Leo’s Journey from Little League to College Baseball (Middle School Tryout)

This is part 4 (Age 13, 7th grade) of an ongoing series following a young player’s baseball career from Little League to College Baseball. In order to get the most out of this series, be sure to start at the beginning.

Image courtesy Akadema

A couple months after Leo turned 13, he went to the December tryout for the middle school team, as a 7th grader. At 35 degrees, it was cold!

The middle school baseball coach ran the tryouts using a serious high school approach. Of the 26 kids who tried out for the team, 14 were immediately cut. In Wayne’s words (post 424),

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Leo’s Journey from Little League to College Baseball (Injury)

This is part 3 (Age 12, 6th grade) of an ongoing series following a young player’s baseball career from Little League to College Baseball. In order to get the most out of this series, be sure to start at the beginning.

After the fall baseball season ended, Leo again played basketball. Though Leo was excited at the start the basketball season, it was clearly not his favorite sport. That would be baseball.

Image courtesy pixabay.com

Leo also took up skateboarding. Wayne was not happy. Wayne “couldn’t stand the skateboard (post 364).”

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Leo’s Journey from Little League to College Baseball (Travel Ball)

This is part 2 (age 11, 5th grade) of an ongoing series following a young player’s baseball career from Little League to College Baseball. In order to get the most out of this series, be sure to start at the beginning.

Shortly after Leo turned 11 in October, the fall baseball season came to an end. It couldn’t happen soon enough for Leo, who had been ready for a break from baseball for months.

Leo took up basketball and played through the cold winter months. He excelled at basketball due to his quickness and overall athleticism. However, after the winter break, Leo was ready to play baseball again.

Leo was not just ready to play baseball. He was excited!

Logo for one of several travel ball organizations, courtesy travelballusa.com

In January, Leo tried out for a local travel ball team.

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One Player’s Journey from Little League to College Baseball (The Beginning)

Making it onto a college baseball program and staying with it for all 4 years is not easy. Playing high school baseball also has its challenges.

Want to know what it takes?

I’ve been curious myself about what it takes and how it works to play baseball all the way from Little League to college. I’m curious because my own 12-year-old son has been telling me since the age of 2 that he wants to become a professional baseball player. It’s an improbable dream. But it’s a dream that may be shared by over a million kids at any given time.

Though I’ve learned bits and pieces about playing baseball at the higher levels over the years, it wasn’t until I read a very detailed chronicle of one player’s journey that it all began to make sense. This player, who I shall call Leo, is a talented and hard-working baseball player. Leo made it all the way from Little League to college baseball.

The hard way.

The baseball journey can be hard
Image courtesy of Robert Montenegro at crookedscoreboard.com

This is part 1 of my retelling of the story of Leo’s journey from Little League to College Baseball.

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New USABat Standard Coming in 2018 for Youth Baseball Bats

In January 2018, many youth baseball players will need to buy a new bat with the USABat standard. Here are the details, starting with facts, moving on to advice, and ending with opinions about this change.

usa-baseball-logo

I interviewed several authorities for this article, including Russell Hartford, who is the “bat guy” at USA baseball, in addition to his role as Director of National Team Championships.

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Youth Baseball Stats Part 4: Moving to a Bigger Field Changes Everything

The stats that matter most for youth baseball change as kids age. You’ll want to first read Part 3 of the youth baseball stats series if you want to get the most out of Part 4:

Part 1: It’s Hard – how to gather, interpret and apply baseball data to improve youth baseball play

Part 2: Appropriate coach pitch stats – ages 7-8

Part 3: Appropriate kid pitch stats – ages 9-10

This post discusses the stats that matter when kids move to the bigger 50/70 field and the full rules of baseball begin. In our PONY league, this starts with the Bronco division, ages 11-12. Continue reading “Youth Baseball Stats Part 4: Moving to a Bigger Field Changes Everything”

What Does Drop Mean for Youth Baseball Bats?

bat-drop-printed-on-louisville-slugger-bat
Drop -12.5 prominently displayed on Louisville Slugger bat

Bat drop is printed weight, in ounces, minus printed length, in inches. For example, a bat labeled 13.5 ounces and 26 inches has a bat drop of minus 12.5 (13.5-26 = -12.5).

To get the right bat, you just need to match the right drop, weight, and length printed on the bat to the age, height, and weight of the player.

It’s that simple, right?

Nope.

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Can You Teach Hustle in Youth Baseball? Yes!

Hustle. We’ve all seen that player who hustles, always running top speed to first base, going all out to catch far away fly balls, diving for grounders, backing up, doing their best to catch poor throws, etc.

Sliding into Home
Base runner hustles home on a passed ball
(photo by John Walter)

And we’ve all seen the opposite . . . players who rarely run hard, never attempt to make a difficult play, and exert little effort all around when they don’t have a bat in their hands.

In my experience, most kids try hard when they’re first learning baseball or any other new sport. In our local PONY league, I’ve seen strong effort from all but 1 or 2 players on every team my son has been on through the age of 10. Sometimes they don’t know at first what they’re supposed to do or where they’re supposed to go. But drill it, and then they’ll do it.

However, something shifts at the Bronco 11-12 age level. With most players having played at least 4 years of baseball, some stop trying as hard to improve, while others mark time until the start of the “real” season, summer all-stars or travel ball. Maybe some of it is age-related, as kids begin to challenge authority and become more independent.

End result: lack of hustle.

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Key Youth Baseball Decisions for Parents: Money, Time, and Beyond

The financial costs of youth baseball can easily spiral out of control, so I’ve been itching to write about it. A single season of recreational league fees, equipment, clothes, fundraisers, and other costs can total anywhere between $150 – $2500/year, while costs and time commitment can run far higher for travel ball teams. Much of this information is covered below.

While this article is based on my experience with 7- to 12-year-olds, most of these costs apply to other ages as well. Figure on spending about half as much for ages 5 and 6, and a bit more for teenagers who also pay for showcases and BBCOR bats.

As I started to write about cost, I realized that decisions over whether to do 8 vs. 5 months of baseball per year or spend $300 or $50 on a bat are minor in comparison with more fundamental decisions that need to be made at a relatively early age.

This post details the time and money it takes for kids in the U.S. to play youth baseball in various ways. But it goes beyond cost to also highlight and discuss more fundamental decisions that need to be made when considering how best to approach this all-consuming sport.

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Our Youth Baseball League is Great! Here’s Why . . .

I hear so many stories and read so many accounts of recreational youth baseball leagues with unhappy parents and significant issues. With every new story, I appreciate my son’s local rec league even more.

This post is for anyone looking for tips to help make their league better, whether as a board member, a manager, a coach, or even a concerned parent who shows up to board meetings occasionally.

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