Tournaments | Story | 7/17/2017

Pats 16u embrace the message

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Perfect Game

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Logan Stout has been fielding teams wearing Dallas Patriots’ uniforms for almost two decades now, and he’s always been consistent with the message he tries to convey to the Pats’ players, regardless of the age-group.

This week, he has the Plano, Texas-based Dallas Patriots 16u Stout team at the 16u Perfect Game BCS National Championship, just days after it wrapped-up a week-long stay in the north Atlanta suburbs competing at the 16u PG WWBA National Championship. Stout will tell his players the same thing here in Southwest Florida that he told them in North Georgia, and they will not only listen to the message, they will embrace it.

“(Stout is) all about showing good spirit and energy in the dugout,” 2019 left-handed pitcher and Texas Christian University recruit Cutter Sippel told PG Monday morning while the Pats were getting ready to play their 16u PG BCS tournament-opener at Terry Park. “He wants us staying positive and not getting down on what has already happened. He wants us to focus on the next pitch and not the last one, and to keep looking forward.”

Remaining positive, staying focused on the job at hand and continually looking forward are important character traits to possess, both on the baseball field and off it. The Dallas Patriots 16u Stout will do all they can to maintain that single-minded focus and live life looking forward during the week ahead.

But first, a quick look in the rearview. The Pats 16u made a run into the round-of-32 at the 16u PG WWBA National Championship, where they were beaten by the Batavia, Ohio-based Midland Tribe, 7-6; three of the seven runs the Tribe scored were unearned. So, despite finishing 7-1-0 at the blockbuster wood bat tournament, the sloppy exit left a bad taste in the Pats’ collective mouth.

“Neither myself or the players were happy with that outcome or how we played at that event,” Stout said Monday morning, before quickly adding he feels like they can take a little momentum from the experience into the 16u PG BCS.

“This is a very under-rated group,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of groups over the last 20 years and we’ve won these events, and I can tell you this group is as good as any of them. … These guys know how to win and it doesn’t matter who you are, you’re going to have a bad game here and there; we just happened to have a bad game at the wrong time.”

Sippel agreed: “It was a good experience just getting everyone the exposure they wanted, and with everyone trying to play their best every time out, it was really fun to watch,” he said. “We have a little momentum coming into this (tournament), but we just know we want to recover from that last game and try to prove to everyone that we’re as good as we (know we) are.”

They got things started in a fine fashion Monday morning with a 9-3 win over the Ocean City, Md.-based Mizuno Aces National 2019. The Pats pounded-out 10 hits – eight batters had at least one – with Joey Aden stroking a double and a single with an RBI and two runs scored; Miller Ladusau rapped a pair of singles, drove in one run and scored two others.

2019 right-hander Ben Shepard scattered four hits, struck-out eight and walked five over his 5 1/3 innings of work and, officially, none of the three runs he surrendered were earned. This was a game that was tied at 1-1 after the first inning, but the Pats 16u scored five in the second, two in the third and one in the fourth to salt the win.

“We’re like one big ball of energy, I guess,” Sippel said of this team’s inner-workings. “We’ve got a lot of energy, and we’ll pick up some momentum at the beginning of a game and not slow down the rest of the way.”

This is the first tournament at which the Pats 16u Stout have swung the BBCOR bat all year and Stout said he couldn’t remember the last time he coached a team at a tournament that used the BBCOR. The Dallas Patriots haven’t made a habit of attending PG BCS tournaments in the past, but this happened to be a year where it fit into this 16u’s team’s schedule.

“I’m interested to see how it rolls as far as calling games against it and then, of course, running an offense with it,” he said. “It’s going to be interesting for everyone.”

From simply a talent standpoint, Stout sees a collection of young prospects on this 16u team that can play the game at a very high level, a group of guys who will all play college baseball if that’s what they aspire to do. There might even be a few MLB draft picks on this roster, as well, he said.

Perfect Game ranks five of the 2019 Texans on the Patriots 16u’s roster as either top-1,000 or high-follow national prospects, including Sippel, catcher/third baseman Cade Currington, right-hander/outfielder Cesar Eguia, infielder/outfielder Braden Webb and infielder Beau Wimpee; like Sippel, Wimpee has committed to TCU.

But there’s more to this team than the talents the teenaged players take out on the field.

“Individuals play the game; teams win championships,” Stout said. “This particular group, what makes them different, in my opinion, is that they’re a ‘team.’ All of my teams have been a ‘team’ – it’s something I stress and if you’re not a team player I don’t want you to play for me – but with this group I’ve never once had to stress it; they just get it.

“They play the game very unselfishly, they’re very team-oriented, and it’s an honor to have this group of families wearing the Dallas Patriots uniform.”

Back at you, Coach: “It’s a big honor,” Sippel said of wearing a Dallas Patriots uniform. “There have been a lot of really good players that have come through (the program), and I think a lot of the other teams have respect for us coming in. We just kind of have to prove to everyone that that’s who we are.”

Stout has made a practice of coaching the organization’s 17u team during past summer and fall seasons but, along with top assistant – former big-league pitcher and current Fox Sports college baseball analyst Pat Combs – decided to dip down an age-group this year.

The college recruiting process has sped-up significantly in the last couple of years, to where prospects are committing to colleges when they’re 14-, 15- and 16-years old with a much greater frequency.

By the time they are 17 and seniors in high school, they’ve closed their recruiting. Stout got the feeling that by coaching players that had already committed he was being left out of the process.

“Yes, mentoring these guys about life and teaching them about the game of baseball is important but selfishly, I love helping them get a scholarship,” he said. “All of these college coaches are friends of mine, and last summer they’d call and ask me what I’ve got for them, and I’d have to tell them they’re all committed.”

The transition has been seamless. Stout likes working with the younger players because he finds them to be, using his words, “more moldable.” They’re not already set firmly in their ways, and Stout is enjoying the teaching aspect that comes with working a younger age level.

With the summer winding down for the Dallas Patriots 16u Stout team – the 16u PG BCS National Championship is the season finale – Stout hopes the players will enter their junior years at their respective high schools with the understanding that there’s a lot more to life than just playing baseball.

The sport can certainly play a significant role in their lives – it already is, for most of them – but there is a lot more to consider in the grand scheme of things. And that’s another aspect of the message Stout wants his players to embrace.

“When our time is done on this earth and we meet our maker face-to-face, we hope to hear the words, ‘Job well-done my good and faithful servant,’” he said. “He’s not going to ask you (anything about baseball) but to me, if God give you the ability to be a great baseball player … that is a platform from which you can make a positive impact. …

“Ultimately, that’s what I hope they take from this is that it’s about significance and not just success,” Stout concluded. “And once you’ve tasted significance, success won’t do it for you. … We don’t simply need a better world for our children, we need better children for our world, and I believe youth sports gives us a platform to make more better children for our world.”

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