Yesterday I accompanied my son, a high school baseball player (second base and shortstop) to a showcase event put on by the American Legion and the Baseball Factory. The goal was to help promising Arkansas high school players make the move to the next baseball level. For most, that would be college ball.
As I expected, the Baseball Factory guys put a lot of emphasis on developing baseball skills -- hitting, pitching, running, fielding and so forth. What I didn't expect, though, was the sharp focus on academics.
The first thing a college scout will ask about a player they're interested in is his academic performance, according to these in-the-know guys at the Baseball Factory. There are a couple of reasons for this. One, good grades indicate that a player works hard for success in the classroom, and that's something that will carry over to the baseball diamond. Another is that, because baseball has a limited number of scholarships to entice players, college coaches know that if they can piece together a combination of academic and athletic scholarships, they will be better able to attract (and financially help) that player.
So they encouraged the 75 or so baseball players attending yesterday's event from high schools all across Arkansas to work hard in the classroom, convince teachers that each subject is their favorite and to prepare well and give the ACT and/or SAT their best shot.
Doing those things, they said, will greatly improve a player's chances for a college to woo him to their baseball program.
That's great advice, I think, and not just for high school baseball players.