The crew at Baseball America has released their updated 2020 Major League Baseball Draft rankings, now featuring 300 players. The list is only available to subscribers, so you’re going to need a subscription for access to the list. With that said, there’s been some movement since the last update. There wasn’t a ton of baseball played before the NCAA shut the season down, but there was some. And in that time it gave scouts some opportunity to get an early look at the 2020 class.

At the top of the class is Vanderbilt outfielder Austin Martin. He jumped up from #3 on the previous update. In the first two seasons at Vanderbilt he played on the infield – but this year he’s transitioned to center field. The bat has been explosive for the recently turned 21-year-old. As a freshman he hit .338/.452/.414. The power wasn’t there, but everything else was.

Last season he upped his game in a big way. He hit .392/.486/.604 in 65 games. Martin walked more often than he struck out (40 walks, 34 strikeouts), and he also stole 18 bases. He started out the 2020 campaign even better. He only played in 16 games, but when the season ended he was hitting .377/.507/.660, had 10 walks, and he had struck out just two times.

The production is clearly there. And it’s not like he’s been playing against Grandma’s Knitting College in the Quilt Appreciation League, either. Martin has been playing in the SEC for his career. But it’s more than just the production, too. He’s got tools and plenty of them. He’s got a plus to plus-plus hit tool and couples it with plus speed. The power is a tick above-average raw, but could play well due to his outstanding plate discipline and hit-tools that lead to contact on hitters pitches.

It would have been interesting to see just how good he could have been this year once SEC play got going. But, let’s talk more about the draft. Is it even going to happen? We wrote about that a week ago when news came out that the powers that be were considering cancelling the 2020 draft in an effort to save money that would be lost in a shortened season. Carlos Collazo, who covers the draft for Baseball America held a chat on Wednesday and had this to say about what he’s been hearing:

Carlos Collazo: We’ve heard all sorts of things regarding the draft. The AP report that talked about rumblings of no draft talk spooked a lot of people. I think it is/was legitimately being concerned, but I also think everything under the sun is on the table. That said, pretty much everyone I’ve talked with has said they think it would be farfetched for the draft not to happen. The fact that the NFL and NBA are both still having their drafts I think are good signs here.

There could be some significant changes to the draft though. If owners are concerned about spending money, maybe the pools are adjusted. The simplest solution would probably be to either shorten the draft or defer bonuses and draft as scheduled. As I’ve written about recently, you get into a logistical nightmare when you start talking about postponing the draft or combining this year’s class with next years. Though I have talked with scouts who like both of those ideas.

There, of course, is some interesting stuff in that response. First, it seems that the non-check writers seem to be feeling good about the draft happening. But the statement about the significant changes lead to a lot of questions, too. What exactly would adjusting the pools mean? Does that mean fewer rounds, or does that mean the players in the 2020 draft just are forced to sign for less money because they happened to be draft eligible this year instead of last year (or maybe next year)? What would a deferred bonus situation look like? Players get 50% now, then 10% in each of the next five years?

It’s an interesting situation with regards to baseball right now. Compared to what’s going on all around us that’s led to this situation – well, it’s not really that important. But seeing as this website only exists because of baseball, it’s what we’re going to be talking about here. As someone who is always fighting for the players to be paid better, and paid what they are worth – the idea that pools could be smaller or bonuses deferred doesn’t quite sit well. That said, I can certainly understand that, right or wrong, it could be the option that makes the most sense given all that is happening. I’d prefer deferred bonuses over just saying “sorry 2020 class….. you just get less money because circumstances”.

4 Responses

  1. James K

    If no draft this year, and no change in the rules, does EVERYONE who was draft eligible become an undrafted free agent?

    • Doug Gray

      No idea….. but with what just came out (writing about it here in about 5 minutes), I’d almost prefer they just skip the draft.

      • AirborneJayJay

        Yes reducing the draft to 5 or maybe 20 rounds is extremely foolish. Pushing it back to July may be necessary.
        MLB is in a good spot draftwise since they have the NFL draft to use as an example and a map in this unprecedented time.
        I agree with Doug, if this is the best MLB can come up with, skip it entirely in 2020.

  2. AirborneJayJay

    Sorry, meant to say 5 to 10 rounds, not 20.