Games or Showcases?
As coaches are making decisions on what events to attend and where to see the prospects they covet, choices must be made to decide the venues and events to see them in. Some coaches prefer to see more talent in one place in a showcase setting while others like to see the pitcher in a more meaningful competitive game that will usually have far less talent on the field. With that, we want this weeks panel of coaches to share with us which scenario do they prefer to see. A less meaningful inning or two against better talent, or regular game situation with that pitcher facing lesser talent?
University of Memphis
I believe you have to delve into both scenarios. That is not a cop out by all means. You have to attend these showcases to identify the talent even though it is a short burst of two innings of airing it out and heading to the next one. The latter is the preferable option for me. After identifying the arms I want to pursue it is invaluable to see them pitch an extended amount of innings. Sure the talent may not be as great top to bottom in the line-up of a regular game but that is my job to assess that. There have been many hitters that I have passed on because I thought that the type of pitching they faced they should have done better. I think it works both ways. This answer goes hand in hand with the previous question earlier this year on statistics being important or not. I think it is important to find the prospects you want, it is even more important to get to know them to see the type of fit they will be in your program. Too many kids do this showcase thing with the hope of being good at the right time in front o the right guys. Some even train for those situations. I remember about ten years ago a case in point was, an athlete that trained with weighted balls for 5 weeks prior to a big showcase elevated his velocity and wowed the crowd. Got a great scholarship and fizzed shortly as a result of poor command and drop in velocity after being taken. The more info you have on a kid the better…against poor talent he should dominate, against great talent he should show something more than just an arm.
University of San Francisco
I would rather see a game with less overall talent no matter the importance. It may give me a better insight and result in a less crowed event. At the risk of not answering the question cleanly, the level or importance and competition is less important than the demand for the players. Too many seeing the same players, usually a showcase with great talent, increases demand and the chance I’ll make an impulse mistake. At the same time if a pitcher is out-competing hitters at that quiet league game in the local park, it’s not bright lights that drives him. He loves the challenge itself. For our program this means spending extra time off the beaten path and moving much slower. Since we can’t move faster than other programs we work to see the game more often than the showcase, even if it means less concentrated talent.
University of Delaware
I would rather try and identify kids in a larger setting, say a Sophomore/Junior in high school. In those snap shot camps and showcases, you can identify the things you like in particular (be it mound presence, velocity, command, rhythm and tempo) and then go follow them in a high school game setting in the spring. With the recruiting game being sped up nowadays, decisions have to be made quickly on what you like and fits your program needs while also finding the time to see them in a real game situation
Washington State University
While the showcase events are great for seeing multiple arms in a manner of days, I prefer the ability to see a pitcher perform in a regular competition. Showcases can often mask issues a pitcher has due to the shortened appearance schedule. While watching a regular event you can see how the pitcher maintains velocity, the shape of his breaking ball and how he uses it, how he deals with adversity and success, and the competitiveness and confidence he performs with. The latter is the most important part of the equation and is often unseen in a short appearance in a showcase event.
Illinois State University
I believe both settings are beneficial when evaluating pitchers. Showcases are great because you get to see multiple arms in one setting and can evaluate arm action, velocity, stuff, etc. and from there build a list of prospects you wish to follow based on your programs needs. In my opinion it is crucial to go see these pitchers throw in a live game setting to see if their “stuff” translates throughout the course of a game. Trying to make a decision based on 1-2 innings in a showcase setting is very risky. However, using the showcase setting as a barometer and then seeing them pitch in 2-3 games, you have a much better feel if that prospect can help your program.
A showcase setting is probably more beneficial because of the amount of players you are able to see in comparison to watching a high school game. However, I do prefer watching high school games because of the team concept. I feel that you are able to gain a better evaluation of a kid by watching how they compete and interact with their teammates. Usually showcases don’t even keep score. Therefore, a lot of situations in a competitive game are not present throughout a showcase setting. You can still evaluate a player’s ability in a showcase, but it is more difficult to evaluate some of the intangibles that you have the opportunity to see in a high school tournament game, for example.