Wacha Promotion Is Another Reason The Draft Matters

Chris Trotman

The MLB draft is not nearly as popular as the NFL draft or even the NBA draft and most of that has to do with the delayed impact of the players in the draft, but the promotion of Michael Wacha shows us that the draft matters for your team's fortunes right now.

The MLB draft is the solid-gold, 100% best way to acquire talent if you are a major league baseball team. Matthew Leach of MLB.com said on Will Leach's podcast last week that the best money you can spend in baseball is on the draft and the Cardinals as an organization have gone full speed ahead on that approach. It is not the sexiest draft in major professional sports, but right now with the market the way it is, it is by far the best way to acquire players and the Cardinals have gone all in on that approach and have been ahead of the curve.

When the Cardinals hired John Mozeliak as their GM before the 2008 season, there was an obvious switch in the way the Cardinals used the draft, they were not afraid to spend money on higher profile players in the first round and even in the later rounds. Take a look at the drafts from 2007 and previous and you'll see a marked difference between the types of players picked in the drafts in 2009 and beyond. A player like Shelby Miller would not have been picked by the previous regime. Credit the Cardinals here as they were a few years ahead of the curve by putting a huge emphasis on the draft and they have reaped the rewards.

The MLB does not have the advantages the NFL and NBA have when it comes to their draft process. Both of those leagues benefit from a free minor league system with national televised games (also known as college athletics). MLB somewhat benefits from players developing in college, but about half of the draftees are from high school (which is not televised nationwide). And even college baseball's marquee TV event live on ESPN, the College World Series happens AFTER the draft. That's a marketing fail from MLB's perspective. They would benefit from highlighting MLB prospects in the College World Series. But, the College World Series being on ESPN and the MLB draft on the MLB network... I'm sure they could work something out.

However, having the draft midseason in June makes sense somewhat from a high-school baseball season perspective, but the college baseball season is still going on. They would drum up a lot more buzz if they held it in January when every baseball fan is looking longingly for Spring Training. This would allow the most advanced prospects to go to major league spring training and make an impact right away, which would in turn elevate the draft because of the immediate impact of the players drafted.

Do not get me started on the high-school A/V club feel of the MLB draft production on their fake field in their studio in New Jersey. The Radio City Music Hall was booked? Have it in a smaller theater, but have it in any theater!

Now that I have worked myself around to immediate impact, with Kevin Gausman and Michael Wacha both making their major league debuts less than a year after they were drafted, the MLB draft not only matters to your team's fortunes over the next 5 years, it matters for your team's fortunes next year. I realize that I'm preaching to the choir here as if you are reading Future Redbirds, you already care about the draft, but I feel like every baseball fan should care about the draft just as much as every football or basketball fan cares about the draft in their respective sports.

Sorry for the wildish rant, but what do you think would make the MLB draft better or more entertaining for baseball fans? (Let's start by not conflicting with every team's game! Or what about a process for declaration so signing/not signing isn't a thing?)

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