ORLANDO - A few random thoughts from around the event:
1. Pitcher velocities down
It's pretty typical at the end of the summer for pitcher's velocities to be down 1-2 mph - if not more. A lot of pitchers have been going strong from February and March all the way through August with little rest. Considering how hot it was on the field in Orlando, it makes even more sense. I was able to speak to a few college coaches in the pressbox who felt if they saw a guy who was 84-87ish as a 2013 grad at the end of the summer, that they would be highly interested to learn more about that guy. That player is on the backend of summer, and still 30 months away from playing his first collegiate game. It's a great opportunity to scout a player and see if he can get people out by command and secondary stuff without having his best day.
2. College Coaches loving the pressbox
After a long grueling summer of recruiting, college coaches were loving the pressbox. As parents and players often complain about doubleheaders in the summer heat, college coaches are usually out there for quadruple headers from sunrise to 10pm each day - running from field to field. For them to be able to sit down in some A/C and watch every pitch and every swing on one field was a nice change of pace for them. It also helped them maintain focus. There were as many as a 14 coaches in the pressbox at one point in the event.
3. A pleasure dealing with underclassmen
As players progress throughout their high school careers, something happens to them as they become juniors and seniors. Many start to lose passion for the game and these types of events. I think many become burnt out, they begin going through the motions of just another event. It's a breath of fresh air to deal with underclassmen who are genuinely excited to be at the event and played hard. As players begin to get invited to more and more events, and advisors, and agents and colleges start tugging on them, I hope they always remember why they are out at the baseball field in the first place.
4. Players adjusting to BBCOR Bats
I've been to a few events this summer where players struggle in the early going to swing the new BBCOR bats and as the event progresses they get better and better. This event was no different. It was rare to see a homerun early on, but by the last day, balls were flying out. Naturally, hitters also adjusted to the level of pitching and began getting more barrel on it. It's a constant reminder that players need to continue to hit and hit and hit some more - because "he who hits....plays". In the age of 60 yard dash times, and radar guns, and everything else, a lot of people forget the most important aspect of the game: hitting.
You can run a 6.5 60, and throw 90 mph, but if you can't hit there is a minimal future in the game. On the flip side, you can throw 75mph, and run a 7.5 60, but if you can really, really hit, there is always a future in this game. There is no radar gun or stopwatch that can measure how well a player hits and that is why it becomes a forgotten part of scouting for parents, players and even travel ball coaches who get caught up in tangible values that they can measure.
5. Hydrate, rest, and taking care of your body
We saw a few players who had to drop out of the event with heat-related injuries. We saw a few nearly pass out. We saw a few with cramps that had to be pulled from the game. We saw a bunch of vomit with french fries and cheeseburgers in there. It's not to say that these players didn't take care of their bodies, but it's important to note that the summer time is when the most scouting and recruiting goes on - and players need to take extra special care of their bodies to perform at a high level.
Florida is especially humid - and players lose a lot of water via sweat. And when you are fatigued, cramping, etc your play is definitely effected. You may only get one shot to perform for the school of your dreams and if you are not properly hydrated and cramping - your performance may be down. There is very little, if any, interaction between players and coaches and they have no idea if you are cramping or struggling. All they can go by is what they see.
Always make sure you get a proper night sleep. When your friends are playing a video game tournament in the hotel room or stayting at the pool until late, make sure you get some sleep. While your friends are getting triple cheeseburgers from McDonald's, try and get some quality fuel in your system that won't make you sick. And if you do happen to play in the video game tournament, make sure you have a few bottles of water handy and are constantly sipping them.