Overview of Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft:

Major League Baseball’s First-Year Player Draft (also called the “Rule 4 draft”) is held in June of each year and is Major League Baseball’s main method for selecting amateur players from high school and college to play professionally for one of its teams.

 

Why Potential Draft Picks Need an Advisor:

  • If you have been approached by a scout for a MLB team, or been told by your coach that teams have expressed an interest in you, then you should get an advisor on board.

 

Money and Self-Interest:

Baseball is a multi-billion dollar sport. There really is no doubt that MLB teams will do and say what is in their own self-interest. That frequently means that the team’s self-interest is not in the player’s best interest. That is why you will frequently hear ‘baseball is a business.’ The bottom line is that teams (scouts/front office people) will try their hardest to pay as little as possible to get and sign a player.

The ‘Draft Process’:

The entire ‘draft process’ starts during the summer travel-ball season and showcases, and goes all the way through to the actual draft when teams are on the clock and have to make their selections. Thus, there are a great many scenarios that can play out during the long and often complicated draft process. KPT Sports has a thorough and complete knowledge of the ins and outs of amateur baseball and how it works for talented amateur players to get drafted.

A Player’s ‘Value’ and ‘Signability’:

Teams definitely grade out potential draft picks based on traditional scouting methods and then go about assigning a particular value to the player and to that team. We at KPT Sports are very astute at evaluating talent and knowing what value certain players can have with their particular talent level. KPT Sports also has the insight and knowledge to know whether a high school player should be drafted or would be better off either going to a junior college or to a four-year college.

Teams want some certainty to know that if they draft a player in a particular round they will be able to sign that player. Amateur players have a certain amount of leverage over teams in particular situations. KPT Sports knows how best to get players in the best leverage situation so they can maximize their potential draft status.

 

The most common ‘Advisor’ myths:

  • Advisors can jeopardize a player’s eligibility for the draft;
  • Having an advisor can hurt a player’s chances of getting drafted because teams will think the player will want more money and be difficult to deal with;
  • Players and their families can maneuver through the draft process and get the same deal on their own as with the counsel of an advisor.

 

The realities:

  • High school and college players are absolutely allowed to have advisors and remain fully draft-eligible, as long as they stay within NCAA ‘rules’ (see below);
  • A pro career may be very short-lived, and the risk of a career-threatening injury is great, so it is in the player’s best interest to have a thorough understanding of the draft and negotiation process; KPT Sports provides the insight players need to proceed with open eyes and ultimately negotiate a deal that is fair and not one-sided;
  • KPT Sports can offer invaluable insight and guidance for a young athlete, from his freshman year of high school or college baseball through the draft, thereby maximizing his chance of getting noticed by teams and setting him on the right path for a successful career in baseball.

‘Bonus Pool’ and ‘Slot Money’; Recent CBA Changes

The MLB collective bargaining agreement (CBA) was revised significantly in 2012 with regard to trying to limit how much money teams can spend. In addition to new compensatory picks allotted to each team and the new signing deadline for drafted players, the new CBA also created a ‘bonus pool’ for each team to use in signing drafted players. The pool is based on a team’s draft position and the number of draft picks plus the money it spent in the previous year’s draft. The ‘pool’ of money applies only to the first ten rounds and within those first ten rounds each round has a recommended ‘slot’ for that particular round and that selection within each round. During the 2012 draft, the pools were between $4.5 million and $11.5 million. Teams that exceed their allotted pool by 5% or less must pay a “luxury tax” of 75% of the amount exceeded. Teams that exceed the pool by more than 5% to 10% must pay a 100% tax, plus they lose their next first-round pick. Teams that exceed 15% may lose their next two first-round draft picks along with the tax.

Eligibility:

The Major League Rules control player eligibility for the draft. In general, a player must meet the following criteria to be drafted:

  • Resident of the United States, Canada, or U.S. territory such as Puerto Rico. Foreign players enrolled in a high school or college in the U.S. are also considered residents;
  • Never previously signed a major or minor league contract; and
  • Fall under one of the following categories:
    • High school players, if they have graduated and have not yet attended college or junior college;
    • College players from 4-year colleges who have either (a) completed their junior or senior years or (b) are at least 21 years of age; or
    • Junior college players, regardless of how many years of school completed.

Staying Within NCAA ‘Rules’:

KPT Sports takes the NCAA ‘rules’ on agents and advisors seriously, recognizing that violating such rules and putting at risk a player’s draft eligibility benefits nobody. The bottom line is that players may absolutely have an advisor during high school and college and through the First-Year Player Draft to advise them about their future baseball careers and the draft process, including advisement on contract negotiations.

The Draft Procedure:

The first-year player draft is held by conference call among the 30 Major League Clubs. Each club (or team) selects players according to the final standings from the previous season. The team with the most losses gets the first pick in the draft selection process. Also, teams that lost free agents in the previous off season may be entitled to ‘compensatory’ draft picks. The entire draft lasts 40 rounds plus compensatory picks, according to the new 2012 collective bargaining agreement.

Since 2012, the deadline for signing a drafted player has been July 17 of a particular draft year. A player who enters junior college may not be signed until the end of the school’s baseball season. Players who are drafted and do not sign with the team that picked them may be drafted again in future years as long as they remain draft eligible. A team may not pick a player again in a subsequent year absent the player’s consent.

Players who are not draft eligible become free agents, allowing them to sign with any team up to one week before the next draft, or until they enter or re-enter college or junior college. Generally, the one-week period before the draft is a ‘closed period’ during which no new players may be signed.

History of the Draft:

When the baseball draft first began in 1965, players were recruited primarily according to their talent and likelihood of success in advancing up the minor league ranks to the majors. Over time, talent took a back seat to money, as teams started drafting based on the amount of money a player was likely to accept, now known as a ‘signability pick.’

Additionally, high school players previously had more leverage than those already in college because they had the option of going to college first and being drafted the following year. In the early 1990s, however, team owners decided among themselves to extend the time each team had negotiating rights to a player from one year to five. This served to preclude a player drafted in high school from going to college and re-entering the draft after his junior or senior year. The unilateral change was challenged by the MLB Players Association, and the arbitrator agreed, ruling that any changes to the draft rules must be negotiated with the MLBPA, even though it does not represent amateur players.