By Hunter Parnell (Air Force Academy Signee)
As a baseball player, I have always wanted to reach the MLB.
However, I am well aware that the odds of making it the big leagues are slim.
These chances become even slimmer when you don’t take control of your own career in baseball.
When I say “take control of your career,” I mean getting all the information you can possibly get, doing all the things you can do, and taking advantage of any opportunity you might be presented with.
Information is out there in abundance, but for some reason many high school athletes like to pretend they know all they need already.
They don’t take the time to research what they need to do to get the attention of colleges.
That is where the ABPA comes in.
I want to locate all the information a player could ever need into one place. The process to get to the next level begins with knowledge because, after all, knowledge is power.
Therefore, I hope that by giving information to players, I am empowering players to take their career by the reins and guide it down a path they want.
Yet, I still have a hard time getting players to understand the importance of information.
They are under the impression that a coach they have (often time their high school or club coach) has all the information they could ever need.
So, they sit back and let the coach dictate where they play and what information they get.
Granted, there are many wise and knowledgeable coaches out there who genuinely try to help players.
However, a player should never rely solely on a coach to get him where he wants to go!
With that in mind, having the information is not the only thing that is needed.
You then need to act on that information by doing what you know you need to.
This is where strong self-evaluation is required.
A player has to be able to step back and look at what his strength and weaknesses are. Once the weaknesses have been identified (lack of bat speed, not enough speed, poor fielding mechanics etc.) find a way to act on that.
I want to provide information, but you have to act on it.
Just knowing you need to get faster isn’t enough; find a way to do it.
Recently, I was in attendance at a college showcase and was startled by my lack of speed.
Coming off a season in which I tore my PCL, I knew that I would lose a couple steps, but I never imagined my speed would decline the way it did.
As I was leaving, the University of Tennessee assistant coach, Bill Mosiello, told me that he liked what he saw when I was hitting and was very impressed by my swing as a sophomore.
However, when I told him I was an outfielder, he immediately cringed and said that I still had time to get faster.
Unlike what many players would do, I sought out a college level workout program that trained my muscles to be more explosive in order to gain speed.
By acting on the information I was given, I hope to improve my speed and overall explosiveness so I can control what becomes of my baseball career.
Acting on information is something all players are able to do in order to decide what will become of their journey in baseball.
Finally, a player always has to act on any opportunity given to him that could benefit him in the long run.
If an outfielder bobbles a ball on a single, any good baseball player’s reaction should be to capitalize on that mistake by trying to get to second.
So, why is it that when a player is faced with an opportunity outside of the field, it is not exploited?
Two years ago, I was given the chance to play for a former hitting coach at the college level who helped guide a player my height (5’10”) to reach a bat speed of 104 mph and become a very high draft pick.
I immediately jumped on the opportunity to learn all I could.
The opportunity to play for and learn from a coach who could turn out such incredible results is one that I have seen too many players pass up on.
My bat speed has increased from 72 MPH as a freshman to a current 85 MPH as sophomore (updated to 94 as a Junior).
Even faced with this blatant example of what happens when you get information, act on it, and take advantage of an opportunity, I have had countless players continue to laugh at me when I ask them to consider coming out and learning from my coach.
They seem to think they are set for college already.
Unfortunately, they, as well as I, are not ready, but because I am willing to find information, act on it, and take advantage of any chance I get, I am one step closer to reaching my dream than they are.
So, which will it be?
Will you allow information to fly by you because you think you know it all?
Will you take information and use it to help mold you into a better player?
Will you let coaches and other opportunities in baseball that could help to plant you in a good foundation that will allow you to reach all your potential go unexplored?
Or, will you pursue the dream with everything you have by accumulating knowledge, taking action once you have the know-how, and exploiting all and any opportunity you encounter?
Whatever you choose, remember: you have one baseball career in your life, one chance to realize your baseball dreams.
Do you want to have regrets, or do you want to know you did everything you did to maximize your potential?