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Hinch announces new youth coaching partnership

Amateur giants USA Baseball and ABCA team up to improve resources for youth-level coaching
MLB.com

Astros manager A.J. Hinch announced amateur coaching news on Saturday that will help improve the next generation of ballplayers, whether they become small-town legends or World Series heroes. USA Baseball and the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) will join forces to create a higher standard of coaching education at all youth levels.

"Coaches are the bedrock of player development and the player experience," Hinch said. "That's why this partnership is so important to me and critical to our game."

Astros manager A.J. Hinch announced amateur coaching news on Saturday that will help improve the next generation of ballplayers, whether they become small-town legends or World Series heroes. USA Baseball and the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) will join forces to create a higher standard of coaching education at all youth levels.

"Coaches are the bedrock of player development and the player experience," Hinch said. "That's why this partnership is so important to me and critical to our game."

The announcement came at the 74th annual ABCA Convention -- the largest baseball coaching convention in the world -- in Indianapolis, and the partnership aims to enhance the ability of instructors at all levels to better serve their athletes, teams and communities.

"Supporting coaches in their own development is a core initiative for USA Baseball and the ABCA," said Rick Riccobono, USA Baseball's chief development officer. "When coaches are better informed, better educated and better prepared to teach their athletes, everyone benefits."

The powerful tag team of USA Baseball -- the national governing body of the sport -- and the ABCA -- the top professional organization for amateur baseball coaching -- means that coaches will now have more direct access to an enormous amount of online and in-person training material, such as a new Coaches Community Clinic program, as well as USA Baseball's current free Mobile Coach App and coaching resource page.

"We couldn't be more excited about the possibilities of the partnership between the ABCA and USA Baseball," said ABCA executive director Craig Keilitz. "Between the two organizations, there are so many different assets -- whether they are clinics, the education center, other videos, podcasts, Inside Pitch Magazine -- and we are planning to leverage those into the most comprehensive baseball coaching education program to date."

The announcement comes as USA Baseball enters its fourth year as a partner with MLB on the Play Ball initiative, aimed at getting kids to play the game, in all settings, and providing the tools to help them grow within the game.

Tweet from @USABaseball: World Series champion and six-time Team USA alum A.J. Hinch announced our new educational partnership with @ABCA1945 this morning. 📝: https://t.co/H4CUEqZS4c pic.twitter.com/Jz4nqHJcqT

"Research and studies have demonstrated a direct link between the quality of coaching and the personal development, enjoyment and participation retention for kids who play our game," said Chris Marinak, MLB's executive VP of strategy, technology & innovation. "We have worked closely with USA Baseball to make the sport more accessible for young people of all backgrounds. They now continue to grow their leadership in this space with this new partnership with ABCA, which will take innovative approaches to reaching youth baseball coaches wherever they may be. We are looking forward to seeing the positive results from their efforts."

Hinch boasts an impressive amateur resume. Long before he led one of the most potent -- and youthful -- MLB teams to the 2017 World Series title in Houston, he was the Gatorade Player of the Year at Midwest City (Okla.) High School in 1992. He then became a two-time Pac-10 Player of the Year and three-time All-American at Stanford, ranking in the program's top 10 all time in eight offensive categories and helping to lead the school to the 1995 College World Series -- while also earning a degree in psychology.

He played on USA Baseball national teams and appeared, as a catcher, in international championships every year from 1991-94, culminating with a roster spot on the bronze medal-winning squad in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Hinch spoke to current high school prospects at a Prospect Development Pipeline event last January, and his appearance in Indianapolis on Saturday to announce the coaching mega-partnership let him show that top-notch coaching can help today's young players reach their full potential.

"This partnership brings together the two organizations best positioned to support the commitment of baseball coaches at all levels of the amateur game," Riccobono said. "We're thrilled to be working with the dedicated team at the ABCA, and look forward to expanding our coaching education platform in the coming months and years. Better coaches mean a better future for America's pastime."

Mike McCormick is an editorial director for mlb.com.