What Percent of Baseball Players Get Scholarships?

Few things are more competitive than earning an athletic scholarship. Earning a BASEBALL scholarship is even more competitive than other sports. 

Did you know that colleges are limited in the number of baseball scholarships they are allowed to offer? This is why such a low percentage of baseball players actually get scholarships.

What percent of baseball players get scholarships? The exact number is unknown due to various factors that we will discuss, but the maximum percentage of high baseball players who could receive a college scholarship ranged from 5.7% to 6.4% for the 2017-2018 season.

We will cover three areas to help you gain a better understanding of why there are so few college baseball players on scholarship:

  • Breaking Down the Scholarship Numbers
  • Scholarship Limits by Division
  • Baseball is an Equivalency Sport

Breaking Down the Scholarship Number

To help us gain a better understanding of the number of scholarships available for baseball players compared to the number of baseball players in high school, we will break down each number individually.

The numbers will be broken down by:

  • Number of baseball players in high school
  • Number of baseball players in college
  • Number of colleges that offer baseball programs
  • Number of total baseball scholarships available

Number of Baseball Players in High School

A search of the internet to find the number of baseball players in high school will produce a very exact number from some websites.

The fact is, the number of baseball players in high school at any given time will fluctuate due for multiple reasons. Some players quit baseball during the year, some players are not allowed to play with their team any longer due to discipline issues, etc.

It is possible to give a “ballpark” figure of how many high school players play baseball, pun intended. The best estimate is that there are between 450,000 and 500,000 baseball players in high school.

According to scholarshipstats.com, a high school player has an 11.1% chance to play college baseball. That brings us to the next obvious section.

Number of Baseball Players in College

Once again, the number of baseball players in college will constantly fluctuate. But you will find some websites that will still give you a very exact number. 

A good estimate of the number of baseball players in college is between 55,000 and 60,000.

As mentioned in the last section, the number of college baseball players at a given time can fluctuate for multiple reasons. The reasons mentioned above can also occur in college, but some reasons are specific to college baseball.

Players are constantly transferring to new schools throughout the season. A player that transfers must sit out a year before they are eligible to play. Another college-specific reason for a player to leave is their inability to cover their financial obligations. 

I touched on the financial obligations a baseball player can face in a previous article, “What’s a Good Baseball Scholarship Offer?” which you can find by clicking on this link.

Number of Colleges that Offer Baseball Programs

The most recent data on the number of colleges that offer baseball programs also can be found on Scholarshipstats.com.

According to scholarshipstats.com, there were 1,675 colleges that offered baseball programs during the 2017-2018 school year.

So we know that there are between 55,000 and 60,000 college baseball players and there are 1,675 schools that offered college baseball during the 2017-2018 school year. Doesn’t that mean there are around 50,000 baseball scholarships available?

Not even close. Baseball is completely different from football and basketball in college. While those sports have enough scholarships for a large portion of their roster, college baseball scholarships are extremely limited.

Let’s dive further into the actual number of baseball scholarships available next.

Number of Scholarships Available

I’m going to start this section with a nice little table that will break down the number of scholarships that should be available at each level of college. Why did I put the word “should” in bold? I’ll discuss that below the table.

For this table, I will be using the data from the 2017-2018 school year we previously discussed from scholarshipstats.com

Why are there no athletic scholarships available for NCAA Divison II and other 4-year and 2-year colleges? This will be explained in the next section.

Based on these numbers, one must be able to assume there are 17,361.9 college baseball scholarships available, right?

Not so fast. Wait, what??? Remember how I used the word “should” in bold letters before the table and then included the word possible in bold letters inside the table?

While there are 17,361.9 possible scholarships for college baseball, between 5,000 and 6,000 scholarships are available in a given year.

Why is that number so low? Some colleges do not fund the maximum amount of scholarships allowed for each school.

That sucks! Why would a school not fund a scholarship? The reason is financial restrictions.

It is common for colleges to not fund the maximum amount of scholarships for every sport. While most of the bigger colleges can afford to fund every athletic scholarship, many of the smaller schools just don’t have the finances available to fund each scholarship.

The number of baseball scholarships available varies each school year due to how many each school is able to financially support.

I’m not trying to bum you out with this article, but it is important to know the truth about scholarships in college baseball and why the competition for a scholarship is so fierce.

Scholarship Limits by Division

If you’re still reading this article after seeing the bad news in the last section, it’s because you are holding onto some hope that there is some good news to follow. Your positivity has paid off.

While there aren’t a ton of scholarships available at the top divisions of NCAA baseball, the lower levels of college baseball provide plenty of opportunities to receive an athletic scholarship to play baseball while also receiving a quality education.

Here is a table of the scholarship limits for each team in each division. Below the table, I will explain why some levels don’t offer baseball scholarships.

The reason you do not see any scholarships available for NCAA Division III and other 4-year and 2-year colleges is that those schools do not offer athletic scholarships. NCAA DIII schools will only offer academic scholarships.

The other 4-year and other 2-year colleges may offer academic scholarships or they may be “prep” schools where the student pays the complete cost of tuition. 

A “prep” school is a school that prepares you to attend a higher-level school. For example, a 2-year or 4-year “prep” school gives you the credits needed to gain attendance at NCAA, NAIA, or NJCAA colleges.

NJCAA colleges are commonly referred to as junior college. This level is a great place to begin your education while receiving an athletic scholarship. You are able to play baseball and be seen by coaches of NCAA and NAIA schools to enhance your chance at an athletic scholarship at those schools.

Many junior college athletes earn baseball scholarships to higher-level colleges each year and many are also drafted in the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft each year.

If you attend an NCAA or NAIA school, you are not eligible for the MLB Amateur Draft for 3 years while you are eligible for the MLB Amateur Draft after completing only two years at an NJCAA school.

Baseball is an Equivalency Sport

You’ve heard college coaches tell you that college baseball is an equivalency sport, but they never really explain what that even means.

I’m here to help. In this section, we will look at two more areas:

  • Understand what equivalency means
  • Roster size for college teams

Understand What Equivalency Means

College baseball coaches are able to give partial scholarships to student-athletes until they reach their limit of available scholarships. A player must be given a minimum of 25% of a scholarship.

This is what they mean by equivalency. Let’s break it down just a bit further with a couple of examples. 

Both NCAA Division I and NCAA Division II are allowed to have a total of 27 players on an athletic scholarship. 

We have seen previously, that NCAA DI schools have a maximum of 11.7 scholarships per team. They are allowed to give a portion (minimum 25%) of those 11.7 scholarships to 27 players.

NCAA DII schools have a maximum of 9 scholarships available. A coach could give 27 players 1/3 of an athletic-scholarship and reach his maximum of 9 scholarships.

Just because the NCAA DI and DII schools are able to have a total of 27 players on scholarship does not mean that each team is only allowed 27 players. Let’s move on to look at roster size for each level.

Roster Size by Level

Once again, each team at each level has a different amount of players. The NCAA Division I teams can have no more than 35 players and most of those schools have the max amount of players.

But smaller NCAA DI schools and the smaller division teams may not have the maximum amount of players allowed. For this reason, we will look at the average size of a college baseball team’s roster.

With that said, let’s look at a chart that shows the average size of a college baseball during the 2017-2018 season roster broken down by each division. The information was provided by scholarshipstats.com

It’s interesting to note that the other 4-year “prep” colleges average roster size is much lower than all other divisions. This is most likely due to a much smaller student population at these schools.

The “prep” 2-year colleges still have a large roster size as those players are trying to become academically eligible to play at one of the other levels.

What Does All This Mean for You?

You understand that the competition to get a college baseball scholarship is fierce. You know that each school has a scholarship limit that varies depending on the division in which they play, and you understand what an equivalency sport means and know the average roster size for each division.

So what does all this mean for you, the high school baseball player? It means that you understand that you have to work hard to get a baseball scholarship. You must put in the practice, and most importantly, you have the knowledge.

Having knowledge of the competition you will face to earn a baseball scholarship gives you an incredible edge. Use this knowledge to your advantage and get a jump on your competition.

With your knowledge and hard work, you can earn the college baseball scholarship you covet! Now, get to work!

Related Questions

I’m ready to put in the work and I’ve read this article so I have the knowledge, but how do I know when I get a good baseball scholarship offer?

That’s a fantastic question. In short, a good baseball scholarship offer is one that best fits you, the athlete, and your family. Thankfully, we have more information on this topic which you can find by clicking this link.

Should I wait for college coaches to contact me and offer me a baseball scholarship?

Absolutely not! You can’t wait for the college baseball coach to find you. You know the competition for a baseball scholarship is fierce. Find the colleges you are considering, fill out a recruiting questionnaire on their website, and ask your high school coach to assist you in developing a recruiting video. Go and earn that scholarship!