What does it take to get to the MLB from the State of Michigan?
By Mike Schmidt, Advantage Strength Coach and Baseball Coach
Being a division one baseball player and coaching high school varsity for 5 years, the sport of baseball has always intrigued me. It’s a thinking game. A technical game. An individual and team sport and a game about numbers. It’s about finesse. It’s America’s pastime. When playing the sport at an adolescent age you are constantly humbled and unsure of outcomes, therefore always reminded to find a way to get better. It wouldn’t be all that bad if you could continually practice “outside”. However, where we live, that’s not always the case.
So what do you practice? Hitting? Pitching? Defense? Base Running? Do you strength train? There are so many aspects to this game that one can work on. However, looking at the demands of the game one would think defense would be the winner, right? But you have to score to win the game. Baseball is one of the only sports where the defense has the ball. Think about it. Most sports the offense has the ball.
As player and as a coach, my outlooks and philosophies on the game have changed. I was an offensive juggernaut. I loved to hit. I hit and hit and hit. I could do it inside and feel accomplished and outside it felt even better. This helped me propel my career to the division one level. However, and interestingly enough, players are not listed by when they hit in the line-up, yet they are designated and warranted a defensive position, if they hit right or left handed and what arm they throw with (John Smith, R/R, SS or INF). Thats it! However, you may be thinking players carry a batting average. This is true. But is it really known at the high school level? Or better yet, is it accurate? Besides this point, defense has become a main stay in my coaching style. And more specifically, in my strength and conditioning career, it drives me to understand the health and maintenance of the overhead athlete. This is a continual grind of sifting through research (Journal of Sport Medicine, Journal of Strength and Conditioning, etc) and trial and error (what works and what doesn’t work) methodology. I say trial and error because everyone is different. Hence, to me it remains a customized mystery for that type of athlete. And thus, my drive to find what works for you.
Let’s take a closer look at the facts. In the last 3 years, the MLB first-player draft teams have selected 50 players from the state of Michigan*. Out of those 50 players, seven have been selected in the first 10 rounds. One of those players was a high-schooler. The rest were 4-year college players. More interesting, two of those seven players played high school baseball in neighboring states before coming to a 4-year school in Michigan. Why bring this up? Well 1) I like numbers, 2) What does it take to make it? and 3) can you do it from out of high school? The facts say, slim chances. (However, no data has been collected of those Michigan high-schoolers who played at out-of-state colleges.) The percentages of making it to the big leagues, plummets to a dwindling 11% being selected after round 10 and furthermore, 7% after round 20**. And thats by being drafted by an organization! Think about it for a second, 11% and 7% percent when your drafted to making it to the league. Therefore, one my goals working at Advantage Strength includes assisting those (youth, high-school and collegiate players) that aspire to be selected in one of the top 10 rounds of the MLB first-year player draft and turning around these percentages. This includes working hand-in-hand with our top notch pitching instructors, Tyler Burgoon – former Triple AAA pitcher – and Alan Oaks, still active, and other performance strength and conditioning coaches, Brian Sipotz and Darryl Nelson.