When it was officially announced that the 2020 MLB Draft would significantly shorter than normal, many draft prospects were left wondering if they would be selected at all this year. After all, last year's draft featured a grand total of 1,217 selections over 40 rounds.
But with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic forcing Major League Baseball to indefinitely suspend their 2020 season, budget shortfalls resulted in them also cutting the 2020 draft to just 160 picks over five rounds.
Many prospects questioned if they would hear their name called at all this year. Louisville outfielder/catcher Zach Britton wasn't one of them.
As soon as he heard that the draft would only be five rounds long he called his advisor. Between talking to clubs and seeing Britton come up on various draft boards, he was confident that the junior would be one of the lucky few drafted.
"We had a long talk, and he's like 'man, I feel really good about it'," Britton said in a teleconference with reporters on Friday. "Everything I've heard, there's no doubt that you should go in five rounds."
As it turns out, he was right on the money. Just five picks into the fifth round, the Toronto Blue Jays selected Britton with the No. 136 overall pick of the draft.
Oddly enough, Britton didn't have much of an inkling that the Blue Jays were even interested until recently. Their minor league hitting coordinator had reached out to him and asked about his swing and adjustments he had made, and Britton had started chatting with a scout from the area just last week.
Once those conversations started between him and the organization, he began to have a feeling that they would be the ones to take him. In fact, Britton thought he might even go in the fourth round.
Looking back at his career, it's easy to understand his confidence. The Batesville, IN native has a career .280 batting average over 279 at-bats & 110 games played, with 7 home runs, 60 RBI, 24 doubles and 39 walks. In 2019 he established himself as one of the most clutch hitters on the team, batting a staggering .377 in the sixth inning or later, and 12-21 (.571) as a pinch hitter.
When Toronto used their fourth round pick on Loyola Marymount's Nick Frasso, he knew that he would be a lock to go in the next round to the Blue Jays.
"I don't remember the last time I cried, but man I broke down," Britton said. "It was really a realization of a dream come true."
What made that moment even more special was the fact that he got to share it with not only his family, but with head coach Dan McDonnell as well. When it was time for the Blue Jays to announce that they were taking Britton with their fifth round pick, Coach Mac was being interviewed live on ESPN's MLB Draft telecast.
"Zach was ready to play and that's something we take a lot of pride in our program," McDonnell said on the broadcast after the pick was revealed. "He's got his degree already and he is ready to play. He's a professional and works hard."
You can follow us for future coverage by clicking "Follow" on the top righthand corner of the page. Also be sure to like us on Facebook & Twitter:
Facebook - @LouisvilleOnSI