Which baseball path is right for high school seniors?
The man who changed the course of the American League Championship Series and then followed up with an encore performance of turning around one of the most dysfunctional teams in baseball made a trip to the Silver State last week.
Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts returned to Reno for the first time since his UCLA Bruins defeated Nevada at Peccole Park.
The National League Manager of the Year was the keynote speaker at the 33rd annual Bobby Dolan Baseball Dinner last week. Roberts spoke of the 2004 Red Sox, who snapped the curse and won the World Series, as well as his stolen base in the ALCS that fueled a comeback for the ages against the Yankees. He talked to the Nevada team about unity, discussed with media about his feelings on LA getting another football team and the topic about a player’s progression through the MLB.
“The main tip is just talking about coming together as a team,” Roberts said about the Wolf Pack. “What they accomplished last year was incredible and how are they going to get better this year. In this arena, I’m going to talk about college baseball and the impact college baseball made on my career and the sense of community.”
The latter caught my interest because it’s interesting to see what goes into a player’s decision during his last year in high school. Do you skip college and go into professional baseball? Do you test the MLB draft and then decide whether you should go into the pros? Or do you go through college, get your degree and then go after your dream?
“Every player, every kid has a different path,” Roberts said. “But physically, mentally and emotionally to be there to make it a profession out of high school is tough. For me, I wasn’t ready. Fortunately, I had great teammates and great coaches who challenged me to become a man and to understand the game of baseball. With (Nevada coach) T.J. (Bruce) and his staff, I think that college might not be for everyone. It certainly is for me. I’m a big advocate.”
The biggest difference is the maturity level. College players are more mature and if something goes wrong (injury), there’s a fallback plan with that obtained degree. For high school graduates, though, you see the lack of maturity and hothead attitude (see Bryce Harper). If you can’t make it in the farm system, then good luck on finding a new career.
Bottom line: while every player is different and unless the scouts are saying you will be the next athlete on the cover of Sports Illustrated, go to college. Get your degree, have fun, play some baseball and then go chase your dream. It’s worked for so many professional athletes.
Thomas Ranson can be contacted at email@example.com.