Thursday, February 7, 2013

MYTH-ZOU: Recruiting Against the SEC

Myth #4:  Mizzou Baseball has a built-in disadvantage vs. the rest of the SEC when it comes to recruiting.
"Seriously, if you were a stud BB player and had a number of options, why would you pick Mizzou over LSU, SC, Fla or Bama. Unless you're in state and just a big mU fan, you wouldn't."

"Our recruiting is horrid. We're going to low level D1 jucos and scouting there? You've got to be kidding me. "

Why would a top recruit choose Missouri rather than somewhere in a sunnier part of the SEC?

Maybe you should ask this guy, the one who chose Missouri over a 2nd-round shot with the Phillies:

And then there's the MVP that apparently thought Missouri was a good choice:
Now with the Missouri Tigers, [Keaton] Steele was named the MVP of last year's NJCAA World Series after leading Iowa Western Community College to the championship in Grand Junction, Colo.
. . .
The Tigers are hoping the 6-foot-3, 211-pound St. Joseph native can provide the same impact in the Southeastern Conference. MU Coach Tim Jamieson expects Steele will be a starter at one of the corner infield positions and be a closer....
(Columbia Tribune)

Or how about this guy, who was only more than glad to trade up to the SEC after choosing Missouri:

Area recruits react to Mizzou's upcoming switch to the SEC (
But for Griff Goodrich, the developing story hit closer to home. A senior pitcher at Kirkwood, had committed to continue his baseball career at Missouri before the move to the Southeastern Conference was announced.
. . .
"When I got the news Sunday morning, I woke up and right away it was pure excitement," he said. "It was awesome. The Big 12 is a great, prestigious conference, but to move down to the SEC for baseball, that's baseball country down there. You've got the top teams fighting for a trip to Omaha every year out of that conference. It's great competition."

Will a Tier-1 recruit who grew up in the Sun Belt be attracted to leave the South and go to "northern state" Mizzou in order to play in the SEC? Not likely, unless there's some other reason he wants to leave home.

For a top recruit from the Midwest, though, spending three years playing in the South might not be appealing.  But three years in the Midwest at Mizzou could be very attractive now that MU is an SEC team. It may be true there's no baseball conference like the SEC. But it can also be true that there's no place like home.

The Tigers have always done a good job of attracting players from northern areas, for whom Missouri is a sunnier alternative than what they've grown up with.  Players from Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Chicago area have chosen Mizzou as the place to play.

And then there's this quote from a former Missouri Tiger, a statement I'm sure the Mizzou recruiters will be repeating to legitimate prospects for years to come.  Turns out future major leaguers need to know how to hit, pitch, field and play in the cold.  What better place to learn than in the coldest part of the SEC?

Missouri baseball's Ian Kinsler returns for Hall of Fame induction (Columbia Missourian)
He learned how to do things he never would have at home, like how to hit in the cold and how to field ground balls on the bumpy surface of a cornfield, where coach Evan Pratte would take his players for extra work.

"It's this odd area on the other side of the interstate," Kinsler said. "That's something I'll always remember: jumping in vans with my teammates and driving across the freeway to a farm to take ground balls on a little infield cutout of corn."

Tiger recruiter Kerrick Jackson has been luring some of the top talent in the St. Louis area since he took over as chief recruiter for Mizzou.  He has two of the top three ranked players in the state of Missouri (according to Prep Baseball Report) signed for next year's recruit class: RHP Devin Williams and LHP Jake Brentz.  (the #2 ranked player was signed by Kerrick Jackson's predecessor as recruiting cooridnator, Tony Vitello, now recruiting for TCU.)

And two top St. Louis recruits from the 2014 class have already made verbal commitments to the Tigers:  C Brett Bond and SS Shane Benes.

Missouri is doing just fine on the recruiting trail, thank you.  And they know how to play up Missouri's unique strengths while also enticing recruits with the chance to play in the high visibility SEC.

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