When Major League Baseball celebrated Jackie Robinson Day in April of this year, it was with the lowest percentage of African-American players since the earliest days of the sport’s integration, USA Sports reported.
When the numbers began to dip dramatically in recent years, the league made a concerted effort to expand its African-American talent pool through its opening of urban youth academies and the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities, or RBI, program.
And Monday night’s amateur draft suggested that the league has been having some success with those efforts, Fox News reported on Wednesday. The 31 first-round picks included seven African Americans (representing 22 percent of the picks), the most by total and percentage in 20 years, according to research by MLB.
The African-Americans selected in the first round were:
Outfielder Byron Buxton (No. 2, Twins);
Shortstop Addison Russell (No. 11, Athletics);
Outfielder Courtney Hawkins (No. 13, White Sox);
Outfielder D.J. Davis (No. 17, Blue Jays);
Right-handed pitcher Marcus Stroman (No. 22, Blue Jays)