Major League Baseball Amateur Draft
The Major League Baseball Amateur Draft, officially known as the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, Rule 4 Draft, or as the MLB Draft, is held every year in June by conference call among the 30 Major League clubs.
Of the four major sports drafts in North America, the MLB Draft is the least followed by fans. The principal reasons for this are the draft's relative unreliability and its sheer size. Players who are picked early in the first round are not guaranteed to become stars, whilst players who are picked in the very late rounds can. The most notable example of this phenomenon is Mike Piazza, who was drafted in the 62nd round (1390th pick) of the 1988 draft.
The Official Baseball Rules govern which players are eligible for selection in the draft. These rules are detailed, but the basic eligibility criteria can be described as follows: Generally, a player is eligible for selection if the player is a resident of the United States or Canada and the player has never before signed a major league or minor league contract. Residents of Puerto Rico and other territories of the United States are eligible for the draft. Also considered residents are players who enroll in a high school or college in the United States, regardless of where they are from originally.
Certain groups of players are ineligible for selection, generally because they are still in school. The basic categories of players eligible to be drafted are:
- High school players, if they have graduated from high school and have not yet attended college or junior college;
- College players, from four-year colleges who have either completed their junior or senior years or are at least 21 years old; junior college players, regardless of how many years of school they have completed; and
- 21-year-old players.
A club used to retain the rights to sign a selected player until one week prior to the next draft, or until the player entered, or returned to, a four-year college on a full-time basis. A selected player who entered a junior college could not be signed until the conclusion of the school's baseball season. In 2007, the rules were changed to give teams until August 15 to sign drafted players; any player unsigned by that date becomes eligible for the next year's draft. In the case of a first-rounder not signed, the drafting team receives compensation in the form of a pick in the next year's draft one slot below the unsigned draftee (e.g. if a team fails to sign a player selected with the 6th overall pick, it will receive the seventh overall pick as a bonus the following year).
A player who is drafted and does not sign with the club that selected him may be drafted again at a future year's draft, so long as the player is eligible for that year's draft. A club may not select a player again in a subsequent year, unless the player has consented to the re-selection.
A player who is eligible to be selected and is passed over by every club becomes a free agent and may sign with any club during the signing period, or until the player enters, or returns to, a four-year college full-time or enters, or returns to, a junior college.
The clubs take turns selecting players in reverse order of their won-loss records at the close of the previous regular season for 50 rounds, or until all the teams pass on a player in one round. In 2005 and for the first time, the order of selection was without regard to League. The draft started in 1965.
- Jim Callis: "5 best Draft decisions of all-time: Mariners listen to scouting director, spark franchise turnaround by taking Griffey, A-Rod with No. 1 picks", mlb.com, June 5, 2015. 
- Alan Maimon and Chuck Myron: Hits and Misses in the Baseball Draft: What the Top Picks Teach Us About Selecting Tomorrow's Major League Stars, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2014. ISBN 978-0786470310
- John Manuel: "The History and Future of the Amateur Draft", in The Baseball Research Journal, SABR, Volume 39, Number 1 (Summer 2010), pp. 61-67.