The Players’ Tribune has a great series of articles called Letter To My Younger Self. In this feature series, professional players pen a letter to themselves at a younger age, using their experience and hindsight to give advice and talk about things they could have done differently. We love the idea of learning from experience and the experiences of others. Current and former college players have a lot of valuable advice to offer current college baseball prospects as they go through the recruiting process, and we thought that Letter to My High School Self was a great platform for successful players to share this advice. We hope you can learn from the lessons of those who made it to the next level!
You just finished your junior year of high school and you need to start making a plan to accomplish your goal of playing college baseball. You are on a very talented high school team and your recruiting process is going to be a lot different than your buddies that end up playing at big time schools.
The first thing you should do is ask your coaches what level they think you can play at. This is a tough thing to do for a high school kid, but it will help you greatly down the line. Once you get your coaches’ feedback, start crafting a list of schools that fit the criteria. Make sure these schools offer classes and majors that interest you. You do not need to know your life plan at the moment but attending a college that offers majors that interest you will make your college experience much more enjoyable.
Once you craft this list of schools, email them with your academic information and a short video of you playing. Do not be afraid of rejection from these emails. Keep sending them out and keep working hard at your process.
After you start communicating with these coaches and setting up visits, have some questions ready for them. You ended up at a place that had philosophies that lined up with yours but you needed to ask questions to make sure. Some good questions to ask are: “What kind of development plans do you put forth for your players? What is your program philosophy? And, what is your offensive philosophy?” When you watch games and practices, observe the coaching staffs’ coaching style and see how it fits with what you want.
If the answers match what you think is best for you, continue to do more research on these schools to find out which is best for you. When you are on your visit, observe the culture and how the current players on the team interact. You are going to spend a ton of time with your teammates over the next four years and your experience will be very enjoyable because you love hanging out and working with your teammates. Ask the current players about the coaching staff and their style and compare what they say with your observations. Again, it makes your college experience a lot more enjoyable when your philosophies line up with the program’s.
While visiting schools, follow the advice that you think is cliché, “Can you see yourself here without baseball?” It is completely true and good advice. Baseball is going to take up most of your time, and you wouldn’t have it any other way, but make sure you can see yourself enjoying the college experience in your spare time. Take into consideration the distance a school is away from home. You seem open to the idea of going anywhere to play baseball, but being able to catch one flight to get home for Thanksgiving and having your parents come up to games adds something that you cannot really quantify.
Lastly, enjoy the recruiting process. It will take some time for you to decide on a school that is right for you, but you will make the right decision. Once you get to college, it’s only the start of the process. The hard work that got you there must be taken to a new level in order to succeed in college. You get four years to play college baseball, maximize all the opportunities you have to play. You will do this, but take advantage of the summer baseball opportunities that you have presented to you. There won’t be many other times in your life where you get to play baseball in different parts of the country and make relationships with people from all over. Not many people get the opportunity to play college baseball and it will be a great ride.
Eric del Prado
Want to ready letters from other players? Click the links below!