Are you hoping to play baseball at the next level? One of the best ways that you can get your name out there and circulating among college coaches is by going to a baseball showcase. So let’s talk about baseball showcases and how to get yourself a spot on a college roster.
The most important things you can focus on before attending a baseball showcase is finding the right showcase that will put you in front of the correct audience, training sprint speed, working on fielding footwork for your position, and most importantly, working meticulously on hitting situationally.
From my experience attending college showcases over 2 years, I have found that focusing on the important factors listed above can set you apart from the competition. At a crowded baseball showcase, anything you can do to stand out is extremely valuable.
Finding the Right Showcase
So what is a baseball showcase?
Showcases are baseball camps usually put on by third-party organizations that provide a place for high school athletes to individually showcase their talent in front of college coaches. This is not to be confused with a showcase tournament, which is where your travel ball team competes against other travel teams in front of college coaches. Usually, baseball showcases consist of some kind of workout, followed by a scrimmage. Depending on the showcase, some will offer other services like hitting and pitching clinics, sports psychology or mental preparation, stretching and warm-up techniques, and body assessments.
Finding the Right One
Let’s be honest. Baseball showcases can be daunting and finding the right one to attend can be a bit of a maze. The FIRST thing to consider is your age and skill level. If you are a freshman or sophomore in high school, you may look at going to a showcase that is easily accessible, cheap, and/or close to home, as it is unlikely that college coaches will be giving you a lot of attention at a showcase. That DOES NOT mean that you should skip the showcase all together! As a player going through showcases myself, I WISH that I would have gone to a college showcase earlier! The more you go to, the more comfortable you get with the format and competition and you may learn where you need to improve most for the next showcase!
If you are a junior or a senior in high school, colleges will be very interested in how you perform at the showcase, as they would possibly be interested in talking with you after the showcase. Some additional information to consider is whether or not the showcase features schools that you would be interested in attending, whether they are recruiting for your position, and the NCAA division that the schools attending are competing at.
If you are a part of a travel baseball team or club, ask your coaches about showcases as they might know which ones would be a good fit for your skill level and age.
Here are a few third party organizations that put on baseball showcases:
Perfect Game: https://www.perfectgame.org/Showcases/
Prospect Wire: https://pwbaseball.com/
Showball Baseball: https://showballbaseball.com/camps/
The meat and potatoes of the showcase is a workout and scrimmage so let’s dive deep into what it will consist of, and how to prepare properly for that.
The workout portion of a baseball showcase consists of testing different tools of a baseball athlete. They will likely test 3 of the most important skills for any baseball player: speed, fielding, and hitting.
Virtually all baseball showcases will test athletes on their 60-yard dash time. You may have heard of the 40-yard dash as being a common measurement in almost every other sport, however, baseball is unique in using the 60-yard dash. The reason for using the 60-yard dash is that 60 yards is the distance between 2 bases (i.e. second base to home plate). Coaches want to see your all-out speed here. They want to know if you are going to be a guy that they feel comfortable having on second base and scoring on a base hit into the outfield. Many showcases will allow you 2 tests at the 60-yard dash, taking the fastest of the two for consideration. Although the 60-yard dash is the distance between two bases, you will not be running on the basepath, you will most likely be running the 60-yard dash in the outfield grass, so plan accordingly!
Preparing for the Sprint Test
As a certified personal trainer, I have a unique insight into how to become the fastest that you can be. To put it simply, the key to getting stronger and faster here is repetition and overload. If you truly want to get faster at your 60-yard dash, you need to be training by running 60-yard dashes. If you are starting from scratch, a good guideline is to begin a training session with a good warm-up and stretch followed by sprinting at maximum speed. Try sprinting a 60-yard dash twice at max speed and increasing how many times you sprint each of the following training sessions. Be sure to give yourself at least 3-5 minutes rest in between sprints to allow your body to recover fully before the next sprint.
Here are some additional tips on how to get better at sprints.
On top of training running speed, it is extremely important to train explosivity. A huge part of your 60-yard dash time will be based on reaction time and exploding from the starting line. If weightlifting is a part of your normal routine, you want to train for power, meaning moving weight as fast as possible. The PERFECT exercise to train muscles for power in sprinting is the HEAVY SLED PUSH using a Prowler. Using a heavy sled, 65% to 125% of your body weight, will overload your muscles, forcing them to grow!
There is a lot of science and research behind this particular exercise, so if you want to learn more, I suggest you check out this awesome article titled:
“Everything You Need To Know About Prowler Sled Training” https://drjohnrusin.com/everything-you-need-to-know-about-prowler-sled-training/
Pro Tips for the Sprint Test
Make sure you eat a light meal and are well hydrated before this portion of the showcase. Sprinting is maximal effort and can play a harsh toll on the body if you don’t prepare properly. It doesn’t look good if you have to puke after running sprints!
Practice your sprints wearing the shoes or cleats you will be wearing on showcase day. Often times, coaches will want you to run the 60-yard dash in cleats to simulate gameday.
If you are a position player, you will take part in fielding drills designed to assess your skills defensively. Infielders and outfielders will go out to their positions and get anywhere between 3 and 10 balls hit to them depending on position. Infielders will usually field around 5 balls at their position: 2 balls straight at them, 1 to the forehand and 1 to the backhand, as well as one short. Coaches want to see your agility in receiving ground balls, footwork technique, and arm strength.
Outfielders will take a few fly balls and will receive directions from coaches on where to throw after catching, usually throwing at least 1 ball to a cut-off man, second base, third base, and all the way home. Coaches want to see how you position yourself before fielding the ball, as well as your arm strength from different parts of the outfield.
Preparing for the Fielding Assessment
Coaches want to make sure that you can not only make a long throw, but that you can make that long throw with speed. On top of that make sure you are focusing on your footwork, have proper pre-pitch habits and know how to approach all kinds of ground balls and fly balls. Train for AGILITY by doing agility ladder exercises. Ultimately your arm strength and footwork are what can set you apart from other athletes at your position, so train hard to get better at both of those.
Pro Tips for the Fielding Assessment
Air it Out! Coaches are looking for players with raw skill, but also players who are coachable. If you are playing 3rd base and get a ground ball, fire that thing as hard as you can to first base. It is MUCH better to throw a fireball that sails a little high than to throw a rainbow that lands right at the first baseman’s chest.
Infielders: Take ground balls from all 4 infield positions, especially from 3rd base. Practice making the long throw consistently.
Outfielders: Listen closely and hit your cuts! Don’t worry, you will get a chance to make throws to every base so save your cannon for those long throws. Coaches want to see that you can listen to your infielders and hit your cut-off man when the catcher is calling for it.
Regardless of your position, you will get a chance to show off your skills at the plate!
THIS IS WHERE COACHES ARE PAYING THE MOST ATTENTION!
Take this portion seriously and make sure you are ready because it might be the difference between landing a spot on a college team and having to try again at another showcase. You will likely receive around 10 BP pitches from a coach behind an L-screen, with coaches instructing you to bunt to first base and third base, hit to the opposite field, hit a sacrifice fly and then to hit away. Coaches want to see your ability to hit situationally and in clutch situations, as you will likely only receive 1 or 2 pitches to hit to a specific part of the field.
Preparing for the Hitting Assessment
BP. BP. BP. There is a reason why even professional baseball players still work on hitting: It is the hardest thing to do in baseball. If you haven’t already been taking batting practice with a hitting coach, I would HIGHLY recommend starting to do so. Take batting practice 3-4 times per week and focus on hitting to different areas of the field.
Pro Tips for the Hitting Assessment
Let It Rip! If you struggle with hitting to certain spots on the field, just focus on getting hits. Line them to the outfield and put some power behind it.
Even if you are a pitcher, still take this seriously and practice hitting! At the college level, designated hitters are allowed, yet you are a much more attractive pitcher to add to a team’s pitching staff if you can ALSO hit dingers!
This is where things get fun! Depending on the showcase, there can be a lot of players there, meaning you will most likely be split into separate scrimmages. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to have a full 7 innings at your position and 4 or 5 at-bats. Most likely you will get 3 or 4 innings in the field and 2 or 3 at-bats, so now is your time to shine! Take each at-bat like it’s your last, as this is where you will be able to show college coaches what you are all about and may very well get you on a college roster.
Regardless of if you get hits or not, RUN HARD on the basepaths, communicate with your teammates on fly balls, and BE LOUD! This is not a time to be quiet! If you are in center field and calling off the right fielder on a fly ball, make sure even the catcher knows who is taking the fly ball. YES! BE THAT LOUD! It’s time to stick out from the rest of the athletes and it’s important to do whatever you can to get a second look from a coach. Show the coaches that you are a leader on the diamond and someone that they would want on their team. For me this was something that came naturally because I was like this on my teams, but if it isn’t something that you are used to, time to start practicing those leadership skills on the diamond.
The bottom line is that the scrimmage is how coaches will see how you fit into a team setting and how you perform at game speed so run hard and be aggressive. Show that competitive spirit!
Preparing for Scrimmage
You will be playing against some of the best athletes at the high school level so any experience playing travel ball against elite competition will definitely help you thrive in the showcase setting. Preparing for the workout portion of the showcase will greatly help you in the game setting as the workout is basically a deconstructed game. But there is nothing like playing a real game. So really the only advice I can give is to just play as much baseball as possible; play in tournaments and leagues if you can and when you are just practicing, do EVERYTHING at game speed and intensity to try and simulate a game as much as possible.
What to Expect from Coaches and Players
Showcase tournaments are basically a big try out with many different spots on many different teams. College coaches who are attending are most likely looking to fill only a handful of spots on their college rosters, spots that became available because of college athletes graduating or transferring schools.
Say you are a first baseman and you are really interested in a particular school. Unfortunately, this school may be stacked at the first base position and trying out as a first baseman may not be your best shot at getting on that team’s roster. HOWEVER, as a general rule for any baseball team in existence, if you can HIT, coaches will find a spot for you in their line up. That is why…
Hitting is the most important skill to work on in preparation for a baseball showcase.
The high school athletes you will be competing against at the showcase will most likely be at different skill levels, yet all will have a competitive mindset. If there is a kid who is hitting the seams off the ball, making amazing defensive plays, and sprinting like Usain Bolt…try not to get discouraged! Again, there are going to be many teams at the showcase and only one of them will end up with that player, meaning there are plenty of other spots for you pursue.
Introduce yourself to as many coaches as possible. This might be tough for you but you want to help coaches put a name to the face and jersey number, so when they see you on the field, they can remember that you were the nice guy who came up to introduce themselves. If you end up on their team, you will be spending a lot of time with this coach so make sure to make a good first impression. Be polite, saying “thank you” and “yes sir” just like your momma taught you. Be on your best behavior!
Hopefully, this guide to a baseball showcase has given you some insight on what to expect and how to best prepare for going to one. Now go out there and earn yourself a spot on a college roster!
You talked about infield and outfield, but what if I am a pitcher? How should I prepare differently?
Great question! Pitching is a whole different approach, but make sure you are throwing bull-pens 2 times per week leading up to the showcase. During the showcase, you may only get 1 or 2 innings to show your stuff, so only work with the pitches you are comfortable with and can control well. If you can throw only throw 2 pitches with good control, then stick with those, after all, Mariano Rivera is a future Hall-of-Famer that only threw a fastball and a cutter!
Throw heat! Put a lot of effort to get your velocity up on your fastball and try and showcase your ability to paint corners.
How much do showcases cost?
Depending on the showcase, cost can vary greatly. Expect to pay a couple of hundred dollars at least. College baseball is a huge business and it all starts at college showcases. Expect a cost range between $300-$1000.
What time of year are baseball showcases?
Typically showcases take place during the college baseball offseason. Starting in late May and ending sometime in the fall, showcase season takes place over the summer.