RBI World Series players run drills at workout day
College and Major League scouts on hand to evaluate talent on display
MINNEAPOLIS -- Before the RBI World Series baseball players could unwind with an afternoon at Target Field, they had to put some work in.
With Sunday morning designated as a workout day, each team spent some time on the field running drills after a few select players from each club ran the 60-yard dash.
Though the morning allowed them to put in some work heading into the start of competition on Monday, the workout day served as a great chance for the players to show college and MLB scouts what they can do.
For the third consecutive year, the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) World Series is being hosted by the Twins, with baseball and softball tournament games scheduled to be played through Aug. 14 on various fields throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul. The RBI World Series is the international baseball and softball tournament of the RBI program.
In order to qualify for the RBI World Series, RBI leagues from the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and South America competed in eight RBI regional qualifying tournaments.
With scouts from the University of Minnesota, the University of Illinois-Chicago and University of Michigan representing the NCAA, as well as Major League scouts from the Tigers, Rangers, Cardinals, Twins and White Sox in attendance, the players had the chance to give that first, strong impression that could take them on to the next level.
"The opportunity to be seen and the opportunity to be trained by quality professionals is very attractive to the kids," said University of Minnesota scout Rob Fornasiere. "... I think you do need to have programs like this to continue to promote baseball and attract quality athletes to our game. That's really what this program has done."
Currently, there are 13 former RBI program players on Major League rosters -- including the Yankees' CC Sabathia, the Rays' James Loney and the Braves' Justin Upton to name a few. There were also 15 RBI alumni who were selected in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.
While the workout day and the tournament as a whole provide a great opportunity for players to display their abilities, University of Illinois-Chicago scout Sean McDermott also said it's a convenient way to see talent from all over the country in one spot.
"It's nice to see the talent level from all over the country, for sure," said McDermott. "Whether we're going to be recruiting kids from Southern California or Miami or Santiago is a different thing. But it is nice to be able to evaluate kids from all over the country in one location. It's very convenient for us."
With over 200 players participating in the tournament, the scouts are keeping their eyes mostly on the Senior Boys division (ages 16-18), as they are at a recruitable age -- unlike the Junior Boys (ages 13-15).
Regardless of whether it may be a little early to scout the Junior Division, the scouts watched each team run through fielding drills in both divisions, taking notes as they saw fit.
"Just trying to look at all the kids and their overall athleticism and the basic tools of the game -- their throwing, their running, defensive ability and, obviously, eventually their hitting," said Fornasiere about what he was looking for in the workout day. "Just trying to make judgments on where their physical skills are at this point. If you find somebody that you like, then you go back and check on their character and their grades -- and whether they have an interest in your school at some point."
While the workout day is helpful to both the scouts and players alike, the scouts noted they'll be attending some games throughout the week. McDermott, for example, said he'll be out at games over the next two days of competition -- and possibly a third, if need be.
Although the scouts were able to see how the kids played in the field and how well they ran, they didn't get a good look at hitting or pitching -- something the games will provide the perfect opportunity for doing.
"The best pitchers normally throw in the first couple games, so those are the guys you usually want to see on the mound at that point," said Fornasiere. "In our personal case, we've never really recruited a kid solely off of a workout day. You've got to go see them play eventually."
Kelly Erickson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.