Any parent whose son has made the high school baseball has probably entertained the thought about baseball being the "ticket" for college. Before they write the check for the next hitting lesson, they should make sure they understand some fundamentals about the baseball recruiting process.
1. Most college baseball players do not have athletic scholarships. This is simply a matter of numbers. In the NCAA, 40% of schools are Division 3 which means that they do not give out any athletic scholarships. The number of scholarships at the D2 level is 9 and 11.7 for D1. That's for the entire team. And not all schools fully fund their scholarships. At the D2 level, only 6% of men's baseball players have a full scholarship and 61% have a partial scholarship. If you're planning on baseball paying for college, you might spend your money on a SAT prep class rather than hitting lessons.
2. You need to know the recruiting rules. Not knowing the rules doesn't excuse a possible recruiting violation. Download the NCAA and NAIA rules and if you have a question, call and ask. Understanding when and under what circumstances a coach can contact your son will help the recruiting process. You can also make sure that your son will have completed enough core courses to play at the D1 and D2 level. Ideally, high school counselors should be keeping track of but it's not something to count on.
3. Your son should take the SAT or ACT in the fall of his junior year. This is just a matter of timing. It's common for high school students to take their college tests in the spring of their junior year. If they don't do well, they can take it again in the fall of their senior year. Well, in the spring your son is going to be playing baseball. This is not the ideal time to be taking the SAT.
If your son needs extra help, find an SAT/ACT tutor and test prep resources.
One of the first things a coach will do is to ask for test scores. D1 and D2 coaches have to follow NCAA rules in terms of GPA and test scores combinations (which, of course, you know because you looked up the rules.) D3 coaches will have conference and specific school rules to follow. In any case, as your son increases his GPA and test scores, he increases the number of schools he's academically eligible to play at.
4. You need an objective evaluation of your son's skills. He may be the best player on the team but that doesn't mean he's good enough to play at the D1 level. An evaluation can be as simple as an evaluation sheet provided by a camp where a coach signs the evaluation. It could be video that shows ball speed or pop-times.
In many ways, this sort of evaluation isn't so much for the coaches but for you. Having a realistic understanding of your son's abilities will help you avoid putting him into positions where he won't succeed. It allows you to spend time focusing on the colleges most likely to recruit your son rather than the ones that everyone knows about.
5. Your son, not you, needs to contact the coaches. You can use the information about his abilities, GPA, and test scores to help identify colleges he should target but the coach needs to hear from him.
Ideally, your son should be filling out the online profiles. The coach may not be able to tell the difference but it will make your son more comfortable with the process and familiar with the information coaches are asking for.
Your son, not you, needs to email the coach with his player profile and a link to video. Your son needs to follow up the email with a call to the coach. If he's like most teenagers and doesn't want to do it, have him start with coaches of schools that are not at the top of his list for practice.
You can help your son come up with questions to ask the coach. They should be questions that aren't answered on the website. The most basic question is what positions/skills is the coach recruiting for your son's class. The website isn't going to show the players that will be college freshman while your son is a high school senior. It may look like the team has only one catcher but it could well be the coach has just added three catchers for the upcoming class.