2013 Instructional League: FAQ
The Indians 2013 Fall Instructional League kicks off on Thursday out at their spring training and player development complex in Goodyear, Arizona. Camp runs for a little over four weeks and time will be split between on-field workouts, intra-squad games, and games between other local Major League organizations before concluding on Monday October 14th.
For those new to the prospect game or that are curious as to what Instructional League really is, here are a few basic things you need to know:
- Commonly referred to as "Instructs", the camp is basically broken up into two camps, one for the Fall Instructional Program (FIP) and the other just a Strength and Conditioning Program (SCP).
- Deciding on who to send can vary, but it mostly involves new professional players as recent draft picks from the June draft make up a large percentage of the roster. The roster also includes a lot of draft picks from the prior year's draft as well as any recent foreign free agent signings that the organization plans to play stateside the next season or want to get an extended look at.
- The makeup of players involves the new elite level players who need to focus on a few specific areas to help finish them off, or the fringe prospects that the organization may experiment with in another role or get a lot of extra work with to maybe push them into the upper tier of prospects.
- There used to be a Fall Instructional Program and Fall Development Program (FDP), and in some ways this is still the case, but with many elite level first year prospects in Arizona for Instructs the two have for the most part been combined into one. Also, there used to be a Parallel League - or otherwise known as advanced Instructional League - but that was not brought back this year.
- The more advanced prospects who would have been in the FDP in the past will still only be there for about two weeks, but now are just participating to get ready for the Arizona Fall League.
- Those participating in strength and conditioning are not participating in games and are only there to really hone in on improving their physical makeup. While it is only two to four weeks, it is a program that helps provide a springboard for players to continue to work out throughout the rest of the offseason and come into spring training next year in top shape.
- The rosters can actually be very fluid in Instructs, but the only thing that is important is who is playing (FIP) and who is not (strength and conditioning).
- The purpose of Instructs is mostly to help the newly signed draft picks in their transition into professional baseball by giving them an early introduction into the daily routines of pro ball, what spring training will be like, and to begin to learn how to prepare for the day-to-day grind of a 140-game season. They also begin to learn about off-field things like nutrition, weight training, proper conditioning, and so on.
- In addition to all of this, Instructs provide an opportunity for very specific one-on-one instruction for many players to improve certain areas of their game that maybe were not available during the season. With the entire player development staff on hand as well as several other coaches, it is about a 3:1 player to coach ratio.
- What is worked on can vary, but mainly for pitchers it can be the addition of a new pitch, a change in their delivery, or a change in their role. For a position player it can be a permanent position change (or experimental) or some adjustments made to their swing mechanics.
- In some cases, Instructs serves as an opportunity for pitchers to throw some more innings or hitters to get more at bats because they need to make up for some valuable lost development time because they maybe missed a significant amount of games during the season due to injury.
- There is no media coverage or any media personnel present during Instructional League, so daily information is limited. You can't go to MiLB.com to view box scores or stats. That said, as always I should be able to provide daily summaries from each game that is played, so if you want any game info from Instructs this is the only place you will find it. I will also be out in Arizona the last week of Instructs and will provide some firsthand reports on the happenings in Instructs as well as the Arizona Fall League.
- The complete Instructional League roster and schedule was posted a few weeks ago. The first game is September 20th.
Follow Tony and the Indians Baseball Insider on Twitter @TonyIBI. Also, his new book the 2013 Cleveland Indians Baseball Insider which profiles the Indians' Top 100 Prospects and more is available for sale.