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Best Predictors of Playing Time in College

Updated: Apr 16, 2019


Lack of playing time is the number one factor in a player’s decision to transfer colleges.

Most players that go on to play college baseball are the best player on their high school team.  Some are even the best on their club team.  Most likely they have never sat the bench because another player beat them out.

Then they go to college and they are in a whole new ballgame.  They are competing for playing time with other high school standouts, along with older players who have already been in the college game and are accomplished in their own right.

Given these factors and the roster sizes of college programs, many freshmen do not play a lot at a 4-year university.  No player or family ever thinks this applies to them as they enter college baseball.  They think there will be some work involved, but ultimately a starting spot will be earned.  

No college coach would ever get a player to commit if they told him he wasn't going to play. So, with that in mind, how can families predict if playing time will be had when they enter a college program?  

Here are some items to think about and questions to ask:


  • How much of a baseball scholarship is being invested in the player?  This doesn't really matter when it comes to the coach writing out the lineup - but it does give an indication of what the staff thinks about the player's ability.  The more money given, the more the coach is banking on the player being on the field frequently.

  • How many returning players are at that particular position?

  • Does the coach have a history of playing freshman?  Or does he rely heavily on playing upperclassmen?

  • How many players will be in the program in the fall?  

  • How many walk-ons and how many scholarship players?  THIS QUESTION NEEDS TO BE ASKED!

  • Does the player have a chance of being cut?  Many families don't realize this is a possibility. If so, what are reasons?  Poor play? Poor grades? Insubordination?

  • How long do players get in the fall before cuts are made?  

  • How many at-bats or innings do players get before a decision is made?  

  • Is a depth chart posted so players know where they are at?  Or is it a mystery until opening day?

  • Does the coach use his bench players frequently or does he have his "main guys",  and others rarely play?

  • Is the player at the appropriate level he should be at?  This is tough to answer, but can be answered by an educated baseball evaluator.  Playing time is extremely difficult to predict.  There are so many variables that take place between a player committing to a school until the time he plays his first college game. The biggest variable being how much the player continues to improve.  

A college coach's job is to win as many games as possible.  That means that he needs as many good players as he can get, let them compete and then have the cream rise to the top.  

It is the family’s job to understand this and make the best decision they can.  If the family doesn't know the score or doesn't ask the right questions prior to attending a school, they can't be upset when the playing time is less than what they thought.


For more information about the College Athlete Advantage Recruiting Program please call Mike Orchard @ 407-489-7509 or email: mike@collegeathleteadvantage.com.




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