LLWS Players That Went Pro [List 2023]

By Roshan Khatiwada / 3 October 2023 08:42 AM

Bellinger played for the Chandler National team during the 2007 Little League World Series
Source : instagram

Little League players that went pro are Cody Bellinger, Michael Conforto, and Scott Kingery. These players are professional major leaguers today.

The league is a non-profit organization based in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. It organizes local softball and baseball leagues for youth throughout the USA and the rest of the world.

All these tournaments culminate with the Little League World Series, where ten teams from the United States compete with ten International teams. All these teams qualify through various district, state, and regional-level tournaments.

This is the first step for a player aspiring to play baseball at the major level. Some of these Little League tournaments are broadcasted through the ESPN network, thus providing exposure to young players.

The 2023 Little League World Series is scheduled from August 16 to August 27.

How Many Little League Players Go Pro?

58 little league players have gone pro since the first LLWS. Best Little League World Series players ever include Gary Sheffield and Jason Varitek.

Sheffield played for the Belmont Heights Little League team at eleven during the 1980 LLWS, where they eventually lost to Taiwan in the final. The player later went on to play in the major league for twenty-two seasons.

The outfielder and third baseman played for eight teams, including the Florida Marlins, with whom he won the 1997 World Series. He finished his career with 509 home runs and 1,676 RBIs at an average of .291.

Gary Sheffield (Left) with Steve Cohen (Right) during the New York Mets game against the Tampa Bay Rays
Source : instagram

Similarly, Varitek is one of only a few players to compete in the LLWS, College World Series, and the major league World Series. He played for Florida during the 1984 Little League World Series, finishing as the runner-up.

The catcher played for fifteen seasons in the major league for the Boston Red Sox. He won two World Series, one Golden Glove Award, and a Silver Slugger Award with the Red Sox.

Jason caught a record four no-hitters during his major league career. He finished his career with 193 home runs and 757 RBIs at an average of .256.

Here are some of the other LLWS players who went on to have an even better career in the majors:

1. Cody Bellinger

Bellinger played in the 2007 LLWS for the Chandler National Little League team from Arizona. He helped his team qualify for the elimination round, where they lost to the Southeast region.

Cody was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers during the fourth round of the 2013 MLB Draft. He debuted in 2017 when he played 132 games, scoring 39 dingers at an average of .267.

The first baseman played in three Major League World Series for the Dodgers in 2017, 2018, and 2020. The team from Los Angeles lost in the first two instances but was able to capture the title in 2020. 

He was traded to Chicago Cubs after the end of the 2022 MLB season. The player is having one of his best seasons this year, scoring eighteen home runs and 59 RBIs, averaging .325 as of August 15.

2. Rick Wise

Wise is a former starting pitcher who played for eighteen seasons in the major league. However, he started his career playing for Rose City Little League of Oregon.

He guided the Oregon team to the 1958 Little League World Series. Rose City lost to Jaycee Little League of Illinois during the quarterfinals with a score of 2-1.

Phillies pitcher Rick Wise retired 32 straight batters in a twelve-inning game in 1971
Source : facebook

The pitcher was only eighteen when he made his MLB debut for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1964. He played for five teams but is best known for being the winning pitcher in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series for the Red Sox.

Rick won two All-Star selections during his time and also pitched a no-hitter on June 23, 1971. He ended his career with a win-loss record of 188-181, striking out 1,647 batters at an ERA of 3.69.

3. Michael Conforto

Conforto started his career with the Redmond LL team, representing them at the 2004 LLWS. He later represented Oregon State University during the 2013 College World Series.

The outfielder started his major league career in 2015 for the New York Mets. Michael also represented the team during their 2015 World Series loss to the Royals, where he recorded five hits, four RBIs, and two home runs.

His best season came during the 2017 year when he smashed 27 dingers, 20 doubles, and 68 RBIs at a batting average of .279. Michael missed the entire 2022 major league season due to a shoulder injury.

On January 26, 2023, Michael signed a two-year $36 million deal with the San Francisco Giants. As of August 15, the outfielder has smashed 15 home runs, 55 RBIs, and 52 runs, averaging .251.

4. Dan Wilson

Wilson is a former American professional baseball player who played for the Barrington Little League team of Illinois. He guided the team to a third-place finish in the 1981 LLWS.

He started as a catcher and a pitcher at Barrington High School. The player was selected from the high school in the 26th round of the 1987 MLB Draft by the New York Mets.

Dan Wilson (Left) with a Mariners player during his Pop Collectible Night at T-Mobile Park
Source : twitter

Dan played for fourteen seasons in the major league for the Reds and the Mariners. He is best known for his time with the Mariners, where he was regarded as one of the best defensive catchers in league history.

The catcher finished his career with 88 home runs and 519 RBIs at an average of .262. At the time of his retirement, Wilson had the AL record for career fielding percentage for a catcher.

5. Lance Lynn

Lynn was part of the Brownsburg LL team that participated during the 1999 LLWS. The pitcher posted an ERA of 1.26 with 160 K's and a 10-3 win-loss record, in addition to 14 dingers and 46 RBIs as a junior.

The pitcher represented Ole Miss Rebels during his college years, where he set the single-season and career strikeout records with 146 and 332, respectively. He was named to the second team of the All-Southern Conference in 2007 and 2008.

He was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals during the 2008 MLB Draft. Lance made his major league debut in 2011, during which he won the World Series with the Cards.

As of August 15, the player has a win-loss record of 123-93, with 1881 strikeouts in 333 games at an ERA of 3.70.

What Percentage Of Little League Players Make It To The MLB?

Less than one percent of the players from the Little League make it to the major league. Only 58 players from the youth league have appeared in the MLB.

Little League is a great platform for young players to develop their skills and compete against the best athletes in their age group. The league also helps young players to prepare for similar situations in the future and exposes them to a larger audience.

Little League divisions and ages help young players to compete against other athletes of the same age group. The division of groups in the league is based on the age of the players.

However, not every player that shows potential in the league makes it to the major league. Thousands of players play in the youth league every year, but less than one percent of them are able to reach Major League Baseball.

Little League World Series girl players include Victoria Roche, Ella Bruning, and Emma March. These are among some of the best talents to play in the youth league.

Michael Conforto represented Redmond LL team during the 2004 LLWS
Source : facebook

Here are some of the Little League players to play in the major league:

  • Jim Barbieri - Los Angeles Dodgers (1954)
  • Carl Taylor - Pittsburgh Pirates (1954)
  • Ed Vosberg - Texas Rangers (1954)
  • Bobby Mitchell - Minnesota Twins (1967)
  • Carney Lansford - Oakland Athletics (1969)
  • Dwight Gooden - New York Mets (1979)
  • Gary Sheffield - Milwaukee Brewers (1980)
  • Wilson Alvarez - Chicago White Sox (1982)
  • Jason Varitek - Boston Red Sox (1984)
  • Brian Esposito - St. Louis Cardinals (1991)
  • Yusmeiro Petit - Oakland Athletics (1994)
  • Todd Frazier - New York Mets (1998)
  • Jason Bay - Pittsburgh Steelers (1999)
  • Colby Rasmus - Houston Astros (1999)
  • Ruben Tejada - New York Mets (2001)
  • Brady Rodgers - Houston Astros (2003)
  • Michael Conforto  - San Francisco Giants (2004)
  • Max Moroff - St. Louis Cardinals (2005)
  • Andrew Stevenson - Washington Nationals (2005)
  • Scott Kingery - Philadelphia Phillies (2006)
  • Josh Lester - Detroit Tigers (2006)
  • Jace Fry - Chicago White Sox (2006)
  • Cody Bellinger - Chicago Cubs (2007)

Ohtani Little League History

Shohei Ohtani Little League team Mizusawa Pirates is based in Oshu City, Iwate Prefecture. The youth baseball team was founded in 1977.

The youth team has produced great baseball talents, including the Los Angeles Angels two-way player Shohei Ohtani. However, the team has not appeared in the Little League World Series as of 2023.

The player was coached by his father, a former amateur baseball player, from an early age. The two-way player began his career during his second year of elementary school, gaining popularity after recording seventeen outs in a six-inning regional game.

Shohei then joined Hanamaki Higashi High School, where he continued his playing career before moving to Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. The team competes in the Pacific League of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB).

Shohei Ohtani with his American League Player of the Month honor for July
Source : instagram

He won the Pacific League MVP and Japan Series championship with the Fighters before joining the MLB side Los Angeles Angels in 2018. The player has already won the AL MVP, Silver Slugger, and Rookie of the Year awards in the major league.

Shohei Ohtani Little League World Series visit during the 2021 season encouraged many little leaguers to aspire to reach the majors one day. Ohtani and his other Angels teammates visited Williamsport to cheer the young players.

The two-way player is one of the major candidates for winning the American League MVP Award for the season. As of August 15, the player has smashed 41 home runs, 84 RBIs, and 91 runs at an average of .302.

Further, the starting pitcher has a win-loss record of 10-5 while pitching 130.2 innings in 22 games. He has struck out 165 opposing batters and has an ERA of 3.17.

Related post of Blog