CLEVELAND, Ohio (WKBN) – Indians’ scouting director Scott Barnsby isn’t sure what impact the COVID-19 pandemic will have on this year’s draft class.
“It’s tough to predict,” he said. “I think we’re going to find out in time.”
His plan is to be over-prepared. Barnsby said scouts started building a database of information as soon as last year’s draft ended and despite getting pulled off the road in early March for safety concerns, the Indians are ready.
“I was blown away the last few weeks by the depth of information that we had during the meetings,” Barnsby said. “Not only from the on-field evaluation but also from the guys spending more time getting to know the players.”
This year’s draft will be five rounds, a stark contrast from previous seasons. Last year, 1,217 players were drafted through 40 rounds. This year, there will be 160 players selected.
It’s a cost-saving move by Major League Baseball and a big step toward overhauling the minor league system. The rest of the undrafted prospects are free to sign with any major team they choose starting Sunday at 9 a.m. Those players can sign for a maximum of $20,000.
Convincing them to come to Cleveland is the next challenge and when it comes to recruiting, the Indians likes its chances.
“One of the things that has been really cool as we’ve had conversations with players and agents, many of them have mentioned the job that our player development system has done,” Barnsby said. “That is really important to a lot of the people that we’ve talked to, just getting in the right system. Typically in the draft, they don’t have a choice. After the draft, at this point, they will have a choice.”
The first round of the Major League Baseball Draft starts Wednesday at 7 p.m. The next four rounds will take place Thursday.