The NCAA College World Series (CWS) begins in full swing tomorrow with the Friday 1PM CST matchup between TCU and Oral Roberts. I’ll be on hand to several games in Omaha and will include my live reports on key players during the CWS. But with the College World Series and the MLB Draft Combine all happening in one week, the Draft cycle is in full swing.

Leading up to the Draft

I love mock drafts. They are fascinating and I love to make them myself. Mock Drafts aren’t in short supply, but a word of warning for readers of mocks. The vast majority of teams have not “zeroed in on” one particular player. Even the Pirates who own the first overall pick likely have not made their decision on whether to draft Dylan Crews or pivot to Wyatt Langford or Max Clark. Mocks can still be insightful and the intel in them can be helpful to get a sense for which teams are sending out large executive groups to meet with certain players. Combining that information with historical team drafting trends and tidbits here or there on which players crosscheckers or trusted area scouts believe in helps to paint a picture of where a team may be leaning, but it is still June. And from what I can tell, teams won’t begin to finalize draft boards until after the combine and CWS. Every team has a different style, but in general this is when organizations combine all the information from years of scouting reports, medical details, data, metrics, interviews, and biomechanical insights into one draft assessment of players. Then the smokescreens happen. It’s not uncommon for information to come fast and furious leading up to the draft. Sometimes it’s legit like when Prospects Live had Cade Horton frequently mentioned with the Cubs last year.

MLB Draft Combine

MLB changed rules prior to last year’s draft combine that added intrigue to the draft adding the so-called “Kumar Rocker rule”. This rule designated that players who participated in the MLB Draft combine and completed the physical at the event were guaranteed to receive 75 percent of their future draft slot bonus. Failure to offer that meant the player would be a free agent. That is a situation unlikely to happen. What is more likely is that players may strategically not take part in the combine or the physical so that teams do not have to offer 75% of slot.

Why would this happen? Well in some situations a player could receive even more money by positioning themselves as a huge underslot for a team at a given selection. Outside of a small number of competitive balance selections, teams cannot trade draft picks. So if a team fell in love with a player they would have to navigate whether to take them “early” or buy them down to a later pick. Teams also like to move money around and this guarantee – while designed with good intentions – limits team and player flexibility there. For a specific player example (purely hypothetical), UVA’s Kyle Teel could position himself to take a $6 million guarantee from the Tigers (72% of slot) rather than roll the dice he receives that figure from a team in the top 10? Detroit would save $2.34 million they could use elsewhere in the draft while taking a player they feel could be on par with one of the bats available like Langford, Clark, Jenkins. Again, purely hypothetical, but possible.

It was rumored that about 100 players at last year’s combine elected to forgo medical testing to remove this guarantee. Most of these players were expected to be older players who positioned themselves as money saving selections a round or two higher than projected. We won’t know which, if any, players forgo the Combine physical this year, but what we do know is that there are players who weren’t on the Combine roster and, based on the criteria won’t have this guarantee. According to MLB Pipeline, 169 of the Top 200 ranked players have indicated they plan to participate. Multiple players in the CWS will have the option to to participate in a supplemental Combine because they still indicated an original plan to participate in the Combine. According to the published MLB Draft Combine participants list players who have elected to not attend the Combine include the following Top 200 ranked prospects:

MLB Pipeline Ranking in parenthesis

  • (1) Dylan Crews, OF, LSU
  • (4) Walker Jenkins, OF, South Brunswick HS (NC)
  • (6) Chase Dollander, RHP, Tennessee
  • (10) Kyle Teel, C, UVA
  • (20) Hurston Waldrep, RHP, Florida
  • (22) Dillon Head, OF, Homewood-Flossmore HS (IL)
  • (32) Ralphy Velazquez, C/1B, Huntington Beach HS (CA)
  • (35) Blake Wolters, RHP, Mahomet-Seymore HS (IL)
  • (42) Jake Gelof, 3B, Virginia
  • (43) Cooper Pratt, SS, Magnolia Heights HS (MS)
  • (66) Roman Martin, SS, Servite HS (CA)
  • (85) Ryan Lasko, OF, Rutgers
  • (97) Adam Hachman, LHP, Timberland HS (MO) ***Tommy John surgery this spring***
  • (103) James Ellwanger, RHP, Magnolia West HS (TX)
  • (104) Luke McNellie, RHP, Milton HS (GA)
  • (105) Michael Carico, C, Davidson
  • (117) Julian Brock, C, Louisiana-Lafayette
  • (122) Alex Sosa, C, Viera HS (FL)
  • (131) Carson Rucker, 3B, Goodpasture-Christian HS (TN)
  • (135) Caden Grice, 1B, Clemson
  • (137) Colin Fisher, LHP, Noble HS (OK)
  • (155) Campbell Smithwick, C, Oxford HS (MS)
  • (159) Camden Minacci, RHP, Wake Forest
  • (160) Jonah Cox, OF, Oral Roberts
  • (168) Dylan Campbell, OF, Texas
  • (172) Josh Bostick, RHP, Grayson JC
  • (173) Kehden Hettiger, C, Sierra Canyon HS (CA)
  • (174) Jake Bloss, RHP, Georgetown
  • (176) Nicholas Judice, RHP, Louisiana-Monroe
  • (179) Bishop Letson, RHP, Floyd Central HS (IN)
  • (198) Aidan Keenan, RHP, Live Oak HS (CA)

This list was formulated after being cross-referenced with the published Combine participants roster. It’s unknown if any of these players will be able to participate in any supplemental Combine or if any waiver was granted for an injured player. Every attempt was made to ensure to accuracy of this list.

Let’s get to the Draft!

Draft season is in full swing and information will be coming out in rapid succession. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for the latest in draft reports here at North Side Bound.