-David Strobach-

I recently had the pleasure of being contacted by former Texas Ranger Gerald Smiley and his organization, the BLP Academy.  As a result, I was fortunate to be able to conduct an interview with Mr. Smiley.  Smiley played with the Texas Rangers for 5 years and after hanging up his cleats, he founded the Big League Prep Academy for kids, as well as share his knowledge in other coaching endeavors.  Mr. Smiley will describe this great academy best himself in the interview below – It sounds like a great alternative to overpriced, political, “elite clubs.”  He is doing great things and making baseball available to all kids, no matter their situation.  I truly have enjoyed conversing with Mr. Smiley as he is a stand up man, plays/teaches in the name of his Faith, and is doing all the right things for the young generation of ballplayers.  Make sure to check out their website HERE! Hope you enjoy the interview!

Tell me about your baseball career in the pros. Why did you choose baseball as your sport?  Who did you look up to?

My career was good but way shorter than I wanted it. I had three surgeries, two on my elbow and one on my shoulder.  It was the best time of my life though.  I met lots of people, built lots of relationships, was mentored by some of the best coaches in the game and got to see how pros carried themselves as pros. I chose baseball at the age of 6 because my older brother played.  I was good at basketball, football and baseball but knew baseball was my best chance to do it professionally.  I look up to my brother, Carlos Subero, Bill North, Dusty Baker, Frank Neville, Frank Velasquez, Mark McLemore and Cam Walker.

You had three surgeries in your career.  How did they affect your career?  How did you mentally deal with these injuries and what advice would you give to any player at any age dealing with an injury?

My first surgery was tough mentally.  The Rangers almost pulled my contract because they thought I lied on my medical history form and was hurt when I signed, which I was not.  I no longer felt a part of the team after I got cut on.  Kevin Harmon and Frank Neville helped me big time mentally.  They made me believe that my faith had to be in my rehab process and trust it.  I was scared to let it go 90-94 again after I got hurt until they talked with me.  I recommend players trust their rehab, don’t slack off, do the things that got you strong during rehab, after your doctor says you are clear.  Don’t be afraid to air out full speed after your recovery.

You ended up scouting for the Blue Jays, Cardinals, Mets, and Brewers. What were your experiences as a scout? Did you have a favorite organization that you were a part of?  What did you learn as a scout? And did you scout or recruit any big name players?

It is a lot of travel and chasing kids around.  A kid may get rained out today and you have to go back and see him tomorrow.  Lots of time away from your family.  It is a gift to go watch baseball games and scout talent. It is not considered work when you do the things you love to do.  I learned how to really trust my judgement and utilize the 20-80 MLB Scale properly and how to write reports properly that the front office and area guys want to see.  Also not being afraid of saying you don’t like a kid even though other clubs do and you know he may go in the draft still.  Our job is to draft guys we think will get to the big leagues, not max out in the minor leagues.

You went on to coach college and high school baseball and found a passion in developing kids.  What are the major differences among age groups?  Other than pure mechanics, what mental errors do you see in kids and the various age groups?

Major differences are focus, desire, commitment,

What advice can you give to high school kids aspiring to play in college?

Get your reps the right way every day.  Out work everyone around you no matter what.  You must stand out amongst your peers or it will be tough to go to the next level.  Do not allow yourself to make excuses why you could not train that day or why your performance was not your best that day.  Accept full responsibility for your career.  It is on you!

What is your overall coaching philosophy?

Play the game hard, follow a player development system.  Don’t worry what others think, be yourself and be the best you.  Be explosive in everything you do, run hard, slide hard, master your craft through unlimited reps. Review your work daily and require 100 percent perfection out of yourself during your side work and skill work.

Did you have a mentor{s} or coach that was significant to you?

Yes.  Loren Colello, Carlos Subero, Bill North, Joe Staton, Lee Tunnel.  They taught me life not just the game.  Told me things other people wouldn’t and called me out when I needed to be held accountable as well.

With your passion of developing kids, you started the BLP Academy.  How did you come to start this?  What exactly is the academy and how is it different then any other club/academy/little league?  What are your goals with this academy and how do people get involved with the organization? What does the future hold for you?

BLP Academy came about by the sickening business behind youth sports today and the vision the Lord put in my heart.  BLP Academy is a FREE app with professional instruction, training and more all in one place from myself and other coaches and info around the world that will help train parents, coaches and athletes.  We travel around the world and train kids, coaches and leagues professional player development.
My goal is to open indoor sports complexes through a unique strategy that I have to help all kids.  Kids who can afford it and cannot afford it. We will turn no kid away who cannot afford it through our resources and the glory of God, and His love for His children.

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