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Should My Child Choose College or Go Pro?

Professional baseball scouts like to point out that of all the thousands of players who play baseball each year, only a few are chosen in the draft.

Ultimately, your high school graduate will have to decide one of three things: Does he go pro? Does he go to college? Does he quit and do something else?

Some of the reasons to go to college include:

  1. a) the fact that a player drafted out of college has a higher chance of making it to the majors;
  2. b) the college experience;
  3. c) the professional team is not offering enough of a signing bonus to justify losing your amateur status;
  4. d) your child is not confident enough in his own abilities to think he can make it to the pros and he wants a solid backup plan;
  5. e) your child is a multisport athlete and is not sure which sport he wants to play yet; and
  6. f) your child is not sure if he wants a career in professional baseball.

Some of the reasons to go professional include:

  1. a) your child is not a good student, and is more likely to have a successful career in professional baseball;
  2. b) your child receives a significant signing bonus;
  3. c) your child cannot get a scholarship and does not have the resources to go to college;
  4. d) your child has lost his amateur eligibility;
  5. e) the coaches are generally better on the professional teams;
  6. f) the professional team guarantees to pay for college for your child after his baseball career is over; and
  7. g) baseball is a young man’s game and the sooner your son gets started the quicker he can develop and fulfill his dream.

A reason that can cut both ways is injuries. If a player has a bad injury while in school, he will need to do something other than baseball with his life. On the flip side, a scout once told me, “Injuries and age have never stopped anyone from getting an education but they have stopped a promising career in sports, so it is best to start early.” (I apologize, but I can no longer find the source for this quote.)

So what do the experts say?

Jack Cust & Keith Dilgard, of Diamond Nation (aka Jack Cust Baseball Academy), suggest that for most position players, it is best to go to college. However, for pitchers, due to the high risk for injury, going professional has additional advantages. They also cautioned that a player must be careful where he goes to college as some places expect you to leave by the end of your junior year.

George (Curvy) Ramos suggests that if a player is drafted in the top three rounds, it is best to sign with a professional team.

Joe Barth’s best advise is to “go where you are wanted.” You will be happier as a result, especially if you are choosing among colleges. He warns that a player’s scholarship can be pulled for a variety of reasons, so it is important to have a good relationship with the coaches.

In the end, your child should not make this decision until he has all the good offers on the table from the colleges and the professional team that has drafted your son. At a certain point, if the drafting team offers enough money, it will make sense to play professional ball rather than go to college. This number is different for everyone and I will discuss what draft picks are receiving in more detail in the next installment

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