Steve Trombly, Regional Director for the Future Stars Series in Southern California talks about the growth and success of the Trombly Baseball program and his collaboration with Program 15 in a recent interview with veteran sports writer Mike Ashmore.
When Program 15 and New Balance Future Stars Series CEO Jeremy Booth got connected with Steve Trombly of Trombly Baseball through a mutual contact, it became quickly apparent to both men that a partnership would make all the sense in the world.
“When you’re talking success with growing players, Steve is as good as it gets,” Booth said.
“He’s got vision for the future coupled with advanced knowledge of the game, and his desire to grow the game and leave it better than he found it is unparalleled.”
Trombly’s program started from humble beginnings to become the powerhouse it is today. It was a program he never intended starting, but his old high school had asked him to run their fundraiser tournament during Christmas, and it all snowballed from there.
“I grew that tournament from a 24-team tournament to a 56-team tournament, and before the college recruiting calendar changed, it became the biggest-scouted event on the west coast,” Trombly said.
“We would sell out of 750 media guides for college coaches within the first couple hours, so it was a big one. I did a good job with that, so teams were like, ‘You should do another tournament, you should do another tournament.’ I started a fourth of July tournament, then the next thing you know I was running like six tournaments a year with a bunch of college coaches coming to the events and kids whose teams weren’t playing contact me and asking me to get on teams.”
Eventually, Trombly put his own team in the 2002 installment of the tournament, and seven of those kids walked away with Division 1 scholarships from the three-day event.
In 2003, Trombly Baseball was truly formed, with 18U, 16U and 15U teams. They’ve made incredible strides since then.
“We’re getting close to 600 kids that have played for us that have moved on to college baseball, and there’s 26 guys that have made it to the major leagues that played for us, but our number one goal is to get kids to college,” Trombly said. “We want to help with that exposure. But we compete in tournaments, and we’ve won over 100. We’ve won seven big national championships. It’s exciting trying to help kids get to the next level.”
Trombly Baseball boasts big, recent wins at the USA Baseball Tournament, Don Mattingly World Series and Perfect Game EvoShield National Championship, but perhaps most notably has an incredible list of alumni over the past 14 years.
Of the 26 major leaguers Trombly has helped get to that point, he’s had back-to-back first overall picks in Bryce Harper and Gerrit Cole, but can’t help but think to the “founding fathers” of his program that helped get some of those “big names” playing for him.
“A couple things happened,” Trombly recalls.
“In 2003, the first year we had teams, there was a really good team that we beat and they actually had won the big USA tournament that summer. We beat them, and people started taking notice. I surrounded our kids with some good coaches, and we had some success early on, and then I was able to pick up Hank Conger. I call him and his dad the founding fathers of my program, because he was that first big name guy I picked up as a sophomore in high school. We picked him up, and then he and his dad were like, ‘Hey, Chris Tillman wants to play. Is it cool if Chris comes out?’ And of course, yeah, bring Chris Tillman out. Chris Tillman comes out, and the third guy they brought out was Robert Stock.
“He’s kind of fizzled out now, but at the time, he was Baseball America’s player of the year as a 12-year-old, 13-year-old, 14-year-old, 15-year-old. He was like the legend. He was projected to be a first rounder as a pitcher and a catcher, and he skipped his senior high school of high school to go to USC and enroll early just because he was able to graduate high school at 17. But Hank was our first big name guy, and once you have those guys, guys want to come play together. What helped as well was we won our first national championship that second summer in 2004; we went to Georgia and won the Perfect Game Super 7 Series. We went there with 16 teams in a loaded event and came out on top, and that generated a lot of interest.”
As special as it is from the outside looking in at those who’ve passed through Trombly Baseball, it’s just as fun for Trombly himself.
“Sometimes, I try to sit back and reflect on it, and it’s pretty cool,” he said.
“It’s cool because I get to stay in contact with most of those guys too. Some of those big name guys made it, but there’s other kids we have that were just as good or better as some of those guys that don’t make it. So it shows how crazy the process is that there’s no slam dunks. I’ve had kids that are throwing 90 as high school freshmen that never do anything in college, then there’s a guy like Kyle Hendricks, who won the Cy Young and the World Series last year with the Cubs, and he was a guy who was just OK on our teams. It’s exciting that he made it to the big leagues, but I would have never thought he was going to be a big leaguer. Bryce Harper, of course, he came and played for me as a sophomore in high school, and he was a big name then. He played a few tournaments with us, and you knew that guy was special. It’s a crazy process, and I’ve definitely seen that there’s no sure thing.”
Trombly Baseball is a big part of Program 15, and Trombly is looking forward to a big slate of national events this summer they collectively help grow the next generation of the game.
“I’m excited, because I see a lot of things that are broken with the system and things I think needed to be changed,” he said.
“With Jeremy, he and I have a lot of the same ideas and same beliefs, so it was a pretty easy sell when he called and approached me and told me the direction they’re going and what they’re trying to do. I just think, ultimately for me, I’m trying to do what’s best for our players and putting them in the best environment. Program 15 and the New Balance Future Stars Series, it’s really going to be beneficial to our players. We’re not doing the USA Baseball tournament this summer and some of the things we’ve usually done, but I know with the direction Jeremy’s leading the program in and the guys he’s surrounding it with, I know this is going to be an incredible thing.”
The Future Stars Series is the initiative between New Balance and Program 15 to elevate the game of baseball by providing players across all economic levels an opportunity to reach their full potential through the training, development, and guidance of former MLB players, scouts, and coaches.
For the latest Future Stars Series updates and announcements follow @ftrstarsseries on Twitter or visit http://futurestarsseries.com.
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