I’m not claiming to be an expert by any means, but I do have some experience with the youth baseball world having two high school boys who have both played baseball since they were 3-years old. Traveling around doing the tournament circuit has taught me a lot about the game and also the politics of the game.
That being said, I would like to share my opinion of doing baseball showcase tournaments. I’m not saying don’t waste your money, but I’m saying don’t waste your money. And, I’m not saying that this applies to every player in the country, but I feel like it covers 95% of the teen players in the U.S.
I know I’ll get some flack from some of the guys who run and sponsor these tournaments. There may also be coaches who don’t like what I’m saying, but they’re entitled to their opinions.
Here’s the thing: Unless your kid is a 6-foot 2″ pitcher throwing 85 – 90 mph, or a 6-foot plus power hitter, college scouts won’t look at him. I’m not trying to be negative, it’s just the way it is. I even know someone who’s a scout and he told me that the first thing they look for is size, then pitching speed and hitting power. Defense seems to be last on their list. Your kid could be the most athletic shortstop in the country, but if he can’t hit bombs or pitch fast, don’t bother.
I do have a few exceptions to this that I would like to mention. If your son is a junior in high school, this is the year to do it. He has probably blossomed by now and the recruiting for college players begins at this level. If you feel like he’s good enough to play college ball, then get him in one. It couldn’t hurt his chances.
Also, if you live in a really small town and have no other means of exposure for your son, a showcase tournament or two might help get his name out there, but the truth is that if your kid is a superstar baseball player, he’s already being looked at and people know who he is. I’ve been at regular tournaments and heard strangers whispering about my boys’ teammates because they were super studs. Word gets around, guys talk…you hear things.
If you have unlimited funds for baseball related adventures, then by all means showcase away. Your son will be getting in some high-quality games against top talent and most likely will be playing on good teams. These tournaments usually require you to travel, pay a hefty tournament fee, hotel costs, food costs, etc. Each one of these could cost in excess of $1,000 so if you can afford it, you could make a vacation out of it too.
Of course you could take that $1,000 and put it towards some really good training or lessons. There are a lot of pitching coaches and batting trainers out there who could be working with your son on the fundamentals he needs when the time comes to be in front of scouts. They are looking for players who have solid fundamentals and won’t need a lot of work.
And that brings up another point: You could go to a showcase tournament and have no college scouts at the particular games your son plays in. This happened to our kids at an Arizona tournament. We went to a showcase in which a bunch of scouts were at a game that had a few D1 prospects they were there to see. There were a couple of our pitchers who didn’t get in that game. The rest of the games were at random fields and I didn’t see any more scouts looking at our kids. This could be an exception, so I would advise doing some research if you’re thinking of attending a showcase. Most of them have websites and you can look at the history of their tournaments and see what the scouting was like previously.
One last thing to think about: Don’t depend on your son’s high school coaches to do the recruiting work for you. It should be part of their job, but some of them have no clue how to get that process going. You and your son are in charge of his college future and a coach can only help with part of it.
All in all, I just think that there are better ways to spend your money that can make your son more ready for playing in college. If he really wants to keep playing, start taking some good video of his pitching, hitting, and defense, and put together a prospect video for him. You can email that to coaches and put him on their radar. If he’s really worthy of a college experience, the word will get out.