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Which Teams Got The Best First Round Value In The 2020 MLB Draft?

MLB Draft Board

With Austin Martin and Garrett Mitchell coming to terms with the Blue Jays and Brewers this week, every 2020 first-round pick has now signed with their respective club.

That gives major league teams back-to-back years of successfully signing every first-round pick on the heels of a 2018 draft that saw three high school players taken in the first round—No. 8 Carter Stewart (Braves), No. 25 Matt McLain (Diamondbacks) and No. 30 J.T. Ginn (Dodgers)—fail to come to an agreement.

With signing bonuses now official, we can examine how the industry put the dollar sign on the muscle. MLB’s draft differs from the NBA and NFL in many ways, but perhaps the biggest difference is the lack of a hard slotting system. With teams implementing different financial strategies—such as spending most of its pool up top, spreading out the money evenly or saving money early to spend more for later picks—it’s not as simple as looking at the draft order to determine how the industry lined up the talent.

To do that effectively, it’s more beneficial to follow the money. Here is how the 2020 first round would look based on signing bonuses.

PickTeamPlayerSigning Bonus
1DETSpencer Torkelson$8,416,300
5TORAustin Martin$7,000,825
3MIAMax Meyer$6,700,000
4KCAsa Lacy$6,670,000
6SEAEmerson Hancock$5,700,000
7PITNick Gonzales$5,432,400
2BALHeston Kjerstad$5,200,000
9COLZac Veen$5,000,000
10LAAReid Detmers$4,670,000
11CWSGarrett Crochet$4,547,500
8SDRobert Hassell$4,300,000
15PHIMick Abel$4,075,000
12CINAustin Hendrick$4,000,000
13SFPatrick Bailey$3,797,500
16CHIEd Howard IV$3,745,500
19NYPete Crow-Armstrong$3,359,000
26OAKTyler Soderstrom$3,300,000
14TEXJustin Foscue$3,250,000
20MILGarrett Mitchell$3,242,900
22WSHCade Cavalli$3,027,000
24TBNick Bitsko$3,000,000
21STLJordan Walker$2,900,000
27MINAaron Sabato$2,750,000
17BOSNick Yorke$2,700,000
18ARIBryce Jarvis$2,650,000
28NYYAustin Wells$2,500,000
29LABobby Miller$2,197,500
25ATLJared Shuster$2,197,500
23CLECarson Tucker$2,000,000

Four of Baseball America’s top five draft prospects are among the top five signing bonuses, with Minnesota righthander Max Meyer (10) jumping into the fold and pushing New Mexico State shortstop Nick Gonzales (5) to the sixth-highest bonus.

This list could change the way you look at the first round, but it doesn’t tell you which teams got the most bang for its buck. While the definitive answer to that question won’t come for many years as players progress (or fail to progress) in their professional careers, we can examine the best values given current information.

For this, we’ll turn to our pre-draft rankings of the 2020 class and line up each of the first-round players with the slot values assigned to their respective rank. For example, Arizona State first baseman Spencer Torkelson, the No. 1 player in the class, would be assigned a $8,415,300 value—the assigned slot for the No. 1 pick. On the other end of the spectrum, Archbishop Mitty High second baseman Nick Yorke, the No. 96 player in the class, would be assigned a $604,800—the assigned slot for the No. 96 pick. You can find the slot values for all five rounds here.

Hopefully this serves as a good proxy for value when taking the difference in players’ actual signing bonuses and their assigned values based on BA 500 rankings.

PickRankTeamPlayerActual BonusAssigned ValueDifference
206MILGarrett Mitchell$3,242,900$5,742,900-$2,500,000
64SEAEmerson Hancock$5,700,000$6,664,000-$964,000
120CINAustin Hendrick$4,000,000$4,949,100-$949,100
52TORAustin Martin$7,000,825$7,789,900-$789,075
75PITNick Gonzales$5,432,400$6,180,700-$748,300
2821NYYAustin Wells$2,500,000$3,132,300-$632,300
43KCAsa Lacy$6,670,000$7,221,200-$551,200
108LAAReid Detmers$4,670,000$5,176,900-$506,900
1511PHIMick Abel$4,075,000$4,547,500-$472,500
97COLZac Veen$5,000,000$5,432,400-$432,400
2419TBNick Bitsko$3,000,000$3,359,000-$359,000
2928LARobert Miller$2,197,500$2,493,900-$296,400
1917NYPete Crow-Armstrong$3,359,000$3,609,700-$250,700
1314SFPatrick Bailey$3,797,500$4,036,800-$239,300
2618OAKTyler Soderstrom$3,300,000$3,481,300-$181,300
2222WSHCade Cavalli$3,027,000$3,027,000$0
11DETSpencer Torkelson$8,416,300$8,415,300$1,000
2543ATLJared Shuster$2,197,500$1,729,800$467,700
1620CHIEd Howard IV$3,745,500$3,242,900$502,600
816SDRobert Hassell$4,300,000$3,745,500$554,500
1837ARIBryce Jarvis$2,650,000$1,999,300$650,700
2735MINAaron Sabato$2,750,000$2,095,800$654,200
1115CWSGarrett Crochet$4,547,500$3,885,800$661,700
2134STLJordan Walker$2,900,000$2,148,100$751,900
2361CLECarson Tucker$2,000,000$1,129,700$870,300
213BALHeston Kjerstad$5,200,000$4,197,300$1,002,700
1436TEXJustin Foscue$3,250,000$2,045,400$1,204,600
310MIAMax Meyer$6,700,000$4,739,900$1,960,100
1796BOSNick Yorke$2,700,000$604,800$2,095,200

Brewers NEW 900X635

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It’s unsurprising that Mitchell tops this list, as the No. 6 overall prospect fell to the Brewers and the 20th selection in the draft. However, the $2.5 million in surplus value does speak to Mitchell’s talent and this quote from scouting director Tod Johnson after the fact:

“Coming into the draft time frame, into the season, would I have thought he might get to 20? Maybe not,” Johnson said after the draft. “Once we knew he was there, it was a relatively easy choice for us,” he said. “We had him pretty much at the top of the board of the guys we had remaining.”

The other top four values were all players selected among the top 15 picks, and stem from the Orioles and the Marlins selecting Heston Kjerstad (13) and Max Meyer (10) among the top three picks, pushing down players like Austin Martin, Emerson Hancock and Nick Gonzales.

Pennsylvania prep outfielder Austin Hendrick is the sole high school prospect to rank among the top five in this measure of value. Hendrick provides the Reds just under a million in assigned value after ranking ninth and being selected 12th, and signing for $366,400 under slot.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, it’s also unsurprising that Yorke was the “least valuable” first round selection given his pre-draft ranking. However, as we have written about and talked about previously, that doesn’t make this pick crazy, by any means.

Outside of any measure of value, it’s also worth looking at a chart of signing bonuses compared to MLB’s assigned slot values, to see which players got the biggest overslot deals and which players took the biggest haircuts.

PickTeamPlayerSlot ValueSigning BonusDiff.
5TORAustin Martin$6,180,700$7,000,825$820,125
26OAKTyler Soderstrom$2,653,400$3,300,000$646,600
15PHIMick Abel$3,885,800$4,075,000$189,200
27MINAaron Sabato$2,570,100$2,750,000$179,900
24TBNick Bitsko$2,831,300$3,000,000$168,700
9COLZac Veen$4,949,100$5,000,000$50,900
28NYYAustin Wells$2,493,900$2,500,000$6,100
4KCAsa Lacy$6,664,000$6,670,000$6,000
1DETSpencer Torkelson$8,415,300$8,416,300$1,000
7PITNick Gonzales$5,432,400$5,432,400$0
11CWSGarrett Crochet$4,547,500$4,547,500$0
16CHIEd Howard IV$3,745,500$3,745,500$0
19NYPete Crow-Armstrong$3,359,000$3,359,000$0
20MILGarrett Mitchell$3,242,900$3,242,900$0
22WSHCade Cavalli$3,027,000$3,027,000$0
6SEAEmerson Hancock$5,742,900$5,700,000-$42,900
10LAAReid Detmers$4,739,900$4,670,000-$69,900
29LARobert Miller$2,424,600$2,197,500-$227,100
21STLJordan Walker$3,132,300$2,900,000-$232,300
12CINAustin Hendrick$4,366,400$4,000,000-$366,400
13SFPatrick Bailey$4,197,300$3,797,500-$399,800
3MIAMax Meyer$7,221,200$6,700,000-$521,200
25ATLJared Shuster$2,740,300$2,197,500-$542,800
14TEXJustin Foscue$4,036,800$3,250,000-$786,800
18ARIBryce Jarvis$3,481,300$2,650,000-$831,300
8SDRobert Hassell$5,176,900$4,300,000-$876,900
17BOSNicholas Yorke$3,609,700$2,700,000-$909,700
23CLECarson Tucker$2,926,800$2,000,000-$926,800
2BALHeston Kjerstad$7,789,900$5,200,000-$2,589,900

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