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Weekend Bird Droppings: Where MLB is significantly shortening the draft

In the reported plan, June’s draft would be reduced to just five rounds.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Birdland!

We have real, legitimate baseball news for the first time in quite a while, but it’s not great. Multiple reports are indicating that this year’s amateur draft will be shortened to just five rounds. That is a reduction from the 40 rounds that have been in place since 2012.

Any players that are not selected in those five rounds will then be available to sign as free agents with any club for just $20,000. This will not be a big deal for some players. College seniors or prospects that are selected towards the bottom of the draft don’t see much in the way of signing bonuses as it is. But players that go in rounds 6-10 can sometimes sign for well above that $20,000.

For example, the Orioles sixth-round pick from 2019, Maverick Handley, got a $250,000 bonus. Their eighth-round pick, Griffin McLarty, earned $170,000, and their ninth-round pick, Connor Gillispie, signed for $125,000. Those types of players won’t come anywhere near those amounts in 2020.

Baseball’s minor league and amateur set-up is due for a big shake-up over the next year. MLB and the MLBPA have already agreed to reduce the size of MiLB. So, this cut down of the draft won’t be the last. It’s unclear if the draft will remain at five rounds for the foreseeable future or not. Fewer minor league teams and fewer draft selections means fewer jobs as a professional baseball player. Some high schoolers that may have made the jump to the pros this year will now likely opt for college instead. College juniors could head back for a fourth year of school.

While many of MLB’s finest players are, in fact, picked in those first five rounds it is far from conclusive. Look no further than your very own Baltimore Orioles. The team’s best hitter, Trey Mancini, was an eighth-round pick. Their best pitcher, and lone all-star a year ago, John Means, went in the 11th round. On top of that there are guys like Tanner Scott (sixth round), Austin Wynns (10th round) and Stevie Wilkerson (eighth round). These are players that aren’t stars, but have made it to the bigs and provided value to the organization. In 2020, they would all go undrafted.


Sources: MLB shortens 2020 draft from 40 rounds to 5 - ESPN
Making the draft shorter, especially right now, is not a surprise, but the severity of the cut did catch some off guard.

Mom’s influence on Hays: Run fast, ditch gloves -
Yup, that sounds about right. Austin Hays plays baseball in a way that few others do. He has a Bryce Harper energy to him, diving for line drives, running into walls, sprinting out of the box. It’s an exciting brand that will be fun to see in Camden Yards whenever the season actually gets going.

Long staying connected to his hitters during shutdown - School of Roch
The longer the shutdown goes on, the longer it feels like Spring Training 2.0 will need to be in order to get these guys back up to speed. Yes, they should be working out and running in order to stay in physical shape right now. But nothing can replication those game reps against 95 mph fastballs and ankle-breaking sliders.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!

Journeyman utility player Jace Peterson turns 30 today. The former first-round draft pick is currently with the Milwaukee Brewers, the fifth organization of his career. He spent parts of the 2018 and 2019 seasons with the Orioles, slashing .203/.295/.327 over 122 games while putting in time at every position on the diamond except catcher, first base and center field. He even pitched.

Tom Chism is 66. The former first baseman had a brief major league career, appearing in just six games for the 1979 Orioles. The O’s traded Chism to the Twins that off-season, and he never made it back to the bigs.

Finally, happy 67th birthday to Ron Jackson, who spent a decade in the majors but played just 12 games with the Orioles. The corner infielder capped his major league career with an 8-for-28 performance on the 1984 edition of the Birds.

1896 - Controversy! In extra innings, with the score knotted at five runs apiece, Orioles baseunner Hughie Jennings knocks over Reds third baseman Charlie Irwin while he is attempting to make a catch. As a result, Jennings scores the winning run. The umpire that day had to be escorted from the stadium.

1961 - Orioles slugger Jim Gentile becomes the third player in MLB history to hit grand slams in back-to-back innings. He tacks on a sac fly later in the game for his ninth RBI, a team record.

1962 - Brooks Robinson is the sixth MLB player of the 20th century to hit grand slams in back-to-back games.

1987 - O’s switch hitting first baseman Eddie Murray homers from both sides of the plate for the second straight game. This is the first time this has occurred in MLB history.