Selig seeks slotting system, international draft
If commissioner Bud Selig has his way, baseball’s amateur draft
will have a whole new look next year.
With the collective bargaining agreement between players and
owners set to expire after this season, Selig wants to see some
changes to the draft implemented in a new labor deal.
For one, he’d like a slotting system that limits bonus money for
top picks – they would be paid based on where they are
Also, he wants Major League Baseball to develop an international
”I believe in slotting and I believe in a worldwide draft. I
think it’s important,” Selig said, pointing out that the draft
began in 1965 as a way to improve competitive balance. ”I think
the draft has worked, but I think there are some things that have
happened in the last five or six years that are worrisome.”
The NBA currently has a rookie pay scale and NFL owners would
like to implement one as well. New players entering the NHL are
subject to maximum salaries.
Selig said owners and general managers have voted in favor of a
slotting system. Now, it’s a matter of getting players to
”I think we need it,” Selig said. ”We have a negotiation
ahead of us.”
For the third straight year, Selig announced first-round picks
from a podium at MLB Network studios. The draft was broadcast live
and several Hall of Famers were in attendance as club
”I really do enjoy it. I always used to look forward to this
when I ran the Brewers. This is an exciting night,” Selig said,
remembering when Milwaukee drafted Hall of Famer Robin Yount third
overall in 1973. ”It’s fascinating to watch them develop.”
Years ago, the draft was held by conference call and players
sometimes waited hours – or days – to learn where they were
”I think this has worked out great,” Selig said. ”We’ve come
a long way and this is very helpful. We need to do more of
WAITING GAME: Larry Greene sat anxiously at the draft site at
MLB Network studios as name after name was called by commissioner
The wait finally ended with the 39th pick – in the compensatory
round – as the Philadelphia Phillies drafted the outfielder out of
Berrien County High School in Georgia.
”It was definitely frustrating a little bit,” a smiling Greene
said. ”But, I’m happy now.”
Unlike the NFL and NBA drafts, baseball rarely has players show
up at the draft to slip on a hat. After all, the draft was long an
event conducted exclusively by conference calls. Since Major League
Baseball brought it to MLB Network studios three years ago, Greene
is just the second player – joining Angels first-rounder Mike Trout
in 2009 – to attend.
”My mother told me to come up and be here,” said Greene, who
was at the draft with his father, Larry Sr. ”I listen to
Greene, wearing a Phillies cap and holding a white team jersey,
got a huge round of applause from the fans and former big leaguers
in attendance when he was drafted. Former Reds All-Star Eric Davis
shook his hand and hugged him. Greene, who signed to play at the
University of Georgia, was a high school All-American with loads of
power – like his idol, the Phillies’ Ryan Howard. And someday,
maybe he’ll be in the same lineup.
”It’s crazy,” Greene said. ”It’s a dream come true coming
from a small town in Nashville, Ga. Words can’t describe it.”
BASEBALL BLOODLINES: The sons of Dante Bichette and Dwight Smith
were among the players selected during the draft’s first day.
Dante Bichette Jr., a high school third baseman from Florida,
was the New York Yankees’ first pick at No. 51. He has committed to
the University of Georgia, but the Yankees are surely hoping he
develops into an All-Star slugger like his dad.
”Dante is one of the guys in this draft we thought had an
impact bat and the potential to hit for big power in the middle of
the order,” said Damon Oppenheimer, Yankees vice president of
amateur scouting. ”He’s someone with an advanced makeup and work
ethic who possesses the desire and drive to be a special major
Dwight Smith Jr. was the 53rd overall selection by the Toronto
Blue Jays. The speedy Smith is an outfielder, as his father was,
and is also committed to the Bulldogs.
California high school right-hander Joe Ross got bragging rights
on his brother, Tyson, after being taken 22nd overall by San Diego.
Tyson Ross, pitching for Oakland, was a second-round pick of the
Athletics in 2008.
FAMILIAR FACES: Joe Torre started his day by ringing the opening
bell at NASDAQ. He ended it by announcing the start of the
compensation round at the draft.
The former New York Yankees manager is now Major League
Baseball’s executive vice president of baseball operations.
”It’s a celebration of the past, present and future all coming
together,” he said before telling the Washington Nationals they
were on the clock with the 34th pick.
Each big league team had former stars and front office personnel
representing them at MLB Network studios, including Hall of Famers
Jim Rice (Boston), Gaylord Perry (San Francisco) and Rod Carew
(Minnesota). Roberto Alomar, who will be inducted in July, was
there for Toronto.
LONG TRIP: Jose Fernandez’s path to a professional baseball
career included four boat trips attempting to leave his native
Cuba. Now he could be joining the Florida Marlins’
The 18-year-old Fernandez, a high school senior from Tampa,
Fla., was taken by the Marlins with the 14th pick.
Fernandez grew up in Santa Clara, Cuba. He and other family
members made repeated attempts to leave the country and join his
father in Tampa before finally making it in 2008.
Marlins player personnel executive Jim Fleming said Fernandez’s
background was a factor in the decision to draft him.
”You weigh it a lot,” Fleming said. ”Going through the minor
leagues, there’s a lot of adversity that the normal kid hasn’t had
any experience with. This kid has faced a lot worse things than
anything he’ll face going through our system.”
A 6-foot-4, 220-pound right-hander, Fernandez has a fastball
that has been clocked at 98 mph. He went 30-3 in three years at
Alonso High School and helped his team win two state titles.
Fernandez earlier signed to pitch at the University of South
HAWAIIAN PUNCH: A telephone call to Kolten Wong a handful of
picks before it was the St. Louis Cardinals’ turn finalized their
decision to take the Hawaii second baseman.
Wong eased worries about signability, telling the Cardinals that
would not be a problem and that he was eager to begin his pro
career. The franchise addressed an organizational need with the
22nd pick, selecting a middle infielder for the third time in four
A bonus was a chance to perhaps play with Albert Pujols one
”Just hearing that name gives me chills. He’s a legend,” Wong
Wong became just the third native of Hawaii to be a first-round
pick, joining Dave Masters (1985) and Justin Wayne (2000). He’s
also the third player from the University of Hawaii to go in the
opening round, joining Mike Campbell (1985) and Mark Johnson
Wong was a 16th-round pick of Minnesota in 2008 and batted .378
last season with seven home runs and 53 RBIs in 57 games, plus was
MVP of the Cape Cod League last summer and played on the U.S.
National team in 2008.
Wong’s father, Kaha Wong, was a utilityman who played in the
minors in 1989 and 1990. A batting cage in the backyard helped Wong
hone his skills.
SHORT HOPS: A total of 18 college players were taken in the
first round, and the state of California – led by No. 1 pick Gerrit
Cole of UCLA – led the way with six players selected. … Tampa Bay
had 10 of the first 60 picks on the draft’s first day, mostly
because the Rays lost several free agents last offseason, such as
Carl Crawford and Rafael Soriano. With the first of the bunch, they
took South Carolina high school righty Taylor Guerrieri at No. 24
and wrapped up the compensation round with California high school
outfielder James Harris at No. 60.
AP Sports Writers Dennis Waszak Jr. in Secaucus, N.J., Steven
Wine in Miami and R.B. Fallstrom in St. Louis contributed to this