MLB creates Draft League as extended exhibition for prospects

MLB Draft League
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Major League Baseball, Prep Baseball Report, and five founding members announced the establishment of the MLB Draft League, which will be the first league in the United States to focus on potential prospects who are eligible to be drafted by MLB clubs that summer.

Teams that will be based in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia will play in a 68-game season that allows MLB hopefuls to showcase their talents in front of teams before the draft, which has been pushed back later in the summer to July.

The five teams partaking in the league are the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, the State College Spikes, the Trenton Thunder, the West Virginia Black Bears, and the Williamsport Crosscutters with MLB in “advanced discussions” with a sixth.

“We are thrilled to partner with Prep Baseball Report and the founding members of the MLB Draft League to create a one-of-a-kind league that will attract the nation’s top players who are eligible for each year’s MLB Draft and allow local fans to see top prospects and future big-league stars in their hometowns,” Morgan Sword, MLB’s Executive Vice President, Baseball Economics & Operations, said. “This announcement continues MLB’s commitment to preserving and growing baseball in communities around the United States.”

While the league is being billed as a platform for the very best prospects to play, an MLB scout told Metro Philadelphia that it is unlikely that the Draft League would feature the very top talents that are expected to go early in the selection process.

“There’s no incentive for the better guys to play in it,” they said. “[Expect] guys at smaller schools who put up numbers. Or guys with big arms who don’t pitch in college because of command, for example.”

Such an outlook makes sense considering the very best prospects will not need the added exposure or the possibility of seeing their draft stock sink just before the selection process. Meanwhile, draft hopefuls who are unsure of their names being called will jump at the opportunity to make an impact just before draft night.

This first appeared on AMNY.com

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