Avila: Tigers are prepared for MLB Draft 

March 30th, 2020

DETROIT -- Whatever form the MLB Draft takes, whenever it takes place, the Tigers say they’re ready.

With Detroit set to select first overall, the question has come up multiple times since Major League Baseball suspended Spring Training and delayed the start of the regular season in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I would say that we have a good history from last year to the present day as far as seeing players,” general manager Al Avila said earlier this month. “I know we already have a full list of all the guys that are pertinent to the Draft for us. Obviously, you’d like to see them play more, but I would say if the Draft were tomorrow, we’d be prepared, for sure. That has not worried us too much.”

That answer has stayed consistent.

According to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, MLB and the MLB Players Association finalized a deal last week that includes potential changes to the Draft. As part of the agreement, MLB has the right to move the 2020 Draft past its currently scheduled date of June 10, but no later than July 20. The Draft can also be reduced to a minimum of five rounds, though MLB can choose to have anywhere from five to 40 rounds. MLB will have the right to run a combine for amateur players in both 2020 and '21 if the league determines it makes sense to do so.

Drafted players will receive no more than $100,000 of their signing bonuses up front, receiving 50 percent of the remainder by July 1, 2021, and the other 50 percent by July 1, 2022. Undrafted players will be able to receive no more than $20,000 as a signing bonus.

Signing bonus values will remain at their 2019 level in both '20 and '21, according to terms of the new deal. MLB can also reduce the '21 Draft to as few as 20 rounds.

The Tigers had already done scouting work with multiple looks at Spencer Torkelson, the slugging Arizona State first baseman projected by many as the likely top pick. Detroit's amateur scouts had already started their work on other players as well before the Tigers, like other clubs, sent their scouts home for safety reasons.

“When you prepare for the Draft, you don't just start preparing and scouting in February,” Avila said. “It starts the year before, and in some cases even longer. After speaking to [assistant general manager] David Chadd and [director of amateur scouting] Scott Pleis, we have over 600 reports for this year's Draft already. We have video on every player. We have a system where I can push a button and the scouting report pops in there.”

That was one of the advantages of Caesar, the electronic database the Tigers have spent the past several years building out since Avila became GM in 2015 and hired Jay Sartori as senior director of baseball analytics, along with Jim Logue as the director.

“Caesar has a really advanced system where players are ranked on a daily basis, kind of an algorithm,” Avila continued. “We already have a list from 1 to the 100s, in preferential order. We could draft tomorrow. So we feel we're very prepared.”