In its push for more Black US players, MLB hopes results are on the horizon from grassroots efforts

June 23, 2023  -PHOENIX (AP) — Zion Rose is well aware that the percentage of Black U.S. players in Major League Baseball has been on the decline for decades.

But the 18-year-old catcher from Chicago, still sweaty from a workout during MLB’s Draft Combine this week at Chase Field in Phoenix, said he’s got some news: That’s not going to be the case for long.

“You’ll see,” he said. “We’re starting to come through.”

Rose was one of more than 300 players of all backgrounds in Phoenix this week to take part in the combine, which featured workouts, interviews and games in an effort to showcase some of the game’s best amateur talent at the high school and college levels before July’s draft. MLB said that approximately 15% of the players in the showcase were Black.

The hope is that the next Aaron Judge, Mookie Betts or Andrew McCutchen will be in that bunch. Possibly several.

A recent study from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at Central Florida found Black U.S. players represented just 6.2% of players on MLB opening day rosters, down from last year’s previous record low of 7.2%. Both figures are the lowest recorded in the study since it began in 1991, when 18% of players were Black. Last year’s World Series was the first since 1950 without a U.S.-born Black player.

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