How to Draft a Strong Youth Baseball Team

Cute little boy all ready for baseball practice. image by Lisa Eastman from Fotolia.com

The process of tryouts and evaluation days for youth baseball leagues can move quickly, often giving coaches just a cursory look at most of their prospective players. By focusing your attention on a handful of crucial areas, however, you can put yourself in a position to choose a strong team at your organization's youth baseball draft. The goal should be to draft a well-rounded team with strength at every position, including pitching, hitting and defense.

Rate players according to their throwing ability to begin your analysis. Coaches rank strong throwing fundamentals among the most important skills for a young baseball player. Watch for players who raise their throwing arm high in the air rather than keeping it at shoulder height or below.

Pay close attention to pitchers in crafting your draft strategy because pitching is of paramount importance in youth baseball leagues. Rate pitchers on their mechanics, the speed of their pitches and their control during tryouts. Pitchers who throw a lot of strikes make strong draft picks.

Rate hitters on their fundamental skills and ability to make contact with the ball. Watch for batters who can keep their eyes on the ball and keep their head still rather than jerking it around. Batters should stand with their feet turned in toward each other slightly. They should be well-balanced at the plate with their weight on the balls of their feet.

Draft a good catcher who can catch or at least the block pitches consistently. Youth baseball games often feature a lot of passed balls, which not only allow opposing baserunners to advance but also can demoralize a team.

Rate players on their defensive skills, placing special emphasis on those who can field ground balls properly. Watch for infielders who get in front of the ball and go into a crouch with their gloves on or slightly above the ground while fielding grounders. Fielders should secure the ball in their glove with their free hand as soon as it enters the glove, then prepare to throw.

Tips

Emphasize having fun rather than winning at all costs in youth baseball. Remember that the vast majority of your players will not to go on to become professional or even collegiate athletes, but if they are having fun they will develop an appreciation for the sport.

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