What’s wrong with the MLB draft?

Bud Selig is on his way out, and maybe overhauling the MLB draft can be one of his final projects before he steps down as commissioner. Credit: Getty Images
Bud Selig is on his way out, and maybe overhauling the MLB draft can be one of his final projects before he steps down as commissioner. Credit: Getty Images

Check out any poll done in the last five years and they will all tell you the same thing — the NFL is No. 1, and MLB is No. 2. After that comes everything else.

Why then, is the NFL draft one of the highest rated non-games in all of sports a prime time event that makes millions of dollars for the league and for ESPN, and the MLB draft is just so boring?

The MLB draft is going this weekend. As this story is being written, picks are being made via conference call. And it’s very possible many sports fans had no idea.

The future of the Yankees, Red Sox, Mets and Phillies, along with the rest of the league is being determined as the best high school and college baseball players in the country are being divvied out between the 30 teams.

And still, no one cares? Why?

1. Length

The draft is 40 rounds long. No that isn’t a typo. There are 40 rounds, and over 1,200 players will be selected Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Sure, there are several farm teams in each organization, and a pretty sizable percentage of the high school kids taken will decline to go pro and play and go to college. But sports fans really can’t get their heads around the 784st overall pick being a right-handed catcher.

2. No trades?

In the NFL, draft-day trades are game-changers. In MLB, the teams (aside from compensation round picks, which are confusing as can be), cannot make any trades.

How exciting would it be if, say, the Phillies were to trade Cliff Lee to the Dodgers in exchange for three first rounders and a couple prospects? Certainly better than what the top players are traded for now — the occasional blue chip prospect and minor league lifers who will never crack the big leagues.

3. No sure thing

Keith Olbermann, on his program Thursday night, proposed that starting some year soon (say 2020), first-round picks are required to be on a team’s 25-man roster the following season.

Of every six first-round picks, five never make the Major League. That is pretty ridiculous. Sure, there is a deep farm system, and a lot of development and injury risks for a prospect to overcome. But less than 20 percent even make the Show? That really makes the draft a waste of time.

If MLB want’s to get their draft on a major network, and make it a part of the sports fans calendar, there certainly must be some changes.


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