Making Dreams Come True With Proper Training

Ray Mileur spends some time with Fred Gibbs, President of the Big Hitter Baseball and Fastpitch Academy

The most dangerous thing in baseball today is a kid who is a pitcher with potential. It's so rare that a young player makes it all the way to the majors without blowing out his arm, that there are some of us who believe "There is no such thing as a pitching prospect", (TINSNAPP).

Will Carrol, of Baseball Prospectus, wrote a must read book , "Saving the Pitcher", published by Ivan R. Dee in 2004, in which he made these observations;

Half of all starting pitchers in the major leagues will end up on the disabled list.

Over the past three seasons, more than 200 pitchers at all levels of professional baseball have undergone ligament replacement surgery that has cost them more than a year of their career.

Teams are losing on the field because they can't keep their own pitchers healthy

At the lower levels of baseball, in Little Leagues, high schools and colleges, promising careers are being cut short.

This weekend, at the St. Louis Cardinals Winter Warm Up, I had the opportunity to talk with Fred Gibbs, the president of the Big Hitter Baseball & Fastpitch Academy, about proper training and conditioning for young ballplayers.

RM: Fred, tell me, what is it that you are trying to do with your facility?

FG: Ray, our goal is to provide a premier training facility for St. Louis area athletes and to offer the highest level of baseball and fast-pitch softball instruction.

RM: I'm sure you are aware of all the problems the Cardinals have had over the past few seasons with their pitching prospects. It seems like every top prospect ends up having arm surgery. We must be doing something wrong, but I'm more concerned about kids wanting to become major league prospects or wanting to play at the college level and the lack of training and instruction that often leads to injuries that cuts short their playing career.

FG: As parents, the sight of our child hitting a home run and running the bases excites us all. We have all dreamed that someday he/she might have the opportunity to play in college, the minor leagues or on a professional team. We can't hide the pride the day our seven year old little leaguer has a performance that shows signs that he might be able to play at a higher level some day.

RM: That may be the worst thing that can happen to a kid early. I have been at little league games where these kids are under so much pressure to perform, that you would think that they were already professional, even though it is clear their managers and coaches are not. It's this lack of proper coaching in my opinion that creates the most roadblocks for these kids.

FG: That's true, with the limited training exposure and experience most young players in the Midwest receive, the opportunity to participate competitively beyond the high school level is extremely limited.

RM: That's the bad news, but what's the good news?

FG: The good news is, that through the proper program, it is possible to overcome many of the roadblocks that young players face. With Big Hitter Baseball and Fastpitch, the year round advanced systems we use in mechanics, video tutoring and strength development, along with continuous evaluation by our trained staff, will provide the month to month progress necessary for success.

RM: Tell me about your use of video tutoring. When I turned 40, I went to a professional bull riders training program. I was single at the time and a lot of guys told me if your ride bulls, you'll meet a lot of women. What they didn't tell me is, that they are all nurses. Videos of our rides contributed a lot to our training and development. It's amazing what you can learn in a 4 second video.

FG: Video is a very important tool. The first thing we do is a video evaluation where our staff will assess each player's skill level. Our instructors will then provide an effective training program uniquely tailored in an easy to follow curriculum.

RM: What does a typical training session consist of?

FG: We offer professional instruction for hitting, pitching, catching and fielding. We have structured our hitting and pitching lessons in an hour long format. The hour long program includes a half hour of instruction with a 2:1 player to instructor ratio and a half hour of strength and agility training.

RM: Tell me a little bit about your staff, why would I send my kid to your facility?

FG: Because our instructors are good. We have Shane Eames, a pro scout with the World Champion Chicago White Sox, who has 13 years of instructor/clinician experience. Dennis Brown, who is the head coach of the Jefferson County Blazers (18 and under) and Assistant Coach at Fontbonne University. Mike Domenick, is the head coach at Fontbonne University and is a Festus Junior League Coach.

We also have a couple of instructors who currently are playing professional baseball. Scott Patterson is a pitcher in the Atlantic League and Curt Moenter is pitching in the Frontier League. Curt Moenter, actually has had Tommy John surgery and what he has learned from that experience is very valuable in his teaching and coaching.

RM: It's really unrealistic, especially today, to think that without proper training or instruction, that a kid is going to be able walk onto a high school field, let alone a college field or at a professional teal tryout and expect to make the team, isn't it?

FG: If your child is going to play any sport at any advanced level he/she will need more than just the parents continuous support. With our more than 40 years of experience at the college and professional level, we are qualified to help a young ballplayer to reach their full potential.

RM: Is there anything else you would like to add about your academy?

FG: We also offer summer and holiday camps, coaches' clinics, visual mechanics training, as well as speed, strength and agility training.

RM: Sounds great, if someone was interested in your academy, where is it located and how do they get in contact with you.

FG: We have a 12,000 square foot facility at 2120 Tenbrook Road in Arnold, Missouri. We are open Monday thru Friday from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm and on Saturday from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm. On Sunday, we are open from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm.

RM: Your phone number, e-mail address?

FG: Our phone number is 636-296-9100 and our e-mail address is

RM: I guess you have a website?


RM: I sincerely believe that any young ballplayer who is dreaming of ever playing at any advanced level, especially if you want to play for the St. Louis Cardinals someday, that they need to get into a proper training and conditioning program as soon as possible. I'm happy to see what Big Hitter Baseball & Fastpitch Academy is doing in the St. Louis area.

Who knows, I may even stop believing in "TINSTAPP".

FG: Thank you.

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