BRADENTON, Fla. -- Barry Larkin’s resume speaks for itself. A dozen All-Star experiences, nine Silver Sluggers, three Gold Gloves, a World Series title, an MVP and, of course, a plaque in Cooperstown. When he addressed a very captive audience of players at the Prospect Development Pipeline League here at IMG
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Barry Larkin’s resume speaks for itself. A dozen All-Star experiences, nine Silver Sluggers, three Gold Gloves, a World Series title, an MVP and, of course, a plaque in Cooperstown. When he addressed a very captive audience of players at the Prospect Development Pipeline League here at IMG Academy, he made it clear that it wasn’t sheer natural talent that allowed him to pile up those accomplishments.
“You’re the best of the best, right? That’s what I’m told,” Larkin said in between games on Friday afternoon. “Everyone has talent. What is the difference between you and the guy across the field with the same amount of talent? How are you going to stand out against the rest? The way you’re going to be able to beat the next guy with as much talent is to be disciplined.”
Throughout his talk, Larkin discussed the importance of doing things the right way and doing it the same way at all times. Others might get revved up in big moments, the former shortstop said, but when it’s time to make a play, relying on what you’ve always done -- staying even in the moment -- is what can make the difference.
“It’s not by trying to be the superstar,” Larkin told them. “It’s technique, anticipation and confidence. You can put yourself in a better position with discipline. It’s what is going to allow you to get to the next level.”
Larkin is one of four team captains for the PDP League, along with Ryan Howard and Chipper Jones, who have already visited, and Derek Jeter, who will be on hand next week. If it sounds like Larkin has a knack for teaching young players, it’s because he does. He’s currently a special assistant for player performance in the Reds’ player development department.
“Player development is something I’ve always been interested in,” Larkin said. “I really enjoy it. I enjoy working with young players.”
Larkins’s focus has largely been on international players, mostly because “there aren’t a lot of bad habits to break.” But in his time here, he’s realized this is a different type of domestic player, the cream of a crop that could be at or near the top of Draft boards in 2020.
“These kids are a little bit different because these are kids who are already kind of down the road,” Larkin said. “They know they’re good. This is a great opportunity because they are playing against some of the best players. It’s a kind of humbling experience, if you will. I love humility; I love passion. That’s why I’m here doing this because these guys certainly have the passion, but they have the humility to go along with it.”
His message certainly wasn’t lost on the 80 players who hung on his every word. Even if the refrain was familiar, the source made them all sit up and pay closer attention.
“It’s incredible,” said infielder Michael Brooks (Palm Beach Central, Fla.). “He’s one of the greatest players who has ever played. He gave us some great tips and great stuff. I’ve heard it before, but coming from him, it means a lot.”
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.