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Everything you need to know about the draft

A primer on the event that starts tonight.

2019 Major League Baseball Draft Photo by Mary DeCicco/MLB via Getty Images

While we wait to see whether or not baseball comes back for 2020, and if it does what form it will take, we have an actual, real-life baseball event starting tonight with the draft. With the start now just hours away, let’s run through all you need to know before things get started.

When is it?

Typically a three-day affair, this year’s draft is going to take place over two days. Things start tonight, Wednesday, at 7:00 PM ET with the first round. Rounds two through five will take place on Thursday starting at 5:00 PM ET.

How can we watch?

The draft is going to be televised in two places this year, airing live on both ESPN and MLB Network. You can also stream it using the ESPN app.

What’s the deal this year?

This is a very different draft than usual, as alluded to above. This year’s draft is only five rounds compared to the normal 40. Additionally, players’ signing bonuses are going to be spread out over the next three years, with a maximum of $100,000 being paid out this year and then the rest being paid out over the following two summers.

Is that going to affect the pool of players in the draft?

There isn’t really an official process of declaring for the draft, so we aren’t yet sure exactly what the impact this change will have on the pool of players. That being said, we have seen some players come out and say they are taking themselves out of consideration including potential first rounder Dylan Crews. Of course, high school players make their desire to go to college known every year, so we can’t exactly pin this on the bonus pools.

When do the Red Sox pick?

Boston had only four picks this year with their second round selection being stripped due to their sign-stealing scheme in 2018. Their selections are: 17th overall, 89th, 119th, and 149th.

How much do they have to spend?

The Red Sox have a total draft pool of $5,129,900, which is the fifth-lowest pool of all teams. The slot value of their first round pick is $3,609,700.

Who picks first?

The Tigers have the first overall pick this year. This is the second time in the last three years they’ve had this selection, having taken Casey Mize number one in 2018.

Who are the top players?

The Red Sox are not in position to draft the top players in this draft, but there is still a top tier and it’s always interesting to know the top prospects. This year the number one pick is likely to be Spencer Torkelson, a first baseman with a huge bat from Arizona State. The consensus top three is rounded out with Vanderbilt outfielder Austin Martin and Texas A&M left-handed pitcher Asa Lacey.

Who is in play for the Red Sox?

Last week I ran previews of all the position groups for players who could be in play at number 17: Catchers/Infielders, Outfielders, Right-handed pitchers, Left-handed pitchers.

As for specific players, the four players that seem to be most connected to Boston as of this writing (Tuesday night) are Pete Crow-Armstrong (OF, Harvard-Westlake HS (CA)), Mick Abel (RHP, Jesuit HS (OR)), Garrett Mitchell (OF, UCLA) and Garrett Crochet (LHP, University of Tennessee). If I were to bet on anyone, I think Crow-Armstrong seems the most likely.

Which hometown prospects?

The following players made the top 500 on Baseball America and go to school in New England states:

  • Jake Deleo; OF/C; Avon Old Farms HS; Avon, CT; Committed to Georgia Tech; 267 on BA 500
  • Jake Berger; SS; Buckingham Browne & Nichols HS; Cambridge, MA; Committed to Harvard, 304 on BA top 500
  • Buddy Hayward; RHP; Harvard University; 346 on BA top 500
  • Tyler Mattison; RHP; Bryant University; 369 on BA top 500
  • Adrian Siravo; RHP; Concord HS; Concord, NH; Committed to UConn; 376 on BA top 500
  • Trey McLoughlin; RHP; Fairfield University; 377 on BA top 500
  • Nicholas Dombkowski; LHP; Hartford University; 405 on BA top 500

Anything else?

There are two storylines to watch here. The first is that this is Chaim Bloom’s first draft in charge of the Red Sox’s front office. That is a storyline I suspect will be overblown. He’s certainly not totally cut off from the draft process, but drafts are mostly influenced by the scouting department led this year by Paul Toboni, the Director of Amateur Scouting. After the first round, the input from people in positions like Bloom’s is traditionally minimal. Of course, this is far from a traditional draft, so perhaps things are different this year.

What I’m most interested in is actually what happens after the draft. Undrafted players are limited to a $20,000 signing bonus, so the thought is that teams will be able to lean on things like their prestige and development staffs to boost their class after the draft. I’m fascinated by this entire process, including how many players actually sign and how quickly it happens. You could basically tell me anything at this point and I would think it’s a reasonable guess.