Monday, December 8, 2008
RT Staff Note: We occasionally scour Rivals message boards and came across a subject on NorCal Preps, one of the country's most active high school baseball message boards in the off-season. Maybe they are more computer and web site centric there because it's the center of the Silicon Valley, but a thread started a few days ago asking what a high school aged player should do in the off-season and nearly 40 posts later, the issue is still alive. The issue morphed into...should an athlete concentrate on baseball year round? We wish that more high school message boards would be this active. Rivals College Baseball board is arguably the most active baseball board in the off-season, but NorCal Preps had more responses to this one thread in three days than most high school baseball web sites have over the entire 3rd and 4th quarter months. Over the next few days, we will post our answers and comment on the entire subject...The following is our initial answer. For the entire thread, go to NorCal Preps Baseball Board.
The answer to your question depends on the ability, desire and goals of the player. For the purposes of this post...I will concentrate on High School only.
If a player desires to play baseball with a D-I college and has the ability, desire and work ethic to accomplish that, the choices are simple...play baseball and only play baseball...
If they want to play basketball, football, golf, tennis at the next level...the answer is the same...play only that sport, unless the athleticism of that player is so off the charts that no matter what they do, they will be recruited and sign with a college team. In conversations with D-I college coaches, it's pretty unanimous. They want dedicated, hard nosed, impact players. A well rounded athlete is nice, but baseball especially, is a very specialized sport. Plus, if a player favors baseball and coaches find him projectable, recruitable and a potential player that could impact their team...they may not want that player to risk injury and play football or basketball.
Great athletes don't always succeed at baseball as a part time hobby. If you look at the top 80% of college recruits in warm weather states, they all played baseball only throughout high school. There's the 20% that didn't...but stats point out that a player has a better chance of becoming better, and getting noticed, by playing more because of the plethora of available talent in warm weather states for baseball.
Now I mentioned warm weather states because in cold weather states, the option of year round baseball doesn't exist..so more players play multiple sports...and those players still get recruited and play baseball right? Right! But, unless you are a pitcher or one of those exceptional, freakish athletes like a Ryan Howard who came from a cold weather state, the level of baseball has to be put into perspective. Those players are playing catch-up and may never live-up to the talent level of an SEC, BIG 12 or Pac 10 school. Rarely does a northern school get to Omaha, get nationally ranked or have the type of OOC like a Stanford, Fullerton. LSU or Texas to prove their true rank.
That said...if a player has no desire to play at the next level or wants to try out at a smaller school or JC and wants to enjoy the total high school experience...by all means, play all sports IF you have the talent...but again, that depends on the school. You can't just walk into a Mater Dei in SoCal and tell the coach you want to play baseball, basketball and football. You'd better have credentials, a summer team coaches recommendation and a gym and field rat mentality.
There are those that believe in the total athlete, but percentages say otherwise....again if that player wants to play at the next level. If you live in California, your son is competing against a higher percentage of year round baseball players. Those year rounders will get noticed first, because they will be seen the most. And, if your son is a position player and goes to a low profile school and competes in a lesser competitive league, that decreases the chances of exposure. The next option for that player is a California based College Development Program (CDP) like Norcal, ADB, SGV Aresenal or another program that exposes that player to recruiters. And, that becomes a year round task, because many of the better camps and showcases are also in the fall and winter.
I could write for days about this subject...the bottom line is...if a player wants to play at the next level...they better step up their game to that level. Stats don't lie.