Coach Cam reflects on time in the MLB Draft League
This past summer Coach Cam Black-Araujo went down to Pennsylvania to work for the MLB Draft League in its first inaugural season. After MLB partnered with Prep Baseball Report (PBR) to create the first league of its kind for college and high school draft prospects, they brought on some prospective staff within PBR's system.
Black-Araujo was stationed in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, the home of the Little League World Series. He would work for the summer of 2021 with the Williamsport Crosscutters who were a Class-A Short Season affiliate for the Cubs, Pirates and Phillies since 1994 but ultimately lost minor league status following cuts in 2020.
His assignment? Co-Director of Data/Analytics with the Crosscutters and Media Assistant with the MLB Draft League.
Black-Araujo says a lot of the day-to-day operations included capturing data and video throughout games, and then using those tools with coaches to help develop and elevate player performance.
"Alongside my partner Josh Krstulovich who's now coaching at the Division I level, we would set up six different cameras around the ballpark to record hitters and pitchers throughout the games," says Black-Araujo. "During the games we would run TrackMan to capture data and then following the game, we would use both the video and reports in many different ways to help our players."
"We had a coaching staff with a ton of experience at the pro level, both coaching and playing, so it was exciting to show up to the ballpark every day and work with a group who has so much baseball knowledge, especially when they're willing to share it."
The MLB Draft League consists of six teams, all of which were released from the MiLB when they cut 43 teams the previous year... The Crosscutters, Trenton Thunder, Frederick Keys, Mahoning Valley Scrappers, State College Spikes and West Virginia Black Bears.
The league was mostly made up of college talent, with a few high-end high school prospects mixed in. The league saw 38 players drafted in last year's 20-round draft and an additional 22 players who signed to major league team's following the draft. Following the season, the league saw dozens of players sign to play pro in independent leagues across America.
Black-Araujo says the league really taught him how much talent their is spread out through the U.S. college system.
"When the league first opened up, the Division I postseason was still going on so the league was loaded with Division II and III players, as well NAIA and JUCO," says Black-Araujo. "You wouldn't have been able to tell by the talent and the numbers on the radar guns. The high-end talent at all of these levels proved they can play at the pro level and it showed come draft/signing time."
"I think it's a great lesson for our players here at Team Ontario, as well. Everyone obviously wants to go play at the Division I level but it's all about fit and opportunity. It doesn't matter what level or what conference you end up in, if you show up on campus and ball out, there will be opportunities to make it to the pro level."
The Bowmanville, Ont. native got experience working with leading softwares and technologies in baseball, working with pro coaches and interacting with pro scouts, but he also got to use his media and content talents with the league, as well.
He often times wrote post-game recaps on the Cutters for the league, as well as some feature articles. The highlight of the summer on the writing side was his hit-piece on Crosscutters right-hander Tyler Uberstine who was drafted by the Boston Red Sox after going to university as a non-athlete immediately after high school.
His hard work in the Draft League this summer has seen an increased role within PBR for Black-Araujo, being promoted to lead scout in Canada and expanding into Arizona and Colorado where he works as a Media/Operations Assistant.
"Myself and Krstulovich both went down to the Draft League still looking to establish ourselves in the baseball world and to hopefully open up opportunities for full-time work after the summer," says Black-Araujo. "Josh crushed the data side of the things and is now the Director of Player Development at Division I Arkansas-Little Rock and I've now expanded my role within PBR."
"It was kind of a dream come true for both of us to be showing up to a beautiful park every day this summer and get paid for it, so it was easy to put in the effort and hard work throughout the summer. I think we were both having so much fun working with technologies, coaches and players that it often times didn't even feel like work."
Black-Araujo is now back in Canada and returned to the program this fall with a far more knowledge of the game and industry than when he left. He was a big part of our Fall Tour, providing in-game video and footage of our players to be used for recruiting purposes, as well as providing recaps on the website and social media with the help of Tom Lamphier.
While we wish he could have been with us this past summer, it was a great development opportunity for Black-Araujo that will do nothing but help Team Ontario going forward.