Arkansas baseball coach Dave Van Horn He wasn’t shy about his feelings regarding the 2022 MLB Draft.
For the second year in a row, the MLB draft will be held in July to coincide with the MLB All-Star Game. The 2022 draft begins July 17.
The draft was previously held in June, with college players often being selected while on the field playing in College World Series games. In 2021, the draft was pushed to July, the latest it had ever been held.
From Van Horn’s perspective, that’s bad for college baseball.
“No one likes it except the owners,” Van Horn said Thursday. “They think it’s cool to have the draft during the All-Star Game. Nobody cares. Have the draft last week, let us get to work, get our rosters right, treat the kids right, give the ones that are not going to be able to come in more time to find a place to play.
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With the draft so late, college baseball programs have to wait to see which of their current players or high school signees will be drafted. Then, draftees have two weeks to decide whether to sign pro deals.
That means Van Horn and other college coaches won’t have a firm grasp on their rosters until “the smoke will clear” in early August.
Arkansas signed 19 high school players in its 2022 recruiting class, which was ranked No. 5 in the country by Perfect Game. Three of the Razorbacks’ signees – infielder Jayson Jones, righthander Cole Phillips and outfielder Mason Neville – rank in MLB.com’s top 200 draft prospects.
The MLB draft has 20 rounds, half as many as it had before the pandemic. Van Horn said that rarely will teams draft players they don’t intend to sign with the shortened format. That doesn’t mean every player drafted will sign, but it does make it more likely.
Van Horn said he wants his draftees to “stay strong” in negotiations. If a team does not offer a draftee the money the player wants, Van Horn said the player should come to school to improve his stock of him.
With players such as Connor Noland and Robert Moore, who will be drafted but could still return, Van Horn hopes the same.
“I don’t think Connor’s just going to (sign) because somebody says ‘Hey, we’re going to give you a little bit of money and go play,'” Van Horn said. “It’s going to have to be a situation where he feels really good about it, the organization is serious. If not, you could see him back.”
Moore is in a different situation. He’ll likely be selected high in the draft, and returning for a final year would cost him some money and leverage. Van Horn said he’d be surprised if the star second baseman returned.
But with the draft so late, Arkansas’ 2023 roster is entirely uncertain, and that frustrates Van Horn. His solution of him? Hold the draft after NCAA regionals or the Tuesday after super regional weekend.
“There are eight teams that play in the World Series, and those kids know they’ve been drafted,” Van Horn said. “That’s fantastic. They’ll be excited to go win a championship. The (MLB general managers), the scouts, they all want the draft earlier. It doesn’t make any sense.”
Christina Long covers the Arkansas Razorbacks. You can email her from her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her from her on Twitter @christinalong00.