Enjoyable Hypothetical – What If MLB and School Baseball Had the Similar Association as NFL and School Soccer?
The structures of the NFL are unparalleled. And the league created an absolute mammoth spectacle in the NFL Draft. This is because the Draft, and the NFL in general, so naturally emerged from another hugely popular sport, college football. We know that the selected players have already had to perform on a big stage and that they have to make a contribution from the start. This is a great player acquisition system.
Then there is Major League Baseball. The MLB is getting less and less attractive to future consumers every year as the league has a fair balance to the competition and aesthetic issues on the field. There are a gruesome handful of teams who essentially send it in by putting up a cheap replacement-level squad before the start of each season, and what makes their fans sleep at night?
That would be the MLB draft. Your team could choose a high school or college player. In the former case, there is massive risk of busting as you are trying to project how a player’s hit tool or pitching command will play out when not faced with other high schoolers who will never play an inning again in their life . Pick a college player and your fans will think you didn’t pick the player with the highest cap. In any case, even at the beginning of the draft, the selected player is not expected to reach the big club immediately, and possibly not for as long as five years. And oh yeah, your owner better not be cheap because otherwise the guy you choose after a full year of terrible baseballs may not even sign a contract and sever all ties with the team. This is the MLB draft.
It almost certainly will never happen, but I really can’t give you a good reason why the MLB Draft doesn’t have the same eligibility requirements as the NFL Draft: the player must have graduated from high school for three years and used up their college eligibility . This would be massive for college baseball. If college baseball had the best 18-21 year olds in the country in its ranks, it would be pretty obvious that it was going to get a lot more popular. Fans of seedy MLB teams would tune in to check out their potential saviors, college baseball managers would be scrutinized, alums would have another potential revenue sport – recruiting could even become a big deal.
In the past, the huge minor league system made this hypothetical agreement untenable. But now the MLB has grouped the minor leagues into four levels of 120 teams (four partners per team), and it seems the minors could be well-endowed with players from a college-only draft and international free agent contract signings.
I think the MLB would benefit greatly from this too. Fueling could get a little more popular because the top picks in the MLB draft just got a bit safer, but that problem could largely be fixed by the competitive gold strike – a salary floor. Every time I think about how the MLB could be improved, I go back to the salary floor.