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It Is Important To Be Realistic
When Evaluating A Player's Ability

by: Bob Howdeshell
High School Baseball Web

The following is a story that was recently told to me by a mid-major NCAA Division I college baseball head coach. I feel that it is a very important piece of information to be read by players and parents of prospective college student-athletes.

While I have never met this head coach he felt that I should hear this story. It seems that the young man and his family told him that they had been following the guidelines they read in several books and on the High School Baseball Web.

Over the course of 2 1/2 years this young man (or his parents) had sent this coach 50+ letters, stat sheets, newspaper clippings and a videotape. However the player lived in another state and this particular program does not recruit very often "out of state."

The coach sent several camp brochures to the player but he never attended any of the school's camps. The player had written at one time and said that he could not attend any of the major showcases, due to his summer coaches rule of not allowing his players to miss games for showcases.

Let me fill in a few gaps here ... or try to answer some questions you may already have. Both the player's summer coach and high school coach were extremely high on the young man's baseball abilities. When asked, none (player or either coach) were able to provide a pro scout reference. This is not uncommon, some folks never ask for a scouts card, not being aware of the value it could have, in the future.

After such persistence the coach decided to check out the prospect. The young man played a position that the team needed to fill, with a freshman player. (could be a position player could be a pitcher -- we will keep that confidential for the sake of this article)

The coach boarded a plane, flew to the nearest airport, rented a car and headed for the ballfield where the player and his summer team were set to play. Upon arrival the coach noticed two other NCAA Division I coaches also in attendance. This made him feel pretty good about his trip. After all ..... In the player's letters, to the coach, he professed to really really wanting to play for this team and head coach.

After greetings among the college coaches they each discovered that all were at the game to see the same player. Again the coach was feeling pretty good about his trip.

Pre-game warm-ups were eliminated due to tournament rules. The coach settled in to watch the game.

One of the other college coaches asked our coach if he had ever seen the player before. Of course he answered that he had not and went on to tell the coach that he was there due to the player's numerous letters and persistence. The second coach asked, "how many letters?"

Now the story gets rolling .... It seems that this player/family had sent over 50 letters and various information to each of the coaches. And probably to many others, as well. None of the three coaches had ever seen the player, in person.

Now the coach was not feeling as good about his trip. But the player did have nice statistics, the videotape, while professionally done, and practice situations only, seemed to indicate some tools.

Now came the moment of truth ... the game starts and the coaches look at one another. The player is easily 2 inches shorter and 30 pounds lighter than advertised. The player does not seem to be very athletic, stumbling during between inning warm-ups.

As the coach stated to me this player probably could play mid level NCAA DII, upper level NCAA DIII or mid level NAIA ball. He was not however an NCAA DI caliber player. The coach further went on to say that this player would probably most benefit by playing two years a good junior college program.

It seems that this player and his family had not written or contacted any school smaller than a DI. Family, friends and coaches had all convinced the young man that he was a DI player and to contact coaches at lower division schools would be a waste of time.

Morale of the story .... If you are not sure which level/division of college athletics your player is capable of competing at get an unbiased opinion. This can be from a local college coach, an area professional scout or maybe an ex-professional or college player.

Attending college camps and one or two showcases is very valuable to a player as well. This will allow him to be seen by college coaches and pro scouts. It lets him compare his abilities to his peers, from other states and areas of the country. Just because a player is the biggest fish in his pond does not mean that he can compete at the upper levels of college baseball.

I went back and checked the Recruiting Timeline. I could not find any mention of sending 50+ letters, to multiple schools.

Please use some common sense when it comes to the marketing of a player. This particular player must now start the letter writing and contact process all over again, at the start of his senior year of high school. He will be behind but hopefully the family will use a bit of moderation this time around.

Another good article to read on the High School Baseball Web would be: Rose Colored Glasses

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