First I’d like to give the disclaimer, these were and are just my experience.
I see a lot of post about how to or what to do to make it to the collegiate level to play ball, in this case pitching. I’d like to offer my experience with my son of what I thought were the positive and cons of getting there.
I’ll start with my son 2 years ago turned down a very good opportunity, no money but very good D1 baseball school to go play JUCO for 2 years. Juco scholarship paid all but $1200 a year for his education. It wasn’t the $ that took him the JUCO path, it was the opportunity to pitch immediately as a freshman. We went and visited the D1 school and taking to the pitching coach, his first thoughts were a possibile red shirt his freshman year. My son wanted nothing to do with it after that. My son has now transferred to a NAIA D1 as a JR. with the opportunity to walk into the #2 spot in rotation but also able to capture the #1 spot if he works his a** off. NAIA scholarship is going to pay about $6500 a semester. If nothing else comes of it my son will walk away with a 4 year college education for well under $10,000.
I’m not trying to brag but just offer up that we’ve been through this and I’m not just speaking with no experience.
1st and most important, know your talent level. After visiting the D1 school and talking, one of my first questions were " how many kids do you recruit a year" his answer kinda surprised me. They will recruit around 85 kids, and that’s on top of the 35 they currently have on roster. I asked what happens to the kids that don’t make the 35 man roster? His answer is that being they were accepted to the school, they get to go to school. If you’re not aware of it a D1 school can only have a roster of 35 players. Just make sure you know what talent level you that you can play at. There is nothing wrong with D2 or even D3, JUCO or NAIA. It’s just about how bad you want to play.
2nd I’d like to give my experience with probably the most expensive part of the process CAMPS!! Are they worth it? I’ve taken my son to some very nice D1 recruiting camps, not coaching camps but recruiting camps. I’ve seen some kids get out there and never even get a look. Weather they’re too slow, bat speed or volosity just isn’t there. It was an absolute waste of money for those parents. Plus these coaches can and will be brutally honest with their feed back and evaluation. I remember one camp that about 12 kids took to the mound and a guy was gunning volosity took a few notes kid was done. My son threw his warmups got one pitch off and next thing you know they had a live batter and 6 coaches to either side of him. He must have thrown 40 pitches. They seen what they wanted and back to dugout. Next kid to the mound same result as the first 12, cricket. That had to be a reality check for those kids. What I’m getting at, go to camps of the level you feel you can play, if you think you’re D2, find D2 camps to attend.
3 if you are getting recruited, ask questions. Don’t be scared to ask important questions like where and when do you see my son playing. When I say where, I mean where. Many kids get recruited thinking they’re going to be at one position and the coach has other ideas. Where in the rotation do you see him or is he a bullpen guy. It all comes down to better feelings hurt now than totally disappointed when the season starts and mid season transfer is out of the question.
I’ll sum this up before it gets too long. My best advice to parents know and evaluate your sons playing level. In the early part of his playing, remember this game is supposed to be fun. If little Johnny at the age of 12/13 takes the mound and gives up 10 runs with 10 walks, who cares, it’s happened to every pitcher out there. After the game give him a hug and give him the “we’ll get them next time”, and end it there. Discussing a bad outing usually never helps.
Try and get your son out of his comfort zone. What I mean by that is try and get him one a team or 2 that he doesn’t know anyone. Let him prove himself to total strangers.
I’ll close with this, be thick skinned, at 16 this is mostly a passion for most kids. College recruiting is a business and it can be cruel. Make sure not only is your son ready to handle it but mom and dad are too. If you are fortunate enough to make it to the college level and you think your work is done, not by a long shot. Remember my 1st point, every spring there is a whole new group of recruits coming in.
Thank I hope this gives some perspective of what the recruiting process is. At least from my sons and I experience.
First I’d like to give the disclaimer, these were and are just my experience.
Good post. Thanks for sharing your and your son’s experiences.
Thank you Roger, I’m a horrible writer so I hope most made sense. I wanted to give some insight to how some of the process works. I could go on and on about things to advoid and things to make sure you do get done. I’ll be more than happy to respond to any questions that a parent or player might have about the process. But again this is based on our experience, someone else might have a totally different view.
You’re pretty much spot on. I use to attend those tryout events and such at first, but soon found the entire process was a wakeup call for all in attendance. The expectations of those players that were considered aces at home, soon found themselves the jokers in the deck.
It came as no surprise of the chorus of some, mumbling sour grapes as they left and headed for the parking lot. A couple of dads, along with their sons, had the same complaints - “these guys don’t know talent if it bit’em in the face”, " what a shame to see politics at this level," “that’s ok son, we’ weren’t going to send you here anyway,” and on it went.
What people don’t understand is that the coaching ranks in college are employed to do a certain job that requires a lot of skill to stay employed. Putting together an athlete team, I don’t care what the sport, has influences that come form many directions. Doing one’s homework by researching the historical patterns of who gets what, why, and where, is just as important as researching a potential employer, job opportunities and so forth.
Finally, and here’s one question that surprised many attending some of the campus tryout camps that I was allowed to see - “what major do you intend on taking?” The shrug of the shoulders, the tilt of the head along with… “Ahhhh… I don’t know…” doesn’t sit well with a coaching staff. First off it doesn’t show much real interest in the institution, and second, it sure in heck doesn’t show any real thought process of why a potential candidate would want to go to college in the first place. On the other hand, a major that requires tons of academic dedication, that’s going to subordinate the baseball program, isn’t exactly what a coach and the recruitment staff want to hear.
It’s a shame that going through an institution’s tryout came/event isn’t used for a life’s experiences later on. The entire process kind-a strips away the sugar coating of adolescence. (well, from were I sit anyway.)
Coach very good insight as usual. Yes these coaches will ask all sorts of questions about education, maybe even just little things like " do you know our mascot "? I’m sure it was to see if you really had any interest in the school or were you just attending because of the big name. We always like to pull up web pages of potential schools and learn the names of the coaches before attending.
Some might not also realize that, especially under a scholarship, a week before my son started he was handed a class schedule with the words of if you change this you better leave these times open. So most of the last 2 Christmas and summer breaks my sons time is taking online classes to keep up on getting his degree.
I think one other word of advice I’d give some dads. In early age of your kid, put the video camera away that you use for analysis. Just go out side and play catch. Keep this game as fun as you can for as long as you can. Most of my sons time in baseball he’s been on travel baseball where practice was never as a team but at home. We accomplished so much more just talking about the game and solving world problems with a game of catch. No video no analyzing every motion, just catch.
Great topic. Does anyone have any insight on recruiting in top academic schools such as the Ivy League schools, Boston College, Georgetown, Notre Dame, etc.? Aside from obviously needing strong academics, what are they looking for in pitchers? How does the recruiting process work? Something tells me Harvard baseball coaches aren’t likely to be seen at, say, a showcase in Florida. LOL. Or am I wrong?
South_paw, yes they attend showcase events like Perfect Game events just as others do. They also put on recruiting camps just as all others. Schools also send coaches to other schools recruiting camp. Example, Dartmouth college talked to my son at a Virginia college camp. I can tell you that the coach informed my son that it took a 3.8 gpa and ungodly ACT scores to be accepted. If there is a school that you are looking to attend or have interest in just visit their team web site and they usually will list their dates. You can also email the team “volunteer coach” and ask what other schools or camps they might be attending. I would suggest that if you are attending a camp but have interest in a school other than the hosting school, take the time to go introduce yourself to them. Express your interest. Always remember though, they are looking for the best talent available that meets their schools criteria witch is usually greater than NCAA requirements. Sometimes that’s a hard mix to find.
You seen what happened to Notre Dame when they played Alabama! lol
South_Paw, also a follow up to your question. Obviously those schools are very expensive to attend. The NCAA D1 baseball rules only allow for 11.7, yes .7 not a type o. With a maximum of 23 players under scholarship. Not all schools athletic programs can afford that so some Ivy League schools the players are footing the entire bill or picking up academic $ also. Just something to keep in mind.
Thanks, jwhite. Yes, my son and I are planning to attend the Dartmouth camp next summer, after his sophomore high school season. We are in the south and I doubt Ivy League coaches up in the northeast spend much time down here. As for scholarships, I’ve read that the Ivy League schools actually do not give any sports scholarships at all, or merit scholarships either - everything they give is based solely on financial need. What I would like to know is, though Ivy League schools are D1, what are their expectations for a pitcher - velocity, size, etc. - compared to what top D1 schools like Vanderbilt or Florida would require?
South_Paw first of all if your son has the academics to qualify for Ivy League, congratulations!! I looked up a couple pitchers from Dartmouth one of their SR. pitchers Sam Fitchthron RHP in 2013 he was throwing 88/89. But also found a LHP Mark Bachman throwing 83/84
Both guys around 6 ft 160 to 180 lbs
Also at the time that coach from Dartmouth talk to my boy, he was a JR. In height school throwing 85 and was 6" and around 160lbs. My boys a smart kid but not Dartmouth level!! Lol
Hope this helps.