Repairing MLB Rule 4 Draft
The 2010 MLB Rule 4 First-Year Player Draft begins on June 7th. This 50-round circus is the only draft of any major sport that takes place during the season—but that is not the problem.
Some of the major problems are highlighted in a great column by SI’s, Tom Verducci. Verducci states the problems as being the fact that you can’t trade picks, over spending in later rounds, and the drafting of too many high school players.
In this draft alone, thousands of kids will never make it to “The Show.” To make things worse, hundreds of these kids drafted aren’t even of legal age to consume alcoholic beverages.
You may be asking what does drinking have to do with playing baseball. Well, young men by law can’t handle alcohol, how are we supposed to expect them to possibly hire an agent, choose between college and the minors, and maintain athletic expectations?
The entire Rule 4 Draft is subject to change with the upcoming meetings for a new CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) in 2012.
Bigger Isn’t Always Better
If we’re going to fix the process of this mess, then we need to shorten the draft. A 50-round draft is like the girls from Sex and the City making movies, know when enough is enough.
The NFL and NBA have perfect formats for their respected drafts. The NFL has 7 rounds and the NBA has 2 rounds. All players must declare their eligibility prior to the draft and if they are not selected then they become free agents.
In the Verducci article, baseball agent Scott Boras has an idea to separate the high school and college drafts and limit the high school draft to two rounds (or about 70 picks).
I don’t feel as though there is a need to separate the two drafts, but limiting the number of high school players selected is a good idea. If a high school player is not selected, he can try and sign with a minor league team or go play college ball.
The draft should be cut in half to about 25 rounds or less. I understand that teams need to field a major league team plus minor league affiliates. Also with acquisition of foreign born players, though, this should be enough.
Any player who is not chosen in the draft is then free game for any team to pursue their services. This would force more kids to either go to college or stay in school and advance their education since the odds of ever playing in the majors is highly unlikely for most.
Stats Don’t Lie
These statistics were provided by SI.com.
In 2000, of the 436 high school players drafted after the 13th round, 9 signed contracts and eventually played in the majors—A 98 percent failure rate.
In 2000, of the 213 high school players who were drafted after the 26th round, only 1 player eventually played 147 games in the majors (Victor Diaz – New York Mets & Texas Rangers)—A 99 percent failure rate.
These statistics were provided by HighSchoolBaseballWeb.com.
About 1 in 200 high school players will eventually be drafted by a major league team—A 0.5 percent success rate.
Slightly less then 11 in 100 college baseball players will be drafted by a major league team—A 10.5 percent success rate.
Picks Equal Money, Which Equals Power
Another great aspect of the NFL and NBA drafts is the fact that you can trade picks to move up or down in the draft.
If an organization has the 5th pick of the draft and doesn’t see someone they need, then by all means they should have the right to trade with a team that desires that spot.
Major League Baseball doesn’t have a salary cap, which gives an advantage to the larger markets. Why not allow a struggling organization to trade picks and possibly give them a chance to compile talented prospects?
Players selected through all drafts should have a maximum amount of money they can make. It doesn’t matter how talented you are as an amateur there is no guarantee that you will perform at the highest level.
Contracts should be two years with an option for a third year. This will allow players who out perform their contracts to get paid fair value when they enter their prime and eliminate organization favored contracts.
Clearly based on the success rate of the players in the later rounds (especially high school players) some things have to change with the MLB Rule 4 Draft. The unfortunate part about this entire situation is that resolution to this problem will favor the people with money.