Ep. # 011: Frank Rodriguez- Former MLB Player/ SUNY Maritime College Coach / Founder 33Rodz Baseball
Join Evan and Frank Rodriguez as Frank shares his baseball journey, his experience playing at Youth Service League with future pro players like Manny Ramirez, how he found motivation through adversity and how youth players can do the same and how developing a strong mindset helped him as an MLB Pitcher. Frank also shares the mission of his organization, 33Rodz Baseball, his coaching philosophies and his experience coaching at SUNY Maritime College.
What You’ll Learn:
01:20 Frank’s baseball journey
06:42 A lesson he learned from Manny Ramirez
09:00 Finding motivation through an unlikely scenario
13:15 Managing pressure through good preparation
15:12 Slowing things down
20:57 Striking out Derek Jeter
21:47 Using the numbers to learn from failure
29:22 Coaching philosophies
35:51 Balancing game time with training/ development
Thank you for being here with us! Evan and the Born To Baseball Team are looking forward to celebrating your success and sharing this journey together.
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Read show notes here.
Websites/ Programs: https://www.33rodzbaseball.com
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Episode 011_FRANK RODRIGUEZ_FORMER MLB PLAYER_SUNY MARITIME COACH_FOUNDER AND COACH 33RODZ BASEBALL
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Calling all ball players. Are you ready to take your game to the next level? Were you born to baseball? Then bring it in? it's game time.
Hey guys, welcome to the Born To Baseball podcast. I'm Evan and today we have Frank Rodriguez on. Frank was a relief pitcher for six years in the big leagues with the Red Sox, twins, Seattle Mariners and Cincinnati Reds. Frank won the Dick Howser trophy in college and is one of two JUCO players in history to win that award. Frank is the assistant coach for SUNY maritime college privateers baseball in New York and the founder and president of 33 rodz baseball. Frank, thank you so much for being here.
Hey, brother, thanks for having me, man, this is a great thing to do and staying in touch with baseball and keeping everybody in touch with it.
Thank you. So, when did you first realize that being a professional baseball player was what you wanted to do?
Oh, man, I'm like a firm believer of you shouldn't be we live in a different era. Now. Now we post about all the good things we did. You know, now you know, it's different when I played we didn't have so social media and stuff like that. So I was just a firm believer of let other people talk about how good you are. And you know, you know, one time I was just I just happen to be somewhere and and I heard somebody dad talking about just talking about me, he didn't even know who I was. He just just I was just standing there talking, you know, just hearing him talk and I was just I started understanding some of the things he was saying. I was just like, wow, you know, maybe I know from different people's eyes, maybe I do have a chance at this because that guy was a well respected person that knew a lot of people that played professional baseball, and he compared me to some big names. So it sort of sank in in there. And then, with all the hard work I put in, I knew I was gonna go as far as I could with baseball, you know, just given the chance. That's all I needed. And I got my chance and I took it and I ran.
Thinking back, how intense was your like baseball practice baseball routine, when you were 10 years old, through like 13 years old? And then how did it change through high school and college?
Well, intense, I would say it was as as intense as I wanted it to be because I found myself even after practice, I would go to a handball court. If you grew up in New York, there's handball courts. It's a big wall and I worked on pitching I put a strike box up, I worked on actually hitting a ball off the wall, dropping the bat picking my glove up, catching the ball, worked on different things that I needed to work on. So there were some days I worked on specific stuff and you know, I didn't leave or I didn't go home until I figured, alright, I have a better idea of what I did. And then when I got older in high school, you know, in summer ball, I was able to pay for an organization called Youth Service league. A lot of guys, a lot of pro guys have come out of that league, the latest big name was Dellin Betances and the structure in that league, and in that organization was before you become a great baseball player, you're gonna learn responsibility and accountability. And that, you know, took me to a new level where I started to understand the hard work that you put it in, you know, it also affects other people, if you do or you don't, because if you're not putting in that work, and you're going out there and you're making errors, now that pitcher that worked really hard on something, now he has to throw more pitches because you made an error because you weren't working on things. So I started to look at it like that. I started to worry about more of I need to get myself better do that I'm better for my teammates. And then it just, it just all clicked within. And it just became a habit. It was just nothing that was just like, ugh, I gotta go work on this. No, never, it was like, I gotta go work on this so I don't let my teammates down.
That's a great way of looking at things and just being able to know like, let me help my team. It's not for me, it's for my team. So ultimately, you can all get to a better place and exceed in baseball. So you also mentioned that you played with the youth service League, and you won a national championship when you were playing with them. So what impact did organizations like these have on you as you were growing up?
In my era, which is a long time ago. You're so young man. You're awesome for doing this because you make me feel younger, too. But you know, when I grew up in my era, there were so many good baseball players. You know, there were so many good baseball players that never even made it to professional baseball. Like if they were in this era of they would be all stars, they would be like, drafted and go instantly to triple A. That's how the pool of players were in the era that I grew up in. And I, every game that I went to in high school or played in, there was always somebody that was on that field, or maybe even three or four guys that were as good as me or maybe even better. So I saw I saw that as an opportunity for all the hard work that I put in off the field, for it, that opportunity to be, you know, I'm helping my teammates out but yeah, here I have a chance to compare myself with that. And now with the youth Youth Service League, we got a chance to travel, not really travel. It was like you had a win a tournament in Brooklyn and then you go out of state to travel. That's the way it was before. And when we got that opportunity, now you start comparing yourself to Okay, maybe I'm good in New York, now we're going to Massachusetts, let's compare yourself against the best of Massachusetts and then New Mexico. How good are you now because now you have hundreds of teams. coming in from all states. So being in that tournament really helped me a lot because it put in perspective of, You're good in New York, but there's guys working as hard as you if not harder in all the other states too. So that's how it impacted my life. I was able to early in my life see that, you know, New York is not the only place and you're not you're not the best player in the country. You might be in New York, but you know, there's a lot of great talent out there in the country.
Are there any other players on the team you played with in the youth service league that eventually made it to the Major Leagues?
Yeah, one in particular, I played with Manny Ramirez. I played with him for about three years of summer ball. And, you know, a small story about Manny is like, there was one time that he came in from, because we practice right after school and some of us traveled and lived like 45 minutes to an hour on the train to get to where we practice that and he just happened to just lose his Sox somewhere along the line, he was like, I don't care that's not gonna stop me from practicing. And he practiced in his cleats with no socks. At the end of the practice took his shoes off and was bleeding. He didn't care. He was like "I felt good today I put in the work that I needed to put in". So Manny was a great player like that and he never, he just never let anything get in his way and I saw that and I was just like, "man, your talent aside Manny, I love the way you go about the game". And that's something I took a little piece of that and I added it to all the hard work that I put in and I was just like, I'm not gonna let any little circumstances deter me. It's raining outside so what I'll just get a sponge ball, I won't mess up a leather baseball and then boom, and boom, and I'll work on it. I'll put on a rain coat. So yeah, Manny Ramirez I played. It's weird because the last year that I played with youth service, there were like about six or seven kids drafted from that team. No, it was it was
Yeah, it was good competition to have, not only to have next to you to compare, but you might even play against these guys at some capacity in minor league ball and it was great. And I played against Manny. I played against Manny for three years in minor league ball too. So it was it was fun catching up with him. But that was really one of the big name guys I played with in summer ball.
What was the thing that motivated you the most to play in the big leagues and really excel at something you love.
Alright, so the exceling part comes from within, you shouldn't need any motivation to want to excel at anything and that's if you want to be a doctor or lawyer, anything that has to come from your heart, you got to want to do that, at the time where it may seem the most difficult. That's where you got to decide whether you're going to continue to do that or not. So that's motivation aside, that has to come from your heart. The biggest factor the biggest motivation, I definitely say was the night before I went to my junior college in Howard Big Springs, Texas. Um, I got a call from the Red Sox. So long story short When I got drafted, in the era that I got drafted, you were the team's property until the following draft. Now it's either you sign when they draft you, and then that's it, you're not their property anymore. So I had a full year to sign. And the night, the night before I left the college, which happened to be the last time they could actually make an offer to sign me and then they couldn't talk to me until my college season was over. You know, they really low balled me on the offer. And the words that really stood in here and never left that other ear was "Come on, take this offer you're a kid from the projects, and nobody in your family is ever going to make this amount of money. And it was just like, I still say the story night and then I get my hair standing and I get angry sometimes. But that was definitely a motivating factor for me, to say that nobody in my family would ever make that amount of money, because I grew up in the projects and to take this offer and this is what we're going to give you. I understand it was from the business side. So fast forward, I signed with the Red Sox. In spring training that year, I happened to meet the guy that was on the phone with me and said that and he was like, Hey, listen, Frank, I just want to say sorry, it was just the business side. I don't know how you took that. You know, Rumor has it you weren't happy about that. I was like, No, thank you, because you motivated me to, like really get after it every day. Just hearing those words saying nobody in your family will ever make this amount of money, that was a motivating factor for me to really bust my butt every day.
Sometimes you might get angry or upset or frustrated. using that to motivate you can be a big factor in success. I feel and even just from your experience, it makes it all the more true. So you went to Howard junior college and you won the dick Howser trophy. Your team later went on to win the Juco World Series. So that must have been an amazing, amazing experience. How did those accomplishments help build up your confidence going into, um, was it the draft that you, you went back into the draft or you signed with the Redsox
So I ended up signing like maybe six hours before the deadline. So it was funny, like after we won the junior college world series. So the junior college world series was in Grand Junction, Colorado. So we had to take a bus for about 20 hours back to Texas. So every five hours, and I'm going to tell you, this is going to show you how old I am, there weren't any cell phones. So we had a stop every every five hours at a gas station, not only for gas, so that I can I can call my agent and say Hi, how's the number going and stuff like that? Is it good? Is it where we want to be? So I signed you know, I signed eventually before we even got to Texas, but um, yeah, like I gotta say, it prepared me for professional baseball because a lot of people will say this, you know, oh, trophies don't mean anything. And I'm a big advocate of that. Because one of my one of my slogans is development over trophies, but when you win a trophy, at the highest level of where you are not just summer ball, not just high school, or when you're at that college level, I feel if your next step is professional baseball, and you've won something like that, a college world series, whether it'd be junior college or the NCAA Division 1 World Series, it's an accomplishment and it prepares you for pro ball because now you know how to win. And then you remember everything it took for you to win, and all the hard work that you and your teammates put in, and that's what you go and you expect going into pro ball. Because pro ball is a little different. There's there's different ways people think but if they know that you were a winner of something so high like that, not only do they respect you, they start wondering How does he do things. Look, he's a winner. Look at what he's doing to get prepared for games and you know, it helps your teammates out a lot and it might even help the opposing player as well. So having having won in junior college meant a lot to me, but it also prepared me for pro ball.
And how important was preparing to you throughout your career
well preparing is... I was, I have this one thing about me that my uncle always, because my uncle was always at my baseball games. He was the one guy, he always said to me, You never look nervous. And I feel like, you know, I understood. I never looked nervous because I felt like me being prepared off the field in practices I felt I worked so hard on my practices, that the game was just easy. All I'm just doing is just repeating what I did in practice. So I was never nervous because I was so prepared for my my game situations. So any any professional baseball player will tell you, when you get to Pro Ball, there's a lot expected of you and there's a lot expected of yourself. Now, you want to make your family happy that you can, every year you can try to get to the next level and then eventually make it to the Big leagues. So there's a little bit of pressure. But that pressure just falls off your shoulders by how you prepare for games, how you're taking the information that happens during your games, and you prepare for the next outing with all that information because being prepared is so important. Obviously, anybody will tell you. But being able to trust how you prepare is always going to help you during games.
That's, that's really great advice. So you were drafted as a shortstop but ultimately became a pitcher. What were some of the drills and workouts that you did to prepare yourself to succeed as a pitcher?
Well, I always pitched I always pitched even in high school and in summer balI I pitched. Once in a while We played that really good team and all the other starters were already just used and it was just my turn. I pitched so it wasn't like I didn't pitch and then now all of a sudden I learned how to pitch because I pitched in college as well. But as far as drills for me, I didn't really break down too much. But sometimes I just slowed things down. Like in my bullpen sessions inbetween my starts, I just slowed things down. I saw a video of Matt Scherzer in the outfield before a game, no ball, no glove, just going through his motion really slow and and finding his release point. So I sort of did that but with my glove and my ball, and even throwing so I just slowed everything down. So as far as mechanics and what specific drills that I did, for me, the only drill that I really did was just slowing everything down and feeling everything, you got it? To be able to feel something that's instant feedback for you. When you throw a pitch and it felt this way and it was a good result. Well, heck, you better feel that same way again and try to feel that same way again, same thing hitting, same thing fielding. It's all about how you feel. So for me, I felt slowing things down was good for me.
That's really interesting. That's really, really great. So is there like a favorite drill that you had? Was it slowing things down? Or was it something else that really helped you?
Well, I wouldn't say I wouldn't say a drill I would say more of a routine. So after I got to the point where I started slowing things down before I got on to the mound, to start my whole bullpen stuff, my routine was a certain number of pitches here on this side, a certain number of pitches on this side of the corner, a certain number of pitches down the middle with my off speed, a certain number of pitches in slide step certain number of pitches, I actually took my time and I looked back like there was a runner at second. I worked on all those things so that when it came in the game, it was nothing new. Because a lot of announcers whether their former players, they throw out this thing, well, he hasn't pitched from the stretch yet all game. But I always did inbetween innings in the bullpen before, inbetween innings even though if I had like three straight innings, where I didn't have any base runners on inbetween innings I was working on if I did have a base runner on. So my routine was always something that was gonna happen in the game. I prepared and I put it as part of my routine. So when it came up, it was just, I already did it. It wasn't a surprise.
And like, do you stress routine to your youth baseball players and just players that you work with now,
you know what I do stress? As far as routines, as far as drills, I say find something that works for you. Find something you enjoy doing. Find something you don't enjoy doing, and then compare and whatever is going to help you get better. That's what's gonna make you get better. Because there's certain trainers that train this way, there are trainers that train this way. And there are coaches that teach this. And there are coaches that have philosophies of teaching this way. You gotta be able to take a little bit from everybody. And in the end, if a coach tells you, this is the way I want you to do it, and you feel uncomfortable doing it, you got to start finding something that works for you along those lines of what he's trying to teach you. It doesn't have to be exact. But you got to find something that works for you because you got to be happy doing it. If you're doing something because you were told this is the way you have to do it. You become robotic, you lose that feeling of Wow, this batter came up, and I felt like he was looking back, maybe I should call my catcher out here. Or maybe I should throw a curveball at him and get them to duck out the way and then break back in the zone. All the stuff that is going to be fun for you. That's what you have to find, something that's going to be fun for you, because the minute this game is not fun, is the minute you don't want to put in that hard work. And when you don't put in that hard work, somebody else in New York or out of state is and now they just jump over you.
That's really important. That's really, really great. So, as a pitcher, sometimes you feel that the outcome of the game falls in your hands. So, I read about a game where you struck out four batters in one inning. Could you walk us through that experience? So
So, I have the video posted on my Instagram And again, if you talk to my guys, my 12 year old team,they'll tell you I never talk about anything about MLB, Oh when I played, no never. So they were like "Frank put up a video I saw this my dad showed me a video of you" he was like put it up. Okay, I'll put it up. So if you see the video on my Instagram it's weird, because after I struck out the second that I was just like, I banged my glove. Everybody that knew me they were like, after I posted it they texted me like, why were you angry? I said because that second batter I threw like 13 pitches to. I was already exhausted. So I struck out the third batter on on a wild pitch that I felt the catcher should have blocked because he knows how I throw my sliders and you as a pitcher know that you have to have trust in your catchers and the catchers have to know how all your pitches are breaking and expect it. And then you know. That's like we spoke about earlier having a little bit of anger and helping you and motivate you I was like you know what, I'm gonna try to strike this guy out just so I can just say I did it. So it was like a little personal goal for me and it worked out I struck out that fourth guy and it was it was actually fun. So yeah,
it sounds really really fun. Small little bragging rights right there. I actually know that you struck out Jeter on the last strikeout. So how was that?
Um, that was another game in Seattle that I played against him. I struck them all like three times in that game. And at the end of that game, one of my good friends a high school teammate of mine, he was like, you know why he did him dirty like that? I was like, Hey, man, I did. I was thinking about you. I no that's your favorite player. And then I was gonna call you after the game, but you called me first. And I was gonna say, I got your boy. But listen, it's the Major Leagues man. You know, it's giving up a home run is exciting. You don't show it as a pitcher, striking somebody out as exciting walking onto the field exciting. Being able to say you play even though if you played less than a year or played a week is exciting. So every experience is exciting. But you know, when you get an opportunity to strike out a Hall of Famer, it's something you could, you could write and put in your books and tell your kids when they get older. So it's fun.
Yeah, sounds like a lot of fun. So what advice would you give to your youth baseball players on how to bounce back when something doesn't go your way?
Well, anybody, anybody Please baseballs and knows that, hey, let me throw out a number there's 10, right? There's a 10. at bats, the best major league players are going to get three hits, maybe sometimes, very rarely four. So there's seven times that you're going to be out. Now you break these seven times down out of the seven times, how many times that I hit the ball hard. If it's four out of those seven, you got to understand you did everything right seven out of those 10 times. So the numbers are equal percentage that way, that way, that's where data is very, you know, putting out the information is important. 10 starts if you're a pitcher and you have 10 starts, I'll tell you right now, you're only going to have your best stuff, probably three times out of those 10 times. So now in those seven times, how are you going to figure out how to get by without your best stuff. If you got by three or four out of those out of those seven times. Now you've had three great times you've had your great stuff. And four times you didn't have your great stuff, but you pitched well. Now that seven out of 10. So numbers at the end of the day numbers don't lie. If you can write some information down and refer back to it, it always helps you. Because at the end of the day, results or numbers don't lie or results matter. But if you're putting yourself in a position where you're doing everything, right, and then baseball just takes over line drive right at somebody, you can't do anything. And you got to be not so much you have to be happy about it, you have to understand like, okay, I did everything right. On to the next at bat. Short term memories is very important in all sports. So especially in baseball, because you fail so much. But you have to learn something from every little failure that you might have, because it's important,
unfortunately, but at the same time, it's almost fortunately it's, it's a game of failure. But it's baseball can even like it can even help in life. Just knowing when I fail there's still another opportunity There's still another way to succeed.
In youth baseball, you have maybe two, three coaches in the dugout at a time. But when you move up to college and really in the major leagues, you have five, six or even seven coaches in the dugout at a time. What value does each coach bring to the players in the dugout, and during the game? And how do players manage all the advice that they're getting from each coach?
Well, the value is different for everybody because you have you infield coaches, you have your outfield coaches, you have your hitting coaches, you have your pitching coaches, and then usually your infield coach is kind of like your base running coach as well. So everybody looks to their their guy, if you're an alpha, you're going to go to your outfield coach, if you a hitter or your everyday player, you're gonna go to you if you're struggling, hitting go to the hitting guy. Same thing on the pitching guy. So there's there's coaches that are, you know, there for a reason they're doing specifically help you with a position or something in the area the field of you may be working on. So the value is important. The value is important because they are there specifically for you and to make you better, and how you how you process the information that they give you and how you apply it to your next pregame workout or your pregame routine and then in the game is really all up to you. So the value is there for you how valuable you want to make that information is up to you how you apply it on the field, because that's important. Everybody could fill you with information, I can give you 10 different things you did wrong. But if you take one or two of those things, and you make it work for you, you're going to be better on the field. You can't think about 10 things on the field. So having a coach that in your specific area is important. So that's why I see so many coaches on the field at the major league level because they're getting paid a lot of money to help these players that are getting paid a lot of money. So They, they want their you know, as an organization, you want to be successful. And that's how you do it. You have a lot of coaches helping out.
It makes a lot of sense. Moving up to the majors, how much more time and effort did you have to put into your training? And as well as your mindset.
mindset is important. Because the firt your first time out on the big league field, your mind is going to be all over the place. This is my dream come true. How many people are coming to watch me do I have my friends in the stands? I don't want to let my family down. I don't want to let my teammates down. Once you get past that. You've worked so hard to make it to the Major Leagues that all you have to do is just go and do everything you've done. Then make adjustments because the best players the most elite players at any level travel ball from 10 to 12. travel from 30-18 College Pro, the most elite players make adjustments from pitch to pitch from inning to inning from at bat to a bat. And that's the most important thing being able to adjust. And you quickly learn how to trust your hard work. The training becomes a little bit more specific when you get to the big leagues. Because in the minor leagues, you have some coaches there you have some strength and conditioning guys, but then when you get to the big leagues, now it's amplified. Now they want you to succeed so, so so much, and help their team win so much. Now they're going to give you every tool to get better. So the training becomes a little bit more specific, but nothing like that's going to blow your mind. But it makes you focus a little bit more when the training becomes specific and it's not a trainer, just training the whole team. You have a trainer training just the pitchers you have a trainer training just the infield is trainers for outfielders, catchers, it becomes very specific. So as far as the training you might need and how different the training might be in the big leagues, it's just more specific, more fine tuned. And, you know, it lets you lets you get past the fact of, am I physically prepared, then you deal with the mindset, the mindset is just all that work that you put in with that trainer allows you to be so comfortable in your talent. And then all you have to do is be is just execute everything you've practiced on on the field, whether it's travel, college, or professional baseball, or the major leagues, execute everything you've ever done well, and then even then you're not something might happen. You might throw a great fastball on the inside. And it might be a blooper, RBI game over. No, but at the end of the day, you can only do what you can do so baseball strange like that.
And yeah, youth baseball players. If you're listening Be sure to take note on that, that that's definitely going to help me and you guys in your game to help get better and really just excel at the game of baseball. Obviously, you work a lot of a lot with the youth. Can you talk to us about what 33RODZ is, and its mission?
So 33RODZ, so 33 is my uniform number rods is an abbreviation of my last name, Rodriguez. So when I retired, I decided to give back all the knowledge that I have appear and physically to all the kids that I was coaching at the time. So I had a coach with a couple of organizations and, you know, I like some things I didn't like some things. Same thing will be here. And I decided I'm like, why don't I just do this in my area, instead of traveling so far to coach let me just do this in my area. And then my mission statement with 33RODZ is just the focus is yes, we want to win trophies But that trophies is going to the trophies are going to be a result of everything we did. And our practices are very specific. Our practice of practices are written down notes that we're going to work on everything we did wrong the last tournament or the last game of the tournament. So this specific stuff that we work on in practice, gets them ready for everything they're going to do in their life. prepares them for that test they might take prepares them to get them ready for the right High School for them, prepares them to get them to the right college and having the parents understand that the mission of 33RODZ is not nationally ranking recognition. It is the joy that I'm going to get as the organization leader in getting your kid where he needs to be high school or college. That is the end game. I do not even have a shelf all the trophies we've won. I don't even keep them. What I do is I take the little plaque part of it, I put it in a book and a habit to keep them and I show the kids, hey, this is what we want. What do you want to do? Let's keep adding to this book. What are you going to do to prepare that to that book? So it's just teaching them. Like I said, in the beginning of this interview, when I when I learned accountability and responsibility, it helped me It helped me a lot. And that's during practice. If one guy doesn't understand something, I point at another guy, and I'm like, what, how can you explain this better for him? So I have everybody just understanding. We all have to come together. Because if one guy is not understanding that one guy might not do well on the field, and then now we're all going to feel bad. So the mission statement, in summary, is just getting everybody prepared properly for the field, off the field, the right schooling, and we've even taken a bunch of trips to some boarding schools that was an opportunity that some parents never even thought they had. But it opened their their mind up and the kids loved it. Because you know, to go off topic a little bit going to those boarding school trips, you know, being away from school being I'm sorry, being away from your parents in a school where you have to take care of everything on your own. Now that prepares you for college, because when you go to college, you're by yourself. Nobody is waking you up in the morning. So that's something that the parents never even thought about. So that's all the things that we work on a 30RODZ and just, I'm not gonna sit here and say we're the best organization, but I try to separate myself from different organizations are the things that we do for the kids to be prepared for school.
That's a really, really great mission. And I really love what you're doing with your organization. You brought up two of the foundational pillars. I know there's five. it's sacrifice, commitment, selflessness, and then the two you mentioned accountability and resiliency. How do you pull these through with your team?
explaining, explaining I don't care if I have to stop practicing explain something for 10 minutes. I explained how this is gonna help you win a game. I explained how if we have a pickoff play up the middle on a daylight play if my center fielder and guys and my outfielders are not paying attention that walk or go to the gap, and if they do it wrong, we'll sit there we'll do it again. Just so they could understand. If you study something for a test, if you're studying the night before, and you have a fear of you didn't study enough, hey, study a little bit more. Study just a little bit more because that's going to help you. So the resiliency part, and all of the parts of the SCARS acronym for me is just about letting them understand what all of it means and I like to compare a lot of things that happen in life to baseball, because a guy makes an error, even in practice, I'm just hitting ground balls and the kid makes an error. I'm like make an adjustment. He makes the same error again, I'm like, hey, make an adjustment. He makes the same error again, I say, Okay, let's compare this, you have a job right now and you made an error. Your boss, your boss brings you in, and you talk about it and you understand. Okay, now I know what I need to do. I'm sorry boss, I'll get it right. Next time you make an error. The next meeting you're going to have is your pink slip, you're going to get fired, you're gonna get fired from your job if you're not paying attention and making adjustments. So that's how I make them understand by just breaking it down very, very easy and comparing things to baseball and life at the same time and, and they get it. And it's funny, because once I say everybody bring it in, they're gonna go Oh, god, what is this story about? When am I getting fired? And I'm like, Yeah, exactly. You're gonna you're fired.
Yeah, It sounds amazing how you like make it fun and at the same time have everyone learn and really just just prepare them for life and as well as baseball. So you're a coach at SUNY Maritime College in New York, can you tell us a little bit about your coaching experience at that college?
So it's a it's an engineering school. It's a you know, there's marine biology, there's international trade and transport. It's it's a school that has a lot to do with the business industry on the water. And to me, it's been a wonderful experience. Not only is it my first college coaching job, I feel like the kids at that school, their mentality, because of their very specific degree that they're gonna get. It requires them to have a level of concentration hitting the books studying and on the field. Because, yes, their relief on the field is from their schoolwork but they know that the instant concentration that it takes, because of all their work, they have to apply that on the field. So so it's a little bit easier for them. So the type of players we get and maritime are guys that are dedicated, are guys that understand how to listen, apply, adjust very quickly. And overall, just great kids, great kids there at the school and part of you know, our alumni, they always come back and they miss it so much that it missed the you know, the team. And it's just been a wonderful experience so far for me there and I just don't see myself going anywhere else.
It sounds like a really great environment there. What are some things that youth baseball players should be doing today to increase their chances of success at the college level?
Well, any good coach is going to tell you, you can leapfrog somebody As far as academic money and money that might be given to you on the baseball side by having a great grade point average, having a great SAT or ACT score. So my biggest advice to you is really get comfortable being in those books because baseball is great, you could do a thousand drills, that's great, and you could get better and you could be the best player in the country. But you're not going to go to the school that you actually want to if your grades are not where they need to be. So grades are very important. And the earlier you start, the easier it becomes at every level because at every level, meaning when you're 10 when you go to high school, and then when you finally get into college, you've already had that, that whole routine of being able to study hard and my grades are important up here and understanding that that all you gotta do is just make adjustments I need to study an hour and 15 instead of 45. That's all it is. You Put that work in now, not only on the field, but in the school and in your books, things will be so much easier for you. I promise you that's that's the biggest advice I can give you. Hit those books.
That's that's really great advice.
Your mom would like that you know that?
Definitely. So in your opinion, in youth travel baseball, what do you think is the right balance between time spent playing games and time spent developing and training? The youth baseball players? That's a good question.
Um, I feel like I have. I'm very fortunate and I'm not just saying that because it's just I want to make my organization look good. But out of the 13 players that I have, I have 13 parents, 13 sets of parents that understand the goal is I'm not just giving you money to play tournaments. We are all in this because the goal is to get into the right High School, into the right college. We're practicing two or three times a week in the summer. And then we don't have tournaments every weekend. So then now, we might even practice on a Saturday and Sunday. So that's five days out of seven, that not many organizations will do. But we're just going over practice things that we need to get better at. So that next tournament, we're prepared, we'll go over a bunch of times, not only just ground balls and flyballs, we'll go over everything that needs to be done to be prepared. So I feel the development side comes from definitely playing games, but practices are so important. And I think that you know, another important aspect of the game is to write down some information, write down have some stuff that you can not only have on the kid, and what he needs to do to get better, but that information you can apply to your practice because who's gonna like, you call a practice and you're just gonna work on just what a pickoff play, how about we work on... All right, (Johnny, you're over here. You didn't throw many strikes. In your bullpen I need you to throw 10 pitches, I need seven of them to be strikes). So you know, something specific like that is only going to make them better because now, not only to the parents, now the kid understands, okay, I didn't do this well, and I'm working on it. Now. I'm not just going to go through a practice and just forget about what I did last tournament. You can't do that. You gotta have a short term memory but you also have to understand what you didn't do well, and how to get better, because that's important. So tournament after tournament every weekend. I'm just not a big fan of it. Practice is so much more important, specific practices, because anybody could just put together a two hour practice. But how specific and attention to details you pay into practices will always pay out in tournaments.
Hey, well, I appreciate your opinion there. So now I want to move into the rapid fire questions. So you ready? What's the toughest hitter you've ever seen
All of them. It's the major leagues, they're all tough.
So you're from New York City? What's your favorite pizza place?
Oh my god! A-1 pizza, Lower East Side, Manhattan
And what was your favorite pitching appearance?
Probably my first one in the Red Sox. I didn't do well. But it was just great. Everybody's just cheering my name actually, because I was the prospect coming up and it was my first outing. It's fun to hear people share my name.
So what kind of things are you working on that you would like to share?
Personally, I'm just working on right now getting some people to invest in me in a facility so that I can have something year round and I just want to keep just feeding kids with information and getting them better so they're prepared to go to college and just do well. And you know, a facility is something good to have because no matter what weather you have you always have somewhere to go.
Where can people reach out to you and learn more about you?
Well, the 33 rods on www.33rodzbaseball.com, that's our Organization website. I'm also on Instagram @33rodzbaseball. And I would say honestly, if you're an upcoming player, you should pay attention to my Instagram because I post a lot of stuff for youth baseball, college baseball and some pro stuff. So, a little sarcasm here and there, but that's needed.
Well, Frank, thank you so much for coming on to the podcast. And I just really appreciate it.
No problem brother, I can't wait to face you again because I'm not pitting against you because you're always kill us so we're walking you. And w're gonna try to pick you off.
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Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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