Dubai’s Baseball United Hosts First-ever Player Draft

Baseball United, a new pro baseball league in the Middle East, held its first-ever player draft, which featured some MLB stars of the past.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 17: Robinson Cano #24 of the New York Mets in the dugout during the eighth inning of the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Citi Field on April 17, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)

At the moment, Baseball United is not a household name just yet. However, this upcoming professional baseball league is sure to garner real interest in the near future.

Formed with the intention of bringing baseball to the Middle East and Southeast Asia, the league is ran by businessman Kash Shaikh. Shaikh has brought aboard quite the list of investors, who also serve as managers and general managers on the league’s teams.

As things currently stand, there are four teams in the league; the Mumbai Cobras, Karachi Monarchs, Dubai Wolves and Abu Dhabi Falcons.

Some of the notable investors in the organizations include Adrian Beltre, Bartolo Colon, Felix Hernandez, Elvis Andrus, Barry Larkin, Mariano Rivera, Robinson Cano, Shane Victorino, Robinson Chirinos, Hanley Ramirez, Matt Barnes and Ryan Howard.

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First-ever Baseball United Draft

On Monday, Baseball United held its first-ever draft, serving as a way for the teams to fill out their rosters.

Going first overall was right-handed pitcher Karan Patel, who will be joining the Cobras. The 26-year-old was the first player player of Indian descent to ever be selected in the MLB Draft. He was a seventh-round selection of the White Sox in 2019 (note: the tweet below mistakenly says 2017).

This past season, Patel pitched for the Billings Mustangs in the Pioneer League. In 16 outings (15 starts), he went 4-5 with a 5.11 ERA in just under 80 innings of work.

Finishing out the first round were a handful of familiar faces to baseball fans, including nine former big leaguers.

  • Steven Moya, formerly of the Detroit Tigers, went second to the Cobras.
  • Didi Gregorius, long-time Yankees shortstop, went third to the Wolves.
  • Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval, a two-time All-Star and three-time World Series winner, went third to the Falcons.
  • Alex Liddi, a former Mariners farmhand, went fifth to the Falcons.
  • Robinson Cano, a fearsome slugger and highest-paid second basemen of all-time, went sixth to the Wolves.
  • Phil Ervin, a former Reds outfielder, went seventh to the Monarchs.
  • To cap off the first round, slick-fielding shortstop Andrelton Simmons was selected by the Cobras.

As you can see, the first round is chock full of nostalgia.

Second round

While the second round wasn’t quite full of as much star power, there were still a ton of recognizable names in the bunch.

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RHPs Bartolo Colon, Andre Rienzo, Jair Jurrjens; LHPs Robbie Ross, David Huff; OFs Dillon Thomas, Justin Williams, Courtney Hawkins

Yes, you read that right. Bartolo Colon, at the age of 50, will play professional baseball in the immediate future. The big right-hander was drafted with the 16th overall pick by the Monarchs.

The four-time All-Star and 2005 AL Cy Young Award winner last appeared in the big leagues in 2018 as a member of the Texas Rangers. Since then, he has made brief stops in the Mexican Leagues, most recently making 11 starts for the Acereros de Monclova in 2021.

Third round

As things moved along, the names of former big leaguers became a bit more scarce.

Former Blue Jays outfielder Dwight Smith Jr. was selected by the Wolves, followed by Gabriel Guerrero, who last appeared in the big leagues in 2018 with the Reds.

Beyond that, Shed Long (Cobras), Jefry Marte (Monarchs), Denis Phipps (Monarchs), Jacob Robson (Cobras), Alejandro de Aza (Falcons) and Wilin Rosario (Wolves) had their names called.

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The best of the rest

The Baseball United Draft went a total of 10 rounds. Beyond round three, the former big leaguers of note that were selected included the following:

RHP: Akeem Bostick, AJ Schugel, Dovydas Neverauskas, Reggie McClain, Akeel Morris, JD Hammer, Brian Schlitter, Severino Gonzalez, Carlos Martinez, Enrique Burgos

LHP: Zac Rosscup

C: Hector Sanchez

INF: Brandon Laird, Hernan Perez

OF: Rusney Castillo

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When do games start?

The first game action for Baseball United comes on Nov. 24 when two All-Star teams will face off in Dubai. It will be a two-game series featuring the league’s best players and will take place at Dubai International Stadium. The league has tickets to the event(s) on their website right now.

As things currently stand, these are the only two scheduled games the league has announced.