When high school baseball players decide they want to play in college, the next step is often figuring out how to get in front of college coaches. Determining where to allocate time and money during the recruiting process can be tricky. Between showcases, prospect camps, and summer ball teams, it can be hard to know what is worth it. Showcases and prospects camps are great ways to get exposure to college coaches and can sometimes be a necessary step for players.
Showcases are typically events run by organizations that college coaches will be invited to attend. Prospect camps, however, are usually events hosted by a specific college and commonly run at their facilities. A lot of future college baseball recruits are discovered at both prospect camps and showcases.
There are a few key differences that should be considered when deciding to attend a showcase or a prospect camp. In this article, we will cover the differences between the two and how to determine which will be the most beneficial.
What is a Showcase?
A showcase is an event that is run by an organization that typically takes place over 1-3 days where participating players have an opportunity to show their skills in front of college and professional scouts. Organizations that run showcases are usually not associated with a specific college but through connections, invitations, and partnerships, will have multiple colleges represented at a given showcase.
Some of the largest and most prestigious showcase organizations include Perfect Game, Prep Baseball Report, and Snowball Camps. These are well-respected organizations that put on reputable showcases at a national level. There are also regional showcases all across the country that are also worth considering. Many of these events have coaches that represent schools from the surrounding states, which can be more in line with the interests of players in that specific area. For example, if a high school player in Michigan ideally would like to play at a school close to home, it doesn’t make much sense for them to attend a large national showcase in California. On the other hand, if a high school player wants to play at a school in a different part of the country, traveling to a national showcase or one closer to their desired region could be worth it.
Many showcases post lists of committed schools for their event. This means a coach or scout for that school has committed to attending that particular showcase. This can be extremely valuable information for a prospect that is targeting specific schools. Reaching out to some of the committed schools before a showcase can be a good way for a player to stand out and make their name known. We wrote an article about the do’s and don’t when talking to college coaches that provides some helpful tips on this subject.
Formats can vary from showcase to showcase, but the main difference is some showcases have live games while others do not. Below is an example of a typical showcase format where there are not any live games. It covers the 60 yard dash, defensive evaluation based on position with arm strength, and a hitting evaluation with exit velocities taken. If a showcase includes games, it is common for pitchers to throw live in games instead of a bullpen. So in this case, Session 2 would mostly be replaced by live games with the exception of the catcher hitting evaluations and pop time.
Example Showcase Itinerary
|SESSION 1: INFIELDERS & OUTFIELDERS ONLY|
|8:00am – 8:45am||Infielders & Outfielders Check In & Warm-up|
|8:45am – 9:00am||60 Yard Dash|
|9:00am – 9:30am||Outfield Fungos / Field & Throw / Arm Velocities|
|9:30am – 12:00pm||Infield Fungos / Field & Throw / Arm Velocities|
|12:00pm – 12:45pm||Hitting Evaluations / Exit Velocities|
|SESSION 2: PITCHERS & CATCHERS ONLY|
|1:00pm – 1:30pm||Pitchers & Catchers Check In & Warmup|
|1:30pm – 1:45pm||60 Yard Dash|
|1:45pm – 2:30pm||Catchers Evaluated Throwing To 2B/ Pop Time|
|2:30pm – 3:30pm||Pitchers Throw Off Mounds To Catchers|
|3:30pm – 4:00pm||Catchers Hitting Evaluations / Exit Velocities|
What is a Prospect Camp?
Many college baseball programs host an annual prospect camp. These events are open to high school-age players and are usually run at the host school’s campus facilities. They offer an opportunity for players to showcase their skills in front of college coaches while also receiving an inside look into the school’s program, facility, and coaching staff.
Prospect camps are usually run in a similar format to showcases, and the terms can often be used interchangeably, but for the purposes of this article we are referring to the prospect camps specifically as the camps that are run by schools, while showcases are run by 3rd party organizations. We wrote a detailed article about what to expect at a prospect camp that provides some helpful tips for preparing.
It is not uncommon for there to be scouts from other schools at prospect camps, but it’s not something that should be expected. A school hosting a prospect camps may invite some other local colleges from a different level to attend. For example, a large DI school might invite the local JUCOs to attend their prospect camp. With that said, this shouldn’t be expected and a player shouldn’t attend a specific school’s prospect camp if they don’t have any interest in that school.
Deciding Between a Showcase or Prospect Camp
Showcases and prospect camps can be expensive. It can be difficult to spend hundreds of dollars on one camp, let alone several. Choosing camps wisely can help minimize the financial damage while also making it worthwhile. The first step in this is players need to have a realistic gauge of their abilities and potential. We understand most players don’t have an idea if they are a DI, DII, or DIII player, but it is probably not reasonable for a high school senior throwing 82 mph to attend a Vanderbilt prospect camp, one of the best college baseball programs in the country, in hopes to get recruited. That player may be better off attending a showcase with a lot of JUCOs in attendance where they could find a school that matches their skill level and allows them to progress in their career. Who knows, maybe then that player ends up at Vanderbilt after two years at JUCO.
For players that have a few specific schools in mind that they believe would be a good fit, prospect camps are a great way to target those schools and ensure the coaches at that school have an opportunity to evaluate them. On the other hand, for players that don’t have a specific school in mind, or are unsure which level schools they could draw attention from, a showcase is likely the better option.
Unfortunately nothing is ever guaranteed to come from a showcase or prospect camp, but by being realistic and strategic, a player can maximize their chances for catching the eyes of college coaches and hopefully eventually landing a spot at their dream school.