Whether or not there is baseball at all this year is still very much up in the air, but one thing we do know is that there will be some sort of draft. However, it is not going to be anything like what we’ve gotten used to in the past. As part of an agreement between players and the league, they have decided on a very condensed draft that, frankly, screws the amateur players who would come out this year. The details aren’t totally set yet, but it will only be five to ten rounds and signing bonuses will be deferred, with ten percent coming up front, 45 percent coming in 2021 and the remaining 45 percent in 2022. Additionally, undrafted players will not be able to sign for more than $20,000. With all of that in mind, our FanPulse surveys this week were about some of the decisions prospects will have to make this summer.
Do you enter?
We start out with the obvious starting point: Do you leave school this year despite these rule changes? If we’re being honest, there’s no one-size-fits all answer here. Every prospect is in a different position for a lot of different factors, including things ranging from their own socioeconomic status to their position. If a player’s family is in more need of money, they will take the short-term payout even if they could make more later. If you’re a high school pitcher, you are more likely to be pushed too hard by a college coach than a professional one simply because there are different motivations. I think generally speaking I’d be less likely to enter unless I knew I was going to be a top selection, but there are scenarios where that changes.
Impact of extra year of eligibility
I’m not sure how the answer could possibly be no to this. This changes the calculus immensely for juniors who could have potentially been on the fence about going pro. Without the extra year, their choice would be entering a depressed draft or going back to school and re-entering the draft as a senior with no leverage. There’s a reason juniors almost always get higher signing bonuses, and being able to hold that leverage next year makes it a lot easier to forgo the draft this year.
Change the rules for high schoolers?
If I understand how this process works, it’s not entirely up to MLB as the NCAA gets a seat at this table as well. MLB might have the final say, but I believe NCAA gets their two cents in at least. Either way, to the question of “should,” the answer is yes because the answer has always been yes. MLB’s system is better than the NBA’s or NFL’s where you have to go to college, but the restriction is still dumb. Kids should always be able to enter the draft whenever they want.
Will this affect high schoolers?
Again, I have no idea how anyone could possibly vote no on this. There are a ton of high schoolers who usually get picked in the later rounds and sign for bigger bonuses. This is no longer an option. Of course this affects that decision.
And, just to wrap all of this up, these changes are why I’m not quite as convinced as some others that losing a second round pick this year is all that bad for the Red Sox. It is a greater percentage of their normal prospect haul in a draft, but they’ll be able to fight for the undrafted players just like everyone else and the talent that is going to be realistically available in round two is not going to be what we’re used to.