Saunders: MLB’s five-round draft is another blow for minor-league baseball

Minor league baseball – the dreams it inspires, the smaller cities it embraces, and the talent it develops for major league teams – are undergoing seismic changes.

The coronavirus pandemic accelerates that change.

Friday broke the news that Major League Baseball will cut its amateur draft for 2020 from 40 to just five rounds. It was hoped that the design would be reduced to 10 rounds, not five, but the owners’ wishes won. Eliminating the sixth through tenth rounds will save teams a combined $ 29,578,100, but that’s only a savings of about $ 1 million per team.

Many front office officials in MLB objected to the plan, and many general managers and player development personnel claim that the design provides solid value for the long term. However, the owners now want to save.

The new plan allows teams to sign an unlimited number of undeveloped players for $ 20,000. The design is expected to begin on June 10.

Chopping the design coincides with the proposed cancellation of 25% of the minor league teams, a measure that has received much criticism. Colorado Springs-based Rocky Mountain Vibes, a rookie league affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, could be one of the eliminated teams.

“It would be a total tragedy if something like this happened,” Chris Vips, president of Colorado Vibes, told The Denver Post in December. “When you consider what minor league baseball is about, baseball is part of it, but it’s community. Everything we do is somehow anchored in community contact. The proposal doesn’t just have consequences for us here in Colorado Springs, but multiplying that by 42 across the country, it’s a big deal. “

The National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, the minor league board, is reported to be ready in September to agree to MLB’s proposal to reduce the number of memberships by 2021 from 160 to 120. The NAPBL’s position is set to further weakened by the prospect of no 2020 season due to the corona virus.

Visitors to minor league games last year were over 41.5 million, up 2.6% from 2018 and the 15th consecutive year with over 40 million fans, according to The Associated Press. But Major League owners, including Dick Monfort of the Rockies, say major changes are needed to ensure professional facilities for all minor league players, reduce travel by reorganizing the leagues by region, and the “compensation, accommodation and improve facilities “for minor. league players.

With the news that the concept is being drastically changed, it means fewer players are choosing to start a professional career for just a $ 20,000 signing bonus. In addition, more players are likely to return to college for their senior year, and many more players may enter junior colleges rather than sign a contract and sign directly from high school.

“With a five-round concept, I fully expect it to be very tough for college, because MLB teams want a longer track record than just two to four looks from a high school kid,” said a SEC recruiting coordinator. told “I think this is pushing a lot of talent to Division I, but also to the JUCO ranks. I think this will make the JC ranks stronger than ever. ”

However, minor league baseball will be another hit.

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