The college baseball season is just getting underway for some teams this week. High school baseball hasn’t started yet for anyone (I don’t think), and for some teams in colder climates it’s not going to actually start for another two months. But none of that matters to everyone talking about, preparing, and looking forward to the Major League Baseball draft, which won’t take place for another four months.
Fangraphs new lead prospect writer Eric Longenhagen (Kiley McDaniel is now the lead guy over at ESPN) began “Prospect Week” by updating the draft rankings for the next THREE years draft classes. Today we’re only going to be worrying about the 2020 Major League Baseball draft because it’s the one that we know the most about when it comes to where the Cincinnati Reds are selecting and what they can spend. But we’ll get back to that in a minute. Let’s jump back to the Fangraphs article. Here’s one of the main takeaways from the early part of the article in reference to this year’s draft:
The prevailing industry opinion is that the 2020 draft is deep, and while I don’t think that’s true of the very top tier of players at this moment, I agree that the totality of the group is very strong. The tier of talent that often wears thin toward the back of the first round (typically the intersection of the 45 FV and 40+ FV tiers here at FanGraphs) is more robust than usual, and stretches well into the second round of this year’s draft.
As with every draft, things can change – and almost certainly do – from the start of baseball up through the day of the draft. Some players will drop, some will rise, some will be injured, and some of them will do everything that was expected of them. It’s just the nature of the beast, so to speak. But working with the idea that Longenhagen suggests, that the draft is very deep outside of the very top, could work in favor of teams with a lot of picks in the first few rounds.
Enter the Cincinnati Reds. They draft 12th, 48th, 66th, and 86th in 2020 over the first three rounds. The very top of the draft doesn’t have that great depth, but the Reds are drafting outside of the Top 10. But they do draft in that prime area where the depth is at, and with an extra compensatory pick, things could play out quite well for Cincinnati if there’s some truth to the depth in this upcoming class.
We don’t know exactly what the draft slot values will be just yet – they’ll come out in about eight weeks – but we can look at what they were last season for the same spots and have a pretty good idea. The pool went up in 2019 by 3.9% from the previous year. We’ll work with that number as an increase for 2020 over 2019, too.
|Pick||2019 Value||Adjusted 2020 Value|
This isn’t exactly all that far from what the Reds had to work with in 2019. Last year they selected 7th, which is where the biggest difference comes from, then 49th, and 85th. They were missing out on that compensation pick, as they traded it to the New York Yankees in the deal for Sonny Gray. Over the course of the first three rounds the Reds had $7,650,700 in pool money. In the upcoming draft, assuming a similar 3.9% increase to each slot, then they will have $7,909,907 in 2020. Of course that also comes with one additional pick.
What we’ve seen most teams do since the slot values came into play is spend a large majority of their pool in the first four or five rounds, and then draft college seniors in the 6th-10th rounds and sign them for very low bonuses. The concept sucks, but it’s how teams make the money work in their favor. With four picks in the first three rounds of a deep draft, the Reds could wind up with a strong haul if things fall their way and they can make the money work. That’s how things played out in 2019 as they landed Nick Lodolo, Rece Hinds, and Tyler Callihan in the first three rounds – signing the latter two to bonuses well above their slot values.