DEAR CAL -- We're starting to fill out college baseball recruiting questionnaires for our son, who's a great contact hit- ter who rarely strikes out. However, last year he went through a streak during which he was hitting the ball, but right at the other team. It really affected his batting average. On the questionnaires, there's no place to indicate how few times he struck out. Do you think I should contact the coaches to explain that? It doesn't seem that the average tells the whole story.
John Stevens, Towson
DEAR JOHN -- Baseball players at every level go through what your son experienced last year. It's not as much a slump as it is bad luck.
During a 162-game professional season with hundreds of at-bats, the theory is that the luck "evens out." As a player, I'm not sure that I always felt that way, but certainly over a shorter high school season there is less time for things to even out.
The bottom line is that a coach isn't going to rely simply on statistics he receives from a player when determining whether to recruit that player. However, it never hurts to attach a short paragraph with tidbits of information or to have his coach write a recommendation letter that includes more details, including the fact that he rarely strikes out.
More important to your son's future is getting seen by college coaches so that his name starts to circulate.
There are many reputable "showcase" camps in which players work out in front of college coaches and pro scouts. Do your research, ask questions and find a few that might benefit your son.
If you feel like he's one of those players who need to be seen more frequently, you might want to try to place him on a competitive travel team that plays in tournaments frequently attended by college coaches. Very few kids get recruited based on the information they send into the coaches.
DEAR CAL -- How much of an advantage do kids living in warm-weather states have over those from cold-weather states when it comes to getting college baseball scholarships or getting drafted by the pros?
Kathryn Bacon, Wooster, Ohio
DEAR KATHRYN -- A kid who is good enough to play at the collegiate level is going to be seen by college coaches and will end up playing somewhere. The advantage players in the warmer states have is that they get to play more baseball outdoors, which can help their development.
There are so many college opportunities in every part of the country that where a kid grows up shouldn't determine his chances of playing college ball.
A player from a colder location might not be as likely to be recruited by a big-name school such as Miami, Florida State or LSU, but if he's good enough to play college ball, the coaches do enough homework that they will find him. And if he's good enough to play at a higher level, the big league teams put enough money into scouting and have developed an extensive enough network that they will find good players no matter where they play collegiately.
Cal Ripken Jr.'s increasing obligations have caused him to discontinue his youth sports column. Today marks the final installment of his column for The Sun.