Between the NCAA voting to allow spring sport student-athletes an extra year of eligibility, and the 2020 MLB Draft potentially getting reduced to just five or ten rounds as opposed to the typical forty, college baseball will face an unprecedented roster crunch for the 2021 season because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
As it stands right now, the scholarship limit for college baseball is currently set at 11.7, which can be divided up among a maximum of 27 players. The full roster has a limit of 35 players.
To prepare for the influx of players returning to school that would normally be either graduating or moving on to the next level, University of Louisville head baseball coach Dan McDonnell wants the NCAA to increase the latter two limits for the 2021 season.
"Give us more than 27 spots. Give us more than 35," McDonnell told reporters in a teleconference Tuesday. "Even if you don't give us more scholarship money meaning we have to stay at 11.7, give us some relief."
Since the MLB Draft was shortened to 40 rounds starting in 2012, around 400 juniors sign professional contracts every year by McDonnell's count. A five-round draft (not including compensatory picks) would consist of just 150 total selections. Taking into account the high schoolers and seniors who go the professional route, that will make way for even more juniors returning to school.
"There's going to be 300+ more really good juniors in college baseball that happen to come back," McDonnell said. "We're going to need some form of relief."
Using Louisville as an example, out of their fifteen draft-eligible players (four seniors, eleven juniors), six are projected to go in the first ten rounds of the 2020 MLB Draft and two are projected to go in the first five (LHP Reid Detmers & RHP Bobby Miller). Essentially, up to thirteen players who would otherwise be moving on could still remain on the roster depending on if Major League Baseball goes the five or ten round route.
Then you take into account the freshman that will join their respective programs across the nation this fall, and the need for roster relief becomes even more apparent and necessary. McDonnell is hoping that relief come sooner rather than later.
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