Whether to sign a minor league contract or attend college is often one of the
most difficult decisions for a drafted high school player to make. Alot of
factors should be taken in account in making your decision. Are you college
material academically? How high did you go in the draft? How much of a signing
bonus does the club offer? Have you stop growing or filling out?
Soaring salaries for major league free agents make the draft, with its much
bonuses, a more logical alternative for finding talent. At the same time,
baseball is also looking for the best high school players and looking for
the same talent.
There often develope a combative nature between the colleges and professional
teams. Major League Baseball until 1998 did not release the complete draft
list in the order of selection because the fear that colleges were
using them as a recruiting list.
Major League Baseball has taken steps to increase the signing rate by offering
full college tuition to those high school players signing minor league contracts.
It is easier to sign players if they know their college tuition will be
While most major league ball players were drafted out of the college ranks,
professional baseball is concern about certain trends in college baseball.
Major League officials are concern with college pitchers being used too much
and becoming breaking-ball pitchers. They are also concern by hitters
picking up bad habits by using aluminum bats.
The use of the aluminum bats in college baseball is felt by professional
baseball to hinder the development of hitters and pitchers alike. The pitchers
don't learn to pitch inside because they can't turn aluminum into kindling,
and throw more breaking pitches to counteract the aluminum advantage. By throwing
so many breaking pitches they put more stress on their arms and fail to develope
The aluminum bat are lighter and have a larger sweet spots than wood bats, which
easier to hit a pitch well. And unlike wood, aluminum will not break, so many
the fists can be flared to the outfield. The pros feel it is easier to correct
of a high school player because the college hitter has had three more years
of success swinging aluminum.
"If a player is academically oriented and has the aptitude to hande college work,
he should go to college," Texas coach Cliff Gustafson says. "I think the college
experience is a great experience in a young person's life. He should have the
opportunity to experience that immediately following high school, the progression
that is normal for a non-athlete to go to school with his peers."
"If he does not get his experience in the next three or fours years, he
will miss out. Even if he goes back later in his life to get his degree,
the education he receives
in college is far greater than a piece of paper."
IT'S THE CALL OF A LIFETIME (April 7, 1996)
Neil White (State Sports)
To sign or not to sign.
That's the question the state's best high school players face every summer.
While high school basketball players considering a jump to the professional
ranks-- Jermaine O'Neal comes to mind-- remain an anomaly, their baseball counterparts
go through a much different ritual every year.
Major league baseball actively pursues the top prep players because it has a
that football and basketball don't have. And with the phenomenal rise in bonus
money over the last ten years for high draft choices, players are faced with
decisions when the draft arrives each June.
The best collegiate programs are finding it more and more difficult to compete
with six-figure bonuses.Clemson had its recruiting class wiped out last year
when most of its signees decided to sign professionally and take the money.
South Carolina felt the sting when a pair of Lexington High School shortstops,
Brandon Cromer in 1992 and Doug Bearden in 1994, decided to bypass college
and begin their careers.
Money talks. For many players, the decision simply becomes an economic one.
Last year Dreher High's Corey Jenkins could have played both football and
at USC, but when the Red Sox took him in the first round with the 24th pick and
came calling with
$575,000 bonus money, Jenkins made a decision that didn't surprise anyone.
The same with Newberry High outfielder Reggie Taylor, the Phillies top pick
who commanded $970,000 as the 14th overall selection.
It's impossible for colleges to compete with that kind of money. It takes an
exceptional person to walk away from a sizable bonus. Clemson sophomore
Matt LeCroy was such an exception. As a supplemental second round choice of
the Mets in 1994, he turned down a bonus of over $300,000.
Things have worked out well for LeCroy so far. He had a sensational freshman season,
helping the Tigers make it to the College World Series, and played on Team USA
last summer. He's happy with his decision, and if he continues to play well,
there's no reason the money will not be waiting again.
But that's the hitch if a player turns it down. The money might not be there the next time.
What if he never plays well enough to get drafted again? Or what if he gets hurt?
On the other side, what if he takes the money and his career fizzles quickly
in the minor leagues? He can never get that experience of playing college baseball
Making the call. Professional teams sell the value of getting an early start
toward making the major leagues instead of starting over three years later.
Players who attend a four-year college aren't eligible for the draft again
until after their junior year.
But the college coaches can counter with the value of making progress toward a
as well as the fact that three years at a top program sometimes can vault a
in a pro team's system than three years in the low minors.
Playing in a high-powered conference like the SEC or ACC, with outstanding
competition and facilities they offer, can make the choice extremely tough,
especially for those players who are middle-round picks that don't command
Richland Northeast outfielder Henri Stanley, who signed with Clemson, rated the
No.78 high school prospect nationally by Baseball America in the preseason.
Darlington High shortstop Orlando Hudson, who's also a standout football player,
was rated No. 52 on that list. Both will have decisions to make in June about which
direction they want their futures to take.
The decision isn't tough for players who aren't academically qualified. But for
who are, it's one that shapes the rest of their lives
BOOKS OR BUCKS
By Joey Knight Tampa Tribune 6/23/96
TAMPA: Life as a U.S. Postal Service employee suits Chuck Donahue nicely. It was his frustrating baseball career that prompted the Robinson graduate to mail it in.
Like Coutless high school stars will do during this week's major league draft, Donahue snubbed a chance at college baseball for a pro contract. After all, the Cincinnati Reds who drafted the shortstop in the eight round, offered Donahue an opportunity to pursue his dream. The University of South Carolina only offered a scholarship.
"Being young, I guess I only saw one thing, and that's the fact I wanted to play major league baseball,"said Donahue, the 1984 Saladino Award winner. "I had a lot of people telling me to go to school, but it's hard to tell someone who sights are set somewhere else."
Soon thereafter, Donahue's delusions of grounders at the big-league level faded. Admittedly disenchanted, he played with three different clubs in three years before being released by the Reds in 1987.
Fortunately for Donahue, a career move provided greener pastures than
those he saw on the most well-manicured minor-league field. He now has a stable job, is married to his high school sweetheart and says he's
probably in the best shape of his life.
But if he had to do it all over again.....
"If I had a son and he was in the same position, I'd strongly suggest
he go to school," Donahue said.
Therein lies the decision facing hundreds of high schoolers as the draft nears. For first- and second round choices, there usually is no choice. The money they receive will enable them to save a little for a rainy day- or four year degree.
But those selected in the middle rounds often find themselves in the middle of the road. What should I do" College or contract?
Further, what will the clubs do? High Schoolers or those in schools of higher learning?
This sounds like a cliche, but we're going to take the best available
at the time," Tampa Bay Devil Rays General Manager Chuck LaMar said.
"Because we're building from scratch, we're not really in a position
to take this player at this particular age and so on. In years to come, our philosophy could change."
Others' philosophies are unwavering
"If you don't get the money, you should go to school because you will not regret it," said 1991 Brandon graduate Bruce Thompson, who went to the University of Miami despite being drafted in the seventh round out of high school by Seattle.
"If you're a real high draft choice, they're going to make certain you make it because they have a lot of money invested in you. They will take care of you and make certain you succeed. But if you are not a high draft choice...."
Thompson 23, was drafted by San Francisco last June, but lasted five rounds longer than he did in 1991. He hit .232 in his first season with the Giants' Class A short-season team in Bellingham, Wash., and currently is with the club's Class A team in Burlington, Iowa.
Still, he said he has no regrets about his decision. Neither does former University of Florida pitcher Marc Valdes.
Valdes chose the Gators despite being the Reds' 20- round choice after his senior year at Jesuit. He's currently with the Florida Marlins'
Double-A team in Portland, Maine.
"You will have at least three years out of the way to pursue a degree insteed of having to rely on baseball for the future," said Valdes, who received a $415,000 signing bonus upon being the Marlins' first pick in the 1993 amateur draft. "Those who think you play three years
and then boom, you are in the big leagues....it's not that easy."
Well for some it is. Among those who have gone the opposite way with considerable sucess are Fred McGriff (Yankees ninth round in 1991), Mark Lemke (Braves, 25th in 1983) and Wade Boggs (Red Sox, seventh in 1976). All spurned Divison I offers to turn pro.
Further, LaMar said the Devil Rays could draft several high school players who pose a "high risk," meaning they already have a scholarship in tow. It would jibe with LaMar's well-known philosophy of building with youth, one that worked effectively during his tenure
(1990-95) as the Braves' head of scouting and player development.
"But I think the good organizations, in the long run, have to have an influx of high school and college players,"he said.
For those with the college-pro option, that hardly makes their decision easier.
"I also had the benefit of the college life and played in three College World Series," Thompson said. "I am sure alot of people would like to have that experience."