VERO BEACH, Fla. -- More than two dozen coaches with a combined 200-plus years of baseball experience were present here at the Elite Development Invitational at historic Dodgertown.Some would call this meeting of the minds a reunion, and they wouldn't be wrong. From giving each other a hard time about
VERO BEACH, Fla. -- More than two dozen coaches with a combined 200-plus years of baseball experience were present here at the Elite Development Invitational at historic Dodgertown.
Some would call this meeting of the minds a reunion, and they wouldn't be wrong. From giving each other a hard time about lost matchups from the glory days to trading stories from All-Star Games and World Series, or even sharing photos of their kids, they are just happy to be together.
"There's nothing like the baseball brotherhood, and to get around these guys that you played against, watched playing when you were coming up and admired ... to pick their brains and hear their own baseball stories, for me, I'm in heaven," said former All-Star second baseman Junior Spivey.
This wide-ranging group of coaches covers every field position and instructs these players in a variety of workouts and game situations throughout their week at the Elite Development Invitational, one of the premier diversity-focused youth initiatives operated by USA Baseball, MLB and the MLBPA.
Tom Gordon, who was a three-time All-Star during his 21 seasons in the Majors, leads the pitching staff, but most know him as "Flash," a nickname earned after he recorded 153 strikeouts in 1989. His son, Dee Gordon, is an All-Star second baseman and National League Gold Glove Award winner for the Marlins.
"Balance, understanding your rhythm and tempo and getting to a good position to make sure you can compete with quality pitchers," Gordon said, emphasizing the keys to a sold pitching game. "Pitching is about the lower half of the body. You know it's mainly the arm in a lot of ways, but you have to have a good strong lower half in order to regenerate a lot of power to throw good, strong pitches."
One player looking forward to working with Gordon is right-handed pitcher Trey Faltine from Richmond, Texas. After working with Pat Mahomes at Breakthrough Series in Bradenton, Fla., Faltine said he learned a lot about improving his mechanics. He hopes to work through a few more elements of his game this week.
"A lot of the ex-pro players are teaching us a lot about things that I never really thought of before and never really learned, so it's really fun to think about it and advance on your game," said Faltine.
On the other side of the dish, you'll find hitting coach Dmitri Young, a two time All-Star and power hitter during his 13 seasons in the Majors. If his 171 career home runs don't say enough on their own, he'll show you how it's done.
"First you have to have a solid foundation, be in an athletic stance, have a good grip, good plate position and also know what you're going to hit up there," said Young as he began to swing a ghost bat.
As for what he's looking for in these young sluggers? Aggressiveness.
"As a hitter, I used to be a first-pitch swinger, and I got on a lot because [the pitchers] try to get it over," Young said. ... "So if I see a little more aggressiveness out of them, they'll be ready to swing the bat."
Aggressiveness and a solid foundation -- the keys to success on either side of the plate, according to these legendary coaches.
Shannon Ford is a contributor to MLB.com.