There is no doubt that the baseball talent throughout the United States is overwhelming. The difficulty in deciding who to watch is increasingly demanding for the professional scout. Especially given the tremendous increase in High School talent as opposed to the more established and polished college prospect.
Consider that fact that the average Major League baseball team is allowed 50 selections, and there are literally thousands of High School and college teams to choose from, let alone players. How does a professional or college team become aware of the talent of a prospective professional player? Whose job is it to promote the player, get him in the scout’s eye?
On the one hand, the easiest response would be to say it is the High School coaches job to not only promote the baseball player to the Professional ranks, but to the College ranks as well. On the other hand, one could argue, it is the responsibility of the athlete’s parents to promote the baseball player to the next level of competition. Keep him in the spotlight. Make college and professional scouts aware of his talent.
Who is right? Whose job is it anyhow?
I was recently on the periphery of a High School team that led the State Championship game by 5 runs very late in the game, only to lose a heartbreaker in extra innings. This particular High School happens to be in only it’s third season and has tremendous talent. On this “State Runner-Up” team there were 6 Seniors, none of whom received even a sniff from a Junior College team… let alone a Division I or Professional Team. The third baseman from this team led the entire city in hitting!!! Not a single sniff. Who is responsible?
In past years, the State Championship team (in this year-round, Southwestern U.S. state) has landed 6 or 7 Division I scholarships (to tremendous baseball powerhouses) and high draft choices in the Major League Baseball draft. Was the coach responsible for those results, or the parents? Many of the players that were highly recruited by top college programs were active on the High School showcase tour. None of the players in the recent “runner-up” team, loaded with talent, bothered to hit the showcase trail. Coach or parent?
Was it the parent that spent the time, money and effort to traverse the High School Showcase trail that resulted in the high draft and scholarship offers? Or, was it the ability of the coach to contact prospective college programs and inform the area Major League scout of the talent in his program? Who can say?
Undoubtedly, the proliferation of the High School Showcase scenes across the U.S. has made it much easier on scouts to preview several talented players in one venue. Whereas, in years past, scouts had to travel from city to city to city to see just a handful of prospects. The problem, of course, is that these “showcases” cost the parent’s money… money to travel, money to enter, money, money, money. But, is it money well spent if your son has a good showcase and is highly touted?
Indeed, one good showcase can land a high school player in the limelight for several of the more prestigious high school baseball scouting venues, such as the coveted Area Code games held in August each year in California. A trip to the Area Code games in front of hundreds of college and professional scouts can virtually secure a sound college scholarship. An outstanding performance at this coveted high school showcase can result in a high selection in the Amateur Baseball Draft, worth millions!
Are the best players the best players? Or, are they the best marketed players? Case after case has been stated for players given no recognition out of high school, yet in time became tremendous professional players. Mike Piazza is the preeminent example, drafted as a favor in the 62nd round, he has become the most prolific hitting catcher in the history of the game. With that in mine, how many potentially fantastic players ,not given the opportunity, went into the work force to become janitors, waiters, servicemen? How many Willie Mays’ or Hank Aaron’s never got the opportunity because they were “missed” by the professional and college scouts? I would say thousands and thousands.
Today’s world is about marketing. You must get yourself seen to be recognized. For those high school players that think “it will come” or “someone will notice me”, I say wake up and smell the coffee. Today’s baseball prospect criss-crosses the country from the end of his Freshman year in high school, all the way through the Junior year, in hopes to attract favorable attention from one showcase or another. If you have any aspirations of playing at the next level, you must make several showcases to put your name on the map.
A great player cannot rely on his high school coach to put him on the map. Coaches just don’t have the contacts you think they do. Hit the showcase trail. There’s gold in them thar hills!