Pardon the pun, but Brayden Risedorph is on the rise on the national baseball showcase scene. A fireballing right-handed pitcher from Kendallville, Ind., Risedorph took part Saturday, Sept. 25 at the Baseball Factory All-America Game at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium. The event featured 40 invitees from around the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. Taking the mound for the National team in the eighth inning, Risedorph produced a 1-2-3 frame with two groundouts sandwiched around a strikeout. On Aug. 2-5, Risedorph was a part of the East Coast Pro in Hoover, Ala. He was assigned to the Reds for that showcase. Risedorph, who is in the East Noble High School Class of 2022, was at the invitation-only Prep Baseball Report Pro-Case Midwest July 6 at Triton College in River Grove, Ill., where his fastball was clocked at 95 mph and sat at 93 to 95 during his simulated inning. This fall, the 6-foot-3, 230-pounder is playing for the Cincinnati Reds Scout Team with tournaments in central Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin and the Perfect Game World Wood Bat Association World Championship slated for Oct. 7-11 in Jupiter, Fla. Risedorph drew some notice before, but really began turning heads in recent months. “I was always pretty decent, but this summer is where I took my biggest step,” says Risedorph, 18. “I just kept making a lot of little jumps and kept getting invited to bigger and bigger things.” After one of the games of the East Coast Pro, Risedorph was approached by Ben Simon, an advisor/agent based in the Cleveland suburb of Moreland Hills, Ohio. Knowing the reputation of developing pitchers by head coach Jon Goebel, Risedorph committed last fall to play at National Junior College Athletic Association Division II Parkland College in Champaign, Ill., beginning in 2022-23, but has been getting interest from larger schools. Risedorph is a two-way player at East Noble, manning one of the infield corners when not pitching. In 2021, he hit .329 (24-of-73) five home runs, one triple, six doubles, 25 runs batted in and 19 runs scored in 26 games for Knights head coach Aaron Desmonds. In eight mound appearances, Risedorph was 3-3 with 2.00 earned run average, 60 strikeouts and 18 walks in 35 innings. As a pitcher-only with 5 Star Midwest National. Risedorph went to PBR tournaments at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind., and LakePoint Baseball Complex in Emerson, Ga., and racked up five shutouts. Throwing from a low three-quarter overhand arm slot, which gives him much natural run, Risedorph throws a four-seam fastball which has maxed out at 96 mph. He also uses a slider, change-up and, sometimes, a curve or splitter. “It goes straight left with a lot of horizontal break,” says Risedorph of his slider. “It ooks like a fastball then at the last second it dives to the left.” It’s a “circle” change that Risedorph throws when taking something off his hard stuff. His curve is of the “11-to-5” variety. He uses his middle and index fingers and throws his splitter like his fastball and it dives at the plate. Born and raised in Kendallville, Brayden is the youngest of Randy and Iolet Risedorph’s four sons, behind A.J., Ryan and Eric. Former Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne pitcher A.J. Risedorph is the head baseball coach, assistant boys basketball coach and dean of athletics at NorthWood High School in Nappanee, Ind.
Frank Podkul’s baseball journey has taken him to many places in North America. The trek began in northwest Indiana. Podkul’s first organized experience came at Schererville Little League. That was followed by a Lake Central travel team, Northwest Indiana Shockers (coached by John Mallee), Indiana Playermakers (coached by Dave Griffin), Hammond Seminoles (coached by Ryan Pishkur, Tyler Oche and Matt Pobereyko), Hammond Chiefs (coached by Dave Sutkowski) and Midwest Irish (coached by Shane Brogan). Podkul graduated from Andrean High School in Merrillville, Ind., in 2014. He helped the 59ers (steered by Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Dave Pishkur) win an IHSAA Class 3A state title that year. Younger brother Nick Podkul played up on most of Frank’s teams, including Andrean. Nick went on to Notre Dame and is now with Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats in the Toronto Blue Jays organization. “We talk just about everyday,” says Frank. “We’e really close.” Frank and Nick grew up in a neighborhood with kids who played many different sports — football, basketball, baseball, tennis etc. “When you build that culture growing up you get a better appreciation for everything,” says Podkul, who turned 26 June 3. “:earn to be an athlete first. Everything else falls into place after that. “It hurt when people want to specialize early. Let kids be kids.” After he thought he might be a pitcher in college since he didn’t swing a potent bat in high school, Podkul played four seasons in the infield for Lance Marshall at Franklin (Ind.) College (2015-18). “He’s just the best,” says Podkul of Marshall. “He would do anything for any of his players — no matter what. The way he’s built that program over the years it is one big family. “On the baseball side of it, he let guys be themselves and got the best out of everybody.” A corner infielder for the Grizzlies (mostly third base his last two years), Podkul appeared in 132 games and hit .290 (134-of-462) with 29 home runs, 25 doubles, 122 runs batted in, 109 runs and a .946 OPS (.414 on-base percentage plus .532 slugging average). In 2018, Podkul hit .327 (53-of-162) with 16 homers, 10 doubles, 57 RBIs, 52 runs and a 1.129 OPS (.444/.685) while Franklin went 39-5 and ending the season at the NCAA Division III Central Regional. “We had a ridiculous lineup,” says Podkul. “The amount of times we scored four or five runs in the first inning was almost comical.” With baseball workouts and games, classes and his duties as a student athletic trainer, Podkul felt like a two-sport athlete as a senior. In the fall, he would awake at 5 a.m. for soccer practice, followed by classes, baseball practice and weightlifting then football practice and staying on top of his homework. “At Franklin you have to be a good student,” says Podkul. “There’s no gimme classes. “Everything is challenging.” In his first two college summers, Podkul played for the Midwest Irish in 2015 and in the Virginia Beach (Va.) Collegiate Baseball League in 2016. Podkul got a kickstart to his senior season at Franklin by spending the summer of 2017 with the Medicine Hat (Alberta) Mavericks of the Western Canadian Baseball League. “It was amazing,” says Podkul. “There’s really good competition in that league. Learning some stuff from those guys helped me in my senior year.” One of his fond memories is playing a game in Fort McMurray, Alberta, which is 890 kilometers (428 miles) north of Medicine Hat and seeing the sun out at 1 a.m. After graduating from Franklin as an Athletic Training major with minors in Exercise Science and Coaching, Podkul went through some workouts in the independent pro Frontier League. Nothing came of those and he went to the California Winter League where he landed a spot with the Frontier League’s Joliet (Ill.) Slammers in 2019. In the fall of that year, Podkul contacted Joe Torre (not that Joe Torre) of Torre Baseball Training LLC in Ridgewood, N.J. He runs an independent ball spring training camp in Palm Beach, Fla. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and much of baseball was shut down, a four-team league — the Yinzer Baseball Confederacy — was established with all games played in Washington, Pa., run by Torre and Washington Wild Things president/general manager Tony Buccilli. Podkul split his time between the Road Warrior Black Sox and Baseball Brilliance Sox. The Frontier League put in the two other teams — the Wild Things and Steel City Slammin Sammies. The YBC is back for 2021 with the Road Warrior Black Sox, Baseball Brilliance Sox, Killer Bees and Wolfpack. Players are not paid. They are reimbursed clubhouse attendant dues if they are picked up by another league. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Podkul is with the Carson McCurdy-managed Black Sox — playing corner infielder and occasionally in the outfield. Through 32 games, he was hitting .284 (27-of-95) with five homers, 10 doubles, 13 RBIs, 16 runs and a .981 OPS (.433/.547). The Yinzer league provides the opportunity for players to stay sharp and build up their numbers while looking to catch on in independent leagues. Rosters are set a month at a time. “It’s real games,” says Podkul, who plays daily — either afternoon or night — at Wild Things Park. “It’s not a showcase. “You’ve got to play and get in front of (coaches and scouts). You go where you’re going to be a good fit.” Since January, about 60 Yinzer league players have moved to other clubs.
The Michigan resident attended ECA all four years of high school.
“I absolutely loved it there,” says Ganger. “It was the perfect size for me.
“You get to know everybody in your class.”
Ganger attended the Elkhart Area Career Center as a junior (2017-18) and senior (2018-19) where Audio/Video Production instructor Warren Seegers taught camera operation and concepts like the “rule of thirds” and helped Ganger build the skills that allowed him to tell sports stories on WVPE HD3 88.1 FM and conduct interviews on Facebook Live.
“Mr. Seegers is awesome,” says Ganger. “Everything I learned over my two years I’m using now.”
Ganger got to interview South Bend (Ind.) Cubs President Joe Hart and Notre Dame men’s basketball associate head coach Rod Balanis.
He counts his Q&A with ND women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw after the 2018 national championship as a career highlight.
Before the interview began, McGraw was kind of standoffish and giving one-word answers. Then she began to respond to Ganger’s thoughtful questions.
“I started as camera operator then I told my boss I wanted to get into broadcasting and learn everything,” says Ganger, who got to host the on-field pregame show, work with replay on TV broadcasts and occasionally operate the Four Winds Field video board.
“It was fun getting to learn all different sides of the industry,” says Ganger. “I want to be not just a broadcaster, but be as well-rounded as I possibly can.
“You can’t always rely on other people. You need to know how to do everything yourself.”
In 2020-21, Ganger has done play-by-play or color commentary for Cardinals baseball, football, basketball and volleyball while also helping to create social media video content for Ball State Sports Link.
For his first Ball State Sports Link broadcast, Ganger was on the call for BSU’s football opener at Miami in Oxford, Ohio. With COVID-19 restrictions, it was a remote production. A monitor showed him the action which he conveyed to his audience.
“It was definitely different,” says Ganger. “Numbers on the screen is different than being at the game.
“I can’t be picky. Any opportunity I have to go for it.”
Ganger can’t say enough good things about Sports Link.
“It’s the best of the best for sports media anywhere,” says Ganger. “(Senior Director of Sports Production and Lecturer) Chris Taylor does literally anything he can to get us this opportunity.”
According to Ganger, keys for a good broadcast include knowing the players’ names.
“Memorize those the best you can,” says Ganger. “In basketball — when they’re running up and down the court — you have time to look down at your score chart.”
For a radio game, Ganger is sure to give time and score every 90 seconds.
“You have to be the listeners’ eyes,” says Ganger. “You want to have descriptive words for everything.”
It’s important to pinpoint the ball and it’s trajectory. The broadcaster tells his audience where it was hit and if it’s a line drive or a slow roller.
“We also build story lines,” says Ganger. “Why is this game important? What’s at stake? Throughout the game we recap what’s happened.”
The voice is to be used as an instrument.
“Be creative with ways to say things with voice inflection,” says Ganger. “You need a balance between sounding excited and not yelling all the time.
“I’m still learning. You can never be too good at broadcasting. It’s very competitive. You have to find ways to set yourself apart.”
Ganger used COVID quarantine time last summer to get in the reps that would help prepare for Sports Link broadcasts and to land an internship for the summer of 2021.
“I didn’t want to sit around,” says Ganger, who took old tapes of football, basketball and baseball games which he described by himself or with a friend and posted on YouTube. “I wanted to get better and be ready for games at Ball State and I wanted to get that internship.”
Ganger got it.
During the process of searching and interviewing, he encountered the Expedition League. It’s a 12-team summer collegiate circuit that plays a 64-game schedule beginning in late May.
“It’s been cool for Tyler and I to be he first-ever voices of the team,” says Ganger.
Not only will the duo get to enjoy the first with a team playing at 3 Legends Stadium (a facility that debuted in 2017 which has gone from a capacity of 470 to 1,300), Ganger and King will get to know a wide swath of territory.
When the 2020 season and the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft were clipped because of the COVID-19 pandemic, players were given the option of extra years of illegibility.
That means more talent has stayed in D-I that normally would have moved on.
“It’s testament to so many early-season upsets,” says Vanderglas, whose seen the Terre Haute-based Sycamores get off to a 6-4 start with a couple wins at No. 16-ranked Tennessee. “The pitching staffs have a lot more depth.
“There’s no such thing as an easy match-up.”
Vanderglas joined ISU as a volunteer in 2017 and was elevated to assistant coach prior to the 2020 season.
His responsibilities include working with catchers and outfielders and helping with hitters. During games, he is the first base coach.
Vanderglas also assists associate head coach Brian Smiley with recruiting and scouting.
With D-I continuing to be in a “dead” period where it can’t see potential recruits in-person, Vanderglas says there has been a shift in recruiting focus.
“We go a lot more on coach’s recommendations and video,” says Vanderglas. “We’re a lot more virtual with everything. And we have to do a lot more due diligence.
“We like to evaluate a recruit several times so they fit our style. We can see a guy’s physical tools on video, but not the intangibles like how they respond to failure and the overall makeup of the kid. Is he trying to do his best for himself or is he worried about the team?”
The “dead” period is scheduled to end May 30.
“When we get back on the road it will be an action-packed summer,” says Vanderglas. “There are tournaments and showcases about every day of the week.
“We’ll host some prospects showcases on our campus as well.”
Using software called Synergy, a report is compiled with video and statistics. The Sycamores can see the tendencies of opposing pitcher and the trends of hitters so they can move their fielders accordingly.
“We do a decent amount (of defensive shifting) with the analytics,” says Vanderglas. “We try to take away the areas of strength (for opponents).
“In the outfielder, we are a little different that many teams. We’re aggressive. We want to take away bleeders, especially when we’re way ahead or way behind in the (ball-strike) count. The last few years, we’ve shifted a lot more.”
Mitch Hannahs is in his eighth grade leading ISU after returning to his alma mater in 2013.
“His leadership is outstanding,” says Vanderglas. “He’s extremely consistent with guys. There are no ‘off’ days with us. You’ve got to get better each and every day.
“He’s good at blending personalities and getting everyone to commit to a common goal.”
The Sycamores roster includes players from 14 different states plus the Bahamas, Canada, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.
Hannahs is demanding with his players and expects his assistants to be prepared.
“We don’t want to feel like we’re searching for answers,” says Vanderglas.
Before coming to Indiana State, Vanderglas was at Lincoln Trail College in Robinson, Ill., where he was associate head coach and recruiting coordinator for Statesmen head coach Kevin Bowers.
“(Bowers) was great to me,” says Vandeglas. “He trusted me. He let me have lot of responsibility. I got to learn from learn from trial and error while he offered constant assistance.
“We got after it and opened our boundaries in recruiting. He introduced me to people and gave me free rein to go after the people we wanted.”
Parker, 44, is heading into his fifth year with the Dodgers in 2021. While his travel outside the U.S. has been curtailed this year because of COVID-19 (just two trips since March), he has been to Latin America many times and to Asia in search of baseball talent.
Based in Tampa, Fla., Parker has been able to travel to Miami in recent months to evaluate international players.
His priority leading up to spring training will be getting ready for the signing of the 2020 MLB First-Year Player Draft class in January. During a normal year, that would have been done on July 2 following the June draft. Once players are signed most will be assigned to the Dominican Summer League.
“We’re safely trying to get our jobs done,” says Parker, who counts Dodgers international scouting executive Ismael Cruz as his boss. Parker was with the Toronto Blue Jays when he first worked with Cruz.
With Alex Anthopoulos as general manager and Dana Brown as special assistant to the GM for the Blue Jays, Parker first worked in pro scouting and dealt with arbitration cases and was later promoted to the head of amateur scouting and oversaw Toronto’s participation in the MLB Draft.
Brown hired Parker as assistant scouting director for the Montreal Expos. For that position, he moved to Montreal in his second year (2004; the franchise’s last in Canada before becoming the Washington Nationals).
Parker worked primarily in amateur scouting and draft preparation while also helping on the pro scouting side.
“Dana Brown is one guy I give a lot of credit to for help me along the way as a mentor,” says Parker. “A lot of what I’ve been able to do is because of him.”
Brown is now vice president of scouting for the Atlanta Braves, where Anthopoulos is now president of baseball operations and general manager.
Parker was with the Expos/Nationals for seven years. When the team moved to D.C., Parker went there. His last two years he was director of baseball operations, dealing with administrative matters such as contracts and transactions.
His Expos tenure began in player development development operations at the spring training complex in Melbourne, Fla.
“I did a little bit of everything on the minor league side with player development,” says Parker.
Prior to that, Parker was employed by MLB. He was assistant director of baseball operations for the Arizona Fall League for one year and the AFL’s director of baseball ops the second year.
He worked with all 30 MLB teams and had a hand in many things including dealing with umpires and AFL host stadiums. He also got to see the game’s top prospects on display.
Parker helped in the sports information department at ISU — working extensively with Rob Ervin and Jennifer Little — and earned a Business Management degree from the Terre Haute school in 1998.
“I wanted to work in sports,” says Parker. “I knew that a business background would help.”
Parker was born in Michigan and moved to Morristown around 4. Since he was a youngster and playing basketball and some youth baseball in Shelby County, Ind., the oldest son of Richard and Linda Parker (now retired teachers) and older brother of Jason Parker (who nows lives outside Indianapolis) has been interested in the behind-the-scenes side of sports.
The summer of graduating from high school (1994), Parker joined the grounds crew for the Indianapolis Indians and was with the Triple-A team in that role in 1994 and 1995 and was an intern in 1996 as the Indians moved from Bush Stadium to Victory Field.
Parker’s first experience in baseball scouting came during an internship with the Colorado Rockies during the summer of 1997. He entered scouting reports, went through the draft, got to hear other scouts talk about baseball under Rockies general manager Bob Gebhard and also helped with the media relations staff in the press box.
“It was a great every level position,” says Parker.
After going back to ISU to earn his degree Parker saw there was a regime change in the Rockies front office.
Parker spent three years — one as an intern and two as a full-time employee in media relations with the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills.
After that, he got back into baseball with the Arizona Fall League.
Parker has had a guiding principle throughout his career.
“It’s so important to work with good people and do the best job you can,” says Parker. “Do a good job and let things fall where they may after that. You’re not necessarily looking for your next job.”
Brian and wife Bree, who met while working with the Nationals, are the parents of twin girls. Bree Parker works in human resources with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
In his current position, working for Urban Knights head coach Dan McDermott, Collins-Bride, 30, is in charge of pitchers, catchers and infielders.
“I’m a teacher,” says Collins-Bride, who joined the ArtU coaching staff in September 2019. “Baseball and strength and conditioning seems to be my best form of teaching.
“When you see people grow and see the light click on and they create really good habits, that’s the special part.”
Developing pitchers at the NCAA Division II PacWest Conference institution for Collins-Bride is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor.
“It’s individualistic once you have a base,” says Collins-Bride. “It depends on the players’ needs.”
Some pitchers possess good command and need to improve their stuff. Some have superior velocity but lack movement on their pitches. Others need concentration on the mental side of baseball.
“We’re picking and choosing what we focus on,” says Collins-Bride.
A strength and conditioning coach for several Indiana Tech teams, Collins-Bride has studied biomechanics as it relates to athletes. He has become OnBaseU-certified.
“You have to know how each player moves and how they’re supposed to move,” says Collins-Bride, who does a movement assessment on each ArtU pitcher. “That’s critical.
“You structure the off-season around filling those buckets.”
You’re not treating every car like a Toyota. You also have Dodges and Kias. You don’t spend all your time racing the Lamborghini, you also spend time working with it in the garage.
COVID-19 caused the Urban Knights’ 2020 season to halt after 20 games. McDermott and Collins-Bride helped the player see the quarantine as an opportunity for growth.
“It was a chance to check something on your bucket list,” says Collins-Bride. “If you don’t do it, shame on you.
“Many (players) came back (in the fall) in the biggest shape of their lives,” says Collins-Bride. “It was really cool to see what these guys did over 6-7 months after only hearing about it over the phone.”
Alameda resident Collins-Bride used the extra time to go on long bike rides, including a trek around Lake Tahoe.
ArtU practices at The Presidio and plays games at Laney College. During fall practice, players went through daily temperature and system checks.
Most of the time, workouts were conducted with just six to eight players.
“It was different,” says Collins-Bride. “But it was really good from a development standpoint.”
There was more one-on-one time with coaching while raw skills — running, throwing, fielding and swinging — were being refined mixed with intrasquad play.
“Ideally, that’s what a fall should be — create some raw skills and play a little bit,” says Collins-Bride. “Summer baseball is failing kids. They’re playing too much and not practicing enough or practicing too much and not playing enough.
“We had a really good balance (in the fall.).”
It’s about building proper motor patterns. That’s why weighted balls and bats are used to carve a new path for the brain.
“It’s a brand new road and they learn that quickly,” says Collins-Bride.
Born in San Francisco, the son of carpenter Bob Bride and professor/nurse practitioner Geraldine Collins-Bride grew up loving baseball.
Patrick’s father did not have much experience at the game, but he did come up with several tools to guide “FUN-damentals” for Little Leaguers. Bob devoured books and DVDs while researching training methods.
“He’d have us swing ax handles,” says Collins-Bride. “We’d hit wiffle balls with hoses to teach us to whip the bat. He turned a leaf blower into a wiffle ball pitching machine. To develop soft hands, we’d toss eggs or water balloons. We had stations all around my small house.”
Flood lights were installed over the garage so these sessions could go deep into the night.
Patrick went to the Boys & Girls Club and learned about pitching from major leaguers who hailed from Alameda. Pitcher Dontrelle Willis taught him how to play “strikeout.”
Middle schooler Collins-Bride learned about the proper way to field a grounder from shortstop Jimmy Rollins at an RBI camp held at Encinal.
Collins-Bride expresses gratitude of coaching with McDermott, who is heading into his 28th season as a college coach in 2021.
“It’s like coaching with your dad,” says Collins-Bride. “He really, really loves you and he’s not going to let you mess up.
“We get really great life lessons all the time. I’ve learned a lot from him.”
Collins-Bride coached for five seasons at Indiana Tech (2015-19), where Kip McWilliams is the Warriors head coach. “C.B.” worked with hitters, infielders, catchers and volunteered his strength and conditioning services while pursuing and after completing his Masters of Marketing and Management.
Indiana Tech typically carries a roster of 60 or more to help fund the program — with varsity and developmental teams.
“We had to carry a lot of players,” says Collins-Bride. “We decided if we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it really well.
“Playoff time is when the Warriors showed up.”
Collins-Bride notes that almost all the players in the starting lineup in the 2015 Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference championship game started out on the development team.
“That was so important,” says Collins-Bride of the large squad. “They all trained together. We created an efficient practice style. Everybody had a purpose.
“We competed. If you were recruited there, you worked hard. When you have that many guys with a passion for baseball, it makes for such a good atmosphere.
“To do it right, you make sure you treat each kid well. I think we accomplished that. The beautiful thing about baseball and life is what a kid can make out of himself in two or four years.”
Collins-Bride said the Tech culture was based on standards and not rules.
“There was an acceptable level of behavior for everyone in the program and accountability is a two-way street (standards applied equally to players and coaches),” says Collins-Bride. “Coaches didn’t just talk the talk, they walked the walked.”
Or — better yet — they hustled from station to station just like the players.
It was also an atmosphere of positivity.
“No BCE (Blaming, Complaining or Excuses) was allowed,” says Collins-Bride. “Because it’s not helping the situation.”
Dosson, a graduate of Heritage High School in Monroeville, Ind., was a highly-touted player in high school who wound up behind an All-American for a few seasons with the Warriors then got a chance to hit behind Tech standout and No. 3 hitter Glen McClain.
Barksdale, who went to Cass Tech High School in Detroit, spent a few seasons on the developmental team then got his chance to shine with the varsity in a game against Florida Memorial.
“He had been training really, really hard,” says Collins-Bride. “He hit a ground ball in the 6-hole and beat it out for a base hit. That was pretty special.”
Collins-Bride calls Biagini, hard-nosed player from San Francisco, the “most impactful kid I’ve ever been around.”
“He was the epitome of leadership,” says Collins-Bride of the national gold glove shortstop. “He’d say what coaches would have to say. He’d see things and fix them.
“They way he practiced, he raised the level of everyone around him.”
Collins-Bride had been with McWilliams when he observed a Spring Arbor University practice led by head coach Sam Riggleman. The SAU Cougars made workouts fast and as game-like a possible.
“Practice is the hardest thing we would do,” says Collins-Bride. “Games were slow. Everything (in practice) counted. Everything had detail.”
Collins-Bride noticed that long-time Lewis-Clark State College coach Ed Cheff and Folsom Lake College coach Rich Gregory (who played for future Indiana State University and University of Washington coach Lindsay Meggs on a NCAA Division II championship team at Cal State Chico) also took to that kind of preparation — skill under pressure.
It did no good to see 50 mph batting practice pitches when the game was going to bring 90 mph.
Collins-Bride went from Ave Maria, where he played two seasons (2011 and 2012) and coached two (2013 and 2014), after checking his options of serving as a graduate assistant to Scott Dulin at Fisher College in Boston.
On his first working day with Tech, he flew from San Francisco to Boston then drove 15 hours to Fort Wayne. He met McWilliams at 5 a.m. and they drove all the way to Vincennes (Ind.) for a junior college showcase.
“We talked baseball the whole way,” says Collins-Bride.
During Collins-Bride’s entire at Tech, Debbie Warren was the athletic director.
“She was an unbelievable leader of people,” says Collins-Bride. “She knew how to push you. She was very tough and phenomenal to work with.”
Warren helped get the weight room updated just about the time Collins-Bride was leaving to go back to California.
While he was there he planted a desk near the weights and managed 80 athletes in a two-hour window.
Shawn Summe, a graduate of Penn High School and Bethel College (now Bethel University) in Mishawaka, Ind., was the head coach at NAIA Ave Maria. He started the program. The Gyrenes’ first season was 2010.
“(Summe) is a very intense person and an emotional leader,” says Collins-Bride. “We practiced really hard. He was really awesome to play for.
“He deeply had your back and wanted you to succeed.”
Collins-Bride, who received a Politics degree from Ave Maria, sees his transition from player to coach as a smooth one.
“It was easy to step into a role of leadership and demand respect,” says Collins-Bride. “We had a special senior group in 2013.”
Lennon, who died in 2019 at 80, won three baseball letters at Notre Dame and later taught at the university and served as three decades for the Notre Dame Alumni Association.
Lennon’s zeal was on display even at early hours when Collins-Bride was getting a few more winks before greeting the day on an Ave Maria road trip.
“He’s say, ‘Wake up C.B., the world is waiting for us,” says Collins-Bride. “Talk about positivity. He was a beaming, shining light.”
After a semester at Cal State East Bay, Collins-Bride transferred to California Community College Athletic Association member Laney and played two seasons (2009 and 2010) for Eagles coach Francisco Zapata.
“Coach Z is a great human being,” says Collins-Bride. “He really knew his stuff and he knew how to push you.
“It was really hard to let him down. You know what he had to go through to play baseball. You’ve got nothing to complain about.”
Zapata grew up in Nicaragua and brought a work ethic to his coaching.
“There was an expectation level,” says Collins-Bride.
His prep career began on the Alameda High junior varsity for coach Joe Pearse and concluded at Encinal for Jim Saunders.
“(Pearse) was a hard-nosed guy,” says Collins-Bride. “We were working hard and there was a lot of competition.
“(Saunders, who coached Rollins) was an excellent manager of talent.”
During his time as a player and manager with the San Francisco Seals, Collins-Bride not only got a chance to enjoy the rivalry with the Arcata-based Humboldt Crabs but got the chance to play all over the place. During a two-year span, he traveled through 33 states and played in around 20.
The Blue Jays were on 64 broadcasts during the shortened season — two exhibition games, 60 regular-season contests and two playoff games — and Wagner worked all of them from a studio in downtown Toronto.
With the help of five camera angles and information graphics provided by MLB, Wagner and his broadcast partners were able to present a game complete with the crack of the bat and pop of the glove.
“It’s the greatest recognition when people say we had no idea you weren’t in Buffalo or Philadelphia,” says Wagner. “That was my goal going into this — to make it seamless on the consumer end.
“To our credit, we were able to pull that off pretty easily from the start.”
Wagner’s employer — SportsNet 590 — made a blanket corporate policy that for the safety of all, they would only be allowed to cover home games if they were at Rogers Centre in Toronto.
The Canadian government did not allow the team to play there and they moved all home dates to Buffalo, N.Y. The 2018 season was Wagner’s first with the Blue Jays after 11 with the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons.
During the off-season, Ben and wife Megan live in Dunedin, Fla. — where the Blue Jays stage spring training — and were hunkered down there when the MLB season finally got started in late July.
Declared as essential, Ben was allowed to enter Canada to work following a 14-day quarantine (the Wagners had been in a modified quarantine since mid-March in Florida).
But that essential status only went with him and Megan had to stay at home in the U.S.
“It was a long-distance relationship,” says Ben. “It was a big sacrifice for her. We used technology as much as we could.”
When things opened up in Dunedin, Ben and Megan drove their golf cart for pick-up meals and groceries.
After Ben’s departure, it was mostly deliveries for Megan and there was the loss of human contact and socialization.
“She became kind of a hermit,” says Ben. “Everything was getting delivered to the door step.
“The heavier lift was done by her. Megan did a great job.”
Wagner’s gameday routine was different. For one thing, he did not get to see the sights.
“I love travel,” says Wagner. “I like to experience new things when we go to a city.
“It gives me an excuse not to suck too much hotel air. It’s part of the enjoyment of this job.”
Earlier in the year, the Toronto metropolitan area was at a standstill even though millions reside there.
“It’s city living and so full of various cultures and life,” says Wagner. That city has an incredible vibe about it.
“Toronto was essentially closed down.”
In 2020, instead of exploring in the morning and going to the ballpark, he went to the studio in Toronto each day at 2 or 3 p.m.
Indiana State University opens its 2019 baseball season with a three-game series Feb. 15-17 at Jacksonville (Fla.) University.
Fifth-year Sycamores pitching coach Jordan Tiegs is getting ISU arms ready for the opener and beyond.
“We’re full-go,” says Tiegs. “We’re building guys now. Some are up to four innings. We’d like our starters to be able to go six innings that first weekend.”
The process has been happening with both both scrimmages and bullpen sessions. They train with overload and underload throwing balls.
“We want to get it as close to what it’s like during the season as possible,” says Tiegs. Pitchers generally pitch live in intrasquad games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday while there is more bullpen work on Monday through Thursday.
ISU’s online roster lists 17 pitchers. All three of the team’s weekend starters from 2018 when the Sycamores went 31-24 overall and 11-10 in the Missouri Valley Conference — senior left-hander Triston Polley (Brownsburg High School graduate), senior right-hander Tyler Ward (Heritage Hills) and junior left-hander Tristan Weaver — return.
Polley went 7-2, Ward 6-3 and Weaver 3-5 in 2018.
Redshirt junior right-hander Colin Liberatore, who pitched at the University of Pittsburgh in 2016, is in the starting mix. Weekday starter Weston Rivers is not back.
While primary closer Ethan Larrison (25 appearances with nine saves) has moved on to professional baseball, 6-foot-5 junior left-hander Tyler Grauer (21 appearances with three saves) did some closing in 2018 and he’s back.
“We lost a lot of leads in sixth and seventh innings last year,” says Tiegs. “That will be a big emphasis this year.”
Cross, a 6-7 junior, is one of seven pitchers on the staff who were in junior college last season.
Tiegs calls junior Frey, also a JC transfer, a “competitive bulldog” who throws strikes.
Coming to Indiana State as a two-way player as a JC transfer, the Sycamores have decided to let junior Kramer focus on pitching.
“He may have the best arm on the staff,” says Tiegs.
Sophomore Ridgway impressed ISU coaches during a showcase camp and was made a full-time pitcher as a freshman.
Junior Guerrero is considered a “swing” man who could be used as a starter or in long or short relief.
Being tall with long limbs is helpful for a pitcher.
But size is not always the determining factor in success.
“In a perfect world, they could all be 6-3 and 215 (the average size of a big league starter),” says Tiegs. “But what about the 5-9 guy who throws in the low to mid 90’s and can really spin it and is really competitive?.
“We have a bit of a mix here,” says Tiegs, who has 6-9 junior left-hander Will Buraconak and 5-9 freshman righty Paul Wendling in the pitching corps. “Both are going to help us a lot.”
Of course the plan on paper in February is not always what unfolds by May.
But one thing is constant.
“We want guys who are going to compete for the right reasons and execute their game plan,” says Tiegs of his pitchers. “We want to generate as much weak contact as we can.
“For some guys play book is simple. For some, it’s more complicated. It’s what they can handle.”
When recruiting, Tiegs wants pitchers who have a feel for the game around them and not ones who “can win the 60-foot, 6-inch battle” only.
“These are the ones who can’t hold runners and can’t field their positions,” says Tiegs. “Guys don’t work on these days as much as they used to.
“You can forget that a whole game is being played.”
“He’s a very smart baseball guy,” says Tiegs of Hannahs. “He knows what pitching means to a team. It can make or break your entire season.”
Hannahs gives his perspective while giving Tiegs the freedom to develop his staff his way.
“As a former infielder, he has a pretty good feel for what pitchers go through on the mental side,” says Tiegs.
The mental side of the game is something that is addressed daily by Tiegs in practice.
“We get them in the right frame of mind on the mind,” says Tiegs. “We want them to be in control of their thoughts and in the moment.
“They should keep things as simple as possible and not get the wheels spinning too much.”
Speaking of spinning, Indiana State does keep tabs on spin rate, spin axis and rotation using Rapsodo technology.
Tiegs notes that the use of TrackMan is another way of getting analytic feedback.
This can help players “develop a better version of themselves.”
“We don’t want to overkill with it,” says Tiegs. “It’s just another tool.”
Tiegs is a 2005 graduate of Huron Park Secondary School in Woodstock, Ontario, Canada.
There was no high school baseball in his district. But he played on an elite travel team. The London Badgers played about 80 games a year from April to September with three or four tournaments in the U.S.
Tiegs also participated in volleyball, basketball, hockey and tennis and is definitely a believer in the concept of the multi-sport athlete.
“It can hurt your athletic growth if you eliminate things at a younger age,” says Tiegs. “Using different movements, it’s only going to help in baseball with agility and coordination.
“The more you can be exposed to that stuff is only going to benefit you. You’re going to get enough isolated work when you get to college.”
Tiegs wants his pitchers to be as athletic as possible.
“Pitchers can get a bad rap at being the non-athletes on the field,” says Tiegs, who has his ISU hurlers go through circuit training — strength and mobility — each day before they ever throw a baseball.
Having played and coached at the two levels, what is the main difference in NCAA Division I and II from a pitching perspective?
“It’s in the depth of lineups you see day in and day out,” says Tiegs. “You can get away with more mistakes (in D-II). With the better D-I teams, you need to be sharp for 7, 8, 9 guys in lineup. When they hit your mistakes, it’s usually louder.”
Jordan and wife Chelsea Tiegs are expecting their first child in late March.
“We have a really good group of guys who like to work,” says McClain, a redshirt junior first baseman/catcher who graduated from Fremont High School and went to NCAA Division I Xavier University in Cincinnati before transferring to NAIA Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne. “It’s great when you can text someone and say ‘you want to go hit some ground balls’ and they’re down. I’d say that’s the greatest contributor.”
“I have a great coaching staff behind me that’s always willing to put in extra work with me,” says McClain. “We have a really good group of guys who like to work.
“I have a really good support system. My mom (Debby) is always helping me out whenever I need something.”
With the Warriors, it’s a matter of believing in one another.
“We all just trust each other,” says McClain. “There’s never a doubt. If I make an error or have a bad at-bat, it’s never in the back of my mind that maybe my coaches or teammates are not going to me.
“I know if I mess up, the next person is going to get it done.”
On Tuesday, April 24 at Parkview Field in downtown Fort Wayne, the 22-year-old right-handed hitter got it done with his bat and legs. He went 2-for-5 with two runs scored in the Warriors’ 5-4 win against crosstown rival Saint Francis.
McClain produced a one-out double (moved to third base on an error) and scored the game-tying run in the fifth inning then stroked a two-out single, stole second base and scored the go-ahead run on senior catcher Tighe Koehring’s single in the seventh inning.
Heading into Wednesday’s scheduled home game against Manchester, McClain was leading Tech (32-17) in batting average (.423), runs batted in (43), hits (63) and triples (4), tied for first in runs scored (42) and was second in home runs (8) and doubles (10). In 149 at-bats, he only had 12 strikeouts. He was also fielding at a .987 clip with 274 putouts, 15 double plays and four errors.
In 2017, McClain started 58 times at first base and set a single-season school record with 101 hits while hitting .455 with nine homers, five triples, 17 doubles and 71 RBI. He was second-team NAIA All-American and Gold Glove winner and a CoSIDA Academic All-American.
In 2016, McClain started 59 games at first base and hit .334 with two homers, three triples, 12 doubles, 33 RBIs while earning honorable mention on the all-Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference team.
“Glen is an amazing player, a great teammate,” says Tech head coach Kip McWilliams. “He understands baseball and the approach. But I can’t speak enough about what kind of person he is. He’s got high character, he’s trustworthy, relatable and responsible. He holds himself accountable as well as his teammates.
“When he came to us three years ago, he was really mature for his age and carried himself with great poise on the field.”
McWilliams recruited McClain when the player was at Fremont. When McClain was released from his scholarship at Xavier, he came highly-recommended by former Musketeers coach and friend of McWilliams, Scott Googins.
“We called Scott and he said he’d be a great player for you,” says McWilliams. “We were very happy to have him.”
McClain went to Xavier as a catcher and wound up having surgery on his right knee, right shoulder and right wrist.
“My body kind of fell apart on me,” says McClain. “I lucked out. Tech was willing to give me an opportunity to kind of bounce back.”
McClain, who is in graduate school working toward his MBA in management after earning a business administration degree with a concentration in sports management, has one year of eligibility remaining.
If he is not selected in the 2018 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft in June, McClain says he plans to return to Tech to play and complete his MBA.
McClain credits his coaches at Fremont — Eagles head coach Justin Bock and assistant Chad Baker — with their role in his development.
“They helped me understand my true ability,” says McClain. “I was pretty raw in high school. They really helped me refine.
“I couldn’t hit the ball the other way very well, then my sophomore, junior and senior year I was able to drive the ball the other way.”
Travel baseball experiences came with the Mike Hinga-coached Kalamazoo Maroons. Kalamazoo is only about 75 minutes from Fremont.
While Indiana is in the name of the school, Tech’s 2018 roster has players from a dozen different states plus Canada and The Bahamas.
“It’s actually really cool,” says McClain. “We have a lot of kids from California. They add their own swagger to the team. I love the way (San Francisco’s) Dante (Biagini) plays. He’s super intense. I’m different. I’m more of a relaxed kind of quiet. I’m going to keep my composure no matter what’s going on.”
At one point last season, McClain looked up and three-quarters of the infield was from “Cali.”
“I was looking around going, I’m the only Indiana kid on the infield right now,” says McClain. “It’s fun.”
The Warriors are coming down the home stretch of the 2018 regular season. After the Manchester game, there’s a big three-game series at Siena Heights Friday and Saturday, April 28-29 and a home game against Cleary Tuesday, May 1 before the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference Tournament May 3-8.
A sweep against Siena Heights gives Tech the regular-season WHAC title and an automatic NAIA tournament bid.
Glen McClain, a Fremont High School graduate, is a redshirt junior first baseman and leader of the 2018 Indiana Tech baseball team. (Indiana Tech Photo)
So you pitch and you come over the top or at three-quarter overhand and you’re not getting the results you want. How about changing arm angles and tossing the baseball as a sidearmer or submariner?
Geoff Freeborn, who pitched from the left side at Northern Kentucky University, North Idaho College as well as independent professional baseball and for Team Canada, has created Sidearm Nation to help hurlers with dropping down.
An Illinois Sidearm Nation Camp open to all ages and featuring former pro sidearmers/submariners Peter Sikaras, Kenny Long and Ken Raines is scheduled for noon to 5 p.m. CST Aug. 19-20 at Pro Player Consultants, 5112 Prime Parkway, McHenry, Ill. All pitchers are welcome. Specialized coaching will be provided for sidearmers and submariners. Cost is $290 for both days and $150 for one. The camp will be limited to 40 participants.
Recently, Freeborn participated in an IndianaRBI Q&A session.
Q: Why do pitchers change their arm angle?
A: I guess most pitchers change their arm angle out of necessity. Either struggling with current arm angle and something needs to change or down on the depth chart, not pitching that much. Dropping down isn’t for everyone, if you’re pitching well, why change what’s working? But if you’re getting hit around pretty consistently then why not? You have nothing to lose. If you do drop down or are asked to drop down, you have to fully commit to it for it to work.
Q: What are the advantages of an arm angle change?
A: Overall it’s about deception from a lower angle. For the most part it’s not going to be about lighting up the radar gun. Movement is going to be the key from there.
Q: Is it about changing eye levels?
A: Hitters overall get used to seeing the same angle all the time from coaches in batting practice etc. Sidearm/submarine pitchers can mess that up.
Q: What are the disadvantages?
A: I think one of the disadvantages is that you can get pigeon-holed a little bit, that you can only get same-side hitters out. In pro ball for example I tended to just be a lefty-specialist. Would have been a fun job in the MLB but not necessarily for Indy ball. Guess you also tend to just be a reliever, but at same time that can be a pretty good change for some.
Q: Can anyone change their arm angle?
A: I think overall anyone can change their arm angle or at least give it a shot. It tends to be the pitchers that are tall and lanky that pick up on it quicker. Multi-sport athletes or multi-position players tend to pick up on it quicker than say someone that is just a pitcher only.
Q: Do you have favorite sidearmers?
A: I’d have to say current Blue Jays RHP Joe Smith. Also being a LHP I’d have to say Randy Johnson. I used to love watching him.
Q: How many sidearmers/submariners would you say are in pro ball?
A: That’s a good question. I’d say pretty much at least every time in each level in the minors usually has 1-2 in their bullpen. I think more and more sidewinders are getting drafted now and MLB teams are realizing how important they are.
Q: What about in college baseball?
A: College baseball-wise almost every program probably has 1-2 also in their pen. More colleges are recruiting high school sidewinders instead of having to drop someone down that’s struggling in college.
Q: Do these players tend to be starters or relievers?
A: Most sidewinders do tend to be relievers, do tend to be more successful one time through the order.
Q: I’m guessing there aren’t that many coaches that are familiar with the mechanics of a submariner?
A: I think were there can be some problems is when a pitching coach suggest to a pitcher to drop down but then doesn’t know what to do. Sometimes they get left in the corner to figure it out on their own, which I guess can be a good and bad thing. That’s where hopefully Sidearm Nation can be of help. We have over 200 interviews with current/former pros, basically a free e-book and then we run 5-6 camps per year.
Q: Are the number of sidearmers/submariners on the rise, the decline or steady?
A: Like I mentioned previously I think they are definitely on the rise. More pitchers are realizing by dropping down that can be there ticket to say playing college baseball. Majority of the pitchers I’ve interviewed if didn’t drop down the weren’t going to make their high school or college team then after dropping down, ended up making it to AAA/MLB.
Peter Sikaras, who pitched with the South Bend Silver Hawks, Gary SouthShore RailCats, Team Greece and others, is to be an instructor at a SidearmNation camp Aug. 19-20 in McHenry, Ill.