The year of COVID-19 has forced us to look at daily life – our routine – in a new way. Distance learning, parents converted to part-time teachers, athletic seasons cancelled — these are a few of the headlines we will all be talking about in late December when it is time to look back on the most infamous year in recent world history.
The 2020 baseball season did not get started in full until July after a small start in early spring. For those of us who have salvaged a truncated summer season, we are grateful. Now the question is:
What lies ahead for the next third of the year?
A vaccine will make all the world feel like we have turned the corner. As we (not so patiently) wait for this we try to make the best of what we have. Baseball players – college recruits in particular – are in a unique situation. There is no precedent for what high school pitchers and players have been dealing with since March, yet their college baseball dreams remain as alive as ever.
An excerpt from our virtual showcase: August, 2020.
Since we live in a new world, it only stands to reason that the path to college baseball is, well, new. This is a fact. College coaches have relied on videos to do their “recruiting” this summer and it should continue as such through the fall and winter.
Here are some thoughts on navigating the recruiting process in 2020 and beyond:
1. Keep throwing through the winter.
A “down’ period has been the norm for young pitchers, especially after a robust baseball summer and fall. This year we find pitchers with a low number of game innings under their belts. Many pitchers came up with sore arms and debilitating injuries because they rushed back too quickly and never got into a healthy situation or if they did, it was until only recently (August 2020) that they felt their best.
Fall ball will be a big help to get game experience and innings pitched up to more “normal” levels. Summer ball is just ending for many so the transition to fall will be easier than in past years where there may have been a few weeks of quiet time and “reloading”. After fall ball is over (around Nov. 1) it may benefit many recruits to stay in shape. Remember that colleges have been restricted in their recruiting and will be “catching up” to see many players in person or on video. There is a chance that the showcase circuit could be running high this November and December. Showcases or individual “tryouts” could be in a virtual scenario where coaches can only view through a live stream or it may be with players making a trip to their colleges of choice.
Obviously, we all have had our down time in spring and early summer this year. Using the winter of 20-21 to keep in shape, come out next spring in peak condition, and impress coaches with your stuff may be the best formula for college recruits. This is not bullpen every week scenario but rather playing catch two or three times as your strength training increases. As always, I invite you to contact me with questions on your individual situation.
2. Utilize Video of your sessions more than ever.
Watching the MLB five-round draft this summer, I listened to the many discussions of how many prospects used YouTube and other video streaming services to “market themselves”. With no games nor scouts around, this was the next best option and proved to be financially successful for several draftees. In this regard, I suggest that prospective college pitchers video record their sessions (I have regularly been taking videos of my lesson guys) and demonstrate progress or consistency where appropriate. Remember, college coaches are literally sitting in their campus offices or at home watching videos each day during this pandemic. This will be the norm for 2020 recruiting as many of you may have found. Stay ahead of the game!
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3. Throwing on a well-planned program over the winter will help avoid arm injuries
Do you ever wonder why many pitchers from the Caribbean countries seem to have a “rubber arm” and do not come up with frequent arm problems? Most of this comes from playing catch regularly, if not daily. Playing catch keeps the specific throwing arm muscles toned and supple which means a healthier arm. Throwing on a regular winter routine does not mean throwing off a mound every five days, but staying with a well-planned schedule that does not tax the arm but enhances the ability to throw with ease.
Like I have said to many pitchers when they ask about resting their arm, “Even a marathon
runner jogs a few miles on an off day.” Regular, off-season throwing can be done effectively to bring out the best in you.
It is not for everyone, but in this “different” year it may be the silver lining that a pitcher is looking to increase their marketability for college recruiters!
If you’re interested in turning your high school pitching into college-prospect pitching — I'm here to help make that happen. Check out my college recruiting page to get guidance on the process, head to my lessons page, or drop me a message in the chat bubble on the bottom right. Looking forward to working with you (or your athlete).