Baseball United Logo. (Courtesy Baseball United)
By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
Baseball United, the first professional baseball league located in the Middle East and Indian subcontinent, announced their first-ever draft that will be held on September 19, 2023 in Cincinnati, Ohio at 11 a.m. EDT, and will be streamed on all Baseball United social media pages.
Cincinnati is the birthplace of professional baseball in the United States, fielding the first team of professional players in 1869. The Baseball United draft marks the beginning of a new league that can possibly produce a lot of exposure to the sport on the other side of the world.
Baseball United had their first player pool selection on May 1, 2023 with the recipients being part of past professional organizations throughout the world along with undrafted upcoming prospects.
The Mumbai Cobras and the Karachi Monarchs were the first two franchises announced. There will be two more Baseball United franchises that will be announced prior to the league’s draft.
Former Major Leaguer Chris Sabo will manage the Mumbai Cobras, and Miguel Tejada will manage the Karachi Monarchs in the league’s first season.
The four organizations will each draft 16 players and can add four international prospect signings prior to the start of the Baseball United showcase event in November.
The Mumbai Cobras will have the first overall pick in the first ever draft for the history of Baseball United.
The Baseball United draft will consist of eight rounds, with each team making two selections per round.
“This is a big deal. There are so many talented players out there that have been one chance away from elevating their careers,” said former Reds infielder Barry Larkin in a statement on the league’s website. Larkin, a hall of famer, is a co-owner of Baseball United. “Now, Baseball United gets to be that one chance. I can’t wait to welcome several of the guys to Cincinnati – my hometown – to celebrate this historic milestone.”
Baseball United’s franchises will be within Gulf Cooperation Council member nations and south Asia. The GCC countries include the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Baseball United will also look to make its mark in South Asia, in countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, and the Maldives.
The stated goal of Baseball United is to grow the sport to the two billion people across India, Pakistan, and the Middle East, an area with nearly one billion cricket fans, according to Baseball United President, CEO, and Majority Owner Kash Shaikh and Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations, John Miedreich.
Baseball United will play its first ever four-team showcase event at the Dubai International Stadium, which is mainly used for cricket, from November 9-12.
The league will stock the teams with players from international professional leagues, players with experience in the lower minor leagues in the U.S., and independent league players, as well as potentially developing players from the countries where the league places franchises.