Once upon a time, according to Jason Beck (MLB.com), MLB teams used to hold open tryout camps to find depth for their farm system.
There were probably very few fairy tale stories, to be sure, but as Beck puts it, these camps are where “a grinder or overachiever could be found to play alongside prospects.”
Well, although these sort of public/open tryouts are mostly a thing of the past, they’re not entirely extinct:
Today is tryout camp day at Tigertown. Tigers player development David Littlefield meets with prospective players. pic.twitter.com/xK4tWc6Wb5
— Jason Beck (@beckjason) March 5, 2018
Yesterday, the Tigers held a tryout camp at the TigerTown Minor League Complex in Lakeland, Florida for players 18-23 years old (or with previous professional baseball experience in a Major League organization).
The camp was open to anyone who met those qualifications, and, get this, it was free!
According to Beck, between 60-70 players showed up, including some former Major Leaguers like Steve Clevenger, but less than 12 made the first cut.
“There’s always guys out there that played a few years and generally didn’t perform that well, then they’re looking to try to get hooked up somewhere. You get that every year,” Tigers vice president of player development Dave Littlefield said. “We’re in a little different situation, not that it’s any significant factor, that we’ve got a lot of our own guys and we want to play those guys and give them opportunities. So we don’t have a tremendous amount of need. But, having scouted for many years, you always keep your eyes open, because there’s lots of stories through the years and things can happen.”
The way Beck sees it, camp was filled with a few types of players: former Major League guys who are trying to break back into the game, guys who never quite put everything together … and the players that just want to have a good bar story to tell 20 years from now. But, hey, I saw that Mark Wahlberg movie “Invincible,” I know that anything is possible.
So if you think you’re any good at baseball, I’d start training today with an eye on the public tryout camp next year. You never know, you might just make that first round of cuts. And if not, at least you’ll finally have something to tell the boys on Saturday night.