The Coaching Road Leading to Dodgers Minor League Player Developer
Welcome to The Baseball Awakening Podcast, where we dive into the raw, unfiltered, unsexy side of player development
Tony Cappuccilli, and professional minor league player developer with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
On this episode, Host Geoff Rottmayersits down with Tony Cappuccilli and we talk about his playing career and path in coaching.
Show Notes: In this conversation, Tony talks about:
- His background in baseball.
- His youth days and being an All-American.
- What his coaches taught him that he loved and use in his approach to coaching.
- Understand the emotional roller coaster and managing this roller coaster.
- Advise for kids who are not signed yet as seniors.
- How the college recruiting process is misunderstood.
- What the transition from playing to coaching was like.
- The transition from each level of play that he coached.
- What player development means.
- The role social media has on the coaching and coaching putting themselves out there.
- The process is helping guy develop their routine and approach.
- and more.
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Geoff Rottmayer: On today’s show, we interviewed Tony Cappuccilli and he talked about his path, which consist of coaching high school baseball, travel, baseball, junior college baseball called Baseball Division One. And finally Marlene baseball with the Dodgers. When we talk about how his experiences at the prayer help shape some repeat coaching approach, the role of Social Media and coaching as well as his buy for anyone looking to duplicate his town.
Intro: Welcome to The Baseball Awakening Podcast. I’m Geoff Rottmayer and today we’re sitting down with Tony Cappuccilli a professional player developer with the Los Angles Dodgers Tony, how are you sir?
Tony Cappuccilli: Good Geoff, how are you doing?
Geoff Rottmayer: I’m doing great. Thanks ma’am. Listen, Tony, you, uh, you are currently employed with the Dodgers. Uh, they probably developer and you’ve had a pretty great and in a nontraditional path to where you are. And I want to talk about that. I want to talk about your entire path, but let’s start this conversation with talking about your background in baseball at the UW.
Tony Cappuccilli: Oh yeah. I grew up in Huntington beach, California and went to Edison high school. Um, you know, had a good high school career and my senior year, uh, signed with the University of Nevada in Reno. Um, you know, went into my senior year, obviously a little concerned because I hadn’t signed with anybody. Um, you know, my goal was to go play division one baseball, go play professional baseball dandy, you know, going into your senior year and not having a school to go to is obviously concerning. So, you know, he was march of my senior year that I finally got an opportunity to sign, um, with the University of Nevada and had every intention on going there. And at the end of my senior year, which was pretty good, I thought I was going to have an opportunity to sign and had some scouts telling me that, you know, I might have a chance. And it wasn’t a whole lot of money for me to sign and House of college because it wasn’t exactly the most academic guy in the world. So I was really thinking that was going to be a possible option for me. And when the draft came, didn’t get drafted and I went into panic mode, really thought given the opportunity, I thought it was going to house, that I just wasn’t ready to go play college baseball and really got worried about it and called coach powers and said, coach, you know, I’m not coming to school so I need to go to junior college. Just not ready for that yet. And you know, it wasn’t, uh, it wasn’t my time to go play division one baseball and where to Connie Mack game at long beach state the next night. And coach powers is in the stance and after the game we went over that in and out burger and how to chat. And He, you know, talked to me about some different, um, you know, reasons why he thought I was ready. And, uh, he definitely convinced me that I needed to go to, to college and go to a go to reno. And you know, I think him showing that he truly cared and getting on a plane and coming down to see me and taking the time to sit down with me and have that conversation when he knew I was obviously panicked, um, really sold a lot to me and made me want to go play for him knowing that, you know, they have really good teams, but just the fact that he cared enough to come down and see me and kind of ease my mind from the fears that I had, I thought was a, was a really big deal. Um, and that played a huge role in me going to play it at Nevada
Geoff Rottmayer: and convince you that you were ready. There are a lot of kids out there that are going into their senior year and they don’t have an offer or they don’t even know what they’re going to do. So what advice you have for them to stay look at it that you keep plugging away, do you work, do your thing. It all kind of, it all kind of come together if you keep working in the end, you are proactive.
Tony Cappuccilli: If you’re talking to a 17 year old kid, 18 year old kid who has these aspirations to go play college baseball and they see all over Twitter and all over social media that you know, so and so from this school committed here. And it seems like when you’re in that position that you’re the kid that hasn’t committed somewhere, it seems like everybody around you is committing to schools and then you start comparing yourself to that guy. You know, you start thinking, well, I’m better than him. Why is he getting an opportunity? And I’m not. And now you, you change your focus as a player to being really result-based thinking, well, if I hit some more homers or I throw harder, you know, I’m going to get an opportunity to go play. You know what a good school. And it’s not even necessarily the truth. I mean, you’d have to be seen by schools that have a, a need that you can potentially fit. And if you don’t, then that’s just not a good fit for you or the school. So, you know, when kids go into their senior year and they’ve not committed somewhere, I mean they have to understand that they have other options in terms of the Division One, division two, division three and AI junior college, you know, there’s all sorts of routes that they can take and he’s looking at guys in the big leagues right now and how many guys played at all different levels of college baseball. Just because you don’t go to a division one school, it doesn’t mean you’re not going to play in the big leagues. And it doesn’t mean you’re not gonna have a great college experience. You have to find a place that’s the right fit for you, for your family, for your financial situation, for playing time. I mean everything has to fit just to go to a division one school to say you went to a division one schools and probably not the right reason to sign somewhere. And I think for kids that go into their senior year or uncommitted, they should understand that they do have options and if they just go out and focus on continuing to prepare themselves and go out and compete and go play hard, that they’re going to get an opportunity somewhere. And it may not be right where they want to right away, but there’s also stepping, you know, steps that they can take to get to where they want to be.
Geoff Rottmayer: Yeah, absolutely. Guys. Dijuan it’s not the end all be all. That’s the only reason you want to play then you’re probably not playing for the right reasons anyway, so, so let me ask you to, Tony, was there anything that you, did you know, where you kind of proactive and making phone calls and writing letters or did your coach help you with that? You know, what was the process of making that happen?
Tony Cappuccilli: I love the man to death. It. Phone calls, he’d send letters, he’s so anything and everything that was sent to, you know, to him or to me from colleges to help me move on to where I wanted to go. This was the late nineties. And you know, we weren’t really all that into the emails and the showcase things weren’t as big as they are now relative to where we’re at. He did a lot, everybody that was around me to a lot to try and help me out. Um, you know, I was really fortunate to have somebody in my corner like that. It was just done kind of differently. And truthfully, like I said, I had a good high school career and I thought I was going to get more opportunities and you know, and it didn’t happen. Obviously you get a little concerned that maybe this isn’t going to happen and so you start looking into the junior colleges, and especially back then when you’re getting letters in the mail constantly from bigger schools than I would’ve ever been able to play. Um, but you know, you kinda get to that mode where you start killing yourself a little bit thinking that, you know, here’s these letters from these big time programs, not realizing that you’re never going to go play there. You still have to kind of stay positive and do the work to get yourself out there, but you know, understand the work that you’re putting in and the way you’re putting yourself out in front of coaches can be detrimental to you as well. So yeah, I think staying the course and putting in the work and just having people in your corner is a really big deal.
Geoff Rottmayer: Yeah, I agree. And I’m going to jump ahead a little bit, but you know, with your college, what are your thoughts on the whole showcase? How player the doing that whole entire process, you know, a lot of play or the doing it because it’s the thing and then that’s what the culture says. So what, what are your thoughts on that?
Speaker 3: But there’s a, there’s a big disconnect. I think the purpose of the showcases from a coach’s perspective, the purpose of the showcase from the player’s perspective, the parents’ perspective, the organizers of the showcase perspective. Um, you know, the different camps that are out there that the kids are available or that are available to kids to go out and showcase their skills, their abilities. And there’s a ton out there that they can do, right. Problem is we would start working these camps at other places and you start seeing the same kids over and over again. So like this oversaturation of camps puts these kids in front of us numerous times. And I mean, truth be told, you see them and you go, man, it’s just not a good fit. You see him a week later at a different camp and you go, yeah, but he’s still not a good fit for us. And it just keeps happening over and over again. So one of the things that parents would ask us is, how do I get myself in front of you? And if we would get emails from kids that are all over the country, you know, and they’d say, oh, I really want to come to UNLB or UNM and it’s a great come on out to a camp. You know, we’re not going to Minnesota to go recruit. So if you want to be seen by us, you’re going to need to come to us and come to one of our camps. And, you know, some kids would do it, we’d get kids showing up from some random places because they felt that was the, their best opportunity to be seen by the coaches. You know, in terms of some of the other camps, we would tell him, hey, if you really want to go to USC, they are find out where some of the USC coaches are going to be at and go put yourself in front of them. And in that case, you know, now you’ve upped your opportunity to be seen by those guys. Um, but putting yourself there and not waiting for them to come to you.
Geoff Rottmayer: Yeah, totally misunderstood you back to when you were playing and you finally made it a UNLB. What was that process like? What was the process like for you going from college knowing that you kind of had that little panic mode moment and you didn’t feel like you were ready? So what was that transition like for you?
Tony Cappuccilli: You know, that the transition for me once, you know, once I had that conversation with coach powers, he had put my mind at ease and I was ready to go. You know, I felt I felt ready to, to go be away from home. You know, Reno is like 500 miles away from Huntington beach and you know, it was a good enough distance where I could go and kind of grow up a little bit. Probably not as much as I should have, but it was an opportunity to go get away from home but still be close enough where I could, I could get back, um, you know, if I needed to. So by the time I got up there, you know, I was excited, I was ready to go. And you know, I had a good summer between my senior year and my freshman year in college and you know, I felt pretty confident going in and when I got out there, you know, we start practicing and you know, we have our weights and conditioning stuff and I realized like there’s men out there, like these guys are 22 years old and I’m 18. And the gap between me as a freshman and some of the seniors was just massive. And you know, just the way that they moved, the, how strong they were in the weight room. Uh, you know, just the, the way that they carried themselves was way different than, you know, myself and even the other freshman that were there. So that obviously took a little bit of time to get used to because, you know, I’m going in thinking I’m pretty legit and these guys are very quickly showing me that, you know, that’s what legitimate is not what I am. I was behind where they were at and you know, obviously being three years younger than them, 40 or younger, I mean that’s, you know, that kind of comes with the territory. But I think that that process of seeing those guys, um, really made me kind of up my level of focus in terms of my preparation and the work that I was going to have to put in because I’m going to compete with those guys and they’re for playing time or you know, just for a respect purpose. I mean there’s a lot of work that has to go into to show that you’re actually like a belonging in that team setting when you’re the freshman and you can’t go in thinking you’re, you’re super sweet. Um, and these guys are going to go out and they’ve, they’ve had success for two or three years in college already. So the transition, it took a little bit of time, you know, getting into the first fall and then I had a good fall and I thought I was going to get some, some serious planning time. Um, and then the season started up and you know, my freshman year it was, was a struggle. I think I only have 60 [inaudible] at bats and I was brilliant and out of the lineup. Um, you know, I just couldn’t stay consistent. I was striking out a ton and you know, it was difficult because I was always the guy in high school that had a good career. I hadn’t struggled like that. Obviously you have the ups and downs that come with baseball, but I’ve never struggled that badly and not as, not only struggling when I did play. I’m also dealing now for the first time with not playing consistently. So that in itself is a, is an adjustment, you know, and how you handle yourself when people notice that if you’re sulking, you know, if you’re that guy who was only consumed with if I’m playing or not, um, you know, your teammates don’t really respect you very much when they, when they see you doing that. So that was, that was a part of that learning process. I had to learn how to not play, how to play the game, but also had to learn how to not play because there is something to that. There’s, there’s something to being a good, you know, bench player or enroll guy or a supportive, you know, part of the team. Then you’ve got to kind of learn how to do that and add value where you can and it may not be in the lineup on a given day.
Geoff Rottmayer: Right. So what was that like in terms of you trying to stay more consistent? The emotional component of the game?
Tony Cappuccilli: I was really lucky because I had the guys that were seniors my freshman year were amazing. Joe England and Ryan Church, Donny Prize private guys that were really good that was established. You know, we had, I think three of the seniors that year ended up going to play in the big leagues and they were outstanding teammates. Like they weren’t just good at baseball. They were incredible teammates and they knew that it was taking its toll on me because I had high expectations of myself. So luckily, not only are our best players, you know, really good at baseball now, they’re the best team, the best leaders that that went a long way. So I had that emotional support from those guys because I think all of them, at some point, you had either been through that or it seen it enough in the three years of college baseball to know that, you know what this is, it’s kind of a part of it. Like you’re going to struggle, you’re going to have some really difficult times. And they were always there to help. You know, those guys were always there to listen. It’s guys were always there to bounce ideas off of. Having those guys made me get through that first year. Um, I don’t think the emotional toll really, really happened until my sophomore year because then I felt like I sent you the difficulty of my freshman year and you know, I kind of have that attitude that I was happy to be there. No, I was happy to have a spot on the team because I’m a freshman and you know, playing with guys that are really good, you know, it got to the point where my expectations changed a little bit and it probably shouldn’t have, but I think they changed because I felt like I wasn’t contributing, I wasn’t in the lineup as much as I wanted to. You know, I had great teammates to help me get through it, but you know, my lack of production was not getting me any closer to being in the lineup. So sophomore year it was kind of the same thing. I mean I was more of an emotional mess because I wasn’t playing, I still wasn’t really playing. I was still in and out of the lineup, play it more as a sophomore than I did as a freshman. But I think a part of that was because our catching the year before [inaudible] had graduated, it sounds the cardinals and so there was an opportunity for me to play a little bit more, but it was still a really difficult time because I still wasn’t playing as well as I knew I was capable of playing.
Geoff Rottmayer: Yeah, right. Let me ask you this, when I get done playing, what did you learn from your coaches or even the player that you were surrounded by to help you help guide deal with two years of college baseball?
Tony Cappuccilli: Yeah, I mean they, they were, they were very helpful. But again, coach powers was very demanding. I mean he demanded a lot out of us in terms of, you know, just our mentality and how we went about our business on a, on an everyday basis and he wasn’t going to lower that standard for us. No. Yay. Yeah, you’re struggling having a tough time, but you gotta man up like this is, this is big. What baseball. So it was, it was there, but it also wasn’t because he was trying to baby us or you know, anybody that was struggling, he wasn’t going to lighten up or take it easy just because you were having a difficult time. It was like in those situations, it’s time to, you know, get a little tougher instead of look for a way out. And he wasn’t going to be like that crutch for us. He was going to continue to push us and you know, I’m thankful that he did. If he had, if he would have lowered the standard that he would’ve required for us, it wouldn’t have helped me out in the least bit. It would have, you know, just giving me a built in excuse. And so him keeping that bar rate is high was, was really helpful. Um, my junior year we had Jay home and came in from La Harbor College, which is now the, uh, socioec coach at University of Oregon. And you know, when he came in, we were coming off of, you know, my freshman year were good, went to the regional sophomore year. We weren’t very good. Junior year, we were really bad with good players, but we were really bad. Um, but Jay came in and he, I feel like he was a god that really helped us kind of have that balance between coach powers. You know, there was a little bit of a buffer between coach and us with Coleman and that really helped us. I think it helps moving forward into our senior year. Um, you know, he was an outstanding coach and quite honestly, he was one of, if not the biggest reason that I wanted to go into coaching. So he, and he left a huge impact on me. Um, you know, from a baseball perspective, he was outstanding. But the leadership that he showed us, um, you know, him being there for us and, and knowing we could turn to him if we needed it, but we also felt like we were going to work really hard for that guy. Um, and he worked really hard for us, so we had the most, the highest respect for coach Coleman and I think that really helped kind of change or, or maybe fix a little bit of the cultural stuff going on between the sophomore and junior year and then junior and senior year.
Geoff Rottmayer: Now you’re seeing the young kids that are coming in, going through their first year struggles, you know, how did you interact with them to kind of help them through that period, you know, kind of like the older guy do with you. What would your process like and how did it, how did it work?
Tony Cappuccilli: It was hard because my, my junior year was my best year statistically and things were going good for me, kind of an emotional roller coaster where I can hit two homers in a game and we’d lose and I’d be miserable to be around the end of the day. I just wanted to win bad and it was a whole lot better if I went off one day. And it was really difficult to maintain that balance of like me handling my own performance and still still being able to, you know, hold some of the younger guys accountable when we weren’t doing things, you know, up to the standard that had been set by coach powers. Um, and then going into senior year, we were good again. We had a couple of transfers with five guys on that team that played in the big leagues and we have some really good players. We will, we’re good. And I think that that transition of being okay in the sophomore being really bad as a junior and then, you know, as a team and then going into our senior year, I think that really changed kind of our motivation. So we were able to hold the younger guys to a much higher standard and it felt like it had when I was a freshmen and the seniors were holding us to a higher standard because now we could do the same to those guys because the expectation was, you know, now we’ve got an older team who’ve got some experience that a lot of returners, we’ve got some really good transfers. Um, you know, we have a chance to go off this year. And so really it was easy for us to hold those guys to a higher standard. Um, what was set for us, you know, three or four years prior to that,
Geoff Rottmayer: you know, what happened be,
Tony Cappuccilli: oh, I’m sorry, after my senior year. Um, yeah, I thought I had a chance to get drafted my junior year because I was, yeah, that was my best year. Um, I didn’t like catch much because we had a catcher there that was much better than me. Um, and then my senior year, um, it was kind of the same thing and we haven’t even better catcher and Brett Hayes who went and played in the big leagues for quite awhile. And so I, you know, at Dh quite a bit and you know, thought that because of my good junior year and not getting a chance to sign, I thought I had to do more as a senior, I increase my power. You I had to do way more than I did the year before. So of course my power numbers go up by like one homer and dropped like 80 points in a heading average. And so it definitely wasn’t going to get a chance to go and play. Um, after my senior year coach powers of gas if I want to stay on, he knew I wanted to coach, so he asked if I wanted to stay on some sort of a graduate or undergraduate role and help out, you know, knowing what my aspirations were and coaching. Like in hindsight, that would have been a good idea. However, I wasn’t ready to be done playing baseball. So I went online and started looking at teams and independent leagues. I was trying to find anywhere that the catcher was struggling and finally do some emails. I got to try out with a team in Kenosha, Wisconsin. So I jumped off flight to Chicago and took a greyhound to Kenosha and slept outside the stadium. And the next morning when the manager showed up, I asked him if I could work out for him and went out, went to a workout and it didn’t get picked up. I thought, well that’s not good, but I’m not ready to quit yet. So I started kind of traveling around the Midwest, trying to find a team that would give me a shot. And that was just knocking on doors and sending emails and phone calls and to get a place that would at least let them try out. Um, you know, and if they give me a shot to try out and it didn’t work, then you know, that’s on me. But I just wanted an opportunity to work out for them. And I probably went to a dozen teams. And finally the last time I went to was in Florence, Kentucky. And um, they gave me an opportunity to go play and played independent ball with them for little over two weeks and was catching one night and felt a, felt a pop. And I threw that third base and tore my rotator cuffs and had to go through that whole surgery process and you know, went back and finished school when I was rehabbing and ended up moving back home to Huntington beach the following spring. And I started coaching and I knew I wanted to coach and that was kind of the opportunity I had to get into coaching. And I felt like that was a really good time for me to at least give it a shot, see how I felt about it, you know, try to rehab and then still possibly give myself a chance to play in the next couple of years.
Geoff Rottmayer: But now you’re coaching. So what, what was that transition like?
Tony Cappuccilli: It was actually really easy for me because I knew I was going to do it. I knew I wanted to coach. I hadn’t come to terms yet, but I was done with playing because my injury happened in 2003 I rehab, started coaching the spring of vote Ford Edison High School, and you know, Rehab for that year. I ended up signing again with another independent team, 2005 and it didn’t go out and play for variety of reasons and wound up in Seattle playing with a, like a collegiate summer league slash x pro guys. Um, did that in 2005 and kind of thought, okay, maybe I’m done. And ended up going back in 2006 and I was still coaching at, it’s in the high school at the time. And you know, that was one, so six kind of happened. I figured that was it. I was done. And then I got a call from a friend of mine that was taking a team to Barcelona in the summer of 2007 and he needed somebody to come out and play first base. And so Gary Adams was coaching that team and I said, you know what, this, and this might be a really cool way to go help. And, uh, so I went to Barcelona for a couple of weeks, played for coach Adams and said, all right, that’s it. That was the end of it. And by that time, I mean, that’s 2007 so I’d already been coaching for four years. So it really wasn’t that big of a deal to me to be done playing and only be coaching because I knew that’s where I wanted my future to take me.
Geoff Rottmayer: You with your, your transition into coaching, what would the think that you took from them by made it your own because you’ve had a pretty successful high school coaching career?
Tony Cappuccilli: Yeah, the freshman team at Edison High School in 2004 that Lowe’s yellow gave me my first job. And in 2005 I ended up being the head coach in Trout Lake, Washington, um, near the base of Mount Adams. And I mean the middle of nowhere. I mean, you’re talking like a hundred miles east of Vancouver, Washington. And you know, we had a street that was our home run marker and we’d have elk running through the middle of our practice. I mean, it was beautiful. The place is really cool. It’s just small town. Uh, ended up back in Huntington beach six and I was the assistant coach there from 2006 2009. I went back cause that was my brother’s senior year and I thought that would be really cool to, to coach him his senior year. Um, so we had, we had some good years and won a couple of league titles, went to the, the Cif Championship at Angel Stadium. You know, we’ve had a couple guys from those teams make it to the big leagues with two guys that won national championships at the University of Arizona and went to Ucla. Um, so we had a lot of success with some of our players and moving on to four year schools into professional baseball. You know, we’ve had a lot of guys over that were really successful when guys are still playing baseball, which really is the coolest part, you know, for us. Uh, coaching these guys when they were younger.
Geoff Rottmayer: You played little independent as a coach. So what would coaching high school like?
Tony Cappuccilli: It was, it was a lot of fun. I enjoyed being at my alma mater. I mean, I, I did like being at Edison. It was really cool. Um, you know, I love my high school coach. Tom Deighan was awesome and you know, he had this dynamic was with our other assistant, Erin Butler, who I thought was really cool and I thought that’s something I really would like to be involved in, you know? And then when I got to Nevada and I saw how coach powers was and that he actually, he really cared for us. You know, he cared for us as men. Um, as students, as baseball players. He wanted us to be successful and he pushed us. And then having coach and come in our junior year and finding that you have this younger coach too is really good with handling the baseball side of things, plus being, um, you know, that buffer, like I was saying before, and just having that guy that you felt was really going to motivate you, really gonna push you, um, and was there for you in every way. That really stuck with, I felt like I could take what, you know, the specialty those three men had done and, you know, kind of make my own identity as a coach based off of how those guys were in and the hopefully taking bits and pieces of what each of them were able to do and use that to my own advantage and, um, and, and hopefully impact some, some young men while, you know, going out and when you, baseball games. And so going back and touching high school, you know, obviously you have what you have and you’re not out recruiting. Um, yeah. Luckily we’re in a really good area or some baseball talent. So we always had competitive teams, which obviously made it very fun because we knew we were going to have a chance to be successful all the time. And it was a blast. I loved high school baseball. I had a lot of fun coaching yet there’s obviously issues that come along with it and you’re dealing with parents and you’re dealing with kids going through a difficult time in their lives, whether they’re just, it’s a maturing process. Um, you know, you’re dealing with, with teenagers, with young teenage boys and you know, that’s not always easy. And so there’s definitely challenges, but there’s a lot of rewards to it.
Geoff Rottmayer: Well, I think I want to get into coaching college baseball. What was that like? You know, how did you go about that process? How did that job come up and what would that transition like?
Tony Cappuccilli: I love playing college. Baseball is always in front of everybody’s face. Constantly thinking about that trip to Omaha. And I wanted like, I wanted to get to that level to where we were going to be potentially competing for that opportunity every year. And so talk to a lot of people that I trusted and what’s the best way to get myself into college baseball. And a lot of them had the same ideas about getting into junior college baseball before taking that leap into division one. And so I send out some feelers for some junior college jobs. And you know, the weird part for me was after the 2009 season at Edison, like three days after our season, I left to go to Germany and I was in Germany for two and a half months. So I’m sending out these applications or these emails are feelers to junior college coaches and southern California and you know, trying to find out they had a need for any, any role that I could potentially fill. And the only person at that point had an opening. He was Ken’s muddle at Irvine Valley College. And so I jumped at it and, uh, and I was going to start the next season that at Irvine Valley and you know, coach model was unbelievable. He’s a great man. He’s a great coach. Um, we had a dean and Keith Shackleford that was just incredible for us and supportive of us and there’s challenges, you know, geographically where we were at in terms of, you know, the other schools that were around us. Um, but we got out there and I think that was where I really was able to dig in and learn how to coach. I mean you have a lot of time. Um, you’ve got limited resources and a lot of times you get to be really creative. You get to really focus on the development side of guys. It’s not when, right now it’s developed players move them on to four year schools, you know, we’re going to be better if we get players that come to our place and we moved them on to four year schools because ultimately I think that’s that kind of, that bridge that guys want to take. They go to junior college because they’re not ready to go to a four year school. So they go into the JC ranks, play, improve, and then move on. And so that really was our goal was to move as many guys on as we could, um, help them develop and get them moving on. So that was a really big deal for me to, to get with Kevin and really learn how to coach and get in and do some of the recruiting. Um, he was really helpful with me pushing me to finish my masters and once I finished my masters I was able to start teaching some classes. So I had a great set up there because I was teaching classes, I was coaching baseball. I was able to do kind of the junior college coaches dream. I mean you’re, you’re doing everything revolving around baseball and revolving around the school. So it was really cool. Plus in the summers I was able to go out, went out to the Cape Cod league summer after my first year at Irvine Valley and I was an assistant out there for a summer and uh, and then I spent the next four summers as a head coach up in the Alaska League. So I was able to kind of get that feel of having division one players that I was coaching, upper level guys that I was coaching while still having, you know, my base band, the junior college level where I’m working at the ground level of guys ability and their desire to develop and teaching classes. I mean, I was pretty happy with where I was at.
Geoff Rottmayer: What does,
Tony Cappuccilli: I think it does get thrown around quite a bit. And there’s, I think a common misconception that if you’re focusing on developing guys, that doesn’t mean that you don’t want to win. And it doesn’t mean that you’re not going to win. It means that your, your focus day in and day out is to help improve that individual player. And it’s not based on results. It’s not based on winning and losing. It’s not how well you’re going to help develop a player. You know, you don’t help him more because you know, you’re stoked that you’re winning games and everybody’s riding high, so we’re going to get in there and we’re really going to work. Or you go into panic mode because you’re losing games and now you really have to improve. And so you start working harder with guys. And you know, I think that’s, that’s where guys have to figure out like is this really a culture that we’re trying to set up teaching guys how to play baseball, helping them serving as a resource to those players? Or are we just focused on win or nothing? You know, if you, when everything’s good, if you lose it’s death. Nobody wants to be around you when you lose. And if you can focus on that development side and you show some consistency as a coach with players coming to the field every day knowing, hey, coach wants me to get better. Like he wants me to improve and that guy’s a resource, not a dictator telling me I have to do this or I have to do that, or he’s going to be having a bad mood today because we’re not winning games. So he’s not going to care about me developing, which happens all the time. And it’s sad, but it’s exactly what happens. And I’m not going to say I’ve never done it because I have, I’ve gone to the field in a bad mood because we had a bad weekend and I’m pouting and I don’t want to be around anybody. So today you’re not going to get any better because I’m acting like a 12 year old. So you have to be able to focus on that kid’s development. And the process of developing him is not going to happen because you’ve won games. It’s going to happen because you’ve gone in there and you’ve done the work with them every single day
Geoff Rottmayer: and now you’re thinking about making the jump to the Division One. What was that like?
Tony Cappuccilli: Yeah, so I was, I was up in Alaska and it was kind of the same thing. I was just like this time there’s some division one schools and you know, it was time to get my, uh, hopefully get my foot in the door in division one baseball, you know, Stan Stoltey at UNL. Unlb knew that that was kind of an aspiration that I had had. Cause we talked quite often and when Tim Chambers was head coach and, and touch Solti was the pitching coach and I played for coach Stoltey yet at Nevada. Um, you know, he called me up and said, hey, we may have this position open. Are you interested? I said, absolutely. And so we talked and I talked to coach chambers and you know, went through that whole process with them and he, uh, he offered me a spot when I got back from Alaska. And so I packed up my stuff and moved out to Vegas and I was kind of the beginning of, you know, to start for me being a division one baseball and it was in that volunteer role that, you know, obviously there’s some, some limitations to what you can do, but it was really kind of everything that I had expected in terms of being in division one baseball, especially after coming up from you know, freshmen head coach to you know, a varsity coach to a junior college and summer ball. And then finally being in division one baseball. Um, you know, really was kind of everything that had had hoped and expected that it would be at that point.
Tony Cappuccilli: Yeah. It seems like social media had become a platform where coaches, you know, kind of put themselves out there and are getting some opportunity to advance. So what are your thoughts on the social media aspect?
Geoff Rottmayer: I have a lot of thoughts on it with her has become like linkedin to become a resume. And I’m not saying that in a bad way, it’s just what’s happened. And you know, if somebody puts something on on Twitter, you’re going to have a hundred people love it and retweet it and the Bible and then you’re going to have 10 people that are going to go in there and they’re going to dissect every single word that you’ve said and try to contradict whatever you put out there. And I think there was a sand Barksdale made a comment one day on Twitter about we need less coaches that are out to try to win Twitter. And they’re really quick to try and put other guys down because of the information. You know, ultimately people just want to make it like, they just want to make it to where they have accomplished what they want to accomplish. And that might be just owning a facility and having a reputation for being a really good hitting instructor. You know, it might be a guy who was coaching junior college baseball or junior varsity baseball who wants to coach in division one like I did. You know, it might be a guy that wants to up his level of knowledge and educate himself a little bit more. And so there’s a lot of really good information out there. It’s a problem is that information is being used probably incorrectly by a lot of people. And you know, I always think about, I think it was like 2006 or seven I saw Tim Corban speak at the ABC and I went back to Edison. I told Steve Lambright our head coach that, hey, we’ve got to do this, this and this because Tim Corban does it. And those guys are really, you’re really good. And he’s like, yeah, those are great ideas, but we don’t have the resources to do that. And so I think people see things on Twitter and, and wherever else and they want to replicate that in their practice setting. If they don’t have the athletes to do that, they don’t have the resources to do that. They don’t have the time to do that. So they have to use these things they see in their own way. And I, and then I think some of the important messages end up getting pushed aside for time’s sake. So how, how that information used on Twitter by coaches I think is really, really important. I think there’s a lot of great information out there. There’s a lot of guys that are putting out great information if you just have to be really aware of how you’re using that information that you find. Um, you know, in terms of the guys that are out doing it, but out putting it on there. I mean, if you’re confident and the information that you have, by all means, go out and do it. Go out and send out as much information as you want. Um, I, there is a part of me that, there’s a few things that you never see on Twitter. You never see people talking about recruiting. Nobody’s out giving tips on recruiting. We have God’s talk about hitting and pitching and catching all this stuff. And ultimately the only thing that matters is recruiting. You don’t need to be a great pitching coach if you recruit really good pictures. So that really helps kind of negate your inability to coach pictures if you have guys that are really good pictures. And so there’s things that I think nobody’s giving away secrets that are going to make them, you know, really high level winning coaches because why would you do that? You know, if you don’t, if you, if you’re at a place that’s not winning and you’re looking for ways to win, are you really going to go to Twitter to find those things? Or are you going to just seek out the people who are doing the winning that you want to be doing and pick their brains and really get in there and dig into the information and the content that they have. So I think it’s kind of a double edge sword. I think there’s a lot of really good aspects to it, but I also think that there is some danger in that. Um, just in the way that the information is used and the information that’s being put out there, you got to realize if you’re putting information out there, you were putting your name on that and you better be able to stick to that because somebody is going to come back in three years and go, hey dude, you said this about hitting and now you’re saying this, that completely contradicts it. So you better be able to put that stamp on there or be able to go back in time and a race that tweet you sent three years earlier because now you’ve learned something that changes your way of thinking about a certain movement.
Geoff Rottmayer: Maybe the control a little bit,
Tony Cappuccilli: and I’m careful with how I say that because you know, me too. Me Too. I really don’t want to offend people because there is a lot of really good information out there. I agree. I, I follow a lot of people on Twitter because I want to see what they say. I think that there’s a lot of great information that we can all learn from and trust me, there’s been plenty of things I’ve seen where I said I really liked that wording because half of it’s not like what you know it’s can you reach that kid, right? If you can’t reach the kid and get the kid better, you’re not really doing them a bit of good. So why not figure out if you can find ways to maybe word it differently based off of what you’re reading because that may be the thing that gets through to a kid and not necessarily the movement that you’re trying to get them to understand or or, or to make.
Geoff Rottmayer: Yeah, I’m with you man. And I feel, you know, picking up the phone and talking and help get questions answered because you know, you can miss misconstrued a lot of things that you read and this is called the, the arguments
Tony Cappuccilli: is evolving and guys are seeing that people are being successful in moving their careers forward because they are putting out really great content on Twitter. You know, there’s guys are making a really good name for themselves because they’re putting out legit content that it’s helping people from youth ball all the way into professional baseball. And if you’re able to have that kind of content and that kind of an audience, then by all means you need to use that and you need to expand this game as much as you possibly can.
Geoff Rottmayer: Let’s go days. What was that transition like for you?
Tony Cappuccilli: It was weird because in junior college we had basically unlimited time. So you’re out there on the field for a lot of hours for a lot of days and all of a sudden you get to division one baseball and you’re limited by your hours, by your days. You know about a time that you can have a contact with the players. So you have to be really creative with your time and how you structure that time so that they’re maximizing the time that you have and they’re getting the most out of every rep and they’re getting the most out of your time that you can spend either individually or with a small group. And I think, I think that part of it, the time management, it helps with your creativity. If you have this unlimited time, you’re always looking for different ways to do things so that they don’t get stale. When you’re, when you’re kind of I guess pigeon holed by the time constraints, then you’re in a position where you have to get creative and find out how can I use this time that I have to make multiple guys really good at a couple of different things at once. And that’s fun. Like that creativity is really fun. Um, you know, especially working with people who are open to you being creative and they’re not just stuck in that we’re going to go take batting practice and you’re going to four rounds of five and then we’re done. Then you’re going to go shag, you know, can you do other things like situationally? Can you get something out of the defense aspect while BP is going on where the base running aspect, and again, you can start to do different things and uh, and get really creative. So that part was, was a lot of fun, but it was also the big change for me. Um, going into, you know, division one baseball. The other part is like, it is difficult when you’re at, you know, when I’m at UNLB to take guys and get them better in places that they may not necessarily be comfortable at. Um, I remember we had a kid that, you know, it was a third baseman and ended up really just the agent, cause our third baseman was the dude and he pas for a little bit during the course of that year and then one the regionals at Oregon state and he had to play second base due to an injury and he hadn’t played there all year long. And the first header that comes up as Michael Conforto, I thought if he hits a ground ball at him, like this dude’s going to die. And I was scared to death because, you know, conforto’s big dude in the box and I’m thinking if he pulls a ground ball is not going to be good. And I realized we didn’t, we didn’t prepare him for that situation. So I think that part of it kind of made me think a little bit more in terms of, you know, how can we prepare guys to be another situations that they may not be comfortable playing or you know, what, Hey, worst case scenario, you might have to go play second base or first base and we’re going to have to really work with you so that you’re comfortable enough to be serviceable there. Right. I helped out, I had Kevin Higgins was pretty much in charge of the hitters, him and, and, and Tim Chambers. We’re really working. So, you know, I actually had a really good role there in terms of, you know, Tim would coach third Hedgie would be at first and I’d be in the dugout with guys and you know, we’d chat, we’d go over whatever charts. Um, you know, we just have a conversation before they get out on deck and you know, once it goes to be on deck, I wasn’t gonna talk to him and now it’s their time to get ready to head. It’s their time. But they also knew, you know, there’s nothing worse than feeling like after you strike out and you’re walking back to the dug out that you’re going to get blown up for striking out. So that was nice I think for them because they knew that hey, hit a homer, strike out in a patch on the button. You know, go get them next time. And because there’s not a need to blow him up because they already knew they struck out. So me telling them it’s not going to make them not strike out. I think the role in terms of what I was doing was hopefully helpful for guys, you know, preparing for their at bat,
Geoff Rottmayer: their approach.
Tony Cappuccilli: I think it was different for each guy. You can’t, it’s really difficult to have like a situational, you know, conversation with the guy because you don’t know what that situation is going to be like. Once he gets up to bat, you know, he might be third or fourth up and we’re just sitting there and he might just be looking at a chart that I’m keeping, you know, he may be trying to look for some tendencies that the pitchers, you know, potentially tipping some pitches. Um, you know, there’s different things that they’d be looking for and some guys really want to have a conversation. Some guys don’t, some guys just want to stand there, you know, some guys don’t want to go anywhere near me. So each guy preparing for their at bat. I think you get to let them prepare the best way for them to be successful in their, at bat for them, not for you as the coach that you feel better saying. Well I talked to him before was about, and I told them to look off or breaking ball. If he gets to two, one pitch like, come on man, that’s what you want. I’m thinking about when he gets in the box in that moment and all of that, knowing that, that, that situation could change from, you know, a ball in the dirt, advancing a guy from first to second and now he’s going to rely more on, you know, breaking balls and rely more on basketball. So the situation changing so quickly I think changes that conversation. And so being aware of of that, you know, I think if you get too specific with guys at that level, you can go over some, some tendencies, but you know, a lot of it may just be, hey, you know, a subtle reminder and then they get to go on deck and then you’re not talking to him anymore.
Geoff Rottmayer: Yeah. So what, so what about when a young guy with a young guy, you know, you’ve got a young guy, 1718 years old and he had this opportunity to play division one, you know, how do you, what’s the conversation like the help them understand what it means to get ready for that, Matt?
Tony Cappuccilli: Yeah. I don’t want to have a conversation with a guy about that because you know, if it’s a game day or whether it’s in Arizona with, with our guys right now, if the Dodgers or the UNLB or New Mexico, you know, that guy’s got to figure out how he can prepare himself played that day and what he needs to do. And if it turns into him doing what I think he needs to do so that I think he’s prepared to play, then why does that play or feel any better going into that game? Um, he just basically did what he was told to do and he didn’t get an opportunity to prepare the way that makes him feel like he’s most prepared to play that day. So, you know, I want a guy to have whatever his routine is on a game day, whether it includes an offensive type routine or defensive or both. You know, when we go out in the field and take batting practice and we are going to structure that BP so that you’re, you know, accomplishing goals or cows, you keep it kind of task oriented. You know, you keep their brain kind of turned on and they’re not just trying to, you know, take g hacks all day and leave her for five rounds. I mean you really want that got locked into something but leave him alone. You know, what are you going to tell him during batting practice? He didn’t execute to move the runner from second to third. Like is that going to make him play better that day? I highly imagine that that’s not going to make him all of a sudden have a better game. So part of it is helping them figure out their routine, having some structure like in batting practice and then letting them go out there and you know, take control of their day and then live with the consequences of their lack of preparation or the excitement and the success that they’ve had because they were prepared and they went out and they executed. And again,
Geoff Rottmayer: what are you talking about process where you kind of static guide down and help them develop a routine that works for him?
Tony Cappuccilli: I think when it comes to routine, I think guys start to feel like maybe there are specific drills that get them moving in a way that helps them, you know, maybe gives them some subtle reminders of some mechanical cues. Um, maybe there’s just drills that they feel helped them move better or help them get Luke’s or you know, whatever it is. But I think guys kind of find that on their own. So through the course of, you know, just our daily works, you know, you started to see that you really like how you feel after you do this drill or you do this movement or whatever it might be. And that helps you get yourself ready to go out and hit. I think you have to be aware of that fine line between, between routine and superstition because some guys get so just mentally domed up because they don’t complete their routine. Uh, and at that point it’s reached a superstition and it’s a routine to get them ready to play. It’s a superstition that they have to do this, otherwise they’re not going to be able to go out and perform. So if you help them to set a routine, you know, maybe talk over some things with them, but ultimately they have to be the ones to kind of set that routine to get them ready to play that day.
Geoff Rottmayer: They need to be reminded to be aware of what needs to be a part of my routine.
Tony Cappuccilli: Yeah, that’s an easy suggestion from the coach pieces guy doing a drill and you know, his path or his direction or you know, whatever else he’s working on. It looks really good in that given drill. It’s really easy to suggest, hey, maybe that’s something you should do, like in a daily routine just to overemphasize this feel or whatever it is. And I think they’re, they’re more receptive to hearing that in that moment of, you know, them having some success doing a drill.
Geoff Rottmayer: Yeah, I agree. How can a little bit about that process and then what that transition would like.
Tony Cappuccilli: Well, so after, after you, and I’ll be, I went to University of New Mexico. I spent three years there with cause Birmingham and, and uh, and Ken Hawk to me and Buddy Goldsmith, Dan Spencer. Um, you know, I, I was really fortunate to be around some really good coaches and I was, you know, we, we had a really good thing going at New Mexico. Um, you know, it was, there was a culture there that was really oftens heavy, like we really hit and that was a lot of fun because we were scoring a lot of runs. And so after, after my last year at New Mexico, you know, there’s kind of that same thing, that transition year of, you know, what am I going to do next? Like, no, I’d been a volunteer assistant for four years at two different schools and you know, it was really time for me to do something else. I just, I didn’t know what, I had no idea what that was going to be. 10 my wife now, we were packing up to go to uh, go home for Thanksgiving and I had an email from Gabe Kapler and you know, just said, hey, shoot me a text when you get a shot and when you get a minute and you know, let’s chat. Okay whatever. Now I’m thinking, because we had some guys from New Mexico that year that were, that were good, that were canceled draft guys that he probably given his position with the Dodgers at the time, you know, maybe wanting to go over some of our players and you know, he started asking me some questions and then I’d get a call from somebody else, you know, within the player Development Department and, you know, talk to some people. It actually took me quite a while to even realize that I was being interviewed for a job. I thought, man, these guys are really nice, you know, having some good conversations and you know, a lot of them, every time I talked to cap, I’m like, man, that guy’s, that guy’s pretty legit. And you know, finally got to that point where I realized, Hey, I’m actually interviewing right now. And we went through this kind of process for a couple of months and I ended up not getting that job. Uh, I found out the week before our opening game, my last year in New Mexico that I didn’t get the job in 2017. And so I figured, okay, we’ll just get through the season and kind of see what happens. So once that season, um, and then I got a call back from, from Gabe in July or August of 17, and after, after our season, you know, going through the summer camps and stuff at New Mexico and he said, hey, you know, we had a job that opened up, would you be interested in? I said, yeah, absolutely. And, uh, so kind of talk to him for a little bit, you know, a few days later he called me back and offered me the job and I’ve talked to my wife about it and we’re packing up a couple of days later, moved to Arizona.
Geoff Rottmayer: What was the difference in what the professional model
Tony Cappuccilli: that was the most intimidating jump for me to make because I hadn’t played at that level. There was obviously a little bit of an intimidation when you see some of the guys that are around, um, you know, and then you start talking to other coaches and you realize, you know, this guy played in Aa and this guy was in the big leagues and this guy was here, you know, first round draft pick and you know, my cap an independent ball for two weeks. Ultimately it gets to a point where it doesn’t matter and they, we have the really great structure within our organization so nobody ever makes you feel like that matters because we’ve got a number of guys that didn’t play professional baseball and so nobody ever makes that feel. It was just probably my own insecurity and my feeling going into it like, oh my God, you know, I’m a little bit intimidated by this, by this environment right now. And then you get to get to know everybody and understand that you’re all really seriously on the same team, you know, doing things the same way and there’s so much, just a, everything, that cohesive effort to make everybody better. And once I got to that point, that intimidation was Kinda gone and then you’re gone, wow, this is really cool. Like I get to put on a dog or Jersey every day and I get to go to go to work at this beautiful complex and I’m surrounded by incredible people with amazing leadership. You know, what can be better than this. I mean, it really, it’s been awesome since day one, given the people that we have in our organization. Um, you know, you start to realize some of the things that you were going through in college baseball with, you know, maybe different types of funding or not as much funding and the things that you have at your disposal and the professional level that you didn’t, a mid major college or junior college or high school level, um, you know, so then there’s just a lot more going on. And it’s really interesting and it’s a constant learning process, um, every single day.
Geoff Rottmayer: Very cool. And you know, in your position,
Tony Cappuccilli: one of the, I think two weeks after I got there and we kind of finish the end of the Arizona League season and then we were going to start her instructional league are catching coordinator, Ryan Sanko. We sat down and went over some catching stuff and I love coaching. I that to me is the most fun. I love that relationship between the pitcher Catcher, try set game plan and stuff like that. You know, going over things with Ryan, I was blown away at first of all how detailed he was and how he kind of shifted my, um, my thinking was certain things of catching, uh, based off of like evidence that he had and I was blown away and that was my first like experience going, oh my God, this is so some high level stuff. And you know, sitting then and being able to pick his brain and you know, being able to, I mean I can send them a text and send them a video of a guy and say, hey, what do you see here? And you know, he’s so good at what he does and he’s able to communicate very openly about things that need to be done with guys. You know, it makes, it hopefully makes or allows him to have that trust in me if he’s not around that I can work with our guys in Arizona, uh, based off of the work that he’s already put in with guys. I mean, preparation goes so far, especially with the younger catchers, but being able to pick his brain all the time has been really helpful for me.
Geoff Rottmayer: Yeah, I can imagine you get them for the first time you got the young guy, you’ve got guys from the different different countries. What was it like trying to get those guys to trust you?
Tony Cappuccilli: Well, I think like you mentioned from different countries, you know, going in that you’re going to have Latin American players. And so if you go in and you have no ability to speak or understand any Spanish whatsoever, I feel like that shows interest and effort on your part. You go into this thing, you know that you’re going to have some players that aren’t going to speak English and they know you don’t speak Spanish or ox fluid. You know, you, you need to be able to at least know enough words to communicate with them. And I think that doing that for a lot of the Latin American players, I feel like that games, um, some trust and respect that you’ve at least given it an effort to learn enough to have some sort of a communication with those guys so that they feel more comfortable cause they’re in a different country, they’re out of their natural element and really they have coaches that care. And if you learn a little bit of Spanish, I think it really shows that you care to be able to interact with those guys and, and really effectively coach them. And reach them, um, and, and a level that’s comfortable for those guys and, and uh, and they’re able to really work. So I feel like that in regards to like the Latin American players, I feel like that’s a really big step for coaches. Um, just everybody in general though, it’s showing that you’re there to help assist them get better I think is a really big deal. I think a lot of guys are guilty of, and I’ve done it myself where you go out and you really want to just put your stamp on a guy. You want to help that guy out. You know, you want to be the guy that gives him the fix that gives them to the big leagues and get some paid and you know, he’s going to come back and thank you. Years down the road when he’s a hall of Famer and everybody has that thought. And I feel like in our organization we don’t have that, you know, that goes around. I don’t feel like there’s a lot of guys that just have to put their stamp on guys because I think the overwhelming feel around, uh, around our cages is that you want to be there to support their growth and their development and you don’t have to be the guy to put a stamp on it. And when the players feel like all you care about is putting your personal stamp on that guy as a hitter, I feel like they kind of back off a little bit. If you show that you’re just there to help them be a resource for them, I think they gained some trust and some respect and that opens that line of communication with those players and they’re way more receptive to your ideas if you’re able to bounce things back and forth.
Geoff Rottmayer: When you have guide, they’re being paid to perform. I mean did, did, did that change your approach in how you coach?
Tony Cappuccilli: Yeah. I honestly, I had to be reminded to stay patient because I spent the last, I spent 14 years with winning in mind and not that winning is important because you look at the Dodgers from the bottom to the top, we have I think all six of our affiliates and then the states went to the playoffs last year in the minor leagues and three of them won league titles. So it’s not a winning thing because we went plenty in. Our big league team did pretty well. Also, you know, it’s still, it’s not necessarily like a winning thing. Um, it’s creating a culture, creating an environment where players can go out and become as good as they possibly can. And so for me, going from an environment where it’s stressing when and developed so that you can do the things that we need you to do so that we can win to going to an environment where it’s, hey, let’s develop this guy and this guy and all of our guys so that they can move up in levels, can be, you know, a big supportive piece of the Los Angeles Dodgers and hopefully move up and become big leaguers and have had a great career. And ultimately, I think at college it’s mean you’re telling them what they need to do to be successful. And in professional baseball, you’re that resource and you’re there to ask them, how can you help them to reach their goals and what do you need from me to help you out? Versus this is what you need me to do, or this is what you need, this is what I’m going to do to help you. So it’s that question in terms of, you know, asking them what they need versus explaining to them what they need
Geoff Rottmayer: majorly teams are behind in time. What are your thoughts on that?
Tony Cappuccilli: You know, I mean, compared to who you know, who, who are you really, who are you comparing? I mean, so can you compare those teams to put more money into facilities and the players and technology? You know, they’ve, they’ve gotten more invested than anybody else including colleges, including, you know, private hitting facilities. You know, the beautiful thing I think right now is that there’s a role for each one of those aspects. There’s, there’s a huge role for high school baseball, you know, and you see kids that are leaving high school to go folks on playing travel ball and you got kids, you know, their biggest thing they need to do is tweet out there honored and humbled to announce my commitment to this school tweet. And they leave colleges because the grass is greener on the other side and you know, they only focus on who they feel they can trust because of who they’re paying. And everybody’s trying to discredit everybody else and put everybody else down when, what are we really doing? Are we just trying to help kids get better and help them achieve whatever their goals are? Kids goals to go play at a division three school and get a great education, then by all means that’s your job as a coach to help him reach that goal. So to say that the big leagues are behind, I really think everything trickles down from there in terms of what the organizations are trying to do to help promote the game, help improve the game. You know, they’re setting the trends. It’s, I don’t know where else the trends would be started from. Um, other than the fact that there’s so much available information that anybody can look up that anybody can find online. You can get numbers to support any argument that you ground balls are better. Somebody’s going to find a number that’s going to support whatever argument they want to have. They’re going to use video and they’re going to manipulate their wording to make people believe whatever it is they feel they should believe. And like, dude, we’re all on the same team. We’re all trying to develop players. It doesn’t have to be competitive in everything that we do. Like I’ve coached enough against some of my best friends in the world, but guys that were in my wedding and I was in their wedding and they know flat out with your playing you, I hope we crush you in every aspect and then afterwards you’re going to go and buy me a diet coke and we’re going to talk about it and I’m going to run my mouth a little bit because it’s fun and we’re best friends. But other than that, it’s like there’s a competitive nature that everybody has that they have to be the one to share information or to discredit somebody else so that now they’re the ones that are getting all the attention and I think it’s, it’s sad. It needs to be, you know, hopefully toned down a little bit and people can just go back to coaching because they loved coaching and having an impact on people’s lives, which is the only reason we got into this business anyway, I hope.
Geoff Rottmayer: Right.
Tony Cappuccilli: Well, it’s opened my eyes quite a bit because those things that, the resources that we have that we’re, that we really try and use or even other teams try and use. You know, we didn’t, I didn’t have exposure to those things beforehand. You know, it was really my exposure to us where again, going on Twitter or going online somewhere and seeing something about launch angle, spin rate, you know, all these different things. You know, we never had the time or the resources to get into, you know, the pitch development and the sequencing and you know, some of the things that everybody’s doing nowadays because that’s the only way for you to compete against other teams as to how that information and use that information. We didn’t have that and college baseball, high school baseball, so we’re really, we were stuck and an older tire I think in cause baseball as are a lot because that, that equipment that, you know, technology that everybody’s using, it’s really expensive and not everybody can afford it. So it is a luxury to be able to have that. So for me, not having that experience, I’ve had to sit down with numerous people and say, hey, like talk to me like I’m seven because I don’t know what this is. I’ve never seen this. I’ve never been exposed to it. So remember my playing days were done, you know, 15 years ago, 16 years ago. So I don’t have experience from that as a player or as a coach. So these things, I mean, and it does help because it keeps you in that mindset that you’re constantly learning. You’re constantly having to be aware of the things that are going on and the way that decisions are made based on the fact that there are numbers and there’s evidence and there’s a sample size to back up what you’re actually doing. They do. Yeah. Yeah. Because they know that it’s ultimately when we get to help them, you know, there was no reason to fight it, but they’ve got resources at their disposal that are going to help make them better players. And there’s no reason whatsoever for them to fight those, those numbers that can do nothing but help them out.
Geoff Rottmayer: Yeah. Inside. But the data says otherwise. How does that factor in?
Tony Cappuccilli: I mean the numbers online. Yeah, and so if you’re, you know, if you’re a pitcher and you feel like you know, hey, I need to run two seams and on this guy’s hands and I’m a time up, but the number stays at, your two seam sucks and it’s going to get crushed. Then at some point you have to sit back and go, okay, do I think I’m really good? You know, spotting off my two seam and getting in all the guy or do I think that the numbers are lying and if you keep getting hammered in there, then I’d probably go back and look at the numbers and say, yeah, there’s data to suggest that a two seems not as good as, I really think it gets back to guys being able to take the data that’s available to them and use it to their advantage by understanding what they do well and understand what their opponents don’t do well. And then having that, finding that marriage between those two things of setting a game plan of how you’re going to go get a guy out or how you’re going to go hit off the guy.
Geoff Rottmayer: Yeah, a kid, high school kid and he’s away from home and is a different environment for him and he didn’t even the guy that are kind of coming from overseas, they’ve got to kind of get into, you know, figure out a routine that works for them. They got to figure it out. You know who they are and all that stuff. So what’s that like for you? And the coach helping a young kid understand what they have to do to get ready to play every day.
Tony Cappuccilli: I think showing the guys that you’re going to allow them to play and they’re not going to be micro managed all aspects of their game. Um, I think that goes a long way. And I think showing that you’re going to allow them to, you know, figure out if doing what they’ve done for their entire career or doing what’s got them to point. If they continue to do that, are they going to be successful or are they going to need to make some adjustments off of that? If a kid comes in on day one, you start changing everything about his swing. Is there going to be buying in to the need to make that swing change without allowing him to go out and fail and as a kid going to be receptive? If he’s never failed, why, why, why would he go out and have, you know, being an all American in college and get into pro ball and then we want to change his swing and I’m that kid, I’m going way wait away. Why are you switching? What I’ve been doing that made me an all American? You know, you’ve got, you’ve got allow guys to fail, and the problem is if you don’t do that, then where does the kid belief in you believing in him come from and where does he feel like you really just want to have your stamp on them, but he does it your way so that you can say, Hey, I made this guy better. So I think giving it some time to allow the kid to go out and do what he naturally does and allow him to fail. That will open up his desire to be coached even more.
Geoff Rottmayer: Right? There come a time where, let’s say the kid is struggling miserably. Do we suggest, hey, maybe we need to try to take a look at something or try something different?
Tony Cappuccilli: I think the first, the first question I think is to ask the kid what he feels. Yeah. Yeah. And there are always going to, the first thing that a lot of hitters are going to want to do is they’re going to want to go to the video. They’re going to want to go see, okay, what am I doing, what’s my spending look like? And they’re gonna want to break down everything about their swing. And then some of the really important questions are never really gonna get asked or answered. You know, how’s your timing? How’s, what’s going on in your, in your head? Are you in swing mode or are you defensive or you, are you waiting to see to identify a pitch and decide, okay, y’all swaying? Or is it, you know, swing until you identify it, something you want to take. You know, is it pitch selection awful? You know, sometimes that, that answer is so simple a, hey, you’re not getting results because you’re swinging at bad pitches. Yeah. Or you’re taking good pitches and sometimes those things will answer the questions. And then just by asking the player like, Hey, what are you feeling right now? Or how do you feel on the box? Or, you know, what do you, what do you feel really good about? We’ll start that conversation. And I feel like that conversation is something that will really open up the opportunity to start to suggest some things versus pulling a guy aside and say, hey man, you’re hitting one oh five right now and you need to change what you’re doing. Because I said so it’s, he doesn’t want to change. He’s not gonna change if he feels really comfortable, he’s just not getting hips. You don’t know how that kid’s feeling unless you ask. He might feel really good in the box. He’s just not getting results. And if you start tinkering with the Swain, maybe he doesn’t feel as good anymore and now he doesn’t feel good and he’s not getting results and then he’s pressing even more. So having that conversation I think is really important before you go in and start making wholesale changes. Um, and understanding that flyer as a person and knowing what they respond to is a very important key to figuring out how they’re going to learn the best way possible.
Geoff Rottmayer: Yeah.
Tony Cappuccilli: I, I, yeah, I think so. I don’t, I don’t see what’s wrong with asking a kid how he’s feeling the batter’s box. He May, he may be really struggling and other things going on through his head because for reasons that we don’t even know because we didn’t care to ask it. Right. So I started just starting at that point, you know? And then if you ask, at least he shows you care, you know, they show the kid that you care about what’s going on in his head. You’re not just saying, hey, like your swing looks like garbage right now. We’re going to change it. Because if you ask him what he’s feeling, what he’s going through at that moment, he may be more open to you saying, you know what, I kind of noticed this in your swing. You know, how’s that feeling right now? And let’s talk about this. You know, your backside of doing whatever. You can have that conversation because you know you’ve opened up showing that you care to hear how they’re feeling about it.
Geoff Rottmayer: Yeah, I figured that out. You know, it changes the relationship and the conversation when a kid knows you care because there are personal things that you don’t see that you don’t know that can impact our prior performance.
Tony Cappuccilli: Yeah. You have no idea what’s going on in that player’s life until you ask them what’s going on. If they’re struggling just you can keep it baseball related to if they feel like they need to open up and talk about other things and they’ve got the floor, that opportunity is there for him. But if you never asked them what they’re feeling in the box and you’re just purely looking at mechanics, which is what everybody talks about, we’re going to see on social media, that’s all they’re gonna hear on TV is people talking about mechanics and you know what’s the best whatever angle and all that stuff. I mean, yeah, it is important, but at the same time that kid starts a conversation with and I feel really uncomfortable in the box right now, you know, or I feel really tied up on anything with velocity. Like, then you can start getting into a couple other things that may lead to a mechanical discussion, but it may not be mechanical thing. Maybe a a mindset shift that you know, putting them on time may help solve it in the camp was she was having.
Geoff Rottmayer: Yeah, absolutely. You know, Tony, I don’t want to take up too much more of your time, but if I’m a guy listening to this conversation and I’m just saying, you know, this guy had a pretty cool route and I think I want to try to duplicate it and see where it takes me. What advice do you have for them?
Tony Cappuccilli: I think first recognizing that, no, I think it was Gary Vaynerchuk who made the comment and some colorful language on the Joe Rogan podcast that if you’re lucky enough to be good at what you love, then you need to be just tunnel vision dude who focuses to an extreme level on what you’re doing. And I think for a lot of coaches, we’re really, really lucky to be able to do you know what we love? I mean I didn’t make great money when I was coaching junior college from, from coaching, baseball came from teaching classes. I mean realistically my First Actual Paycheck from coaching baseball is when I was 37 years old. You have to go through some of those things, you know, outside of some of all and stuff like that, like an actual salary 37 so you have to kind of go through the steps and you can’t rush that process and you can’t compare yourself to other people because other people have had completely different paths. If you’re a guy that went off in the FCC and you’re a first round draft pick and you played pro ball for a few years, you might get hired as a recruiting coordinator, right? When you get some good schools. But if you’re not, if you’re the guy that didn’t play Division One baseball or your guy that played, you know, very sparingly individual in baseball or whatever it was, and you didn’t go out and play pro ball, your path may be different and that’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with that. You don’t have to be a head coach. And the SEC. Everybody wants to be a head coach in the sec. Obviously. Why wouldn’t you? But that might not be your path. Maybe it is down the road, but it doesn’t mean it has to be right now. So to me, if I’m, if I’m a young coach and I’m just getting in, I’m going to figure out what level is best for me, whether it’s high school, whether it’s junior college, I want to surround myself with the best people possible. I want to listen to the best people possible. I’m going to reach out to as many people as I can and try to get information on things that are really interesting to me. I’m going to become as good as I can and as many things as I can so that when you get to a point where you really have to specialize, you’ve at least got a good solid foundation of knowledge for different areas of the game. I’m not going to go and coach the outfielders to the San Rafael. I can coach the catchers. I wasn’t a runner. I’ve never played in the outfield since I was 11 years old. I don’t, I wouldn’t feel comfortable. I just catch the ball before it hits the ground. That’s really what I know about Optum. So ultimately like you find the things that you’re passionate about and learn as much as you can about it and meet people, introduce yourself to people, sending emails, go to conferences, go to conventions, you know, go do those things. Take notes, you know, go over your notes and figure out what’s relevant to you, you know, do research, look on Twitter, cause our great research resources on there. You know, go out and watch some baseball and really figure something that you want to focus on and just watch that dude and don’t get caught up in the scoreboard or any of that stuff. Just focus on one aspect of one thing and get really good at that. And again, like you don’t have to be that guy that jumps into his dream job right away. That doesn’t happen very often. So don’t be afraid to take your time and work your way up because we all have different paths to get wherever we’re going
Geoff Rottmayer: to be reminded. Reminded that wherever you are, make the most out of it. Okay. Maybe you don’t have the biggest budget or the latest technology that you want, but this is where you get creative and you learn and don’t think just because you know, if I go to this school and I have all this stuff that is going to be a better fit. So make the most out of where you are in the situation that you’re in. Yeah.
Tony Cappuccilli: I remember seeing Pat Murphy sticking in Philadelphia at the 2008 ATCA convention and he made a great comment and he said big time baseball is where you’re at right now. Like this moment where you are, if you’re coaching junior varsity baseball in the middle of nowhere, like the big time for you is that JV team wherever you’re at and nothing else matters. Yeah. So what’s your guys make them better players, help them become better men and coach those guys like that is your big league team. There’s not how Lsu does has no impact on you whatsoever or your JV players. So just coach those guys and then she’d be a fan of the rest of it. Like just focus on what you have right in front of you and make that part big time.
Geoff Rottmayer: I love it. I’m listening when it comes to learning stuff, you know there’s so much information out there so how do I know what’s good and what’s going to help me get to where you are and what’s not good
Tony Cappuccilli: to me, I feel like if you want a coach you need to be in the Dugout, you need to be coaching and whatever level you’re at. Go coach a lot of baseball coach travel ball. When I was coaching a junior college baseball, I had, you know I was a head coach up in Alaska so I had some division one players, the junior college players and I was coaching at 1300 travel ball team and doing lessons like crazy because you know need some income but you’re in the dugout and I don’t care if it’s takes 13 you tournament over Memorial Day, you’ve got things that you have to deal with. Maybe it’s pre pubescent teenagers or it’s parents that are upset that they paid to play in a tournament and I don’t want to talk to you in the parking lot. Or it’s a, you know, kid that’s at a division one school that you’re coaching in the summer that can’t go because you know, he failed a class, has to go to summer school. Now you’ve got to replace them. All those different things that you have to deal with that they coach, you’re going to find in different levels. So you have to be able to handle all those situations, you know, eventually at some point in your career. So it’s really difficult to stay like there’s one way I would if I’m a young coach, I want to go find a summer ball job because to me you’re dealing with a lot of different aspects of coaching. Yeah. There’s a different social side. You’re dealing with kids who, you know what, they don’t care if you win a summer ball league championship. They want to go out and get their name out. They want to perform. They want to have fun being where they’re at. They want to get to know new teammates from different schools, you know, go manage and some summer ball league somewhere because now you’re going to start to see a whole lot of different things going on that you’ve got to manage and not necessarily your goals fitting in with the same goals and the players. So it’s a really interesting dynamic when you go out and coach summer ball. That I think is a really important key. Um, and and development for coaches in my view.
Geoff Rottmayer: Yeah. And I think maybe when you pick up the phone and you call a coach, most of the baseball people, at least from my experience, are willing to entertain a conversation. So don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Tony Cappuccilli: Exactly. You look at some of those guys that are coaches and some big conferences or you know, they’ll look at some of the managers that are in the minor leagues and look at their, look at their resume and see where they’ve been. And it’s incredible. You know, some of these guys have been to some places that, you know, you’re not thinking that the head coach and the sec spent time at this division three school and you know, wherever they did and they spent a lot of times, some of those schools, you know, you’ve got guys that are big league managers, got spent a huge portion of their career, you know, and, and the minor leagues and finally got an opportunity to be in the big leagues and now they’re running away with that, you know, so you’ve got different people, like I said earlier, that took different paths and you just can’t compare your path to it because you don’t know where you’re going to be. Five years ago I would never thought I’m working for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He kidding. Like that’s ridiculous to me. And so you better believe that. I feel like I am unbelievably lucky to be in the position that I’m in because of where I bet. And if I hadn’t been in the positions that I’ve been in, I would not appreciate it as much of, you know, being where I am now. So you have to go through that stuff in order to really appreciate where you’re at. And I felt the same way when I was at New Mexico, having, you know, been through where I was and then getting to UNM and same thing at UNLB and same thing at Irvine Valley every time. I always felt really fortunate to be there based off of where I was before I got to that point.
Geoff Rottmayer: Well, Tony, man, man, I appreciate you coming on. This has been a great conversation. Thanks again.
Tony Cappuccilli: Yeah, thanks for having me.
Speaker 1: I am Geoff Rottmayer and Thank you for listening to our conversation on teh Baseball Awakening Podcast. Stay tuned for our recap show tomorrow. for listening to our conversations are the base bar week and the podcast they too of our recapture with tomorrow. Hmm.