Today's guest post is from Jeff Spelman of Team One Showcase. This article originally appeared in Baseball Parent magazine. It's part of an eight-article series on pro baseball tryouts and pitching in college.
Thousands of high school senior baseball players look forward with great anticipation and hope to the Major League Amateur Free Agent Draft in June.
Four or five seniors will become instant millionaires. Perhaps a hundred or so others will be very happy with the draft. All others will likely be disappointed because they were chosen late or not selected at all.
Major league teams can make as many selections as they want. In 1995, several teams bowed out in the 30th round while others went beyond 50 rounds. But the later a player is drafted, the less likely he is to sign. Of 1,666 players drafted in 1995, approximately 780 were high school players. Of the number drafted, usually 225 to 250 high school players sign contracts.
You need to be realistic and look at the numbers. Pro teams thrive on players who think they will overcome the long odds against becoming a major league player. Actually only 5 to 6 percent of drafted players ever play a day in the major leagues. And about 40 percent of first-round draft picks never make it either.
If your son chooses a pro career, he is at least significantly delaying if not giving up a college education. Questions to consider: What's a degree worth, and how far will he be behind his peers if he enters the work force four years after they do?
If a high school player signs for a bonus of $100,000 (roughly fourth-round money), how long will it last? Uncle Sam claims 31 percent for taxes, leaving your son with $69,000. He may use $10,000 far a down payment on a car. That leaves $59,000. His minor league salary will be about $850 per month-during the six-month season only. So if he wants to live on $20,000 a year, he'll have to use his bonus money. At that rate, he'll use it up in four to five years. By then, he'll be out of baseball, still be making $15,000 a year in the minors, or possibly be in the major leagues.
On the other hand, major league teams do offer players entry into professional baseball at a younger age, which can translate into earlier high earnings and additional benefits. And although many college coaches disagree, Major League Baseball says the best baseball instructors in the world are available to your son.
When dealing with scouts, always be honest and consistent. But remember, you do not have to give them direct answers to all their questions. For example, scouts commonly ask if your son wants to sign out of high school and how much money it would take to get him to sign. Don't give a figure or a range. Many parents simply respond, "My son would definitely be interested in signing if it's the right offer."
Teams not only draft for talent but also for signability. If you do not want your son to sign a pro contract out of high school and you let scouts know that, then be prepared for the fact that he probably won't be drafted at all. Players who have signed scholarships to top academic universities often go undrafted or get chosen later than expected because teams are worried about their signability.
If your son may be a high draft pick, you'll notice large numbers of scouts at his games late in the high school season, and a major league team's top scouts – regional supervisors, crosscheckers, and even the scouting director - will attend.
If you're a parent of a potential draft pick, try to keep your son from being distracted by all the hype. The only way he can enhance his draft status is by performing well on the field-and distractions can hurt his performance.
Prepare your son emotionally for what might or might not happen in the draft. It's nice to dream, but you and your son need to be realistic.
Always consider not taking a team's first offer. Many players earn more by holding out a week than they would have earned in a whole season had they taken the first offer. However, this strategy may have diminishing returns if the hold out lasts too long.
Deciding between college and an immediate pro career can be a difficult decision. There's no magic formula. Look at all your son's options, which may include a couple of years of college first, and discuss them with him.
And enjoy the attention your son receives. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience. So be sure you're prepared.