Two dozen uncommitted high school baseball players from Massachusetts had the opportunity to travel to Georgia for the 2022 Prep Baseball Report Future Games last week.
The Future Games, a showcase event, gives prospects the chance to play in front of more than 300 college coaches and scouts while learning more about the advanced analytics side of baseball.
Despite going 1-2, Team Massachusetts had a few players who starred on the diamond.
Lefty Beau Elson from Phillips Exeter was impressive on the mound, striking out five over two innings in a win over Team Ohio while hitting 87 miles per hour on his fastball.
Outfielder Anthony Ruggiero from Nipmuc Regional flashed his speed, going 2-for-2 a loss to Team Mid-Atlantic with two steals and two runs batted in.
But even more important than the final record was the knowledge the players left with.
The showcase was an introduction to advanced scouting technologies like the TrackMan system, which allows players to dive deeper into their hitting and pitching metrics, and Blast, which analyzes a player’s swing.
By learning about their exit velocity, distance, bat speed, hand speed, and ball rotation instantly, high school athletes can make adjustments and develop in real time. It’s similar to the type of scouting and data available to MLB players.
Using this type of advanced technology at the high school level is becoming the norm. Events like the Future Games expose players to a side of baseball with which they may not have engaged, and it has the potential to drastically improve their development.
Tate Bannish, an infielder for Wellesley, appreciated how the TrackMan technology helped him understand his own game.
“It’s really helpful for players who are my age to learn how you hit and how you can do better,” Bannish said.
On the first day of the event, all hitters did a workout where they took batting practice, ran sprints, and were evaluated defensively. Through the workout and the instant stat tracking, Bannish was able to isolate and work to fix a problem with his swing.
“I wasn’t creating enough backspin and was hitting the center of the ball,” said Bannish. “That caused my average distance to not be as high as I really wanted it to be … due to me not elevating and not creating that backspin.”
Bannish thinks knowing how to use the technology could get a player noticed by top colleges.
“Being exposed to this technology helps every player find a place in their game to work on which in turn makes you a better player,” he said. “As you continue to develop, the better you get, the more colleges will recruit you.”
Jake Cullen, a righthanded pitcher at Westford Academy, credited his experience for helping identify how spin rate could affect his pitching performance.
“Now that I know about the advanced metrics I can try to improve them,” said Cullen. “I can try to increase my spin rate, which will affect how much life my fastball or curveball will have.”
One of Team Massachusetts’ standouts in the workout portion was Griffin Schutte, a first baseman at The Rivers School. Schutte was among the top performers in the program in average bat speed (76.6 mph) and average hand speed (24.6 mph). Schutte also had the top exit velocity recorded among Massachusetts players at 97 mph.
The players from Massachusetts didn’t leave with just data. They also had the chance to perform and improve in front of the hundreds of college scouts and coaches.
“It was surreal,” Bannish said. “When you step on the field and see North Carolina and Duke and other schools that you haven’t seen before ... It was a great opportunity to get in front of so many eyes all across the country.”
Cullen said 3 out of every 10 people were scouts.
“As soon as I got to the field there were cameras everywhere and the first thing you see are people representing all the SEC schools.”
Dennis Healy has been coaching Team Massachusetts for seven years. He knows the value of bringing his players all the way to Georgia every summer.
“It’s the biggest exposure event for uncommitted 2024 athletes,’’ said Healy. “There is not a better event in the country.”