1. Talent/Skill level – basically you need to look the part and be able to play.
2. Good grades – a lot more important than most people realize
3. Being a “good kid” – hard worker, committed, able to overcome failure, coachable, etc.. (i.e. are you a Gamer?)
The only thing a college prep, select baseball program can do for you is to help you develop along those three dimensions and to give you the opportunity to play in front of college coaches. NO COLLEGE PREP BASEBALL PROGRAM “GETS” YOU A COLLEGE BASEBALL SCHOLARSHIP!! (this is secret #1 – don’t tell anyone). College prep programs either help you directly with a these three things or they don’t. If they don’t then … ?
If you are 6’3″, throw 89, have a 29 ACT and are good kid => you are going to play at a high-end Division 1 program. Of course, it is a very competitive world and there are literally hundreds of HS players out there that fit this criteria. If you are in this group, congratulations! There are a lot of people lined up to take credit for your success.
Here is surprising secret #2 : for the clear, high-end D1 players… your actual success in college (i.e. actual playing time, having on-field success, having off-field success and graduating) will depend almost entirely on #2 & #3 above, not #1 that you are being recruited for. This is why so many highly recruited and early-commit players do not make it through (or to) college, switch programs after one year, etc.. This is why a lot of D1 recruits get passed by before they even show up on campus. A lot of SEC recruits never play in the SEC. This is especially true for players who look the part and matured early but were never challenged or taught the importance of #2 and #3.
So, the long-term success of the high-end D1 recruits will depend primarily on how good of a student they are and if they are a “good kid”. This is very counter-intuitive and very top-secret. Many high-end D1 program have bullpens & benches full of kids that throw 90+, but cannot get outs or hit curve balls or are academically ineligible.
But, the clear high-end D1’s do not represent most players in college prep, select baseball. The majority of players are either borderline D1 players, or are more likely to play at D2/D3/NAIA or Juco. That is right — the majority of players playing college prep, select baseball are not going to play high-end D1 baseball. (that is secret #3). This is true for almost EVERY program in the country — maybe 8-10 total exceptions across the country (you can usually find one in our pool at East Cobb).
In the Gamers program, 90% of our players go on to play college baseball. But, a little less than 1/2 go to D1 baseball programs. It sometimes changes year to year, some years 60%, some years 40%. But on average, a little less the 50% over 6 years of graduating players to college baseball.
So, here is a surprising secret #4 for this majority of players … the NCAA level of the baseball program DOES NOT MATTER nearly as much as whether the college is a GOOD FIT with your overall goals.
The single most important goals for you are to:
– use baseball to learn what it takes to be successful in life
– recruit yourself into a baseball program that fits with your academic and baseball levels — i.e. where you “fit”
– have a great college athletic and academic experience
That should be the focus for every player, but especially the players that do not fit clear high-end D1 profiles.
The misguided notion that Division 1 baseball is always the best option is flat-out wrong for LOTS of players.
Here is surprising secret #5 …. At the end of 4-5 years, a player that goes to a high-end academic D3 college and plays baseball is usually BETTER OFF than a player that goes to a high-end D1 baseball program. Not always, but most of the time.
Degrees from schools like MIT, DePauw, Rhodes, Wheaton, Wash U, etc.. matter A LOT. Some of these academic experiences are life altering. These degrees matter more than Division 1 baseball. If you play baseball and successfully graduated rom a college like this, you will have great opportunities in front of you.
The chances of ever earning a living playing baseball are REMOTE (is there a way to make this text larger? — this is secret #6). What matters is having a good experience, developing as a person and emerging from college with the capacity to succeed in life.
I have incredible respect and affection and am VERY proud of the handful of former Gamers now earning a pay check in professional baseball. They are awesome young men. But, I am equally proud of the kids that played college baseball and are graduating from great schools with good degrees that set them up for success in life.
Finally — secret #7 — this process is not about baseball. This is about learning how to work hard at something, fail, get back on your feet and keep working. It is about learning how to succeed. Baseball is simply the best platform invented to teach this to young men.