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Indiana Prospects provide development, college opportunities

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By STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Developing players and getting them to the next level — college or professional.

That is the mission of the Indiana Prospects travel baseball organization.

Mission accomplished.

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.

Other Jersey product and IP alums Austin Bodrato and Luca Dalatri went to North Carolina and the University of Florida, respectively. Florida’s J.J. Bleday went to Vanderbilt University.

“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.”

New Albany’s Josh Rogers, Bloomington South’s Jake Kelzer, New Castle’s Trey Ball and Andrean’s Zac Ryan are also among Prospects alums who pitched in the minors in 2017.

INDIANAPROSPECTS

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)

 

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Coach, educator King winds way to success at New Castle

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By STEVE KRAH

http://www.IndianaRBI.com

Sometimes career paths don’t follow a straight line.

There can be curves in the road.

Brad King knows this.

He didn’t set out to be a high school baseball coach and counselor at his alma mater, but that’s where he wound up and he’s glad it did.

Baseball has long been important to King. He was a third baseman, right field and pitcher for New Castle High School in Henry County. At one time, he held the Trojans’ single-season and career record for saves and five and seven.

After excelling on the diamond for junior varsity coach Ed Gilliland and varsity coach Harold Huffman, King planned to attend college with the aim of teaching elementary schoolers.

He found out he wasn’t ready.

“I wasn’t prepared for it,” says King decades later. “I was not mature enough or organized enough.”

King went to work in a print shop. After half way through that 13-year stint, he was called back to the diamond.

Gary Brown, who had been New Castle’s first Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association All-Star, was now the head coach and he invited King to be the JV coach in 1995.

“It was a great opportunity,” says King. “We had three coaches total in the program and I had no assistants. I really enjoyed it.”

In fact, he enjoyed it so much that four years into coaching he decided to go back to college. But this time he would prepare to teach geography and psychology to high school students. He took classes at the Indiana University-East satellite campus in New Castle and at the main location in Richmond.

Along the way, he decided to go for his masters degree and become a counselor.

It took him seven years to get his degree. All the while he was still working, coaching and being encouraged by wife Kellie.

“Not any of my successes would be possible with that continued support,” says King, who has two boys with Kellie (New Castle graduates Conner and Spencer). Conner set school marks for average (.429) and career hits (141) before graduating in 2012, playing one season at Indiana Wesleyan University and getting a degree at Purdue University. Because of a knee injury, Spencer switched to golf. He got his high school diploma in 2016.

The Kings celebrate 26 years of marriage March 9.

There have been plenty of baseball successes to celebrate, too.

After the 1999 season, Brown left as head coach and Corey Van Skyock took over as NC head coach for three seasons. King became head coach in 2003, meaning that 2017 is his 15th as head coach and 23rd in the program. He has three 20-win seasons in 14 seasons. That had happened just once in the previous 82 campaigns at New Castle.

King, the school’s 20th head coach since 1907, is now the all-time baseball coaching victory leader for the Trojans at 219-171-1 with North Central Conference titles in 2005 and 2013 (New Castle left the NCC for the Hoosier Heritage Conference after the 2012-13 school year). Trailing King on the victory list is Huffman (who passed away in 2009) at 195-179-3 (1978-93) and Rex Brooks at 169-150 (1958-76).

King, an IHSBCA district representative, has coached five all-staters and four IHSBCA All-Stars (King coached in the 2014 IHSBCA North-South All-Star Series), including 2013 Indiana Mr. Baseball Trey Ball (a left-handed pitcher and first-round selection by the Boston Red Sox). Ben Smith (Class of 2003) was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles and is now out of baseball.

The student-athlete is also emphasized for the Trojans. The American Baseball Coaches Association recognized three programs from Indiana for academics in 2015-16 — Andrean, Lafayette Central Catholic and New Castle (3.44 team grade-point average).

The program has also grown. There were 27 players in King’s last season as JV coach. When he took over the varsity reins, he asked for a third squad (then known as C-team) and he now carries 40 to 45 players per year and has seven assistant coaches — Wayne Graham, Tony Gregory, Clint Garrard and Matt York (pitching coach) on the varsity with Rob Chesher, Josh Barber, Kelly Rector and Frank McMahon at the lower levels.

King draws a line between counseling and coaching. The are both about motivating students to achieve. It might mean giving an incentive to raise a grade or getting a more batting practice time.

On the field, the Trojans operate by the mantras of “you control what you can control” and “maximize your potential.”

“Not every ballplayer is going to be Division I or drafted and you can’t control calls by the umpire,” says King. “And be the best you can be everyday.”

For New Castle in 2017, it’s about getting back to basics and fundamentals. The Trojans “Trust the Process.”

Just like their coach trusted the winding path he was on.

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Brad King enters his 15th season as head baseball coach and 23rd in the program at New Castle High School in 2017. The 1989 NCHS graduate is the school’s all-time wins leader.