What separates high school, college, and professional baseball players?


There are some distinct differences between high school, college, minor league, and major league baseball players. Sure, physical growth and ability is a major part. But there’s no denying that baseball is filled with physically gifted athletes who never reach their full potential. So what is the major difference between the good, great, and best players in the world?


I have a theory: High school players are focused for every meaningful inning, college players are focused for every inning, minor league players are focused for every at-bat, and major league players are focused for every pitch.

This is a good illustration of what separates levels of consistency.

I’ll never forget an interview I saw with Miguel Cabrera during his Triple-Crown season. It was about the 145th game of the year and the Tigers were in St. Petersburg playing their last game of a road trip against the Rays. The Tigers were winning big in the 7th inning, when Miguel Cabrera came up to the plate. He ended up flying out softly to right field, throwing his bat down in disgust, noticeably angry. The TV announcers took note of Cabrera’s emotions, saying they haven’t seen him react like that all year.

After the game, Cabrera was asked about his reactions to that at-bat.

He said, “That’s the first at-bat I gave away all season, and I’m not happy about it.”

I was mind-blown by this comment. It was the 145th game of the year, and that was the first at-bat where he lost focus and got himself out. He wasn’t satisfied with his historic season, he was mad at himself for throwing away an at-bat that most players would see as “meaningless.” And it’s this mentality that’s part of the recipe that makes him so consistently great.

Most Major League players throw away dozens of at-bats per season. And who can blame them? Often times they’re getting 500 at-bats per season. Having laser-like focus and sticking to a plan and approach on every single one of them is a difficult task.

College players throw away even more at-bats by percentage. And high school players, even more than that.

Focusing on every pitch is a challenge! But having focus on every pitch, offensively, defensively, and on the mound, is something that will breed consistency.

Check this out:

A Major League game has an average of 300 pitches thrown throughout the course of the game. The beauty about this game is we don’t know which pitch will decide the outcome. It could be pitch number 1, pitch number 56, pitch number 232, or pitch number 300.

If we knew for sure, it would be easy to tell all of your players to focus on that pitch.

“Hey guys, pitch number 168 is going to decide the game, be focused on that pitch.”

Unless there’s a sabermetric stat that I’m not aware of that has an algorithm for determining which pitch will win the game, you can’t do that. Because no one knows for sure.

So what’s the trick?

Well, there’s no real trick. The trick is to be focused and prepared on every single pitch from start to finish. This is the only way to ensure you’ll be ready for the pitches that decide the game.

On defense, you should expect every single pitch to come your way. Notice how expect is underlined. Too many players have the “if” mentality. If the ball comes my way I’m going to do this. If the ball is hit to me I’m catching it. Nope…

This ball IS going to be hit to me, and here’s what I’m going to do with it. There’s a big difference between these mentalities.

On offense, every pitch is important! Have a process, plan, and approach on every single pitch. One pitch can get you out if you lose that concentration and focus. And that one pitch could be the one to determine the outcome of the game!

Same idea with pitcher’s. A lack of focus on one pitch can cost your team the game!

There’s no doubt that consistency separates a talented player and a great player. A high school player from a college player. And a minor league player from a major league player. But what will you actually do about it? Will you leave at-bats, pitches, and games to chance? Or will you challenge yourself to treat every pitch like it’s the most important pitch of the game?

The player’s that do this are one-step ahead of the competition. The players that don’t do this, are the players a step behind their competition.

This is entirely in your control.

Win every pitch. Every at-bat. Every inning. Every game. This is relentless pursuit of consistency. This is relentless pursuit of greatness.

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About Brian Hamm

My name is Brian Hamm and I am all about "Baseball Development". Through my journey as a high school and college player, I always felt that a competitive advantage eluded me. I constantly researched and discovered new resources, ideas, and theories that have shaped how I coach today. It’s my goal to work relentlessly in order to give my players, clients, and coaches the biggest competitive advantage that will allow them to reach their full potential. My mission is to spread my knowledge to baseball players around the world and help change the developmental process forever.

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