the Atlanta Braves.

My guess, and that’s all it is, is that you’ll have to throw a couple mph faster to generate interest and about 4 mph faster to get serious attention. With a history of arm problems they are going to want to see some upside before they invest anything.

Just a question, how hard did you throw previously in high school and when you were younger around 14 and stuff? and how much of a jump did you make?

When I was 14 and 15 I was in the upper 60’s and would get up to lower 70’s on a good day. I experienced my jumps in velocity when I was a sophomore in high school and a sophomore in college. My sophomore year in high school, I jumped from lower 70’s to upper 70’s and lower 80’s. This may have been due to the fact that I hit a growth spurt during this same time. I went from 6’0 to 6’5. However, I did not make my high school’s varsity baseball team until I was a junior. By the time that I was a senior, I was throwing low-mid 80’s consistently. I didn’t start getting recruited by DI programs until the spring of my senior season. But in the end it all worked out just fine. The jump my sophomore year in college was from low-mid 80’s to consistently being in the upper 80’s and touching 90/91. To be honest with you, I have no idea where that jump came from. Maybe it was just due to my brain finally catching up to the rest of my body and I finally had some coordination.

I would say that your guess is very accurate. My goal going into these tryouts was to be able to flash a 89 or 90 at least once. I feel if I do that, combined with my height/projectability (I’m 6’6, 220 lbs), and pitchability that I would get a pretty decent look. While the shoulder surgery is already one strike against me, I feel as if it has been somewhat minimalized because I had Dr. Andrews perform the surgery. I’m not looking for big money at this point in time. In fact, I would sign without a signing bonus. Just give me a plane ticket to Idaho (or wherever) and stick me on a mound so that I can compete. I feel that where I’m at right now, I would be able to do that. But you are correct, in order to get that chance, I have to flash some bigger numbers.

Well it has been close to three weeks since I’ve last posted on this log. I know, I know, not too good for a personal pitching log. The truth is that I didn’t have too much to post about.

I attended a tryout with the Atlanta Braves over two weeks ago, and to be honest, it was a complete bust for me. To start off, they stated that they were not looking to sign players for this year as all of their roster spots were filled. I should have just gotten up right there and left when I heard that. However, I’m glad that I didn’t. Not because of how I pitched, but because I got to see a pitcher taught by Mike Marshall throw in person. I do not remeber the guys name specifically, just that in the Yahoo article on Marshall, he was the pitcher that was on the same plane as Jim Hendry. I first noticed him when he was warming up with the wrist weights. I then asked him if he had been down to FL to train at Marshall’s place. He stated that he had and was wondering how I knew about it. We ended up talking for a bit and it was apparent that he had totally bought into Marshall’s method and said that everyone else was full of crap. To make a long story short, when it was his turn to pitch, the whole stadium stopped and watched. He ended up only throwing 80-83 mph on his “maxline” FB. However the rest of his pitches were very solid including his screwball. At the end of the tryout, they asked him to stick around not because they were interested in signing him but because they wanted him to explain his motion to the scouts. Very interesting stuff.

At the tryout, I experienced a little bit of tightness and dull pain throughout the back of the shoulder. It was at this time that I decided to take a little time off for some rest. So that is what I have been doing since my last post. I started long tossing again last week and my shoulder felt great. Then everything just started falling into place.

I had a workout yesterday for the owner of a local baseball academy. He had some contacts within the Rockford Riverhawks organization and he said that if he liked what he saw, then he would place a call for me to see if I could get a workout in front of some of their coaches. Well I pitched for him and it went well. Not great, but well. He said that he would place the call for me. So as I’m at home and winding down, I get a phone call from the Evansville Otters and they were interested in bringing me down today and having me throw for them as they are in need for some pitching. I called the other guy back and told him to see if he could push back the workout with the Hawks. Well no more than an hour later, Rockford had called me and told me that they have a contract waiting for me without even having to see me pitch in person.

So currently I am waiting for my contract to get faxed to me so that I can sign on the dotted line and officially become a professional baseball player. I will be joining the team for their next home game which will be next Friday. Needless to say, I’m still very excited about the news. It is a small step and yet a huge step at the same time. Not many people can say that they played pro baseball. Yet, the dream does not end here. It is just a stepping stone to get hooked up with an affiliated team. I just have to keep remembering that patience and persistence eventually will pay off.

If any of you are around cities with teams in the Frontier League, feel free to PM me and I’ll try to get you on to a pass list so that you can watch some baseball for free.

Congratulations man.

I’m sure signing the contract will be a big relief. Good luck with it, and keep the forum updated with how it’s going if you have some downtime.
I’d really like to hear what the life is like to be trying to work up through the ranks of professional baseball.

Congrats! Sounds like you’ve got a good attitude and perspective - especially the part about persistence. Good luck. Enjoy the ride!

Well its official (kinda). I’ve signed the contract and faxed it back to the club however, the roster move will not be announced until Friday. I have to report Fri at 1:30 for a 7:05 game. I really can’t describe my feelings right now. I’m just one big bag of emotions. On one hand I am so excited to be starting this next step of my career. I’ve worked my entire life for an opportunity like this. I’m also excited that I never have to see another metal bat for the rest of my life. Its time to go out there and start collecting some fire wood. On the other hand I’m very nervous. I’m worried because I don’t get a chance to practice with the team before I’m thrown directly into the fire. I know nothing about their bunt coverages, signs, etc. I’m going to have to be a fast learner. I’m also somewhat nervous about joining a team half-way through their season. I just hope that I can find a group of guys that I can get along with and hopefully they can show me the ropes around the team/town. Regardless, I’m ready to go. I’m counting down the hours until I get a chance to show what I can do. No looking back now.

who did you sign with?

I just signed with the Rockford Riverhawks in the Frontier League. I officially join the team tomorrow.

Good luck man

Well the last week has been very interesting to say the least. I got into Rockford on Friday afternoon to report to the team at 1:30 with a 7:05 game that night. I just thought that I had to be there so early because it was my first day and I had to get a uniform, gear, paperwork, etc. Well, I was wrong. Basically I showed up and was directed to the clubhouse. From there I was basically thrown into the fire. We had a team meeting and after that I was on my own. There was no one holding my hand and telling me everything that I needed to do. Overall it was a nerve-racking experience as you just pray that you don’t screw anything up.

As the day went on, I met some guys and got to talking to them and just kinda tagged along with them so that I could learn the ropes. Fortunately for me there are two other rookies on the pitching staff that were answering all of my questions and letting me know what I needed to do. But to make a long story short, for those of you that just think that pro baseball players just show up to the park and play, you would be dead wrong. It is normal for players to come into the park at least 7 hours before game time. During that time every little detail is covered including shining up your cleats and your turfs everyday. It truly is like having baseball be your full-time job.

As for the games themselves, we have plaed 5 games since I’ve joined the team. For the first four, my butt was firmly planted on the bullpen bench as I was not even called upon to get warm one time. However, my big break came tonight. I was called into a game in which the first reliever was struggling. When I came into the game, there were runners on first and third with one out in the 6th inning. I came in and I struck out the first batter that I faced on 3 pitches and the next hitter swung at the first pitch and grounded out. So I made it out of the inning on 4 pitches. The next inning was also uneventful as I didn’t give up any hits and only walked one. I kept my team in the game so that they could come back and tie it. However, I do have to say that I am impressed with the discipline of the hitters. I threw a slider from hell that would have struck out every single guy on my college team but somehow the hitter had the discipline to lay off of it and work me into a 3-2 count. Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a better debut. I now know that I can definately hang with these guys. I can be successful at this level and that is exactly what I need to keep doing to keep climbing the rungs on the baseball ladder.

As for the other cool stuff: signing autographs is fun, but the best time to hit up pitchers would be before the game; for everyone who asks if they can have a baseball, you can but only if it was a foul ball that came down into the bullpen, otherwise the front office gets pissed that you are giving away team baseballs; don’t ever be scared to ask a guy a question about pitching, in fact most guys welcome it because it is different from a typical convo; and always keep one eye on the bullpen for some crazy early (innings 1-4) game action, you wouldn’t believe some of the games that guys play; I got to pose for some pictures for my baseball card that will be in the team set later in the year, so that was surreal; and pitching against wood bats again is a dream come true.

I have wireless internet at my hostfamily’s house so hopefully I’ll be putting more good news up on here frequently. As I’ve said before, if anyone has any questions or comments, feel free to hit me up with them. As I continue in my baseball career I eventually want to start a site similar to my friend, Pat Neshek’s ( So for all of you that are reading this, you could be the first to witness the start of bigger and better things. However, it is time for me to hit the sack so that I can wake up and get ready to possibly pitch again tomorrow.

That is awesome! Thanks for sharing your ride with us. Your giving us some insights we might otherwise never get.