With this year’s iteration of the MLB Draft, which will begin on Wednesday, comprising just five rounds instead of the usual 40, there’s some thinking that teams will prioritize college players, about whom more is known and who tend to come with more certainty. And while we won’t know for certain until it all plays out next week, here’s the latest on several AL teams’ thinking as the truncated draft approaches.
- The Mariners are said to be once again targeting collegiate pitchers, writes Greg Johns of MLB.com. Jerry Dipoto’s club holds the sixth overall selection, and has six total picks in the draft. They’ve been linked to the likes of Emerson Hancock, and to a lesser degree Max Meyer and Reid Detmers—all college hurlers. But if infielder Nick Gonzales, widely regarded as one of the premier talents in this year’s draft class, falls out of the top five, Dipoto may deviate from that preference and nab the New Mexico State product. If the M’s do indeed opt for a college pitcher in round one, it would represent a continuation of the strategy the Seattle front office has employed in the previous two drafts: in 2018, the Mariners chose Stetson’s Logan Gilbert at no. 14; last year, they grabbed George Kirby of Elon at no. 20.
- Bryan Hoch of MLB.com is hearing that the Yankees could go after a position player with their first pick and pitchers in the later rounds. Due to the Gerrit Cole signing, the Bronx Bombers forfeited their second- and fifth-round selections, meaning that they’ll only make three selections on draft day. Per Hoch, they’ve been connected to shortstops Nick Loftin, Ed Howard, and Carson Tucker as candidates for the 28th-overall draft choice. Loftin is a Baylor product, while Howard and Tucker both come from the high school ranks. In Anthony Volpe and Anthony Seigler, Brian Cashman and company have targeted high school position players in the first round of consecutive drafts.
- The Rays have been one of the better (or perhaps, luckier) teams when it comes to finding Major League talent in the late rounds of the draft, but of course they won’t have much opportunity to continue that trend this year, given that they’ll only have five rounds (six selections) to add talent to their already-loaded farm system. As Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes, the consequences of the shortened format might be magnified for the tight-budget Rays, who are especially dependent on the draft—even the later rounds—for rounding out the organization. One example of that is 31st-round selection Kevin Kiermaier, whom MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk covered earlier today. All that said, Topkin believes the Rays likely won’t alter their philosophy of hunting for the players with the best overall chance of impacting the MLB club, with little regard for position or age.