Pitching in a Showcase
Pitching at a showcase can be one of the biggest career changing events in a young ballplayer’s life. Throughout my years in this game I have been on both sides of a showcase; whether it be on the mound or behind the screen. Over the past two winters I have worked five showcases for PBR Indiana, where I have assisted in evaluating the pitchers that attend the events. In my high school career I attended multiple showcases, one of which ultimately led to my signing with Division 1 Charleston Southern University. After my senior year of college I was undrafted, but still felt the urge to try and continue my career in baseball. I decided to hit the pro open tryout circuit. My first stop was the Chicago White Sox tryout down in Birmingham, AL. After a seven hour drive and a nights sleep in a cheap hotel I headed to the ballpark, where I soon realized I was one of over 130 hopeful ballplayers. This open tryout was run no differently than any high school showcase I had been a part of in years past; warm up on the right field bullpen mound then go and throw in front of the scout and the radar gun on the left field bullpen mound. 15 pitches. I drove seven hours for the opportunity to throw 15 pitches in front of a White Sox scout… As it turned out these 15 pitches would dramatically change my life in baseball.
When it comes to approaching how to go about pitching in a showcase there are the obvious physical goals that come to mind: Locate your fastball, throw your off speed over the plate, have sound mechanics, maybe even light up the radar gun. Don’t get me wrong these are all extremely important when it comes to having a successful showcase, but there are other things that every young player should know about throwing at a showcase.
There is one easy way to separate yourself from every other pitcher at the showcase and that is being yourself. No two pitchers are exactly a like, so by focusing on being the best pitcher you know how to be you are automatically separating yourself from everyone else. With this being said it is important that you don’t try to be someone that you are not. If you are a control pitcher who’s velocity doesn’t reach higher than 84 mph then what is the point of trying to get on the mound and throw 90? In reverse if you are a guy whose best quality is a hard fastball then don’t get on the mound and try to paint the corners at 80%, show your hard fastball! If you are attending a showcase then obviously you have a desire to play the game at the next level. Believe me when I say that if you want to play college baseball there is a place for you to play. Not every high school player can sign a division 1 letter of intent, that is a fact… but there are so many more opportunities out there if playing baseball after high school is what you want to do. By being yourself at a showcase you allow companies like PBR to do their job, which is to get you playing college ball at a place that best fits you. Not being yourself at a showcase will do nothing but hurt you in the long run.
Pitching in a showcase and in a game are very similar in terms of how you want to carry yourself on the mound. Positive body language will do more for you in a scouts eyes then you might think. If you react negatively to a bad pitch in a showcase how do you think you will react during an actual game situation? This type of stuff gets observed and taken note of by scouts doing evaluations at a showcase, “Kid has great stuff, but lacks mental make-up.” I have written that exact phrase down on a players evaluation sheet multiple times. From my experience evaluating pitchers at a showcase there is nothing worse than seeing a young kid let a few bad pitches ruin his entire day. There is a common phrase in baseball, “Don’t let one bad pitch turn into two bad pitches.” This adage is even more relevant when it comes to pitching in a showcase. Each pitcher is given a set number of pitches so by letting one bad pitch affect the next he is doing nothing but hurting his chances of showing his best stuff. If you yank a fastball down in the dirt to your glove side, WHO CARES! Make your next fastball force the scout to forget about that bad one.
Don’t Let a Bad Day Stop You
Everyone has their bad days. Before my senior year of high school, at the biggest showcase in Illinois, I topped out at 81 mph. Five months later I was hitting 87 and signing my letter of intent to play Division 1 baseball. Situations like this happen all the time. Maybe you were sick, maybe you had slept poorly the night before, maybe your arm just felt bad that day, whatever it was don’t let it stop you from chasing your dream. There are almost an unlimited amount of opportunities to get seen by either scouts or coaches that will help you get to the next level. Take advantage of this. If you want to play college ball you have to get seen by people that will help you get there. The only way to get seen is to go throw, and throw, and throw.
– Stew Brase