A while back, Mike wrote a quick post linking to Eric Cressey’s “25 Questions to Ask During the College Baseball Recruiting Process” article. I finally got around to reading both posts and I wanted to throw my two cents in from personal experience.
During my junior year of high school I was receiving letters from D3 schools to come check out their campus and baseball programs. Me, being the cocky son of a bitch I was, figured “No shot, I’ll be playing D1 some where. Why go check out these programs?” One of the dumbest decisions I ever made…
But lucky for you aspiring high school players, I was able to sample meeting coaches from D1 and D3 schools (along with some MLB scouts in the process).
I’ll tell you right now, I don’t care if you’re going to talk to Johnny Big Leagues about a professional contract or your local community college coach down the road; most of these guys take their business seriously and carry themselves in a professional manner. When you get in and actually sit down with them, you better have something to say.
One of my first experiences with talking to a college coach was when I went to South Carolina to talk with the assistant coach from Winthrop University. He brought my father and I into his office in the complex right behind the field and sat us down. The conversation started off the same way it would as if we were strangers talking on a bus bench…”How ya doing? Great weather, right? Yada, yada, yada…” The coach started explaining the tryout process, what it’s like for walk-ons if they do make the team (me in that situation if I could’ve played there), and essentially went into the team’s success from the previous season. Finally we get to the end of the conversation and I thought I was about to leave a great impression on this coach and was feeling fairly proud of myself. Out of left field (pun intended) , “So Matt, before you go I have another question. What makes you think you can help this team?” I was speechless. I looked at my dad and he’s just staring back at me waiting for a response to come out of my mouth. I looked back at the coach and opened my mouth…nothing came out. “Well?” Me, dumbfounded, just started to slowly ramble together a collection of words that could pass for a sentence. “I….I, uhh…I know how….I know how to hit. I know how to hit a baseball.” THAT was what came out of my mouth, absolutely ridiculous. The coach just shook my hand and showed me the door. I made the walk back to my dad’s car with my tail between my legs.
When you’re talking with these coaches, they’re under the impression that you have a serious interest in joining their programs. With that said, you should have a serious interest in joining their programs or why go sit and talk with them?
Anyway, do your research on the schools (from an academic side) and the baseball programs so you’re not walking in with an empty clip. Cressey’s article literally covers all of those bases for you and I wish I had that to read before I went to start talking to college coaches.
From my experience with talking to coaches, I want to pass onto you a little advice. Be genuinely interested in the school and baseball program, do your research, ask questions, and act like a professional. Like I said, it doesn’t matter what level of college baseball you’re looking to play at; just remember you have to leave that coach’s office with him thinking that you’re not only a good ball player, but you’re also a stand up guy.
Last note: Ask if you can get in touch with a current player (preferably in the major you’re hoping to go into) and pick his brain about everything. He’ll know the answers to every question you’ll have.