With the MLB draft now a week and a half away, several things about the oddest lottery in baseball history are becoming clear. The draft will be college heavy, primarily because no “pop up” high school players have had a chance to race up draft boards thanks to their play this spring. And even though a large chunk of signing bonuses will be deferred, rumours are strong that teams may go underslot in the first round in order to load up in the second.
A group of three players – Spencer Torkelson, Austin Martin, and Asa Lacy – have separated themselves from the pack, with the slugging Tork likely to become the first 1st Baseman selected with the top pick in MLB history.
The Blue Jays will be selecting 5th overall, their highest pick in over 20 years. Several names have long been associated with that pick, the two most prominent being Georgia RHP Emerson Hancock and New Mexico St SS Nick Gonzales. Of late, Florida HS Zac Veen and Minnesota RHP Max Meyer have been projected by some mocks to land with the Blue Jays. Louisville southpaw Reid Detmers has also been mentioned in some circles.
Meyer is the newest name in the mix, and there is no clear consensus on the undersized power arm. To some, Meyer’s good start to the abbreviated college season proved his ability to stick in a rotation, while others are concerned that he didn’t pitch in 2019. Eric Longenhagen terms Meyer’s stuff similar to Nate Pearson and Alek Manoah’s, but feels he carries considerable relief risk, and he could move quickly through the Blue Jays system, but in a bullpen role.
Who would we like to see the Blue Jays select? That’s a tough one. Veen is a tantalizing prospect – likely the first high schooler to be selected – and the Blue Jays do not have a load of OF prospects, but drafting for a need like that doesn’t make a lot of sense, and there’s considerable risk to go along with Veen’s considerable upside. Gonzales will hit, without question, but his ultimate position is unclear. Hancock checks a lot of boxes, as does Detmers, but the feeling we get from the industry is that there are question marks with both. Chances are whover they pick will become a top 10 Blue Jays prospect, though – this is the best chance the franchise has had to add an impact player in some time.
Another thing is becoming clear as the draft approaches: the 2021 draft may be one of the most complicated affairs in league history. With the summer showcase circuit in considerable jeopardy, teams will be struggling to compile enough information about next year’s draft crop. Many scouts are privately wondering what the future will hold for them after this year’s draft is over, and there may be a considerable shake up in that side of the industry over the next season. Complicating matters is that next year will probably see a sizeable juco class eligible for the draft, as more undrafted players return to college for a senior season, reducing the already limited amount of scholarship money available. The teams that retain the bulk of their scouting staffs will likely be the ones that fare the best in this uncertain baseball climate.