Entering last years MLB Draft, the buzz was all about diversity as a slew of Black Knights were selected. The progress MLB has made in reintroducing the game of baseball to the African-American community. Developing and identifying potential Black pro athletes has been slow but evident as three African-American ballers were chosen in the first 10 picks last season.
Three more Black players were drafted in the first round of the 2018 Draft on Monday.
Kyler Murray, QB/OF University of Oklahoma
No. 9 overall pick Kyler Murray has been getting all the media shine. He is a big-time college quarterback slated to step in the shoes of last year’s Heisman winner Baker Mayfield, despite the $4.8 million guaranteed he will make by signing a MLB contract.
Kyler Murray has chosen football over baseball, for now. @Andy_Staples breaks down how Murray can still sign with the A’s while playing for the Sooners https://t.co/FGy5D9GRPY
Murrays current situation is intriguing. The fact that he has the opportunity to help increase MLBs diversity numbers also makes him a valuable asset to the league, which is one of the reasons he was drafted so high. It seems he’s chosen football over pro baseball for now, but he will probably sign a healthy baseball contract with someone in the near future.
Jordyn Adams, WR/OF Green Hope High School
Jordyn Adams is a three-sport athlete out of Green Hope High School in Cary, N.C. He was one of the highest-rated wide receivers in the class of 2018. In baseball, he was one of the countrys best prep outfielders. And on the hardwood hes known to posterize dudes.
With the 17th overall pick, the @Angels select OF Jordyn Adams! #MLBDraft
The 4-star wide receiver recruit has signed on to play football and baseball at the University of North Carolina. But the outfielder was drafted by Los Angeles Angels with the 17th pick in the first round on Monday and those plans may change as hes slotted to make close to $3.5 million if he signs with LA.
Adams, who posted a .453 batting average and in 75 at-bats, had 34 hits with 15 RBIs and 29 runs scored, hit just 1 homer but his legs accounted for 31 stolen bases.
Noah Taylor, C, St. Joan of Arc Catholic School
Major-league rosters on Opening Day included just one African-Canadian catcher, the Blue Jays Russell Martin. It’s still no better at the minor league level where you can count the number of legit African-American catching prospects on your hands. The last black catcher of note was Charles Johnson and he retired in 2005.
Must be something in the water in Canada that produces black catchers because Noah Naylor, a catcher and shortstop from St. Joan of Arc Catholic School in Mississauga, Ontario, was selected as the 29th overall pick by the Cleveland Indians. The 6-foot, 195-pound 18-year-old was the highest-selected Canadian in this year’s draft.
BREAKING: The Cleveland #Indians make #JNT C Noah Naylor (@NoahNaylor12) the 1st Canadian selected in the 2018 #MLBDraft! The Mississauga native goes in the first round, #29th overall! Congrats, Noah! #TeamC
Can’t Stop The Bumrush
In the second round of the 2018 Draft we really began to see a rush on Black players.
According to MLB PR. Through the 2nd round of the MLB Draft (including all compensation rounds), 13 out of 78 picks were African-American/Black/African-Canadian, which breaks down to roughly 17%. Through picks 48-63 (16 picks), half (8) of the selections were African-American
Over the last five years more than 20 percent of first-round picks have been black, so if we chose to look deep enough we would have seen this rise coming. Commissioner Rob Manfred has been excited with recent MLB Drafts as he’s dedicated to continuing former commissioner Bud Seligs last great contribution to the game; a focus on bringing Blacks back to the ballparks.
We do believe we are seeing a lot more productivity,” Manfred said in a statement. “…about 20 percent of our first-rounders were African-American, and (our Youth) Academies have been built in communities largely African-American. Almost all of those kids had some touch with one of our Academy programs or with the Elite Development Invitational, and we believe that the bigger we make those programs, the more diversity we will attract to the game.
Its damn near impossible for players of any race to make it to the major leagues, so to see Royce Lewis, a shortstop/outfielder from Aliso, Calif. and two-way phenom Hunter Greene go Nos. 1 and 2 in 2017, for only the fourth time in history, after 1980 (Darryl Strawberry and Garry Harris), 1991 (Brien Taylor and Mike Kelly) and 2003 (Delmon Young and Rickie Weeks), was a watershed moment for the revitalization of African-American talent and a replenishing of a diversified talent pipeline in baseball.
There are 68 African Americans on rosters, six more than a year ago, when baseball had its lowest percentage of black players since 1958. Yet, nearly one-third of all teams still dont have more than one African-American on their 25-man roster or DL
It’s glass half-empty, half full type of thing.
I made a promise to myself a long time ago. Talking about it is one thing. Being about it is something totally different. 7.8%? We’re better than that. #jackierobinsonday42
To see the continued growth of African-American players in the MLB Draft, however, is a positive sign for baseball.
According to MLB PR Director Steven Arocho, last years MLB Draft featured over 30 players” that honed their baseball skills in at least one of MLBs programs geared towards identifying, developing and encouraging minority talent: RBI (including RBI World Series), Youth Academy, Breakthrough Series, Elite Development Invitational and DREAM Series.
Heres a list of the African-American MLB Players Drafted through the first two rounds of the 2018 MLB Draft.