I’d appreciate any advice on my son. He’s a 2020 grad and an all-State catcher. However, he also throws up to 90 mph (average 86-89 mph) as a RH pitcher. With his arm, scouts want to see him pitch, but he’s very raw. Some scouts love that, as they believe he has a very high ceiling. I think it scares others. He’s never had pitching training because he’s always been a primary catcher. 

We’ve gotten the serious attention of one P5, a mid-major, various JUCOs and other D3s, and one pro scout.  The P5 has come to numerous games this year. After the latest game, my son asked for feedback on his pitching. The coach gave some pointers and then said he’d love for my son to come to camp to work with his PC. 

If the P5 didn’t offer after watching multiple games over the last four months (most were the HC), I feel like they will never offer. Would the camp be a waste of money? Do we give up on them?

It took us so long to get to the point of being evaluated seriously by the P5, and I feel like summer is slipping away if all scouts need so many evaluations to “be sure.” 

He is now working with a pitching coach and will likely make big improvements, but that will be over the winter, and next Spring seems awful late for his D1 dream to come true. 

Any advice? Thank you! 

 

 

 

 

Original Post

My thought process was, when deciding whether to go to a camp and spend money, to not have any regrets and what-ifs (still left with a couple) when the process was over.  And I'm as frugal as they come.

Perhaps your gut is right, but the P5 has taken the time to see your son play and you got an invite.  Yeah, it may not work out, but what if it does.

If you sign up, I would have your son text the coach to let him know and push the dialogue.

If he switched from C to RHP, what would be his motivation?

Which position does he want to play in college? I mean, generally someone doesn't become an all-state catcher without loving the position.

Is it more important to him to play his preferred position or to take his best shot at D1? 

I agree that if the head coach has seen him multiple times and offered him only a camp invite, you should not expect an offer from that school. 

He loves catching and hitting. He loves calling pitches and reading the weakness of batters so he can get them to pop up or strike out. He loves picking off base runners and making pitchers look great by framing and blocking. He's worked hundreds of hours on his hitting. 

Meanwhile, he LIKES pitching. Because his arm is so fast, many people have told him "you're a pitcher, not a catcher." So he believes that pitching is his "best shot" at playing baseball at the next level. 

Our problem is that colleges see his throw down to second, and immediately think "he's gotta be a pitcher." And they know he can hit 90 while pitching, bad mechanics and all. So they can't get off the idea that they could add a lot more velo with some coaching/instruction. But he's not a good enough pitcher right now (except for velo) to compete with other D1 pitchers who've had years of pitching lessons. So offering to him as a pitcher is a bit of a risk.  

I honestly think he would ultimately be happy with either position, but would be happier with catching. However, I really don't think he would be satisfied playing D2.

Thanks for the feedback.  

I would also think maybe they see him as a work in progress.  The coach may want to see how well he learns and responds.  Without pitching lessons ever, he could make great strides with strong instruction.  This may be his shot at P5.  A personal invite from a P5 HC does not get any better.  An email from RC is one thing but invite from HC and him wanting to see him with their PC is another.  This may be what it takes to get offer.  But also your son must ask the question is he willing to move from Catcher to Pitcher Only.  That is a big jump because it means going from playing every day to once a week or less.  That is a big difference for a kid who is used to playing all the time.  I don't see a P5 letting him do both.  Big decision but life is full of them.

A personal invite to a college summer camp from a coach (esp. a HC) who has seen the player in person definitely justifies the cost.  They want to know that the player is interested as well.  This seems well worth it - particularly if your son is dead set on DI and if this school is also a good academic and social fit...  Best of luck and let us know how it goes (especially if we were right .

Camps are usually pretty cheap, especially if it's a one day camp. Where it becomes expensive is hotels, airfare, and rentals. If the school is close enough where you can drive it then go for it. If not, establish some dialogue with the coaches and feel out the conversation. This is where having a good travel coach helps big time. He'd usually get the 411 before sending you there. 

What I would be doing is making sure all these coaches know that he hasn't really pitched. Even if he fails as a pitcher, falling back as an all state catcher is always a pretty good safety net. Don't worry about them coming to see him multiple times. The school 2019 committed to came 6x before even a hello. How is his bat? A top of the line catcher in his state should be getting attention by now. When the P5 and mid majors ask what other schools he's talking to - do not mention the D3s. 

The HC came to four games (PC came to two) and also talked to a MLB scout about him. The MLB scout watched him at two games (one pitching, one catching) and then told us that he was having a meeting with the HC about our son and that they had been "talking about him." The HC did all the research on him, asking our coach all kinds of personal questions: behavior on and off the field, grades, family, etc. But then we end up with the camp invite that said "I'd love for him to come to our camp and work with our PC." 

Our son has been unwilling to be bold and say that "I really want to play on your team." I think he needs to do that but it's his choice. 

Everything about the school is a great fit....except that they have some sort of hesitation about pulling the trigger with him. We don't want to keep hoping something will happen with them, and then end up going into his senior year with no offers.  

Thanks. 

The school is only 90 minutes away, and the camp is reasonable price-wise. We started too late with recruiting. We never did a PBR because I just wanted baseball to be fun as long as possible (not all this other recruiting stuff). And I didn't know what I didn't know. We got a new high school coach this year that is fantastic and has been the driving force in recruiting this year. He's on a good travel team but recruiting help is not their thing. 

He is getting better at hitting all the time. He has batted cleanup on high school since he was a freshman. He hit homeruns this year, but always has been more focused on hitting for average, not power. He's not a show-boat...just happy to get line drive singles and get on base. 

He gets a lot of attention for his playing, but I think we waited too long to do our part and "sell" him to colleges. Combine that with trying to switch to a new position, and I feel like we are making costly mistakes. 

The P5 was only ever interested in coming when he pitched. For high school, the coach would have him catch 5 innings, and then come in to pitch 2. For travel, he'll start and pitch 3 or 4, and then go in to catch. I know that's considered to be rough on his arm, but he's done it for years. They have stayed the whole game. I overheard him talking to other scouts saying "he's a two-way" but everyone tells me there is no such thing as a two-way pitcher/catcher. 

Early in my son's recruitment (sophomore year?) the head coach of Iowa's only D1 baseball program, a P5, invited him to a camp. We were thrilled and went. Got an evaluation a couple of weeks later that basically said "don't call us, we'll call you."

Son went to various PBR events at the school, his travel team did a day there once a year, and (although I didn't know it) son kept texting and emailing.

Senior year, we were pretty much done with recruiting and just had to pick a school. But we kept seeing the Iowa coaches at son's games — first the RC, then the PC, then the head coach. And they came repeatedly. Finally son told me they wanted him to come to a camp in September of his senior year. I said no, too much money, they had seen him multiple times and hadn't offered, he had good offers from schools that loved him why bother? He asked coach about paying less for pitching only--nope, full price. Asked about coming to just throw a bullpen — nope, they wanted the camp. I finally knuckled under cause I love my son and paid for a pitching only slot.

Went to camp. He pitched, then starting screwing around. He "coached" third base (catcher asked HC--when did you tell us signals? I never got signals???), kids who were slow to get to their outfield positions found themselves sitting on the bench cause my son ran out and started playing. He had a wonderful time.

Finally, I see coaches in the dugout, looking for something or someone. Assumed they wanted to tell my son to stop jacking around. He finally comes in from outfield, and I see him at edge of dugout with a sheepish grin and his phone, waving at the HC. HC and PC pull him off the field for half an hour, then son texts us to come meet them all. They had offered him.

HC thanked us for coming to the camp. He said they knew they wanted my son all summer, but weren't sure we were interested until we committed to the camp.

Sometimes that uncertainty can run both ways. If it's doable, take it and run with it. Son just finished his freshman year and it's been a great experience so far. Very glad we signed up for that camp.

It's never too late to get recruited to a good program if you have talent (which it appears your son has), so don't second guess yourself. He just needs to decide if he could be happy giving up catching to be a PO if that means going to a P5. However, since he is still raw talent as a P, you may need to factor in possibilities such as the P5 taking a chance on him that doesn't work out. Then what? Redshirting is also a real possibility for him if a P5 is taking a chance on him. So would he be ok with that? Or would he prefer to to go with a less competitive D1 or lower level if it means he has a better chance of playing from day 1. Keep in mind that getting a P5 offer is just the start of a very long and tough journey. Those schools are constantly evaluating their commits and players to determine if they are still performing or not. Many of the P5 programs have to make "cuts" after the NLI, but before the kid even shows up for freshman year, because they don't lose as many to the draft as they anticipated (happens every year). (Note:  "cut" doesn't mean they revoke the offer/deal, it means they are up front with the kid and say he's not likely to see any playing time so the kid goes elsewhere.)

Whatever he decides he wants, he can then start putting himself on the radars of the schools he is interested in. He should definitely go to the camp if 1) he likes the school academically/socially, 2) he thinks he might like the baseball program, 3) he's okay possibly being a pitcher only, 4) you can afford the camp.

You might also consider getting him to a showcase in the next month if there are any good ones coming up in your area. Let him go as both C and P if he can't decide at this point. If this camp school doesn't work out for whatever reason, then the showcase could help garner attention at other schools. Or at least provide current measurables for both positions which he can use when communicating with other schools. I would encourage him to immediately email the coaches at all the programs he's interested in (see other threads on what info to include in the email). If he's getting a serious look from this P5 school, chances are good that there are several other schools at various levels that would also be interested. 

Good story IAmom.  New meaning to "Iowa Stubborn" LOL.

FWIW, my son went to a winter camp at the D2 where he is now committed.  Crickets.  He later received an offer, and when he was chatting with the HC, the HC said "I remember you from our camp..."  I guess you just never know.

First a question about his catching. He’s a 2020. It’s July 9th. How many D1 catching offers does he have so far? Or how close do you genuinely feel (not hope) he is to D1 offers? How many more events does he have this summer? 

The later it gets in the recruiting cycle (and into the fall) the more likely it is to be recruited as a pitcher than a position player. Teams are more likely to be looking for one more pitcher than one more position player (even understanding catcher is a unique position).

If the pitching camp isn’t that expensive why not attend? It’s hard to say how interested the coach is from a post. Only you know. How does this coach’s interest in your son as a pitcher measure up to the D1 interest that hasn’t turned into a D1 offer.

Also, there’s no shame in playing D2 or D3. A player should look for the best opportunity that provides a quality education and baseball experience. It’s more fun to start D2 than watch D1 ball from the bench and ultimately transfer.

Might be time for your son to contact the HC, tell him he is very interested in the school but, as a rising senior, needs to focus his efforts on schools who are also interested in him.  "Before I commit to the camp, can you tell me where I am on your board?"

Totally agree that he needs to be a bit more bold with the coach. He has never made it clear how much he likes this school or wants to play for them. Feels it's "too aggressive." Also, he's never been willing to ask "where am I on your board?" He's of the mind that if they want him, they'd let him know...and asking is basically like begging and makes him look "desperate." He does not currently have offers for catching, because we were so late in starting (just started seriously with high school season a few months ago) and all those that saw him throw to second (on video) immediately wanted to know if he pitched. We've got a few very large tournaments coming up, and his high school coach has been working hard to line up people to come see him. 

FWIW, I used to think playing C was a great way to play college ball.  Now, I think it's the worst.  Most teams only have 1 C per recruiting class, and they're typically not kids who can play multiple positions.  Do the math.

So, going back to what other posters have asked, what does your son want.  If he wants to catch, you need a wide net, which includes D1, D2, D3.  If he wants D1, time to put away the gear and focus 100% on P, and let coaches know he's made that decision. 

They are both difficult positions and require full attention.  Being a jack of all trades, master of none won't help you get to the next level.

You mentioned juco's in you first post. Is your son open to that? Given his late start in recruiting, and even later start with pitching, juco seems like a logical choice. That might be a good place to figure out if he really wants to commit to pitching, and would give him the time to develop into a legit D1 prospect. It might only take one year.

Agree with IowaMom23.  Some times they want to know that you are as serious about them as they are about you.  If you won't spend money on them why should they spend money on you.  Tough decision to know if they are for real or just wanting money.  Missouri staff invited son to a showcase there and were impressed and were going to make offer when the head coach "retired".  The new staff asked son to come to a camp specifically.  Figured they were going to make offer so we went.  The coaching staff was not there most of the time and were talking to each other when he came in to pitch.  Threw 9 pitches and struck out three.  As we were leaving, the Grad Assistant told him they would be following him.  Never heard from them even though they watched several times.  University of Tennessee HC had recruited him when he was at Arkansas then when he got the job at UT, he reached out immediately.  We were at WWBA 17U and drove to Knoxville the next day to meet staff.  They made the offer the next day.  i'm convinced they wanted to know he wanted them as much as they wanted him.

My 2017 went through a similar process and I sent you a PM with more details on how he made the transition from a two-way C/RHP to a PO in college.

I do think having gone through a similar experience (and now several years out from it) that there are a lot of college coaches who see a great arm in a position player (often a catcher) and see the kid's future as a pitcher.  Despite what appears to be an endless supply of arms in MLB throwing mid 90's and up, there are just not that many kids born with great arms.  They do not care how raw a kid's pitching skills are if they see the arm potential and think they can develop a pitcher.  One coach said he was thrilled my son only threw 4 innings his Senior year figuring his pitching had been limited and arm not abused through his HS team.  Catchers are a specialty position that more and more coaches see value in pitch framing and blocking over throwing out runners (especially with fewer base stealing attempts evolving at most levels).  Hitting for catchers is a big plus, but I think what some coaches will see as your son's greatest asset is his arm.

Good luck on the process!

A short story.

Thomas Eschelman (sp?) from San Diego area was a catcher until late in HS. Incredibly live arm, accurate throws, quick arm, was recruited to Cal state Fullerton as a pitcher and walked very, very, very, few college batters while striking out alot. He built up his velo (needed to be taught to just let the ball fly from the mound) to low 90s in college (he was upper 80s late in HS). He just wanted to play.

Was a second round draft pick.

He wasn't a great hitting catcher (he was a great HS hitting catcher), but he was a great HS receiving catcher.

Story over.

College coaches generally don't recruit receivers; college coaches recruit hitters who can also catch. (Why, I don't know. My son [a pitcher] said a great receiver changed the complexion of the game. Yet, . . . . )

So, ask yourself and ask your son and ask him to ask himself: can he rake high end travel/showcase pitching? 

RAKERS get recruited. Receivers become bullpen catchers.

All that having been said, I have no doubt that there are many D1 programs which would love to have him as a receiver - I just dont know if those schools are the ones he wants.

 

You only live once.....go to camp.

That said, the hardest question he is going to have to answer is what does he really want....if he reconciles that it is to pitch, then he must evaluate how badly he wants to go to the p5 that is expressing interest.

If he really wants to pitch does he feel that the p5 in question can develop him....all situations are different, but its been my experience that the p5s really (as do most levels) need to win and the focus and effort generally goes into the guys who can get them wins....a redshirt is possible...getting cut is possible

Also, at this time of year, you start seeing freshman transfer out prior to sophomore year.  The year end exit interview yields a blunt assessment - you aren't in their plans.

If it's all about baseball and Learning to pitch a juco may be a good option...develop and reassess after year 1 or 2.

Alternatively, if that does not seem to be where he wants to be, the hard question about the p5 is how happy will he be if ball does not work out.....could he live simply being a student at the p5

You also may want to check the p5's commitments in the 2020 class on perfect game.....specifically pitchers....look at their current roster and see how heavy it is with 2019s and 18s...not only pitchers, but the overall roster...that'll give you a good idea as to the type of numbers game he would face as an incoming freshman...they can only keep 35.  They only get their through the draft, or cutting/redshirting.

The other piece of info worth noting (that I picked up at a camp from a p5 coach) related to choosing/evaluating the right school.  He indicated you needed to evaluate the four following areas:

Baseball - Whats the best opportunity to grow/develop and how will you fit on team

Education - is it a good fit, i.e. majors, level, support

Social - is the geography, size, culture of the school right for you

Money - can you afford it.

In the coaches opinion baseball was the most important piece of the puzzle.......the rationale was that if the place you spend 40 hours a week does not work for you, your overall experience will be miserable and your education, and social experience will suffer.....I hadn't thought about it from that perspective..for our family it was mostly about education.....but for the most part I've found it to be true and a useful way to sort through the opportunities.

LetsGo!!!:  thanks for sharing that advice you received from the coach. I've always seen the advice given from the opposite perspective of ensuring the kid will be happy with the social/academic atmosphere in case baseball doesn't work out. But this coach made a very valid point about spending so much time with the baseball program. Let's be honest, they are STUDENT athletes; but in reality the athletics takes just as much or more of their time as the academics/social. If the kid hates the coaches/program, it's going to affect everything else. Ideally, I guess we hope our kid finds a good fit for him all around.

Zia2021 posted:

LetsGo!!!:  thanks for sharing that advice you received from the coach. I've always seen the advice given from the opposite perspective of ensuring the kid will be happy with the social/academic atmosphere in case baseball doesn't work out. But this coach made a very valid point about spending so much time with the baseball program. Let's be honest, they are STUDENT athletes; but in reality the athletics takes just as much or more of their time as the academics/social. If the kid hates the coaches/program, it's going to affect everything else. Ideally, I guess we hope our kid finds a good fit for him all around.

On the other hand you don’t always get to choose your coach. If you choose a rising program with a rising coach there’s a chance the coach moves on and up at first opportunity. 

Again, thanks all! I really thought I’d researched every possible option, but many of you brought up points that I’d never considered. 

Our biggest concern has been a mistake out of ignorance that would negatively affect our kid and how hard he has worked for years to get better at baseball.

All the feedback from those that have “been there” has been invaluable. Thank you! 

 

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