Throughout the years, when Mary Ann and I do the summer baseball league stats for Mississippi State players participating in those summer leagues, this question always seems to come up: how good are the leagues the MSU players are playing in? After this opinion piece, that question will hopefully have been answered.
The first thing I want to do is explain what criteria I used to come up with my summer collegiate baseball leagues list.
Since the vast majority of the best players in college baseball play in the top conferences, I first wanted to determine the top conferences from this past season. A good starting point is to use a list of the top 10 conferences based on the conference RPIs.
According to the Boyd's World website those conferences were as follows:
4) Big 12
5) Sun Belt
6) Big Ten
7) Big East
8) Big West
9) Colonial Athletic Association
Some may question those rankings, so I also looked at a couple of other criteria about the conferences to determine if they really had the majority of the top players. Based on results from the 2013 Major League Baseball Draft, 70% of the 4-year college players who were selected in the top 10 rounds were from those conferences. Also, this past season, all 16 of the NCAA baseball regional winners were teams from those 10 conferences. And twenty-two of the 32 teams that wound up in 2nd or 3rd place in the regionals were also from those conferences. Only 1 team from those conferences ended up in 4th place in the regionals.
After coming up with that criteria, I next looked at each summer collegiate league to determine how many players from those conferences played in each summer league. Once I came up with those numbers, I then divided that number by the total number of players who played in each league and came up with a percentage. The higher the percentage, the better player quality.
Of course, that only gave me a percentage of top-10 conference players in each summer league. While that number is a solid number to start with, as we all know, a player normally improves each season. A sophomore is usually better than a freshman and a junior is normally better than a sophomore. Therefore, a league with fewer freshmen should be a better league than one with a larger number of freshmen. Due to that, I then determined the total number of freshmen, sophomores and juniors in each league.
After two weeks of research and all of that information now available, let's look at who I feel are the top 40 summer collegiate leagues. I'll list the top-10, then explain why I selected them in that order
1) Cape Cod Baseball League
2) New England Collegiate Baseball League
3) Northwoods Summer Collegiate League
4) California Collegiate League
5) Coastal Plains Baseball League
6) West Coast League
7) Alaska Baseball League
8) Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League
9) Texas Collegiate League
10) Valley Baseball League
1) Cape Cod Baseball League - Ok, so this was an easy one to figure out since the CCBL is considered the gold standard when it comes to college baseball summer leagues. But you still may be surprised by how much better it is than all the rest of the leagues. 64.2% of all of the players who played in this league came from the 10-top RPI conferences. And 44% came from the 4 top conferences, the ACC, SEC, Pac-12 and Big 12. The next closet league is almost 24% points less than the Cape Cod. While the percentages are exceptional, what's even more impressive is only 13.2% of all the players who play in the league are freshmen. In other words, the players who participate in this league are not only talented but experienced. I'll also throw this in for good measure - during the 2012 MLB Draft, 98 former Cape Cod players were drafted in the top 10 rounds, 20 of whom were 1st-round selections. (The Cape Cod League website doesn't list the former Cape Cod players drafted in the 2013 draft, hence the reason I used 2012.)
2) New England Collegiate Baseball League - I chose the NECBL as the 2nd best league because of its high percentage of top-10 conference players (40.9%, second best among all summer leagues) and the large number of players from those conferences (149, also second best). And 79 of those 149 players were from the top four conferences. Also impressive is the fact that 69% of the players in this conference are sophomores and juniors. Add in the fact that during the 2013 MLB Draft, 27 former NECBL players were drafted in the top-10 rounds, including two 1st-rounders, and you see why it came in number 2.
3) Northwoods Summer Collegiate League - The 3rd and 4th leagues were very close to each other but I chose the NSCL over the California Collegiate League because of two things, 1) it had more players from the 10 top conferences (133 to 98 for the CCL) and it had more former players drafted in the 1st 10 rounds of the 2013 MLB Draft (38 compared to 18 for the CCL). Also include the fact that 74.5% of the players in this league are sophomores and juniors and you have the third best league.
4) California Collegiate League - 35.5% of the CCL players compete in the top-10 RPI conferences. And like the Cape Cod league, very few freshmen play in this league, only 10.5% of the players are freshmen, which is the lowest number of freshmen, percentage-wise, of any league, including the Cape Cod. Those were the two advantages that the CCL had over the NSCL. Another impressive fact about this league is that it had 18 former players drafted in the top 10 rounds of the 2013 MLB Draft, including 4 first-rounders. Something that surprised me about this league is there are more SEC players (22 total) participating in it than any other top-10 conference, including the Pac-12 (17) and the Big West (19) conferences.
5) Coastal Plain League - This is another spot that could have been either of two leagues, either the CPL or the West Coast League. I chose the CPL due to two reasons, 1) 77.7% of the players in this league are sophomores and juniors (compared to 56.6% of the same classes in the WCL), and 2) 43 of its players came from the top 2 conferences (ACC, SEC) compared to 1 for the WCL. What kept both leagues very close is the fact that the WCL had 41 players from the 3rd best conference, the Pac-12. 15 former CPL players were drafted in the top 10 rounds of the 2013 MLB Draft.
6) West Coast League - 31% of the players in this league came from the top-10 RPI conferences. I mentioned quite a bit about this league in the Coast Plain League summary but one thing I didn't mention is the fact that this league is basically a farm system for the top two west coast conferences, the Pac-12 and the Big West. Of the 91 players that came from the top-10 conferences, 87 came from the the Pac-12 and Big West conferences. 14 former WCL players were drafted in the top 10 rounds of the 2013 MLB Draft, including 1 first-rounder.
7) Alaska Baseball League - This spot was a battle between two leagues, the Alaska Baseball League and the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League. I ultimately chose the ABL for three reasons, 1) it had a higher % of players from the top-10 conferences (36.3% compared to 21.9% for the CRCBL), 2) it had a smaller percentage of freshman (31.8% compared to 47% for the CRCBL) and 3) the ABL had 9 draft picks in the top-10 rounds of the 2013 MLB Draft compared to 7 for the CRCBL. Those three advantages offset the fact that the CRCBL had 17 more top-10 conference players participating in its league than the ABL.
8) Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League - The CRCBL came in 8th thanks to most of the comments previously mentioned in the Alaska Baseball League section. One thing that I didn't mention in that section is that of the 74 top-10 conference players in this league, 50 are from two conferences, 31 from the ACC and 19 from the Colonial Athletic Conference. The only summer league with more ACC players is the Cape Cod with 37.
9) Texas Collegiate League - While this league is a fairly small league, with just 6 teams, it's a league with a large percentage of top-10 conference players, 30.3%. Of the 53 players in this league who are from the top-10 conferences, 35 are from the powerhouse conferences SEC, Pac-12 and Big 12.
10) Valley Baseball League - The number 10 spot goes to the Valley Baseball League but it was a close race with the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League. Both leagues had advantages over the other league. The advantages the VBL had was the fact that it had less freshmen in its league (32.7% compared to 47% for the GLSCL) and it had a few more players from the top four conferences (23 to 16).
Those are the top 10 summer collegiate baseball leagues. Next up is my top 11 to 20.
11) Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League
12) Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League
13) Far West Collegiate League
14) Prospect League
15) Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League
16) Florida Collegiate Summer League
17) Futures Collegiate Baseball League
18) South Florida Collegiate Baseball League
19) Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League
20) Sunbelt Georgia Collegiate Baseball League
11) Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League - Of the players in the GLSCL, 23.7% (67 players) came from the top-10 conferences. The only summer leagues with more players than that are all among the top-10 ranked leagues. No league ranked below the GLSCL comes close to that number. One item to make note of is this league has more Big Ten players in it than any other summer league, 27 total.
12) Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League - The Hamptons was a fairly easy choice for the number 12 spot thanks to having a high percentage of top-10 conference players, 30%, and a high number of players from those conferences, 51. One other thing that stands out about this league is the very large number of freshmen who participate in it, 63.5%, the highest number among all summer leagues. Basically, it appears to be a training ground for talented freshmen. While it is a league of young players, during the 2013 MLB Draft, there were 5 former HCBL players drafted among the top-10 rounds.
13) Far West Collegiate League - The FWCL is a league that is made up of 17.3% of top-10 conferences players. 44 of its players are from those conferences. It also has a fairly high number of freshmen; 44.5% of its players are freshmen. It's another league that appears to be a farm league for west coast teams, with 29 of its 44 top-10 conferences players coming from those two conferences.
14) Prospect League - 14.9% of the players in the PL are from top-10 conferences. While those 40 players came from almost all of those conferences, half came from the Big Ten. It's not as young a league, player-wise, as many of the other leagues, with just 29.5% of its players being freshmen.
15) Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League - While it is one of the newest summer leagues, the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League is growing fast. 14.5% of its players came from the top-10 conferences. Of the 40 players from those conferences, 10 came from the SEC, the second ranked conference in the nation. Also impressive is the fact that PGCBL had 9 former players drafted during the 2013 MLB Draft.
16) Florida Collegiate Summer League - The FCSL is a small league that consists of 6 teams, all obviously located in Florida. While it has a very solid percentage of players from the top-10 conferences (17.9%), about 70 to 75% of the players in the league are originally from the state of Florida. While a great league, it's basically a league where state of Florida players can play during the summer if they want to play in their homestate. Something very impressive about the league is 11 of its former players were drafted among the top-10 rounds of the 2013 MLB Draft.
17) Futures Collegiate Baseball League - 32 of the Futures league players play for the top-10 conferences. That's 10.9% of all of its players. Of those 32, thirty-one play in the ACC (14), Big East (10) and Colonial Athletic Conference (7).
18) South Florida Collegiate Summer League - While a solid league, most of the 30 top-10 conference players (23 in fact) are players who compete for Florida colleges such as Florida Atlantic, Miami, Florida International, South Florida, UCF, Florida and Florida State. Many of those players are former junior college players. Basically, this league is what its name says, a south Florida league.
19) Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League - 17.6% of the players (32 total) in this league held from the top-10 conferences. Most of the 32 (26 of the 32) came from the Big East (16) and Colonial (10) conferences.
20) Sunbelt League Georgia Collegiate Summer Baseball - 10.7% of the players in this league are from the top-10 conferences. Of those 25 players, 21 play for Georgia, Georgia Tech and Georgia State. Between 90 to 95% of the players originate from the state of Georgia. This is basically a league for Georgia players who want to play their summer ball in the state of Georgia.
Now you know who I consider to be the top 20 summer collegiate baseball leagues. Below are the 21st through 40th best leagues. Since most of those leagues have very few top-10 conference players participating in them, I'm basing their rankings exclusively on top-10 conference player percentages.
21) Jayhawk Collegiate League - 10.8%
22) Ohio Valley Summer Collegiate Baseball League - 8.5%
23) Southern California League - 5.8%
24) Walter Johnson League - 5.5%
25) New York Collegiate League - 5.4%
26) Southern Collegiate League - 5.4%
27) Midwest Collegiate League - 5.0%
28) Maryland Collegiate Baseball League - 4.3%
29) MINK Collegiate Summer Baseball League - 4.2%
30) Golden State Collegiate Baseball League - 4.2%
31) Metropolitan Collegiate League Illinois - 3.1%
32) Cotton States League - 2.6%
33) Western Major Baseball League - 2.4%
34) Carolina-Virginia Collegiate League - 2.0%
35) St. Louis Metro League - 1.8%
36) Pacific International Collegiate Wood Bat League - 1.7%
37) Tri-State Collegiate League - 0.5%
38) All-American Collegiate Baseball League - 0.0%
39) Mountain Collegiate Baseball League - 0.0%
40) Orange County Collegiate Wood Bat league - 0.0%
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing email@example.com.