Inside the NPB Draft

» 10 June 2009 » In international baseball, npb, npb draft »

It’s officially Draft Week here in the United States, so it’s a great time to take a look inside the NPB Draft.

The NPB Draft occurs at the end of season in October and two different types of draft take place: the regular draft where teams select high school graduates, college graduates and industrial league players; and the ikusei player draft, for players for the Ikusei System.

Players eligible for the regular drafts are…

  • Graduating from a school in Japan the March after the draft
  • Graduating from a college the March after the draft (only seniors are eligible for the draft)
  • High School players who registered to enter the draft by notifying the Japan High School Baseball Federation
  • College players who registered to enter the draft by notifying the Japan University Baseball Federation
  • For industrial league players: If the player entered the league as a junior high or high school graduate, three years after entering they will be eligible for the NPB Draft. All other players are eligible two years after starting industrial league careers, unless the team is discontinued for financial reasons
  • For independent league players: Players will be treated equally to industrial league players unless the player declares intent for NPB, in which case they will be eligible anytime during their independent league career

There’s also a new regulation known as the Tazawa Rule…

  • Players who refuse to enter the NPB Draft and elect to play overseas will not be eligible for the draft for three years if going overseas after high school, two years for all others

How the draft works…

  • The first round is lottery-based, where every team may select the same player. In the event that more than one team selects the same player, the right to negotiate with that specific player will be determined by a drawing (Scene from 1989 Draft: Hideo Nomo) (Scene from 1992 Draft: Hideki Matsui)
  • After the first round, the draft continues in the waiver style, which is based on the final standings from the previous season. The last place teams will select first and so on. The last place team from the league which won the All-Star series will select first. If the All-Star series was a split by the two teams, who gets the first pick will be determined by the run difference in the two games.

The Draft is complete when 120 players total have been selected or if every team indicates they are finished selecting players. However foreign players and independent league players being drafted will not be included in the 120 players… So one team may end up with more players selected than another, usually depending on financial reasons or the strength of the draft class. Many changes are waiting to happen with the restrictions of the draft and we shall see what will really be the impact of Junichi Tazawa opting out of the NPB Draft in 2008.

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