This is an exciting new venture for the Rhode Island Baseball Experience – scouting reports for the Rhode Island Baseball Community written by players, coaches, parents, grandparents, or league administrators. These are players looking for some press, maybe to join an AAU program, maybe to get some local high school exposure statewide, and possibly the attention collegiate coaches and pro scouts. If you would like your profile to be shared with the Rhode Island Baseball Community, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the contact form at the bottom of this article. So, without any further interruptions, I am happy to share a very thorough and professional scouting report by KR Express proud parent and local author, Paul Lonardo on: The 14U KR Express Baseball Team
How a Local AAU Baseball Team Prepares For A Competitive Season
by Paul Lonardo
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
Benjamin Franklin’s often-cited quote is an adage that applies to all of life’s pursuits, but certainly to sports, and in this case, youth baseball.
Building a competitive team begins with the coaching and instruction that young players receive. For the 14U KR Express team, being sponsored and instructed at KR Baseball Academy in Lincoln, RI is an advantage the players and their families all fully appreciate. Ken Ryan is local product, having played eight years in MLB, pitching for the Boston Red Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies during the 1990s. He is fully involved with his AAU teams and offers his players professional insight, which is something that few other youth programs can boast.
But make no mistake, this is Coach Jason Harvey’s team. He sets the example for the dedication and hard work that is required for a player to perform at a high level and for them to collectively succeed as a team.
Coach Harvey graduated from Northeastern University, where he studied Physical Therapy. While attending the school, he played in the Yawkey Baseball League in Boston. When his son, Nolan, started his own journey playing the game, he began coaching Ken Ryan’s Express 9U team. Besides Nolan, there are several other players who have been with KR and Coach Harvey going on six years now. Other players have joined the KR family more recently. While Coach Harvey’s way of preparing and playing the game may be more familiar to some, all the boys know what to expect and what is expected of them.
“I believe that youth players should develop at several positions so they will learn the nuances of every position while developing a feel for the game,” Coach Harvey says. “I try to develop depth of 3-4 at every position, with particular emphasis up the middle, as well as pitching and the catcher position.”
Having a roster of versatile athletes who can play several positions at a high level offers their coach the ability to move players into positions to make the team successful. It also gives the 14U KR Express team great pitching depth, a luxury and a necessity for a team built to complete with the best in showcase and tournament play.
For the 14U KR Express baseball team, the 2022 season began last November, shortly after the 2021 fall season ended, with practices twice a week and two other days each week devoted to strength and agility training.
Along with a focus on developing fundamental baseball skills, ample time is spent working on mental aspects of the game. Players must learn how to deal with those things that they cannot control, so handling adversity and failure is an important topic of discussion, lessons that apply not only on the field, but in the classroom, at home, and in the community.
Come January, the team began throwing off a mound, refining pitching mechanics, and breaking down different pitches and how to locate them. Pitch velocity, spin rate, and spin direction are tracked to teach players how to control and improve spin, and increase or decrease the break of their pitches. The throwing program accelerates in February, with the focus on increasing arm strength and resilience so that by March the KR Express pitchers can compete against the KR Express hitters.
“Because we believe our hitters are some of the best hitters at the 14U level, the hitters provide our pitchers some great competition and opportunities to develop,” Coach Harvey says. “On the flip side, because our pitchers are some of the best pitchers at the 14U level, with several throwing 80-plus mph with outstanding off-speed pitches, this gives our hitters the most difficult at bats they will face all season.”
The players on the KR Express 14U team all want to perform at their best, and you will find the boys who don’t participate in other winter sports doing additional hitting and other training on the “off” days. It may make for a long season, but these boys wouldn’t have it any other way.
After coming up one run short in the 13U NEAAU Super Division championship game last summer, a few key roster pickups were made, and now the 14U KR Express team is primed and anxious for the 2022 season. This past October, playing all together for the first time, they went undefeated during the fall season en route to capturing the 14U NEAAU Fall League championship.
One aspect that may go unnoticed to those outside the KR Express system is that Coach Harvey’s 14U team is as much a family as it is a team. Not only do the players love the game, their parents, grandparents, and siblings all enjoy the competitive spirit the boys have and the camaraderie they share as a baseball family, which makes it a fun atmosphere for the players to develop their skills and helps them to gel as a unit.
The 14U KR Express team consists of: Anthony DeFusco, Allen Espinal, Harold Fernandez, Nolan Harvey, Colin Lahiff, Ryan Landry, Jake Lonardo, Jairo Martinez, Ethan Palmer, Sam Perry, Jaiden Rosario, and Isaiah Vasquez.
Paul, thank you so much for this incredible scouting report. And I will add that Jason Harvey has been an incredible resource for me for the past several years and I appreciate his knowledge and insights on sports medicine as well as hitting a curveball. By the way, Paul Lonardo is a local Rhode Island accomplished author and freelance writer and has published several books, including “The Goblin Pitcher.” Read more about Paul and “The Goblin Pitcher” at www.thegoblinpitcher.com.
KR Express players, Coach Harvey and coaching staff, parents, and organizational leaders – good luck to everyone associated with the 14U KR Express program in 2022! From Paul’s scouting report, you are well on your way to a very positive Rhode Island Baseball Experience! And if you would like to scout yourself, a player in your organization, or someone that deserves some local press, fill out this contact form: