Drivers on Texas Loop 336 head east to the town of Cut and Shoot, west to the land of Rock and Fire. The gunslingers of America have a choice to make. Those who bear west steer onto a winding two-lane road lined with sprawling ranches, soaring oak trees and signs that remind them to DRIVE FRIENDLY. Many of the ranches off 336 are raising longhorns. One is breeding pitchers.
Down a hill, past a barn, next to a tractor, 60 young men gather in the 103° morning air. Some are freshly minted first-round draft picks. Others are Little Leaguers just trying to make local All-Star teams. They have come to the Texas Baseball Ranch in the town of Montgomery (population 600) to watch video of Whitey Ford and Bob Feller, run wind sprints with tires strapped around their waists and launch baseballs as hard and as far as they can.
Among them is a precocious 20-year-old from the Los Angeles suburbs named Trevor Bauer, the third pick in this year's major league draft, the most decorated amateur throwe...