LOS ANGELES -- Along with everything else, the coronavirus pandemic has dramatically changed the way MLB teams prepare for the 2020 Draft, which begins on June 10.
Because the Draft has been reduced from 40 rounds to five, and this year’s class shaped up as deep and talented, Dodgers vice president of amateur scouting Billy Gasparino said there could be a spillover effect to next year.
“This is the deepest Draft in the last five years, especially in the first round,” Gasparino said on Friday. “The college pitchers and high school hitters are really strong -- those stand out more than others. That makes it a little more disappointing for us, because it’s going to push a lot of [high school] talent to college baseball, but it should make next year really deep.”
The first round will be on June 10 and the final four rounds will be on June 11. The Dodgers select No. 29 in the first round (with an assigned bonus value of $2,424,600 for the pick). MLB Pipeline, in its latest mock Draft, has the Dodgers selecting Baylor shortstop Nick Loftin.
They pick 60th overall in the second round (with an assigned bonus value of $1,157,400) and have the 66th overall pick in the competitive balance round (with an assigned bonus value of $1,003,300) acquired from the Twins in the Kenta Maeda/Brusdar Graterol trade. The Dodgers’ total bonus pool is $5,928,400.
Under this year’s rules, undrafted players can be signed for a maximum bonus of $20,000, which Gasparino speculates will reroute most undrafted high school seniors to college.
He said teams can talk to players electronically, but not work them out. There were no high school games this year and only a handful of college games before sports were shut down nationally. Players, however, can submit to MLB video of hitting or throwing sessions that will be distributed to all 30 clubs.
“It does help from a peace-of-mind standpoint,” Gasparino said of the videos. “Look, he’s got 10 fingers and two feet. He can throw. At least he looks healthy, maybe he got stronger or made a mechanical change.”
Gasparino said scouting has already become a 365-days-a-year process, so it’s not like the clubs don’t already have a decent line on most of the 160 top prospects on his board.
"Although you could argue that the last 2 1/2 months are the most important," said Gasparino. "But there’s a strong foundation.”
He said much of this year’s analysis has been done by video conferencing with groups of scouts for three to four hours a day, which hasn’t been all bad.
“There is an extra personal touch that allows guys to further their skills of evaluation through data,” he said. “That part’s been really good for us. It’s been a positive.”
Because the first three rounds are “protected” -- providing compensation picks next year for unsigned players this year -- Gasparino said, “My best guess is that the fourth and fifth rounds will be free-for-alls, with college players jockeying to be taken.”