Inside the Recruitment takes an in-depth look at the recruiting process as described by players who have been through it. Each article features a new player, whose varied experiences offer you an inside look at the college baseball recruiting process. We hope their stories will show you that there are many routes to college baseball and each recruit’s experience is unique. Most of all, we hope you can learn from their stories and use their advice to help you find your college baseball fit!
Name: Mitchell Kranson
High School: De La Salle (Concord, CA)
College: UC Berkeley (2016)
Professional: Drafted 2016 (Rd 9), Minnesota Twins
As one of the elite players in the Bay Area, Mitchell Kranson could have committed to a school before suiting up for his first varsity game. But Kranson knew he wanted to experience the recruiting process in its entirety, so he intentionally waited until Division I coaches were allowed to initiate contact (September 1st of junior year). Despite receiving considerable interest his sophomore summer and taking a handful of unofficial visits during his junior year, it wasn’t until the day before he started his senior year that he verbally committed to UC Berkeley. By his own admission, Kranson had a smooth recruiting process. He narrowed his list down to a handful of schools that fit his criteria and had reciprocated interest. At Cal, Kranson earned the nickname “El Gaucho” and made SportsCenter Top 10 for his extra-inning, walk-off home run against Regional host Texas A&M. He earned his degree in 2016 before being drafted in the 9th round by the Minnesota Twins. Throughout his career, Kranson learned valuable lessons on treating coaches with respect, performing under pressure, and much more. He sat down with KPB to share his wisdom.
You have an interesting story about your first unofficial visit. Can you tell us how you literally walked into that opportunity?
I really wanted to go to Notre Dame. I had played a tournament out in Chicago and one of my buddies’ grandpa had gone to Notre Dame, so we had to go to Notre Dame to check it out. I literally went to the baseball office and knocked on the door while I was there to introduce myself.
So you were received well when you just walked in?
Absolutely. We talked in his office for a while. I made sure I sent them a follow-up email and the dialogue just kind of started from there, and then they came out to California to watch me play[…] I ended up going back out there. I told my Dad, the only way I can go to Notre Dame is if I can deal with the snow. That was a huge thing for me, and it should be for anyone picking a school, can you deal with the worst weather conditions? So we booked a trip in January and had another unofficial visit […] There was like 6 feet of snow when we were there. I remember walking out of the hotel and it literally felt like you got slapped in the face by the wind and the snow.
In the end, you decided for more favorable weather and committed to Cal.
I committed to Cal and I remember on the drive home from Cal, I gave a call to all the coaches who I was considering to be my last couple of schools and I let them know that I really appreciated what they did, but I ended up committing to Cal.
How were the phone calls received?
That was really tough for me because I didn’t really know how they were going to take it. My dad was the one who mentioned to me that he believed a call would mean more and it definitely did […] They might have been disappointed I didn’t go to their school, but at least they didn’t dislike me as a person because of the way I handled it, I’d like to think. We talked about opening up the door [at Notre Dame], I didn’t want to close any doors by leaving them in the dark. […] You skip forward four years and after one of the games we played, [the coach that had recruited me] never brought up the call, but he told me if I ever want to get into coaching, I have a coaching job with him wherever he is. And so I feel like that would have been different if I hadn’t picked up the phone and called him.
So you had a small list of schools you wanted to go to, talk about how you made your final decision.
I wanted to play in the Pac-12 Conference and so that was a big part of my decision. And then obviously the school is a huge part of it […] Education was obviously a big deal, as well. There was a lot of time where I was just by myself just thinking about if I could I actually see myself at this place. Cal was a little out of my comfort zone, and I kind of liked that.
What was your favorite part of playing college baseball?
I love being done with school. I love having my degree. I was able to graduate on time in 4 years. I have accomplished a lot in my baseball career so far, but I feel like my biggest accomplishment really is getting my degree, other than obviously the friendships and relationships and everything that comes with college baseball. People who don’t play college baseball don’t understand how much time you spend around those teammates. It’s crazy how much time you spend, so you know, those relationships you carry with you the rest of your life.
What advice do you have for a kid who’s just starting his recruiting process?
I would say the best part of the recruiting process for me was enjoying the days where [college coaches] could call you. There’s a lot of kids out there in the recruiting process who can commit before those days, but I just thought enjoying it and waiting was better. In the end it was, because you get more love from the coaches that way. There’s going to be kids who commit earlier than others and I don’t think you have to worry about it. You know, if one of your teammates is committing early, there’s still a spot out there for you to play. One of the best things that I heard from one of my high school coaches is, that there is literally a place to play for everyone. No matter if it’s Division I, MLB, Division 2, Division 3, NAIA, JC—if you want to play college baseball, there is a school out there for you. And I would say keeping all doors open is my best advice.
Final question. You have 30 seconds with a kid who is just starting the college recruiting process, what do you say?
I would tell him that college coaches look at everything, whether that’s grades, make-up, everything. They also look at your hustle. So I would say make sure that you never do something that causes a college coach to cross you off his list that has nothing to do with your actual abilities, because that could have been the school for you. Your talents should speak for themselves, but there’s a lot of stuff in your make-up that college coaches do look at, and you’d hate for them to cross you off the list because of something other than baseball talent.