How many mlb players played travel ball? Once upon a time, it was true that you could play Little League for a number of years, and this would be enough to hone your talent in preparation for high school baseball. However, while Little League baseball is rightly a celebrated pastime for American kids, it’s simply not enough for aspiring baseball players anymore.
If you have your eyes set on the big leagues, at a certain point, you (or the baseball player in your family) should seriously consider the merits of travel baseball.
What Is Travel Baseball?
What is travel baseball? In terms of youth baseball, you can consider Little League as Double-A ball and travel baseball as Tripple-A. Travel baseball is a step up; Little League is more on the recreational side of things, while travel baseball takes it all a bit more seriously.
The players are better, the coaches are better, and the experiences are — overall — more rewarding. There’s nothing wrong with Little League when you’re starting out, but as you progress, you’ll want to look into travel baseball.
Travel baseball is, ultimately, just what it sounds like: Teams traveling around to play baseball against other teams. That may seem like an oversimplification, but we’re talking about the potential for teams with talented players on their roster going up against other similarly organized squads.
While there is a perception that the average baseball travel team only ever has the cream of the crop, the truth is that a team’s quality will depend on the coach and their mission for the team.
MLB Players Played Travel Baseball, Too
How many MLB players played travel ball? In the past, travel baseball was a niche, so players generally came up through Little League, college, farm squads, and up into the Show.
These days, though, travel baseball has more of an imprint and far more of an impact. According to Baseball America, as of 2017, there had been about 5,000 MLB players throughout history who had played at least one game in a travel baseball league. As of 2022, that number is bound to have increased.
Travel Baseball and High School Baseball
Is travel baseball worth it in comparison with high school baseball? What’s the difference between the two?
What About High School Baseball?
High school teams play against other high school baseball teams in the spring, but travel baseball is something that can more or less happen year-round.
The level of talent on a high school team can vary quite a bit, and the focus is more on having fun and encouraging teamwork rather than preparing players for college baseball. Then again, there is the possibility that a high school baseball team can have talented coaches, staff, and players aplenty.
Travel Baseball Is a Big Financial Commitment
Then, of course, there are the costs: It’s cheaper to play high school baseball than it is to play on a baseball travel team. This means that high school baseball is far more accessible for talented players whose families, unfortunately, don’t have deep pockets.
And travel baseball can come with a pretty hefty price tag: Parents with children playing travel baseball can expect to pay several thousand dollars for equipment, tournament entry fees, and travel expenses over the course of a season. Such a financial commitment can be a big barrier even for many middle-class families, ruling out travel baseball as an option… unless the child is truly committed to a life in baseball.
Overall, Is Travel Baseball Worth It?
But, really, is travel baseball worth it? Can you expect to get your money’s worth from your child playing travel baseball?
Do It for the Exposure
It’s safe to say that if you’re seeking exposure for the talented baseball player you’re raising, then travel baseball could be the way to go. Many high-level baseball scouts often attend travel baseball tournaments and pay close attention to up-and-coming players on high-level teams. So, if exposure is what you’re after, then travel baseball is probably the best way for players to advertise their abilities to scouts and coaches.
Do It To Help Improve Their Game
Speaking of abilities, travel baseball is also a way for your player to improve their own. Yes, ingrained talent certainly matters on the field, but playing against other talented baseball players? That will put your baseball player to work. Going up against the best is how the natural talent your baseball player possesses can be put to the test; they’ll discover strengths they never knew they possessed and find holes in their game they can plug up before it gets to be too late.
Do It So They Can Travel More
Being on a baseball travel team will help your baseball player get better acquainted with the game and with scouts, but it will also expose them more to their surroundings, and traveling together can help them build camaraderie with their teammates.
Let CAA Guide You and Your Baseball Player
So, is travel baseball worth it? Is it the best option for you and your baseball player? What’s definitely worth your time is getting in touch with College Athlete Advantage (CAA) to talk with experts who can explain everything you need to know to help your player find the best path to the big leagues. It pays to start early, so start working with CAA today.
Think making your kid play ball year round will help him make the majors? You’re wrong.
The boy was 12, but he had caught every inning of every game in a schedule that would likely have exceeded that of some professionals.
For fear of alienating his coach, the parents asked that their son’s name remain anonymous.
As insane as this example is, it is not surprising, for this is our norm.
There is scant evidence to suggest that our current culture of youth sports is good for the kid, and yet the kid keeps doing it against all of the advice from physicians, and those who actually reach the professional ranks.
Virtually all of them — all of them — attest that playing one sport year round is not good, and that we are burning out kids through all-star, select and whatever other leagues we “sell” to parents.
“The road is so long,” said professional baseball player Matt Davidson, “and it really doesn’t matter how good you are at 12. It doesn’t. It only matters if you’re good at 18, and at 21.”
Davidson could have attended USC on a baseball scholarship, but he skipped that after he was a first-round pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2009.
He has played a little more than three big league seasons, and he’s currently in the Texas Rangers’ system. He might be considered an expert.
“The entire system sets kids up to fail,” TCU baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle said. “It sets them up to not like baseball.”
The only people who truly benefit from our current youth sports system are the adults. Everyone admits they are over-doing it, and no one does a thing to stop it.
I wanted to know what those who made the highest level think of all of this, and how our system compares to other nations who contribute big league ball players.
There is no perfect way, but take it from the experts themselves, the pros: If you think you are over-doing it, you are.
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