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MLB Draft Picks, Their Leverage, And Their Advisors

In only a little over a month from now, high school Seniors, Junior College students, and Juniors and Seniors at 4-year Universities will be selected in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.  The draft, which spans from June 7-9, consists of 50 rounds, including supplemental rounds, but teams do not have to use up all of their picks up to and through the 50th round.  That said, most teams do select players with each of their picks; however, many of the players selected will not end up signing a deal to play for the teams that select them.

Leverage is the name of the game, and high schoolers have a lot of it.  Their other options may include Junior College or attendance at a 4-year University.  If they select Junior College, they have the possibility of being drafted again four more times.  If a 4-year University is selected, they may be drafted after their Junior and Senior years.  Junior College players have the second most leverage.  They may be drafted after their 1st and/or 2nd year of JuCo play.  If they so choose, they can pass up signing with a professional team after their 2nd year of JuCo and sign with a 4-year University, starting as a Junior and still being draft eligible the following year.  4-year University Juniors have the leverage of coming back for their Senior season, and 4-year University Seniors have little leverage when negotiating a deal with the teams that select them.  That said, a very talented Senior will earn more than a $1,000 bonus, based on the fact that the team wants to show good will towards someone who they hope will be a big contributor for their organization for years to come.

Talented high school Seniors up to 4-year University Seniors should have an advisor helping them prior to, during, and after the First-Year Player Draft.  Every advisor has his own way of “pitching” a player on the services that he provides and explaining what separates him from the pack of other advisors hoping for a chance of giving the top player advice and earning a healthy commission in the process.  No matter what, the bulk of the advisor’s time is spent doing research – reviewing each team’s history in signing different types of players at various slots, understanding the rise of signing bonuses and salary increases at each slot over a period of time, gathering organizational depth charts to see team needs, etc.  Since the NCAA does not allow advisors to negotiate directly with teams (unless the advisor is working for a 4-year University Senior who no longer maintains student-athlete eligibility), the advisor must also spend quite a lot of time educating the player on how to handle negotiations with the scouts who are in the position to sign him.  The advisor should also educate the player on his various options, which include signing with the team or going to, or back to, school.  The hope is that the athlete’s gain from the advisor’s research and education will more than make up for the commissions paid to that advisor.  And if the advisor is generous, he may offer to reinvest some of his commissions back into the player, should the player sign the advisor as his agent after the player signs a professional contract.

June 7-9 will be a hectic time for advisors.  Their hope is that they end up on 2010’s version of this list.

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.

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