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Pirates Reds Baseball

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred (center) greets former Reds players Johnny Bench (5) and Joe Morgan (right) before Cincinnati’s opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Thanks.

That’s what college baseball coaches across America should be saying to Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred.

Thanks to his “brilliant” guidance — and I use the word with the utmost facetiousness — college baseball is going to feature more talent in the next three or four years than ever before.

All because of Manfred’s convoluted idea to reduce the annual MLB draft from 40 rounds to only five in 2020 and, perhaps, just 20 rounds in 2021.

How will that work out?

History is generally the best measuring stick. Based on the West Virginia University and Marshall University baseball programs, it would have turned out great for West Virginia’s two Division I programs as it relates to continuity of talent.

But Major League Baseball?

Uh, not so much.

Under the current criteria, former WVU star Jedd Gyorko still would be playing third base for the Milwaukee Brewers, after being selected in the second round by San Diego in 2010. And WVU right-handed pitcher Chris Enochs still would have had his shot at the bigs after being a first-round draft pick by Oakland in 1997.

But otherwise?

Former Marshall star Jeff Montgomery may never have developed into an All-Star closer for Kansas City, considering he was a ninth-round draft pick of the Reds.

The same goes for the Thundering Herd’s Rick Reed, an All-Star right-handed hurler, who wasn’t picked until the 26th round of the 1986 draft by the Pirates.

Ditto for Marshall catcher Joe Goddard, who was an eighth-round choice by the Padres in 1971.

And don’t forget former Herd hurler Dan Straily, who is still making a very nice living by pitching in the Korean Baseball League. Straily might not have had that opportunity under the current circumstances, considering he was picked in the 24th round of the 2009 draft by the A’s.

Then, there was WVU’s monster 2019 class, which included nine players being drafted. Well, guess what? Only one — right-handed pitcher Alek Manoah — would have been drafted under the 2020 guidelines. Manoah was the first-round pick by Toronto.

Otherwise, catcher Ivan Gonzalez was an eighth-round choice of the White Sox, left-handed pitcher Nick Snyder went in the 11th round to Arizona, right-hander Kade Stroud was picked in the 12th round by the Orioles, outfielder Branden White went in the 17th round to the Angels and outfielder Darius Hill was a 20th-round selection by the Cubs.

But Mountaineer teammates Chase Illig, an outfielder picked in the 29th round by the Yankees, and right-handed pitcher Sam Kessler, 34th round by the Tigers, wouldn’t have been selected in 2020 or under the 2021 guidelines.

Is it any wonder ESPN college baseball analyst Kyle Peterson is saying, “We will have more within college baseball in the next three or four years than we’ve ever had.”

He’s absolutely right, thanks to MLB and its shortsighted moves.

Former Herbert Hoover High School and Marshall star Corey Bird is another prime example. The swift center fielder was a seventh-round draft pick of the Marlins in 2015 after his junior year.

But Bird wouldn’t have been selected in 2020.

All this doesn’t portend well for Manfred and Major League Baseball. They’re going to miss out on the “sleepers” and the “late-bloomers.”

But college programs such as WVU and Marshall? It just got easier for WVU’s Randy Mazey and MU’s Jeff Waggoner to recruit and keep talent around.

Thanks, Rob.