How to Play College Baseball – 4 Coaches Discuss What They Want in a Student-Athlete

By Steve O’Brien – Goal: College Athlete

What do College Baseball Coaches want in a Student-Athlete?

AT GCA, we have asked hundreds of  College Baseball Coaches this question:

Describe the qualities that your program is looking for in a potential student-athlete?

We have received a range of thoughtful and relevant responses from College Baseball Coaches across Divisions I, II and III. We wanted to share some of the best answers to give young/high school baseball players some perspectives that they might be overlooking and motivating them to put more emphasis on these qualities to reach their goals and become a College Baseball player:

Matt Mazurek – Canisius College – Assistant Coach

We are all looking for student athletes that are not only very gifted athletically but have a good character make up. We want a kid we do not have to worry about as they live on their own and are going to get after it in the classroom and be a sponge when it comes to our methods in our program. The guys we look for need to have the right type of mental make up to flourish in our program with being coachable and the ability to be a good person around campus and good teammate. We stay away from ME guys and even if a player is a very gifted athlete we will discount that if he has a poor attitude and may not be a good fit for our program.

For example last year we had some very gifted athletes .. our SS was drafted 17th round by the A’s and 2 of our Starting pitcher’s got drafted by the Blue Jays. But we had one of the weakest records in team history. Our team chemisty stunk and the guys got clicky and the internal make up of our team was not cohesive. This year we cleaned house, brought in 17 new guys that fit the mold we want and are now enjoying a refreshing fall with guys that are working their butt off and our giving us a solid feeling we will have a successful year because they all work hard and get along with each other and we have leaders emerging!


Ted Shipley – Castleton State College – Head Coach

What we are looking for is a high quality student-athlete. Someone that is fully committed to academics and to athletics. We look for high level talent – this is where there is a lot of assumptions. To me, there are five areas of talent – the physical (the body), the mental (the mind), the skills (for the sport), then the two most overlooked are work ethic and competitiveness. I look at all aspects and if I put a recruit on a scale of 1-5, I’m trying to find someone that is a five in all areas. Obviously, this is a challenge, because most coaches (I believe) are looking for the same.

I like hard working kids that are truly competitive, so the last two are important to me. I’ll usually take a chance on a kid like that, even if they are lacking a little in other areas. Some intangible stuff for me is real passion or love for the game and someone that is enjoyable to be around. I like to go to events early and watch how a kid comes to the park and watch how others intermingle with them. The same holds true for tournaments – I like to see kids that have finished playing in the event hang around to watch more of it because they really want to be there. I really like kids that want to come to Castleton and want to be part of what we are. Kids that don’t want to be at your college, usually don’t become anything special. Having someone that really wants to be there gives them the chance at becoming very good (it’s just a matter of time).


Justin Beach – The College of Brockport (SUNY) – Head Coach

We look for student that has — first and foremost — a work ethic to succeed at this level. We expect any player coming into our program will show commitment to reaching our goals for each one of them — to become a better student, a better person, and a better player. We also expect that our student-athletes will be able to compete at a very high skill level, one that gives our team a chance to compete for a national championship. Finally we look for athletes that are coachable and willing to take constructive feedback on every aspect of our program (on and off the field).


Bryan Haley – Endicott College – Head Coach

I go out during the spring/summer and see over 1000 rising seniors play. I am looking for tools/talent and players who show their passion for the game and their passion for competition. Players who display their passion through hustle, aggressiveness and mental toughness (ability to stay positive and focused in the moment) catch my eye very quickly. After I put together my initial list of talented players, I determine who is a good fit academically and start e-mailing and calling the identified players.

Through response or lack of, I identify players that have an interest in our program. I then invite the remaining prospects and their families to campus. The players character is assessed during this visit. If I feel that there is a red flag during this conversation, I will no longer recruit the player.

In the past, I convinced myself that a player’s talent was too good to pass up and took some kids with “red flag” visits. None lasted with the team for more than a year. I no longer second guess myself when “cutting loose” these players from the recruiting process.


About Steve O'Brien
Steve O'Brien is the co-creator of Goal: College Athlete (GCA). The website was built to inspire young athletes to reach their goal of playing college sports. Information includes a pro-active plan to get the attention of college coaches and also insight from college coaches on what qualities they look for in a potential recruit. Steve played College Hockey at the University of New Hampshire, graduating in 1999. Questions? Send Steve an email at [email protected]

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