College Scouting of HS Freshman

Hello, I'm new to this forum.  I have a neophyte question about college scouting.

While at one of my 2021 son’s recent travel team games, my husband found himself sitting next to a man who said he was a scout for some colleges. The scout said he was there to look at a player from the opposing team for a DI university.  The scout (out of politeness I think) asked who our son was and then said he had heard that our son was good.  He even knew which high school our son played for. 

This came as a complete surprise to us.  While our son is a solid player who has played at a fairly high level in the past, and his high school is considered a good baseball school, he has no current plans to play college baseball and is not playing on one of the "elite" or showcase teams in our area.  Is this common?  How closely do college scouts track 15 year olds who are not on the big name teams?

Thanks in advance!

Original Post

Well, here's what my take would be on it.  Maybe someone else has another idea, but I'm guessing this is what's going on.   Not sure what you mean by "scout".  Colleges don't use "scouts".  Their own coaches, whether it's a head coach, recruiting coordinator or assistant coach do all of the scouting.  There are scouting services....that are hired by the player himself ....who will go watch a kid, get the particulars then promote him to particular colleges.  In my experience, there is absolutely no purpose for these guys.  In most cases, they are typically just looking for $$$ from the player and don't end up doing much (if anything) for the kid as far as getting him recruited.   If he was fairly local, he probably knew your son's name from hearing about him from HS.   Did he as for money or offer to help your son in any way??  If so, he's a probably with a scouting service of some kind

Thanks Buckeye!  Actually, I'm not sure if he used the word scout or something else.  My husband did not ask him any follow up questions.  He did say he did this, whatever it is called, for "some colleges," but identified only the one he was there for that day.  The only other thing he said was that the kid he was looking at had good academics.

He did not seem to be trying to develop a relationship with my husband/son and did not ask for any information from us or money.  In fact, I don't think he even told my husband his name.  He simply watched the game and then left when it was over and that was it.

I am sure you have much more knowledge and experience with this than I do, but I will say that I am aware of one travel coach in our area who sometimes acts as a scout for a high academic school in the northeast.  His son attended that school in the past, and he looks at players the school might be interested in.

I'm with Buckeye. If you're sure you heard "for some colleges", that's a huge red flag. Likely a recruiting service, and likely looking for customers. Their customers are the players, not the colleges. I have no reason to disparage recruiting services, but if that's what this guy was representing, I don't like the way he handles his business.

LuckyCat posted:

Thanks Buckeye!  Actually, I'm not sure if he used the word scout or something else.  My husband did not ask him any follow up questions.  He did say he did this, whatever it is called, for "some colleges," but identified only the one he was there for that day.  The only other thing he said was that the kid he was looking at had good academics.

He did not seem to be trying to develop a relationship with my husband/son and did not ask for any information from us or money.  In fact, I don't think he even told my husband his name.  He simply watched the game and then left when it was over and that was it.

I am sure you have much more knowledge and experience with this than I do, but I will say that I am aware of one travel coach in our area who sometimes acts as a scout for a high academic school in the northeast.  His son attended that school in the past, and he looks at players the school might be interested in.

The last part makes sense to me.  If a HS coach had a relationship with a coach from a college some distance away he absolutely could be recommending kids....in fact, most HS coaches will recommend their kids to schools.  A D3 college won't typically send a coach 1000 miles to watch one kid....so it's possible that they were using someone "local" to check out a kid.   I guess the fact that he said "some colleges" kind of confuses me....but I don't know everything lol.  

To be honest, there were some things about this that didn't add up, which I guess is why I posted here.  I was not at that game, but was able to watch the kid this guy was "scouting" in a later game in the tournament.  He did not jump out as DI material, to the extent you can even know that about a 15 year old.  I would have dismissed the whole thing except the guy knew which high school my own son played for.  There are maybe a dozen 15u players in our area that everyone knows will be playing DI ball in a few years, and my son is not one of them.  Those are the only kids (if any) I would have expected a college "scout" to know by name right now.

I think you are probably right that he was with a service.

TPM posted:

FYI, college coaches do employ scouts.

TPM is correct and Buckeye is not (lol).  Colleges coaches DO use scouts to help find and/or evaluate players. Some scouts are paid and some do it on a volunteer basis.  Some coaches trust guys in their personal network to act on their behalf.  I have scouted for college coaches that trust me.

So, how do you reconcile the statements of colleges paying "scouts" with this NCAA rule:

"13.1.2.8 Talent Scout. An institution may not pay any costs incurred by an athletics talent scout or a representative of its athletics interests in studying or recruiting prospective student-athletes. An institution may not provide any such person a fee or honorarium and thereby claim the person as a staff member entitled to expense money."

I can see volunteers calling a coach; several here have claimed schools acutally hire scouts.

Goosegg posted:

So, how do you reconcile the statements of colleges paying "scouts" with this NCAA rule:

"13.1.2.8 Talent Scout. An institution may not pay any costs incurred by an athletics talent scout or a representative of its athletics interests in studying or recruiting prospective student-athletes. An institution may not provide any such person a fee or honorarium and thereby claim the person as a staff member entitled to expense money."

I can see volunteers calling a coach; several here have claimed schools acutally hire scouts.

I have 2 responses to your post:                                                                                       1. I am a volunteer coach and I assist with a lot of things, including scouting.         I am not compensated for what I do.  The vast majority of paid coaches in           college baseball are grossly undercompensated.                                                   2. Why would you care how any college baseball program is getting their               scouting done? How is that any of your concern? You go dig up an NCAA             rule and post it? Like you have uncovered some wrongdoing? Really??                 What a joke!                                                                                                       There is a PGA golf event being televised this weekend. Maybe you can watch real close until you think you see a rules violation. Then call the network and report it!

      

 

adbono posted:
Goosegg posted:

So, how do you reconcile the statements of colleges paying "scouts" with this NCAA rule:

"13.1.2.8 Talent Scout. An institution may not pay any costs incurred by an athletics talent scout or a representative of its athletics interests in studying or recruiting prospective student-athletes. An institution may not provide any such person a fee or honorarium and thereby claim the person as a staff member entitled to expense money."

I can see volunteers calling a coach; several here have claimed schools acutally hire scouts.

I have 2 responses to your post:                                                                                       1. I am a volunteer coach and I assist with a lot of things, including scouting.         I am not compensated for what I do.  The vast majority of paid coaches in           college baseball are grossly undercompensated.                                                   2. Why would you care how any college baseball program is getting their               scouting done? How is that any of your concern? You go dig up an NCAA             rule and post it? Like you have uncovered some wrongdoing? Really??                 What a joke!                                                                                                       There is a PGA golf event being televised this weekend. Maybe you can watch real close until you think you see a rules violation. Then call the network and report it!

      

 

That was pretty good adbono.  Employing a scout may not necessarily mean they are compensated. But be assured some programs (mostly the very large ones) have 1 guy  out there watching players. 

I guess there are always ways to get around any rule. And yes, what does it matter. Probably next we will get the definition of employ. 

I think watching the event is a good suggestion.

First,  thanks for the personal attack. I often find that persons who lead with that are deflecting from the issue raised. (E.G., Adbono's direct statement:  "Some scouts are paid.")

I personally don't think it does matter - just was curious that you both claimed that colleges pay scouts.  Rather then take it up with the NCAA, it's telling that you attack a messenger simply laying out the rule.

Did I misquote the rule? Take it out of context? Or, are you aware of colleges actually violating the rule?

For better or worse, the NCAA has strict rules on who can recruit. Paid scouts are not permitted. Any school which does this plays with fire. (There may be colleges not subject to NCAA rules. Several years back, I met a guy who carried a business card from McGill - a Canadian flagship. He was scouting for McGill.)

Yes, also, colleges have a wide network of contacts which inform the coaches of potential recruits ranging from PG type organizations which market to the entire college industry, to guys who see a player and call a coach, to personal coaches tapping their networks. All of those are legal (subject to qualifying rules , e.g., boosters).

To some, terms of art don't matter and the result matters; to others, both the result and process matter. IMO, a result oriented approach allows one to rationalize all sorts of corner cutting - and this is absolutely  not limited to baseball.

For the OP, who cares is the person was employed by the school?  Any person who can get word to a school of a potential recuit is just another brick in the recruiting wall - which is a positive thing . 

 

 

There are scouting services out there who provide and watch then provide information to coaches who charge the player, not the program.  

The NCAA does grant scouting services approval to provide information to colleges about prospective student-athletes in football and basketball but not sure about other sports. 

Those scouting services must be approved by the NCAA each year.

And I never said coaches pay scouts, but rather used the word employ which necessarily doesn't mean they are paid directly by the program.

 

One more point to make. There are D1 programs out there whose assistants or volunteers ( who are not allowed to volunteer except in exceptions)  have been involved in big travel teams. These travel teams regularly have their players sign with those D1 programs. 

So much stuff goes on and most of it just misses violating the rules. Let's not be naive. Unfortunately the edge goes to the premier programs.

 

 

Since you brought up travel programs and college coaches, when I cared about it (over a decade ago) there was actually an exception which permitted college coaches to coach local travel teams. I believe it was somehow related to the distance from the school. (Tried to convince a local d1 volunteer.)

Also note, the coaching restrictions do not apply until a kid hits ninth grade.  For all you underpaid college coaches (read that most), there are lots of legal ways to enhance income; its easy until the players hit HS,  but a good HC will allow his volunteers to mine all sorts of alternate baseball revenue streams.  That way they wont starve.

 

Maybe you misunderstood. My point is that there are college assistants who were at one time managers or coaches for travel teams.  They have incredible connections in recruiting top travel team players.

The college game and restrictions is so much different than when son was in HS. I do know that back then D1 coaches did give lessons, not sure if it was allowed. 

I don't see how a paid D1 coach would have time to work with younger players, sometimes there isnt even enough time in the day to get all your work in. 

HCs who have successful camps pay their assistants and volunteers from their camps. These camps bring in LOTS of money. Some volunteers do pretty well, but don't get any employee benefits. 

 

I didn't meant to stir up controversy!  Sorry if I did so.  I'm not concerned about whether or how this "scout" was being compensated.   And for the record, I have no reason to believe the travel coach I know of doing college scouting is being paid money for what he does.  In fact, I suspect he does it for free as a friend of the head coach of that particular college, and he is willing to help that head coach, who is many hundreds of miles away, check out high academic players in our area (or who have come to play in tournaments in our area) who might be a good fit for his school. 

What I am actually interested in is whether colleges (using whatever means are at their disposal) follow players as young as 15, especially players who, while good, are not making any top prospect lists.  It would seem, since this guy knew of my son and where he played high school ball, that this is in fact the case.  And that kind of blows my mind!

Yes, college coaches (at least some) over the past few years have followed players in 8th and 9th grade. There are 5 D1 commits on our 15u team (only 1 of whom is a "stud"); 2 of those kids committed prior to freshman year. So yes, coaches are well aware of good 15 year old players. It was not uncommon for 8th and 9th grade students to be made a verbal offer prior to the recent recruiting rule change. It remains to be seen whether these changes will slow down the number of young recruits, but based on these recent 2022 and 2024 commits, it doesn't appear the new rules have changed anything. 

https://www.perfectgame.org/Co...centCommitments.aspx 

Thanks Zia, that is an interesting list!  I think you're idea of "good" and mine may be a little different.   When I say good, I don't mean great.  Lots of good 2021 players in our neck of the woods.  I'm sure some of them will go on to play college ball, but not one of them is on that list yet. 

The 2021 commit from our area on that list is much more than a good player and has been for years.  It's not surprising at all that D1 schools would be looking at him as a high school freshman.  He would be hard to miss.  He's more the exception that proves the rule though.

TPM posted:

A 2024 to Columbia? Seems more than likely an alumni (parent, grandparent) committ. 

Not sure how a 6th grader commits. Does an Ivy actually have any idea they will qualify? Plus they aren't offering athletic scholarship $ so what exactly are they committing to?

Zia2021 posted:

Yes, college coaches (at least some) over the past few years have followed players in 8th and 9th grade. There are 5 D1 commits on our 15u team (only 1 of whom is a "stud"); 2 of those kids committed prior to freshman year. So yes, coaches are well aware of good 15 year old players. It was not uncommon for 8th and 9th grade students to be made a verbal offer prior to the recent recruiting rule change. It remains to be seen whether these changes will slow down the number of young recruits, but based on these recent 2022 and 2024 commits, it doesn't appear the new rules have changed anything. 

https://www.perfectgame.org/Co...centCommitments.aspx 

Well, from that list of nearly 250 recent commits, there is one '24, one '23 and four '22's.  So ,even the four '22's make up less than 2% of that group.  I think, as TPM points out, any time this happens prior to freshman year in HS, there is often more to it than a player showing sure D1 projection as a 7th or 8th grader, particularly to an Ivy.  So, I don't think it is accurate to say that it is not uncommon for 8th and 9th grade students to have offers.  The sample you provide with your link is less than half of one percent for 8th graders and that doesn't take into consideration the many who commit to smaller schools later and/or never announce to PG or elsewhere.  Now, has the meter been moving slightly toward more freshmen?  Yes, but still quite a miniscule number - quite uncommon, IMO.  I would be very interested to hear about the 15u team with 5 D1 commits.  That has to be quite the anomaly.  That said, there are many HS sophomores who qualify to play 15u.  One of my sons was 16 as a senior.

2013 son's college coaches have asked on several occasions that I go watch a player that they are interested in.  Usually a player in our district. Then reason is I'm cheap.... and I will tell them from a  different perspective.  HS coach , Travel coach and parent all have the agenda.  I usually  do not know them personally but might know of them.  Basically they give a list of a few things they want to know can he play for them in a year, two years,  how the body works, how he thinks in the game, is he thinking ahead or reacting to the game.    So I guess there are a few baseball nuts that will look at a kid for free.  It's fun for me.

CABBAGEDAD:  I'm not willing to disclose publicly which 15U team I'm talking about, but it's a midwest team. The kids are all rising sophomores, a few have turned 16 already. They are committed to 5 different D1 schools which are all located in a 3 state midwest region. Two of those schools finished in the top 30 regular season, one of them made it to regionals. 

Zia2021 posted:

CABBAGEDAD:  I'm not willing to disclose publicly which 15U team I'm talking about, but it's a midwest team. The kids are all rising sophomores, a few have turned 16 already. They are committed to 5 different D1 schools which are all located in a 3 state midwest region. Two of those schools finished in the top 30 regular season, one of them made it to regionals. 

Ahhh, let's see. Missouri St and Minnesota. 

Why would anyone want to shut themselves off from recruiting as a freshman, unless they have specific ties to specific programs, or they live in the geographical region and plan on not going out of the region to attend school.

Just sayin'.

PA2020Lefty posted:
TPM posted:

A 2024 to Columbia? Seems more than likely an alumni (parent, grandparent) committ. 

Not sure how a 6th grader commits. Does an Ivy actually have any idea they will qualify? Plus they aren't offering athletic scholarship $ so what exactly are they committing to?

I would bet this is a kid who just put Columbia in his PG profile.  There's no way an Ivy could make an offer (i.e., guarantee admissions) to a sixth grader.  I suppose if he was some sort of Sheldon and was taking AP classes they could, but then he wouldn't be a 2024.

My point is that zia2021 posted a link but as cabbagedad pointed out, there is just a sprinkling of very early commits among the lists.

I think parents need to get over this very early committ thing, because coaches probably are pretty happy they don't have to do the early bird who catches the worm thing.

They have enough on their plate to deal with.

TPM posted:
Zia2021 posted:

CABBAGEDAD:  I'm not willing to disclose publicly which 15U team I'm talking about, but it's a midwest team. The kids are all rising sophomores, a few have turned 16 already. They are committed to 5 different D1 schools which are all located in a 3 state midwest region. Two of those schools finished in the top 30 regular season, one of them made it to regionals. 

Ahhh, let's see. Missouri St and Minnesota. 

Why would anyone want to shut themselves off from recruiting as a freshman, unless they have specific ties to specific programs, or they live in the geographical region and plan on not going out of the region to attend school.

Just sayin'.

Neither of those schools. And for the record, I agree with you that early commits generally only benefit the school. I'm not a fan of the early commit. However, that doesn't change the fact that schools across the country are playing the early recruit game.

Opinions on this "early recruit/commit" issue seems to be one of the major divides on this board between those who have been around a long time and us newcomers. For those of us in the 2019-2022 range who have kids going through this journey currently, we have all seen a very recent uptick in early commits in the past 18-24 months. It may not be a true "trend," but there is no denying we have seen lots of early commits over the past year across the country. And I agree with you that it is still a small minority of overall recruits, but it appears to be an increasing minority based on the past 12-18 months. And it remains to be seen whether the new rules will slow this possible trend. The question of whether early commits are a good idea is a whole separate discussion. 

Further evidence that colleges are at least interested in seeing/following young kids:  found out last night from my player that there were 7 D1 schools at his 15U PG tourney game last weekend for sure (maybe others he said). 3 of those were also at the same venue last weekend watching 15Us. These are the same regional schools (not top 10 powerhouse programs) referenced earlier.

Just because coaches are out their looking doesn't mean offers. There is nothing concrete except on the field skills. Noting they are not 10 powerhouse programs changes the equation. What does a rising 9th or 10th grader have to offer in the way of admissions? Test skills? GPA? Clearinghouse?  

I think a lot has to do with geographical areas. Here in FL, there are SO many players with exceptional talent, the top players get the early call but there are a lot of 2019s and 2020s still on the board, so to speak. Some programs are actually seeking out 2018s due to the draft, which would also include watching Non committed JUCO players.

But yes, when summer recruiting gets into full swing, they will be out watching the 2021s, 2022s,  but that doesn't equate an offer. Have you been across the country to see what's going on? Are you a coach.

Curious, what does a 2024 have that's so special that Columbia offered a committment?  

TPM posted:

Just because coaches are out their looking doesn't mean offers. There is nothing concrete except on the field skills. Noting they are not 10 powerhouse programs changes the equation. What does a rising 9th or 10th grader have to offer in the way of admissions? Test skills? GPA? Clearinghouse?  

I think a lot has to do with geographical areas. Here in FL, there are SO many players with exceptional talent, the top players get the early call but there are a lot of 2019s and 2020s still on the board, so to speak. Some programs are actually seeking out 2018s due to the draft, which would also include watching Non committed JUCO players.

But yes, when summer recruiting gets into full swing, they will be out watching the 2021s, 2022s,  but that doesn't equate an offer. Have you been across the country to see what's going on? Are you a coach.

Curious, what does a 2024 have that's so special that Columbia offered a committment?  

Maybe there is a potential endowment from that family

LuckyCat posted:
 

What I am actually interested in is whether colleges (using whatever means are at their disposal) follow players as young as 15, especially players who, while good, are not making any top prospect lists.  It would seem, since this guy knew of my son and where he played high school ball, that this is in fact the case.  And that kind of blows my mind!

Remember coaches aren't necessarily recruiting a kid because he was/is a good HS player  but instead what type of college play he has the potential to become.  

TPM:  I would agree with you that it appears this trend (for lack of a better term) is more prevalent in some areas than others. I said across the country because there have been early commits all over, but more in some areas for sure. In fact, I would say this midwest region I'm talking about is unusual. I'm not a coach, just a family member of a player who has obsessively tried to figured out this early recruiting thing for about a year. The 2 pre-HS commits on his team last summer is actually what led me to this site. Then the third right after that really piqued my interest since only 1 of the 3 would be considered a "stud" on this site. I also agree with you that watching/scouting does not necessarily equate to offers.

The Columbia kid is definitely an outlier! I thought it was kind of hilarious which is why I posted it. There has to be more to the story. I even thought maybe it was a typo, but Google proved otherwise.

SomeBaseballDad:  great point about potential/projectability. All of the people giving us advice (former travel coach, current travel coach, hitting instructor etc.) have all said that is exactly what the schools are looking at. 

Thanks for the reply.

I think there is a lot that goes into recruiting than we all actually know. I think that it all comes down to the coach knowing and understanding the needs of their particular program, not anyone else's. A top power5 program might essentially go after the same type of player, a mid D1 another and a lower tier D1 another. Players are looking for the same in their recruiting experience.  Sometimes a player slips through the cracks, no one seems to be hot on the player, he ends up being a stud. Or the guy everyone wants, doesn't pan out.

As a parent YOU have to know and understand what's best for YOUR son. Don't worry about anyone else, why you see some guys getting offers and why your player has none.  Pre HS offers MEAN NOTHING.

Just make sure that your players are being seen at the right venues, by the right people. That's all that should be important. Understand that for MOST players, real deal offers come as rising juniors or seniors.

 

 

SomeBaseballDad posted:
LuckyCat posted:
 

What I am actually interested in is whether colleges (using whatever means are at their disposal) follow players as young as 15, especially players who, while good, are not making any top prospect lists.  It would seem, since this guy knew of my son and where he played high school ball, that this is in fact the case.  And that kind of blows my mind!

Remember coaches aren't necessarily recruiting a kid because he was/is a good HS player  but instead what type of college play he has the potential to become.  

That's a good point.  Also, the guy my husband talked with was aware of the player's strong academic record, suggesting the school was factoring that into their equation as well.

Luckycat, academics are very important. D1 baseball programs get limited scholarships per year (11.5 per year if I remember correctly). Therefore, coaches like it when players qualify for academic scholarship money available to all students. Coaches also want kids who are likely to be successful academically. 

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