“World Map – Rainbow Bliss Baseball Square” by Andee Design, photo courtesy of FineArtAmerica.com
Last week, a 16-year old baseball player, Melissa Mayeux, made history by becoming the first female baseball player to be added to the MLB international registration list. This means that she could conceivably become the first female major leaguer. (Note that this all happened one day before the 43rd anniversary of the passage of Title IX, commonly known for providing equal opportunity for girls in sports.)
Today is the day that teams can start signing players on list. But first, what is the international registration list? New international signing rules were implemented in 2012 with the latest MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement. Teams must follow this process in order to sign international amateurs. According to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com:
“An international player is eligible to sign with a Major League team between July 2 through June 15 of next year if the prospect turns 17 before Sept. 1 of this year or by the completion of his first Minor League season. Additionally, any prospect who is already 17 or older and has not previously signed a Major or Minor League contract, resides outside the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico and has not been enrolled in a high school or college in the U.S., Canada or Puerto Rico within the previous year is eligible to sign during the period.”
Ok, so that’s a little confusing. Basically, 16-year olds in countries not subject to the MLB draft (i.e., everywhere by the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico) become eligible to sign with MLB teams on July 2 every year as long as they registered with MLB by May 1. If you’re already 17, you don’t need to register.
But being registered doesn’t mean you will get signed. After Melissa was placed on the international registration list, The New York Daily News had an interesting article about how likely it was that she – or any woman – would sign with MLB any time soon. Even MLB.com’s Lindsay Berra says it’s not likely that Mayeux will sign with anyone.
Right now, Mayeux is at an MLB hitting camp in Germany where she’ll get hitting instruction from former Oriole (Diamondback, etc.) Steve Finley. Later this summer she’ll be at the European baseball championship in the Czech Republic, and then it’s on to MLB’s European Elite Camp in the Netherlands. One thing is for sure: it’s good to be 16!
For a continually updated list of the top international prospects and who is getting signed, go to Baseball America.com.