The Major League Baseball Players Association and Major League Baseball concluded the 2008 Rookie Career Development Program (RCDP) on Sunday in Virginia. The annual RCDP, a joint effort that launched in 1991, brings together many of the top young prospects from all 30 Major League Clubs for a four-day symposium that aims to help prepare them for careers in Major League Baseball.
Nearly 90 players listened to presentations and participated in discussions on off-field areas such as security, baseballs joint anti-drug initiatives, financial responsibility and working with the media, with top professionals and doctors from various fields taking part. An extended program for Spanish-speaking players included additional sessions on cultural adaptation, language skills and immigration laws. The 2008 RCDP also featured a visit to several landmarks in Washington, D.C.
Many former Major League players were available to the attendees throughout the festivities. Hall of Famer Tony Perez was a guest speaker for the participants in the Latino program. Former Major Leaguers John Flaherty (a 1992 RCDP alumnus), Dave Gallagher, Vance Law, Jim Poole, Jeff Reboulet, Steve Rogers, Billy Sample, Bob Tewksbury and Dave Valle served as resource players, offering personal reflections on the opportunities and challenges that players can expect in a Major League career. Actors from The Second City Communications comedy troupe performed throughout the RCDP, appearing in skits and leading team-oriented activities and discussions as a platform for illustrating the points made in each presentation.
The Rookie Career Development Program is a model of cooperation between the Office of the Commissioner and the Players Association, directed at making the transition to the Major Leagues as smooth as possible, said Rob Manfred, Executive Vice President of Labor Relations and Human Resources for Major League Baseball.
Each year the issues involved with playing Major League Baseball become more complex. We are confident that the Rookie Career Development Program has evolved to meet the needs of these talented young men as they begin their careers, said Gene Orza, the Chief Operating Officer of the Major League Baseball Players Association.
Since its inception, more than 1,200 players have attended the RCDP, including hundreds of current Major League players. Attendees have included Lance Berkman (2000), Carl Crawford (2002), Jermaine Dye (1997), Curtis Granderson (2005), Vladimir Guerrero (1997), Todd Helton (1998), Felix Hernandez (2006), Trevor Hoffman (1992), Matt Holliday (2003), Ryan Howard (2005), Torii Hunter (1998), Derek Jeter (1996), Carlos Lee (1998), Derrek Lee (1997), Justin Morneau (2003), Magglio Ordoñez (1998), Jake Peavy (2003), Hanley Ramirez (2005), Alex Rodriguez (1996), Jimmy Rollins (2000), Grady Sizemore (2004), Jim Thome (1992), Justin Verlander (2006), Vernon Wells (2000) and Carlos Zambrano (2001).
Among the 2007 RCDP attendees who played in the Major Leagues last season were Homer Bailey, Michael Bourn, Ryan Braun, Billy Butler, Josh Fields, Yovani Gallardo, Matt Garza, Alex Gordon, Tom Gorzelanny, Phil Hughes, Adam Jones, James Loney, Andrew Miller and Micah Owings.