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MLB Issues Warning Against Encouraging High School Players to Avoid Draft

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Major League Baseball (MLB) has issued a warning to its teams against encouraging high school players to withdraw from their baseball programs to bypass the amateur draft and seek opportunities in international free agency.

The memo, dispatched to front offices on Monday by John D’Angelo, MLB’s vice president of amateur and medical baseball operations, addresses concerns about clubs influencing players to forgo high school baseball in the United States and Canada. This tactic aims to establish residency in foreign countries, thereby becoming eligible for signing under the International Amateur Talent System instead of the Rule 4 Draft.

Describing these actions as “highly inappropriate,” the memo emphasizes that such practices violate major league rules and the collective bargaining agreement with players. Clubs found engaging in these activities could face significant penalties, including the loss of draft picks or international bonus pool money.

The warning comes amidst growing scrutiny over the recruitment practices of MLB teams, particularly regarding young players seeking alternative paths to professional baseball. ESPN initially reported on the memo, which was later obtained by the Associated Press.

The MLB amateur draft, inaugurated in 1965, serves as a pivotal event for aspiring baseball talents. However, teams must adhere to stringent regulations, including limitations on trading draft picks and penalties for exceeding signing bonus allotments.

In contrast, the international amateur talent system offers greater flexibility for both players and teams. While there are penalties for exceeding international bonus pool allocations, players have the freedom to choose their destinations, presenting an attractive option for those seeking alternative pathways to professional baseball careers.

Despite MLB’s efforts to advocate for an international draft, the proposal has faced resistance from the players’ association. The divergence in perspectives underscores the complex dynamics surrounding player recruitment and draft eligibility within the baseball community.

As MLB endeavors to maintain the integrity of its recruitment processes, the warning serves as a reminder of the league’s commitment to fair and equitable practices in talent acquisition. It also underscores the ongoing dialogue between MLB and its stakeholders regarding the evolution of player recruitment mechanisms in the modern baseball landscape.

This story was originally featured on AP News

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