Season is delayed, but what about the amateur draft?

The Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft is scheduled for June 10-12. The Orioles will hold the No. 2 overall pick for the first time. They’ve now picked No. 1 overall twice, but never have had the second pick.

The Detroit Tigers, who went 47-114 in 2019, have the No. 1 pick for the second time in three years. They selected Auburn right-hander Casey Mize 1/1 overall in 2018. The Orioles, who went 54-108, will select after Detroit.

elias-camp-sidebar.jpgBut with opening day on hold and the season canceled for Division I college baseball, what becomes of the draft? Will it get pushed back? Should MLB still hold it as planned?

Carlos Collazo is a national writer for Baseball America, with a focus on the draft. He wrote this article this week with his take that holding the draft in June as planned is the best play for MLB right now.

He explained some of his reasoning for that to me when I interviewed him on Tuesday.

“I don’t know at this point what they are going to do,” said Collazo. “I think I have a better sense of what is best to do after talking with a number of people involved in the draft. It just seems like all the benefits that come with keeping the draft as is outweigh the potential benefits of pushing the draft back.

“The primary reason you would delay it would be to give scouts more looks at these players. They’ve only had four weeks of college baseball. But that is probably wishful thinking, and most are operating under the assumption that they are going to have to draft without any more looks. The teams are prepared to draft right now. It’s not ideal and all picks will have more risks associated with them simply because you don’t have as much time as usual. But these teams have been scouting this pool of players going back to last summer, going back to previous years.

“So I think teams would be prepared to draft. They are all operating on an even playing field as far as information is concerned. If you have the draft on schedule, you don’t delay events that take place immediately after the draft. Scouts jump into next year’s draft class right away.”

In this update, Baseball America projected the top 200 players for the draft. The publication rates Arizona State first baseman Spencer Torkelson No. 1 among all draft prospects. Georgia right-handed pitcher Emerson Hancock is No. 2 with Vanderbilt infielder Austin Martin No. 3, followed by left-hander Asa Lacy of Texas A&M and second baseman Nick Gonzales of New Mexico State.

Collazo believes this group of five has separated itself from the pack and that any player here could be No. 1. The order is in the eye of the scout/beholder.

MLB has mandated that teams stop scouting. Even if there were a game to watch somewhere, an MLB-affiliated scout is not allowed to work the game.

So what does that mean for the Orioles and how are their scouts being used right now? Does this give the team more time to work on and tweak its analytical draft projections and models?

“I think a lot of teams are turning to video scouting internally,” Collazo told me. “I think you will see a lot of area scouts watching videos on areas they don’t have and putting in crosschecker reports on other players. Just so you can maybe refine the information that you currently have and get as many different opinions from your scouting staff.

“As far as (projection) models are concerned. I don’t know if they will be tweaked, but how reliant teams are on those models could change. Players that are maybe not the toolsiest players but have a long track record of performance, those players might be less valued now. Because they only have four weeks of performance this spring.

“Teams might have to tweak what they value and the statistics that they value. Maybe summer stats become more valuable from the Cape Cod League. But every team is thinking about how they will tweak their models.”

Collazo said he likes any of Martin, Torkelson or Lacy for the Orioles. He added there is no intel yet on what Detroit will do with the No. 1 selection.

When the O’s do make the No. 2 pick - whenever that happens - it will be the 12th top five overall pick in team history and fourth top three pick. They selected right-hander Ben McDonald No. 1 out of LSU in 1989, Adley Rutschman No. 1 out of Oregon State in 2019 and Manny Machado No. 3 out of a Miami-area high school in 2010.

Say what?: This story came out last night, and it reads that MLB could consider not having a draft or international signings this year. That seems pretty extreme.

Coming soon: We’ll discuss with Collazo the list of five players the Orioles could be focusing on right now for that No. 2 pick. We’ll also get his take on the Orioles holding four of the top 75 selections.

Happy Birthday!: The Orioles’ Trey Mancini celebrated birthday No. 28 on Wednesday. The Orioles sent him some nice greetings via Twitter.

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