Sunday morning I read about three high school pitchers in Texas who threw consecutive no-hitters last month. Casey Brownlow threw the first. Zach Hahn threw the second. Judson Hudson threw the third. For a high school team like the Grandview Zebras to record one no-hitter is impressive enough. But for three different pitchers to throw three consecutive no-no’s is unheard of. This kind of an accomplishment is sure to make these boys consider a MLB career. The problem is that while such an ambition is inspiring, its also extraordinary difficult to accomplish.
We’ve all read about teen prodigies who made it to the majors. Al Kaline was just 18 when he broke in with the Detroit Tigers in 1953. Mickey Mantle was 19 when he joined the Yankees. Carl Scheib was only 16 when he got his first strikeout for the Philadelphia A’s in 1943. Considering these feats, it’s easy to jump to the idea that a MLB career isn’t too far away for these boys. But looking at the following numbers will make anyone think twice.
According to chasingmlbdreams.com, only 1 in every 200 high school baseball players are drafted by a major league team into the minors. According to motherjones.com, only about 10% of those players will actually make it to the majors. So if my math is correct (granted I failed math in high school) only 0.005% of high school baseball players will make it to the majors.
Laying the ground work for a MLB career is no small task. In fact, most players miss that window of opportunity by the time they’re of legal drinking age. This also means that high school players like Brownlow, Hahn, and Hudson may have some hard decisions to make. Thinking about a career in baseball is a lot for a high school senior. As a high school teacher, I can tell you that teens already have it harder than any other generation. They don’t need pressure. They need selfless guidance and support.
There’s a Lot That Goes Into Building a MLB Career
The exposure to social media and advancements in technology is making it harder than ever to be a teen. Social obligations, peer pressure, efforts to fit in, and wondering what to do with his or her life all weigh on a teen’s mind. Not to mention their brains haven’t fully developed yet making it harder to make rational decisions (though you could say the same about members of Congress). It’s a real dilemma of you think about it. Giving up time with your friends and family to focus solely on baseball is hard enough. It’s even harder when you consider there’s still no guarantee of making it to the majors no matter how hard you work. But the idea of looking back one day and wondering what could have been can also be daunting.
Whether Brownlow, Hahn, and Hudson are seriously considering a MLB career is unknown. What I do know is that regardless of their decision, as teens they’ll need a lot of help and support. If they want to pursue a career in baseball they’ll need as much support as they can get. They’ll have to recognize what it’ll take and what sacrifices they’ll have to make. But at the same time, whoever is there for them also needs to remember that they’re young. They’re going to make mistakes. They’ll have regrets from time to time. In those instances they’ll need to know that they’ll always be supported and loved. I’m not their coach, nor am I their dad or brother. But I think you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who disagrees with my sentiments.