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With new rules come new opportunities for upcoming draft picks04/25/2012 4:00 PM ET
By Justin Michael / Jamestown Jammers
Class-A Short Season teams are just one of the many levels in the Minor League system for prospects. The 2012 Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft's recent rule changes may have major implications on the Class-A Short Season level, more than any other level of Minor League Baseball.
The Class-A Short Season rosters are generally comprised of young talent that are second year professionals that were either not ready to move up to a higher level, or for talent for which there are no available roster spots at a higher level. The other major component of a short season team are recent college and high school draft picks. There are a myriad of rule changes being implemented this year to help keep a more universal level of competitive balance from organization to organization. One of these major rule changes that could and should affect the short season teams are the draft pick signing deadline.
The signing deadline which has long been criticized is being moved from August 15 to July 13 this year. For short season teams and rookie ball teams this can make a major difference in the level of talent that is assigned to their particular clubs. With the signing deadline previously landing in mid August, it meant that teams that had the high profile draft picks often had to wait until the last possible minute for their pick to sign, thus resulting in the player playing less time in that minor league season. Most of those players were assigned to extended spring training or rookie ball teams.
This change to the draft should benefit short season teams because high profile draft talent will most likely be able to make an impact as a mid-season addition to their respective teams. The recently drafted players will also get that extra half a season of playing time which could result in faster call-ups to the big league level.
Other changes to the MLB Draft include capped spending on draft slots, the "bonus pool", modification to draft pick compensation for the "Type A" and "Type B" free agents, offering major league contracts to draft picks as an incentive to sign. These changes might have flown under the radar for many people who don't closely follow the MLB Draft, but once you look at the new changes and compare them to the old system you really can see how much this is going to change the landscape of all organizations across Major League Baseball.
In Major League Baseball there are organizations that are big spenders on the draft, there are organizations that are big spenders on free agency, and then there are organizations that do both. In the past decade four organizations come to mind in regards to big draft spenders: The Kansas City Royals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Tampa Bay Rays, and the Washington Nationals. These four organizations for years would focus the majority of their money spending or overspending on draft picks instead of acquiring talent via free agency. The Washington Nationals though recently have shifted to a team that does all three; spends on free agency, draft picks, and makes big trades. The rule changes in the draft ensure that organizations that operate like this with the sole focus of only acquiring new talent via the draft will have to reexamine their allocation of resources.
The new provision regarding offering draft picks major league contracts might be construed as a negative by some, but in reality this provision may end up benefiting MLB clubs as they don't have to commit so fully to a draft pick by placing them on their 40-man roster, and using a space for a player that may or may not develop into a serviceable big leaguer. Yes, some players who are drafted may reanalyze their situation and ponder whether or not it is better for them to stay in college and pursue baseball or another sport, but others that are drafted in a round or slot might just benefit more because they may be drafted in a higher slot. It means that teams may be getting the most committed players to the game of baseball, and those that are naturally gifted and highly regarded probably already have the make up of a major leaguer that many scouts see. These are the kind of players that will be chomping at the bit to make an immediate impact as soon as they enter any level of professional baseball.