No. It may not be ideal but it’s still possible. Even if you have already graduated from high school, it’s not too late. Between the MLB draft pulling players from teams to players at the D3 level not receiving enough financial aid to attend the college, there are plenty of reasons why it’s not too late to get recruited for college baseball if you are already a senior.
Think of college baseball recruiting like a pack of wolves around a fresh kill. (Don’t take the fresh kill analogy too far, no need to get depressed.) Anyway, the powerhouse D1 schools get to feed first, taking the top prospects with verbal commitments. These coaches generally know long before national signing day who is going to be doing the signing for them. By your senior year, these coaches are already working on the entering college class after yours if not for the one two years from now.
During this time, D2 schools will have some players committed through scholarships but many coaches will be holding back some slots to see who falls from the D1 recruiting pool. A lot of players who thought they would be picked-up by D1 schools and are only offered preferred walk-on status start looking at scholarships at D2 schools.
It isn’t that D2 coaches are just sitting around waiting to see who gets rejected by D1 schools. Like D1 coaches, they have been getting commitments from players for their teams and offering scholarships.
Here’s where knowing your talent level pays off. If you realize you are D2 caliber, then you can go after the scholarships while everyone else is waiting to find out if a D1 school will recruit them. (The DIY College Rankings Baseball Spreadsheet can help you find schools that match your talent level.)
Whether or not D3 schools are waiting for the D2 leftovers depends on the academic selectivity of the school. Remember, D3 schools don’t give athletic scholarships so they don’t really have a way for students to formally commit to them beyond being accepted at the school.
Most of the academically competitive schools have a January application deadline so that means coaches will have to have recruited the player early enough to know that the student has the ability to be admitted and time to actually apply. This is why a lot of the coaches at academically competitive schools encourage students who want to play for them to apply early decision. The player will have to commit long before the general decision deadline of May 1.
However, most D3 schools are not very selective and actually have rolling admissions that continue through the summer. And since athletes in D3 don’t have to have approval from the NCAA eligibility center, they can recruit right up to the start of their season depending on their conference rules.
Any school that has rolling admissions or a summer deadline is still a possibility at any level because of the effect of the MLB draft in the recruiting process. A lot of junior college players who aren’t drafted by a MLB team in June will be looking for another college to play for their junior year. The summer after my son’s junior year, he asked a D3 coach what positions he would be looking to fill for his class and the coach told him he wouldn’t know until after the draft and found out what junior college players would be available.
So there are coaches who may be holding back a position for a junior college transfer that doesn’t show up. This also means that there will be openings on the junior college teams that can be pursued as well.
Ultimately, there isn’t a set date where it is too late to get recruited to play college baseball somewhere. So if you’re a senior, there is still hope.
What you need to do
- If you want to play D1 or D2 ball, register with the NCAA as soon as possible.
- If you haven’t taken the SAT or ACT, do so as soon as possible. Consider signing up for test prep class. At the very least, get a test preparation book and use it. Your eligibility will be determined by a combination of your test score and GPA and it’s too late to do much about your GPA.
- Find out which schools are still looking for players. That means you need to contact coaches immediately. Fill out the website recruiting form and then call them to find out which, if any, positions they are looking to fill. Ask the coaches you contact what, if any, camps will they be attending.
- Check out two-year colleges since their team rosters often fluctuate around the MLB draft and transfer opportunities which have later deadlines. Many of these colleges offer serious competition. After all, they’re losing players as transfers to D1 schools and the draft.
- Put together a player profile that you can mail or email a coach as a follow-up to your phone call.
- Get video posted on the web for the coach to look at. This doesn’t have to be from a game. You need someone to throw 5 to 7 pitches with someone else recording you from across the plate. Then have someone hit you some balls to your primary position and record you fielding and making the throw to the appropriate base. If nothing else, most people’s cell phones will record a few minutes of video that you can use. Not ideal, but better than nothing.
- Look for November and December showcase events. Also look for schools that are having a one day skills camp or something similar. These often occur in January just before the college season starts.