By STEVE KRAH
Developing players and getting them to the next level — college or professional.
That is the mission of the Indiana Prospects travel baseball organization.
President and director of operations Shane Stout says the Prospects have placed more than 400 players in colleges the past seven or eight years.
Dillon Peters, son of Prospects founder Mark Peters, played at Indianapolis Cathedral High School and the University of Texas before before a 10th-round selection in the 2014 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Miami Marlins. The left-handed pitcher made his MLB debut for Miami Sept. 1, 2017.
The past year, IP enjoyed a success rate of 50 college commits in one age group of 52 athletes.
“In my opinion that’s what it’s about,” says Stout. “We teach them, keep them healthy and get them into a good institution where they get a good degree.
“We take more pride in being able to network and out-work our competition.
“Look at our track record.”
Stout is looking to put his teams in the best tournaments — win or lose.
“We’re out there to get exposure in front of the college coaches,” says Stout. “I’m not going to go around and hunt trophies.
“If I wanted to go 52-1 in a year, I could.”
The Prospects 17U-Woolwine squad won the 2017 Marucci World Series in Baton Rouge, La.
Also last summer, the Prospects sent a 16U team against the Orlando Scorpions with a player firing 95 mph heat.
“We’re not hiding or ducking from anybody,” says Stout, who coached IP’s first Perfect Game USA national tournament champions at the 15U BCS Finals in Fort Myers, Fla., in 2010. “You throw your best against our best.
“We try not to water things down. We don’t consider our teams A, B and C. Baseball is baseball. Anybody can beat anybody.”
Going to the top-flight tournaments and inviting many colleges to attend scout days, the Prospects are looking to find a fit for everyone.
“We try not to let players slip through the cracks,” says Stout. “Baseball is one of the few sports you can play at any given level. There’s nothing wrong with Division II, Division III, NAIA or junior college.
“If you’re good enough, you’ll still have a chance to get drafted.”
Stout is constantly on the phone, making connections. Before tournaments, he sends out contact sheets for players who are eligible for communication. He includes the game schedule, pitching rotation, academic and high school coach’s contact information.
“I reach out to the colleges,” says Stout. “I try not to leave any rock unturned. That’s why I have the credibility with the college coaches I do.
“It’s who you know.”
Schedules and travel details are knocked out during the winter with the help of IP coaches. Younger teams start in the spring and play as many as 60 games with high schoolers playing around 40 contests and about five to seven tournaments in the summer. They shut down before school starts again in the fall.
Stout does not want to overload the younger players and encourages the older ones to pursue other sports.
“We give kids an opportunity to have something of a summer and it’s not just baseball, baseball, baseball,” says Stout. “For pitchers, fall is the time for them to take a break (and rest their arms). (Playing football, basketball etc.) creates a more well-rounded athlete to mix it up and do other things
“College coaches watch my players play in high school basketball games. They see that quick twitch (muscle) and how they handle themselves on the court.”
Travel baseball goes places that high school teams do not and plays at a time — the summer — when colleges can devote more time to recruiting.
But Stout sees the relationship between travel ball and high school as very important.
“We embrace the high school coaches and try to keep them involved as much as possible,” says Stout, who counts prep coaches on the IP coaching staff. “It’s a process that involves high school baseball, travel baseball and the young man’s work ethic.
“Sometimes there’s a disconnect with how it gets done.”
IP, which typically fields about two dozen teams from U9 to U18 and trains at Fishers Sports Academy, draws the majority of its players from Indiana but they do come from other places.
New Jersey’s Joe Dudek and Joe Gatto played for the Prospects and then the University of North Carolina on the way to minor league baseball — Dudek with the Kansas City Royals and Gatto with the Los Angeles Angels.
“They come play for us every weekend,” says Stout. “They’re not a hired gun or anything. If you’re going four hours, it doesn’t matter which direction. Everybody knows which tournament they need to be in.”
Why would you play for the Indiana Prospects living in New Jersey?
“You treat people the right way,” says Stout.
Doing things the right way is important to the IP Way.
“You put on an Indiana Prospects uniforms we’re going to shake the umpire’s hand and we’re going to respect the game,” says Stout.
The number of players on each 15U to 18U roster varies depending on the number of pitcher-onlys.
“In larger tournaments, you may play eight games in five days,” says Stout. “We want to bring a kid to college as healthy as he can be. I always try to error on the side of caution.”
The Indiana Prospects travel baseball organization has placed more than 400 players in college programs in the last seven or eight years. The group is founded by Mark Peters, son of Miami Marlins pitcher Dillon Peters. Shane Stout is president and director of operations. (Indiana Prospects Photo)