I went to see Huntington Beach High School take on cross town rival Edison High School yesterday. Two excellent baseball teams in the area. I picked this game, from the MaxPreps website, since it was in Huntington Beach and I wanted to see the ocean after. I got to the game a little late and walked around the large high school campus. Their sports complex was impressive along with two fields for the different sports. I saw tennis, basketball, baseball, lacrosse, track, softball being played and/or practiced. The high school was a-buzz with activity.
I sat behind home plate, in front of the concession stand, and noticed a few scouts at the game. They are easy to pick out and I had to wonder who they were there to watch. I have become pretty adept at picking out the talented players, my favorite position to watch is catcher. In watching a few players on both teams, those could be the players of interest.
A young guy sat next me and I started talking to him about the two teams. In our conversation, I found out he was just breaking into the “scouting” business and was interested in one particular player. We talked baseball and the different stadiums we had been to. He had a passion for the game and I enjoyed him because he was talking my language. He told me that he was trying to get into law school to learn about contracts, his dream is to be a sports agent. He loved the game of baseball and wanted to be connected to it some way. He is learning about scouting and his favorite part is dissecting the pitchers. He is working with an agency to learn more about what to look for in the skill set of the players.
The game was close and I was into it. The scout told me about the Huntington Beach (HB) Little League being the 2011 champions. I remembered, vaguely, the kid on the mound in the 6th and 7th inning was Hagen Danner. He was pitching in the low 90’s and was one of the stars of the 2011 championship team. Some of the kids on that team are now freshman, Hagen being one of them. I was more impressed with his poise than his nasty curve ball. As I watched him, he got into a jam in the top of the 7th, bases were loaded with 2 outs, HB was up 3-2. The kid has it “between the ears” is what I thought. He seemed calm, he was playing varsity baseball as a freshman and he was the go to guy – he got the out! I shook hands with the young scout, he said he was going to “follow me”. I saw later that he did on Twitter. I read today that Hagen has already committed to UCLA. The kid knows what he wants.
Walking back to my car, I was thinking about the Snowbird Baseball Classic, UConn vs Auburn game when I sat and talked to a Washington Nationals’ scout. I had asked him if kids have an advantage playing in South Florida and Southern California. He had told me the only advantage they have is learning the proper technics from top notch coaching at a younger age. They will be able to dominate the northern teams at the national tournaments because of the proper mechanics and the fact that they will have more “dirt time”. He went on to tell me that it becomes a level playing field after high school. Coaches and teams see the kids with the raw talent and know who can be developed. What they look for is what is “between the ears”.
The Nationals’ scout talked about Jordan Zimmerman, who went to a small northern school in Wisconsin. He said that Jordan definitely has it “between the ears”, saying that “when he came into camp, he didn’t care who you were. He went after you and doesn’t get rattled when he was in a tight spot.”
Hagen Danner was like that on this particular night. He should go far and I will keep an eye on him.
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