Is there a trend away from playing baseball for your high school team in California? If the roster for the ABD Bulldogs Spring League team is any indication, it is more of a radical shift. This is not a ragtag band of players that could not make their high school team; it is a powerhouse that boasts ten D1 commits and a couple of players on the Baseball America Top 100 Prospects List.
In an effort to increase the level of competition, infielder Tanner Rahier (#29) of Palm Desert High in Indian Wells, California and right hander Cody Poteet (#40) of Christian High in El Cajon, California have opted to play Spring League Baseball. The rules in California preclude them from playing for another team during the high school season, so they were forced to make the difficult choice to disappoint their high school teammates and coaches. Both players are Perfect Game All-American alumni and acknowledge that the Spring League is a higher level of competition and far more conducive in preparation for professional baseball.
Tanner Rahier has an incredible work ethic and exhibits outstanding range, quick feet and powerful arm. At the plate, he drives the ball with authority and projects for power. He has also been known to pitch in relief showing a 93 mph fast ball. He is committed to the University of San Diego.
Cody Poteet is much vaunted, slightly under-sized at 6-0 178lb, with a live fast ball that has been clocked at up to 94 mph and good snap on his mid-70s curveball. He is committed to UCLA.
Several others listed in the Top 100 teeter on the verge of opting out of high school baseball.
Other D1 commits on the team include Carlos Martinez (Hawaii â€“ recently ranked as the #10 second base in the 2012 draft class); Devin Carter (Pepperdine); Niklas Stephenson (Hawaii); Jayson Balades (Pepperdine); Ron Miller (UNLV); Andre Real (Hawaii); Dalton DiNatale (Arizona State) and Joe Duffin (UC Santa Barbara)
So why are so many opting out of high school baseball? It is apparent that the high school experience for one player can be very different from another but there are some factors that come up in discussions with the majority of elite players. Playing high school does have the attraction of school pride but the standard of play is often significantly lower that what these elite players have been accustomed to during the summer when many of them showcase on a national stage. They have enjoyed being part of a dugout where every player is filled with desire and shares very similar goals while the vast majority of high school teammates have no intention of playing ball at the next level and can be a very negative and disruptive influence. They have been coached by professionals who understand the rigors of baseball at the next level whereas high school coaches are often teachers who are not measured by their ability to get players into college on a baseball scholarship.
Unless the current high school rules in California are relaxed, and given that there is apparently no negative stigma attached to not playing high school ball when it comes to college recruitment or national rankings, it is inevitable that this trend is likely to grow.