Learn how to pitch and hit from the best – Major League Baseball coaches Brent Strom and Jeff Albert of the Houston Astros at the fourth annual Professional Baseball Clinic Nov. 8-9-10 at the Dome.
This is Alaska’s only opportunity to get hands-on training from MLB coaches, with Strom being Houston’s pitching coach and Albert the team’s roving hitting instructor. Both coaches were with the St. Louis Cardinals organization in 2011 when the team won the World Series.
“Jeff is among the best hitting coaches in professional baseball,” said Strom, A former big-league pitcher who has been involved with professional baseball for 40 years. “Both of us are solid mechanically in our concept and solid communications. Both of us are learners, continually looking for ways to help pitchers and hitters stay healthy and perform.”
The Professional Baseball Clinic is sponsored by Alaska Airlines and the Alliance for Support of American Legion Baseball in Alaska.
A free preview of the clinic is Friday, Nov. 8, where you can meet the pros and hear their pitch first hand. Don’t strike out on this opportunity.
HITTING with Jeff Albert
Albert brings six years of professional coaching experience. He believes the basic hitting principles are to learn the strike zone and develop an efficient swing.
“I’ll cover all aspects of hitting – plate discipline, swing mechanics, pitch recognition, practice drills,” he said. “My professional background helps because I see players of different ages and levels. Players learn and develop at different rates so working with a wide range of players requires flexibility and creativity in order to communicate effectively.”
No matter the level, confidence is vital.
“It’s good if young kids think they can hit,” he said. “Confidence is important, but so is the ability to listen and learn. We are in the business of player development and the best players are constantly growing and improving their skills.
PITCHING with Brent Strom
If you were going to teach your kid how to pitch, what is more important: velocity or control?
Most people say control.
That’s the wrong way to go,” Strom said.
He would know. He has made a living in professional baseball since 1972.
Strom is in town this weekend to talk about the grip-it-and-rip-it theory, among other things.
He also urges coaches to promote versatility over specialization.
“At a young age it is important to have a well-rounded teaching and playing model,” he said. “We don't know how a player’s ability will move forward, at what pace and in what direction. Much like we advocated playing other sports, young players should not specialize ... being able to compete at whatever you play or do will help one in ways not only on but off the field.”
The spotlight was glaring, with dozens of professional scouts and college coaches in the stands, but it didn’t wilt Scooter Bynum of Fairbanks.
In fact, he shined brighter.
The 18-year-old centerfielder with the Alaska Baseball Academy batted .444 with four extra-base hits in 18 at-bats at the Arizona Fall Classic over the weekend in Peoria.
“I try to rise to the occasion,” Bynum said. “I thought I saw the ball really well. It was huge to me.”
Bynum’s performance left a lingering impression with scouts and coaches, making the 6-footer seem ten feet tall.
“Scooter drew as much or more attention than any player in the 67-team tournament,” said ABA coach Tony Wylie, who also is part of the Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau.
Bynum, of Monroe Catholic High fame, showed off his speed with an inside-the-park home run and standup triple. He added a pair of doubles.
“I wanted to do better than I did last year. Last year I had a couple strikeouts and made a couple mental mistakes,” he said. “I wanted to clean that up and just show everybody that I had become a better player.”
Oh, they paid attention alright.
Bynum was approached by professional scouts with the Cubs, Brewers and White Sox in addition to numerous college coaches.
“This was the second time in the tournament and that extra year definitely helped with the pressure,” he said. “I just kept calm and got the job done. You only get to come to this tournament once a year. I had to take advantage of it.”
Sitka's Brian Way is a big kid, standing 6-foot-5 and weighing 230 pounds.
Today the right-handed pitcher came up big for the Alaska Baseball Academy Sockeyes.
Way threw five strong innings to highlight a 5-4 victory over a Las Vegas all-star team on the second day of the Arizona Senior Fall Classic. He struck out five, walked two and won the game.
Scooter Bynum of Fairbanks continued to showcase his talent, going 2-for-4 with a pair of stolen bases and a run scored.
R.J. Dirschel of Eagle River and Ben Ross of Colony each singled for the Sockeyes and Nick Jensen of South had a stolen base and a run scored.
In the second game, a Dodgers scout team from Arizona beat the Alaska Baseball Academy 6-3.
Alaska starter Joe Fitka of South took the loss, despit a hot start.
"He had five strikeouts over the first four innings but ran out of gas in the fifth when Arizona scored three runs," said coach Tony Wylie.
Sitka's Erickson Fish was the offensive star, going 3-for-3 with two doubles and a run.
Logan Williams of Bartlett also doubled and scored. Mitch Chausin of Wasilla, Elias Stratton of Palmer and Way each singled.
Scooter Bynum of Fairbanks led off the game with an inside-the-park home run, but it wasn't enough to save the Alaska Baseball Academy from losing its first game at the Arizona Senior Fall Classic at the Peoria Sports Complex, the spring training home for the Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks.
Alaska dropped a 6-4 decision to a scout team from western Canada.
The Arizona Senior Fall Classic is a showcase event that typically draws nearly 500 college coaches as well as recruiters from 30 Major League Baseball teams.
The Alaska Baseball Academy is made of top high school players from the 907.
Bynum, of Monroe Catholic fame, showed off his speed with a inside-the-park home run in the first inning.
West's Dalton Chapman Ganter-Chapman of Anchorage pitched well in five innings with eight strikeouts and just two walks.
Sitka's Brian Way shined at the plate with a pair of singles and run scored.
Alaska continues play Friday with a doubleheader against Nevada and Arizona.
Brandon Mahle of Kenai Post 20 has been one of the best starting pitchers in Alaska over the last two seasons, winning 9 of 12 decisions.
In the classroom, though, he’s been even better.
Mahle, a 2013 graduate of Kodiak High School, finished with a 4.0 GPA to help him win a $500 Alaska State National Scholarship and is now eligible to claim other scholarships at the Northwest Regional [$2,500] and National World Series [$5,000] levels.
“I love baseball,” he said. “I’ve played since I was 4. I just try to play as much as possible.”
The 18-year-old pitcher is now a freshman at Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash., where he plans to try out for the team Sept. 16.
He would be the only Alaska player on the roster.
Mahle plans to major in Engineering in college.
“I’m good at math,” Mahle said. “Math has always been the easiest for me. I was always at the top of my class.”
When he grows up, he could see himself teaching and coaching.
“I like working with people,” Mahle said. “I want to be a coach, too.”
1 - Next Page
Northwest Regional - Eugene, Ore
Eugene [OR] 8, Chugiak 1
Waipahu [HI] 18, Chugiak 1
NWCART Tournament - Wheatland, Wyo
South 14, Wheatland [WY] 3
Laurel [MT] 14, South 13
South 14, Nampa [ID] 2
Central Point [OR] 17, South 10