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We’re in the beginning of the “local vs national” debate in our house for our 2024 RHP/SS. A few higher profile “national” teams have reached out recently. What questions should we be asking prospective teams? If anyone has perspective around a primary pitcher who is still trying to be a two-way, that would be particularly helpful.

Thanks!

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For me, I'd be asking which tournaments they are committed to over the summer. Then check to see how they did in those tournaments last year. My son was on a local team and was given an opportunity to guest play over the summer for a bigger program and then played the fall as a full member of the team. The difference between the various local tournaments compared to East Cobb, WWBA, and Wilson Premier was night and day.

First question you have to ask yourselves is where does he want to go and what level of college does he fit in.  If it is smaller divisions and wants to go to school locally, then that will determine the teams you want to play for.  If it is somewhere nationally and God forbid I say mid major D1 or P5 after the last storm on the other post, then he needs to play on a team that will go to the big tournaments that are nationally recruited.  He needs to go to the tournaments/showcases where the coaches he is wanting to be seen by will be at.  You can do that by joining a team or guest playing at a select few.  You do want to look at past experience of the teams but that can change every year or smaller organizations that play nationally according to the talent they find.  Cost and what you get for your money and what you have to pay for.  There are teams that pay for everything including travel, lodging, and meals and those who only provide uniforms and you have to pay per tournament and all travel expenses.  You also need to know any other expectations like taking lessons through their guys or paying fees to use their facilities and such.  Be glad to answer specific questions if you have them.

I think it also depends a bit on where he wants to play.  Many smaller schools don't  have a big travel budget for their rc, so they will attend more local events.  If he is looking at D1/P5, most will say you have to play for a major travel organization.  I don't think you do, but I do think you have to do more outside work with camps and showcases. My son wanted to play with his friends that he had been with since he was 8, and he did.  He also wanted to continue to hit and we knew that probably wouldn't  happen on a top travel team.  Our travel  team wasn't a powerhouse at all, but they did go to wwba and a few others over the years.  I don't think the wwba helped my son in his recruiting really, I think he got one initial contact from our 15U wwba.  That said, he was talking to and being recruited by every team he was interested in without playing on a top team.  He did attend showcases, camps for the schools he liked, the jr, national, etc.

In addition to PitchingFan's solid advice, I think you really need to begin thinking about what is the primary skill your son has that will get him to the next level.   If you need help, talk to others who are experienced in this area.

Also, identify the schools that interest your son.   Do they recruit locally, regionally or nationally?  Is a national level travel team necessary in his recruitment, and is it worth it?  Just a few questions to think about.

My son was a two-way player at his high school and local tournament team.   That changed when he went to a national championship level team.   We very quickly and clearly identified his pitching skills as the primary skill that would get him to the next level.

Just my two cents...Good luck!

Last edited by fenwaysouth

There is always the option of doing both.  Play for the local team but get picked up for a WWBA or two on a national team.  Some national teams are fine with bringing in a hired gun for one or two tournaments.  As long as all the coaches know the plan, they should be fine with it or at least understand it.  For a 2024, this will start building the resume without breaking the bank.  See if its and option.

We’re in the beginning of the “local vs national” debate in our house for our 2024 RHP/SS. A few higher profile “national” teams have reached out recently. What questions should we be asking prospective teams? If anyone has perspective around a primary pitcher who is still trying to be a two-way, that would be particularly helpful.

Thanks!

By listing your son as a RHP/SS, I would get that he is a pitcher that hits, rather than a hitter (position player) who pitches. The higher up you go (P5) it is less likely to become a 2-way player. Other levels (even D1, mid major) makes it more of a possibility.

The 2-way players I've seen were power hitters.

Last edited by Ripken Fan
@JETSR71 posted:

There is always the option of doing both.  Play for the local team but get picked up for a WWBA or two on a national team.  Some national teams are fine with bringing in a hired gun for one or two tournaments.  As long as all the coaches know the plan, they should be fine with it or at least understand it.  For a 2024, this will start building the resume without breaking the bank.  See if its and option.

My 2024 1B/LHP is going down the "do both" path this summer ... this topic (and our very recent decision making on this topic) became a bit stressful until the best fit opportunity surfaced for my son (and his parents).

Our decision making had a few Must Haves: 1) honor previously made commitments with his local team, 2) the national team had to accept that my son would not attend their full schedule of events, and 3) the national team has the capacity to arrange chaperoned lodging, meals and local transportation for players if neither parent can make the trip.

The decision making also had a few Nice to Haves: 1) the national team roster consists of some really good players,  i.e., better than my son, 2) the national team's larger organization has a favorable compelling history and positive reputation on and off the field, and 3) my son will be able to contribute and compete in a two-way capacity.

My son agreed to PO roster spot with an organization that checked off all the other decision criteria.  He will have to be both opportunistic and also work to earn his AB's with this national team - time will tell.   Before all this, our snow needs to melt and he needs to play a HS season.  Like many 14 yr old kids, my 2024 does not yet know what level of college baseball play he might fit into; this summer's guest play with a national team will go a long way to answering that question (for my son, his parents, and the many baseball people that think my son is "projectable").

Last edited by mjd-dad

You want to play for a travel team that gets the player in front of the colleges he potentially wants to attend. Something to look at is rosters to see how many out of state players are on the team.

As for two way players if he expects to play for a good team he better have All American potential both as a pitcher and a hitter. Otherwise the coaching staff is going to make a decision one way or the other.

I knew of a kid at a D3 who was a D3 All American and ended up drafted. He was a starting pitcher and a DH. He didn’t hit on days he pitched.

my 2023 is an inf/P.  his coach (local team) wants to "hide" his arm, reasoning that he will always have a big enough arm to fall back on that but he wants to keep the bat and glove in the forefront.  this is after talking to my son about what he wants to do (likes pitching but looooves hitting). 

as to the national vs local thing...depends on what you're looking for.  as others have said, picking and choosing your spots with guest slots might be the right way to go about it. our team doesn't really do much with the recruiting circuit but there is no better coach around. he was called, by a MLB semi-star, a "guy who knows more about hitting than anyone in the MLB".  for us it was a no brainer to stay with this team and develop my son's game rather than put out a half-baked product.

I'd also check out how they promote players. I see tons of guys who really don't have contacts post the same boilerplate post about the kids in their program. Then I see guys promoting the heck out of their kids, tagging coaches/people with influence, telling parents "hey, get this on video for me to post", and inviting them to participate in an event or practice or something where a college coach will be watching.

One thing I noticed with the coaches of my son's team is when they take kids to a showcase they are working with them through the showcase. The catching coach had the kids doing catcher drills to prepare for their pop times and even coached them during the event if they did something wrong.

I guess what I'm getting at is see if you can get a feel from kids/parents on the team if the coaches genuinely care about their players AND has real contacts.

We played for a Trosky regional team and have nothing but good things to say about the program. If your son is P5 you will get an opportunity at national level. Otherwise you will play in well run run showcase camps and play on competitive teams at the regional tournaments. Our coach ensured each player was seen by colleges coaches appropriate to his level—very difficult during the pandemic! When it was my son’s turn to commit he called 5 schools’ HC on son’s behalf which resulted in knowing exactly where we stood and 2 final visit/offers.

Here was our breakdown for 2021 commits on our regional team:

D1 - 4 (1 P5)

D2 - 3

D3 - 2

NAIA - 1

Those commits are all over the moon with their choices. There are several more in the pipeline for JC still working deals. Core roster size was about 19.

Good luck and enjoy the process!

My two cents - and keep in mind that I am experienced on nothing and an expert on zero.

First, IMHO, picking the right travel organization is KEY in getting recruited. That said, you want to play for an organization that is respected and has all the network connections to the schools that interest you PLUS they have to be willing to promote you and work the wires on your behalf.

Can that be a national organization? MAYBE. But beware as many "brand name" organizations want to have you play for them and will tout your commitment as if they are the reason why - when they had nothing to do with it.

How high is he reaching?  The best 2021 pitcher around here was also the best, or top 2 Shortstop in the state for his age group.  Kid rakes (for a high school kid).  Just crazy natural talent.  Once he started throwing mid 90’s with a nasty curve to go with it, he was told “you have MLB prospect talent, time to put the bat down”. This was a few years ago.  He’s committed to Arkansas now.  We’ll see if he gets drafted high enough to skip college.

Could he start at Shortstop at a ton of D1 mid majors as a freshman?  No doubt about it.  Would being a 2 way over the last few years have a potential of negatively effecting his pitching talent/arm health/durability?  I think so.  The MLB scouts that talked to him said so.  Did he love hitting Bombs?  Of course.  Arkansas has plenty of kids who hit bombs.  Every SEC team can never get enough 95 mph pitchers.

3&2 couldn’t be more correct. When my son was a senior in HS, he had a couple MLB scouts at one of his games. He played CF and batted 3 or 4 when he wasn’t pitching. He was to start in game 2 of DH. In game 1, one of the MLB scouts was sitting in press box. Scout had gone to concession stand during one of sons’ AB. Son CRUSHED a HR to RF that landed WAY out in parking lot. When the scout returned, a buddy of mine was doing the announcing. He told the scout, “You missed a monster HR”. The scout looked him in the eye and said, “I could care less about his AB. That kid will never touch a bat after HS”. Until now, that scout has been 100% correct. My friend just couldn’t understand why he said that. I think that is pretty typical of 98% of people at the HS level. They just don’t fully understand where a player’s strengths are. I was one of those dads that thought my kid could be a 2 way player in college. In all fairness, his college coach told him once he got to campus he was gonna I’ve him a shot to do both. Son tore his UCL in first bullpen, had TJ surgery and redshirted. Hitting was never mentioned again. It’s almost impossible to be a 2 way player past HS IF your goal is professional baseball. I guarantee you there are guys with the talent in MLB that could switch. It has been done a few times that a guy changed from position player to pitcher or vice-versa to prolong career. It’s just WAY MORE unlikely that most believe it understand. It’s so difficult to be exceptional at one aspect.

@DroppedStrikeThree, I'm sure this is a timely topic for many of us here.

Here are the questions my son and I will be asking prospective travel ball programs this year (son is 2022 pitcher verbally committed to P5 D1 program).  His focus is no longer on recruitment.  This year, he wants to get better at baseball and have fun doing it.

-Most importantly, I plan to speak with at least one parent with a son on the team before deciding.  Preferably one in a similar situation.

-Who are the pitching coaches on your staff and how do they work with pitchers (pens, workouts, programs, etc.)?

-How do you work with pitchers on non-throwing skills like holding runners, fielding position, time to plate, etc.?

-What tournaments will you be playing in this summer/fall? Thanks @TerribleBPthrower

-What is your policy on pitcher arm health (pitch counts, days rest, etc.)? Thanks @Senna

-Where do you plan to practice/workout over the summer, assuming Covid gets better and it's allowed?

-How often do you plan to practice/workout over the summer?

-How does the team handle Pitcher Only players in tournaments?  Attend only day of start?

I'm sure I'm missing something and would love to hear others' thoughts.

knowingnothingdad.  Your answer to questions 2 and 3 might be irrelevant because mostly summer coaches do not mess with anything for a D1 P5 committed player unless the coach sees something drastically wrong.  They may talk about something they see and answer questions or something that will be detrimental to them in the future but normally do not mess with those kids.  1 is a good idea but if it is negative then talk to someone else because their son may just have had a bad experience.  Make sure it is a pitcher's parents.  4 and 5 are good questions.  6 & 7 are normally not relevant for the top level teams because they do not practice at all except a few optional before season.  8 is also a great question along with money for pitcher only.  Do they pitch a pitcher twice in the big tournaments?   What are their expectations and role for your player?  You want to know they see him as a starter and not closer or mid guy.  Remember the top organization are run like college teams and have short and long middle reliever guys and closers.   That is part of college that has been tough for my son because he has always been a starter so if I could do anything differently I would go back and make him be a middle reliever at some point in his showcase career.  He is a long middle reliever who may go warm up forever  or have to warmup very quickly.  Most guys never get that feel in showcase ball.

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