College isn’t the easiest route to the majors, but it’s the best one

05/31/2014 6:13 PM

11/12/2014 5:45 PM

A sentence never expected to be uttered in any lifetime: “The best thing that ever happened to college baseball was Scott Boras.”

These words came from the mouth of TCU baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle, and when he laid it out all, it was a compelling case that the man known to Mr. Randy Galloway as “The Great Satan” actually did college baseball a big solid.

In an effort to squeeze every single half-penny out of baseball’s owners, Boras, after all of his calculations, has determined that college baseball is better than the pros.

Never has hating the NCAA been more fashionable, or in so many cases justified, but as we approach draft time for both baseball and basketball, all of us would be wise to strongly reconsider the case for class over taking the guaranteed money.

As signing bonuses continue to rise for baseball and basketball draft picks, common sentiment is universally accepted: “It would be dumb not to take it. He has to take it.”

Right now, Schloss is hard-selling southeast Texas prep pitcher and TCU signee Tyler Kolek — expected to be the first right-handed pitcher selected in MLB’s amateur draft Thursday. Any person with a brain would look at the potential $5 million bonus Kolek would receive as a top-five pick and say he would be a fool to attend any college.

What Boras has discovered, and Schlossnagle sells hard to a prospective 18-year-old who is weighing accepting a big bonus vs. playing in college, is that those with brains say no.

The first thing Schloss asks of that kid is, “Do you want to be a professional player, or a major league player?”

The answer to that loaded question is the latter.

“Quickest route — this isn’t my opinion, this is fact — go to college,” he said.

Baseball execs agree with the math, and have for more than a decade — your chances increase exponentially if you play in college rather than go straight to A-ball. Studies of today’s big league rosters, which Schloss sells hard, show that between 52 to 58 percent of today’s big leaguers attended college. An additional 27 percent, roughly, are not from the United States. The rest are high schoolers.

And the most sobering statistic: 2 percent of the players drafted end up in the big leagues. So of those 2 percent that make it, the great majority go to college first.

“This is a business decision,” Schloss said. “That is what we try to stress to them.”

Schloss is loaded with material to sell a kid to stay in school, right down to the breakdown of exactly how much money a prospect will take home if he receives a $1 million signing bonus — $469,000.

To manage that money properly requires discipline and education

The problem is there is a number at which they can’t say no. Maybe it’s $5 million for Kolek.

But what of the prospect who simply has no interest in attending class?

“Those are the guys that need to go to school the most,” Schloss said. “Fight through it, go now and work toward your degree while you are young and not the creepy guy in the back of the classroom.”

College baseball’s scholarship limit — 12.9 per team — severely hurts any college baseball coach’s sales pitches; only the excellent receive a full ride as a baseball player. A baseball player either receives some type of financial aid or is helping pay his own way.

But in basketball, where every player is on a full ride, it’s much the same thing. The top routinely play one season of college ball to apply for the NBA Draft, even though the odds of making it in the league are horrible.

Combined with the righteous anger toward the NCAA, and the lure of a seven-figure paycheck, it makes “more financial sense” for the kid to go pro when the data show the best financial decision, long term, is to stay in school.

Get your guns up

The winner of the Indianapolis 500, Ryan Hunter-Reay, was in town Wednesday to promote the IndyCar race Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway. It has become rather apparent that track president Eddie Gossage has the second-best thing, after winning Indy, to offer the drivers.

Every one of the drivers fantasizes about firing off the giant pistols in the winner’s circle at TMS.

“I want to fire those pistols. There is no victory celebration quite like that. I desperately want to do that,” Hunter-Reay told the media, sponsors and season-ticket holders at the event at Joe T. Garcia’s. “I have my own [gun] collection at home.”

It was last year when Hunter-Reay nearly won the race, but rather than celebrate he was forced to listen to the winner, Helio Castroneves, fire the guns.

“I was walking back to the garage and I could hear those guns go off,” Hunter-Reay said. “It was salt in the wound.”

The TMS people let Hunter-Reay fire off the giant pistols for fun Wednesday — and, yes, those things are painfully loud ... especially if you are not the winner.

Passing of a

cultural giant

The name Bruce Wood doesn’t much belong on a sports page, but anybody who loved Fort Worth and did so much for this community deserves a shout-out on any page.

Wood, the founder of the Bruce Wood Dance Project, died last week at 53. If you are unaware, Wood was a tremendous contributor to the arts in this town.

Whether they are an artist or a ballplayer, the people who make this town so special to so many deserve praise for their work, even on the sports page.


Local celebrity chef Tim Love was roasted for his catering efforts at Colonial last weekend. I took some pretty big shots at him for what I felt was food, and service, that were far inferior to the Tim Love brand that advertises premium.

I did not think it was realistic to serve the premium brand he has established at his restaurants, such as Lonesome Dove, Love Shack or Woodshed, at concession areas that serve thousands. He disagrees.

Ripping Love is a sport in Fort Worth, and people did seem to take joy in the fact the concessions that bore his name were not running smoothly. Love was not particularly happy with some of my criticisms, but he accepted full responsibility and fell on the sword.

The guy deserves another shot to get it right.

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About Mac Engel

Mac Engel


Since 1998 Mac Engel has covered the Texas Rangers, the Dallas Stars, the Dallas Cowboys, colleges, high schools, the Olympics, women's basketball, even amateur women's judo. He has wasted more brain space on local sports than a human should. And he's a big fan of talking about it.

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