Bethesda Big Train Summer Collegiate Team

The Bethesda Big Train has had a ton of success over their 20 year lifetime for good purpose…

Bethesda, Maryland was where I spent my 2017 summer playing for the Big Train.  I have absolutely nothing bad to say about the team or the organization.  That being said, it was probably the team’s best year to date, we won the league championship and ended up ranked the #1 summer collegiate team.

big train hitting 1They don’t have any trouble housing or feeding players.  I spent the summer with my college roommate in a spacious basement hosted by an incredible family.  Big Train also spared no expense to feed the players.  We had a Whole Foods meal before every game and got fed after every game as well – probably the best you will be treated outside of the Cape.

Not only was the team good, the Cal Ripken League was impressive as well.  The majority of teams were filled with Division 1 ball players so the pitching and hitting were both good.

This summer (2018), the Big Train and their rival The Baltimore Red Birds were co-champions due to poor weather conditions.  The series was split, a game each but unfortunately they were unable to get the final game in.big train fielding

I’m proud to have played for the Big Train and if you have the opportunity to play for them I highly recommend it.

Notable Alumni

Click the link to see the impressive list of Big Train Alumni.


Why is the Big Train Successful?

Big Train treats their players right.  You go back to college and when your coach asks you how your summer was, you tell him it was great.  Not only that, you tell him the league is pretty damn good too.

You tell your coach you faced good competition, they fed you well, you got a free gym membership for the month, and you had a great time.  In return for Big Train’s great hospitality, your college coach sends his best guys every summer.

Fortunately for the Big Train they pull in 400-500 fans per game so they get good revenue from the tickets and have a great sponsors.  This allows them to do the great things they do for the players and still make enough money to bring in a profit.  They really have the business down pat.



If you liked this post follow me on Facebook and Twitter for more!

Related Articles:

Road Trip from Bethesda, MD to Long Beach, CA

Summer Ball for High School Grads in CA

Palm Springs Power Summer Baseball

What kind of Protein is Right for Kids 13+

3 of the best articles on youth supplementation, for better or worse.

I’m not a nutrition coach, and I haven’t had any schooling on the subject so I’ve been going around the internet researching as much as I can.  I’ve made sure to use only the most trusted sources and compiled the best 3 articles.

Should Kids Younger than 18 Take Supplements?

This question had never even crossed my mind before I started my research…

I started taking supplements when I was 13, and I haven’t felt any negative effects from it yet.  Protein supplements have been an integral part of my training experience for about 8 years now.

From what I’ve read, it seems like the sports focused dietitians don’t give protein supplements a second thought while the normal dietitians speak out against kids using protein supplements.  The general argument is that with some thought and planning, you can get all the protein you need in your daily diet.

The problem with that is that student athletes simply don’t have the time in their busy schedules to eat enough quality food…

Jenna Braddock

Image result for jenna braddock make healthy easy logoJenna Braddock, a successful and knowledgeable dietitian who teaches at the University of North Florida, gives us an example of a football player in high school who is busy from 6:30 am to 5:55 pm at school and practice.   And as we know, a similar schedule can be expected for a high school baseball player.

While this schedule might sound cruel and unusual, this is the life of a high school student athlete.  In her article, under the “How to use a Protein Supplement” subheading she gives four ways to get your protein in at the right time.

The whole article is great but towards the end she is clearly trying to sell a product.  She is very knowledgeable but if you want to buy what she’s selling do your research first, as I haven’t done any on the product itself.

I suggest the article for all of the great content beforehand.

Luke Corey

Luke Corey brands himself as a “Performance Dietitian” and works for EXOS at the UCLA Health Sports Performance Center.  Everything he says in his article is geared towards youth athletes.  I really like this article because it is about total health rather than just muscle growth. logo

If we know that student athletes have a hard time getting the right amount of protein in, what other vitamins and minerals are kids generally not getting in and what are the effects?  He goes over the answers to that question in this article.

At the end of his article he says, “Hydration affects performance more than any other nutritional factor.”  This is the easiest thing your ball player can do throughout the day, and according to Corey, it will be the most effective.

When I was in high school I would carry a gallon jug of water around school and try to drink the whole thing through out the day.  Usually I could do it, but even when I couldn’t, I could tell I was drinking a lot more water then I usually did.  I made it a game for myself which made me drink as much as I could.

It made me feel a lot better not just at practice but also in the classroom (It didn’t instantly make me smarter, but it helped me stay awake and focused).

Chris Koutures & Keith Gladstien

This is my last recommended article and my favorite.  It’s written by two well known doctors who really  know what they’re talking about and it’s easy to read and understand.

It goes over, in order, the most important parts of supplementing a growing athlete, and not so surprisingly protein supplements come 3rd on the list.

The article also talks about creatine and pre-workout supplements.  It goes over the pros and cons, but I personally do not recommend these supplements for anyone under 18 years of age.

Creatine is known to give quick and noticeable results in a short time but I’ve noticed that when you stop taking the creatine supplement, you almost immediately lose your progress.  It also is very tough on the liver even for someone who drinks a lot of water.  It also dehydrates you so however much water you drink, you need to drink 1.5X more.

As for pre-workout, most supplements are packed with caffeine and people who like taking pre-workout before a lift find themselves just a year later unable to have a quality lift without the supplement.  Caffeine is a drug and should be treated as such especially by younger athletes.

This article states, “The best pre-workout supplement is that 8-9 hours of sleep the night before starting exercise.” and I completely agree.

Sleep is the most underrated supplement because you can’t sell sleep supplements to people who don’t have problems sleeping so you never see anybody advertising a full night’s rest.

Similarities in the Articles

All three articles stress hydration.  They all say something along the lines of how a dehydrated athlete is sluggish and isn’t getting the most out of his/ her body.  Not only does the athlete not work as hard, but the body doesn’t rebuild itself as quickly or efficiently.

They all call protein the ‘building block of skeletal muscle’ and that the best time to take Gems (6-2-16)-478protein is 30 minutes after a workout.  Also, generally agreed upon is the idea that 0.5 – 0.7 grams/ pound of body weight/ day is a good amount to aim for (including protein found in the food you eat every day).

All three articles state that is possible (and recommended) to get your protein in through whole foods every day rather than through supplements.  But, they all admit that it is difficult and if you have a hard time doing that, supplements are the way to go.  They are also all concerned with getting a quality source of protein.  Whether it is through whole foods or supplements, make sure it isn’t a fatty source or from a sketchy protein supplement brand.


all hustle baseball logo

Hope this helped.  If you like my articles follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Related Articles:

Staying Healthy in College

The Importance of Hitting Everyday

3 Tips for Travel Ball Pitchers

3 Tips for Travel Ball Pitchers

The three most important things for a developing youth pitcher looking for a scholarship.

What are the most important things for a growing pitcher?  I’ll explain the 5 most important things to focus on perfecting before college.

While there is a conversation that needs to happen about youth pitches throwing too much, that’s not what I’m going to talk about in this post.  Expect that in a week or so…

Arianna pic pitching
Photo Credit: Arianna Macaluso

1. Arm Care & Strengthening


The #1 most important thing for every pitcher is arm health.  There are plenty of pitchers who use Jaeger Bands before a start but that is NOT enough.

Even if you band for 20 minutes before a start, that doesn’t mean anything.  Banding before a start is your warm up, it helps your arm get acclimated to the throwing motion before you start actually throwing a ball.

You get real arm care when you take your pre-game arm care routine and combine it with a few light arm strengthening routines and do it every other day.  Regardless of whether you pitch or even play that day.  You should have about 30 minutes of work you can do every day.

And that is just to keep your health at 100%.


I’m not a pitcher and I’m not going to act like a baseball strength or pitching coach when I’m not one.  I am speaking from the point of view of a Division 1 baseball player and about what I’ve seen successful pitchers like recently called up pitcher Corbin Burnes do.

Talk to a strength coach about how to strengthen your arm and work on it every day.  Here are a few things I picked up when trying to strengthen my arm;

  • Your arm will only go as fast as your muscles can slow it down.  That is why a strong back is so important.
  • Arm strength is only one part of throwing hard.  With the right mechanics, velocity comes from the legs.
  • Many reps of small weight are much more effective than heavy weight.  Especially when dealing with small muscles in the arm.
  • When dealing with those smaller muscles, it shouldn’t hurt like when you squat or do curls, it should feel like a warm burn.
Arianna pic full field
Photo Credit: Arianna Macaluso

2. Be able to Throw AT LEAST 2 Pitches for Strikes Consistently

As a hitter, the biggest relief is when you realize a pitcher can only throw his fastball for a strike.  At the high school level, you can have an 81 mph fastball and be extremely efficient… but not if that’s the only pitch you can throw for a strike.

The key is to throw your off speed for strikes.  This summer for the Palm Springs Power, I played against pitchers of ALL different skill levels.  We went 28-7 powered mostly by our offense and the only thing that slowed us down was NOT pitchers with velocity.

It was pitchers who could locate more than one pitch for QUALITY strikes.

Few pitchers at the high school level can throw 3 pitches for strikes.  While you need to make sure your velocity is climbing, a lot of that will come with working out and growing.  Don’t try to force it too early.  Also you need to make sure your off speed pitches are effective.

I’m not saying that you can throw a bad slider down the middle.  You need to work on having good off speed pitches, and when I say ‘strike’ I mean something low in the zone.

pitching 2
Photo Credits: Arianna Macaluso

3. Velocity (unfortunately)

I hate the idea that you HAVE to throw hard to get a scholarship and it’s NOT I repeat NOT always true… but it does make it a whole lot easier.

I personally would rather hit against someone with velocity and little or no off speed command, but the way coaches see it, it’s a lot easier to teach off speed than it is to velo.

There are a lot of youth coaches out there who will see a guy who clearly is having trouble getting his velo up and will tell him, ‘ohhh you don’t really need velo to be successful.’  WHICH IS TRUE.  The problem is getting scout attention.  When your velo isn’t high you have to prove yourself every time you take the mound because your success can only be measured in the stat column.

Velo can be recorded and impress someone whether or not they give up any runs.

Even though I don’t want to, I am going to leave ‘getting your velo up’ as my last piece of advice.  That being said, I want to end my post with this:

When you’re working on your velocity, be aware that throwing too much or working your arm too hard will only cause poor or negative results.  If your goal is to get your velo up, slow and steady really wins the race and doing it the RIGHT way, through mechanics, total body strengthening, and deceleration exercises will benefit you in the long run.  You must be patient.

My last tip comes from something AMAZING I saw.  I was watching my buddy throw a bullpen one day at school.  He usually sat 87-90… I have no idea what mechanical changes the pitching coach told him to make, but he literally made a jump from 87-90 to 91-93 right in front of my eyes.

So what’s my point?  He wasn’t exerting extra energy.  Your mechanics are your most important part of your velocity which is why people say there is a difference between THROWING and PITCHING.

Not only that, your mechanics will keep your arm healthier.  Throw harder and get less sore… what more can you ask for?

pitching 3
Photo Credits: Arianna Macaluso


Like what you see? Follow me for more!

Like my Facebook page, and follow my blog via email for updates when I make new posts!

Here are a few other posts you might be interested in:

5 Things You Can Change to Get a College Scholarship

Choosing a Travel Ball Team

Does Your Position Make a Difference to College Scouts?

What is the ‘SD Project’

sam dimatteo head shot.jpgFirst of all, the founder of the SD Project is Sam DiMatteo.  He’s in his early 30’s trying to build his career and his focus stays on helping other people.

He spent 6 years in the minor leagues before lingering injuries forced him into the real world.  For such a young, fun to be around guy, I was surprised to see the good things he was working to achieve.

Sam is currently a coach for the Palm Springs Power and is  definitely the most knowledgeable hitting coach here.

What does the SD Project do?

The goal is pretty simple: get money to kids who want to play baseball but can’t due to a lack of funds.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As you can see, the SD Project has helped many kids and Sam has had the opportunity to travel the country to teach kids the game of baseball.

Facebook Page


Give their Facebook a follow and if you’re feeling generous they’re a 501(c)(3).


Like what you see? Follow me for more!

Like my Facebook page, and follow my blog via email for updates when I make new posts!

Here are a few other posts you might be interested in:

The Importance of Hitting Every Day

Choosing a Travel Ball Team

Summer Ball for Junior College Guys

Palm Springs Power Summer Baseball

I was pleasantly surprised with the good competition for a summer ball team on the west coast.

Right now I’m about a week and a half from being done with summer ball here in Palm Springs so I thought I’d write about my experience.

Image result for palm springs power

Going into my third year of summer ball I was excited to finally get to play in California.  Being in Palm Springs I knew it was going to be intensely hot, but was just happy for there not to be any humidity.

My very first impression was that the team is well organized.  I showed up and there were interns there ready to give me my t-shirt and shorts at the door.  There is nothing to complain about when it comes to the facilities (the stadium was built for a minor league Angels team).

The team was started and is run by Andrew Starke who is also an associate scout for the Philadelphia Phillies.  He’s a great leader and it seems he’s done a fantastic job with the team and the league.

The SCCBL is a small league made up of 7 teams.  The Palm Springs Power tends to dominate the league with 8 league titles in the last 10 years.

The first couple weeks I was here, we played a slew of non-conference teams, none of which showed much talent.  Once regular season games started though, I was pleasantly surprised to see much more competitive pitching.  Still not at the same level as the Prospect League or the Cal Ripken League, but it was better than I expected for a young league on the west coast.

It was $400 per player to play for the Power which is reasonable considering busing and food expenses.

Starke also runs a separate “Collegiate Training League” for players who don’t have the skills to play in the SCCBL.  This league will run you $1800 which is because there aren’t enough host families to house the 150+ players so a most of the money goes to paying for hotels.  Also, these games don’t attract the fans that the Power does so there is virtually no revenue from their games.  That being said, it is also a great place to get your at bats/ innings in.  There are usually 6 teams in the Collegiate League and you play in the morning (when it’s a lot cooler) five days a week.

The Power treat their players very well which is why I’m currently playing with two guys spending their third summer here and one spending his second.  I’ve had a great time and if you’re looking for a good spot to land for the summer, Palm Springs is a great option.  If you can’t make it to Palm Springs, check out the SCCBL website to find another team to play for in the league.



If you liked this post follow me on Facebook and Twitter for more!

Related content:

Launch Angle, Changing Your Swing, and Taking Effective Batting Practice

What College Coaches Are Looking For

The Importance of Hitting Every Day