Collegiate summer leagues offer experience and exposure
Kyle McDonald | Sports editor | @kylesportsbias
For many collegiate baseball players the season doesn’t end in late May and early June. Some players are drafted in the Major League Baseball draft and others continue to play in one of the many summer collegiate baseball leagues around the country.
“I think summer ball can be very good for certain players to gain valuable experience against good competition,” UVU Head Coach Eric Madsen said. “Those players are pitchers who may not have thrown many innings or position players who are trying to gain exposure, improve an aspect of their game, or who didn’t see much playing time.”
However, playing summer ball might not be for everyone especially players from UVU. With conflicts such as marriage, family, and the fact that there is only one collegiate league in Utah, it makes it difficult to continue playing throughout the summer.
“Unlike most college programs, a lot of the players are married or in other positions that make them unable to move across the country to play,” Former UVU pitcher Jeremy Gendlek said.
Playing summer baseball is an opportunity for players who didn’t play a lot of innings throughout the spring or pitchers who didn’t make many appearances to play and see the field.
But for others, the summer is a time to rest and recuperate before returning to school and the baseball field in the fall.
Some players especially pitchers like to take a rest after playing 45-50 games throughout the spring.
“I think it is a detriment to some pitchers who have pitched a large amount of innings or had many appearances as the chance of injury and fatigue really increase over the summer,” Madsen said.
The players that choose to play in the Cape Cod League, the Jayhawk Collegiate League, the Alaska Baseball League, and the Western Baseball Association among others, gain valuable experience as well as exposure to Major League scouts.
“For me personally I think it helped tremendously,” Gendlek said of his experience playing in the Puget Sound Collegiate League in Washington State. “There is no other way to get the experience of facing college-level hitters outside the season without playing summer ball.”
Hitters in collegiate summer leagues are required to use wood bats and according to former UVU All-American Goose Kalunki, “it makes guys better hitters and shows who the true hitters are.”
Collegiate summer leagues are also a haven for Major League Scouts. Players in the Cape Cod League receive the most attention from scouts as it is considered the premier summer league. Other leagues such as the Coastal Plain League and the West Coast League received great attention as well.
“A lot of scouts are out there and just feeling out players,” Kalunki said. “It is a good way to show you know how to play the game.”
For Gendlek pitching in a summer league was an opportunity he wasn’t going to pass up. It was an opportunity for him to face the best hitters and to get stronger.
“Any chance you get to play you should take advantage of,” Gendlek said. “As for me playing, it definitely made me better.”
Kalunki believes that continuing to play ball and the experience he gained in summer ball helped him become the player he is today.
“You want to get better and be prepared for the coming season and summer baseball is a way to accomplish that,” Kalunki said. “I just wanted to keep playing and by playing a lot, it made me a better player.”
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