Last night brought Day 1 of the 2020 MLB Draft , which comes in a much different form this year due to the pandemic. Instead of the typical 40-round first-year player draft, this year’s event is just five rounds. The first round was held Wednesday night, with rounds 2-5 coming tonight.
As expected, the Tigers made Spencer Torkelson the first overall pick — their second top overall selection in the past three years. Though it wasn’t a huge surprise to see him go at the top of the board, there was a bit of an unexpected twist regarding his selection — plus a few surprising takeaways to be had with the other picks.
Let our R.J. Anderson drop the deets:
  • Torkelson drafted as a third baseman: While we figured Torkelson would go No. 1 overall, not many expected him to be drafted as a third baseman. He was mostly a first baseman at Arizona State but played a bit of outfield too. Apparently, the Tigers want to try him at third before moving him to the other corner infield spot, just to see if he can make it work
  • The Orioles cut a below-slot deal: Orioles GM Mike Elias took Heston Kjerstad (the No. 17 prospect in the draft class) way ahead of schedule with the No. 2 pick in the draft. That maneuver will help them keep money freed up for top talent that falls in the draft. They also took Mississippi State infielder Jordan Westburg, an analytics darling, at No. 30 and still have the No.39 pick as well
  • The Blue Jays got the top player in the draft: While Torkelson went No. 1, the top-ranked player in the class according to Anderson was super utility player Austin Martin, who went to the Blue Jays with the No. 5 pick in the draft
  • A record run on college players: For the first time in history, the first seven picks of the draft were college players. (The previous record was five straight college players to start a draft, done twice — 1992 and 2018.) Also of note: None of those seven picks were drafted earlier than the 31st round when they were drafted out of high school three years ago. Torkselson was one of two players that went undrafted after his high school days.
  • The Cubs took a hometown player: The Cubs picked a local favorite in Ed Howard, who might be the best true shortstop available this year. Howard, who was the Gatorade Illinois Player of the Year, went with the No. 16 pick
  • The Red Sox made a surprise pick: In his first draft as Red Sox GM, Chaim Bloom delivered a major surprise by going way off the board in the first round. Boston took infielder Nick Yorke with the 17th pick, despite the fact that Yorke was ranked No. 96 by Baseball America and 139th by MLB.com
The MLB Draft tends to be a little less exciting than other drafts, so there’s less immediacy when it comes to ROI. However, striking gold in the draft can change the trajectory of a franchise and some of these guys will be household names down the line, so it’s still a big deal.
There’s also still plenty of chances for your favorite team to draft a difference-maker, so feel free to brush up on the best players still available heading into Day 2. For more updates and takeaways from Day 1, you can head here. You can also stay-up-to-date with the latest picks and analysis with our draft tracker.

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