NORTH METRO ATLANTA — North Metro Atlanta is a hotbed of talent for high school springs sport athletes who go on to compete collegiately, but the cancellation of the GHSA season has thrown a wrench into recruitment. Now, coaches are trying to find ways to highlight their players who have collegiate potential after missing out on nearly an entire season.
Shawn Oliver, head baseball coach at Fellowship Christian School, had 13 juniors on his squad this year, and he says around half are college baseball prospects. The cancellation of the season cuts out a vital time in the recruiting process, though, he said.
“The junior summer season is so important for a baseball player,” Oliver said. “It is such a valuable development time with us, and they can really hone-in their skillset and showcase it in the summer. We are trying to think of ways to help these guys get looked at.”
Oliver said the college fall ball schedule keeps recruitment to a minimum, which adds to the importance of summer play.
“Summer is so important for college coaches because they can go to Lakepoint [Sports Complex] or Perfect Game to watch so many players at one time,” he said.
With the spring GHSA season a no-go and the summer season still in question, Oliver is preparing his kids to be active in their own recruitment process. That includes having players reach out directly to coaches and conduct their own due diligence on a school and its baseball program.
“We are getting them to do their homework and be advocates for themselves,” Oliver said.
Oliver is also setting up a website to showcase his players through film. He said the team was lucky enough to have enough film on one senior player that a college offered him a scholarship without having seen him play live.
During the process, Oliver is also stressing the importance of fielding all talks, not just those from Division 1 schools. He said even if a player has a vision to play at a major institution, they can still benefit from communicating with DII, DIII or NAIA coaches.
Blessed Trinity baseball head coach Andy Harlin said the cancellation of the season could have impacts for years to come.
“This is going to affect everybody from the top down,” Harlin said. “From the MLB to minor leagues to colleges, they don’t know what their rosters are going to look like.”
Some collegiate players will declare for the MLB draft, while some seniors may return with the NCAA granting senior athletes who play a spring sport an added year of eligibility. Many teams do not have a firm grasp on what players they should be recruiting to fill gaps.
“They don’t know their roster, and I think that will trickle down for a couple of years,” Harlin said.
Like coach Oliver at Fellowship, Harlin is instructing his players to reach out to colleges for recruitment. He is also compiling film to send to recruiters.
“Nobody knows if they will be playing at this summer, so there is a question of seeing [players] on the field,” Harlin said. “But for the underclassmen, we can shoot out film to schools. They can then get an idea of a guy based on video and either put him on their board or decide he’s not a good fit.”
With schools shut down and baseball seasons cancelled across the country, there is one consistent factor.
“Everybody is in the same boat and trying to make the best of it how they can,” Harlin said.