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Interviews & Articles

Congrats, Academy Player, Sam Hunt!

Sam Hunt has been working hard at Hitdawg for a long time.  Now 14, Sam has been honing his skills in the facility since he was 8 years old.  Sam’s hard work and dedication are starting to pay some impressive dividends.  Last week Sam became the starting catcher for the Saint Louis Park Orioles varsity baseball team.  Not bad for a kid who doesn’t even attend the high school yet because he isn’t old enough.  Sam is in 8th grade.

How is he doing?  I asked head coach Brian Kelly.

"Super comfortable, hitting a lot of hard ground balls.  Elevated one yesterday and it would have one hopped the fence if it wasn't caught."

As a catcher, "Sam has looked really good behind the plate."

This winter Sam also competed in the 13U International Power Showcase.  He is the third player from Hitdawg to compete in the event along with Eden Prairie graduates Ryan Bull, who went on to play 4 years at Notre Dame, and Jeff Athey who is currently a freshman at Nebraska.  This year’s event was held in Miami Marlins Park and hosted some of the best young talent in the world.  The home run derby portion of the event consisted of two rounds: the preliminary round and the championship round.  The top two home run totals plus the person with the longest home run in the prelims move on to the finals.  Sam ended up with both the highest total (17) and the longest home run (406 ft.) and easily secured a spot in the championship round.  There he showed well hitting 8 more home runs and another 406 foot blast but fell to the reigning champion Gio Cueto.  The home run line for the 13 year old division is set around 300 feet which is a pretty healthy poke for that age, but Sam managed to hit 9 of his home runs over the actual big league fence. 

I asked Sam what was the coolest thing about the experience.

"It was all so cool, but I guess walking up to a major league plate.  Then having a ball come in and then seeing it go out over a big league fence.  That was cool."

The next day is reserved for games.  Sam was asked to play in the 15u division instead of his own age group.

"I hit a ball really deep to center but the other team had the fastest ranked kid in the country for the 2020 class playing centerfield and he tracked it down.  It was really fun playing against that level of competition."

The player who hits the longest home run is awarded a replica of Babe Ruth's bat.

"That was really cool too.  This thing is huge, it weighs like 50 ounces.  Babe Ruth's granddaughter actually presented it to me."

Sam also recently tried out for and made the Baseball USA 15U regional team.  The regional teams play in a week long tournament in Raleigh North Carolina in August.  Sam will be joining the Midwest team as a catcher.  During the tournament the coaches evaluate the players and pick the roster for Team USA.   Good luck Sam!


Congratulations to Nick Hanson! 

First, for having an outstanding senior season which culminated in being named the Minnesota state Gatorade Player of the Year.

Second, for earning a full pitching scholarship to division I powerhouse Kentucky University.

Next, for being selected as the second pick of the third round (79th overall) in the MLB amateur player draft.

And finally for signing with the Cincinnati Reds and taking the next step in his baseball career!

Nick has been coming to Hitdawg since we opened.  First as a hitter (he can still mash by the way), then primarily as a pitcher.  His hard work is paying off.  The MLB scouting bureau had Nick sitting between 89-94 mph this spring and topping out at a blistering 97 mph.  Nick throws gas.

Nick became just the 3rd high school pitcher from Minnesota in the last 25 years taken in the top three rounds.

Congratulations again to Nick and his entire family from everyone here at Hitdawg!

LA Dodger's Top Prospect- Corey Seager- May 2015

Nothing is easy in baseball. To be successful you have to keep working at it (though it never really felt like work to me.) That's way Dodgers top prospect Corey Seager is always trying to improve. Despite being a first rounder and putting up stupid numbers in the minors, he keeps working on his game. He was cool enough to give us a few minutes of his time to see what he thinks about getting better.

During Spring Training you worked with Shawn on hitting, what did you focus on? "We spent time working on my turn or rotation. Specifically, linking it up to my bat path and staying in sync. I needed to work on keeping my top hand bicep up as I rotated so we worked on flat bat a lot. I even hit from the position for a few days during spring training games because I needed to feel it work. Then I went back to my regular swing and separating my hands."

People often use the off season to make changes to their mechanics; do you think it's OK to make changes during the season? "Yes I do. I actually make changes every day. I mean, you have to adjust as you go. I am always trying to learn more about my swing. Sometimes you have to take a couple steps backwards to move forwards but in the end it makes you better."

Why Shawn? "Yeah that's kind of funny. He was in camp with me and he kept telling me he had something for me, something about my swing that would make it better but he wouldn't tell me. He said come see me when you are ready and I will show you. To be honest, it made me curious so I went to see him. Sure enough, he had all this video of my swing and we went through it as well as video of other guys as comparisons. It was eye opening."

What do you think some of the keys have been to your success as a hitter? "I guess I was pretty athletic growing up so I got away with a lot of things. My success now comes from learning my swing."

How often do you work on hitting now? How about when you were growing up? "As a kid I took BP like every day. My dad would take me and my brothers out and pitch to us. I also played basketball so I wouldn't hit as much during that season. Now I work on it even more. I mean, here I show up early to hit and work on my swing. Then we hit as a team on the field before every game."

How important are the other aspects of the game, i.e. fielding, base running, etc.? "Nowadays you have to be a well-rounded player. There aren't many guys left in the big leagues who just do one thing. You used to see that guy who could just play defense and couldn't hit, or the guy who could hit but didn't have a position. Those guys are pretty rare today. You have to be able to execute all aspects of this game."

How often do you work on them? "We work on those things everyday here."

If you could give advice about baseball to yourself at 15 years old, what would you say? "Work on fielding, angles to the ball, and how to approach it."

The night I spoke with Corey, he got promoted from AA to AAA. It seems hard work can pay off. I think we will soon be seeing Corey in the big leagues where his brother Kyle is already enjoying great success. A big thanks and good luck to Corey the rest of the season!

~Matt Paulsen

High School All-Star Game

The Minnesota High School All-Star series is pretty cool.  It highlights some of the best baseball players in Minnesota in a weekend series made up of six teams from around the state.  The metro area is cut into four teams (North, South, East, and West), and there are two outstate teams (North and South).  These teams get together and play a weekend tournament right in our backyard at Chaska’s Athletic Park and Chanhassen High School Field.

This year Hitdawg players were everywhere.  There was at least one player on every roster except the North team.  There were ten players in all competing and there would have been eleven had Nick Hanson not signed a pro contract with the Reds!

Congratulations to all the players from everyone here at Hitdawg.  You guys are studs.  Here is the list of players and the teams they played on.

Metro East 
Jordan Ammons                  

Metro West
Jeff Athey 
Hunter Even
Alex Fedje-Johnson
Jake Raether
Ryan Swanson              

Metro North
Josh Thorp      

Metro South 
Aiden Ladd
Luke Roskam    

Jared Campbell


Eight Hitdawg Players Make All-State Team

The Minnesota State High School Baseball Coaches Association recently named the All-State teams for each of the four baseball classes.  Eight current and former Hitdawg players were named for their outstanding seasons.  Congratulations to each of these players and their families from everyone here at Hitdawg.


Jordan Ammons – Cretin Derham Hall

Hunter Even – Chanhassen

Nick Hanson – Prior Lake

Fox Leum – Minnetonka

Max Meyer – Woodbury

Luke Roskum – Chaska

Class AA

Alex Fedje-Johnson – Minnehaha Academy

Aiden Ladd – Belle Plaine


Hard Work Pays Off for the Redhawks

Of all the possible attributes that a baseball player can have, there are two that contribute to success on the field more than any others.  They are not physical characteristics like speed or arm strength.  They come from within; they are dedication and hard work.   We see a lot of these characteristics demonstrated in the players coming into Hitdawg.  It is rare, however, to see them manifested by an entire team.  Enter Minnehaha Academy.

The Minnehaha Academy baseball team has been coming in to Hitdawg in the off-season for two years.  They book the entire facility and have open work outs for guys who can come.  The turnout is always large despite many athletes playing multiple sports.  This dedication and hard work paid off when the Redhawks made it to the Class AA state tournament championship game for the second year in a row.  Still not a group to remain complacent, many of the players came in during the tourney to practice and work on their swings.

It paid off, as Minnehaha Academy won the state championship game against Belle Plaine 5-1 to capture the title.  Congrats to the entire team from the staff here at Hitdawg.  You earned it!

On a side note, congrats to Alex Bremseth-Vining, and Aiden and Carson Ladd from Belle Plaine for their second place finish.  It is the definition of dedication to drive from Belle Plaine to Chanhassen to train in the off season!

Five Hitdawg Players Named to All-Metro Team

The Minneapolis Star Tribune recently named the All-Metro teams and five of the eighteen players are current or former Hitdawg members.  It is great to see their hard work paying off.  Congrats to these guys and all the other players from Hitdawg.

Nick Hanson (Prior Lake) – Metro Player of the Year

Luke Roskum (Chaska) – First team All-Metro

Ryan Swanson (Eden Prairie) – Second team All-Metro

Max Meyer (Woodbury) – Second team All-Metro

Fox Leum (Minnetonka) – Second team All-Metro

WCCO's Mike Max's Story on Hit Dawg Players!

Check out this cool story on Hit Dawg Academy & Senior Academy Players, Luke Roskam & Jeff Athey!

Jeff Athey Becomes Second Hitdawg Player to Compete in the International Power Showcase

Jeff Athey joined fellow Eden Prairie alumni Ryan Bull as the second player from Hitdawg to compete in the International Power Showcase.  The IPS is a 3 day event that showcases some of the best amateur players from all over the world.  This is the same event that featured that ridiculous 500 foot homer by a then 16 year old Bryce Harper in 2009.  This year’s event took place at Marlins Park in Miami and was streamed worldwide.  A whopping 39% of past showcase attendees have signed professional contracts and 100% have gone on to play college.  The event consists of a scout day, the home run derby, and an East-West all-star game.  I asked Jeff what he thought about the whole experience.

How cool was Marlins Field?

Nice, really nice.  I have played in Target field and I have to be honest, Marlins Park may be even better.  It even has an aquarium right in the backstop.

Is it true you got to meet Babe Ruth’s granddaughter?

I did.  She had all kinds of stories about him.  A very interesting lady.  In fact, the winners of the HR derby in each age group got a replica bat of the Babe’s.  They were huge, something like 48 ounces.

What was your favorite part of the showcase?

I don’t know, it was all so cool.  I really enjoyed seeing all the talent from not just the U.S. but all over the world.  There were players from Venezuela, Canada, Curacao, the Dominican, Guatemala, and even France.

Playing in Marlins Park was also awesome.  The locker rooms were spectacular and then you walk out onto this amazing field, very surreal.

If I had to pick though, it would be hitting my first home run.

So you hit some bombs?  How many?

I hit a couple.  It was a little nerve wracking because I was the third person to go.  I hit the first home run with a wood which got everyone fired up and then I hit another with aluminum.  That actually put me near the top.  Most guys didn’t hit any homers and quite a few guys hit one.  Three guys hit two and three guys hit three.  One player hit four and the winner hit five, so I was happy.

I saw that they give the distance of every home run, what was yours?

(laughing) They do.  I think they were 404’ and 430’

After the home run derby you played a game, how did that go?

That was great too.  The competition was really good.  All of the pitchers threw hard.  I was one of the only infielders on my team so I ended up getting playing all 9 innings in the field.  I was 1-2 (they batted the entire roster) and actually stole two bases.  Our team won 11-3.

Tell me about the charity sponsors.

Every player raises money for the charity of their choice through Home Runs That Help.  I met Grant Albin through a friend of my sisters.  He was diagnosed with Leukemia when he was 7 years old.  He has beaten cancer but must take a pill every day and go in routinely for bone marrow biopsies.  It was an honor to help raise money for Grant.

Thanks to Jeff for giving us his time and good luck this season!  

~Matt Paulsen

Indians Get Jack Goihl in the 28th Round!

In a way, we can thank EBAY and Jack Goihl for Hitdawg. 

A sophomore player from Armstrong needed new catching gear.  He was astounded that he was able to find a brand new set from an actual catcher from the Boston Red Sox for $100 on EBAY.  It was even the perfect color.  It turned out that the owner was also living in Minnesota, so instead of shipping it they met in the parking lot of a Home Depot.  The owner was Shawn Wooten.  During the meeting Shawn mentioned that he was going to be giving lessons in the area.  The catcher, Jack Goihl, said he was interested.  So Jack became Shawn’s first lesson in Minnesota.

“I remember it vividly.  We hit for an hour or so in a warehouse in Eden Prairie.  When it was over, Shawn told me I had a nice swing and would probably be successful where I was at.  Then he said if I was interested he would teach me how to hit at a higher level.  That it would take commitment but that he could help me hit at the level I was trying to get to.  My dad and I looked at each other for a second and then both turned to Shawn and told him we were all in.”

Jack has certainly hit at a higher level.  He helped Armstrong get to the MN AAA state tourney as a junior and was an All-State selection as a senior.  He continued his destruction of opposing pitchers at Augustana College in the NSIC as the Freshman Player of the Year.  He was a first team All-American his junior season and tied a school record with 15 home runs as a senior to end his career with 34 dongs.

“The thing is I was a good hitter as a kid because I was big.  Shawn helped turn me into a true hitter.  We remolded my swing from the ground up.”

That remolding took a lot of work, which is just the kind of player Jack is.  A hard worker and student of the game Jack puts in the hours to make himself not just a better hitter, but a better overall player.

Hit Dawg COVID-19 Update

5/10/20: Happy Mother's Day to all of our Hit Dawg Moms! We hope you had a wonderful day! We have been working on the Academy, and are excited to show you all the changes we have made! We will have an update on our plans to re-open this week. We are very anxious to start working with our players again! We are also working on our plans for Summer Teams given the fact that Legion Ball has been cancelled. We hope you all are staying active and are healthy! 


As we all learned today, Governor Walz has extended the Executive Order that states that Gyms/Workout facilities must remain closed until 5/18/20. This was not the news we were hoping for. If anything changes, we will make those changes on our end as well. We miss all of our athletes, and cannot wait to open again and see you all back at the Academy. We hope you all are staying active, and you and your families are healthy. We will continue to post updates and other helpful information for our athletes on our website and social media pages. 


As we all learned today, Governor Walz has extended the Executive Order that states that Gyms/Workout facilities must remain closed until 5/1/20. If anything changes, we will make those changes on our end as well. We miss all of our athletes, and cannot wait to open again and see you all back at the Academy. We hope you all are staying active, and you and your families are healthy. We will continue to post updates and other helpful information for our athletes on our website and social media pages.


With tonight's announcement from the Governor, we learned that all Gyms in MN must close as of tomorrow at 5 PM through 3/27/20. We had already made the decision to temporarily close as of today. As difficult as this is for all of us at Hit Dawg, ultimately safety and health come first. We look forward to re-opening and working with you all again very soon! We will continue to post any updates or changes here, on our Facebook page- Shawn Wooten Hitdawg, and on our Twitter- @hitdawgacademy.


We have decided to temporarily close Hit Dawg due to the current recommendations for social distancing laid out by the CDC, and the MN's Governor's decision to close all schools in MN. This was a VERY difficult decision to make, but ultimately safety and health comes first. We want to be responsible and do our part in helping stop the spread of COVID-19. We know this is the best way to do it. We plan to reassess the situation after one week, and will continue to post updates here. 

Stay well & thank you for your understanding!
Hit Dawg Staff 

3/15/20: We will have an update on any changes for Hit Dawg very soon! Health comes first, so we are taking all into consideration in making necessary changes. Thanks for your patience.

3/12/20: Hit Dawg is closely following the CDC guidelines & MDH recommendations on the steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. We are closely watching local schools and and their decision's on keeping schools open vs. closing at this time. 

As of 3/12/20, Hit Dawg will remain open, and we will continue our scheduled Academy Practices, Lessons, and Rentals. We are taking extra measures to keep you and your player safe. We will encourage hand washing with soap and water, which has proven to be the most effective way to prevent spread of germs. We will also have hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes available for use. Our coaches have increased cleaning protocols with disinfectant products.

We will be reminding the players to go wash hands with soap and water after practices/lessons. We will also do our best to keep kids spread out during practices. We will be asking kids to avoid close contact by avoiding high fives, fist bumps, sharing equipment, etc. 

If your child isn't feeling well, please keep him/her home. It is never worth the risk in spreading germs.

Your family's health is most important, so we respect each individual family's decision on whether to attend practices and/or lessons. Please just let us know in advance if you plan to cancel an individual or small group lesson you have booked. 

We will keep you updated on any changes to our schedule and/or the need to close our facility.

Thank you, 
Hit Dawg Staff


At the beginning of August, Shawn was promoted to Big League Hitting Coach with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Prior to his promotion, Shawn was traveling between the Dodger's AAA team in Oklahoma City, and Los Angeles. This is extra exciting as the Dodgers are currently the best team in the MLB (sorry, Twins fans, we still love the MN Twins too)

Shawn has had the opportunity to work with some of the best hitters on the Dodgers team this season. Being with the Big League team full time now, he will be able to continue to use his strength in teaching and correcting mechanics in the swing to help the Dodgers work their way to a 2017 World Series Championship!

After the MLB season ends, Shawn will be back in MN for the off season. He will be at the Academy, and looks forward to working with the Academy Players! 

LA Dodgers Joc Pederson- November, 2014

One of the cool things about Hitdawg is that you never know who you might run into there training with Shawn and the other instructors. This last week, LA Dodger Joc Pederson was in working on his swing. Joc was second in the voting for Minor League Player of the Year and was the first hitter in 50 years to have a 30/30 season (that is 30 homers and 30 steals) in the AAA Pacific Coast League (PCL). He was also a late season call up to the major leagues. Joc was cool enough to answer a few questions for us between swings.

You are coming off a huge season, yet you are up here in October. Why so early?

I am going to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic. I was talking to Woot a lot during the season and there were some things that he said it would be better to work on in person so I am here to work on some things that I can take with me and try to use in game situations. So I thought it was the perfect time.

Is there ever a time to relax as a baseball player?

To sit back and say “I’m good” Not really. There is always someone out there who is maybe a little better than you or is working harder than you. Especially in baseball, there is always someone trying to take your job. There are always little adjustments to make. You are never too good; there is always room to keep improving.

What are you working on?

We are working on some minor things to make my swing more efficient and consistent. We are also working on turning on balls and hitting the ball in the air.

Do you think it is important for young players to use the off season to make changes to and improve their swings?

Well for me, it is something I do all year. The off season is a great time to work on hitting but I don’t think it has to be just in the off season. Some guys don’t want to make changes to their swings during the season because they are like “I have a game tonight” but my thought is are you worried about maybe getting a hit tonight or making positive changes that will benefit you forever.

Why Shawn?

I got to work with him a little in spring training and he is very observant. To be honest he was working with a number of my friends from last season and they showed big improvements. I like to watch hitters and noticed the changes and was like “hey, where did you get this? I know you didn’t come up with it on your own. Who has been helping you?” and they said Woot.

What do you think some of the keys have been to your success as a hitter?

For me it is mechanics. A lot of people hear the word “mechanics” and they get turned off. They think of robotic training. But for me it is what I work on. I am trying to consistently get into a good position to hit. I want to get on plane with the ball as consistently as possible. That’s what I work on. Trying to get into a good position as consistently as possible and hit the ball in the air.

How important are the other aspects of the game, i.e. fielding, base running, etc.?

One hundred percent important. There are some great hitters who get nowhere because they don’t have a position or can’t play defense. I worked on it every day growing up.

If you could give advice about baseball to yourself at 15 years old, what would you say?

I’d say learn how to hit. Find someone to help you learn to get into a good position to hit and work on it as much as possible.

After the interview Joc got back to work in the cage. Watching him, I started thinking how stacked the Dodgers outfield was already with Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, Yaseil Puig, Scott Van Slyke and Andre Ethier. How many of those guys were making adjustments to their game right now? As Joc mashed ball after ball into the back of the cage it struck me that no matter how good you are there is always someone right behind you. If I was in that outfield, I wouldn’t want this guy after my job.

Thanks to Joc for giving us his time.

~Matt Paulsen

Congratulation to Hit Dawg's Shawn Wooten on his promotion and new position with the Los Angeles Dodgers!


Q&A with Former Academy Member, Connor Herd

By Matt Paulsen 02/20/2015, 10:45pm CST

Former Holy Family high school standout pitcher and Hitdawg gym rat Connor Herd recently had his first college start.  Connor attends Mercer University, a Division I school in Macon Georgia that competes in the Southern Conference (SOCON).  After a quality first start against perennial powerhouse Virginia Tech, I caught up with Connor on the phone before he got on the bus to Florida to play Bethune-Cookman.

Of course I have to ask, how did you feel going into your first college start? 

I found out I was pitching the Tuesday before but it really didn’t hit me until about a half hour before the game.  That’s when I started getting nervous and excited.  After the first pitch I calmed down a little, then a little more after the first out.  By the end of the first inning I was fine.  By then I was like, “it’s just baseball.”

How is facing college hitters different than facing high school hitters?

There is a big difference.  You have to limit your mistakes.  In high school you can make lots of mistakes in a game and the hitters won’t take advantage of you, here the hitters will punish you.  You have to be careful and focus on every pitch; you just can’t miss as much.  Not only do the hitters get a hit when you do, they might pop it out of the ballpark.

How do the practices in college differ from high school?  How do you prepare?

The intensity is way higher.  During the fall it is a bit more relaxed, but the closer we got to the season the more and more intense the practices became.  You have to continually step up in practice.  You have to pitch your best or you just won’t play.  The practices themselves are 3 hours or more for the team.  We work on team situations and take batting practice pretty much every day.  But the pitchers have to come an hour early and work on things, usually PFP’s (Pitcher Fielding Practice – a practice where pitchers work on fielding bunts, covering first, turning double plays, etc.).

Are there things/commitments outside of practice that you are required to do as well?

Yeah, lots.  Baseball is kind of your entire life.  Of course we already talked about practice but you are also in the weight room almost every day.  We have Monday off, but it really isn’t off.  You are not required to do anything but everybody does anyway so it is really an everyday job.  There are lots of other little commitments too.  We put on clinics, visit hospitals, things like that.

Did working out at Hitdawg help prepare you for how much time you would be spending on baseball in college? 

Definitely.  I came into Hitdawg everyday either to practice or lift.  It helped prepare me for the grind of everyday baseball.  There are no days off; you can’t say I don’t feel like going to baseball today.  They don’t care what your excuse is.  If you don’t want to be there someone else will.  Hitdawg also helped me learn from my mistakes.  Believe me everyone makes them against this competition, the good players don’t cry about it, they figure out how to get better from them.

Was there any other freshman who didn’t have extra training experience who had trouble adjusting? 

There was one.  He wasn’t prepared.  He transferred.

What advice can you give to guys thinking about playing college baseball?

Well, first you have to work out.  You just have to.  There is always someone better than you who is working hard.  They will leave you behind if you don’t.  Also, don’t get discouraged.  Keep working because you never know when your opportunity will come.  Be ready for it when it does.

Connor takes his own advice.  When a senior starter went down with an injury, Connor stepped into his role and performed.  He is slated to start again this weekend in Florida.  A big thanks to Connor for taking time out of his clearly busy schedule to talk to us and best of luck the rest of the season.

~Matt Paulsen

A Baseball Academy that is Dedicated

Hitdawg Players Named for Pre-Season

Hands down, the coolest thing about being a coach is seeing players you have worked with have success.  Especially when you know it comes from hard work.  We are hearing lots of great things from Hitdawg players who have been working hard all winter.  We wanted to take this opportunity to congratulate all of you.  Baseball is a journey, not a destination.  Work hard, perform, and above all enjoy the time you spend at the yard this season!

With that being said, we wanted to share some stories from Hitdawg guys who are already getting some press.  Breakdown Sports USA has named its “Mr.Baseball” players to watch for the upcoming season and half of them train right here at Hitdawg.  It seems these guys are all pre-season picks to win the award…

Jeff Athey – Eden Prairie
Ryan Swanson – Eden Prairie
Luke Roskam – Chaska
Nick Hanson – Prior Lake
Josh Thorpe – Armstrong
Jordan Ammons – Cretin Derham Hall

Academy Players also named in the top 100 senior players in the state:

Alex Fedje-Johnson- Minnehaha Academy
Aiden Ladd- Belle Plaine
Trevor Divinski- Eden Prairie
Mark Ehresman- Eden Prairie
Hunter Even- Chanhassen
Charlie Sheehan- Eden Prairie
Paddy Mittag- SW High School
McClean Cozine- SW High School
Fox Leum- Minnetonka
Jake Raether- Minnetonka
Wesley Young- Eden Prairie
Academy Player, Derek Drees, was named in the top 50 junior players in the state!

And I don’t know what this means, but Alex Fedje Johnson is on the cover of the magazine looking cool.  Congrats boys!

Hitdawg guys are training to play at all levels; metro, high school, even the big leagues.  Recently, two players mentioned their work with Shawn as a big reason they made the opening day rosters for their teams.

When the Reds told outfielder Scott Schebler that he made the team, “the 25-year-old outfielder called two of his former coaches in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization right away, Shawn Wooten and Damon Mashore.” (Dayton Daily News)

He went on to add, “They’re the guys I owe my career to, honestly.  Being a low draft pick (25th round in 2010), they took me under their wings right off the bat. They helped me grow up” (Dayton Daily News).

Jeremy Hazelbaker also mentioned Shawn in The Telegraph.  “After six long years in the minors Hazelbaker admits that something snapped into place for him last year, working with AA hitting Coach Shawn Wooten and Mike Shirley.”

“Between the two of them, we ironed a lot of things out and got my swing to where I think it needs to be.”

Finally, congrats to Hitdawg instructor Matt Paulsen for his recent appointment as an Associate Scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

~Matt Paulsen

LA Dodgers Top Prospect- Scott Schebler- January, 2015

One thing that never ceases to astound me is how many really good dudes play baseball.   This last week top LA Dodger prospect Scott Schebler was in working on his swing with Shawn.  Scott, an Iowa native,    was drafted in the 26th round out of Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) in 2010 (the same DMACC that former Hitdawg player Gunnar McCarthy plays at;  What up Gunnar!) .  Scott took some time off his busy training schedule to let me pick his brain a little bit.

When do you get started with your off-season workouts and what do you work on? 

I get started right away.  This year I got started a little later because I played in the Arizona Fall League (AFL), so not until late November but I usually get started right after I get back in early October.  At first I mostly get in the weight room and work on my swing.  I have to get my reps in for muscle memory.  I like putting in the work.

What is your thought process when it comes to training and performing in baseball?

I think I’m the best.  I don’t talk about it and I don’t mean that in an arrogant way.  It’s just the attitude I take with me on the field.  Being a late draft I know that I may not get the same opportunities as some of the higher picks so I have to be ready to perform at all times.  I have to be ready for and take advantage of my chances.  Sometimes the higher picks and even the kids growing up who were the best have a “relax button” because they don’t feel any pressure to perform.  That isn’t always a good thing; it can lead to a bad attitude and bad thought patterns.  You have to be ready to perform at all times to take advantage of your opportunities.

What are you working on?

Mostly swing plane.  Shawn and I worked on some things with my swing during the season and I took them into the AFL to work on them.  Now I am up here so he can see if I am making gains and my swing is on the right track.

Why Shawn? 

First of all Shawn’s a genius when it comes to hitting.  I had a great time working with him last year, he may not have always had a great time with me, but I had a great time with him.  He is one of the only coaches I have had who can flip to you and still see what’s wrong with your swing.  And he works hard.  He is up every night watching film of his hitters; you just don’t get coaches who do that every night.  He knows the game and most importantly at the end of the day he cares about you.

Do you think it is important for young players to use the off season to make changes to and improve their swings?

Yes I do.  I also believe it is important to play all types of sports to improve your athleticism.  I played four sports in high school but would still hit in the cage in the winter.  You have to put the hours in.  If it is something you are passionate about it is cool to specialize in a sport maybe as a junior or senior.  But continue to do other athletic things.

What do you think some of the keys have been to your success as a hitter? 

Well I could always hit.  I had a pretty good swing but I didn’t have outrageous numbers in high school.  Honestly, for me it was getting in the weight room and making that a part of my game.  Bigger, faster, stronger.  In JUCO I went from a 6.9 sixty yard dash to a 6.5.  A lot of that came from getting stronger.

How important are the other aspects of the game, i.e. fielding, base running, etc.?

It’s a deal breaker.  If you are gonna be a DH you better hit 45 home runs.  Literally it can keep you from the big leagues.  Playing good defense and being a smart player can make or break you.

If you could give advice about baseball to yourself at 15 years old, what would you say?

Learn how to play defense.  If I put as much time into my defense as I did my hitting I might already be there by now.  Certainly things would have been a lot easier for me.  I would tell myself “hey this matters later”.

Anything parting advice for our members?

Yeah, stick with it.  I was a late bloomer.  Keep working on your game, you never know where you will be in a few years.


Thanks to Scott for giving us his time.  Check his stats out on the internet machine, this guy’s a masher.  We’ll be seeing him in the big leagues soon.

~Matt Paulsen

Congratulations to Hit Dawg's Owner, Shawn Wooten, who has been promoted to a Major League Hitting Coach with the Los Angeles Angels!

Shawn has been running Hit Dawg since we opened in 2010, and has been heavily involved in the development of the players at Hit Dawg. Shawn looks forward to his new position with the Angels, and also continuing to work with our Academy players!