On March 2, I opened the floor to questions for baseball agent, Matt Sosnick. I only received three emails, but they were strong questions. Sosnick did not disappoint in his answers either. Please see the Q&As below (questions in italics, Sosnick’s answers in bold):
I have a client/friend who was drafted out of high school in the 2006 draft by Tampa Bay. He turned down their offer a has just finished two years at Junior College racking up a National Championship and a MVP award for the entire country. He held the number once spot on the rotation at his junior college, the number 2 pitcher drafted this past year in the 3rd round and signed. This coming fall he is enrolled at an NAIA School and his goal is to finish a year there then enter the draft that spring. My question for you is what would be a reasonable expectation for a draft round? I know this would largely depend on his performance this coming year, but I would love some insight.
Stats end up often being fairly insignificant when trying to gauge amateur draft positioning. Many JC and college teams have starters who are great college players and go undrafted, while I’ve heard of guys pitching less than 20 innings in a draft year, and still going in the first three rounds. (injury, off-field issues, etc.) The best barometer tends to be how many cross-checkers/scouting directors are showing up at your client’s games. The fact that he went undrafted after being the #1 starter on a National Championship team is probably not a great sign, but each situation is different. Make sure that he is clearly conveying his desire to play pro ball to scouts, as it can only help his stock.
I am currently a first year law student at John Marshall Law School in Chicago, and am attempting to pursue a career in athlete representation. I work as a paralegal in a medical malpractice defense currently, but played baseball in college. Do you have any advice regarding the best and most efficient ways to make contacts with people in the business, other than knowing a player or agent already? One of my best friends plays for the Delmarva Shorebirds right now in the Orioles organization, and another plays for an independent league team here in Illinois, the Rockford Riverhawks, but I was just wondering if you encourage people to go to symposiums and conferences around the country (especially considering I am a 23 year old law school student with limited funds!)? Also, did you do any internships for sports teams or other agencies before becoming certified? Is that something you look for when hiring potential agents or lawyers? Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer these questions and help out in any way, it is greatly appreciated. I look forward to receiving your answers.
-Christopher T. Scolire
I lucked into a client who was playing in AAA, as I had a connection with his family. I’ve often been asked the best way to break into the business, and it really is as much of a mystery to me now as it was twelve years ago, when I got started. You have two things that play very strongly in your favor…the fact that you have played in college will give you a good common bond while recruiting in homes, which was something that I lacked when I was starting out. Going to law school is also essential, as it really separates you from the field in such a competitive industry. When we look to make a hire, we don’t consider applicants unless they either went to law school or played baseball professionally. Paul and I made a number of bad hires over the years, and have found that these two things, while not a sure sign of success by any means, is at least a start in the right direction. If we are hiring ex-players, they are always guys that we have represented. After spending time with a person for many years, it’s a lot easier to have a grasp on how his personality will play as an agent. Jon Pridie works with us, and does a great job. He has been one of my best friends for years, and our personal relationship was the basis for us working together. I understood his work ethic and personality traits well before he came to work with us.
I did not intern or work for another company before I started in this business. I attribute whatever success Paul and I have to an incredible amount of hours worked, and a very significant amount of luck. We are good agents, but there are a lot of good agents. I didn’t marry until this last year, and work was a large part of why I was single until 39. Most well adjusted woman are looking for a husband who works less than seven days a week, and that is really reasonable. I was able to take a small step back over the last couple of years, but only after we had a healthy business base, which took more than ten years to grow.
Any baseball conferences you can attend can only help. I have heard that people who start on the team side have been able to make forays into the agent business with added credibility. In the past, I’ve been hesitant to advise people to go full force into this business, as the success rate is so low. But given the fact that Paul and I now have a viable, sustainable business, I also understand that if it worked out for two bums like us, it can work out for anyone. Use your connections with players as a way to meet other players. The vast majority of pro clients that we add are done so through word of mouth. Good luck!
When your establishing a new agency, do you recommend recruiting young rookies and helping develop them into professionals, or do you go straight after established professionals? What type of strategies did you use to sign your first established professional?
Going after established MLB players is almost impossible, unless you have a preexisting relationship with the player. Most players are not going to switch from an established agent to a new company, as it takes years for an agent to know the key employees (GMs, Scouting Directors) with teams, and to understand the endorsement side of the business. It’s a huge risk for the player with much less downside than upside.
The main reason that I chose baseball is that I considered it almost an impossibility for me to break into football or basketball. I rationalized that if I failed to get one of the 60 players chosen in the two rounds of the NBA draft (which was very likely) or one of the 270 players in the NFL draft, (now 210) my year of work could end up as a goose egg. Baseball had so many rounds and so many players that I assumed that I could feel my way through the process with some of the 1300-1500 players that get drafted each year. Having said that, my first 33 players never made it to the Major Leagues. But at least it gave me a chance to break into the business.
Thanks again to Matt Sosnick for taking out the time to answer these questions in depth. I asked Matt one final question that he was happy to answer.
Are there any MLB agents that stand out in your mind, for one reason or another?
The agents that stand out are the rare guys who really don’t steal other agent’s players, and seem to always do a really good job representing their own clients. Steve Canter in L.A and Joe Bick in Ohio immediately come to mind. Joe was one of the few guys who I felt comfortable calling for advice when I was first starting out. Steve runs a really good business, and his players consistently sign strong deals. Certainly two guys who are in it for their players first.
Best of luck to Matt’s clients in Spring Training and in the 2009 season.