The 800lb gorilla in the room right now is obviously how COVID is going to affect the recruiting process for high school guys the next 2-3 years.
Here are the 3 biggest changes that I see coming ranging from the very obvious to the somewhat speculative:
(Thanks to @fenwaysouth for bringing this up in a separate post)
1). College baseball is about to become more competitive than ever
Here's a quick summary of all the changes we've seen in the past year:
-1). All 5 levels of college ballplayers given an extra year of eligibility
-2). Roster limits expanded to accommodate returning Seniors
-3). MLB Draft shortened from 40 rounds --> 5 rounds
-4). One-time transfer rule approved, allowing players to transfer schools and begin playing immediately without sitting out a year
The upshot of this?
We're now left with a situation in which we essentially have 5 classes of college ballplayers vying for playing time that is typically only spread across 4 classes of players
The shortened 2020 draft left a whopping 1,000+ pro caliber players who should have been signing pro contracts in high school and college baseball instead.
With the expanded rosters, a 35 player program with 10 returning Seniors could now conceivably balloon to 45 players as well.
We've already seen it this past year, but high school guys really need to be able to play in order to land an offer, and college guys really need to be able to play in order to earn playing time.
2). Parents and players who know how to use video will have a huge advantage over those that do not
After a year in which coaches literally had no other option than to make offers based on recruiting video alone, I think many college coaches are now in an "eyes forced wide open" situation.
Similar to forced work from home causing many companies to realize that they can in fact run their businesses remotely, I think this past year has caused many college coaches to realize that they can in fact do a greater portion of their recruiting remotely than they previously realized.
Is there merit and value in going to see a kid play in-person? Absolutely.
Being able to go watch a kid's summer game and talk to him in-person afterwards is something that will always be valuable
But if a college coach who previously thought he needed to see a kid play in-person 3x before making a decision realizes that he can now make that same decision by going to watch him play 1x alongside watching a host of video clips he receives via Email/Twitter, that's absolutely something he's going to do to maximize his time.
The big winners of this past year are the players and parents who routinely captured video and sent it out consistently to coaches, and I think that's a change that's here to stay.
3). College coaches are going to have a slower trigger when it comes to making offers
For the first time in the history of college baseball, we're looking at a situation in which players can now transfer and begin playing for a completely different schools WITHOUT sitting out for an entire season
We will see (and already have seen) a massive uptick in the number of guys electing to jump ship and find a new college baseball home.
This fact (coupled with the fact that we now effectively have 5 classes of players in the mix) is going to make it MUCH more difficult for coaches to assess roster needs and act accordingly on them in recruiting.
Broadly speaking, a college coach makes an offer to a high school player when he believes that high school player can fill a particular need in his program.
When those needs are constantly changing though, it makes it difficult to extend offers with confidence unless you have a high degree of certainty that THIS particular high school prospect is both: a). Good enough to play in your conference, and also b). Good enough to help your specific team win ballgames in that conference
Anyways, the quick one sentence summary here is that college baseball is about to be as competitive as it ever has been (which I think is awesome)
If I was a high school guy right now, I would be obsessive about constantly capturing video and sending it to schools that I was interested in.
I'd also be expanding my college search just a touch because if we've learned anything from 2020, it's that we should always have a backup plan when stuff hits the fan.
Let me know what you guys think, and if there are any big-time first or second order effects from COVID on recruiting that I might've missed, feel free to let me know.