In sports, a draft means “a system in which the exclusive rights to new players are distributed among professional teams”. Broadly speaking, in baseball, it refers to the process of selecting promising talent each year from hundreds of aspirants all over the country. A draft may be at the amateur level or the professional level. When it is for the major leagues, more often than not, it involves fierce competition and compensation on offer.
Unlike its counterparts, the NFL and the NBA, MLB does not draft international players nor allow trading of draft picks before or during the draft. Hence, the focus is more on choosing players who will sign contracts rather than those who are best for the team. In the amateur leagues, it is the talent scouts who scan the high schools and colleges for their best players. These scouts rely on their judgements to determine whether a certain player has the potential to make it to the big leagues.
All clubs take part in the decision-making which has about 50 rounds that can go up to two whole days. The draft is usually held in the summer. Selected candidates are informed through phone and have to sign a contract with the team that chose them. The whole process can be long drawn and stressful, not just to the player, but to those around him. For many being selected changes their whole life, while others may find out that it is not all a bed of roses as they’d imagined.
Everything is not ‘on the board’ in the draft process. Tampering is part of the process and scouts have been known to go to any length to secure any particular player who has caught their attention. So, not only does one have to be mentally and physically conditioned to qualify, but one should also possess the capability to figure out any possible pitfalls and hurdles.