Program 15 Preview: 2018 New Balance Baseball Future Stars Series Combine/National Tournament

Anticipation turns into action tomorrow.

I spoke with Program 15 and New Balance Future Stars Series VP of Scouting Butch Baccala to get his thoughts on the first of a series of upcoming national events, this particular one being the 2018 (graduating class) combine and national tournament, which begins in Houston on Saturday.

What’s got you excited for this upcoming 2018 combine?

“When you get a chance to see 25 teams that all have good reputations over the years and have played a lot of baseball, and you get to see all their players come to one spot that’s a great venue to scout and identify players, it’s great.”

To be at an event where so many college programs will be in attendance and you’re truly helping to further these kids careers, how meaningful is that for yourself and the program as a whole?

“That’s the whole idea of it, to open up doors and avenues to further guys playing as scholar athletes.  All of the schools will be down here watching the players, the exposure they’re going to gain from it, it’s outstanding.  It speaks well of (P15/NBFSS CEO) Jeremy (Booth) and what he’s trying to do with Program 15.”

Anyone in particular you’re looking to see again or see for the first time?

“I’m mainly more excited about seeing guys that we don’t know about yet; some guy is going to come here, throw 93 with a breaking pitch and have a great body and it’s going to be ‘wow.’  There are going to be kids here that maybe aren’t on the map yet that we’re going to identify, and that’s really exciting.”

What will the process of the combine be, and what do you guys look to learn from it?

“The first day, it’s purely going to be evaluation and coaching.  It gives us a chance to see all the players skills and gives us a look at what they can do from a tools standpoint.  Then the games bring out what a guy does between the lines.  There’s been great players — Jimmy Rollins, I can remember watching him in a workout and him running a 6.9 and he wasn’t having a great workout — that aren’t good workout players and there’s some guys that are game players.  I’m sure we’ll see that, where a guy might not shine from a skill standpoint as far as his tools go; running, throwing, hitting for power and those types of things.  But when the lights turn on and they’re between those lines, a baseball player comes out who’s got instincts and feel for the game.  It’s exciting both ways, and that’s why you can never give up on a player.”

Mike Ashmore

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