Who this article is for
If you’re a shoo-in for the first round, stop reading right now. This article will not benefit you.
BUT, if you’re a fringe draft guy from a small school who has clawed his way to developing into someone worthy of a draft conversation, this article is for you.
I make no promises
This is not a guarantee. This is merely a prediction. A prediction that I believe in, but a prediction nonetheless.
I have a hankering for the new.
I seem to always be among the first to find out about new things, and I’m usually an early adopter of a new technology or a new app that revolutionizes the world 2 years after I first gave it a try.
In March 2015, Driveline Baseball was a little-known baseball training company with its homebase in Puyallup, Washington.
Somehow (I can’t remember how), I discovered that they were launching a new online training service.
I was a long-time skimmer of their blog, and had my first interaction with Kyle Boddy on the Let’s Talk Pitching forums six earlier when he prescribed me a program that I most certainly did NOT do.
In the weeks that led up to March 23, 2015, I had been tearing through the Driveline blog reading everything I possibly could and hoping I’d throw harder through Internet osmosis.
(It didn’t happen)
To make a potentially long story short, I invested $392 in the Driveline Baseball Online MaxVelo program and over the next two years, came closer than I ever imagined to being the third Trinity Christian College baseball player ever to play affiliated baseball.
Over that span, I not only gained 14 MPH of throwing velocity and actually gained some sort of idea on how to throw strikes (debatable), I also built a personal brand and an incredible network around my baseball career.
Even though these numbers pale in comparison to true influencers, I build up a following of 2,900+ on Instagram through my niche account and 1,700 on Twitter.
I did this through documenting so much of my development process—the ups, downs, and in-betweens.
I truly believe that without my online presence, I would have slipped through the cracks.
But with my willingness to put out content and add value into the online community, I earned favor with highly influential people in the game that did all they could to get me signed.
While I never threw a professional pitch, I got closer than I ever imagined to playing professionally before eventually deciding to not pursue it any further.
As I look at baseball now, I see a trend that could benefit you if you take advantage of the opportunity available to you.
Here’s what I want you to get out of this: If you’re a fringe college player, you NEED to build a personal brand.
In a world where everyone throws 90+, you will no longer stick out solely because you throw “hard” (below average).
Yes, you will need to throw harder. There’s no question about that.
But you can also take advantage of the massive opportunities the Internet gives you to build a personal brand that might be the key to you pitching professionally or landing yourself a sick new job in cubicle nation.
Trends I see
Progressive coaches are being hired off Twitter
The gold rush has begun.
Professional organizations everywhere are picking up coaches who are data-driven and can use research-backed programming methods to get their players better.
It started with Jason Ochart being hired by the Philadelphia Phillies as their Minor League Hitting Director and has spread to tons of private coaches all around the country landing jobs with Major League organizations.
These coaches are in-tune with the best training methods and will support you in your usage of Driveline PlyoCare balls. As more coaches are hired from this area of the baseball landscape, these preparation methods will become even more accepted throughout the game. This benefits you greatly.
These coaches are tuned into social media
These coaches are proficient on Twitter dot com. In addition, many of them were discovered through Twitter and other social media channels or their own websites.
These coaches are eager to find athletes they believe in
Part of the job of professional organizations is to sign the next group of players for their organization. Year-after-year, organizations draft 40 players and sign dozens more to fill their rosters with the hopes that a small percentage of them pan out and become valuable players.
As my old boss Mike Rathwell says, “If you throw 95 on the black in Siberia, someone will find you.”
The good news is that you no longer need to be found solely through sheer luck. You can leverage the power of the Internet to dramatically improve your chances of being discovered, scouted, and signed if you focus on building your brand.
You’re a Marketer
I don’t care what you’re in school for or the degree you have. You are a marketer.
A marketer is anyone who seeks to make change in the world. Marketing is all about creating change.
In a world filled with hustlepreneurs whose answer to everything is to do more, publish more, be in more places, there’s another way to create a personal brand that you can be proud of.
Your personal brand isn’t your clever marketing strategy. Nor is it the perfectly planned aesthetic of your Pitching Instagram account.
Your personal brand is your reputation.
When it comes to marketing yourself as a fringe professional baseball player, you should be leveraging the Internet to store and circulate your entire process.
When scouting directors think of you, what will they remember?
You have the power to influence what these decision-makers think of you.
Will you use it?
Athletes who document their training – all of it – will benefit
Gary Vaynerchuk talks about the value of a “document, don’t create” strategy of content creation.
For fringe draft guys like yourself, I believe this strategy will be effective.
In an age where more of the decision-makers are siding with progressive training methods, you can stand out in the crowded marketplace of draft-eligible pitchers by documenting your training process.
How to Get Drafted (Using the Internet)
Create a Website
I did this for college recruitment, and college coaches loved it. The website is now down, but it had basic information on it: my most recent recruiting video, my game schedule, past season stats, and contact information.
If I did this today for getting a professional job, I would upload videos with radar gun readings in the shot, post regular training updates with thoughtful insights and videos, and provide a way for them to contact you.
I believe that competency in understanding your training will be a differentiator between fringe draft guys in the future.
Use Twitter dot com
Twitter is a gold mine for networking with people within professional baseball. Learn how to network by adding value to an already-existent community. Give first, give some more, give a lot more, then maybe someone will give something back to you.
I recommend posting short videos of training and game performance on here and engaging in thoughtful conversations with others. The Pitching Twitter world is full of good-intentioned, curious people who love a good conversation. Enter that community and share what you’re learning. You’ll be surprised what happens.
I don’t necessarily recommend posting everything you do online, but you should document it.
Here’s a situation I’ve imagined before:
A team is deciding between two college seniors who are similar in every category. One of them is you.
The only difference between the two of you is that you’ve documented the last 2-4 years of your development online. They can trace you from the time you enrolled in Southern Kansas Community College throwing 84 to now when you’re a 95 MPH flamethrower.
They’re interested in your journey, and the scout who’s been following you has an affinity for your training methods.
Now what if they ask for your training logs? Is it far-fetched to think they might do this?
I think not.
How great would it be to send them a Google Sheets link with all of your training logs over the last four years. They could see everything you’ve done.
Does this scare you?
It’s not unreasonable to think it could happen.
Will you be ready?
Will any of this happen?
I don’t know.
That’s the beauty of it.
I anticipate that if 100 people read this article, maybe 2 guys will actually try it.
It might be too early in the game for this, or the timing might be right.
There’s only one way to find out.
Take the leap.
Burn the ships.
Break the status quo.
If you read this and want to do it, send me an email at email@example.com. I’d love to help you get everything set up and talk about the uniqueness of your situation.