I was having a blast watching the 2020 Major League Baseball Rule 4 Draft, but at some point in the 4th round, the whole pageant started to feel gross. 

All these billion dollar teams focused on doing little maneuvers to afford the high school kids they actually wanted. 

In the draft.

When you presumably add the players you want. 

It’s incongruous. 

And it’s not some pandemic 2020 thing. 

That’s just the base design of the thing made even more salient by the compressed variation MLB farted together in what passed for their attempt to rise to these unique circumstances.

Seniors’ ages are leveraged against them.

Juniors’ ages are leveraged against them.

Sophomores’ ages are leveraged against them in a slightly different, Wilcoxian way.

All this so owners can cheaply acquire laborers who’ll make less than minimum wage. It’s a salary cap for amateurs, designed to create much, much smaller budgets than a free market would generate. 

One might think the Yankees, Cubs, Dodgers or just about anyone competitive would campaign for more, maybe even better, but it turns out: who doesn’t love the leverage provided by an artificial line beyond which you must not go?

Easy way to end negotiations. 

Just like writing some bullshit god-power rule into the bylaws of a short-term agreement built to get through a pandemic. I knew the players shouldn’t have signed that noise. 

Anyhow, onto the shizz, making my best Karl Ravich face. 

Let’s start with my least favorite few drafts so we can end on a high note. 

The Red Sox dropped a bomb into the first round when they selected high school second baseman and former Radiohead frontman Nick Yorke. Dan O’Dowd called them out for punting the draft on live television. True love waits though, and Boston found some value in round three with high school first baseman Blaze Jordan before closing out with two fringy college lefties they’re hoping can start in Jeremy Wu-Yelland and Shane Drohan. This class isn’t looking good today, but with two high school bats, time is on Boston’s side, assuming they sign anyone. I tend to think they shouldn’t sign Yorke if that was their original plan. Next year’s draft should be overloaded with talent, and having an extra first round draft slot in the budget would be huge. I’d give them a D- if they sign their first rounder and a B if they don’t. 

The Rangers reached down the consensus boards for their first rounder, college second baseman Justin Foscue, and all the way off those boards for their second pick, high school outfielder Evan Carter. Some teams balanced out early round economy picks with spendy late round upside plays. Texas did not. D. Sad.

The Braves selected three college pitchers, saving the best for last in pick 156, Texas righthander Bryce Elder. I enjoyed Skyrim as much as the next Elder Scrolls enthusiast, but I’m not a big believer in their first rounder, Wake Forest lefty Jared Shuster, whose delivery sings reliever to me, though I could see how a power change-up like his could work a couple times through an order. The Braves are good at this. I’m just a dude writing thoughts. C-.

I also don’t like the Reds picks. Kind of odd that two of these four clubs made picks I got right in my mock draft, but it feels like tertiary corroboration that their organizations have become somewhat predictable in their pursuits. 

Now onto some fun drafts. 

The Cardinals began with two aggressive topside plays in Itch-favorites Jordan Walker and Masyn Winn, after which I tweeted my love for their approach. Very interesting they announced Winn as a two way player because he has enough talent to do both. A little while later, they took Winn’s travel ball teammate Tink Hence, who won’t turn 18 until August. Both guys are committed to Arkansas and could be difficult to sign, especially as it seems unlikely Walker will offer a discount, but St. Louis has a healthy budget thanks to having seven total selections, and I think they’ll get the key guys inked whether or not they can bring in all seven. I also like their college class. Alec Burleson brings more two-way potential. Ian Bedell and Levi Prater have been dominant against high-end hitters, and injury wild card in outfielder L.J. Jones brings mystique, having played all of 14 games the past two years. A+.

The Brewers grabbed a nice windfall profit in Garrett Mitchell, a top ten talent they landed at 20 due partly to diabetes, partly to the assumption he’ll need a swing change.

Toronto fell into some scouts number overall player in Austin Martin at pick five then caught another falling asset in CJ Van Eyk before moving to secure the signings with some selections meant to sight at slot value or below. If Martin is a top ten prospect this time next year, it won’t really matter what else happened.

Detroit is getting love from all over the industry, and it’s easy to see why, having added six bats–five being high floor, solid ceiling collegians. Spencer Torkelson is obviously the top-of-the-fold, but Dillon Dingler was seen as a near lock to go near the middle of round one, and Gage Workman at 102 is a ludicrous value given his grades around the game as a late-first, early second round talent. Pick 62 Daniel Cabrera fits the opening sentence perfectly: pretty much everyone thinks he’ll hit with wooden bats against top-end pitching. 

Last thought for today and something I’ve been rolling around in my head a lot: the Cubs drafted like they knew what was coming Saturday. I mean we all kind of did. Was fairly obvious MLB was just running out the clock until they felt it would be “legal” to invoke the god clause tucked into their March agreement. I don’t think I’ve seen a team take two college relievers in their first four picks. Burl Carraway and Luke Little can throw 100+ miles per hour, and it stands to reason that college closer Carraway will find himself on the taxi squad. High school shortstop Ed Howard will decide how this class plays out, but final pick Keon Moreno looks like exactly the kind of high school arm the new development team will be thrilled to have. He’s got a bright future.  

Thanks for reading! I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter and Reddit.

  1. Adam says:

    Bogarts and paddack for story?

    • Schmohawks Bob says:

      What do you think of the Angels picks?

      • The Itch

        The Itch says:

        Big fan of their draft.

        Can’t argue with the Detmers pick. Fell right into their lap. Key especially bc he could maybe hang in the majors this year so doesn’t necessarily have to lose a year of development. Also key bc developing arms from high school has not been a strength, so it’s great to get a ready-made starter from college.

        They achieved something similar if lesser with 5th round pick Adam Seminaris out of Florida State. He was good against big bats on the cape last year and even better in 22 innings this year: 36 K w 1.23 ERA.

        David Calabrese their third rounder was in Keith Law’s top 30 as a tooled up center field high school speedster. Gotta track him closely for dynasty purposes.

        4th rounder Warner Blakely feels very on brand as an athletic shortstop with power. Committed to Auburn, but I think they’ll get all four picks signed.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:

      I think I’ll keep Bogarts and Paddack, but I don’t hate it if 15 steals makes a big impact in the standings.

  2. Jolt In Flow says:

    Hey Itch, question for my comprehension; I guess what I’m looking to understand is the strategy for a team in Boston’s position. Why do you think they picked a player such as Yorke to punt for a draft pick one slot lower the following year (if I understand that correctly) and do teams like this have other strategies they can use (trading, etc.) or is this the maximal strategy for teams in positions such as this?

    Thanks as always, Itch.

    PS. Any readers looking for a good coffee with flavour, I highly recommend Van Houtte Belgian Chocolate. Tough to find but incredibly good. Not your usual fake coffee flavour taste. It tastes like real chocolate and your house will smell incredible.

    PPS. I do not represent Van Houtte coffee or its affiliates in any way. I just like real good coffee.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:

      What up, Jolt in Flow!?

      I’m always looking for good coffee!! Thank you!!

      About the Yorke thing, yeah it’ll be one spot later, and it is maximal strategy unless the team has competitive balance picks, which can be traded. In which case you might say passing on a draft then trading a comp round pick for a player or international budget is part of a galaxy brain strategy.

      I thought O’Dowd made a decent point on the broadcast in that Chaim Bloom is new in Boston and might not feel great about the scouting processes he has in place, especially in a compressed time frame like 2020. I partly also call bullshit on that bc it’s not like he knew nothing about this player group when he was in Tampa.

      Mostly I think it’s about money.

      If you have two pick next year, that’s almost double the money. Slot value for first rounders is a lot higher than 2nd, 3rd, and so on.

      Also the guys drafted now won’t play affiliated ball until next year anyway. Might not play at all until spring training 2020, and it’s unlikely a high school draftee would be invited to that, so a high school kid drafted this week might not play until a MiLB spring training next March.

      So you only lose one April, May, half-June of in-game development by punting a pick.

      Plus Chris Sale.

      Boston could be picking in the top ten, which could give them a shot at a star level talent. Maybe even two then some extra cash to spread throughout a (theoretically) longer draft.

      I’m frankly a little surprised it was just one team that maybe punted and even more surprised people seem to think it was some amoral behavior to do so. Whole damn system is amoral. If they don’t sign Yorke, they’ll enjoy an advantage no other team has in 2021. Wouldn’t be the first time Bloom was in a front office that played these angles. The Rays basically broke the compensation system along with the Red Sox by trading for FA to be and then letting them walk to fed the comp picks. I realize this a little different, but not very. I actually think it’s kinda fun they tried it. Probably should’ve just taken Pete Crow-Armstrong or Garrett Mitchell, but we’ll see.

      • The Itch

        The Itch says:

        Btw I really like how you said that—maximal strategy—bc I think and hope that’s what this is.

        I’ll be weirdly disappointed if it’s just a unique eval on a high school second baseman with shoulder problems.

      • Jolt In Flow says:

        Very good! Thanks for the detailed response. That helped with some key points in understanding.

        And as a basic strategy, I agree with you; I’s have tried to obtain more picks in next year’s draft as well. It doesn’t take a devious mind to figure out that due to significantly less players being taken in the draft this year, next year will significantly increase in the number of potential stars/studs available.

        To tell you the truth, I would have punted as a GM this year as well. I’d take my chances next year.

        Thanks Itch.
        PS. No problems on the coffee. I’m always looking/trying new ones. The least I can do is let others know about the good products when I come across them.

  3. Member Berries says:

    Appreciate the content.
    Based on previous posts. Seems like my Dodgers did pretty pretty good, yes?
    Quick breakdown on their picks would be fun.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:

      Thanks, Member Berries!

      Yes they did.

      One report suggested they got all three guys they were considering at 29.

      Their second pick (60 overall) Landon Knack struck out 51 guys and walked 1 in 2020. While bumping his velocity up to the mid 90s and topping at 98. Sounds like a Dodger.

      Third pick—66 overall comp rd 2–Clayton Beeter fell way further than I thought he would. Visibly filthy stuff.

      They were making it look easy. CF Jake Vogel at pick 100 is going to be a major target for me in dynasty leagues. Elite speed working with these coaches. Sounds like they have a clear plan for his bat path.

  4. Homer's got the runs says:

    As a Jays fan, what are the chances Austin Martin gets some Time in the majors this year. It would seem to hinder development to have him not play as their will be no minor leagues.

    • The Itch

      The Itch says:

      If they start hot enough and like what they’re seeing on the taxi fields, I think there’s a chance. I wonder if they’ll move him to center right away with this in mind.

      Gonna be a lot of interesting choices. Does Nate Pearson open in the rotation? Maybe the bullpen?

      Would they let him throw taxi scrimmages? Stay in moth balls?

      • Jolt In Flow says:

        I’m down with that possibility; got to move Martin to center.

        Solves a problem in their outfield and keeps the infield what it is.

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