Player development is a key element in baseball. There is one somewhat simple metric that shows the changes now in the “how and where” of the development of young, promising players. In the past 10 years, the percentage of players chosen in the first ten rounds of the draft from colleges has gone from 52% to over 75%.
The MLB is clearly demonstrating a preference for players who have college experience. While there are several reasons noted by those covering the MLB (more reliable data on college players, more mature, etc), one other reason is that the players are better developed than the high schoolers.
The biggest challenge is to find competent coaches
Think about the effort and expense MLB teams have with player development all down through their farm system. In talking with MLB teams, one of the biggest challenges is finding competent coaches at these lower levels that can truly help these young players improve. It’s a very tough job, and not very highly paid one, to be a minor league coach. Since these players are overwhelmingly young, there are supervisory responsibilities that these coaches must also handle. Therefore the ability to get better developed players, makes all the sense in the world.
Now, there is also the emergence of really successful baseball academies all across the country. Several have even done designed programs for MLB teams – working with players in the off season to improve player development. Academies “that get it” have been adding technology that allows them to demonstrate success with players in their facility.
High school players want summer programs where they can see data. They want to see their numbers and improvement over the summer. Colleges want to see data on high school players – and while some summer tournaments offer data, the best academies all have the data. Since some of these academies are doing so well, some of their coaches are being picked up by colleges and MLB.
While some colleges are also using technology and more scientific methods to enhance player development, they are still hounded by W’s and L’s to validate their existence as a coach. But that being said, many colleges now see that they can enhance performance of their players by having the technology and priority to use to make their players better……..Academies and colleges – that’s where players are obviously getting better……Makes things easier for the MLB, and they obviously see it!