Rookie Career Development
Early each January, all 30 MLB teams are asked to send the 2-3 prospects from their organization to attend the Rookie Career Development Program (RCDP) at the Lansdowne Resort and Spa in Leesburg, Va.
The RCDP is joint venture between the Major League Baseball Players Association and the Commissioner’s Office, and the Players designated by their Clubs to attend the program are generally those that they believe will spend their first significant amount of time in the major leagues in the upcoming season.
The intensive four-day orientation program seeks to help prepare the young players for the many ways their lives may change once they hit “The Show” – from dealing with media to handling their finances to sorting through competing demands for their time and tips on proper nutrition and other health-related topics. There’s even a day dedicated to Spanish-speaking Players, which allows them an opportunity to interact in their native language and connect with some of the game’s top Latin-born former Major Leaguers.
Through a series of discussions, improvisational skits and breakout sessions, the young players begin to understand the many ways in which their lives are going to be affected both positively and negatively, which allows them to begin developing professional and personal strategies that are right for them.
Perhaps some of the most valuable information is passed from one generation to the next, as each year a number of former Major Leaguers serve as Resource Players. These players share their insights with the youngsters during small-group breakout sessions as well as through informal chats during session breaks and meals.
A popular constant in recent years has been the appearance of Second City, a Chicago-based improv troupe that works with the Players Association and MLB to develop a series of skits that mimic sticky real-life situations that many ballplayers encounter over their careers. The skits invite interpretation, plenty of laughs and, most important, invite discussion about how best to handle that type of situation.
The players also attend a session where they get to hear from MLBPA Executive Director and former All-Star, Tony Clark. During this session, the youngsters learn a bit about their union and how important it is for them to take an interest in their industry and, ultimately, their careers.
Over the years, most of the game’s top players have attended the Rookie Career Development Program, helping these players become successful on and off the field.