Post by Trent Calmer
When I was going through high school and playing baseball, I knew that I wanted to play at the next level. The problem was that my coach didn't believe in me, and gave me zero guidance/resources to get myself exposed to schools. This post is dedicated to the high school baseball players who feel like they have plenty of baseball left in them and don't have help getting your name out there. I just talked to Don Reynolds the area scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks and he mentioned that scouts are only looking at juniors and below so that they can get them to various showcases in front of multiple scouts. So if you're getting close to graduating, now is the time to be proactive and find a college that will continue to develop you as a baseball player!
I played at Concordia University Portland Oregon (2012-2016)
The first key step in the process of finding a baseball program has to come from within. As an athlete, you MUST unbiasely judge your "value" as a baseball player. I talk to numerous talented baseball players in the Portland Metro area that express a desire to play college baseball, but only at a well known NCAA division one program. If you're one of the few getting looks from these big programs, good for you! Chances are you're not having any trouble finding a college that wants you to play for them. If you're not one of those guys, you're going to have to take it upon yourself to get your name out there. Don't count on just your play in the field and the numbers you put up to get you exposure. Here are some options to consider when deciding on a college baseball program.
Instead of putting all of your eggs in the D1 basket, try looking at junior colleges (JC'S) instead. Junior College baseball is competitive (high level opponents) and they put the best lineups forward to win, but the successful JC's also realize that in order to accomplish this, development of each individual athlete must occur. It's important to find a program that has a winning culture, but it shouldn't be the only reason why you attend. If a junior college is willing to offer you more money and show that they want to develop you as a baseball player, you might progress to the point of being able to play at a reputable four year. Junior colleges that get guys drafted/sent to universities to continue playing baseball, tend to attract elite level recruits year after year.
A lot of people will express their desire to go to a school that has a great academic program without realizing that junior college athletics only lasts two years. After the two years are up and you want to transfer to a four year, that four year will be the college that you put on resumes to jobs when you apply. Another plus is that it is going to save you boatloads of money. As a parent, if you are not sure whether or not your kid could play baseball at an expensive four year, try the JC route first and if things go well he might be able to get drafted or get picked up by a four year college after two years! With all this being said, Junior College ball is competitive and a grind. You have to really love baseball if you want to go this route.
One of my roommates/teammates at Concordia, Brad Bearden played JC ball at Chemeketa Community College in Salem Oregon. He always talked highly about his junior college and the emphasis they place on development. I asked him to talk about his JC experience and this is what he had to say:
"Going into junior college I had very little real coaching. It wasn't until I got to college that I started lifting and working out regularly with a specific purpose. That alone helped me become stronger and throw harder."
"Everyone was expected to perform at their own highest level. If someone wasn't then physical or mental adjustments had to be made. It helped that the coaches liked each other and were always on the same page. Often times you would get the same answer to a question by several different coaches."
"Not only was I a better baseball player when I left but I was more disciplined and held myself accountable for my own performance. What I learned from baseball those two years carried over into the classroom and my life. It was the most I had ever changed as an athlete and a person."
Brad Bearden played at Chemeketa Community College 2012-2013
Cameron Mayville, one of our coaches at Athletes In Motion attended College of Marin and also talks greatly about his junior college experience. He talks about how he got himself exposed and what it takes to get yourself noticed:
"When I was in high school, I wasn’t a top recruit or anything like that. I didn’t get regular playing time on Varsity until my senior year. It’s hard to get exposure during a single season, so I found myself with no real options to continue playing. All I had was an opportunity to attempt to walk on at Cal Poly, with no guarantees to speak of. At this point I was a decent player, but my skills were still pretty raw across the board. I could have attempted to walk on, but at that point in my development I would have set myself up for failure. I was like every other kid with the mentality that I had to go to a D1 or what was the point. Luckily I had a great coach, who has grown into an even greater friend, that told me there are so many other options out there. The caveat was that you had to go find them yourself. In my case, a junior college was the ideal situation. My coach told me a JC would allow me to compete and develop at my age level rather than fighting for a spot with a junior or senior. Knowing that, I began my search for a place to pursue my baseball dreams. I searched for all the junior colleges in my area and areas where I had family until I had a decent list going. Then I cold-called and emailed every single school on the list. I ended up hearing back from 4 out of the 16 schools I had contacted. While on the surface it may not seem successful, all I needed was one school to like me. I ended up visiting all four before finding the College of Marin to be the best fit. It ended up being the best decision I ever made. Right away I was competing for a starting spot at catcher and DH, while also learning the game on a whole new level. It allowed me to develop my game in a way you can’t as a redshirt or a freshman with a senior ahead of them. Living off campus with bills to pay also taught me about life, which is something I think gets lost in dormitory living. Anyways, the best way to improve is to play and compete. While the D1 route works for some players who are more advanced in their development, it can be a death sentence for a player that's going just so they could say they played D1. From the first email I sent to a school to my last game, my JC experience shaped me into the man I am today."
Say you are the guy that wants to play baseball at the next level, but prefers a laid back program that is more hands off when it comes to developing their athletes. You might benefit from a NCAA division III program or an NAIA school. Obviously this is a generalization, there are great DIII and NAIA schools that develop their players, but for the most part, this occurs more at the junior college level. You might be the same guy that really wants academics to be valued and could care less how amazing the baseball program is. A lot of players that I played with at Concordia University were of that mindset. They came to Concordia to get a top notch education with baseball being what they did for fun. If you're a player that feels like they are good enough to play college but has other passions besides baseball, this is a great option.
At Athletes In Motion we are developing a strategy to create recruiting videos for the local baseball players. A recruiting video is one of the best ways to get yourself exposure as it allows you to reach colleges all over the nation. Our new slow motion camera's will allow us to capture very detailed shots that look professional to a college head coach. The recruiting videos will include all baseball skills/movements and highlight your individual athletic profile.