My son is a freshman catcher and we are basically blindly guiding ourselves through the best routes to meet the goal of college ball. I’ve always tried to keep things in perspective as best as I can with him reminding him to have a backup plan, but we’ve been approached by former MLB players, college coaches, high school coaches, etc for the past 4 years or so with compliments on how advanced he is at his position and how he has the natural skills to make it to the next level. He’s played travel ball since he was 10, but it’s always been local teams with some of his buddies. This past year is when we really started digging into the serious side of getting recognition and that’s when we learned about PG tournaments, showcases and college camps. The team that he’s currently on we’ve stuck with because the coach seems to genuinely care about his players and that’s hard to find these days. However, after promising the parents the team will be playing PG this summer season he’s changed to only Triple Crown. I’ve reached out to him for an explanation but he won’t respond to me. 

Basically, what this long winded post is getting at is how important is PG? Do we need to start hitting the pavement to find a new orginization to join? If he isn’t on a team that plays PG tournaments can he still participate in their showcases? And how important are the college showcases and camps the universities put on? Do you go to the colleges you’re interested in or any and all you can afford? 

Hes currently in the process of trying out for his HS team, and we should have an answer on that within the next few days. He’s 14, and a late birthday kid, he won’t be 15 until the end of June but he’s always played up a year to stay with his grade and the grade above him. He’s 5’10 and weighs about 155-160. He can catch a 95 mph fastball and has a pop time of 2.2. I’m not sure if any of that information is helpful, but just throwing it out there in case. He’s also a good multi use player, he can play any position other than pitcher. Outfield gets kind of dicey because he doesn’t have much experience out there so tracking fly balls can sometimes be an issue. He has extremely fast hands and quick feet (this is what I’ve been told). 

Any and all advice you can swing my way would be greatly appreciated! 

Original Post

Welcome!! I'm not a single mom, but as far as college recruiting goes, I might as well have been, so I feel your confusion.

My son is a 2018 RHP. He'd love your son as he struggles to find catchers who aren't afraid of his FB. He's committed to the University of Iowa, which is the only D1 college program in Iowa, so despite not knowing what we were doing, he earned his way into a good program. But it literally is only about two hours away from us, so in some ways, our experience was unique.

A few notes:

Start with a video — I shot and edited five minutes of video or so on my i-phone, sent it out to every college coach he was interested in and many he had never heard of. Sent probably 200 emails with basic info on son's stats and links to his videos. People here will tell you to target schools you are interested in, which is a great idea., but we didn't know what schools to target, so we went with a wide net instead.

College camps — When coaches responded to the video, we looked at the college. Where was it, how much did it cost, could he "play" academically, how about athletically? If he and I both agreed it was interesting, we'd look at camps. I'll be honest, we went to one camp at a school because the school was founded 100 years before his birthday (same day, 100 years earlier), and it seemed like an omen. So our choices weren't very scientific, but that school turned out to be his second choice .

Short answer, he went to camps at schools where we could see him getting in and succeeding. I took him to about 10 to 15 college camps, and I think he got an offer from every school where he attended a camp, except for one.

Travel team — son's travel teams didn't do PG until summer after his junior year. They taught basic, solid baseball and played tournaments in states that border Iowa. And we could afford the team and the tournaments. You can spend a lot of money on this, set a budget and do your best to stick to it.

Perfect Game — You can do the showcases without being on a travel team that plays their tournamnets.

I struggled with spending the money for the showcases, quite frankly. I just didn't know how good my son was. That may have been a mistake, but I would suggest you start now with a PBR or other showcase and see what comes out of it. Part of what you want from the showcases is verifiable third party numbers. Son would say "my FB is 87 MPH" and coaches would say "how do you know?" Son replied -- "that's what they clocked me at during the August PBR showcase at Big State U."

Got immediate respect. I usually had him do one showcase in the late spring and then another late fall just to update his numbers and to show off his growth over the season (we play summer baseball, so late spring was before our season started).

If those go well, if he's a total stand out, and you can afford the travel team then PG is just a cool experience. The tournaments are well run, and the two tournaments we went to had a number of college coaches and pro scouts.

The best thing out of our recruiting experience, quite honestly, was the bond it built between me and my son. We spent a lot of time driving to camps and college visits, and talking or sometimes just being quiet together. Enjoy it all, it's stressful and scary — and an amazing gift.

Mom - Can you tell me what part of Georgia you’re in? I can recommend some travel programs based on your location. 

You can send that info via PM if you'd like. 

Regards,

Shu

Confusedbaseballmom....I hear you!  Hshuler's "kid" (the kid is bigger than most adults) plays 16u in GA.  My son plays 15u in GA. 

I'm sending you a PM, that is a private message.  Look towards the upper right of your screen near your user name, you should see a number in a red circle.  Click private messages.

P.S. Whatever Hshuler tells you is golden, he has a lot of experience in GA, and is a super nice and knowledgeable guy.

Last edited by CaCO3Girl
CaCO3Girl posted:

Confusedbaseballmom....I hear you!  Hshuler's "kid" (the kid is bigger than most adults) plays 16u in GA.  My son plays 15u in GA. 

I'm sending you a PM, that is a private message.  Look towards the upper right of your screen near your user name, you should see a number in a red circle.  Click private messages.

P.S. Whatever Hshuler tells you is golden, he has a lot of experience in GA, and is a super nice and knowledgeable guy.

Your $20 check is in the mail. 

Perfect game tournaments, the big ones in the summer (WWBA) bring out a lot of great talent and college coaches, but that is not the only (or even the best) way to be seen by the schools you want. Showcases are basically fodder for that organizations web profile for your kid (PG, PBR) and you may have someone there see your kid, but it’s more to see how you stack up against competition. Don’t spend money on Headfirst, Showball etc yet...too early. 

Right now I would get a list of the schools your son is interested in and start a dialogue with those coaches. If college coaches are complimenting his game, those are the ones to start with. Get to their school’s camps and see if there is any interest. If there is early interest, great! If not, cast the net wider. News flash - coaches need to fill those camps up to generate $$$, and do get “creative” in order to do it (buyer beware). 

catcher is a premium position, so if he really stands out you will know and will get the attention commensurate with his skills. I have known catchers who committed to Power 5 Conference schools as freshmen, so it happens, and some who don’t commit until summer after Junior year. I also know very good catchers with 1.85 pop times in Game who have gotten attention but no offers.

with regard to PG and PBR showcases, they are ALWAYS more than happy to take your $$$....but may not be of value if you don’t have a plan.

IMO, the following are the priorities:

1. Academics (you didn't mention).  Immediately (if you haven't done so already) focus on his HS academic path. Injuries, girl friends, life - each can derail baseball; but nothing derails good grades earned in the most rigorous academic environment. Academics are the only sure fire way to maximize his potential college options. Most likely, he's too far away from college to begin marshaling coherent thoughts about preparation and an involved parent shoulders the enormous load of understanding the process. But, comb through the threads for a while and you will recognize that the combo of baseball skills and grades/scores is the holy grail.

2. Baseball. Individual skills trump any team he's on; coaches recruit players, not teams. So, if finances aren't unlimited, devote those dollars to building individual skills (hitting, conditioning, defense). Find reputable skills coaches to develop and maximize his strengths (if not a pitcher, then absolutely hitting skills). Learn the paths (look up some past threads) that some families took to get to college; some did extensive travel ball on the national level, others on the state level, still others did almost no travel ball - so one size doesn't fit all. When selecting a team make sure he's happy with the selection AND he plays the maximum and doesn't sit. 

3. Exposure. This is a sort of subset to Baseball. In short, exposure means putting the right skill sets in front of the right coaches. This represents that junction between what he brings in baseball skills and the college he can get into in light of grades and scores. For example, some organizations focus on D3 and high academic colleges, others on more powerful conferences. There is a ton of overlap between these organizations and you can begin to focus on the school profiles most appropriate to him by preparation and focus on the types of events (showcase, tournament, etc.) which fits your budget and collage goals.

College camps can be very productive - or a waste of money. For example, if there is a local college with a reasonably priced camp, getting his "feet wet" by experiencing a camp populated with older kids could be a decent use of money. On the other hand sending him cross country to a camp may not be worth the cost. The recruiting road map - especially at the beginning requires preparation and a plan - but a family cannot be rigid on exactly which college it wants; the recruiting path is full of twists and turns and flexibility allows you to be open to unexpected options.

At this stage (pre-driving) it's a parent/son partnership. His "job" is to work hard, hard, hard on school and baseball. Your job is to understand the college process and the path he needs to be on to get there and the amount you're willing and able to pay for baseball and college (and the financial aspects to make it more affordable). There will be times he's "lazy" and will need to be motivated; there will be times you're tired of his "attitude."

Here you will get input from those who are going through the HS process, parents whose kids are in college, parents whose kids are in proball, and parents who are done. Whatever we did worked for us; I'm convinced that if another family did exactly what we had done, their son would wind up in a different place. So, welcome, become a wise consumer of our information and collective "wisdom" and experience. Take what we give you and tailor that input to your individual needs. Learn, research and prepare.

How is hit bat?  exit velocity?   is he lifting weights?     I see your in Georgia which seems like it would allow for more PG events,   I would explore higher level travel teams.   I have a freshman also and we let our son play with his friends on a good competitive team up until 8th grade but we didn't go to big events and he realized as well that he needed to move up in competition.    We might not get to a perfect game event this summer as the big Texas travel teams at 15u tend to concentrate more on a league that is Texas centric but we shall see.  

Pretty much agree with Goose.   Grades are just as important, if not more, as baseball skills.  

Usually the first question a college RC or HC will ask is for ACT/SAT scores and/or GPA - assuming they are interested.   The NCAA minimum GPA to play is 2.0 (individual schools may require higher), but most coaches prefer higher like 3.0 or better.

At this point I would concentrate on academics and making the HS team.   It's not the end of the world if he is not on varsity as a freshman.  The varsity coach at our HS generally doesn't even look at freshman - only sophomores, juniors and seniors.   Very few freshman (at least in my area) qualify for the varsity squad, let alone play at that level.   Most end up on JV (no freshman teams here).  And enjoy his HS years.   Some parents get caught up in trying to get to the next level (any sort of college ball) that they really don't enjoy their sons HS years.   Not to be a Debbie downer, but on average, only 1 in 10 plays at the college level (D1, D2, D3, NAIA, or JuCo).  My son's senior year was above average in that regard.  Of the 6 seniors, 3 went on to play at the college level (2 D3 and 1 JuCo) while another went pro.

As to exposure via showcases/camps, you don't have to worry about that yet.  The earliest I would think about camps or showcases is after his sophomore year.

Welcome you have come to the right place. Great advice so far. 

1. Make a plan and work the plan. - Figure out what schools and interests your son has for college and make a list of schools that match those. 

2. It is early but find someone you respect who will give you an honest assessment of your sons skills and projectability . (note this is someone who does NOT want to take your money)

3. Once you get an idea of his skills and school interest then you can start to review the college review books and further fine tune his list. 20-40 schools.

4. Grades grades grades. These will open more doors than baseball and there is a lot more money for academics than athletics so don't miss out on these opportunities.

You have come to the right place and there are many here who can help you find your way.

Best of luck!

 

Don’t throw spaghetti off the wall to see what sticks. Have a business plan. The hard part right now is where he projects for college ball. Those compliments he’s receiving are based on further development. But they may be tracking his progress. 

Pat some point figure out what college conference is viable for his future. Then select teams within those conferences that could be baseball and academic fits. Social and cultural fit is important too. 

Make a list of about fifty potential programs. Fifty is not too many. Some schools won’t be interested. In some cases your son will lose interest in the school. When it’s time contact the head coach and the recruiting coach expressing interest in the college. Also ask what showcases and tournaments would be good to get in front of them. He will get camp invites to most of these schools. Unless they are top prospect camps they are typically fundraisers. But at your son’s age attending a local camp of a coach that has complimented him can’t hurt. Plus it’s experience in showcasing.

Right now I would guess summer ball for him would be about the best coaching and development over exposure. The plan I wrote about would more like,y be for next year. 

Welcome to the site.  Great info from others as usual.   You have found a great resource as guidance for your and your son's future path as it relates to baseball, high school and college, among other things.

OK, on one hand, he is getting consistent compliments from a variety of sources and levels about his advanced skill set.  On the other hand, he hasn't played an inning of HS ball and "Outfield gets kind of dicey because he doesn’t have much experience out there so tracking fly balls can sometimes be an issue."  So, my take is that he is certainly showing promise but not ready to be showcased to high level schools (not too many high level position player recruits would have an issue tracking fly balls, not matter what their position and he hasn't faced a high enough level of competition to give a true indication how he would fare at the college level).

So, slow it down a bit.  Yes, actively gather information as you are doing but don't try to rush into every aspect until you determine a proper timeline for your particular player.  You will be able to gather much of that information here as well.

Keep in mind that an advanced skill set as a 14 y.o. becomes an average skill set at 16 if it isn't continuously groomed.  If he is to reach his "play in college" goal, he will need to continue to develop more so than others with the same goals.  Once in HS, most other players will also be working daily to do so.

Regarding your travel team situation... Triple Crown has historically been an organization with a focus on events for younger players (14u and down).  They are working toward stretching that upward but not really there yet.  Moving forward, your son will want to be with an organization that does not have primarily a Triple Crown tourney schedule.

The most important thing I can add... 

Make sure you both fully enjoy the HS years and fully embrace the HS/team/community experience.  Much of that does not exist in the travel/recruiting/showcase aspect of baseball.  Also, make sure your son has balance and has purpose as a person outside of baseball.  That day will come, sooner or later, that baseball is not part of the equation.  Who will he be and what will his other HS experiences and memories be aside from baseball?  What will your relationship be with him when baseball is removed?

One more note... When you are the parent in the stands of HS games, be aware that a parent of a new freshman who talks a lot about recruiting efforts for college isn't always well received.  At the HS field, talk a lot about the HS team and the players and families (in a positive way, of course).  Then, work the recruiting efforts at home, with trainers/instructors and with the travel organizations.  Keep it separate at least until it becomes obvious that the player will play at the next level.

 

Last edited by cabbagedad
cabbagedad posted:

........

Regarding your travel team situation... Triple Crown has historically been an organization with a focus on events for younger players (14u and down).  They are working toward stretching that upward but not really there yet.  Moving forward, your son will want to be with an organization that does not have primarily a Triple Crown tourney schedule.

....................

Sorry have to butt back in here....Cabbagedad, I guess things are flipped in GA, the OP doesn't live far from me.  Triple crown has a strong presence at 14u and up.  The super elite teams play only PG, and only play about 6 tourneys because that can get costly.  For most 14u and up teams here if you aren't playing PG that weekend you are likely playing Triple Crown.  USSSA is dead here after 12u, TC and PG are where the older kids play.

One other note that refers to what some here have mentioned. I started down the recruiting path about the same time you are. The summer after 8th grade, our youth coach told us my son had the potential to play college ball, and to pitch varsity as a freshman. When he actually pitched varsity as a freshman, I figured the guy might know what he was talking about, so called a friend who was a former D3 baseball coach and athletic director.

I bought him drinks and picked his brain about travel team options, and about showcases. The best advice he gave was this — when you take a kid to a college camp or a showcase, the coach is going to start a file or a form. If he thinks the kid isn't right for his program, he will close the file. Once closed, it's very hard to get them to reopen it.

Or, in brief, you only have one chance at a first impression. Make it a good one.

CaCO3Girl posted:
cabbagedad posted:

........

Regarding your travel team situation... Triple Crown has historically been an organization with a focus on events for younger players (14u and down).  They are working toward stretching that upward but not really there yet.  Moving forward, your son will want to be with an organization that does not have primarily a Triple Crown tourney schedule.

....................

Sorry have to butt back in here....Cabbagedad, I guess things are flipped in GA, the OP doesn't live far from me.  Triple crown has a strong presence at 14u and up.  The super elite teams play only PG, and only play about 6 tourneys because that can get costly.  For most 14u and up teams here if you aren't playing PG that weekend you are likely playing Triple Crown.  USSSA is dead here after 12u, TC and PG are where the older kids play.

That's good to hear, actually.  I do some contract work with them and they still have made minimal inroads in the Western US with the older groups.  I'm not saying they aren't able to put some teams/brackets together for older groups on occasion but they are not to the point where many RC's are taking the events seriously out here.  I know they have a couple featured events in Atlanta for HS age clubs but if you scroll through their 2018 tournament events on their website, probably 90+% are still listed for ages 8u-14u (you can confirm by clicking the "who's coming" button for each).  Sounds like perhaps those Atlanta events are gaining momentum, anyway.  

 

Iowamom23 posted:

One other note that refers to what some here have mentioned. I started down the recruiting path about the same time you are. The summer after 8th grade, our youth coach told us my son had the potential to play college ball, and to pitch varsity as a freshman. When he actually pitched varsity as a freshman, I figured the guy might know what he was talking about, so called a friend who was a former D3 baseball coach and athletic director.

I bought him drinks and picked his brain about travel team options, and about showcases. The best advice he gave was this — when you take a kid to a college camp or a showcase, the coach is going to start a file or a form. If he thinks the kid isn't right for his program, he will close the file. Once closed, it's very hard to get them to reopen it.

Or, in brief, you only have one chance at a first impression. Make it a good one.

Wow, I like that "closed file" reference.  I don't think I've ever heard quite that perspective before.  That's a great piece of relevant substance for the directive of "don't show until you have something to show".

Last edited by cabbagedad
cabbagedad posted:
CaCO3Girl posted:
cabbagedad posted:

........

Regarding your travel team situation... Triple Crown has historically been an organization with a focus on events for younger players (14u and down).  They are working toward stretching that upward but not really there yet.  Moving forward, your son will want to be with an organization that does not have primarily a Triple Crown tourney schedule.

....................

Sorry have to butt back in here....Cabbagedad, I guess things are flipped in GA, the OP doesn't live far from me.  Triple crown has a strong presence at 14u and up.  The super elite teams play only PG, and only play about 6 tourneys because that can get costly.  For most 14u and up teams here if you aren't playing PG that weekend you are likely playing Triple Crown.  USSSA is dead here after 12u, TC and PG are where the older kids play.

That's good to hear, actually.  I do some contract work with them and they still have made minimal inroads in the Western US with the older groups.  I'm not saying they aren't able to put some teams/brackets together for older groups on occasion but they are not to the point where many RC's are taking the events seriously out here.  I know they have a couple featured events in Atlanta for HS age clubs but if you scroll through their 2018 tournament events on their website, probably 90+% are still listed for ages 8u-14u (you can confirm by clicking the "who's coming" button for each).  Sounds like perhaps those Atlanta events are gaining momentum, anyway.  

 

May-July is when 15u and up play here.  I took a look at the site and they seem to all open to high school age teams during that time.  They are also usually Wood Only, which our guys like.  It surprised me to hear that USSSA was so big in other parts of the country when I first joined this site.  They aren't even mentioned after 14u here, and most stop playing by 12u.

I have never seen your son, but he is about the age when he can start to put on real muscle.  Get him in the gym lifting weights, get him into speed/agility drills.  For the gym without a trainer (or limited use), look up Eric Cressey's "High Performance Handbook".

Colleges want athletes.

This is on top of baseball work.

Read this site.  Use the search bar for threads that are of your interest.

And like RJM said, have a business plan.

Last edited by Go44dad
gunner34 posted:

How is hit bat?  exit velocity?   is he lifting weights?     I see your in Georgia which seems like it would allow for more PG events,   I would explore higher level travel teams.   I have a freshman also and we let our son play with his friends on a good competitive team up until 8th grade but we didn't go to big events and he realized as well that he needed to move up in competition.    We might not get to a perfect game event this summer as the big Texas travel teams at 15u tend to concentrate more on a league that is Texas centric but we shall see.  

We’ve never had his exit velocity checked. Something I will definitely look into. The only thing I’ve ever been told is that he has extremely fast hands. We went through a year long rebuild after one of his coaches tried to slow his hands down and ended up getting his entire batting stance off. He’s been doing weight training with the HS team since school started in August, before that he worked out regularly with a PT. There’s a lot of good tournament teams around this area so I’ll be looking around. He’s told me he’s ready to play at a higher level on a more competitive team. I tried to stay laid back as much as possible with it all, and let him decide when he’s ready to up his game. So, I think that’s where we are now.  

One of the best "gifts" a parent can give her/his baseball-playing son is the understanding that an ambition to play beyond high school doesn't stop at developing as a player; or, even at also becoming an accomplished student in the classroom. Accepting responsibility for a sizable chunk of one's recruitment is an important sign that the player is truly dedicated to achieving his dream and mature enough to step up to the task of having a significant hand in determining where he ends up after high school.

As a parent, work consistently to get your son's buy-in to this approach and, collaboratively, figure out which pieces of the recruitment process he will have a major hand in. Establish clear areas of responsibility, along with reasonable checkpoints measuring effort and progress.

Those who have taken this approach are often amazed at how additionally "vested" the player becomes in the college/program search process, as well as how quickly they mature into a principal role in that process. It's often observed that, compared to their peers who either aren't being recruited for athletics or who allow their parents to do all their work for them, the ones who assume major responsibility are much farther along at every stage and end up with a higher probability of satisfaction once the college choice is made.

Meanwhile, you can believe that college recruiters take notice when it's apparent that the player has stepped up and assumed a substantial amount of responsibility for his college search and attendant recruitment process. It's a reliable sign of commitment and maturity. 

Conversely, it's a consistent "red flag" and turn-off when they detect that a player's parent has assumed the role of "agent" on behalf of their baseball-playing son. In addition to making them wonder about the player's own maturity level and degree of dedication to advancing in the sport, they tend to associate "boosterism" with related tendencies that cause them to be prying voices if the player makes it to their program. 

Best of luck to your son, and enjoy the ride!

It is however very difficult for these kids to find that time if they are multi sport athletes.  And if they are not from a wealthy family and have to work.  My son works or has baseball practice every single day plus lifts every day after school.  Sometimes he works 12 hours on saturdays.  He has two jobs and sometimes works one in the day and other at night on saturdays.   There is homework as well.  And every once in a blue moon we like some family time.  It's all well and good to say the parents shouldn't be driving the bus but it is unrealistic in many cases.  I try to do the research then discuss it with him.  Then we send out video etc through his e mail.  An extra e mail we created specifically for this purpose.  At the request of a college coach he just created a Twitter.  He will own that.  I will send him video via text or something and he can post it if he chooses on twitter.  It's a team effort. 

2020dad posted:

It is however very difficult for these kids to find that time if they are multi sport athletes.  And if they are not from a wealthy family and have to work.  My son works or has baseball practice every single day plus lifts every day after school.  Sometimes he works 12 hours on saturdays.  He has two jobs and sometimes works one in the day and other at night on saturdays.   There is homework as well.  And every once in a blue moon we like some family time.  It's all well and good to say the parents shouldn't be driving the bus but it is unrealistic in many cases.  I try to do the research then discuss it with him.  Then we send out video etc through his e mail.  An extra e mail we created specifically for this purpose.  At the request of a college coach he just created a Twitter.  He will own that.  I will send him video via text or something and he can post it if he chooses on twitter.  It's a team effort. 

Sounds like your son is developing a lot of the skills he will need for success long term — hard work and prioritization. My 2018 doesn't work as much as yours, but otherwise, he lives much the same life.

It is a team effort early on, and we had the same arrangement as you to start, with me doing research and bringing it to my son. We used his email address to send video, and I admit, we worked together to write a sort of templated email, and then the two of us took turns sending them out.

But in the end, we only visited one of the schools I had researched. Once coaches could talk to my son, he really drove the bus. By that time, also, he was more mature and more comfortable knowing what he wanted, what he had to offer, and how various schools fit into that.

 

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