Picking the Mind of a Guy Whose Organization Sent Over 500 Players to D1.
Welcome to The Baseball Awakening Podcast, where we dive into the raw, unfiltered, unsexy side of player development.
Rob Bruno is the founder of the NorCal Youth Baseball Organization. Over 27 years over 500 kids that played for him went on to D1 and over 50 have gone on to play in the Big Leagues. He has set the standard high and is a model and an approach other organization should thrive for.
On this episode, Host Geoff Rottmayersits down with Rob Bruno of NorCal, where we talk about the process that is used to develop his program, the different conversations that he has as well as what he thinks the future of the youth game is.
In this conversation Rob talks about:
- About why he started NorCal and his vision for the organization.
- The changes to the travel ball culture over the years.
- His process of recruiting players to come to play for his organization.
- The difference between his term development vs. the culture term of development.
- How his players respect him as a person and love his approach.
- About how youth baseball lack baseball IQ talk.
- What guys should expect when joining his program.
- How to manage unhappy players and parents.
- How there is a lot of education involved and having to get parents to get it.
- What he would do if he was to start his organization in today’s culture.
- What college coach is looking for that is missing.
- and much more.
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Geoff Rottmayer: 00:00:00 Today’s guest is a pioneer of youth travel baseball over 500 kid that played for him have realized their dream of playing division one baseball and 50 of them, over 50 of them have gone on to play in the big leagues. The player loved his approach and he cared about his players today’s guest is Rob Bruno..
Intro: 00:00:24 Welcome to another episode of The Baseball Awakening Podcast where we dive into the raw, unfiltered, unsexy side of player development. Get ready for some knowledge bombs with your host, Geoff Rottmayer.
Geoff Rottmayer: 00:00:46 Welcome to The Baseball Awakening Podcast. I’m Geoff Rottmayer, and today I’ve got rob Bruno on the other line. Rob, how are you?
Rob Bruno: 00:00:56 Hey, I’m doing great today. Geoff. How are you?
Geoff Rottmayer: 00:00:59 I’m doing great, Bob. You know, I’m glad to have you on. So rob, you know, you’ve been a guy that had been around you travel ball scene for a long time. You have a pretty successful organization in Norco with a good reputation. So it’s nice to have you on to kind of pick your mind on the topic, but let’s start with kind of your story in baseball. And then how you got into starting did nor Cao organization.
Rob Bruno: 00:01:32 Well, it’s kind of interesting. I, my, my personal background is I played high school and then for a year trying to college and I honestly got hurt and I was done. And so football and baseball were things that I did enjoy. I’m better at power lifting and all that kind of stuff. Baseball is my passion. Um, shoulder and knee kinda held me back from doing anything else football, baseball wise. But uh, as I always say that probably 95 percent plus are the guys that I’ve had through my program would have been better than me anyway. So I was, I was a good 4:00 hit or for instance it comes 7:00. That’s another subject. They started speeding things up, spitting the ball and into that. Things changed real quick, but they’re getting back. We started, I started the program, Kinda followed 91 spring [inaudible] 92. So this is a dash, what? Twenty seventh year coming up, somewhere around there. A fellow is been with me since 1995 and he and I co run, uh, the program sits and so he’s been with these cash ever since. He was about 21 years old, so it works out great. He’s a, he’s a left brain analytical guy on my right brain creative guy and he talks me off the wall to make crazy situations, but I, I, I pushed him to say, Hey, let’s try this. And so far so good. It’s been great.
Geoff Rottmayer: 00:02:55 Nice. And so when you first started in 91, two, what uh, what would your vision, you know, what was the problem that you saw and thought you had?
Rob Bruno: 00:03:09 Here’s why I put together a program along with a couple other guys in the, in the San Fernando Valley area, which is right outside San Francisco to the San Francisco Bay area, to the suburbs. And I was also coaching. I did a little bit of high school stuff like coached pop warner football and a lot of my guys. I really kind of gotten tired of the whole football thing honestly for coaching. A lot of my guys wanting to play fall ball instead of a football, uh, going into their freshman year in high school and I said, hey, let’s, let’s experiment. Let’s go check it out. At that time, Geoff, very, very little fall baseball was being accomplished at that point. It’s just something nobody really did. So when I was doing was I was calling up a lot of the teams that we played in Pony allstars a. invariably they come back and say, hey, we don’t play fall ball, but this one guy, Keith will be a name that I’ll use because he played for us right off the bat. I’m a bass player and he would love to come play. And so that’s Kinda how it started. We started just accumulating, guys can’t like chess pieces. And it worked out really, really well. I guess why we started this thing to give a platform for good players to play against good players. And, and back then there was, there was a protocol, but there’s Babe Ruth, American Legion, uh, not as much going on is a, as you would think. And the quality was kind of limited by geographically where you are. So this opened things up. We were more independent and there were very few good independent teams. I remember the, uh, uh, the Oakland Silver Sox and the peninsula matt and that they were the same age as we were by back then. We did it by age and now we do everything by grade, but there were the same age. And so what we would do is we lead a beat the heck out of each other. I mean, they had some pro guys in college, guys also just like we did and it was just great. And you know, we, we, we felt like this was a, a good, good atmosphere for our kids to get better. Uh, with the first year a Aau was a big deal then an Aau was bigger than anything at that point. And so we went out to Charlotte, North Carolina, summer of [inaudible] 92 and 1500 national championships. And we won our first national championship our first year out. Of course we were talented. Um, that’s, that’s, that’s everything as far as I, you know, if you want to have a great team, you have to have some talent and that’s, and we were so
Geoff Rottmayer: 00:05:52 yeah, the whole travel ball culture hadn’t changed dramatically though. Can you kind of talk a little bit about some, you know, some of the differences between now and then?
Rob Bruno: 00:06:10 Sure. We still played in some league stuff and I, I love the concept of lakes and I want to try and bring back a lot of times also Geoff, uh, you would have qualifiers you go play national things and now people just plan around tournaments. You don’t even have to qualify anymore. Uh, so those, those are the things that changed and of course, you know, perfect game came in and, and, and you know, I think their intentions were great at first. I really do have some really neat things and I really liked the people individually. Uh, but you know, back then there just weren’t that many things going on. Uh, the, the biggest showcase company was team one. Team one really did a fantastic job. Now they sold and it changed. But Geoff Spellman really was unbelievable what he did and it actually, originally I would tell you that area code was the original original, but a, Geoff did an amazing job with the [inaudible] stuff and we’ve actually had our showcase stuff that we do our showcase stuff pretty much to showcase our guys, uh, along with all the talent in northern and central California. Uh, but from there, this has become a huge cottage industry in the last 15 years. Uh, and it’s kind of gotten out of control. The people that are, that we didn’t get into this to make money. Trust me, Tony and I are joke, is we’re nonprofit organization and we prove it every year. If we, if we, if we come a neutral when we break even, we’re thrilled. Uh, but the thing now is, you know, you’ve got these academies and they’re there to make money and the people that are getting Richard or tournament directors and promoters and showcase people and uh, it’s become a little crazy. We’re looking to do a better job for our players, for the development part. And also just cut the cost down because it’s gotten cost prohibitive. Geoff, I could go on and on. We’re doing a horrible job for kids in the inner city. We, we’ve got to do a better job there. A lot of our kids, we are, our, our makeup in our teams is lot different than the teams that we see. Thirty to 40 percent of our kids can’t pay but we’ve never precluded the guy from playing baseball because of finances. It’s, you know, this is our way of giving back and that’s, that’s kind of what we stand for and we’ve got to move towards that. There are some groups out there that are, that are doing the right thing and we want to be like minded like that.
Geoff Rottmayer: 00:08:44 And now you having success and you’re wanting to help more kids and your organization’s growing. Can you kinda talk about the process that you used to find guys because you know, you want to put a competitive team together and you know, it’s not for everyone you know yet, you know, you can get there but it’s not everyone yet. So can you kinda talk about your process
Rob Bruno: 00:09:17 as far as putting together our teams? It’s interesting. At first it was a lot of recruiting, kind of selling the vision of what we wanted to try and get accomplished, uh, your players playing with good players against good players and finding different places to the show and, and, and kind of show everybody what, what these guys were made up. Um, at, at that point. Um, it was a lot of work. It was going out in Washington gates. It was taking notes, it was meeting with people, that kind of thing. Um, it evolved a little bit. Student guys started coming to us when it was referrals and that kind of stuff. Hey, you know what, I’ve got a teammate, you know, two, two grades behind me that this kid needs to play for you. He needs to be around what you guys do. And again, it’s about development for us. Um, the exposure stuff, we don’t care. We don’t tell our kids to join us because of exposure. It was a matter of fact if they want to join us because of exposure, we don’t really want them. We want guys who want to get better, want to develop, learning how to win and be part of the legacy of just quality people on and off the field. That’s, that’s what we strive for.
Geoff Rottmayer: 00:10:32 Can you talk about that a little bit? Because there are all the development out there. So can you talk about the different between what you guys do versus the other development teams?
Rob Bruno: 00:10:48 Well, I prefer the name development, a development team development program over travel ball. My feeling is travel ball. My definition of travel ball, little league on wheels, anybody can do it. Um, it’s important for us to get better. We try and have people that are really smart come in and talk to our guys. Uh, I’ve been really fortunate to have some amazing people that are national guys and I always joked like with Alan j or you know, j bands or his arm thrown in arm care program. His long toss. I knew Alan before he was allen. You know, I’ve known Alan for 25 years and I think he’s one of the best guys in the country. Uh, Steve Springer saying save the probably the best mental hitting guy in the country works with some of the most amazing all star hitters in the game. Guys like Jerry Weinstein, who I think the smartest man I’ve ever met in my life who was just a mentor to me, but a mentor. It really did the big league managers. So, uh, and, and, and he’s one of the most, giving people of his knowledge that I’ve ever been around. He’s, he’s a, he’s a national baseball treasure because what he is a people like that have really made huge, huge differences in our guys in our program because we take what they say to heart and we use what they say to art. And, uh, we’re not just throwing out nine glove and plan our failures. We need to get better. We’re, we’re not, uh, we’re not okay to beat somebody 10 to nothing. Uh, we, we, we learned nothing from that. If we go and get, get beat by the East cobb Astros’ with Gary Baldwin, so I think is the pioneer of youth baseball for the last 25 to 30 years. He’s really the, the guy, um, uh, if we lose to them three to two and a beat down three to two, we learn a lot more about ourselves from that. And that’s why we do national things. Also, Geoff, we use those as a measuring stick. Know how are we doing against East Cobb, astro? How are we doing? Use Orlando Scorpions. How are we doing against that? BPA A guys down in southern California, some of the best teams in the country or the CBAS of, of the world. Those are the things, those are the measuring sticks. And then our kids can figure out, okay, you know what? I’m pretty good, but those guys are pretty good too. And always gives them the impetus to work even harder. Uh, coming back. That’s why we do it.
Geoff Rottmayer: 00:13:21 Yeah. We know one thing that I observed with teams like yours is, you know, there’s more to it than just going out and playing, you know, there’s more to it and then the mechanics, you guys work on the whole Iq part and really understanding how to play the game part. And I think that missing tremendously in the youth game culture.
Rob Bruno: 00:13:48 Well there’s no question and you know, learning how to win the development part of that, that being a great teammate is the most important thing. The most, uh, the best compliment you could ever give anybody. We want our guys to do a great job. I learned a long time ago to listen to smart people like loader a is kind of a legendary guy in the bay area and Mike Forgotten more baseball than I’ll ever know, but he taught me a lot about short game stuff. He taught me a lot about different, different aspects of the game. Uh, Doug Rob was another guy who was from the San Jose area. Um, but you know, the, those are the things that are important. We, if we’re on the batch, we call the bench that learning center, the learning center. If you, if you have a up to seventh and endings, you have six mental at bats. Before that. If we’re running a what, what are we looking for? We’re looking for, is there a certain cadences, this guy rhythm guy, he’s going on. See all the time comes to go see ucla. Uh, is he a to look? Maximum guy at second base, a water. His tendencies to w when he gets into a first pitch situation is he always guys can go first pitch, strike, and then 90 percent of the time we found that they’re going to go off speed, um, after either the first or second pitch that’s a basketball strike. And so our guys are always looking for those kinds of things we spent on and off the field. We feel like we want to show people that, you know, that’s kind of what we’re about spending on and off the field doing a good job there. I tell them, hey, you know what? You could jog on the field when you’re the big picture. That’s fine. But until then, you know, you’re the respect the game, respect your opponents, the whole thing. So those little things are important to us. Our gloves and our hats are together on the inside Poles, the infielders on the outside pole for the outfielders. A pitcher doesn’t go out to take them out and less he walks out with, with the catcher at the same time. I’m vice versa with the catcher. So just little things like that, uh, when we’re on the basis, we make sure that we do a, um, a little scope of the outfield, make sure we find out what they’re just for the line that is, um, so we, we know that, uh, we can be our own best base running coach, so to speak. Uh, those are the things that we want to do our lead off guy, when he comes back, he’s going to give a little report on what he saw, whether it’s movement, something else, a second hand, third hat guys are getting ready before a looking and finding out where the release point is, working on their stride, working on tiny hitting is crazy these days. Uh, you look at twitter and you can get really confused, but the two things that matter the most for sure is if you see the ball well can you, you’re on time. You’ve got a chance. I don’t care what kind of sweet guy you got a chance. They’re not enough. Hitting is taught more of the swing is time. Uh, and it’s. And it’s a little bit out of control. We can talk launch angle all day long. We’re big believers in launching. That’s great. Jeff Barr, our thought is if there’s five guys situated in a half Acre spot in the infield and three guys situated in a two and a half acre spot in the outfield, where’s the most logical place to hit it once the outfield. So those are things that we can talk all day long. But what’s happened is we’ve got a bunch of Polo happy guys that are trying to just lift the ball and we forgot how to hit a. We forgot how to take an approach. So those are some of the things that we try and talk about it. I mean, you know, everybody’s talking about that lately, Jack, that the ship who won the, uh, with the American, excuse me, the National League Mvp this year, the guy from the brewers and, and that guy, he hits all fields, all fields. Uh, Chris Davis, everybody says it takes, is a, a pull guy. His best power area for a lot of times is right center gap. So if you learned to, to hit then you, you, you don’t need to worry about just, uh, you know that the shift, you know, you can, you can, you can defeat the ship by hitting the ball where it’s pitched.
Geoff Rottmayer: 00:18:10 That’s my fires me up because of that type of talk going on. But let me ask you this shirt you got obviously, you know, take time to develop. You preached, there are thing that you got or you got to watch. So how do you guys, you know, they’re there, they want to learn how to play there. They’re learning and stuff. The how do your, how do your coaches go about teaching this awareness? Because we can tell a kid he wouldn’t, you need to do. And He’d, when you need to watch, but they have no clue what they’re looking at. So over time, what do, what do you stay to your players to get them to start paying attention?
Rob Bruno: 00:19:02 I think we reward the good stuff. We reward a warranty guys, when you had the proper pitches, we worried a guy a that’s got, you know, doing a good job with backup responsibilities. Um, you know, you, you, you reward that. The quality things are there things that you can control. You’ll never hear us get upset at a guy that strikes out swinging or a guy that walks a guy or the guy that kicks the ball for an error. Uh, we can’t control those things. That guy’s mad enough at himself and it doesn’t make any sense to get to get even even matter. It’s somebody who already can be tougher on him than I could ever be a. So I think we reward the positive things and then we use every single time. And this is how I do it. And it totally does to a certain extent. Uh, they always say that games are for players. And I believe that there’s no question, but I also think that every time there’s a mistake made, it’s a learning lesson each and every time. So the guy gets picked off because he’s reading something wrong or you’re not paying attention to something. We can always use that because it’ll apply to everybody. And so we make sure that it doesn’t go by, we fix it right there and we make sure everybody understands that
Geoff Rottmayer: 00:20:24 that is coming into your program for the first time. What is the conversation like to get them to understand that these are our expectations, this is how we do things. Then you’re either, you’re either him with it on board with it or you’re out, you know, so what, what’s that conversation?
Rob Bruno: 00:20:47 We don’t worry about whether a guy carries out, we just go about it in a positive way saying, hey, this is how you play the game the right way. This is how you respect again, the right way. Um, we, this, here’s how we warm up, here’s how we, uh, we, we do things and, and, and then we tell them why. I don’t want them to know why we do these things, to get them prepared, if it’s our job to get them to pair it, be prepared to play at the next level. Uh, we, we feel like there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. You just drop the wheel once in a while, but we’ve told them we’re going to give these next guys the same opportunities and the same coaching and the same advice we gave to the 500 plus guys, uh, that moved onto division one with a scholarship or the 51 guys that have played in the big leagues from our program or the 21st rounders or the 10. All stars are the two mvps. They’re going to get the same information and then it’s up to them to run with it. Um, you know, we don’t have a lot of time, Geoff, uh, for practice. So we do try and get there early and put in our practice stuff. Uh, we, we don’t have a lot of plays, so to speak. Very few double, double steal situations, very few a, uh, situations as far as defensive. We try and keep those to a minimum and we just try and do a great job with it. Uh, do a great job with the minimum stuff we spend more time. Uh, 90 percent of our practice is, is some pitching aspect and some hitting aspect. I feel like this game is about 90 percent of the time match us between Hitler and pitcher. So we spend 90 percent of our time working on that. Uh, the metal parts big for us too. It really is a, uh, you know, we’ve, we’ve had some great people with that part I love without Alan Jaeger talks about, for the pitching guys that love with Steve Springer talks about hitting guys. You know, we’ve also, uh, you know, introduce a lot of different other things as well. Uh, all of our guys, uh, Dr Camera visit who just passed away is truly a legend. A, we use a lot of his stuff to a red, yellow, green as far as looking at the lights. You know, that you’re having a tough time, slow down and step off a and re anchor. Um, if things are going right, take rate and let’s go, but we’re, we’re big and visualization. We’re big and feeling right. We don’t put a whole lot of emphasis on stats. We use some different stats. A lot of people say first pitched, right? We like that. But if you win the first two out of three, that’s even better. Win Two out of three and that’s fantastic. Uh, hitting wise know we’re looking at attacking the fast ball really, but we’re looking at taking fast ball, a nice to waist down and were. And then after that we’re, we might look a geographically is a middle man or middle out. So those are the things that we try and have a plan. We, every hitter has got to have a plan before it goes up, whether it’s a deep breath, a visualize focus on something on the bat and then quiet and it might be the pitcher who gets on the mound, takes a sign, deep breath again, visualize the success and then attacks that zone. Um, but our guys try and develop a routine and that will help them down the line.
Geoff Rottmayer: 00:24:16 Right? When you talk about the visualization, how did you get your guys to do that? Because it’s not one of those things that you can look at them and say, okay, yeah, you’re doing a right, so how do you coach your guide and kind of started that visualization process.
Rob Bruno: 00:24:39 Well, wait, wait, we give them examples of what works for other people and then we tell them what works speed. It might be one little thing. It might be three things that they say to themselves. We tell them to, to work on it at night. Work on, uh, being cognizant of your breathing before, right before you go to bed. It’s a good time to do it. You’ve got 10 or 15 minutes where you can start visualizing pitching. You can visualize hitting a, you can work on your breasts. My, my thought is, and, and I, I, again, I got this from Alan Jaeger Guy, lot smarter than me. Uh, if you’re, uh, working on breathing and, and you’re, you’re attentive to that, you don’t have to worry about all the external influences outside. You’re thinking inside out and you’re blocking out all those things and you’re able to just, uh, get into what you’re trying to get done. It’s kind of like, I just saw that movie. I forget what it’s called. Billy Chapel Costner couldn’t turn off, turn on the mechanism and shut out all the, all the extra, you know, sound and, and just get into what you’re doing in the quieter you can get, the slower things are. And, and that’s a big deal in big situations. Thinking outside in is really tough with all the external stuff, listening to everything, but if you can think inside out and slow down and really breathe it really
Geoff Rottmayer: 00:26:00 just for the people that are listening, can you kind of explain what quieting things down mean?
Rob Bruno: 00:26:09 Well, quieting things down. Part of it is if you’re concentrating, again, on the breathing part, that really helps us in one of the reasons why is now you’re thinking, okay, inhale, exhale, slow, slowing everything down. Kind of a thinking about that. Instead of thinking about, Oh, I’ve got to do this, I gotta do that. When we go up and we hit right, what we’re concentrating on, I’m thinking about as we’re thinking about attacking the ball and putting the ball in play hard. We’re not thinking about results, we’re thinking about process. What are we going to try and do? Our concentration is on seeing the ball well being on time and attacking the ball and hitting the ball hard. Now if you’re thinking about, I got a double, I got a triple is not going to work. If you can’t control that, you could hit an absolute rocket to center field and the guy makes a circus catch or three shots in a row short. Well, we’re gonna apply that. We’re going to plot those kinds of things because all you can control is the process.
Geoff Rottmayer: 00:27:11 Yeah. You the culture in general is just crazy, man. So, so obviously somewhere along the line do you have had some kids that were unhappy? How do, how do you manage that?
Rob Bruno: 00:27:28 Well, I think just too much worrying about exposure, too much, worrying about individual. I think that we’re going to get a tee shirt and a t shirts is going to be with three guys on there, kind of resting their elbows on, on, on the, uh, the fence inside the Dugout, and the guy who knows it’s going to be saying I’m playing for my brother and my left and my brother and my right and nobody understands, uh, too many people get caught up in that kind of thing. And so I’m not big on individual events. Wait, I don’t need our guys to go to some event to where they’re going to get a video of them and then they’re going to get ranked and then the family is going to buy a subscription so they can make those people money. What do you get out of that? I mean, especially the ones that. I mean there’s one that’s happening in January in our area for. You’d be really cool. Second of all, nobody’s going to be there. Right? So. So what value is that? There’s zero value. The only value is, is, is the dollar sign for, for that promoter. So those are the things that we try and educate our parents and we try and educate them and say, you know, what the best thing you can do is get into a competitive situation and find out how you play as a team. You guys do well in showcases but they don’t do as well in, in games. And, and I think coaches were tricks for a long time watching a guy and all of a sudden, okay, lights up the gun and oh by the way he could not. He gets along South Hall, but you get them in a game. There’s a different pressure. And our guys I think thrive better under pressure in games. Well just the more you do, the more you do, the more you play. Yeah.
Geoff Rottmayer: 00:29:32 Okay. So what’s the conversation like with the parents? Letting them know how things are, you know, what that conversation like. Baseball parents need a lot of education,
Rob Bruno: 00:29:47 you know, when we have to educate the parents as much as anybody else because they buy into all this other stuff. They buy into a things that really aren’t important. Like, like rankings, the rankings that matter, the team that set the college program, the you to a letter of intent and the protein that drafts, you know, we making that every matter. I have team rankings. Don’t matter. None of that stuff matters because it’s, it’s false. Anyway, I’ll give you a good example. We go out this year on our 2019 tape, a bunch of no names as far as the organization we played anything because we don’t have anybody right tie, uh, we go to the perfect game world series and in Arizona this last July and we proceed to win the tournament. And the reason why we won is because our guys played together. They played as a team and it worked out to where we played a bunch of highly ranked guys who sometimes they didn’t even know each other. They are our guys. Understand, hey, what are you playing as a team? We’re going to play for each other. And we came out on top. Now here’s the interesting thing. We beat the number one team, uh, right on the field and then we win the biggest tournament that’s being held for that organization yet we ended up third in the rankings. How does that happen? That just tells you we didn’t plan enough tournaments for them. Is that, is that how you measure success? Is that how you measure the know measure the best on the field? So we did on the deal. So our kids feel great. Those are the important things.
Geoff Rottmayer: 00:31:25 So what’s the conversation like with a parent who are unhappy or you know, we would play in time or, or whatever. What’s the conversation like with a pan that is unhappy? I
Rob Bruno: 00:31:39 don’t usually worry about that. I don’t want to hear from the parents. We rarely do a. If a player has a question now I want to hear from the player. He’s got to stand up for himself. I won’t name a player, but I had a guy that’s now he’s a, he’s a freshman in college and he came up twice to me on different things and this young man is phenomenal. He is going to a school in southern California, a great academic school playing baseball there. He made two great points and I said, you know what, you’re right. I need you to work at this position, war. And the second time he said, you know, I think I can help a team or by played for, here’s why. And then second time I said, you’re absolutely right. We need to make a change. Uh, I respect the heck out of kids who could do that for parents. Um, I pretty much tell them, you know, we’re doing what we feel is best for your players, but also were where were we projected position wise, that kind of thing. Uh, well my kids a shortstop, well guess what, he’s really going to be a center fielder in, you know, those are the kinds of things that we try and help us. And we say, you know, this 125 years experience, uh, we’ve, we feel this is where he, that’s best. And so, you know, we, we usually don’t have too many challenges. There’s always going to be a couple parents who fine. Uh, the, I guess the answer to that is if you don’t like it, here’s your money back, I’ll find somebody better and we do. That doesn’t happen much. Um, our guys, they get it, they get it more than other guys. We see guys that jump from team to team. Usually our guys are with us a long time.
Geoff Rottmayer: 00:33:22 Our people, you know, you guys get it, you know, there is the whole getting it part. So let me ask you this, what’s the relationship like with, with high school coaches, you know, in terms of being on the same page or, or maybe you’re not, you know, the, what, what’s the relationship like with the high school coaches in your area?
Rob Bruno: 00:33:50 It can vary. It’s really our goal to complement what they do. Yeah, we really do want to be on the same page. Now there are a couple of knuckleheads who will go nameless because I just had no respect for him. Um, but as a rule, I love high school coaches. I think they do a great job. Uh, so does Tony, Tony and I, Tony, he’s the director of our world series and we’ve been doing this for, I started at over 20 years ago and what we, what we did for that was a tony, that this would be a great idea and I absolutely agree with them. Uh, we have our nor cal shirts that they wear at, at the tournament. It’s a world series and it’s a geographically we try and put it together by session in our area, but what they do, the kids, whether highschool hats, uh, to represent their high school and we feel that. So that’s really a neat thing. Most of the, yeah, it’s important. It’s important because those guys do as a rule, they do a great job as a rule. The summer guys do a great job or they’re knuckleheads in both. Absolutely. You’ve got to overcome those things, but the better ones besides that. So unfortunately they’re just not, they’re just ignorant. That’s fine. There’s a lot of ignorance guys in the summertime too. They don’t get it and they hurt their players by not allowing them to do some things. Jag Whitman is a guy that I think was a legendary high school coach for the Antioch Area, My area, any coach that’s also, and he always said this, he said, I want my best players to go out and play at a high level with other kids during the summertime and maybe in the fall too. And then when they come back there’s two things to happen. Hey coach, I learned a couple of things and I think this will allow me to be better for our team or coach. You don’t know what you’re right. Uh, I didn’t have a great experience and you know, you were right what you’re talking about. I agree. Either one’s going to be a good thing for that coach, but if but if they’re players get better, play with somebody else and it brings something to them and then those coaches could work with some of the guys that aren’t quite as good at bringing up the bottom rung and it’s not a win for the high school coaches.
Geoff Rottmayer: 00:36:00 Is there ever a conversation where you have a guy that’s playing for one of these knuckleheads and he says, my coach said I’m doing everything wrong, and again, you’re just teaching them how to play the game. How do you tell a kid to handle that? Because they got to deal with every day. So how did the kid manage that conversation with his coach?
Rob Bruno: 00:36:31 Well, you want the kids to the parents and the parents have to intervene and do what’s right for their, for their kid. A more parents need to intervene and do what’s right for their kid. There’s no question in my mind that doesn’t happen enough. You can’t bend over, uh, for somebody if they’re demanding something and it’s just wrong, you know, that’s, that’s, that’s a, that’s a problem. Um, and, and parents really have to, you know, they, some of these guys make their baseball. God’s in control. And I, all I know is slavery has been abolished for decades and decades. One hundred and 50 years, whatever it is, 200 years. And so, you know, they don’t own these kids. The kids need to make good two seconds. Now, don’t get me wrong, we need to compliment the high school programs and I know we do and the better ones do because they do a great job. And here’s the other thing, they have them on a daily basis. Number teachers, right? So we have to do a great job complimenting what they do. There’s a problem, uh, in certain areas that the, you know, give you a southern California is a good example because of the weather in our weather is pretty good and going to California too, but all of a sudden belt areas, southern California’s got the worst deal in the bunch when it comes to the fall by. These guys have had a long summer, better pitchers that are elite guys. They got the regular summer stuff and then they died area codes, all those things. Now they’re getting into the fall. They’ve got three factions working. You’ve got your high school football program, you’ve got your summer fall program that you guys are doing high school and then you got scouting’s. Well, you know, nobody wins in that thing unless you’re working together in concert to make sure, especially with pictures, you’re taking care of those guys. Too many guys throw away too much. And the, uh, the, the, the problem that I see, especially in southern California, guys break down because they’re playing too much. There were only too much. They don’t have a plan and they’re trying to please everybody. You can’t please everybody. You got to make sure that you do a great job taking care of yourself
Geoff Rottmayer: 00:38:43 for quite some time. What, what, what’s the future of youth baseball?
Rob Bruno: 00:38:50 Well, I think we have to get back to some normalcy, I think, uh, uh, I love the lead concept to try and do some great things. I’m involved with program 15 out of program 15 teachers. Star series was with Jeremy. Uh, I got into this about two years ago. Jeremy I really like is his vision and he’s the reason why we were doing that, that I turn to Mr. Great. That’s fine. Uh, but they, they go around and have development, a scout weekend around the country bringing some unbelievable guys, a cake video. The guys teach them some stuff that, you know, just guys, once you’re in the major leagues in a bit around the game, just don’t know. I’m just invaluable stuff. Like, Hey, you know what, when I was struggling, here’s what I on little things like that. When you go out to their tournaments, the first day is working on development stuff as well as getting a baseline on certain skills. Uh, so you, you know, what your 60 time is, you know, what your time is, you know what your vertical is, little things that are tested and then it six months later and then six months later and find out if you’re making some progress. Because people want athletic guys. They want guys who have a strong guys who can run. Guys that have a political good vertical means that your explosive. Uh, so those are the things that they care about that I will tell you that Jeremy, a couple of the guys, they’re literally helped two or three of my guys this year get fellowships, uh, based on their relationships. So it’s about the player and it’s not about what the organization is giving to them as a paycheck and just cashing it and taken advantage. Uh, they’re giving back. They’re doing also a good job with inner city kids, which is a near and dear to my heart as well. Uh, you know, putting together a program to where these kids get seen in front of college coaches and pro scouts because I think the way it’s gone, it’s gotten to be too expensive for a lot of families. Um, so the middle class, lower middle class kids are not getting the advantages that the upper middle class kids are, uh, in the summertime. We try and do our best to do that. And we are, uh, other groups maybe not as much. Uh, but the, uh, the future stars series with program 50 with Jeremy, they’re really doing a great job with that.
Geoff Rottmayer: 00:41:19 Yeah, I think they’re doing a great job too, you know, I love the idea of if you had the picture how this league would go, what do you see,
Rob Bruno: 00:41:37 what we’re going to try and come together with about six, five or six programs in northern central California came up with that one game during the week, a couple games during a, during a weekend and within like about a six week period to where, you know, you can’t do it every weekend because there are some tournaments guys getting involved with. But if we could do it where we do like a home and home, was that with each group and then put together like a little league thing. It doesn’t matter who wins, but it gives you great, great. Uh, it gives you a great games and I’ll even call even and I know high pressure situation, but it’s kind of fun. You know, he was the first one. Hey, you got to the next to or you’re gonna lose a game of Sandy’s. Um, that’s, that’s what baseball is. I mean, college baseball, there’s a professional baseball, there’s leaks. It’s not just showcasing is playing for something, I’m planning for something local like that would make it a lot of fun. Um, but it’s also kind of a non pressure situation where you can just take it on with this kid’s turned to pitch. This gets to catch you. Don’t worry about that stuff. You don’t worry about what I got. I got to witness semifinal game that went to the finals. Who Cares? I’m this kind of developed and I think it’ll, it’ll help out with development
Geoff Rottmayer: 00:42:51 if I were a guy who is looking to start an organization in the tub condition that we are in today’s, you know, if you had to start today, where would you start?
Rob Bruno: 00:43:07 Oh, good question. What I think the first thing I would do is, is asking myself why am I doing this? What are my intentions? What am I getting out of this thing? Why am I doing this? Am I doing this to get back or am I doing this to make money? You know, if you’re doing it to make money, there’s nothing wrong with making money, like helping people. I get that. But if that’s your, if that’s your only thing that she got, just motivating you to do this, you’re not in it for the right reasons. If it’s your way of giving back and, and, uh, and helping out with the knowledge that you’ve got, I think it makes some sense that that’ll be number one. Number two, I would be picking the brain of guys that have done this for a long time to say, Hey, I want to start this. What are your thoughts? What’s the best way to do that? A recruiting wise, a tournament wise, you know, what, what makes the most sense? Where were the best teams? The only so I can have a good competition. Uh, and then, you know, find out if you have to have some kind of a factor that makes you separate from everybody else. Okay? Uh, we’re going to be working on this, this and this. That’s what makes us different than that. If you want to play with us, you’re going to get this kind of development. Um, and so find something that separates you from everybody else. Also, I think, and there’s the education part, you know, in, in today’s culture to do a right, it’s going to be a rough start. So, because [inaudible] I tried this several years ago after reaching out to guys like yourself and it’s the whole truck in the profit part that was kind of tough, you know, and, and dealing with the current condition, you know, despite, you know, I had a why but I had another battle that I would fighting with, with my facility. Well, the challenge is, is so saturated, saturated or are you separating? Right. That’s, that’s the other thing. What do you, what are you trying to get accomplished here? And it’s especially the younger levels. Um, I just don’t think guys need to travel at all when they’re 12. You could start a little bit more junior high, but again, is there a need to go two hours out of your area more? I don’t think so. Um, you know, do you need to at 10 years old, go to Orlando for the world series a for you could say, what is that? The only people making money out of that is because Mickey Mouse and Disney world, because it has to cost a fortune so that you know, where are the priorities, what’s shitty about development, finding really good people to work with your players, getting better and then coming up with a plan, you know, down the line, you know too many people also promise these kids, well, we’re going to get you star ship. Nobody. He can’t. He can’t do that. All you can do is say, here’s the best way that we’ve had going forward. And I’ve got a couple of kids that are flat out division one guys and they’re sitting here on the sidelines right now that don’t have operators, don’t have letters of 10. I’m baffled. I’m absolutely baffled why. I know they’re that good. I’ve done it long enough to know and I was scouted for the eagles for years. I know they’re good, but still when we get kids like that, they haven’t gotten anything. It’s, it’s shocking and it’s not like I don’t know everybody in the world. I do. Um, but it, it, it just happens. And so it’s a, it’s a tough thing. Um, so we, you know, we keep battling, keep working and you know, it’s a day to day thing every day of the year maybe except for Christmas, you know, to try and try and help our guys. This is, you know, we take them.
Geoff Rottmayer: 00:47:02 You had mentioned earlier that you had, correct me if I’m wrong, but you had 500 plus guys over 50 big leaguers and the thing that I notice, you know, observing you from twitter and stuff is that your players, even after they leave really appreciate you. And that’s got to be awesome. Could you know that that was. This is all about,
Rob Bruno: 00:47:36 well you’re going to be a person a lot longer than a baseball player. We try and develop our guys on and off the field and we care about, we care about our guys and make sure that actually it’s more of a family atmosphere than just going and playing on a team per year to all the guys will be talking about as far as all those numbers in there. But they’re all full time guys. There. Fulltime players, we don’t have part time guys. We’ve had about 12 or 13 or 14, maybe 15 different states, but they will live with us in the summertime. They’re not flying in, flying out, trying to help us win a trophy because we don’t have, we don’t own the trucks, we don’t own a trophy, we don’t own rain, we don’t own a, a flag. Uh, we don’t know any of that stuff, although we’re supposed to be at our door and ringing some perfect game pretty quick. So I don’t know. What I’ll do is I usually I give it to the, to the, our business manager or something, you know, we don’t know. Um, it’s important to us to have those relationships. It’s, you know, our guys have a Dla, they’ve got their, they’re tweeting and texting and stuff. They got their texting group texts for teams and stuff and get one of my biggest 100 I think is a mate. They put me in their group text that, that wow, I’m part of the guys, but it’s, it’s emotional every into summer, uh, to know that you’re done with this group for the year. Um, you know, it’s, it’s tough because they, they’re like family to us.
Geoff Rottmayer: 00:49:14 This has been a great conversation. I don’t want to take up too much more of your time. I’d like to do, I’d like to end kinda would your thoughts on today’s game, you know, maybe not so much at the youth level, but maybe you know, as the guy who’d been around him from a lot of game for a long time. The game obviously constantly evolving, but I’m just curious what your thoughts on today’s game is.
Rob Bruno: 00:49:45 I enjoy watching it. I love the world series world series. For instance, I’ll give you the best game I’ve ever seen was just three years ago it was American republics versus the Puerto Rico, Dr Npr in the World Baseball Championship semifinals. The emotion, the raw emotion that was shown in that game is second to none and they wanted to play so badly for their own categories to, to when it was. It was incredible. And I think that a, was it a big deal for me to watch the emotion and how much they cared and I think that in baseball I think we’re starting to see that it’s okay to show emotion, know backflips, I could care less, right? You want to battle, you want to pop your chain, who kicks? I’m don’t show up the other team, but, but uh, you can feel good about what you did and, but who cares? That’s kind of fun. Baseball could use some things like that. It’s not showing up another group as far as the physical part of it. We’re just get guys that are bigger, stronger, hit the ball 500 feet, a guys that throw 100 miles an hour, it’s commonplace. Um, there needs to make some adjustments. You know, you talked about the shift and you talked about, uh, you know, exit velocity, you talking about launch angle and you talk about tunneling with pitching, you talk about all of the power stuff. Games are gonna be different because of that. But there’s no reason to be striking out more than getting hit ’em guys need to make adjustments. You looked at the best guy in the game that, that, that do hit 30 home runs, but also hits $300 like trout and those guys, they’re going to all fields. They’re not just pulling the ball. The best pitchers still pitch. They still pitch. You look at the world series. What’s the difference between the dodgers and the red sash? Well, the dodgers were trying to jack the ball every single time. Uh, it was funny. Somebody says, well look, they did one that gave him the AP pending. Obviously it was a whole lot. Well, it took them nine. Any of the score, stupid run because their approaches were pathetic. Pathetic. But what did, what the Boston Red Sox, dude, there’s an article, I think it was at baseball America talking about how they let the ball travel more, cut down a swing a little bit, try to hit the ball hard up in the middle, put the ball in, play with two strikes and it was incredibly successful for them. And that was the difference because they were putting the ball into play. Getting big hits with two outs, with two strikes with man on second and doing some things instead of just trying to jack every ball, we want to have a lunch. Absolutely they’re fun but. But when, when it’s. When it’s two strikes and the throwing the ball middle away, what are you trying to do? Hitting the ball or opera or pulley. Once you hit the ball, Apo online and store run, it still counts. You know if you put the ball in play, they still gotta make the. They could play. You strike out. There’s no play to be made and the red sox did a better job than the dodgers and that’s what it comes down to.
Geoff Rottmayer: 00:52:55 But making the adjustment, the big part of it and we’re just not seeing a lot of that.
Rob Bruno: 00:53:01 Geoff of Geoff. That’ll be the next five years. What did he had to combat that? You still need to know how to pitch. He could throw 98 miles an hour, but if it’s straight guys, that’s going to slow down for guys. They’re going to be able to hit that. The guys with the crazy guys that can. That can put the ball where they want. Those are the guys that are going, they’re going to kill it guys. That it’s still gonna come down to, um, can I, can I throw a strike by changing speeds that getting, hitting my spots. And then it’s also talking about putting the ball into play heart. It’s great to know somebody. I see these songs on twitter all the time and it’s a joke and you’ve got these young coaches that are just feeding into this stuff with blind loyalty. Elevate and celebrate. Well guess what, you got to get 150 pounds because most of the guys that we’re talking about on their come about after baseball, mainly heisel very few college and pro guys that we’re even talking about them there, but we’re talking about normal people can get 150 pounds and a 38 degree launch angle that is as an out and out and in and you know, you’ve got to use a. and I’m all for metrics. I’m all, you’ve got to be able to extrapolate that information and teach it though. Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t stay in the lab. Get unsealed, teach it, and if you can’t teach it simply did you got to use a multisyllabic words to describe what you’re doing. All you’re, all you’re doing is you’re, you’re impressing yourself. Are you able to teach that stuff? Because if you can’t teach that stuff, it’s worthless. So
Geoff Rottmayer: 00:54:44 you obviously over the years have developed relationship with college coaches. When you talked to a college coach, what are they looking for that they feel is missing?
Rob Bruno: 00:55:01 Compete. When it comes right down to it, what kind of character is this guy? Is He. Is he a great teammate? Was He going to compete? When the game’s on the line for just a BP guy or a bullpen guy, they want to ask him who can compete? Guys are gonna be able to handle themselves in pressure situations. The biggest compliment all those college coaches and pro scouts give our guys is when they leave our program, they’re ready to fly to play. Whether it’s a professionally at college, and I think that’s what Tony and I think we do a pretty good job with preparing them. We have different styles on how to do it, but it’s the same result. They need to learn how to compete and they want to know, especially the, the best programs. It’s interesting you talk to the best programs that they want to know what, what makes those kids text, uh, what drives them? Are they good kids that are they going to listen or are they going to be able to take some criticism? Did it to get better? Um, you know, the, the Oregon State, see Arizona’s the Ucla Stanford’s, et Cetera. They want to know more about that. Then they houses that speed, you know, that’s uh, that’s, that’s the biggest thing. That was going to be my next question. Have you ever had a guy that says, hey, we’re looking for a guy that he has a 100 miles an hour off, t he’s got a 12 degree launch angle and he throws the ball eight, seven miles an hour. Have you ever had, have you ever had a guy come to you and say, I’m looking for a certain metrics. Those are numbers that you get in a lab. How do you produce it again? And then they also want to know, hey, is this kid working hard, working hard, um, that’s a direct result on, on how much the kids got to care. What’s he doing on his own when nobody’s looking, it’s a big deal. You know, one of the things that is a challenge for me is you get these schools and they get these kids and they have them a Tibet as freshman or early sophomore and sometimes these kids don’t work hard or they don’t get better combination of the two, uh, now what? We had three kids last year, a, their two bits because of colleges choice. That’s a bad precedent. That’s never happened. And we’re going to look really close at the schools that did it. And we’re also looking at how we prepare our guys because it’s a two way street. A couple of them just didn’t work hard. We told him they should work on. They didn’t. One of them actually got they, they, the, the two actually all three, uh, are committed now they’ve got kids and Mr. Good schools. But there’s a reason why the first place now, one of them, it was the last, uh, the last I was some sort of stall ships literally said last response because of cutbacks. Schuler school a bad timing, but it happens. The other two just didn’t, uh, you know, the kids didn’t pan out. They didn’t work as hard from their sophomore year. So they committed in the first place and that’s on them. So when you, when you do get committed to things, when you do get committed, you’ve got to work twice as hard, number one. Number two, you better find some schools that I can live up to, their commitment. It’s not their fault. Uh, sometimes you know that the kids’ fault, that they didn’t get to be as good as they could. That’s big schools fall to take such a chance on a matter.
Geoff Rottmayer: 00:58:58 My dream is to play kind of in your case out there, my dream at Ucla and with hard work, you can get there, but we’re getting close to the time and we’re starting to see, okay, you’re just not that guy. Which, which is okay. You’re, you’re more of a Juco d guy. What was that conversation like? You know, kind of telling him, look, you know, you’re good enough to play this game. I may not be your dream school, but you’re good enough to play this game. Right?
Rob Bruno: 00:59:35 Well, it’s, it’s just, uh, you also have to be honest with them and you have to say, hey, you know what, that’s not a good step, but this was a benefit. Um, and it’s a good place for you to play.
Geoff Rottmayer: 00:59:48 Well, rob, I’ve really enjoyed this conversation. Thank you for coming on
Rob Bruno: 00:59:53 for Geoff. Thank you very much for asking me to do this.
Geoff Rottmayer: 01:00:08 I am Geoff Rottmayer and Thank you for listening to The Baseball Awakening Podcast. Stay tuned for our recap show tomorrow.