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74% of fans think international players should be included in the MLB draft

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that and other tidbits from Week 10 of FanPulse

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Oakland Athletics v Seattle Mariners
Pictured: the last international draftee to make it to the majors for the Mariners
Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Welcome to SB Nation FanPulse, a survey of fans across MLB. Each week, we send 30 polls to plugged in-fans from each team. If you’d like to be included in the survey of Mariners fans, sign up HERE to join FanPulse.

The MLB Draft is tomorrow! Last week we asked about if fans prefer a toolsy prep prospect with big upside or a polished college player fast-tracked to the majors. Not surprisingly, most fans opted for the polished college player, although the margin was somewhat tight. This week, the margin is much, much greater:

Transitioning from international free agency to a draft is a hotly-debated topic, and has been for over a decade. Despite the overwhelming results of the survey, opinion is fiercely divided on the idea of an international draft. As Alex Remington for the Hardball Times surmises: “Broadly speaking, the international draft is something that owners want and players do not, that Americans want and non-Americans do not.” The case study for this has generally been Puerto Rico. Prior to 1990, players in Puerto Rico were signed as free agents; post-1990, Puerto Ricans have been subject to the draft. This coincides with a sharp decrease in the number of Puerto Ricans who have made it to professional baseball in those years. Currently, Puerto Ricans are drafted out of high school, or not at all; there is no college path to pro ball on the island. Only players who have completed high school are eligible for the draft, a challenge for the nearly 45% of Puerto Ricans who live in poverty. Furthermore, very few teams have a full-time scouting presence in Puerto Rico, relying instead on showcase events held in Florida. Those who oppose an international draft argue that Puerto Rico will serve as a bellweather for how the draft will be implemented in other countries.

There are problems with the current system for international free agency, where fraud and exploitation run rampant. Kids being groomed for scouts don’t receive the same education as their American counterparts, and some are pumped with performance-enhancing drugs fed to them by their trainers, eager to get a taste of the bonus money. But ultimately, a draft means less leverage for the international players, now competing for draft slots alongside their US-born counterparts.

If MLB went to an all-draft system, it would require a complete overhaul of systems currently in place, which is part of the reason it hasn’t happened, despite years of conversations around the international draft. It’s unlikely to change any time soon, but it’s worth monitoring this conversation, especially as the next CBA comes up in 2022.

Speaking of the draft, last week we saw that 78% of respondents felt confident that the Mariners’ current FO can make a good draft pick. The same confidence does not expand to the direction of the team:

74% is a season-low, and will probably go down further after the shellacking by the lowly Angels this week. Manager approval similarly fell to 75%.

If you have suggestions on future polls you’d like to see, drop them in the comments.

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