The never ending process of college baseball recruiting is something coaches are all too familiar with.
Over the years, recruiting for college baseball has changed, from the technology used, to the number of possible recruits. Millersville University Head Coach Jon Shehan has noticed the differences.
The recruiting process “has changed drastically. It speeds up every year, for one thing. It seems like kids commit earlier and earlier each year,” Shehan says.
According to Shehan, who is entering his 10th season as the Marauders’ skipper, some of these changes have been helpful.
“The technology has also changed dramatically. Video is easier to get your hands on as a recruiter, and email has basically eliminated written correspondence,” says Shehan.
However, not all of the changes have resulted in something positive. Businesses devoted to helping players market themselves and get recruited have entered the picture, costing the recruits money. Shehan believes that too much is spent on these businesses, when the players can do the same work for free.
“There are a lot more opportunities to see prospects play too. Unfortunately, businesses have taken advantage of parents and prospects from this regard as well,” Shehan says. “There are so many pay to play events now that our staff could attend one within three hours almost every single day during the summer and every weekend in the fall and winter.”
In addition to these changes, Millersville has also seen an uptick in participants at their junior day. This past year, the event hosted more than 300 prospects, four times what it once was.
The Marauders’ on-field success has helped them attract more players.
“The water is definitely muddier than it used to be because our success has put us on the map as a place where prospects can graduate, win, and move to professional baseball,” says Shehan.
Success has followed Shehan for most of his tenure. Most recently, in 2016, the Marauders made it all the way to the Division II National Championship, albeit ultimately losing the series in two games to Nova Southeastern.
According to Millersville Athletics’ website, Shehan has also seen six of his players get drafted into professional baseball. Three of whom were drafted this past year. This included pitcher Brandon Miller who was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the sixth round, the highest a Marauder has ever been drafted.
While the prospect pool is deeper, finding the right ones can still be difficult.
“I would say it has become easier to get into the ‘right’ living rooms but it remains hard to get prospects that can help to win a National Championship to say ‘yes,’” Shehan says. “The better our program becomes, the more players and parents take notice, but it is still hard to steal Division I players away from Division I.”
To win a National Championship, however, talent isn’t the only thing that’s needed.
“It is not motivating prospects to say yes—it is motivating the right prospects to say yes,” says Shehan. “The right prospect is the one that is good enough to help us win a NC [National Championship], that means they fit the culture. Just because someone is talented doesn’t mean they fit the culture.”
Over time, Shehan has seen the recruiting process change before him. None of these changes however, seem to have hindered him as he has continued to guide his teams to success on the field.