A while back I examined the decline of African-Americans playing major-league baseball. James Wagner looks at the racial composition of Division I college baseball and notices a different trend.
College players in the three main divisions are 86% white, according to the most-recent NCAA figures. That’s a big difference from Major League Baseball, where one study puts the number at less than 60%. The most striking difference is in the number of Latinos on the field: They made up about 29% of all major leaguers in 2007 but only 5% of players in college.
While the percentage of Latino players has more than doubled in professional baseball since 1990, accounting for top stars such as Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz, the percentage of minorities in the college game remains extremely low. That’s especially true for Latinos, for whom college ball’s failure to keep pace with the diversity of the major leagues is most striking. And that’s embarrassing to some….
Minority players clearly aren’t being excluded from major-league stardom and wealth. But because college baseball has had trouble attracting nonwhite talent, minority prospects aren’t enjoying the benefits of a recent shift in the game that puts a premium on college players. Last year, according to data provided by Major League Baseball, 55% of the players picked in baseball’s amateur draft came from four-year institutions, up from 38% in 1998. The number of college players taken in the first four rounds, where teams pay the highest bonuses, has increased by 20% over the past 10 years. The average signing bonus through the first four rounds last year was $790,000.
At the center of the issue is a perennial choice facing young baseball prospects: College seems to afford less opportunity than the fast cash they can get signing with a pro team….
Many forces beyond the easy cash compound this discrepancy. They include challenges in recruiting, a college draft that, unlike the National Basketball Association’s, doesn’t include prospects from abroad, and baseball scholarships that are fewer and less comprehensive than football and basketball scholarships.
Coaches say it is expensive for colleges in the NCAA’s Division I to recruit overseas, even in Latin America. And foreign players often lack the appropriate transcripts, grades and test scores.
I am not concerned about the lack of foreign Latinos in college baseball. There is a very simple explanation that has nothing to do with racism or financial incentives: the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). How can these kids go to college in the US if they don’t even speak English?
Thanks to Shyster for the pointer.