The first day sets the tone, however, let’s break down the best takeouts from the top 37 choices and tabulate some winners and losers.
The biggest flight
In a draft with surprise risers and packers, the biggest flight goes to the Tampa Bay Rays for zigzagging where others zagged and landed Nick Bitsko.
When the shelves were set at number 24, only one high school pitcher had been taken. It’s almost unknown, and although the preparatory arms are always very varied, Bitsko provides the type of ceiling that teams dream of at the end of the first round.
The biggest skyscraper
It didn’t take long for the Baltimore Orioles to confuse everyone with the second overall pick, but we’ll stick with another AL East club for this one.
Out of nowhere, the Boston Red Sox picked Nick Yorke 17th. rankings.
Due to panel theft during the 2018 season, the Red Sox lost their second-round pick in this draft, so there was always a chance that they would stray from the board – by identifying a player they really liked that could be taken before their next selection. However, chances are Yorke will still be available when Boston should be next in 91st place.
High school students hit
For the first time in 56 years of MLB draft history, the name of a high school student was not named in the top seven picks. This is remarkable, and there are several reasons for this.
First, the coronavirus pandemic has had a significant negative impact on preparer players. While most college players have at least been able to start their seasons, many high school players have not taken the field at all in 2020. Even though Scouts have a lot of data on a player from the previous 12 months, a lack of more recent information can frighten the teams.
Second, preparation stars have little incentive to sign, given the restriction on signing bonuses. The 2020 and 2021 bonuses are frozen at the 2019 rate. While the next step for college players is still the pro ball, the prep players have some leverage – they can honor their NCAA commitments if drafted too low or are offered too little, then re-enter the project when it is more lucrative.
The third reason is strategy. With a shortened five-round project and as many undrafted players to recruit, many teams will seek to use the teammates of the undrafted players as part of their recruiting strategy, which means targeting more college prospects.
Finally, it is legitimate to prove that this class was weaker than normal. Before the draft, there just weren’t a lot of preparation arms that looked like locks to clear in the first round, while five college pitchers were selected from the top 11 picks.
Toronto Blue Jays
Before the repechage, the Blue Jays were sort of in the purgatory of the repechage: out of reach for one of the top three guys and with no choice of competitive balance to make the bonus pool magic.
Then the Orioles overtook Austin Martin at # 2. It was not planned, but it wasn’t either. However, with two other teams selecting before the Jays at No. 5, their chances of getting Martin were not good.
But then the Miami Marlins chose to select Max Meyer instead of Asa Lacy, who had been ranked higher by almost everyone. All Toronto had to do was see how the Kansas City Royals reacted – taking Lacy – before arguably picking the best overall hitter in the 2020 class.
Losing 114 games sucks, but when it ends up making you a hitter like Spencer Torkelson, you have to trust the process to some extent.
Interestingly, the Tigers see Torkelson as a third baseman, a position he barely played at Arizona State. Either way, Scouts believe he’s a really special hitter. Even if he cannot overturn the franchise by himself, he joins Casey Mize (choice n ° 1 in 2018) and Riley Greene (choice n ° 5 in 2019), as well as the ascendant Tarik Skubal and a crowd of other prospect launchers that appear to be the future of Detroit
Speaking of Meyer and Lacy, the pair led a robust class of college weapons. Of the 37 players selected on the first day, 12 were university launchers.
Some teams have fallen on their own in order to win one, such as the Atlanta Braves who draft Jared Shuster 25th overall. The left-hander posted a BPM of over 6.00 in each of his first two seasons with Wake Forest.
Going under the slit is always risky, but it paid huge dividends to Orioles general manager Mike Elias when he was with the Houston Astros, so you can’t blame him. Except that … maybe you can.
Instead of taking the best player available at # 2 at Martin, the club was creative and selected Heston Kjerstad. It’s not necessarily bad, as long as these signing bonus savings are used elsewhere later in the project. But when the O’s clocked No. 30, they decided not to take on the difficult to sign Jared Kelley and chose shortstop Jordan Westburg instead.
Admitted by Elias, the club was looking to select a pitcher, but some of the Orioles’ best targets didn’t make it to them, according to Joe Trezza of MLB.com. It’s not a great look.
This year, the draft seemed to be the first time baseball fans have come together to watch and take root for an MLB event. And instead of the 30 teams being able to participate in something during a pandemic and civil unrest, the Astros were forced to sit around to recall the worst scandal the sport has experienced in a century.