Whether it’s Clayton Kershaw or Bryce Harper, no matter the name, or talent, all American born players were acquired by a respective team in the MLB draft. Outside of above average baseball fans and prospect enthusiasts not many casual fans know much about the MLB draft. Unlike the major two drafts in the NBA and NFL, the MLB draft is held during the regular season. This may not seem like a huge deal but the NFL draft and even the NBA draft are both marketed like single season events alone.
One reason for the placement of the MLB draft is high school players being eligible to be drafted. High schools in the south start their practices as early as January and their regular seasons starts in mid February. College baseball also starts around that time with many northern schools traveling to the south for the first month of the season.
Arguably the worst part of the MLB draft is that high school kids can be drafted, but may not sign with the team that selected them. In 2014 the Houston Astros selected high schooler Brady Aiken, a left handed pitcher from Southern California. Ok so if I’m an Astros fan I’m pumped, we just drafted a 6-4 lefty that throws mid 90s! The Astros would find out Aiken had some arm issues and eventually pulled back on their signing bonus offer causing Aiken to not sign. It’s understandable the Astros want to be careful handing out a $4-$6 million bonus to their number one pick, but now it feels like the Astros didn’t have a first overall pick in the first place.
It’s not Astros fault they didn’t ink Aiken because they were concerned with arm issues, but rather the system that is in play. High school kids should have to declare for the draft and then if they don’t get selected they go to their respective school. Signing bonuses have become to much of a concern for a team where instead they should be worrying about a kid’s skill set instead of his “signability.”
Major League Baseball should impose a combine similar to the NFL with individual regions of the country showcasing the best high school prospects. There fans could get more familiar with players and teams could be a lot more organized.
As far as college ball goes the season should be pushed back so it’s played in the summer months instead of in February and March. The MLB could benefit by promoting the MLB draft in October-December and maybe having it during the Winter Meetings, the high point of MLB’s offseason. Then fans could get a greater perspective on players and the event would be isolated instead of it being during the regular season
College players will wrap up their school seasons and high school players will continue to play with high level club teams and in showcases in order to get prepared for a high level combine event.
No more signability issues and cause for giving out large bonuses for kids who aren’t sure about turning pro.Every league should market its draft as an event of prominent proportions. It’s a time when leagues gain new fresh talent with high hopes and expectations and the MLB should continue to move forward in expanding the MLB Draft.