Which is more Important for a HS player looking to play college baseball? Playing for a travel baseball organization with college connections or Playing on a travel team that has more recruitable talent that will win a lot of games?


My son seems to be at a pretty critical time for college recruiting over this next year as he will be graduating HS in 2020. He is a very hard working ballplayer and seems to be at a crossroads with having to decide on which travel team to play on next summer. I really would appreciate some advice as he needs to decide within the next few days!

So, anyhow, here is the deal. Like I said he is a very hard working ballplayer and recently made one of the top teams in our state. I am stating that based on their record over this past summer of 43 - 4. This team had the best record in our state playing a highly competitive schedule playing all over the country. They are a team that has been playing together for years and have always been one of the top team in our state. The issue is that the organization is not very well known and I am guessing that they likely do not have many connections with college coaches/recruiters. Honestly, this 2020 team is the best team they ever had in this organization likely by a long shot. I also know that he would get plenty of playing time at his preferred positions on that team because he already had a chance to play with them for a few tournaments. They are also great defensively which would only boost his confidence on the mound! They also have some very recruitable 2020’s on their team with several ranked players. My son is ranked pretty high as well in our state.

The thing is my son has been playing summer ball with and is very liked by another organization in our state that is very well known around here. Basically, that team is all about showcasing players and getting them recruited. The problem is that they had a .500 record this past summer and ended up losing many of their top players that are highly recruitable. They did play mostly older 17U elite competition but still, they did not play as well as everyone expected. So with them losing some of their better players, I do not see them being highly competitive while playing at the same level as this other team next summer. But like I said they are all about recruiting and likely have many more connections with college coaches. They also take down each player’s measurables several times a year and if a player’s measurables increase enough they will usually end up shooting recruiting videos for them to send out to colleges. Which the other team will not offer. They also have paid coaches and the other team is coached by fathers and the owner of the organization. His old team only has one coach in the dugout and they do not really run any defensive plays or timed pickoff plays. They kind of leave it up to the players to shift and run defenses. Whereas this other team would practice during the season more often and everyone is going to be more in sync defensively with coaches calling out the defensive plays during a game.

So my main question is do you believe that my son should stay with the old team that will look at him as one of their top 2020 players and will try hard to get him recognized/recruited. Or should he go play with this other team that has a lot of recruitable talent and will likely once again end up playing deep into tournaments next summer that will have many college recruiters around watching them all play?

If you have any experience with this please send me some needed advice…

Thanks, 2020 Father

You also state that

I am not criticizing your appraisal of this organization with respect to “who-they-know, as appose to what they know”, however organizations with the kind of record and reputation that you mention, do not go under the radar of those looking for talent. As to turnover and such, this is all part of the amateur game. Still, consistency in the coaching ranks is the rudder that steers the club. Good coaching attracts good players.

There’s a lot to be said for the “connections” market. It just makes shopping a lot easier and less expensive from a recruiting/scouting standpoint. But this favoritism system has major flaws in it as the player progresses within the system. A winning record is a hard taskmaster and even a slight drop in the year can create a terrible rippling impact on players and coaches.

On the other hand, if the colleges that your son is interested in, do not, as a matter of history, recruit from your area, in particular your son’s high school, then that’s another matter all together. In fact, environments like that, are usually evidence of a roster, year after year, of finding players from a very small population of institutions. I mention this because your son’s high school coach should have contacts as a first step in the recruiting process. If not, you and your son are kind of winging it.

To answer your question directly, I would suggest playing time is more important that leaving your son’s future up to connections. Let your son display is ability, which will get a lot of attention on his terms not, strangers.

Question: The colleges that your son is interested in, and the major(s) that he might want to study, do they select players from high schools around your area? Or, do they highlight a certain cluster of colleges not far from their campus?

The reason for my asking is this - UCLA, Miami and other institutions like that, are in an area with a bumper crop of great talent. Now if you live in Bangor, Maine… and you get an invitation to attend a recruiting visit, at your expense, WHY? My point being, do your research on roster makeups and see where these people get the majority of their players. Check out the bio of every player and see how your son stacks up against these guys.

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A few points to consider:

If your kid is good he will have opportunities.

Loyalty matters.

Dad coaches at 17u is laughable.

So your kid gets seen more with the dad coached team that has little to no experience placing kids in college. Now what? Who is going to help you evaluate offers, match your kid to the right coach and/or program. If the coaches have kids on the team and a scout approaches them who do you think they, or the owner, are going to talk up? Conflict of interest?

The flip side, you stay loyal to your club that is going through a rough patch and perform well and those coaches and owners are going to bust their butt for your kid. College coaches will respect that your kid didn’t bail when things got tough.

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I agree totally with TXJIM. Now things being equal with talent and consistency, loyalty is not a training thing - it’s the self-worth of a person.

that being said, loyalty is not a stat that’s “carded”, nor is it a play-by-play ink splashed on the pages of the sport’s page. In the scouting ranks, it’s called doing one’s homework, asking and looking around when nobodies looking.
\You know what I use to give high marks for - being a gentleman. No profanity, no smart@!$$ rants on and off the field, dependability, and a ton of other stuff that says this guy isn’t come back to me by someone … anyone, saying… " What in the name of Rube Waddell did you send this guy to me?"

By the way, to give even more creditability to TXJIM’s posting …

is more right than I care to expand on. And on that note, once your son reaches 18, he is legally at the age of majority. Hence, that’s the time for him to start taking charge, and dad back off. It’ll be a constant pain the four-seams to have a family member pipe in when recruiters and scouts trying to progress through a conversation with a guy. Besides, having your son on his own, sort of speak, says volumes for his ability to handle himself when away from home for long periods of the time, first time. I know that is hard to think of right now, but prepare for it.

This is confusing.

If this is such a great team why aren’t they well known and why wouldn’t they be drawing recruiters?

" I am guessing that they likely do not have many connections with college coaches/recruiters."

If you’re guessing on this crucial issue you’re not doing your job.

If he’s playing on a team that’s playing 500 or less ball you can still stand out if he’s winning the games that he’s pitching. In fact, he can especially stand out. It does matter however how they are losing those games. If he’s a ground ball picture and the infielders don’t have range and make a lot of errors they can make him look bad. If he’s a Flyball picture and the outfielders have no range and no arm that could be a problem too. But if they are getting beat simply because they are out hit and out pitched ( except when your son is pitching) he could stand out. Winning pitcher on a losing team shows up in the stats.

I’m confused as to which team it is that you think is poorly coached.

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A better program would be… A program that stresses continued work on his development and has an active role in recruiting. The other program doesn’t sound like much of that is stressed, the focus should be
on development not pride in being on a winning team. A program that actively is involved in recruiting should participate in multiple top tier tournaments, and put playing time and exposure of each of their prospects ahead of winning during those tournaments, but not ahead of development. It’s a balance good programs know how to accomplish. You said your son is highly ranked in your state, that must mean some hard work was put in and he should be commended for that, having him continue that hard work and commitment to development is the right road to be on, the more he develops and the higher ranked he becomes, the more coaches will find him.

I would look for big name travel teams like the evoshield canes, banditos, or team elite. Depending on where you live though. That’s what I did this summer, and I ended up playing for the Evoshield canes, and just by doing that and telling coaches that I played for them I started getting offers. I’m also a 2020, and I don’t even throw that hard, only low to mid 80’s. Just do that and you’ll be fine

2020 PITCHER, does your son have a list of colleges he would like to attend? If so, he should go to their baseball camps. Most college baseball teams have both summer and winter baseball camps that range from $150 to $1,000 per 2 or 3 day camp. They are usually called “Prospect Camps”. There are also “Prospect Camps” that will have a group of 20 or so local colleges (D1, D2, D3 and CC) in attendance. Travel ball teams are good for honing your skills, camps are for getting recruited.

As for your son’s travel ball team, he should play on a team in which he stands out. There is no sense in sitting on a bench or playing 50% of the time on a team which is 43-3 when you could be playing full time on a .500 team. Unless he is a pitcher, if he’s a pitcher he doesn’t want to be the best pitcher on the team or the coaches may over use him. That said, if your son likes a particular coach or group of teammates go with that team. My advice, find a group “prospect camp”. Best of luck, J

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First off don’t stress over the team you are on. I do agree with coach baker that loyalty is a good quality. But here is how it will work… your team will go to an exposure tournament. College coaches will not generally just pick a game at random and watch and take notes. They do not have time for that and usually there are looking for specific talent. Now if they happen to be interested in a player on your team or the opposing team, they may notice you that way.

So what to do? Well getting noticed by a college coach will take a lot of work on your part. First I suggest you get a list of colleges you want to attend (primarily ones that have a degree program you want). Now if possible with that list, as others have said, attend the camps. This will do two things. One it can put you on the coaches radar, and two it will let you see how the coaching is. My son attended a camp for a D1 team this fall and he took the school of the list because of the quality of coaching and the way the camp was run.

So once you are on the radar you will have to look for exposure tournaments where the coaches that know your name will be attending. Prior to the tournament you send an email, Hey coach I attended your camp blah blah, I will be playing at such and such tournament if you want to see more of my play. Something along those lines. Communication is key.

Another thing is keep your grades up! Practice for the ACT or SAT (VERY IMPORTANT if you are interested is an expensive school). There are 3250 D1 scholarships available every year. Each D1 school gets 11 full scholarships for baseball. No coach can field a team with 11 players so those scholarships will be broken up to offer more scholarships to more players. I.E., a school will turn 11 100% scholarships into 22 50% scholarships. Coaches LOVE kids with high ACT scores. Not all schools are like Alabama where they will take a kid who can’t read but if they run a 4.2 40 yard dash will take them and put them on the football team.
So if you have a good ACT score a coach can get you some baseball scholarship money and make up the difference with academic scholarships. Better yet… if you get a full academic scholarship and don’t need a baseball scholarship and coach will jump for joy since most rosters are more than 22 players on a college team. Then he can use the baseball money for another player.

And keep practicing… if you are a quality player you will get noticed without having to break the bank going to perfect game tournaments. I have seen college scouts attend HS school games to come watch a specific player.

Good luck. And remember 90% of what will get you a D1 scholarship will happen off the field… practicing, conditioning, lifting, etc. Your playing time should be 10% of the total time you dedicate to baseball and good things will happen.

Skip the travel team(s) altogether… go attend the prospect camps at the schools in which your son is interested… it will get him directly in front of those coaches, get him on the campus and give him a feel of how the program is run.

If he wants to play travel ball I would suggest making taking a hard look at the economics and how many innings he will get… it helps to know how to pitch and the only way to learn the art of pitching is to be on the mound. However, knowing how to pitch will not open any doors if he is only lighting the gun up at 82.

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I agree with CBC that skipping travel ball and focusing on prospect camps might be a good idea.

A travel team’s schedule MIGHT put your son in front of coaches from the colleges he is interested in. Then again it might not.

Whereas if you focus on prospect camps run by colleges your son is interested in (or the many prospect camps that feature coaches from multiple colleges, which tend to be run by private organizations like Headfirst, Showball, All-Star Baseball Academy, etc.), you can ensure that your son is seen by the coaches who need to see him.

It’s a trade-off. Being rostered on a super-elite travel team can give a player a certain amount of initial credibility with coaches. In the end, however, coaches want to see how the player performs on the field. Prospect camps usually provide a good opportunity for that, and it’s a very efficient, targeted approach.

Hi 2020Pitcher,

I would propose to you to look at this from a completely different perspective.

I’m going to assume your kid is good, but there are a lot of good players. Playing on an elite team means he has to stand out to get noticed. All things considered, I doubt he will, which is why the great state team gets no interest from “scouts”.

Now an alternative approach would be to figure put what schools your son would like to attend. After all, you are going to college for an education, and not sports. I know, I know, but you don;t want to give up on the dream…well, you can’t control that the way you can control his education.

With that said, I would recommend finding schools he likes and will attend regardless of him being recruited. If he wants to play, have him attend the college camps each school will hold. This gets you RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE PEOPLE YOU NEED TO HAVE LOOK AT HIM.

If he impresses, they will follow. Do it this summer and in the fall. If he has the talent, they will bite. In the end, he gets to go to a school he chooses for education (you control that), and that’s a blessing in case anything else should happen that might end his playing baseball (you can’t control that), as well as being a stop gap if he gets buried on a college team and never gets a chance to play. He is where he wanted to be for many reason, the most important being an education.

This also has the added benefit of that you control your son’s visibility and are less dependent on some travel team that may or may not prove to be best for your son. That stuff is all extra.

Hope this helps.

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