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Cincinnati UYA hosts Breakthrough Series

Participants in showcase-style event receive instruction from former players, others in industry
MLB.com

CINCINNATI -- On Thursday, Domenick Doane stepped into the batting cage in the Joey Votto Training Center at the P&G Cincinnati MLB Urban Youth Academy. Behind the L-screen throwing pitches was former Major Leaguer Ty Waller.

On the first pitch, Doane, a rising senior at Cincinnati Country Day High School and a player for the Cincinnati Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) team, got under the ball and popped it straight up.

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CINCINNATI -- On Thursday, Domenick Doane stepped into the batting cage in the Joey Votto Training Center at the P&G Cincinnati MLB Urban Youth Academy. Behind the L-screen throwing pitches was former Major Leaguer Ty Waller.

On the first pitch, Doane, a rising senior at Cincinnati Country Day High School and a player for the Cincinnati Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) team, got under the ball and popped it straight up.

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"Once you stride and you get that swing started, your body's got to be ready," Waller told Doane.

On the second pitch, Doane got out on his front foot, which Waller corrected again. After that, it was all line drives to the back of the cage for Doane. This process of correction and improvement is what the MLB and USA Baseball Breakthrough Series are all about, along with giving instruction from former Major League players and coaches.

"It's a really cool experience to come down here for a few days and meet all of [the coaches] and learn what they have to say and take it home, work on that," Doane said.

On Thursday, the third annual Breakthrough Series began at the Cincinnati Urban Youth Academy. The event hosts rising sophomores, juniors and seniors, as well as recent graduates, from all over the country to compete in a showcase-style event. MLB and USA Baseball partner on the event to bring in former players to serve as instructors, which included former player and manager Jerry Manuel and former Reds Dmitri Young and George Foster, among many others.

In addition to on-field coaching, the players receive presentations from the instructors and others in the industry designed to prepare them for college, professional recruiting and other jobs within the industry.

"They're getting the real perspective of what it takes to get to the big leagues," said Young, who's been an instructor all three years in Cincinnati. "What they want is a college scholarship and perhaps [to] become a professional ballplayer. Our perspective teaches them what they're doing is either correct, or we're adding on to what they already know. Because this is a showcase, this is an investment in their future."

Also in attendance at the three-day showcase are scouts from both Major League and college teams. Among others, the Giants and Royals had scouts in attendance, as well as the University of Florida and the University of Cincinnati.

"Coming here helps a lot because there's colleges sometimes here that will look at you and maybe even talk to someone there," Doane said. "If not, you learn a lot more things to help you get to college and play at the next level."

Players come from all over the country to attend this event, including some from as far as California. For Doane, being one of the local players gives him a level of comfort as he competes for the attention of scouts with other players.

"Since there's so many other players, like people come from California, all over, it's kind of a little bit of pressure to come out and do my best," Doane said.

Of the 60 players participating over the weekend, four have a college commitment. The goal for the instructors is to increase that number.

"You see a lot of skills, and it's just a matter of being able to get it sharpened," Young said. "Hopefully, there's a college or a pro team that's interested in furthering their development."

Cody Pace is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cincinnati.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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