Alabama baseball players hone their skills in summer leaguesBy Sean Landry | 07/02/2014 12:16am
For 16 players on Alabama’s roster, however, a new season is only half over: collegiate summer league baseball. Every summer, a collection of amateur leagues hosts a number of promising collegiate baseball players. For the summer season, those 16 Crimson Tide players are spread out among four leagues: the Northwoods League, located mostly in Minnesota and Michigan, the Florida Collegiate League, the Texas Collegiate League and the Cape Cod League ?in Massachusetts.
“I think summer ball is really important, particularly for certain players,” Alabama coach Mitch Gaspard said. “I think, at times, there’s guys that may need a break, particularly young pitchers. If they threw a certain number of innings, then we try to give those guys a break for their arms. There’s various guys that may need to get some hours in summer school to get their degree. But I think when these guys get opportunities to further their development, both as a college player in our program and also guys that can enhance their development moving towards their professional development, that’s important as well.”
Six Alabama players are spending their summer in the Cape Cod League, which is considered the premier development league for college players with Major League aspirations.
“The thing about the Cape Cod league, that’s the elite summer league for college baseball players,” Gaspard said. “I feel like we have a responsibility to those professional prospects. We want to get them in that league, because that’s their time to get with those scouts and those national cross checkers and really have a true evaluation in the summer months so they’re not having to deal with that as much through the college season, to where they can focus on what it takes to be successful here at Alabama.”
One of the UA players in the Cape Cod league is shortstop Mikey White, currently with the Brewster Whitecaps in Brewster, Massachusetts.
“When you’re up in the Cape, you’re facing Saturday and Sunday [pitchers] from SEC schools everyday, and you don’t really have many days off, so you’re just facing them back-to-back-to-back, and bullpens are just like they are in the SEC,” White said. “It really challenges you a lot and forces you to improve your game.”
At the end of every season, the Alabama coaches have an exit meeting with each player on the team. For players in the summer leagues, the coaches give input on which aspects of the game the players should focus on improving. For White, he’s spending his summer trying to improve his power at the plate and his defensive ability.
“Not really just hit for power, but hit for average up here too,” White said. “I want to improve my power numbers. On the defensive side, these fields up here are definitely not like college infields, so it definitely makes you improve your hands and improve your defensive work.”