Every kid that dons a uniform has dreams of putting balls in the seats at Safeco Field, or striking out Jose Altuve to win the game. For 98% of all of those kids, the step before the big time is college baseball.
Once I began recruiting at the NCAA level 6 years ago, I soon realized that more and more players these days are making their decisions based on unrealistic expectations for their baseball career path.
The recruiting process is an unfamiliar and stressful one for parents and their player(s) that are new to it. The important thing to remember is to stay grounded and realistic about what you really want. Here are a few tips to help families through these stressful times, and help them remain realistic about where they fit into the next level.
- The schools/levels that are talking with you will let you know where the best fit is for you at the current time. This is the best piece of advice that I can give to first timer’s to the recruiting process. One of the most common things that I see these days is players waiting around for offers from big power conference programs, but haven’t had a single conversation with any Division 1 programs at all. If you are talking to, for example, a handful of Division 3 schools and a junior college, then you are most likely a Division 3 player. The thing to do is make sure you show well, and then trust the process. We all know what we’re looking for, and the schools/levels that you are a good fit for you will contact you, and the one’s you’re not a good fit for will not. So relax and enjoy the process!
- BASEBALL ENDS FOR EVERYONE, SO EDUCATION MATTERS! Sometimes I feel like people lose sight of this. The fact is baseball ends for everyone at some point. When it does, it’s time to join the “real world”. You need to make sure that you put yourself in a situation to stay on track with your plans for life after baseball. Transferring to 3 and 4 different schools trying to find a path to pro ball only leaves you with non-transferrable credits, and extra/repeated years of school. When choosing a college, make sure they have a course of study that you want to pursue. Most will not find the time to return to finish their degree later in life, so get it done while you’re there!
- YOUR TOOLS DETERMINE THE LEVEL YOU GO TO, AND YOU ARE WHAT YOU ARE. The level of school you will be recruited by is determined by your tools as an athlete. Your power, athleticism, speed, velocity, etc.. If you are a senior right-handed pitcher that sits 84mph on the radar gun, you are not going to play in a Division 1 program. It is what it is, and it’s not the “kiss of death”, and you are not a failure. It just means you are better suited to go to a different level. So many times I see athletes hold out for scholarships that aren’t coming, and miss out on better opportunities, because they think they just “haven’t been seen yet” by those high level schools. …. You’ve been seen… your tools just don’t match up.
- THERE IS GREAT COLLEGE BASEBALL EVERYWHERE. You don’t have to be on ESPN playing, or on the PAC 12 Network to play good college baseball. There are ‘dudes’ littered throughout the Division 2, 3, NAIA and JC levels. If you aren’t having serious conversations in high school, meaning frequent phone calls, with Division 1 schools, then you aren’t that guy, and that’s ok. Go be an All-American at a Division 3 school. If you are a guy that has what it takes to go on past college, that will happen no matter where you’re playing. Too much money and resources are put into scouting these days to simply not see players. The important thing is to BE ON THE FIELD. If you’re on the roster at, say, Florida State, and you never ever play, good luck getting seen by pro scouts. If you are a guy that has the ability to play on, the easiest way to kill that dream is to go somewhere you don’t fit, and sit on the bench the whole time. If you are truly a competitor, then it’s better to go to smaller school and start than it is to go to a Power 5 conference school and sit.
Lastly, make this decision with your family, and not with outside factors from high school coaches, summer coaches, or friends. This is a big decision, and after all offers are on the table, and you’ve done your homework on the pros and cons of each one, you and your family make the best decision for you.
This is the last thing I tell recruits…
“Do not get caught up in all the things you’re being told by people that aren’t directly involved, and don’t work at the college level.”
I hope this helps shed some light. Enjoy the ride! You only get to play college baseball one time!