Son is currently in middle of PG year at high academic New England prep now. His reasons for a PG year were very specific. Every kid's reasons can be very different. My feeling is if you are HA caliber as a HS Jr. or Sr. then obviously you are sound academically and won't need one for academic reasons. I don't think you can suddenly become a "HA recruit" and be taken seriously as such suddenly by HA schools as a PG. Maybe, if you've got the GPA and other bona fides, but the SAT/ACT score is close but just is not there? You can pull that one out fall of PG year and recruiting coach at HA school can finally sign off on you, but to suddenly bring your GPA up in your 5th year of HS won't impress admissions at any HA.
Son's PG path:
As a HS sophomore earned great opportunity to spend HS junior year abroad (did), but knew he would not be playing any baseball there (played some club basketball). He had already garnered interest from several high academic colleges at this point for baseball and had made several UVs by this time. Knew the year abroad would stunt and/or stifle his baseball development (pitching especially), so by sophomore year had already decided on doing a 5th year of HS (whether as a PG or as a reclass Jr he did not know yet) to make up for year abroad and loss of development (which there was, due to not playing any baseball for 10-months age 16-17, as an RHP would throw bullpens into his upturned mattress in his apartment, or chain link fence at sokker park before park personnel chased him off). Had already established himself as a HA recruit by this point. And was.
Long story short, PG'ing for baseball is tricky mostly due to the fact that it's played in the spring, long after HA admissions have sent out their acceptance notifications. Unlike football or hockey or basketball where coaches who are still on the fence about your play currently can get one last look at you during that 5th year of HS, assuming the previous year they were close but just not sold yet on your skills. Baseball PG will not get you that, UNLESS you are physically projectable, and the extra year is a no brainer for not only more physical strength (width and thickness) but also growth in height and overall physical maturity.
Would I recommend a PG year to a baseball player? Yes, if......IF:
1. You have already established yourself as a HA recruit already via GPA and challenging HS class load, and you just need to raise the ACT/SAT a few more points.
2. If you are still physically projectable (in other words, if coaches believe you are not done growing). But if coaches believe that you no longer project (ie. are done growing and what they see is what they're gonna get), and you are not a slam dunk HA student, then a PG year will not move the needle at all at HA programs.*** It will be a wasted year.
3. Now, if you just want an extra year of HS? Heaven forbid just.........because??? Sure! Why the heck not? Son was a HA recruit when he applied to prep schools for PG year having already committed to a HA D1 for baseball. He ended up decommitting from that school 6-months later, then committed to another HA D1 in summer BEFORE his PG year.
Lastly, you might be asking, "Gee wiz, this PG year thing at a New England boarding school must be expensive???" Yeah, it is. Tuition at son's BS is actually quite reasonable at $49K. Most are $58K and higher. But as 9and7 has already stated, THERE IS NEED BASED FA GALORE AND THEY CAN'T GIVE IT AWAY FAST ENOUGH for those who financially qualify and have the desired academic caliber. Son's prep school (grades 9-12) has well over a billion dollars (BILLION) in their endowment to assist families. And for those that qualify for need, can be assisted upwards of 95% and higher. Son says he is amazed at how many kids are paying as little as $2K to attend. So don't write the PG year off for financial reasons. These schools bend over backwards to get kids WHO QUALIFY ACADEMICALLY and demonstrate the financial need to attend. Heck, that's cheaper than sending your kid to the local Catholic school for Kindergarten.
OliveH, hope this helps, and good luck.
***"HA Programs": meaning Ivys and Top-Publics, and Top-Privates. Son has many PG classmates who are shoring up GPA issues in addition to ACT/SAT issues for other HAs but those not in same league as above schools. PM me for more info if you want.