2020 Amateur Draft
The 2020 First Year Player Draft was the fifty-sixth Major League Baseball Amateur Draft. It was originally scheduled to be held in Omaha, Nebraska from June 10th to June 12th, right before the 2020 College World Series was to begin there, but those plans changed. The starting date was retained, but the format was changed, and the draft was held virtually.
The Houston Astros were originally supposed to have pick #30 (the final one in the first round proper) but were forced to surrender it, as well as their second-round pick, as punishment for a sign-stealing scheme implemented during the 2017 season. The Boston Red Sox also lost a pick because of their participation in a similar scheme in 2018, albeit a more limited one; in their case, the punishment was the loss of their second-round selection.
The coronavirus pandemic played havoc with plans for the draft, as holding it as scheduled would mean that major league teams would be liable for paying some $400 million in signing bonuses at a time when there were no revenues. With the college and high school seasons wiped out, scouting departments would have been unable to prepare properly for the massive exercise as well. On March 26th, an agreement was reached between owners and the Players Association on various financial issues stemming from the season's delayed opening. MLB now had the right to reduce that year's draft to five rounds instead of the usual forty, and to twenty rounds in 2021. In addition, signing bonuses for those still signing as undrafted free agents would be capped at $20,000. Concern was expressed that these new rules would be particularly hard on minority players and those from underprivileged backgrounds, as the rules made it impossible for players outside of big programs - high school or college - to get noticed.
With no amateur baseball being played anywhere, there was no chance for players to improve their draft position or for dark horses to emerge. As a result, a consensus was reached quickly around the top pick, 1B Spencer Torkelson of Arizona State University, who had already established his value in previous years, and number 2 prospect Austin Martin of Vanderbilt University (who lasted until the 5th pick, in a bit of a surprise). Other college players dominated the expected top picks, as high schoolers were at a distinct disadvantage in getting noticed and properly evaluated. And in fact, the 2020 draft set a mark for the latest a high schooler was taken, lasting all the way to the #8 pick, Robert Hassell going to the San Diego Padres.
Competitive Balance Round A
|30||Baltimore Orioles||Jordan Westburg||SS||Mississippi State University (Col.)||New Braunfels, TX|
|31||Pittsburgh Pirates||Carmen Mlodzinski||P||University of South Carolina (Col.)||Hilton Head, SC|
|32||Kansas City Royals||Nick Loftin||SS||Baylor University (Col.)||Corpus Christi, TX|
|33||Arizona Diamondbacks||Slade Cecconi||P||University of Miami (Col.)||Oviedo, FL|
|34||San Diego Padres||Justin Lange||P||Llano High School (H.S.)||Llano, TX|
|35||Colorado Rockies||Drew Romo||C||The Woodlands High School (H.S.)||The Woodlands, TX|
|36||Cleveland Indians||Tanner Burns||P||Auburn University (Col.)||Decatur, AL|
|37||Tampa Bay Rays||Alika Williams||SS||Arizona State University (Col.)||San Diego, CA||Obtained from Cardinals as part of trade for Jose Martinez|
Other Sports Selections
Only three players drafted were from outside the United States, and all three were Canadians. Not a single player from Puerto Rico was drafted, as international scouting departments were particularly hard hit by the pandemic.
The first player from the draft to appear in the majors was #11 pick Garrett Crochet, whose first professional pitching appearance came with the Chicago White Sox on September 18th. His appearance also came before any player from the 2019 amateur draft had played in a major league game.
- Associated Press: "MLB considering skipping amateur draft, with service time a big issue during talks", USA Today, March 18, 2020. 
- Jason Beck: "Torkelson or Martin? Tigers' GM won't tip hand", mlb.com, June 10, 2020. 
- Jim Callis: "Who should be No. 1 Draft pick? Execs say ...", mlb.com, May 4, 2020. 
- Jim Callis: "New mock Draft: Picking all 29 first-rounders", mlb.com, May 27, 2020. 
- Jim Callis: "Who's No. 1? Tigers weighing options", mlb.com, May 31, 2020. 
- Jim Callis: "Draft Day 1: Pick-by-pick rundown, analysis", mlb.com, June 10, 2020. 
- Aria Gerson: "Five things we learned from MLB's shortened draft", USA Today, June 12, 2020. 
- Jonathan Mayo: "These are 2020's Top 100 Draft prospects", mlb.com, December 4, 2019. 
- Jonathan Mayo: "Mock Draft: All 29 first-round picks", mlb.com, April 27, 2020. 
- Jonathan Mayo: "MLB announces 2020 Draft schedule: First round begins June 10 at 7 ET; televised live on MLB Network, ESPN", mlb.com, May 29, 2020. 
- Bob Nightengale: "MLB draft's new limits could 'crush' baseball dreams — especially among minorities", USA Today, April 16, 2020. 
- Andrew Simon: "These 2020 Draft picks have familiar names: Cruz highlights Day 2 legacy picks", mlb.com, June 11, 2020.