KBO to make college sophomores eligible for annual draft

SEOUL-- Starting in 2022, baseball players in their second year at four-year universities or three-year junior colleges will be eligible for the annual draft for the nation's top professional league, alongside their senior teammates.

The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) announced Tuesday it has decided to expand the pool of draft-eligible amateur players following a board meeting. The KBO added it wanted to follow the example of Major League Baseball (MLB) by allowing underclassmen to be drafted, which it said will revitalize collegiate sports. Selecting and developing talented prospects from an early age should also help KBO teams, the league said.

Presently, only those in their final years of study -- whether that be at a high school, four-year university or three-year college -- can enter the annual amateur draft.

The Korea University Baseball Federation (KUBF) had asked the KBO several times to consider opening up the draft to underclassmen. With only university seniors eligible for the draft, pro hopefuls, rather than wait four extra years, have been foregoing post-secondary career and choosing instead to enter the draft straight out of high school. That has resulted in a diminished talent pool across universities, the KUBF argued, because four-year universities have become merely a fallback option for players not good enough to be drafted out of high school.

Both the KBO and the KUBF are hopeful that the new draft system will incentivize more high school players to choose university to boost their draft stock for a couple of years, instead of settling for late-round selections as teenagers.

According to the KBO, drafted underclassmen must sign with the team that picked them within the same year. Players who were drafted out of high school but chose instead to attend university must wait until their senior year to reenter the draft.

In another tweak, all eligible players must submit written documents to enter the draft. Currently, all high school and university seniors are automatically entered.

Along with their letter of intent, draft-eligible players must submit records showing their injury history and any disciplinary action taken against them for misconduct. They must also sign letters declaring they haven't committed any act of violence against their schoolmates or teammates. Players found to have lied about their history will be banned from the draft.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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