The Tampa Bay Rays had a solid draft last week in what was an unusual situation. Thanks to the circumstances, several players that normally would have been selected were left hanging.
Tampa Bay Rays Draft: Under typical circumstances, there would have been over 1,200 amateur players selected in the 2020 MLB Draft. However, thanks to a pandemic inspired slashing of expenditures, the league reduced this year’s draft to just five rounds.
Instead of over 1,200 players finding a major-league affiliated home, only 160 got the call. That means there are some highly qualified players of baseball that are now free agents.
To make things difficult, teams are only allowed to pay $20,000 per each player in signing bonuses.
Last season, the signing bonus allotment called for players to receive between $301,600 to $237,000.
These players are left with difficult decisions. High school players may go ahead and play in the college, but if they go that route then they won’t be eligible for the draft until they either play three seasons in college or turn 21, whichever comes first.
College seniors have also been granted another year of eligibility. If the top college seniors feel like $20k going to short themselves, they can go back to school another year and potentially raise their stock.
We are likely to see increased enrollment at junior colleges, where no such limitations exist.
Tampa Bay Rays – Best of the Undrafted Players
A lot of really good players were left teamless after Thursday. A whopping 75 of MLB.com’s top 200 players went undrafted.
We are unlikely to see a lot of high school signings in the coming days, teams didn’t get a chance to really scout them and the players may feel they have a lot to lose by settling for $20,000.
The likely candidates are the proven commodities that are near or at the end of their collegiate careers. Here are the top players not taken in the 2020 Draft:
- RHP-Carson Montgomery, Windermere HS (FL) – MLB.com’s 34th-best prospect heading into the draft. Demanded a high asking price in order to skip out on his commitment to FSU.
- SS-Cade Horton, Norman HS (OK) – MLB.com’s 47th-ranked player prior to the draft. The 2020 Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year in Oklahoma and two-sport star intends to follow in the footsteps of Kyler Murray and head to the University of Oklahoma.
- C-Kevin Parada, Loyola HS (CA) – MLB.com’s 48th-ranked player is committed to Georgia Tech.
- LHP-Seth Lonsway, Ohio State (OH) – MLB.com’s 50th-ranked player prior to the draft and the seventh-best left-handed pitching prospect in the draft. Lonsway was selected in the 19th-round of last year’s draft by the Reds. Discussed as a first or second-round talent and didn’t get drafted in 2020. He would have been expecting a lot more than the $20k teams are going to be able to offer him.
- RHP-Tanner Witt, Episcopal HS (TX) – MLB.com’s 53rd-ranked players prior to the draft. The 6-6 righty is committed to pitch for the University of Texas in 2021.
- RHP-Cam Brown, Flower Mound HS (TX) – The 61st rated player prior to the draft is committed to TCU.
- SS-Drew Bowser, Harvard-Westlake HS (CA) – 64th-rated player prior to the draft. Bowser is committed to Stanford.
- C-Corey Collins, North Gwinnett HS (GA) – The 65th-rated player prior to the draft. This left-handed hitting backstop is verbally committed to the University of Georgia.
- 3B-Nolan McLean, Garner Sr HS (NC) – The 66th-rated player prior to the draft is committed to Oklahoma State University.
- C-Daniel Susac, Jesuit HS (CA) – The 67th-ranked player prior to the draft is committed to Oregon State University.
It was certainly an interesting draft. It’s not a wise business decision for a highly-rated player to take the $20k offer. They could be leaving hundreds of thousands on the table. If they return to school for the 2021 season and improve their stock, it could be millions they would have left on the table.