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2020 MLB Draft: Day Two Recap

After five short rounds, the draft is already over.

2020 Major League Baseball Draft Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images

When analyzing the draft, it’s important to remember that most of this is guesswork especially beyond the first round. Sometimes the experts nail a projection like with Kevin Goldstein and Buster Posey, but more often the consensus is off the mark. Just take a look at some of the first overall picks from the last twenty years. For every Stephen Strasburg there’s a Mark Appel, for every Carlos Correa there’s a Delmon Young.

If you’re feeling underwhelmed or even angry about your team’s draft performance, remember Giants fans’ reaction to taking a left-handed high schooler from North Carolina.

Sometimes we don’t understand why a team drafts their best left-handed starter in sixty years instead of a guy who doesn’t appear in a search.

Coming into the draft, many were wondering if fewer high schoolers would be selected. High schoolers, especially those from colder climates, haven’t played in a long while and have less of a track record than college players. It took a record eight rounds for the first high school to be selected in the first round, but once the seal was broken, high schoolers came off the board at a higher rate than last year.

Percentage of High Schoolers Taken in the Draft

Year Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4 Round 5
Year Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4 Round 5
2020 35.1% 34.2% 27.6% 26.6% 20.6%
2019 31.7% 25.0% 37.9% 16.6% 13.3%
Competitive balance rounds are included in the full round immediately preceding it.

The Cardinals in particular were keen on taking high schoolers. St. Louis, along with San Francisco, had the most selections in the draft at seven, and the Cardinals used their first three picks on prep players. They used their first pick on third baseman Walker Jordan, their second on two-way player Masyn Winn, and their third on right-handed pitcher Tink Hence, all high school seniors. Other teams weren’t shy about drafting high schoolers—the Padres also took prep players with their first three picks—but the Cardinals were an outlier in this regard.

Another outlier would be the Marlins focused on pitchers adding Daxton Fulton, Kyle Nicholas, Zach McCambley, Jake Eder, and Kyle Hurt to Max Meyer who they selected in the first round. While it’s true that teams shouldn’t draft for need, it seems too coincidental for the Marlins to only take pitchers. It could be argued, for instance, that Austin Martin was the better talent available in the first round. The Blue Jays, who also drafted exclusively pitchers after the first round, couldn’t pass up on Martin.

In the fourth round, teams started to get more adventurous with their picks. In that round, the Rockies selected Case Williams who didn’t appear on MLB.com’s top 200 nor Baseball America’s top 500. The White Sox took Kade Mechals in the fourth round, and Mechals also didn’t rank on either list. In the White Sox’s case, they were trying to re-allocate pool money to sign Jared Kelley who they selected in the second round. Mechals isn’t without upside, but he recently underwent Tommy John surgery. The Cubs took Luke Little, a left-handed JUCO pitcher whose fastball has been clocked at 105 mph.

The Astros didn’t make their first selection until pick 72. Prior to the announcement on the MLB.com stream, Dan O’Dowd said something to the effect of how not picking until then really hurt them and how the banging scheme punishment would come back to bite them. Then, the Astros selected Alex Santos II, and O’Dowd called him a late first round, early second round talent. If that’s the case, losing that pick won’t hurt much at all.

The Red Sox, who lost their second-round pick for their sign stealing scandal, also appear to have made off with a quality player. Boston selected third baseman Blaze Jordan with their second pick at 89. Jordan was ranked 42 overall by MLB.com and he has enormous power.

In a normal year, the draft would carry on for 35 more rounds, but the owners successfully leveraged the pandemic to gut the draft. This prevents an injection of low-level talent and will help justify cutting 40+ minor league affiliates. Instead, undrafted players can sign with whatever team they want for a maximum $20,000 bonus.

Teams are prohibited from negotiating with players until Sunday, so we won’t know which teams are active and successful in attracting free agent amateurs. Ahead of the draft, Royals GM Dayton Moore was quoted as saying, “I wish the number of rounds for the MLB draft was unlimited. We all believe in players. Opportunity is really important for the development of players.” The Royals have singled themselves out as an organization that treats their players well, so people in the industry think they’ll do well at attracting free agents.

Again, we won’t know how this will all shake out until Sunday at the earliest, and we won’t know which of the players taken on Thursday will turn into quality major leaguers for another five years.


Kenny Kelly is the managing editor of Beyond the Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter @KennyKellyWords.