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MLB Draft Slotting Increases, Still Lags Behind NBA, NFL

  • LSU pitcher Paul Skenes, taken No. 1 by the Pirates, has a $9.7 million slot value.
  • "Now the bonuses are so big that the same guy you saw on the field in Omaha could easily be [in the big leagues] in September,” says ESPN’s Karl Ravech.
The Pirates' No. 1 pick Paul Skenes has a $9.7 million slot value.
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Major League Baseball is introducing its new generation of players as it conducts the 2023 amateur draft during All-Star Week in Seattle.

The league uses the Midseason Classic to try to bring attention to its draft on the levels of its counterparts in the NFL and NBA.

And like those leagues, Major League Baseball assigns slot value positions for salary designation. 

However, players selected in the MLB Draft sign for less money than their NBA and NFL rookie counterparts. 

The $9.7M slot value for the No. 1 overall pick is less than the projected contract values for all 31 2023 NFL first-round picks, which range from $11.8 million to $37.9 million, per Spotrac

No. 1 overall NBA Draft pick Victor Wembanyama signed a four-year, $55.1 million contract with the San Antonio Spurs, while the Los Angeles Clippers signed the last pick of the first round, Kobe Brown, to a four-year, $12.3 million deal per Spotrac

First round signing bonuses for MLB are up compared to last year, when the slot value assigned for the No. 1 pick was $8.84 million. The Baltimore Orioles had the first-pick in 2022 and selected shortstop Jackson Holliday, who signed to an under-slot value of $8.19 million — a record for a high school player.

The first two rounds of the MLB Draft were completed Sunday in Seattle, with coverage carried on ESPN and MLB Network. MLB’s website will stream Rounds 3-10 on Monday and Rounds 10-20 on Tuesday to conclude the draft.

LSU Tigers were selected with the first two picks as pitcher Paul Skenes went No. 1 overall to the Pittsburgh Pirates, and outfielder Dylan Crews went No. 2 to the Washington Nationals. Traditionally, attention on the MLB Draft attention has been hampered by the extended timeline for picks to climb the minor leagues — but that process is evolving.

“In the NBA and the NFL, those guys went from draft to field very quickly. Major League Baseball was a little bit slower in that,” ESPN’s Karl Ravech said before the draft. “Now the bonuses are so big that the same guy you saw on the field in Omaha could easily be on the field in September. There’s no question that if Paul Skenes is on a team that’s trying to compete, he is on the field the same way Brandon Finnegan was.”

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