Major League Baseball teams can now contact amateur prospects using electronic communication and gather data and video on players, but they remain barred from attending in-person activities and holding tryouts as they prepare for the 2020 draft and international signing period, according to a memo obtained by ESPN.
The memo, sent to teams Friday, offered a slight relaxation of the full scouting shutdown mandated in mid-March. Teams were previously unable to contact players or their agents or gather new data and video on prospects.
With the agreement between MLB and the MLB Players Association ensuring there will be a draft, teams are trying to prepare as the scouting schedule has been upended by cancellations due to the coronavirus pandemic. Teams are now allowed to use phone, email, text and video meetings to contact players, advisers, coaches and trainers, according to the memo, and they can ask prospects to take assessments, such as the neurodevelopment tests that have become common in recent years.
Biographical and medical information is available to teams via the league-run Draft Prospect Link. The desire for recent data and video on a player to beef up draft models by supplementing past scouting reports has become acute for teams that recognize they'll have less information than in recent years before the draft, which commissioner Rob Manfred can schedule as late as July 20 and may include as few as five rounds.
Teams are now allowed to seek out data and video through third parties, according to the memo, and procure the same from players and their proxies, so long as the video was taken before March 27, 2020. That rule does not apply to the 300 best amateur players as deemed by MLB, who are required to send their data and video to the league before any individual team.
Live scouting at all levels remains banned until further notice, even in the event that local governments remove mass-gathering restrictions, according to the memo. That includes tryouts and in-person visits.
MLB also asked for dual employees -- such as a part-time scout who runs a local travel program -- to disclose that information in the hope that transparency will prevent potential discipline for teams that run afoul of the new rules.