This year’s MLB draft will only be five rounds, and a lot of good players are going to go undrafted. For the Blue Jays, it’s good it hasn’t always been this way.
As the world continues to adjust on the fly to the Covid-19 pandemic, Major League Baseball has tried to come up with solutions to keep business going, at least in certain areas.
Which takes us to this year’s MLB draft, and with a new agreement between the owners and the player’s association, this year’s draft will be just five rounds compared to the usual 40 rounds in other years. While it’s understandable that there have to be adjustments in a year that we don’t even have baseball to watch, the trickle-down effects are going to be huge for a lot of talented young athletes.
I talked about this with former Blue Jay Homer Bush last week in reference to his son, Homer Bush Jr. The former big leaguer told us that his son is committed to Grand Canyon University for the time being, and waiting to see what happens with the MLB draft. If I’m going to make a prediction, I’d be surprised to see the younger Bush’s name called in just a five round draft, however, he almost certainly would have been drafted in a traditional year.
This got me thinking about the current Blue Jays roster, and how many players were picked outside of the first five rounds. It’s entirely possible that they could have signed with the Blue Jays after the draft, or even agreed after some time spent in college, but how many players would have had a drastically different minor league experience?
- Danny Jansen (16th round pick by the Blue Jays in 2013)
- Travis Shaw (9th round pick by the Red Sox in 2011)
- Brandon Drury (13th round pick by the Braves in 2010)
- Rowdy Tellez (30th round pick by the Blue Jays in 2013)
- Jonathan Davis (15th round pick by the Blue Jays in 2013)
- Chase Anderson (9th round pick by Arizona in 2009)
- Ryan Borucki (15th round pick by the Blue Jays in 2012)
- Ken Giles (7th round pick by the Phillies in 2011)
- Tanner Roark (25th round pick by the Rangers in 2008)
- Jordan Romano (10th round pick by the Blue Jays in 2014)
The rest of the current 40-man roster was either selected among the first five rounds in their draft year, signed as an international free agent (Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Hyun-Jin Ryu, etc), or in one case in Matt Shoemaker, went un-drafted altogether. Shoemaker’s story is a fairly uncommon one though, as your career prospects usually aren’t that great if you can’t get drafted in 40 rounds.
For the guys on the list above, had there only been five rounds when they were draft eligible, they would have had to go through a much different route to get to the big leagues, if they had been able to at all. As I said before, there are going to be plenty of players who sign contracts that aren’t drafted in 2020, but plenty more are going to head to college for a year (whenever that season can get underway as well), and basically have their baseball careers put on hold for a year. That’s not going to make things any easier with another crop of talented kids becoming draft eligible next year.
It’s going to be a strange year for just about everyone, but the young men who were waiting for this year’s MLB draft, I hope luck works on their side with the circumstances they’re now presented with. Baseball has always been a sport where first round picks were no guarantee, and there were always stories of players who were drafted later working their way up. Here’s hoping these young men facing adversity in their careers can churn out a bunch of great stories from the year they missed out on the draft.