The NBA Finals, the Stanley Cup finals, baseball brawls and all the news surrounding the deaths of Muhammad Ali, Kimbo Slice and Sean Rooks are dominating the headlines this week. Amid that high-profile glare, it’s relatively easy to overlook the MLB draft.
Even in a less-frenzied news cycle, it isn’t hard to forget about the MLB draft. For starters, it’s the only draft that happens in the middle of the sport’s season. The NHL and NBA hold their drafts following their championship series, giving all the teams that fell short something a hope for a brighter future. The NFL’s draft is practically a season unto itself. Meanwhile, Major League Baseball’s entry draft will be held on the same day as nine regular season games. And while the NBA and NFL draftees will feature prominently in their club’s plans this fall, the vast majority of the MLB draft’s prime prospects won’t see a big-league field for at least another year or two.
The sheer number of picks is vastly different among each draft as well. The NBA drafts 60 players. Not including compensatory picks, the NHL adds 210 prospects each season while the NFL drafts 224. And then there’s MLB. The 1,186 selections in the 2016 MLB First-Year Player Draft makes the NFL’s Mr. Irrelevant look, like the Most Interesting Man in the World. The three-day event has 40 rounds, spanning three days, starting with Thursday’s first round in Secaucus, N.J.
The first 77 selections of the draft are televised, beginning June 9 at 7 p.m. on the MLB Network. The third through 40th rounds will not be televised (sorry, America), though you can follow along on MLB.com. The third through 10th rounds will take place June 10 starting at 1 p.m. and the 11th through 40th rounds begin June 11 at noon.
Here’s what you need to know before then:
FIRST ROUND DRAFT ORDER
1. Philadelphia Phillies
2. Cincinnati Reds
3. Atlanta Braves
4. Colorado Rockies
5. Milwaukee Brewers
6. Oakland Athletics
7. Miami Marlins
8. San Diego Padres
9. Detroit Tigers
10. Chicago White Sox
11. Seattle Mariners
12. Boston Red Sox
13. Tampa Bay Rays
14. Cleveland Indians
15. Minnesota Twins
16. Los Angeles Angels
17. Houston Astros
18. New York Yankees
19. New York Mets
20. Los Angeles Dodgers
21. Toronto Blue Jays
22. Pittsburgh Pirates
23. St. Louis Cardinals
Um … Aren’t there are 30 MLB teams?
In short, the first round is short because of Collective Bargaining Agreement rules that govern free agency and impact the first-year player draft.
When a player’s contract expires their current club can offer them a qualifying offer, worth the average of the previous season’s top 125 salaries. Players can accept or decline that qualifying offer. If they accept, they’re signed to a contract for the following season at that average salary figure. If they decline and that player is signed by another team in free agency, the team that signs said player forfeits a draft selection, while the team losing said player gains a compensatory draft selection.
In this year’s case, seven teams gave up first-round selections and four teams gave up second- or third-round picks.
24. San Diego Padres (Justin Upton compensation)
25. San Diego Padres (Ian Kennedy compensation)
26. Chicago White Sox (Jeff Samardzija compensation)
27. Baltimore Orioles (Wei-Yin Chen compensation)
28. Washington Nationals (Jordan Zimmermann compensation)
29. Washington Nationals (Ian Desmond compensation)
30. Texas Rangers (Yovani Gallardo compensation)
31. New York Mets (Daniel Murphy compensation)
32. Los Angeles Dodgers (Zack Greinke compensation)
33. St. Louis Cardinals (John Lackey compensation)
34. St. Louis Cardinals (Jason Heyward compensation)
In addition, there are more compensatory picks scattered throughout the remainder of the draft.
36. Los Angeles Dodgers (Kyle Funkhouser compensation)
57. Toronto Blue Jays (Brady Singer compensation)
69. Baltimore Orioles (Jonathan Hughes compensation)
74. Minnesota Twins (Kyle Cody compensation)
And then there are the lottery rounds. After the first round and the compensatory picks, there’s “Lottery Round A.” There are six additional picks given to teams from the Competitive Balance Lottery, which doles out extra draft picks to teams in the bottom 10 of the league in both revenue and market size. Other teams that receive funds from revenue-sharing are eligible for the “Lottery Round B,” which comes after the second round. These selections can be traded.
The Reds, A’s, Rockies, Diamondbacks, Marlins and Pirates came away with picks in “Lottery Round A.” The Padres, Indians, Twins, Brewers, Orioles and Rays won picks in “Lottery Round B.” The Marlins and the Orioles have already traded their picks to the Braves.
This year’s draft class doesn’t feature a surefire blue-chipper like Bryce Harper or Steven Strasburg, and there’s really no consensus for the No. 1 draft pick.
Jason Groome, a left-handed pitcher from Barnegat High School in New Jersey appears to be a popular No. 1 choice for many mock drafts, several others tout University of Florida southpaw A.J. Puk. Still others have University of Tennessee third-baseman Nick Senzel in the No. 1 spot, held by the Phillies. Baseball America gives the edge to outfielder Mickey Moniak of La Costa Canyon High School in Encinitas, Calif.
The No. 2 pick seems equally unclear.
Whatever the draft order, expect to see pitchers and outfielders selected early, as Puk, Groome, Pint, Moniak, Corey Ray (OF), Blake Rutherford (OF), Kyle Lewis (OF) and Braxton Garrett (LHP), among others, have been projected near the top of Round 1.