The MLB Draft is quite frankly one of the bigger letdowns of the year. For all the positive things that have happened around baseball in the past few years, the draft never seems to be one of them. Now I know that we at Athletics Nation and other blogs around SB Nation are fascinated by the draft. We follow it very closely, wondering what player the A's might pluck. But it doesn't have the cache of other professional sports' drafts. The NFL draft is an Event. Granted, ESPN helped manufacture that as an Event with nearly 24/7 coverage of it leading up to the late April date. Even both the NBA and NHL drafts are seemingly events compared to the draft for baseball.
I think there's a lot of good reasons why it isn't nearly as compelling as the other sports. For one, many of the players chosen are high school kids that seem like they're three, four or even five years away from ever contributing to the pro level. Whereas if you look at football, there's a chance that the running back your team selects in the first round will be on the field immediately or at least in a third down role. Basketball is often the same thing, whereas it doesn't seem like the player you select early won't be a part of your team for a long, long time.
Obviously baseball is the only league to have at least five levels of minors before the player makes it to the pros. You've got rookie ball, low A, high A, Double-A and Triple-A. If the player is talented (or more likely, old enough with college experience) enough, they might make that rare jump into Double-A and then possibly to the pros. But that's a relatively rare occurence. Though the A's had that happen pretty quickly with Huston Street. But again he was an older college player and a reliever. You don't see it happen too often with hitters or starting pitchers because the jump from the aluminum bats to wood bats is one adjustment and then the adjustment to pro level pitching, even at the A-level is enormous.
Still, I wish that baseball would make a move to really market the draft as an Event more. Yes it was on the MLB Network for the first time this year. But it needs to be scheduled for a different time. 3 p.m. PST on a Tuesday? That's usually reserved for Golden Girls re-runs and Oprah. Not that I'd know anything about Oprah's favorite things. Ahem.
Here's what I think they need to do. Move the draft to a Saturday morning and get it on Fox or ESPN. Do it the Saturday before the All Star break and don't have any games scheduled. Make it the feature of the league for that short time period. It's tough enough that the draft takes place during the season, which is the only professional sport that does that. Or better yet, move it to before or just after the season ends. I know that would make it tough to get kids to participate in any of the leagues and likely put them behind the curve a bit, but baseball is the second most popular sport in this country. The draft that determines much of what happens with these kids should be more prominent than it is now, and MLB Network isn't that venue.
What do you think? Is it enough that it's a niche event that barely gets a mention anywhere outside of rabid fans of those particular teams? Or do you want more for it? I guess I'm just a little jealous of those football guys and their very high profile draft every year. Either that or Mel Kiper's cool hair.