Michigan Insider: Michigan Players Escaping the State



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By Aaron Wilson and PBR Staff
PBR Michigan Director of Scouting

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Michigan Insider: Homegrown Talent Escaping the State

For years the goal of college recruiting has always been to secure the in state talent then grab a player or two from another state. This theory has helped programs stay strong and compete for years to come.

The state of Michigan currently has 6 Division 1 schools, 5 Division 2 schools, 8 Division 3 schools, 10 NAIA schools and 14 Junior College programs with baseball programs.

In the state of Michigan growing up kids watching University of Michigan and Michigan State on television. Playing travel baseball games at Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, Oakland University, etc. In the City of Detroit, Wayne State University has a Fenway Park replica Green Monster in Left Field with the original Tiger Stadium scoreboard inside the wall.

Michigan is one of the few states that truly allow you to experience the four seasons.

The state of Michigan has MLB ties. DJ Lemahieu, the 2016 MLB batting average champion and Nick Plummer 2015 MLB 1st round draft pick both prepped at Birmingham Brother Rice, right here in Michigan. Game 3 starting pitcher for the Dodgers in the National League Championship Series, Rich Hill attended college at the University of Michigan.

In the 2015 and 2016 MLB draft 20 players who are either from Michigan Colleges or high schools were selected each year.

In the opening year of PBR MI 2012 100% of the top ten rated players decided to stay in state. Fast forward to 2015, which was the first time the #1 rated player in the state committed to an out of state school with only 50% of the top ten players committing to in state schools. In 2017 three of the top five ranked players will be playing their college ball out of Michigan. In the 2018 class so far the top five ranked players have all committed to schools outside of the Wolverine State.

I asked a few of the 2017 and 2018 prospects ... “As a top player in the state of Michigan what made you decide to leave the state?”

Steve Mann, Country Day, (Duke Commit)  #1 player in Michigan’s 2017 class - “It was important for me to go to a warm state to play baseball so I could play more. White it is an advantage to be able to play in both warm and cold conditions, being in a southern state will definitely benefit my training and growth as a baseball player. Additionally, playing in the ACC will make me a better player and benefit my team when we play important postseason games.”

Sam Weatherly, Howell, (Clemson Commit)  #2 player in Michigan’s 2017 class - “Clemson was overall the best fit for myself. I felt entirely comfortable with the coaches and the school. A huge advantage is I think that the weather plays a part in being able to play more home games instead of on the road a lot, and I think that plays a huge role in teams being successful."

Obie Ricumstrict, Mt. Pleasant, (Cincinnati Commit), #5 player in Michigan’s 2017 class - “It wasn’t really about wanting to get out of Michigan, it’s more that I fell in love with Cincinnati and what it has to offer me and my family.”

Spencer Schwellenbach, Saginaw Heritage, (Nebraska Commit)  #1 player in Michigan’s 2018 class - “I have grown up not being a fan of the Michigan schools being a Wisconsin fan so I had no favorite school before the recruiting process started. My family encouraged me to go to a school that interested me the most and that going away from home would not affect the amount of games they came to and that’s what I was worried about the most deciding to go out of the state."

John Malcom, Country Day, (Vanderbilt Commit)  #2 player in Michigan’s 2018 class - "I have a lot of respect for Michigan schools. However I’ve always wanted a chance to live and play in a southern state. I want to play against some of the best players in the country and take advantage of the warm weather for training. I also know that I will receive a great education”.

Miko Rodriguez, Forest Hills Central, (Texas A&M Commit) # 3 player in Michigan’s 2018 class - “I’ve lived in Michigan my whole life and am glad to call Grand Rapids my home, but the opportunity to play down south at a program like A&M is something I can’t pass up. The combination of quality baseball down south and the weather is what led me to leave the state.”

Cole Daniels, Saline, (Kentucky Commit) #4 player in Michigan’s 2018 class - “Being from Michigan, I always took great pride in going down south and representing our state playing against southern teams, but when it come right down to it, I wanted to play in the best baseball conference in the nation which is the SEC.”

Mason Minzey, Bishop Foley, (Texas Tech Commit) #5 player in Michigan’s 2018 class - “I’ve always wanted to live down south and with this, it was a great opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.”

Homegrown Talent Staying in the State

After speaking with these guys about why they decided to go outside of Michigan I felt it would be best to speak to a few guys about why they wanted to stay home. I asked a couple guys “As a top player in the state of Michigan what made you decide to stay in state?”

Jeff Criswell, Portage Central, (University of Michigan Commit) #3 player in Michigan’s 2017 class - “I decided to stay in state because I’ve always wanted to play baseball at a big ten school. Michigan provides both great academic and athletic opportunities. Staying in state is always good because I’m close to home and I get to represent my hometown.”

Adam Proctor, St. John’s, (Michigan State Commit) #4 player in Michigan’s 2017 class - “I decided to stay in state because it was much easier for my family and I. It makes it easier the to come watch the games. I was born and raised in Michigan, and what better place to go than Michigan State? It also helped that MSU has the best coaches and program around.”

Jesse Heikkinen, Holt, (Michigan State Commit) #6 player in Michigan’s 2017 class - “Both my parents went to MSU and it’s always been a dream of mine. Plus it is nice to be close to family. Also the program they are building at Michigan State with Coach Boss and Pitching Coach Meade is something I want to be a part of.”

It appears that the decision to go to school in or out of state is a case by case decision. The great thing is there are more opportunities for players to obtain their dream of playing college baseball.