Now that college baseball has crowned champions in all divisions of play, college coaches are roaming the countryside. They are in search of the next crop of baseball talent that can place their baseball programs on the map or to keep them on their winning paths.
Each July, Mentoring Viable Prospects (MVP) host a premiere showcase of Black baseball talent. Teams come from across the United States to display their talent to college coaches and professional scouts.
This year teams from California, North Carolina, Detroit, Florida, Virginia, Chicago, Atlanta and Texas will compete for the MVP crown. But the real winner will be all the the young players who have a chance to show what they can do.
Most youth league coaches today will tell you that the goal is not to produce professional athletes. To a man, coaches will tell you the goal is to prepare their young men for a college education.
This year, as in previous years, coaches from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are in attendance.
“I like to get here each year or at least have someone from my staff here to scout the talent,” said Jose’ Vazquez, Head Baseball Coach at Alabama State University.
Vazquez heads a Division 1 program. Alabama State plays in the highly competitive Southwest Athletic Conference (SWAC). This past season his squad won the East Conference title.
However, they finished third in the conference tournament behind runner-up Grambling and conference champions Texas Southern University.
After watching Chicago defeat Virginia 5-2, Vazquez said, “It’s kinda of hard to find the arms at this level, but I see some good position players on the field right now.”
Vazquez needs to plug a few holds as he lost his third baseman Ray Hernandez to the Atlanta Braves.
The SWAC is well represented. In addition to Vazquez, Auntwon Riggins, Head Coach, Prairie View A & M University, is front and center. He meticulously makes mental notes of players tendencies. Likely these notes will end up in the color coded notebook he keeps on players and coaches.
Tristan Toorie, Alcorn State University, rounds out the SWAC contingent.
Representing the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) is Danny Barnes, Assistant Baseball Coach at Tuskegee University. Representing the Independents is Claflin College James Randall.
In attendance from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and fresh off an appearance in the NCAA Division 1 Regional Baseball Playoff is North Carolina A & T University Head Baseball Coach Ben Hall.
The college coaches are here and the kids are playing their hearts out. Action runs through July 21st at the Georgia State University Baseball Field.
Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist. He is a Contributor at The Hill, SCLC National Magazine, Southern Changes Magazine and Black College Nines. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org