The beginning of the 2020 MLB season is currently delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but a shortened five-round draft will still take place on Wednesday and Thursday.
The Detroit Tigers kicked things off in the first round, which will play out in its entirety on Wednesday. Rounds 2-5 will follow on Thursday.
The draft has been shortened from 40 rounds as a cost-cutting measure, per the Associated Press.
Stick right here to get live results from the first round alongside some analysis on a few notable selections.
1. Detroit Tigers: Arizona State 3B Spencer Torkelson
2. Baltimore Orioles: Arkansas OF Heston Kjerstad
3. Miami Marlins: Minnesota RHP Max Meyer
4. Kansas City Royals: Texas A&M LHP Asa Lacy
5. Toronto Blue Jays: Vanderbilt SS Austin Martin
6. Seattle Mariners: Georgia RHP Emerson Hancock
7. Pittsburgh Pirates: New Mexico State SS Nick Gonzales
8. San Diego Padres: Independence HS (Thompson's Station, TN) OF Robert Hassell III
9. Colorado Rockies: Spruce Creek HS (Port Orange, FL) OF Zac Veen
10. Los Angeles Angels: Louisville LHP Reid Detmers
11. Chicago White Sox: Tennessee LHP Garrett Crotchet
12. Cincinnati Reds: West Allegheny HS (Imperial, PA) OF Austin Hendrick
13. San Francisco Giants: North Carolina State C Patrick Bailey
14. Texas Rangers: Mississippi State 2B Justin Foscue
15. Philadelphia Phillies: Jesuit HS (Portland, OR) RHP Mick Abel
16. Chicago Cubs: Mt. Carmel HS (Chicago) SS Ed Howard
17. Boston Red Sox: Archbishop Mitty HS (San Jose) 2B Nick Yorke
18. Arizona Diamondbacks: Duke RHP Blake Jarvis
19. New York Mets: Harvard-Westlake OF (Los Angeles) Pete Crow-Armstrong
20. Milwaukee Brewers: UCLA OF Garrett Mitchell
21. St. Louis Cardinals: Decatur HS 3B (Georgia) Jordan Walker
22. Washington Nationals: Oklahoma RHP Cade Cavalli
23. Cleveland Indians: Mountain Pointe HS (Phoenix) SS Carson Tucker
24. Tampa Bay Rays: Central Bucks HS East (Doylestown, PA) RHP Nick Bitsko
25. Atlanta Braves: Wake Forest LHP Jared Shuster
26. Oakland Athletics: Turlock HS (California) C Tyler Soderstrom
27. Minnesota Twins: North Carolina 1B Aaron Sabato
28. New York Yankees: Arizona C Austin Wells
29. Los Angeles Dodgers: Louisville RHP Bobby Miller
* The Houston Astros were stripped of their first-round pick following MLB's investigation into their sign-stealing schemes during their 2017 World Series-winning season.
Competitive Balance Round A
30. Baltimore Orioles: Mississippi State SS Jordan Westburg
31. Pittsburgh Pirates: South Carolina RHP Carmen Mlodzinski
32. Kansas City Royals: Baylor SS Nick Loftin
33. Arizona Diamondbacks: Miami RHP Slade Cecconi
34. San Diego Padres: Llano HS (Texas) RHP Justin Lange
35. Colorado Rockies: The Woodlands HS (Texas) C Drew Romo
36. Cleveland Indians: Auburn RHP Tanner Burns
37. Tampa Bay Rays (from St. Louis Cardinals): Arizona State SS Alika Williams
Torkelson Goes No. 1 Overall, Announced as 3B
No surprise occurred when the Detroit Tigers announced Spencer Torkelson as the first overall pick, but some shock occurred when MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred called him a third baseman.
Torkelson played first base at Arizona State, but that apparently won't be the case with the Tigers.
Kyle Glaser of Baseball America called it an "interesting" move while also noting that he should "hit more than enough to be a force."
Torkelson hit 23 home runs with 66 RBI and a 1.153 OPS in his last full season with the Sun Devils in 2019. He played 17 games in the 2020 season before the campaign was shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic and smashed six homers with 11 RBI and a 1.378 OPS.
Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports also called it "interesting" and supported the move.
"Really interesting to see Spencer Torkelson announced as a third baseman. Honestly, I'm happy they did that. He played third base in high school, has a strong arm and is really athletic. This isn't new for him. Great high school football player, too."
For his part, Torkelson seems game for wherever the Tigers place him in the field, per Chris McCosky of the Detroit News.
"I pride myself as a baseball player and a baseball player isn’t stuck at one position...I pride myself on winning and getting the job done. If that's on third base, then that's what it is. I will do my best over there and make it happen."
Tigers general manager Alex Avila offered an explanation for the decision on ESPN (h/t Jim Parker of the Windsor Star).
"Well, we know he can play first, but our scouts strongly feel that he can play third base and that's our intent at this point. At this point, we’re going to send him out as a third baseman. We feel he's more than capable of handling that."
Detroit, which finished 47-114 last season, is in desperate need of home run power. The Tigers finished last in the American League with 149 homers last year, and no one on the team hit more than 15.
Torkelson can help turn the power switch back on whenever he's ready to hit the bigs, which doesn't seem like it will be long for the talented and polished ex-Sun Devil.
Orioles Land Surprise Pick in Kjerstad at No. 2
The shock of the first round occurred when the Baltimore Orioles selected Arkansas outfielder Heston Kjerstad second overall.
Kjerstad was on his way to a dominant season in 2020, posting a 1.304 OPS with six home runs, 20 RBI and a .448 batting average in 16 games. However, he wasn't ranked near No. 2 in predraft lists, with MLB.com (No. 10), CBS Sports (No. 17), FanGraphs (No. 7) and ESPN (No. 9) all placing him outside the top five.
The presumptive pick at No. 2 was Vanderbilt infielder Austin Martin, who ended up going fifth to the Toronto Blue Jays. Martin was ranked in the top two in the four aforementioned lists.
Some analysts explained why the Orioles took Kjerstad while praising the ex-Razorback's potential and exploits.
The most notable analysis might have come from Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin on MLB Network:
Orioles general manager Mike Elias explained the pick on Twitter, referencing his excellent season before the pandemic forced the shutdown:
The pick might have been shocking, but no one can deny Hjerstad's power. He and the Orioles' No. 1 pick last year, Adley Rutschman, could form a dynamic one-two punch for years to come.
First Pitcher off the Board to Marlins at No. 3
The Miami Marlins are hoping they found their ace in Max Meyer, who went 10-7 with a 2.13 ERA and 187 strikeouts in 148.0 innings over three years at the University of Minnesota.
He got off to a scorching-hot start in 2020, going 3-1 with a 1.95 ERA with 46 punchouts in 27.2 frames over four outings.
Marlins director of amateur scouting DJ Svihlik didn't hold back when praising Mayer in a call with reporters Wednesday (h/t Jordan McPherson of the Miami Herald): "That's the most athletic college pitcher in this draft with the most electric stuff. And he's just about Major League ready. That's it."
Baseball America also raved about his stuff:
Per the Marlins Communications department, Baseball America rated him as the best athlete with the second-best fastball and best breaking ball among pitchers in this year's draft.
Meyer's fastball averages 97.4 mph and tops out at 101 mph, per the Minnesota baseball team's account.
According to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, the Marlins already have a contract in place with the right-hander pending a physical.
The Marlins have promising young pitchers but none with any ace potential. Mayer can be the backbone of that starting rotation as Miami looks to crawl out of the National League East cellar.