For the Arkansas-based Sticks Baseball Academy, growth has been both quick and efficient.
Just last year, they had eight players selected in the 2018 MLB Draft, including two in the first 100 picks. But it’s their commitment to development that attracted New Balance Baseball Future Stars Series Powered by Program 15 CEO Jeremy Booth to Director of Player Exposure Chase Brewster and his program.
“He genuinely cares about players,” Booth said. “He does what he can to get out and see everyone all spring, on his own. We’ve got a lot of mutual relationships and he’s helped grow the series a step at a time from its inception. I’m excited to see him immerse the Sticks in deeper and watch his players once again. They’ll have a presence at International Week in Fenway, and that’s due to his tireless work to bring his players here.”
The Sticks will also be represented at the upcoming P15 National Tournaments in Cypress, Texas.
“Just with all the best teams in the country being in the same spot for the right reasons — for the kids — this is where we wanted to be,” Brewster said.
“Me personally, I feel like we have to be there just because it’s what’s best for the kids. We built this whole thing for the kids, for their best interests. We have two goals in our program. All of the kids have individual goals, but our goals are we’ve got to find them a school to play for and get them committed to a college, and once we do that, we’ve got to help them with the Draft. A lot of programs shy away from that, but to me that’s just the end game and the reality of it. Program 15 kind of provides both. We started four years ago, and this my third year in a row with a bunch of kids that have a chance to get drafted. I know Jeremy — with his recruiting ties and just that whole group that’s put this thing together — that this is where we need to be to get our kids seen in that area.”
The Sticks have sent players to International Week before — notably 2018 MLB Draft picks Sean Guilbe and Mateo Gil — but will be making their debut at the “Grad Class” events.
“The Program 15 thing is so unique to me,” Brewster said. “I coached with Steve Trombly one year in Jupiter on the Marlins scout team way before this was ever put together, so I knew Steve. Sean Travers played at Texarkana Junior College, and when I was coaching there, he brought the Ontario Blue Jays down to scrimmage us. We recruited some of his players. I’ve known Sean for 18 years. And other guys who are coaching in that International Week, but have teams in this tournament; Rob (Bruno) with NorCal has been a good friend of mine, and just knowing Jeremy for a long time, it’s a group of good people all going to the same place. If you want to be a good person or a good coach, you hang with other good people. There’s way too many good people and good programs in one spot not to take our kids there as well.”
Given a bit of a shift in organizational philosophy, the high level of competition will make the trip even more valuable for Sticks players.
“We know it’ll be tough, and we’re kind of in a bad spot where we’ll have some guys that’ll be at Team USA and then the high school home run derby will be that week in Philadelphia, and Ethan Long will be there, so we won’t be 100 percent,” Brewster said. “But, I’ve got a feeling that most of those programs there won’t be. The schedule that we play, we took the route starting last year of less tournaments and more competition and more travel, so we’re kind of used to it. We’re playing in Phoenix twice this summer, we’re playing in Atlanta twice and we’re playing in Houston. We know if we don’t play well each weekend, we’re not going to make the playoffs and end up with 15 college Division 1 commits playing in a consolation game if you don’t play hard. We’ve had a lot of fun and a lot of success the last couple years, and we’re just trying to keep it going this summer.”