MLB will hold the inaugural draft combine in North Carolina on June 21-28. As stated in the announcement:
The Combine will provide an opportunity for players to participate in a series of medical and performance assessments as well as educational programming designed to prepare them for a career in professional baseball. On June 24-35, all players will have the opportunity to participate in a pro-style showcase workout, as well as strength and conditioning and PDP performance assessments. Additionally, as part of the Combine experience, the high school players will participate in a unique showcase tournament from June 22-26.
(Personally, I’m most looking forward to the events on June 31-35. That’ll clearly be something new.)
Apart from “more than 100 of the top high school and college baseball prospects, as identified by USA Baseball and MLB Clubs,” there’ll be a bunch of former players and execs, including Ray Searage and Jeff Bannister.
There’ll be coverage on MLB Network the week of June 21. That’ll include five hours of live coverage starting at 1pm on Friday, June 25.
Unless there’s been some big reveal that I’ve missed, MLB has stayed pretty cagey about the identity of the “more than 100” group. I’m very skeptical you’ll see guys like Jordan Lawlar and Kumar Rocker. More likely, it’ll be players hoping to break into the top ten rounds, but I guess we’ll see. It’ll be worth a look. Maybe some of the Pirates’ picks after the top couple rounds will be more than just unknown names we have to look up.
I have to admit, I tend to get a bit cynical about the long game with this sort of exercise. It’s good to see MLB trying to publicize its draft. I also get suspicious, though, given MLB’s recent efforts to get teams to join scouting pools. It’s really clear that the Commissioner’s office bean counters see scouting and the minor leagues generally as “inefficient” expenditures. Baseball America has reported that teams are rapidly downsizing their scouting operations, a trend that the Pirates seem to be resisting, according to the article. MLB’s push toward inexpensive, one-size-fits-all approach to farm systems will be one more blow to lower-revenue teams, which need opportunities for innovation and excellence that can allow them to find advantages.