Atlanta Braves: New rules for 2020 draft may change focus

The Atlanta Braves have four shots to fire tonight at a smaller, moving target.

The Atlanta Braves make their selections tonight under new rules agreed by MLB and the MLBPA in May.  As well as limiting the 2020 Rule 4 draft to five rounds, MLB issued special rules on selection, signing, and bonuses:

  • Signing deadline moved to August 1.
  • Teams and players may agree on a deal contingent on passing a physical
    • Teams selecting a player who refuse such this option in rounds one and two get a comp-pick in 2021
    • No comp-pick for this in rounds three through five
  • Teams may sign an unlimited number of undrafted players with a max $20K bonus.
    • No team official/scout may speak to an undrafted player, their family, or agent, until 9 a.m. ET on June 14.
    • Discussions with these players before the draft, must not have included any reference to signing after the draft.
    • Undrafted player cannot receive special inducements above those offered to a drafted players

Earlier MLB announced that prospects would receive $100K of their signing bonus this year, with the rest split into two equal payments made in 2021 and 2022.

The Atlanta Braves draft pool sits at $4,127,800, to pay their four selections. As Jake wrote earlier, get four chances to grab a game-changer this year. The slots, and their suggested values, are:

  • $2,740,300 for the 25th pick
  • $599,100 for the 97th slot
  • $451,800 for the 127th pick
  • $336,600 for the 156th pick

The five percent maximum excess spending rule remains in effect, giving the Braves a margin of $206,390 before incurring penalties they can’t afford.

Spending the Atlanta Braves money

Full disclosure of my lack of prospect scouting duly noted I see no reason to focus on a high school arm. If the player is good enough to go in the first round, he’ll be more expensive because he has JUCO and college to fall back on; they are also considerable risk. The same is true of everyday players, though a bat carries less risk

This year’s draft looks more like a best-player-on-the-board year for the Atlanta Braves, and who knows which player that is? I know the mocks have him going to the Yankees, but Tanner Burns’ draft report looks like that of a typical Braves pitcher. As a longshot choice, what about Freddy Zamora?

Zamora is one of the best college shortstops available. His bat looks better than that of  Alika Williams, and he knows the strike zone well. Defensively, Zamora shows good hands and a strong, accurate arm. He fell due to a knee injury limiting his play in 2019, but he’s well worth a pick in round one, and definitely worth grabbing if he makes it to round three.

That’s a wrap

The draft will tell us a lot about GM Alex Anthopoulos’ mindset and his view of the Atlanta Braves system.

In a longer draft, he can cast a wider net and look for multiple options, and that may happen with a flurry of 20K signings after the draft ends.  However, with only four bullets to fire, I expect him to aim directly at his target.

We’ll know more about that target later tonight.