Starting pitcher Taylor Dollard is Cal Poly's top prospect in the 2020 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, scheduled for a two-day run Wednesday at the Holland Center in Omaha, Neb.
After two seasons as a relief pitcher, Dollard became the Mustangs' Friday night starter for his junior campaign and, in four starts, posted a 1-0 record and 1.67 ERA with 36 strikeouts over 27 innings.
In his first collegiate start on the mound, Dollard allowed two singles and struck out 10 over seven scoreless innings in a 5-0 victory over Connecticut at the MLB4 Tournament in Scottsdale, Ariz.
His other three starts were no-decisions.
Dollard struck out a career-high 12 in seven innings, allowing two runs and four hits against BYU, fanned nine in seven innings versus No. 5 Michigan and notched six strikeouts in six innings in Cal Poly's come-from-behind walk-off 2-1 win over Baylor.
This year’s baseball draft has been shortened to five rounds, meaning the number of players picked will be significantly smaller than usual. That could leave several potential contributors among the large group of undrafted players.
Dollard posted a 5-0 win-loss record, 2.89 ERA and four saves as a sophomore en route to first-team All-Big West Conference honors and was 3-0 with three saves and a 2.43 ERA in 2018, his first season as a Mustang.
The Crespi Carmelite High School graduate was 9-0 with a 2.43 ERA and seven saves in his Mustang career, striking out 121 batters over 111 1/3 innings.
His career stats at Crespi included a 4-5 win-loss record, 3.64 ERA and 90 strikeouts over 100 innings. Dollard was not drafted out of high school.
Cal Poly has had at least one player drafted every year since 1999. Last year, right-handed starting pitcher Bobby Ay was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the ninth round.
The five-round Draft will begin on Wednesday at 4 p.m. Pacific, with both MLB Network and ESPN producing live coverage. The first night of coverage will span the first 37 picks, covering the first round and Competitive Balance Round A.
Coverage continues on Thursday on MLB Network and ESPN2 at 2 p.m. Pacific with the second through fifth rounds. There will be a total of 160 picks in the 2020 Draft. The Draft usually runs 40 rounds but was shortened this year in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Detroit Tigers have the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft by virtue of having the worst record in baseball in 2019.
This year, there is a $20,000 limit on bonuses for non-drafted free agents. There is no limit to the number of undrafted players teams may sign, but they cannot go over $20,000 per player.
Typically, the best college players sign after their junior year, but because this year's draft is only five rounds, many players could choose to head back to college if they aren’t drafted and re-enter the draft next year, rather than signing as an undrafted free agent for the $20,000 maximum.
In addition to more college players staying for their senior years, more high school players may head to college for the same reasons. Players who head to four-year schools will be draft-eligible again in 2023.
The signing deadline is August 1.
The 2020 MLB Draft likely will result in a higher rate of college picks than in previous drafts. College teams were able to play for four weeks before the 2020 season was suspended March 12 and canceled a few weeks later. High school teams played no more than a handful of games before their seasons were cut short due to the coronavirus.
Baseball America ranked Dollard No. 190 on his list of 2020 prospects.
"Dollard excelled in Cal Poly’s bullpen his first two seasons and continued his ace relief in the Cape Cod League last summer," wrote Baseball America. "He moved into Cal Poly’s rotation this spring and made a smooth transition to starting with a 1.67 ERA in four starts before the season was shut down.
"Dollard intrigues evaluators as an athletic right-hander with command of four pitches and a low-mileage arm," the online article continued. "His fastball sits 88-92 mph, but it plays up with deception and command and gets more swings and misses than expected. He gets ahead of hitters with his fastball and finishes them with his slider, an above-average to plus pitch that draws swings and misses and projects to be an out pitch at higher levels.
"He has a usable curveball he can drop in for a strike at any time and a changeup that has a chance to be average with further development. Dollard still has room to fill out his frame and reminds many evaluators of what Shane Bieber looked like in college. Evaluators further suspect Dollard’s pitches have strong analytics traits, with one terming him an 'analytics guy’s dream.' ”
D1Baseball.com listed Dollard No. 77 in its final 2020 Power Rankings for starting pitchers in April.
- This report was contributed by Eric Burdick, Associate Director of Athletics for Communications Cal Poly Mott Athletics Center
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