By Kyle Koso
The baseball division at Triple Crown Sports has always had the right feel for producing youth tournaments; in 2021, it requires a different touch for older players.
That’s why TCS will join forces this year with the Don Reynolds Professional Baseball Group to bring in seasoned and insightful scouts and assess the 14u-15u talent at multiple events. The majority of these scouts have a background in Major League Baseball; they will provide player evaluations and ultimately select the Top Prospects from the pool of players at TCS events.
The players selected as Top Prospects will carry the banner of a Triple Crown National squad and will be invited to later play at the Pathway Arizona tournament (Sept. 17-20), where a deep roster of current college and pro scouts will be attending.
Reynolds has a deep and varied history in baseball, beginning with his days as a two-sport star at Oregon in the mid-1970s. He was drafted by the San Diego Padres and had a seven-year run in the minors and majors; after coaching two years at Oregon State and getting his masters degree, he started his player assessment career as a special assignment coach with the Seattle Mariners.
Next came years as a scout mixed in with jobs at Houston, Montreal (where he was the director of player development), Colorado and Atlanta before an eight-year hitch as a scout for Arizona. His current venture includes the leadership touch of Dave Roberts, another Oregon alum who was the No. 1 selection in the 1972 MLB Draft, and Chris Gwynn, brother of MLB legend Tony Gwynn and who had a 10-year career in the majors.
Reynolds’ youngest brother is Harold Reynolds, current analyst on the MLB Network who played 12 years in the big leagues.
“We are a group of veteran baseball scouts; scouting directors, cross-checkers, all with deep experience. All of us have seen the game from so many perspectives, and it gives us a real solid base as to where we are going with the scouting base here,” Don Reynolds said. “We have collected like-minded people who have a passion and love for the game … a group of guys who have deep pedigrees in the game; the ability to evaluate talent is always important, and is the heartbeat of baseball.”
Reynolds’ group is dedicated to multiple causes, providing the best insight possible on the current state and potential impact of a given player, while also being ready to speak frankly on any shortcomings. There’s a certain set of obstacles (especially the small number of college baseball scholarships) when it comes to developing talent in the sport, and Reynolds wants to remedy that issue.
“You need to start with the athletic vision of this player, then you go, well is there something holding him back? Is he long and lanky and (just ahead) of a growth spurt? Then you look at baseball skills, which are things that might still be developing, but there needs to be some semblance of those skills. You use a broad brush at age 14 and 15,” he said. “Baseball can be restrictive because of the finances, and it’s a long road to the majors. It’s a great age, 14 and 15, to look at and to encourage them to play the game. Don’t give up; if you have the talent you can get an opportunity. You identify and encourage at the age … other sports seem to be ahead of baseball when it comes to that.”
Current plans have Reynolds’ scouting group attending Triple Crown’s Texas Season Opener (Dallas, March 5-7); portions of the Arizona Spring Championships (five sessions in March); the SlumpBuster (Omaha, June) and the Summer Nationals (Myrtle Beach, July).
Reynolds said he’d like to see an itinerary that allows for parents to directly speak with his scouts at the events; details are still in the works, but the goal is to bring clarity for an age group that typically is hard to decipher.
“We’re ambassadors for the game; we want to provide a clear and honest conversation. A lot can change from 14-15 to 17-18. We wouldn’t discourage a kid who wants to play, but I don’t want to encourage players who maybe need to be trying something else,” Reynolds said. “There are other things in life, if your heart isn’t into it. All of our scouts will be open to not just writing reports and moving them up the road, but also to use the down time where if parents want to ask about scouting and player development and what college baseball requires, we would love to have that platform to speak so we give them honest information.”
by Kyle Koso
When pondering how to help people in pain and those needing a boost to the spirits, Major League Baseball umpires have been making the right call for longer than you might imagine.
In a grass-roots effort initiated by MLB umpires themselves, UMPS CARE charities has a 15-year history of using its connections in the sport to support various causes. That includes the Protect The Game (Veterans in Sport Officiating) initiative, where military veterans are trained and equipped to become officials, primarily in youth sports.
UMPS CARE and Protect The Game are hosting a benefit event with two MLB umpires who served in the Marines, Laz Diaz and Mark Carlson — the talk will come via ZOOM call on Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. ET, and will be hosted by Jerry Schemmel, former radio voice of the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Rockies and host of the Amazing American radio broadcast.
Ticketholders can submit questions to the umpires in advance of the ZOOM event. Tickets are $25 and available at this link:
Connections to the military run deeply for both umpires. Diaz’s father and son both served in the US Army, and his son-in-law is currency in the Marines. Carlson’s wife served four years in the Army, and his grandfather fought in World War II in the Army. Both umpires worked in the 2020 World Series.
The UMPS CARE charity was founded in 2006 and evolved to create opportunities for primarily youth-based organizations to ease the burden on those in need. While the COVID pandemic has altered normal plans, UMPS CARE has in the past brought people to MLB ballparks for an intimate look at the big-league experience; umpires have also delivered modified Build-A-Bear Workshop experiences to the bedside of children undergoing significant medical procedures in hospitals. Those hospital visits happen in 15-18 MLB markets annually (pre-COVID), with more than 18,000 Build-A-Bear kits distributed so far.
Groups like the USO, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and foster-care alliances are also served by UMPS CARE, as umpires invite such organizations to meet um[ires at Major Leahie and minor league games. In addition, UMPS CARE also has a scholarship trigram that sends children adopted later in life (age 13 and older) to college.
Another useful result stemming from UMPS CARE activities is the humanizing of the umpires, who like a lot of sports officials have come to expect a range of behavior from coaches, players and fans as they execute their job. Rather than just be known as targets of abuse (just YouTube some videos featuring Earl Weaver or Billy Martin to get a taste of what MLB umpires might experience), those behind UMPS CARE want a fuller picture to develop.
“We have tried to bridge that a little bit. That’s one reason why, when we bring groups to the ballparks, we want people to see the umpires working in a professional environment and what it takes to be an umpire, how they handle themselves,” said Amy Rosewater, marketing manager at UMPS CARE. “Beginning this year, we are starting a program where we look to have umpires at the Major League level mentor high school kids who might not have even thought that umpiring could be an occupation and a career.
“There’s so much in line with the military, the values of leadership, professionalism, dedication, sacrifice … all of that is very similar. Major League umpires spend anything from eight to 15 years (in the minors), so they understand commitment. They have to show up on time, in uniform, follow the rules. Everyone here is excited to have two umpires who understand both officiating and the military to connect with veterans via Protect The Game and encourage them to think about this profession.”
Protect The Game took shape in 2019 and has seen 26 former veterans complete the training, which had to be shut down during the pandemic. Dozens more are in line for training in 2021, tentatively set for locations in Colorado, North Carolina, Nebraska and a military base in California, among others.
“In the beginning days of Protect The Game, we had an intuition that veterans of military service would profile as positive forces in the world of sports officials, and the example of Laz Diaz and Mark Carlson makes that point even more forcefully,” said Jordan Cohen, executive director of Protect The Game. “We appreciate the support of UMPS CARE to our mission, which is to grow the roster of sports officials and help veterans succeed as they pivot into a civilian role in their life.”
We will spend some time in 2021 taking a closer look at many of the key clubs and teams that bring excitement and competition to Triple Crown’s Colorado Baseball division. We start with the Thunder Academy, based in Broomfield, CO, and 12u head coach Shawn Williamson.
Q: What are you most excited about for this team?
A: For the opportunity to compete locally and at a national level with the best teams in the country. We will play in eight TCS tournaments in 2021. Our first four event itinerary is composed of games in Phoenix, Mesquite, NV, Omaha and Park City, UT — we will finish the season at Cooperstown Dreams Park in New York.
Q: What constitutes a successful season for you?
A: Our ability to overcome adversity, our desire to learn from our mistakes and the continued development of our players. This takes anticipation, aggressiveness and autonomy. We anticipate the right move as the play is developing, we move with aggressiveness, confidence without hesitation — we support the autonomy of the player making the right decision.
Q: Would you call 2020 a success for your team and your program with all the challenges and hurdles you faced?
A: Yes, we had all our committed players return. Our Academy 11u Red team had to be willing to pivot to a different destination on a weekly basis. Despite the challenges, we played around 50 games without a single player contracting COVID-19. We always got our work in and our parents were very supportive.
Q: What separates Thunder Academy from the other programs?
A: Our professional instructors Darron Cox, Tom Dedin and Ty Giordano, along with our year around recently updated indoor facility. Thunder Academy has 16 cages with four full-length pitching mounds, a strength/agility area and weight room and our partnership with RedLine Athletics. When we started in 2009, our mission was defined as promoting good character, developing young players’ skills in a positive manner and preparing for high school baseball and beyond. Our partnership with Positive Coaching Alliance since 2011 has helped support the mission. We have implemented the “Culture Keepers” program to enhance our family’s experience.
Q: What’s the team expectations this year?
A: Expectations are to keep players safe and healthy while training and playing competitive tournaments in 2021. The coaches are focused on developing players and increasing the baseball acumen of our players and parents.
Q: What’s the best thing about the state of youth sports right now?
A: The countless additional opportunities players have in developing skills at a much earlier age than a decade ago. Thunder contracts with professional and college trained coaches to teach the technical, emotional, and mature side of baseball. We can use data, video, and conversation to help drive the right behaviors.
Triple Crown Sports recently launched a separate, non-profit venture called Protect The Game (Veterans in Sports Officiating), designed to train former members of the military in becoming officials, primarily for youth sports. There is a shortage of officials around the country, and this endeavor can create paid working opportunities for veterans looking for the next chapter of their lives.
Two longtime leaders in the nation’s youth baseball arena, Millard United Sports and Triple Crown Sports, will work in association for the 2021 MUS Spring Showdown, set for April 9-11 in age groups 8u through 14u.
Millard United Sports has more than 80 years of history in organizing and executing youth sports events to benefit the Greater Omaha area. The 2020 Spring Showdown drew almost 90 teams despite the disruptions of COVID-19 and is widely appreciated as a competitive highlight on the spring baseball schedule.
Triple Crown Sports has been producing youth, high school and college events for nearly 40 years. TCS also powers one of the largest and most well-regarded youth baseball events in the world, the SlumpBuster, which drew 730 teams in June 2019 and runs during the D-I College World Series in Omaha.
“We are excited to have a unique opportunity to work together with Triple Crown and are glad to be part of their first local partnership,” said Tim Schaareman, MUS tournament and facilities manager.
“Our history in the Omaha region has allowed us to create important relationships in and around youth baseball, and we couldn’t be more pleased to work more closely with Millard United Sports,” said TCS chief operating officer Sean Hardy. “We look forward to both organizations having a successful 2021 campaign after the hurdles we all faced last year.”
For more information:
Millard United: CLICK HERE
Spring Showdown: CLICK HERE
Two longtime leaders in the nation’s youth/high school baseball arena, Knights Baseball (Tennessee) and Triple Crown Sports, will work in association for several events on the 2021 schedule.
Knights Baseball, founded in 2002, has been a regional source of quality teaching and competitive performance in the sport from the beginning, serving age groups from 8u to 18u. Highlighting the effort with TCS in 2021 are two events, the 12u-16u Nashville Classic (May/June) and the Cumberland Classic, an 18u tournament set for May 28-31 in Lebanon, TN.
Triple Crown Sports has been producing youth, high school and college events for nearly 40 years and will run the fourth Big South Championship in July 2021 in Nashville and Franklin, TN. TCS also powers one of the largest and most well-regarded youth baseball events in the world, the SlumpBuster, which drew 730 teams in June 2019 and runs during the D-I College World Series in Omaha.
"It is an excellent enhancement for Knights Baseball tournaments to be partnered with Triple Crown Sports," said Knights co-owner Jason Anderegg. "(TC event director) John Casale and his staff have always been great to us, which made it a very easy decision to now work together. This partnership will allow Knights Baseball and Triple Crown Sports tournaments to both continue to flourish."
“We’ve been impressed from Day 1 at how the Knights Baseball program builds the skills of young players and prepares the older ones to make an impact at the collegiate level,” said TCS chief operating officer Sean Hardy. “We look forward to both organizations sharing their expertise as we open the door to a 2021 schedule that ideally is free of the hurdles from 2020.”
For more information:
TCS Players, Parents, Administrators and Coaches,
This year has been a challenge for athletes all over the world. The memories that Triple Crown desires to make with you were, in most cases, diminished or eliminated. As we adapted to the limitations forced by the pandemic, we noticed your efforts to play and compete, to deal with Zoom practices and to keep families and team connected. Pain was difficult to avoid, as jobs were lost and loved ones became ill; it hurt to watch student athletes be taken away from their friends. We recognize the mental health struggle many are facing.
In terms of COVID-19, obstacles remain, but please know TCS will be here when it’s your time to shine again. We are offering a menu of events in 2021 that will excite your team and keep everyone safe. TCS was able to produce nearly 50% of its 2020 expected team count, and we’re forecasting a return to 80% in 2021. Look for us to be proactive, with a mix of relocated events to open states, some luck in opening from currently closed municipalities, and dedicated formats that prioritize health and safety.
We are so proud of the efforts you’ve made in 2020 to keep sports in the forefront and ensure that athletes have this amazing opportunity to learn resilience through challenge. Sports are what keep TCS going — it runs through our veins to compete, and we will be here when you most need what we do best.
See you in 2021!
Keri King, CEO
The Triple Crown World Series has added a third location starting in 2021 for D2 teams in the 9u, 11u, 12u and 14u divisions!
We’ve selected the beautiful mountain communities of Aspen, Basalt, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs and Snowmass, Colorado as host to our premier D2 World Series event. Also known as the Roaring Fork Valley, this world-class destination is a perfect location to combine competitive tournament baseball along with a family vacation all members will enjoy.
The event is slated for July 21-25, 2021 and will feature a 5-game guarantee format with a double-elimination bracket finish. The fields are surrounded by the beautiful Rocky Mountains and you will be playing at 6,000+ feet above sea level.
Coaches, players and families will be able to take advantage of the countless activities the Roaring Fork Valley has to offer such as rafting, biking, hiking, “gold-medal” fly fishing, jeeping and horseback riding. The Valley is the 1st region in Colorado (and 7th worldwide) to receive “gold status” from the international mountain biking association. Between all of the towns there is a wide variety of world-class restaurants, shopping and lodging.
Pencil your team in today and jump on the Who’s Coming List. We have limited spots available in each age division and we do expect the event to sell out early.
After a year when youth baseball teams had the summertime blues, it’s time to look forward to blue skies in 2021!
Come to the Rocky Mountains for the Triple Crown World Series, the dream location for a title run where the competition is strong and the cool mountain air is a real treat for all members of the family.
Each event features a five-game guarantee, double-elim playoff brackets, and a dozen free Baden baseballs, with no gate fees or umpire charges.
Steamboat Springs, CO
11u, 14u, 13uD2
Steamboat Springs, CO
July 27-Aug. 1
8u, 10u, 13u and 13 Elite
Park City, UT
9u, 12u and 12 Elite
Get penciled in TODAY and start planning your trip that combines a fun family destination as well as exciting championship-level baseball!
Contact Matt Pilcher at (970) 672-0562 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We're teaming up with former MLB player, current motivational speaker and music producer CJ Beatty!
CJ and Triple Crown are dedicated to creating unique, positive and inspiring messages! Each week, CJ's Scouting Report will cover topics aimed at players, parents and coaches.
EPISODE #1: Meet CJ Beatty
You can expect future topics to include:
If you have a topic you would like CJ to discuss, drop a comment after watching an episode. Learn more about CJ, follow him on social media and download his music by clicking below: