International Draft: Better Opportunity or a Threat to Dominican Baseball? (OPINION)


Akito Ikeuchi, Forum Writer

Baseball has historically been a sport that is recognized and played internationally, with talented players emerging from nearly every corner of the globe. Despite this, Major League Baseball has remained the blue-chip standard for fulfilling the wildest dreams of these athletes.

On March 10th, the MLB decided to implement a new draft system into the league with the draft currently working as follows: Teams select high school and college players from USA, Canada, and Puerto Rico in the standard draft while players from Dominican Republic and Venezuela are not subject to this. A player from DR must be signed by the team directly which leads to several problems.

One of the problems is the corruption and the power teams hold on young talent who have yet to come to the MLB. A player cannot be signed until the age of 16 yet teams reach out to the player years and advance to propose a deal that they will receive once they turn 16. This leads to teams having an unfair advantage over the player as they can have control over the proposed contract or even take away the contract altogether.

Another problem currently surrounding countries like DR and Venezuela is the risk players put into getting MLB contracts. Because Dominican and Venezuelan players come from low-income origins, an MLB contract is the great dream young players seek to escape poverty. This leads to use of steroids for better appeal even for players as young as 12-14 years old. There have been cases of baseball trainers giving doses of such drugs to young players to raise their own value.

“Players like Ohtani who seek to play after high school can have the same opportunity as American players.” Jerry Yi, an MLB fan, supports this after seeing the performance of international players in the MLB.

Though it is mostly certain an separate international draft will improve the corrupt current MLB signings, separate problems arise as notable players have spoken against a solution that almost sounds perfect.

San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. says “the international draft is going to kill baseball in the DR. It’s going to affect us a lot because there will be many young people who used to give them the opportunity to get a bonus and with the draft it will not be the same.”

As player opinion and the likes of MLB ownership clashes, reluctance and the lack of trust may postpone the implementation of the international draft, currently proposed to begin in 2024.