Phoenix - Over there years, travel baseball events have remained relatively the same. Teams participate in "Pool Play" games, where they are grouped with other teams to see who will advance to a "Championship" type round. Eventually, after 3 or 4 pool games, 3 or 4 playoff games, teams are depleted of pitching, players are tired and sore and by the time the championship game is played, most of the kids are already wanting to go home. While the games do produce excellent competition, stats and a all that, they do not always produce a great opportunity for the players to be scouted efficiently.
"Coaches are trying to win events they enter. It's the purpose of entering them in the first place," said Prospect Wire Director of Events, Brian Werner. "The coaches are going to play the best players, so sure, those kids are going to get tons of reps over the course of the event. But if a team is fighting to advance and doesn't, there are kids that may only get a handful of opportunities to showcase their skills."
Over the summer, Prospect Wire Owner Matt Bomeisl came up with an idea that would give players a better chance to showcase their talents, without the stress for coaches to get all their players into 7 inning games.
"We wanted to give coaches, and the players, a chance to play games that were not only longer so kids could get more AB's, but so coaches could throw their pitchers longer without the worry of having to save a kid for later in the event," stated Bomeisl. "Too many times our staff was not getting to fully scout players, because they would only throw 1 or 2 innings, get a couple AB's, before someone else was in there. If you are watching more than one field, it's not easy to get many kids written up."
Based on this, the Prospect Wire Fall National Series was born. Instead of 7 inning games with shortened time limits to keep things moving, teams will play 3 nine inning games, much like they would at the college level during a weekend series. There will not be any playoffs or consolation games. Time limits are extended as well, from the usual 2 hours, out to 2:45.
"Now coaches will have a full 9 innings to get their players as many reps as they want," said Werner. "There won't be a need anymore to save arms, so coaches can extend pitchers longer, which in turn gives our scouts plenty of chances to get radar gun readings and evaluate all aspects of their mechanics without feeling rushed to close out a report."
Prospect Wire held it's first National Series weekend on Sept. 14-16 in Ruther Glen, VA at the Virginia Sports Complex. Overall, based on the feedback from the teams and players, everyone had a great experience in Virginia.
"There were a few hitters I saw who had at least 15 at bats during their 3 games," stated Werner. "Our staff got tons of good reports on kids. They are playing loose, because there is no tournament playoff. They are just out there playing and showcasing skills. I was a little worried at first that coaches would balk at the no playoffs, but all of them really enjoyed the format. Many were looking forward to future National Series events."
"This was our first Prospect Wire event, and it was a great experience for my kids," said Omar Enriquez, Manager of the Frederick Rangers. "We will definitely be playing again next year, and may even travel to Florida to play in some other events. Prospect Wire gave us a great opportunity and we are very thankful."
Walt Horseman, Manager of the Harford Prospects, mirrored the sentiments. "We are a young team, so playing in front of colleges is new to us. This type of event gave our kids the chance to play, without the nerves of worrying if they won or lost, which is a huge help when you are trying to get the kids to play like they are capable of. This was our first showcase event and we will certainly be back for more."
The National Series continues this weekend in Goodyear, AZ at the Goodyear Sports Complex, home of the Cincinnatti Reds & Cleveland Indians Spring Training. Games get underway Friday night (9/28) at 7:00 pm, and continue throughout the weekend.