BY STEVE KRAH
If you knew Cory Wade when he was 15, you know he wasn’t very big.
As a freshman at Broad Ripple High School in Indianapolis, Wade stood 4-foot-11 and weighed 90 pounds.
By the time his prep days were done in 2001, Wade was just under 5-10 and 140.
Naysayers said this Broad Ripple Rocket would never soar as a baseball player.
“I used that as motivation,” says Wade. “People told me I couldn’t do it. I made it a point to shut everybody up.
“It helped mold my competitive mindset and, ultimately, got me where I needed to be.”
Clyde Smith was Broad Ripple’s head coach and Paul Butcher was the pitching coach. Both men expected their players to get as much out of themselves as possible.
“Coach Smith stayed on us all the time,” says Wade. “Coach Butcher was not easy on me. They were not mean but they expected you to do it right.
“At the time I was there we had some guys who were pretty talented. We had a chance to do well every year.”
So Wade kept controlling what he could control and you know what?
He went from Broad Ripple to Owensboro, Ky., to attend Kentucky Wesleyan College, with Todd Lillpop as head coach. In three seasons, Wade worked with two pitching coaches — Josh Bradford and Aaron Bouie. Bradford was quiet. Bouie was fiery. Both got the most out of Wade.
Bradford had been a pitcher in the Toronto Blue Jays organization.
“He was really smart,” says Wade of Bradford. “He knew his stuff.”
Bouie taught Wade about the mental game and developing a “bulldog attitude.”
“It was pitching in on guys, keeping them uncomfortable and using your stuff,” says Wade, who in 2004 was selected in the 10th round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Four years later, the right-hander was and pitching in the big leagues. He wound up being 6-2 and 195. He was a professional pitcher from 2004-14.
Along the way, Wade developed clean mechanics and the ability to repeat them.
“As I got bigger and stronger, the velocity went up,” says Wade, who appeared with the Dodgers in 2008 and 2009 and the New York Yankees in 2011 and 2012 and played in the Tampa Bay Rays, Chicago Cubs, New York Mets and Kansas City Royals organizations as well as a some time with the independent Lancaster (Pa.) Barnstormers.
Wade is busy in the spring and summer as a pro scout for the San Diego Padres. In the fall and winter, he works with Indiana Primetime clients at Finch Creek Fieldhouse in Noblesville, Ind., and is an instructor for Butcher at Inner Circle Baseball Pitching Academy at Extra Innings Indy South.
As an instructor himself, Wade teaches the mechanics of the pitching delivery. But he also focuses on the “C” word.
“It’s about being competitive,” says Wade. “If you compete, good things happen. It’s really that simple.
“You’re getting the most out of what you’re doing that day.”
Wade says pitchers — baseball players — must grind and overcome adversity. That approach will also carry them outside the white lines of the diamond.
“It shapes you mentally for later in life,” says Wade. “(It helps when) you’re trying to get a promotion in corporate America.”
Wade played in the highest level of baseball — the big leagues — but Wade says you can be competitive at every level.
“You’d be amazed where that will take you,” says Wade.
Making steady progress is key.
“It’s hard for any kid to see where they’re going to be in five years,” says Wade. “You have to get a little bit better each day
“You make micro-adjustments over time. If you shrink these kids’ (immediate) goals and expectations, it makes it easier to digest.”
As a pro scout for the Padres, Wade is assigned to follow players — Low Class-A through the majors — with the Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates and Toronto Blue Jays. Other pro scouts in the system have MLB organizations that they follow.
“We compile as much information as we can about guys we like,” says Wade, who is required to file 25 reports every five days. He can set his own schedule and will flies more than amateur scouts typically do to see players for multiple games.
“You have to see them a few days before you remotely know who they are,” says Wade. “Position guys more difficult. They might be off (when you see them). They might have bad series or a good series. You have to filter through that.”
While the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic currently has baseball shut down and Wade at home with his family (wife Mikaeala, 12-year-old daughter Amaya, a sixth grader, and 6-year-old son Camden, a kindergartner) in Zionsville, Ind., he typically spends 25 days in spring training between Florida and Arizona and then sees about 100 games from early April until the July 31 trade deadline. August and September is devoted to following up and seeing players that might have been missed April through July.
Cory Wade, a graduate of Indianapolis Broad Ripple High School who played at Kentucky Wesleyan College, played in the big leagues for the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees and is now a pro scout with the San Diego Padres. (Getty Images)