Why You Need To Know Who You Are As A Player Today!


Who are you as a player?

Are you able to answer that right away or is your answer more wishful thinking?… “Well, I’d say I’m a cross between Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, and Derek Jeter.”

Knowing who you are as a player helps you prepare and practice in a way that will maximize your potential and give you the best chance to make it to the next level.

Today, Chris Burke explains the importance of knowing yourself as a player and how that should affect your approach to improving as a ballplayer.



Posted in Hitting, Interview, Uncategorized |

Crusty Reflections About the Greatest Game on Earth (By Tim Dillard)


Hi guys, we have quite the treat today! One of my favorite ballplayers in the world has written a guest post for Next Level Ballplayer and I hope everyone gets a chance to read it.

Tim Dillard is in his 12th professional season and has enough hilarious stories to fill the MLB Network for months.

A few years ago when Tim decided to become a submarine pitcher in order to extend his career, I was the lucky guy that got to play catch with him multiple times each week.

When I say “lucky” I mean- It was one of the worst experiences of my life.

His ball moved so much that I was afraid for my life on just about every throw he made, ESPECIALLY when he was throwing at 100% and would casually say, “Hey Franco, can you crouch down for a couple?”

“Sure Tim… sure Tim.”

Anyways, Tim is a great dude with a sense of humor like few I’ve ever met. Follow him on twitter @DimTillard and be sure to check out his blog.

Enter Tim Dillard:

The term “crusty” in Minor League Baseball, refers to a weathered player who’s been playing professional for 10 or more years.

Anytime someone is to offer advice (wanted or unwanted), a person must reflect on their own experiences and story.

NAME: Tim Dillard

AGE: Somewhere between 31 & 32


CAREER: 12th professional season

CURRENT TEAM: Huntsville Stars AA affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers

MLB SERVICE TIME: 1 year, 106 days, 4 hours, 27 minutes, 18 seconds (just a guess)


BATS: Never

POSITION: Side-arm relief pitcher

FAVORITE PITCH: The one that gets an out


First, let’s all agree baseball is awesome. If you concur please continue reading. Regardless of replays or human error, the game is perfect. Sadly, EVERYONE that plays baseball is NOT perfect. That’s why there’s a Hall for a tiny group of players who have messed up the least amount of times.

My journey to professional baseball started in 1963. I was negative -20 years old at the time. It began with my grandfather hitting ground-balls to my dad out in the yard after work. With a glove in one hand and a bat in the other, he would hit my pops a hundred grounders a day. “G’daddy” would catch the throw with his glove hand, then toss it up and smack it with his bat hand. (a hundred everyday)

Dad’s work ethic plus my granddad’s willingness to encourage and participate, led to a generation of me wanting to play in the Big Leagues. Like my father, I had a mind-set to take the right steps to reach the goal of playing in the Show.

*Here are some misguided steps that could potentially hinder playing baseball at the next level:

“It’s too hot outside. I think I’ll play Gears of Halo Duty on Xbox all day!”

“I’m going to play tackle football at the park, and hope I fall on my throwing arm every time I’m slammed to the ground!” (take care of the wing)

“I’m thinking of just sleeping till noon!” (you can actually do this in pro ball)

“I’m watching the exciting Breaking Bad spinoff Fixing Good instead of watching boring Major League baseball!” (learn from the best in the world)

“I’m convinced I should always hydrate with soda pop!”

“I’m just as cool and brave as Johnny Knoxville!”

“I already know everything about baseball so my coach would be better off just appointing me ASSistant coach!”

(Parents hate this, BUT…) I had three reasons to motivate me for good grades. “A” to be eligible to play baseball. “2” to get a college baseball scholarship. And “D” to NOT be an idiot. (in that order)

I loved my senior teammates in high school. And after we lost in playoffs our last ever high school game, everybody cried. Not me. My mind-set was that high school was a right step I had to take to get me to the next level.

I loved my teammates in junior college. And after we lost in playoffs our last game, everybody cried. Not me. My mind-set was that junior college was a right step I had to take to get me to the next level. Whether that’s going to a four-year college to play baseball or signing professionally.

Years later, I realized that my teammates weren’t crying because we lost. They were deeply saddened that they may not be able to play baseball anymore. No more stepping in the box. No more warming up in the pen. No more toeing the rubber. No more tightening up the spikes. No more…

There have been several moments during my journey where teams haven’t wanted me, I couldn’t find a job, or I may need to retire. And those are very difficult feelings. But it’s those feelings! That fear. That fear of never being given a uniform again. That should motivate you as much as it does me!

And that’s the reason this old crusty career is still active.

Posted in Baseball Tales, Pitching, Training Tips, Winning Ballplayer |

Why Your Mindset Inside The Batter’s Box Is More Important Than How You Feel

Attention Hitters! The next five minutes will change your baseball career for the better if you let it.

We are joined by University of Washington Hitting Coach and friend, Donagal Fergus.

Coach Fergus is one of my favorite guys in the baseball world because of his unique coaching style and deep believe in the mental side of baseball.

He doesn’t have a cookie cutter approach to the physical side of hitting, but instead encourages his players to take ownership and helps them find what works for them.

When it comes to the mental side of hitting, one of the phrases he likes to use with his guys is, “Don’t be pretty with the bat, compete with it.”

In the 4 minute video below, Coach Fergus breaks down, why he’s not a big “hitting drill guy”, the mindset that he wants his guys to have in the batter’s box, the importance of fully committing to your plan in the box, and more.

Many thanks to Coach Fergus for taking some time to hang out with us.



Posted in Coaches Corner, College Recruiting/Scouting, Interview, Uncategorized |

Why You Catchers Should Never Frame Another Pitch Again (With Mets’ Catching Prospect Blake Forsythe)


Young catchers are usually taught at a young age that one of their main jobs behind the plate is to frame pitches.

Especially at younger levels this can get pretty extreme.

As you get to higher levels of baseball and umpires are no longer teenagers trying to make a few extra bucks, framing not only becomes ineffective, but can have a negative effect if the umpire feels you are constantly trying to turn clear balls into strikes.

What’s the alternative, done by the best catchers at the highest levels of baseball?

Glad you asked.

Today we are joined by Mets’ catching prospect Blake Forsythe. After a monster career at University of Tennessee, Blake was a 3rd round draft pick and is now playing AA ball for the Oakland A’s.

In the quick video below he shares some of the best catching tips he’s learned in pro ball and breaks down the difference between receiving and framing the baseball.

Many thanks to Blake for taking the time to hang with us and share his knowledge.



Posted in Catching, Interview |

The Two Keys To Becoming a Great Hitter!


I get emails from hitters all the time asking for help with a common problem. It usually sounds something like this:

“I feel great hitting in practice, but once I’m in the game I continue to struggle. It’s so frustrating. Any advice?”

Today we are joined by former Astros and hitting guru, Chris Burke. Chris was a 3 time All American at the University of Tennessee, a 1st round draft pick by the Astros and hit one of the greatest post season walk off homeruns in the history of MLB.

Since his playing career has ended, he’s worked with hitters at every level and was nice enough to carve out a few minutes break down the two keys to being a great hitter and how to practice in order to make sure your practice swings are preparing you for the game.

Posted in Hitting, Interview, Mental Baseball |

UCLA’s Coach Savage Shares His Top Baseball Recruiting Tip



Today I go 1-on-1 with UCLA’s head baseball coach John Savage (College World Series 2013 National Champions).

Special thanks to Coach Savage for taking the time to hangout and dig into…

  • What he looks for when recruiting HS hitters and pitchers
  • If he prefers players who play multiple sports in HS or baseball year round
  • Importance of watching other players play and seeing how they prepare
  • His top tip for HS players who want to play college baseball and beyond
  • And more



Posted in College Recruiting/Scouting, Interview, Prospect Perspectives |