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The Baseball Recruiting Game

The Baseball Recruiting Game

With the cost of college only going up and the value of a sports scholarship becoming ever increasingly more valued and important for some, I’ve noticed many obvious trends over the past 25 years. 

Ill start by pointing out the largest “excuses or misconceptions” voiced by high school ball players who end up getting overlooked or severely undervalued each season.  The biggest misconception is, “It’s the High School coaches’ job to promote the players on the team to colleges all over the country”.  Next, “You must play for the best and most expensive travel ball club in the area and attend National Baseball Tournaments and events”.  Also, I hear, “When it comes to baseball size and strength are not all that important, it’s not like football”.  This is followed by, “I received a camp invitation, so they must be recruiting me, then not to hear from that school again, and I don’t know what happened”.  Lastly many believe and state, “You must pay thousands of dollars to a National Recruiting Service to match you and represent you to colleges around the country”.  Enjoy your last days of playing High School Baseball if you are among those who believe these common untruths.  

From left to right, prospects Brett Baty, Brennan Malone, Daniel Espino and Jackson Rutledge pose for photos after the first round of the Major League Baseball draft, Monday, June 3, 2019, in Secaucus, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

One must be unbiased and realistic about their abilities when targeting colleges that will be a good fit for them.  There are industry “standards of measurements” that come before all else when playing this game of recruiting.  Starting with arm strength, most right-handed players especially pitchers need to have a minimum velocity of 85 for infielders and 90 MPH for pitchers at a major division one program.  Left-handed outfielders and pitchers can play at 85 MPH, all of which must be verified on a Jugs radar gun or the likes.  When it comes to hitting, most major division one players have an exit velocity of 95 MPH off the tee with an aluminum bat, while 3, 4, and some 5-hole hitters are consistently in the 96-100 MPH range.  The standard Speed measurement of a ball player is still the 60-yard dash and the slower runners can post in 7.0 seconds, while the sought-after CF or MI players run 6.7 or better times consistently.  With 80% of the college outs per year coming from pitches on the low and away location in the strike zone, a good hitter can control the outer third.  Measuring ability to hit is not based on a High School batting average, rather on the ability of the player to “Square the Baseball up to all fields”, and having the skills to drive the low and away pitch consistently with equal power as the others.  Defensive ability is measured, more particular as a catcher and infielder, than a good offensive outfielder.  A Good division one catcher can block and pop a 1.9 or better, and a good Middle infielder will field 90% of the routine plays.  Major division one players have more than just one above mentioned skill, usually they have at least 2 or more.  Last, the mental status of a player is added with potential and player makeup, to be one of the few chosen to play Major division one ball. 

There are many recruiting companies that try and match players to any opportunity they can find and can cost a bundle.  Many teams travel the entire US with similar lack in results of finding good matches for all the players.  Many “showcases” lack college recruiters on hand to find a good match for each student athlete either.  Many “resume builders” leave you high and dry after building your profile with no one to share it with.  However, there are more open spots in college than student athletes available, just be realistic and “There is a college for everyone”

My honest unbiased FREE ADVICE is to be proactive in the recruiting process from the beginning.  As a freshman start your path to becoming a stronger bigger player and allow maturity to kick in.  As a sophomore and junior, be proactive and get quality exposure.  Start by making a “Top 10” list of schools you could attend based on academics and socio economics of your family, that offer the degree in which you want to pursue.  Make sure your good enough to play these schools physically first, don’t waste time feeding your ego.  Find out which ones even need your position the year you graduate. Then attend those specific college camps hosted by that particular school’s baseball coaching staff.  Go each season, see all the facilities, narrow down your list, and make it known you want to go to school there, once you have decided.  If they need your position, and your as good as they are looking for, because you were honest about your abilities, they will surely want to talk to you about attending school there. 

Jared Southard of Rouse poses for a Texas Sports Monthly photo shoot in 2019 at the Dell Diamond. One of our Top 20 recruits of 2019, Southard is now at The University of Texas.

Do this, and this way you will have landed one of your top ten choices in schools, and have a much better chance of it being a good fit for you.  The chance of your dream school, seeing you play the best game of your summer, at a huge event halfway across the United States, are much, much, less than being pro active and going to them.  Saving money for training and conditioning and advanced skill rehearsal to gain the strength and skills required for division one athletes. 

Fall into the hype and you could miss your goal entirely of getting a good college education while playing the favorite sport in your life.  You may end up at the wrong college academically or physically, or worse miss out entirely on any opportunity to play in the NCAA all together.  Only then look back and seeing how much you invested and see your “all in” and missed the river card.  However, if you play it smart, there is a college for everyone. If your honest about your skill ability and match them to the needs & requirements of the program you are seeking, your odds of success are very good.

Aaron Puffer, of College Recruiting Consultants, has over 25 years of recruiting experience seen both as a player and professional consultant and event host.  He has guided 300+ student athletes over the years in finding a good fit for them, to continue their baseball career while pursuing a college degree.  Over the years he has built a large network of college contacts and stays up needs of said programs.  If you have any questions, comments, or great thoughts he would surely like to hear from you and he can be reached at aaronhpuffer@gmail.com

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