Every time that we write the words travel ball, we think about how hollow these words really are. Just because a team travels, doesn’t mean that they are producing results for their players. We just posted an article on what to look for in a travel team and if someone really wants to differentiate the good teams from the bad ones that just seek out meaningless tournaments to earn that $5 piece of plastic, maybe the terminology needs to change.
In an e-mail exchange we had mentioned that we like the term “prep development”…but being more specific…College Development Program is dead on in our opinion.
In soccer, the U.S. Olympic Committee has ODP or Olympic Development Program. In Baseball, it could be called CDP or College Development Program. The key word is program. You can’t have results if you don’t have a plan or program in place. It really separates a good program that is focused on college placement of its athletes, from a team of rag tag players going to the generic sports complex to win a worthless trophy.
There’s nothing wrong with those travel teams in general. We applaud more kids playing baseball. But, the buyer must be aware of their purpose up front. Teams that travel for the purpose of winning can continue to call themselves travel teams. They even can say that they are a step above rec ball. But, if they don’t have a plan to develop and have a good idea of talent and a great rapport with college recruiters, then they are travel teams period…nothing more.
The rest of the programs that have a track record of placement, development and a business plan to get a player to the next level, are the true College Development Programs…They are the CDP’s that we will now refer to in the future.
Therefore, we now have a three tier system…
1. Rec Ball
These are teams that offer players the chance to play baseball, but not with a specific goal in mind. Many rec ball teams play their 25 games in a season and are very democratic about the division of talent. In some parts of the country, especially in the cold weather states, rec ball is embraced and there are some players that will get recruited by cold weather colleges out of these leagues. In warm weather states, players have the ability to play year round and rec ball doesn’t provide enough competition or year round play for serious players.
2. Travel Ball
These teams provide more year round opportunities and the ability to play against better competition, but don’t usually have the resources to offer much beyond that. These are the teams that sometimes come under scrutiny when the arguments and criticism between rec ball and travel ball heat up on message boards. There has been an increase of travel teams as of late and some are started by overzealous dads that want to showcase their sons. To be fair, some of these teams do provide a better opportunity to play against good competition, and some dads really know the game and CAN develop players. We applaud those teams. But after these dads realize that their sons need more or reach their goals of next level baseball on their own, these teams usually disband. The rest of the players are left wondering what’s next?
3. College Development Program (CDP)
CDP is the top of the baseball pyramid. These were the programs that we were referring to when we touted travel ball. Except going forward, we will NOT being calling them travel teams anymore. From this point forward, we will be referring to true developmental teams as CDP’s. Later on this week, we will be honoring our Top 5 CDP’s in the country. It will be our second annual ranking. The teams that we will be ranking are the definition of CDP. They have a plan to develop, a data base and rapport with college coaches and a long list of players that have been placed over many years of service. They are not as obsessed with winning a trophy as they are making sure that their players understand the game and are being showcased in front of the right recruiters. Obviously, when you get a group of top players together, their competitive spirit wants to win, and many of them do win a major tournament or two…but they do so in front of hundreds of scouts at a WWBA event, the Arizona Fall Classic, a PG event or another high profile showcase tourney.