Q & A WITH JERRY FORD OF PERFECT GAME ON SHOWCASES (Published in USA Today HSS on September 9, 2015)
When it comes to amateur baseball showcases, no one in the world does it better than Perfect Game. Of the 72 amateur players selected in the June 2014 Major League Baseball Draft, 60 of those attended Perfect Game showcases during their amateur career. In fact, 7 Perfect Game All-Americans have been selected as the top overall pick in the draft, since 2003. Those numbers say one thing… these guys know what they are doing!
The president of this well-oiled showcasing machine, Jerry Ford, took some time to share his opinions and views on what recruits and their families need to know about the circuit. Here is what he feels every student-athlete in every sport needs to know about recruiting showcases…
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Q: What is the ideal showcase for a recruit to attend?
A: First of all, all showcases are far from equal when it comes to exposure. In many ways, what the showcase provides after the event is just as important as what happens at the event. So if you want to get noticed, make sure you are attending the right events. Make sure colleges follow the organization running the event. And make sure you have something to show. All showcases have a reputation, so do your homework before spending any money. The ideal showcase for you could be different than it is for someone else. For some athletes, there is no ideal showcase and they would do better just playing at the highest level possible.
Q: How does a recruit get noticed at a showcase?
A: Talent stands out like a sore thumb. If a player has at least one good tool or ability, it will create interest. The more tools the player possesses, the more interest they will receive. For example, hitting is the most important tool in baseball. By itself, it can create tremendous interest. Once a recruiter sees the talent, they will clue in on other important areas, like how does the player act in both workouts and the games. Bottom line, it all starts with talent, if you lack talent, you may go unnoticed. The more talent you show, the more you get noticed. The more you are noticed, the more the other things become important.
Q: Give a recruit some advice to prepare for a showcase.
A: Make sure you are healthy and ready to perform. Have a good idea of what you do well and what might be your weakest points. Don’t try to do what you can’t do. Of course, before anything the recruiter will check the academics involving the player. In the case of a high-level academic institution, the grades are the first thing that counts. It will be the first thing recruiters will check, even before watching any of the players. Then they can concentrate on a smaller pool of players and they will not waste time recruiting someone that they can’t get into school. I would recommend that all athletes take care of business in the classroom, first.
Q: What advice do you have for recruits after they have attended a showcase?
A: Play as much as possible in higher level tournaments and events. Play in events that provide information to scouts and recruiters. Play against the best possible competition. Contact the colleges you are most interested in. Make sure they have your schedule. Always understand that someone is watching you. Now, if you happen to be one of the better prospects out there, it’s likely you won’t need to do much at all, other than make a decision at some point between many good options. But if they are not knocking down your door, you need to be proactive.
Q: Beyond the showcase, what can a recruit do to have college options when signing day arrives?
A: Understand that you and your dream school might not be an option. Understand that all levels other than NCAA Division I and even some Division I colleges, do their recruiting later than the top level. Understand that there are some great opportunities out there, in addition to Division I. Find the schools that fit your personal skill sets and be proactive in your pursuit of those schools. If you can play your sport at a decent level, there is a college out there that will be interested in you. Sometimes, colleges don’t attend many showcases, so make sure the showcases you go to are reliable in documenting your skills, so the college coach can get an idea of who you are. Be proactive and have an opinion in what you want out of college because that is very important at the levels other than Division I.