The Draft: College or High School?
A different points in my life I have changed my mind back and forth several times on this topic. This is a two-fold question that asks for the athlete if he should go to college if drafted or turn professional. The other side of the coin asks the Major League team if they should go after a kid in college that has more seasoning (but from someone else) or go with the young arm just out of high school.
Let’s examine it from the point of the athlete that is being considered for the draft.
First, let me get this out of the way. Every situation is different. Every athlete has something unique to plug into their answer. To me, if they are unsure for any reason, whether it be mental or emotional readiness then going to school appears to be the choice they should make. But if they feel ready and the market has given them a contract opportunity they can live with, then go for it.
Let’s assume for a moment they have completed their college eligibility. There will be only a handful of players that are going to get the chance to go pro. What is better than getting paid for what you love to do?
A handful of athletes will have an opportunity to turn pro before they have completed their college eligibility. Career-wise, there is nothing better than getting paid to do what they love. And there is nothing wrong with players doing everything in their power to get to the pros as soon as possible. But it’s also a decision fraught with peril.
As much as we want players to stay in college all four years, that is not always realistic. Think about it: A young person who dreams of becoming a doctor does not dream of attending medical school. He dreams of being a doctor. Same for the best basketball players: They dream of playing in the NBA, not in college.
There are many sources of bad information. If faced with this decision then get some good counsel to help out. Don’t get someone that will just tell you want you want to hear. Seek out for all angles.
If you go pro, be sure to have a plan that stretches out for 10 years or more in case baseball doesn’t work out. Many athletes want to find a path to the professional ranks but fail to think about how to stay there.
A player may decide to stay in school no matter how many millions pro sports may offer. The reasons could include:
ü Getting a degree to satisfy himself and his parents
ü Enjoying college
ü Improving athletic skills
ü Developing physically and emotionally
When faced with this decision beware of the party line from college coaches to “go to school” and “stay in school”. They are only trying to pad their resume for their own legacy and future.
Baseball will draft hundreds of players and ship them away from home to small towns across America and pay them very little in some cases. Let’s consider the case of Jeremy Bonderman.
He didn’t want to go to college and signed a contract with the Oakland A’s for $1.5M after his junior year in high school. What’s he going to miss out on? Some activities at school like prom. But he has money and can go to college at a later date. Nothing says you have to go to college directly out of high school. Many students could fare better in college if they took some time off after high school if they had been out in the world for a period of time.
According to Tim Wheat:
I know guys who turned down 200k and $ for college for a full ride in an attempt to increase their draft status and bonus $ A couple got hurt. A couple burnt out. Only 1 increased from a 5th rounder to a sandwich and upped his bonus about 900k. The others wished they had the $ !
From one unnamed source that was put in this situation:
GO PRO….. you work your tail off to get to that level take the money. ..
Live your dream before some college jackass coach can take it from you…they don’t care about your health just their coaching records..
College is a tremendous opportunity to learn and mature. Alternatively, for a select few, the money and competition available in professional sports is simply too much to pass up. Whatever a player decides, he needs to get the decision right.
Editors Note: I believe if an athlete can go pro after high school then he should do it. The professional ranks have coaches and trainers that are top notch to foster your develop. In the colleges, it is a meat market and they will use you and use you and particularly if your position is a pitcher. Ask Sean Manaea, Jeff Hoffman or Ben Smith who were all expected to get a high draft slot and then got their arm hurt in college. Things could still work out for them. At least I hope so.