Baseball Showcase: Should I Be Playing Fall/Travel Baseball?
Updated: Dec 6, 2018
SAN ANTONIO, TX -- I’m glad you’ve made it to this page! I’m Quintin Pile and one of the Co-Founders of SSP. The blog posts that I’ll be contributing will typically cover things I have personally experienced through my playing and coaching days. I hope you find these posts valuable, and please reach out to Elliot or myself with any comments or questions!
Why you should think twice about playing fall baseball?
Parents and players are always chomping at the bit to get on the best travel ball organizations with the most college commitments or to go to showcases in hopes of obtaining a college roster spot. Everyone is always talking about “exposure”, but have you ever considered what college recruiters are looking for? I think it would be naive of any parent or player to not ask themselves do we really have something that is ready to “showcase”.
Personally, I made this mistake when I was growing up. My parents took me a Perfect Game event and wasted their time and money when I was 16. Why was it a waste? That is what you’re supposed to do, right? Everyone knows Perfect Game. All the best athletes go to these events. It made sense that this would be the quickest route to getting a college scholarship.
Now, I want to preface this post by saying that participating in Perfect Game Showcases (and other showcases of the like) is not a mistake in and of itself. On the contrary, I believe they can be extremely helpful in getting guys seen by college scouts and providing a method by which high school athletes can take the next step. The idea I want to illustrate in this post is that timing is everything when showcasing your talent and our goal at Southern Sports Performance is to make sure that each athlete is able to showcase his or her absolute BEST. In other words, make sure you have a "college-ready" tool to show off before you spend your time and money on a showcase.
Looking back, I can tell you that the reason it was a mistake for me to participate in the PG event at 16 was staring back at me in the mirror. It wasn’t that I played bad; I actually had one of the best outings of my life at the event. There were plenty of scouts walking around. It seemed like the event went about as well as it could have!
However, following the event, I received zero emails or scholarship offers from the event. Not a word. What gives? It didn’t make sense. Was I invisible? I saw all the radar guns in the stands. Even my buddy at the same event got 7 emails from Division 1 colleges (including 2 from Power 5 schools). And he had a way worse outing then I did if you just saw the box score. What was the difference?
After spending time playing baseball at the Division 1 level and hearing college coaches talk about the recruiting process, I came to understand just what happened. At 16 years old, I was a 5’ 8” right handed pitcher topping out at 82mph. Taylor, the aforementioned buddy, was a 6’0 lefty throwing at 87mph. The difference lies within the potential that scouts saw in us.
Let’s fast forward to the next PG event I attended roughly a year later. I was still 5’ 8 (Yes, my profile says 5’11”. Yes, I was insecure and lied). I had a very poor outing. I walked a handful of guys and struggled to get out of the innings that I threw… but received several Division 1 scholarship offers after this specific event. What? How does this make sense?
I topped out at 88mph. (Please ignore my 60 yard dash time. I’m slow, I get it.) I showed the scouts I had potential to be an above average arm. See, the cold truth of college baseball is that scouts aren’t really interested in how well you play against other high school kids. They don’t really care about how good your mechanics are or even if you throw a ton of strikes. They care about potential. They ask themselves, “Would this guy start over the guy we already have?” College coaches believe that they can teach mechanics and techniques. What they need are tools.
Was I ready to “showcase” my tools to college and professional scouts at 16? Absolutely not. Did that make me a bad baseball player or untalented? Absolutely not. The problem was that I had never devoted my time or efforts to developing an elite “Tool”. Scouts grade players in five areas, which they call “tools”.
How often does he make consistent, hard contact hitting.
How far does he hit the ball?
How hard does he throw?
How well does he field?
How fast is he?
How hard does he throw?
How good is his command?
Does his body project to add velocity and control?
How good is his secondary pitch?
How well does he compete?
The whole point of this blog is to communicate to you how important time is. You must be honest with yourself if you are ready to spend the time and money to showcase your tools, or if you would benefit from taking that same time and energy to perfect your craft and devote yourself to a proper individualized training program. Maybe the best idea isn’t playing in a fall league at 150lbs throwing 80mph. Are those extra 20 innings or 30 at-bats going to make the difference? Probably not.
You should spend the time to put on 10-15lbs of muscle and get on customized throwing program. There are plenty of high school players that are sought after by college coaches that don’t even attend showcases. If you are good enough they will find you. If you throw 88-90mph and take a video of it with a radar gun and email it to coaches, you will end up with plenty of phone calls from interested scouts.
Did we make up the money we spent at the event? Sure, but the thing that you can’t get back is time. Time is not on your side in this game, so you must spend it wisely. Take the time to develop an elite tool, then showcase that tool. It doesn’t work the other way around.