By Dale Woodward
Alta Newspaper Group – Lethbridge
The glass eye was front and centre at Spitz Stadium last week.
And rather than smiling for the camera, roughly 80 teenaged baseball players with aspirations of one day going the college route instead ran, threw and snagged grounders and fly balls at The Prep Baseball Report Alberta Summer Open ID.
The one-day camp is designed to give players the maximum exposure needed to advance to the next level with an online profile with verified statistics, scouting report, picture and video for interested coaches and scouts.
Still a couple years away from the college ranks, 15-year-old pitcher and outfielder David Stewart of Vauxhall noted the importance of the high-tech camp which launches a player’s profile into cyberspace to be seen by recruiters who might not otherwise make it to southern Alberta.
“It’s pretty huge,” said Stewart after completing his throwing session in the late morning. “Especially with this season with not really getting to play and travel. It’s really good to get some exposure and be seen.”
In last week’s ID camp, the players ran – literally – through all facets of the game under the watchful eye of the camera.
“In the morning we had to do sprints and ran the 60-yard dash,” said Stewart, who hopes to go the American college route.
“I’m also an outfielder, so we did some outfield and then hit some batting practice and I just finished on the mound.”
Having finished their morning session, Vauxhall’s Dallas Cummins and Sam Hilgersom grabbed some shade to wind down.
“I went to one (ID camp) a few years ago and I went to one last year,” said Cummins, 17. “I think it really helps with getting noticed. I don’t know if the players around here get a ton of exposure.
“It’s just to get seen from a social media standpoint to get videos out there for colleges to see.”
Hilgersom has a couple ID camps for Team Alberta under his belt, but the 17-year-old outfielder said this clinic was a step up.
“I have never really had it to this level where there are video cameras and they’re really paying attention to all the numbers you put up,” he said. “It’s pretty cool. We basically started up with stretching and throwing and we ran our 60-yard times, so they got a number for that.”
All of that will go onto the players’ profile on the PBR site.
“I think they are really important, just with how much social media is growing,” said Hilgersom. “Especially right now, there are scouts who are unable to make it around as much as they’d like. So it gives them an opportunity to watch from home and be able to keep tabs on you from there.”
In the meantime, all three players kept in game shape the best they could as the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out their competitive schedule.
“It’s been a weird adjustment,” said Stewart, who will go to high school in Vauxhall and play at the Academy of Baseball there.
“It’s weird to not travel and be playing the same guys over and over. But at least we’re getting to play some ball.”
Cummins, who also plans to go the American college route, kept busy on and off the field.
“I’ve just been working out when I can, working on the family farm. I’m from Vauxhall. So I’ve been hitting around at Vauxhall when I can.”
When he wasn’t working for his uncle, Hilgersom got in some local American Legion exhibition games.
“I’m definitely hoping to be able to go down to the States, whether that’s next year or in a few years,” he said.
“Right now I’m at the Prairie Baseball Academy and I’m really enjoying myself there. I think I’m learning a lot from coach (Todd) Hubka. It’s been really good.”