Over the past five years the Virginia baseball program has averaged five draftees per year in the MLB Draft. Over the course of his tenure at UVa, Coach O’Connor has seen more than 80 players selected in the draft.
The 2020 MLB Draft will be no different as the Hoos expect at least one of their star players, Andrew Abbott, and one of their gem signees, Nick Bitsko, to hear their names called.
But this 2020 draft is going to be very different in that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s draft has been cut from 40 rounds to just 5. This is going to allow all the MLB teams to save money on draft bonuses that would typically be paid to the players selected in rounds 6-10. After the five round draft, teams will be able to sign as many undrafted free-agents as they want, as is the case after most drafts.
Due to the shortened draft, many expect a massive influx of talent in the college baseball ranks for 2021 since more players will return for their senior years and more high school players will make it to campus.
Even so, UVa still expects to make an impact in the draft with junior LHP Andrew Abbott and incoming freshman RHP Nick Bitsko.
Andrew Abbott: Abbott has made quite a name for himself in the three years in Charlottesville. The relief pitcher has posted a 3.24 ERA and 9 saves in 57 career appearances. He was on pace to have one of the best seasons out of the bullpen in UVa history in 2020 as he had a 1.35 ERA, 3 wins, a .180 batting average against, and 28 strikeouts in just 9 appearances and 13 innings. Last summer he was selected for the USA Collegiate National Team and lead the pitching staff with seven appearances posting a 2-1 record with a 2.25 ERA. MLB.com ranks Abbott as the No. 116 draft prospect while ESPN does not have him in their top 150.
Nick Bitsko: Originally a member of the 2021 class, Bitsko stunned the baseball world in January when he decided to reclassify to the 2020 class. The 6-4, 225 pound right hander was a sure fire first round talent for the 2021 class, but because he reclassified, most teams have not had the chance to watch him in depth and scout him like they normally would. That likely will not matter. He threw all of his fastballs in the 92 to 96 mph range last summer and with a build like that, MLB teams are drooling over a chance to draft him. He’ll almost assuredly get drafted in the first round meaning it will be hard for him to turn down a large signing bonus, but rumors are he is asking for around a $3.5 million dollar bonus. With teams hesitant to spend that kind of money, the lack of scouting on him, and all the other pandemic-related restrictions this season, it could be a recipe for a miracle for UVa and see Bitsko in the orange and blue next season. Just don’t hold out too much hope.
The draft starts at 7 p.m. tomorrow, Wednesday June 9th and will be broadcast live on ESPN.