(Photo via Schoolcraft’s baseball website, seen here.)
When something takes “too long” to do, we often lose interest, whether it’s learning, practicing, or the game itself. And in the world of sports, it’s known one of the hardest things to do is hit a round ball with a round bat.
The process of becoming a professional baseball player is one of setbacks, meticulousness, and patience, but before the major leagues, there’s a part where you’re not a top high school prospect. Facing the thought of quitting or continuing your childhood dream at a small unknown junior college with little to no scouts is a real decision.
According to Rafael Galindez, 19-year-old freshman and second baseman for Schoolcraft College in Livonia, MI, he was almost ready to hang up the cleats.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say there is any unfairness in how players are scouted, but baseball is probably the hardest sport to get recruited heavily,” said Galindez.
He continued with, “It isn’t like football or basketball where kids get like 10 offers from schools.”
Truth is, 117 is the number of scholarships allotted to Division I schools; that number is broken down into full, partial, and grant scholarships that are given to players, according to the rules stated by the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association.)
Junior college, or JUCO, is a popular substitute for continuing to play baseball, despite its reputation of a “last resort” option, according to Galindez.
“A lot of people get passed on that end up being way better than the guys who get drafted or play at bigger schools, it’s just all about development and putting in the work,” said Galindez.
“That’s why I decided to go to a JUCO because I felt like I needed to develop myself. I could’ve went to an NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletes) program in Alabama, but I felt like after two years at a JUCO developing myself and getting better, I could possibly have a chance to play at a bigger school,” said Galindez.
JUCO is a part of the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) which consists of community college and junior college athletic departments throughout the United States, according to the NJCAA.
In the meantime, the JUCO program at Schoolcraft does have its advantages, especially when it comes to the relationship it holds with its players, according to Galindez.
“Schoolcraft’s coaches I felt really pushed more for me because they would always ask how I am doing personally and on the baseball field while I was in high school,” said Galindez. “Other coaches just offered me and there really wasn’t more to it, so I felt I was more wanted by Schoolcraft and now that I’m here I feel like I fit in perfect for our team.”
But baseball wasn’t the only factor that Galindez considered when weighing his options in choosing JUCO, it had to benefit him financially as well.
“I definitely think every baseball player should consider JUCO because money is tied in… it’s way cheaper than a university and I won’t be in as much debt compared to a university,” said Galindez.
Despite not going to a top college and attending JUCO, Galindez remains hopeful.
“Scouts can be looking at a certain player and find someone they didn’t expect to find, it’s hard sometimes to get your name out there, but I’ve been told a lot that if you are good they will find you,” said Galindez.
If Galindez does prove to be good enough, with his two-year plan in mind, he becomes MLB draft eligible after both seasons, compared to a mandatory three years at a four-year school or being 21-years-old.