Hey Wildcat... some great info so far... if you can share a bit more about your kid, we can probably offer up some additional advice with more specific direction that applies to him. I think I read he was throwing about 80 as a freshman P, which is good but not yet a D1 magnet. What are his other measurables/strengths? Is he a power bat? Hit for average? Did he play V and if so,how good is the HS level his school plays in? Does he play travel and same question? Does he have a major or career in mind yet?
You are on the right track with your thoughts that a typical HS sophomore won't be thinking of a college list with meaningful line items in proper sequence of priority and that it is most likely a player stays in his home state, so the best place to start drilling down. I'll wait for your answers before offering up more.
He was clocked at 82 before the season began. He has actually dropped from that a little over the course of the season, as he topped out at 79 at the most recent PG tournament he pitched in. I'm hoping with a strong off season regimen he can reach 85-86 going into his Sophomore season. I will have to wait and see.
I don't have his other measurables. I understand 80mph doesn't really catch anyone's attention so have been trying to be judicious with spending money. He has not done any kind of showcase yet. He also broke a couple of toes and had to have surgery last fall and was just getting back up to speed and hadn't played any baseball at all for 3 months last year when tryouts for the top Summer travel teams were going on so he didn't tryout. I think he will just try to go with a local inexpensive team this fall and target the more competitive (and expensive) programs next summer as long as he progresses well enough to play there. He played JV. He hit .450 and was the #1P and #1 3B. He hit cleanup but to call him a power bat would be a big stretch. He can hit a ball about 340, and I'm well aware that's behind the curve for his age group's top players. Major or career in mind? He doesn't have a clue.
OK, great. So, he is where so many his age are who have aspirations to play beyond HS and the potential to do so... not quite there yet with the skill set and physical maturation but showing promising signs... ...and not really knowing what he wants to do for a career yet. The good news is that he is ahead of most with throwing velo at that age. Also, there is time to gradually introduce things to him so that in the next year or two, while he is developing physically and with his skill set, he will have also progressed in his awareness and be better equipped to make good decisions about college.
My suggestion is this... start gradually spoon feeding him information. Don't be overbearing but occasionally raise questions, point out positive examples, point out necessary measurables for various levels (which will become goals to target), have exploratory discussions about what type of learning and social environments he is most comfortable with, etc.. Bring him to college games of various levels. Visit campuses and get a feel for what he likes and doesn't like. Have him start a list on a simple spreadsheet of favorite schools and of things that are most important to him in choosing a school. If he currently likes Florida because of the football team/games, that's OK. Every few months, review the list and see if there are new schools, new priorities, etc. Start getting him to think about what he may be interested in doing for a career. Once he reaches the point where he is actually reaching out to schools, and hopefully the other way around, this list will likely take some dramatic turns. It will be fun to watch.
Meanwhile, I think you are on the right track with local travel this fall and a better program next summer if he progresses. Make sure he is getting proper guidance in that regard. You don't have to spend a ton if you aren't in a position to do so. In the next 12-18 months, you will both learn a lot about what levels he should target. The process is driven both ways. The player has to like the school, but even more so, the school has to like the player. Things will narrow in a hurry once it kicks into gear. It is smart to focus in-state until there is something that compels the search to be extended (like a specific major or HA school).
Whatever you do, make sure you both enjoy the full HS experience. Making a college team may become a focused goal and require a great deal of commitment and there will most likely have to be sacrifices, but don't let it get to the point where he is spending too much time and effort looking ahead and not enjoying what is, for many, the best time of their lives.