As a result of the shortened seasons and uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 global pandemic, Major League Baseball has decided to shorten the 2020 MLB Draft to just five rounds. 

The draft, typically 40 rounds long and previously as long as 50 rounds, will bring a much smaller pool of players to the professional baseball than in most years. Countless Major League players enter the big leagues from later rounds every season. Of the 1,046 active MLB players who entered the league through the draft, 483 were taken after the fifth round. That’s a whopping 46%.

Anthony Rizzo, Paul Goldschmidt, Jacob deGrom and Albert Pujols are just some of baseball’s biggest stars who came into the league without much pedigree. But which notable Nationals and Orioles also wouldn’t have gotten their chance without a longer draft?

Here are the eight biggest local players to be drafted after the fifth round, in order of draft years.

Washington Nationals

Howie Kendrick
Year: 2002
Team: Anaheim Angels
Round: 10, Overall Pick: 294

Kendrick, of course, was the clutch hero of the Nats’ 2019 World Series run, with multiple late-inning home runs during a magical October. Kendrick didn’t begin his career with Washington, but he will forever be remembered for his exploits in the nation’s capital.

Michael A Taylor
Year: 2009
Team: Washington Nationals
Round: 6, Overall Pick: 172

Taylor has provided stellar defense and speed off the bench for a number of years with the Nationals. He has yet to establish himself as an everyday player, but he brings a lot of value as a bench piece.

Yan Gomes
Year: 2009
Team: Toronto Blue Jays
Round: 10, Overall Pick: 310

Gomes has only been in Washington for one season, though it was a memorable one ending with a championship ring. His defense and power has helped him accumulate 13.4 career WAR so far, a nice total for a player drafted this late.

Adam Eaton
Year: 2010
Team: Arizona Diamondbacks
Round: 19, Overall Pick: 571

Eaton has 19.3 WAR in his career after being taken in the 19th round of his draft. At that point, teams are just taking fliers, so any value at all would have been a net win. Instead, Eaton has proven himself one of the better outfielders in baseball when healthy, and durability is the only thing keeping him from his first All-Star Game.

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Baltimore Orioles 

Richard Bleier
Year: 2008
Team:Texas Rangers
Round: 6, Overall Pick: 183

Bleier didn’t make the big leagues until 2016, eight years after he was drafted. But the career minor leaguer carved out a nice role in the Baltimore bullpen, with a 1.97 ERA across the 2017 and 2018 seasons before a down 2019.

Trey Mancini
Year: 2013
Team: Baltimore Orioles
Round: 8, Overall Pick: 249

The best player on the Orioles, Mancini had a strong 2017, a poor 2018, and a terrific 2019. The slugging first baseman-turned-outfielder was chosen out of Notre Dame in 2013 after a strong hitting career, and he hasn’t stopped hitting at any stop up the professional ladder. In the span of three seasons, he has gone from promising rookie bat to surprising face of the franchise.

Tanner Scott
Year: 2014
Team: Baltimore Orioles
Round: 6, Overall Pick: 181

Scott is still trying to corral his high-90s fastball with better command, but he has the pure stuff to be a dominant bullpen arm. That’s more than most teams get out of their sixth-round picks, but he’s not there yet.

John Means
Year: 2014
Team: Baltimore Orioles
Round: 11, Overall Pick: 331

After making the roster as the 25th player out of camp in 2019, Means enjoyed a surprising breakout All-Star season, establishing himself as the O’s newest ace thanks to his killer changeup. Means finished second in AL Rookie of the Year voting last season, and will look to build off his breakout year whenever baseball returns.

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