CARY, N.C.--Gage Workman and Christian Robinson were two of the youngest players to be picked in the 2017 MLB Draft. Now they're playing at the Tournament of Stars preparing to launch their college careers a year early.
Workman, committed to Arizona State, and Robinson, committed to Stanford, both reclassified into the class of 2017 to get a head start on their collegiate careers. Whereas the other players at TOS still have a year left of high school, these two will be facing elite competition in the Pacific-12 conference as freshmen. Workman was selected by the Brewers in the 14th round and Robinson by the Padres in the 27th round.
Both will be turning down their pro offers to play college ball. However, each of them has grown personally from the draft process.
“It gives you that recognition even if (the location of the picks was) not exactly where you were hoping for,” Robinson said.
Workman, who knew the Brewers had an interest in him since playing on their 2016 Area Code Underclass Team, got a call about the draft from the area scout that followed him. Undeterred by the attention, the shortstop knew where his mind was set.
“You try to stay out of it and just focus on the field,” Workman said. “We knew what they were thinking the whole time.”
Despite having been drafted, Workman and Robinson still chose to compete in the Tournament of Stars. Getting more reps in against the best arms in the country is a perfectly sufficient reason by itself, but both players made it clear they were hunting for something bigger.
“Just getting the opportunity to maybe represent your country would be pretty exciting for me. It's a dream of mine,” Workman said, referencing the chance to play for the 18U National Team at the WBSC World Cup in early September.
Gage Workman (Photo by Shawn McFarland)
Being drafted at a young age often bodes well for a player's future draft stock. If a player signs out of high school, they receive more development time. If the player decides college is the way to go, there's a good chance of being drafted again in three years’ time. No matter the decision, jumping into affiliated ball early allows for more pro instruction.
To demonstrate the youth movement, take a look at the sample 2013 draft class. Out of the 30 youngest players selected, 15 signed straight out of high school, 11 went to either a junior college or university and were picked again (all at a much higher draft position), and only four haven't been introduced to pro ball.
The Padres have embraced youth drafting wholeheartedly. In the earlier rounds, they selected MacKenzie Gore and Johnny Homza, both of whom are young for their graduation date. Later on, San Diego selected four of the seven-youngest players in the draft, including Robinson. In 2016, the Padres used a first-round pick on Hudson Potts, who wouldn’t turn 18 until nearly five months after the draft.
The Brewers endorsed youth as well. Their draft class consisted of the most high schoolers (20) and the youngest average age (19.8) of all 30 teams.
For Workman and Robinson though, it's on to college, where they'll still be just 20 when the draft rolls around in 2020.