Okay, I offered to write up my impression of the Headfirst Honor Roll Showcase at Long Island, so here it comes. I will make comparisons to Stanford and Showball since we did all three this summer.
Arrival/Checkin- Uh, nice guy alert! These guys are genuinely enthusiastic in welcoming each and every player as they enter the Baseball Heaven Facility. Check in was easy (my son was #194, which is tough to cheer for). They start the boys (and a girl at this camp) off with an introduction and what to expect from Brendan Sullivan. More on him later. There were roughly 275 kids here this session, and while that may sound like a lot, it was so organized that it was not overwhelming. The facility easily handled it. Sixteen teams in all. That will equate to a position player playing roughly 1/2 of each 6-inning game and pitchers are scripted on appearances (PO's get 2 innings each day if they feel capable, 2-way guys get 1 per day). PO's do not hit.
Testing was well run, all done on the same field in front of all the coaches. Sixties were hand timed in the OF while OF and IF guys did their Fielding and throwing drills in front of all coaches. Times were consistent with what my son has run all summer, even at events with laser timing systems. I did not see a lot of booted balls, but a few kids were amped and threw wildly toward 1B. No radars that I noticed (this was true of Stanford and Showball as well). Stanford Camp did not test the kids in front of all coaches. Showball did. Hitting with exit velo was done in the indoor cages with 91 coaches staring you down. How's that for pressure? They also hit in outdoor cages.
I did the math and about 30% of the kids at this event were 2019s. 60 % 2018s, 9.9% 2020's and someone sneaked a 2021 in there.
Game play - yes they start with the dreaded 1-1 count (all the showcase do except PG - which I like, PG). They do it to keep the pace up, but it really is a disadvantage to the hitter, they can't really have an approach at the plate like normal. Pitchers were dumping 1st pitch breaking balls in for a strike, and most kids are sitting fastball. Then you have to battle and while I did see some solid contact in our games (1 HR), there were many more guys who, like my son, had to try to hit A curveball as well as they could. Son went 2-7 for the event. My son had opportunities to play primary and secondary positions defensively. Pitchers were clocked during games with a more detailed scouting report made of the pitchers. This report is made available to the coaches at the camp, not the players. Position players do not get an evaluation. Brendan Sullivan explained they thought it was a better use of the coach's time to have them watching the kids actually play. Agree 100%, felt the evaluation we got at Stanford Camp was ridiculous and was not even written by the coach my son spent the majority of his time with. Essentially, felt it was worthless.
Where the Headfirst event separates itself is in accessibility to the coaches and the willingness these coaches bring to the event to talk to the players. You get a different set of coaches in the dugout during each of your 4 games, all available to answer questions and they are forthcoming on advice during the game. I saw coaches standing on the field of play during the game to get their eyes on kids. There is a gaggle of about 6-10 coaches behind a barrier at each game (you play 4 games) evaluating as well as coaches roaming the cloverleaf between all the games watching. The kids could go up to any coach and talk them up. This was highly encouraged. It's tough for a young guy to build up the courage to go talk to a coach cold turkey, but as the event went on you could see kids going up to more and more coaches giving their "elevator speech." Neither Stanford not Showball seemed to have this feel.
Brendan Sullivan and Joe Graziano each gave 20-30 minute presentations to all the boys, talking about the recruiting process, expectations, how to handle failure in the recruiting process, why D1 may not be the best fit for a player and the difference between the divisions in the NCAA (told kids there were crap D1 programs just like there are crap D2 and D3 programs). Basically it was a buyer beware speech and that always seems to resonate better when it comes from a player/coach rather than a parent. Final speech on day 2 was the best with Brendan Sullivan telling his story of how he went to Stanford the drafted etc. Very inspiring, eye opening and it struck a chord with everyone I spoke to afterwards.
Another aspect of the camp were the panel discussions intended for the parents. Joe Graziano and three coaches would present the lay of the land regarding recruiting and college baseball in general and took questions from parents. I had my son sit down to listen to one of these sessions with me. Nothing that most of us who frequent this board didn't already know, but again when it comes from the mouth of a coach, well it sinks in better with the kids.
The caliber of pitching was 100% better than we saw at both Showball and Stanford. Not sure why Stanford Camp was the way it was, and no offense to anyone who had a pitcher there, but it was a higher caliber of pitching at the Headfirst camp, both with velo and command/control. There were way more 2018s at HeadfIrst than the other camps, and I think that accounts for a lot of it. There were a couple guys throwing 90-91 at the camp. They got immediate attention after throwing from coaches. Like most events, I feel pitchers were the premium position that were being looked at, but there were solid players at every position.
Last note because my thumbs are sore - the Headfirst crowd of players/parents is a different socio-economic layer (at least in the Long Island event) than I have seen at other events like Stanford and Showball. Very few hispanic and African American kids. Like noticeably few. Showball seemed to be the most diverse and Stanford was like Headfirst. The kids at Headfirst camp were smart. They looked smart. A few smelled smart. They could play the game. I came away thinking if these were the kids looking to get into High academic programs, whether D1 or D3, then your player better be a baller because it's not going to be easy to get into any of those programs with that kind of competition.
Nutshell: Headfirst is money well spent, would do again if son is not committed next summer. Showball comes in second. Stanford I would not even recommend.
PM me if you have any more specific questions.