If you are one of the countless talented, aspiring professional baseball players who were overlooked by the draft, we have a message for you: there is an alternative option to the indy pro grind. For our members, the overseas baseball route has provided a number of things over the years, but here are the top four we hear time-and time-again;
- a way to extend their career while experiencing new cultures and meeting new people before settling into their post-playing careers
- a winter in Australia to work on some things before making another go of the MLB dream
- an opportunity to overcome baseball burnout and regain their love for the game, finishing off their career having fun again
- a way to quickly build that coaching resume while playing, en route to a post-playing coaching career
So whether you use overseas baseball as a way to “wind down” your career or as a stepping stone into affiliated baseball, it can be both. Although it is a platform much more for the former than it is the latter.
Overseas baseball as a way to “wind down” your career
First off, we estimate 95% of those who go overseas use it as a way to extend their career and see the world, usually without spending a dime of their own money. For these guys, we can confidently say that with this approach and with the right frame of mind, you can have a great experience and extend your career as long as you want, provided you:
- Have had verifiable statistical success
- Are open-minded and realize it will be different and not a money maker
- Have the right attitude, are a quality teammate and in short, are simply an ambassador of the game
- Stay disciplined and continue to work on your craft
There are so many levels overseas which present opportunities to continue your career, often all expenses paid, that it really doesn’t matter what your background is as long as you played four years of college baseball and had success while doing it. If you did not find the success you wanted, or had some bad luck with injuries, you also have an option…. offer to pay your flight to get your foot in the door. Many clubs will add a low-investment player who has a high potential return.
Overseas as a stepping stone into affiliated baseball
5% of those who go overseas are still hanging on to the MLB dream and are hoping that overseas can offer some sort of route into affiliated baseball. Many will say that once you go overseas your affiliated dream is over. Although that may be true for most, it is possible. Just ask Ryan Bollinger and Max MacNabb, two players who played respectively in Germany and the Czech Republic, two semi-pro leagues in Europe, and then signed affiliate contracts. Ryan remarkably made it to the the Show within a single season and was in the Yankees bullpen (didn’t see action), one year after his season in Germany. For these two, their overseas route led to the Australian Baseball League where all the eyes are these days, and both impressed.
If you are one of those college players who had high expectations of being drafted and truly were on the fringe, overseas is not a dead end and can be the opportunity to continue work on your game, continue to grow as a player, and make one more run at it.
The episode of our IBC Podcast below outlines what it takes to get into the Australian Baseball League and provides more detail on what it is all about and how it can bring the exposure you are looking for. We also included a written post with more detail on playing in Australia in general.
To learn more about the opportunities in Europe, for both the college grad and the experienced professional, subscribe to our newsletter below to download the free ebook.
- League rankings
- Season, schedule breakdown
- Backgrounds of previous imports
- What clubs are looking for
- Amout of importing country to country
- Visa information