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SB Nation FanPulse: How new rules will affect a shortened MLB Draft

Will there be a lesser class of players this season?

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2019 Major League Baseball Draft Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB via Getty Images

Welcome to SB Nation FanPulse, a survey of fans across MLB. Each week, we send 30 polls to plugged in fans from each team. Brewers fans, sign up HERE to join FanPulse.

With the NFL Draft taking place over the weekend, the folks who put together the SB Nation Fanpulse surveys decided that this would be a logical time to get a feel for how baseball fans view the upcoming MLB Draft. For those who are unfamiliar with how this year’s event will go, the 2020 Draft is going to have quite a few changes due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

With college baseball shut down and Major League Baseball on hiatus, it was announced at the end of March that the draft would be moved from its typical June date back a month into July. The league has the right to make the draft as few as five rounds, though according to a report from our friends at Lookout Landing, there is a growing optimism that it will be 10 rounds. Still, that’s a significantly smaller draft than the usual 40 round affair. Additionally, the bonuses that draftees receive will be heavily deferred and there is going to be a cap on signing bonuses for undrafted players.

For starters, most fans would prefer that this year’s draft go longer than five rounds. According to FanPulse polling, nearly 55% of respondents thought that this year’s draft needs more rounds. A little over 40% believe that a five round draft makes sense, while a small percentage think that the draft should be cancelled altogether.

The NCAA has ruled that college baseball players will be granted an extra year of eligibility because of the cancellation of the 2020 season. For example, that gives current seniors the option of returning to school to play again next year and shoot for the 2021 draft, if they so choose. It is worth noting that the agreement between the MLB and MLBPA includes next year’s draft has being shortened to be as few 20 rounds (although given the reported advancement of the MiLB contraction plan, it appears that a 20 round draft will end up becoming the new normal by next year anyway).

A shortened draft, deferred bonuses, and extra eligibility for current collegiate players will no doubt have an affect on this year’s class (and future draft classes in the coming years). When polled, 60% of respondents agreed that an extra year of NCAA eligibility will impact the upcoming draft. On top of that, when asked, 62% of voters said “no,” that they would not enter this summer’s MLB Draft if they were a 2020 prospect.

There has been a lot of speculation nationally that the conditions of this year’s draft could push many of the top high schoolers towards college rather than an immediate pursuit of professional baseball, and FanPulse voters seem to agree with that sentiment. 79% of respondents said “yes” when asked if the rule changes will have an affect on prep players going pro. Voters do seem to believe that like college players, those coming out of high school should get some relief, too. Normally, if a player enrolls at a four-year college to play baseball they cannot declare for the draft until three years have passed (this does not apply to junior college enrollees). But 61% of FanPulse voters think that current high school players should be allowed to enter the draft after one year of college.

This year, the Milwaukee Brewers will pick at #20 overall in the MLB Draft. That slot carries a $3,242,900 bonus value. If the Draft only goes five rounds, Milwaukee will have a total pool value of $6,078,300. If it goes the full 10 rounds, then the Brewers will have $7,034,600 to work with. Either way, their figure ranks 22nd among the 30 MLB franchises. Remember, the Brewers gave up their Competitive Balance Round B pick to the Mariners in the Omar Narvaez trade; that selection comes at #64 overall and is accompanied by a $1,050,300 slot value.