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2021 MLB Draft Prep: The basics, including a new date and venue — the All-Star Game

A few thoughts on the new draft procedure for next year.

Rob Manfred during the 2020 MLB Draft
Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images

I'd tried a couple times to write a draft prep article, but I wasn't getting anywhere without knowing the length of the draft. Here are the details from Kiley McDaniel at ESPN:

The 2021 MLB draft will move from June to July 11-13 and will be held in Atlanta as part of the All-Star Game festivities, according to a memo obtained by ESPN that MLB sent to clubs Monday about changes to the draft. The draft has been held in early to mid-June for decades.

A number of benefits for clubs and the league arise from moving the draft. Holding it at the All-Star Game — in conjunction with the Futures Game and after the College World Series — allows the league to own the marketing and promotion of all of the young stars, likely having many of them on hand when the league gathers for the Midsummer Classic.

Conducting the draft later has additional upside, as "scouting combines" and pre-draft physical exams are more feasible. With a tie-in with the All-Star Game, amateur players can also get red-carpet treatment from MLB players. None of the draft changes seem particularly distasteful, and can lead to later starts for the college season.

Looming in the background, though, are the elimination of affiliates and the jobs that go with them. While Major League Baseball, which wants to take a larger stake in running and merchandising the minor league teams, claims baseball will be replaced — replaced with what?

If summer league college baseball is so appealing, why is MLB eliminating the ability for teams to sign so many of the players in said leagues? With a hard cap on signed players looming (though not announced), any signings from any "Dream League" teams might require the release of another player from the team's complex.

Simply, Commissioner Rob Manfred could present a gourmet cuisine meal for me and a few friends, and I'd warn everyone to see if anything smells like almonds. I don't trust Manfred, and his bosses (the owners) have tried incredibly hard to limit the effectiveness this COVID summer could have provided for baseball development.

What I have enjoyed about the draft is that it's entirely possible for a player to be drafted after the 30th round, and have a chance to have a bench role on a complex team, and play obscenely well. He plays well enough to get promoted, and promoted again that year.

With a July draft, those spots won't exist. Complex leagues will be for players who had been in camp since March. The player who plays his way into a draft spot off of a solid college campaign won't play games again until the following April. Why? To save owners money, and team control for an additional season.

College games will still be played. Player assessment will still happen. Fans will be told it will be good for the game.

However, the amusing announcer for the Johnsonville affiliate has fewer opportunities to announce. Money spent on a video package goes to Rob Manfred. MLB could tell announcers what methods of communications are tolerated. I have appreciated very few innovations by Manfred, and his foray into the spectrum I most enjoy isn't appealing. Hopefully he leaves college baseball alone, but monetizing that further might be only a few years away. Hopefully, I'm wrong.

The draft, whether heeded or ignored, will remain a very basic way to locate talent that teams can develop at reasonable costs for years to come. I hope I can figure a more useful way to convert a few more fans to minding a college team for a half-hour a week. Maybe you can flip over the next Kyle Schwarber or Ian Happ before I run into him. Destroying the fun of games being played with energy and joy is something Manfred has yet to quench.