Your athlete needs to take accountability for their athletic journey. Getting recruited is the responsibility of the individual athlete, not necessarily a tournament/showcase organizer. Some showcases/tournaments are selling dreams more than actual substance, while others can be very useful. Just make sure you do your homework. At play.travelbaseballrankings.com we focus on high quality games and tournaments. Several athletes have that played in TBR tournaments have also committed to a number of excellent institutions around the Country(See Graphic Below). This speaks to the high-level competition in TBR Tournaments more than anything. We do not take credit for the hard work these kids put in to get themselves recruited-there are multiple ways to get noticed.
The Showcase Model
Let's say a tournament/showcase organizer is able to get multiple college coaches to come out. What is the value of this really? Some of theses showcases are flooded with talent and coaches (Oftentimes coaches are paid $1k stipend to be there) We attempted to get one such college to a TBR event and the head coach said he receives a $1k stipend and a free hotel for the weekend from another showcase company. The cost for this to get 15 coaches is astronomical and raises the question: Are coaches always there for the right reasons? The Showcase/Tournament will take credit for the player as if they were the only reason they got recruited. Rinse and repeat. Finally, an example of a TBR event last year we had 1800+ athletes. This can make it extremely difficult for college coaches to find the right players and/or players differentiating themselves.
College Coaches Have a Plan/So Should Athletes
College coaches have a plan, and their time is extremely valuable. Athletes playing in a high-level tournament (See Graphic Below) might want to contact a prospective college representative/coach and say,
"I throw 88mph and was hoping you might be interested in taking a look at me in action. I will be on the mound this Friday at 6PM. We would love to see you or an assistant coach watch me in game action against a very good team".
Then send the message out to five local colleges(near the tournament) the athlete is interested in. This targeted approach could prove to be very fruitful.
What if a coach is interested in the athlete, but cannot make it to the tournament? What do you do? Utilize the extremely competitive environment of a high-level tournament (See Graphic below) and technology to make game videos and highlights and include relevant metrics and achievements. Did you get three hits off a Louisville commit? Did you strikeout a Duke Commit? These things can ultimately boost your resume. College baseball is a job, and you are applying for it. As a player you should attempt to stand out, just like a potential job applicant would. FieldLevel and Ryzer are both great resources and we highly recommend getting acquainted with both to help you in your recruiting journey.
Your athlete isn't going to get noticed by colleges unless they are proactive. There are camps and showcases, but the price of attending several of these camps or showcases can really start to add up. Target which colleges are logical and a good fit. Ultimately performance in these camps matters. Get in front of colleges and perform and you will find a spot. We also recommend attending the college camps in the Fall.
Sometimes it Happens Organically
Additionally, some college coaches are also travel baseball parents/coaches. Of course, they may also use that time at tournaments to look at talent. At a TBR event last year, two 2025s were offered by a college coach who was simply watching his son play. These two kids received offers right when the recruiting cycle started. The moral of this story is that sometimes these things also happen organically. Fate and destiny have a funny way of working things out.
A D1 Camp Breakdown
College coaches love their own data. They don't care about player rankings. They also aren't relying on interns to get bad data. The typical camp goes like this. Warm up. 60 time (Race another kid). Fielding practice for Infielder/outfielders with metrics. Batting practice off two pitching machines about 40 feet away(25 swings). Then live game reps(2-3 teams) A position player may get 7-8 ABS. If you barrel up all of them or go 4/8 you may leave an impression. If you paid for the pitching spot you will probably only get 4 ABS. If you are under 85 mph skip the pitching for now. Also, make sure the intangibles are there: body language, hustle, being a good teammate, etc.
Hmmm lets see here. How often do you see the interns at "scouted events" goofing off and not getting good data and/or video. Example: they read only 5 pitches in the first inning, then kick back and discuss what party they went to last night. When organizations have so many "Scouts" at each field it is really hard to control quality, The majority of parents/coaches see this for what it is. Like individual player rankings, it is more of a player/parent ego boost than anything. It really has no value in recruiting. At TBR our main focus is competitive baseball and getting players games in.
Don't Let Genetic Constraints Hold You back
We did a small study about height. Of course colleges like taller frames for pitching because of how they project at the next level. However we did a small sample of 5 Big Ten Colleges(See Graphic Below). We cross-referenced rosters in the SEC/ACC/MAC and the results seem to be very similar across the board.
67 % of all pitchers were over 6'2
33% of all pitchers were 6'1 or under
24% of all position players were over 6'2
71% of all position players were 6'1 or under
48% of all position players were 5'11 or under
37% of all position players were 5'10 or under
We were surprised at these numbers. Even the number of kids 5'10 or under was much higher than anticipated for D1. From this an athlete should not be dissuaded from pursuing their dream. Coaches want athletes.
As mentioned earlier, an athlete should treat the recruitment process like a job search. Coaches want kids that perform, have good attitudes, grades, etc. Playing in high level tournaments gets them ready for the next level and could get them seen. If you enjoy this content, please like the Travel Baseball Rankings Facebook page and/or try out one of our excellent tournaments! Please feel free to share comments below about your experiences to help others. Good luck in your recruitment process.
***In the above graphic commits have been cross-referenced from TBR's Database of players/teams from TBR Tournaments with PBR's/PG's individual profiles to see where they committed. There were also several D2/D3/JUCO/NAIA recruits. For privacy purposes, we do not disclose player names...
Contrary to what people think, even though we are a rankings website based on winning, we also believe that development is paramount. The problem with letting kids struggle is most parents cannot handle it. Then it becomes a problem for the coach. Parents-IT IS NOT THE COACH... It's Baseball! Sometimes coaches would rather just give parents what they want, than a big dose of reality.
14u should swing BBCOR. Tournaments at 14u shouldn't even offer drop 5 as an option. There are a few reasons:
Have you seen some of these kids at 14u? Yes, 330 bombs are a real thing at 13u, with drop 5 bats. These bats are hot...move them up a year with a pitcher throwing harder and using the same bats. Yeah not smart. The exit velo off these bats are unreal and just not realistic for the kids. Half the kids may not be big enough to swing them and that is okay. They will grow into it.
Is This Travel Ball or Not?
Travel baseball is supposed to be the best of the best players. Obviously, it has been watered down substantially, but there are still a lot of talented players on most teams. Many coaches sell travel baseball as playing the best competition, yet delay the BBCOR transition as long as possible. Rip off the Band-Aid.
We Are Coddling Our Kids...
I realize chicks dig the long ball, however, is the point of youth baseball to develop players or to win? Developing players involves getting them ready for the next level. If they are swinging a drop 5 as an 8th/9th grader, it is doing them a disservice. The ONLY certainty in this game is that they are going to struggle, and that is okay. Failure allows for growth.
False Sense of Security
It makes players think they are better than they are. Swinging a BBCOR is a big learning curve. It is essentially a glorified wood bat. Once they get into high school or 15u, it will be that much more difficult for them to adjust if they have been swinging a drop -5. Who cares if they aren't strong enough, get them ready. A little humbling goes a long way in this game.
Pitching and Defense
Using a BBCOR puts more of a focus on pitching and defense, which is essential to youth development. Balls that are routine pop flies with a BBCOR are sailing over the fence with drop 5s. It also forces the hitter to become an actual hitter, not someone who just swings for the fences.
It may take a few years to grow and get used to swinging the BBCOR, but the sooner the better. We also realize that many tournament companies allow drop 5s at 14u and most D1/Major type tournaments do not. We hope to see more tournaments organizations move to BBCOR for 14u. All 14u TBR tournaments are BBCOR.
I know this is going to ruffle feathers. Prompt the graphics of geographical MLB draftees by state. These are observations of a paradigm shift in Travel Baseball. Generally, paradigm shifts take a while to trickle through an entire sport or industry, but some of the results from highly competitive tournaments are evident. Of course, perceptions can linger for a while and there can be a lot of people that are very ethnocentric in their beliefs that one region is superior to another.
TBR is a national website, but we would like to highlight one region-The Midwest. Baseball in the Midwest has improved exponentially in the last 4 years. There is a lot of parity in the Midwest and many of these teams are consistently going south and performing at a high level. These same teams are not by any means always dominating in the Midwest either. At any given time, there’s 5-10 teams in an age group that can compete at a high level against other Midwest teams. Some of these teams are heading south, staying in hotels, dealing with a very hot climate, and all the other distractions of going on the road- yet according to the results below, they are competing at an inordinate level compared other regions in highly competitive tournaments. It should also be noted that several of these teams have competed in TBR Tournaments, like the TBR Elite World Series specifically, and didn’t fare too well.
We took a small sample of 7 of the most perceived competitive tournaments last year. There are several more very competitive tournaments, for the sake of this article we left out the TBR Elite World Series as we have Top teams from the Midwest/Mid-Atlantic regions, but the southern teams generally stay south.
A few(of many) examples from 2023:
2 Midwest Teams in final 8 of 14u PG National Elite Championship 8 Midwest teams of 72 total teams
1 Midwest teams in final 4 of 16u PG National Elite Championship 25 Midwest Teams out of 120 Total Teams
3 Midwest teams in final 8 14u PBR National Championship at Lakepoint 12 Midwest Teams out of 104 total teams.
2 Midwest teams in final 8 of 15u PBR National Championship at Lakepoint 34 Midwest Teams out of 148 total teams.
2 Midwest Teams in final 8 at 16u PBR National Championship at Lakepoint 40 Midwest Teams out of 154 total teams.
2 Midwest Teams in final 4 at 17u PBR National Championship at Lakepoint 36 Midwest teams Out of 152 total Teams
1 Midwest team made championship game of the 14u Houston Super Regional NIT PG tournaments in 1 Midwest team out of 74
In this sample of highly competitive tournaments there are 824 total teams. 156 total Midwest Teams (19%). 13 Midwest teams made the final 8, Semis, or championship game. 31% of the teams that made the final 8, semis, or championship were Midwest Teams in these tournaments. That is a very large number and astonishing considering the amount(19%) of Midwest teams playing in them.
Many factors could relate to this drastic increase in competitiveness. The boom of indoor facilities/training, beautiful turf complexes popping up, highly competitive tournaments, and many more variables that could be closing the gap. It is an eye-opening paradigm shift to monitor over the next few years. It can also be reiterated that as far as competition goes, TBR Tournaments match and/or exceed the quality of baseball in many of the "Perceived" top tournaments. Pound-for-pound the TBR Elite World Series is one of the top 9u-16u events in the Country every year.
Baseball tournaments are entertainment and theatre. Themes of each tournament play out before, during, and after the tournament. These tournaments oftentimes play out like a script of a movie.
Every tournament needs a villain. Sometimes these villains are made up in our head prior to playing. Other times it occurs naturally in a game when you play a team that whines, complains, yell things at the pitcher during his delivery, or exhibits other turd-like behavior. It could be in the form of a team that says they are going to drop a 20-spot on you, then your team hands them a shocking drubbing like they have never experienced before (true story). A villain could also come in the form of poor coaching, for example, a coach who brings 15 players and only bats 9 or brings in substitute players, while his players ride the pine. Remember, unfortunately the villain will win at times to make things more interesting. Either way the villain, like the Penguin in Batman, is vital to the script.
Every tournament needs a storyline. There should be a narrative in each tournament that motivates you to win. A few examples: You’re running on fumes with several injuries, yet dig deep to still win a tournament. Perhaps you feel you were purposely given a hard pool draw, but you overcame the sinister tournament director, to win it all. Also, we all love the underdog stories. An Unranked team beats a highly ranked team. A team of country boys beats city boys. Whatever it may be, the underdog story goes a long way in making the story of each tournament.
Remember, if we didn’t have these oftentimes made-up illusions that someone is out to get us, think of how boring the game would be. Some of these things might be seen as bad for the game by most baseball purists; however, it certainly makes for more interesting theater in the arena.
This last weekend, six 15u teams pilgrimaged to Cooperstown, New York to play at the Historic Doubleday field. The ghosts of Cooperstown still echo through this hallowed ground where one of the early versions of baseball was played(1839). The Old Phinney Farmhouse, built in 1805, still stands where many of these early versions of "town ball" were played. Many of the MLB greats from 1939-2008 also played at Doubleday field.
What a great baseball town. Cooperstown is a small town focused solely on baseball. The mom and pop restaurants had great food, with excellent service(Try Cooley's if you are in town). Everything is within walking distance and the small town atmosphere and historical significance of the town cannot be beat. You might even spot a sporting celebrity or two in town(Peyton Manning was there on Thursday). The Hall of Fame was amazing and affordable for kids and families.
The stadium was packed every day with families from the teams and passerby's that just wanted to take in a game. Several high level 2025's-2027's were playing. On Saturday, two 2025's from TBR Select were offered to play at a Division 3 College in Michigan and another got some serious looks from a local four-year institution. Congrats to those kids on their first offer. There was some high-level baseball going on all weekend. In the End, TBR Select's bats came alive to beat Rawlings Tigers 7-4 to win the tournament.
If you have a 14u-17u team interested in playing in Cooperstown in 2024 at Doubleday field next year inquire here. We expect it to fill quickly. We also have affordable housing at a local college available.
This year 152 excellent teams from 12 states and Canada competed in Dayton for the TBR Elite World Series. The level of competition was incredible for the sold out event. Think of how hard it is to win one of these events, playing 7-8 games in 5 days against top level competition. It takes focus, character, and heart to win the TBR Elite World Series and all these teams exhibited that. Playing well, competing, and/or winning a tournament like this goes a long way in deciding final rankings, which will be released next week!
The 5 seed won the 10u bracket, the 10 seed won the 11u bracket, the the 4 seed won the 12u bracket, the 16 seed won the 13u bracket, the 12 seed won the 14u bracket, and the 15u seed won the 15u bracket. Congrats to all the champions!
10u Champions: OCBC-Allachi
10u Runners-Up: Hawks Gold Piesko
11u Champions: Vipers Reynolds
11u Runners-Up: Canes Midwest
12u Champions: Hawks Gold-Elsey
12u Runners-Up: Midland National
13u Champions: Ohio Hit Dogs Kerins
13u Runners-Up: North Aurora Storm
14u Champions: Stateline Stars
14u Runners-Up: Ohio Elite North Andrews
15u Champions: USA Prime Ohio Knights
15u Runners-Up: Oshkosh Aces
The pressures schools sports are putting on our athletes are increasing, but since I'm a travel baseball dad, first lets discuss the elephant in the room about travel/club sports. Every thing I mention below also applies to club/travel sports. I have also known very demanding club/travel sports coaches that are pushing athletes to specialize. My advice to you is to find a travel team that works with and promotes multiple sports. There are plenty of these coaches out there.
Something needs to be said. I am at risk at sounding like a get-off-my-lawn type, but I am not the only one that feels this way. The demands by school sports teams and coaches are unreasonable to a point that it is pushing kids away from the sports they love. These "non-mandatory" camps, practices, workouts, etc. are propped up with words like "commitment" and "work ethic", as if the kids wanting to play their seasonal sport do not have the same level of work ethic.
A couple days after school was released, many schools around the country started camps, workouts, and practices for football, basketball, soccer, cheer, and more. Some will go all Summer long and some have picked their Varsity team based off these workouts. There are a few problems I have with this:
What do we do as parents? I leave it up to my kids and don't tell them no, but empower them to make the decision if they want to go or not. Parents shouldn't fall into the "fear of missing out" group and being pressured by others. Let your kids decide what they want to do and also let them know there is no pressure by you. My theory for any Summer workout is you can go to or miss whatever you want, because well...
It is Summer Time!
EVERYONE HAS AN EGO…
We all have egos-some are bigger and some are smaller. Ego is oneself as compared to others. Ego is also the tool within us that is the middleman between us and reality. Think of yourself carrying two baskets. One is a basket full of all the things you do right (praise, accolades, awards, etc.) and one is full of all the things you and society deem as wrong (negative re-enforcement, punishment, etc.) Your ego is recognizing the basket of the things you do right and ignoring the things you do wrong.
Ego is very similar to grief, depression, happiness, etc. With ego there are the highest highs and lowest lows. It can wash over you like a wave. If our greatest sports stars didn’t have egos, they probably wouldn’t have achieved what they did. Michael Jordan wouldn’t have been a star if his ego wasn’t bruised by his high school coach who cut him and/or his internal motivation to win. Competition directly relates to ego. You are trying to prove to your opponent you are superior to them-which very much relates to one’s ego. It is in our competitive nature to have egos. The best way to control ego, is to be cognizant of it.
Two personality types when dealing with ego are confident humility and confident arrogance. Figuring out how to be more of a confident and humble person can help control ego in sports. It makes you more coachable and more well rounded mentally. Let’s discuss the two types more in depth.
Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, Wayne Gretzky, and Ted Williams NEVER claimed they were the best of all time; however, others made that case for them. The best way to control your ego is to have confident humility. Learn to be confident, without letting the praise go to your head. Sports is the ultimate humbler anyways, so already being confident and humble is key. The confidently humble person also realizes that sports are about what you do right now in the moment and nothing else matters. They also accept the failures that come with competition and let it drive and motivate them.
This is when you let praise go to your head OR you feel you are not given enough praise as compared to others. Confident arrogance is simply pretending on the outside one is confident, but they are actually insecure. It is a blind spot in reality vs. perception. A person who talks down on other competitors and is not willing to praise other’s accomplishments is an example of confident arrogance. Also, these competitors look at sports as a battle, not a war. They have the tendency to get overconfident before the job is finished (think of teams up 3-0 or 3-1 in a series that squandered it or someone who is hot for a brief period in a game)
One more thing…
We cannot do an article about ego without talking about parent ego, which is very much driving youth sports today. Think of parent ego as everything mentioned above, but with the parent taking on the persona of the athlete. Basically, the parent is as invested or more invested in the outcomes of the competition than the player. It is essentially living vicariously through the athlete. The parent ego needs to be fed through praise of their child. It often comes from an unselfish place of wanting what is best for their kids but can also be extremely unhealthy at times. Again, parents exhibiting confident humility can oftentimes control this parent ego better.
Ego is tricky. As mentioned earlier, those sports stars may have NEVER claimed they are the best of all time, but also may have been confidently arrogant at some point throughout their careers. This means that we may not always exhibit just one throughout life, but if we can focus more on being a confident and humble person, it can very much go a long way to help keep egos in check.
Next Update is June 19-23!
Biggest Movers For Early Spring Update
Biggest Movers 9u
Indiana Primetime Branock(IN)
FB Braves Red(NJ)
Novi Heat Black(MI)
Park Ridge Junior Hawks Black(IL)
Biggest Movers 10u
Cangelosi Sparks Johnson(IL)
Ninth Inning Royals Torres(GA)
Biggest Movers 11u
Vipers Baseball Club Reynolds(KY)
Gulf Coast Crusaders(AL)
Port Washington Legends(NY)
Mt Pleasant Drillers-Rolston(MI)
Tangelos Sparks Mueller(IL)
Biggest Movers 12u
Georgia Bombers Marucci(GA)
Mile High Legends(CO)
Bo Jackson Elite Packanik(OH)
B45 Academy Michigan(MI)
Jersey Shore Wildcats(NJ)
Top Level A’s(NY)
Dayton Sting Black(OH)
Bucks County Generals(PA)
Biggest Movers 13u
US Elite Mid Atlantic/National(MD)
Beaver Valley White(PA)
Michigan Bulls (MI)
Ohio Bison Kopachy(OH)
GRB-Stiks Academy Black(WI)
Cincinnati Riverbats Christin(OH)
Biggest Movers 14u
5 Star Tallahassee(FL)
State Line Stars(MI)
Jackson Tribe Black(MO)
I have a little cognitive dissonance in writing this blog. Cognitive dissonance is the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes related to decisions or attitude change. Let me explain. In the Fall, I decided to delve into player rankings. Many of TBR's followers were very excited about it. As I began the process of ranking players individually, I soon realized it doesn't really matter at all. In the grand scheme of things it is little more than a mechanism to inflate parents' and players' egos.
The cognitive dissonance comes in because at TBR I rank teams, some as low 8 years old. If I felt this way about player rankings, then why have a rankings website at all? I pondered more in depth about it and came to the conclusion they are two completely different things. The team rankings started because some companies were using highly flawed complex algorithms and virtually all of them, were pay-to-play rankings(similar to player rankings). From the onset, TBR would not be one of these companies.
TBR has never contended anyone is getting a college scholarship from their team being ranked or playing in TBR tournaments. From the website's inception, it was a way for coaches to track other teams, fuel competitive spirit, give teams something to play for, entertainment, and most importantly FUN! TBR, like every travel baseball company, is not getting your athlete a scholarship, their own desire and motivation is. We are extremely happy that many athletes who have played in TBR tournaments have been offered to colleges like Tennessee, Louisville, Notre Dame, Virginia, and more. This speaks to the highly competitive nature of TBR tournaments more than anything.
The Truth About Player Rankings
Player rankings are virtually impossible to compile accurately. You think there is subjectivity in team rankings? Try ranking players individually. There are 9 positions on the field. Which position is most important? Is the five tool player more important than the pitcher throwing 95? How about the Pujols-like kid with 2 tools, but can hit the ball a country mile. When assessing a kid as a 9th grader, what if that kid picks up other tools along the way and/or is a position player that develops an A+ fastball? Finally, burnout, injury, and other factors make individual rankings extremely difficult.
For one individual player ranking company, 5 of the top 10 were former baseball players' sons. Did these players just have excellent pedigree or just a lot of cheddar(cash money)? Without sounding like a hater, the realistic argument is more of the latter. The game of player rankings is the more you pay(go to events), the higher you climb. The more butt kissing you do to the State rep, the more you climb. The bigger the name in the case of former pros sons, the better for both the company and the potential star.
Lets assume player rankings are 100 percent accurate and aren't a money grab. Is there really a solid way to rank players that are taking big daddy hacks that are no where near close to HOW they should be swinging in a game. Additionally, some organizations use wood off tee, some use BBCOR with front toss, and nothing is really uniform. In the end, it is just simply an ego inflator. So what should you do?
What Should Your Player Do To Get Seen?
The Vast majority of College coaches aren't sitting back and saying, "I want to offer the kids that pay the most money, attends the most showcases, and kisses the most behinds". They want talent, good grades, and good kids. They don't care if the talent comes from comes from the Dominican Republic, the South Side of Chicago, or a farm in Grass Lake, MI(Shout out to GL). The best way to get recruited-get in front of college coaches on their turf.
I'm a huge fan of Ryzer and they aren't paying me to say this. Ryzer is a platform that displays 100s of college camps across the country. If a college you are targeting is not on Ryzer, simply go to the College's website and find out when/where their camps are. The majority of coaches aren't looking at your 7th-10th grader, trust me. Contrary to the slew of early verbal commitments, the vast majority of kids are offered after their Sophomore year through their Senior year (after growth and maturity). The camps are still an excellent experience even for the younger kids and you are also helping your favorite teams out financially.
I took my son to the University of Michigan camp hosted by Erik Bakich, fully knowing he wasn't looking at my 7th grader. He specifically put the 150 kids or so into two groups, 7-10th graders and 11-12th graders. The amount of technology they had on the older kids was truly amazing. The point is, that when the time comes to go to camps, coaches compile their own metrics. There is no middle man needed and they are generally highly focused on the older kids. Now these metrics could get your foot in the door and get you noticed, but they are not the end all be all.
The other thing to consider is to send videos, live games, and your resume to the assistant coaches. The head coaches have a lot going on managing a team and will often delegate to them. If you choose to pick a showcase/camp for recruiting purposes, find one in the late Summer/ Fall. Coaches have more downtime out of season and might actually attend these events. Also, stick away from the dead periods and shoot for "contact periods" referenced below.
Take The Route Less Traveled
Don't be too good for JUCO or any other stepping stone. Remember, in baseball there are multiple paths to success. Some kids are found later than others and/or just aren't ready for D1 yet. It could be because of grades, physical maturity, not spending large amounts of money at showcases, etc. This year, like many other colleges, Louisville has picked up a couple very talented JUCO transfers. One of these pitchers, Greg Farone, is a 2020 HS grad that went the JUCO path through Herkimer College. Farone was ranked a mere No. 116 by Prep Baseball Report in New York for the 2020 class. Farone went to nearby Herkimer College and helped lead them to the 2022 NJCAA DIII championship. Keep an eye on him this year! The point of the Farone story is worry about what you can control, work hard, and block everything else out.
This article may sound like an indictment on youth baseball and it is to some extent. The moral of the story is if your player puts in the hard work, there are multiple avenues to success. Don't get caught up in player rankings, because most college coaches don't either. TBR has decided to not go forward with any player rankings and will take more of a leaderboard approach from our tournaments. We will also be implementing exciting new technologies at our tournaments to help athletes reach college coaches, stay tuned!
Dead Periods/Contact Periods