The best coaches in the world can not create talent. They can work with players to attain their potential but I firmly believe Pro Guys are BORN THEN MADE.
I have been extremely blessed over the years to work with some incredible talent.
I have worked with 9 Middle Infielders that were fortunate enough to play professional baseball (Joey Hawkins, Pete Orr, Steven Wickens, Jerimiah Sammy, Kyle Gilligan, Malik Collymore, JD Williams, Steven Condotta, Tyler Johnstone, Daniel Pinero)
What a coach can do is see talent or potential and come up with a plan for that player to reach their highest possible level… but the player has to do the work.
When Pete Orr came to my camp in the spring of 1996 he was more known for his ability on the mound than his play at shortstop and he was actually listed on the camp roster as a RHP. The first thing we did at the camp was run 60’s.
Pete ran a 6.6 and was the fastest player at camp. I immediately told Pete (who threw mid 80’s on the mound as a HS junior) he was now a middle infielder. That winter we worked extremely hard on his defense.
After 2 years at Galveston College in Texas, Pete signed with the Atlanta Braves. Pete went on to play 16 years of professional baseball and he played in the MLB with Atlanta, Washington, and Philadelphia. He also played in the Olympics, 4 World Baseball Classics and scored the winning run in the Gold Medal game in the 2015 Pan Am Games.
Another player I got a chance to work with for 3 years was Daniel Pinero. Danny was an unique middle infielder. Being 6’5” tall many scouts told me I was doing him a disservice by keeping him at shortstop. Some said he should be playing a corner position and some even said he should be pitching.
I was almost as stubborn as Danny so he stayed at SS. What they didn’t know was he was an incredible athlete and could have been a D1 point guard if he chose that route.
After his senior year, Danny was a high draft choice of the Houston Astros. He decided to turn down Pro Ball for an opportunity to play the University of Virginia. While at UVA Danny started at SS all 3 years and played in 2 College World Series Championship Games winning one in 2015.
He is now a middle infielder in the Detroit Tigers system.
I have also witnessed many talented middle infielders get switched to other positions because a scout or coach didn’t recognize their gifts or got frustrated with errors they were making and didn’t understand why the errors were being made.
In 1993, Derek Jeter set the South Atlantic League record with 56 errors in 126 games. It would have been very easy for the Yankees to move Jeter to CF. Instead he worked tirelessly with Brian Butterfield to become an incredible SS.
If you want to reach the highest levels possible in the middle infield PRACTICE is not enough. You must TRAIN!
Strong Legs with Mobile Hips, Quick/ Controlled Feet, Sure Hands, Quick Hands and Smooth Actions are all things that should be worked on everyday.
At the College or Pro Level… YOUR JOB IS TO TURN THE DOUBLE PLAY
If you are not working on your DOUBLE PLAY everyday you are NOT DOING YOUR JOB
After high school, there is a place for everyone with a bit of talent to play. I’m not saying everyone will be a pro or even D1 player but if you put in the work there is a college program that would love to have you.
TIME TO GET TO WORK