Germany's Benjamin Kleiner went to Indiana with coach Steve Farley's Butler Bulldogs.
France's Bertrand Rue, spent 2 amazing weeks with Caliendo Sports International in Chicago and was exposed to all levels of baseball, from youth to professional levels.
England's Pietro Sollecito was headed to Florida to attend coach Vodenlich's Wisonsin Whitewater Warhawks' Spring Training in Florida.
And of course, Belgian academy coach Filip Vandermeiren, who just got back from Arizona and has been spoiled with the Milwaukee Brewers.
All of them had a great experience and all host organizations have really enjoyed the chance to spread their knowledge and share their love of our game.
It is now time for you, to apply and possibly become one of the 2012 EBCA Exchange Program ambassadors in the US.
Become a member of the EBCA, apply and YOU may one of the lucky coaches to be featured on this blog in a few months and the experience related here as early as January may be YOURS.
The Instructional league is over and the complex is far less buzy then the previous 14 days.
I make a point to attending the last possible advanced team game at Peoria (though Intructional League is over, the advanced players are there for one more week).
The Brewers/Mariners team can't work the magic this time and their streak ends.
In the bottom of the 7th, with 1st and 2nd base loaded, a Mariners hitter fails to understand the bunt sign and eventually pops out. The rest is easy. We don't score and next innings, the baseball gods punish us for not taking care a execution and Goodyear (Indians/Reds) score 4 runs to blow the game open and take the win home.
When we arrive, the guys are like : " You guys went to the Stadium again, yesterday?".
"Yes", tough game". we reply
"I knew it" one of them said, "they jinxed us"
Baseball is full of superstition. Sportsmen are pretty superstitious in general but the baseball guys are at a different level.
Knowing that fact, we send the attention to another target.
"Well, we were not the ones who were howling like a Wolf, saying that Randy was going to get the job done and playing some Duran Duran's Hungry like the Wolf in the clubhouse"
"Com'on man, I was just trying to get some positive vibes for him, because nobody had faith".
All this is said with big smiles, as always with this very nice staff.
You could feel some kind of tension though.
We witnessed a lot of instruction out here during our stay. And clearly, the staff doesn't take it like a job, but more like a passion. You can feel a very good atmosphere between players and staff. The staff actually cares about the players. And for a small market team like the Brewers, that's a key.
But the ownership has spent some extra bucks this season and they want results. In baseball, everytime an organization feels like they don't get their money's worth, changes are likely to happen.
We get our breakfast.
Coaches and players eat breakfast between 7.30 and 8.30. They can choose between different types of cereals, bagels, bread, waffles, fruits, yogurt, jams... Pretty wide selection even for the pickiest persons.
7.30 - coach meeting.
Right after the meeting, we order our tickets online and use our coupon from yesterday to get seats in the 36th row, behind the 1st base dugout. this time, we order E-tickets, which should save a lot of drama.
Off to the field. the coaches decided to make it competitive today. After the warm up and play-catch, a target, maybe a bit bigger than a strike zone, is set about 30 meters away from the players. Bob Misciz is tossing balls to the players and they need to make the throw in the same action. It's catchers vs infielders, vs outfielders. It's a surprisingly tight game but the infielders are eventually winning it, overcoming an early deficit.
Then, it's time for DP Busters. The sliding mat is set up on the field and a dummy is held vertically by the coaches. Players need to learn how to break up the double play. It seems pretty awkward for some of them but they get better at it by the end of the practice.
We called the agency and they don't really know what happened. No real valid information about how we will get our precious passes.
Filip is on the field with the infielders, hitting some fungoes with Ned Yost Jr (Son of the Royals manager) Matt Erickson (manager of class A Wisconsion Timber Rattlers) and infield coordinator Bob Miczick.
Twenty minutes later, theboutfielders get out of the cages and on the field for the IPS (Individual Position Skills) while infielder sand catcher shead to the cages to take care of their hitting routines.
We have a full staff again as all the coaches who were in Milwaukee during the play-off week-end are back.
At 9.00 AM, we take the bus to Glendale to face the Dodgers.
Glendale, like more and more MLB facilities in Arizona, is hoting 2 MLB clubs. The Dodgers and the White Sox.
Rockies and Diamondbacks share the newest Stadium in Scottsdale's Salt River Fields, Royals and Rangers in Surprise, Padres and Mariners in Peoria, Indians and Reds in Goodyear.
It's a relatively new complex and the stadium, Camelback ranch, is shared by both teams. A way for the host city to make sure they have a home game every day during Spring Training.
For the rest, each team has its individual facilities (gym, offices, practice fields...) and you can spend a lot of time on the site without seeing a players from the other organization.
|Pitching coach Elvin Nina walking towards the field on the gorgeous Dodgers' side of Glendale complex|
- The membership record of each candidate will be taken into account in the pre-election process
Everybody here is looking forward to game 3 that will be played Tuesday in Phoenix. A win by Milwaukee at Chase Field would open the doors of the NLCS to the Brew Crew.
We are still short staffed here as the guys who were invited to Milwaukee by the front office will only be back for Tuesday.
The day stats a bit later then usual. The staff meets 30 minutes later than usual and on-field activities only start at 10.
We get to hit some fungoes for the inflielders with IF coach Bob Miczick.
Catchers, outfielders and pitchers are spread out on the different fields and get their work in as every day.
|First basemen Nick Ramirez (4th round draft pick 2011) and Hunter Morris (4th round draft pick 2010 who took part to the Arizona Fall League last year)|
All IF positions are filled and 3 situations are been worked one after each other.
Short days with the Brewers at the end of the week.
A good half of the staff was invited by the front office to fly to Milwaukee to attend the games of the NLDS in Milwaukee.
So, we get the chance to do more things on the field.
Good work out. The infielders are sharp.
We took some pictures and videos of the exercises.
7.30 - Coach meeting.
8.00 - Early work with the infielders. Some news interesting drills and points are brought and and we take some notes of those.
8.40 - IPS Individual Position Skills.
We follow the catcher on one side, with Charlie Greene putting up a clinic in stance and signals.
On another field, we take some notes on outfield drills, PFPs and infield drills.
It's a short day, (Camp day, our team doesn't face another team), we head to the field to play an intrasquad game.
Filip, arrived a day early but didn't take part to on-field activities because the Brewers want all their staff to pass a physical before they clear them to take the field.
Tuesday, by 9.30, that was done and things could really begin.
Here are some of the highlights of the day.
At 8.35, the pitchers who pitched on Monday gather in the classroom and look at the videos taken during their outing.
Pretty fascinating software. The pitchers are filmed from 4 different angles. The software, after some preparation work has been done, allows to see the pitching sequence of every batter of the game. Also, if you want to check all the low pitches on the video, you just click to a zone of the strike-zone, and it displays all the videos of those pitches, one after the other, in the angle you chose. Coaches do comment but not too much. Players need to see and be critical about what they did.
The thing wit the pitchers is that you sense a process where the pitchers is empowered in his own development. He is taught to become his own coach, down the road.
The European Baseball Coaches Association is launching its new website.
This tool will help the organization to communicate more efficiently and more transparently with the baseball coaches interested in growing the game in Europe.
The new website will have many new features like:
- Online membership application
- Online Convention pre-registration
- Online EBCA Exchange Program application
- Awards year by year and much more…
Since its creation in 2004, EBCA has tried to create opportunitiees for its coaches.
Over the years EBCA coaches have been sent with teams like the Rockies, White Sox… but not a regular basis.
Last year, EBCA decided to give a new face to its program and to make it available to more coaches.
In 2010, EBCA was able to send one of theirs with the Royals, in Surprise, near Phoenix, AZ, thanks to the collaboration with Major League Baseball and its Coach Development Program.
EBCA was then able to officially launch its EBCA Exchange Program, sending 3 coaches in US baseball organizations of various levels in the Spring of 2011.
A few months later, Filip Van Der Meiren, a coach from the MLB supported Belgian Baseball Academy is now selected to represent EBCA at the Fall Instructional League from the Milwaukee Brewers.
Van Der Meiren was an infielder in Belgium Division 1, winning many championships there. He faced the top European players with his club and the Belgian national team.
He also played college baseball and made it to the NAIA World Series tournament with Bellevue University.
In 2009, he hung up his cleats to be able to fully focus on the development of one of the 2 national MLB-endorsed academies as well as on the Belgian junior National Team he has been leading for the past 4 years.
"This is a lifetime opportunity that was presented to me, here. Spending time in this professional environment will be an awesome experience", says the 33 year old Belgian coach.
"It’s a great chance to learn things you can’t learn at clinics. It’s the hands-on instruction that any coach dreams about".
As an EBCA/MLB exchange coach, Filip will be taking part to the on-field activities of the Instructional League from the Brewers in Maryvale, near Phoenix, AZ.
From the 25th of September to the 7th of October, he will be exposed to the top young talent in the Brewers organization and will sure get a feel of the level to aim for with the academy program.
He will also have the opportunity to pick brains from some of the top teachers in the game in order to be able to spread that knowledge around Europe.
The EBCA Exchange Program blog will be fully active again during that period to let everybody get a taste of the experience.
On the next clip not much changes except that they are checking the runner at third before throwing over to first. Notice how the body continues to move and set up for the throw to first base. If the runner breaks for home, there will be plenty of time to adjust the body and to make an accurate throw home.
And finally, over to second base. Once again, the fielding is impeccable and the body is getting into position to deliver a quick and accurate throw.
And finally, over to second base. Once again, the fielding is impeccable and the body is getting into position to deliver a quick and accurate throw.
After the days activities we relaxed to a nice plate of Spaghetti Carbonara back at the ranch. The recipe follows:
100g of bacon or pancetta
50g of grated pecorino romano cheese
50g of grated parmigiano cheese (or 100g of either if you cannot find both)
3 large eggs
2 plump garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
50g unsalted butter
Fine sea salt and freshley grated black pepper
Put a large saucepan of water on to boil. Finely chop the pancetta, having first removed any rind. Finely grate both cheeses and mix them together. Beat the eggs in a medium bowl, season with a little freshly grated black pepper and set everything aside.
Add 1 tsp salt to the boiling water, add the spaghetti and when the water comes back to the boil, cook at a constant simmer, covered, for 10 minutes or until al dente (just cooked).
Squash the garlic with the blade of a knife, just to bruise it. While the spaghetti is cooking, fry the pancetta with the garlic. Drop the butter into a large wide frying pan or wok and, as soon as the butter has melted, tip in the pancetta and garlic. Leave these to cook on a medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until the pancetta is golden and crisp. The garlic has now imparted its flavour, so take it out with a slotted spoon and discard.
Keep the heat under the pancetta on low.When the pasta is ready lift it from the water with a pasta fork or tongs and put it in the frying pan with the pancetta (see left). Don't worry if a little water drops in the pan as well (you want this to happen) and don't throw the rest of the pasta water away yet.
Mix most of the cheese in with the eggs, keeping a small handful back for sprinkling over later. Take the pan of spaghetti and pancetta off the heat. Now quickly pour in the eggs and cheese and, using the tongs or a long fork, lift up the spaghetti so it mixes easily with the egg mixture, which thickens but doesn't scramble, and everything is coated. Add extra pasta cooking water to keep it saucy (several tablespoons should do it). You don't want it wet, just moist. Season with a little salt, if needed.
Use a long-pronged fork to twist the pasta on to the serving plate or bowl. Serve immediately with a little sprinkling of the remaining cheese and a grating of black pepper. If the dish does get a little dry before serving, splash in some more hot pasta water and the glossy sauciness will be revived.
When I prepared it, we added some green peas for flavor and color. If you would like to do the same you should simply add cooked green peas into the mix right at the end before serving.
I finally got a good connection and so am loading the inflied pregame warmup as promissed.
I will be posting a seperate position each time from now on and start here with shortstop. The key is how the boys get around the ball whether they are throwing to first or second. This is to foster better fielding but also to ensure that momentum is always moving towards the base to which we are intending to throw. The Warhawk shortstops perform the moves with grace and precision.
Of the things to note in the drill most interesting are the constant movement and lack of interuption. The Warhawks all know how and what to do and execute without interuption or much instruction. As far as technique, I am hoping to bring back some good pointers on inflied footwork and to use this or other videos to demonstrate the correct footwork for approach, fielding and throwing on a ground ball play. Oh and yes, the weather is fantastic in Florida!!
As a final point, please make all the comments you want and especially questions on things which may be helpful for you. If I know what to look for from you then I am sure I can find it, film it and post it.