The first overall pick in the draft was Carlos Correa, from Puerto Rico. This made Bud Selig happy (scroll to second item):
Commissioner Bud Selig was thrilled to see Houston select 17-year-old shortstop Carlos Correa with the top pick in the draft. Correa played at the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, and Major League Baseball is always looking to grow the game and foster talent outside the 50 states.
“Wonderful. It really is. It’s everything we’re trying to accomplish, in a lot of ways,” Selig said. “So I’m very pleased. Very pleased.”
There is lots of talk about how he’s the highest draft pick out of Puerto Rico ever, and how that’s such a great thing for the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy. And it is. But it’s also misleading.
There has only been a draft for players from Puerto Rico since 1989. Before that players from Puerto Rico were free agents, just like international players. Also before that there were many more players from Puerto Rico in affiliated baseball than there are now, with most experts saying that the institution of the draft drove many away from baseball due to the far worse economic rewards compared to life under free agency.
The Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, then, wasn’t something that elevated baseball on the island. It was something that, at best, is trying to make up for the destruction Major League Baseball wrought to amateur baseball there by imposing the draft in the first place.
That Correa is the number one pick is a good thing for him, for Puerto Rico and for baseball. That it took 23 years to get a number one overall pick from the land that produced Roberto Clemente, Orlando Cepeda and Roberto Alomar is not something that Bud Selig should be particularly proud of “accomplishing,” however.