A Sit Down with Raven Performance

We have sat down with some of our Raven Performance athletes to find out about their motivation, passion and advice about baseball

 

Ryan McMahon – Professional Baseball

1. What is one challenge you have faced as a ball player? How did you overcome it?

A big challenge I had was first adapting to the Double A level. I struggled all year and had confidence issues daily in what I could do as a ball player. The game’s tough enough and I was making it tougher by not trusting in my swing or having confidence in what I could do.

2. What is one tip you would give a youth ballplayer with aspirations of playing in high school, college and beyond?

I’d let them know that confidence is key. If you can believe in what you’re doing and not waiver from what you do best you’re gonna be the best version of yourself and as a result be the best ball player you can be. I’d also let them know that it’s still just a game you can’t let it affect your family life, friend life, and other things that you do. You should play as hard as you can and prepare as hard as you can but once the game is over or practice is over you leave it at the field. Don’t take it home with you or into the next day with you and don’t over think it. Work hard and leave it all out there.

3. What is one thing you do to mentally prepare for a baseball game?

One thing that I will believe until the day I die is confidence will carry you a long way. If you don’t have confidence in the things you do or believe in them you’re always going to be searching for things and not trusting who you are as a ball player. So that being said I have a strict game day routine that I do everyday the same way and it’s kind of my safety blanket. My routine gets me in the right mindset and physical positions to perform at my best so I believe in my routine and roll into the game and let whatever happens happen.

Mike Antonini – Professional Baseball

1. What is one challenge you have faced as a ball player? How did you overcome it?

I was called up twice by the Dodgers in 2012 and didn’t pitch an inning. After being sent back down i was asked to try a different arm slot which led to getting taken off the 40-man roster for newly acquired players and a minor elbow surgery. The following spring I was released. I’ve had another 2 minor elbow surgeries since then and have came back each time.  It would be easy to walk away from the game instead of trying to prove myself and my health over and over again but that’s not how I’m wired.  I know that I have the ability to pitch at the highest level and i have a fire burning inside me daily to compete and get better.

2. What is one tip you would give a youth ballplayer with aspirations of playing in high school, college and beyond?

I think the most useful advise for any player would be to continuously work hard.  Put in work, extra work and go above and beyond. Be coachable (take concepts and techniques in and apply them).  Be able to properly self evaluate, have some feel and awareness for whats going on around you.

3. What is one thing you do to mentally prepare for a baseball game?

I am the type of player who is very consistent in my routine and in trusting my routine I feel confident going into each outing.  I’m a believer in visualization, If I know who I’m facing in my next start I will act like i am facing certain hitters from that lineup in my bullpen session.  For pitchers i would recommend trying this in a bullpen and work it into a game but once you get your sign, take the split second to see the spot and where you want it to go, tell yourself inside your head “i got this” and make the pitch. The mind is powerful in convincing ourselves what we can and cannot do so that little positive vibe before making the pitch helps.

 

Anthony Giansanti – Professional Baseball

1. What is one challenge you have faced as a ball player? How did you overcome it?

One challenge I and many others have faced in baseball is what we call “the uncontrollables.” These are the things that are obviously out of control but are hard not to think about. In order to over come these “uncontrollables,” is to really concentrate and allocate your time and energy on the things you can control such as your attitude and your effort.

2. What is one tip you would give a youth ballplayer with aspirations of playing in high school, college and beyond?

As I said in the first answer some of the things that are really important to be successful in baseball is to focus on what you are good at and the things you can control. Maintaining a good attitude as a teammate and as a person and player you will find more success within the game. Also, respecting the game and playing the game hard and the right way will bring more fortune to you in it. “Good luck follows hard work.”

3. What is one thing you do to mentally prepare for a baseball game?

One thing I do every day to prepare mentally before a game is I envision my game. I visualize all the positive things I want to accomplish and with conviction, tell myself I am going to accomplish them. Putting yourself in a positive mind set and visualize the success before it happens I feel leads to greater, more consistent outcomes.

Cody Carroll – Professional Baseball

1. What is one challenge you have faced as a ball player? How did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge I have faced is overcoming the two arm surgeries that I have had. One being Tommy John in 2011 and then having bone spurs removed from my same elbow in 2013. Just knowing after the first surgery that I couldn’t play for a whole year just takes a toll on you physically and mentally. Overcoming it was difficult in the beginning but what got me through it was talking to other people that have experienced the same thing that I have and how they dealt with the constant early mornings of rehab. Mostly just staying positive and saying that you will be stronger when you get back.

2. What is one tip you would give a youth ballplayer with aspirations of playing in high school, college and beyond?

My biggest piece of advice is to just have fun, there will be times when you get down because this is the most humbling game in the world but at the same time you know that those days that you struggle are the best days to learn from. Have a short memory and wake up the next morning and get ready to get back to work.

3. What is one thing you do to mentally prepare for a baseball game?

I am more of a routine guy when it comes to mentally preparing for a game. I go through my daily pregame routine and then as soon as the game start I mentally go through scenarios in my head that I could possibly be put in. However as soon as I get the call to get loose in the bullpen all thinking goes out the window and it’s then time to compete.

 

Trey Hair – Professional Baseball

1. What is one challenge you have faced as a ball player? How did you overcome it?

My size. It’s always been a huge factor in my time playing baseball. I feel as if I get looked over a lot just because of my height. It pushes me continuously to prove my worth on any stage of baseball. I worked extremely hard not only in the offseason but during the season as well. I became a student of the game and learned not only the physical side, but the mental game of baseball as well.

2. What is one tip you would give a youth ballplayer with aspirations of playing in high school, college and beyond?

One tip I have for players is to work hard. Work ethic beats talent. If a player puts in their all they will start seeing results. They have to have both beet in to be good at what they are trying to do. Work hard to perfect your craft in the game of baseball.

3. What is one thing you do to mentally prepare for a baseball game?

One thing I like to do to mentally prepare is read mental conditioning books. I love Heads Up Baseball 2.0. I like to read those books to help me get into the best state of mind I can be in to compete at the highest level I can.

Bobby Wernes – Professional Baseball

1. What is one challenge you have faced as a ball player? How did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge I’ve faced is while playing is trying to take it one game at a time. It is very easy to let failure compile, and turn one bad at bat into multiple bad at bats. If you treat every play as an independent outcome, your chances of success are much higher

2. What is one tip you would give a youth ballplayer with aspirations of playing in high school, college and beyond?

It is just a game, so you need to make it as fun as possible. If that means throwing rocks at a teammate, trying to hit the ball as high as possible in BP, whatever that means to you, do it!

3. What is one thing you do to mentally prepare for a baseball game?

I try to stay as loose as possible before games. Usually I’m playing cards with teammates or something of that nature. I study the opposing pitcher the night before, so that on game day it’s all fun and relaxation.

 

Sean Reid-Foley – Professional Baseball

1. What is one challenge you have faced as a ball player? How did you overcome it?

Learning who I am as a pitcher

2. What is one tip you would give a youth ballplayer with aspirations of playing in high school, college and beyond?

Just continue to play and learn the game. Have fun when you play and dream big

3. What is one thing you do to mentally prepare for a baseball game?

I just try to relax as much as I can until I step between the lines

Josh Rapacz – Professional Baseball

1. What is one challenge you have faced as a ball player? How did you overcome it?

A challenge I faced as I moved up in baseball is being able to slow the game down. I get amped up and excited or start to really think about situations. When I do this the game gets away from me. I have always had to work really hard at relaxing, letting the game come to me, and just slowing everything down in my mind. I have tried to overcome it by giving myself small verbal cues and staying loose through games and seasons.

2. What is one tip you would give a youth ballplayer with aspirations of playing in high school, college and beyond?

Have fun. Baseball is still a game and although sometimes millions of dollars hang in the balance at the very root it is a game. Have fun playing it. Don’t over think or stress about what could be or what the future is. Be in the moment and have fun being in that moment.

3. What is one thing you do to mentally prepare for a baseball game?

Well I always like to look through the scouting report, tendency charts, and current statistics on hitters. I do this because being a catcher I want to know how to attack hitters. I always try to keep the same routine. I am ready to play mentally when I feel comfortable so I keep my routine the same. A lot of guys listen to hype music before the game to get them going. I have never had a problem being amped and ready; my problem is getting too amped and excited. So I listen to love music before the games and it calms my mind and body. Then I am ready to focus in on what I need to do that day. I know that sounds really weird but whatever works!

 

Ted Andrews – Professional Baseball

1. What is one challenge you have faced as a ball player? How did you overcome it?

One challenge is staying healthy through a long season but also maintaining the necessary stuff–throwing enough, but not too much, etc

2. What is one tip you would give a youth ballplayer with aspirations of playing in high school, college and beyond?

One tip would be that there’s always someone working harder than you–you can always put in a few more reps

3. What is one thing you do to mentally prepare for a baseball game?

Mentally before a game (and pretty much all day) just visualizing myself making pitches. Putting yourself in that situation ahead of time makes it feel like you’ve already done that

Ryan Atkinson – Professional Baseball

1. What is one challenge you have faced as a ball player? How did you overcome it?

At least 1 challenge I have faced as a ball player is commanding my pitches and becoming a consistent player. I overcame this by crafting my work putting 100% focus and commitment to my work everyday no matter if it’s at the field or on my own personal time. Having said that I’m never satisfied because there is always room for improvement.

2. What is one tip you would give a youth ballplayer with aspirations of playing in high school, college and beyond?

One tip I can give to a youth ballplayer with aspirations of playing in high school, college and beyond is no matter where you play, who you play with, or who you play for, is that you always control what you can control. Stay true to who you are and handle yourself by commitment, hard work, and focus every opportunity you are given. This includes on and off the field.

3. What is one thing you do to mentally prepare for a baseball game?

One of the many things I do to mentally prepare for a baseball game is to control the mind and relaxing cognitive thoughts by reading and/or listening to podcasts of my interest.

 

Taylor Hearn – Professional Baseball

1. What is one challenge you have faced as a ball player? How did you overcome it?

It’s hard to pick what challenges I have faced because I been through so much, with injuries as well, but a season has so many ups and downs. I would say that is the hardest because baseball is a game a failure and hardest thing is coming back from a bad outing or a string of rough ones! Learning that failing is part of it but it’s how I respond is what believe play a real big factor and just continuing to have confidence in myself no matter if it’s a bad or good game!

2. What is one tip you would give a youth ballplayer with aspirations of playing in high school, college and beyond?

Hard work and stay within yourself. Oh, and being patient because everybody gets so caught up at young age in the velocity as a pitcher and good power and speed as hitters but if you put in the work and do extra work to go that extra mile to separate yourself everything will take take of itself and fall into order!

3. What is one thing you do to mentally prepare for a baseball game?

I personally am a very relaxed person when it comes to before games and I can’t pitch well if I’m so zoned in I don’t have a chance to breathe and enjoy the game. Baseball is a real fun game and I enjoy every moment I’m out there pitching!

Tyler Friis – Professional Baseball

1. What is one challenge you have faced as a ball player? How did you overcome it?

I’ve always been undersized, I had to maximize my speed and athleticism in order to make up for lack of size. 

2. What is one tip you would give a youth ballplayer with aspirations of playing in high school, college and beyond?

The most talented player doesn’t make it the farthest in this game, the player that works the hardest does. 

3. What is one thing you do to mentally prepare for a baseball game?

I say a quick prayer before every game. That gets my mind right.

 

Nick Schulz – Professional Baseball

1. What is one challenge you have faced as a ball player? How did you overcome it?

Reducing my strikeouts! I overcame that by developing more patience at the plate and learning how to recognize different pitches etc. I also wanted to become faster on the base paths and steal more bags .,. so I specifically trained in the off-season to work on my speed and quickness. I had to overcome being overlooked in the draft. I overcame that by never giving up. I played in California winter league to give myself exposure to professional scouts and I ended up being signed by the Padres. But the point is that you never give up if that’s your dream. Pursue it!

2. What is one tip you would give a youth ballplayer with aspirations of playing in high school, college and beyond?

Learn the game inside and out by listening to your coaches, reading about or watching videos of current and former players, watching games on TV etc. If you can, take private lessons and play travel ball to develop your skills. Look for ways to improve your game every day.

3. What is one thing you do to mentally prepare for a baseball game?

I get to the field an hour or an hour and a half before the rest of the team. I take this time to reflect , meditate and focus on the game ahead. This quiet time has really helped me prepare myself mentally.

Jared Johnson – Professional Baseball

1. What is one challenge you have faced as a ball player? How did you overcome it?
 
One challenge I have faced as a baseball player is keeping my mind on the one goal that I’ve had since I was a kid and pushing myself everyday even when I don’t want to, to achieve that goal.    How did you overcome it?  Surround yourself with people who want the best for you and that will support you rather than bring you down. 
 
2. What is one tip you would give a youth  ballplayer with aspirations of playing in high school, college and  beyond?   
 
The game of baseball is meant to be fun but also taken seriously. And no matter where you are in your career there is always things to learn and always be open to everyone opinions. 
 
3. What is one thing you do to mentally prepare for a baseball  game?
 
On the day that I am starting one thing I do to mentally prepare my mind is to have a routine and stick to it every single day.

 

Eric Yardley – Professional Baseball

1. What is one challenge you have faced as a ball player? How did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge I have had as a player in my career is dropping my arm-slot from being a stock right handed pitcher to a submarine/sidearm pitcher. I had to buy in 100% to the change and use my infield background to make the transition as natural as I could.

2. What is one tip you would give a youth ballplayer with aspirations of playing in high school, college and beyond?

My tip for younger players is to work like there is always someone watching and/or evaluating.

3. What is one thing you do to mentally prepare for a baseball game?

I have a phrase that I say to myself before I take the mound to check me into the moment. If I ever drift out of focus, I can always repeat those words and narrow my focus back to the task in front of me.

Taylor Ahearn – Professional Baseball

1. What is one challenge you have faced as a ball player? How did you overcome it?

I’ve faced many tough challenges as a ball player throughout my career. One specific challenge, however, was learning to become mentally strong. The mindset is the most important aspect of baseball, so over the years I have been able to live with bad results and use them as a learning experience instead of stressing about them.

2. What is one tip you would give a youth ballplayer with aspirations of playing in high school, college and beyond?

One tip I would give is not to stress about going to a D1 school. It doesn’t matter if it’s juco, naia, d3, or d2. What matters is going somewhere where you know you can develop. If you are good enough to succeed at the next level, professional scouts will find you at some point. Just be patient and strive to get better every day.

3. What is one thing you do to mentally prepare for a baseball game?

One thing I do to mentally to prepare for a game is to zone in and obtain that “jerk” mentality. I’ve come to realize that having an “asshole” mindset while on the mound is so important, even though I’m a nice guy off the field. It was always a struggle for me to find that alternative, and it’s different for everyone, but in order to succeed in this game of failure you have to give no f**ks and go out there every day and compete

 

Josh Altmann – Professional Baseball

1. What is one challenge you have faced as a ball player? How did you overcome it?

Overcoming adversity. Whether it being on or off the field. Even as ball players we still face troubles off the field. We aren’t super humans, we are still normal guys with trials like anyone else. Our jobs are to perform on the field and there are trials and challenges that come with that but also there are things that go on behind the scenes that are hard to deal with because you aren’t always around those who it may be effecting. Those are the tough hardships we face everyday.

2. What is one tip you would give a youth ballplayer with aspirations of playing in high school, college and beyond?

Never stop loving the game and having fun. When the game moves up level by level the stakes get higher and higher. But the game we play was a kids game, it was a past time. When you stop treating the game so seriously and enjoy every waking moment you have in the game. That’s when truly amazing things can happen.

3. What is one thing you do to mentally prepare for a baseball game?

One mental prepare thing I do (here’s a few). I like to talk to my parents, honestly they keep me level headed my highs they keep me humble and my lows they pick me up. I’ll listen to music, drink a Red Bull, and eat my pregame meal and just mentally take a break from the day before heading out to the field. The big one for me though is take a moment to pray. To stop my day, to thank God. And just sit in peace before playing.

Mitch Ghelfi – Professional Baseball

1. What is one challenge you have faced as a ball player? 
 
One challenge I have faced as a ball player is going through a slump in pro ball. I overcame it just by going back to the basics of my approach and trying to simplify my swing which helped me get my timing back and get back in the groove.
 
2. What is one tip you would give a youth ballplayer with aspirations of playing in high school, college and beyond?   
 
One tip I would give a player with aspirations of playing at a higher level is that there is no substitute for hard work. Get in the gym, get your swings in in the cage so that when your opportunity arises you are ready for the challenge and know that you’ve put the work in and deserve the success that you earn.
 
3. What is one thing you do to mentally prepare for a baseball game?
 
My mental preparation usually consists of going over reports and spray charts on the opposing hitters and coming up with a game plan on how our starting pitcher that night can have the most success against them.

 

Darian Sandford – Professional Baseball

1. What is one challenge you have faced as a ball player?   
 

The biggest challenge I face is as a ballplayer is every year playing in a different city and leaving my family for months at a time. I overcame that by working hard, getting better, earning more money so that I could fly home more often while I was playing.

2. What is one tip you would give a youth ballplayer with aspirations of playing in high school, college and beyond?   
 
I always tell youth players who aspire to play this game to stay consistent and give it your all, no matter what.
 
3. What is one thing you do to mentally prepare for a baseball game?
 
There isn’t anything I do in particular. I just try to focus on doing whatever I can to make a difference in the game, offensively or defensively.

Jose Brizuela

1. What is one challenge you have faced as a ball player? How did you overcome it?
 

One challenge of mine was trying to do too much earlier in my career but to overcome it I just told myself to do whatever it takes to help the team win and everything else will take care of itself. 


2. What is one tip you would give a youth ballplayer with aspirations of playing in high school, college and beyond?   
 
One tip I would give any ball player would be to enjoy the game and to trust the process at all times. 
 
3. What is one thing you do to mentally prepare for a baseball game?
 
One thing I do mentally would be to try to be as loose as possible and enjoy the game with my teammates.