Gamers families have consistently expressed two things to me, 1) being that they are looking for college baseball opportunities, and 2) that they are not sure which of the numorous opportunities they recieve are worth investing in. I want to offer some clarity by defining two types of baseball events which are: Showcases and Tournaments. Each of these events have a different purpose and benefit. These benefits are defined below:
Showcases- Showcases are to baseball as a combine is to football. Showcases are baseball events designed to highlight skills sets that are desirable in baseball.
There is a type of a player that is well suited for showcases which I call an Alpha. An Alpha player is a player possessing a skill above the benchmarks of the level they are striving for… In other words Alpha are athletically superior ball players. These are the performance benchmarks for a college level players:
Average College Fastball/Arm Strength
85 Miles Per Hour
Fastball plus one or two secondary pitches (10 MPH speed differential)
Exit Velocity (Batting)
90 Miles Per Hour
60 Yard Dash Time
Catcher Pop Time
PROS and CONS of Showcases
PROS- Showcases go directly to seeing “what’s under the hood” of a ball player. They eliminate the risk of having to create a positive performance in a game/tournament setting, to attract positive attention.
CONS- Showcases do not have a relevance to attach to expected in game performance. Example:
Jose Altuve of the World Series Champion, Houston Astros, would probably showcase poorly at a top high school showcase, let along a professional level showcase… He is the current American League MVP for Major League baseball.
Jason Hayward of the Chicago Cubs, who is an absolute stud on all scouting scales would probably showcase amongst the top of all MLB Players, but is an average offensive performer.
Not all top players possess these skills. With that established, showcases are not a great setting for all players. In other words, showcases identify top athletes and not top baseball players. They do not provide an environment for a polished player to show their ability to impact a game. The assumption that they do would be as short sited as thinking that the “Spelling Bee” would be the best place the find the next great writer… There is just a lot more to it than that.
Tournaments- Tournaments establish a sense of pageantry around a group. Teams are built through motivation and leadership. A community fights for a common goal. This is a great environment to Beta test a team or player, which is why tournaments are so heavily scouted. A Beta player is a player that consistently performs well in games. In other words, measuring a players Alpha is measuring a players skills against the benchmarks of the highest level players, while measuring a players Beta is measure the expected performance of that player in the most competitive environments (The Real World).
PROS and CONS of Tournaments
PROS- The caliber of the tournaments that we attend gives our players instant credibility as our teams are grouped with the top programs in the country through highly exclusive, invitational tournaments. They offer our kids the opportunity to play in front of pro scouts and college recruiters and have offered the opportunity for Alaskan players to be offered scholarships.
CONS-The randomness of competitive games my not provide the opportunity for players to show their full range of ability.
I do believe that showcases are more beneficial to some players. A good example would be a pitcher with a great fastball but poor command or a hitter with great strength and power while having difficulty making consistent contact. These are Alpha athletes and attending a showcase allows a coach the opportunity to see their potential and decide if its worth the risk of bring these players in as a developmental project. This ultimately is a safer setting than going to a big tournament and struggling to throw strikes as pitcher, or from the hitters perspective, “punching out” repeatedly… I’ve had multiple players come through my program that I would personally consider to be “bad baseball players,” while in high school, that were given opportunities to play in college off of their performance in showcases.
*I would define “bad baseball players” as inconsistent players that are not mentally invested to contributing to a team effort in ball games. This may seem like a harsh judgment but being blessed with with a superior baseball skill means that in some cases, you aren’t as challenged to learn the intricacies of the game. Think of it as playing poker with automatic pocket A’s… A great example of this is the character Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh in the Movie Bull Durham.
It’s important for families to understand that all competitive baseball organizations, in some way shape or form, are in a “tournament model,” meaning there is a pool of teams fighting to win a championship of some sort. I’m putting this statement in all caps because all Alaskan players that aspire to play past high school need to understand this… THE ULTIMATE CHALLENGE FOR ALL ALASKAN PLAYERS IS TO OVERCOME THE BELIEVABILITY OF THEIR WORTHINESS AND ABILITY TO CONTRIBUTE TO A COMPETITIVE PROGRAM. College coaches and recruiter are challenged with making the right decisions in effort to create a winning team. Our players are not entitled to the top opportunities as there is no reliable proof, past the recommendation from creditable coaches, that they will be able to handle performing at the next level. It is the challenge and responsibility of all players that aspire to play in college or beyond to perform baseball in a manner that expresses that they are a better option than the next person, in striving for their goals.
In Gamers, we challenge this believability assumption by entering Alaskan players into the most competitive baseball tournaments in the country. With this approach, the players have the opportunity to raise their stock and the perceptual value of all Alaskan players through their ability to execute a well performed ball game against the top baseball organizations in America. In other words, we take a team oriented approach toward supporting players to reach individual goals and this is done through tournaments. Tournaments strength test our organization. This is important because the final judgment of every ball player wishing to continue in their baseball career will come down to in game production… Tournaments offer the opportunity to produce in games, in front of baseball decision makers, in a way that showcases do not. Eventually I will also offer showcases but for now I hope that these definitions can help your family in the decision making process of which events are best suited for your player.
Thanks for your interest!… Happy Holidays!