MLB sees diversity grow in Draft's first night
I was thinking of adding this story link to the thread I started on the ORG regarding Brandon Phillips hometown teams and the efforts to increase the presence of African American players in the game. I thought this would be an interesting discussion, particularly spring from two of the Reds' first three draftees this year being players involved in this program (Ervin and Franklin).
Re: MLB sees diversity grow in Draft's first night
Major League Baseball has followed up its most diverse Draft in two decades with a fitting encore. Seven African-Americans were drafted in the first round in 2012, the most since 1992, and six more players of African-American descent were drafted in the first round Thursday.
Two graduates of the Urban Youth Academy -- Dominic Smith and J.P. Crawford -- were the highlights in that group, and both young men were selected within the first 16 picks. Shortstop Tim Anderson also was drafted 17th overall, and three more African-American draftees were taken by the end of the round.
Why is that noteworthy? African-Americans made up a record-low 7.7 percent of this year's Opening Day rosters, and Major League Baseball has made an effort to change the complexion of the game in recent seasons. The Urban Youth Academies and RBI leagues -- short for Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities -- have made a difference, and broadcaster Harold Reynolds is thrilled to see it.
"It's a great thing to see that many kids playing. It's been a big struggle," said Reynolds, a former big league second baseman who called the Draft for MLB Network Thursday night. "We've always said that they're playing; we just haven't gotten the exposure. I think we're getting them in front of scouts with the RBI program and all of the different things out there. They're playing more travel ball. We're getting real aggressive, and I think it's paying off. This is just scratching the surface."