The 2020 MLB draft is in the books, but this year it was much shorter than usual due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of around 1,200 players being drafted over 40 rounds, there were only five rounds featuring 160 picks. That means there are a lot of amateurs left over who would normally have heard their names called in any other summer, and teams can now begin signing them for up to $20,000 each.
June 14 marked the beginning of the undrafted free agent market, and the Oakland A’s got started by signing four players over the following few days (click links for more details on each):
- William Simoneit, C/IF, Wake Forest (full coverage)
- Cooper Uhl, C, Loyola Marymount (full coverage)
- Garrett Acton, RHP, Illinois (full coverage)
- Grant Judkins, RHP, Iowa (full coverage)
Now the A’s have added another undrafted college player, reports Bill Moriarity of Athletics Farm:
- Jake Suddleson, OF, Harvard
Like the others before him, Suddleson wasn’t on any of the major pre-draft boards, not even cracking the Top 500 on Baseball America, so there aren’t any detailed scouting reports on him. But here’s some quick info.
Suddleson spent four seasons playing for Harvard University. At the plate he broke out as a junior, and kept it rolling during his brief senior campaign before the coronavirus shutdown. As an upper-classman, he played almost exclusively right field. His career stats:
- 2017 (73 PAs): .219/.315/.391, 2 HR, 6 BB, 32 Ks
- 2018 (170 PAs): .265/.341/.450, 6 HR, 14 BB, 41 Ks
- 2019 (188 PAs): 382/.431/.673, 11 HR, 7 BB, 34 Ks
- 2020 (21 PAs): .389/.476/.722, 1 HR, 0 BB, 5 Ks
His 2019 success earned him Conference Player of the Year honors, which is impressive even though the Ivy League isn’t particularly strong. On top of that, he also got national recognition as a Third-Team All-American by ABCA/Rawlings. His 53 RBI set a school record for a single season.
Here’s Suddleson hitting an opposite-field walk-off double in April 2019:
Click here for another video of him making a nice hustle play, scoring on a wild pitch
Suddleson is the second Harvard player drafted by the A’s in as many years. In 2019, in the 10th round, they chose senior first baseman Patrick McColl, who had put up monster numbers similar to Suddleson’s en route to the school’s first Ivy League championship in 14 years.
An excerpt from a senior perspective written by Suddleson in late May, reflecting on the canceled season and his college career overall:
In baseball, the two biggest things you can control are preparation and frame of mind. Preparation, putting in the work, gets you into the best possible position to succeed at any given moment. In the physical sense, this means pushing yourself to the limit in the weight room, putting in extra time in the batting cage, and taking care of your body. It also means getting your schoolwork done efficiently so you have extra time to study as much game film as possible.
Then, you have to trust that preparation will support you in the moment, that the physical and mental preparation will manifest cohesively come game time. You cannot control what pitch a pitcher will throw, or where he throws it, or the outcome. But you can control your preparation for that at-bat and therefore how you react in the moment. All of this is easier said than done, but I’m a firm believer in the idea that hard work pays off.
The 6’3, 195-pound Southern California native brings an interesting right-handed power bat, one that tore up a weak conference and was a central cog on a winning team. He’s 22 now, so he presumably won’t get to debut as a pro until at least age 23 next season, but that will be the case for a lot of new draft prospects so at least he won’t be alone amid this unusual blip in the traditional aging curve.