At the beginning of September, the UTRGV baseball team announced that it will host 29 camps through the fall and winter. During the first camp, Sept. 20, the UTRGV coaching staff evaluated high school teams. Several high school hitting leagues are scheduled on three consecutive Wednesday nights. The first session begins Oct. 7, the next starting Nov. 4 and the last Jan. 13. The league consists of three-player teams that earn points in the batting cages. The final week of the camps will serve as a playoff and prizes will be awarded. The entry fee is $150 per team. On Nov. 8, the staff will host a high school prospect camp, which is is an opportunity for athletes to showcase their skill sets in pro-style workouts. Pitchers and position players will be evaluated separately in given situations that replicate game decisions.
The instruction from UTRGV coaches will cost $100 per player, and an additional $25 if they want to be evaluated as a pitcher and position player.
“It’s been hectic in the terms of getting it started,” said Shawn Redd, volunteer assistant coach with the Vaqueros and primary
organizer of the camps. “In terms of conducting the camps, it’s been run pretty smoothly.”
The 24 other camps that the Vaqueros staff will host are separated into three categories with four dates for each: hitting on Mondays, pitching on Tuesdays and fielding and catching on Thursdays. These camps are not restricted to high school students and aspiring prospects. They are divided into two age groups: 5- to 12-year-olds on the field from 6 to 7:15 p.m. and 13- to 18-year-olds from 7:15-8:30 p.m.
All camps are held at the Edinburg Baseball Stadium and for campers the experience is an opportunity to play and learn on the field of an NCAA Division 1 school.
“They get the opportunity to actually play on the same field as the college athletes who they see on TV and get recruited and eventually play on a major league field,” said Redd, a former volunteer coach at Texas Christian University. “To give you an example, I had three 5-year-olds and they got to hit next to two of our starting players. For them that’s an experience not only they loved but their parents loved and that’s something they can take for the rest of their lives.”
The camps also serve as a chance for Vaquero coaches to scout from their home region.
“It’s a big opportunity not only for them but also for us because it gives us an opportunity to see the players from such a young age so that we can establish that connection with the Valley,” Redd added.
Head Coach Manny Mantrana says the camps can be valuable in the process of finding local athletes. The team currently has 12 players on the roster that are native to South Texas.
“With the younger campers, it’s more about teaching the fundamentals. The showcase camps, however, are for high school players,” said Mantrana, the head baseball coach since 2009. “Institutions are able to use the camps when they come in to look at players and eventually some of those players will wear the RGV uniform if we feel they are a good fit for us, if they can play Division 1 baseball. It’s a good opportunity for them to meet the staff, for the staff to meet them, and for them to come on campus, so it works both ways.”
The baseball team begins the 2016 season in January.
For more information on camp registration, times and dates, visit http://collegebaseballcamps.com/utrgv.