This article is not an attempt to say that size and physicality are not important in recruiting. They are, as we clearly explain here and show with our discussion on the importance of strength and conditioning. Instead, this article is an attempt to show that talent rules all and size doesn’t have to be an obstacle to playing at the next level.
“I’m too small to play college baseball.”
“Only the biggest dudes get to play in the pros.”
“College coaches only look at the strongest, most prototypical looking bodies for projectability at the next level.”
These ideas are all too common at the high school level. Players often oversimplify how coaches evaluate players, worry too much about things that are out of their control, and forget that ability is a great trump card for size. As you pursue college baseball, it’s vitally important to remain optimistic and confident in your abilities – particularly what YOU bring to a college program.
Let’s do a brief experiment. We’ll focus on the NCAA D1 stat leader board for the 2020 season. There are a few interesting bits of information about the makeup of the leaders who were on top of some important categories.
For example, let’s look at the players who topped the leaderboard in several offensive categories and their physical makeup:
- Brendyn Stillman– 6’2”, 230 lb (AVG)
- Zack Raabe – 5’10”, 177 lb (HITS)
- Nick Gonzalez – 5’10”, 190 lb (HR)
- Spencer Torkelson – 6’1”, 220 lb (BASE ON BALLS)
- Spencer Myers – 5’11”, 170 lb (STOLEN BASES)
What do these players have in common, exactly? Height? Weight? There’s obviously some overlap, but it’s probably not what you’d expect. They do indeed have several things in common, but they can’t easily be seen or measured – they are: hard work, persistence and talent.
A look at some of the best players in MLB also help to drive home the point. Mookie Betts, one of the games biggest stars, stands all of 5 foot 9 and 180 lbs soaking wet. It’s likely he was told time and again that he was too small to succeed at (insert any next level of baseball he wanted to play at). Thanks to his hard work, persistence, and skill, he’s now on a fast track to Cooperstown.
We’re not trying to argue that physicality isn’t important or that some coaches don’t intentionally recruit bigger players. What we’re saying is that there are quality players at every level of all shapes and sizes. Rather than worry about what you can’t control (your natural size), it’s more important to focus on making the most of what you do have with a quality strength and conditioning program. Every recruit can work on getting stronger and improving their skill set. If you don’t have standout size or a big time tool, we discuss ways you can still get recruited and succeed in college here.
If you don’t have a “prototypical” baseball body type and you’re still not convinced that you can keep playing baseball at the next level, let’s take a look at some top pitchers from the D1 2020 season as well:
- Garrett Acton – 6’2”, 215 lb (SAVES)
- Mac McCarty – 5’11”, 210 lb (WHIP)
- Logan Hofmann – 5’10”, 190 (ERA)
- Seth Lonsway – 6’3”, 200 lb (K/9)
- Jacknell Guzman – 6’2”, 215 lb (Complete Games)
- Chase Haney – 6’6”, 227 lb (Appearances)
The pitching leaderboard has a significant range in height (7 inches) and although the weight ranges only 35 pounds, you wouldn’t have to dig too hard to find guys weighing 75-100 pounds apart. As you can see, success comes in many different size packages.
We’re not here to convince you that there’s any particular advantage to having an ‘atypical’ physical makeup – but in the game of baseball, hard work, persistence and talent far exceed physical measurements. Just look at MLB’s 2017 meme-worthy AL MVP race, which came down to eventual MVP Jose Altuve (5’6″, 165 lbs) and Aaron Judge (6’7″, 270 lbs). It’s not their size that’s getting them the accolades, it’s their production.
Unlike football or basketball where physical size can be a significant barrier to entry for upper levels of competition, baseball tends to be much more meritocratic. If you possess the talent and put in the requisite effort, your physical size shouldn’t keep you from where you want to go. Add this to the long list of reasons why we all love the game as much as we do and why you should plan to keep playing baseball.