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So let's talk baseball draft.


For two days beginning this Thursday at 2:00 p.m. ET, Major League Baseball will hold its annual First-Year Player Draft. This draft is more commonly ? and incorrectly ? known as the amateur draft, but the occasional presence of players who have signed Independent League contracts prior to being drafted (e.g., J.D. Drew back in his day) means it's not a uniformly amateur affair.


The draft, of course, is vital to building a strong farm system, but because of the (heretofore) lackluster marketing and promotional efforts by MLB, in the past it hasn't gotten as much attention as it merits. As such, many fans don't know much about the unique elements of the draft. So in order to familiarize you, let's explore MLB's First-Year Player Draft ...


A little history


The inaugural First-Year Player Draft was in 1965, and the Kansas City A's made Arizona State outfielder Rick Monday the first ever selection. If you'd like to see how past drafts have unfolded, then this draft page over at Baseball-Reference.com is a tremendous resource.


Eligible players


Those players who just graduated high school are eligible, as are college players who have either already turned 21 or have completed their junior or senior seasons. As well, junior-college players are eligible, regardless of how many years of school they've completed. Players from Canada and Puerto Rico are also eligible to be drafted, but other foreign talents are signed on a free-agent basis.


Draft order


Like most sports drafts, draft order goes in reverse order of the standings. In the past, AL and NL teams would alternate picks, but starting with the 2005 draft the order was determined without regard for league. So here's how this year's first round will go:


1. Tampa Bay Devil Rays

2. Kansas City Royals

3. Chicago Cubs

4. Pittsburgh Pirates

5. Baltimore Orioles

6. Washington Nationals

7. Milwaukee Brewers

8. Colorado Rockies

9. Arizona Diamondbacks

10. San Francisco Giants

11. Seattle Mariners

12. Florida Marlins

13. Cleveland Indians

14. Atlanta Braves

15. Cincinnati Reds

16. Toronto Blue Jays

17. Texas Rangers

18. St. Louis Cardinals

19. Philadelphia Phillies

20. Los Angeles Dodgers

21. Toronto Blue Jays

22. San Francisco Giants

23. San Diego Padres

24. Texas Rangers

25. Chicago White Sox

26. Oakland A's

27. Detroit Tigers

28. Minnesota Twins

29. San Francisco Giants

30. New York Yankees

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