Navigating the recruiting process: 
Tips for high school baseball players looking to play in college

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This week’s post is a little unusual for us.  As you probably know by now, PBI exclusively features baseball instruction from MLB or MiLB pros.  In other words, all PBI contributors have played, coached, trained or scouted for a professional baseball team.

Well,  this week is the first time we’ve made an exception to that rule!!!

We want to learn from the best, so we are sticklers about who writes about what on this website.  This week, we are going to hear from someone who experienced the recruiting process from both ends.  He was the recruitee, and then the recruiter.

So, having experienced the process of being recruited, and then acting as a D1 college coach whose main responsibility was recruiting, Scott Coppola is uniquely qualified to write about this topic.

Baseball recruiting tips from former D1 recruiter and coach

In this interview: Scott Coppola, former D1 baseball coach and recruiter; currently with SportsDepot.com

1.)  Scott, where did you play / coach baseball?

I played and coached at Hofstra University, which has a D1 baseball program.

2.) When / what age can a player expect to start hearing from schools?

When I was a coach recruiting, I would occasionally send letters to promising sophomores but most commonly I was sending letters to juniors. When I was playing sports in high school, I started receiving recruitment letters for baseball and football after my sophomore year.

3.) What can a player do to increase his odds of getting recruited by more schools?

That’s a very good question. Unfortunately, at a mid level college like Hofstra, recruiting is not a coach’s only responsibility, there is not enough time to regularly see potential Hofstra athletes during their high school games.

One of the solutions has been baseball showcases that are taking place all over the country after the season.

These showcases are conducted in a very organized manner along the lines of a professional tryout. The players run the sixty, field grounders and fly balls, display their throwing ability and take batting practice.

A coach might go watch a shortstop play at a high school game and not see him field one ground ball. At the showcase, all of these skills are on display in an orderly fashion which greatly aids the recruiting process.

4.)  What can a player do to increase his odds of getting recruited by a particular school (a local school, or that school you’ve always dreamed of)?

They should contact the coach directly, and if possible send him a video along with a copy of their playing schedule. I watched numerous videos that turned me on to a player.

5.)  What are some important questions a recruitee should ask a potential school before signing?

It is very important to ask who else is being recruited at their position and who is currently playing the position. It is also essential to ask questions about the educational process because maintaining grades and thereby staying eligible to play is crucial.

6.) In your opinion, what are the most important factors to consider before committing to a baseball program? What made you change your mind from your long-time first choice of Columbia in favor of playing for Hofstra University?

In my case, the location of the school was important, as was the opportunity to play immediately, I started as a freshman at 3rd base, as the previous occupant was graduating and ultimately was drafted by the Detroit Tigers.

Also, I was determined to play sports and get a good education. Hofstra seemed an excellent fit for me scholastically, I didn’t feel I could devote the time to sports and also handle the course load at Columbia.

7.)  When you were being recruited, you felt a lot of pressure to commit to the schools during each visit. What advice do you have for players in that situation?

My advice is to never commit immediately.

It is very important to give this choice a great deal of thought and to discuss it with both parents and coaches who can lend insight.

Plus, if the school really wants you, they should respect your need for time and if they don’t, you don’t want them.

8.) You wanted to play 2 college sports. What advice do you have athletes who are considering that?

Playing both sports is a very daunting task, especially at the D-1 level. Athletes considering this and also hoping to get a good education must be prepared for a very demanding four years.

Very few athletes have succeeded at pursuing two sports and in truth, rarely will schools allow you to participate in both.

9.) If an athlete is determined to play 2 sports, what advice do you have for him or her in evaluating potential schools??

If an athlete is good enough to play both sports, he will be getting recruited by schools to do so. It is then up to the athlete to determine the right fit based on the athletic and educational requirements involved. If he is not being recruited in this fashion, then it’s up to the athlete to pursue this path.

In my case CW Post, Columbia and St John’s were willing to let me play two sports.

10.) What final advice do you have for high school baseball players who want to get recruited to play in college?

I constantly remind local players that are looking to play at the next level that whether they are at a showcase, on the field playing for their local school team or playing serious summer ball, there might be someone watching who can help them achieve their dream of moving up.

On any given day, a couple of big hits, a strong throw, a stolen base or just great hustle can attract a coach’s attention. Many times I made a decision to recruit an athlete on this basis and most times my instincts were correct.
I say that to point out 2 important things:

  1. Even if you haven’t received a recruiting letter yet, don’t be discouraged.
  2. Always bring your “A” game. Have fun, but play hard, or you may waste the very opportunity you were hoping for.

About the Expert:  As a D1 college coach, Scott Coppola’s position came with a heavy focus on finding and recruiting players for Hofstra University’s baseball program.

Before coaching, Scott was recruited out of high school to play multiple sports by several universities, and ultimately played for the same D1 program he later coached.  Having been both a recruitee, and then the recruiter, Scott is highly qualified to talk about this topic.

Currently, Scott is with Sports Depot and runs their baseball business both in-store and online. He continues his involvement in baseball giving hitting lessons and coaching his son’s baseball team.

Other free baseball instruction from the pros

About Author

Doug Bernier, founder of Pro Baseball Insider.com, debuted in the Major Leagues in 2008 with the Colorado Rockies, and has played professional baseball for 5 organizations (CO Rockies, NY Yankees, Pirates, MN Twins, & TX Rangers) over the past 16 years. He has Major League time at every infield position, and has played every position on the field professionally except for catcher. Where is he now? After batting .200 in 45 at-bats and fielding .950 during 2017 spring training with the Rangers, Doug was assigned to the Ranger’s AAA team the Round Rock Express. You should click to watch this great defensive play by Bernier

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5 Comments

  1. My son is a freshman in high school. When his high school coach recently told us the potential he had to possibly play in college, it was the first time we’ve heard it and ever seriously thought about it. We’ve never had anyone in our bloodline play a collegiate sport so to say we have no clue how to proceed is an understatement.

    I found this article extremely helpful. I’ve been searching for answers to these very questions since our conversation with his coach. Thank you so much for this valuable information. You have a new fan!

    Take care,

    J. Chapman

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