Regardless of your stance on analytics in baseball, numbers matter.
Always have, always will.
And it’s hard to argue with the numbers that the Dirtbags have put up since they were founded by Andy Partin back in 2002; 28 players have reached the big leagues, 216 have been drafted and they’re approaching 1,000 players to have moved on to college programs.
The alumni list is particularly impressive, with household names like Madison Bumgarner, Chris Archer, Wil Myers and Corey Seager dotting a long list of major-leaguers.
“As far as I’m concerned, we were the first people to really start tracking alumni and really using that as a selling point in our program,” said Partin, who was actually driving to Myers’ wedding when he chatted with FutureStarsSeries.com
“I remember when teams didn’t even have websites. We’re behind some people on the social media side of it, but we’ve taken a big leap forward in that. But the goals are the same. We’re trying to prepare guys for the next level and trying to help guys reach their highest level; that may be junior college baseball, it might be at a small college, it might Division 1, hopefully it’s going on to be drafted and become a big league All-Star.”
The Dirtbags have long been the premier program in the Carolinas, but, as is the case with most of the programs under the New Balance Baseball Future Stars Series powered by Program 15 umbrella, it was the attention to detail when it comes to player development that made them a logical fit for a partnership.
“That’s a huge piece of our program as well, the development side,” said Brendan Dougherty, director of South Carolina for the Dirtbags.
“I’ve known Andy a long time back from when I was coaching in college, and the Dirtbags program has grown, but the philosophy and core values have stayed the same. And that’s huge. With where baseball is going or is at, these kids will jump from team to team and play for somebody here or there, and that’s not what our program is about. We want the kids in our program to come in as young players and continue and develop and get better. Even if they’re committed, there’s things they have to get better at; the work doesn’t stop. The development piece is a huge part, just like what you guys are working towards with identifying kids and developing them. We look at it the same way as these big league teams who draft guys and put them in their farm systems and ultimately they want to develop them and get them to the big leagues. It’s the same with us and the same with you guys.”
It was Partin, the owner and founder of the Dirtbags, who pulled the trigger on the partnership with P15, which came after a meeting with NBBFSS/P15 CEO Jeremy Booth.
“When I met Jeremy, as soon as I sat down and started talking to him, I was like, ‘This is a guy I want to work with,” Partin said. “I didn’t even really know what this was all about, I was already convinced that he was a guy that shares the same standards that we do with the Dirtbags. I’m excited to work with him. I think you guys are just scratching the surface of all of the ideas and great things that can come about with this program. It’s nice to have a lot of quality; what Jeremy and the crew are doing is awesome and we’re just excited to be a part of it.”
Even as things continue to progress at a rapid rate for the Futures Stars Series and Program 15, there’s a lot of excitement on their end as well to have the Dirtbags in the fold, a program that’s been at the forefront of many trends in youth baseball for nearly two decades now.
“Andy is a straight forward guy with a passion for the game,” Booth said. “He’s a true competitor, and it takes all of 2 minutes to feel the passion he takes in competition and his work ethic. These guys have led for many years and consistently stepped forward on the cutting edge of what will help players excel. Brendan Dougherty and the Dirtbags staff are on field generals who command respect. We can’t wait to move forward together with such a talented and respected group.”
Dougherty echoed similar sentiments.
“It’s not only a great opportunity for exposure for our program, but for our kids as well,” he said. “I was going through on Twitter and started following Jeremy, and he followed me back and we started talking. I kind of knew about (Program 15) somewhat, but the more research I’ve done and the more we’ve talked, it’s given us the opportunity to come on board. There’s a bunch of west coast teams that have been a part of it, and I was online looking through, and there weren’t any teams in North or South Carolina that were partnered with the Future Stars Series or Program 15, so it all really started rolling from there.”
More than just development, there’s a clear level of pride from those associated with the Dirtbags for the opportunities they’re able to create for all of their players and their families, but especially those for whom a major college commitment isn’t necessarily a given.
“I’m more proud of the kids that aren’t the early committed guys, the no-brainers for a lot of people. The kids that have stuck with us, listened to us and have done everything we’ve guided them on…this is a process, and there’s somebody out there that wants you and is a fit for you, we just have to find it,” Dougherty said.
“We had a kid a couple weeks ago who comes from a single mom family and they went to everything we guided her to go to, and she’d take him at 5 in the morning to get him to where he needed to be. He ended up committing to Erskine a couple weeks ago, and I was happier for that kid than I was someone who commits to a Marshall or a South Carolina. It’s the collective group of players and kids that we’ve tried to create that culture for where it’s a process, and they’re not just going to come because you play on the Dirtbags and watch you play because of the uniform you have on. They’ll watch because you’ve trusted the process and they want you to be a part of their program now. I feel most proud when it’s a kid who’s developed and gotten to where he needed to be.”