The relationship between Major League Baseball and college baseball continues to grow stronger with MLB's announcement Wednesday that it will hold the 2020 MLB Draft in Omaha directly before the College World Series.
Omaha, which has staged college baseball's championship since 1950, will host the Draft at the Holland Performing Arts Center, a mile away from TD Ameritrade Park, the home of the CWS. MLB has moved the dates of the 2020 Draft from June 8-10 to June 10-12, with the College World Series scheduled to begin on June 13. The first day of the Draft will be broadcast on MLB Network and MLB.com.
"Major League Baseball is excited to bring the Draft to the site of the College World Series, where the top collegiate players will be competing later that week for a national championship," MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. "Placing the Draft in the competitive atmosphere of Omaha will bring greater exposure to the event and give future professional players a more rewarding Draft day experience."
Moving the dates and site of the Draft should benefit both sides, which have agreed to cross-promote the events. From MLB's perspective, it should be able to get more potential draftees to attend the Draft, which should enhance the broadcast. Not only will some early-round picks be on hand for the CWS, but moving the Draft later than in previous years means that other college players will have completed their seasons and there will be fewer conflicts with high schoolers involved in graduations or state playoffs.
College baseball will receive more exposure by linking its signature event to the MLB Draft. Additionally, there will no longer be a scenario where college players are participating in NCAA tournament games at the same time the Draft is held.
"The College World Series is a world-class championship experience for student-athletes, coaches and fans, NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement. "Major League Baseball's decision to move the Draft to Omaha shines an additional spotlight on NCAA college baseball and the opportunity for our baseball student-athletes who may play professionally to pursue their dreams."
In another change, the first day of the Draft will shrink from the first two rounds to only the first. The second day will feature rounds 2-10 and the third will include rounds 11-40, with the last two days broadcast on MLB.com.
Of the 21 four-year college players selected in 2019's first round, seven played in the College World Series. Vanderbilt outfielder J.J. Bleday (No. 4 overall, Marlins), Texas Tech third baseman Josh Jung (No. 8, Rangers) and Mississippi State left-hander Ethan Small (No. 28, Brewers) participated in the 2019 CWS, with Bleday winning a national championship.
Jung and Small also reached Omaha in 2018, when Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman (2019 No. 1 overall pick by the Orioles) won a national title and Most Outstanding Player honors and North Carolina second baseman Michael Busch (No. 31, Dodgers) also was on hand. Rutschman also played in the 2017 CWS, along with Texas Christian left-hander Nick Lodolo (No. 7, Reds) and Texas A&M shortstop Braden Shewmake (No. 21, Braves).