In separate interviews with “MASN All Access” yesterday, Ben McDonald and I offered similar thoughts. The junior college ranks could really benefit in the 2021 season from this year’s five-round MLB draft.
The draft next month could be very college-heavy. Teams may not take chances on high school players they hardly saw play or didn’t see play at all during abbreviated senior seasons this year. Players not drafted could sign for $20,000, but most players who are, in my opinion, in line to get much more and might have been drafted between rounds six and 10 this time will just wait a year for that.
The 2021 draft will be at least 20 rounds. That has already been decided. It may not be 40, but it will be at least 20 rounds. A current high school player who goes to a four-year school such as UCLA or Alabama will not be eligible to be drafted again until after his junior season. (There will be some players who become draft-eligible sophomores).
But rather than wait three years, a high school player can go to a junior college program and go back into next year’s draft. He can play in 2021 in the JuCo ranks, get needed innings and/or at-bats, be seen by scouts and then be drafted just a year later than he had hoped or thought. So we could see some real strong JuCo ball next year.
What about later in the draft?: With the draft being just five rounds this year, many are wondering about the talent teams have added from the sixth round on in previous years.
I went back 20 years for the Orioles, since 2000 and they’ve had a few good picks, but haven’t added a ton of talent after the first five rounds. Here are a few notable names:
2005: David Hernández (round 16)
2008: Caleb Joseph (round 7), Oliver Drake (round 43)
2011: Tyler Wilson (round 10), Zach Davies (round 26)
2012: Josh Hader (round 19)
2013: Trey Mancini (round 8), Austin Wynns (round 10), Mike Yastrzemski (round 14), Donnie Hart (round 27)
2014: Stevie Wilkerson (round 8), John Means (round 11)
2015: Cedric Mullins (round 13)
Big Ben’s take: In his coverage of college baseball in the Southeast Conference, McDonald saw several of the top players that are among those the Orioles are considering for their No. 2 pick next month.
“The great news for the Orioles is picking second behind the Detroit Tigers, they are in a can’t-miss situation, in my opinion,” McDonald said. “There are some really stout players right at the top. Spencer Torkelson of Arizona State, who I saw in a regional last year, could very well be the No. 1 pick.
“For me, for the Orioles, they just have to decide, do they want to go with a pitcher or a position player? Austin Martin (of Vanderbilt) is probably the best overall position player. He can play third base, second base. Some pro scouts translate his ability to the outfield because he can really run, too. He has got a big motor, he can go. But he’s got a slow heartbeat, too, when it really matters the most. He performed well at the College World Series last year. This might be who the Orioles end up with, Austin Martin.
“But if the Orioles want to go pitching, Asa Lacy of Texas A&M is a big left-hander, 6-4, 225, up to 97 (mph) from the left side. He is a stud. Now he’s not quite as polished as an Emerson Hancock, who is over at Georgia. He could very well be a top-five pick and is an outstanding prospect, too. But Asa Lacy, to me, has real swing-and-miss stuff and is going to pitch a long time in the big leagues.”
Callis speaks: Jim Callis of MLBPipeline.com published a mock draft recently and he had Torkelson going No. 1 to Detroit and Martin at No. 2 to the Orioles.
During this “Inbox” article, an O’s fan asked Callis if he would do a two- or three-round mock draft. While he doesn’t do that, he did project players that could be taken between No. 30 and No. 39, and the Orioles just happen to have those exact two picks, 30 and 39.
Here is who he listed for those picks, along with their current ranking in MLBPipeline.com’s top 200 draft prospects. These are players Callis did not list in his first-round mock draft of 29 selections.
* Nick Bitsko, RHP, Central Bucks East High School, Doylestown, Pa. (No. 14)
* Bryce Jarvis, RHP, Duke (No. 25)
* Chris McMahon, RHP, Miami (No. 29)
* Casey Martin, SS, Arkansas (No. 30)
* Jordan Walker, 3B, Decatur (Ga.) High School (No. 33)
* Jordan Westburg, SS, Mississippi State (No. 37)
* C.J. Van Eyk, RHP, Florida State (No. 39)
* Aaron Sabato, 1B, North Carolina (No. 41)
* Dax Fulton, LHP, Mustang (Okla.) High School (No. 43)
* Jared Shuster, LHP, Wake Forest (No. 78)