Is Travel Ball a necessity?

Let's say a kid is on varsity his sophomore year and doesn't play much. Doesn't play travel ball in the summer but plays with his HS summer team. Then he breaks out and has a huge junior year, but does the same thing again next summer, not playing travel ball. What are the chances of this kid getting recruited? Is travel ball a must for being recruited nowadays? 

Original Post

Welcome to the site.  You'll find a lot of help here from people who have already been through this, some several times.  

We're in the middle of the process for the first time with our 2017 son.  In his case, I don't know that travel ball is a must, but the kid has to play in settings where coaches will be there to see him.  For us that means targeting a few showcases and, if interest is demonstrated, some specific college camps.  I suspect if my son had a chance, or the will, to join a good travel team, that might take the place of some of the showcases and camps (but not all).  Just our plan; there's a lot of options. 

As my son is entering his junior year I am of the opinion that showcases and travel ball that targets showcases are a good avenue to get noticed by college scouts.   My son attended a Complete Showcase in Houston a few months ago and there were 39 college coaches from D1 to NAIA.  

Another avenue is to make small clips of a player batting, pitching, catching, hitting and email college coaches directly.   This is the cheapest way to go obviously.  I know a local kid that was recruited to a large D1 as a pitcher and played nothing but American legion.  I'm sure his 90 mph fastball had something to do with it.  

Depends. He has to be seen at some point by someone (college coach) who gives yes to him playing at the next level. So if the HS he goes to is a powerhouse that has lots of boys go to college then he might be seen at HS games, but generally college coaches don't go to random HS games. They are in season and are only going to the ones where they have a specific interest.

If he has incredibly dominate tools of some sort (speed  running, velocity as a pitcher, hitting with power) then maybe. But ultimately he needs to be seen by decision makers and then stand out among that group.

Lots of ways to get there. The more the tools the less exposure needed.

As a college coach (I am not), I would be wondering what a young man that wants to play in college was doing in summer that was more important that being on a summer team. There are LOTS of reasons (has to work to help family, cost of travel ball, etc.). But college ball takes effort. Lots of off season and off the field training. I would be looking for someone who is willing to put in that time. Not playing summer ball would make me wonder. If the player stood out to me in some manner I might investigate further, if not, I would go on to the player who demonstrates same type of skills and I can see that trait easily as well.

There are MANY levels of summer travel ball. It is not necessary to travel the country or even multiple states to play college ball at some level. My son who is playing D1 at a mid major, rarely traveled outside a 90 minute drive time. Maybe twice a year and those were to neighboring states. But there is 11 D1 colleges in our state, and maybe 40 college baseball teams, so we could localize and still be seen. Lots of very high profile tournaments were played within that 90 mile range

Ultimately he has to be seen in some manner or other.Target schools he would be interested in and develop a plan to do that. 

 

I never thought I'd see this title for a thread on here.  Kudos!  Its a great question that shoulda been asked before...just don't recall ever seeing it.  Usually, its the opposite, 'Is HS ball a necessity?'

My short answer is 'no, not a necessity' but in general its a good idea.  Our older son was gonna get recruited whether he played travel ball or not, but it sure increased his opportunities. Our younger son was gonna get recruited by at least someone local, but travel ball together with having a nationally recognized HS coach in a nationally recognized HS program widened his visibility too.  Bottom line, in his case he had both a HS coach and a well respected travel coach in his corner - it helped.  No doubt about it.
High quality travel ball is a place to be seen with and against other high quality players.  More scouts/coaches show up to these games.  It increases the 'touch points' and thus the opportunities.  But maybe you and your son are happy with University-X which is just down the street?

And they are right above, you could grab the attention of more coaches by doing a couple well targeted showcases too.

You need to figure out what situation your son is in, you are in (financially, family obligations, targeted schools) and create and execute a plan.

Good luck!

Boy, is this a loaded question!  but a good one as Justbaseball said.  Whether it's a necessity or not depends on a lot of things-   does your son know where he wants to go?  how long is his list?  Does he want to stay local or does he want to expand his geography?  How connected is his HS coach and does he promote his players?   I can tell you in our case, travel ball helped tremendously.  We rarely see a college coach at our regular season games, we are a 'northern' area, and our HS season is only 18-20 games depending on weather.   Our HS coach doesn't view promotion of players as his responsibility- which is fine I guess, it's not what he's paid to do.  So in our area, and for our situation, I'd say yes, travel ball at some level is a necessity.    Others with prominent HS baseball programs, in "baseball" areas probably would differ in opinion.   

Just my two cents-

 

 

Here's the thing on travel ball.  If you want to play in college you need to find a few travel teams and do some homework. Find out where they get their other players, are they a local travel team or a national team.  Talk to other parents and coaches in your area the teams are not hard to find.

Then go talk to the travel team coaches and request a try-out. See where you stack up?  Are you better of playing for travel team A or travel team B or travel team C ?  Because you need to make sure you are playing and not funding....

Compare the schedules of the travel teams, look at what that TT is asking of you in terms of money, time, travel .  Find the team that fits your abilities.  

Do this every year and do not commit to more than a year on any team. I promise you they are not holding a spot for you except in the current year.

Get an unbiased opinion from a good source.... define your target schools based on can you attend if baseball is gone.  can you afford the school if baseball is gone?

Keep asking people on the board questions.

Also the problem with the OP idea , of breaking out is so subjective it's no help to the player.   IF money is an issue most travel teams have a little set aside to help players in need... especially if you throw 90 or hit 400 foot shots       I have never seen a travel team or travel org turn down a player  because he could not afford it.

BACKDOORSLIDER hits on something important.  The travel team you play on is just as important as playing travel ball.  If you are playing in a lower level program that does not do much to develop players and does not work to get them seen by the right folks, you might be better off not playing travel ball.  Conversely if you are in the right program that knows how to get kids noticed and plays in the right places, it can open up avenues for your son that would not normally be there.  Do you homework on your summer travel program.  

Camm posted:

A young man from our county played college ball without playing on his public high school baseball team in recent years. He played only travel ball.

Boom!  There it is.

bacdorslider - the issue I would have with your first response is that it is just not true for a group of high schools where our kids grew up.  I certainly would not say its a waste of time for kids at those schools - but it is not a 'necessity' for many of them.  I have seen as many as 30 scouts at HS games in a certain HS league that has produced hundreds of college players...and some big leaguers too.

(Full disclosure: Our younger son played in that league, our older one did not).

I think there are other areas of the country where this may be true as well...SoCal, FL, etc...  Again, I am not recommending to not play travel ball, but rather to understand the situation your son and your family is in and how that relates to your finances, your willingness to 'travel' and the rest of your family's obligations.

Both of our sons would have played D1 baseball without travel ball.  Still, they both did play travel ball at a very high level - Why? - we had the resources and we enjoyed it and in the end it widened the range of interested colleges.  And frankly, like most dads I suppose, I was nervous about what might not happen if our sons did not.  But still, it was not a 'necessity.'

D17 posted:

Let's say a kid is on varsity his sophomore year and doesn't play much. Doesn't play travel ball in the summer but plays with his HS summer team. Then he breaks out and has a huge junior year, but does the same thing again next summer, not playing travel ball. What are the chances of this kid getting recruited? Is travel ball a must for being recruited nowadays? 

If he has some great games in front of the right people (right place, right time), sure... There's a chance... A slim chance -  but still a chance.

Why take slim-chances though?

 

justbaseball posted:
Camm posted:

A young man from our county played college ball without playing on his public high school baseball team in recent years. He played only travel ball.

Boom!  There it is.

bacdorslider - the issue I would have with your first response is that it is just not true for a group of high schools where our kids grew up.  I certainly would not say its a waste of time for kids at those schools - but it is not a 'necessity' for many of them.  I have seen as many as 30 scouts at HS games in a certain HS league that has produced hundreds of college players...and some big leaguers too.

(Full disclosure: Our younger son played in that league, our older one did not).

I think there are other areas of the country where this may be true as well...SoCal, FL, etc...  Again, I am not recommending to not play travel ball, but rather to understand the situation your son and your family is in and how that relates to your finances, your willingness to 'travel' and the rest of your family's obligations.

Both of our sons would have played D1 baseball without travel ball.  Still, they both did play travel ball at a very high level - Why? - we had the resources and we enjoyed it and in the end it widened the range of interested colleges.  But it was not a 'necessity.'

Justbaseball,   I agree its not a necessity in the definition... but like anything else you should use all the resources available to you.  Ones decision not to play travel ball should not be based on the fact that it's not a necessity .  I think everyone understands that you do not have to play travel ball to play in college but travel ball ( exposure you would not get other wise) will help your chances and give you more opportunities.

No it is not a necessity.  Exposure to college recruiters and the baseball establishment  is a necessity.  Today, travel baseball is the most traveled path for that exposure.  The big question is how much exposure is needed for a particular recruit for a particular college and understanding the barriers.

JMO

fenwaysouth posted:

No it is not a necessity.  Exposure to college recruiters and the baseball establishment  is a necessity.  Today, travel baseball is the most traveled path for that exposure.  The big question is how much exposure is needed for a particular recruit for a particular college and understanding the barriers.

JMO

Aha!  Straight to the point and far more concise that what I said.

Nice job fenway! 

Nothing is absolutely necessary!  Players have reached the very highest level taking many different paths.

The thing that is vitally important is having the required talent and visibility.  One without the other doesn't work.  

It doesn't really matter whether the player wants to stay local for college or travel across the country.  The more interest a player creates the better opportunities he will have.  So if the local college is offering 25%, what would they offer if you were being recruited by several other colleges?  

Years ago in our home state (Iowa) most every talented player would end up at a state school.  Mostly because the high school season was in the summer rather than spring.  Most Iowa kids never left the state to compete. The state colleges could sign them for very little money or offer preferred walk on and get them.  Now those top kids are playing all over the country against the best competition.  Now the best talent from Iowa ends up at places like Southern Cal, Florida, Baylor, North Carolina, Stanford, etc.  If Iowa wants them they have to compete and fork out an attractive offer.

I use the above as an example, but it is true everywhere.  It's really simple... The more people who know who you are and like what they see... The more valuable your talent becomes.  Others might get disagree, but we see it over and over every year.

I actually see it differently than some.  Often I hear this said... If you are a stud you don't need to do anything.  To me it should be... If you lack talent there is no need to do anything.  The player with exceptional talent needs to be seen as much as possible.  He needs to be seen competing against the best possible competition.

Do the research!  Look at the first round picks or those that committed to top college programs. These would usually be consider the top prospects.  Find out what they did while in high school.  Regarding this topic, find out if they played "Travel Baseball" and at what level of Travel Baseball. Almost all of them do!

So is Travel Ball a necessity?  No, only necessity is having the required talent and making sure people know it.  If they know it they will make sure they go to see it.  All baseball levels are important and all situations are different.  But I would have to think long and hard before recruiting a player that is taking the summer off.  Last time I looked, the summer was smack dab in the middle of baseball season!  If you're a good player, you should make the most out of the summer.  For the majority of top HS players that does involve Travel Baseball.

I think travel is essential especially if the goal is to play top flight ball at the next level. But for the reasons you might think. The question you ask sounds as though you are focused on the exposure element and that question has been addressed throughout the thread.

To me, almost as important as exposure is the quality of competition question. In our experiences, playing travel ball, REAL travel ball is about kids getting an opportunity to play the game against the best possible competition. I argue that high school baseball, outside of a few markets (mostly in the Southern tier), the quality of high school baseball competition is really diluted and the caliber of the game is lowered. Showing out in the spring is irrelevant as a predictor of future competitiveness. 

By contrast, going to travel tournaments (especially Perfect Game national events) gives a kid a chance to play against other kids with his exact talents and aspirations. Personally, I found watching my son hammer a triple against a kid signed to CSU Fullerton to be more gratifying than when he went yard in the playoffs against a kid who won't be pitching at the next level. Even our local summer league, as good as it's become, doesn't forecast as well as flying to GA and facing kids who are almost uniformly D1 guys.

My son has travelled (again, REAL travel) to five major events since 9th grade. Every time he made an all-tournament team, he brought something intangible back that lead to his recruitment and being named Captain of his HS team. So yes, those travel experiences were indispensible to his development.

First, I'm defining travel as high level competition, not community based. I'm also discussing starting from the high school level and college exposure.

Is travel ball a necessity? No. Is it the advised path? It depends on what a player is looking for in his future for baseball. I don't believe a D3 prospect has to play travel. He needs to attend the appropriate showcases or camps for exposure. 

A D1 and D2 prospect is going to get better exposure through playing travel. If a player aspires to play locally he may get away with not playing travel.

i saw two pluses to playing travel. Exposure is the obvious benefit. The other major benefit is being around such a level of talent on the team and on the field it pushes the player beyond what he may otherwise be pushed.

My son was his high school team's stud. When he played Legion after his senior year of high school he was his team's stud. On his travel team he couldn't physically or mentally rest for a second for fear of losing his position. The talent difference between players three and the end of the roster was very small.

In the opposing dugout was top talent game after game. He constantly faced 87-92. There was never a cream puff pitcher on the mound like high school and Legion.

I strongly feel playing 16u after freshman year of high school had a lot to do with him being the first soph opening day starter in six years at his high school. From playing on the 16u team he was invited to play for an 18u showcase team before he ever stepped on a high school varsity field.

I convinced the dad of one of the high school players to attend one of my son's scout league games. His response? "OMG! I didn't believe there were this many high school players playing at this level." I responded, "Yep! My son is a face in the crowd on this field."

 

RJM and Tres Arboles comments are very to the point, and one I hadn't thought of much before.  I was glad my son was selected for a very good team, but I hadn't fully considered the effect on his play.  Last year my son started in centerfield as a soph, hit at the bottom of the order, and actually had a decent, but not spectacular year at the plate, and an excellent year in the field (which is what they expected from him in the first place).  Then he joined his travel team, with many of the best players around the state, and found himself scrambling to stay on the field.  Once he managed that, he raised his batting average substantially against pitching that was much better than what he saw in his school league.  So, there are multiple benefits to playing with better players around you, whether it's for a travel team or not.

fenwaysouth posted:

No it is not a necessity.  Exposure to college recruiters and the baseball establishment  is a necessity.  Today, travel baseball is the most traveled path for that exposure.  The big question is how much exposure is needed for a particular recruit for a particular college and understanding the barriers.

JMO

And I'll simply add that exposure can depend a lot on just where you're located and the level of competition in the local community.

Getting the best exposure for the least amount of money/effort is to compete against the highest level of competition.  Kids from small schools often get recruited by coaches/scouts coming out to see the opposing team. Travel or HS, if your team doesn't compete against good competition, there won't be anyone at the games to find out who your kid is.  That's the athletic director's job to schedule games against big schools.  And if the team or your kid is able to play in tournaments, he'll most likely get noticed if he's good.  He doesn't need to get noticed by a college coach or pro scout.  It can be a local coach who gets the word out.  We have a tallish basketball player, senior, who's scoring 25ppg for us who gets a lot of attention at tournaments from other coaches and recruiters.  TBH he's not even that good as it's only his second year ever playing basketball but on our team he stands out.  If he had better grades he would have a scholarship by now.  

RJM posted:

First, I'm defining travel as high level competition, not community based. I'm also discussing starting from the high school level and college exposure.

Is travel ball a necessity? No. Is it the advised path? It depends on what a player is looking for in his future for baseball. I don't believe a D3 prospect has to play travel. He needs to attend the appropriate showcases or camps for exposure. 

A D1 and D2 prospect is going to get better exposure through playing travel.

This is a question I have thought about a lot, and I think RJM sums up my thoughts very succinctly here.

Travel Ball can be very very expensive.  And it seems like everyone and their Grandma is starting a Travel Program these days.   A vast majority of these teams are filled with future D3 talent and they play other teams filled with future D3 talent, and the programs cost $2500+ plus gas & hotels etc.  if not more

Travel Ball can be fun, no doubt.  Staying in hotels with teammates, fancy uniforms, playing tournaments etc.   If money is no object, then the "fun" aspect of Travel Ball might be worth it regardless.   To me it is only worth the expense if you are playing on one of the top travel teams that features mostly D1 talent and plays against mostly D1 talent.

For the rising Freshman or rising Sophomore, if you are not good enough to make a top team of future D1 talent, then the $$$ you would have spent on a D3 level Travel Team would be much better spent on training to help you have a better chance of making a Top Team at tryouts a year later.  Focus on your weaknesses that prevented you from being selected for a top team whether that be Speed & Agility training, strength training, hitting, pitching etc.   You will have money left over to spend on an academic tutor or two.  Great grades and good Baseball skills can get you noticed at a Showcase such as Headfirst much more than good grades and great Baseball skills at a local D3 Travel Ball Tournament.

I wouldn't advise taking a summer off if you love the game.   Play in a local summer league, play Legion Ball, go to some college camps, go to a Showcase or three and do the training, all for the same cost of playing 2 months worth of local/regional tournaments and weekly winter practices with a lower level team.   You'll be in a better position to compete for a spot on a higher level team a year later....

If you get to your rising Junior year and especially rising Senior summer and the game is continuing to tell you that you just are not a D1 talent, well that is different, then play for a 17U team that plays more D3 level tournaments, but earlier on in High School I think it can be a waste of money playing for lower level Travel teams

Just my 2 cents

 

Also, a top level team is different than a top level organization.  My son played for a couple different organizations from 10U-14U.  I started a team for his 15U/16U summers with kids we knew /  had met the previous years.  Good coaches (former MILB guy).  We were very good....won 4 of 7 tourneys....34-7 record  and won a big tourney at the end of the year that nobody would have given us a shot at if you'd have asked in June.  That team (we carried 12-13 regulars plus some sub pitchers) ended up having 5 D1's (3 regulars), 4 D2's (all regulars) and 4 Juco kids.  BUT....it took until the last week of the 16U summer until the first real college contact for any of them.  The team split up due to football and the different levels of desire that our kids had.  7 went to a big organization here in Ohio...2 ended up at D2's and the other  5 got immediate D1 attention early the next summer (rising senior) and all 7 had committed by the end of July....B1G, Big 12,  ACC, MAC (2)...another could have played D1 but joined the Marines after HS.    The funny thing is, I ran into a well known area college/hs baseball guy the next year and he commented ....."man, that 15U/16U team you guys had was loaded"   I guess my point is, we had a great team at 15/16....but we were new and not part of a well known organization.  I really believe if we'd have kept those guys together and just wore the jerseys of a big name org that we'd have had another 3 or 4 of those guys end up at D1's.

Buckeye 2015 posted:

Also, a top level team is different than a top level organization. 

Yes.  Some top level organizations make you sign an agreement prior to tryouts stating that you will agree to play for the organization and will be financially liable for the fees if chosen for the program.   Then they put you on the B Team or C Team or D Team, you pay the full freight and play the D3 tournaments....

3and2Fastball posted:
RJM posted:

First, I'm defining travel as high level competition, not community based. I'm also discussing starting from the high school level and college exposure.

Is travel ball a necessity? No. Is it the advised path? It depends on what a player is looking for in his future for baseball. I don't believe a D3 prospect has to play travel. He needs to attend the appropriate showcases or camps for exposure. 

A D1 and D2 prospect is going to get better exposure through playing travel.

This is a question I have thought about a lot, and I think RJM sums up my thoughts very succinctly here.

Travel Ball can be very very expensive.  And it seems like everyone and their Grandma is starting a Travel Program these days.   A vast majority of these teams are filled with future D3 talent and they play other teams filled with future D3 talent, and the programs cost $2500+ plus gas & hotels etc.  if not more

Travel Ball can be fun, no doubt.  Staying in hotels with teammates, fancy uniforms, playing tournaments etc.   If money is no object, then the "fun" aspect of Travel Ball might be worth it regardless.   To me it is only worth the expense if you are playing on one of the top travel teams that features mostly D1 talent and plays against mostly D1 talent.

For the rising Freshman or rising Sophomore, if you are not good enough to make a top team of future D1 talent, then the $$$ you would have spent on a D3 level Travel Team would be much better spent on training to help you have a better chance of making a Top Team at tryouts a year later.  Focus on your weaknesses that prevented you from being selected for a top team whether that be Speed & Agility training, strength training, hitting, pitching etc.   You will have money left over to spend on an academic tutor or two.  Great grades and good Baseball skills can get you noticed at a Showcase such as Headfirst much more than good grades and great Baseball skills at a local D3 Travel Ball Tournament.

I wouldn't advise taking a summer off if you love the game.   Play in a local summer league, play Legion Ball, go to some college camps, go to a Showcase or three and do the training, all for the same cost of playing 2 months worth of local/regional tournaments and weekly winter practices with a lower level team.   You'll be in a better position to compete for a spot on a higher level team a year later....

If you get to your rising Junior year and especially rising Senior summer and the game is continuing to tell you that you just are not a D1 talent, well that is different, then play for a 17U team that plays more D3 level tournaments, but earlier on in High School I think it can be a waste of money playing for lower level Travel teams

Just my 2 cents

 

After having gone through the process over the last 3-4 years-  son is now off to his summer before entering freshman year- I've had a few parents of some younger players ask for my advice on this topic, and the whole recruiting process in general.  I struggle a bit with the travel ball scene.    obviously, there are many options, and some are better than others, but the statement above got me thinking.  Are there really any top travel teams that feature mostly D1 level talent that truly "play mostly against D1 talent".    Obviously there are a handful of the very top travel teams that have mostly D1 talent, but when they travel do they really play against teams of their same caliber a majority of the time?    It seems that the travel ball circuit has become so popular, and thus a bit watered down from the talent perspective, that these top level teams may be playing inferior talent a majority of the time?    I don't know, looking for perspective here.    If I am correct, is it truly worth the time and expense to play for one of the elite teams?   

When you say top D1 talent playing other top D1 talent.  It is VERY possible they play not D1 talent in pool play but after those 2 games you are playing against the other people that won their pool and they aren't going to be push over teams. They will be D1 talent playing against D1 talent.

I've seen the hopeful kids who come to HS baseball tryouts thinking it would be fun to play baseball in high school, but they are up against a legion of travel ball kids and they don't make the first cut.  Several travel ball kids don't even make it through the first cut.  I can't see a kid making his HS team without travel ball at my son's school.

Also, a lot depends on the HS you attend, the league you play in, etc.  My son never had one college coach come see him in HS, heck, I can count on one hand how many college coaches I saw at his games his entire HS career.  We are in a small town in an area that other than 1 HS doesn't produce D1 players.  The D3 schools in the area are just ok.  If you're a starter in HS and an average player, you can play college baseball within 45 minutes of home if you want to at one of these schools.   The options for summer ball for a HS kid are 1) travel ball with no quality organization within 75 miles  2) Legion which is awful in this area other than 1 team  3) Acme, which is a month long season that is played by HS teams....incoming freshmen-juniors.  It's glorified LL in most cases....again, except for a couple schools that take it serious (our HS wasn't one of them).  I can guarantee you that my son would never have ended up at D1 if he hadn't played travel ball.  I know it's not like this everywhere, people need to determine based on their own area and HS program

Buckeye 2015 posted:

Also, a lot depends on the HS you attend, the league you play in, etc.  My son never had one college coach come see him in HS, heck, I can count on one hand how many college coaches I saw at his games his entire HS career.  We are in a small town in an area that other than 1 HS doesn't produce D1 players.  The D3 schools in the area are just ok.  If you're a starter in HS and an average player, you can play college baseball within 45 minutes of home if you want to at one of these schools.   The options for summer ball for a HS kid are 1) travel ball with no quality organization within 75 miles  2) Legion which is awful in this area other than 1 team  3) Acme, which is a month long season that is played by HS teams....incoming freshmen-juniors.  It's glorified LL in most cases....again, except for a couple schools that take it serious (our HS wasn't one of them).  I can guarantee you that my son would never have ended up at D1 if he hadn't played travel ball.  I know it's not like this everywhere, people need to determine based on their own area and HS program

I agree with you 100%.  Travel ball is a necessity if you hope to play at the college level.  Question is, at what level of team?   We are in Pittsburgh, PA.  Not a baseball hot bed either.  my son played for the same travel team from summer after his freshman year until he graduated this spring .  played in a local league that was pretty good for this area.  went to 2-3 tournaments a year, usually one in philly area, one in Raleigh NC area, and one in Michigan or at Ohio State.  the cost was $500-$700 a year depending on tournament fees.    I wouldn't consider this team an elite team, but we usually had 2 or 3 D1 commits, and just about everyone else was D2/D3.   

So, we didn't go the "Elite" national level team route, a good friend of mine's son did ( they live in Pittsburgh as well) played for a nationally well known organization for 2 or 3 years.     He ended up committing to LSU, my son ended up at Coastal Carolina.  Both kids had a number of offers.    I guess this just reinforces that there's no one single path.  If you don't have the time, money, or inclination to travel all over the country, then it's not necessary.  I'm not knocking it by any stretch, but was wondering if the competition is all that much better on a regular basis?  Is the investment worth it?

The chances of him getting recruited just playing high school ball are slim to none, even on a highly ranked team...unless he is exceptional.  HS season is the same time as college season and no one is coming to watch "Junior" play unless they are a local school. Summer Travel ball is where he needs to be and preferably on one with connections because alot of recruiting, I hate to say it, is "who you know" or "who your coach knows.  

Travel Ball can be very very expensive.  And it seems like everyone and their Grandma is starting a Travel Program these days.   A vast majority of these teams are filled with future D3 talent and they play other teams filled with future D3 talent, and the programs cost $2500+ plus gas & hotels etc.  if not more

Travel Ball can be fun, no doubt.  Staying in hotels with teammates, fancy uniforms, playing tournaments etc.   If money is no object, then the "fun" aspect of Travel Ball might be worth it regardless.   To me it is only worth the expense if you are playing on one of the top travel teams that features mostly D1 talent and plays against mostly D1 talent.

For the rising Freshman or rising Sophomore, if you are not good enough to make a top team of future D1 talent, then the $$$ you would have spent on a D3 level Travel Team would be much better spent on training to help you have a better chance of making a Top Team at tryouts a year later.  Focus on your weaknesses that prevented you from being selected for a top team whether that be Speed & Agility training, strength training, hitting, pitching etc.   You will have money left over to spend on an academic tutor or two.  Great grades and good Baseball skills can get you noticed at a Showcase such as Headfirst much more than good grades and great Baseball skills at a local D3 Travel Ball Tournament.

I wouldn't advise taking a summer off if you love the game.   Play in a local summer league, play Legion Ball, go to some college camps, go to a Showcase or three and do the training, all for the same cost of playing 2 months worth of local/regional tournaments and weekly winter practices with a lower level team.   You'll be in a better position to compete for a spot on a higher level team a year later....

If you get to your rising Junior year and especially rising Senior summer and the game is continuing to tell you that you just are not a D1 talent, well that is different, then play for a 17U team that plays more D3 level tournaments, but earlier on in High School I think it can be a waste of money playing for lower level Travel teams 

Good points. This is close to my experience and general observations after my son, just graduated HS and enroute, he hopes, to play club baseball at an ACC D1 school, but after going through travel baseball from 2009-2016.

My son played on local, then semi-prestigious, then a prestigious travel program. Fall 2015. Great team, loaded with several low-D1 and rest D2 and D3 players. But Summer 2016, before his senior HS year, my son got demoted to the program's B team when the former B team catcher got promoted to the A team. Pretty much because the other catcher had a cannon arm...and it turned out...that's about it. 

The B team had several D3 players and 1-2 D2, but was a cut below and 2-3 cuts below on coaching and college connections.

So, we spent a lot of money on travel teams, uniforms, lessons, hotels, food, gas, etc. over the years. But those were mostly GREAT times on the road with my son, and we could afford it. In the end, my son got D3 interest but at the end of the day, he's 5'10" 180 with a 2 to 2.1 pop-time. Strictly D3-level, and he wants the big in-state D1 experience. I'm very happy for him.

After that somewhat bad B team experience, he "dropped down" to a local travel program that was full of very good HS/D3 players, and about half are not pursuing baseball in college. Cheaper and more fun. His mens summer wood bat team is playing in the league championship this week.

I've heard, and would agree, that the tippy-TOP talent does not need travel baseball. But outside of the top 2-3%, travel baseball is probably needed for both exposure to coaches at tournaments and connections. I think the latter is under-valued and often lacking. If you are a great HS player with great metrics, there are oodles of you out there and oodles of college camps and showcases to choose from. So choose and spend wisely. For example, don't go to a college camp unless it is a viable option from a baseball, academic, financial, commute/travel, and social perspective.

Travel ball has been good for my son.  His coaches have a superior knowledge of the game over his high school coaches, they are more motivated to see him placed on a college team and they have better connections to make it happen.  He will be a junior in high school this year and so it's still too early to tell what will happen but I would take travel over high school in a heart beat.  Plus, for me, the high school season is too stressful with juggling practice and studying and worrying about why kids aren't playing more.  I don't enjoy it and if my son said he wanted to skip high school I would support him with private instruction.  

too.tall posted:

Travel ball has been good for my son.  His coaches have a superior knowledge of the game over his high school coaches, they are more motivated to see him placed on a college team and they have better connections to make it happen.  He will be a junior in high school this year and so it's still too early to tell what will happen but I would take travel over high school in a heart beat.  Plus, for me, the high school season is too stressful with juggling practice and studying and worrying about why kids aren't playing more.  I don't enjoy it and if my son said he wanted to skip high school I would support him with private instruction.  

Too.tall, something seems funny about your post...

You don't like the HS season because it is too stressful, too much juggling practice and study and you worry about kids getting more PT... but travel is better because the coaches are more motivated to see him placed in college and have better connections to make it happen...  where things will be more stressful and more difficult to juggle and more difficult to earn playing time ????   

cabbagedad posted:
too.tall posted:

Travel ball has been good for my son.  His coaches have a superior knowledge of the game over his high school coaches, they are more motivated to see him placed on a college team and they have better connections to make it happen.  He will be a junior in high school this year and so it's still too early to tell what will happen but I would take travel over high school in a heart beat.  Plus, for me, the high school season is too stressful with juggling practice and studying and worrying about why kids aren't playing more.  I don't enjoy it and if my son said he wanted to skip high school I would support him with private instruction.  

Too.tall, something seems funny about your post...

You don't like the HS season because it is too stressful, too much juggling practice and study and you worry about kids getting more PT... but travel is better because the coaches are more motivated to see him placed in college and have better connections to make it happen...  where things will be more stressful and more difficult to juggle and more difficult to earn playing time ????   

Hence my conundrum.  Fortunately, I'm not the one facing those struggles.  I'm just a spectator.  Doesn't mean I have to like it but I do enjoy trying to help him succeed and get the best out of his talents.  

JLC posted:

The chances of him getting recruited just playing high school ball are slim to none, even on a highly ranked team...unless he is exceptional.  HS season is the same time as college season and no one is coming to watch "Junior" play unless they are a local school. Summer Travel ball is where he needs to be and preferably on one with connections because alot of recruiting, I hate to say it, is "who you know" or "who your coach knows.  

I'm not sure that is true for many D3 programs.  By attending Camps & Showcases you can get recruited into D3 without playing Travel

Full disclosure we have done the travel circuit from 13u up....I don't regret it, had a blast and would do it again. for your son to play D1 he will have to be in the top 2% or so of players... if he is that kind of player you are probably already aware of it. If he is going to play at D2 or 3 he is going to be in the top 10 or 15%, there are others who could have played that will chose not to.

I know that many very good D3 teams have many relationships with local legion programs and local "travel teams" that aren't going to GA and FL or AZ for tournaments. There are quite a few very good college D3 guys who simply didn't want to go far from home or couldn't afford to. Some of them are better players then the guys with PG grades who are playing D3 because they didn't have better offers...I also know that at least 50% of the guys at the WWBA and those types of events are pissing away money chasing a dream that doesn't exist. The real number is probably higher then that but I will be nice.

I will say IMO if you play travel, generally speaking, you will get access to more reps and higher level coaching then if you don't. There are outliers to that rule for sure but I think it is generally true. You will have more options and a bigger network advocating for you to more schools if you play on quality organization and again generally speaking you will be more battle tested vs higher quality oppositions if play travel... IMO most kids would be better served playing on high quality local travel teams that emphasis quality reps and instruction then traveling all over the country.

Your question was, what are his chances of getting recruited? I think if he is a stud there is no doubt, if he is a top 15% guy and he wants to do a little work, networking and maybe a local showcase or 2 he will absolutely be recruited but may have less options.

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