Reply to "Clinics, Camps & Prospects Camps, Is there a Difference?"

This response was never intended to be this long (sorry), but once I got started I decided to really expound on my feelings and experiences of athletes I know and my son's personal college camp experience. May be worth the read beyond the a-d list if you are bored.

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Go to any camp that will:

a) Get you in front of coaches for a school(s) that you desire to attend as a student

b) Matches your academic and baseball skillset

c) That you can afford

d) That is reasonable in distance to justify the expense

I personally know of at least two ball players who played for very well respected club programs who attended a college camp with supposedly no pre-arranged coordination between club team coaches and the college coaches that resulted in an offer at the camp. From what I was told at the time, neither expected this to happen and were completely caught off guard by the offers. Neither had been offered by another program to that point and the programs are both major college baseball programs. That said, I recently discovered one of the players' HS head coach was an all-american at the one school that offered and likely was speaking to the program, perhaps without the player's knowledge. The player's mother told us the kid didn't even want to attend the camp and went at the last minute at the urging of his HS coach. To be fair, the kid is a legit catcher with a hose for an arm and a great bat. His commitment to a CWS contending program was simply a matter of time, and exposure by the club team (which he previously had not played for).

The second player went to a camp at a P5 school based on a generic e-mail invitation (while unable to sprint due to an injury) and showed well enough at the plate to garner an offer (LH hitter, would not consider a power hitter at the time but projects to become one). Club team (very high profile) even tried to dissuade the kid and parent from going (500 miles away) as they had received no communication from the school about this player. 

Sometimes, especially with a school camp (regardless of what they call it), the stars and universe align. If it doesn't impact your finances or another opportunity that provides greater visibility, getting in front of the coaches at the schools you want to attend in never a bad thing.

Regarding what the camps are named, look at it this way: If you got the email to the camp and have never spoken to the coaches personally, there are probably thousands of other players in the same boat who received it as well. That's where parental common sense (which can leave us during the recruiting process) should be used to ferret out if your player would even have a reasonable shot at making their roster. Like TJM stated, even if you think you couldn't make the roster, the instruction and experience could be worth the investment of time and money.

My son started his college camp experience Fall of his sophomore year, attending a camp at a very well respected mid-major with a legendary head coach. He was on the smaller side, had no real single tool that stood out, was a little slow, arm wasn't the strongest, bat wasn't either. Was not overwhelmed by other players at camp but definitely did not stand out. Legendary coach addressed all the boys in the dugout after the camp (which I would characterize as very well run and worth the time) and told all the boys there was not a single D1 prospect in the camp. I would agree with him at the time. His purpose in stating this I believe was twofold - first to make sure the kids had the proper motivation to leave and continue to work hard, second to perhaps get the older kids to focus on camps at schools that better matched their skills. A year later, one of the boys my son met at this camp who was a year ahead of him committed TO THIS SCHOOL and rostered his freshman year, receiving pretty good playing time as a freshman position player. At least 2 other players committed D1 as well, and one to a very strong D2 program who could have went D1 if he was willing to leave his comfort zone (he wasn't).

Attended two other camps, both were poorly run, one didn't bother to tarp the field the week before the camp during a period of rain and we couldn't even use it, and they seemed to be winging it the whole camp with no plan. This is a mid-major program that is a frequent conference champion who recruits well, so the camp was really a money maker for them, not a recruiting tool. The other school was a mid-major cellar dwellar, the camp was a satellite camp the school held reasonably close to us, and can only be described as a free-for-all in how it was run. During the live scrimmage, the only way you got to play defensively was by beating other players to your position, literally sprinting to get their first (I'm not kidding, this happened). This was not the school's plan, it's just what happened because these young coaches literally had no idea what they were doing, no control and no real plan (head coach was a 1st year head coach who only lasted one season). 

Final experience was an expensive one (financially and lesson learned), flew cross country after school's (P5 cellar dweller) asst coach contacted son's club coach expressing interest and wanted us to come out. Due to expense and distance, we delayed until summer (contact was January) and tied in a HA showcase in the region into the trip. Good thing we did, as coach who invited us had since left the program and we arrived to be just one of 150 anonymous players at the camp (that sucked). HA showcase was great and allowed the D1 school he committed to to actually see him for first time.

I am sure there are many stories similar to ours (and probably some even worse horror stories) that others on this board can share, but just felt compelled to share these with you and perhaps other folks just beginning their baseball recruiting efforts to let you know the experience can be a pretty wild ride and to go into it with eyes wide open.

 

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