if it was you waiting for your turn as a minor league player be drafted; Would you think of the movie “Million dollar baby” family members using you for money. Would you think of the beautiful girl friend and family you can protect with the my incoming windfall. and would not care who drafted , or would you be nervous because your life is about to change forever ?
Every June, Major League Baseball (MLB) hosts it’s annual amateur draft. MLB is the only one of the four major sports in the US to hold it’s draft in the middle of the season. Most years the draft would consist of 40 rounds spanning multiple days. Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, most amateurs’ seasons were cut short or cancelled all together. MLB decided to drop the draft from 40 rounds to 5. Undrafted players may sign with whichever team they choose, but only for 20,000 dollars. In signing bonus money that is chump change. For reference, a 10th round pick usually signs for no less than 125,000. Because of this, expect a higher than normal amount of kids to go back to school. Junior colleges could be best affected by this. Under the current draft rules, if a high school player goes to a four-year university, they must stay until their junior year. However, if a player goes to a junior college, they are eligible every year. Like most drafts, baseball’s is a “roll of the dice.” In this article we dive into the specifics of the draft as a whole and then go over what the first round looked like, then we finish up by looking deeper into what the three southern California teams did in this years draft. Ironically enough the draft was rated as one of the deepest in recent memory, unfortunately it was cut so short. An unique quality of the MLB draft is the phrase “sign-ability.” Every player in the draft has a dollar figure in mind. Because of the long road to the majors, most players won’t make a big league salary for at least a few years. In some amateur’s minds, the draft signing bonus may be the only real money a player sees from a team. Because of this certain teams may pass on a guy who wants more money than the team is willing to pay. If a team selects a player and does not sign them within 2 months, the player returns to the draft next year and the team gets a corresponding pick in the next year’s draft. There are limitations to that rule. Teams must offer a minimum bonus that is determined by the draft pick (very similar to the NFL slotting their draft pick figures but baseball can offer more) or they will not receive a pick in the following years draft. This also generally only applies to the first five rounds. MLB teams value sign-ability as much as any other scout-able stat. And if a player is represented by Scott Boras, he already has question marks in that department. The first round of the draft began and ended with Tempe, AZ in mind. The Detroit Tigers took 3BSpencer Torkelson, out of Arizona State (ASU) at pick #1 and the Rays finished up the supplemental first round by taking SSAlika Williams, also out ASU. Torkelson becomes the 18th out of the last 20 first overall picks to come from the USA development camp. Heading into college Torkelson wasn’t even drafted out of high school and wasn’t highly thought of. That changed right away. Spencer broke Barry Bonds’ record for HRs by a freshman with 19. His rise culminated when, to the surprise of no one he went #1 overall. The first 7 picks were all college players which speaks to the affect COVID-19 had on high school sports. The Toronto Blue Jays took SS Austin Martin at #5 after he surprisingly fell to them. High school phenom Zac Veen may have the most pure power in the draft, he went to Colorado and judging by his reaction to the pick he cant wait to hit at Coors Field. At pick 17 the Boston Red Sox took 2B Nick Yorke. The Sox love his bat but most prognosticators had Yorke in the 180s in the player rankings, a reach at best. One pick prior to that the Chicago Cubs took SS Ed Howard from right in their own backyard of Chicago. Howard was a member the Jackie Robinson Little League who appeared in the Little League World Series. That team would go on to lose to South Korea in the World Championship (a later investigation disqualified the team, but it should never devalue what those kids did.) Nick Bitsko was supposed to be the top high school prospect in the 2021 draft, however this January he reclassified and was able to graduate early and become eligible for this year’s draft. Unfortunately for Bitsko he did not expect his high school season to be cancelled. Bitsko only has 2 years of varsity experience but the Rays pulled the trigger knowing this kid is a high reward player but may have been forced to take him earlier than previously hoped. Draft day is always huge in Southern California. Very few regions are as rich in baseball talent as southern California. LA’s Harvard Westlake is arguably the nation’s top prep school for baseball, and down in San Diego, the Rancho Bernardo baseball powerhouse is responsible for guys like Cole Hammels, Hank Blalock, Danny Putnam and even the final pick of the first round Alika Williams. The San Diego Padres were the first southern California team to draft and they took the first high school prospect, Robert Hassell III. Hassell is from Independence, TN and was the best U-18 player on team USA the last two years. At pick 34 the Padres took RHP Justin Lange out of Llano (TX) High School. OF Owen Caissie (Ontaio, Canada) was the first Canadian high school player taken at pick 45. The final three selections were: RHP Cole Wilcox (Georgia), RHP Levi Thomas (Troy), and RHP Jagger Haynes (West Columbus HS, North Carolina). The Angels got their draft started with LHP Reid Detmers out of Louisville at pick number 10. The Halos then took OF David Calabrese (St. Elizabeth Catholic HS, Ontario, CAN), SS Werner Blakely (Detroit Edison HS) and local product LHP Adam Seminaris (Long Beach State). Because the Dodgers had the best record in the regular season, they picked last in the first round (only 29 picks because the Astros lost their pick to sign stealing punishments.) The Dodgers took the following players: RHP Bobby Miller (Louisville), RHPLandon Knack (East Tennessee State), RHP Clayton Beeter (Texas Tech), local high school star OF Jake Vogel (Huntington Beach HS), C Carson Taylor (Virginia Tech) and RHP Gavin Stone (Central Arkansas). Unlike most sport’s drafts, teams usually opt for the best player available no matter what the situation. The Padres did that very well this year. Cole Wilcox will be a tough sign but if the Padres can get him, he will be a steal in the third round. The Angels lost a 2nd round pick due to the signing of Anthony Rendon, but the pickup of Reid Detmers at pick 10 is nice. Usually college lefties with Detmers’ body don’t last ten picks, but the Angels will be happy he did. The pitching for the Halos is a big weakness. Very few teams, if any, are better at developing players than the Los Angeles Dodgers. RHP Clayton Beeter looks like he is part of the next wave of Dodger talent to come through the ranks. All teams will feel optimistic and have good reason to. As of right now, no one truly knows who is right and who is wrong. We probably won’t know for quite some time honestly. Arguably the greatest hitting catcher of the 90’s, Mike Piazza, was drafted in the 62nd round of the 1987 draft. The only reason he was drafted was a favor to his father who was a close friend of then-manager, Tommy LaSorda. In that same infamous 1987 draft the first overall pick was Ken Griffey, Jr. In 2016, nearly 30 years after they were drafted both Griffey and Piazza were elected into baseball’s Hall of Fame (HOF). Ironically Griffey became the first and only #1 pick ever to make it to the HOF, and Piazza will be the lowest drafted player ever to reach Cooperstown. As you can see the draft is highly unpredictable and this year is no should be no different.
By Bradon Ferst @ferstreport and Staff