2020 MLB Draft Picks Who Could Debut This Season

The MLB is just three games into the season and already getting alarming news, with two games cancelled last night due to a COVID outbreak in the clubhouse of the Miami Marlins, who saw 14 positive tests. Both the Marlins and the Phillies  – Miami’s opponent this past weekend – cancelled their Monday-night contests while awaiting more results. It was a definitive risk of playing with no bubble, and it only took one weekend for the virus to rear its ugly head. 

That being said, it’s far too early to call the season a bust. The outbreak, as far as we know, was contained to just one team, so let’s not announce it doomsday just yet. Rather, what more exciting way to talk about baseball than to look at some of the promising young talent on its way to the league. In the piece below, we’re taking a look at players selected in the recent MLB draft that could make an appearance in the show this season. This would be historic in that, due to no minor league season, any prospect to do this would be the first to make the college-majors jump without a pitstop in the minors since Mike Leake did so in 2009. Only a small handful of players have gone from the collegiate game to the major league game in the same season in that window, each of those athletes requiring a small showing in the minors. That being said, this is a weird season, and the shortened schedules seem like a perfect chance to try out the unexpected. So here are a handful of college athletes I think may ascend to the majors this season – because why wouldn’t 2020 get weirder? 

Miami Marlins – Max Meyer, RHP0

Even in this wacky 60-game sprint with expanded playoffs, the Marlins aren’t expected to really come close to a playoff berth in 2020. Coming off a 57-win season, they are a clear pick to finish last in the National League East. They don’t fit the bill of a team that would be rushing a prospect to the majors, but they did include Meyer in their 60-player pool. They’ll toss their third-overall selection into some intrasquad games and see what they have. If Miami is well out of contention entering the final 12-15 games (which is about what qualifies as the ‘stretch run’ this season), and Meyer has performed well in intrasquad action, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised to see the Marlins give their new star prospect a little taste of the majors in some low-pressure situations, likely with no fans. 

Max Meyer was added to the Marlins’ 60-player pool

Los Angeles Angels – Reid Detmers (LHP), Adam Seminaris (LHP) 

The Angels put two of their draft selections into their player pool, highlighted by first round selection Reid Detmers. Detmers was the second southpaw taken in the draft, and he’s considered the most polished pitcher in the draft. A quick jump to the majors was very possible regardless of the unusual circumstances. The Angels have only made the playoffs once since 2009 (in 2014) and they haven’t posted a winning record since 2015. But the Angels are not a normal rebuilding team. They have the best player in baseball in Mike Trout, a dynamic two-way player in Shohei Ohtani, and a bevy of solid pitchers and a loaded lineup that features free agent signee Anthony Rendon, and the legendary Albert Pujols. After bringing in the ingenious Joe Madden to manage this talented roster, the Angels look primed to breakthrough, particularly with an expanded playoff. 

Enter Detmers and Seminaris, who I like to potentially debut this summer for different reasons. Detmers is obvious enough – he’s a polished left-hander with a fastball that plays beyond its normal 90-94 range and two plus offspeed offerings. If Detmers shows maturity facing big league talent in intrasquad games, he might be an intriguing late-season call-up for the Angels. Madden may also look to include the Louisville product in his taxi squad at some point, allowing the potential rookie to add some pitching depth to the roster for road trips. 

Seminaris was one of my favorite selections of the draft in that he was considered a prototypical left-handed pitching prospect, according to the MLB.com’s scouting analysis. The same report also said Seminaris has a limited ceiling, but that almost makes him perfect for a 2020 promotion. Seminaris has already learned to be a pitcher – not just a thrower – and scouts rave over his high-IQ pitching while utilizing an impressive four-pitch arsenal. There are question marks as to whether he has much room to improve, so Madde may not even be sacrificing tons of development in exchange for adding a pitcher that could be a very nice asset in a playoff push. 

Los Angeles Dodgers – Bobby Miller (RHP), Landon Knack (RHP), Jake Vogel (OF)

The theme of straight pitching prospects is broken by outfielder Jake Vogel, which we’ll get to in a minute. First off, let’s address the sheer number of prospects here. If there’s any team that will do absolutely anything to win, it’s the Los Angeles Dodgers. Although they seemingly increased their window to win via their recent extension of Mookie Betts, Dave Roberts’ squad has been knocking on the door for far too long. They were the only unanimous pick to win their division by ESPN, and they are once again considered the National League favorites. So, if there seems to be a prospect from this draft class that looks ready to contribute at the major league level, expect the Dodgers to immediately call their number. They’ve put five of their selections in their player pool; It’s all-in in L.A. 

Miller was the Dodgers’ first round selection out of Louisville, and his stock trajectory has been trending nothing but up for a year now. After moving into the Cards’ weekend rotation in his sophomore season, Miller continuously impressed with a mid-to-high 90s fastball that he maintained into the later innings, to go with an array of offspeed offerings that included a changeup, split change, and slider/cutter hybrid. Some scouts think Miller may be an elite bullpen piece rather than a starter down the road, and the Dodgers may be inclined to try him in that role, at least in the short term, if his stuff is proving good enough to miss big league bats. 

Landon Knack is a curious case. Drafted a little earlier than expected by the Dodgers in the 2nd round, the fifth-year senior hadn’t been considered a big prospect by any stretch, but he came into his final collegiate season and put up astounding numbers. He went 4-0 in four starts with a 1.08 ERA and led D-1 baseball with 51 strikeouts and in strikeout-to-walk ratio, 51:1. After pitching in the high-80s, and low-90s for most of his career, but he bulked up and came back touching 98 this past spring. Already 23 years old, Knack has plenty of experience and his improvement has been remarkable. How sustainable that improvement is remains to be seen, but I would hardly be shocked to see the Dodgers try to capitalize on Knack, who may prove to be a 2nd-round gem. 

Finally, we come to the only non-pitcher on this list, and there’s one specific reason. Vogel is also the only high school prospect on the list, because there’s almost zero reason you would ask a high school player to make that jump. But Vogel may just be the fasted prospect in this draft class, and speed will play at any level. Need a guy that can come in and steal a base, or maybe score that winning run from second on a single? Vogel, who hails from baseball-hotspot Huntington Beach, may just be the guy they want.Speed doesn’t make a good baserunner by itself, but it sure helps, and if Vogel proves to have the maturity and IQ to do the job for the Dodgers, they might be watering at the prospect of adding an 18-year old who could change the momentum of a postseason game with a timely steal. Keep an eye out for Jake Vogel this summer.

Ranking The Power Conferences in Football, Basketball, Baseball

With Playoff berths and bowl games, March Madness appearances and trips to the NCAA Tournaments on the line, conversations always arise every season about which conferences are the most competitive in every sport. The SEC, Pac-12, ACC, Big 12, Big 10, and Big East in basketball battle for supremacy, so let’s rank them in the major sports – football, basketball, and baseball. 

Baseball

  1. Pac-12
  2. SEC
  3. ACC
  4. Big 12
  5. Big 10

The top two in this list was pretty clear, as the Pac-12 and SEC have long been the most dominant conferences, combining for 30 College World Series titles between the two of them. The Pac-12 leads the way with 18 (titles won by an active Pac-12 member) although current members USC, Arizona State, Arizona, and Stanford have combined for 23 championships. After Spencer Torkelson was taken first overall this past year, the Sun Devils lead with four #1 overall picks in the MLB draft. The only major category the Pac-12 trails in is total CWS appearances, where they fall just short to the SEC (103-101).

The ACC comes in third, despite having just two College World Series titles as a conference. The ACC gets to Omaha frequently (96 total appearances), but they rarely bring it home as Florida State, Clemson, and North Carolina represent the top 3 programs with the most CWS appearances without a championship (46). Current member Miami has four championships, but only one as an active ACC member, and Virginia has the other ring. It was a battle between the Big 12 and Big 10 for the cellar, and it was the Big 10 taking last place with only 29 total appearances in Omaha, albeit six championships. Texas and Oklahoma State have combined for 32 first round draft picks, and no Big 10 school has more than 10. 

Basketball

  1. ACC
  2. Big East
  3. SEC
  4. Big 10
  5. Pac 12
  6. Big 12

The ACC was the clear choice for #1 here. They’ve won three of the past five national championships and are tied for the most with 15 overall. They have the most NCAA Tournament appearances with 398, the most first round draft picks with 202, and tied for the most #1 draft picks with 11. No contest

After that, it got a little dicey. I was leaning towards the SEC for second, but the Big East’s recent superiority tipped them over the edge. They have three championships since 2013, whereas the SEC hasn’t won one since 2012. It was close to a toss-up for their but I went with Big East at #2, and the SEC for #3. 

After those initial three selections, the Big 10, with 11 #1 picks (T-1st), 132 1st round picks (132), and 10 national championships (4th) were the clear choice to slide into the fourth slot. They haven’t been very relevant, with only one title in the 21st century, but there’s lots of history and talent in this conference.

The Pac-12 and Big-12 were separated by a razor-thin margin and bring up the rear in the power conference rankings. The Pac-12 used to be one of the best, but they’ve faded from relevancy in recent years. Despite 15 national championships – tied for first with the ACC – the Pac-12 was largely fueled by UCLA’s dominance and their 23-year championship drought is the longest ongoing drought by any major conference. They slot in fifth, with the Big 12 bringing up the rear, running last with 50 first round draft picks, only one national championship, and next-to-last in NCAA tournament appearances. 

Football

  1. SEC
  2. Big 10
  3. ACC
  4. Pac-12
  5. Big 12

I would say it was the dramatic unveiling of the best conference of the best college sport, but did anyone ever doubt who was finishing #1 here? Led by Alabama’s recent dynasty, the SEC have 25 national championships, including ten of the past fourteen. They’re second all-time in #1 picks and first-round picks, and top to bottom, they have more elite talent and depth than any other conference.

The Big 10 and ACC were a toss-up for second place. People love to mock the ACC, but they’re the only non-SEC conference to win national championships since 2005. They may not be loaded with talent top to bottom every year, but they’ve boasted some of the best teams of this past decade, and throw in Miami’s dynasty in the late 20th, early 21st century, and the ACC isn’t the laughingstock people make them out to be. However, the Big 10 does edge them out – they have 296 first round draft picks, which ranks first, eight #1 overall picks, and 22 national championships, marks that rank third and second respectively. Their biggest knock is a lack of recent national success – Ohio State has won two titles this century, but that’s it for the Big 10.

Bringing up the rear is the Pac-12 and Big 12 with championship droughts of 16 and 15 years respectively. The Pac-12 has featured some elite talent with 14 #1 draft picks, but they rank last in total first-round picks and national championships. USC’s mini-dynasty from 2003-2005 helps the Pac-12 avoid the basement, an honor belonging to the Big 12. The Big 12 only have two championships since 1985 – every other conference has at least three titles since 1997. Oklahoma has really been the only team doing anything on the national level since Vince Young and the Longhorns in 2005, which lands them in the basement.

Overall, regarding these three major sports, the SEC has to be considered the most complete conference, with the ACC coming in a close second. Both came in with a trio of top-3 finishes and a #1 ranking. Overall, I’d rank the SEC #1 and the ACC 2. After that, I’d say the Pac-12 takes #3, fueled by their dominance on the diamond, and the Big 10 clocks in at #4. The Big 12 was the clear choice for last place, as they took last place in two of the three sports, with their fourth-place finish in baseball saving them from a sweep of the cellar.

MLB Draft Grades: SEC – Mississippi State With A Dominant Draft, Florida Struggles

The SEC made MLB draft history when they had four of the first six players selected in the most recent draft, but how did individual programs fare – let’s score each of the 14 SEC teams from 0 to 10.

Mississippi State – 8.7
The Bulldogs had one of the best drafts in the country and in the SEC from a collegiate standpoint, as Mississippi State saw two first-round draft picks and three in the first two rounds. First rounders Justin Foscue and Jordan Westburg weren’t drafted out of high school, and the Bulldogs turned them into elite prospects in just three years. Meanwhile they kept JT Ginn as a second rounder despite recent Tommy John surgery. Their biggest concern is making sure high schooler Blaze Jordan doesn’t sign with the Boston Red Sox and gives the Bulldogs access to one of the best high school bats in the country. Great program, great draft. 

Arkansas – 5.1
The Razorbacks got an early surprise when their elite prospect – outfielder Heston Kjerstad – went second overall, but then they watched their other projected first rounder Casey Martin drop all the way into the middle of the third round, so it was a bit of a strange draft for the Razorbacks, and it’s tough to judge the program much off this shortened draft. 

LSU – 4.3
LSU had two draft prospects, both who were considered fringe first-rounders, but both slipped at least ten spots, with pitcher Cole Henry going 55th overall, and outfielder Danny Cabrera went 62nd. Nothing too much of note for the Tigers – both Henry and Cabrera will likely go pro, but their draft-day slips don’t reflect very well on LSU. 

Texas A&M – 5.0
I listed the Aggies as a loser in yesterday’s draft analysis article – as I believe they are going to lose more prospects then they anticipated. Asa Lacy went fourth overall, which reflects well, but projected third rounders Zach DeLoach and Christian Roa skyrocketed over thirty picks higher than their expected value. It’s a great long-term look for the program, if Texas A&M converts on the recruiting front, but the Aggies will be a little weaker than they anticipated in 2021. 

Ole Miss – 8.3
If Mississippi State boasted one of the best drafts in the country, at least Ole Miss wasn’t far behind. The Rebels saw both of their picks go in that perfect zone of above slot value, without going so high that they become a much higher risk of turning pro. Shortstop Anthony Servideo and third baseman Tyler Keenan went in the third and fourth rounds respectively. No top-tier talent, but the Rebels did a solid job turning these prospects into draft commodities, without seriously endangering their short-term hopes as a program. 

Auburn – 5.2
Relatively neutral stuff here from Auburn. Projected first rounder Tanner Burns slipped a little bit but snuck into the back end at pick #36, while hurler Bailey Horn somewhat unexpectedly heard his name called in the fifth round. They probably would have liked to see Burns go a little closer to his slot value, but Horn’s selection was an unexpected addition, so tough to judge this one. 

Alabama – 6.5
The Crimson Tide had one legitimate draft prospect in outfielder Tyler Gentry, and he went right about where he was supposed to, early in the third round. Alabama finished last in the SEC West last season, so this is about as good as it gets on the diamond for the Tide. 

Vanderbilt – 7.8
Vandy had a top-five pick in Austin Martin, arguably the best player in the draft, but then projected second rounder Jake Eder dropped all the way into the fourth round. Right-hander Ty Brown jumped into the third round, and hurler Mason Hickman rounded out the Commodores’ stable of picks. Lots of volume and a first rounder, so it’s hard to critique one of the best programs in the country too much. 

Georgia – 6.1
The Bulldogs came into the draft with two projected first-round hurlers, and while Emerson Hancock went sixth overall, Cole Wilcox tumbled down into the third round. Up and down draft, although the bonus is Wilcox may opt to stay another year with Georgia – he has three years of eligibility left and should be a first rounder in another year. 

Tennessee – 6.4

The Volunteers came away from the draft with three picks, headlined by eleventh overall pick Garret Crochet. Meanwhile, outfielder Alerick Soularie made one of those jumps that’s scary for a college program, from a projected early fourth rounder into the middle of the second round, where the signing bonuses became extremely enticing. Dangerous territory for the Volunteers, but overall three draft picks is a solid showing in the draft. 

Missouri – 4.6
The Tigers did very little in this draft, with only one significant draft prospect that fell 34 spots further than expected. Missouri is a middle-of-the-road SEC team, and they had a very middle-of-the-road type of draft. 

Florida – 1.0
Florida is one of the best programs in the country and won a national championship in 2017, appearing in the College World Series in 2018. Despite a tough year last year, it’s not customary for Florida to have elite talent on their roster. They only had two projected draft picks coming into last week’s draft, but then the Gators saw neither player selected, putting an exclamation point on a low point in the Florida baseball program.  

South Carolina – 6.0
Carmen Mlodzinski gave South Carolina a first round pick, but that was pretty much all the Gamecocks got in this year’s draft. About what was expected from a struggling SEC program. 

Kentucky – 4.0
Kentucky is one of the worst teams in the SEC, and they really had nothing to lose or gain from this draft with no top-level prospects. No draft picks and nothing much else to comment on here from the Wildcats.

MLB Draft Grades: ACC – Louisville leads the way

We’re going Dave Portnoy pizza review style for this piece, grading every ACC college baseball program draft. The grades included how successful programs were in getting players drafted, but also rating their short-term losses and gains from prospects going unexpectedly high facing greater temptation to turn pro. Each grade is 0 to 10 – let’s see who won and lost the draft in the ACC.

Miami – 5.2
Miami saw all three of their projected draft picks get picked, led by RHP Slade Cecconi. Cecconi was selected 33rd overall, right around his projected slot, but the Hurricanes saw Chris McMahon slide into the second round as a projected first rounder. Any more of a slide would have been a blow towards Miami’s reputation of producing top-level pro talent. Meanwhile, shortstop Freddy Zamora skyrocketed from the 100th ranked prospect to 53rd selection –  a great look on the recruiting front, but the Hurricanes now will have a tough time bringing back an elite multi-year starter.  

Virginia – 4.3
The Cavaliers had only one real draft prospect for 2020 in bullpen arm Andrew Abbot. He was a projected fourth-rounder, but he didn’t hear his name called over the course of the two-day draft. No draft picks from a team that won the national championship just five years ago is tough. They are engaged in brutal recruiting battles within the ACC, and not turning out pro talent will make winning some of those recruits an uphill battle.  

Duke – 7.7
The Blue Devils had only one draft prospect in Bryce Jarvis, who became the second ever 1st round pick in program history. The other one was Marcus Stroman, so that bodes well for both Jarvis’s success, and Duke’s improving program. Jarvis was a projected first rounder, so keeping him was always unlikely, and seeing him go 18th overall – after being a 37th round pick in high school – is a good look for the Blue Devils. It was only one pick, so Duke now need to prove they’re not a one-hit wonder. 

Georgia Tech – 6.4
Georgia Tech was a tough assignment, as they had a very confusing draft. They had one projected draft pick, but saw two players selected – but their one projected pick remained on the board. Defending ACC batting champion Michael Guldberg went 98th overall towards the end of the third round, so the Yellow Jackets will need to hope he won’t be enticed by a signing bonus expected to be in the $600,000 area. Outfielder Baron Radcliffe was a late pick in the fifth round, and shortstop Luke Waddell (ranked 125th by MLB.com) went unselected. Very tough draft to gauge, but ultimately not a bad one for the Yellow Jackets. 

Virginia Tech – 8.2
The Hokies saw both of their draft prospects drafted well above slot value with Ian Seymour (115th) going 57th and catcher Carson Taylor (194) going 130th. The Hokies got a great grades not only for their success in the draft, but also they look great compared to Virginia’s struggles, giving the Hokies an inside track on in-state recruiting. Seymour may turn pro, but Taylor likely stays on with another three years of eligibility, so overall a highly successful draft for Virginia Tech. 

North Carolina – 7.8
Aaron Sabato came in as a projected early second rounder and went late in the first round as UNC’s only top prospect. Not much to complain about there. 

Pittsburgh – 4.0
No top draft prospects. No draft picks. Nothing much to say for one of the worst teams in the ACC on this one.

Notre Dame – 6.5
The Fighting Irish saw projected fifth-round pick Joe Boyle drafted 143rd overall, about 20 picks ahead of where he was expected. He was their only legitimate prospect so nothing much to speak of here for Notre Dame, solid results, and a little better than expected. 

Clemson – 7.1
The Tigers had two pitchers – Sam Weatherly and Spencer Strider – selected last week. Weatherly went within a few picks of his expected slot value at 81st overall, and Strider jumped from outside of MLB.com’s top 200 prospects into the fourth round. It was a good showing from the Clemson prospects, without jumping into the world of seven-digit signing bonuses that would almost certainly draw these hurlers into professional ball. 

Louisville – 9.2
Louisville had two first round picks in pitchers Reid Detmers and Bobby Miller. Both hurlers went from late draft selections out of high school (32nd and 38th rounds) to top-30 picks in 2020, so that says a lot for the Cardinals’ program. Outfielder Zach Britton also heard his name called in the fifth round, although he seems like a likely candidate to return to Louisville for another run at the College World Series. 

NC State – 6.8
The Wolfpack can thank the San Francisco Giants for taking their battery pair in catcher Patrick Bailey and left-handed hurler Nick Swiney in the first two rounds. Projected fifth-rounder Tyler McDonough remained unselected. Swiney jumped into the second round, so he may test the professional waters, which would be a tough loss for NC State, but it was ultimately a good day for the Wolfpack.

Florida State – 5.4
The Seminoles had two players drafted, both slightly under slot value, and one potential selection in outfielder Elijah Cabell left on the board. Nothing spectacular, and nothing particularly unexpected from FSU. 

Wake Forest – 4.6
From a program standpoint, seeing junior Jared Shuster jump fifty spots into the first round may have been nice for the Demon Deacons. But now they will likely lose Shuster to the Atlanta Braves’ organization, and no other Wake Forest player heard their name called. It’s a bit of a bittersweet feeling for the Demon Deacons after this draft. 

Boston College – 4.0
Same deal as Pittsburgh here. No real prospects, No draft picks. Nothing more to say.

MLB Draft: College Teams And Players Who Won and Lost the Draft

Much is made of which MLB teams had good and bad drafts, with each team’s selections graded and separated into distinct winners and losers. But what about collegiate teams? College baseball is more affected by the draft than most other sports, as high school prospects battle a decision between signing with the team that drafted them, or honoring their commitment to play at the NCAA level. So which teams and players were most impacted by the results of the shortened, two-day, five-round MLB Draft? 

Winner: Texas
There’s one reason for Texas making the winner’s category, and that reason is Jared Kelley. Kelley became the first ever draft pick out of Refugio High School in Texas, but despite being ranked as the 12th best prospect by MLB.com, Kelley’s name went uncalled during Wednesday’s first round. Fears of the power-throwing righty being a tough sign caused Kelley to slip all the way to the Chicago White Sox at pick #47. Why is that good news for Texas? Because if Kelley was considered a tough sign near the top of the first round, it’s going to be way tougher for the White Sox to lure the Texas product from his in-state commitment. The slot value for pick #12 is 4.4 million, the 47th overall pick comes with an expected 1.6 million dollar signing bonus. Getting Kelley to leave his home state for barely a third of the money is going to be a tough one to sell for the White Sox, leaving Texas ready to enjoy the luxuries of a stud who looks like he’ll be one of the best pitchers in the country. 

Losers: Mississippi State, Arizona

On the flip side of Texas’s situation is Mississippi State and Arizona, who both couldn’t have been too happy with the Boston Red Sox. For Arizona, they watched one of their premium prospects in Nick Yorke get drafted 112 spots above his ranking, going from a projected fifth-round pick to 17th overall. While the Red Sox did make the pick to save some money on the slot value of the 17th pick, they will likely make an offer far more competitive and enticing to Yorke, who was described by Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin as “the best high school hitter in the nation”. Arizona may not have anticipated it being a battle to keep Yorke in the program for the next three years, but Boston just made it a lot harder. Meanwhile. Mississippi State was likely ecstatic when viral slugger Blaze Jordan slipped all the way to the third round. The further he slipped, the more it looked like they would be benefiting from the services of one of the nation’s best power hitters, until Boston swooped in and grabbed the Missouri product at 89th overall. Boston did not have a second round pick, and they will either not sign Yorke or sign him for below slot value, leaving them with plenty of money to throw at Jordan, making his decision a lot tougher. With some of their top prospects’ future on their teams in doubt, Mississippi State and Arizona are in the losers category for this draft. 

Winner: Austin Martin
Slipping from a potential first overall pick to fifth may not be a ideal situation normally, I think this a massive win for Austin Martin. Martin got drafted to the Toronto Blue Jays, meaning he avoids the hapless organizations of the Detroit Tigers, Baltimore Orioles, Miami Marlins, and the Kansas City Royals. The Blue Jays are the only team out of that group of five that has recently shown some upside, and they have a recent track record of developing elite prospects like Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. It’s a great situation for the best all-around player in the 2020 MLB Draft.

 Loser: Texas A&M
The Aggies knew they were losing Asa Lacy, their ace left-hander was picked fourth overall. However, they then saw outfielder Zach DeLoach go 36 spots earlier than his ranking suggested, and pitcher Christian Roe jump 41 slots. Both juniors, it looks unlikely they’ll return to the crowded collegiate rosters, with their expected signing bonuses jumping up by nearly a million dollars, leaving Texas A&M floundering a little more than expected in a highly competitive SEC next season. Long-term, however, the Aggies may look like a winner if they can turn this draft night surprise into success on the recruiting front.

THE TREND THAT MIGHT CHANGE BASEBALL AS WE KNOW IT

The MLB Draft has never been the primetime sporting event that many fans of the league hope for it to be one day. This has always been due to the fact that the players drafted will not see MLB playing time for another three to four years – in the best case scenarios. However, the 2020 Draft had a greater trend that might shorten the time it takes players to reach the show, while also increasing the talent that college baseball fans will see on fields across the country.

The first high school player drafted this year was Robert Hassell at eighth overall to the Padres. This is far from just three years prior when each of the top three picks hailed from high school, not college. This trend towards more mature collegiate prospects rather than the raw high school arms and bats might just be a passing fad because of the circumstances of this draft, but I don’t believe this to be the case. I believe that, because of the various changes that are bound to occur as a result of the pandemic and its impact on professional sports, high school baseball players will become more likely to end up on college fields rather than in major league farm systems. 

This is a bold claim for anyone to make, especially after seeing last year’s second overall pick, high school shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., have success despite foregoing his offer to play at the University of Oklahoma. The problem with players such as Witt and many other aspiring baseball stars who have been drafted out of high school is that many casual baseball fans see the success stories, but neglect to see those who fail before reaching the peak. 

According to the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), only about 27.5% of high school players chosen in the first round of the draft ever make it to the MLB. This number, compared to the 39.3% of college players who reach the show, demonstrate that many high school prospects just fail to pan out at the same rate as collegiate athletes. This difference is only exacerbated when you look beyond the first round. High school players drafted within the 2nd – 5th rounds reach the MLB about 14% of the time, much less than the 25% of college players able to do the same. 

The sheer fact that college players are more likely to make it to the MLB is not the sole determining factor behind my belief that more high school players will choose the route of higher education rather than the minor leagues. 

High school players who are drafted in the early rounds of the draft also tend to demand higher pay than those in similar positions coming out of college. For many MLB teams, it’s easier to pick a player with less negotiation leverage, such as those from college, rather than dealing with the threat of losing a top draft pick for nothing in return. The Houston Astros know this story all too well as their No. 1 overall pick from 2014, Brady Aiken, decided against signing with the team because of an offer that was lower than slot value. There are stories like these every single year from the draft. Nick Lodolo was the 41st overall pick in the 2016 MLB draft, but did not sign with the Pirates. Instead, he played three years at Texas Christian University and was drafted 7th just three years later.

College baseball is also a growing sector of the NCAA and, now more than ever, it is a legitimate option to spur playing in small towns for major league clubs, in order to shine in large collegiate conferences. This natural cycle is mutually beneficial for players and colleges alike. The colleges are able to brand their new star athletes to sell more seats and gain more exposure for their school and program. This exposure then leads more high school prospects to ignore the glamorous cash that the draft has to offer, delaying their entry into minor league baseball and playing competitive baseball for a much wider audience in college instead. 

The MLB is often seen as the league for old men. The demographics of its fans might support this narrative. However, recent draft trends suggest there might be a change on the horizon – one that many people might not recognize at first, but will, no doubt, change the way that the game is viewed and grows. If more collegiate programs are able to gain the notoriety that Vanderbilt, Florida, and South Carolina have established, the door for baseball to regain its status as America’s Pastime might not be too far away. 

February 12, 2020: NCAA Basketball Power Rankings

NOTE: Although this article was published late, these rankings reflect games played through Monday, February 10.

We’re back with this week’s power rankings and we have some major shakeup within our top-10 and honorable mention. Slotting teams into the honorable mention and high single digits slots were tough, as many of these squads took brutal losses in the past week or two. Ultimately, after combining our ballots, we came up with another list of 13 teams, so we will summarize some of the biggest movement here, and then read on for the full rankings (and to see our new #1). 

Biggest Riser: Auburn

Biggest Faller: Oregon

Dropped out: Oregon

Joined the Rankings: West Virginia

Honorable Mention

  • Seton Hall
  • West Virginia
  • Villanova

#10 – Maryland Terrapins (Last Week: Honorable Mention)

  • Maryland has won seven straight to rejoin the Top-10, both in the AP Poll and in our Power Rankings. The Terrapins are now a 2-seed in Joe Lunardi’s latest Bracketology after an impressive week in which they took down Rutgers and then went on the road to defeat #22 Ilinois.

#9 – Dayton Flyers (Last Week: #8)

  • Dayton suffers from the sad fact that they are the ‘ other’ elite mid-major. With San Diego State stealing the headlines, it’s been tough for Dayton to draw attention to their remarkable season. These Power Rankings were assembled before last night’s impressive win over Rhode Island, so they could still have room to rise. But last week saw Dayton play and win just one game, which isn’t enough to keep their #8 slot. 

#8 – Auburn Tigers (Last Week: Honorable Mention)

  • Our biggest risers of the week, Auburn is once again red-hot after crashing out of our top-10 with consecutive blowout losses. Auburn isn’t dominating, but they are passing the gut-check test after a series of tight victories, including an overtime 91-90 win over #25 LSU this past weekend.

#7 – Florida State Seminoles (Last Week: #5)

  • The Seminoles lose to Duke, and so they slip behind them in the power rankings. Two games out of the conference lead, Florida State is virtually out of the regular season title chase, but they still can beat Louisville at home to help their chances for a top-2 seed in the NCAA tournament. 

#6 – San Diego State Aztecs (Last Week: #6)

  • In their third straight week at #6, San Diego State continues to play excellent basketball, but it also is coming against less-than-excellent teams, so our ballots still reflect our general distrust of the Aztecs. Their only game last week was a road contest at a sub .500 squad in Air Force, making it very difficult to climb at all in this week’s rankings, even as they are 24-0. 

#5 – Duke Blue Devils (Last Week: #7)

  • Duke escaped disaster against BC, engineered an incredibly gutsy comeback at UNC, and then earned a statement victory over #8 Florida State to cap off an impressive three-game stretch. Their winning streak is at six, and the Blue Devils hope they’re not out of the hunt for a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament just yet. 

#4 – Louisville Cardinals (Last Week: #2) – 1 First Place Vote

  • The top of our ballots differed incredibly, as all of us have different opinions on who the best team in college basketball. Louisville gets a first place vote, but they ultimately drop two spots after needing a huge comeback to beat Wake Forest at home. After escaping Georgia Tech, it was their second close-call win at home in two weeks. They’re walking a tight-rope, but they’ve also won ten straight so they slot in at #4. 

#3 – Gonzaga Bulldogs (Last Week: #4) – 1 First Place Vote

  • For some people, including AP voters, Gonzaga is the best team in the country. Not all of us feel that way evidently, but they do rise a spot in this week’s rankings. Why? Well, Gonzaga travelled to St. Marys to face the consensus second-best team in the West Coast Conference and beat them by thirty points. Especially with a weak conference schedule, wins don’t get much more impressive than that for the Bulldogs. 

#2 – Baylor Bears (Last Week: #1) – 1 First Place Vote

  • It’s probably our most controversial ranking. But Baylor has won three straight games by single digits over unranked teams, and they’ve displayed some of the red flags that had us concerned about the Bears in the early going. These red flags included scoring just 52 points in a recent game at Texas and needing to go down to the wire at home to beat Oklahoma State, who are 2-9 in Big 12 play. They’re still an elite team, but these close calls aren’t inspiring confidence. 

#1 – Kansas Jayhawks (Last Week: #3) – 1 First Place Vote

  • Each of our ballots reflected a different team that we felt was #1, but Kansas was the only team that was Top-3 in each of our ballots. They beat Oklahoma State by 15 on the road, handled Texas by double digits, and they’ve won eight straight since losing to Baylor. Yes the head-to-head loss makes this ranking difficult, but overall, the Jayhawks just feel like the closest thing to a sure thing in a year where turmoil has reigned supreme.

February 4, 2020: NCAA Basketball Power Rankings

We are back with this week’s edition of the NCAA basketball power rankings. Auburn got a huge home win to get back into the conversation, and one other squad climbed back towards the rankings. Two teams dropped out, and while we have the same #1, there was some movement right beneath them. Check out the full rankings here!

Biggest Risers: Dayton, Louisville

Biggest Fallers: Kentucky

Dropped Out: Kentucky, West Virginia

Joined the Rankings: Auburn, Maryland

Honorable Mention

  • Seton Hall
  • Maryland
  • Auburn

The Rankings

#10 – Villanova Wildcats (Last Week: #8)

  • The Wildcats were looking like one of the biggest risers in college basketball, a few games seperated from a 76-61 beatdown of a ranked Butler squad, but then Villanova played an unranked Creighton squad and got throttled by the same score. They stay in the rankings due to how they’ve looked up until that game, but Villanova raised some serious question marks on Saturday. 

#9 – Oregon Ducks (Last Week: #9) 

  • Oregon has stayed at #9 for the past three weeks, and the Ducks had inspired a lot of confidence until their recent slip-up at Stanford. However, one road conference loss can be excused, and the Ducks still appear to be the Pac-12 team to beat. 

#8 – Dayton Flyers (Last Week: #10)

  • Dayton rises two spots after two more victories, surviving one of their toughest road games remaining against Duquesne, a 16-5 team with a previously spotless 9-0 home record. They host dangerous Saint Louis and Rhode Island squads in the next week, so they’ll need to prove themselves to keep rising in the rankings. 

#7- Duke Blue Devils (Last Week: #7)

  • Duke survived a raucous environment to triumph at Syracuse, winning their third straight game since a home loss to Louisville. They have road games versus Boston College and UNC coming up before a home date with Florida State. If they’re looking for a chance to prove they’re one of the country’s elite squads, they’ve got a few opportunities coming up. 

#6 – San Diego State Aztecs (Last Week: #6)

  • In writing about potential trap games for the Aztecs, we identified a tricky-looking road matchup versus New Mexico, who was 13-0 at home prior to the match-up. San Diego State marched into the game and dismantled the Lobos by 28 points, sending yet another notice to the country that they are for real. They survived a potential letdown by pulling away from Utah State. 

#5 – Florida State Seminoles (Last Week: #5)

  • There were mixed reviews among our ballots on how to rank the Seminoles after a close loss to Virginia and tight win over North Carolina, largely because it is difficult to tell exactly how good those teams are. Virginia is starting to round into form and North Carolina just got Cole Anthony back, yet both squads are tournament bubble teams at best. Either way, the Seminoles are still 19-3 and 2nd in the ACC, so they stay at #5 this week. 

#4 – Gonzaga Bulldogs (Last Week: #3) – 1 first place vote

  • Gonzaga deals with questions year-in and year-out about how valid their success is, as they play in the West Coast conference. They didn’t do much to quiet their doubters after needing a go-ahead three-pointer with under five seconds remaining to survive San Francisco. Without signature wins available on the remainder of their schedule, such close calls drop the Bulldogs in the rankings. 

#3 – Kansas Jayhawks (Last Week: #2) 

  • Kansas continues to win, although they’ve had to survive a few stiff challenges. The Jayhawks certainly have a few tough Big 12 games ahead, but there is no doubt they’ve circled the February 22nd rematch with the Baylor Bears. A win there could make Kansas the team to beat.

#2 – Louisville Cardinals (Last Week: #4)

  • One of our biggest risers of the week, the Cardinals continue to win convincingly, having won three straight ACC contests by at least 17 points, including two games on the road. Both BC and NC State gave them a push, but the Cardinals continue to put together full 40-minute efforts. 

#1 – Baylor Bears (Last Week: #1)

  • Baylor raised some eyebrows after escaping Oklahoma at home, but they’ve since made short work of Florida, Iowa State, and TCU, winning all three games by double-digits. They are 20-1 and on a 19-game winning streak, one game shy of the longest winning streak in the history of all Big 12 teams, and they are slowly strengthening their hold on the #1 spot in the rankings.

NCAA Women’s Basketball Power Rankings

How this women’s basketball season will turn out is pretty much anybody’s guess? For the first time in a while, there’s not one dominant team, but rather a group of favorites who all seem like viable options to be the last team standing. Last week, the top-3 teams in the AP Poll all lost, leaving the top of the rankings in disarray. I’m sure I’ll be less than successful, but I’ll try to sift through the madness of the regular season so far and give you my top 10 NCAA women’s basketball teams, plus a couple teams I think are very good, but not Top-10 material.

Honorable Mention 

  • Mississippi State
  • NC State
  • Arkansas
  • Tennessee
  • Maryland

The Rankings

 #10 – DePaul

Probably not the most popular pick at #10 as DePaul is ranked just 14th in the AP Poll and 15th in the coaches poll, but I really like DePaul’s offense and I think they can stay with anyone when their shooting game is hot. They are near the top of the country in 3-pointers made and 3pt percentage, as well as fourth in the country in points per game. They may not be the most well rounded team, but they’ve got a bevy of lethal shooters that are more than capable of turning a game on its head. 

#9 – Arizona State

Again, the Sun Devils aren’t really a Top 10 team by their whole resume, but wow they are playing like one right now. They pushed #7 UCLA to the brink on the road, and they followed that up with a three-game winning streak, taking down #6 Oregon and ending #8 Oregon State’s undefeated season in the process. They struggled early, but the Sun Devils are quickly proving themselves capable of playing with the best. 

#8 – UCLA

The Bruins rank 6th in RPI, and they’re the only undefeated team in the country. The toughest part of their schedule is yet to come so their spot at #8 indicates a respect for their results so far with some wary optimism about what’s ahead. They’ve been dominant in Pac-12 play, with two wins by at least 24 points, and a 12-point win over #21 Arizona. 

#7 – Oregon

The Ducks were #2 and knocking on the doorstep of #1 following UConn’s loss to Baylor, but the Ducks turned around and were upset by Arizona State, sending them crashing out of the top 5. They’re #6 in the AP Poll, and they land #7 here. They still have a deep tourney run in them, but they’ll have to win the games they’re supposed to. 

By UConn standards, they haven’t been impressive, but they still have a shot at the title come March. Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

#6 – UConn

In our last women’s basketball post, we discussed whether UConn was still a dynasty, and we came to the conclusion that they are, but that does not mean they’re the best team this year. They’ve been dominant at times, but they’ve also shown some holes, including being unable to pull away from a pesky Memphis squad in their most recent AAC game. The Huskies have never lost a game in the AAC, but they didn’t look convincing last night, just one game removed from a 16-point home loss to Baylor. UConn is an elite team, but they’re sitting at #6 until they show a more consistent string of dominance. 

#5 – Oregon State

The Beavers almost made it to these power rankings unscathed, but they fell victim to the wave of upsets as Arizona State took them down. Before that however, Oregon State beat Arizona on the road, handled Colorado easily, and stormed by Utah to start Pac-12 play. Prior to conference games, the Cowboys had won 12 straight, all by double digits. 

Louisville and Oregon State are both national title contenders. Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

#4 – Louisville

The Cardinals boast an extremely impressive resume already, and they are cruising in the ACC, posting a 4-0 record while barely breaking a sweat. Outside of a close road loss to Ohio State, Louisville has quality road wins over #11 Kentucky and #6 Oregon. They’re currently on an 8-game winning streak, a run that includes five road victories. 

#3 – Stanford

It was a close call between Stanford and Louisville, but the west coast squad got the bid for the third spot. The Cardinal have a signature blowout victory in a 27-point victory over a quality Tennessee team, and they have dominated the Pac-12 to start the year, going 4-0 with their closest contest being a 14 point victory. They also beat #10 Mississippi State and #16 Gonzaga this year, but the Cardinal will have to eventually start proving themselves on the road, as they’ve played just four games away from home, losing one of them. 

#2 – South Carolina

The Gamecocks are #1 in the AP Poll and #2 in the Coach’s poll, tussling for the top spot with Baylor. I gave the nod to Baylor, demoting South Carolina to #2 in the initial Power Rankings. South Carolina is third in the country in scoring margin, and they have quite simply dominated throughout the year. They have a road victory versus Maryland on their resume, and they’ve scored 90 or more points in six games, including four straight. They’ve beaten several ranked opponents in Arkansas and Kentucky, and Baylor, but their 14-point home loss to Indiana was hard to ignore.

#1 – Baylor

Baylor just ended UConn’s 98-game home winning streak, giving the Bears the premier win they needed the nab the top spot in the power rankings. The Baylor’s men team is ranked #2 in the AP Poll, giving Baylor probably the top basketball program in the country right now as a whole. The women’s team has given up the second least amount of points, scored the most, and subsequently, leads the country in scoring margin, having scored 100+ points a whopping four times already. Although they lost to South Carolina head to head, the Bears have won their ensuing games by 38.7 points per game, including the UConn victory. It’s a toss-up, but a gut feeling says to give the top spot to the Bears. We’ll see if they keep it through the next edition of power rankings.