<![CDATA[Big League Baseball Academy - News Blog]]>Sat, 21 Apr 2018 09:52:31 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[West Wins: Power best Charlie South 3-2WV takes game one of series with 10 inning win Wednesday]]>Thu, 05 May 2016 12:32:53 GMThttp://bigleaguebaseballacademy.com/news-blog/west-wins-power-best-charlie-south-3-2wv-takes-game-one-of-series-with-10-inning-win-wednesday
(Charleston, WV- May 4, 2016)-  The West Virginia Power beat the Charleston RiverDogs 3-2 in 10 innings on Wednesday night at Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park in Charleston, SC. Ke'Bryan Hayes sacrifice fly in the top of the tenth pushed the Power ahead for a win in the series opener.
Hayes gave West Virginia an early 1-0 lead. Hayes hit a 1-1 pitch from RiverDogs starter Yefrey Ramirez over the left field wall for his second home run of the season. The RiverDogs tied the game in the home half of the third inning on a run-scoring fielder's choice off Power starter Mitch Keller.
West Virginia regained the lead in the seventh. Daniel Arribas walked with one out and advanced to second on a wild pitch. With two down, Christian Kelley singled to center, driving in Arribas and giving the Power a 2-1 edge.
Charleston evened the score in the bottom of the ninth and pinned a blown save on Tanner Anderson. The reliever walked back-to-back batters in the ninth before allowing a base hit to Chris Gittens, driving in Hoy Jun Park from second to tie the game at two.
The Power loaded the bases with one out in the tenth without the benefit of a base hit. Hayes drove a fly ball to right. Jhalan Jackson caught the fly for the second out of the inning, but his throw home was off line as Alfredo Reyes scored the eventual game-winning run.
Keller worked seven innings of one-run, three-hit ball, striking out six and walking one, but did not factor in the decision. Anderson (1-1) earned the win after three innings of work while Claudio Custodio (3-1) was charged with the loss.
West Virginia and Charleston play the second game of this series on Thursday evening. Logan Sendelbach will start for the Power against the RiverDogs Anyelo Gomez. First pitch is slated for 7:05 P.M
<![CDATA[First Pitch: The Most Encouraging Sign For the Pirates’ Long-Term Success]]>Thu, 05 May 2016 02:06:50 GMThttp://bigleaguebaseballacademy.com/news-blog/first-pitch-the-most-encouraging-sign-for-the-pirates-long-term-success
The last two drafts for the Pirates have led to an interesting trend that I’ve noticed since last summer. The Pirates are now picking lower in the draft, and they’re also taking some unconventional approaches.
They’re drafting high OBP guys with low power numbers, and moving some of them to premium defensive positions they haven’t played in years.
They’re relying heavily on scouting, going for guys like Cole Tucker who were ranked lower by national rankings before the draft, but who were actually on the rise right around draft time.
They’re taking players who are young for their level, figuring that some extra value can be had by getting a player in the system for that extra year. And based on how many college players break out as a junior, it’s not a bad idea to get a college junior who is the same age as a sophomore, or even better, a prep player who is a year younger than all other prep players.
The trend I’ve noticed isn’t about the approaches though. It’s about the reactions to the draft. I’ve talked with a lot of people who didn’t like the 2014 draft. I’ve talked with a lot of people who liked the 2015 draft a lot better. I’ve also talked with people who didn’t like 2015, but thought 2014 was better. But one thing I never encountered leading into this year was a person who liked both drafts.
So far this year, there have been encouraging signs from both drafts, which is what you want to see. The 2014 group has Mitch Keller (2nd round), who is looking like the early pick for breakout prospect of the year. Cole Tucker (1st round) will be returning much sooner than anticipated last year when he went down with labrum surgery, and is another top talent to watch. Tyler Eppler (6th round) has arguably been the best starter in Altoona, and the only starter putting up consistent results. Even guys like Frank Duncan (13th round) and Montana DuRapau (32nd round) are having success in the Double-A bullpen.
The 2015 group is off to a great start. Kevin Newman (1st round) and Ke’Bryan Hayes (1st round) are off to strong starts at their respective levels. Brandon Waddell (5th round) makes his Double-A debut tomorrow, almost 11 months after being drafted. JT Brubaker (6th round) and Logan Sendelbach (10th round) are two pitchers showing some promise in West Virginia.
I don’t need to tell you how important it is that the Pirates keep producing talent now that they’re picking lower in the draft. I don’t believe in the idea that small market teams have “windows” in which to contend. That is, I don’t think those “windows” are inevitable. But if you draft poorly once you start picking lower, then you’re going to create a window. Take it from someone who cheers for the Rays on that one.
So it’s important for the Pirates to keep getting talent, despite the lower slot in the draft.
“Good players are taken after the first round, and we’re going to have to be an organization that finds, not only one player in the first round, but we’re going to need to find multiple players throughout the draft,” Pirates’ General Manager Neal Huntington said to me last week. “Whether it’s because they make direct impact by coming to the big leagues to help us win, or they make an indirect impact because they become players that we can trade to require players to help us win at the Major League level. The depth of the draft is just as important as it was when we were picking at the top of the draft. We still need to find value. We still need to find players that can help our Major League team win again, directly or indirectly.”
The challenge in recent years hasn’t just been the lower spot in the draft, but the lack of money to spend. The Pirates spent more money than any other team in the draft from 2008-2011. The new CBA in 2012 restricted their ability to spend, and their success the last few years only gave them less money to work with. For a team that loaded up on prep players in the past, this severely changes their approach.
“Under the new system, to pay them what most high school players are looking for, you do have to draft them early,” Huntington said. “The ability to take a high school pitcher in the eighth round or the sixth round, and pay him first or second round money, that’s pretty much eliminated. At the same time, Max Moroff is a pick in the teens that we paid above slot, because we negotiated aggressively near the top of the draft, and saved some money to reallocate to some high school players.”
Moroff was actually a Plan B for the Pirates, and someone they turned to with the over-slot money that Mark Appel turned down in the first round. That entire situation has worked out, as the Pirates used Appel’s compensation pick to select Austin Meadows the next year, landed Moroff as a backup plan, and even got Jacob Stallings as one of the players they took to save money for Appel. But the Pirates have also gone their usual route in taking projectable prep pitchers. They just are limited in the approach.
“There’s still the ability to get the prep players,” Huntington said. “It’s just more challenging. You need to either draft them earlier if they’re going to look for a significantly above-slot signing bonus, or you need to negotiate aggressively, and if you’re able to save some money in the top part of the draft because you negotiated aggressively — not because you take a lesser player — but because you negotiate aggressively, you’re able to save some money for those later picks, and you end up getting a Max Moroff on occasion.”
The Pirates got Moroff in 2012. Their 2013 middle round success stories so far have been Chad Kuhl (9th round) and Erich Weiss (11th round). Both were college picks, although Weiss got an over-slot bonus to sign. Mitch Keller is standing out from the 2014 group, and Ke’Bryan Hayes isn’t a middle round guy, but he’s also off to a great start.
You can see the new approach with guys like Keller and Hayes. The Pirates took prep players early in the past, but most of their over-slot guys were middle round picks. Now, if they want to give Keller a $1 M bonus, they need to take him in the second round. And they rarely go over-slot now between rounds 4-10, only doing that four times total since the new CBA took over in 2012.
But Hayes and Keller are encouraging examples that they can still find projectable talent, even if that talent needs to be drafted higher.
“Ke’Bryan has gotten off to a great start offensively and defensively,” Huntington said. “It’s fun to watch him run around the field. The life that he brings, the defense that he brings, but also the thunder in the bat, and the mature approach he can bring offensively. There’s a lot of things to like there. And Keller… The bar that he’s set — the ability to get swings and misses with multiple pitches, the ability to strike people out and pitch from an effective pitch count measure, very low pitches, and getting multiple strikeouts. The ability to get hitters out on three pitches or less, despite striking double-digit guys out. It’s been very encouraging.”
All of this is even more encouraging for the upcoming draft in a little over a month. The Pirates pick 22nd overall, and have just under $7 M to spend, which is their lowest budget under Neal Huntington. Their ability to get talent in the top rounds while picking low (Keller, Tucker, Hayes), along with their ability to find value in the middle rounds (Kuhl, Moroff, Eppler, Waddell) speaks well for their ability to keep the system flowing with talent, even if their new draft situation puts them at more of a disadvantage than in the past.
**Tomorrow we will have a special feature on the site from James Santelli, and I’ll have an article on one of the high draft picks from recent years, along with other news throughout the day. Subscribe to get that, plus all of our other great daily coverage of the system that you can’t find anywhere else.
**How Ke’Bryan Hayes Benefits From Growing Up in a Family of Baseball Players. Speaking of Hayes, I talked with him last week about what is working for him in West Virginia. We also broke down some things that occasionally go wrong with his stance, which he worked to adjust over the weekend. You should also check out my articles from last week on Mitch Keller and Kevin Newman, which were two of my favorite articles to write this year.
**Prospect Watch: Seven Shutout Innings From Jameson Taillon. The latest gem from Jameson Taillon, plus my live report from Bradenton.
**Trevor Williams Will Pitch a Simulated Game on Friday. An injury update on Williams, who will pitch a sim game on Friday.
**Top Performers: Glasnow, Taillon, Joe, Polo, Brault, Kuhl, Garcia, Waddell. One of my favorite features of the week, this one having 18 prospect reports from what we’ve seen either covering these guys live, watching video of them, or both.
**Morning Report: Josh Bell’s Defense and Steven Brault’s Performance Last Night. John Dreker with more detailed breakdowns.
**Jason Creasy Placed on Disabled List, Brandon Waddell Promotion Made Official. Minor moves throughout the system, with Jason Creasy going to the DL and Waddell officially added to Altoona’s roster.

<![CDATA['Keep swinging' Below Deck: Young Hayes keeping a level head with Power]]>Tue, 03 May 2016 23:17:26 GMThttp://bigleaguebaseballacademy.com/news-blog/keep-swinging-below-deck-young-hayes-keeping-a-level-head-with-power

Ke'Bryan Hayes met with Pirates manager Clint Hurdle after signing his pro contract last year. — JARED WICKERHAM / DKPS


 — During Ke’Bryan Hayes’ sophomore year of high school — which was only three years ago for the 19-year-old third baseman — his mother gave him a quote from the great Hank Aaron.

“My motto was always to keep swinging,” the quote from Aaron says. “Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging.”

The quote, which Hayes has displayed as his header picture on his Facebook page, has helped the young minor-leaguer stay positive through his ascent to the major leagues.

Hayes, the Pirates’ second of two first-round picks (32nd overall) from a year ago, has since taken Aaron’s words to heart during his time in West Virginia with the Power, the Pirates’ Low-A club in Charleston, W.Va. The young infielder leads Power regulars with a .333 batting average and has displayed some flashy leather at the hot corner.

But it’s less about the plays he makes and more about how he makes them consistently. One year removed from high school, Hayes didn’t come to the professional ranks with an ego. Rather, he came with a willingness to learn.

<![CDATA[How Ke’Bryan Hayes Benefits From Growing Up in a Family of Baseball Players]]>Tue, 03 May 2016 22:28:48 GMThttp://bigleaguebaseballacademy.com/news-blog/how-kebryan-hayes-benefits-from-growing-up-in-a-family-of-baseball-players

Ke'Bryan Hayes benefits from having a strong baseball family. Photo Credit: Tim Williams

Tim Williams
May 3, 2016
CHARLESTON, WV – The Pirates gave Ke’Bryan Hayes an aggressive push to West Virginia this year, sending the 2015 first round pick to full season ball at the age of 19, making him one of the youngest players in the league. By the early results, you wouldn’t even know that this was an aggressive push for Hayes, as he is handling the league well through his first month of the year.

The third baseman is off to a great start at the plate, hitting for a .333/.358/.440 line in 82 plate appearances. His defense was highly touted out of the draft as his best asset, and has lived up to the hype so far.

“He has some instincts out there on the dirt,” West Virginia Manager Brian Esposito said. “In terms of reading some hops, and his footwork, and how he handles the baseball, when he needs to throw the baseball across the diamond, when he needs to set his feet. He’s got a high baseball IQ, and he’s got the tools to go with it.”

That high baseball IQ comes from being in a baseball family. Ke’Bryan is the son of Charlie Hayes, who spent 14 years in the majors, including the 1996 season with the Pirates. His father played all over the field, but primarily was at third base, which is where Ke’Bryan projects to stick for his career.

His older brother, Tyree, was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the eighth round of the 2006 draft. Tyree didn’t make it out of A-ball as a right-handed pitcher, and retired after the 2012 season, but Ke’Bryan was able to learn from him.

“Since I was able to understand what [my dad was] telling me, I’ve been able to just take in as much information as I can,” Hayes said. “Even my brother, he knows what the other pitchers are trying to do to get the hitter out. As much as they can tell me, I’m taking in all of it.”

You can see the baseball IQ coming through at a young age, as Hayes is already able to recognize his own struggles, and works with his coaches to improve on those flaws. He actually had better numbers heading into last week, but ran into a bit of a slump, due to some issues with his swing. He noticed those issues, and went to work right away.

“I kind of noticed that my barrel wasn’t getting out front,” Hayes told me this past weekend. “So me and [West Virginia Hitting Coach] Ryan [Long] went in and looked at some video. Some of it was due to my stance being a little bit closed.”

I noticed in Friday’s game that Hayes seemed to be pushing a few balls to right field, getting weak pop ups. He went 1-for-10 and didn’t have strong contact in the first three games that I saw last week. He talked with Long after that last game on Thursday night, and on Friday he made an adjustment, coming out and getting a few hard hit balls up the middle, one of which went for a hit.

“One of the things we talked about was being able to hit some balls to left-center,” Long said. “For us, it’s the whole field. He can get wrapped up sometimes in using the right side.”

Hayes said that his issue was that he was blocking off his swing by ending up in a closed stance. He usually starts off neutral, with his feet aligned parallel to the plate. When his swing is right, he lands in that same position. Last week, Hayes was landing closed off, leading to the weak contact the other way.

“We’ve been working on that, just making sure I’m in line, and landing with a neutral balance,” Hayes said. “Sometimes I drift forward, and that makes my barrel lag.”

Long has been impressed with what he’s seen from Hayes, also mentioning how the baseball family helps him.

“He’s a good athlete,” Long said. “His big separator is his feel. His instincts are really good. He’s got feel. He knows how to play the game. He grew up in the game. I know that sounds funny sometimes, but he has those instincts of how to play, and when to take a base, and what to look for with certain pitches. So he’s a little advanced in those areas. And he’s got a good eye/hand and good zone awareness for a young hitter.”

One thing lacking from his offensive game right now is power. Hayes has shown some flashes of that so far, hitting a home run and a few doubles at the start of the season. He hasn’t had an extra base hit for over two weeks, since that first homer, showing that the power isn’t consistently there. The Pirates feel Hayes can eventually hit for more power as he grows. This is something that Hayes understands as well, getting more advice from his father.

“My dad is always telling me, ‘Don’t worry about power, it’s going to come as you mature.’ I’m still very young. I’ve got a bunch of baby fat on me. So just go out there and work hard and give it your best.”

Hayes mentions the “baby fat”, and has made similar comments in the past, but he appears to be in great shape. During Spring Training, I detailed his mountain biking workouts, and how he turned himself into a first round pick by sticking to that workout routine and cutting down his weight in high school. I’ve never really seen Hayes as a kid who was out of shape, and his repeated comments about staying in shape suggest that he won’t be reverting back to that anytime soon.

Right now, the primary thing Hayes needs to work on is his offensive consistency. But don’t think that he’s not working on his defense, even if it does look smooth and gets strong reviews from opposing scouts.

“I value defense just as much as my hitting,” Hayes said. “Every night, you’re not going to be able to go out and get four hits in a game. So you’re going to make sure you’re going to take away the other team’s hits. So defense is, I would say just as or more important than hitting.”

That’s yet another sign of maturity from a kid who hasn’t even reached the age of 20 yet. That could all be due to his family’s background in baseball. Either way, it’s a great sign for a talented player who has all of the tools to eventually be a starting third baseman in the majors.

<![CDATA[Pirates Are Sending Ke'Bryan Hayes to West Virgina]]>Sun, 20 Mar 2016 15:25:51 GMThttp://bigleaguebaseballacademy.com/news-blog/pirates-are-sending-kebryan-hayes-to-west-virgina
MARCH 10, 2016
BRADENTON, Fl. - The Pirates have given aggressive promotions to their first round high school position players in recent years, sending them all to West Virginia during their first full seasons. This is a big jump for young players, as it not only puts them in a league dominated by college talent, but also puts them in a league that plays nine inning games everyday for five months. The latter is a big schedule change from their high school days, where their season consists of two or three seven inning games a week for about three months.
Ke'Bryan Hayes will be the next prospect to make the aggressive jump to West Virginia in his first full season. As I reported the other day, the Pirates are sending him to the level, where he will be one of the youngest players in the league
<![CDATA[Congrats to our BLBA 2015 class that signed their NLI today!]]>Wed, 12 Nov 2014 18:17:08 GMThttp://bigleaguebaseballacademy.com/news-blog/congrats-to-our-blba-2015-class-that-signed-their-nli-today Picture

On Behalf of Big League Baseball Academy, I would like to congratulate our class of 2015 players signing their National Letter Of Intent (NLI) today! This is a proud moment for you and your families as well as everyone here at BLBA.  Your hard work, dedication and willingness to learning the game the correct way has helped you become a better baseball player and I thank you for allowing me to be a part of it!

Coach Charlie

<![CDATA[BLBA Team Hayes Tyler Paulsen (Minooka 2015) commits to Illinois State ]]>Tue, 09 Sep 2014 18:02:05 GMThttp://bigleaguebaseballacademy.com/news-blog/blba-team-hayes-tyler-paulsen-minooka-2015-commits-to-illinois-state Picture
Congrats to BLBA DeMarini Hayes "Tyler Paulsen" Minooka HS 2015  on his commitment to Illinois State. The 2-Way 6'5" player comes down to where you like him best? Tyler played outfield and pitcher for Team DeMarini Hayes this summer and is playing pitcher and 1st base this fall for the Reds Scout Team.

"Tyler is a great kid that plays the game hard. He is always trying to make something happen and and listens to instruction well. He did a great job for us this summer both in the outfield and on the mound" said coach Hayes.

We will get a chance to see Tyler some more this fall as he is on the Reds Scout Team with other Team Hayes members.  Tyler is just one of many players on team Hayes that will be in Jupiter this fall.

<![CDATA[Team Hayes Jake La'Frenz (St. Edwards Catholic 2015) from Elgin, IL commits to Coastal Carolina.]]>Tue, 09 Sep 2014 17:43:10 GMThttp://bigleaguebaseballacademy.com/news-blog/team-hayes-jake-lafrenz-st-edwards-catholic-2015-from-elgin-il-commits-to-coastal-carolina
Big League Baseball Academy would like to congratulate Jake La'Frenz from Elgin, IL on his commitment to Coastal Carolina. The (LHP) 2015 commit from St. Edwards Catholic HS in Elgin, Illinois played for BLBA in 2013 and was a member of the 2014 team Hayes but didn't get a chance to play due to Tommy John surgery the beginning of June and just after his high school season.

Coach Hayes said "It was a big blow for our summer team loosing Jake to an injury and we never like to see a pitcher go down to Tommy John! Jake pitched and played well for us in Chicago for the 2013 International World Series and I know he worked hard this off season with Tampa Rays AA pitching coach RC Lichtenstein who cleaned up his mechanics as well as conditioning and put our summer team in a better position with an extra arm and bat in the line up".

As Jake continues his road to recovery, everyone at BLBA would like to congratulate Jake and his family on the commitment. We know you will be back on the field soon and look forward to seeing you next season! 
<![CDATA[18U: USAB inveils 18U National Team roster. 20-man roster to complete in COPABE Pan American Championship]]>Fri, 29 Aug 2014 15:15:06 GMThttp://bigleaguebaseballacademy.com/news-blog/18u-usab-inveils-18u-national-team-roster-20-man-roster-to-complete-in-copabe-pan-american-championship Picture

<![CDATA[Ke'Bryan Hayes drives in all three runs for the 18U USA Red team.]]>Thu, 28 Aug 2014 17:59:14 GMThttp://bigleaguebaseballacademy.com/news-blog/kebryan-hayes-drives-in-all-three-runs-for-the-18u-usa-red-team Picture
HOUSTON - On a day full of evaluation and situational work, the fourth game of the 18U National Team Trials Red-Blue series ended in a 3-3 tie on Wednesday evening at Cougar Field on the campus of the University of Houston.

The 18U National Team Trials will conclude on Thursday. The 40 players will go through a workout at 1 p.m. ET/12 p.m. CT before the fifth and final game of the Red-Blue series at 7:45 p.m. ET/6:45 p.m. CT. Both will take place at Cougar Field.

"We tried to get some guys into different spots today," USA Baseball 18U National Team manager Andy Stankiewicz said. "We are always trying to find as much versatility as we can because of the small roster. We put some guys in some spots that they aren't used to and they probably felt a little uncomfortable but, in the game of baseball and athletics, you have to learn how to be comfortable when you are uncomfortable. We are trying to challenge them a little bit because when we get to this 20, if somebody gets hurt or a little banged up, we are going to have to put some guys in some spots that they aren't used to.

"Tomorrow we are just going to let them play. We are going to get them back to their positions and give them a last shot to play their game. It was nice to see some guys get some base-hit bunts down because that is their game. When they got here they wanted to show something and do a little more than what their game is. I think they are starting to feel a little more comfortable in who they are as a ballplayer and, whatever skill they have, they are using it. We are just going to challenge them to do the same thing tomorrow."

Ke'Bryan Hayes (Tomball, Texas) was the top offensive performer on Wednesday, driving in all three of the Red team's runs with a sacrifice fly, an RBI single and a bases-loaded walk in his three plate appearances. Blake Rutherford (Simi Valley, Calif.) also had a solid day, finishing with a single, a walk and two runs scored.

On the mound, Luken Baker (Spring, Texas) started for the Blue squad and fired three innings of one-run ball, allowing just one hit. Red team starter Justin Hooper (San Ramon, Calif.) struck out three in three frames of work, yielding two runs - one earned - on three hits.

For the second day in a row, the coaches implemented an international tiebreaker situation at the end of the game. Trailing 3-2, the Red team came up to bat first with runners on first and second and nobody out. It would take advantage of the opportunity and tie the game with a hit batter and a bases-loaded walk by Hayes.

The Blue squad opted to lay down a bunt in its turn at the plate. The Red unit tried to get the force out at third on the play but the throw was late so it found itself in a bases-loaded, no-outs jam. Relief pitcher Austin Bergner (Windermere, Fla.) escaped unscathed though, getting a force out at the plate on a chopper to third before inducing a game-ending double play to ensure the tie.


"Any time we get a chance to practice the international tiebreaker we are going to do it because it is new to the coaching staff as well. We are trying to figure out some strategy and how to go about that, so it was good to be able to do that again tonight as well."


Follow the 18U National Team throughout trials and during international play by visiting USABaseball.com or by following @USABaseball18U on Twitter.