This blog is a running update on our fall program and a look inside the ins and outs of what we do with our teams. Colorado Rogue Baseball Club is a player development focused program, which provides our players with game reps and next level exposure opportunities on the weekends, and supplements those games with high level, position specific practices during the week. We believe in doing the majority of our coaching during practices, and using the games to let players show their skills, and learn from their successes and failures in order to continue to drive development process forward. This is especially true in the fall as we devote our coaching resources to accurately recording important game data to use in future practice sessions. For the fall of 2021, we have two teams which we have labeled Upperclass (primarily 2022 and 2023 graduates), and Underclass (2024 and 2025 grads). Below is a daily rundown of what is going on in our program.
Using In-Game Pitching Information to Guide Midweek Bullpens
September 23, 2021: Dillon Moritz & Ryan Christian – Upperclass and Underclass Pitching Coaches
During fall games, we work to track as much useful information as possible on our pitchers, in order to better serve them during as we train the week. Each week, our guys get a bullpen session, which is guided by the insights we gained from charting their outing on the weekend. Here in week 6 of the fall, this is an example of the brief layout of our pens, individualized for each one of our pitchers.
Underclass Team – Ryan Christian: Pitching Coach
Q: glove side release work, slider missed up and arm side. Wonder if getting the slider release point will help with FB. Fastball was up or up armside or low glove side.
Preston: velo strikes, CH work, didn’t throw it much, didn’t really have to.
Wade: velo strikes and glove side work on off speed. Tends to pull violently when throwing OS and gets on the side of it
Noah: core rotation, FB misses up, just struggles to get over the top.
Ethan: rhythm work, very stiff and robotic and couldn’t throw strikes because of that
Davis: nothing abnormal, velo strikes and CH work
Bryce: velo strikes!!! Sat 65-67 with minimal effort. Rhythm work on CB, muscles up on them and misses arm side and up
Alex: didn’t get a chance to throw this weekend, still needs work on releasing his scap naturally and needs to get the velo up. Both me and Logan saw that when he is throwing harder he is throwing more strikes.
Aiden: Still ramping back up to game speed, as long as arm feels good try and push the volume up a bit
Upperclass Team – Dillon Moritz: Pitching Coach
Upperclass will use 3 plate drill side to side and forward and back to work on individual weaknesses. (Example: misses DD on breaking ball 50% we will scoot catcher back to the furthest plate for breaking balls.) Also going to get the twine set up for bottom of the zone. lots of D-DD misses all around. seeing where the bottom of the zone is will help.
Managing Playing Time During the Fall Season
September 15, 2021: Ryan Serena – Program Director/Upperclass Head Coach/Infield Coordinator
One of our biggest goals during the fall is to manage our players’ playing time in a way that gives them the reps they feel they need to get prepared for the offseason, and ultimately the spring season. It is important to us that we have an understanding of what positions our players want to play, because each one has a different situation in their high school program, or may be better suited in different spots as they look to move on to the college level. Some guys who we may see as being best suited for a certain position within our team, may actually need to make strides at a different spot in order to be in the lineup at their school during the spring season, or need to develop skills though experience at a position that may better suit them long term. While we ALWAYS relay to our guys the importance of playing winning baseball, ultimately the fall season is not about us trying to win every game at the expense of the needs of our players. This is why we work to manage playing time as best we can, based on the individual needs of our guys.
To make this happen, I asked our players to give us a breakdown of how they ideally would like to see their playing time distributed between all of the positions they play. Some guys were able to easily give me this breakdown, and some looked for guidance on where we think they should spend the most time. Together we were able to build a playing time plan, which gives us a template to work off of as we move through the fall. This is put into our playing time sheet as their TARGET INNINGS, shown in the table above.
From there, we meticulosity keep track of all of the innings played throughout the fall season, so that we have an accurate look at where each guy is getting his playing time. It is very easy to lose track and think that you are getting guys in certain spots based on your eyes, so we make sure to get this exactly right! The actual inning input portion of this sheet is shown in the first section of this blog all the way down at the bottom, but the percentage breakdown in the table above is ultimately what we want to use.
From there, we simply subtract each player’s target Innings from their actual innings played, and get a look on where they are currently at in relation to where they want to be. This table (as well as the others) is conditionally formatted in order to make it easy to see where we need to make adjustments, with Red (negative) meaning they are currently below, and Green meaning they are above their target. As you can see in the table above, Player 7 and Player 10 each need to get some more innings at 3rd Base, while Player 1 has played a bunch at Shortstop and we can spread his innings out a little bit to other positions.
This will not work out perfectly for each player at the end of the fall, however it does give us as coaches a guide to work from, in order to provide our players the best fall game experience possible. Additionally, it holds us accountable for having a process when laying out playing time, and helps us accomplish what is ultimately the most important thing, which is doing right by our players.
Behind the Scenes: In-Game Hitting Data Input
September 6, 2021: Ryan Serena – Program Director/Upperclass Head Coach/Infield Coordinator
On this Labor Day holiday, wanted to share some of the behind the scenes grunt work that our coaching staff does to help guide our players’ development throughout the course of the fall. Today the hitting side is the focus, with a quick look at how we input data into our system in order to track our players plate appearances during games. There is no better time than in the game to learn about how a player performs, and making sure we are tracking relevant information in game allows us to have a better understanding of each player individually, as well as our team as a whole. This piece is simply showing the behind the data input side of things, with a future post coming from hitting coordinator Jordan Serena detailing the in depth insights that these inputs provide him when designing practice plans for our hitters.
This data is tracked during games on a printed chart that both head coaches keep while we are on offense. During the fall, this is the priority for our head coach, so assistant coaches or even sometimes players are responsible for coaching the bases during the game. This chart includes the date, the count, the pitch type, the pitch velocity (taken by a player behind the plate and relayed to the coach in the dugout), the result of the pitch, the pitch detail, whether the pitch was chased out of the zone, and the contact quality. You can see the chart below and the key on the right side detailing what specific things go into each column that we track.
From there the information kept during the game is input into our hitting spreadsheets in Google Drive, so that we can take the information and use it to guide our players training and share with them relevant information about their performance from week to week. Our head coaches are responsible for both the in game charting of the hitters, as well as the data input, so that our hitting coordinator(s) can spend their time evaluating the insights and creating practice plans that optimize this information. Below is a look at how the data gets input, and a quick glance at the information that it spits out.
September 2nd 2021: Dillon Moritz – Pitching Coordinator/Upperclass Pitching Coach
This week for bullpens we wanted to focus on intent/velocity, so we played a competition called Velo Strikes. We pick out a velocity target that pushes each guy to throw hard, based on their velo collected in games/bullpens. They get 1 point for throwing strikes over that velocity. Additionally I wanted to show them velocities from teams in the past to give them an idea of how they compare to varsity level pitchers, as well as last Spring’s peak FB avgerages based on age. We have a young team this fall, so we want them to know there is time to develop into a varsity caliber arm.
We believe players knowing where they stand based on data collected is crucial in the development process! Here are a couple of guys at different ages that PR’d in yesterday’s bullpens, senior Luke Tenney and freshman Connor Larkin!
Baserunning Practice – Rhythm Steal Breaks
August 31st 2021: Ryan Serena – Program Director/Upperclass Head Coach/Infield Coordinator
As we are now in week three of the fall, we wanted to start sharing more of the specifics of our practices as to give insight into the high level of training we provide our guys during the week in the fall season. Each week, Tuesday is the defensive day for the Upperclass team, and the first two weeks were spent really diving into the core principles of defensive play for both infielders and outfielders. For week three, we wanted to supplement that work with a piece of the game that often goes under-coached, and that is baserunning. We had a lot of success during our practice sessions this summer incorporating live reads off the bat (using our 3 wheel Atec machine) and repping out a myriad of situations that our guys may face on the bases in a game, as well as really dialing in on reading dirt balls and taking traditional steal breaks.
For the fall, we wanted to add another layer, and we are fortunate that our catching coordinator Zac Stout is also an accomplished student and teacher of baserunning, namely rhythm stealing. Zac incorporated this approach with the 2018 Mountain Vista HS squad that dominated 5A baseball and won the state title, an approach that really created another valuable weapon for a team that was already loaded. The rhythm approach allows baserunners to read the (often very predictable) timing of pitchers and use that knowledge to their advantage by creating a jump to 2nd base while moving, rather than starting stagnant and having to create a break from that stopped position. Baserunners often report how much easier it is to steal 3rd than it is to steal 2nd, despite the catcher’s throw being 37 feet shorter, because often times the middle infielders allow them to move into their break. This approach is a modified version of that and as you can see in the video below, Zac did a great job of setting up and allowing our baserunners to test out this approach.
Fall Roster and Playing Time Philosophy
August 2nd 2021: Ryan Serena – Program Director/Upperclass Head Coach/Infield Coordinator
A common piece of feedback we hear from many parents and players is the desire to have roster sizes as small as possible (in the 10-12 player range). While this makes sense for being able to have players on the field as much as possible, there a few reasons we shoot for 15 players when forming our teams. A couple of the most important reasons are protecting arms, as well as ensuring that we have enough guys to play each week. When teams are made up of primarily two way guys as ours usually are, we try to give ourselves a numbers cushion in order to allow players that pitch to spend some time on the bench or at the DH/EH slot, so that we are not overusing them between playing a position and pitching. In addition, the possibility of injury/illness and other life happenings makes 15 our target number, so that even if we are missing a couple of guys, we still have some flexibility. Early on we attempted having as few guys as possible in the fall, and many weekends ended up being a scramble to make sure we put a team on the field. We have come to find that between the game-like practice reps we get each week and the reps they are getting in games on the weekend, the workload is pretty sufficient.
Another piece of our fall that is important is how we structure our lineups and playing time. For the fall, we are firm believers that it is the ideal time for guys to get as many at bats and defensive innings in the field as we can, so we set a rolling lineup to make sure the guys are getting AB’s at a similar clip. The guys that are there all of the time are obviously going to get more AB’s then guys who may miss games, as we just keep players slotted into their lineup spot and don’t attempt to get them extra AB’s just because they were gone. Defensive innings don’t end up being perfectly even either, especially if guys pitch more innings and play positions like SS, C and 3B where the throws are more intense, however the goal is to try and get everybody on the field as much as we can. This is especially important when guys get to the upperclass level and may be playing in front of some coaches, as it gives them reassurance that they’ll get an opportunity to play each day. Here’s what last fall looked like for the upperclass team numbers wise…
You can see, that the guys that were there all of the time averaged about 50 PA’s and 110 innings played, even with 15 players on the roster, (plus a couple of fill ins due to missing players, and one PO) which guys felt pretty good about heading into the winter. The way we approach it is very much trying to create an environment where guys can train during the week and know that they are going too get their 8-12 AB’s on the weekend to see how it shakes out.
We feel like the “win my job, and help my team win the game” focus during the spring and summer leads into more of a “get my work in and continue competing” mindset in the fall, which sets the guys up for a winter where they can really attack their weaknesses and prepare to do it all again next year.