Baseball’s top young stars convened in January for the 22nd annual Rookie Career Development Program, a joint effort by Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association to prepare players for major league life.
About 90 players come to Leesburg, Va., each year for four days of seminars, guest speakers and discussion about how to make wise decisions as their careers move forward.
Players from all 30 teams attended, including Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman of the Orioles, Indians fireballer Danny Salazar, Yankees catchers J.R. Murphy and Gary Sanchez, the Phillies’ Maikel Franco, and the Pirates’ Gregory Polanco and Jameson Taillon.
Among the topics they covered were dealing with the media, avoiding performance-enhancing substances, managing finances and learning the keys to proper nutrition.
The guide to properly managing money was hosted by Tony Clark, the former all-star first baseman who has replaced the late Michael Weiner as the head of the MLB Players Association.
ESPN’s Jayson Stark and Doug Glanville—a former major league outfielder—and Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci spoke about the media in an hourlong seminar, moderated by George Grande, a sports media pioneer who co-hosted the first broadcast of “SportsCenter.”
Pedro Gomez, also of ESPN, hosted a similar session for the Spanish-speaking players. Latin American players also had their own sessions about learning English and other topics.
Three former players—Craig Counsell, Jeffrey Hammonds and Jose Cruz Jr.—spoke about the transition from the relative anonymity of the minor leagues to the spotlight of life in the major leagues.
Tim Maxey, a strength and conditioning coordinator with Major League Baseball, advised the young players about the benefits of proper nutrition. Maxey, along with MLB attorneys Bob Lenaghan and Dan Halem, also gave a presentation on the risks drugs—performance-enhancing or otherwise—can pose to a player’s career.
Walter Updegrave, a former editor of Money magazine, discussed the importance of financial planning and fiscal responsibilities. This is especially important when making the transition from the rather disparate pay scales of the minor and major leagues.
The players were also treated to performances from the Second City comedy troupe, and a tour of the sights in Washington, D.C.