Here’s How To Balance Baseball And Academics

Editor/Collegiate Baseball

WACO, Tex. — One of the amazing coaches in college baseball is Mitch Thompson of McLennan Community College.

His coaching career spans three decades and includes 23 years at the NCAA Division I level, including 22 years in the Big 12 and Southeastern Conferences with stops at Baylor, Auburn and Mississippi St.

In five seasons under Thompson’s leadership, McLennan has amassed a 214-88 record and have made five consecutive post-season appearance for the first time since the 1990s.

No other junior college in the country is accomplishing the combination of winning games, developing players and excelling in the classroom better than his program.

Here is a rundown on the special achievements his program has had over the last few years:

  • Most drafted catchers of any college in the USA the last three years (4).
  • Highest drafted junior college player in the nation last year in Josh Breaux who was a second round pick by the Yankees.
  • Since 2014, nearly 15 players a year have signed with 4-year colleges.
  • Over the last five years, 13 players have been chosen in the MLB Draft.
  • Over the 2017-2018 academic year, McLennan had the third highest grade point average of any NJCAA school at 3.51.
  • Over the 2016-2017 academic year, McLennan again had the third highest GPA of any NJCAA school at 3.42.

The numbers above all others that jump out are the team academic figures.

Many junior college baseball teams are filled with athletes who were average to poor students in high school. That is why junior college baseball is the land of second chances for many baseball players. Players with poor academic skills routinely transfer out of 4-year colleges and into junior colleges.

“Having baseball players at the junior college level who are poor academically may be true at many places,” said Thompson.

“What we have done is stress in the recruiting process that I am looking for three things.

“First, I want a kid who wants to be a champion on the baseball field — a guy who really wants to develop. I want a guy who thinks he can play in the Big Leagues.

“Second, I want kids who understand the value of an education. He realizes that playing in the Big Leagues will be a difficult task. So he prepares for life.

“Third, I want a good kid from a good family. He must understand the importance of hard work.

“Not everybody is a good fit for us. We are honest about all three areas with potential players. We will tell a recruit that if he doesn’t have these the qualities, and this is not who you truly are, then this is probably not the place for you.”

To read more of this article which explains the system in place that McLennan players have thrived in, purchase the Feb. 8, 2019 edition of Collegiate Baseball or subscribe by CLICKING HERE.