Very few people personify life-long learning in the game of baseball like Eric Minshall.
At his facility, the Cincinnati Throwing Club, Eric continues to elevate the mission that helped take him from the high school coaching ranks to the Pittsburgh Pirates organization: always help players develop into the best versions of themselves.
Eric’s data-driven training journey started the same way his coaching career did – he walked up and introduced himself.
Getting Started in Baseball
While serving in the United States military, Eric was stationed in Norfolk, Virginia, where he could see the AAA Norfolk Tide stadium from his post.
“I really wanted to help [the organization], so I just walked over to the stadium and asked them if maybe they could use a bullpen catcher or something. And they said yes!” Eric said. “I was very fortunate to get to see professional baseball at the AAA level, up close, pretty early on.”
When he got out of the service, Eric knew he wanted to continue growing as a baseball coach, so he returned to his alma mater, Archbishop Moeller High School in Cincinnati, Ohio for an apprenticeship. This move started Eric’s coaching journey that would take him to the college level and, eventually, land him a role in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.
Embracing Rapsodo Data
Eric first came across Rapsodo while coaching at Miami University Hamilton. After asking a lot of questions and talking with Kyle Boddy at Driveline, Eric raised some money and bought a unit for his team at Hamilton.
“Once we had it, we were like, okay…what do we do now?!” Eric said. “But that’s the beauty of having 18 pitchers on staff. We had them all throw on the unit and really started digging into the data.”
Eric tapped into other resources available at the university, bringing in the bright minds of those outside the baseball program to dig in to the data.
“We went to the Engineering department at Miami and asked if they would be willing to help,” Eric said. “They were excited to make a project out of it and that really got us started. This was well before the certification courses, so we were looking at thousands of pitches, figuring out what the data meant and how we could use it to get better.”
Helping Players Get Recruited with RapScore
Eric moved on from coaching one team to working with hundreds of kids in the Cincinnati area.
As the owner of Cincinnati Throwing Club, Eric works with players ranging from young pitchers looking to get recruited to professional pitchers who need to add a reliable third pitch. Eric continues to be an early adopter of Rapsodo technology at this facility.
Cincinnati Throwing Club was among the first certified facilities to help players get a RapScore, a new standardized score developed by Rapsodo and Driveline to aide in the recruitment of baseball and softball players.
“I knew that RapScore was going to take off when I started getting calls from recruiting coordinators at some pretty big schools asking if any of our players had gotten a score yet,” Eric said
They didn’t at the time, but as they often do, Eric’s team snapped into action and started getting their scores for their players.
“We had some guys who were pretty young – 14, 15 – who got RapScores, and all of a sudden we started getting calls from schools like Tulane and Vanderbilt asking from more information about those guys,” Eric said.
Eric believes the immediate interest in players with good RapScores has everything to do with the fact it is verified data.
“If someone tells you they have a guy who throws 87 to 92, what does that mean to a recruiting coordinator? Does that mean he threw 92 once in his life, against a screen, and missed the catcher by eight feet?” Eric said. “Being able to put a bullpen together and get verifiable data that’s recorded answers those questions, especially when it’s got video as well.”
While RapScore gives an actual number to show player skill level during their recruitment journey, it’s also helps them determine where they are in their development and build out a roadmap for what they can realistically achieve.
Takeaways for Coaches
One thing all coaches can learn from Eric’s role as an early adopter of technology in baseball training is that you don’t have to be at the biggest programs with the most resources to take an innovative approach.
You can hear more about RapScore, Certified Facilities, and Eric’s philosophies on player development on the Rapsodo Baseball Podcast.