Major League Baseball announced Monday the creation of the MLB Draft League, a competition created for players to showcase their abilities ahead of the draft.
The league, which will feature only draft-eligible players looking to gain exposure, will have a 68-game season with an annual All-Star Break. It will begin ahead of the MLB draft, which will be pushed back from June to July in 2021.
The five founding-member teams include the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, the State College Spikes, the Trenton Thunder, the West Virginia Black Bears and the Williamsport Crosscutters, while a sixth team is expected to be announced at a later date.
MLB's executive vice president of baseball economics and operations Morgan Sword discussed the new league in a statement:
"We are thrilled to partner with Prep Baseball Report and the founding members of the MLB Draft League to create a one-of-a-kind league that will attract the nation's top players who are eligible for each year's MLB Draft and allow local fans to see top prospects and future big-league stars in their hometowns. This announcement continues MLB's commitment to preserving and growing baseball in communities around the United States."
This league provides another option for amateur players to display their ability in front of scouts in addition to high school and college games.
It also helps provide additional scouting opportunities for MLB teams, which are often aggressive in adding younger players to their systems. There have been 13 high school players taken in the first round in each of the last two years after 23 were taken in the first 43 picks in 2018.