2020 MLB Draft Takeaways
The 2020 MLB Draft has now come to a close. It was one for the history books essentially because this format of the draft has never happened before. Sure, players have appeared via video technology in the past from the comfort of their home with family surrounding them. However, this year’s draft was entirely virtual and every single front office was even disbanded throughout the country.
Furthermore, the 2020 MLB Draft was condensed from 40 rounds down to five rounds which certainly changed the strategy for many clubs. Going in, many analysts and prospect experts alike expected there to be an abundance of college players drafted. Although, that was not the case as a significant amount of high school players were selected.
That along with a few other key qualities are what stood out from this year’s draft. Let’s recap everything below.
1. High School Names Rule the Roost
Overall, the number of high school players selected was overwhelmingly high. In total, of the 160 picks, there were approximately 45 that were high school players. That is according to this 2020 MLB Draft list on CBS.com. Essentially, what that showed is that teams were comfortable going with high school players even though they have less of a track record than college draftees. In this unprecedented time period, assurance was something that many thought front offices would want. However, now the teams that took those high school players will have the opportunity to develop them the way they would like.
Although, some of them could be a challenge as they might have already committed to a certain university. For example, take outfielder Robert Hassell drafted by the San Diego Padres and the first high school player selected overall. Hassell was drafted with the eighth overall pick but has already committed to Vanderbilt University. San Diego will need to do a good enough recruiting job in an effort to get Hassell to join their organization and convince him not to head off to Vanderbilt.
2. Record Involving College Players
The MLB Draft has been going on since June 1965. Since that time, there has never been a sequence of picks similar to what happened this year. During this year’s draft, the first seven picks overall were college players. That set a new record and there’s a chance that record could stay pat for some time moving forward.
The previous record occurred during the 1992 MLB Draft and 2018 MLB Draft when five college players were selected consecutively. If you recall, in 2018 Casey Mize, Joey Bart, Alec Bohm, Nick Madrigal, and Jonathan India were selected with the first five overall picks. While the jury is out on those five individuals, there is a lot more clarity regarding the five selected in 1992. That year Phil Nevin, Paul Shuey, B.J. Wallace, Jeffrey Hammonds, and Chad Mottola were the first five names drafted.
In regards to this year’s group of seven players, there’s plenty of excitement abound for each one. Furthermore, each team that drafted those players know there’s a lot of pressure riding on their shoulders. It will be interesting to see which of the seven potentially turn into a franchise cornerstone player for their respective team.
3. Curveballs Make the Headlines
Remember all of the 2020 MLB Mock Drafts that were done in the days and weeks leading up to the actual draft? Well, many of those became busts once the second overall pick of the draft rolled around. That’s when many of those mock drafts expected the Baltimore Orioles to select Vanderbilt University’s, Austin Martin. After all, the Detroit Tigers had just drafted Arizona State University’s, Spencer Torkelson. However, as with any draft, this is where a curveball came into play.
Instead of drafting Martin, Baltimore decided to make a creative play and take outfielder Heston Kjerstad of Arkansas State University. Kjerstad, who is extremely talented in many ways, wasn’t supposed to go until the 10th overall pick according to many mock drafts.
Then, there’s the Boston Red Sox. Ever since Chaim Bloom was hired as the team’s Chief Baseball Officer, the organization has become very creative. More often than not, that was seen with the team’s transactions in 2019. As part of the out-of-the-box thinking processes, Bloom and his staff threw everyone another curveball by taking high school shortstop Nick Yorke. Baseball America had Yorke as the 93rd best overall prospect in this class!
Curveballs are what make MLB drafts exciting and this year’s featured a couple. The two mentioned above were the two biggest.
4. Best Player in the Draft Falls to the….Blue Jays?
Remember when the aforementioned Vanderbilt University utility player Austin Martin was supposed to be selected second overall? Well, the Toronto Blue Jays sure got a steal of a deal when he essentially fell into their lap. Both the Miami Marlins and Kansas City Royals had passed on Martin.
With Martin heading north of the border, the Blue Jays have a very exciting piece for the future. Toronto already has an overly impressive lineup with the likes of Cavan Biggio, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Bo Bichette. If Martin develops as expected, then Toronto’s position player group of the future just got much stronger.
When you consider that the Blue Jays number one overall prospect, Nate Pearson is expected to pitch in the big leagues this year (assuming there’s a season), it adds even more excitement to the fold. The last few years haven’t been exciting for Toronto necessarily on the big league field. However, that is about ready to change with a lineup that potentially could mash with the best of them.
5. Teams That Performed Very Well
Besides the Toronto Blue Jays, some of the other teams that did well include the: Pittsburgh Pirates, Seattle Mariners, and New York Mets. All three organizations really bulked up with draft selections that fulfill needs from an organizational standpoint and improve the outlook of the club moving forward.
For starters, the Pirates came away from the draft with several pitching prospects that have high upside and very bright futures. For Pittsburgh, drafting a successful group of players has been an issue previously. However, under the new regime led by Ben Cherington & Company, it appears as though those issues are now behind the organization. Pitching is a clear need for the big league club and Pittsburgh came away from this year’s draft fulfilling that need.
Additionally, the Mariners did quite well especially with their selection in the first round of right-hander Emerson Hancock. Hancock has the potential to be the anchor that the Mariners have been missing since the prime days of Felix Hernandez. For Seattle, trying to break the postseason drought has not been easy. Although, the organization has made significant strides forward over the last few years. Hancock contributes to that as do the other names selected by the team in this year’s draft.
Finally, the Mets addressed one of the biggest needs organizationally: to acquire a true centerfielder. The Mets got that in Pete Crow-Armstrong and the future is extremely bright for the outfielder. As a unit, the Mets outfield trio has vastly underperformed expectations over the last couple of years. Whether it be struggling at the plate, lacking defense, or injury issues. With the addition of Crow-Armstrong, the Mets took a step in the right direction to address that problem.
In the end, this year’s MLB Draft was extremely exciting for both casual and diehard baseball fans alike. Every year, there are themes that come out of drafts and this year could very well be how transformational the draft was. From a digital standpoint, it was unlike any other draft previously.
Furthermore, the draft class overall was very deep and extremely talented. While things might not have gone according to plan, that’s what adds excitement to the fold. Now, only time will tell whether all thirty teams made the right selections this year or not. Who knows, the next Christian Yelich, Cody Bellinger, or Mookie Betts could come out of this year’s class.
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