Growing Up Baseball

Originally posted on The Daily News – Monday, April 30, 2012 10:48 am
By MICHEAL COMPTON The Daily News mcompton@bgdailynews.com  Photo by Pete Rodman

Many young baseball players often talk about a particular major league player they idolized growing up – the player around whom they try to pattern their game.

For Bowling Green Hot Rods first baseman Cameron Seitzer, his major league idol is part of his family.

The son of former major leaguer and current Kansas City Royal hitting coach Kevin Seitzer, Cameron has his sights set on following in the footsteps of his father while making a name for himself.

“I always loved going to the ball park and watching,” Cameron Seitzer said. “He retired when I was seven years old, so I didn’t get to see all that much. The times I do remember, going out to the yard, I loved it and wanted it to be the job for me in the future.”cameronseitzerfeature2012

Kevin Seitzer spent 12 seasons with the Kansas City Royals, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland A’s and Cleveland Indians. An 11th-round pick out of Eastern Illinois by Kansas City, Kevin made his major league debut with the Royals in 1986 and finished runner-up in the American League Rookie of the Year voting in 1987 to Mark McGwire.

He began his career as a first baseman before swapping positions with KC great George Brett, moving to third base. Kevin was a two-time All-Star and a career .295 hitter.

Cameron was also drafted in the 11th round in last June’s draft by the Tampa Bay Rays after three seasons at the University of Oklahoma, where he hit .327 with 166 hits – 24 homers – and 115 RBIs. Cameron was also teammates with Garrett Buechele, the son of former major league third baseman Steve Buechele.

“OU was great for me developmental wise,” Seitzer said. “I came into college 6-3, 180 pounds. I was a little guy, but they put some weight on me. Having Garrett there too was great. We always talked to each other, bounced ideas off each other.”

Cameron has drawn comparisons to his father for his patience at the plate and ability to hit the ball to all fields. And being the son of a former major leaguer has given him an inside track on what it takes to be a successful baseball player, rather than added pressure of high expectations.

“Honestly it wasn’t bad,” Cameron said. “He was my coach for a long time through high school. I felt like I had the upper hand because he knew so much and he could teach me so much.

“I’m a patient guy at the dish, but I’m 6-5. He’s 5-10,” Cameron said. “He talks about the approach, staying to the middle, and that’s what I live by – hitting the ball to the other side.”

Kevin Seitzer said his son’s development is more advanced than he was as this point in his career.

“I learned a lot at the college level and in pro ball,” Kevin Seitzer. “I feel like he’s been having that type of education since he was 8 years old and then he got to apply it. He got to go through trials and tribulations, ups and downs you have as a college player and it was all preparation for pro ball. We have similarities but I feel like he is a much better hitter, much more prepared, much more knowledgeable about the game where he is at in his career than where a I was.”

Having a major leaguer in the house helped. When Kevin retired, he coached Kevin and stepson Nick Graffeo, a relief pitcher in the Kansas City system with the Kane County Cougars in the Midwest League. Kevin also opened a baseball and softball facility with former teammate Mike McFarlane in the Kansas City area. The facility is the home to 29 travel teams and has worked with players including 2011 first-round pick Bubba Starling and Miami Marlins outfielder Logan Morrison.

“It’s a great place because we’re in Kansas and it’s cold there,” Cameron said. “We have to have an indoor facility to work out in. Every person there, not just dad and Mac, every instructor there knows so much about the game. I can go to each one of them and hit with them or have them throw to me.”

And Kevin is still Cameron’s hitting coach.

“I call him every day or every other day, telling him how I’m feeling and what I did with each AB,” Cameron said. “I tell him what pitches were thrown in certain counts. He knows my swing inside out because he’s been working with me for so long. It’s nice to call my dad and talk baseball, but it’s nice to have (hitting coach Manny Castillo) here too.”

Kevin doesn’t get to see Cameron play but the regular conversations help.

“He can tell me what he’s thinking, what he’s feeling, what’s happening and then I can tell him what adjustments to make,” Kevin Seitzer said. “I get a picture in my head of what his swing looks like and what’s happening.”

After hitting .285 with 11 homers and 42 RBIs in 64 games for Princeton in rookie ball last season, Cameron is hitting .317 with 11 RBIs and a .407 on-base percentage for the Hot Rods.

Bowling Green manager Brady Williams, the son of former major league manager Jimmy Williams, said Seitzer’s knowledge can only come from having the game around you for your entire life.

“There’s things you can teach and things you have to watch with your own eyes,” BG manager Brady Williams said. “Being around the game as long as he has, he’s seen a lot of things growing up. For him to grow up in that atmosphere, you get to see how players are, how the game is at that level and how to handle yourself.”

So far, Cameron’s having fun with the Hot Rods.

“We just go out there and play hard and see what happens,” he said. “I just want to have quality at-bats, hit the ball hard and play good defense. Whatever happens throughout the year happens. … It’s a long haul. We have to pace ourselves.”

That patient approach will be key for Cameron to get to the major leagues, Kevin Seitzer said.

“He’s going to have to ground out 140-game season right now,” Kevin Seitzer said. “He’s always worked hard. He’s always been a great teammate and had a great attitude. He needs to keep working the way he has and let this process unfold.

“It’s a tough place to get to and it’s even tougher to stay when you do.”

Timber Rattlers 5, Hot Rods 2

The Hot Rods (14-10) led late against the Timber Rattlers, but Wisconsin stormed back for a 5-2 win Sunday in Appleton. Former Hilltopper Matt Rice had two hits and an RBI, but the Timber Rattlers scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to break a 2-2 tie.

The Timber Rattlers scored the game’s first run in the bottom of the first inning. Rice answered for the Hot Rods in the next inning. Taylor Motter singled with one out and stole second and third base. Rice, with two outs, lined a grounder off the glove of Wisconsin starter David Goforth, allowing Motter to score.

The Hot Rods took their first lead of the game in the top of the sixth inning. With Ryan Brett at third base, Todd Glaesmann grounded to third. On the play at the plate, the ball was dislodged from catcher Rafael Neda’s mitt to make the score 2-1.

The Timber Rattlers went on to score the game’s final four runs. Chadwin Stang hit a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth inning, and Wisconsin scored three more times in the bottom of the eighth to win and even the series at one game apiece.

The Hot Rods and Timber Rattlers were scheduled to meet in the series finale at 12:05 p.m. CDT today. The Hot Rods planned to send RHP Roberto Gomez (1-0, 4.95) to the mound against Wisconsin’s RHP Andy Moye (1-0, 2.35).

MSU’s Cheray Settles Into Role

Originally published 5:20 AM, Mar. 27, 2012 on News-Leader.com

Cheray2012As a rookie playing arguably the most demanding position on the field, Missouri State shortstop Eric Cheray had a rough introduction to college baseball.

Five errors in his first 11 games had Cheray down, but not out.

“The beginning was a struggle, but I was kind of expecting it,” Cheray said. “You just have to constantly make adjustments and try to get better every day.

“I think that I’ve been doing a pretty good job of that.”

With only one error in the Bears’ last nine games, the freshman has settled in nicely — and in time for his first meeting with his “hometown” team.

Kansas, which is about 26 miles from Cheray’s hometown of Topeka, visits Hammons Field tonight. MSU, ranked 30th in Monday’s USA TODAY coaches poll, will be aiming for its eighth straight victory.

Right-hander Cody Schumacher (2-0) is scheduled to start for the Bears with a rested bullpen behind him.

Cheray also looks to continue his momentum from a weekend sweep of Creighton in which he had a single, double and triple while scoring two runs and driving in a pair. He is 13-for-42 (.310) over his last 14 starts, to raise his average from .125 to .242.

“He had a competitive weekend offensively and handled the bat pretty good,” Bears coach Keith Guttin said, noting that it’s important to have a No. 9 hitter capable of putting the bat on the ball.

Cheray, who got his shot at shortstop when senior Travis McComack was declared academically ineligible, shares the team lead with five sacrifice bunts.

“Mainly the pitching has been the biggest adjustment,” Cheray said. “You don’t see pitching like this on the summer circuit or on your high school circuit.

“The leaders on the team have been great in helping me, guys like (Brett) Marshall, (Luke) Voit and (Kevin) Medrano. They’re real influential through the game and throughout practice in getting everybody together.”

Guttin is most pleased with Cheray’s defense, which he called “steady” after the rough start.

“He’s a pretty good-sized shortstop (6-foot-3) and has good range,” Guttin said.

Especially for a shortstop who’s also listed as catcher, something Guttin admits “you don’t see very often.”

Cheray played shortstop at Seaman High (the same school of former MSU slugger Ben Carlson) and spent last summer catching for the Kansas-based Midwest Bruins (coached by former Kansas City Royals catcher Mike Macfarlane).

“He’s kind of like our version of Buster Posey,” center fielder Spiker Helms said, referencing the former LSU All-American who played both positions in college.

Guttin said playing both positions takes good hands and a quick release. Cheray said he considers himself a shortstop, for now, but would gladly catch if needed.

“I’m pretty comfortable with either,” Cheray said. “Whichever one’s open is fine with me.”
Honor roll

Junior right-hander Pierce Johnson was named Missouri Valley Conference pitcher of the week and Collegiate Baseball national pitcher of the week after a complete-game, five-hit shutout of Creighton in which he struck out 16.

His MSU teammate, Nick Petree, won the award last week.

The Bears’ staff was named InsidePitching.com national staff of the week. While going 4-0, MSU allowed only four runs (two earned) in 36 innings with 7 walks and 44 strikeouts.

Missouri Pitcher Earns Big 12 Honors

Originally publised on Monday, March 26, 2012 | 7:11 p.m. CDT – BY Missourian staff

Holovach2012COLUMBIA — Missouri pitcher Blake Holovach, a left-handed junior, has been named Big 12 Newcomer of the Week.

Holovach was the starter Saturday in the Tigers’ second game of their Big 12 Conference series against Oklahoma State. He finished one out away from his second consecutive complete game, going 8 2/3 innings, allowing just one unearned run on five hits and two walks. He extended his shutout streak to 15.2 innings before the Cowboys scored an unearned run in the seventh inning of the Tigers’ 4-1 win at Taylor Stadium. He struck out four batters.

After struggling in the bullpen to start the season, Holovach has been one of the nation’s top pitchers. He is 4-0 with a 0.61 ERA in four starts since being moved to the weekend rotation. He is holding opposing batters to a .163 batting average as a starter and has allowed just 17 hits in 29.1 innings of work.

Trenton Miller Having Monstrous Year

TrentonMillerHitting-2012Former Mac-N-Seitz Indian Trenton Miller, now a sophomore at Middle Tennessee State University, continues his monstrous year at the plate as he went 4-5 and raising his average to .375 with 10 home runs and 35 rbis.

Trent continues to display his development as a hitter placing him in the top among division 1 hitters. Congratulations and continue the good work Trent, we are proud of you.

Burgess Off To Stellar Start

Story originally published on News-Leader.com on March 13, 2012

TylerBurgess2012MSU freshman reliever already making an impact

Draw up a near-perfect introduction to college baseball and it might look like this — six pitching appearances with three victories, three saves and no runs allowed.

Welcome to Division I, Tyler Burgess.

“You just hope you can get a chance to get out there and pitch and, when you do, hope that you can take advantage of those chances,” Missouri State’s freshman left-hander said.

Burgess and the Bears’ pitching staff could get its biggest challenge so far tonight, when hard-hitting and 24h-ranked Purdue visits Hammons Field.

Purdue (12-1) has won seven in a row, including wins over traditional southern powers Auburn and Southern Mississippi. The Boilermakers just outscored Murray State 40-5 in a three-game weekend sweep.

“It’s an older club and they’ve been building toward this year,” MSU coach Keith Guttin said.

Burgess, who set a Missouri high school record with 11 shutouts for Webb City, will be waiting in the bullpen if needed. He’s made a smooth transition to relief in his rookie season.

“He throws a ton of strikes and is so even-keeled; he rarely gets rattled,” Bears pitching coach Paul Evans said.

Burgess’ second career game came at Texas Tech before 2,419 fans. He worked three hitless innings to earn the victory. Opponents are hitting .110 off him so far.

“He’s come into tough, pressure situations and shut guys down,” catcher Luke Voit said. “He’s definitely show poise.”

Evans said Burgess is not overpowering, with a fastball that ranges from 84-97 miles per hour. But his location, combined with timely use of off-speed pitches, has led to impressive results.

Relief pitching has been a mental adjustment, though Burgess said he got a taste of it in the fall and liked it.

“It’s a little different when it gets to the sixth, seventh or eighth inning and know that any time, (Guttin) might send you to the bullpen.

“I just try to be ready and go right at them.”

Junior right-hander Clay Murphy is tonight’s likely MSU starter. Murphy (2-0, 0.71 ERA) threw a complete-game victory one week ago over Oklahoma State

2011 MLB Draft

MNS players selected in the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft

 

Player’s NameDrafted ByPick #Round
Bubba StarlingKansas City Royals#51st Round
Cody KukukBoston Red Sox#2327th Round
Cameron SeitzerTampa Bay Rays#36011th Round
Adam SchemenauerKansas City Royals#36612th Round
Colton MurrayPhiladelphia Phillies#42113th Round

2011 College Signees

Every year, a lot of special players from the Mac-N-Seitz family move on to play college ball.  The graduating class of 2011 is no exception.  Mac-N-Seitz is proud to have been a part of their success and wishes them all the best in the future!

   Name  High School  College
Bordewick, LancePittsburg State
Schemenauer, AdamPark Hill SouthLouisiville
Burns, PatrickRockhurstRockhurst 
Ziegenhirt, DerekCouncil GroveEmporia State
Becker, DylanShawnee Mission EastMissouri State
Mason, BrentBlue ValleyFort Scott
Winterowd, KeithLee’s Summit NorthNeosho County CC
Barkley, LanceShawnee HeightsCentral Missouri State
Arnold, NathanSt. Marys ColganKansas University
Cheray, EricTopeka SeamanMissouri State
Fisher, AustinOlathe NorthwestKansas State University
Kukuk, CodyLawrence Free StateKansas University
LaTerza, GrantBlue Valley SouthwestNaval Academy
Lucansky, LandonBlue ValleyMissouri
Smith. DakotaLeavenworthKansas University
Patton, JaredBasehor Nebraska-Omaha
Burns, Adam
St. James AcademyBenedictine University
Olson, DerecShawnee Mission NorthwestRockhurst University
Casper, DrewBlue Springs SouthJefferson County CC
Goodwin, StephBlue ValleyEmporia State
Duewel, ErinRay-PecMissouri State
McCracken, MeganOlathe NorthKent State
Brown, LexiLee’s Summit WestMissouri Science & Technology
Burton, MorganBaldwin CityKansas Wesleyan
Giacalone, AdamShawnee Mission NorthwestNeosho County CC
Ising, MaxLee’s SummitNeosho County CC
Appleby, EthanMill ValleyEmporia State
Boushka, MarkRockhurstMiami of Ohio
Haug, DerekHarrisonvilleNorthwest Missouri State
Holovach, BlakeBlue Valley WestCoffeyville/Missouri
Dawson, EricOlathe NorthEmporia State
Picht, KeithBarton CountyEmporia State

Cameron Seitzer – Baseball bonds Sooner players, parents

There are few moments in a ballplayer’s life as special as taking the field at Rosenblatt Stadium. For Oklahoma’s Garrett Buechele and Cameron Seitzer, last year’s trip to the College World Series was even more memorable because it was one of the few times their fathers — both former major leaguers and current coaches — were able to see them play.
ncaa_g_buecheles_400Steve Buechele, manager of Texas Rangers Double-A affiliate Frisco, and Kevin Seitzer, the hitting coach for the Kansas City Royals, don’t get to many of their boys’ games. It’s one of the few downsides of a career they love. But both have found unique ways to follow the Sooners.

“The hard part is missing his games,” said Kevin, who spent 12 years playing for the Royals, Brewers, Indians and Athletics. “Every time I can see him play in person, I try to take advantage of it. The ability to watch games on the computer or on TV helps.”

“I don’t get to see a lot of games; that’s one of the biggest drawbacks,” Steve said. “When I’m asked what kind of player he is, I tell them, ‘I know he can hit, but everything else, I can’t tell you because I don’t get to see his games.'”

Both Kevin and Steve have played major roles in their sons’ development as ballplayers. Kevin retired in 1997 to coach his sons. “They weren’t getting the quality coaching or having the experience that kids need to have. Especially for my older son, who was 12 at the time,” he explained.

But being the son of a major leaguer isn’t always easy, especially when you’re attempting to make a name for yourself in the same sport. “I remember making an error in T-ball, and someone said something like, ‘Your father would have made that play.’ And it really ticked me off,” Garrett said. “But that was the last time I ever let it get to me. I just go out there and play, and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.”

It’s a balance that Oklahoma coach Sunny Golloway understands. “The challenge is for the boys not to overdo it. They want to please at a level of a dad who was a professional star — not a cup-of-coffee guy,” he explained. “We’ve had a lot of players who have had associations — a father, uncle, grandfather — with the bigs, and I’m cautious at times. When it’s good, it can be great. But there can be some pretty bumpy roads.

“I give all the credit to the players for making it a success. Cam and Garrett have been great. Never acted entitled, never asked to be treated any different than their teammates, and their dads have been just like that also.”

Cameron, a junior first baseman, and Garrett, a redshirt junior third baseman, clearly have been blessed with good genes and have benefited from living with a coach. But competing at the highest level of collegiate baseball wasn’t a sure thing for either.

“Cam wasn’t one of the better players on the team growing up; he was more of a middle-of-the-road guy. There were several players who were much better athletes,” Kevin said. Cam experienced a growth spurt his junior year, and it took some time for his game to adjust. Many teams overlooked the lanky lefty. “[My approach to the recruiting process] was to just let it unfold. I wasn’t a dad who went around contacting coaches, asking them to look at my son. I didn’t want him going to a staff that wasn’t pursuing him.”

Cam was looking at junior colleges when Oklahoma began recruiting him. Still, Kevin had his doubts. “I didn’t want him to take a risk with a Division I program and not get playing time,” he explained.

As a hitting coach, Kevin had a few questions that most parents might overlook. “I asked about their hitting philosophy, what they would be teaching my son to do,” he said. “I didn’t want to put him in a situation where he’d be told to do something different than what’s been ingrained in him all his life. [Oklahoma] puts up offensive numbers each year — there’s a reason for that. [Hitting coach Tim] Tadlock does a great job.”

Cam has thrived at Oklahoma, starting at designated hitter his freshman year (.323 with three homers and 14 RBIs in 20 games before breaking his wrist). As a sophomore, he earned All-Big 12 honorable mention honors after hitting 16 home runs, and continued his hot streak in the Cape Cod League, where he was named an all-star.

Garrett’s Sooners career was even more improbable. The preseason All-American and Golden Spikes candidate enrolled at Oklahoma as a preferred walk-on.

“The colleges weren’t lined up for Garrett,” said Steve, a former infielder for the Rangers, Cubs and Pirates. “Oklahoma was kind of a last-minute thing — I just wanted him to be comfortable and happy and have a place to play. They made no guarantees going in.”

For a “last-minute thing,” it has turned out spectacularly for Garrett. He was named the Big 12 freshman of the year — Oklahoma’s first — after leading the Big 12 with a .396 batting average, 40 hits and a .479 on-base percentage in conference play, while committing just seven errors. He was named team captain both his sophomore and junior years and was named a second-team All-American after finishing second in Big 12 in homers (17) and ranking in the top five in hits, batting average, total bases, RBIs and slugging percentage.

“As a freshman, Garrett was just a sponge — just outstanding,” Golloway said. “He earned every bit of his scholarship and position and the recognition he’s getting nationally. He’s gone the long road to get there. Cam’s road wasn’t as long, but just as successful.”

Kevin and Steve have found ways to watch their sons’ development from afar. Steve gets to as many games as he can, but if he’s not able to watch, he relies on conversations with Garrett for updates on how his son is feeling. “We keep in touch and talk about what he’s done, but not every conversation is baseball-related,” Steve said. “If there’s a problem or anything he wants to talk about, I’m certainly there, but I’m not going over it pitch by pitch.”

ncaa_a_seitzerc_400Having another coach in his life has been nothing but positive, according to Cam. “My dad has been my hitting coach since day one,” he said. “He’s been there for me, through everything, and gotten me farther than I ever imagined.”

Modern technology has given Kevin insight into his son’s game that would have been unheard of years ago. He can catch a game streaming on Oklahoma’s website, and Sooners coaches have given him access to their game footage, allowing him to look closely at each at-bat. For a hitting coach, it’s a gold mine.

“It’s a tremendous asset,” said Kevin, who talks with his son after each game. “I couldn’t be more appreciative and thankful of the Oklahoma staff — everyone’s just been phenomenal.”

Giving a parent that kind of access takes trust. “It would be really hard for a lot of Division I coaches to have parents that involved, but let’s face it, this guy knows what he’s talking about,” Golloway said. “Everybody’s checked their ego at the door and done what’s best for the kids. I cannot tell you one time where we have felt like toes were stepped on or they feel like toes were stepped on. That’s pretty remarkable when we’re at this level, with the people involved. The student-athletes should get the credit: Those two young men have taken all of the resources and utilized them.”

Being able to put each swing in super-slow motion may be a hitting coach’s dream, but watching the real thing live is even more special to a father. That’s why last year’s trip to Omaha meant so much to Kevin, who traveled to Omaha on a Royals off day.

“It was pretty powerful. I get a little emotional — the things I miss tear me up inside,” Kevin said. “That’s a dream for a child. Playing in the bigs might be the biggest dream, but playing in the College World Series is something few, few people get to experience. For him to get that opportunity, words can’t express what it means to me.”

Steve, who played in the College World Series for Stanford in 1982, got to see his son play in the final CWS at Rosenblatt Stadium against South Carolina, a team he faced in Omaha as a Cardinal.

“It meant the world to me that he was there — I wasn’t sure he’d be able to come — and it was fitting that it was Father’s Day,” Garrett said. “I hit a home run in the eighth inning, and a fan gave me the ball, and I was able to give to him. He played there, and I got to play there the last year of Rosenblatt. I don’t know too many fathers and sons who can say that.”

Golloway understands the feeling. “When people asked me what my greatest moment in Omaha was — and I was part of a title in ’94 — my answer is simple: last year’s opening ceremonies,” he said. “We’re sitting on the field, during the fireworks, and my 11-year-old son, our batboy, says, ‘Dad, this might be the greatest day of my life.’ Tears started to swell. He’s 11. Can you imagine these baseball dads watching their sons hit home runs in the College World Series? That to me is priceless.”

By Lauren Reynolds – Originally Published February 28, 2011(Reprinted with permission)
Lauren Reynolds is a college sports editor for ESPN.com. She can be reached at lauren.k.reynolds@espn.com.
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