Major League Aspirations

David Vinsky drives a ball to left field during a 2019 game for Northwood University. In June, Vinsky was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals, launching what he hopes will be a long career as a professional baseball player.

David Vinsky drives a ball to left field during a 2019 game for Northwood University. In June, Vinsky was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals, launching what he hopes will be a long career as a professional baseball player.

David Vinsky was not highly regarded as a high school baseball player, but the Northwood coaching staff saw potential in him, offering him something that the University knows very well: opportunity.

Vinsky seized the chance as if it were a hanging curve ball, making himself into the most prolific hitter in the history of Northwood baseball. In June, Vinsky’s Cinderella story began a new chapter, as he was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 15th round of baseball’s amateur player draft. “Without a doubt the happiest day of my life,” Vinsky posted to Twitter on draft day. “Just want to thank everybody who has made this possible and helped me along the way. My family, my coaches, and teammates.”

Vinsky (’20), a marketing major, decided to forgo his final year of college eligibility to sign a contract with the Cardinals organization a few days later. He then headed to the team’s training center in Jupiter, Florida, to be evaluated for assignment to a minor league team, the typical first step in a professional baseball career that could eventually lead to the Major Leagues.

Coach Offers Support

Northwood Head Coach Jake Sabol (’15, M.B.A.) certainly would have been happy to have Vinsky back in the Timberwolf lineup for one more season, but he felt no disappointment whatsoever on draft day.

“We were thrilled for David. That was his goal for a long time,” Sabol said. “Getting guys drafted and signed out of our program is a huge deal. We get kids who have tools we like and who develop like crazy when they’re here. Anytime we can produce someone who can go on to play at the professional level, it’s a win/win.”

Sabol spent three years in the minor leagues himself, drafted by the Detroit Tigers as a pitcher from Central Michigan University, and that experience allowed him to offer guidance to Vinsky.

“There were quite a few things that we tried to offer him to help him prepare to be able to move on to the next level,” Sabol said. Sabol plans to stay in touch with Vinsky, who will be welcome to return to Northwood for off-season training in the fall. And while the odds of making it to the Major Leagues are long, even for drafted players, Sabol likes the odds.

“It’s really early to tell, but I like his chances,” Sabol said. “He’s been able to hit everywhere he’s played. If he continues to progress the way he has, he’s going to put himself in a position to move up. If you look at him three years ago, many thought he didn’t have the tools to play at the highest level of college baseball, but he sure does now.”

In his three seasons at Northwood, David Vinsky led the team to an overall record of 117-50, with two conference championships and three NCAA Tournament appearances. Splitting time between right field and first base, he is the school’s all-time leader in:

  • .411 Career Batting Average

  • 160 RBIs

  • 189 Runs

  • 274 Hits

  • 66 Doubles

The Odds Are Long, but Getting Shorter

A 2017 study published in Baseball Research Journal calculated how often baseball players who were drafted between 1996 and 2011 went on to play in the Major Leagues. It found that, among players selected in the 11th through 15th rounds who signed a contract with the organization that drafted them (Northwood player David Vinsky was drafted in the 15th round), 1 in 8 played at least one Major League game, and 1 in 19 played for three or more years in the big leagues.