As our own Grayson Weir wrote last week, the MLB Draft announced that the 2020 edition would only be five rounds due to COVID-19 affecting, well, everything. The college baseball season was cut short and instead of the usual 40 round event, major league teams will have just five rounds to select their newest members of their respective organizations.
The five-round draft is set to occur on June 10th and, along with their allotted draft picks, teams can use their money as they see fit during an undrafted player signing period that will begin on June 13th and end on August 1st, with no restrictions on the number of signees.
The revised draft will allow big league teams to also sign an unlimited number of undrafted players for just $20,000. This should drastically affect who even considers taking their chances in the professional ranks and who returns to their respective college campuses.
With all that said, most expect the draft to still claim third baseman Tyler Keenan and short stop Anthony Servideo, but the shortened affair could help the Rebels keep their pitching staff intact.
But what about the incoming class? Let’s take a look at the three 2020 signees and who could potentially still be at risk to not make it to Oxford.
EDITOR’S NOTE: all overall rankings are from Baseball America’s 2020 Draft rankings
Overall rank: 285
Hometown: Epworth, Iowa
The signee at the most risk, per sources, is the backstop from the Midwest. Catcher U has found its next star in the Western Dubuque High School star. The 6’1, 200-pounder is the No. 81 overall player and No. 2 catcher per Perfect Game who can really swing it and can really run (6.68 60-yard dash).
2020 Calvin Harris (IA) hammers a single the other way in his first AB at #PGNational. Ole Miss commit is currently #2 in Iowa’s 2020 class and #110 overall https://t.co/jzx12IA0y6 pic.twitter.com/b96j5SY0ff— Perfect Game Iowa (@IowaPG) June 13, 2019
Harris is a three-sport star who led WDHS to a 13-0 season on the gridiron, a state title, and was named the 3A Player of the Year after completing 67 percent of his passes for 2,246 yards and 29 touchdowns (only two interceptions) and rushed for another 12 touchdowns.
WATCH - Calvin Harris is headed to Ole Miss to play baseball, but he's a pretty darn good QB as well.— Josh Christensen (@jchristensenTV9) September 7, 2019
He broke 3 school records tonight:
He and @football_wd defeated Williamsburg 48-20. @WestDubNation @WesternDubuque pic.twitter.com/hncCvYiagP
As the draft approaches, he still appears to be the one signee who could get taken high enough in the draft that could give him a tough decision. But, given the lower round edition that is happening this year, the Rebels could be in luck.
Overall rank: 362
Hometown: Pensacola, Fla.
The next signee who could potentially hear his name called is the infielder from the Sunshine State. The 6’3, 180-pounder projects as a short stop or third baseman with his big league frame and smooth swing from the left side.
Jr. SS TJ McCants (@SaderBaseball; @OleMissBSB commit) follows his younger brother with a 2-run HR over the RF wall. Long, lean frame, highly athletic. Displays smooth actions throughout his game. @PBRFlorida @ShooterHunt #PBRBombSquad pic.twitter.com/DTusZdoyKb— Phil Kerber (@PhilKerberPBR) April 6, 2019
The Rebels might be losing Keenan, but McCants is talented enough to slide in next season and help shoulder the load that is left behind by the All-American. The Pensacola Catholic prospect hit .389, slugged .644, and had an OPS of 1.086 as a junior.
Congrats to shortstop TJ McCants @mccants_tj who received his jersey today from MLB/USA Baseball. He was chosen as 1 of the top 80 prospects in the country and will compete for 3 weeks @IMGAcademy for a chance to participate in MLB All-Star Weekend and the World Games! pic.twitter.com/HgKRPNLSqN— Catholic Baseball (@SaderBaseball) May 22, 2019
Like Harris, McCants isn’t rated incredibly high but the skill set and bat is there in case someone wants to take a chance on a highly-productive prep player.
Overall rank: 377
Hometown: Decatur, Miss.
Lastly, we take a look at the impressive specimen from Newton Academy. Alderman is a hoss, plain and simple. The 6’4, 240-pounder, if he makes it to campus, looks to be the next inductee into the #WHISKEYANDMEAT fraternity. The 2019 Perfect Game Tournament Player of the Year is quite the utility player, swinging a heavy bat and playing catcher and first base.
‘20 Kemp Alderman (Miss.) has a case for being the strongest prep player in the country, can see why here. Extremely physical with bat speed and impact, played pepper with the CF wall here on a double, left the bat at 109(!!!) mph. Ole Miss commit. #MLBDraft #WWBA16u pic.twitter.com/Z16GurdhQz— Brian Sakowski (@B_Sakowski_PG) July 9, 2019
This is one that fans might need to sweat out during the five rounds because of his projectable bat and raw power. Several MLB scouts believe Perfect Game’s top-50 player could be the strongest prep prospect in the draft and it doesn’t hurt that he can pitch it a little bit, too.
Perhaps the strongest #mlbdraft prospect in the prep ranks, Kemp Alderman (2020 MS) can also gas it up on the mound. Worked up to 93 mph with very good life; punished baseballs yesterday with a loud 2B and 3B. #OleMiss commit. @BPAtravelball pic.twitter.com/knxZvIL1sR— Vinnie Cervino (@vcervinoPG) July 26, 2019
Again, Alderman has a profile that pro teams like with his ability to hit gap-to-gap and pepper the batter’s eye. In 69 plate appearances on the summer circuit, Kemp hit .440 with four doubles, five home runs, and 25 runs batted in. He also turned heads and stole eight bases to go along with his ridiculous 1.425 OPS.
He hit .569, slapped 12 dingers, and drove in 41 runs while also adding 48 walks as a junior. Did someone say Thomas Dillard Part Deux? Then on the bump, he struck out 90 batters in just 47 innings for Newton Academy.
You might want to keep an ear to the proverbial ground on him next month during MLB Draft day.
We can’t say it enough that this year’s MLB Draft is an unprecedented event now that it is shortened by 35 rounds. Still, there are plenty of times when it doesn’t go as planned or as expected. It was only a few years ago when the Rebels defied all the odds, bringing the entire 2016 class to campus.
This could be another class like that, bringing in these three uber-talented dudes along with the other