Results tagged ‘ James Vilade ’
Five years ago today, the baseball community lost Mike Coolbaugh, the brother of Rangers’ hitting coach and former RoughRiders’ hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh. Mike Coolbaugh passed away after being hit with a line drive while coaching first base for the Tulsa Drillers during a game against the Arkansas Travelers. Frisco coach and Diamond Dreams board member James Vilade was on staff with Scott in 2007 and remembers getting the news.
“I remember getting a phone call from our hitting coordinator that it had happened and then talked with Scott. It was devastating for the family especially a tragedy on the baseball field,” Vilade said. “It was a tragedy in baseball, one of the worst tragedies in the history of the game.”
The accident raised awareness of baseball safety and the MLB instituted a rule where are base coaches were required to wear helmets as of the 2008 season. The Coolbaugh’s also wanted to continue Mike’s legacy while promoting baseball safety which is how Mike Coolbaugh’s Diamond Dreams came into being. The foundation was founded in 2009 and has since grown reaching out to the baseball community in multiple ways.
“One of the big projects we have going on right now is improving the batting cages over at Grapevine High School. Grapevine is where Chris Gavora was killed in 2007. That’s been one of our main focuses in Diamond Dreams is to raise funds and help get that project underway,” Vilade said. “We have an annual bowling event that we do to raise money for our scholarship fund. We have a scholarship fund that supports a graduating senior from Roosevelt High School.”
Diamond Dreams also reaches out to families that experience baseball tragedies.
“One thing we try to do is to help embrace and comfort families that suffer a loss in the game whether it’s the Shannon Stone memorial fund, Shannon was tragically killed at the Ballpark in Arlington, or whether it’s a local situation,” Vilade said. “A few weeks ago we had the Mauppin family out here (Dr Pepper Ballpark). Bruce and Bonnie lost their daughter to cancer in February so we just try to show people that the baseball community is a strong community. We’re all in it together. We’re all working towards being the best that we can be as keepers of the game.”
Viilade said the foundation has grown over the past two years.
“Thanks to a lot of great baseball people out there, we’ve been able to advance our scholarship fund. We’ve been able to embrace a few more situations in the community that need assistance,” Vilade said. “We’ve got an awareness of needs that we try to pay attention to what’s going on in the baseball community and our drive is to help take care of the baseball and as Susan Coolbaugh would say baseball never forgets their own.”
Diamond Dreams has partnered with Jamey Newberg of The Newberg Report for Newberg Report Night with all of the proceeds from that event going to Diamond Dreams. Diamond Dreams has several projects in the works that will be announced around August 1. For more information about the foundation, go to www.diamonddreams.org. With all of the support from the baseball community, the future looks bright for Diamond Dreams.
Written By: Jarah Wright
Whenever the four of us in the media department started the season, we didn’t anticipate having personal connections with people in the Texas League. However, all of us do and here are our stories.
I was born and raised in Tyler, Texas, a town of about 100,000 people that sits halfway between Dallas and Shreveport, Louisiana. It’s also home to the University of Texas at Tyler which is how I’m connected to Texas Rangers’ scout and one of Frisco’s coaches James Vilade. Vilade coached at UT-Tyler and in 2007 when they had their 37-1 season, I remember it being on the news everywhere. One of the guys I went to high school with played for Vilade the last season he coached at UT-Tyler. My brother also played for Vilade when he coached one of the Dallas Patriots baseball teams.
When I went to professional umpire school in 2010, I got to know Texas League umpire Nick Bailey. He is the crew chief of one of the umpiring crews (he and his crew will be coming back to Frisco shortly). On the final day of umpiring school, you will find out if you will get the chance to compete for a professional job. Well, after having a little bit of fun with me, Nick was the guy that told me I would have a chance to go pro. Needless to say, it was a pretty emotional moment. And yes, we hugged it out.
My first job in baseball was as an assistant broadcaster for the Advanced-A Salem (Va.) Avalanche of the Carolina League in 2007. Back when I was in Salem, it was affiliated with the Houston Astros. During the season, a 23-year old middle infielder named Tim Torres was promoted from Single-A Lexington and helped the Avs earn a second half playoff berth. Tim was a quiet guy, but good to chat with and be around. I always remembered him as one of my favorite guys on the team and was happy to see him with the Tulsa Drillers when Opening Day rosters were announced. Now 28 and on his third organization, Tim is playing mostly outfield this season. We had a chance to catch up a bit when the Drillers were in Frisco and he is still the same thoughtful person I remembered from years ago in the Roanoke Valley. Last season he played for the Marlins’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates and said it’s been “kind of a crazy career.” Not too many players from that ’07 Salem team are still playing in affiliated ball, so it was great to see a link from my past joining the present here in the Texas League.
When the season began I didn’t think that I would have a connection to a player in the Texas League. It wasn’t until I was looking into Nick Schmidt’s background for the video interview that I realized that I did. Schmidt, who pitches for the Tulsa Drillers, is from St. Louis, MO, where I was born and raised. He also went to Vianney High School, which is a rival of the High School (Chaminade) that I went to for 9th and part of 10th grade before moving here. My brother-in-law also graduated from Vianney two years before Nick did.
Major League Baseball holds their annual Amateur Draft from June 4 through the 6 this week, and we have decided to get a look from different angles on the Frisco RoughRiders. A very low percentage of draft picks ever reach the Major Leagues and those that do never take the exact same path to reach it. There will be 1,200 or so players drafted over the next three days and a large majority of them will likely never make it to Double-A, let alone the Big Leagues. Here are stories from those that have or have played roles in those that have.
On Monday night Major League Baseball held the first round and supplemental rounds of the 2012 amateur draft. From that point through Wednesday, the lives of approximately 1,200 players will be forever changed with the words “drafted by ________ in the ___ round”. Some will ultimately not sign, but hundreds of them will move onto their first opportunity at professional baseball. For some, just making it to professional baseball will be a dream come true. For others, it’s one step closer to their ultimate dream of making it to a major league stadium.
The dream that each player has does not become a reality overnight, however, and there are many paths to realizing the goal. Every player, whether it’s one in high school or college, has to have someone backing them both long before the draft process and during the draft process.
In the case of the Frisco RoughRiders, we have examples of both in the clubhouse alone.
When the Texas Rangers selected Steve Buechele in the 5th round of the 1982 draft, they probably had a good feeling that he could be a major league caliber player. But, they probably did not expect the pick to still be rewarding the organization 30 years down the road.
After spending three seasons in the minor leagues, Buechele made his debut on July 19th, 1985. He would become an 11 year major league veteran amassing 1,046 hits, 137 home runs, 547 RBI, and 501 runs over that time. In his third season as Frisco’s manager Steve Buechele has made an impact on the game both on the field as a player and on the field as a coach. He also has made an impact as a father.
“Well I think it’s…you’ll hear things. Every player no matter who they are unless they’re just a bona fide number one pick, I think will always hear something. You’ll go in the top three, the top seven, top ten, top fifteen, whatever it is, you know, and I think just to take everything with a grain of salt because you never know what’s going to happen on draft day,” Steve Buechele said about the difference of having gone through the draft process himself.
In the 2010 draft, the Texas Rangers selected Garrett Buechele out of the University of Oklahoma with their 18th round pick. After not signing and returning for another year, Garrett was taken by the San Francisco Giants in the 14th round of the 2011 draft at which point he signed.
“I think for us, you know, he went…one year he was drafted by the Rangers, it was kind of neat,” Buechele said when asked about the feeling of seeing his son getting drafted, “But he went back to school and then last year when he was drafted by the Giants our reaction was we were just happy that he was going to get a chance to play baseball which is what he’s always wanted to do.”
While the player can have the talent and the parent can help the son, baseball players would not be as easy to find without the help of the scout and coach. In Frisco, we have one person who has done both, in James Vilade.
During his career as a college baseball coach at the University of Dallas and UT-Tyler, James Vilade went 348-117 and helped over 50 players make it to professional baseball in twelve seasons as a college coach. Since then Vilade has worked as an area scout for the Florida Marlins and currently is a part-time scout for the Texas Rangers as well as an assistant hitting coach for the Frisco RoughRiders.
Asked about how it feels as a coach to see players make it: “It’s exciting. I mean from the standpoint of where I am now with player development and also scouting, it’s a unique position on its own but Monday night I was with Elvis Andrus at the Ballpark in Arlington. It’s nice to see guys make it. It really is so it’s nice to see guys accomplish their goals and our job is to develop guys and get them to Arlington. It’s rewarding when they do.”
Draft day for many baseball fans happens quickly and before you know it it’s over and you might not hear of 90% of the players ever again. For scouts, however, especially on the amateur side, the draft is a yearlong process, if not more.
The chain of command is long and winded as well. From the area scouts to the crosscheckers to national supervisors, the process of getting players recommended can be long and tedious. And heaven forbid a player has a bad day when the scout’s supervisor is there. But, once draft day comes along, the responsibility is no longer on the part of the area scout and now on those in charge of the draft.
“As far as my job, my job on actual draft day, my role really dwindles. It’s up the guys in the front office and the national guys that make the real big decisions so for us working in a certain area, the pressure is off us that day. It goes to the front office and those guys are all working hard and I know there’s hours of meetings and trying to make it the best draft possible,” Vilade said.
It can make for fascinating debates years down the road. Take for instance a very interesting tweet by former Houston Astro C.J. Nitkowski ( @CJNitkowski ):
“18th anniversary of me being taken 9th overall in the MLB draft. I often reminisce about how many people were fired over that decision.”
And that comes from somebody that appeared in 336 big league games.
Written By: Michael Damman
Coaching and scouting both come with a unique set of challenges. This season James Villade is tackling both as a Texas Rangers scout and helping Jason Hart with Frisco RoughRiders batting skills. Vilade said it’s an interesting combination and both aspects have different objectives that work towards one common goal.
“With scouting, you’re trying to identify talent that can come into an organization and have a huge impact on the organization,” he said. “As far as coaching goes, player development is key and being able to develop players and get them to the next level.”
Vilade was a college baseball coach for 12 years, starting baseball programs at the University of Dallas and the University of Texas at Tyler. When he retired from coaching in 2010, Vilade left as the second winningest NCAA baseball coach in Texas and the eighteenth winningest coach in NCAA history. He credits his players and fellow coaching staff members for achieving that level of success.
“I’ve always had a great coaching staff and I’ve always had tremendous players and that’s what it comes down to,” he said. “What’s special about it is the people that I got to be around and the lives I got to touch along the way.”
Vilade said the key is building a trusting relationship between the players and their coaches.
“I think success of the coaching and player development side is that number one: you need to have a plan. You have to know what your goals and know what you’re working towards,” he said. “You have to develop a routine that’s meaningful for the players that they believe in, that they know is going to enhance them and their abilities. Then there’s dependability. You have to be a very, very dependable source for the players because there are a lot of ups and downs as a player and to have people to go through the ups and downs knowing you have some consistency, that speaks volumes to players.”
In 2007, Vilade joined Frisco as the hitting instructor.
“The first player I ever worked with as a professional coach was Elvis (Andrus). When I reported, Scott Coolbaugh had contacted me and said you’re going to be doing some extra work with one of our players that’s coming off the disabled list,” Vilade said. “Elvis had been injured so I helped him with his workouts and we built a great relationship and a great trust. His year here in 2008 was unbelievable. In 2009, he was in the big leagues so there’s a lot to be said for his work ethic and drive.”
Vilade coached alongside Head Coach Dave Anderson and Scott Coolbaugh during his time in Frisco. He credits the two for mentoring him and helping him develop into a better coach.
“For my first time coaching professional baseball, I had some great examples and some great mentors,” he said. “The time I spent working under Dave Anderson as a manager in 2007 was amazing. It really was to work with a guy who has that much care for his staff and that much passion for the game. He might ever know it but the impact he had on me was phenomenal. Scott Coolbaugh was very professional. He teaches you how to reach the players individually as well as collectively. That’s a talent. When you can reach everyone on a team level, on a group level, and you can also reach guys individually, that’s a true talent.”
Vilade said his background as a coach helped him make baseball connections which have aided him in scouting.
“My college experience brings a lot of connections to high school and junior college coaches. It’s one of those things when you scout. You have to be efficient. You have to be out and about. You have to make connections so college has helped me make a lot of connections in the game of baseball,” he said.
It was those connections that led the now Miami Marlins to offer Vilade a job as a North Texas scout in 2010.
“That’s what got me into scouting and I think the Marlins saw my value of being a college coach for a long time. When you’re an NCAA coach, you’re connected to high schools. You’re connected to junior colleges and you’re connected to NCAA clubs,” Vilade said. “It’s an advantage for me going into the professional scouting side of it to get me connected to the North Texas area because I’ve spent my whole, with the exception of one year, coaching career within 100 miles of Dallas or in Dallas so I’ve been functioning in this area for a long time.”
Family played a major factor in his decision to take the scouting job in 2010 and he viewed the opportunity as a chance to get closer to family.
“For me, scouting was a way to get back to Dallas which is where my wife’s family is and it was a way for us to connect the kids with their grandparents and with family and have a broader support system,” Vilade said.
Vilade worked as a scout for the Marlins in 2010 and 2011 before joining the Texas Rangers organization in 2012. He is one of three amateur scouts covering the North Texas area. He said there is never a boring day and that decision-making is the most important part of his job.
“When you scout, you’re continually building a database of players. You’re crosschecking players. You’re trying to figure out who do you want to invest a lot of time in and who’s maybe a guy you follow up with later on down the road,” Vilade said. “A lot of my time is spent communicating with Jay Ennings who runs the North Texas area.”
Although scouts look for skills on the field, Vilade said there’s more thought behind evaluating a player.
“As far as scouting goes, we’re going to grade out on five skills: run, throw, field, hit, and hit for power. Then there’s the character, the make-up part of it. That’s the toughest part to evaluate as a scout. It’s finding out the player’s character, finding out his work ethic, finding out who he is, what he stands for, and is he going to be somebody that represent the organization at a high leve,” Vilade said. “I mean holding up a radar gun and saying yeah this guy’s got a good fastball, sometimes that becomes obvious but does he project out over the long haul and what kind of person is he?”
Vilade said he is excited to coach in Frisco and is looking forward to this season.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity. To be back in Frisco and be a Frisco resident is really special. It’s fun not only to represent the Texas Rangers but also the city of Frisco.”
Story Written by: Jarah Wright and Michael Damman
Photo credit: Frisco RoughRiders