Have no fear, baseball fans: While the season may not be near, the 2020 MLB Draft is here.
While talks between Major League Baseball and the MLBPA regarding a return to play after the COVID-19 pandemic remain at a standstill, the show had to go on as it related to the league’s annual draft.
Commissioner Rob Manfred was there to announce picks behind the podium, ESPN analysts were able to provide their thoughts on each pick, and fans could see the reactions of their favorite team’s new players through cameras set up in most of the youngsters’ homes.
On opening night, 37 of the 160 total picks were made, with the Astros sitting out as the lone team without a first-rounder. With so many new players entering the league’s fray, there was a lot of new information for baseball fans to take in after the first night of the draft. But, a few statistics, trends, and thoughts stuck out among the rest:
The first round of the 2020 MLB Draft proved to be a historic night in the league’s history for collegiate stars in numerous ways.
- According to ESPN Stats and Info, for the first time ever, the first seven picks of the draft were all college players. The trend broke the previous record of five straight picks from the collegiate pool, set in 1992 and 2018.
- Out of the first 10 picks of the draft, eight came out of college. The number is tied for the second-most in the history of the draft, with nine collegiate players taken in the top 10 in 1985. Only two other times have eight players been taken in the top 10: 1992 and 2005.
- On the same lines, 11 of the first 15 picks were college players, the most since that record-setting draft class in 1992 (13 collegiate players picked in the top 15).
- The SEC made its own history on Night 1 of the draft, becoming the first conference to ever be represented by three of the first five overall picks. They also compiled nine first-round picks in the 2020 draft, the second-most in the conference’s history behind a group of 10 in 2007.
- The trends seem to make sense given the past few years, as 2018 saw 68 percent of the picks in the first five rounds come out of college, and 2019 saw 71 percent in the same sample size.
Despite the collegiate success, some teams stuck to their guns when it comes to talented high school players.
- With the eighth overall pick, the Padres selected outfielder Robert Hassell III. While Hassell was the first player taken out of high school in the 2020 draft, it’s fitting that the Padres were the team to make the selection; San Diego has gone with a high school player for each of their first-round picks over the last five years, the most by any team in that same span.
- When the Cubs selected shortstop Ed Howard with the 16th overall pick, the 18-year-old became the first high schooler taken by the franchise in the first round since 2012. Their fellow Chicago brethren, the White Sox, took over the top spot when it comes to high school player droughts, selecting pitcher Garrett Crochet out of Tennessee.
Teams weren’t afraid to take risks with some of their picks, even with punishments looming for one squad.
- With the 13th pick of the night, the Giants went against what many fans in the Bay Area believed they would do, taking NC State catcher Patrick Bailey. The move was a head-scratcher for some, considering the team picked catcher Joey Bart with the second overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft. But, like Kyler Murray going to the Cardinals in the 2019 NFL Draft at a time Arizona still had Josh Rosen, when you think you have the chance to take the best player on the board, you make the move and deal with the fallout afterward.
- Four picks later, the Red Sox made arguably the most shocking selection of the night, selecting Archbishop Mitty High School’s Nick Yorke at second base. Outside of the fun that comes with Boston selecting N. Yorke, the move surprised fans and reporters due to the California native’s spot at number 139 on the MLB’s list of the Top 200 Draft Prospects. Similar to when their Massachusetts counterparts in the NFL, the Patriots, selected Division II star Kyle Dugger in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, it’s another big chance being taken in a high-profile spot.
- The move is especially interesting considering the Red Sox lost their second-round pick due to the sign-stealing allegations involving former manager Alex Cora. It’s potentially high-risk, high-reward, as Boston’s management looks to save money for later on in the draft by signing a below-slot player with their first-round pick.
Controversy still remained as a conversation topic throughout the night, considering the happenings in Major League Baseball over the last few years.
- Yes, the MLB Draft served as a way for baseball to take back some of the attention that basketball, football and hockey had earned with their announcements about returning to action over the next few months. But, it also reminded fans about the stalemate that the league and its players are at regarding the start of the 2020 regular season, and the doubt creeping in about any games being played at all.
- At the same time, while teams try to escape the multitude of scandals across the league over the last few years, some moments brought them back to light throughout the draft’s first night. The Astros were without a first-round pick as a result of the sanctions handed down from their sign-stealing controversy, and the Red Sox found a way to bring theirs into the limelight with their curious decision-making with the 17th overall pick.
All in all, the event emphasized the need for action as it relates to the presence of a 2020 season, and made fans wonder about what the future even holds for many of the potential stars in the making that were selected on the first night of the 2020 MLB Draft.