The Truth About MLB Prospects

We all understand how difficult this game can be; this isn’t a sport that only physical ability can get you through. You need hand eye coordination, plate discipline, you need to be thinking on every single play– even when you’re not in the game and in the dugout watching, anything you can see and  point out can be the difference between winning and losing a game. In my favorite baseball movie of all time, Moneyball, they said it perfectly in describing how Billy never was successful in the majors after tons of hype:     “You can’t go into the mind of a player.” At the end of the day the scouts’ job is to understand the player physically and mentally and only then could you find a diamond in the rough.

In this article I want to point out how difficult it can be not only for players, but for general managers and scouts to get it right. So the next time your favorite team’s top draft pick doesn’t work out and flops you can have a new respect on the challenges it takes to even find these players, also the next time your favorite team hits a home run with a late draft pick you can appreciate the scouts job.

I looked at every single round 1-50 from every first year player draft from 2000-2011. I stopped at 2011 because many players drafted in 2012 and later are still learning the game and improving in the minors.

1st round 245 125 370 66%
Comp round 100 104 204 49%
2nd round 159 174 333 47%
3rd round 135 225 360 38%
4th round 110 250 360 31%
5th round 94 266 360 26%
6th round 88 272 360 24%
7th round 71 289 360 20%
8th round 70 290 360 19%
9th round 52 308 360 14%
10th-20th round  379 3464 3840 10%
21st-30th round 230 3367 3597 7%
31st-40th round 107 3398 3505 3%
41st-50th round 131 3461 3592 4%



As you can see from the chart above, the numbers are alarming past the 4th round, it dips down to under 30% of players ever making the show. Yes the first round is the highest at 66%, but how many times have you watched the MLB Draft and heard that a player is the next big thing, that he is a player to keep an eye on as a first round pick? As a fan of any team you believe it only to get crushed 34% of the time as that player never even makes it to the majors

I hope this chart shows at least one thing: how tough this game really is. In these 11 years, (2000-2011) 17,961 players were drafted, and only 1,971 of them ever made it to the big leagues. That is an alarmingly low 11%. We always hear how tough and cutthroat the sports industry is but we never really know the numbers of how tough it actually is. Well here it is. And with this industry constantly growing and hundreds of scouts all across the world looking at baseball players you have to wonder how much of the process is actually skill and how much is just luck.

That 11% includes the players who had just one at bat or one third of an inning pitched in the majors; most of the paltry 11% haven’t been successful. Now whatever your definition of successful is I have my own– the player and their stats being able to be on most MLB team’s roster today. From what I saw, only 3.1% of players drafted were ever successful at the major league level; a very low 570 players over an 11 year span out of 17,961 players drafted. This blows my mind and really opens my eyes, and I hope it opens yours as well.

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