December 8, 2011

New MLB draft rules will help college teams

When Hueytown, Ala. Quarterback Jameis Winston committed to Florida State back in August Seminole fans knew the battle to get him on campus was far from over.

Not only will FSU fans have to sweat it out until signing day in February to see if Winston sticks with his commitment, but they'll also have to wait until this summer to see if the two-sport star will sign a professional baseball contract.

Winston, a five-star prospect rated the 10th best player in the country in football, is also a legitimate baseball prospect as well. He is projected to go as high as the first five rounds in the 2012 Major League Baseball draft next summer.

Changes to the MLB's new collective bargaining agreement mean that Winston will be drafted in June and will have to decide by July 12-18 (depending on when the All-Star game is) if he is going pro in baseball or headed to college to play to play both football and baseball. The old deadline had been mid-August since 2007, and was a drain on both players and college coaches awaiting decisions.

"I don't think there's any question that (change) was so necessary and will benefit us tremendously," FSU baseball coach Mike Martin said of the changed signing period.

Unlike the last two summers when Martin and his staff were left to wonder until August if veteran players drafted would return for his senior season, Martin will know by the end of July what his club will look like in the fall.

While there won't be much Jimbo Fisher and his staff can do if Winston decides to forgo college to play professional baseball the new rules do give Martin and his staff an opportunity to find someone else to fill his roster spot.

"There's always that chance you might get a junior college kid that's out there," Martin said. "That's huge. That gives us just a better situation for our program."

Other changes to the MLB draft as part of the new CBA include a budget of sorts for teams to spend on their draft picks in the first 10 rounds of the draft. Each pick is assigned a value, but clubs may opt to overpay for that pick so long as they don't overpay for the total allotted amount of its draft picks in the fist 10 rounds.

The rule change would appear to inhibit Major League clubs for overpaying for late draft picks in order to get them to not set foot on campus and enter the minors. Martin isn't ready to say he thinks that change will benefit college baseball as much as the other draft change but he thinks that the MLB is trying to help college baseball out.

"The big market teams are not going to balk at paying people," he said. "We'll just have to see how that one pans out. I do at least feel that Major League baseball is trying to assist college baseball in that situation."

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