According to a survey conducted by the Journal of Sports Behavior, 90 percent of the surveyed college players participated in “select ball” in their youth. It seems that to make it to the big leagues, children need to be in nationwide baseball academies to showcase themselves in front of scouts, but parents wonder if this concept is destroying dreams of many youth baseball players?
The problem is, these young players need to try out and make it onto these academy and travel baseball teams. If a player is good enough at the tryout, the coach will select that player to join. The children need to be good players already before they enter an academy to teach them the basic skills. So therein lies the problem. The still developing athletes cannot play on a team because a “tryout” determined that they were “not ready” when they haven’t even received any training yet.
This struggle is where Jose Valencia and his baseball academy come in to play. Valencia created the Fundamentals Baseball Academy in 2007 to train all types of players, even those dubbed as “not good enough.”
“Crazy, isn’t it? I get calls all the time from parents telling me that their kid didn’t make it onto a travel ball team because ‘he wasn’t good enough.’ Many of these players were ‘rejected’ to begin. I take those kids and train them,” Jose said.
Since creating the FBA, Valencia has helped over 30 players get college baseball offers, and four of his players have signed to play professional baseball.
“I tell the parents to bring their kid out to a practice. There, I see the kid play, and I see what skills he can improve on as a baseball player,” Valencia said. “I put the work in to train them and make good baseball players. I do not train for the sole purpose of winning like all these other academies.”
After taking a look at the player during practice, Valencia sits down with the parents to discuss what their athlete needs to improved for the next stage in high school, college, etc. With the approval of the parents, Valencia places the player in a group with others who have similar skill sets. The group meets every weekend for strict training.
Valencia came up with the idea of FBA after his own experience as a young baseball player.
“I was a good player,” Valencia said. “I had the work ethic and drive to want to be a successful baseball player, but an elbow injury killed my career just like that, and that was a low time for me in life.”
Valencia recalled the moment that changed him in that low point.
“I went to church with my family because they wanted me to go,” Valencia said. “During the mass, I was put into the center of the church for deep prayer. At the time, I didn’t believe in God because I didn’t think he cared about me. I finished the deep prayer with the idea of FBA. I left the church with restored faith, knowing that God will help me create an academy where any kid can learn the game I love so much.”
With an investment from a business connection, Valencia began FBA in an outdoors facility with plans to move indoors in the future, and he runs the academy alone, with some help from past players when necessary.
During baseball offseason in the fall and winter, training is held every weekend with at least one or two games during the week depending on the age group. When baseball season comes around, Valencia gives weekend training and schedules showcases for his students to be scouted if his teams are prepared.
“I do not enter showcases unless these kids are ready,” Valencia said. “Show me that you want to play baseball in college. Prove it to me, and I will get you in front of scouts.”
Zias Bishop has been in the academy for over a year, and his father, Steve Bishop, has seen great results from the academy, he said.
“My son will be prepared to join the workforce due to this academy,” Bishop said. “It’s more than just baseball. My son will handle real-life pressure due to Jose’s coaching.”
“I love his style of training,” Juan Chavez said.
Chavez is a Moreno Valley baseball coach who has two sons in the program and drives them and players from his Little League team to Valencia for training.
“He teaches these kids what real life is all about,” Chaves said. “The real world is tough. This program teaches that with baseball, and my sons have matured because of it.”
Valencia’s son, Evan Valencia, is also a successful alumnus of FBA. After graduating from Heritage High School and the academy in 2018, FBA helped him move his baseball aspirations to the University of St. Katherine in San Marcos.
“Being a collegiate athlete means a lot to me,” Evan Valencia said. “I am at this university because they believe in my skills as a player. It is these same skills I learned from FBA and my father.”
For more information, visit Fundamentals Baseball Academy at http://www.fbabaseball.com, email [email protected] or call (951) 816-0345.
Contributions made by Valley News Sports Editor JP Raineri, who can be reached by email at [email protected]