Draft Will Be Televised
The baseball draft is finally joining the television age.
For the first time ever, Major League Baseball's draft will be on television this year, with ESPN2 televising the proceedings on June 7 from 2-6 p.m.
That means the draft will also get a physical location for the first time, going beyond the realm of telephone conference call. The event will be held at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando. The first round will be televised pick by pick, and ESPN will remain on the air for the remaining time after that, though the network will not broadcast every pick--much as it does for the second day of the NFL draft. The remaining rounds will return to the traditional conference-call format.
This completes the transformation of the draft from secretive affair--which has accompanied most of its history since it was instituted in 1965--to full-blown baseball event.
"Major League Baseball is delighted that ESPN2 will provide live
coverage of our draft," commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "I
am glad that this agreement will give fans access to see this critical
function of an organization's development. This is an idea whose time
ESPN2 will air each club's first-round choice, and teams will have a maximum of five minutes to make their picks during the first round. Following the pick-by-pick coverage of the first round, ESPN2's telecast will continue until 6.
Details of the event are still being ironed out. MLB executive vice president of baseball operations Jimmie Lee Solomon said that the hope is to have many of the top draft picks on-site in Orlando and available for interviews. Other players could be available at remote locations, such as the sites of NCAA super-regionals, which get under way the day after the draft.
Solomon said either he or Selig will announce the selections.
"This has been a long time coming," Solomon said. "The time is now to do this. Look at the number of guys who get drafted and are making an impact on their team the next year. These kids are getting drafted and in very short order are making contributions to their teams.
"We had a conference call today, talking to the teams on the format and they have all been very excited."
The draft remains a 50-round affair, so after the completion of ESPN2’s coverage, the first day of the draft will continue until about 8:30 p.m. The selections will pick up the next day around 11:30 a.m., and then will continue until the draft is over.
ESPN2 will not broadcast the second day of the draft, but Baseball America will have wall to wall coverage as usual, at BaseballAmerica.com.