This is the type of question that if you are asking, you probably already know the answer as it applies to you. You’re just looking for some validation. For the rest of you who are wondering what the heck I’m talking about, the answer is “it depends.”
Before going any further I want to be clear this is just my answer in theoretical terms.
I don’t actually know anybody who is playing college baseball who has never played for a high school team. I don’t know of any college coach who has actually said, “of course, I would recruit someone who hasn’t played on a high school team. ”
So all that follows is based on the premise that college baseball coaches want the best player no matter where they played or didn’t play.
Let’s add some more context. I homeschooled my son. I have a well established history of rejecting the status quo.
Also, I think this question has a parallel that runs in college admissions for academically competitive colleges: “Do I have to take Advanced Placement (AP) course to get accepted at an academically elite college?”
Keeping these two things in mind, let’s take a look a closer look at the question and the various situations in which a player might ask the question.
Situation: There is no high school baseball team
If there isn’t any baseball team, you obviously can’t play on it. This is similar to the question students have on will it be held against them if their high schools don’t offer any or just a few AP classes.
The college admission office response is something along the lines that they want to see that you have made the most of the situation you were given. You are expected to “bloom” where your grow. But no amount of blooming is going to make up for a perceived lack of academic or baseball skills.
Fortunately for baseball players, there is generally at least a non-high school summer season available if not a fall one as well. Playing in these seasons on a prominent, well-established travel, select, or legion ball team allows for the necessary skills development as well recognition.
Nothing is stopping a player from showing up at showcase camps to demonstrate his skills before college coaches. The reality is that few baseball players are recruited based solely on their performance on their high school team.
Assuming you have the skills and the opportunity to demonstrate them, the lack of high school baseball team experience should not be a major factor.
I’m hedging here since you never know and as I stated earlier, I don’t actually know. And if nothing else, a coach that has a choice between two identical players where one played on his high school baseball team and one didn’t might be inclined to go with the one who played on the team.