Diamond Notes: Multi-Sport Players

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Compiled By: Austin Alexander-August 24, 2007

dp logo1A burning question that begins at a young age and becomes a divisive topic at the prep level has been asked and addressed by a number of college coaches and scouts. What do they think about multiple sport athletes, do they believe a second or third sport helps or impedes a player’s development and how are multi-sport guys affected in terms of exposure.

We apologize in advance that names, schools and organizations could not be attached to the responses, Diamond Prospects had to protect their identities to avoid violations, either at the collegiate or professional level.

This article is long, we’ll go ahead and acknowledge that, but equally as informative, enjoy the read.

A Division I Head Coach said:

I love multiple sport athletes and wish there were more of them. They are a dying breed. When I was in high school, everybody played more than one sport. Those guys are more projectable in my opinion. First question you ask/wonder, “What can they be when they concentrate on baseball year round?”

Regarding recruiting, yes, it can hurt if they don’t get out there. That summer before their senior year is critical. If they are not playing, then we would never see them. They need to do their homework, determine who will be at what showcase, what travel team do they want to play for and then put together a game plan from there.

An American League Scout said:

Playing multiple sports is beneficial for the baseball player all the way thru high school. Obviously playing football takes away from the player’s practice and game time in the fall and some time in the summer if he is participating in a passing league or football camps. But that helps with mental toughness and overall strength and agility.

Basketball, to me, is the most beneficial in that for the most part, it doesn’t conflict with baseball season and is great for keeping a kid in shape during the winter months. Also, basketball is great for hand-eye coordination, body control, first step quickness and lateral movement. Soccer is solid for footwork, lateral movement and first step quickness, but conflicts a lot with baseball season depending on when your state has their soccer season. Also, playing multiple sports helps create a well-rounded athlete – a player that has been in various competitive scenarios and pressure situations. This can all carry over and help with any situation mentally or physically on the diamond.

A Junior College Head Coach said:

From the perspective of a red neck, who is dumber than a box of rocks, I am inclined to believe guys that play more than one sport are more mature physically, mentally, emotionally and psychologically. They have a tendency to be able to adapt, overcome and adjust better in tough situations. So in terms of development, the more sports a kid can play, the better rounded he is likely to be. As for developing his baseball skills, if he gets the right information and works at the fundamentals, he will develop. No one can teach a kid to be athletic, but if the kid is athletic, then he has a chance to develop.

I know one of the big buzzwords today is “exposure” but in reality no one can hide a player! If a kid can play, someone will talk about him and the best advertisement in the world is word of mouth, so his name will get out and someone will see him. As for being seen by every Tom, Dick and Harry, well all they are going to do is discuss his flaws and that wolf pack has a tendency to breed similar thoughts, so “exposure” is not always a good thing. Plus, identifying skills is not hard to do, but identifying a true baseball player is, because a true player is one who has the ability to adapt, adjust, overcome and fail forward. That, my friend, is pure heart and mental toughness and it does not always show up on the radar gun or on the stopwatch. It is the one thing that sets players apart and it is the one thing you cannot “showcase” in one day!

A Division I Recruiting Coordinator said:

I have had very good experiences signing two-sport players, they to tend to develop quicker and bring a certain mentality to the table, no doubt. BUT, generally speaking, they are behind skill-wise and have a wider gap to close. I’d like to see a study done of freshmen who start at the Division I level, how many of them played another sport in high school. My guess is that number would be fairly low.

In terms of exposure, it is impossible to argue that kids who play baseball around the calendar, don’t put themselves in front of more recruiters than those who play half of the time. You just cannot dispute that. Of course you’ll hear the old adage that if you are good enough, someone will find you. Personally, I wouldn’t want ONE person to find me, I’d prefer to have a lot of options, not just one. I wish all of these quality travel programs and showcase outlets had been around when I played, it give kids a bigger stage to sell themselves. Now, I don’t mind players playing in obscurity because I have to fight fewer school to sign him but the more you play, the better you get. And the better you get, the more interest you will receive.

A Division I Head Coach said:

Multi-sport participants are meant for a specific individual with an extraordinary work ethic. I believe a young man participating, and succeeding, in more than one sport immediately shows signs of maturity and self-governance, which are both critical in succeeding in college. When we learn a player is a multi-sport athlete, it is an immediate credit to that young man’s personality. If we are recruiting a player, I am encouraged by him being able to play two sports at the high school level, while being talented enough to play DI baseball. There are certain qualities that are learned easier in other sports that can help a player be more successful on the baseball field. For example, toughness and tenacity are easier learned on the football field, yet they are critical in succeeding in college baseball.

As far as the recruiting process for multi-sport athletes: If a young man can plan his time and prioritize which sport he is pursuing at the college level, there are plenty of opportunities to do so while playing more than one sport. A fall and spring sport athlete (ex. football/baseball) should be able to partake in summer baseball and enter in showcases and tournaments before football season ever starts. Even during the fall, there are showcases held at colleges on Sundays the young man can partake in to work around his football schedule.

If a young man is interested in doing more than one sport in high school and he feels he can manage his time accordingly, I support it 100 percent. It will give him some perspective on athletics overall and should help in his maturing process overall as a person.

A Division I Recruiting Coordinator said:

I do not think anyone would argue that those who play fall baseball as opposed to football, are easier to identify. With something going on every weekend in the fall, you have so many more opportunities to see those kids. I think we end up passing on a lot of good kids we see late in the summer because, if they play football, we can’t go back in and see them so we choose that kid we see three times in the fall.

However, I like the athleticism and competitive fires that a football player brings to the table. What they lack in fall ball innings or at bats, they make up for with their tireless dedication to the gridiron. As recruiters, we have to work harder to identify these kids in their junior season and make it a point to see them a few times in the summer. The unfortunate thing for the “late bloomer” that doesn’t excel until after his senior football season is that most of the scholarship money is exhausted in the fall while he was playing football.

A Junior College Head Coach said:

I love them. It helps, it teaches them to be competitive and to be mentally tough. If they can play, they will be found.

A Division II Head Coach said:

I think playing multiple positions only helps one at the high school level. As a coach, I would like to see an athlete do more than just one thing and seeing him in different positions and settings helps me accomplish this goal. Though most ultimately to settle on one position, I feel it is helpful to have a variety of experiences to assist in development.

A Division I Assistant Coach said:

I like guys that play more than just baseball. I think playing other sports can give you some skills and athleticism that you can apply on the diamond. In my experiences, guys that have only played baseball struggle making adjustments more so than the more well-rounded athletes.

A National League scout said:

Athletes is the answer, African American is the answer, for me these two represent the only multi-sport players I have had an experience in seeking. For me, the multi-sport athletes above only get better. Their intellect and a quick learn study done by me is the ultimate passport in my seeking this type of individual to develop. The other major key for me was baseball’s finally going to give back bonuses for (especially), football athletes a paramount edge to development attempts without major college football jumps out of development.

A Division II Recruiting Coordinator said:

I believe the best baseball players are dual sport guys. Reason being, if you’re not a good athlete, you can’t do the hardest thing in sports (hitting a round ball with a round bat, therefore baseball players can already do the hardest thing in sports so everything else is easy and makes them prime candidates for dual sport success). I personally like a guy that plays football, I believe it creates a competitive edge that you can’t get in any other sport (I like scrappy ball players). I believe the choice is the athletes. Not many athletes get another shot at being dual sport guys at the next level.

In terms of helping their baseball skills, beside feeding a competitive nature, I don’t see how it could help their baseball TALENT besides weight lifting and conditioning. I strongly believe football and wrestling make athletes mentally tougher.

In terms of recruiting, it certainly can’t help the athlete if he is away from the baseball diamond, therefore, away from college evaluators. I believe that smaller schools may benefit from dual athletes because the larger schools don’t get a chance to see the athletes in the fall because of football. Smaller schools can take a chance on bubble kids early in the fall and hope they got a steal come spring (it happens). Also, I believe baseball is losing some of their better athletes because they are better at other sports.

A National League scout said:

I do not think that a player should EVER BE DISCOURAGED from participating in as many sports as he would like. I feel like the coaches that try to tell kids to limit themselves to one sport, whether it is baseball or otherwise, are being selfish. There is plenty of time for players to be seen and develop some skills during the championship season and during the summer. To say that a player hurts himself by not committing himself to baseball year round, is a negligent statement. It should be the job of the scouts and college coaches to find the players with potential and develop their talent later on.

A Division II Head Coach said:

I love guys that are two, three, sport guys in high school. I really do not think it hurts their baseball skills too much, I really think it enhances their abilities when they move on to us. But, I do think it may hurt them being seen for the obvious reason of lack of tourney/showcase time.

A Division II Recruiting Coordinator said:

I like the fact that some players play multiple sports. I think not only does it help them athletically but I also think it helps them socially and mentally…Nothing worse than a kid that has played AAU since he was ten years old and everybody has told him how good he is and he has no sense of teamwork…he shows up on weekends and worries about how good he is doing…I do feel like it might hurt exposure but if they are good we will find them.

A National League Scout said:

Multi-sports athletes use to be the norm. Not so long ago, coaches at the high school level “shared” the best athletes in the school. The emphasis on winning or “earning” an athletic college scholarship, I believe has almost eliminated the true multi-sport player. You do see some dual sport athletes and most of them are football/baseball combos. Most of them are the skill position players in football where bulk and size do not necessarily come into play. I like athletes. If they are able to do two or more sports at the high school level, I am for it. I believe each sport can help develop something a little different in each kid.

However with this being said, development in baseball does take time and time on the field is very important and any loss in time will slow the process. Will time away from the game ultimately limit the finished product is too far reaching for me to answer, I suppose it depends on the athlete in question. I believe, if Roscoe Crosby had spent time solely with baseball he “could” have been a tremendous player. It does take more than time. It takes aptitude, effort, heart and a will to be the best if one wants to reach the highest level. If Roscoe was not torn between football and baseball he most likely could have been a star in football at the highest level as well.

As we all know, other issues tend to play in the development of any athlete. 

As for the recruiting/scouting process. Athletes get seen. Athletes get noticed. The recruiter and scout dream and is that the athlete will rarely get noticed in today’s world. We are in the “showcase” era. With all the information out there and networking that goes on at the high school level, athletes get identified. It is up to the recruiter and scout to put the time and effort into seeing them play, not the athlete’s responsibility to quit a sport so it is easier to be seen.

A Division II Recruiting Coordinator said:

I have no problem with kids playing more than one sport in high school.  Obviously they will get more reps playing just baseball.  Regardless, they are still learning to be good teammates and leaders regardless what sport they are playing.  My guess is that it may hurt them a little in the recruiting process, as far as exposure, if they do not play fall ball due to the other sports.

Some of baseball’s finest evaluator’s have weighed in for DP’s readers. We hope you enjoyed the candid responses from those that we surveyed.

Note: A very special DP thank you goes out to the coaches and scouts who took the time to provide our readers with very valuable insight.