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If and when the 2020 Major League Baseball season will be played remains in question because the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jeff Passan @JeffPassan
@kileymcd The 10-round proposal the union rejected included an interesting twist: essentially it was two five-round drafts. Meaning teams would not have been allowed to use slot money from R6-10 to pay guys in R1-5. Proposal also limited the number of undrafted players teams could sign.
While top prospects such as Georgia right-handed starting pitcher Emerson Hancock wait to see where they land in MLB, 2010 seventh overall pick Matt Harvey is reportedly exploring a move to KBO.
Below is more information on rumors surrounding Hancock and Harvey.
Matt Harvey and KBO Have Been “In Touch”
Harvey has been a free agent since the conclusion of last season after the Los Angeles Angels released him in July 2019 and his subsequent minor-league deal with Oakland Athletics’ Las Vegas Aviators Triple-A affiliate expired.
The 31-year-old appears to be open to taking his comeback bid overseas, according to KBO insider Daniel Kim and Joel Sherman of the New York Post on June 5:
Harvey made his MLB debut with the New York Mets in 2012. He secured his lone All-Star nod in 2013 with a 9-5 record alongside a 2.27 ERA and league-best 2.01 FIP. But Harvey, nicknamed “The Dark Knight,” hit his apex during the Mets’ 2015 World Series run.
The University of North Carolina product went 13-8 with a 2.71 ERA and 1.02 WHIP across 29 starts in 2015, but the defining moment of his New York career came against the Kansas City Royals in the decisive Game 5 of the ’15 World Series:
Then-manager Terry Collins allowed Harvey to go back out for the ninth inning with the Mets leading 2-0. Harvey walked Lorenzo Cain, who scored on a double by Eric Hosmer, before he was replaced by Jeurys Familia. The Royals would go on win 7-2 in 12 innings to become World Series champions.
Harvey had missed all of 2014 while healing from Tommy John surgery and returned fervently before Game 5 of the World Series, but it’s possible injury still hindered him in the seasons since:
Harvey went 4-10 with a 4.86 ERA for New York in 2016 and posted a 5-7 record with a 6.70 ERA the following year. The Mets designated Harvey for assignment and traded him to the Cincinnati Reds in May 2018. Once in Cincinnati, Harvey went 7-7 with a 4.50 ERA and 1.25 WHIP.
Any beginnings of course correction with the Reds were erased after signing a one-year deal with the Angels. Harvey was 3-5 with a career-high 7.09 ERA across 12 starts before his release.
Even so, the Toronto Blue Jays worked out Harvey and “seriously” considered signing him prior to the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down operations across baseball, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman (h/t MLB Trade Rumors’ Connor Byrne).
There is precedent for KBO serving as a path to MLB. The St. Louis Cardinals signed pitcher Kwang Hyun Kim from the league in 2019, and Los Angeles Dodgers’ 2008 second-round pick Josh Lindblom used three seasons in KBO to make it back to the major leagues with the Milwaukee Brewers in December.
Blue Jays Expected to Draft Pitching
Emerson Hancock is among pitchers mocked to Toronto with the fifth overall pick in the 2020 draft.
“I’ve heard pitching (Hancock, Max Meyer, maybe Reid Detmers) more than hitting (Nick Gonzales) here, but I’d be very surprised if they didn’t go with a college player,” The Athletic’s Keith Law wrote when projecting Hancock to go to the Blue Jays.
The 21-year-old is MLB Pipeline‘s fourth-ranked overall prospect. He was previously drafted out of Cairo (Georgia) High School in the 38th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2017 MLB draft.
Detmers is ranked eighth overall by MLB Pipeline followed by Meyer at No. 9.
Detmers is a 20-year-old left-handed pitcher out of Louisville. The 6’2″, 210-pounder posted a 13-4 record and 2.78 ERA across 113.1 innings in 2019. Per the team’s official website, he also set the program’s single-season strikeout record (167).
Meyer is a 21-year-old right-handed pitcher out of Minnesota. In a shortened 2020 campaign, the junior posted a team-best 1.95 ERA and 46 strikeouts. The 6’0″, 185-pounder has also pitched for the USA Collegiate National Team.
The Blue Jays’ need for pitching has not been kept a secret.
Team president Mark Shapiro answered emphatically when asked by The Athletic’s Jim Bowden what direction Toronto was leaning as the draft approaches: “Pitching, pitching, and more pitching. Also, probably more of a traditional center fielder, but we have lots of outfielders and we would like to give them an opportunity before adding to that mix.”
The Blue Jays finished last season at 67-95 as the team is fully engulfed in a rebuilding process.
Teams Knocking Emerson Hancock?
MLB.com’s Jim Callis projected Hancock to go sixth overall to the Seattle Mariners but included an interesting tidbit about his trajectory:
“There’s talk that Hancock, MLB Pipeline’s preseason No. 1 prospect, might be sliding a little because analytically minded teams don’t love his pitch metrics. The Mariners are focused on collegians and might take Gonzales over him, but he’d be their pitching choice over Meyer or Louisville left-hander Reid Detmers.”
Hancock finished his 2019 sophomore campaign for the Bulldogs at 8-3 with a 1.99 ERA, including nine of 14 starts with just zero or one run allowed, per Georgia’s official website. Before the 2020 season was cancelled, he led the team with 34 strikeouts opposite three walks across four starts.
Whether Hancock’s strikeout performance in 2020 was an anomaly is what MLB clubs might be grappling with.
“If there’s a question on Hancock, it’s the relative lack of strikeouts,” MLB.com’s Matthew Leach wrote in a profile of the pitcher from late May.
“He tallied 97 in 90 1/3 innings in 2019, his last full season. But that was starting to change this year before the season was cut short, as he’d amassed 34 K’s in 24 innings over four starts. [UGA pitching coach Sean] Kenny believes that’s not an accident, and he sees more swing-and-miss in Hancock’s future. He believes [Hancock] can miss bats with fastballs up in the strike zone.”
MLB Pipeline compared Hancock to 2018 No. 1 overall pick Casey Mize.