A player of mine at my high school recently signed with a division I college. I couldn't be happier for the young man, his family, and our program. For many players and their families, finding the right college is a long and stressful process where some are recruited heavily by many schools and some not at all. Although that fact has never changed through the years, much about the recruiting process has. When I went to high school, you played games, college coaches or representatives began to show up, they made some offers, you made some visits, and you made a decision. The three parties that were heavily involved on the player's side were the player, his family, and his high school coach. Today, much of the recruiting process is done completely without the involvement of the high school coach. Showcases, AAU travel teams, and recruiting / marketing services have changed all that. I honestly don't know if these changes, all things considered, are good ones. There are good arguments on both sides of that debate. Traveling around for tournaments and showcases brings some great exposure for players and gives players a chance to compare themselves with players from all over the country. That's a great thing. The down side is the cost. Amateur baseball, the way it is currently structured and run, certainly benefits players that come from families that are better off financially. AAU teams, showcases, and marketing firms are not free. All together, some families shell out tens of thousands of dollars over the course of a player's pre-college career. (My guess is that many kids never get that money back in the form of scholarships but that's another matter for another day). The point is, how can a low income kid compete with that? It used to be that sports provided a level playing field for all kids regardless of finances. Not any more. On top of that, these teams, showcases, and firms work. Most players get their scholarship offers because coaches saw them at one or more of these events. Parents feel they have no choice but to pay the money or else their kid will not get a chance. They are probably right to a certain extent. Kids from lower income families probably feel they can't compete and just stop playing altogether. The RBI program run by Major League Baseball is one of a number of programs that attempts to address this problem.
The recruiting process is not a perfect one. Whether the system needs to be "fixed" or just accepted is in the end just a matter of opinion.