25 Tips For Choosing The Right Showcase Travel Baseball Team

  1. Start early. Tips 2-6 should be done during his 14U season.
  2. Check out the national rankings of the best teams for each showcase travel organization. This will give you a broad list of some of the top organizations in the country. Check out the rankings at PerfectGame.
  3. See how many organizations have multiple teams in the top 150. This will give you an idea of an organization’s depth of talent.
  4. Sort this list for your particular region. My son played for an organization 400 miles away from our house so keep an open mind as to how large your region might be. They only practiced twice before the season and because all the players came from all over the region, they picked a central location for the practices.
  5. Take the list for your particular region and look at the pull-through rates for the various showcase teams you are considering. Read this article on the importance of pull-through rates.  The article will also address some of the differences between the bigger showcase travel programs and those smaller programs with two or less teams per age group.
  6. Look at the colleges where the rostered players on these showcase teams are verbally committed. Are there any trends? For example, if your son is really interested in the University of Florida, look to see which teams have the greatest number of players that have committed to the University of Florida. Chances are that the showcase organization has a great relationship with the coaching staff at the University of Florida.
  7. If your son has played well in 14U summer or has a tool or two that really stands out over those in his age group, then these better teams might come knocking to recruit him. My son was at a USA Baseball tryout during his 14U summer and someone from a showcase organization who saw him play reached out. It’s good to be wanted, but still keep your options open.
  8. Take a look at the coaches for the organizations on your regional list.  Are they former professional players?  MLB or minor league?  Or did they play college and/or just high school?  If college, what level did they play?  D1/D2/D3/NAIA/JUCO?  Was it a while ago or are they fresh out of playing?  You really want a group of former professional players that now coach.  At a minimum, the head of the organization should have MLB experience with the main coaches either having MLB or minor league experience.  These guys will likely have some of the best contacts in the industry.  Pro and college.
  9. What championships has the organization won lately?  Have they placed any teams in the top-3 for any of the large showcase championships?  More championships mean that the team must play deep in the tournament schedule which allows more visibility from college and pro scouts.
  10. Based on your research, pick three or four organizations.
  11. Subscribe to their social media: Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube mainly.
  12. Pick two top organizations that have impressive pull-through rates for D1 and pick one or two other organizations that have a good mix between D1/D2/D3 commitments.  Find out when they have tryouts for their 15U fall season and mark your calendar.  They will likely have their showcase tryout in either late-July or August. Go to all three or four.  They will likely charge $150-250 per tryout so make sure you’re prepared for this expense.
  13. Try to get some of the players from his 14U team to go along with him to the tryouts.  Having someone he knows at the showcase tryouts actually keeps things light.  As a player, you root for your buddy to do good and vice versa.  As a result, you tend to focus less on yourself which takes a bit of the pressure off the situation.
  14. Read this article on how best to prepare for a showcase.
  15. At the showcase tryout, observe how the event is run.  Is it a mess or very organized?  Are groups separated by graduating class?  Do they focus on one skill at a time and have each group run through the skill before moving each group onto the next?  This will allow the college/pro scouts to just watch one player at a time without worrying they are missing someone on another field doing a different skill.
  16. Are there a lot of college coaches in attendance? Between 30-40 is a very good number. Are they a good mix of D1/D2/D3/NAIA/JUCO?  Or are they mainly D3/NAIA/JUCO?  Or are they mostly D1/D2?  This will tell you where the coaches have the most influence.  If they can’t get coaches and scouts to come to their showcase, then there’s an issue with the organization.
  17. Are some of the showcase baseball media covering the event?  For example, are scouts from ProspectWire in attendance and are they Tweeting the event live with updates on what they are seeing from standout players?  If the organization has sponsors for the event and has other baseball media covering the showcase in terms of social media, then this is an indicator of how the organization is viewed in the baseball community and how the organization will be covered during the season.  More exposure the better.
  18. How does your son stack up at the tryouts?  This is where you have to be honest.  Was he in the top third?  Middle third?  Or lower third?  Anything less than the top third is going to be tricky.  He may end up on the second or third-best team in the age group which might not be good.
  19. A couple weeks after the tryouts, the organization will reach out and let your son know if he made the cut.  If so, find out which of their teams he will be playing for if they haven’t already told you.  It is nearly impossible to compare two different opportunities without knowing which of the teams he will be playing for.
  20. The “prime” team is usually the best opportunity.  The second-best team within a top-tier organization is still a good opportunity and may rival the prime team from a smaller organization in terms of talent and exposure.  But the second-best team for a smaller organization is not as good.  And forget the third team of most organizations.  Look elsewhere.
  21.  Find out who will be the coaches for the teams he was chosen to play for.  Do these coaches always coach 15U for the organization or do the coaches stay with the team until the end of 18U and then go back to coaching a new crop of 15U players?   Did he like the coaches at the showcase tryouts?  Which coaches did he like best?
  22. Who are the players on the roster?  Are they very good?  Do you remember them from the tryout?  Are there many players on the roster who play your son’s position?  At 15U, all players will sit occasionally.  The coaches are still feeling their way around the talent and seeing who will step up when it matters most.
  23. See if you can talk to the coaches about how they will handle playing time and where they see your son playing the most.  It is important to know if he’s going to be in the field for at least four or five innings a game in pool play and possibly more once the playoff rounds begin.  But his pool play will likely dictate his amount of play in the playoff rounds.  It’s pretty simple.   The coaches want to win so they can go deeper into the tournament and get their players seen by more colleges.  Those who can play consistently good baseball will get the lion’s share of time.
  24. Sit down with your son and review each opportunity.  Also, review the cost of each.  Make sure your son sees what you need to budget for the season as well.  If you need some help projecting the costs, read this article on showcase travel baseball costs for the summer and fall seasons.  It wouldn’t hurt if he could take some responsibility and raise some cash.  Maybe he can sell some of his old equipment on eBay?  Whatever it takes to give him some ownership over the deal besides his play.
  25. Select the organization where you feel (a) he will have the best opportunity to play regularly, (b) with an experienced coaching staff that will get colleges to come see him play, and (c) will continually promote him among their extensive college contacts.

Author: Baseball Pops

No doubt it was a dream come true for my oldest son when he received his first D1 Baseball scholarship offer. But it also reminded me of the incredible journey up to that point where we had no instruction manual, DIY book, or expert to lean on for guidance. This blog is written from a parent's perspective for the benefit of parents. If it can help just one parent see things clearer so they can make more meaningful decisions in helping their player achieve their baseball dreams, then this blog will have accomplished its mission in my eyes.

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