Former Colorado Rockies pitcher Zach McClellan has a passion for instructing youth baseball.
The 2000 fifth-round draft pick from Indiana University felt odds were stacked against him after playing in the minor leagues for eight years before getting called to the majors. He wanted to help younger players in similar situations by starting his own Zach McClellan School of pitching.
McClellan realized he could make a difference when he helped a Center Grove graduate receive a college baseball scholarship in the school’s first year.
McClellan instructed kids out of his shed before it grew into 150 kids a week. In 2005, McClellan no longer wanted the business named after him, and the players he instructs remembered McClellan’s baseball term to always “demand command.” They felt that should be the name, and it stuck.
Two years later, McClellan was called to up to the Colorado Rockies where he met Alan Cockrell, the current New York Yankees hitting coach.
Cockrell and McClellan have been hosting baseball clinics together for nine years and will host a one-day clinic on Dec. 17 at the Nathan Frasier MVP Center in Columbus.
“The whole setup that I have is not about me,” McClellan said. “Yes, they pay for my services, but how can I get them to be better than what they think they could be?”
The clinic will consist of four to five batting drills for the kids to rotate through. Cockrell said it is important for the kids to do all the drills but also find one or two drills that fit a specific need for each individual.
The drills and instructions that McClellan has taught over the past 15 years have helped many students receive scholarships. Columbus North graduate and current Xavier pitcher Christian Glass was one of McClellan’s first kids he helped instruct in the Columbus area.
Glass was introduced to McClellan when he was 11 years old through his baseball teammates who encouraged him to work with McClellan. McClellan worked on his pitching mechanics through flat ground and countless pitching drills. Glass would work on video analysis where McClellan would record his technique and make corrections as needed.
Glass started working with McClellan a lot more once he got into high school, and Glass performed well at a baseball clinic. A Xavier coach was interested, and after talking with McClellan about his skills offered Glass a spot on the team.
“I wasn’t always sure that I was ready to play college baseball,” Glass said. “He was always there to back me up and tell me that I had the skill, I just had to put in the work. If I needed advice on what to do, he was always there to help me out.”
Players can receive the same type of video analysis which helped when Cockrell comes to town. Cockrell will provide a 30-minute one-on-one session at the end of the group camp for an additional $50. Players can can sit down with Cockrell and McClellan and look at their video footage side-by-side other professionals.
“No camp that I do or anyone else in one session is going to instantly make a kid better,” Cockrell said. “It’s taking one or two things that you know are going to help you as a player, and you continue to practice on those things. That’s the biggest thing that I try to get across when we do these things.”
What: Demand Command youth clinic
When: 10 a.m. Saturday (8U through 12U) and 4 p.m. (13U through college age)
Where: Nathan Frasier MVP Center
Cost: $150, with additional $50 for one-on-one session