Having been to a large number of summer/fall showcases and tournaments, I can tell you the wasted feeling of having your son play in front of nobody. We’ve been to tournaments where you feel there isn’t a scout within a hundred miles. Now partly that’s on the showcase organization. They have the opportunity to pick the tournaments well in advance and they know which ones are going to attract the most colleges.
But you want to be able to walk around and simply bump into a half-dozen college coaches on your way to the restroom! Call it the “restroom test” or whatever you want to call it. It’s a feeling that there are a ton of scouts watching and thank goodness my son has the opportunity to play in front of these guys, whatever the result.
So without further delay, here are my top five tournaments for college recruiting followed by my top five showcases for college recruiting. Note, these were selected with college recruiting as the top priority versus pro-scouts, and without any hard college attendance numbers (I’m always skeptical of these numbers anyway). It’s the “restroom test” based on our actual experiences from what we’ve seen with our own two eyes or heard from other reliable parents.
Top 5 Tournaments For College Recruiting
- PerfectGame – 16U WWBA National Championship (Cartersville, GA – early July)
- PerfectGame – 16U BCS National Championship (Ft. Myers, FL – mid July)
- ProspectWire – 16U Music City Classic (Nashville, TN – late July)
- USA Baseball – 17U National Team Championships (Goodyear, AZ – mid June)
- PerfectGame – WWBA Underclass World Championship (Ft. Myers, FL – Oct)
Honorable Mention: ProspectWire – World Series (Pt. St. Lucie – late July), Prospect Select – Black Bear Classic (Greenville, SC – late June), Prospect Select – Boston Open (Boston – mid July)
Note: The PerfectGame WWBA World Championship held in October in Jupiter, Florida, is a phenomenal tournament, but from what I saw, it was mainly for pro scouts. Many of the players were already committed to colleges years prior.
Top 5 Showcases for College Recruiting
- PerfectGame – Junior National Showcase (Ft. Myers, FL – early June)
- PerfectGame – Fall Top Prospect National Showcase (Cartersville, GA – late Oct)
- PerfectGame – National Academic Showcase (Cartersville, GA – mid July)
- ProspectSelect – Black Bear Select (Clemson Univ, SC – late June)
- ProspectSelect – TOPPS Palm Beach (Palm Beach, FL – early June)
Honorable Mention: Many large showcase travel team organizations have their own showcases in November or early January. These showcases can attract large numbers of college coaches. I’ve been at one where there were close to 80 colleges. These are fantastic showcases to attend in lieu or in addition to the above.
Note: The PerfectGame National Showcase is “the” primetime national showcase. However, mostly all the players who attend have already committed to college and this is mainly a pro-scout showcase.
Behind the Curtain
But the caveat is that your showcase travel team better play at the right venues when they get to the heavily attended tournaments. What do I mean by that? Well, these tournaments are huge. 200+ teams in just one age group. Yes, that’s right. Some have over 300 teams. Imagine what the scheduling is like. A nightmare. They take every minor league complex and high school field within a 50-mile radius.
Thankfully there’s usually a hub centered around a minor league complex with eight+ fields or if you’re PerfectGame, you build a state-of-the-art complex in north Atlanta with a dozen+ fields. The scouts, as you might imagine for efficiency reasons, congregate around these “hubs”. It’s easier for them to see more players rather than driving 30-minutes away to some remote high school where they might just see one, maybe two, players. Sure, the scouts will go to the remote high school but if you’re constantly playing at these remote high school fields, then your coaches better be texting or hitting the phones non-stop to get the colleges to show up. It’s tough. Yes, your son can send emails or texts to coaches with his tournament schedule if he knows they’re at the tournament. But normally that’s hit or miss.
If your son plays for a larger showcase travel organization who brings 5+ teams in the same age group, then the likelihood of the best “prime” team getting to play at more “hubs” is greater than the organization who brings just two teams. Just saying. I have no hard evidence that this indeed happens regularly, but I’ve seen the scheduling and that’s just how it feels.
Also, with regards to showcases, be very cautious. Some are very expensive and at the end of the day, they won’t give your son the exposure. Some require tryouts and further progression in order to get to their national showcase. You can spin your wheels going from tryout to tryout with little to no exposure and then be left out of their “All-American” game or national showcase in the end.