Recruiting Top Task For Baseball Boss

One of the reasons Greg Beals stood out from the pack when Ohio State was looking for a new baseball coach was his ability to recruit players to his last job at Ball State. Now Beals gets the chance to put those recruiting chops to work for OSU, a task he's looking forward to ramping up in July.

When he was announced as Ohio State's new baseball coach June 17, Greg Beals said he was looking forward to one day.


"July 1, we can start phone calling and start having in-person contact with recruits," he said of his staff, which now includes former OSU hurler Mike Stafford as pitching coach. "I have a short list already of people that we want to contact. We'll start that process pretty quickly."

Indeed, the one attribute Beals has been lauded for upon his hiring at Ohio State is his ability to recruit players. He either recruited or developed 21 eventual Major League Baseball draft picks in eight years at Ball State, and recruiting in his mind is one of the top tasks a college baseball coach can take on.

Appropriately enough, when Ohio State director of athletics Gene Smith called Beals to offer him the Ohio State job, Beals was returning to Ball State from a recruiting trip in the Chicago area.

"Recruiting is the backbone of a program, that you recruit the right student-athletes," he said. "We're obviously going to look for very talented baseball players, but there's more to the equation than that. We want championship people. I want guys that are willing to come to a program and be part of something special."

And when it comes to luring Ohioans to Columbus, Beals – a Springfield native and Kent State graduate and former assistant – has spent enough time recruiting in the Buckeye State that it might feel like he never left.

Many of the best players among the draft picks Beals produced at Ball State were from Ohio. Included in that list are 2010 first-round draft Kolbrin Vitek (Bryan), 2010 second-round pick Perci Garner (Dover) and 2003 first-round choice Brad Snyder (Bellevue).

His connections within the state – started during his high school days as a player at Springfield Kenton Ridge and extended when he was in charge of recruiting while coaching at Kent State – should help Beals resurrect a talent drain that has hurt Ohio State in recent years. While the three drafted players from OSU's 2010 squad are Ohioans, the top seven players chosen from MAC schools – all of whom went in the first 20 rounds – hail from the Buckeye State, led by Vitek.

In addition, 2010 third-round pick Derek Deitrich of Parma went to Georgia Tech, just one in a pipeline of top Ohio talent that has left the state to play collegiate baseball. The top six Ohioans in the 2010 recruiting class according to The Buckeye Scout website all are set to play outside of Ohio.

"I'm very well entrenched with the baseball community here in Ohio, and that will help, no question," Beals said. "It's my job to make sure the national caliber players from this state know that they have a home here. We have to make sure we keep them here."

Associate athletic director Chris Schneider, who oversees the baseball program at OSU, said Beals' Ohio ties are a positive.

"It's definitely a benefit, there's no doubt about it," Schneider said. "It wasn't a predetermined factor in our decision, but if you take a look at what he's done at Ball State with Ohio guys, clearly he has very strong connections here and a great ability to find out about talent from Ohio. That's obviously very important in baseball."

Considering his success in luring players to Ball State – which is in the relatively unknown town of Muncie, Ind., and features a modest field – Beals feels he can continue to pull in players and win more games with the added cachet of the Ohio State name and the pull of Bill Davis Stadium.

"This Block ‘O' is going to be recognizable whether we go to Chicago or we go to L.A. or we go up to Dublin," Beals said. "It's going to be recognized and that's going to be fun recruiting and not having to explain to people what conference we play in and whether we're Division I or not or where is Ball State.

"Not to say anything to knock Ball State in any way, but we had a gravel parking lot and wooden bleachers. We've been able to recruit those national caliber players with all that. This is going to get us through a lot more front doors, and then it's my job to win those recruits at that point."

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