One thing that never ceases to amaze me about social media is how easy it is to get in touch with someone. That happened recently, as I shot a DM to our featured guest today, asking for an interview, and got a response within an hour. Our special guest today is Andy Mocahbee, former Georgia State standout catcher, who is now a coach for his alma mater and just finished up his first season of independent baseball. An NAIA player mixed with Indy ball is quite honestly my favorite type of ball player, so I am lucky to have this interview. This question and answer session goes over how recruiting works at the NAIA level, how MLB scouts follow NAIA teams, and underlooked aspects of running an NAIA program. A fantastic insight, and hopefully you enjoy!
Do you feel that the NAIA has any advantages recruiting over a D1 team, or even at D2, D3 program?
I don’t feel we have many advantages over division 1 teams. A lot of kids in high school or coming out of junior college want to go D1 rather than anywhere else. As far as D2 and D3, it really just depends on which schools. I know D3’s are usually expensive and do not give baseball scholarships so I feel we have an advantage in that aspect.
Are you able to go out to showcases to recruit, or are most of your recruits found at team run camps? We usually find most of our recruits at showcases we attend. However we do occasionally find a player in our own camps.
Where does most of your recruiting class come from? Are you stuck in recruiting only from Georgia, or are you able to venture out into the Midwest or Pacific Coast?
Most of our recruiting class is from Georgia, Florida, and Alabama. However we do have a couple guys from Michigan. We don’t discriminate on where the player is from. We will take a player from anywhere. Last year we had a guy from California.
How does recruiting from junior college work? Do you have specific pipelines from programs or coaches, or do you actively look through stats to find players that you might want to pursue?
I would say both. Here at Middle Ga State University, us coaches knows all the junior college coaches around here so we are always in contact with them. However, we do keep an eye out on stats.
It always interests me to see former D1 players transferring to NAIA. An example that sticks out to me was Joe Gillette who transferred from Arizona State to Menlo, and was a senior sign last year. Is this something that Middle Georgia State pursues?
Absolutely. For as long as I have been here, we have always had a couple guys every year that went to a Division 1 school at some point in their college careers. Some notable schools are Kennesaw State, Southeast Louisiana, Morehead State, University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, and Louisiana Monroe just to name a few.
Do MLB scouts visit at all, and how to they approach you? Is it something where they have a particular player in mind, and contact you beforehand saying that they are stopping by to see this player, or is there not much contact?
Yes scouts do come. They usually do contact beforehand. Or they will ask to follow one of our players and keep up with him throughout the season.
What are your relationships with independent baseball like? I know you played for the New Jersey Jackals last year, are they or other independent teams contacting you about players on the team that deserve a shot in independent baseball?
I know a lot of Independent managers and coaches. No they don’t contact me personally asking for players. However, they have contacted our head coach in the past. After I failed to sign with the Miami Marlins last year and had to get shoulder surgery, a couple contacted our head coach asking about players and that is actually how I got hooked up with independent baseball.
It seems that there is a certain mentality of NAIA baseball team, especially online and on Twitter. Almost a sense of the “Wild West” and anything goes. Has your team embraced that at all?
Very little. In the past couple years we have engaged a little bit with the NAIA Ball Twitter page but we usually like to keep our noses clean and show out on the field.
How have analytics and developmental programs Driveline affected the way your team is run?
Our pitching coach uses a lot of driveline techniques for arm recovery and arm strengthening things with our pitchers.
What is one thing about college baseball that fans might not realize go on? For instance, holding a pancake breakfast to raise funds for the club.
We hold an annual golf tournament every fall for a fundraiser to help raise some money for our program. We do a lot of community service things as a team including Buddy Ball. Buddy Ball is where we go and play some baseball with kids with disabilities which our guys always enjoy. We also go and read to elementary school kids like twice a year. However, I don’t think fans really understand the brotherhood the players have with each other. I mean they spend literally 24/7 with each other and end up very close.
Similarly, as for most smaller schools admission is free, how can your average person support his or her favorite college team financially?
Simply by donating. We obviously do not have the budget like a lot of bigger schools so donations to our program are always helpful.