Professional baseball players are a rare breed of athletes, both mentally and physically conditioned to perform at the highest level.
The path to becoming a Major League Baseball (MLB) player can be rigorous and daunting, but with the right skillset, training, and persistence, you may have what it takes to make it to the big leagues.
This article breaks down what it takes to be a major leaguer, the odds of making it, and the fallback options in case baseball doesn’t pan out.
Skill Level Needed for MLB
Professional baseball requires a high level of skill and understanding of the game.
The sheer physical talent required includes exceptional hand-eye coordination, strong throwing arms, agility, and speed.
On top of these physical attributes, a deep comprehension of the game’s strategies and an ability to make quick decisions under pressure are crucial.
These skills often take years to develop and fine-tune through experience and coaching.
Aspiring players should understand that this is not a quick process; a major leaguer’s skill set is a product of constant practice, coaching, and learning from both successes and failures.
How to Get Drafted in the MLB
The primary route to the MLB is through the MLB Draft (officially known as the First-Year Player Draft).
Every year, MLB teams select players from high schools, colleges, and other baseball leagues.
To get drafted, players typically must excel at their current level of competition, often showcasing their skills in amateur baseball tournaments, school matches, and showcases where scouts are present.
Players also need to stay in excellent physical condition, demonstrating the durability and stamina required for the 162-game MLB regular season.
Additionally, scouts look for players who show good sportsmanship, leadership skills, and a work ethic that indicates they’ll continue to improve and work hard once they’re in the professional ranks.
My Advice If You Want To Play Major League Baseball
Understanding the Odds
The odds of making it to the Major League are indeed slim.
According to the NCAA, only about 10.5% of college baseball players get drafted by an MLB team, and only a fraction of them will make it to the majors.
There are a bit under 500,000 high school baseball players each year in the US. And there are around 750 spots on MLB rosters each year (total will be higher due to injuries and roster churn).
Some of those roster sports will go to non-US players.
So the odds of any given high school player making it to the majors is around 0.1%.
These statistics underscore the intense competition and the level of commitment and dedication necessary to rise through the ranks.
Advice on How to Play in the MLB
While the road to the majors is challenging, there are ways to increase your chances.
First and foremost, seek out the best training and coaching you can find. Join competitive leagues and play against the best competition you can, as this will not only improve your skills but also give you a sense of the level of play in professional baseball.
Moreover, it’s vital to prioritize education and maintain a balanced lifestyle.
The mental aspect of baseball is just as important as the physical, and a solid educational background can provide the tools to understand and implement strategies.
Additionally, it can serve as a backup plan should a professional baseball career not pan out.
Fallback Options If Baseball Doesn’t Work Out
In the case that a professional baseball career does not work out, having fallback options is crucial.
Prioritizing education is key.
Many baseball players take advantage of scholarships to college where they can play baseball at a high level while earning a degree. This degree can open up many career paths outside of sports.
Additionally, staying involved in baseball in other capacities can also be fulfilling.
Careers in coaching, scouting, sports journalism, or sports management can keep you close to the game you love.
Moreover, the skills learned while playing baseball, such as teamwork, discipline, leadership, and dealing with adversity, can be beneficial in many professions outside of sports.
FAQs – What It Takes to Be a Major Leaguer (MLB)
What are some general pieces of advice for someone aiming to play in the MLB?
The first step to becoming a professional baseball player is to be passionate about the game and be ready to put in a considerable amount of time and effort.
Regular practice is crucial to refine your skills. Try to play competitive baseball in high school or college, which gives scouts an opportunity to notice your talent.
Pay attention to your physical fitness, nutrition, and mental toughness as these aspects can dramatically influence your performance.
Attend MLB tryout camps if possible, where you can showcase your talent directly to MLB scouts.
Lastly, consider getting a mentor or coach who can provide you with personalized guidance and feedback.
What is the required skill level for a baseball player to play in the MLB?
Playing in the Major League Baseball requires an exceptional level of skills.
Players should excel in batting, fielding, and/or pitching. As a batter, you should have a high batting average and slugging percentage.
Pitchers need a low earned run average (ERA) and should be able to pitch fastballs consistently over 90 mph, along with having a variety of other pitches like curveballs, sliders, or change-ups in their repertoire.
Fielders need to exhibit quick reflexes, strong and accurate throws, and smart decision-making.
All players should have superior hand-eye coordination, agility, speed, and a deep understanding of the game’s strategic aspects.
What does it take to get drafted into the MLB?
Getting drafted into the MLB is a highly competitive process.
The annual MLB draft is where teams choose eligible players to join the league.
To become draft eligible, you need to either graduate from high school and not be enrolled in a four-year college, or attend a four-year college and have either completed your junior year or be at least 21 years old.
Exceptional performance in high school, college, or amateur leagues can make you an attractive prospect.
Having a wide range of skills, strong physical attributes, and demonstrable game intelligence are important to catch the attention of scouts.
Scouts often look for high-potential players who can be groomed to perform well in the major leagues.
What are the odds of making it to the Major League?
The odds of making it to the MLB are fairly low due to the high level of competition and the limited number of roster spots available.
It’s estimated that only about 6.8% of high school senior boys playing interscholastic baseball will go on to play men’s baseball at a NCAA member institution.
Of these NCAA athletes, only around 10.5% will get drafted by an MLB team.
And even fewer of those will make an MLB roster.
So the odds of a high school baseball player making the major is about 1/1000, or 0.1%.
However, these odds can increase with commitment, regular training, ability, excellent performance, and a bit of luck.
What are some fallback options if a career in baseball doesn’t work out?
Having a fallback plan is essential for any aspiring baseball player.
Here are a few options:
- Education: While pursuing baseball, make sure to also prioritize your education. A degree can provide numerous opportunities outside of sports.
- Coaching/Teaching: With your experience and knowledge of the sport, you can become a baseball coach or physical education teacher.
- Sports Administration: There are many roles within sports organizations beyond being a player, such as management, marketing, public relations, etc.
- Sports Medicine/Training: If you’re interested in health and fitness, careers in sports medicine or athletic training could be a good fit.
- Sports Journalism/Broadcasting: If you enjoy talking about sports or writing, consider a career in sports journalism or broadcasting.
Even if you don’t end up playing in the MLB, there are many ways to stay connected to the sport you love and make a fulfilling career out of it.
While the path to becoming a Major League Baseball player is undeniably challenging and steeped in competition, it is not without its rewards.
Whether or not you make it to the majors, the journey itself – fraught with lessons, challenges, and triumphs – can be a deeply enriching experience that prepares you for success in various life arenas.