Major League Baseball touts its international flavor each year by detailing the percentage of foreign-born players on Opening Day rosters and inactive lists. This year a record 29.8 percent of major league players were born outside the United States. Those 259 international players hailed from a record 19 different countries.
No such data about the minor leagues has been publicized—until now.
Baseball America queried its database to produce the following breakdown of the 3,289 players who opened on full-season minor league rosters or inactive lists.
Nine out of 10 minor league players hail from the United States, Dominican Republic or Venezuela, though 31 different countries are represented on the 120 full-season rosters. The international-player percentage for the full-season minors is 27.3 percent.
Here are the 10 countries with the most representatives.
Ninety-five out of every 100 minor league players turned pro either through the draft or international free agency. Passed-over players in the draft who signed as free agents represent the only segment of minor league players to account for even 1 percent of the player pool.
|2||International free agent||767||23.32%|
|3||Nondrafted free agent||120||3.65%|
|6||Korea Baseball Organization||1||0.03%|
|7||Nippon Professional Baseball||1||0.03%|
Many Korean and Japanese stars depart their homeland to play in the U.S. majors, but not many settle for a minor league existence. The two exceptions this year are 29-year-old Korean third baseman Jae-Gyun Hwang, who spent a decade in KBO and now plays at Triple-A Sacramento in the Giants system, and 27-year-old Japanese lefthander Yuhei Nakaushiro, who spent three seasons in NPB and now works as a reliever in the Diamondbacks system at Double-A Jackson.
Of the 2,366 drafted players in the minors, more than two-thirds of them come from four-year colleges. High school players account for nearly one-quarter of drafted players in the minors.
Just five of the 120 nondrafted free agents in the full-season minors signed out of high school. Eighty-five percent of them hail from four-year colleges and 11 percent come from junior colleges.
Breaking down the 2,366 drafted players by state and by school source, we find that California—a state that is about 40 percent more populous than runner-up Texas—leads all states with 389 players on full-season rosters. California leads all states with 106 high school players and 251 collegians, though Florida and its strong junior-college conferences has produced 50 two-year college players, the most by any state by a wide margin.
Included in the table below are Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands because all players from those countries are eligible for the draft. The three U.S. states to have zero full-season minor leaguers are Alaska, Wyoming and Vermont. Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo, the first first-rounder in Wyoming high school history, does not count for this sample because he opened the season on the major league disabled list.
Three states—California, Florida and Texas—produced 45.8 percent of all full-season minor league players drafted out of high school. Those same three states produced 52.8 percent of all players drafted out of junior college.
|District of Columbia||0||0||2||2|
|51||U.S. Virgin Islands||1||0||0||1|