By Bahram Shirazi (BSEE, MBA, Co-owner RPP)
Someone has to say it… Please stop wasting your money. I am telling you this, because unfortunately, as a parent I wasted plenty.
You can’t imagine how often I hear about the same baseball player going to showcase after showcase, or trip after trip to Florida and/or Atlanta putting up the same sub-par metrics every single time. Just imagine, over and over again… 79 mph, 78 mph, 80 mph, 78 mph. The reality is that showcase and tournament operators are very good at promoting their services and making you feel like you are missing something if you don’t attend their event. On the other hand, college coaches specialize in identifying talent, recruiting baseball players, planning games and practices, and winning games.
So basically, one group wants you to show your “Stuff”, while the other group wants you to have the “Stuff”. As good citizens we just follow the bread crumbs to see where they lead. But what happens in the interim, as I heard once:
“Players constantly showcase themselves off the coaches’ lists.”
College coaches track their prospects. They create follow lists for themselves. At any given time, they could have 15-30 players on their list. The list constantly changes. They add players and scratch players. There are so many high school prospects that they are always looking for reasons to scratch and focus on those they really want to follow.
Players get scratched for a variety of reason including behavior, athleticism, attitude, reputation, raw talent and ultimate potential, among others. But the easiest one coaches use to scratch players is metrics. If you are a high school level pitcher (let’s say a junior) throwing 79 mph, or a player with an exit velo in the 70s, it may be difficult to make the coaches’ follow lists. It might seem harsh but that’s just today’s reality.
I recently had a conversation with a dad who was commenting on the cost of training at RPP. His son throws in the high 70s, low 80s. In the same conversation, he went on to inform me that they were soon headed to Florida for the PG Underclass games. I thought to myself… this dad is spending $3,000 or more on the trip and his son isn’t even close to being considered a college prospect. That amount of money is almost one year’s worth of training. Yet he was wondering if the training we provide is in his budget. It kind of reminded me of Dan Aykroyd’s “Wish Sandwich”, the Blues Brothers skit from the 70s.
Something is missing in this equation. Either players just don’t know what coaches are looking for, or they go to tournaments and showcases looking for miracles hoping they will get noticed for some reason.
I know there is tremendous peer pressure on young players to attend these events. In some ways, we have been made to believe that if we’re not joining the process, then we’re doing ourselves a disservice. Well, nothing could be further from the truth. Phrases like “GET SEEN” or “BE SEEN” are very common and frankly misleading. The goal shouldn’t be to “get seen”. The goal should be to create something worth seeing. Don’t get me wrong, many of these businesses operators are highly-qualified and they do a fantastic job with their showcases and tournaments, but they are in the business of making money. The go, no go, decision is yours.
There is one more topic worth mentioning. Everyone knows that the recruiting timeline keeps moving down in age, as coaches are looking at increasingly younger talent to handout commitments. No one likes it but it’s heading that way. The process is forcing coaches to become more reliant on their ability to project the success of a 15 or 16 year-old player based on things like workout ethic, ability, size and strength (click here for related article on Projectability); None of which you attain by spending money on flights and going to showcases and tournaments when you don’t have the “Stuff”.
Having said all this, there really is NO magic pill.
There is ONLY hard work.
This applies to both pitchers and players, but a good example is Bergen Catholic’s Dom Cancellieri (who is just about to start his Freshmen year at Notre Dame University). When Dom came to us in fall of his sophomore year he was throwing in the low to mid-80s. He is extremely dedicated to his regimen, from mobility work to training to conditioning. He follows 100% of the training programs we provide him. He regularly trains at RPP, often 3-5 per week. At this time, he is off to Notre Dame with a fastball generally sitting 91-93 mph. He did the work and he received the reward. I may be wrong, but I believe that he attended only a single showcase during his high school career and that was by invitation (you can read his interview with RPP by clicking here).
So, I’ll say it again. Please stop wasting your money. Hear it from me, because I wasted plenty. Please don’t misunderstand me, I have nothing against showcases or tournaments. I have even written about the tremendous value that showcases can provide (click here). But, if you don’t throw or hit hard enough save your money and spend it on training. Get bigger, stronger, faster so you don’t showcase yourself off the list. It happens every day.
“Go to the showcase when you have something to show.”
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