BA Newsletter: Get Analysis, Rankings Delivered To Your Inbox!

Baseball Hotbeds: Top 20 Metro Areas

The coverage area for most scouts includes at least one metropolitan area, where a densely populated city core and its surrounding cities are linked together by common industry and infrastructure. The various metro areas of the U.S. are a good lens through which to view the strength of a particular region, because they incorporate all cities from densely-populated areas. 

We used the U.S. Census Bureau’s definition of metropolitan areas, which include only the so-called “principal” cities.

No. Metro Area State Player Pop. Players/100,000
1 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim CA 284 1,3353,907 2.1
2 Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach FL 251 6,158,824 4.1
3 Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale AZ 165 4,737,270 3.5
4 Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land TX 160 6,892,427 2.3
5 San Diego-Carlsbad CA 142 3,337,685 4.3
6 Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater FL 120 3,091,399 3.9
7 Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington TX 111 7,399,662 1.5
8 Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell GA 106 5,884,736 1.8
9 New York-Newark-Jersey City NY/NJ 102 20,320,876 0.5
10 Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario CA 96 4,580,670 2.1
11 Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise NV 88 2,204,079 4
12 San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara CA 76 1,998,463 3.8
13 North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton FL 74 804,690 9.2
14 Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford FL 69 2,509,831 2.7
15 Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue WA 61 3,867,046 1.6
16 San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward CA 60 4,727,357 1.3
17 Chicago-Naperville-Elgin IL 58 9,533,040 0.6
18 Jacksonville FL 54 1,504,980 3.6
19 Austin-Round Rock TX 50 2,115,827 2.4
20 Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia NC 47 2,525,305 1.9

Three Up, Three Down: Gurriel Grows Into Starring Role

Yulieski Gurriel has developed into an impact contributor for AL West champs.

The most productive metro areas are the ones located in the most productive states overall. Thus metro areas in Florida, California, Arizona, Texas and Georgia crowd the top of this list.

The massive metro areas of New York (roughly 20 million people) and Chicago (nearly 10 million) produce players in great numbers despite being cold-weather regions. But pound-for-pound Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue is the hottest of all cold-weather metro areas.

Seattle area high schools have produced 61 professional players—against a population of just shy of 4 million—for a rate of 1.6 players per 100,000 residents, which is a much higher rate than New York, Chicago or any other cold-weather metro area. 

Additionally, a greater number of Seattle area players turn pro out of high school rather than heading to college first. This subset of Seattle-area preps includes Jon Lester, Grady Sizemore, Steven Souza and recent first-round picks Reese McGuire and Josh Sale. Few New York or Chicago kids turn pro out of high school, with the most prominent examples in our sample being Manny Ramirez and LaTroy Hawkins, who both signed in the early 1990s.

The reasons for the productivity of the Seattle metro area are myriad. King County is the richest in Washington state, and the area attracts people because it’s home to giant corporations such as Costco, Amazon, Microsoft and Starbucks. The area’s higher median household income translates into greater opportunity for young baseball players in terms of access to equipment, showcases, travel teams and even private high schools, which can afford to hire better coaches than public schools.

One Pacific Northwest area scout sees an additional advantage: a proliferation of indoor training facilities, which are necessary because of the climate. 

The scout also suggested that high school basketball and football aren’t as popular in Seattle as they are elsewhere, thus a greater number of athletes focus on baseball. That hasn’t escaped the attention of universities in the Northwest, including three-time College World Series champion Oregon State, which has recruited Seattle-area players such as Michael Conforto and Matthew Boyd.

Are you a member?

In order to access this exclusive content you must have a Baseball America Account. 

Login or sign up  

Additionally, you can subscribe to Baseball America's newsletter and receive all of our rankings, analysis, prospect insight & more delivered to your inbox every day. Click here to get started. 

of Free Stories Remaining