The college baseball recruiting process is just that: a process. There are no shortcuts. But the more knowledge student-athletes have about each step in the journey, the better they will be able to navigate its twists and turns and appreciate just how competitive it is to be recruited for baseball. After all, more than 500,000 student-athletes play high school baseball, and less than two percent will go on to play college baseball at the Division 1 level.
Baseball scholarships are not as plentiful as they are in other sports. At the Division 1 level, there are only up to 11.7 scholarships for each school; at the Division 2 level, there is a maximum scholarships limit of only nine. But for those who have the grades, the athletic talent, the passion for the sport and a strong work ethic can get recruited for baseball.
This step-by-step baseball recruiting guide highlights the benchmarks and milestones student-athletes need to reach throughout the recruiting process. Yes, it may be frustrating at times; things may not go according to plan. But NCSA’s information and insider tips will motivate student-athletes to be proactive in the process and take charge of their recruiting journey.
Before going into detail on how to get recruited for baseball, here are some general college baseball recruiting tips that will help keep the process moving forward:
Tips to remember:
Tips to remember:
Tips to remember:
According to the 2018 NCSA coach’s survey, the majority of college programs begin to recruit athletes in sophomore and junior year. Division 1 is the only division that will actively recruit during the freshman year. Read about the NCAA’s Division 1 rule changes that impact early recruiting. How do I get invited to baseball camps?
Our survey finds that coaches use various sources to find recruits. Division 1, Division 2 and junior college coaches primarily look to travel team relationships, while a majority of NAIA coaches mostly use baseball camps as a source for recruits. Division 1, Division 2, Division 3 and junior college coaches are most likely to actively evaluate athletes they’ve identified as potential recruits at showcase camps and travel tournaments. NAIA coaches are more likely to evaluate recruits during personal workouts with the student-athlete. Checkout the list of NCSA AAU baseball partners.
One of the most important initial steps athletes will take in the recruiting journey is a self-evaluation of their expectations and talent. The recruit’s family and current coach will be instrumental at this stage, as they can help the athlete better understand the best division levels to target. This step of the process is critical, as it will influence the schools the family researches. Here are key questions recruits need to ask themselves:
Researching schools is a critical first step in the recruiting process. As student-athletes compile their target list, here’s an easy way to organize schools:
As recruits progress through the process, this list will be an evolving recruitment tool. A school considered a favorite may be revealed to be not the best fit. A so-called “Cinderella school” may emerge as a strong candidate. Continue to update the list as the recruitment process unfolds.
“Attention-getting” does not mean special effects, flashy editing or dramatic music (this should be avoided). We are talking about a video that will get the athlete on a coach’s radar and on their list of recruits they want to pursue.
The skills video is an essential tool by which recruits introduce themselves to coaches, and in many cases, it’s the main way that coaches will evaluate a recruit’s athletic talent. Here’s some general skills video advice:
Read more about creating an impactful skills video.
Visit our College Recruiting Guide for more information about how to contact college coaches.
These events are important to college coaches in identifying talent, especially at the Division 1 level. More than 90 percent of coaches at these elite programs cite travel team relationships as their primary source for their recruits, according to NCSA’s research. More than half of NAIA, Division 3 and junior college coaches we surveyed indicated that they find recruits at camps and tournament showcases.
What does it mean to manage the baseball recruiting process? It means being proactive and remaining diligent in moving the process forward. Recruits should answer any communications from a coach in a timely manner. Until an offer is received, recruits need to take all the appropriate steps to make sure they remain on a coach’s radar. Below is a helpful timeline to help recruits ensure that they are where they should be in the baseball recruiting process.
It is easy for some student-athletes to take social media for granted and not give a thought to what they post. But scholarship offers have been revoked for social media offenses, such as inappropriate photos, offensive language and questionable re-tweets or shared posts. In extreme cases, so have offers to attend a college or university. Recruits shouldn’t let a tweet undo all the hard work they’ve done. Athletes must always keep in mind that coaches are checking Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts to gauge whether a recruit will be a good representative for their team and the school.
Full-ride baseball scholarships are rare. Because baseball is an equivalency sport, coaches will divide their limited scholarships (for example, 11.7 at the Division 1 level) across their rosters. Families looking to ease the financial burden of college will want to pursue academic scholarships that will put the student in a position to attend a college and try out for the team as an unrecruited walk-on (in this scenario, it is crucial the student-athlete confirms with the coach prior to enrollment that they will be allowed to try out for the team).
How can families negotiate for a better scholarship offer? The best bargaining tool an athlete has is offers from other schools. No coach wants to lose out on a recruit for whom there is strong interest. Visit our College Recruiting Guide to learn negotiating strategies.
All that is left is for the recruit to formalize their agreement to attend their chosen school. Many athletes do this by signing the National Letter of Intent (NLI), a legally binding document that commits the athlete to attending a college or university for one academic year and the school to provide agreed-upon financial aid for that year. Not all schools use the NLI, so the recruit should check if there’s a document for them to sign.
Congratulations on completing the recruiting journey. Athletes have earned the right to celebrate this important milestone in their life. The hard work the recruit’s family has put in to get to this moment will serve them well as they move forward.
The new Major League Baseball draft format
In the past, the MLB draft was 40 rounds and attracted athletes from both high school and college. However, in 2020 the MLB Draft was shortened to five rounds, meaning that there were many talented high school and college players who were not drafted, creating an unusually large pool of undrafted players. Additionally, Cape Cod Baseball League, a summer league for college players and a pipeline for MLB development, canceled its 2020 season. These developments will likely result in more current baseball athletes staying on their college teams.
Fewer spots at the college level
Essentially, this will leave a number of high school players that normally would be draft picks going to college instead, and many draft-eligible college players going back to college. Some freshmen might elect to go to a junior college if they see a long line of returning players ahead of them competing for playing time. In a few rare instances, some programs have shut down completely.
For the class of 2021 and 2022
For the class of 2021 that missed out on important competitions during their junior year and may miss out on camps and showcases over the summer, much of their recruiting will be dependent on what they have already done prior to the pandemic and how they can improve their video and grades. It’s a tough situation to be in, but college coaches will still have to recruit these athletes.
“The big losers in all of this are the next two high school classes,” said Millburn head coach Brian Chapman when responding to NJ.com. “This year’s  high school seniors are going to show up on college campuses and discover they came to replace players who haven’t left yet. They won’t have a leg up on getting playing time or having a role within the program.” Middle Tennessee State University baseball coach Jim Toman adds, “We are just trying to help every player on the roster we can and be as up-front and honest with them as we can. When we are able to start evaluating players again we may be looking more at the (2023 and 24) classes because we already have so many in the program.”
It’s important for these athletes to stay ready and take advantage of summer camps, showcases, tournaments, etc. if they become available. Additionally, athletes in the class of 2021 and class of 2022 should be more mindful about choosing a college that offers a good academic, financial and social fit just in case they lose their scholarship or roster spot as a result of the roster crunch.
For international recruits
International athletes especially will have to inquire about their chances of earning a roster spot going forward. International recruiting is becoming increasingly unpredictable. SAT tests are not available for programs to compare, and with travel restricted, coaches can’t meet in person even though it’s something they rely on heavily. This will likely result in more local athletes being recruited in the near future, as opposed to international athletes.
Junior college as an option
For those set on competing at the college level, Penn State baseball coach Robb Cooper thinks that options like going to a junior college can keep college dreams alive. When speaking to NJ.com, Brookdale Community College head coach Johnny Johnson adds, “College scholarships go year-to-year. If there’s no money or a player doesn’t pan out, players could be asked to leave. That’s when JUCOs become a big-time option.” If you’re absolutely set on playing at the college level, junior colleges may offer an opportunity that works for you.
“Am I still wanted as a recruit?”
According to coach Johnson, the squeeze on college rosters means you’ll need to have a serious discussion about your options, especially if you can still take advantage of any other offers. “If you’re a player or a parent, you need to have a man-to-man talk with your college coach and make sure you are still wanted while you still have options.” Scholarships are offered on a year-to-year basis, so more can be rescinded in the coming seasons if a program’s budget is cut or rosters become jam-packed with upperclassmen.
Insider tip: Despite the impact that coronavirus had on college sports, as of June 1, 2021, the NCAA resumed its regular recruiting rules and activity! Coaches are actively working to fill their rosters, so student-athletes should be proactive in reaching out to coaches. Read up on how the extra year of eligibility granted to athletes who were most affected by the pandemic in 2020 will impact future recruiting classes.