The Padres have officially signed their fourth-round pick of the 2020 MLB Draft.
Despite having a slot bonus of $533,000, the Padres were able to sign their fourth-round pick in the 2020 MLB Draft for just $80,000, according to Jim Callis of MLB.com. Levi Thomas marks the first of, hopefully, all six players signing their rookie contracts.
If you recall, Robert Hassell went on a Nashville-based radio station last week, indicating that he plans to forgo collegiate baseball at nearby Vanderbilt and sign with the Padres. Taken in the first round, Hassell was widely viewed as the best prep hitter in the country.
With regards to Thomas, he still had a year of eligibility left at Troy, so I am a bit surprised that he signed for so little. He posted an absurd 0.39 ERA through four starts this season, fanning 42 over 23.0 innings while allowing just six free passes. As a sophomore, he made 15 starts for the Trojans, striking out 87 batters over 80.2 innings.
If you’re the Padres in this scenario, you have to be pleased because the team’s third-round pick, Cole Wilcox, is going to be the most challenging to sign. He’s a first-round talent that slid to the third round and was only a draft-eligible sophomore out of Georgia. Should he return to school, that would be a major blow to the Padres abbreviated draft and would essentially be a wasted pick. That said, general manager AJ Preller stated he is confident that they put themselves in a good position to be able to sign him.
Signing Thomas was important, though. As Callis notes, he features a fastball in the mid-90s and complements it with an above-average breaking ball. Unlike previous seasons, Thomas will likely be idle until the start of the 2021 season, unless the Padres want to carry him on the expanded taxi squad roster to work out and throw alongside the starters.