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This is my first year as a GM in the Valley Baseball League ( and it is certainly interesting to be on this side of things. While our Head Coach and Director of Player Personnel do all the recruiting of players, it is somewhat amazing how early all of this happens. Our league limit is 28 players and the veterans tell me that most recruit at least 30-35 as some always fall out due to grades, girl friends, draft, summer school, etc. (Being new at all this, we're not signing more than the limit and in fact are deliberately leaving 3-4 spots open for "late bloomers" in the spring.)

We already have approximately 20 oral commitments, and in talking with a couple other teams, they've got that many or more committed. Some are already pretty much full.

Some college coaches are reluctant to make recommendations until they see more of younger guys in fall practice, and practically all colleges like to send players to the same team in groups of 2 or 3 if possible. Being offered a proven "stud" together with a promising newcomer is fairly common. Some college coaches are very proactive in getting their players on summer teams, and others, not so much. Every summer team is always looking for good pitching, and for our league's 44 game schedule, most teams will carry 12-14 pitchers.

For what it's worth to all those prospective summer college players out there, now really is the time to be lining up your summer plans.
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Do you mean a graduated high school senior? If so, yes, some summer teams do take rising college freshman. Many teams have a relationship with some colleges and will take the rising college freshman from some programs. It's a great way for the incoming freshman to get used to the higher level of baseball.

If you mean a college senior that has graduated I think most summer teams require that the player have NCAA eligibility remaining.
Hokieone- Questions:

From what you have seen and learned which is more important when recruiting summer players; the school they are coming from (Name school vs Lesser known) or the recomendation of the college coach (Name school or not)?

Which is the easier player to make an offer to a freshman with no track record out of a major D1 program or a rising senior with a good track record coming out of a school which is not a well known program?
It probably varies from team to team;we're a new team, still building relationships with college coaches, and we'll learn who we can trust and who we can't. College coaches seem to generally shoot pretty straight with us, and as we go on, the college coach's opinion will count for more. Some teams in the Valley League get players from the same schools every year as they've learned they can trust the college coaches. One VBL head coach told me they tell a couple schools to just send them 2-3 guys, and they don't even specify positions, but they know they will get quality players, based upon years of experience. Coming from a "name" school helps some...but the big dog schools also normally go deep into the NCAA tournament, and you may not get those kids until the summer season is half over. For us, the "perfect source school" is a school that has a reputation for being a quality program, but not one that is always in the top 3 in the ACC or SEC. A lot of very good programs don't routinely make it to the World Series. At this point, we go a lot on the coach's opinion, whether a name or no name school, but as time passes, we'll see who we can trust. We've really only been "played" by one school so far. (Offered us a true stud and a young untested but promising guy, we accepted both, and then golly gee whiz, the coach didn't know the stud had agreed to play elsewhere. We still took the untested guy-it wasn't his fault- but we're a little leery of that school now.)

We like young players out of well-regarded programs-especially pitchers. Pitchers that throw lots of spring innings get shut down in the summer. We like younger guys, with good upside talent, that just need mound time to develop. The coach's opinion on those pitchers is very important as we like guys with control, and the kid may not have enough stats for us to get a good read. A rising senior that has put up good numbers is certainly attractive, and as few players repeat (normally maybe 4-6 annually) summers, getting the younger guy, thinking you'll see him for 3 years, really doesn't play out.

Bottom line is we need to have some source upon which to make a judgment call-it could be statistics showing a kid can play, or it could be the coach's opinion, but we need one or the other. We also want guys that will be able to conduct themselves honorably off the field as we are a small sports crazy town, these guys truly will get rock star treatment, and anything a player does off the field will be widely known...and end up in my lap.
Why is it that so few Summerball Players return to the same team each year, the ones that are eligible I mean.

In our case my son has been playing on the same team for the past 2 years and has committed to play this year as well. Why is this unusual? Are we missing something? I know we would of course like an opportunity at the Cape (The Show) but other than that is there any reason to leave a CPL team for different pastures if you are happy and getting all the playing time you could hope for?

I just do not understand why returning players are the oddity and not the rule.
Last edited by floridafan
Players sometimes like to see a different part of the country so they play in a different league. The Valley League is pretty comparable to the CPL talent-wise so maybe my estimate of returners was a little low, but if a kid has a real good summer in the VBL, he's likely to got to the Cape the following summer. We have some pretty good players coming in this summer, and except for the freshmen, they all played somewhere else last summer. Some kids for example like that the CPL has some venues with bigger crowds than the Valley League (CPL is a for-profit beer league, VBL is non-alcohol, non-profit league), while some like the Valley's shorter travel times, and country settings. (31 of our 44 games are either at home or within a 25 minute drive). Different strokes for different folks...

It's a good time of life for these guys, but they do get tired by summer's end...
I don't think that your estimates for returning players is low at all. Last year with the Swampdogs, my son was one of 3 returning players.

I guess looking to travel to a different part of the country could be a factor. Perhaps playing time did not pan out the way they liked, or the desire to find a program with a better winning record. All could be factors.

I believe that for those attending JUCO's it is much more difficult to find a spot on a summer roster, and with the new rule changes continues to get harder, just about all have a penchant for wanting D-1 players. I believe that the further up the food chain you go the greater that reality becomes, rightly or wrongly.

I suppose that some players that have very good seasons in the Valley League, Coastal Plains or the Northwest League get opportunities to move up to The Cape, but of course the roster spots are coveted and extremely limited.
Last edited by floridafan
My son was 1 year Valley League and 2 years CPL. He had offers for Northwest League and Alaska League after his sophmore year. He chose to go back to the CPL out of convenience (two hours from his college) and they treated them first class (as did the Valley League). Ran their operations like a minor league team.

Fayatteville , which we visited, is one of the premier opportunities in college summer baseball imho and I am not surprised floridafan's son continues to return there. Tremendous fan support and atmosphere.

There are also some great venues in the CPL like Outer Banks which I am sure Coach May can provide commentary as his son played there.
Bumping this back up as 2012 summer league team recruiting is well under way so if you're a player looking to play in the summer, recruiting time is now.

Some college coaches are extremely active in placing their players, others are extremely inactive. I know some fine coaches that don't put a high priority on it, and others that do, but the bottom line is that if a player wants to play in the summer, things are happening now, and if your coach isn't real active, be pro-active yourself. (Some schools won't place pitchers until the spring, to see how many innings they throw so if you pitch, make sure you know your coach's preferences.)

Most teams get players from established relationships with college coaches, but players also get signed via their own contacts, and even parent contacts.

To gauge your prospects: Pitchers are the easiest to place as every team, every league, every day, needs pitching. Teams will generally keep 3 MIF types, at least 2 and perhaps 3 catchers, 4 outfielders, 3 1b/3b types, 10-15 pitchers, and then some utility types.

Summer teams will want something to gauge talent, which can be a player's prior college performance, a coach's recommendation, or even high school performances for freshmen. We've looked at lots of on line video of guys shot when they were in high school just to get a look at them, knowing they've normally grown and improved. A college coach's signature on the contract is normally needed so they will be involved at some point, even if they personally aren't real active. Summer teams will look closely at stats-for example, we've signed a soph that only hit .235 as a freshman in college, but we saw two things: His college coaches, in a good program, saw fit to start him in 44 of 50 games so they sure see something there, and while he ended at .235, over his last 20 games, he hit over .300.

Be aware that some leagues/teams have track records of "quick triggers"-meaning that if you sign a 10 day contract and don't produce, you're probably gone. The Cape is pretty well known for this. In many situations, 10 day contracts just fill holes until other guys arrive and no matter how one performs, 10 days will be it. Our team doesn't do 10 day contracts, but it is fairly common in some leagues.

Happy hunting!
Last edited by hokieone
My son is a college sophomore, was starting catcher for most of his freshman season last year for a D-1 (not big-time) program. He really wants to play summer ball, but doesn't know how to go about getting recruited. He was young enough to play one last season on his legion team last summer so he didn't pursue wood bat last summer. His head coach resigned after the season, his new head coach doesn't really know him--has only been on campus a couple of weeks. He doesn't really have any connections, so what does he need to do? He has filled out online applications for some leagues, sent emails, left phone messages...Advice/guidance would be greatly appreciated. He is an excellent receiver, great defensive catcher, and hits well, but not a power hitter. Thanks.
My Son played in the league in 2010 and 2011.

Pretty tough league to get into.

PM me if you find out which team is considering him.

I know that the Nashville team is for sale, and may not play next year if they don't get a new owner. The league took them over in 2011.

Best-run teams with the best facilities, based on what I've seen, would be:

West VA. Miners
Terre Haute Rex
Danville Dans
Quincy Gems
Hannibal Cavemen

I hear that Chilicothe is a good group, but haven't been there?

The only thing my Son didn't like about the league was the travel.
A lot of looooong overnight bus rides.

56 game schedule plus playoffs makes for a long Summer in some pretty hot areas.

But, it's a very good league, with several top players.

Great Lakes League would seem to be closer to you in Ohio? Less travel, for sure, and also a good league.
He has had interest from one of the Great Lakes League teams, but his coaches prefer that he plays in the Prospect League. Right now, we are just waiting to see what happens. The two Ohio teams (Chilicothe and Lorain) are not far from where we live, 2 to 2.5 hours away. His coaches have tried to get players onto the Chilicothe team in the past, but with no success. I noticed this year though that there are other players from their college league in the Prospect League, so maybe things are loosening up a bit. If I hear anything else, I will definitely PM you. Thanks for the info.
My son as an incoming Freshman played in the MINK league. It was a great head start for his college career.The next season he returned to the same team, It was a bust.As a Sophomore he was placed with the New Market Rebels in the VBL. It was a great experience for him. He had a great summer, met some outstanding people that will be life long friends. As a JR he went to the Northwoods Madison Mallards. All I can say is WOW. The place and the baseball was amazing.Another great set of people. Each placement allowed him to play in front of different scouts in different parts of the country. He had the chance to stay with three different host families and a chance to grow as a person and a player. So I would say that playing for a different team each summer was a plus for my son.
Have to agree with Willie KC. The Madison Mallards of the Northwoods League are simply an amazing organization. 6,250 fans a game, over twice as much as any other summer team in the United States. Bum, Jr. loves that team.

Northwoods players play 70+ games. They play a schedule like the minor leagues with all the travel and such. I know the Cape is good competition, but from what I've heard they play on h.s.-like fields in front of a few hundred fans.

Northwoods rocks.
Tough call. I've talked to a couple coaches that won't take a freshman position player from any school, believing that there's just too much risk: facing a higher level of pitching nightly, having played perhaps 50 games already, in the longest season of their young life, and then coming for 2 months of pretty much nightly baseball.

Everybody has good high school stats so they don't help much. If a freshman excelled on a high level travel team, that is helpful but there is a general "uneasiness" as it's hard to project. The biggest thing that can help a freshman is the coach's recommendation-we've signed a number of freshmen, but in every case but one, their college coach has had a detailed discussion with our Director of Player Personnel before we offered. So far, we've found the coaches to shoot very straight with us. (We've had coaches actually tell us they have nobody ready for our league.) Placing a freshman without a coach's recommendation can be tough.

Even pitchers, and everybody is always looking for pitching, aren't easy to project. Most likely every summer team has had the experience of being told a freshman pitcher "will be a weekday starter for us", and by late spring, the kid has thrown 6 innings total, so he comes to summer ball, facing an ACC #3 hitter, having thrown less than 10 college innings. Years ago, my older son was a freshman redshirt, signed to play in the Valley League, so he had no innings in the spring, and 3-4 days into summer ball he's facing Jon Jay. Yes, that Jon Jay. (And by the way, his claim to fame, he K'ed him on a changeup that almost got a delay of game penalty.)

One summer's experience can help the next: we've routinely looked at past summer wooden bat stats, no matter what league, and a good performance is surely helpful. The problem we encounter is that while many leagues, like the Valley League, Coastal Plains, NECBL, Northwoods, etc. keep very accurate and up to date stats, easily accessible, way too many leagues apparently rely on coaches to input the data...and it often is sporadic at best. I looked for a guy last week that I know played in at least 40 games and reportedly hit very well, but the on line stats showed his team only played 10 games and he hit .250...obviously, nobody put a premium on keeping stats up to date, which is unfortunate.

The best advice I can give is to be proactive, and sell whatever a player has to sell. We get an amazing number of inquiries-my DPP told me this morning that a day hasn't gone by recently when he hasn't heard from a coach or player looking for spot, although our roster is now 95% completed.

More and more leagues are charging fees, and an internet search will pop up a lot of summer leagues, so if you don't mind paying, I'm sure there are spots, but googling or posting questions on sites like this one would be a good idea to see how well things are run.
If you are patient, roster spots open up all through the spring season and beyond - even throughout the summer.

Patience may be the best path to follow because you want - in theory - to find the highest level of play consistent with getting lots of playing time.

Too many freshman players get placed in top leagues only to find that they get a handful of at-bats scattered over the season (while their teammates get several hundred). (Pitchers are different; they keep getting appearences because most staffs get worn down - which can be good or bad depending on their performance.)

If a freshman has a decent freshman college season, there will be spots for him in the right leagues. My son's team brought in players who were not on the original roster starting on the first day of the season and kept bringing in players until the last week of the season. Some brought in on temp contracts were offered season contracts when they performed adequately.
Our situation was very similar to the OP. I really had no idea about Collegiate Summer Ball before finding this site and reading a thread on posters experiences. I knew immediately that I wanted that opportunity for my son, who was a Junior in High School at the time.

Fast forward to the recruiting process, that was a conversation we had with the Head Coach...How successful is he at placing players in Summer Programs...they all said it would not be a problem, and we believed them.

The school my son ultimately decided on his first year of College was a JUCO that the coach indicated that he felt that he could get my son a spot in the Valley League. Around November or so with no word of placement I began to get my son to be proactive with the coach. He indicated that there may be an opening coming up in the Florida League, but was not yet sure...

I decided to take action myself and sent a Bio with assorted stats to every team from Wisconsin to the Cape to Georgia. The Florida program was just getting off the ground back then, so I wanted him out of state for the complete experience with a host family, etc.

I sent at least 100 e-mails out to every coach, assistant coach, every e-mail address I could find.

It worked out for my son as a previously committed player was injured early on and opened up a spot. If I had not been extremely proactive, I do not know if my son would have had any opportunities, especially since his first two years were at two separate JUCO's.

He enjoyed 3 consecutive years with an excellent program in Fayetteville with the Swampdogs. Some of the best baseball he has ever had the opportunity to participate in.

Don't be afraid to be unorthodox, unless it will upset your existing College Coach.
floridafan, good advice but are you trying to bury my in box? Smile

p.s. and Goosegg is correct, spots do open in the spring due to grades, girl friends, or injuries. It's not unusual in the VBL for a team to lose 6-7 guys for those reasons, which is why some teams will sign 34-35 guys in the fall, figuring they always lose some. I'm not that brave yet....
My son (Freshman MIF @ D1 school in the Southeast) has agreed to play in the NECBL this coming summer. I haven't been able to hear any specifics on the league, just what I've been able to gather online. It looks like a well respected and well run league...any specific input from this well informed audience would be much appreciated.

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