Major League Baseball has announced a plan to form a new MLB Draft League. This will be a new summer league that will allow the best collegiate players across the country an opportunity to get scouted ahead of the draft.
The MLB Draft League will feature a 68-game season starting next year. There are five founding teams, all of whom are former minor league affiliates: the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, the State College Spikes, the Trenton Thunder, the West Virginia Black Bears and the Williamsport Crosscutters.
The league will begin in early June and go into August. For college level players looking to get drafted, it is an excellent opportunity to get looked at by professional scouts.
More moves like this are likely to happen moving forward. As MLB tries to reduce the number of minor league affiliate teams, plans are in place to convert leagues into summer opportunities.
Being sponsored by the MLB, the league will get benefits that others don’t. It will be a very accessible league for scouts, and MLB organizations will likely be able to work closely with the league’s players.
On top of this, “state-of-the-art scouting technology” will be available to scouts, allowing them to evaluate players at a higher level.
The Importance of Summer Leagues
For college baseball players, summer leagues are one of the most critical times for development and scouting. This is where most players will begin getting looked at by professional teams.
Summer leagues place the best players from across the country, regardless of what school they go to, against each other. For example, the best players from the division three level are able to play against players at major division one schools. For scouts, this is where a player’s true talent becomes clear.
The MLB summer leagues will be coming into a landscape that is already dominated by a variety of leagues.
The Cape Cod League is the most notable, known as the premier spot for collegiate baseball. During the past draft, the CCBL had 13 selections in the first round, with nine being in the top 29.
Besides the Cape, notable leagues include: the New England Collegiate League, Futures Collegiate Baseball League, California Collegiate League, Coastal Plains League, Northwoods League and Alaskan League.
There are many more beyond just those, and MLB is planning to add to that.
Though more details are yet to be known, it is thought that players who get drafted will be able to play the rest of their summer on that team. This would replace “rookie ball,” the level of the minors that most new draftees enter right away.
Replacing Minor League Organizations
At its core, this move serves as a replacement for the minor league teams that the MLB is planning on cutting. The proposal from the league removes 120-160 minor league affiliates, changing the landscape of MiLB.
By opening these various summer leagues, the former affiliated organizations are still able to get revenue from baseball operations. They are still able to give local fans the baseball that they ate used to and will still have some funding from the MLB.
There is hope that the move will also encourage franchise owners to pay their minor leagues more. In most cases, minor leagues are paid less than minimum wage.
By cutting the affiliated teams, the total number of players in the minor league system is dramatically reduced. This will hopefully lead to higher wages for the players.
Though this move has been met with a lot of criticism, the MLB’s view is that it will ultimately benefit every side impacted.
While this remains to be seen, the formation of these leagues potentially allows for many more talented collegiate players to get seen by professional scouts.