I have little to no context of skill or coaching as a player in the United Kingdom, as the baseball infrastructure here is severely lacking. I'm 6'0, 175lb, with a hand-timed record pop time of 2.05. I try and self-coach as much as possible when practices are few and far between, emulating players on Instagram and YouTube. I've played international baseball with Team GB, which is probably at the same level as US high school, and I have a career average in those tournaments of .445. I will be attending the Swarthmore College prospect camp, as well as the Headfirst Honor Roll camp this summer.

I'm aiming for Ivy League D1 or high academic D3, as I have a 33 ACT and am in the top 5% of students in my year at a highly selective school in North London, with a lot of extracurriculars. My question is quite broad -- how do I stack up against others in my class? What improvements do I need to make to compete at a high level against those in the United States?

A Google Drive folder with video of throws to second, receiving and blocking: https://drive.google.com/open?...kCDIWUvKnzGNh2ow8cRw

Original Post

Ben, I'm not an expert on high-academic D1/D3 catching stats (my son is a 2019 1B/RHP/3B), but others here have Ivy and D3 experience and great perspective, like BucsFan, 9and7Dad, Gov and others (you can always private message if they don't respond here).

I will say that I'm really impressed you have this goal and that you're reaching out here to ask.  I'd suggest that you send some video to coaches at the schools you're interested in now if you haven't.  Also, have you filled out the recruiting questionnaires of those schools online?  Have you previously been to any showcases or camps in the U.S.?  Do you feel like you know what to do beyond showing up at these events?  The search function on this site can help you find some great past conversations and resources.

Good luck!  

Ben, if you do send video try to make a really tight edit with nothing but simulated game reps and/or game action focused on you.  A recruiting video should be 2-3 minutes, top.   I tried watching some of your videos but honestly there wasn't enough going on.  Your situation is a challenge but if you could shoot on ball field not a soccer pitch that would be good.

You're doing the right thing going to Head First.  Don't know about the Swarthmore camp, but it's a great school, so why not, especially if other schools will be there.

It's going to be hard for folks here to tell you if you're a legit D1 or D3 prospect based on what you've said and shown. But you'll know once you're done at HF -- if you go there and impress coaches, you'll get lots of interest, especially with your ACT and grades.  While I don't know how much impact being an international student will have on your chances,  you should have an excellent chance of getting into most schools without any help from the baseball coach, and that could make you a valuable recruit -- if they like what they see at the camps.

To be frank, by summer D1/Ivy is a really long shot for a 2019 unless he's an absolute stud, so I'd be thinking more about D3 if baseball is a primary goal. But if going to an Ivy is more important, then you certainly could apply and try to walk on if you get in.  But you should go in understanding that most walk-ons get cut.  And good, recruited players can and do get cut, even at D3 colleges.

BTW -- since you're a 2019 you could see about improving that ACT. Obviously 34 is crazy good, but if you could get up to 35 or even 36 you would have an even better chance of getting into any school you like.

Hi Ben,

Welcome to the site.  Thanks for sharing your videos.  It would be interesting to see a few hitting videos. 

Regarding defense/catching - I want to give you honest feedback, positive and negative...

You have some interesting physical tools and a good build but catching mechanics are still raw and very much a work in progress.  I like your quick release and decent athleticism.  But most of your throws, you spin off/fall off too much.  Your feet are reasonably quick but they are often going in the wrong direction.  Your framing is pretty good but your blocking too often finishes falling forward and lacks balance/control.  You don't quite work around the ball enough.  American colleges, generally, will want catchers that are closer to being ready to contribute and not as much of a project with skill set advancement.  I love that you show so much poise and patience in dealing with less than ideal support help in putting together the videos.  You show the right demeanor.  I think, with much work between now and summer, you can give them something to see at the showcases but it will take a lot more work.  Most good HS catchers who will go on to play at the college level spend some time with a good catching instructor.  At this point, you do not project as a D1 catcher defensively.  I suspect that will be too big of a gap to realistically make up.  But lower level colleges aren't out of the question with some focused work efforts.

Another challenge, I'm guessing, will be your preparedness in regards to facing good pitching as a hitter.  Like I said, it would be great to see some hitting videos.  You will need to figure out a way to find challenging pitching to face before coming over and showcasing if you haven't already.  Again, colleges want to take players who have a history of success against good competition and just polish them a bit... not build a player up from the ground floor.  And hitting is a very big piece of the equation they will be looking at.  

You mentioned you use youtube for self-teaching...  have you used the "catching 101 with Xan Barksdale" youtube clips?  The catcher in those instructionals is a very good example to emulate.

A lot of coaches here would love to work with someone like you to see if they could get you college-ready.  I would think there are some resources somewhere in the London area.  Is that an option?

 

Hi MidWestMom, thanks for the reply. I've filled out the recruiting questionnaire for my ED, Swarthmore, and I'm in the process of contacting coaches from the rest of my shortlist. I have family in Oregon, and I've attended the Oregon State overnight camp for the last two years, and am planning on doing so again this year. This website has some great resources, and I've sort of lurked in the shadows for the past few months haha.

Hi JGC, I haven't sent any video or edited anything yet. That video on my Drive is what I've been taking to evaluate myself and try and improve. It's still below freezing here in London for most practices, so the field is out of commission until April 8th. My club ball coach, a Dartmouth grad who holds single season records for hits and runs scored, has told me as an international student I need to send two emails where everyone else would send one, just to maintain interest and recruitment efforts. Baseball isn't an absolute primary goal, but it is a dream of mine; I can also see myself more at a small liberal arts college, so D3 has always been my aim. The Swarthmore camp was an invite, as I emailed their coaching staff and admissions department in late December/early January, because it's likely to be my ED school (if not Pomona). I'll be taking the ACT again in June -- I had 31s on Math and Science, but 35s on English and Reading, so if I get my head in a math book sometime before then I should be okay..

Hi CabbageDad, thanks for the response. That's very useful feedback, I'll incorporate it into my training. I'm a regular at my school weight room, and I'm actively trying to make myself more of a physical specimen with good projection. At this time, I'm throwing long toss into a net in my back garden most days. At this point, Ivies are mostly a second option, and to be honest, if I had offers from my favourite D3 as well as Harvard, I'd take the D3. 

Some hitting video should be up on the Google Drive by Wednesday. The adult baseball I play is probably pretty close to D3 competition, with mid-80s pitching and college-sized fields. Our club has "import" players every year, often from mid-tier D1 schools like Bucknell, who we scrimmage against. For perspective, my average at AAA last year, which I would think is about low D3 standard, was .425.

As for coaching infrastructure, there are resources inside my club, but the best coaching is found with private coaches in the London area. I haven't yet considered this, but I think I may have to start talking to one of them and arranging sessions. I'll get on top of that.

Ben,

HCs at D3s Vassar (NY state) and Pomona (SoCal) both played ball post college in Europe.  They might be interested in learning more about you.  Top academic D3s, both with solid programs.   PM me for more specifics or names and email addresses if you need.

Ben, are you an American playing in England or are you British.  Not that it matters in the end, but I am going to give an example of a German player who came to the states and successfully made it into college ball.  Depending on your situation it maybe helpful to you.

My sons sophomore year in HS a player transferred in from Germany.  He was a pitcher.  Its tough to compare skill levels to what I have seen on your videos, but he was big and athletic.  Similar to what I saw in your videos.  His skills were unrefined and raw, similar to yours.  He was considered one of the better youth players in Germany at his age level.  His mother is an American and his dad is German.  He started playing with a number of kids from the military bases in Germany.  At some point during this time he was seen by someone with good baseball knowledge.  After realizing the kid had a desire to play professional baseball he suggested they come to the states and let the kid attend HS there. 

The kid transferred into my kids HS.  His mother had attended school there and still had family in the area.  This provided her and her son a place to live while he attended HS in the states.  After a few weeks of playing with the American kids he realized that he was behind in both his knowledge of the game as well as skill refinement.  However, he was able to make up for it with his athleticism.  Between his athleticism, a coach who understood his situation and his work ethic he was able to secure a place on the HS team.  Early on he was used as a relief pitcher.  He continued to work on his game and by his Junior year he became a starting pitcher.  If I remember correctly he was 3rd or 4th in the rotation. 

As he progressed and continued to work he started to attend showcases.  He was noticed by D1 schools, but many of them mentioned to him that he still had development needed to ensure his skill levels were at the D1 mid-sized school level.  A few of them had suggested Juco to him and suggested him to some Juco's.  In the end he committed to a Juco where he is currently playing.  I have not heard much about where he stands, but the little that I have heard indicates that he is doing well and will most likely end up playing baseball at a 4 year university.

Im not sure if getting to the states to play HS baseball is an option for you.  Or even how long you have until you graduate from HS.  But if it is possible its a path to consider.  If not you may consider a gap year and try to hook up with an organization here where you can play baseball with the intention of getting in front of the college guys while you are playing.

benbritain2019 posted:

Hi JGC, I haven't sent any video or edited anything yet. That video on my Drive is what I've been taking to evaluate myself and try and improve. It's still below freezing here in London for most practices, so the field is out of commission until April 8th. My club ball coach, a Dartmouth grad who holds single season records for hits and runs scored, has told me as an international student I need to send two emails where everyone else would send one, just to maintain interest and recruitment efforts. Baseball isn't an absolute primary goal, but it is a dream of mine; I can also see myself more at a small liberal arts college, so D3 has always been my aim. The Swarthmore camp was an invite, as I emailed their coaching staff and admissions department in late December/early January, because it's likely to be my ED school (if not Pomona). I'll be taking the ACT again in June -- I had 31s on Math and Science, but 35s on English and Reading, so if I get my head in a math book sometime before then I should be okay..

You are looking at 2  great schools.  Swarthmore's campus is so beautiful, and it will be just cold and wet enough to remind you of London sometimes. Pomona's campus is wonderful too but walking around in tee shirts and shorts all winter might make you homesick.

Good luck!

joes87, I'm an American citizen living in London for the last 14 of 17 years. I can't foresee myself transferring to a US high school, or attending a JuCo, but I have considered a gap year in the past. My intended major would be Political Science, and I have some contacts in Oregon politics, so working on a congressional campaign during 2019/2020 is a possibility, and would really strengthen my application. At the same time I could be seeking coaching on my catching and working on my physique.

Ben, no one has said this yet so I'm going to give you some advice I've seen given on this site many times:  focus on picking a school that best fits your academic and career/life goals. As a high academic kid who has his major selected already, you need to focus on finding the school that best fits your academic/career goals. I would strongly caution you not to lower your academic standards in order to play college baseball. If you can attend an Ivy or other prestigious academic school and not play baseball, do it. An Ivy League school is a life changer because it will open doors to opportunities for the rest of your life. 

All that being said, I hope your academic goals and baseball goals coincide. You mentioned that you have not worked with a private coach, but they are available. You should do that immediately. Many HS players here work with private coaches. You'll want an instructor for catching and hitting (may be the same person or may be 2 different instructors). Good luck to you! 

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