Age for Prospect Camps

Debating with my husband the appropriate age for college prospect camps. Son is 14, class of 2025, and throws low 80’s. A couple of his “dream schools” are inviting class of 2025 kids to prospect camps this summer. We decided not to send him this summer because they cost money and while he stands out at 14, he doesn’t stand out against the top 16 year olds, kwim?

Next summer (summer after freshman year) let’s say he sits at 84 and frequently hits mid 80’s. Still can’t see us sending him because that number isn’t anything against kids throwing 90.

Summer after sophomore year, let’s say he’s sitting at 87 and is close to hitting 90. Then I’d want to send him to camp BUT many d1 schools are moving along with recruiting by then.

So I guess I’m just confused as to when the appropriate developmental point is to send a pitcher to a d1 camp. Do I send him next year at 15 if he sits at 84, has good off speed stuff, and is the right size for a d1 pitcher? Do coaches project out starting at that point of development? Thanks!

Pitchersmom, (SEE CHART BELOW)

Let me begin by saying that a 14-year-old throwing in the low 80’s is sitting well above average for his age group. Many coaches see a fourteen-year-old sitting in the low 80s and want him in their prospect camp as soon as possible so they can get a good look at him. They want to look at his body to see how symmetrical it is. When he is throwing, they will check to see if he has a smooth delivery and not where parts of his body are going every which way. If he is throwing low 80s at 14, they can get a pretty good idea how hard he will be able to throw when he is 17 or18 years old, when he would report for college, just by looking at him.

Let me give you an example of my daughter that played volleyball. She was 14 years old and was getting letters from coaches from the SEC, Big Ten, ACC, etc… after she attended prospect camp. She was 5’9" at 14 years old the coaches were able to see that she would continue to grow, which she did. She ultimately stopped growing at 6’1" tall. They continued to recruit her as she got older, and she signed a letter of intent/scholarship to play for a DII school. She felt more comfortable with the class sizes at the DII level, being that she played high school ball at a small Christian school. Coaches can look at film all day, but they want to see the athlete in person to get a better idea of what kind of athlete he is and will become.

If you can get your son on a good travel ball team that competes at many of the top tournaments, college recruiters, as well as professional scouts, will see him play. It all comes down to how much exposure you want your son to have. I know many parents cannot afford to pay for travel ball or prospect camp so, I will give you some advice to try and help you and all parents on this site.

My advice to you and any other parent that may want to get their child athlete in front of a coach is to take a good video of him and have your son email it to the coach. The subject line should state something like this VIDEO OF 14-YEAR-OLD THROWING LOW 80S. Just type in how to make a recruiting video of a pitcher on Youtube or something similar, and you will get an idea of how to make a video to email to coaches. If you don’t get a response from a coach, don’t give up because coaches are very busy people and receive thousands of videos. Always thank the coaches for their time. Also, coaches want to communicate with the athlete, not the parent.

Do not rule out DII, DIII, NAIA, or JUCO schools. Many of the top-tier teams at this level are better than the lower DI teams.

Anyway, I hope I gave you a little insight into why coaches want to see athletes in person.

I hope this helps and good luck,
Topgun
Current pitching coach and former college pitcher

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A 14-yo throwing low 80s should get some attention at prospect camps, especially if he’s otherwise a solid pitcher (throws strikes, keeps his cool, has a decent secondary pitch).

But rather than do a camp for recruiting purposes, I’d have him do it for the experience. He’ll see what the competition for recruiting is like, get a sense of where he stands vis-a-vis older players, and learn what he needs to achieve in his own development. It should give him valuable perspective.

I’d also manage his expectations ahead of time. Make sure he understands that no one expects him to dominate older hitters. Assure him that the outcome doesn’t matter–because he’s only 14!!! He has so much development ahead of him before serious recruiting begins.

You’re smart parents to be thinking of these things.

As said above, it wouldn’t hurt to get him in-front of the coach for the sake of seeing how he fairs out against the rest of the players in his class. I would use it as an opportunity to do that and not for the sake of recruiting. He has time before he really should be focused on recruiting. Hopefully he uses the camp to learn on what he needs to improve on from a college coach. Coaches from my experience love to see improvement especially if its through the advice they gave you because it shows your willing to listen.

Also, given he throws as hard as he does at his age, it would be smart to get initial looks from these coaches so they know you at least exist and you can start that conversation. Hopefully, you can keep in contact and update on any progress. Once he gets closer to recruiting age like his junior year of high school then showcase again to show the improvement. Maybe at that time, he may have other schools he is interested so it opens his market up too. If possible maybe have him play on good travel team that plays good tournaments that are respected by many. Take video of his progress and game action to show to college coaches via email. But at age 14, he as time and should continue to keep getting stronger and refine mechanics to the best of his ability with help hopefully. Also, just enjoy the game and not worry on and keep coaches updated once you start the conversation. You mentioned that if he is good enough at age 15 sitting at 84 to go to a d1 camp. I would say that realistically, probably not because most d1 pitchers I have seen throw upper 80’s with 90. Or at most just throw 90 consistently. Unless, he makes the jump to 90 and can throw it consistnyl then I would also look at d3 schools or maybe even juco.

At the current velocity he throws, I know plenty of d3 schools and juco would love to have him given what he already has. Again,if he starts the conversation by him doing the communicating after you send him to a camp, I would say given your situation next summer at age 15 with updates on improvement. College coaches like that and should be able to know if a kid has potential to break 90 or beyond by the time its recruiting season. So get on their radar first and keep showing improvement from 84. Good luck