Everyone has to start somewhere! Dream big and read on to learn about these 10 players who started in the Little League.
As a little league player, you might have some idols in the major league that you look up to. What you might not realize is that once upon a time your favorite players were in your position too, with their own idols that they admired.
Regardless of your long term goals, it can be inspiring to hear about people who’ve made it big after being in your shoes.
If you’re wondering how many little leaguers make it to the MLB, you’re in the right place. In this guide, we’ll talk about 10 major league stars who started out in the little league!
1. Cody Bellinger
Cody Bellinger is currently a first baseman and outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers, after being drafted in the fourth round of the 2013 MLB draft and making his MLB debut in 2017.
Bellinger is the son of Clay Bellinger, who played for the New York Yankees and Anaheim Angels. He grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona as a New York Yankees fan and played in the 2007 Little League World Series for the Chandler, Arizona team. Bellinger then went on to play for his high school team, where he threw a four-hit, complete game shutout with ten strikeouts in a national tournament and was named 2013 Rawlings-Perfect Game 2nd Team All-American!
Before playing for the LA Dodgers, Bellinger started his professional career with the Arizona League Dodgers, followed by a series of promotions to other teams.
Bellinger has a colorful baseball record, with several MVP awards, rookie awards, and appearances in the World Series. Most recently, he played in the 2020 World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays, helping the Dodgers win in six games with one home run, three RBIs, and a .136 hitting average!
2. Todd “The Toddfather” Frazier
Aptly nicknamed “The Toddfather,” Tod Frazier is currently a third baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates after playing for the Cincinnati Reds, Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees, Texas Rangers, and New York Mets. Whew!
Frazier was born in New Jersey and played high school baseball. Frazier started out on the Toms River East American Little League All-Star team (known as “The Beasts of the East,” winning the New Jersey state championship and then the US East regional championship and advancing to the 1998 lIttle League World Series. He pulled out all the tricks for the world championship game, going 4-4 with a leadoff home run and recording the game-winning strikeout, leading the team to the first American LIttle League world championship since 1993!
Frazier had an equally impressive college career, starting all 63 games in 2007 for Rutgers and winning Big East player of the year and setting record after record. He went on to play for a series of teams, starting with the Cincinnati Reds and ending with the Pittsburgh Pirates and winning several awards.
3. Gary Sheffield
Gary Sheffield is a former outfielder who played for the Milwaukee Brewers, San Diego Padres, Florida Marlins, Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, and the New York Mets before retiring and working as a sports agent.
Sheffield picked up his love for baseball from his uncle, Dwight Gooden, who pitched for the New York Mets. He played on the Belmont Heights Little League All-Stars, making it to the finals of the 1980 Little League World Series and setting a record for doubles despite the team’s loss. Sheffield played for his high school team and was later drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the first round of the 1986 MLB draft, going on to play for a total of eight teams.
His glowing record includes National League batting champion in 1992, National League champion in 1997, and World Series Champion in 1997. To top it off, in 2009 he became the 25th player in MLB history to reach 500 home runs!
4. Jason Varitek
Jason “Tek” Varitek is a former catcher and current coach for the Boston Red Sox from Rochester, Michigan.
Tek played in the Little League for the Altamonte Springs, Florida team, leading the team to victory in the United States Championship in 1984. He played on his high school team as third baseman and relief catcher, and was a member of the 1992 US Olympic team. In college while attending Georgia Tech, he led the Yellow Jackets baseball team to the 1994 College World Series title game and was named Baseball America’s 1993 College Player of the Year. Tek is the only Georgia Tech player to have his number retired.
Tek was drafted and signed by a handful of teams before being traded to the Red Sox during the 1997 season, where he stayed for his entire 15 year career. His record is dotted with awards, including three All-Star games, two World Series championship wins, and a Silver Slugger Award. He is in the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame and is recognized as the first Red Sox catcher to catch 1000 games!
5. Michael Conforto
Michael “Scooter” Conforto is an outfielder for the New York Mets from Seattle, Washington. Athleticism runs in the family, considering he’s the son of a three-time Olympic medalist and college football player!
Conforto played in the Little League World Series in 2004 and for his high school team as a shortstop. Although he is a successful baseball player, he played for his high school football team and was recruited to Ivy Leagues for football as well before signing to play baseball at Oregon State.
He started his college career off strong, being named Freshman Hitter of the Year by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and Pac-12 Freshman of the Year. Over summer he played for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team and went on to lead the team to the College World Series and was named to the All-Tournament Team, among other feats.
In 2014 Conforto was picked by the New York Mets in the first round and was later selected to the 2017 MLB All-Star Game, but had to end his season after a shoulder injury.
6. Randal Grichuk
Randal Grichuk from Rosenburg, Texas is an outfielder for the Toronto Blue Jays known for his power hits. He made his major league debut for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2014.
Grichuk started out playing in the Little League World Series for Lamar National and went on to be a First Team All-State OF and All-Houston Area MVP while in high school. While in college at the University of Arizona, The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim drafted him in the first round of the 2009 MLB draft and chose to play with the team instead of staying in school. He experienced a setback after a series of unfortunate injuries got in the way of his game, later being traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in 2013.
The Cardinals promoted him to the majors in 2014, and was later traded to the Toronto Blue Jays as a starting right fielder. His career has been peppered with both injuries and impressive plays, as well as several awards. These recognitions include Baseball America All-Rookie Team Outfielder, Cardinal Minor League system Player of the Month, and Topps All-Star Rookie!
7. Jonathan Schoop
Jonathan Schoop is a second baseman for the Detroit Tigers from Willemstad, Curaçao. He’s also played for the Baltimore Orioles, Milwaukee Brewers, and Minnesota Twins. He also represented the Netherlands national baseball team at several international events, most recently the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
Schoop started out in the Little Leagues, playing in the 2003 and 2004 Curaçao Little League World Series before signing on to the Orioles as a free agent in 2008, where he played shortstop during most of his minor league career.. He represented the Orioles in the 2011 All-Star Futures Game and won the Brooks Robinson Minor League Player of the Year.
Schoop debuted in the major leagues in 2013 for the Baltimore Orioles and bounced around teams before he ended up with the Detroit Tigers as second baseman in 2019. A notable record is that he was the 7th Twins player to hit 20 or more home runs in the same season, which has only been accomplished eight times in MLB history!
8. John Wesley “Boog” Powell
John Wesley “Boog” Powel is a former first baseman and left fielder from Lakeland, Florida, famous for his glowing career. He made his debut with the Baltimore Orioles before moving to the Cleveland Indians and finishing with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Boog started out playing for Lakeland’s little league team where he played in the 1954 Little League World Series, and later played for his high school team. He signed with the Baltimore Orioles as a left fielder in 1961 before switching to first base, which was a good call considering he hit 25 home runs in 1963 and led the American League in slugging percentage in 1964.
Boog led the Orioles World Series wins in 1966 and 1970, playing in the 1971 World Series but ultimately losing. He was awarded MVP in 1970, is a four-time All-Star, and was inducted into the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame. Boog hit three home runs in a game three times!
These days you can catch him running Boog’s Barbecue and fishing.
9. Jurickson Profar
Jurickson Profar is another professional baseball player from Willemstad, Curaçao. He has played for the Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics, and currently plays for the San Diego Padres.
Profar was in the 2004 and 2005 Little League World Series, helping the Pabao Little League team win the championship in 2004. He signed with the Texas Rangers as a shortstop in 2009 and played his first professional season in 2010 with the Spokane Indians, going on to represent the Hickory Crawdads and earning more recognition.
When Profar started playing with the Rangers in the major league in 2012, he was the youngest player active in both leagues. Throughout his career he experienced a few setbacks due to injuries, one of which caused him to miss the entire 2015 season.
In addition to US baseball, Profar also represented Team Netherlands as a Curaçaoan-born infielder in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
His career highlights include hitting a home run in his first major league at bat!
10. Lance Lynn
Lance Lynn is a pitcher for the Chicago White Sox from Indianapolis, Indiana, having previously played for the St. Louis Cardinals, Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, and Texas Rangers. He’s known for his four-seam fastballs, two-seam fastballs, cut fastballs, and curveballs.
Lynn started out on the Brownsburg, Indiana LIttle League, winning the Central Regional Championship, and played on his high school baseball team. He was awarded the Gatorade Player of the Year in 2005, along with other recognitions. Lynn ended up choosing to attend the University of Mississippi and play for the Ole Miss Rebels instead of signing with the Seattle Mariners, who picked him in the sixth round of the 2005 MLB draft. At Ole Miss in 20007 he set records for single season and career strikeouts.
Lynn started his professional career in the minor leagues with the St. Louis Cardinals, who selected him in the first round. He was later named the Cardinals’ organizational Pitcher of the Year in 2009, continuing to rake in the records and recognitions throughout his career in the minor leagues and major leagues once he was activated in 2011. Notable mentions include playing as a National League All-Star in 2012 and winning the World Series in 2011!
As you bask in the glow of your idols’ achievements, you might wonder how they went from a young baseball fan like yourself to leaders on the field. There isn’t a perfect recipe for that level of success, but a love for the game and passion for improvement is a great start!
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