Are You Good Enough to Play D1 Baseball? Here’s How to Know…

Just about every serious high school baseball player wants to play Division I (D1) baseball. The reality is that most of them won’t.  My former college coach, Tracy Smith (now head coach at Indiana University), likes to say, “Every serious high school baseball player who wants to play in college can. It’s just about finding the right level and program that fits him as a player.”  That’s great, but the question still remains – Are you D1 material… or should you look at D2, D3, NAIA, or Juco options?

In this article, I outline 7 different things you can do to find out if you are D1 material. You’ve heard the phrase, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” Well, don’t let one source discourage you from pursuing your dream of playing D1 baseball. Too many times players stop short of that dream because of a negative parent, teammate, or coach. Take into consideration the input of at least 4-5 different sources to determine what a realistic level of college baseball is for you.  Don’t put too much weight on any one source. Instead, put them all together, step back, and decide which level to pursue.

On the flip side, many players think too highly of their baseball abilities. I have players tell me all the time that they want to play at South Carolina, Florida, UCLA, or Vanderbilt. Guess what? Everybody does! I’m not saying that you aren’t good enough to play there. In fact, some NLB readers have just recently verbally committed to some of those schools.  I’m just saying that you should take the time to figure out whether those schools are realistic for you before it’s too late. Otherwise, you may have to walk on at a local D3 school when you could have been a D2 scholarship guy if you would have been open to that earlier.  The worst thing you can do is miss out on good opportunities because you unrealistically banked on a D1 scholarship that never came through. Strive for the best, but be realistic.

Ok, enough of me ranting. Here are the 7 things you can do to answer the question: “Am I D1 material?”

1. Ask your coaches.

Chances are pretty good that your HS and summer league coaches have had D1 players on their teams or on the opposing teams. Ask them how you stack up and for their honest assessment about what level of college baseball is realistic for you. If you’ve taken hitting/pitching lessons from a local pro who has been around the game a while, ask him too. The more input you get the better.

2. Go watch your local D1 team.

Judge for yourself. Get there early enough to see batting practice and infield.  Watch the guys that play your position. Check out their arms, defense, base running, bat speed, etc. Give yourself some grace when comparing yourself physically, as they’ve had a few key years to grow. Most everyone gets bigger and stronger playing college baseball.

3. Honestly compare your tools.

Have you played with guys in HS and summer ball that went on to play D1? You were probably able to see them play first hand. How do you stack up with them? If you’re a pitcher, compare velocity, off speed, put away pitch, etc. If you’re a position player, compare arm strength, base running, bat, power, etc.

4. Go to a college baseball camp.

Pick a few D1 programs you’d like to play for, and visit their camp. Go out of your way to introduce yourself to the coaches.  At the end, make sure to ask them for honest feedback of you as a player and what level they think fits your ability.

5. Send out videos.

After selecting the D1 schools you are most interested in, send them a video / YouTube link. Gauge their interest by their responses.  Don’t be afraid to ask for specific feedback, especially if a coach says he is not interested.

6. Compare stats.

Let me start by saying this – stats are overrated!! They don’t tell the whole story and to a large extent, are beyond the player’s control.  With that being said, in this situation, as long as this is only one slice of the pie, stats can be helpful in seeing how you stack up against other players in your league that have gone on to play D1 ball.

7. Ask yourself.

Your input is important! Do you truly feel you can play at the D1 level? Are you dedicated to working your butt off to make it happen? Are you willing to put in the hard work necessary to achieve your goal?  Ultimately, the most important input on this list is your own.

Disclaimer: Just because the majority of the 7 sources tell you that you aren’t good enough to play D1 baseball, doesn’t mean that it’s true. If you continuously strive to get better and work your tail off, you never know what can happen… Just make sure that you keep all your options open.

Comments

comments


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  • Mark

    I definitely agree that if a high school player wan’t to play at the next level, there are plenty of opportunities out there.

    Do you think networking on social media sites like linkedin with assistant coaches would be an effective approach for highschool players?

  • http://www.nextlevelballplayer.com Franco

    I highly recommend that HS players are proactive in networking/contacting with coaches. To my knowledge there aren’t many highschoolers on linkedin, but if some are, it’s not a bad idea to reach out to coaches that way.

    Emailing coaches is one of the best and easiest ways to start a dialog with an assistant coach. With that being said, more and more coaches are active on social media sites. It’s not a bad idea to follow them on twitter, facebook, team blog, linkedin, if they are actively using them.

  • http://www.nextlevelballplayer.com Franco

    As far as what to put in your email to college coaches, you can check in our “Recruiting Corner” for specifics on what to include in those emails.

  • http://www.checkswing.com Kyle Grucci

    CheckSwing.com is another place to try and connect. It’s a baseball social network with thousands of players and coaches. You can create your baseball player profile there (with text, photos, video, etc) and use it as your online baseball resume to send to coaches.

    • http://www.nextlevelballplayer.com Franco

      I have recently gotten a profile on CheckSwing.com and have been impressed with the large baseball community it provides and the discussions that have come up. Keep up the good work Kyle!

  • B.Bach #29

    Great article first of all Franco….I also think its important for young players to realize that very few d1 prospects are 5 tool players….Even if a player developes into one during college odds are they weren’t going into college. Some could even be signed just because of potential. That being said, I think young players need to have confidence and 100% dedication to crafting their skills. Like Franco mentioned, you have to be proactive about it…in both training/practice and networking. Coaches at any level want guys who portrait confidence and show that they will do whatever it takes to improve. I can go to a high school game not knowing any players and pick out “ball players” just by the way they carry themselves doing simple tasks like tossing and drills….I’m not saying they automatically have the ability, but it sure makes you want to watch them play particularly. So remember you never know who’s watching and go about keeping your cool at all times, and act confident. The point I’m trying to make is that pure talent isn’t everything in baseball….d1 coaches might bring a guy on board who has slightly less talent but show character/focus/preparation/ and work ethic. Dont be the guy with the talent/skills to make it to the next level but is talking to his girlfriend in the stands between innings, or throwing his bat at the dugout because he struck out.

    Go Hawks!

    • http://www.nextlevelballplayer.com Franco

      Great stuff Bach. 100% agree.

  • Coach Riber

    As a coach, it’s really important to help your players find that right college level for them. This is a great article that should be a must read for High School baseball players looking to play in college.

  • Brick

    I have a tough one here. I have a kid who is 5’9″, 180 lbs. He is the best fielder and hitter, quick, but not stunningly fast, all district for two years in the DC Metro area, despite playing for one of the worst high schools. His senior year, he was the only returning senior starter and was pitched around all season and still was all district. He played 19U as a 16U on a team made up of DC, VA, and MD all stars, has been to all the major tourneys from the 18U World Wood Bat down, with elite travel teams, and when he gets hot is an amazing sight to behold on a baseball field. He was 4th in the state in steals on sheer burglar-guts and smarts. He made only 1 error the whole Sr. year and I overheard the state champion team talking about him as they watched a game, saying that that little guy is amazing, and stole at least 7 hits from them in one game and had the only two hits his team had against them, and 3 stolen bases. When do kids give each other those kinds of props, and remember them out-loud, unsolicited? Long story short(er), he got recruited by an NAIA school in Iowa, and now is enormously frustrated sitting on the bench two years later. He is seeing slower pitching than he saw facing high schools with 3 to 5 thousand students in his area, many with 2 or 3 D1 recruited pitchers on staff, and because of it, big farm-boys with bad swings are thriving, who could never touch the stuff he was seeing at 16. He is not going to jack many out, and the coaches are just staying with the big dudes and leaving him on the bench to rot. They really don’t know what he can do if he gets a chance to settle in and get hot. And I don’t think they realize that you don’t get to be all-anything in the DC Metro area, where there is so much competition, money for training, elite travel programs, etc., if you are not really good. I feel like he can hit D-1 pitching and most of the the kids in Iowa could never get around on 90+ stuff, but because of his size he’d never make a D-1 team unless he was rocket fast, and because of the bad pitching, worse players who are bigger look better at that D-2, NAIA level. He is so frustrated he is going crazy… any advice? I am not delusional. This kid works out routinely with, and for, former and current major and minor league players, and they have seen him play and tell me the same thing. What do I do? He is in a bad gap in the system.

    • http://www.nextlevelballplayer.com Franco

      Hey Brick,

      That’s a really tough situation you’ve described above. Here are my initial thoughts.

      1. If he is serious about playing college baseball, he can’t stay at that school and has to transfer.

      2. By wanting to transfer, he essentially starts the college recruiting process all over again. I’m not saying this to be harsh, but it sounds like the original recruiting process didn’t go well. This happens all the time, but is another example of the importance of doing all the background work upfront to know what kind of situation you will be getting into in college. Sometimes it’s unavoidable. Usually it is.

      3. Make a highlight video and start sending it out to coaches and programs that he’d be interested in playing at. It can be practice footage.

      4. If his lack of speed is an issue, work hard on improving in that area. Flexibility, better form while running the 60, dynamic sprint workouts, and a lot of other things, can help improve speed and 60 time.

      5. (And maybe most important) Find a good summer league to play in. It’s a great way for potential college coaches to see you play as well as a way to network with other players and coaches around the country. In one summer that I played in a wooden bat league in Kansas City, I had 3 teammates transfer to the schools of some other players on our team.

      Hope this helps Brick. If you have any more questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to send them my way.

      All the best,

      Franco

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