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.
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.