Few teams in baseball have had as much success drafting players as the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The perennial contenders have enjoyed an 8-year streak of playoff teams, largely due to a healthy dose of home-grown talent leading the way. From Clayton Kershaw to Corey Seager, the Dodgers’ biggest stars were raised in-house, Mookie Betts being the rare exception.
The MLB Draft has always been a date to circle for Dodgers fans, as the front office has shown a knack for finding incredible talents. Last year, however, the draft took on a different feel due to the COVID-related changes made. The draft itself was condensed to just 5 rounds instead of the normal 40, which hurt teams like the Dodgers who thrive in the scouting department.
Although there is still a large amount of uncertainty regarding the minor league season in 2021, MLB and USA Baseball announced a series of changes coming to this year’s draft, and there’s plenty to be excited about.
MLB and @USABaseball announced a lineup of evaluation & showcase events for 2021 & 2022 MLB Draft prospects, including the first-ever MLB Draft Combine & the second Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP) League, both of which will be hosted at the USA Baseball Complex in Cary, NC. pic.twitter.com/K3R9bynDT0
— MLB Communications (@MLB_PR) January 25, 2021
The New MLB Draft Combine
A large concern for teams heading into the season is the lack of opportunities for scouting players. Both high school and college sports have taken a hit this past year, and teams have not had the chance to see players in person.
The league decided to address this issue by hosting the first-ever MLB Draft Combine, an event that will feature the top high school and college athletes eligible for the 2021 draft. The combine will be held from June 20th-28th at the Team USA Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina, and will feature the following:
- Medical and physical assessments for all players
- Educational programming to prepare them for a career in professional baseball
- A showcase tournament for the top 88 players, including “bronze” and “gold medal” games
This new combine takes a page out of the NBA and NFL in a way that helps teams evaluate the top prospects at a single location and with all of the same assessments. It may have been created due to a lack of available scouting opportunities, but this seems like the kind of event that baseball should host annually in the best interest of advancing the game.
A New Draft Date
The draft itself has always neem held in June, right around the time that high school baseball is ending and college ball is entering the College World Series. For the first time, the baseball draft will be held at a later date, scheduled for July 11th-13th.
After last year’s 5-round event, MLB has yet to determine a specific number of rounds for this year. They only guarantee that it will be a minimum of 20 rounds across the three days. While still a far cry from the normal 40, the increase from last year ensures that teams have a chance to bolster their farm systems.
Early Look at 2022 Draft Prospects
The final announcement made by MLB today was an extension of the combine for 2022 draft prospects. After the initial combine comes to a close, the Prospect Development Pipeline will host another group of 96 high school players to give them a chance to show their skills.
The experience will give these players a chance to go through drills, assessments, and educational experiences as they prepare for 2022 and a life in professional baseball. This will give teams another opportunity to scout the next crop of players while giving the players an unprecedented experience that has never been done before.
For a team like the Dodgers, who pride themselves on an excellent scouting department, this new combine is excellent news. It gives them an opportunity to gather more information on some of the country’s top incoming players and should be something for fans to keep an eye on in the coming months.