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A friend's story from back in the day.

Played D1 baseball. Sat his freshman year. Fought his way into the lineup sophomore year.

Junior year he posts really good numbers and was an offensive leader on the team. Played every game.

He was all primed for a great senior season after his 3rd year. But, the school brought in a freshman at his position who was outstanding and took away his starting job. He was a part-time reserve in his last year.

This happen more than people realize?

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@Francis7 posted:

A friend's story from back in the day.

Played D1 baseball. Sat his freshman year. Fought his way into the lineup sophomore year.

Junior year he posts really good numbers and was an offensive leader on the team. Played every game.

He was all primed for a great senior season after his 3rd year. But, the school brought in a freshman at his position who was outstanding and took away his starting job. He was a part-time reserve in his last year.

This happen more than people realize?

I will make it simple....yes, everywhere.

Last edited by TPM

It happens all the time. You earn your spot every year, every practice and every game. Coaches are recruiting your position before you show up on campus and continue to do so the entire time you are there. College baseball is not for the those that sit around once they've earned a spot. It is a grind!

It absolutely happens way more than we'd like to think.  The math demands it.  35+ guys on a roster, but only 9 spots on the field.  My guess is upwards of 90% of all college players have a total college experience (1-5 years) that is almost nothing like what they (and their parents) saw happening in their heads.

At the competitive level a player should never look over their shoulder. They should never become complacent. They should always strive to be better. Every recruiting class the coaching staff is looking for better players.

My son’s roommate went from freshman starter, to soph platoon player, to junior year on the bench to being told he wasn’t needed senior year. The team got better and more talented. He didn’t. His attitude also declined.

My son returned in the fall redshirt soph year to find a JuCo All American at the position he thought he had won mid season the previous year. He had to battle to win another position.

One if my son’s travel teammates was a top recruit at a top ten program. For three years the coaching staff tried to hand him the position. Each year he was on the bench by the beginning of conference play. It’s about winning. The names in the lineup don’t matter.

Last edited by RJM

Francis,

I think this happens at all levels, not just D1.  Coaches job is to get the best talent possible through admissions and onto the baseball field.  I've seen this situation play out especially after injuries.  Guys lose practice and playing time and it is difficult to win that position back because the player doesn't have the reps.

What I find interesting about your story is that he was a part-time reserve his senior year.   This tells me his skillset was limiting, as they didn't consider him for another position in the lineup or value his bat enough to get him in the lineup.

It happens.

@JETSR71 posted:

Top academy owner said his biggest mistake in high school was never learning to play second base.  In HS, he was the stud shortstop.  In college, everybody was a stud shortstop, about 7 of them.  He had to learn second base on the fly.

College reminded me of LL all stars. You start with a roster full of pitcher, catcher, shortstop and center fielders. Then you figure out where else they can play. In LL the players were the top two or three on their regular season team. Everyone in college was likely the best player on their high school roster.

I remember freshmen showing up thinking they fart perfume. They discovered differently very quickly with thirty-four other best players from their high school. It’s a shock for some college athletes.

@JETSR71 posted:

Top academy owner said his biggest mistake in high school was never learning to play second base.  In HS, he was the stud shortstop.  In college, everybody was a stud shortstop, about 7 of them.  He had to learn second base on the fly.

   I may have told this story before but it applies to this situation so here goes. The first day of JuCo baseball our HC lined us up and one by one had all 30 players step forward, introduce themselves, and state what position they played. 8 of us said SS. After everyone had spoken our HC pointed at Bobby Merrifield and said that’s my SS.  All you other guys that said SS will have to learn another position.
  Point being, you are way better off if you learn to play multiple positions before you show up on a college campus.

@adbono posted:

   I may have told this story before but it applies to this situation so here goes. The first day of JuCo baseball our HC lined us up and one by one had all 30 players step forward, introduce themselves, and state what position they played. 8 of us said SS. After everyone had spoken our HC pointed at Bobby Merrifield and said that’s my SS.  All you other guys that said SS will have to learn another position.
  Point being, you are way better off if you learn to play multiple positions before you show up on a college campus.

My son was a shortstop in middle school through his first year on varsity soph year of high school. He was an all conference shortstop. But on my 13u to 16u teams he played wherever the pitcher came from except catcher and first. We had a better shortstop from another conference. It allowed for the least disruption of the defensive alignment. He was versatile enough to play everywhere.

The summer after soph year his 17u travel coach decided his best position was center. His high school coach moved him to center. There was a decent soph shortstop coming up to varsity. He was recruited as an outfielder. He started for two and a half seasons at seven different positions. It was an example of “you hit, you play.” They kept recruiting new studs. He kept hitting. He played somewhere. His nickname was Zo after Ben Zobrist.

Last edited by RJM

Related story.

Freshmen joins program and has an outstanding fall with the team followed by an impressive winter training. Wins starting job for the spring and is a starter in their first 4 games.

However, he bats .190 and strikes out in one-third of his at bats.

By game 5, he's on the bench.

Welcome to college baseball.

@2022NYC posted:

The coach saw flaws that needed correction. Next man up.

The next man up part is right. As for your first sentence, it may or may not be right. My bet is what the coach saw was lack of production and that’s all that matters to him. It’s usually up to the player to figure out the problem and fix it - especially in season. Coaches may or may not help. Future opportunities during that season may or may not present. This is the part of college baseball that no HS player is ready for.

@Francis7 posted:

Related story.

Freshmen joins program and has an outstanding fall with the team followed by an impressive winter training. Wins starting job for the spring and is a starter in their first 4 games.

However, he bats .190 and strikes out in one-third of his at bats.

By game 5, he's on the bench.

Welcome to college baseball.

This is about as common as “dog bites man.”

@Francis7 posted:

Related story.

Freshmen joins program and has an outstanding fall with the team followed by an impressive winter training. Wins starting job for the spring and is a starter in their first 4 games.

However, he bats .190 and strikes out in one-third of his at bats.

By game 5, he's on the bench.

Welcome to college baseball.

I think adbonos reply was pretty accurate.

Questions...first 4 college games, how many at bats, is he a prospect?  Is he on scholarship? How well or not does he play his position? What position?  Was he moved in the lineup before this happened? 

I do not believe that any player actually wins a job right away, but rather is just  the first guy to prove he belongs.

Rosters change often.   If this is a talented freshman, the coach develops rather than replaces, he will get more opportunities.

Other coaches may have no clue.  They just keep replacing instead of developing.

Then you are on your own.

@adbono posted:

The next man up part is right. As for your first sentence, it may or may not be right. My bet is what the coach saw was lack of production and that’s all that matters to him. It’s usually up to the player to figure out the problem and fix it - especially in season. Coaches may or may not help. Future opportunities during that season may or may not present. This is the part of college baseball that no HS player is ready for.

you are spot on with this, i find it to be one of the most confounding things in college baseball.

Coaches have watched these guys for the entire fall, winter and preseason. they decide this kid is my best chance to win because the only thing that matters is winning, play terrible for first 5 games and get kicked to the curb, not worked with, figure it out for yourself and maybe next year...and we celebrate what amazing mangers these guys are?

how could you have been so wrong to begin with? assuming this a good kid who is engaged with your program...if it is a long year why would you not want to continue work with a player who you thought was a starter a couple days ago? Why would you think it is in the best interest of your program to leave the kid to figure it out for themselves?

It is the part of college baseball no kid is prepared for, mostly because it is stupid and in the big picture shortsighted along with just plain dumb. It is truly a loser mindset that will not produce max gains for the program over time.

I understand but I also see the situation we have at UT right now.  We have a back-up at 6 of the 8 positions that is a blink away from being as good.  If you mess up and lose your spot you may never get it back.  I feel the frustration but I also believe you play your best.  Some are better hitters and get on the field for their bat and some are better fielders and get on the field for their glove.  But if your strength lets you down for just one day and the other player behind you gets in they may never let you get it back.  What is wrong with that?  The strongest survive.  You started because you were the hottest on day one but the next guy up is hot now and unless he cools off you just sit and wait.  Great position to be in as a HC.  If you do your recruiting right, that is the situation you have every year.  We have what are projected to be 2 first round picks sitting the bench right now.  A kid who has sat for 3 years finally got his chance and he is bound and determined to not let anyone take his position, as of now.

it is the same with pitching.  Every D1 has 20 plus pitchers but on an average weekend will only use 6-8 of them.  The others have to get their time in midweeks or nothing.  I was asked this weekend why a coach would bring back 2 guys that relieved Friday on Sunday when there were so many on the bench that hadn't thrown.  Answer.  To see if they can do it before they have to know if they can do it.

The other big answer is coaches are trying to figure out who will help in the long run and who will need to be redshirted.  Heard 3 SEC coaches allude to it in interviews this weekend.

Francis; we need additional background on your "Freshman" player. Did he teach himself how to "adjust"?

Was he missing the pitches by 1" or 4"? Where was his eyes thru the swing? Does he have access to his at bat video.

He can watch his AB's and make corrections on his swing and approach at the plate. Accepting the Coach's decision does NOT produce a strong team.

Bob

Very limited experience, 2017 at Arkansas - It looked to me that every role was up or grabs until the season started. It seemed Van Horn figured out who his guys were, and he'd give them some room to struggle through rough spots. If the rough spots lasted too long, he'd make a change. Unless the change lit the world on fire, he'd bring back his original guy, who'd have a different sense of urgency. I think the goal was let the players know it was their spot to lose and that mistakes/dry spells are tolerated as long it's not the new norm. I think this took some of the immense pressure off the players. Pitcher's were similar, but not as much tolerance. If you got into couple games where he just wanted strikes to let the fielders work, and it didn't happen - that might be it for the year.  

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