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!
This reflection is a few years old now, but the advice remains as golden as ever. We are re-publishing it so you can continue to learn from the experience of those who have been in your shoes and experienced the college game.
Dear 17-year-old Lucas,
You just had a disappointing junior year. You did not perform to your capabilities and your team fell short of the playoffs. You feel discouraged and ready to move on to the next chapter of your life: college baseball. Summer has just started and you’re ready to go to showcases, play well, and commit to a college. You can’t wait to be done with high school.
Take a step back and really breathe.
Once high school is gone, you will never be able to get that time back. Want to know how your summer and senior year are going to go? You’re going to have a great summer and do well at the showcases. Your dream school, UC Berkeley, is going to tell you that you can squeeze your way into a D1 school as a first baseman and get minimal playing time, or you can go D2, D3, or NAIA and play every day. A couple of D3 schools and NAIA schools will show interest, and you are going to commit to Willamette University. That’s a whole different story but we’ll get to that.
Your senior year is going to be one of the best years of your life. You will make some of your favorite memories on and off the field that year. You will have possibly your best year ever baseball-wise and your team will make it to the section championship game. Personally, you will hit over .350 and have a sub 2 ERA on the bump, earning all-conference and all-metro honors as a utility, grouping you with some of the best baseball talent in the area. It will be one of the best years of your life and you were so anxious to get through it and get off to Willamette that you almost missed it.
So, what happens when you get to Willamette? Well, your freshman year will be fun. You’ll have a great time experiencing college for the first time and you’ll pitch well. However, sophomore year you will tear your quad a week before the season starts. This, on top of some disagreements with the coach, will cause you to withdraw and come home. You will then attend Cosumnes River College (a local junior college) for a year and then head down south to Westmont College in Santa Barbara. You’ll experience some success here and there, but baseball-wise, your best year will be your freshman year. Yes, I know you won’t believe me but it’s true. Enjoy it while you can.
Enjoy it while you can. That should be something you apply to every area of your life. Nothing is forever. Too often in life, we are looking forward to what is next and we don’t fully appreciate what is now. Enjoy now. Enjoy today. You can enjoy tomorrow when it comes, but today enjoy being in high school. You’ll get to college, trust me, but until then, focus on enjoying your senior year. It’s the last full year your parents will be together and you have no idea. It’s the last full year all of your best friends will be in the same city. It’s the last full year your Great Uncle George, who you are very close with, will be alive. It’s the last year for many things. Enjoy it while you can.
So what other advice would I give you? Don’t listen to what everyone else says. Care about what matters to you. That’s it. A lot of people like to put the D1 title on a pedestal. You will have lots of friends who make this their only criteria for playing baseball at the next level, and a lot of them will succeed in playing D1 baseball. Some of your friends will be D1 standouts and get drafted, while others will barely see the field and be miserable. The D1 label should not be a factor in your college decision. People put way too much emphasis on it.
Oh, here’s another thing, don’t rely on showcases to be your main source of exposure. In fact, they’re really not necessary. You throw 82 and you’re a decent hitter but not athletic enough to excite college coaches in the field. What do you have to showcase? If you could actually be reading this email, you would be reading it on a computer. Guess what, every single college coach has one too-and you can communicate with them through those computers! If you really want to impress some college coaches, figure out what numbers they are looking for as far as pitch velocity, exit velocity, 60 time, and other key metrics. Work your tail off until you can reach the numbers coaches are looking for and then make a video. Once you have a good video, you can send it to any coach in the country-for free! In fact, after your year at Cosumnes, you will have no offers because you threw a total of seven innings. So how did you get to Westmont? You made a video of yourself throwing a bullpen with a radar gun in the frame and you’re sitting 87-88. That’s how. Oh, and Westmont has had way more guys drafted than Willamette and way more success as a team, and you got there by a video, not a showcase. So save your money and don’t go showcase your 82 mph fastball for twenty coaches. Go lift instead.
Life has various stages. Once we leave one stage, we can’t go back. Most of the time, the next stage looks so promising that we can’t wait to get to it. Don’t fall victim to this. Life is already too short, there’s no reason to speed it up. Sometimes, we don’t even know when the current stage we are in will end and it might end abruptly. So enjoy every second of it. You never know what life is going to throw at you next. Enjoy today.
Westmont fifth-year senior Lucas
Want to read more Letter to My High School Self articles? Click on them below:
JUCO Pitcher, California turned D1 Pitcher, Michigan