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What and Why: Formally known as the First-Year Player Draft or Rule 4 Draft; informally known (by me) as the MLB Draft or the Draft. The basic concept behind holding a draft is to restock the worst teams in the league with the best amateur talent available. The Rule 4 Draft is massive in size and scope with a gigantic pool of eligible players and up to 50 rounds of drafted talent. It’s only “up to” 50 because teams have the option to end their draft at any point they choose. Selection order works in reverse order of finish going by the final standings of the previous season. If two teams are tied in the standings then the previous year’s standings are used as a tiebreaker. Easy enough, right? Compensation picks are assigned to teams whose Type A or Type B free agents signed elsewhere, but only when said Type A or Type B players were first offered arbitration. Compensation picks are also assigned when a team fails to sign a player chosen in the first three rounds of the draft prior.
Who: College players at four-year schools who have either completed their junior or senior seasons or are at least 21 years old; junior college players no matter what year they are in; high school players who have graduated but not yet enrolled at college. All players who meet these requirements from the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada are eligible to be drafted. Cuban defectors living in the United States are also subject to the rules of the draft. Teams have the rights to sign a player from the moment they draft him until August 15th of the draft year.
When: June 9, 10, and 11. Yeah, it’ll really take three days to run through all 1,500 or so selections. This will be the third televised year of the Rule 4 Draft, but the first time that the First-Year Player Draft will ever be held in prime-time. See how I seamlessly dropped both official draft names in there? Anyway, expect the Nationals to go on the clock around 6 PM EST. June 9th will include Round 1, Compensation Round A, Round 2, Round 3, and Compensation Round B.
Where: Studio 42 in Secaucus, New Jersey
How to Watch: Round 1 will be televised on MLB Network. Subsequent rounds will air on a live video stream at MLB.com. Day 1 begins at 6 PM EST, but Days 2 and 3 should both begin at roughly 12 noon EST.
Random tangent to buy me a little more time until new content is polished up and ready to see the light of day – wouldn’t it be cool if there was a combine for baseball? As it currently stands the timing wouldn’t really work out with the way the draft and the college baseball season overlap, but I think a televised combine event would be a great investment for MLB to make. A MLB Draft Combine would help players get noticed, provide scouting directors more data to help make their decisions, and generate interest in both amateur and minor league baseball through the development of interesting narratives for individual players leading up to the draft.
More on the idea of a potential MLB Draft Combine after the jump… (more…)