SERRANO LOBBIES SELIG TO RETHINK INCLUSION OF PUERTO RICAN BASEBALL PLAYERS IN REGULAR DRAFT • Latino Sports

Baseball

SERRANO LOBBIES SELIG TO RETHINK INCLUSION OF PUERTO RICAN BASEBALL PLAYERS IN REGULAR DRAFT

on

Washington, DC – April 24, 2008 – In a letter sent to Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, Congressman José E. Serrano asked that Major League Baseball rethink its arrangement for signing prospective players from Puerto Rico. Serrano feels that including Puerto Rican players in the regular draft keeps them from having the opportunity to fully realize their potential. The text of the letter follows. 

April 24, 2008  Commissioner Allan H. "Bud" SeligThe Office of the Commissioner of Baseball777 East Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 3060Milwaukee, WI  53202 Dear Commissioner Selig: As we discussed at a recent Congressional hearing, I am concerned about whether Puerto Rico is being unfairly caught in limbo between the process for recruiting players that exists in the rest of the Caribbean and the one that prevails in the rest of the United States.  Puerto Rican players have made great contributions to the history of baseball and I think that it is important that we nurture this important source of talent and encourage their continued contributions to the game. Prior to 1990 players from Puerto Rico were free agents, which is how foreign players continue to be treated.  Since 1990, however, Puerto Rican players have been drafted.  Now after 20 years, I think that we can clearly see that this change in signing policies has not been in the best interest of either Puerto Rico or Major League Baseball.  If we do not act, I am afraid that in ten years we will be wondering what happened to the Puerto Rican ballplayer, and the lack of Puerto Rican major leaguers could dampen enthusiasm for the game on the island. Because of the unique combination of its relationship to the United States and its location in the Caribbean Puerto Rico faces a unique set of challenges in encouraging its aspiring baseball players to succeed. One particular challenge is that in recent years players drafted out of college have been significantly more successful at reaching the major leagues than have been players drafted out of high school.  However, because of language barriers a much smaller percentage of Puerto Rican players attend college on the mainland.  Therefore, they miss out on the opportunity to develop their skills at this level and the attendant prospects for national exposure. To address this situation I believe that baseball should begin by ending the draft in Puerto Rico and return to free agency.  After that has been done, Major League Baseball should work actively with interested Puerto Rican players and other baseball people on the island to develop programs that encourage participation in baseball at all levels.  Steps should also be taken to ensure that the best players have the opportunity to develop the skills they will need to succeed at the highest level.  In short, I think that baseball can help to improve the game by taking into account the various challenges and opportunities presented by different areas throughout the United States and around the world.  This awareness of local conditions will allow for innovative solutions that increase participation in baseball at all levels. As an ardent baseball fan, I appreciate the efforts Major League Baseball has made to expand the sport outside of its traditional areas and welcome the improvements this brings to the game.  However, as we do this, we should continue to strengthen the sport in its traditional hot beds from the sand lots and pastures of the United States to the island of Puerto Rico and throughout the Caribbean.  Sincerely, José E. SerranoMember of Congress 

About Latino Sports