Following an exciting and unpredictable day one of the 2020 MLB Draft in which 37 amateur players were selected, the intrigue of certain picks – not to mention the confounding decision of others – shan’t be overlooked.
Once Baltimore reached for Arkansas OF Heston Kjerstad with the second pick and Miami took draft darling Max Meyer with the third, the next four teams benefitted from a glut of guaranteed top talent remaining.
When the dust settled, San Diego took the first high schooler in Robert Hassell III at pick eight, marking the latest the first prep star had been taken in a draft; the previous record was the Dodgers selection of Clayton Kershaw seventh overall in 2006.
This meant Zac Veen, the best high school hitter in this class, was available for Colorado and they pounced. With a swing tailor-made for Coors Field and comparisons likening the 18-year-old to a young Larry Walker, this was one of the best pleasant surprises of the first round.
Patrick Bailey, a switch-hitting catcher that some had linked to the Rockies, went 13th to the San Francisco after recently selecting backstop Joey Bart just two years ago out of Georgia Tech with the second overall pick. The Giants take the prize for most confusing choice in day one.
Not far behind were the Boston Red Sox who stretched for high school infielder Nick Yorke, a player many had ranked in and around the 100th best amateur. Considering the BoSox forfeited a second round pick for illegally stealing signs, they simply won’t have another opportunity with so many tantalizing players available as they’ll have to wait until the 89th pick to make another selection.
Justin Foscue was the first true second baseman selected when Texas pulled him out of Mississippi State at the 14th pick. With potential to also play shortstop, the six-footer with a high baseball IQ and compared to the likes of Jeff Kent was earmarked to go behind teammate and fellow middle infielder Jordan Westburg (Orioles, 30th overall).
When St. Louis makes a selection, it almost guarantees to work out for them, thanks to their “Cardinals’ Way.” By plucking 6’5″, 220-pound Jordan Walker from the high school ranks, the club is betting on their ability to create the next Albert Pujols.
Simply put, all high school players fell in the first round and the trend will continue in day two.
With limited funds and only five rounds for teams to improve their farm system, it’s imperative all picks can be signed. Since prep players have the leverage of going to college, especially if the magic number for their signing bonus isn’t met, teams will be avoiding any player with signability concerns.
Jared Kelly of Refugio HS (TX) had been deemed by many as the best high school arm in the draft; however, he was not selected following the first 37 picks and may opt to attend school at the University of Texas.
In the end, when we look back in ten years, the best player in the draft may have been taken 20th overall by Milwaukee.
Garrett Mitchell, a 4.5-tool player who may never develop legitimate power, dropped on some teams’ depth chart due to having Type 1 Diabetes. When managed, the metabolic disorder can be a non-factor for an athlete, such as the case with Hall of Famers Ron Santo and Catfish Hunter, who also had T1D.