Sport Rulebook

Exploring Baseball Rosters: Sizes and Lists from Pro to Youth Leagues

Baseball Roster Sizes

One of the essential parts of baseball is the team roster. A team’s roster is the list of players who are eligible to compete in a game.

The size of a baseball roster varies depending on the level of play. In this article, we will explore baseball roster sizes at different levels, including professional, college, high school, and youth.


Baseball Roster Sizes

In Major League Baseball (MLB), each team has an active roster of 26 players during the regular season. The active roster is the group of players that the team can use in any game.

Additionally, teams have a 40-man roster that includes all of the players on the active roster plus players who are injured or on the disabled list. During a doubleheader, teams are allowed to add an additional player to the active roster, bringing the total number of players on the roster to 27.

This temporary expansion of the roster is intended to help relieve the strain on teams playing two games in one day. Unlike other professional leagues, such as the NFL and NBA, MLB does not have a minimum or maximum roster size.

This lack of a roster cap provides teams with a great deal of flexibility in adding and dropping players as needed throughout the season. Minor League

Baseball Roster Sizes

Minor league baseball teams have a more complex roster structure since each level has a different set of rules.

However, the active roster typically consists of 25 players for full-season teams and 35 players for short-season teams. Short-season leagues are affiliated with MLB, but they only play for a few months during the summer.

Independent leagues are not affiliated with a major league team and have their own roster rules. College

Baseball Roster Sizes

In college baseball, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) governs roster sizes.

NCAA Division I programs are limited to a maximum of 35 players on the roster, and only 27 of those players can be on scholarship. As with professional baseball teams, college teams have an active roster that consists of the players who are eligible to participate in games.

However, the size of the active roster varies from team to team and is at the discretion of the coach. High School and Youth

Baseball Roster Sizes

In high school and youth baseball, roster sizes are typically smaller than at the professional and college levels.

Little League teams may have as few as 12 players on their roster, while high school teams generally carry around 15-20 players. One aspect of roster management that is unique to high school and youth baseball is pitching.

Pitchers are subject to pitch count rules, which limit the number of pitches they can throw in a game and how many days of rest they need before pitching again.

Major League Baseball Roster Rules

Active vs. 40-Man Roster

The active roster and the 40-man roster are two different things in MLB.

The active roster is the group of players that the team can use in any game, while the 40-man roster includes all of the players on the active roster plus players who are injured or on the disabled list. Teams can move players between the active and 40-man rosters as needed throughout the season.

However, moving a player to the 40-man roster requires the team to place the player on the 40-man roster, which means that the player is no longer eligible to be picked up by other teams.

Insurance and Control of Minor League Players

One reason why MLB teams maintain a 40-man roster is to control the rights to their minor league players. If a player is not on the 40-man roster, they can be selected by another team in the Rule 5 Draft.

Players who are selected in the Rule 5 Draft must remain on the selecting team’s active roster for the entire season. If the team tries to send the player to the minor leagues, they must first offer the player back to the team they drafted him from.

Changes in Roster Rules Over Time

The rules around baseball rosters have changed over time, with many of the changes driven by external factors like wars and labor unrest. During the World War II era, for example, many players were drafted into the military, which forced teams to use players who would not have made the roster in normal circumstances.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the advent of relief pitching led to changes in roster management. Teams started carrying more specialized relief pitchers, which reduced the number of position players on the roster.

Additionally, teams have started to use their rosters differently, with some teams relying heavily on platoons or matchups to optimize the performance of their players.


Overall, baseball rosters are an essential part of the game. From the professional level down to youth leagues, the size and structure of the roster can vary significantly.

Understanding the rules around baseball rosters can help fans and players alike appreciate the game even more.

Different Lists in Baseball Rosters

Baseball rosters can be segmented into different lists, depending on the circumstances. In this article, we will take a closer look at three different lists – the

Restricted List, Designated Hitter list, and

Paternity List.

Restricted List


Restricted List is a special list used by MLB teams when a player’s playing rights are in question. Players can be placed on the

Restricted List if they have requested time off for personal reasons or have taken a leave of absence.

The list can also be used if the player retires from the game but wishes to retain his rights with the team. Players on the

Restricted List do not count against the 40-man roster but are still paid as if they were on the active roster.

However, if a player is on the

Restricted List due to retirement and subsequently comes out of retirement, he must be reinstated to the active roster and count against the team’s roster limits.

Designated Hitter List

The designated hitter (DH) is a position in baseball that is used in the American League (AL) but not the National League (NL). The DH is a player who bats in place of the pitcher, allowing teams to carry an additional hitter in the lineup.

The DH rule has been one of the most controversial aspects of baseball since it was introduced in 1973. Many fans and purists believe that the DH rule takes away from the strategy of the game, while proponents argue that it allows older players to continue their careers and provides more excitement for fans.

The DH list is essential for AL teams since they must have a player designated as the DH in every game. The position is usually filled by a power hitter who is not a strong fielder, which allows the team to maximize its offensive output.

Paternity List


Paternity List is a relatively new addition to the MLB roster rules, introduced in 2011. The list allows players to take up to three days off when their child is born.

Players must be on the active roster to use the

Paternity List, and they must return to the roster after the three-day period. The

Paternity List is an essential addition to the roster rules, as it recognizes the importance of family to baseball players.

Before the

Paternity List, players had to choose between staying with their team or being present for the birth of their children. Now, players can take time off to be with their families while still fulfilling their obligations to their teams.

One notable case where the

Paternity List was put to use was when New York Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner left a game early when his wife went into labor. Gardner was able to use the

Paternity List to take three days off and be with his family before returning to the team.


In conclusion, the

Restricted List, Designated Hitter list, and

Paternity List are all important components of baseball rosters. These lists allow teams to manage their players’ playing rights, provide offensive flexibility, and recognize the importance of family in the lives of their players.

As baseball continues to evolve, we are likely to see more changes to the roster rules, but these lists will always be an essential part of the game. In this article, we explored baseball roster sizes and different lists in detail.

From professional baseball to college, high school, and youth leagues, roster sizes vary depending on the level of play. We learned about the

Restricted List and Designated Hitter list in professional baseball and the

Paternity List, a relatively new addition to the roster rules.

These lists, while minor in comparison to other aspects of the game, are essential to roster management and have significant impacts on players’ lives and careers. Baseball fans and players alike should take the time to understand these lists and their implications for the game.


Q: What is the

Restricted List in baseball? A: The

Restricted List is a list used by Major League Baseball (MLB) teams when a player’s playing rights are in question.

Q: Why is the Designated Hitter list important in baseball? A: The Designated Hitter (DH) rule is a position used in the American League (AL) that allows teams to carry an additional hitter in their lineup.

Q: What is the

Paternity List in baseball? A: The

Paternity List is a list that allows Major League Baseball players to take time off when their child is born.

Q: Are roster sizes consistent across all levels of baseball? A: No, roster sizes vary depending on the level of play, from professional baseball down to youth leagues.

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