For the past couple of summers, Lawrence High baseball coach Brad Stoll has worked with some of the best college baseball players in the country in the famed Cape Cod League in New England.
This summer, he’s turning pro.
Stoll, one of three coaches in history to lead LHS to a state baseball title, will travel this week to North Carolina to coach and evaluate talent at a weeklong tryout for USA Baseball.
Brian McRae, the former Major Leaguer who now runs the KC Sluggers, a local summer program, introduced Stoll to some of the USA Baseball guys last year at the national convention in Nashville. A few months later, Stoll received the invite he’s been waiting for his entire life.
“It’s just like anything else in baseball and athletics and probably the business world,” Stoll said. “It’s you know a guy that knows a guy. I’ve always wanted to get involved with USA Baseball and when they called and asked me if I wanted to be a part of it, I jumped at the opportunity.”
In all, 130-140 high school players from the graduating classes of 2012 and 2013 will attend the trial, with the goal being to crack the final 50 that Stoll will help select.
It’s a sun-up to sun-down endeavor for the coaches, who each will coach a team during the day and participate in group evaluations by night.
Former New York Yankee Scott Brosius will manage the final squad that is scheduled to compete in Colombia later this summer. Working with a former big leaguer who owns three World Series rings is something Stoll is amped up about.
“It’ll be a lot of fun to hear his feedback,” Stoll said. “Obviously, he knows what he’s doing so it’ll be fun to collaborate with him. I’m one of those guys who’s constantly asking questions. Whether it’s a scout or a high school coach or a college coach, I’m always looking for new ideas.”
Stoll continued: “To hear how they break down a player, how they like a guy’s swing or delivery on the mound, I can take that and use that to teach and reach the Lawrence High kids.”
Of the 17 players assigned to Stoll’s squad, 15 are from California. One is from Florida and the other is from Pennsylvania. The heavy dose of California kids did not surprise Stoll.
“If you look at the rosters, it’s just like you’d expect, 90 percent of them are from Florida, Texas, Arizona and California,” he said. “It’s the best of the best. Last year, (Free State graduate Cody) Kukuk was involved and Bubba Starling was there and there were three or four other first rounders and a lot of great players.”
This year, the program is hoping to find a few more players like Starling and Kukuk.
“That’s kind of how I got involved,” Stoll said. “They want to make sure that the best kids in the Midwest are getting invited and getting a look.”
With America’s game getting more global all the time, Stoll views programs such as USA Baseball as critical for the future success of American players both at home and on the international stage.
“I think that’s why they have put such an emphasis on the younger teams,” Stoll said. “So that, on the worldwide stage, USA Baseball can gain some steam back again.”