What makes baseball different from other sports are the options a parent or coach can open by teaching kids unique skills at an early age. If one excels at these skills it makes their path to the major or minor leagues tremendously more accessible.
Baseball is different from Football because speed cannot be taught; only improved to an extent. If one does have the speed, do they have the hands, vertical jump, and strength to prosper into a wide receiver or running back?
The fastest way for a parent to pave his child’s way into the NFL is give his son ball; not to throw, but kick it. There are so many uncontrollable skills for the NFL that are not teachable.
The same holds true for the NBA. We see what happens when a kid practices every day on his shot equals to in the NBA, J.J Redick.
So many tools are uncontrollable that are required in the NBA, and most of which occur at birth. The fastest way into professional basketball is to be 7’ 2”, look at the “offensively” dominant Hasheem Thabeet.
Even soccer is all about practice. There are few things parents can teach to differentiate their kid from the norm.
This list will feature the top 5 fastest ways to reach the MLB. Now this will not include the 98+ mph fastball. That cannot be taught, so Stephen Strasburg will not be featured on this list.
Parents have your pen and paper ready?
What annoys pitchers more when they perfectly execute that 2-2 fastball low on the outside corner and the batter slaps it the other way for a single?
This skill will be the hardest to teach on the list, but a tremendous amount of tee and batting cage work can make progress. Numerous parents and coaches thrive on the long ball, which inevitably has kids to pull the outside pitch trying to do their best Jason Giambi impression.
Ichiro’s and Tony Gwynn’s do not grow on trees, but the Joe Mauer, Derek Jeter, and Robinson Cano’s of the world take what is given to them.
A hitter that hits for average rises in stock because of how effective in not only getting on base and lack of striking out, but how he works deep into the count.
It may be the most variable skill in baseball of using the entire field, but if utilized it can open many doors. Instead of looking at the right or left field fence, send the ball right back where it came from.
Johan Santana would be the goal for this, but that would be a difficult result to attain.
Lighting up the radar gun is a skill that only a few are fortunate to have. So if your kid is not Verlander or Strasburg than having command is essential.
Pitchers such as Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Jamie Moyer thrive in the MLB because they demonstrated such command. Barry Zito exhibited it in Oakland, but has recently lost it making him unworthy of his 120 million dollar contract.
There are two types of command to be successful. The obvious one being command over your pitches and having the ability the locate and throw them at any time during an at-bat.
Next, the other not so known aspect is the mental command of the mound, by having the ability to have a short-term memory and be fearless with every hitter.
By not having a overpowering fastball, if one of those pitchers make a mistake they will get hit hard, i.e. Barry Zito.
Maddux, Glavine, and Moyer never get upset or dramatically pumped up because they are so composed and have an amazing command of the mound and their pitches.
The days of Omar Vizquel, David Eckstein, and Khalil Green are quickly coming to an end. This era began with Alex Rodriguez on the Mariners and trickled down to Alfonso Soriano with the Yankees.
The middle infield are not primarily defensive positions anymore. Look at the game now: Hanley Ramirez, Dan Uggla, Dustin Pedroia, Ben Zobrist, Chase Utley, Ian Kinsler, JJ Hardy, and the list continues.
Jose Reyes can be talked about because he such an offensive threat.
Look at a recent number one pick in Tim Beckham; the game is changing. The game is no longer just power hitting corner infielders, every position must be able to swing the bat.
Being an athletic, powerful middle infielder allots many options also because the player is so versatile. Alfonso Soriano is able to move to the outfield and the same maybe true for young Beckham.
It is the versatility of being able to play six different positions that separates this player from the rest.
Throwing left handed as a pitcher in baseball raises your draft stock by at least two rounds.
A scout may find three southpaws out of every ten pitchers he sees. Maybe. Since lefties are the more rare out of the two, scouts and general managers are willing to take a chance on the lefty because they can be so effective.
Some hitters just cannot face left handed pitching, for example Dan Uggla batted .191 against left-handed pitchers last year.
Words of advice: teach your kids to throw left handed.
Seriously. Victor Martinez, Jorge Posada, Jason Varitek, and now Matt Wieters.
Also, being a left-handed hitter is not bad either. Joe Mauer. Ever heard of a kid named Bryce Harper out of Las Vegas? Rumors have him on the level of a Lebron James like prospect.
The catching position is the on-field general and dictates the game. Another plus of being a switch hitting catcher is the knowledge of hitting from both sides of the plate and applying that to calling the game.
Finally, the balance he will bring to the line-up. Line-ups that have three left-handed batters, 5 right-handed batters, and one switch hitter are extremely difficult to pitch to late in games.
This is not the 2009 All Star game where every team has Joe Nathan, Jonathan Papelbon, and Mariano Rivera coming in 7,8,9.
This type of player is a special breed, and a one-way ticket to the MLB.