Orsino Hill, the Northern California scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers, dropped by the California International Baseball Group at Mather Sports Complex the other day to take a peek at the program's Academy teams.
"This is the perfect time to play baseball because football and basketball are taking all the athletes " said Hill, who was invited by CIBG founder Leon Lee (Grant High School) and spoke to the players, ages 10 to 21. "Football and basketball are talent sports. Baseball is a skill sport, the most difficult sport there is. There are no shortcuts.
"Nobody is going to beg you to be a good ballplayer. What you put into baseball is what you are going to get out of it.
"Always remember, there is a place for all types of players in this game. Look at Pete Rose. He couldn't run. He couldn't throw. But he could hit."
Hill told the players to take advantage of summer programs that use professionals to teach and answer questions.
"It's great to see you kids in a program like this, learning how to play the game the right way from those who have played the game the right way," Hill said. "There weren't any programs like this when your coaches and I were young. You had to go out and figure it out on your own."
Hill also explained to the group what major-league teams are looking for in players.
"We'll take a high-makeup guy over a high-talent guy every time," Hill said. "I trust the high-makeup guy every time. You have to be relentless to succeed. What separates you from every other player is what you know. I emphasize to every player to work hard, work on your body and do well in school."
Hill played outfield at Los Angeles City College, and then Nebraska before playing in the minor leagues for 12 seasons (1982-93) in the Cincinnati Reds, Montreal Expos, Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs, California Angels and A's systems.
Hill later became a coach and scout. In 2000, he was a coach for Burlington in the Class-A Midwest League before becoming a scout for the Dodgers.
Hill summed up his talk with what his day is like.
"When I go to the ballpark looking for ballplayers, it's another day in paradise," said Hill, whose son, Derek, was a Bee All-Metro selection this year as a junior outfielder for Sac-Joaquin Section Division I champion Elk Grove. "When I'm out there watching players, I'm saying to myself, 'Who wants to be the next millionaire?' "
Around the bushes
Four area players are competing in the Coastal Plains League, a 14-team collegiate wood-bat league in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia: Cal outfielder Brian Celsi (Jesuit), Fayetteville SwampDogs; Stanford left-hander Logan James (Jesuit), Morehead City Marlins; Lee University shortstop Josh Silver (Franklin, Cosumnes River); and Old Dominion infielder Tyler Urps (Pleasant Grove), Peninsula Pilots.
In Wednesday's Triple-A All-Star Game in Reno, River Cats outfielder Michael Choice was 1 for 2 with a run for the Pacific Coast League. New Orleans reliever Zach Phillips (Galt, Sacramento City) threw a scoreless sixth inning with two strikeouts. Columbus closer Preston Guilmet (Oakmont) got the final out and a save in the International League's 4-3 win.
First baseman Lars Anderson (Jesuit) was released by the Chicago White Sox, and reliever Nick Schnaitmann (Cosumnes River) was released by the Colorado Rockies. Catcher Jake Jefferies (UC Davis) was placed on the voluntarily retired list by the Miami Marlins.
Tony Garrido, 74, who played at Christian Brothers, graduated in 1955 and went on to Sacramento City, died July 10. Nicknamed the "Great Gorilla", Garrido played summer ball for C&C and Cannery Union.
Greg Van Niel has no ties to the Sacramento area, but he makes this column for defying the odds. Van Niel, a Cleveland Indians season ticket holder who had never caught a foul ball at a home game, snagged four last Sunday three were on the fly and one off the ground. Ideal Seat, which tracks foul ball information, estimated the odds of catching four foul balls in one game are roughly 1 trillion-to-1. Here's a little perspective on that: Last year a $250 million Powerball jackpot had odds of winning estimated at 1-in-175 million.
Mark McDermott is a freelance writer specializing in Sacramento-area baseball. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.