CLEVELAND -- The First-Year Player Draft has found its way into the national-television spotlight, and John Mirabelli thinks it's about time. "This is long overdue," said Mirabelli, the Indians' scouting director. "All these other sports televise or publicize their drafts. The NBA even has its lottery selection on TV." And as anyone who has watched the lottery selection knows, NBA teams always have a representative on hand and on camera for that event.
The same now goes for the first round of baseball's First-Year Player Draft, which will be broadcast live on ESPN2 at 2 p.m. ET on June 7. MLB has asked all teams to send a special representative to Disney's Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Fla., where the event will be held. Rather than have their scouting directors, who will be holed up in "war rooms" for the duration of the two-day draft, step up to the podium to announce the first-round selections, all clubs are sending more recognizable names. For the Indians, Robby Thompson and Ellis Burks will be entrusted with that duty. Thompson, the former Giants second baseman, is in his fifth season as a special assistant to baseball operations for the Indians after spending the 2002 season as bench and infield coach on the big-league coaching staff. He was the Giants' Opening Day starter at second base from 1986-96 and a two-time All-Star. Burks, a veteran of 18 Major League seasons with the Red Sox, White Sox, Rockies, Giants and Indians, is in his second season as a special assistant to the Tribe's front office. He was a two-time All-Star and Silver Slugger winner, and finished his career with 352 homers and 1,206 RBIs in 2000 games. For his part, Mirabelli is fine with handing over the reins. "I'll leave that to those guys," he said with a laugh. "They've got a much more familiar face than I do." Mirabelli doesn't think having the first round on television will change how the Indians go about their process of selecting a player, or how they put players on their drafting board. Other than the increased time between picks, the first round should be business as usual. "I think this is good for the scouting industry and good for the players," Mirabelli said. "These guys are hidden in anonymity in picks, and their going to have a huge impact down the road."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.