There are less than two weeks left before the annual June Major League Baseball draft, and this year it’s going to get weird.
For one thing, the draft has been cut from 40 rounds to five.
For another, there has been essentially no high school or college baseball played thanks to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, so it’s difficult to been difficult to judge who’s improved and who’s faded since this time last year.
And, also because of the pandemic, many teams have axed some or most of their scouts. Some, like the A’s, will keep scouts on through the draft, then furlough them.
So, what can we say about just who the Oakland A’s might pick with their first selection, the 26 overall?
My guess is that it will be an outfielder, if only because most of the mock drafts that have come out in the last week have the A’s taking a catcher, infielder or pitcher. Sort of a reverse-psychology thing.
Here’s what some of the major dabblers in the MLB have projected for the A’s and pick No. 26:
Kiley McDaniel, ESPN.com: Nick Loftin, SS, Baylor.
McDaniel says: “Loftin is among a couple of college types tied the A’s. His carrying tools are contact and defense, making him the opposite sort of player from last year’s first-round pick shortstop Logan Davidson.”
Eric Longenhagen, FanGraphs: Slade Cecconi, RHP, Miami.
Longenhagen says: There is a bit of a college bat drought in this area that I think up-the-middle players like (Mississippi State’s Justin) Foscue and (Ohio State’s Dillon) Dingler are most likely to fill, though I think some corner guys like Arizona’s Austin Wells and North Carolina’s Aaron Sabato could be in the mix for teams if they’re really leaning hard on college performers this year. Cecconi has the best build and athleticism of the remaining college arms, his stuff has a little more power than Duke’s Bryce Jarvis, and he has a more traditional delivery than (Louisville’s) Bobby Miller.”
Keith Law, theathletic.com: Aaron Sabato, 1B, North Carolina.
Law says: “The draft-eligible sophomore Sabato has huge exit velocities, patience and power, and got off to a great start this year before the shutdown.”
Ben Badler, Baseball America: Austin Wells, C, Arizona.
Badler says: Concern about Wells being able to handle catching is the biggest reason why he’s slipping, although that’s not entirely consistent with how the industry is treating (Turlock prep catcher Tyler) Soderstrom – who faces the same concerns. Wells does possess one of the better bats left on the board, and because of how teams hunt for hitters in the first round, we still expect to hear his name called before the first supplemental round.
Jim Callis, mlb.com: Bobby Miller, RHP, Louisville.
Callis says: “A power righty complement to Reid Detmers’ lefty polish at Louisville, Miller pairs a mid-90s fastball with a mid-80s slider and keeps getting better as he gets more acclimated to starting.”
Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3
Click the "follow" button in the top right corner to join the conversation on Inside the Athletics on SI. Access and comment on featured stories and start your own conversations and post external links on our community page.