In these cold, frozen months, BYU’s Indoor Practice Field hosts drafted players who take advantage of the off-season to train with BYU’s baseball team.
These players — Adam Miller, Jaycob Brugman, Marcus Littlewood and Adam Law — enjoy the off-season because they can focus on baseball and nothing else. Although the IPF is no replacement for an open field, it is an exceptional substitute.
“It’s pretty hard to throw outside with the cold and the snow on the baseball field, so it’s definitely a luxury to have the IPF and not worry about the elements,” said Miller, catcher in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. He hopes to make a full-season team this spring, which is what he has been working on since he was drafted as a junior last year.
Most professional players in the off-season do not have the same access to an indoor facility, but BYU welcomes the players each year.
“A lot of players will pay to go to a facility or they’re on their own, but here we have the strength coach to help us,” said Brugman, right fielder for the Oakland Athletics. “The coaching staff is really helpful with letting us come back and be with the team, so it’s a blessing to have a connection for workouts in the off-season.”
Adam Law, infielder for the L.A. Dodgers, enjoys the IPF because he can train near his parents’ home.
“The most exciting part is that my dad throws batting practice to me, so I go almost every day with him,” Law said. “It’s good to spend time with him and get tips and pointers. I grew up here, so we’re just down the street.”
There are some key differences between an outdoor field and an indoor one. Indoor, the players practice on the synthetic grass, which makes it harder to readjust to dirt once the athletes begin spring training.
“Dirt sometimes can get bad hops, but inside it’s pretty smooth so you don’t have to worry a lot about getting hit,” Law said. “I look forward to going down to spring training a little bit earlier to play outside because it’s a little bit different.”
Another difference is the IPF’s 93-foot-high white ceiling. Not having the blue sky’s contrast makes the ball less visible in the air. For outfielders like Brugman, being outside again will make his job easier.
“Being an outfielder, you can’t see the ball against the ceiling, and that’s the most crucial part, to see the ball in the sky and judge where it will go,” he said.
Miller, a catcher, finds the 222-by-422-foot field spacious enough for his workouts.
“There’s plenty of space in here to throw,” Miller said. “You can throw long ways and sideways, and we have the nets to bounce balls off of so there’s plenty of space to throw in here.”
All four players are not finished with school yet, so they take online classes to work on their degrees. Miller, Brugman and Law are juniors at BYU, and Littlewood was a second-round draft pick out of high school for the Seattle Mariners.
“(Being drafted) was the greatest accomplishment of my career in that point,” Littlewood said. “There was a lot of pressure in high school with scouts and in college, so it was a relief to get drafted and know where my career was going.”
The players will report to the training facilities in Arizona this spring. They look forward to warmer weather and expect their hard work to pay off.
“Sometimes I get caught up in what could happen next season, but I just do my best to focus on becoming a better player myself before I worry about what other people are thinking,” Law said.
Littlewood also hopes to have a good season.
“The last few years I went in with some expectations and goals I wanted to meet, but this year I just want to have fun and enjoy it,” he said. “I’m just going to go in and see what happens.”