I wrote an article on the scouting/recruiting process for college and pro baseball lately, since it’s a hot topic at the moment. Hope you guys enjoy!
Great article. Love the viewpoint of the younger kids. Different sports, not making it feel to a kid like forced work, and not worrying about not being the best player at 12, the article has it all. Well done.
Absolutely. No one is going to say “Hey, when you were 13 years old on that winning travel team, you really impressed me and that’s why we recruited/drafted you.”
Winning on teams is fun when young, but it’s secondary to the overall goal.
That was a really well written and concise article.
What I am about to say is probably not going to encourage anyone and not politically correct…but here goes:
Kyle, you look at the landscape of amateur baseball and wouldn’t you agree that more and more affluent kids are gravitating towards travel baseball? Not football - not basketball.
These affluent kids are also attending the better private schools. I notice you used Stetson Allie as an example. He went to school at St. Edward High School, a preparatory that has high academics and top level competition athletically.
If you are in the middle class or lower middle class or poor frankly, you may not have much of a chance to participate in the DI experience. The African American experience in professional baseball over the last 30 years is directly related to at least two things. They can’t afford to participate in elite travel ball (which is where important contacts are made) and they don’t get a quality education because their schools are horrendous academically.
Like it or not…the filthy rich, the rich and the moderately rich have everything rigged in their favor. It helps if you realize this when you are going through the “process”. What was once mostly a racial problem is now simply an economic one.
Which is another reason why, no matter who you are, you have to take a “no prisoners” …" If they don’t get out of the way, then I’ll run them over" attitude. College baseball is not for the timid or faint of heart.
Stetson Allie grew up not far from me (I am from Cleveland), so I know all about St. Ed’s. (My father is a St. Ignatius alum, back when tuition didn’t cost more than a BMW. I went to public HS.)
I came from a lower middle class family as did the majority of my friends. Some went on to play at the Division-I level, but you could argue the game has changed significantly since then (and I’m only 30). What we knew growing up is that if we wanted the advantages, we had to go get it. I opted out of my SR year of HS to take JUCO classes for free; this program was hidden from us because it diverts tax money to the JUCO, but it was available.
Inner city kids learn very quickly a good life lesson - no one gives it to you. You have to take it. And this lesson is a good one to learn in college and pro ball, I might add.
As for travel baseball… it’s tough to say. I have always been opposed to select baseball teams that charge exorbitant amounts. Currently I train athletes in the Pacific Northwest near Seattle, and it’s no secret that many people have money out here. (My modest townhome in the middle of an urban area cost six figures, and the first number isn’t a 1.)
However, I intentionally advise my clients to skip most of the select and travel crap. Why? Because 92 MPH is 92 MPH. The quality of baseball here is garbage, despite the fact there is tons of money. Do you watch the Area Code Games? Look how the Royals (PacNW) do. We are horrible. We lost EVERY game last year and we usually only pick up a game or two if we’re lucky.
The average velocity for a major HS starter here is probably right at 80 MPH. That’s terrible. 88 MPH is unhittable here, which is frankly a joke.
I have a kid who has an 80-grade work ethic. Started at 71 MPH and currently throws 90-93 MPH as a 2015 grad. He has had offers from EVERY select team here to play for them, some of whom are sponsored and cost very little to join. He has rejected all of them, because they all want to change his training methods. They are more concerned with putting a stamp on him and say that he’s “their guy,” when in reality, he is his own man. He has been to one PG event, which we now consider a mistake.
In today’s world, you can throw 95 MPH in a shed in Siberia and some area scout is going to hear about it. Ability will find a way. This kid is being heavily recruited by elite D-I colleges in the Pac-12 despite playing for low-rent summer ball teams and being on JV all last year in HS. I told a Pac-12 coach “You might have to come to a JV game because his HS coach doesn’t like him,” to which he responded: “I will watch him anywhere, anytime, any place. You just tell me and I will be there.”
If you don’t have a thick skin and can’t take the abuse from your teammates and “friends” who don’t understand that training hard year-round to play at that next level is what is required, then you wouldn’t have made it at the next level anyway.
As Dan Blewett’s coach once told him, “A resolute man finds a way.”
People have often associated me as “anti-travel”, the truth is I’m not necessarily against it but don’t think “it is the only way”.
I’ve preached college clinics and camps for years, now it doesn’t mean go once and expect…it means it is a resource where the leadership has a real vested interest in “the future”…chances are you will meet those contacts, if you are persistent and of course the kid has to have “some” skill and be trainable. Now my son and I were lucky I guess, we continued to participate, get better and look for more.
Travel for us was Jr. Sr. year for seasoning against the highest levels we could find…but it was totally clear that the travel game was un-necessary outside of that. I will concede that had I not been able to get my oldest all the way through a decent run…I would never had thought about it. We did attend big seminars put on by travelling schools (Mostly Bucky Dent) and yearly attended a weekend event put on by a former pro, in conjunction with the university.
It gave us plenty of college connections and friendships that have lasted better than 20 years now…
Just because one camp is no good doesn’t mean all are no more than one bad travel coach doesn’t make all of them bad.
I never played on elite travel teams, and didn’t have the money for expensive pitching coaches, etc. Echoing what you all have said, it’s definitely not the only way, but its still the way that the majority of top college players use. This is how our country works…people charge large amounts of money because they can. Look at the Dominican Republic, they crank out major league players who come from nothing. Quality instruction seems to be a major factor, but money can’t guarantee that in most cases.
Been away for a while, nice article and great points from everyone, when I have more time I’ll weigh in on this.
Great article I really enjoyed your insight. As far as the topic of travel teams, in my area at least they call it club ball. I’m the only one on my highschools freshman team that didn’t play club ball. I go to a nice private school even though I’m in lower-middle class because we got decent financial aid. However, almost every other team in our division is a public school and they are very competitive. I’m certainly not saying that rich, upper class kids don’t have an advantage, because they do, but it is also very possible to make it if you aren’t.