How Does the MLB Draft Work?

Unlike the NFL, NHL, NBA and even MLS drafts, the MLB draft is one of those things that do not get much coverage and few people understand. To help those of you without much knowledge of how the MLB First-Year Player draft works, here’s three things to help clarify how it works.

1. There are 50 rounds that span three days.

No other professional league in the United States has as many rounds in their draft, or as many roster spots to fill. Having 50 rounds may seem ridiculous, especially when the active roster of the Major League team only has 25 spots, but filling up a farm system takes a lot of players. For example, the Colorado Rockies organization has seven different teams to fill with their young players, from the Rookie League Casper Ghosts to the Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox.

Another reason to have so many picks is the fact that so few prospects actually make it to the Major Leagues. While every league has busts, it is hard to find a draft that is harder to predict, in terms of “can’t miss” guys, than the MLB draft.

2. Nobody really knows what is going to happen

With other drafts such as the NFL and NBA, knowing approximately where the top 10-15 guys will go is a fairly solid science. Thousands of players are available to MLB teams, from college players and junior-college players to high-school seniors who have just graduated; therefore who exactly teams like and are looking at is often a guessing game. At any point in time, even up to the week before the draft, you can search for five different mock drafts and get five completely different rounds. Each team has their own wants and needs as well as their own philosophies on how to develop players. These factors, which can change quickly, all make predicting how the draft will turn out pretty difficult.  

3. It takes time, sometimes a long time, to go from draft day to the Major Leagues.

The players drafted, despite many being college players, don’t go straight to their Major League team and often take years to get there. Even first-round picks are almost always put into the lower ranks of the team’s farm system and work their way up from there. Developing the fine-tuned skills to become a Major League baseball player takes a lot of work and the right coaching to get the most out of any particular player.

There are the basics of the MLB First-Year Player draft. Although it is one of the more confusing and less-followed professional sports drafts, its uniqueness and level of uncertainty make it one of sports more fascinating events. You can catch coverage of the first round 2011 MLB First Player Draft today (June 6th) at 4 p.m. PT on and MLB Network. Rounds 2-30 will be on Tuesday June 7th at 9 a.m. PT and rounds 31-50 will be on Wednesday June 8th at 9 a.m. PT. You can also follow all the Rockies’ draft picks and see who could be coming to play in the Tri-Cities by following the team Facebook and twitter accounts.

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