Pro baseball

RailCats find gems in undrafted college seniors

2013-06-21T22:30:00Z 2013-06-22T00:29:06Z RailCats find gems in undrafted college seniorsHillary Smith, (219) 933-3233

GARY | More lucrative for the RailCats than their annual May open tryout is their annual June college tryout.

Manager Greg Tagert said he's signed more players who were undrafted college seniors who worked out for the team in Junes past than he has from the open tryout.

The reason is simple: the June tryout is invitation only.

"The big thing players have going for them is the people that recommended them," Tagert said. "What all these guys have in common is that the scout or the coach or the organization had them on the draft board. The scout tells us, I had this guy on my list, he just wasn't taken, or the coach that says, he's my best player, he just wasn't taken for whatever reason."

The RailCats have three players on the roster -- the bulk of the infield in third baseman Brian Kolb, shortstop Zac Mitchell and second baseman Chase Tucker -- who were discovered in the college tryout.

Kolb, who signed in 2010, has been on the team for the last three seasons. Mitchell and Tucker were discovered last year, signed in late July and early August of 2012, respectively, and are rookies this season.

"It's definitely unique compared to some of the others, because they put you up against live pitching which not a lot of them do," Kolb said. "That's helpful for someone like myself who might not necessarily have the tools of some guys, so I can showcase what I have."

The first of three June tryouts was held Friday, delayed three hours by rain which put a damper into the length of the tryout.

Tagert said that players flew in and rented hotel rooms overnight for the opportunity to play, and some had even planned to fly out Friday.

"I know what it's costing some of these players, so we did everything we could to let them try out," Tagert said.

The tryouts will continue Monday and Thursday next week.

That the tryout is by invitation only makes the process much different, Kolb said.

When he was told to stick around for team batting practice, then called in the fifth inning of the game later that day was unforgettable.

"It's interesting just because, at least for me, I didn't know what to expect. I'd done a few workouts for other teams, and they tell you 'we'll contact you in a couple months,' but I was signed that afternoon," Kolb said. "Every year is a little different based on need, but when I came in with just a few days of clothes, and all of a sudden you're on the team."

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