By going through the baseball recruiting process yourself as a player and then turning around and coaching others through the same situations, you really hear it all. Just about every person surrounding a young player, whether it be their various coaches, their parents, or that random guy that seems to always be hanging around the field, has their own theories and advice about recruiting. Thankfully, most of these are outlandish enough to be immediately blown off by anyone, regardless of their knowledge of the matter. However, there are always those few bad pieces of advice that sound just reasonable enough to be taken seriously by those parents and players who don’t know any better. Unfortunately if you’re around the game long enough, you hear the same few mistaken ideas and here they are:
Top 5 Common Baseball Recruiting Myths:
- “If you are good, then they will find you.”— This could not be further from the truth. The current landscape for baseball recruiting rewards those who are proactive, such as playing on a competitive travel ball team with an extensive tournament schedule- and not as a junior or senior, but often from eighth or ninth grade. The rise of national tournaments and showcases has allowed college coaches to expect players to come to them and not vice versa, so unless you are that top 5% elite player, you are likely to fall through the cracks if you sit back and wait for coaches to find you on their own. This myth mostly comes from “old school” types- likely your high school coach who wants you to stay local during the summer so they can monitor you, or your dad’s friend who played in college before metal bats were ever invented.
- High school statistics matter.– While yes, a player’s statistical performance in high school does matter to an extent, many out there in the baseball world put far too much emphasis on them. College coaches concentrate much more on a player’s “tools”, (size, speed, strength, etc.), mechanics, and baseball IQ than their batting average or ERA. What does this mean for a player? Don’t get too caught up in the numbers. If you fall short of where you want to be, don’t get discouraged and if you have a great year, don’t be satisfied. Either way it is important to constantly work on every aspect of your game. College coaches look for players with potential and upside, not just those who have certain numbers. So, if you hear someone say something like “you have to hit .400 to play Division 1,” don’t believe them.
- “I’m only a [freshman, sophomore, junior], I have time.”— This statement could be the most common of any of the myths on this list. Unfortunately it could also be the most detrimental to a player. Ideas like this are often later accompanied by “how did that guy from that other school get a scholarship and I didn’t? I’m way better!” Despite more and more evidence out there to the contrary, the notion that colleges don’t start recruiting players until their junior or senior seasons is still widespread. The fact of the matter is, coaches nowadays can even be seen at 14 & under tournaments trying to see who they can put on their radar. College coaches, especially at the Division 1 level, are often recruiting for two to three years into the future. Numerous times I’ve heard a coach say, “we would really like that kid if he was only a year or two younger.” Unfortunately, many players with enough talent to play at the next level miss out on the opportunity because they simply just don’t become proactive enough early on and they get overlooked. Not to say that is impossible to be recruited or find a college later in your high school career, but the probability definitely goes down as time passes, especially if your goal is to pay D1. Take control of your own recruitment, be proactive, and start early.
- Talent outweighs any “off the field” factors.— Everyone has heard the stereotypes of “jocks”- slackers in the classroom, preferential treatment from teachers, etc. True or not, there are definitely high school athletes out there who believe that their talent alone will get them into college, and especially in baseball, this is not true at all. At the Division 1 level, each team only has 11.7 scholarships to divide among 27 players. This makes earning a baseball scholarship very competitive, as every dollar counts. Coaches cannot afford to waste a scholarship on a player who will be academically ineligible or will often be suspended due to violation of team rules, so these academic and character factors come into play much more heavily in baseball in comparison to other sports. Staying out of trouble and maintaining respectable grades can be separating factors between players, and could lead to a coach choosing to recruit one over the other. College baseball coaches like to see a potential student-athlete who is well rounded, so doing all of the right things off the field is crucial in addition to being at the top of your game.
- “I didn’t see any scouts at the game, no one saw me play.”– It is likely that at one point or another you’ve had a parent or teacher tell you to be careful of your behavior because “you never know who is watching you.” This is especially true when it comes to recruiting. It is easy for many players and parents to look over at empty stands during games and assume that no one is seeing them or their kids play. What they fail to understand though is the pure size and reach of the networking “web” within the baseball world. Not so much in the high school arena, but definitely at the competitive travel ball level, there do not have to be scouts or college coaches at your games to get noticed. Often it can be a coach of an opposing team or maybe a parent in the stands who has some friend or relative that happens to be a college coach, and tells them about a standout player. Some of the stories of how players get “discovered” are so random it’s hard to believe, but it really only does take one person to take notice of you, no matter who that is. Young players can get discouraged when they don’t see anyone watching them in the stands, and can start to give less than 100% on the field. Don’t be a “stands watcher”! Play hard and to the best of your abilities at all times because it really is true, you never know who is watching.
Honorable Mention: Little League is relevant in recruiting.— Unfortunately there are those out there who continue to insist that Little League, or Juniors, or Seniors, or whatever it’s called, plays an active role in the recruiting of high school players. It does not whatsoever. Disregard any future advice that person may give you.