So, you wanna play baseball in college?
Well, there’s good news and bad news.
The bad news is that baseball recruiting is not quite as easy as football recruiting. It’s going to take a lot more than just a HUDL link to impress college coaches and get noticed.
College baseball coaches want to see players in person before they make an offer.
The good news is that there are many summer baseball camps for high school players.
But before you register for a baseball summer camp, remember that there are several different types of opportunities with their own positives and negatives, specifically baseball showcases, baseball camps, baseball clinics and baseball combines.
What’s the difference between baseball showcases, camps, clinics and combines?
Baseball showcases are designed for players who want exposure to college coaches. They usually consist of workout sessions and at least one game. These events can be invite-only and they are restricted by the college baseball recruiting calendar (i.e. they don’t take place during “dead periods” when coaches cannot contact players).
Baseball camps and/or clinics give high school players a platform to get noticed, but, unlike showcases, they also include instruction from college coaches. Camps are run like a college practice – there are college coaches in the dugout, on the field and in the bullpen coaching and instructing. Baseball camps are open to everyone and feature instructors and evaluators from D1, D2, D3 as well as NAIA and junior college programs.
Baseball combines are not designed for high school players who want to play baseball in college. Combines are run by local pro scouts who are looking for major league prospects. Since baseball combines are run by professional scouts, very few if any college coaches attend these events.
Ultimately, baseball camps offer more benefits for high school baseball players than showcases and combines.
Depending on your goals and expectations, there are several different baseball camp opportunities.
Finding the best baseball camp for you
Every high school baseball player knows where they want to end up playing in college. The tricky part is getting there.
Before selecting a summer baseball camp, make sure that the colleges you are considering will be in attendance. The most reputable events, like the Baseball America Clinics, will always advertise which colleges are expected to attend. Of course, sometimes extenuating circumstances prevent them from attending, so try to find one with multiple schools of interest.
If you have greater aspirations after college and the grades to prove it, you might want to consider attending an academic baseball camp which only features college coaches from highly selective colleges and universities.
Overnight baseball camps offer players more time to impress college coaches; however, there are fewer overnight options over the summer. Since most camps fill at a first come, first serve basis, try to book a sleepaway camp sooner rather than later if you want that extra face time will college coaches.
There are also many skill-specific options. Here are three examples:
Pitching camps help players polish their mechanics, learn new drills and maybe even add another pitch to their repertoire. Baseball pitching camps offer great instruction, but may be too specific for players who also play another position.
Catching camps focus on the fundamentals of catching, including fielding the position, blocking the ball, pop times and throwing mechanics to second base. Baseball catcher camps are valuable because most youth and high school baseball coaches lack the expertise to properly train catchers.
Hitting camps help high school players get better at the most difficult task in all sports – hitting a round ball with a round a bat. Most baseball hitting camps differ in their philosophy at the plate; however, the more cuts and reps in the cages, the better.
When to start attending summer baseball camps?
The answer depends on whether you want to attend a baseball showcase or camp.
Baseball showcases are technically open to all high school players, but freshmen in high school might be a little young for that kind of exposure, especially if they’re not mature physically. That’s why it is recommended to wait until sophomore year before participating in a baseball showcase.
Baseball camps are a different story, as they provide a platform as well as expert instruction from college coaches. It’s a good idea to attend a summer baseball camp as soon as possible in order to get feedback and instruction from college coaches. Through these one-on-one meetings and training sessions, baseball camps help high school players of any age take their game to the next level.
Not planning on attending a four-year college yet? No problem. There are also baseball camps and baseball showcases for junior college players.
How to impress college baseball coaches?
First of all, come prepared and ready to play baseball.
That means bring your own baseball equipment (e.g. glove, bat, etc.) as well as a pair of sneakers just in case the baseball camp is moved indoors because of inclement weather.
In addition to these tangible items, college baseball coaches are looking for coachable, hard-working players with enthusiasm for the game. With so many players competing for roster spots, the right attitude can sometimes be more important than raw talent.
Finally, be in baseball shape. In other words, make sure you’ve been hitting, throwing and playing for a while before showing up for a baseball showcase or camp. For most players, this should not be a problem as summer baseball camps take place after a player’s season.
Now you know how to prepare, let’s look at what to expect once you’re there.
Sample baseball summer camp evaluation reports
To the right, you’ll see the Baseball America Clinics Testing & Defensive Evaluation Report and get an idea exactly what happens at an event.
Each event has the following tests:
60-yard dash – Each participant gets two attempts running a 60-yard dash, measuring their speed and explosiveness. While desired results vary by position, college coaches look for a time of 6.8 to 7.1 seconds. The average time for a high school player is 7.4 seconds.
Arm Speed – Every player gets three attempts throwing a baseball either into a net with a crow hop or to another player after fielding the ball. College coaches look for arm speed of 80 mph to 92 mph. High school players average an arm speed of 74 mph while arm speeds of over 94 mph
are considered pro level.
Bat Exit Velo Speed (ESV) – Traditionally, to measure bat speed at impact, players hit a ball off a tee into a net with a radar gun positioned behind. ESV for college players typically ranges from 82 to 93 mph. The high school average ESV is 69 mph.
After testing, college coaches evaluate position players as they complete their drills and exhibition games. On a scale of 1 (needs improvement) to 5 (exceptional) where 3 is the high school average, players are rated by their footwork, fielding, exchange, arm strength and accuracy in the field. At the plate, each participant is evaluated using the same scale for balance, bat speed, power and swing path.
Pitchers and catchers are evaluated slightly differently. On the left you can see the Baseball Pitching evaluation report.
College coaches use the same rating system, but focus on a pitcher’s mechanics, arm slot and overall stuff.
Catchers are evaluated similarly to position players, but they also have their pop times, time it takes to get the ball to second base, measured four times. The benchmark pop time is 2 seconds while the high school average in a game is about 2.2 seconds.
As you can see, there is a lot of position-specific instruction and evaluation. That’s because colleges coaches are looking for different things at different positions.
Summer baseball camps run of show
Here’s a snapshot of what to expect at a Baseball America Clinics event:
Orientation Session for High School Baseball Players and Parents
This session is conducted by one of our college baseball coaches and will provide an overview of all camp activities so you know what to expect. He will also discuss, in general terms, how college coaches expect their players to interact with coaches during practices and games so you can follow those rules not only during this camp but in all of your baseball activities.
Position Specific Instruction Sessions
Prior to any baseball activities, the players will be divided into groups and our college coaches will explain and demonstrate the proper mechanics/techniques for the “plays” normally associated with each position. This instruction covers 5 or 6 mechanics for each position.
Hitting Instruction Sessions
Prior to any on field hitting, the coaches will explain and demonstrate good fundamental hitting mechanics and point out flaws they regularly see in high school baseball players. The instruction covers 5 or 6 mechanics.
Each player will receive a written evaluation card, prepared by one of our college coaches based on the player’s on-field batting practice session. This information is available only for the players use and not shared with any other coaches and is meant to help the player identify the areas he needs to improve his game.
Position Specific Clinic Sessions
This is when high school baseball players receive direct instruction from college coaches. There are 13 different sessions: 3 pitching, 2 middle infield, 2 outfield, 2 first base, 2 third base and 2 catching sessions.
In these sessions, our college baseball coaches will review the techniques/mechanics from the morning instruction sessions and then follow up with players actively participating in drills designed to perfect each new skill. Each player will take part in three of these clinic sessions.
Seminar for Parents
While the players are going through their position specific clinic sessions, our lead instructors will conduct a seminar for parents. This seminar will cover such things as NCAA clearinghouse, NCAA player contact guidelines, campus visits (official and unofficial), etiquette for contacting a coach by phone or email, what role players and parents should play in their interaction with college baseball coaches.
Play One Game
Each player will play in one simulated/choreographed game designed to maximize the types of defensive plays, i.e. putting runners on first if necessary to try to see double play or base runners stealing. During the game, the coaches will be coaching in the dugout, roving as instructors on the field or behind home plate.
Playing time is balanced. Each position player and each hitter will get three at bats. Pitchers Only will pitch 2 innings on the mound, 4 batters per inning, and Primary Pitchers will get 1 inning on the mound, 4 batters per inning. Secondary Pitchers will pitch 1 inning on the mound, if space is available or a throw a bullpen session.
Which baseball tools are better suited for each position?
The old adage, “if you can hit, you’ll find a spot on the field” isn’t exactly true anymore. The sabermetricians will tell you that good defense at certain positions is far more important than offensive potential and college coaches agree.
Below is a table which envisions the ideal player from a tool perspective at each position, according to Baseball America:
|Catcher||1. Fielding||2. Arm||3. Hitting||4. Power||5. Speed|
|First base||1. Hitting||2. Power||3. Fielding||4. Arm||5. Speed|
|Second base||1. Hitting||2. Fielding||3. Power||4. Speed||5. Arm|
|Third base||1. Hitting||2. Power||3. Fielding||4. Arm||5. Speed|
|Shortstop||1. Fielding||2. Arm||3. Hitting||4. Speed||5. Power|
|Left field||1. Hitting||2. Power||3. Fielding||4. Arm||5. Speed|
|Center field||1. Fielding||2. Hitting||3. Speed||4. Power||5. Arm|
|Right field||1. Hitting||2. Power||3. Arm||4. Fielding||5. Speed|
Hitting is obviously still very important, but for catchers, shortstops and center fielders, the ability to field is paramount. The lesson here is that if you play one of these positions, don’t get hung up on your speed, power and even arm strength. College coaches are are first and foremost looking to make sure you can field your position at a high level.
Conversely, if you play any other position, make sure you impress in the cages and at the plate in games. With only a limited number of cuts per camp, make sure you’re in midseason shape and ready to let it rip when you see a belt-high fastball or a hanging curve.
Needless to say, at offensive positions, like first base or right field, speed is less important and there’s no reason to get hung up on a poor 60-yard dash time.
Now you know what to expect and what college coaches are looking for, it’s time to pick the best baseball summer camp for you.
What’s the best baseball summer camp?
The Baseball America Clinics, formerly Top96, give high school baseball players unparalleled access to college coaches for instruction and evaluation.Every Baseball America Clinic event is better than a baseball showcase for the following reasons:
- College coaches are guaranteed to be in attendance
- Games and workouts take place on one field in front of every coach
- Instructional sessions are run like college practices
- Sign-ups are carefully controlled to maximize playing time
- Players meet one-on-one with a college coach and receive a written evaluation.
- Parents are encouraged to join one-on-one meetings with college coaches.
We can guarantee that college coaches will attend because we hire them to instruct, evaluate, observe, coach and interact with the players. Typically, a one-day event will have 13-18 coaches, and a two-day event will have 18-24 coaches.
As of now, 132 college baseball coaches from 25 states will be represented at the Baseball America Clinics, but that list will grow and grow as we get closer to the events.
For the academically inclined high school baseball players, we provide academic baseball camps. As you will see in the list below, several Ivy League coaches, like Harvard and Yale, as well as coaches from MIT will be in attendance at Baseball America Clinics events.