Ryan Nelson saw a void in youth baseball.
Through a new program, USA Prime Baseball, and with a foundation of what he believes are some of the best coaches in the nation, he believes his Dallas-based organization will go a long way towards filling it.
“We have a great group of coaches, kind of the center philosophy of our whole organization is to find good coaches and compensate good coaches,” said Nelson, CEO of USA Prime.
“We’re probably double any other organization in Dallas as far as coaches go, because without good coaching, you’re not going to get better. So, our whole mission is to find good baseball people, good people to partner with and try to make every kid have a better experience. We’ve seen the other side of this, where it’s just a straight money grab. It’s gone off the rails, and we want to do our part to get it back on track.”
USA Prime is still only about six months old, the brainchild of Nelson and Jon Frankel, whose JF2 Capital venture capital firm made a growth capital investment in the very-quickly growing program.
“We are fortunate that Jon Frankel, who is…behind this whole idea and has been very successful in scaling massive businesses, has been the mastermind behind the plan. He’s brilliant, and we’re in the process of building two high school-sized four-plexes, one in Dallas and one in (Dallas Fort-Worth),” Nelson said.
“In our minds, this (type of innovation) can be repeated all across the United States. He’d like to partner with some of these programs in all different parts of the country. In Dallas, we have just a dire shortage of fields. Partly because the land is so expensive, and also because the complex itself is outrageously expensive…it has to be a passion project. It’s someone that wants to change how amateur and youth baseball are being done.”
Not only will the idea help Dallas-area players, but as Nelson said, the repeatability of it will eventually start benefitting those all around the country, with Colorado serving as the next destination.
“USA Prime is excited about it, because these fields are going to be used for our teams to practice on and have showcases and tournaments and everything that will run through our facility,” Nelson said.
“We’ve had a massive response very, very quickly. We’ve partnered with two groups in Colorado with plans to build this same complex idea in south Denver. We’d like to do one in Houston. We’d like to do one in Florida. The major markets in the United States, we’re very open to discussing with these organizations that don’t have access to these kind of fields and facilities to figure out a way to make it mutually beneficial. As far as finding the right groups to partner with, at least in Texas they’ve come out of the woodwork and it’s been the same in Colorado. We’ve been inundated with calls and people that want to meet, and a lot of it just because there’s a shortage of places to work out and definitely a shortage of fields. There’s a huge interest in partnering, because we do have the resources to go build four fields like that.
“We want to help baseball in general and give these kids a place to practice and get better and we move away from chasing rings wherever you’re at, especially at the youth level, and actually have a place for development. It’s tough to do things when you don’t have fields and maximize what you can do without a place to practice or work out. Big picture, it’s going to help everyone once we get into those different ideas.”
The development aspect of USA Prime – and that was certainly some of the void in the game at this level that led to the program getting started in the first place – was what made a partnership for Nelson and New Balance Baseball Future Stars Series/Program 15 CEO Jeremy Booth a logical one.
“USA Prime and Ryan Nelson are on a mission to find a better way to help players and families,” Booth said. “They were brought to us by Bric Steed, a former teammate of mine. After talking with Ryan, it was clear that their focus is development and the advocacy of their players. They’re aggressive, driven, focused, and relentless. I’m excited to have them here and involved in the series, and I look forward to their scout day and Houston next summer.”
“I spoke with Jeremy, and we have some synergies between the two groups for sure,” Nelson added. “I think it’s going to be a great partnership between us and Program 15. The base idea of development, it all matches. We’re excited about it.”
That level of excitement has extended to the players as well, who are welcomed regardless of what their ultimate career destination may be.
“Baseball-wise, we don’t just focus on the elite-level kid, we want no player left behind,” Nelson said.
“We want all these kids at any age or level to at least have a chance. A lot of times, people only focus on the elite-level kid, where I can make an argument that a Triple-A player needs us more than an elite-level, major player does. If you have a good coach and a good place where you can develop, that’s going to be what actually adds value to you and your family. It’s not an organizational thing where you wear someone’s jersey and you automatically get better, it’s more who your coach is and what kind of facility you have to train at. We’re trying to develop every player in our program and at least give them a chance to succeed on their high school team, if they’re good enough to have a chance to play in college and if they’re lucky enough to have a chance to play professionally.”