Since Major League Baseball went to a draft in 1966, the post-draft story has not changed much.
One or two of the top draftees might drop by the big club to take part in a formal signing, then hang around for an afternoon to meet the current players and coaches, throw on the side or take batting practice, then take off. They’d head to the minor leagues, maybe not to be seen in the big club’s park again for three or four years.
That was then. This is 2020, and all the rules have changed. For one, the draft has been whittled drastically, down from 40 rounds to five. Players not taking in the first five rounds become free agents and can sign with any team, although it’s likely that draftees who are college juniors are likely to think about returning to school.
For the players who do sign, there is no minor league. At this point there is no Major League, either, but negotiations are off-and-on and the hoped-for start date of the first week of July seems shaky at best.
If/when the 2020 season does ramp up, the current plans call for a 30-man roster and a 20-man taxi squad. While they haven’t said anything yet, the A’s who draft 26 overall after winning 97 games last year, might put their top pick or two on the taxi squad.
An organization’s first-round draft pick is, or at least is supposed to be, a major part of the future. Toward that end, you’d want your future standard bearer to get in as much good, constant, quality work as possible. And the only way that would seem to work for this year would be to have them honing their game.
There would be the added advantage of having manager Bob Melvin and his coaching staff getting the opportunity to know the player(s) better and analyze the way the player(s) might fit in down the road.
Much has to happen to get to that point. The draftees, once selected, have to sign. And the taxi squad has to be created, and that only happens if players and owner get over their differences and get the 2020 season started.
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.