About

The New England Ruffnecks in 2017

2016 Seniors at Vanderbilt

The New England Ruffnecks is a College Development Program, not just a collection of teams. Founded in 2003 the program is a non-profit 501-c-3.  The Ruffnecks have established a national reputation as one of the finest programs of its kind in the country.  The Ruffnecks commence their 14th season in 2017. The program provides is a standard of consistency, longevity, and experience.  Ruffnecks baseball begins on the full sized diamond at 13U.  All of our teams compete on the regulation sized field.

Indeed, the Ruffnecks are committed to developmental and competitive baseball for players 13U to 18U. Our schedules provide challenging, team-oriented baseball.  We attract focused players and expect a lot from them.  At 13U and 14U we play between 60 and 80 games a year.  At the College Prospect Levels (15U to the Seniors Roster)  the program combines highly competitive, exposure-rich events for players seeking to play college baseball.  The summer schedules for our older teams are an “every day” baseball commitment.  These schedules can pack as many as 55-60 games into an 8-9 week period between the end of the school year (June) and the first week of August.  Off Days are seldom, yet welcome, on the calendar.

A Program with a Plan

The program is much like a school curriculum, with players moving through the Ruffnecks experience as a “class.”  Our year-end Banquet is one of the most anticipated evenings for players, parents, coaches, and friends.  It is at the Banquet that the program celebrates the Senior Class.  We refer to our oldest team as our “Senior” team (formerly our 18U team).  Each summer the “Senior” roster is comprised primarily of players who are rising seniors in high school.  Most find their college commitments sometime between the end of the junior year in school and December of their senior year.  Timetables vary for players.  Almost all the players on our Seniors roster go on to play college baseball at some level.  We work in a committed, deliberate, and professional manner to support our players and families in the college recruiting process.  We do not have a “magic wand,” but our success rate and track record are respected.

History of the Ruffnecks: Development & Success

The early years of 2003 to 2005 were built upon teams of 12U to 15U rosters.  In 2006 the program took its first step to field an older team with the objective of  accelerating the level of competition with a commitment to significant travel.  The 2006 16U Ruffnecks achieved national attention when they took third place at the Super 7 Invitational Tournament in East Cobb, Georgia, losing a tight game to an East Cobb Astros team with Jayson Heyward on the roster in the semifinals.  The 2006 Ruffnecks also advanced to the championship round of the Perfect Game World Wood Bat Championships, and ultimately evolved into the first Ruffnecks “College Prospect” team.  While the Ruffnecks were not the first program to field 16U or 18U teams in New England, they are among the earliest.

At the younger levels, our 13U Ruffnecks play a challenging schedule that is development oriented and very competitive.  Great demands are made on the physical and mental capabilities of 13U Ruffnecks.  While volume is not the defining characteristic of the 13U experience, there is a considerable amount of baseball that may not be appropriate for all young players.

Historically, the 14U Ruffnecks have been a high achieving and highly competitive team.  Ruffnecks 14s have won several national titles including the 2015 and 2016 CABA World Series in Nashville, Tennessee, an event where the ‘Necks reached the finals on five other occasions (2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014).  In 2013 the 14U Ruffnecks won the Premier World Series championship in Springfield, Missouri against competition from many of the finest programs from the Southwest… teams from Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri.

The 15U, 16U, and Senior Ruffnecks play demanding schedules and enjoy considerable success.  In 2013 the 16U Ruffnecks captured the USA Baseball Cup in Cary, North Carolina.  In June of 2014, the 16U Ruffnecks took home the Championship at the Super 17 in New Jersey, which is one of the most highly recruited events on the east coast.  In 2013 the “Senior” Ruffnecks participated in the first-ever Music City Classic in Nashville, Tennessee.  The Music City Classic events, at 17U and 16U, are attended by all of our upper level teams (15U-Seniors).  Yet, the most defining aspect of the program is the history of players (well over 100) who have gone on to play in college, and even some who have earned the privilege of playing professional baseball (over 30 Ruffnecks have signed professional contracts).  Approximately a dozen Ruffnecks alums currently play professionally.  Visit our Alumni Page for a glimpse of those who have contributed to our history.

About Our Plans For 2017

Night Game at NEBC

The Ruffnecks field teams at 13U, 14U, 15U, 16U and 17/18U, also known as the “Senior” Ruffnecks.  There is absolutely no parent coaching in the Ruffnecks baseball program. There are no roles for parents in or around the dugouts at all.  This is a College Development Program and the staff works hard to coach, travel, and develop players in a manner consistent with what is expected at the collegiate level.  Although we continue to use age designations for our teams, our program is really divided into two developmental components:  13U & 14U provides the foundation for development and matriculation to high school baseball.  The “Upper Program” of 15U through “Seniors” is for College Development.  In the College Development phase our rosters are organized largely by high school graduation class and age.

The Ruffnecks maintain a policy of fielding only ONE team in an age classification.  We do not have more than one roster at any given age level.  We are program oriented, and do not hesitate to move players within our system.  We give them opportunities to play and practice with older teams, and sometimes field “combined” rosters.  However, we do not take “temporary” players or mercenary players to bolster our rosters for tournaments, games, or for any purpose.  We play and develop the players in the program, period. We have robust rosters.

The program’s assets include the New England Baseball Complex (NEBC), which is owned and operated exclusively by the founders and benefactors of the Ruffnecks program.  While the NEBC is “home” it is not exclusive to the Ruffnecks.  As the NEBC grows and builds its business, other sports and functions take up field inventory.  In 2017 the Ruffnecks will continue to practice, play, develop, and train at the NEBC.  Most importantly, the Ruffnecks will continue to travel as they have historically done. We play a lot of baseball!

Coaching & Competition

There are usually three (and sometimes four) coaches working with our teams.  Much like the professional baseball developmental model, we have some “roaming” instructors who travel among different teams at different times.  Pitching coaches with credentialed pitching backgrounds work with our pitchers.  Dedicatedcoaches work with our teams to ensure that pitchers and battery mates are prepared and coached.  Our coaches do NOT move along with rosters from year to year.  We believe there is much to be learned from different coaches who share the same developmental and competitive values and principles.  The Ruffnecks program is fortunate to have consistency and stability among the coaching staff.  Many of our coaches have served five years or more in the program.

Development begins with the 13U and 14U programs.  We tell our players that we “coach to instincts.”  This means we teach them to think for themselves.  We ask players to learn instinctively and not to depend on an overload of coaches signs and directives.  The 13U Ruffnecks are focused on making the transition to the big diamond, while the 14U schedule reflects a commitment to expanding the boundaries of developmental and competitive baseball.  At all ages 13U to “Seniors” the Ruffnecks is a serious travel baseball program.

The travel schedule is unmatched in the Northeast and one of the most comprehensive and challenging in the United States.  Our teams compete extensively across the country, especially in the South during the summer months.  Ruffnecks teams are invited to many invitation-only events where top programs participate in high exposure competition.  Our commitment to travel is a function of our goal to put our players and teams in front of the best competition, wherever that may take us.  Our resources and subsidization are significant, supported as we are by several generous benefactors who help to provide opportunities beyond what tuition can reasonably pay for.  We also use several important fundraising initiatives to offset our costs.  Accordingly, every player is subsidized.

Selection

The Rufffnecks do not hold traditional “Tryouts.”  We build our rosters slowly and deliberately.  Our 13U team is our “Entering Class” each year.  We use the 13U Fall Baseball Program, which is a sincere effort to develop players in the limited time of six or seven weekends during the Fall.  Our objective for 13U Fall Baseball is to provide players with a “taste” of the Ruffnecks experience.  We staff Fall Baseball with between 12 and 18 experienced coaches for plenty of instruction.  As we offer enrollment opportunities on our 13U roster for the following season, we conduct an interview process.  We also extend invitations to some candidates to continue with us during the winter.  Again, we are slow and deliberate with our selection process.

Our full staff of coaches are involved during the selection process in Fall and Winter for our older teams as well.  Roster decisions are organizational and are not made solely by the decision of a specific team coach.  We consider graduation class as well as age, positional roles, and the ability for each player to contribute to a given roster.

Generally, the “Senior” College Prep roster is for rising seniors (For the summer of 2017 it is the HS Class of 2018).  The 16U Ruffnecks roster is comprised primarily of rising juniors and some younger rising seniors.  Accordingly, our 15U Ruffnecks are mostly sophomores and younger juniors.

Again, we do not believe in, nor do we conduct traditional “Tryouts.”  We have no set tryout dates, nor do we do private evaluations.  It is best for new candidates to participate in our Fall Baseball program (outside) or our Winter Workouts. The Winter Workouts are repetition-oriented sessions held indoors at Harvard University.  They are by invitation only.  Our network of professional scouts, high school, and college coaches also provide recommendations for players who may benefit from the Ruffnecks experience.  While new candidates are encouraged to participate in Fall Baseball, attendance at all the sessions is not required; we only ask that players wishing to join the program make an effort to get involved as much as they can.  We add players each year to a core of returners at each level.  We have rosters of ample size to compete.  Our College Development rosters may have as many as 20 (including players who only pitch).  Expectations are clearly laid out upon enrollment.

Our Mission & Track Record

Ryan Westmoreland on Signing Day '08

Our mission is to provide student-athletes who aspire to play college baseball with the opportunities for development and exposure to reach their goals.  Again, this does no mean we can automatically deliver a college outcome or an athletic scholarship even though we have “high band” baseball players who are devoted to the game.  The program is integrally involved in the recruiting process, guidance, and school placement with players and their families.  The results speak for themselves… on field results, kids going to schools, Area Code selections, and even drafted players.  Other programs may make promises and claims, but we have built this program for 14 years on a proven track record.  Consider:

  • Ruffnecks alums have played or are currently playing at schools such as Harvard, Brown, Dartmouth, Columbia, Princeton, Georgetown, Lafayette, Penn State University, Coastal Carolina, Holy Cross, North Carolina, Vanderbilt University, Boston College, William and Mary, Wake Forest University, Stanford University, UMass, UConn;  Ruffnecks at Small Colleges include Amherst, Bates, Bowdoin, Williams, Trinity, Colby, Ithaca College, and others.  This is not ancient history… this is current.
  • Over 30 Ruffnecks have been drafted by MLB organizations since 2008.   We have had players selected in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Rounds.  In 2014, Isan Diaz became the highest draft pick for a former Ruffnecks as the 2nd Round pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
  • Our teams are successful in terms of wins and losses, not because we demand victory, but because we ask players to prepare and conduct themselves by standards of excellence that have endured over time.  We succeed in high-profile tournaments because of these principles and the way in which we conduct ourselves in travel, preparation, and effort.
  • Our oldest, “Senior” team continues to be a model for rising seniors.  Our 16s, 15s, and 14s similarly participate against the best competition in the country.  Their travel schedule is unmatched.  Even our 13s and 14s, where teaching is our primary objective, distinguish themselves in high level competition.  Winning is a product of what we do, not the dominant objective.  It is easy to assemble a good team; it is more satisfying to develop a good program.
  • In 2015 we had 3 Area Code selections and East Coast Pro selections.  There was one East Coast Pro selection in 2016.  We do not have players selected every year.  Area Code and East Coast Pro are the most selective amateur pre-draft events supported by Major League Baseball.  Ruffnecks who make it are deserving players, not political slots.  They are observed over time and through our year-round activities, not simply a tryout.  We are most proud of Ryan Westmoreland, our first alum to be drafted, and the courage he has exhibited off the field… which brings us back to the underlying foundation of the Mission… Develop players and young men on and off the field.

Developmental Philosophy & Objectives

We are a College Development Program (CDP) committed to travel baseball.  Each year builds on the prior year’s experiences, developmental foundations, and principles.  Indeed, we have a strong core of players who are multi-year Ruffnecks.  Yet we add new players to our rosters each season.  The most important  criteria is that they must fit in, and we must have an opportunity for them to develop.  We tell our players that if they want to find out how good they are, we will put them in front of the best competition, wherever that takes us.  Few programs in the Northeast commit comparable resources, a higher proportion of its operating budget, and subsidizes more in development than the Ruffnecks.  We are committed to Non-Parent, professional coaching for all our teams.  We do not permit parent coaches or assistants.  We are founded on this principle and we ask parents to support our goal to have each player become his own advocate on the baseball field.

Age and Class are factors in deciding which roster a player is assigned to.  A summary of those objectives follow below:

  • 13U Ruffnecks: This is a year of transition to the big diamond. It is also a year of separation of talent as well as preparation for high school baseball.  We like to say, “Baseball begins at 90.”  Of course we mean the 90 foot diamond.  13U players need to re-learn the game of baseball.  Success on the small diamonds of Little League does not necessarily translate to success on the big diamond. Our 13s played nearly 80 games in 2015, often against older competition.
  • 14U Ruffnecks: A year of accelerated competition and travel.  We commit our team to a VERY demanding schedule.  The 14U developmental curve is challenging.  In 2017 we intend to develop a new model for the 14U Ruffnecks, including a schedule that includes significant baseball activity in the summer that mirrors the objectives of the Upper Program.  From Memorial Day through the end of July, we are focused on tournament play and travel.
  • 15U Ruffnecks (Mostly rising sophomores – Class of 2020 and some younger 2019 grads): This is the most significant transition in the development of Ruffnecks baseball players.  Competition is against older players and teams.  While some tournament competition is age-specific for 15U players, we continue to seek tournament opportunities that have no age or even class restrictions.  If we must choose, we will almost always “play up.”  A June – early August schedule includes weekday activity.  The program is designed for players with the talent and focus to become significant varsity level high school contributors.
  • Ruffnecks College Prospects – 16U: ( Primarily rising juniors – 2019 grads and some 2018s): This is the equivalent of a highly competitive 16U-17U program, designed for players who are currently high school varsity contributors. This is an every-day program June – early August.  While many of our players are developed from within our own system, each year we consider new candidates. The competitive objectives are consistent with the same exposure objectives as the 18U team.
  • Ruffnecks College Prospects – 18U: College Prospect Team (Rising seniors – 2018 HS Graduates): Designed primarily for rising seniors identified as likely college-bound prospects. This is a team-oriented competitive program. It is high exposure and high intensity. If you perform successfully in the context of this team you will be followed by college recruiters.  We do NOT claim to be exclusively a D-I college prospect team.  Nor do we offer claims that we can get players a college scholarship.  We work hard and honestly with each rising prospect to be his advocate, and to advise him with regard to his college aspirations.  We have many very solid players who matriculate to outstanding D-II and D-III programs. It is an every-day program mid-June through the beginning of August. This team is strictly for established high school varsity players. Professional scouts help coach during the winter workouts.  While we have enjoyed several professional signings from our ranks, this is a college development program first and foremost.

Travel & Costs

13s in Nashville at Grand Ole Opry

Ruffnecks teams travel extensively.  In 2017 Tuition will be $3,300.  This is the first tuition increase in six years.  Our tuition fees INCLUDE all travel and arrangements for the players.  This means that parents are NOT responsible for booking travel or the added costs of flights, hotel rooms, or meals while the player is with the team.  Tuition and subsidization covers these travel expenses.  Ruffnecks players are housed in hotels, meals are included, air and/or ground transportation is included.  The Club also assesses a modest Winter Facility Fee to support our indoor activities at Harvard University.  Travel and hotel costs are NOT included for tournaments in Massachusetts & Connecticut.

Financial Aid and Outreach Initiatives: Each year the Club awards nearly $20,000 in financial aid to players who otherwise could not afford to participate.  The Ruffnecks have reached into the greater Boston community over the past several years to enable players from inner-city backgrounds to enjoy the experience of travel baseball.  In 2008 and 2009 the Ruffnecks initiated a Dominican Host Program.  Five Dominican boys enjoyed the experience of playing in Boston with the Ruffnecks, including a visit to Fenway Park!  These initiatives are a result of the generosity of several benefactors and the collective efforts of those who participate in the program.

How We Travel

The New England Ruffnecks travel model is unique and unparalleled among travel baseball programs.  The way we travel is, by far, one of the defining characteristics of our program.  Ruffnecks players thoroughly embrace and enjoy the experience of being a Ruffneck on the road during the summer.  It takes significant organization, funding, and effort to plan and execute our travel model.  Travel is done as a team.  It is founded on the TEAM dynamic and belongs to the players and coaches, not the parents.  Other than for local games, parents are simply not involved in team travel.  Parents are not required to travel to tournaments with their sons.  Our teams travel extensively in the South and compete  at venues such as Auburn University; Clemson University; the University of South Carolina; University of Virginia; Vanderbilt University, Lipscomb University, Richmond University, among others.  We have spent time in Ft. Myers, Florida; Marietta, Georgia; Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee, Ohio, Texas, Missouri, and anywhere the competition takes us.  Of course we also participate in tournaments throughout the Northeast.  To be sure, the travel in our program can be exhausting and challenging.  However, the Ruffnecks program attracts players who wish to commit to a rigorous baseball schedule… which means we travel extensively.

  • While on major road trips, players fly or bus with their teammates.  We stay in hotels, eat, and transport our players to and from games in team vans or buses.  There is very little “down” time.  Curfews are strictly imposed.  Roommate assignments are arbitrarily made.  We have devised a meal plan with the consultation of a sports nutritionist.  Our coaches ensure proper hydration and do their best to adhere to the guidelines of good nutrition while on the road.  We do not frequent “fast food” establishments.  We usually go out to team dinners while on the road, though at times we will barbeque or provide a home cooked meal.
  • When traveling, the team is on our watch.  We  customarily (especially at the younger ages) have a parent representative who helps coordinate communication between the activities of the team and the core of parents in attendance on a given trip.  Of course not all parents can attend all trips.  Our parent groups have traditionally evolved into very supportive partners in our effort to make sure each player has someone looking out for him while on trips far from home.
  • We exercise careful accountability for players.  The hotels we designate as “team hotels” are for the players and coaches.  We discourage families from staying in the team hotel.  Almost without exception, we contract with hotels that have a second, nearby property for parents.  The Club pays for and coordinates player travel.  We do not book travel or hotel rooms for parents.

We encourage all players and parents to understand that the team experience on the road belongs to the players.  It is our intent to teach them how to live, interact, bond, and work out their differences with each other.  Accordingly, we work hard to keep the team together while we travel.  We do not permit players to “peel off” and go out with parents or friends while traveling as a team.  Occasionally parents will organize a team function or dinner while on the road.  We try to maintain a focus on baseball.  Activities such as a team movie, attendance at a professional baseball game, or other non-playing options are done as a team.  The Club often pays for a portion of these activities or they are paid for by a contributor to the program… parent or otherwise.

For additional information on how to become a candidate for the 2017 Ruffnecks season, please call the office at (508) 409-4106 or email neruffnecks@gmail.com