I am a 21 year old 6’2 175lb RHP who throws 87-90. I am seriously considering playing baseball overseas after college. I know the Japanese league is very competitive - similar to playing in AAA. Are there any other leagues available that accept US citizens? Any leagues where you can make baseball your main source of income?
Overseas is a long way from home for a so-so contract, if-ee financial situations involving currencies, etc., and a way of life/customs and other things. You could find yourself on the short end of a stick if you’re not savvy to the business end of things and that country’s legal system. Besides, ownership that can have minor and major investors with no know quantities as far as your concerned, make this move very risky.
If you’re bound and determined to play at a poor level of ball with a next-to-nothing income, look into the tryout fields of the Independent Leagues. For you, the CAN-AM and the Frontier Leagues are closest to home.
Just remember, that the life style that you’re asking for is nothing that a sane man would wish on himself when he has a good family, a nice neighborhood, friends and relatives that make life pleasant. You’re about to step into a totally different perception of reality – either way, here or overseas.
That’s some great advice Coach B
I know there’s an Australian league, a Korean league, one or two over in Europe as well.
There’s also the Northern League thats over here.
I have a friend who has played in Japan, Mexico and South America after his time in MLB major and minor leagues was up. Coach B gave some of the disadvantages…and he has listed some legit pitfalls. My friend never spoke much of South American ball. From what he has said there are some advantages as well. The leagues in Mexico (the higher leagues) are about equal to a high AA ball. The facilites he played at were pretty nice…stadium sat about 8,000 or so, decent security and clean locker rooms ect. You have the advantage of being able to train how you want and are not micromanaged like you are in the states, so, if you want to travel or have other things to attend to between starts its fine, just be back in time for your next start (obviously, he is a starting pitcher). Japan was the hardest cultural adjustment for him, but, he was able to make major money in Japan…7 figures. As a player coming in without time with a MLB club getting big money in Japan will be tough. I have no idea how their pay structure is set in the Japanese leagues for new players. He has said you are treated very well by the team as a player in Japan. In the Mexican league he was in (there are several leagues) there were basically two pay scales, one for foreign players and one for Mexican players. So it goes. He was never shorted money and the one time he was injured and he was released he was paid out a prorated portion of his contract per his contract (played three months was paid for the 4th month after his release). So, for a season that ran about 5 months he was paid about $30,000 on average or so most years, some years more, all one year contracts. Some guys had their check deposited into account down in Mexico (no income taxes), some had them deposited into American bank accounts, a couple of guys wanted to be paid in cash…I wouldnt want to know why they wanted large amounts of cash in Mexico. Overall, he really enjoyed the Japanese leagues because you are treated very well and the cities and facilities are legit and safe. He enjoyed Mexico because of the personal freedom and, hey, he was still earning money playing ball. If you find yourself seriously considering playing overseas seek out former American players that played in that league and get their perspectives. If your playing south of border anywhere keep your wits about you. An American ball player out on the town boozing it up in Mexico these days is a bad idea. Good luck, keep us posted with what happens.
Good insight, thank you. How did you friend get put in contact with these leagues? Do they have tryouts for us players? Could doing well in a winter league lead to a pro contract with one of these leagues?
Chew … take note of the first line in fearsomefour’s response, … “…
So, here is a mature man who has been around, and I mean around. The man is savvy to what’s up, he has contacts, and he’s in a position to be a who he knows as well as what he knows. In short, this man is seasoned to the business, how it works all over the world because of his proximity to others.
There is no way that this man has jumped out of hometown USA, no experience in the way of things, and without a few scares to show for it. In fact, a few paragraphs on the down side (scares) would be more help to you right now than anything.
You on the other hand are fresh meat – literally. So, get yourself an agent who has actual experience in these matters and has a following that you AND YOUR FAMILY can verify. And while you’re at it, consider all those with the kind of worldly experience, like fearsomefour’s friend, who have gone before you and are already in the pipeline.
Think this one through very carefully.
I agree in total with Coach Bs’ post. My friend was a high draft pick out of high school and has (he is still playing) an 18 year professional career. To say he is seasoned is an understatement. He was about 30 when he first went over seas with over a decade of pro-ball under his belt. If you are going to progress with this I would 100% get an agent. That in and of itself is a tricky minefield to traverse. In no way am I trying to be negative toward your goal, just the opposite, but, taking a year or two and getting some seasoning in the leagues that Coach B mentioned in his first response may be the best way to go. If you can find out about open tryouts for an international team you can give the tryout a shot to get a feel for the competition and how the tryout is run, but, then you are spending money to dip your toe in the water. Just be careful how you progress.
…also, in terms of the “scares” that Coach B talked about. There have been a few my buddy has told me about. Having to live in an apartment with machine gun toting guards because of the threat of kidnap. Being held at the border because of a Visa problem…sitting at a border station for 2 days then having to find your way to your team isent fun. Having to see a doctor when there is a language barrier can be daunting. Mostly though, the hardest part is just being away from home. If you are the only english speaker on a team you can be an island. Loneliness can be a tough anchor to carry around with you.
Closer to home with Independent Professional Baseball, are some links that you might find helpful.
Here’s a sampling of the tryout press releases for one league: