(Freshman) AZ Freshman Fall Classic: September 28-October 1
(Sophomores) AZ Sophomore Fall Classic: October 5-October 8
(Juniors) Perfect Game Fall National Championships (Underclass):September 8- September 11
(Seniors) Perfect Game Fall National Championships (Upperclass):September 15- September 18
Top Invitational Travel Events: Top Invitational travel events are designed to host the top travel organizations and players from different regions. These tournaments are where baseball decision makers confirm how and where money is going to be spent on players, which creates an interest from both the pro side and the college side of baseball. The senior invitational tournaments are by nature the most highly regarded events as these events are where all final financial decisions on top players are influenced by individual performances. These invitational events are managed by graduating class due to college scholarship budgets and the MLB draft budget also being managed by graduated class. With that established, the tournaments are designed to attract the top players within a graduating class so that scouts and recruiters can see what is available within that crop (Grad Class) of players. Recruiters and scouts are highly attracted to these events as in their mind it eliminates the need to “hunt” for talent.
When is a good time to attend?
In talking to parents, it appears that the perception is that they should wait until their kid is an upperclassman to start attending showcase events. The reality of recruitment is that many colleges are giving verbal commitments to players as early as their freshman and sophomore year, leaving scholarship budgets 80% committed to players by the time kids reach the fall of their senior year when they are eligible to sign a National Letter of Intent. With that said, it is the challenge of every player that desires to play at a major university to establish themselves as a top 200 high school player at their position, within their grad class, before their junior year. I have been scouting and coaching in Alaska for the past five years and I can realistically tell you that there is a small portion of players state wide with this type of ability. Despite this, it is important to know that there about 2,000 college baseball programs in the country, making it safe for the families of our teams to set a realistic expectation for their player to be matched with a college baseball program after high school with the necessary hard work and dedication to the sport.
Attending the invitational events for freshmen and sophomores, allows players to get on the radar for the schools they desire to go to by allowing our Alaskan kids to play in an arena of the top players within their graduating class. Attending a top tournament series for all four years of high school, will allow scouts and recruiters to cross check a player during their high school career if they show promise early.
Is it beneficial to play outside of your class?
In my experience, I have seen players be asked to skip up and play outside of their class. I wanted to provide my professional guidance around this, while ultimately it will be your decision. The purpose of these showcases is to achieve visibility and a potential scholarship for the next steps in baseball. When players play in a different class, they are usually in the position of a supporting cast member. Meanwhile, the class they left has a weaker showcase and ultimately it negatively effects the individual player and the future opportunities for the entire graduating class… Think about it this way, the events are like an invite to a dance. When you’re an underclassman it is flattering to be invited to an upper-class dance, but ultimately, your most ideal suiters will be at the dance that you are expected to attend. The dance that you are expected to attend is designed for you to be the main attraction. It is my professional recommendation that players do not forgo showcasing outside of their class and this is based on my vast experience seeing what works for athletes to obtain their goals and dreams.
It is important for players for families to understand that the challenge of advancing as a ball player from Alaska is not entirely set in ability, but in Alaskan teams establishing themselves competitively against the other programs around the country. An outstanding fastball or a big bat is always attractive, but scouts and recruiters are in the business of finding guys that can help a team win games. Winning games outside of Alaska in a competitive environment still remains a challenge, and is something we are all working to improve upon.