There are a number of books and websites that provide an
in-depth discussion of the recruiting process. Our purpose here is to provide a
general understanding of both the process and the availability of scholarships.
Please contact us if you have questions about anything we have said or if you
feel we have not addressed any important aspects of the recruiting process.
The most important thing we can tell you is to realistically
approach the recruiting process. There are plenty of scholarship and other
college or junior college baseball opportunities available to student-athletes
but maybe not as many as you think. It is important to be realistic in your
expectations. If you’re not realistic you may pass up real opportunities while
waiting for better opportunities that may not even exist.
College baseball is not the same as college football or
basketball. The number of scholarships is very limited and only a handful of
players can expect to receive full scholarships. The scholarship limits are as
NCAA Division I – 11.7 full scholarships
NCAA Division II – 9.0 full scholarships
NCAA Division III – no athletic scholarships
NAIA – 12.0 full scholarships
NJCAA Division I – 24.0 full scholarships
NJCAA Division II – 24.0 scholarships for tuition and books only
NJCAA Division III – no athletic scholarships
Can the schools get around these limits by combining
athletic scholarships with an academic scholarship? Sometimes they can but you
have to be a good student for such “blending” to occur. Students with excellent
academic credentials are highly valued by college coaches.
New rules that recently went into effect govern how NCAA
Division I schools can distribute their scholarships. Effective with the
2009-2010 academic year, no more than 27 players can be on an athletic scholarship and the
minimum scholarship is 25% (including both components of an academic/athletic
package) of tuition and fees, books, and room and board. In addition, maximum
roster size has been set at 35 players.
So what is a good scholarship offer? Full scholarship offers
are very rare. You should also realize that college coaches value some
positions more than others. Pitchers are at the top of the heap. Middle
infielders and catchers follow the pitchers and are about equally valued.
Corner infielders and outfielders tend to be the least valued positions. A good
scholarship offer for a pitcher would be in the 50-65% range; for a middle
infielder or catcher a good offer would be in the 40-60% range; and for a
corner infielder or outfielder 33-40% is a good offer. Also keep in mind that
there are a number of other factors that affect the amount of aid offered.
Out-of-state schools, for example, may offer lesser amounts because
out-of-state tuition is typically higher than in-state, resulting in out-of
state athletes being a bigger drain on the athletic budget.
You should also understand that scholarships are one-year
grants. A school has no obligation to keep your scholarship in place for the
full four years, although the NCAA rules do permit 4-year guaranteed scholarships. As a matter of policy a number of schools will keep the scholarship in place from year to year (barring academic or other problems), but they have no obligation to do so.
NCAA Division I and II colleges have both early and late
signing periods. The early signing period is generally the second week of
November and lasts for a week. The late signing period starts in mid-April and
runs through August 1. Most major schools sign the bulk of their recruits in
the early signing period, but plenty of players sign in the later period as
well. Don’t be discouraged if you’re not offered a scholarship in the early
period. There is no signing period for NCAA Division III schools because there
are no athletic scholarships. There is also no signing period for NAIA schools.
NJCAA schools can sign student-athletes to letters-of-intent after January 15.
The remainder of this guide is divided into three sections –
academic requirements, basic recruiting rules and getting noticed. Please let
me know if you think anything we have said is in error or if this material
doesn’t answer all your questions. If you have the question, someone else
probably does as well.
Certain academic requirements must be attained if an
incoming freshman is to be eligible to participate in sports as a freshman. The
critical thing to remember is that if you dig yourself a hole early in your
academic career (which for this purpose starts in 9th grade), you’re
not going to dig out of it in your senior year. It is critical that you stay
focused on academics throughout your high school years. You should get a copy
of the NCAA’s Guide for the College-Bound Student Athlete which can be
downloaded from www.ncaa.org or requested
from the NCAA.
The NCAA has the most stringent requirements. For NCAA
Division I, four requirements must be met if you are to be eligible to
play as a freshman:
You must have graduated from high school
You must have completed 16 core courses defined by the NCAA and
Four years of English
Three years of mathematics
Two years of natural or physical science (including one year of lab
science if offered by your school)
One extra year of English, mathematics or natural/physical science
Two years of social science
Four years of extra core courses from any category above or foreign
language, nondoctrinal religion or philosophy.
You must have the minimum required grade-point average in your
You must have a combination of core course GPA and SAT scores
that meets the minimum “sliding scale” requirement. The higher your GPA the
lower the SAT score requirement and visa versa. The complete current table is
contained in The Guide for the College-Bound Student Athlete which can be downloaded
from www.ncaa.org or requested from the
NCAA. A condensed version of that table is as follows:
You should talk to your academic counselor at school
regarding the core courses. He or she should be able to tell you if you’re
taking the right courses and get you on the right track. Remember, the GPA is
for your core courses and not all courses (e.g, As in phys ed don’t help).
For NCAA Division II, the requirements are:
The player must have graduated from high school
The player must have completed 14 core courses defined by the
NCAA and listed below:
3 years of English
2 years of Math (Algebra 1 or higher)
2 years of natural or physical science (including 1 lab year if offered)
2 additional years of English, math, or natural or physical science
2 years of social science
3 years of extra core courses (from any category above or foreign
language, nondoctrinal religion or philosophy)
The player must have a 2.000 or better grade-point average in
The player must have a combined (two-part) SAT score of 820 or
If you are going to play Division I or Division II baseball,
you must submit your academic record to the NCAA Initial-Eligibility
Clearinghouse for evaluation. You will not be eligible unless this is done.
There is a $80 fee to have this evaluation done. You can register online at www.ncaaclearinghouse.net. This is typically done before or during your junior year. See your academic counselor
for more information about how to proceed with this.
So what happens if you don’t meet the minimum requirements
to play as a freshman?
If you don’t meet the academic requirements for Division I
or Division II you can either be considered a partial qualifier or a
nonqualifier. In either event you won’t be able to play as a freshman.
A partial qualifier must have graduated from high school and
either completed the required core courses with a 2.000 GPA OR meet
the specified minimum SAT or ACT score. A partial qualifier may receive a
scholarship and may practice with the team as a freshman, but can’t play. A
nonqualifier cannot receive an athletic scholarship as a freshman and cannot
practice with the team.
For NCAA Division III, eligibility is determined by
the individual schools and is typically the same as entrance requirements for
all other students.
For NAIA teams, players must meet two of the
following 3 requirements:
Achieve a minimum of 18 on the ACT or 860 on the SAT
Achieve a minimum GPA of 2.000 on a 4.000 scale
Graduate in the top half of his high school graduating class
For Junior College teams, other than high school
graduation or an equivalency degree, the standards can vary from school to
To repeat what was said earlier, a common theme in the
requirements is that you should be thinking about academics from ninth grade
on. You can’t ignore academics for three years and then “turn it on” as a
senior. In addition, excellent academic performance makes you a much more
desirable prospect for college coaches.
Everyone who wants to play college baseball is anxious to
hear that a college is interested in them. We’ll discuss how to get colleges to
notice you below. But you should be aware that, particularly for NCAA schools,
there are very rigid rules regarding when college coaches are allowed to call
and visit you. Some of rules are pretty complicated. So, rather than trying to
explain every nuance of the rules, we’re going to try to focus on the basics.
If you have more detailed questions, please email us and we’ll get you an
answer. Another good source of information on the rules is the NCAA’s Guide for
the College-Bound Student Athlete, which is referred to above. Everyone
considering playing for an NCAA school should get a copy of that publication.
Before starting with the rules it’s important to understand
a few terms that keep popping up in the rules. A prospect is a
student-athlete who has started classes for the ninth grade and who would like
to play college sports. A contact is any face-to-face encounter between
a student-athlete or his parents and a college representative (usually a coach)
during which any dialogue occurs in excess of saying hello or a similar
greeting. If the encounter is pre-arranged it counts as a contact regardless of
what is said (even hello). An evaluation is any off-campus activity
designed to assess the academic qualifications or athletic ability of a
student-athlete, including any visit to the student-athlete’s high school
(during which no contact occurs) for the observation of a practice or game. An official
visit is any visit to a college campus by you and your parents paid for by
the college. The college can pay for transportation, room and meals and
reasonable entertainment, including 3 complimentary admissions to a home
athletics contest. An unofficial visit is any visit paid for by you or
your parents. The only thing a college may provide is 3 complimentary
admissions to a home athletics contest.
The following table provides an overview of the regulations
and focuses mainly on when certain recruiting activities can take place.
|Division I||Division II||Division III|
|Phone call from prospect to coach at prospect expense||
|Phone call to prospect from college coach||Maximum of 1 call per week after July 1 following
|Maximum of 1 call per week after June 15 following
|No limit on calls and when they can be made|
|Off-campus contact||Allowed starting July 1 after junior year; maximum of 3
|No contacts before June 15 following junior year; limit
of 3 contacts during academic year
|No contacts until prospect has completed his junior
|College coach watching prospect play or practice during
high school season
|Up to 7 times during prospect’s senior year (7 minus
number of contacts)
|No limit on number of evaluations||No limit on number of evaluations|
|College coach watching prospect play or practice
outside the academic year
|Unlimited as long as there are no contacts involved||Unlimited as long as there are no contacts involved||Unlimited as long as there are no contacts involved|
|Unofficial college visits||No limit or time restrictions||No limit or time restrictions||No limit or time restrictions|
|Official college visits||1 per college during senior year with maximum of five
|1 per college during senior year with maximum of five
|1 per college during senior year|
|Questionnaires & Camp brochures||Any time||Any time||Any time|
|Recruiting materials||Any time after September 1 of junior year||Any time after September 1 of junior year||Any time|
How do emails and instant or text messaging fit into these
rules? Electronically transmitted correspondence that may be sent to a
student-athlete or their parent or guardian are limited to electronic mail and
faxes. Instant messaging and text messaging are permitted after September 1st of a players junior year.
The recruiting process for NAIA schools is a lot less
structured. Most significantly, their coaches can contact prospects whenever
they like and they can “work out” prospects during campus visits. There are no
restrictions as to when junior colleges can contact prospects.
With almost half a million high school students playing
baseball every year and the limited recruiting budgets of most college and
junior colleges, it is very easy to get overlooked or “fall through the
cracks”. So what can you do to improve your chances of being noticed by college
We thought it might be helpful to ask college coaches to
rate the various sources of prospect information. The results of the survey can
be summarized in three words —Seeing is Believing. Coaches gave the highest
rating to activities where they can see a prospect with their own eyes. We
asked coaches to rate a variety of sources for their usefulness in providing
information on a scale of 1 (lowest rating) to 10 (highest rating). Following
is a summary of the results:
Camps and showcases 8.55
Regular season games 8.48
All-star games 8.23
High school coach recommendation 7.55
“Friend of the program”
Prospect video 6.79
Letter from prospect 6.53
Recruiting service 4.77
Newspaper articles 3.39
So what advice can we give you? Most importantly, don’t sit
back and assume that schools will hear about you if you’re a good ball player.
This isn’t the NFL draft and it isn’t college football. You have to make
colleges aware of you. So how do you do this?
Attend college camps. These days most colleges have summer
or holiday camps. Ideally, you would attend between your junior and senior year.
If you’re interested in a small group of schools this is a good way to get
noticed. It can get very expensive, though, if you try to attend camps at a
number of schools. When you attend a college camp, make sure the coach knows
you’re there and that you’re interested in his school. If a coach from a school
has already seen you play, attending their camp may not be necessary. Also, ask
if coaches from other colleges will be working at the camp. My experience is
that this element can vary widely from year to year.
Attend showcases. There a zillion of these things around
so be careful. The showcases are typically intended to make a profit so your
interests may not necessarily be served. Many of the showcases are very
expensive so you should know exactly what you’re getting before you sign up. Find out how many college coaches are working or observing the showcase. Many showcases have
a large number of participants and it is easy to get lost in the crowd. In this
situation, there will be a lot of sitting around and probably a great emphasis
on “numbers” (e.g., 60 time and throwing velocity). If you’re not a “numbers
guy”, think long and hard about whether to attend. The ideal time to attend a
showcase is the summer before your senior year or during the winter of your
junior or senior year. We will include information about showcases on our
website. We are also interested in getting feedback from players who attend
showcases and camps. Once we get some feedback we will share it with you.
Attend pro tryout camps. Look in the notices section of
your local paper for the announcement of pro tryout camps. We will try to
include local tryout dates on our website as well. College coaches place a high
value on the opinions of professional scouts. A recommendation from a
professional scout carries a lot of weight with college coaches. Players
usually have to be at least 16 years old to attend these camps. Attend them as
soon as you are old enough.
Write to the coaches at the schools that interest you.
Don’t send a form letter. The best thing to do is to send a hand-written letter
describing your ability and why you want to attend their school. Ask the coach
where you can go to be seen by him or tell him where you are going to be or
send him your baseball schedule. One coach told us that a phone call is even
better than a letter because it shows interest and initiative. Start doing this
before your junior season.
Send the coaches a video. Some coaches love them and some
never look at them. One approach would be to ask the coach in a letter if he
wants a video. We think its best to send the video after your junior year. If
you do send a video, see the “Making a video” section on our home page.
Ask your high school coach to help you. An experienced
coach has done this before and may have useful contacts. Most coaches are happy
to do this, but some aren’t.
So what about the recruiting services? There are a good
number of services around with prices ranging from modest to expensive. Some
players have had good experiences with the services and some haven’t.
The reaction we received from college coaches regarding
recruiting services was mixed. Some liked them and some didn’t. Those who
didn’t were more inclined to comment on them. A Division II coach told us:
“Some services are strictly money makers. Some of the kids they send are
A coach at a major Division I power said, “I am always
suspect of a recruiting service because the kids buy the product. Hard for
someone to pay a fee for the service and then have the service not say good
things about (the) player’s ability”.
A Division III coach said, “Some recruiting services just
waste our time. Some are helpful.”
Our advice? If you’re considering using a service, be sure
to talk to other players who have used that service to be sure they felt it was
worthwhile. It’s probably one of those things that can’t hurt but we’d
recommend spending the money on camps and showcases instead.
We’ll close this out by offering a few other words of
Focus on your academics – student-athletes with good academic
credentials have a big advantage over others.
Always assume a scout is watching you play, including in your
pre-game warm-ups. Some scouts have been known to leave after the pre-game
warm-ups. Working hard in the pre-game shows you are serious about the game and
have a good attitude and work ethic.
We once heard a college coach in pre-camp comments say he was
looking for “low maintenance” players. In other words, lose the attitude.
College coaches won’t put up with it and if they think you are high maintenance
they’re likely to cross you off their list.
Always show a positive attitude, toward your own coaches, to
opposing players and to umpires, and respect the game. College coaches want to
see this in a player.
Don’t ignore the junior college option. Junior colleges are not
just for students whose grades are not good enough to attend a 4-year college.