2020 has been a challenging year in the amateur baseball world. Thousands of college seniors experienced an abrupt and heartbreaking end to their college careers. High school players, especially baseball recruits in the 2021 graduating class, have also been heavily impacted by the pandemic.
Even in a normal world, the college baseball recruiting process is very challenging and time consuming. With close to 1,000 programs in the NCAA alone, players are challenged to find a school that is a perfect fit for them athletically and academically. A pandemic and multi-month shutdowns have made this process even more difficult.
Playing baseball at the collegiate level is an impressive accomplishment. Committing to a college for baseball, while having navigated through a pandemic is even more impressive.
A Variety of Obstacles Faced
High school baseball seasons were shut down almost entirely in mid-March. While this reduced valuable game experience and player development efforts across the board, each high school graduating class has been impacted a little differently.
Seniors weren’t able to play out their final year in high school, which is extremely disappointing. Many finished their high school careers with a feeling of unfinished business. Fortunately, from a recruiting standpoint, most seniors already made their college commitments before the shutdown.
Unlike athletes that participate in fall sports, a baseball player’s senior season will likely have little impact on his recruiting journey. Due to the spring baseball season and college application timing, most recruiting efforts take place prior to a player’s senior season.
This certainly doesn’t apply for all players though. For the uncommitted 2020 seniors, their exposure building opportunities became very limited in mid-March. Other than video footage, recorded statistics, and workout performance data, these players had to rely on word of mouth recommendations from high school and travel coaches.
For 2021 baseball recruits, their junior high school seasons essentially never happened, which is the most important season for recruitment. In addition to the cancellation of high school seasons, in many states, sports didn’t return until the late spring.
Not only were their player development efforts negatively impacted, but these players were also extremely limited with available exposure events, like showcases, tournaments, and college camps. With limited playing opportunities during the most crucial recruiting timeframe, juniors felt the biggest impact from the pandemic.
As restrictions were lifted in certain states, college coaches’ recruiting efforts continued to be restricted by the NCAA. With quiet period and dead period extensions through the end of August, college coaches could still not attend events in person to recruit players.
There is also a college roster volatility component to the challenges that prospective college baseball players have faced. Under the NCAA’s ruling, 2020 college seniors were awarded another year of eligibility. While it is hard to predict how many players will take advantage of it, it’ll have an impact on the number of open roster spots as well as a player’s path towards meaningful playing time.
How To Proceed as 2021 Baseball Recruits
Over the past several months, we’ve come to realize and accept the things that are out of our control. The cancellation of high school seasons, tournaments, and showcases fall into this bucket. While it’s easy to spend time thinking about how unfortunate these things are, your time is better spent formulating a plan to adjust to the new circumstances.
Should there be another shutdown, players should be prepared. By attending PBR or Perfect Game showcases, players will be provided with an online profile that contains performance data, a trusted scouting report, and even video footage. If there should be additional season cancellations or NCAA recruiting restrictions, players with an online profile will be able to continue their recruiting efforts.
Having data on your side will be important as we navigate through unfamiliar territory. With the 2020 college graduating class getting another year of eligibility, we expect to see an increased level of roster volatility. We’ve also seen universities cancel baseball programs altogether following the pandemic, which takes away valuable roster openings.
Data can help you work through the even more complicated recruiting space and assist you in finding programs that match your preferences. Our TeamFacts tool provides players with a variety of important metrics for every NCAA baseball program, including players graduating by class and position, current position depth, and even freshman retention rate.