Every summer in June, young men are selected to join the professional ranks that they’ve dreamed of. They get closer to the goals that drive them to practice and study the game that they love. They are questioned and studied to no abound by teams, wanting to make sure their investment will not be wasted. No, I’m not talking about the NBA draft — that’s at the end of June, after these NBA Finals. No, ladies and gentlemen — it’s time for the 2016 MLB Draft, the least known show that keeps on rolling!
The MLB Draft is an under-promoted event, which has to do with a lot of different aspects — like the fact that baseball is still happening. Literally, the MLB is in season and college baseball is in its post-season. It’s kind of odd, but it isn’t broken. The order is determined by the previous year’s wins and loses record, so congrats Philadelphia–the Phillies’ futility has gained you the first pick this year.
In accord, what do we really know about this system? Baseball is the national pastime at this point because it’s the grandfather of sports in the U.S., but its system of choosing players is kind of underground. Before deciding to write, I didn’t even know it was this week! Or that it was from June 9–11. With that, here are the answers to the basic questions that come with 2016 MLB Draft.
So What is it?
Basically, MLB teams select American (including Puerto Rico) and Canadian baseball players, age 18 or older, one by one, in order to build up their teams, adding them to their farm systems.
Wait, this is only for Americans and Canadians — so what about the fact that there are a lot of players from Latin America?
Um, yeah that’s a little different. Basically, international amateurs are just signed after being scouted. It relies just as heavily on the scouting as it does in the states. The MLB has thought about doing a formal international prospect draft as recent as 2014, but tabled the issue until the expiration of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which comes up this year.
How many rounds are there?
40, and there’s also the compensatory and competitive balance rounds.
The fuck are those?
The competitive balance rounds basically gives teams with either one of the 10 smallest markets or 10 smallest revenue pools one of six additional choices, after the first and second rounds. This year, it includes the Cincinnati Reds, San Diego Padres, and Colorado Rockies, to name a few of the 12 teams.
The compensatory round is basically teams getting extra picks as compensation for a player being signed by another team, after the player has rejected a qualifying offer from their previous team. An example, the St. Louis Cardinals have 2 such picks because of the Chicago Cubs signing both Jason Heyward and John Lackey, this past offseason.
So these kids are in the team immediately right?
No, because well that’d be weird. Some are 18 and still developing, so they get put in the team’s farm system, where they essentially go through levels of minor league baseball, from Class Low A to AAA. With each level, the talent increases, until they’re deemed ready for the show. At the same time, a lot of high school kids do turn it down every year to play in college, be it junior college or a four-year institution. Even then, it takes about 4–6 years on average, to get to the majors.
You can turn it down, even if you’re a first round pick?
That happens. Sometimes it works out, like 2013 #1 pick for the Houston Astros pitcher Mark Appel, who was selected from Stanford in 2012 by the Pittsburgh Pirates, but turned it down because of the drop in bonus money. And sometimes you have Brady Aiken, who was the 1st pick in 2014 out of high school, turned down the Houston Astros, and tore a ligament in his elbow, in the first and only game of his post-graduate career. He was selected the next year by the Indians in the first round, but lost some money on his gamble.
There are a lot of picks. Some picks are used to be used, to not incur penalties, knowing the player may be less likely to sign on. There is always a number of NFL prospects taken when eligible like Michael Vick in 2000 by the Colorado Rockies or Tom Brady in the 18th round by the Montreal Expos aka the Washington Nationals.
I do know they get bank though, right?
Yes, they do get a good deal of cash, in the first round. There’s slotting by the pick and the team, which are based on the teams bonus pools. For this year, Cincinnati has the most money at over $13 million, which means someone might get over paid. At the same time, the picks also have assigned values for bonuses, which teams can go over or pay under, just depending on their bonus pool. This year, with the 1st pick, the Phillies can give their selection $9 million.
So who’s going #1?
Hmmm, depends. It’s kind of all over the place, unlike in years previous with the likes of Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, or Carlos Correra. There is a lot of bust potential, like Tim Beckham or Matt Bush, because of the money involved and how long it takes to make the majors.
That being said, some names being mentioned include University of Florida southpaw pitcher A.J. Puk, University of Louisville outfielder Corey Ray, and California high school outfielder Mickey Moniak. It might go to one of the college players, since there has been a shift away from high schoolers in the first round, mainly because of financial reasons.
Now, to wait and watch on MLB Network, starting at 7 PM EDT. Or more realistically, look it up as it goes. It’s 40 rounds over 3 days, and making a decision is hard, so it’ll take a while. Until teams start throwing picks away. Then, that’s when the real fun is to be had. Never forget, in 2014, the Padres took Johnny Manziel in the 28th round. If that wasn’t done for shits and giggles aka marketing, then I don’t know what’s going on.