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Keeler: The Ramifications of COVID-19 Cancellations on MLB Draft and MiLB

The whole sports world and the world as a whole was shocked over the past 48-72 hours by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) halting or cancelling big-time events. In terms of Major League Baseball, they decided on Thursday to suspend spring training and delay the regular season at least until April 8, but it’s tough to see it starting on April 8 either.

In addition to the MLB delaying the start of the season, the same holds true for Minor League Baseball as its season will not start on time and spring training is on hold. Now, we understand there are bigger things in this world going on right now, so this column could be seen as insensitive to some people. However, these delays have the chance to have a lasting impact going forward with many questions unanswered as of right now.

For the minor league players, how long will it take for them to begin their season? We all know that these players don’t make much money as it is, but to not have any income coming in for some of these guys has to be scary. They don’t get paid in spring training and will not be paid as long as there is no games.

In fact, one player in the A’s organization (Peter Bayer) decided to take a different job while he awaits resolution on this matter:

 

On the business side, think about a lot of these cities that rely on their minor league baseball team as the only professional team in town. This will be a major hit in revenue for their cities and that is without the threat of their affiliates possibly getting contracted after the end of the season.

From a player development standpoint, this takes away a lot of the time for the coaches to be able to be with their players. True, there will still be workouts as players stay by the facility for now, but if this delay goes on much longer than April 9, it basically loses more development times in games for all players and sets them back on their progression professionally.  Plus, service time issues will also come up for some of the top prospects in the game.

On Friday, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported on Twitter that there is going to be a recommendation to send every minor league player home with the facilities closing (except for weight training):

Meanwhile, the NCAA made the decision on Thursday to cancel the College World Series that takes place in June in Omaha, Nebraska. Plus, most of the major conferences have decided to suspend or cancel their baseball seasons altogether.

When the dust eventually settles on this pandemic, there will be questions that have to be answered on this issue. For example, which players will be eligible for the draft and what resources will the New York Yankees and other teams have to scout these players?

Plus, does the MLB Draft get pushed back from June 8 and moved out of Omaha now that the College World Series isn’t taking place? There is still plenty of time to figure that out, but since the MLB Draft is different from the NBA or NHL Draft where that can be pushed back, that is one of the issues at hand.

If you push the MLB Draft back, it essentially means a player that’s drafted has to wait until 2021 to begin his professional career after barely playing at all in 2020 in some cases.

Now, for a lot of these players, the NCAA decided to grant another season of eligibility to seniors on Friday:

This is great news for college seniors as they will get the opportunity to continue their careers and get another opportunity to be scouted by Major League teams. It is unknown what will happen for Division II and III players.

The Coronavirus is going to have a lasting impact on everyone whether you know someone who is affected by the pandemic or not. There are many questions we need answers to and some of these issues with Minor League Baseball and college baseball have the chance to affect players for years to come.

Hopefully, none of these players end up contracting the virus and this is the worst of their problems. For right now, the primary focus should be to keep everyone safe. Once everyone is, then these problems will come to the forefront. Hopefully MLB will find a way to help these players out while they await a resolution so they can try to make a living.

Written By

I am an alum of St. John's University, where I majored in sports management.

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