Despite NCAA vote, MLB draft continues brewing uncertainty for Baylor baseball

Redshirt junior pitcher Jimmy Winston and senior pitchers Luke Boyd and Logan Freeman wait for first-pitch during a midweek game against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor

By DJ Ramirez | Sports Writer

Baseball is a game of uncertainty and Baylor baseball has had enough uncertainty to deal with in the past three weeks. On top of having their season canceled, the Bears also had to go through quarantine after coming into indirect contact with COVID-19 upon their return from playing a road series in California on March 8.

According to head coach Steve Rodriguez, the team is doing alright and adjusting to a new normal at home.

“They’re doing OK and they have a lot of questions at the same time,” Rodriguez said in a video press conference Tuesday. “Everybody as of right now is doing great in regards to all the things, but you can kind of tell that a lot of our guys have not really appreciated the busyness of their life that they had as athletes.”

With classes being moved online and athletic activity canceled on campus, the biggest question that remained was if the NCAA would allow athletes to receive another year of eligibility. After the Division I Council voted in favor of the extra year on Monday afternoon, that question was answered.

But for Baylor baseball the biggest uncertainty remains in the form of the MLB First Year Player Draft. With possible changes coming to the draft this year, Rodriguez said he’s told his players to take their time in considering their decisions concerning their extra year of eligibility.

“I have not gotten into the details of them coming back or not coming back just yet,” Rodriguez said. “We’ve kind of had overview conversations about it. But the biggest thing is I didn’t want them to start making plans to start organizing themselves in those regards. Just because I didn’t know what the NCAA was going to do. And I didn’t want them to kind of get their hopes up and then have it get crushed as some decisions were made.”

Changes to the draft could factor into the decision of some juniors and seniors as the MLB is in talks to shorten the draft to five to 10 rounds from the usual 40. Which players get drafted this summer, which team drafts them and how much compensation they receive are all elements that players will have to consider this summer if the draft is shortened.

“For us the draft is going to be the big question,” Rodriguez said. “[Players] don’t have to jump at any possible offer that a major league team gives them just to get in the minor league system. They can be a little more selective if they want to.”

In the meantime, Rodriguez said the Bears are finding ways to stay connected while they practice isolation and social distancing. As everyone continues to deal with the situation brought on by the pandemic, and as Baylor Athletics tries to figure out how to move forward regarding the NCAA’s decision, Rodriguez said he is proud of how his team is handling the circumstances.

“I tell this to a lot of people, athletes are amazing figures of humanity,” Rodriguez said. “They have to deal with a lot of different things… that sometimes are out of their control, and they know they have to take a punch and keep rolling. And they do an amazing job of it. And so that’s one of the things I’m very proud of with our guys.”