OPINION: High School MLB Prospects Should Swing Early And Go Pro
Playing professional baseball is a dream that many young men have, but only few achieve. Even less of those men go on to play in the MLB.
Many say that if the talent is there and a player is ready, to go pro as soon as possible, and that’s for several reasons. Financial stability, no chance of injury in college, and a more often direct path to the majors helps the raw, but talent high schooler find his way into the MLB Draft and hopefully one day in the MLB.
Others believe that a college degree will set you up for life, as a steady career in baseball is often difficult to achieve. This also gives players the opportunity to hone in on their skills and improve over three or four years until being ready to declare for the draft.
But in all honesty, if a high schooler is ready for the draft after graduation, then just do it. Waste no time, take the short-term risk, and just go pro.
Take for instance 17-year-old two-way extraordinaire Hunter Greene. The right-handed flamethrower and shortstop from Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, California, has all the tools necessary to become a lethal player at a very young age. He has been clocked throwing over 100 miles per hour, and can hit balls upwards of 450 feet. Greene has loads of potential on both ends of the diamond, but is listed on draft boards as a pitcher, while also topping Big Board charts. He is consistently ranked in the top-three of the best MLB Draft prospects, including Bleacher Report, Baseball America, and Sports Illustrated.
Watch as Greene shows off his power and velocity in footage shot by The Los Angeles Times.
Why should Greene not seize the opportunity of a lifetime? He has MLB-ready stuff, and is highly regarded as one of the sport’s next big stars. Greene is currently committed to attend and play at UCLA, but why bother?
Rather than having to worry about all the challenges a student-athlete faces balancing school and sports in college, Greene can find the balance between the position player and pitcher sides to his game, and can have the potential to appear in the majors before he turns 21.
Another big reason to go pro now is the eligibility rules that the NCAA has. Once opting to play in college instead of signing a professional contract, the NCAA does not allow players to go back on that decision for at least three years. There is no one-and-done option like in college basketball – players can only declare for the draft after their junior or senior seasons.
College is certainly not a waste of time by any means, but Greene, as well as all high school players, have the unique opportunity to improve and advance at the professional level at an extremely young age if deciding to turn pro. Three of the top-five and five of the top-ten prospects on Bleacher Report’s Big Board are high schoolers.
Risk of career-altering or career-ending injuries can change a career forever, but a player can always go back to school and earn a degree in more ways than one. You only get one chance at the opportunity of a lifetime. For players like Greene, the risk of skipping college may be high, but the reward is even higher.
The MLB Draft begins on Monday, June 12 at 7 p.m. EST.