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Friday, February 26, 2021

MLB Completes First Day of 2020 Draft

Club baseball operations officials unite in support of “Black Lives Matter”; Tigers select Spencer Torkelson first overall; college players selected with each of first seven picks for first time in history

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Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids, and graduated from Valley Heights High School in May of 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications.After stops at KFRM and KCLY radio in Clay Center, he joined KNDY in 2002 as a board operator and play by play announcer. Derek is now responsible for the digital content of Dierking Communications, Inc. six radio stations.In 2005 Derek joined the staff of KCFX radio in Kansas City as a production coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, which airs on over 94 radio stations across 12 Midwest states and growing. In 2018 he became the Studio Coordinator at the Cumulus Kansas City broadcast center for Kansas City Chiefs Football.

Major League Baseball has completed the first day of the 2020 Draft presented by T-Mobile, which aired live on MLB Network, ESPN, ESPN Deportes and MLB.com this evening from Studio 21 at MLB Network in Secaucus, New Jersey. In total, 37 players were selected during Round 1 and Competitive Balance Round A. The 2020 Draft presented by T-Mobile will continue on Thursday, beginning with the second round at 5:00 p.m. (ET) on MLB Network and ESPN2. The five rounds of the 2020 MLB Draft will span 160 total selections.

A top Baseball Operations representative from each of the 30 Major League Clubs, as well as 26 of the top draft-eligible players, each equipped with T-Mobile phones, appeared remotely from their respective locations. At the start of the Draft, the Baseball Operations officials stood in solidarity with the Black community in support of racial justice efforts. In a symbolic gesture of unity during the nationally televised MLB Draft, the Baseball Operations officials displayed “Black Lives Matter” placards and were joined by MLB and team owners in making donations to organizations that support and fight for racial justice, including the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund; Equal Justice Initiative; Color Of Change; Campaign Zero; and the Jackie Robinson Foundation.

The Detroit Tigers selected third baseman Spencer Torkelson out of Arizona State University with the first overall pick in the Draft. Torkelson was the first third baseman taken with the first overall selection since Philadelphia selected Pat Burrell in 1998, and he joined Matt Anderson (1997) and Casey Mize (2018) as the only number one overall picks in Tigers history. The Tigers became the sixth team to hold the top overall pick twice in a three-year span, joining San Diego (1972, 1974), Seattle (1979, 1981), Tampa Bay (2007-08), Washington (2009-10) and Houston (2012, 2014). Torkelson became the fourth player from Arizona State University to be selected first overall, joining Rick Monday (1965), Floyd Bannister (1976) and Bob Horner (1978). In addition, he became just the seventh collegiate player to be chosen first overall after not having previously been drafted out of high school, joining Mize (2018), Stephen Strasburg (2009), Anderson (1997), Kris Benson (1996), Andy Benes (1988) and Dave Roberts (1972). Following the selection of Adley Rutschman atop the 2019 MLB Draft, this marks the second consecutive year that an alumni of the Pitch, Hit & Run National Skills Competition was chosen with the number one overall pick.

Each of the first seven selections came from the collegiate ranks for the first time in the history of the Draft, surpassing the previous mark of six in 2006. Overall, 18 of the 29 first round selections came from college, while 11 high school players were selected. The state of California produced five players in the first round, followed by Illinois (3), Tennessee (3), Arizona (2), Florida (2), Georgia (2), Texas (2) and Pennsylvania (2). For the 18th time in the last 19 years, at least one pair of teammates (college or high school) were selected in the first round when left-handed pitcher Reid Detmers (10th overall, LAA) and right-handed pitcher Bobby Miller (29th overall, LAD) were drafted out of the University of Louisville.

Five of the first 23 selections (21.7%) come from diverse backgrounds, including four African-Americans. Those selected in the first 23 included Austin Martin (5th overall, TOR); Nick Gonzales (7th overall, PIT); Ed Howard (16th overall, CHI); Jordan Walker (21st overall, STL); and Carson Tucker (23rd overall, CLE).

The selections of Howard by the Cubs and Walker by the Cardinals mark the first time ever that two alumni of the Breakthrough Series – a diversity-focused, amateur development experience by MLB & USA Baseball – have been selected in the first round of the MLB Draft. Other first round alumni of the Breakthrough Series include Bubba Thompson, Corey Ray, Dillon Tate, Dom Smith, Courtney Hawkins, and Carlos Rodón. Both Howard and Walker are alumni of additional diversity-focused development programming offered, in part, by MLB & USA Baseball, including the Hank Aaron Invitational (Howard participated in 2015 & 2018) – which is funded by the MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation – and the DREAM Series (Walker participated in 2019). Both are the first alumni selected in the MLB Draft’s opening round since Hunter Greene in 2017. Howard is also a product of Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) through the Chicago White Sox ACE program.

Eight players who participated in the inaugural Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP) League by MLB and USA Baseball were selected on the first night. The players include Robert Hassell III (8th overall, SD); Austin Hendrick (12th overall, CIN); Mick Abel (15th overall, PHI); Howard (16th overall, CHI); Walker (21st overall, STL); Tucker (23rd overall, CLE); Tyler Soderstrom (26th overall, OAK); and Drew Romo (35th overall, COL). The PDP League served as a primary identification opportunity for the USA Baseball 18U National Team, which competed in the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-18 Baseball World Cup in Busan, South Korea in September 2019. Additionally, the League served as a feeder for a new MLB All-Star High School Prospect Game for the best high school baseball players, which took place in Cleveland as part of MLB’s All-Star Week festivities in July 2019.

The Cleveland Indians selected Mountain Pointe H.S. (AZ) shortstop Carson Tucker with the 23rd overall pick in the Draft. Tucker is the brother of Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Cole Tucker, who was drafted with the 24th overall pick by the Pirates in 2014. Other notable selections included Duke University right-hander Bryce Jarvis, who was selected 18th overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks, and Turlock H.S. (CA) catcher Tyler Soderstrom, who was drafted 26th overall by the Oakland Athletics. Jarvis is the son of former Major League pitcher Kevin Jarvis, who was a 21st round pick in the 1991 MLB Draft by the Cincinnati Reds, while Soderstrom is the son of former Major League pitcher Steve Soderstrom, who was drafted sixth overall in the 1993 Draft by the San Francisco Giants.

Seven right-handed pitchers were selected in the opening round, the most among all positions. It marked the third consecutive year that less than 10 right-handers were chosen in the first round, marking the first time that has happened since 1989-91. Other players taken in the first round tonight included six outfielders, four left-handed pitchers, four shortstops, three catchers, two second basemen, two third basemen and one first baseman. With the selections of second basemen Justin Foscue (14th overall, TEX) and Nicholas Yorke (17th overall, BOS), it marked just the second time in the last 20 years (also 2011) that multiple second basemen were chosen in the first round. In addition, three catchers were selected in the first round for the third consecutive year, marking the first time it has happened since 1985-87. The three backstops chosen in the first round tonight included Patrick Bailey (13th overall, SF), Soderstrom (26th overall, OAK) and Austin Wells (28th overall, NYY).

MLB.com will continue to provide Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of draft-eligible players with statistics, scouting reports and video highlights. On Twitter, the official Draft Twitter account, @MLBDraft, will provide up-to-the-moment updates and commentary using the official Draft hashtag, #MLBDraft, while @MLBDraftTracker will tweet all picks as they are made.

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