When most high school baseball players commit to play to play at the collegiate level they believe that they will be spending the next four years of their life at that institution.
There are some players, however, that must go a different rout to be noticed by a four-year university.
For players like Brandon Boone and Andrew Vaccacio, going to a four-year institution wasn’t an available path right out of high school. Both players attended a two-year Junior College school, with Boone going to Brunswick Community College and Vaccacio attending St. Johns River State.
Boone went the JUCO rout to perfect his craft and played two years there. His craft, in this case, is pitching. Once he had done that, it was all just a matter of finding the right school and getting noticed.
“(The transfer process) is a little different than in high school. You’ve got two years of playing baseball… you’ve just got to get a little better and try to get noticed and once you do that you’ve got to find a place that feels like home,” said Boone.
Vaccacio had a similar experience with his recruitment coming from St. Johns River State.
“Junior College is only two years, so you’ve got make sure you can get yourself noticed and once you do it’s all about finding the school you like. I decided to come here because I really liked the coaches,” said Vaccacio.
Both players said that the recruiting process for a transfer athlete is very similar to when you come out of high school. The biggest difference between the two is now coaches can project what kind of player you are going to be more than they could have when you were a high school athlete.
Britt Johnson, the assistant coach and recruiting roordinator, said that one of the biggest differences between recruiting a high school athlete and a transfer one is the amount of time that you get to watch the players.
“Obviously with a high school player you have a chance to watch their progress for three to four years and make a decision on them. Junior college-wise you have to identify those guys early their freshman year and follow them. Some junior college teams will allow you to recruit freshmen, but most teams want their guys to stay for two years,” Johnson said.
The recruiting process for transfer guys is a lot different than high school players on the coaching end, according to Johnson, in that most junior college guys went that rout because they were an unknown or didn’t have the grades to make it into a university. With those players, coaches aren’t just looking at them skill-wise; they have to see if their grades have improved enough that they can trust the player to succeed at a major university.
A plus for coaches when recruiting a transfer vs. when recruiting a high school kid is that they have already seen what the transfer can do against other college kids, where as with a high school sophomore they’ve just got to hope that the kid will gain weight and develop into the kind of player that can help out a program in the future.
“When you start thinking about college transfers, you wonder ‘how is this kid going to help me in the future?’ and you already have some sort of idea based on what he has done at the JUCO level. With a high school sophomore, you’re just hoping that he can bulk up from 150 to 185 by the time he gets to you,” said Johnson.
Pictured: Brandon Boone, Andrew Vaccacio, Coach Britt Johnson