New MLB Draft Combine Represents a Step Forward for the League

MLB’s New Draft Combine Represents a Step Forward for the League

The second annual MLB Draft Combine is underway. The new combine is trying to make the draft process simpler for younger players and allow teams to get another look at some of the top players in the draft.

There are several reasons why a draft combine is a good idea. It will give scouts another, final look at players ahead of the draft. In addition, it will help make sure there are standardized physical testing results for every team, which can be difficult, especially during the scouting of high school players.

Draft Combine Format

The MLB draft combine got underway on June 14, with four games featuring high school draft-eligible players being played at Petco Park as part of the combine on June 15 and June 16. The last two days of on-field activity involve strength and conditioning drills and on-field workouts in fielding and batting practice.

The combine features a little over 250 players, including several players that are expected to be first-round picks in July. Termarr Johnson, Brooks Lee, Kevin Parada, Jacob Berry, and Gavin Cross, among others, are all participating in this year’s combine.

One of the most interesting elements of the draft combine is the option for participants to take a pre-draft physical while at the combine. If a player undergoes a pre-draft physical and is selected in the draft, the team who selected them is required to offer them a signing bonus worth at least 75% of the slot value of the pick.

With the combine, the pre-draft process is already changing, and could be totally different within the next several years.

The Benefits of the Draft Combine

Unlike the other major sports, the MLB didn’t have an organized pre-draft combine or set of workouts for players prior to last year. In most cases, college hitters were evaluated over the summer before the draft through their play in collegiate summer leagues, while high school players participated in outside showcases attended by scouts.

As a result, the combine is extremely beneficial in a multitude of ways. For many high school players, there aren’t good showcase events or series to play in after their senior year, and many players choose not to take the risk of playing the summer before the draft due to injury concerns. The high school showcase games at the draft combine help alleviate these issues by giving players an opportunity to play a few games against good competition in front of scouts from every MLB team.

In addition, the new pre-draft physical rule at the combine provides security for players ahead of the draft. Last year, Kumar Rocker was selected by the New York Mets with the No.10 overall pick. Rocker, one of the most exciting pitching prospects in the 2021 draft, ended up not coming to an agreement to sign with the Mets.

The contract dispute was over the results of Rocker’s physical he took with the team ahead of signing his contract. After his physical, the Mets decreased the value of their offer to Rocker, but he and his agent were confident of his health. Rocker and the Mets couldn’t come to an agreement, and New York received a compensation pick in the first round of the 2022 MLB Draft.

The dispute became one of the biggest stories of last year’s draft, and the new rules regarding pre-draft physicals, agreed on in this winter’s CBA negotiations, were the first step taken to address the issue. For players, undergoing a physical at the draft combine will provide a guarantee for the minimum signing bonus. MLB officials hope that the new rule will encourage more pre-draft physicals, which would help teams choose the players they select to avoid a similar situation to what took place last year.

Perhaps most importantly, the draft combine could also help the best players in the draft become more recognizable and notable to fans. The NFL Draft Combine helps fans become more familiar with the players entering the league, and the MLB would benefit from a similar outcome for its new players.

As the MLB Draft Combine enters into its’ second year, it should become a key part of the draft process in the years to come. The new event has many advantages for both players and team officials, in addition to helping fans learn about the next group of players entering professional baseball.