From Little League to the Majors: MLB players Who Went All the Way

MLB Players Who Started off in Little League

With over two million kids a year taking a swing at little league, how many hopefuls actually go on to be professional MLB players?

While at least one of the Little League World Series Championship winning teams from Japan practices eight to 10 hours a day on weekends, Little League is made up of all kinds of teams and kids (over two million of them!) with all kinds of practice schedules. There are also all kinds of kids that start in Little League and become MLB players.

It’s probably safe to bet they all are dedicated, hard-working, and committed to practicing, but who are some of these Little League baseball players that played in the Little League World Series (LLWS) and went on to become professional baseball players?

We’ve put together a list of baseball players that started out taking a swing at Little League, made it to the LLWS, and then made it all the way to The Show. Keep reading for some fun origin stories, then be inspired to sign up your kid for Little League or feel confident encouraging your current Little League player to keep going for it. 

Jim Barbieri

Jim Barbieri takes dibs as being first to play both the Little League World Series and the MLB World Series, sort of. Boog Powell played the MLB World Series the same year as Barbieri but played the LLWS one year after, so he’s a very close second. 

Barbieri’s first trip to the LLWS was in 1953 when he played with his Schenectady, New York, team. They were defeated by a team from Birmingham, Alabama. 

His second trip to the LLWS was in 1954 with the same team. They won the championship the second time around, ousting a team from Colton, California. 

Barbieri played the MLB World Series in 1966 with the Dodgers, losing to the Orioles. He was a pinch hitter.

Boog Powell

Like Barbieri, Boog Powell pitched in the 1966 MLB World Series. He played for the Orioles and beat Barbieri’s Dodgers. 

Powell made it to the 1954 LLWS as a power pitcher. His team from Lakefield, Florida, lost to Barbieri’s Schenectady team.

At the time, kids could pitch as many games as they wanted to or could. Powell pitched 11 games as his team came into that 1954 LLWS.

Todd Frazier

Todd Frazier had his eyes on The Show already as a kid. His hard work and River East Little League team out of New Jersey got him to the LLWS at age 12.

The team was called “The Beasts of the East.” They had power hitters – like Frazier who went 4-4 during the tournament with a leadoff homer – and went undefeated. Frazier also pitched for the win against the Kashima, Ibakari team out of Japan. 

Frazier kept at it, working his skills, and stepped onto the MLB scene 13 years later on May 23, 2011, playing for the Reds.

Cody Bellinger

Cody Bellinger is another big hitter that worked hard in Little League and played in the LLWS at age 12 in 2007. 

Bellinger was on a Chandler, Arizona all-star team. They fought their way into the LLWS though pool play and made it all the way to the semi-finals.

In 2013, Bellinger made it all the way to The Show. He got drafted by the Dodgers and was on the field that April 25th vying for MVP in the National League as first baseman. 

Just six years after that LLWS debut, he made it and is considered a sensation. That first season at 22, he scored 34 home runs and had 79 RBIs.

Jurickson Profar

At just the ripe young age of 11, Jurickson Profar helped pave the way for his Little League team – Pabao Little League – to garner the first win ever of a Championship for Curacao, his small island home. This is a testament to the support and encouragement Little League gives to kids from all over the world.

He was a star on the mound and at the plate, batting .313 and striking out 19. That was in 2004.

In 2005, Pabao Little League and Profar made it all the way to the LLWS International Championship. 

Profar made it to The Show in 2012 with the Rangers. His first time at bat, he hit a home run. In 2013, he was the team’s starting shortstop.

Colby and Cory Rasmus

These brothers out of Phenix City, Alabama, came up together on Little League fields. They both played the 1999 LLWS with the Phenix City team where they lost in the Championship game to the Hirakata team from Osaka, Japan.

Colby is the older of the two and was a phenom at the 1999 tournament, helping the team battle back from the loser’s bracket to the Championship and going 5-for-10, scoring three runs, and hitting a home run. He also hit three RBIs and got seven strikeouts

He got picked by the Cardinals in 2005, played in the Olympics in 2008, was NL Rookie of the year in 2009, and now is an Astros outfielder.

Cory watched, learned, worked hard in Little League, and followed in his brother’s footsteps. In 2013, he made the big leagues with the Toronto Blue Jays. 

Turning Little League Players Into MLB Players

It’s pretty inspiring to see these stories of MLB players that started out just where your kid is today: in Little League!

It surely took a lot of hard work and encouragement in Little League to get to the LLWS and then the pros. But even the kids that play Little League for fun get so many of the great life skills needed to succeed and be happy, whether that’s in MLB or any other career or part of life. 

So, high-five yourself for encouraging your kid to play ball. High for your kid for doing their thing in baseball, whatever that is. And keep doing it!

If you feel like giving an extra boost of encouragement, check out some things you can do to boost team spirit and confidence like how to make custom baseball pins to unify a team. We have those pins so also check out how to make them for your kid’s team. We’re here to answer any questions!