On Twitter yesterday, I said:
Common question and complaint I get is how or why I didn’t get drafted or recruited. With the 2015 MLB Rule 4 draft over and in the books, I’ve heard from a variety of people saying they are better than people that were drafted and how it’s not fair, how hard it is to get recruited or quality exposure, etc. First of all, I’d like to dispel the last one really quickly, an athlete at our facility named Christian Meister was drafted in the 29th round by the Cleveland Indians and was offered a contract + bonus. MLB.com reporter August Fagerstrom wrote about it if you are so inclined to check it out.
The takeaway from Christian’s story is that he didn’t even play baseball in 2015. That’s right, he just trained at Driveline Baseball, and when he was hitting 92-95 off an indoor mound, I called scouts and recruiters, and when I provided verifiable evidence of such, there was a decent amount of interest.
If you are wondering how to get drafted or recruited (or why you weren’t), here are some reasons even though you think you were better than those who were selected by MLB teams:
Most Likely: You Aren’t Actually Better
It hurts to read, but it’s probably true. Just because you hit 92 MPH in a summer game on a Bushnell Gun your dad bought for $75 on Ebay (hey, I’ve been there) doesn’t mean you actually pitch at 92 MPH. And maybe your command isn’t really that good, but you selectively remember the few times when you pitched against the Elite Baller Squad Alpha Green Team full of kids that wouldn’t make the worst Junior College roster and block out the times you pitched against a real “select” team and walked the house vs. guys with a real approach. Just a thought.
How to get recruited or drafted: train. Roughly speaking, to be a no-brainer in a scout or recruiter’s mind, strive to be an average performer at the next level now.
Want to find a training program that’s right for you? A Driveline trainer will give you a call to find a pitching program that can help get you to the next level.
That was easy. Moving on…
Likely: You Don’t Know How to Talk to Scouts or Recruiters
This is really common – you join a summer team and your pitching coach tells you that he can get you seen by scouts, so don’t worry about it for yourself. Or maybe you upload YouTube videos of yourself pitching against summer league competition and dominating, cut in such a perfect way that shows you killing PFPs and striking out 5’10” 140 lbs hitters with your breaking ball, never mind that you are pitching out of the stretch with a runner on 2nd….
That’s not verifiable data, and scouts and recruiters get video like that ALL the time. And just because your pitching coach knows a few scouts because they took a 4th rounder off your team a few years ago doesn’t mean he has any pull. Chances are likely he tells every scout and recruiter that all of his guys are worth seeing and it gets old fast.
If you go around telling everyone that you throw gas and that they should come see you, you better throw gas. But if you don’t prove it by providing verifiable data, they won’t. The Pacific Northwest has a lot of spread-out scouts due to the lower range of talent in the area (in recent years anyway) so they can’t be driving all over the place to chase down every lead. And this area doesn’t have a high density of Division-I college baseball programs, and Division-II and NAIA programs are all far away – we aren’t in California where we have elite D-II programs like Cal Poly Pomona down the street. So recruiters will come here when they can, but they won’t chase you down unless you can actually show them on a video with a radar gun in the shot (a real one, like a Stalker) that you reliably throw hard, preferably over a few appearances. Otherwise it’s just another highlight reel for the trash that will collect some annoying YouTube comments over time.
How to get recruited or drafted: Find coaches and trainers with good networks–ask them before you sign up for their team or program. Create a baseball recruiting video coaches and scouts will want to watch.
Likely: You Make Insane Demands
The minute you make a demand like “Yeah I want $150,000 in the draft or I’m going to school” when you are committed to a bad junior college (if that), scouts tune you out. The same goes for college recruiting if you lie about other offers you might or might not have or your velocity, grades, command, etc.
You have no basis in reality for these demands. It’s worse if your coach starts talking for you, telling everyone you think you should be a top five round pick and that you have a ton of interest. Whether or not it’s true, if you don’t have that kind of interest or ability, the scouts start to avoid you because you are either a) Lying and have off-field makeup issues or b) Really might have that kind of interest and the scout thinks of you as a 20th rounder at best. And if you develop over the next 6-9 months and start becoming a Day 2 threat for the MLB draft, the scouts will all remember what you said back in the day and will be less likely to trust you, show up to your games, write favorable reports, etc.
So keep your mouth shut.
How to get recruited or drafted: Seriously, unless you have every college and pro team after you and tons of leverage, keep your mouth shut.
Likely, You Showcase When You Aren’t Any Good
If you go to Perfect Game events when you aren’t any good, you are screwing yourself. “Exposure” is a two-way street – if you aren’t a top-flight guy, guess what? You’ve just shown everyone that you are an average-sized HS junior that throws 82-85 MPH with a bad breaking ball. That’s not a guy that commands Division-I attention at all. And the more you showcase your average tools, the more that version of you is imprinted on college recruiters and pro scouts. Even if you start to develop and get better, they again will remember the average toolsy version of you and it will take more to get them off their first impression.
Here’s what you do – attend showcases when you are clearly AT LEAST in the top quartile of performance for your age. If you show up, blow noise, rip breaking balls, and perform well, you will then get invites to the big national showcases at no charge. Then you attend those, do well, and guess what? Offers will come in and scouts will be sending you questionnaires to fill out.
If you showcase well at a young age, you will get a ton of shots down the line – this is similar to minor league ball, but that’s another discussion entirely. If you showcase poorly at a young age, scouts will remember that, and while it won’t doom you, it makes it harder to overcome those impressions.
Additionally, if you play at a college now and turn in a bunch of years when you aren’t very good, scouts will eventually stop looking for you. If you are a 90-93 RHP reliever and finally get guys out later in your career but weren’t much good early on, why would anyone give you a shot? They seem to know who you are. But if you come out of nowhere and dice up your conference at 90-93, you are more likely to get a chance.
How to Get Recruited or Drafted: Train, be better than your peers. It’s very simple–roughly speaking, the most talented players get the best college offers and most draft money.
Almost Certainly: You Have an Inflated View of How Good You Are
This is a symptom of today’s select-dominated baseball industry. There are hundreds/thousands of daddyball “select” teams formed as a result of a coach wanting to get paid to coach a team or because they were mad their kid got cut from an actual select team that was good. So since there are a ton of these teams, by the law of averages, some of them will actually win – and coaches and kids are groomed to believe that somehow this formula applies:
Winning Baseball Games = I am Good at Baseball!
WRONG. That has nothing to do with whether or not you are actually good relative to your real competition, which are college and pro-bound athletes. Look at Perfect Game rankings and MLB draft candidates and their raw tools, then compare them to yourself.
Scouts and recruiters are not interested in your results or high school ERA. They want to see ability, tools combined applied with some skill.
To get a sense for how you stand up in the recruiting game, actually perform the following tests:
- Run the 60-yard dash on a clearly marked turf field with a camera on the side with a FULL VIEW of your running lane. Time it using frames on the video and actual video timers to see how fast you really are, not with a stopwatch by your dad in the view who accidentally bumps the lap counter 0.5 seconds late, turning your 7.3 into a 6.8.
- Throw a bullpen or in a game with a high-definition camera behind home plate mounted on a tripod with a good radar gun (Stalker Sport 2 can usually be found used for $300-400) mounted on a tripod in front of it. (Use this step-by-step guide.) Focus the camera on the radar gun but allow the camera shot to see you pitching as well. Take video from the side as well with several pitches so recruiters/scouts can see your mechanics from many angles. Do this for several pens/games to verify consistency of readings and performances.
- Throw across the diamond or from the outfield if you want to get throwing velocity. Use a radar gun with video setup like above; throw into a catch net for accurate readings.
- Go to a facility that has a HitTrax or similar equipment that will accurately measure bat exit velocity. Compare your readings with those of the big leaguers and drafted guys – you can go to www.hittrackeronline.com to look up how much better Mike Trout is than you.
Once you do all that, you should get a good reading on how you stack up and you will hopefully have good material to send out. Don’t forget that decent grades, good SAT scores, no legal trouble, and the ability to hold a conversation are all important as well. And don’t make your video 7 minutes long with ridiculous music playing in the background – keep it silent, short, and packed with verifiable information with a way to get in touch with you if the person is interested.
I hope this helps, but the sad reality is that most people don’t want to know how good (or bad, as the case may be) they actually are – which is really the root cause of why it’s so frustrating for recruiters, scouts, and players altogether.
Don’t feel confident enough in your stuff to present a quality recruiting video to coaches? Train with us! Check out our training gear.