Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Staying In School

The news the past few days that many of the same players that wowed us in the basketball March Madness, are now headed to the NBA bothered us a bit. It doesn't surprise us...it happens every year. But, now that many of us have teens in college or high school, and we are closer to it, it doesn't seem like the right thing to do. What happened to loyalty and school pride? What's the point of recruiting a Blue Chip athlete if a team is only going to have them for one year? Ohio State is in the championship game one year and doesn't make the tourney the next? How would you like to be that coach? So much for Buckeye Spirit.

Baseball, curiously has a hybrid rule that allows high school graduates to enter the draft. However, if they go to a four year university, they must wait until after their junior year to be draft eligible. We like that rule. Education should be the number one priority.

However, there are ways around this rule if a players goes to a Junior College. A player is eligible after each completed JC season. A player may use this strategy to move up the draft board. Let's say a player gets drafted in the 30th round after his senior year in High School. They don't offer much money at those rounds, so the player goes to a JC. The year after his JC freshman season, he moves up to the 18th round. Still not good enough money to make a living, but he did move up and is being followed. After his sophomore year, he moves up to the 6th round where the money is decent enough to sign and does so.

The JC route is not a bad strategy. At least the player gets an education, but in our opinion, that player may have had a more memorable experience, a better education and more applicable post baseball opportunities at a four year college. If that same player had gone to a four year and then decided to leave after his junior year and baseball didn't pan out, he would only have one year of college to complete...which is much more manageable.

Plus, nothing beats the college experience...the football games on Saturday afternoons, the college basketball season and the built in fan base of 25,000 plus faithful students, thousands of alumni and locals can provide at those sporting events. One year away from the real world of the baseball business will not make or break a players chances to succeed. MLB is full of college players that played at LEAST 3 years at a 4 year university. Even for those that didn't make it to the Bigs, most pro contracts will pay for the player to go back to college and finish his degree. Wouldn't it be easier for that player to only have a few semesters to get that degree? We think so.

It's just so hard for a player to succeed out of High School. There are so many intangibles at that young age. College gives the player a chance to grow up in a more controlled and disciplined environment to help him ease into the sometimes harsh realities of today's world. It's hard enough even for college players to make it...For instance, according to the NCAA, 9.4% of all players go on to play professionally if they go to college, versus .45% of players going professional from High School.

So, if any of you players are good enough to make that decision to go pro or college...pick college...College will not only help you mature and grow mentally, but every D-I program has top notch strength and conditioning programs and facilities that are often not readily available at the rookie and Single A level. You will emerge out of college smarter, more conditioned and disciplined than that kid that decided to make a leap into the big time out of high school...Plus, that degree will be far more valuable than any pro contract in the long run. If you are that good and have a desire to play pro...the scouts will be there waiting...and salivating at that mature, physical specimen that college helped you become.

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