My son noticed a big difference in the effectiveness of his arm in the high school workouts compared to 14U. He has a very good arm for 14U and his size. It's average by varsity standards. Growth and working out should make up the difference.
Show up, practice, try hard = Play
Narrow age specific groups
Teams play with social contracts rather than written or legal agreements
Playing time is earned
Wider range of ages compete against each other, (HS, College, Club Teams)
Participants agree to put Team needs ahead of personal goals
Compensation for play is agreed upon in writing, (money, scholarship, exposure, etc)
Positions and playing time are determined strictly by the needs of the Team
Widest range of ages and backgrounds playing together
As to the issue of engaging the interest of a college program and even receiving scholarship money a HS underclassman should consider the following:
1.Best to play on a high visibility HS program or least on a team that competes against high visibility programs. If your school routinely finishes in the cellar or plays less than competitive opponents...
2.Find your way on to a team with stud players. This might be a Connie Mack or Babe Ruth team, regional or local. Baseball folks tend to gather where the best players play.
3.Buy your way into one of the “showcase” programs. There are any number of these who encourage players to fill out rosters for games and tournaments for a fee. Most will have at least a few “A” players getting a look from the local Baseball talent evaluators.
4.Maintain at least a 3.0 GPA and work hard to achieve better than average SAT scores. Better yet is to maintain your school/league's Scholar-Athlete standards.
There are two types of players at these showcases. The first are those who are invited. They are invited usually because they are high visibility players having gained considerable success already playing High School and tournament ball. When these boys attend these camps and showcase events, they usually do so with options for future play already on the table. They may be doing a friend or coach a favor or there may be other considerations.
The second group are players who have gained less recognition for a variety of reasons. They may play in a small town or for a less than competitive team or are recovering from an injury or they may just not be very good. These guys pay the full fee associated with the showcase in the hope that they may develop some interest in their game from a college or big league team.
I think in my area the one reason rec ball suffers is that when a coach pulls 10-12 kids out of the park to play, he typically pulls not only the kids that hit, but the ones that pitch also. Take 6-8 good pitchers out of any of the age brackets in my area to form the nucleus of a travel team and the rec baseball suffers. Not as big a deal for my kids because they are young 8 & 10 and we are just trying to learn the fundamentals and see them develop a love for the game. It does seem that you could accomplish the same end result of developing kids if everyone just stayed put and played rec ball. You could also save alot of money in the process.
I have the benefit of being a high school coach and a rec ball coach (my boy will be 11). I have noticed a decline in rec ball. I go to quite a bit of games to see the new players that will be coming in. I like to go to All-Star games. I'll get emails showing interest in our program, then I'll request a schedule, so I can come watch. I come incognito at one league, but everybody pretty much knows me at my son's league.
When the tryout comes around, I'll see the kids I saw at the leagues but the players with the best chance seem to be the one I've never heard of. These turn out to be travel kids. I've gotta tell you though, if a kid can play, I don't care where he came from. I chuckle a little when I hear there are pipelines into high school programs. I think it's just more that we might be wrong about a kid.
I cut a kid in the summer of his freshman year, he made the spring team and turned out to be a starting OF for a 6A program his senior year. Because of that "mistake" I kept a little lefty pitcher with control problems who is now contributing at the Varsity level eating up innings this summer. He'll throw some innings as a Junior and we'll see about his Senior year. These are stories about league ball players who are bubble kids---projects, need work, underdeveloped.
The travel kids are ready now. I don't get travel "bubble" kids it seems. Now, I get great rec ball players, they are out there. I know from what I see, the finer points of the game are not taught in rec ball, except in rare cases. Most of the effort has to go to getting those kids who can't play a lick competitive and getting your team to be able to catch and throw with each other in a baseball specific way. I know, I can't spend the time doing all of the things I want to do with a league ball team until All-Stars. Honestly, I go to those rec games and see all of the things I have to try and fix. All of the travel kids seem to be players.
But for high school, I only care that they are players, not that they are travel kids.
As far as pulling my kid out of a rec ball league and into travel. Travel is too much for us, money and time wise. We do have the benefit of having a professional coach in the family so he'll get any instruction he'll need. Now, if this was basketball or soccer, we'd be out of the league, finding someone who can bring out the best in his talent. Do I care about the kids who can't play a lick? As long as they are on my son's team and I'm given the responsibility to coach that team, I'm absolutely going to spend time with those kids and help them have fun and improve. They deserve a place to play. If I didn't know anything about baseball, and I have to take my son to a travel team, then I care very little about that kid.
I thought I would refresh everyone on one of my favorite threads. I really like Jake's Travel Math. Just got our local paper today, and we are losing three diamonds to our new travel football program. Go team.
I'll give my take from here in NorCal area.
1) LL has to take all comers. 2) LL is made up of volunteers so coaching is a hodge podge. Since my son has been in competive or semi-competive LL level of baseball, I'd say coaching by comparison to travel ball teams has been BAD. 3)Kids love 'real baseball' rules. 4)good players make other good players better and kids like it when they play better. My kid loves getting double plays ..or at least having a chance at them. Leading off... pick offs...
However the point about how much time is spent working on baseball. It kills me to think about our #1 pitcher in high school and the fact he could throw 95 and wouldn't touch a baseball from the last game till the first day of practice. How two or three of us could hit that 95 MPH fast ball 400 feet even though we hadn't touched a bat in 8 months. To beat it all we did it with an Easton black magic. Yep just one for the whole team. Weather you were 5'7" 120 or 6'2" 220 we all used the same bat. But I guess baseball players are just way better now with all the time they spend working on the game and all.
Heck I just wonder if we had pitching coaches, and hitting coaches, and year round baseball. Good lord we would have had a hand full of hall of fame players.
I think there is an enormous difference between the kids who play AAU and those who play rec ball. In our conference in CT, the SCC, it is a huge advantage. A lot of the freshman players go right to JV and many get opportunities to play JV around mideason. There is no doubt the caliber of pitching these kids have faced in AAU, makes the transition to HS much easier. I have witnessed both sides of the argument. In recent years our local HS has enjoyed a gradual influx of travel players. The success of the HS program, is highly indicative of this influence. I am not saying the kids who play rec ball are not talented, but there is an undeniable adjustment to the level of pitching and defense they encounter early in their HS career.
My son recently returned from a national tourney where we played a great team from Texas that at the 14U level pitched at the 16U level here in CT. high 70's -low 80's velocity and unbelievable command of secondary pitches. It was a great learning experience for my son and he enjoyed every minute of it!
The numbers of kids that go to college from a travel team is far greater than rec leagues. Every once in a while there might be a good caliber player in rec but the rest are usually just 'ok'. I know when I played travel ball the average speed was 85 with fairly good command and rec was probably around 75-80ish with average secondary pitches. Some states have legion teams though for their high school but I don't have any experience in those leagues. I think the main appeal along with playing better competition is the amount of games you play. Usually its at least 2x the games on a travel team than in a rec league.
Tell ya what. You put up some large sum of money, preferably with at least 5 zeroes after some number, and I’ll match it. Then we’ll spend as much time as you like finding out if more college players played travel or played rec.
The pitcher who’s afraid to throw strikes, will soon be standing in the shower with the hitter who's afraid to swing.
Ok from my experience ... the top caliber players were playing travel ball. The one's playing in rec not necessarily weren't college players but 9/10 times they were average at best. Like I said ..... there are players in those rec leagues ... probably higher numbers in lower income places but I have seen places/people pay for kids to play on the teams or give them a discount. Travel will better prepare you for college though unless you are facing 85+ on a consistent basis. I saw the big leagues world series ... there was a kid topping at 91 I think but I don't remember him having a good secondary pitch.
I spoke this weekend to a MLB dad. His son made it because he loved the game and was good at it. He played rec until HS, although he went to a great HS program. Youth TB had nothing to do with him making the show.
Do you realize that what you’re saying is, its all about velocity of pitches. I won’t even go there, but you also seem to believe that the average college pitcher cruises at 85. If that’s what you believe, you better go to some more college games with a gun!…Travel will better prepare you for college though unless you are facing 85+ on a consistent basis. I saw the big leagues world series ... there was a kid topping at 91 I think but I don't remember him having a good secondary pitch.
The pitcher who’s afraid to throw strikes, will soon be standing in the shower with the hitter who's afraid to swing.
These kinds of statements is what I am talking about in the thread about Keeping Youth baseball in perspective.
Travel ball compared to rec only? Sure, if a kid only plays rec ball during his HS years, he is probably not going to play in college. However, if a kid only plays for his HS team, he is probably going to be prepared for college just fine if he has the talent!
How many kids do you know that play travel ball but do not make their HS team, yet still get to play in college?
Travel ball isn't a must to be able to go play somewhere in college!!
Last edited by dw8man; 08-20-2008 at 10:55 AM.
I wasn't talking about younger age Jake ... my fault if thats what this was for because before high school it really is more a preference if you want more games (number of good players is still mixed and people are getting better still plus its not about work at that age). Kids that I know who did that generally wanted to play with their friends and its easier to do that in rec than travel.
Scorekeeper I am not saying velocity is the only factor ... the overall pitching quality is usually better as well as depth on the other teams. If you were to put every college pitcher in the country together at all levels I would assume the average would be at about 85.
Dw8man .... I have never personally met somebody who couldn't make their high school team and could play in college. Definitely don't know kids playing travel that didn't make their high school team. I'm going to stop responding to this statement ... I know kids who have played rec and play college ... never said it was required ... I said it will better prepare you because hands down you are playing against a majority of the best players out there if you believe it or not it is the truth. Last time I checked thats pretty much what a college baseball team is.
Just realized this thread was for 14, anyways yeah I was talking about high schooler's lol.