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Where the players come from

Amateur draft: Held every June for players living in the United States, Canada, and US territories, including Puerto Rico. Eligible players include high school graduates before they attend college or junior college; college players who have completed their junior or senior years (or are at least 21 within 45 days after the draft date); junior college players; and college dropouts, who must petition the commissioner's office.

Foreign players: Those who are not signed to a professional contract in their own country are eligible to sign with a major league team beginning with the year they turn 17 (after July 2). Japanese professional players become free agents after their eighth season. They also may petition for a ''posting," a process in which their Japanese team receives bids from major league teams in a silent auction for the right to negotiate with the player.

Cuban defectors: If they defect to and establish residency in the US, then they are subject to the draft; most establish residency in a foreign country and then are free to sign with the team they choose.

Others: Independent leagues and non-affiliated minor league teams sell their players to major league teams. Players no longer subject to the draft may sign through open tryouts.

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