Hi Alex, I’m a high school senior in the Virginia area and I’m having a really tough time choosing where I should go to college. I have a had few offers to play baseball from both D1 and D2 schools, but I just can’t decide on which one would be the best fit for me.You have gone through the recruiting process, do you have any advice on what to look for in a college before making a decision?
Mike, Yes, I can definitely offer some guidance here. I have gone through the recruiting process multiple times having transferred and played baseball at 2 different schools! Over the course of my 4 years of college baseball I came across many situations, and learned many life lessons that I’d like to share with you to help make your college choice a little easier. I’ve compiled a list of 10 questions to ask during the baseball recruiting process. Let’s GO!
- Will you play right away? Any coach can say “If you come here you’ll play” but 9 times out of 10 that doesn’t happen and your stuck riding the pine for 2 years. If your serious about playing baseball and developing your skills, my advice to you is go somewhere you know you WILL play! There is absolutely nothing wrong with going D2, D3, or JUCO to play right away. To put it simply if you want to become a better baseball player you have to play. Nowadays I feel like playing D1 baseball is all a status/ego thing. Kids will say they want to play professional baseball someday but will go to a D1 school where they know it will be tough to actually see any playing time. Newsflash guys, scouts are at JUCO, D2 and D3 games too! One of my athlete’s Anthony Santoro talked about this exact scenario a few weeks ago in an interview blog post I did with him. Click HERE to read Anthony’s FULL Interview
- Is your prospective school located in a small town or large metropolitan city and if so which do you prefer? I transferred to a school my freshman year that had fantastic facilities, and everything you would want in a baseball program. The problem was it was in the middle of nowhere which was difficult because I was more of a city guy. I thought I would see past the country life with a demanding baseball schedule. However, on the weekends especially in the fall when you have a lot of free time, having nothing to do really sucks!
- Who’s currently on the roster, and who’s coming in? This is simple and I’m sure you’ve already done this, but if you haven’t, go to the school’s website and look at their roster. If you’re an incoming freshman outfielder and there’s already eight sophomore and junior outfielders on the roster who have accumulated considerable playing time over the past year, that school is probably not a good fit for you.
- Does the school have your major? Make sure the school you pick has what you plan to major in. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but most kids after playing college baseball don’t get drafted and have to get jobs. Not saying you can’t get drafted, I’m just saying at some point you won’t be able to play baseball anymore. You should chose a school that offers a major your interested in pursuing someday as a full time job.
- Will they offer opportunities for you to be seen by scouts? I’m a firm believer in the saying “if your good they will always find you”. However, it’s harder to get drafted out of college then it is high school, and in that case harder to get seen. Many of my friends that played college ball around the country had IMPRESSIVE collegiate careers. They definitely warranted being drafted or at least signed as a non-drafted free agent, but went untouched. This is large in part to their coaches not dedicating practice time to scout/pro days and opportunities for them to be seen. Many college coaches now implement MLB scout days, but for the ones that don’t, you really have to raise and eyebrow and ask, does this coach really care about my future, or just his programs’ success?
- Will the coaches at your prospective school develop your skills and make you a better baseball player? This is an important question to ask as I’ve been in the situation where a coach will only focus his efforts on improving “his guys”. This is a terrible situation to be in as you think to yourself, “why am I even here”? I think the best way to look at this is to talk to players who have been in the program for a few years. If they say the coach improves each players skill set no matter what role you play on the team that is somewhere you want to go.
- What’s your schools track record for developing pros? This question applies to those who seek to play professional baseball after college. A good example of this is with Vanderbilt. Obviously there a fantastic college baseball program, but they’re also getting their guys drafted every single year. Vanderbilt also has a track record for developing big league pitchers (David Price, Sonny Gray etc.). If you’re a pitcher and good enough go to Vanderbilt, that should be a very attractive college to attend if you have aspirations of playing baseball at the next level.
- Will they place you in a good collegiate summer league? GOOD coaches make sure each of the their players are enhancing their skills over the summer by placing them in a good collegiate summer league. I think this is extremely important especially to freshman and redshirts who didn’t get many at bats during the college season. How are you suppose to get better if you’re not playing all summer? The truth is most coaches neglect making a SIMPLE call to a league/team and placing a player. If you want to improve your skills, and offer yourself a better chance of being seen by scouts make sure your college coach is willing to place you on a good collegiate summer ball team.
- What’s the team culture like? What I mean by culture is; how do the players act with one another. Are they having fun? Are the coaches constantly helping and providing an environment that breeds development of players skill set and winning? If you’re at a school and you see no team unity, no coaching to enhance players skill set, and an environment that looks toxic run far far away! How will you know? Make an effort to go to at least one of your prospective schools’ games or practices.
- Will you get stronger, faster, and powerful? Is there a GOOD strength coach in place for you to enhance your on-field performance? I know, I’m the strength coach and I’m suppose to say this, but the truth of the matter is getting physically stronger, more powerful, and more explosive WILL improve your on-field play. Take a look at the players who are currently in the program. Are they strong looking, powerful, and fast? If so they posses a good strength and conditioning coach, and that should be somewhere you should want to go.
Mike, hopefully this lists helps you trim your list of schools down, and will make it an easier decision for you. At the end of the day it’s your choice. Trust your gut, ask coaches these questions, and go to the school that gives you the best chance to succeed at YOUR goals in the future, whatever they may be!
Good luck man!