Posted by Mack Ade at 8:00 AM
There is an awful lot of money in professional baseball.
Maury Brown wrote in December 2015 for Forbes –
Major League Baseball continues to hit home runs on the business side of the industry. With the year nearly complete, the league can report that gross revenues increased $500 million for 2015, marking the 13th consecutive year MLB has seen record growth. While exact figures are not released, the league will enter 2016 with revenues approaching $9.5 billion.
Yahoo wrote this in January 2016 –
An analysis of free-agent spending and projected payrolls by Yahoo Sports found that salaries for all 30 teams will near $4 billion this year.
You can do the math, but there seems to be a plenty amount of money to solve the International Draft problems that allow 15-16year old kids to be drafted directly into professional baseball.
Baseball has a potential collective bargaining problem growing and this might be the perfect time to roll both these problems into one solution.
Sources: Owners have backed off the international draft as a requirement for a new collective-bargaining agreement.)
The underage Latin player problem is far different than when I graduated high school at 16-years old (my mother enrolled me into kindergarden late and the powers to be in grade school after reading the results of my IQ test, decided I was a brain and sent me off to what they called ‘SP’ school, where I attended the 7th and 9th grade and skipped the 8th. I then started high school as a 13-year old sophomore and graduated at 16).
This is a far different scenario that the under-educated Latin kids that are under the control of ‘Busteros’, a slimy local version of a baseball agent, as early as them being 10-years old. Parents are forced to sign deals with these slime balls for a huge percentage of any bonus money they get in the International Draft. Both parents and Major League Baseball turns it’s back (and nose) to this process and just writes the checks.
Very few stateside high school baseball players graduate at 16 and MLB makes it very simple to be eligible –
“High school players, if they have graduated from high school and have not yet attended college or junior college”
As we pointed out above, there is plenty of money generated in this sport to solve a problem that would allow, in some team’s case, up to 25% of its organizational talent.
Why not create a more organized local league situation in various countries/regions for the 15-16 year old baseball players that are trying to make it to stateside organized baseball. Build local team housing (if necessary) at the expense of MLB, overseen by a board of both local and stateside officials.
Determine the top 320 15-16 year olds in the country that might have the ability to someday compete stateside in the minor leagues.
Build a 4-field complex where 8 teams, consisting of 30-40 players per team will compete, live, and train.
Offer these kids real agent-like representation at eventual normal percentages to the agent when the kids are given their bonus.
Then, let them join the regular baseball draft in the year they legally turn 17-years old (do everything you can to prove the validity of their birth certificate).
You don’t know what baseball is like in some of these countries. Their infields are the true definition of ‘sandlots’… a lot made of sand and rocks, not grass. And speaking of rocks, larger ones are used as baseballs in some local choose up games in vacant lots.
This doesn’t solve everything. There’s still the smuggling that goes on out of Cuba (will that stop now or will a new Trump tightening over Cuba return the sport to ancient times?) and no one is sure there can ever be anything called ‘organized’ out of Venezuela, but it would allow for the Dominican Republic (and counties like Columbia) to create a better environment for their young players.
There has to be a solution here. If professional baseball can determine the top 100 International players available for each year’s draft, they can also allocate the proper amount of money needed to house and train these kids foe the 1-2 years needed before they would reach equal eligibility with stateside high school players.