by Brandon Rebboah
Note: Summer and baseball have always seemed to fit together perfectly. For fans of the game, summer is a time to enjoy the sights, sounds and atmosphere of America's pastime, but for college baseball players, it is a time for development. College players across the country, including members of the Santa Clara baseball squad, have already left for their summer experiences just weeks after finals as they begin preparation for the 2013 season.
After a much-improved 2012 campaign on the Mission Campus, Bronco ball players now occupy rosters throughout the nation in summer leagues that are helping them grow as players. Santa Clara is represented in nine different leagues from the Bay Area to New England, while others play for independent teams. The "All Summer Long" series, in its second season, will chronicle the Broncos as they play in various summer leagues nationwide, and in Canada as well.
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - For many ballplayers, the summer is a time to get extra work that will help them in the upcoming season, but for pitchers summer leagues can present an unique situation - balancing between productive preparation and overworking their arms. Santa Clara lefty Max Deering has found the perfect blend of rest and work as he prepares for the Broncos' 2013 campaign with the Slippery Rock Sliders.
Deering will return to the Mission Campus for his junior year in 2013. During his sophomore season, Deering was one of first-year head coach Dan O'Brien's most trusted set-up men. The left-hander pitched 37.1 innings over 28 appearances, all of which were in relief. He posted a 3-2 record and collected three saves while striking out 19. The mid-inning reliever's sophomore season was much improved from his rooking outing. Compared to his 2010 stats, Deering cut his ERA by roughly three while pitching five more innings. Looking forward to 2013, Deering should be one of the Broncos' most formidable left-handed relievers.
Deering is gaining valuable experience in Pennsylvania this summer along with rising junior catcher Zach Looney. The Prospect League is a competitive wood bat league with teams in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Illinois, Indiana and Missouri. The league starts in late-May and continues through the middle of August.
When it comes to balancing between preparation and overworking, Deering and the rest of Bronco pitching staff are in good hands. Santa Clara pitching coach Gabe Ribas worked individually with all of his pitchers to set goals for their summer experiences.
"Coach Ribas and I sat down and listed some goals for me this summer. One of the goals was to throw between 40 and 50 innings," said Deering. "So in all seriousness, I never foresaw overthrowing as an issue this summer, but rather, that I would potentially not reach the inning goal that Coach Ribas and I agreed upon."
Deering is on pace to hit the goal Ribas set up for him. As of July 17, Deering has pitched 30.2 innings with 20 games left in the Prospect League's season. The Bronco lefty has been given the opportunity to not only work in his duties as a reliever, but also start bouts for the Sliders. He has appeared in seven games, starting four, while tallying a 2-2 record, a 4.40 ERA, 15 strikeouts and a save.
The inning-count that Ribas set up for Deering has allowed the lefty to feel good about his endurance on the mound.
"During this past [collegiate] season, the most pitches I threw in any outing was probably around 40 or 50," said the Bronco lefty. " [Due to] the great groundwork that Coach Ribas has helped me lay, my summer coach can leave me in the game up to the 100-pitch mark without worrying about the risk of any injury."
In his most recent outing, Deering started against fellow Prospect League East Division foe, the Butler Blue Sox (Ohio), pitching six innings in a no decision. The battery was a familiar one to Santa Clara fans as fellow Bronco Zach Looney was behind the dish for the Sliders. The Sliders outlasted the Blue Sox 5-4 in a 10-inning contest.
Check back to SantaClaraBroncos.com to find out where other current Bronco players are spending their summers in preparation for the 2013 Santa Clara season.
*A special thanks to Max Deering for the video!