How Might a Shortened MLB Draft Impact the White Sox?

It’s been widely reported this evening that the 2020 MLB Draft is set for June 10, and will consist of five rounds, the shortest draft in Major League Baseball history.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan, among other national and local reporters have confirmed the following details regarding to the 2020 draft:

  • Five round draft
  • Will take place on June 10, 2020
  • Players not taken in the five-round draft can sign with any team as an undrafted free agent, starting June 13, 2020
  • Teams can use their allotted money as they see fit to sign their draft picks
  • Undrafted signees will be limited to a bonus of no greater than $20,000 (previously, undrafted signees were able to sign for bonuses of up to $125,000 without the signing team incurring pool penalties)
  • Draft signing deadline will be August 1, 2020
  • The Houston Astros — as a result of their punishments levied by the Commissioner’s Office after they were found guilty of cheating — will only have four picks (a compensatory pick, and then selections in rounds three through five)

The five round draft is a direct result of Major League Baseball front offices looking to save money where they can during the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, and will save teams $29.58 million in bonuses.

The five-round draft will have 160 picks, which will be an 87-percent reduction in the number of picks from the 2019 draft, where 1,217 players were selected.

So, how does this affect the Chicago White Sox?

The White Sox will possess a bonus pool of $7,764,800, with a five percent overage, the club can spend a total of $8,153,040. According to James Fox of Future Sox and SSHP, they’ve spent pretty close to five percent over the last three seasons, and they should be expected to again.

Here’s where the White Sox will be picking, with their bonus amounts.

  • Round 1, (11) – $4,547,500
  • Round 2, (47) – $1,580,200
  • Round 3 (83) – $733,100
  • Round 4 (112) – $517,400
  • Round 5 (142) – $386,600

For the seventh consecutive year, the Sox will be picking inside the top 11 — where they pick this year — and have taken a college prospect in each of those seven drafts. The last time the White Sox took a chance on a prep prospect with a first-round pick was back in 2012, when the team used the 13th overall pick, and the 48th overall (first round supplemental pick) to draft a pair of prep stars.

At No. 13 the Sox took outfielder Courtney Hawkins, whose most well-known for his backflip on the Studio 42 stage during MLB Network’s coverage of the 2012 MLB Draft. Hawkins never amounted to the hype, slashing .226/.287/.408 over parts of eight seasons in the minors.

Draft-Room Backflip (No, Not Bud Selig) -

At No. 48, Keon Barnum, a first-baseman from King High School in Tampa Bay, Florida became the next prep prospect taken in the first round by the Sox that year. Barnum, like Hawkins, never made it to Chicago.

Barnum actually played the 2019 season with the Chicago Dogs of the American Association, winning the league’s Most Valuable Player Award on the strength of a record-setting 31 home run campaign, and was named the Independent Leagues Player of the Year by Baseball America. His efforts earned him a minor league deal with the Washington Nationals this winter.

Before the 2012 first-round debacle, you have to go all the way back to 2004 to find a first round prep selection for the White Sox. That pick — a first round supplemental pick — was spent on Gio Gonzalez, who went on to have a solid career, and is now in the White Sox organization for the third time in his career.

Despite their combined reluctance to roll the dice on prep prospects in round one, and their failures doing so over much of the last two decades, I believed before the COVID-19 pandemic that Mike Shirley and Co. were going to take a high schooler this June. Despite the draft being whacked down to just five rounds, I still believe that to be true.

With the team having much of it’s core in place at the major league level, or waiting in the wings in Charlotte, this is a draft that the White Sox needed to restock the farm with.

While I don’t think that the shortened draft will change their plans for the first round, it might force them into going with more experienced college picks in rounds two through five. Quite simply because I think that this draft will force a ton of prep talent into college, and the depth of early-round prep stars probably will be significantly less than it would have been with a traditional 40-round draft.

As for my pick for the White Sox at No. 11, I’m not quite there yet, but here’s a short-list of the top prep talent expected to go in the first round next month.

Be sure to stay tuned this month for more MLB Draft coverage right here at The Chicago Dugout.

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