Hawkins teaches, learns lessons coaching in Brazil
41-year-old Rockies closer guides pitchers at MLB International Elite Camp
DENVER -- Right-hander LaTroy Hawkins, at 41, will keep his career in the present tense with the Rockies as the team's new closer this season. But recently, he was contributing to baseball's international future.
Hawkins served as lead pitching instructor for the recently concluded MLB International Elite Camp in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Hall of Famer Barry Larkin led the camp, which was a competitive gathering of Brazil's best 14- to 18-year-old players, with a few players from Argentina and Peru participating. Additionally, members of the Brazil team Larkin coached, which upset Panama, 1-0, in the qualifying round to earn a trip to the 2013 World Baseball Classic, trained alongside the prospects at the Confederation of Brazilian Baseball & Softball training grounds.
The prospects erased a six-run deficit to tie a Brazilian university all-star squad, 7-7, despite using a catcher who was 13 going on 14.
Hawkins urged Major League teams to increase their scouting efforts in Brazil, and said he looked at his work at the camp as preparation for what he hopes is a post-playing career in a front office.
Hawkins also wished American players could learn from the work ethic of the young Brazilians, who don't have the finances and opportunities that are available in the U.S.
Hawkins was the only active Major Leaguer on Larkin's staff. Other instructors were two-time All-Star, and former Rockies player, Steve Finley, plus former Royals catcher Dusty Wathan, former Reds first baseman Stephen Larkin (Barry Larkin's brother) and the MLB Scouting Bureau's Mike Larson.
"I'm thinking more on the GM side, and I'd look at this type of international coaching but not in the U.S.," said Hawkins, who returned to the U.S. on Sunday night. "Their kids [in Brazil] are so much more appreciative than our kids -- and I'm not just talking about everyone else's kids, but my kids, also. It was a great experience. I got to see the team from a whole different perspective.
"I gained a lot of knowledge, just from how the coaches look at the game, how a general manager looks at the game, how Mr. Larson from the MLB Scouting Bureau sees the game, and he was in charge of the scouts. I listened to Barry and how he coached the game, and it was amazing."
MLB International has conducted Elite Camps in Canada, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Europe and South Africa since 1999, and hosted top players at their three MLB International Academies -- Australia, China and Italy. More than 350 former camp participants have signed with Major League teams.