Rahier Tries Alternate Route To Pro Career
As Palm Desert High played Bishop Amat for California's Southern Section championship last year at Dodger Stadium, the school's best player was neither on the field nor in the stands.
Shortstop Tanner Rahier wasn't hurt or suspended. He has chosen to skip playing for his high school team so that he can play for a private club league run by his summer travel ball coach.
Rahier played for Palm Desert his freshman season, but he said he would be better served playing for a new club league run in the spring by Mike Spiers and ABD Academy. The 2012 season is Rahier's third year in the ABD Spring League and the team will play 60-70 games by the end of the spring—all doubleheaders on weekends, all with wood bats.
"It was a big decision for me," Rahier said. "Out here where I am in the Coachella Valley, the Division IV league, you just don't get what you need to get to the next level.
"The spring league will get you more ready for the next level, for kids who are more serious about playing hard college ball or going to the pros."
At the same time, Division IV has produced its share of big leaguers in recent years. Brad Fullmer (Montclair Prep), Jason Kendall (Torrance), Brian Giles (Granite Hills) and Michael Young (Bishop Amat/UC Riverside) are a few major leaguers to come from schools in the league.
Rahier has moved around the country throughout his childhood. He was born in Washington, then lived in Oregon, Arizona, California, Utah and New Jersey before moving back to California before his freshman year of high school. Rahier said his family moved there to give him the best opportunity to improve as a baseball player.
With only four classes at Palm Desert, Rahier has plenty of time to work out and play baseball—and there's nothing he'd rather do. He's the quintessential "baseball rat."
"I play games all weekend and then Monday I do lower-body workouts and Tuesday I do upper-body," Rahier said. "Wednesday, Thursday, Friday I'm at the field hitting and taking ground balls the whole time."
While all parents want their children to succeed, Rahier's parents have something most other parents can't offer: professional expertise. Rahier's father, Jim, has been a performance trainer for about 25 years. He works with professional athletes and celebrities and has crafted a baseball-specific workout plan for his son.
The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder doesn't work out in a gym because he's not pumping iron. When you're dragging 75-pound tires with a harness or swinging a sledgehammer until your hands bleed, you need to be outdoors.
"I'm not big and bulky and buff, but I have tons of explosive power," Rahier said. "It's hardcore, crazy training and it's a lot of fun."
When Rahier gets sore, he can turn to his mother, Wendy, who is a spa director.
Last summer during showcase action, Rahier consistently barreled the ball up and hit everything on the screws. He's not the most graceful shortstop, but he makes all the plays and has plenty of arm strength for the position. Rahier has posted above-average 60-yard dash times, although he's a fringy runner between the lines.
Scouts are generous with praise for Rahier, who has committed to San Diego, for his tools but also for his drive and passion for the game.
"He's phenomenal offensively and defensively," an American League area scout said. "He crushes with wood, he plays nine-inning doubleheaders like it's nothing and he plays every game like it's his last game."
While most scouts don't think Rahier can stick at shortstop, he'll at least get his chance to play off the position.
"He's so dominant," a National League area scout said. "His tools are dominating and he plays with a lot of energy . . . Of all the players down here, I can honestly say that this kid can play every position on the field. He can jump on the mound and show you a 93-94 mph fastball and he can play all the positions. He can catch, he can play second, third . . . every position on the field, he can play it. No problem. Those guys are rare."
Rahier loves playing shortstop, but said he'll do whatever it takes to get him to the big leagues the fastest or give him the most opportunities. It's the same mentality he's had the last three years.