So I was reading a post on Baseball America entitled "10 ways to improve Minor League Baseball" and I came across an interesting idea. From John Manuel:
Here's a way Major League Baseball can better regulate Latin talent and vet players so that clubs waste less money and fraud becomes more difficult. First, MLB signs all Latin players to their first contracts. Any player who wants to play has to sign a standard contract with MLB, not an individual organization. Next, the player has to play in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League; if conditions warrant a return to the Venezuelan Summer League, currently down to five teams, that will help, but for now, the DSL becomes essentially the MLB combine for Latin American players.
Now that the players are in the DSL, allotted geographically to the nearest major league complex, they go through the investigation process to establish a true age and identity, go through a full medical exam and drug testing, while getting to take advantage of professional coaching and playing conditions. MLB provides a schedule, equipment and base pay.
A player would have to sign with MLB by May 1. By June 1, the DSL season could begin, and the 10-round draft of DSL players could occur Aug. 15. Anyone not drafted goes back for another year. The league's maximum age would be 21.
We've discussed the relative merits and de-merits of an international draft, and I was so against it that I hadn't really taken the time to think about the logistics of such a draft. After reading this article, I am still against an international draft, but less so. I think this idea is worth discussing. What are the pros of this idea? The cons? I'm interested in what you guys have to say.
My two cents:
- Obviously a huge pro for this plan is a standarization of drug testing and age verification processes in the DSL. We've seen time and time again that this process has a long way to go to being perfect, and a more codified system could definitely help improve it.
- A draft obviously takes the advantage away from teams that prefer to spend more money in the Caribbean, like the Rangers, and helps teams like the White Sox, who don't spend at all. However, presumably a team could "pass" on a pick like they do in the Rule V draft (and the late rounds of the Rule IV draft, sometimes), and therefore still save money.
- A draft would likely cost the prospects money they would have otherwise earned in a signing bonus, but this has largely occured already with the provisions in the new CBA.
- Also, it's not mentioned how draft order would work. Presumably, it would be in reverse order of the standings, but there's a lot of details to work out. I would be in favor of the ability to trade picks, but only in the international draft, not in the Rule IV draft.
Be sure to check out the rest of the article for the other 9 ideas the BA staff present to help fix MiLB. There are some pretty interesting ideas in there, including a AAA realignment, a potential relegation system, and a shakeup of the short-season leagues.