MLB Draft

MLB Draft order explained

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As the summer heats up and division races start to take shape, there’s a milestone event set to take place in July that will affect MLB for decades. Most folks might think of the All Star Game taking place on July 13th, but the MLB Draft will also be intriguing, and held two days before the Midsummer Classic. We’ve previously taken a closer look at MLB Draft slot values with regards to player compensation, but there are many other draft adjacent topics to consider. The most obvious aspect might be how the MLB Draft order is determined.

MLB Draft order

Of course, there are other items like MLB compensation picks and the Rule 5 Draft that also play a role in how franchises will craft their rosters moving forward.

Let’s take a closer look at some popular questions surrounding the upcoming MLB Draft.

How is the MLB draft order determined?

The Pittsburgh Pirates will get the festivities started in a couple of weeks in the 2021 MLB draft, as they have the first selection.

This is no coincidence, as the franchise finished with the worst record in MLB last season. Even though the 2020 regular season consisted of just 60 games, Pittsburgh was out of the race from day one, it seemed. They only won 19 games. The rest of the draft order follows in the same sequence, as the second worst team (regardless of league) from 2020 has the second overall pick, and so on and so forth.


How many rounds are there in the MLB draft?

It was announced a few months ago that the 2021 MLB Draft would consist of 20 rounds.

However, the MLB draft slot values only pertain to half the draft, with the first 10 subjected to assigned bonus values.

The MLB draft order described above remains consistent throughout the draft, with the worst team from 2020 having the first pick in each round, and the best team (Los Angeles Dodgers in 2021) from last year making the last selection in each stanza.

All 20 rounds are spread out over the course of three days, starting on July 11th. The draft will conclude on the afternoon of July 13th, giving way to the MLB All Star game to be played later that night. It will be held in Denver, not far from the league’s All Star Game at Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies.

Why is the MLB draft so long?

The NFL Draft is only seven rounds, and the NBA Draft has two rounds.


20 rounds might seem like a lot, but it’s actually a drastic change from the way it used to be. Before the chaos that 2020 brought to the world, the MLB Draft was actually 40 rounds, as recently as 2019.

The decision to shorten the draft was partially forced on the league, since the pandemic curtailed minor league seasons and reduced revenues in the past year plus.

The MLB Draft is a marathon affair for a couple of reasons. Sometimes players who are selected by the ball clubs don’t actually end up signing with their teams, and end up re-entering the draft in a future year. Additionally, organizations need to comprise rosters for their minor league affiliates as well. Teams need the ability to draft a large volume of players in order to achieve this.

What’s a ‘Sandwich pick’ in MLB?

Perhaps the most tasty moniker used with regards to Major League Baseball, the sandwich pick comes into play after the conclusion of round one, and before the beginning of round two.

It is awarded to teams who lose a free agent to another team. But sandwich picks aren’t awarded to teams each time they lose a player.

A free agent’s categorization is determined by their “Elias Ranking”, which can place them into tiers, such as Type A and Type B.

If a team loses a Type A or Type B player in free agency, they will receive a sandwich pick to help compensate them for the loss of what is usually a talented MLB asset.

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