We’re back to help you make better-informed decisions about spending money while trying to get your son recruited to play college baseball. In our article about balancing spending and exposure, we talked about 8 scholarship facts you should know about. If you haven’t read that article, read it now before continuing. Two other articles you should consider reading before moving on are Baseball Decisions to Consider this Summer: Showcases and Camps and For Parents: The Truth About Showcases. Both articles dispel some of the myths that showcase companies use to make money and discuss the appropriate role of exposure in the recruiting process. In this article, we continue our discussion on ways to avoid over-spending on unnecessary events, looking at how a better understanding of timing in the recruiting process can maximize the exposure your son receives at showcases. It’s important to note that showcases are a luxury in the recruiting process, not a necessity. They absolutely can help a player get discovered and recruited, but advances in video, internet, and social media have also made it so players can create the same type of exposure to college coaches at a fraction of the cost.
Every player develops and matures at a different rate. While some players may be ready to show big-time D1 schools they have college baseball potential in 9th grade, it may take others until late their senior year or even after graduation to make an impression. Having a basic understanding of your sons’ readiness for seeking the attention of college coaches will help you pick the right exposure opportunities and get the most bang for your buck. Delaying showcases until the appropriate time is about saving you money and giving your son the best chance to play at the next level. Exposure to college coaches is a two-way street. When a player has the skills and strength that coaches want, it is great. When a player is not ready, he can get slapped with a negative reputation that is difficult to change.
So, how do you know when your son might benefit from attending paid showcases and seek exposure? The following 5 questions are a great way to tell if your son is ready for attention from college coaches.
- Is your son either an upperclassmen (junior or senior) or already getting attention from college coaches? If the answer to this questions is no, then it makes little sense to waste money showcasing. For starters, he can’t even take a coach-hosted campus visit at a D1 school until he’s a junior in high school, so he won’t be able to make a fully informed decision even if he wants to. Non-D1 levels of college baseball usually don’t start actively recruiting until the upperclassmen years, so there’s plenty of time. Underclassmen who do merit college attention this early will know it because coaches and programs will seek him out, rather than vice-versa.
- Is he being asked to attend invite-only events or to play for invite-only teams? Chances are that people in the baseball community will help get your son exposure once they feel like he is ready. Invitations are a good sign that your son is a desired player and ready to be recruited.
- Does your son have standout tools, skills, or physical characteristics? Don’t confuse stats with tools or skills. Most college coaches don’t care about your son’s stats (they are too dependent on factors outside of his control, i.e. the level of competition). Coaches are more interested in evaluating your son’s potential or projectability at the college level. They will be looking at physical characteristics (height, weight, strength, athleticism, frame, wingspan, etc.) and tools (arm strength, glove skill, speed, ability to hit for average, ability to hit for power). Standout tools are particularly important at showcases because coaches only get a snapshot of what a player can do and it’s easy to predict how tools will translate to the college level. If your son does not have any tool or physical abilities that will stand out, he is likely better off spending time developing these tools and can create exposure and interest in ways better suited to his skillset, like being seen in game play.
- Is your son a senior without a place to play in college next year? If you are a senior with no options yet, you have nothing to lose by trying to get seen.
- Are your son’s grades and test scores good enough for him to be an NCAA qualifier? Are they good enough to get him into school? Even if coaches want your son to play for them, they can’t do anything if his grades are not good enough. If everything else matches up except for grades, target events that will be represented by levels you are eligible for (NJCAA and NAIA).
If you answered no to question 1 or questions 2-4, your son should hold off on attending showcases because they will not yet improve his chances of getting recruited. If you answered yes to question 1, 5, and any additional question, you and your son can start exploring showcase events that fit with your budget and give you exposure to the right schools.
It’s likely that you have already been bombarded with invites to showcase events and been told that they are a necessity. This misinformation is spread because it makes people money. Showcase companies want nothing more than to have your son attend their event each year of high school. It doesn’t have to be this way. When it comes to creating meaningful exposure, your son should get in front of college coaches when he can show them the skills that they want to see. Striking while the iron is hot will not only give your son the best chance of getting recruited, it will also save you money and keep his focus where it should be—on developing into the best player possible.