According to a report from ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel, MLB is moving the draft from its traditional June slot to July 11-13 during All-Star festivities in Atlanta. This comes via a league memo distributed to teams Monday detailing changes to the draft. For as much as MLB has done to stifle the marketing of the game in recent years, this seems like a move in the right direction.
The initial plan for this year was to hold the draft in Omaha, site of the College World Series, which would have been pretty cool. But by holding it about a month later in conjunction with so many other popular events, MLB can better market its future stars while celebrating its current standard-bearers. There’s even potential for some sort of medical or skills combine, though probably not on the scale made popular by the NFL.
McDaniel reports that, while not finalized, the expectation is for the draft to be between 20 and 30 rounds after being shortened to five rounds this season. A 20-round minimum has already been established and the likely elimination of at least 40 minor league affiliates means teams won’t need to load up on as many prospects, so I’d guess 25 rounds might be number.
The memo also mentions the possibility of an August 1 signing deadline, which would really put the heat on teams to get players under contract. Baseball America has another interesting note about dates and deadlines, specifically that a later draft means having more eligible players because a player at a four-year university must turn 21 within 45 days of the draft in order to be considered.
All the granular stuff aside, this is a smart move by MLB and I hope they follow through with enhanced efforts to showcase young players and grow the game at a youth level.