MLB Draft Growing In Prestige, But Selig Still Wants More Prospects To Attend
MLB's First-Year Player Draft last night "took another step forward as a live prime-time event," according to Mark Newman of MLB.com. Filling a "noted void of past Drafts, five prospects attended, and each was selected in the first round and given hats and jerseys." While five players was “significant," MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said that "he would prefer a crowd of them." Selig said, "Five is a good start, but we need to do better than that." Newman notes this year's event "had a different feel, but the same rising popularity." It continues to be "one of the biggest days of the calendar year in baseball in terms of multimedia visibility and demand by fans -- a far cry from those days when it was a quiet conference call." Selig said, "This will get bigger and bigger and better and better." Newman notes Selig was asked "whether there was any concern about the slide of projected top overall pick Mark Appel of Stanford to No. 8, amid speculation that signability was an issue." Selig said, "It's obviously very premature to draw a conclusion. The only thing I would say, that I've told the clubs over and over for years, when the Draft was instituted in 1965, it was meant to equalize things -- level the playing field. It did for a long time, and then we began to have some things to indicate it wasn't." Selig also said that he was "heartened by the impact that (Carlos) Correa's No. 1 selection likely would have back in Puerto Rico." Newman notes Correa "comes from the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, which MLB developed" (MLB.com, 6/5).
KIDS STICKING WITH BASEBALL? MLB Network's Peter Gammons discussed the implications of the new signing bonus pools for draftees affecting players who play multiple sports and those players possibly going to college instead of signing with MLB teams. Gammons said, “If you’re going to lose those athletes, and that starts in the seventh grade and on, I think you do some damage to the sport.” MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo said, “It’s not quite the doomsday outlook.” Mayo: “There is going to be an adjustment eventually. The question always comes down to, does the kid want to play baseball. In the past they could throw money at him to help him make that decision” (“2012 First-Year Player Draft Preview,” MLB Network, 6/4).
SWING AND A MISS: In Cleveland, Tom Reed wrote, "In a sports nation obsessed with drafts -- real, mock and fantasy -- baseball's annual selection process generates about as much excitement as an intentional walk." Although the sport "remains immensely popular, the general public's lack of familiarity with draftees, the time it takes them to make an impact at the major-league level and the decision to conduct the draft over three days in the middle of the season conspire against it." Indians TV analyst and former No. 2 overall pick Rick Manning said, "It's boring, I don't care how they dress it up. Obviously, that's not true for the kid getting drafted and his family. They will celebrate. But I don't think the rest of the country is going to embrace this because you can't follow (amateur) baseball the way you do other sports. It's too difficult." Reed wrote, "In a society that craves immediate gratification, the baseball draft fails to deliver instant hope to fans" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 6/4).