For a long period of time, the newly graduated high school draft picks would hone their skills in the minor leagues, sharpen their hitting and fielding, and reach the Majors by age 24 or so. Now, according to MLB.com, those 18-year-olds could be earning half a million dollars by next season.
Other than notable anomalies, such as Dave Winfield and John Olerud, almost all rookies spent at least three seasons in the minor leagues. The exceptions are few and far between. Once the draft began being televised back in 2007, interest has increased for the spectacle. Of course, correlation is not necessarily causation, but the players who go off the board first have a new luster to their names, and fans are more keen to see them play, from Single-A through their farm system trek. However, the Major League club that drafts the player wants to make the most money, and will call the kid up to the big leagues in today’s money-oriented sports world.
This is just my personal theory, which could be completely incorrect, as every draft pick is a valuable commodity. The Astros don’t want to risk hurting Mark Appel’s or Carlos Correa‘s (both number 1 choices) development by bringing them to the Majors too early, especially to lose. But, the statistics back up the hypothesis. Mike Leake, drafted in 2009 by the Cincinnati Reds, completely eschewed the minors, playing his first professional game in Reds’ clothing. Chris Sale, the fire-balling ace who dons the pale hose, participated in 12 total minor league games. Other players who played the same season they were drafted are include Ryan Zimmerman, Rickie Weeks, and Andrew Miller.
Many top players from this year’s draft have a viable shot to play in the Show. The hype around draft picks is higher than ever, with the excitement catching up to the NBA and NFL drafts (still lagging far behind on ESPN however.) As us Yankees fans wait for the 55th pick this year, the Yankees’ first pick, we might see the transition from schoolbooks to big league lumber sooner than expected.