In terms of popularity, college baseball doesn’t quite make the cut. Stadiums definitely don’t sell out like football, basketball, or hockey arenas on college campuses and tuning into your favorite college baseball team on TV isn’t exactly an easy task.
You can’t count out the difference in the developmental process of the MLB compared to other professional sports where all major league prospects spend at least a year or two playing in the minors. This simple fact definitely accounts for the lack of popularity of the sport at the collegiate level.
The question remains: if you are a talented baseball player, is it worth playing college baseball or are you better skipping college programs for the minors? Keep reading as we unpack differences involved with playing college baseball or moving straight to the minors.
Unless you have been a professional athlete or know a professional athlete personally, you cannot fully comprehend the lifestyle involved with playing at the professional level of any sport. A high school student choosing to forgo college baseball for the major leagues is in for a true 180 turnaround to their everyday life.
Living on your own, managing your money, balance between your personal life and work life, commitment to your job, or simply being on your own for the first time in your life are only a few of the major changes in a high school players’ lifestyle. There’s a lot of maturity required for an 18 year old athlete to jump from high school to a professional setting. College experience is often the buffer that builds maturity in young athletes before moving on to their perspective shows.
The lifestyle factor is completely dependent on the individual. It is a personal choice and one that should be considered carefully.
If you’ve ever seen a high school baseball weight lifting session compared to the minor leagues, you have a basic understanding of the difference in physical preparation involved between the two different levels. Physical preparation is another factor that greatly impacts a players readiness to move from high school straight to the minor leagues.
College again offers players a buffer time to increase their physical readiness to join a minor or major league affiliation. There are more specific weight training programs, nutrition guidelines, and out of season training that takes place in college that more accurately mirrors what players will experience in the minors.
College gives baseball players more time to develop their physique from boys to men. There aren’t many major league baseball players who are small in stature. Successful players are physical specimens who follow the most up to date, researched, physical routines to play at their peak performance.
The Mental Game
The sister of the physical aspect of players is the mental toughness required to skip college and move on to the minors. It can be a shocker for guys to move from a big fish in a little pond, to a little fish in a big pond. Players experience the reality that they are not the top player on their teams anymore and might have to compete for their spot for the first time in their lives.
The season is also more grueling than players have ever experienced. They are traveling more often and don’t have the luxury of returning to the comfort of their own homes in between road trips or games. Not to mention, there’s no such thing as ‘hurt feelings’ in the minors. Coaches and managers are going to tell you exactly how it is without consideration for how that may affect your feelings.
A new reality to the mental game of minor league baseball can be dramatic for young boys working to become men, especially when they are away from the comfort of their support systems at home.
To Play or Not to Play
The decision to skip college baseball opportunities to move on to the minors and cut the years it takes you to play in the major leagues is a personal decision. Be sure to consider if you are mentally prepared, physically prepared, and ready for the dramatic change in lifestyle.