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Sunday October 17th, 2021 11:50AM

MLB, USA Baseball start combine ahead of pushed-back draft

By The Associated Press
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CARY, N.C. (AP) — Major League Baseball and the U.S. Baseball Federation will hold a showcase for prospects ahead of the amateur draft, which has been pushed back to July 11-13 and will hold its first night in Atlanta.

The first MLB draft combine will be held at the USA Baseball training complex in Cary, North Carolina, from June 20-28. The top 88 high school prospects will be invited to play eight games from June 20-26, ending in bronze and gold medal games. The event will include medical and performance assessments for invited players.

Participants of the first MLB Draft League will be invited to attend assessments. The Draft League, announced in November, is a wood-bat circuit in which each of five or six teams will play a 68-game regular season that includes an All-Star break coinciding with the draft. The founding members are located in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New Jersey: the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, the State College Spikes, the Trenton Thunder, the West Virginia Black Bears and the Williamsport Crosscutters.

MLB’s amateur draft started in 1965 and previously was held in June. This year’s draft will be at least 20 rounds as part of an agreement last March between MLB and the players’ association, up from five rounds last June, down from 40 rounds in 2019.

The first night of the draft had been in Secaucus, New Jersey, from 2009-19, then was held virtually last year. This year’s draft will be held in conjunction with the major league All-Star Game.

The second Product Development Pipeline League for player development will run from July 22 to Aug. 1 and include the top 96 high school players eligible for the 2022 amateur draft, MLB said Monday. It will be used to identify players for the U.S. under-18 national team; the first PDP League was held in 2019, and the 2020 event was canceled due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

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More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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