Can you believe it? The 2020 draft is right around the corner. From the hype of the 2020 college season to the cancellation due to the COVID19 pandemic, and the re-formatting of the draft, it’s finally here.
Most of the 2020 picks within the top-five haven’t budged much. And since there are only 5-rounds, the high school prospects have changed in certain spots.
1. Detroit Tigers: Spencer Torkelson, 1B/OF, Arizona State
Nothing has changed here. From the end of the Tigers’ abysmal 2019 campaign, hell, even before the All-Star break when everyone kind of figured they’d be the worst team in the league, Torkelson was the pick. He was even the pick in every ‘Way-to-early’ mock draft two years ago, after his stud Freshman year. Tork is the real deal. In my last mock draft I said he was “2020’s version of Andrew Vaughn and JJ Bleday rolled into one.” The Tigers need more bats and Tork is a foundation player. The only reason, the ONLY reason, I see a scenario where they draft Austin Martin from Vanderbilt is if they think Tork’s game has peaked. Martin is tempting, just because his ceiling is so high. He has more tools than Tork, and knows what it’s like to win big. Even considering all of that, Tork is a corner guy, who can play outfield if needed and hits for power and average. Detroit will not pass on him.
2. Baltimore Orioles: Austin Martin, IF, Vanderbilt
High ceiling with comparisons to Alex Bregman. Martin also fits an infielder need for Baltimore. He would also be the true heir to the empty thrown left by Manny Machado. Hits for more average than power. The true unknown is if he has any more power to tap into. That will determine whether the Bregman comparisons are legit. Bottom line: he’s a winner.
3. Miami Marlins: Nick Gonzalves, 2B, New Mexico State
My first shock of my mock starts here. Many people believe Texas A&M southpaw Asa Lacy will be the pick at three. I believe that’s too risky. Would they rather have Austin Martin? Yes, in a heartbeat. But Gonzalves’ stock is hot right now. Before the cancellation of the NCAA baseball season, Gonzalves was playing out of his mind. He was 17th in my last mock, and has jumped 14 spots since then. Lacy is a very good pitcher, but one I justify competing for the top three spots. Gonzalves is a seasoned-bat with huge upside and is destined to become a leader in the clubhouse. Plus, if any single position lacks in the Marlins farm system right now it’s position players.
4. Kansas City Royals: Zac Veen, RF, Spruce Creek High School (Florida), Florida commit
My oh my what a rise! Veen’s left-handed swing and projectable 6’4 frame is what scouts drool over. He’s more hit than power and showcases excellent bat speed. Cody Bellinger is a comparison he’ll get tired of hearing for many years to come.
5. Toronto Blue Jays: Asa Lacy, LHP, Texas A&M
Lacy has squeaked into the top-five in less than a year’s time. During his career at Texas A&M he improved his fastball from 87-91 mph to 92-97 with a devastating natural break. His changeup is a nice change of pace, as it fades and sinks and could become his best pitch.
6. Seattle Mariners: Emerson Hancock, RHP, Georgia
Some think Hancock is all hype and doesn’t analytically project well, hence the fall in most mocks. With as fearful as teams are right now with the new draft format, most will buy into the numbers more than the talent. These are the same doubters Casey Mize had a couple years ago. I wouldn’t listen to it. Hancock is the best right-handed pitcher in this draft.
7. Pittsburgh Pirates: Heston Kjerstad, RF, Arkansas
I liken Kjerstad’s skillset to that of Jarred Kelenic’s; a one-time Mets prospect, now thriving in Seattle’s system. Kjerstad is cut from the same cloth. He just knows how to get on base. With the head-scratching trade of Austin Meadows, the Pirates need to pump some more life into an anemic outfield crop and Kjerstad will suffice.
8. San Diego Padres: Max Meyer, RHP, Minnesota
If San Diego didn’t make the Taylor Trammell trade last year, I’d be talking about taking an outfielder like Austin Hendrick or Robert Hassell here. This organization wants to win now, and Meyer will turn into a prospect that gets to the majors very quickly.
9. Colorado Rockies: Robert Hassell, CF, Independence High School (Tennessee), Vanderbilt commit
Charlie Blackmon’s days in Colorado are winding down. Enter his replacement: Robert Hassell. Austin Hendrick could easily go here as well, or UCLA center fielder Garrett Mitchell. Hassell is too good to overlook, though. Hassell has louder tools and a natural approach at the plate that gives him the best all-around profile of any outfielder in this draft.
10. Los Angeles Angels: Reid Detmers, LHP, Louisville
The Angels need an influx of pitchers in their system, like yesterday. Luckily for them, Detmers won’t require too much polishing before his big league call. He could see a quick rise through the ranks to join the club near the end of this season or the beginning of next.
11. White Sox: Patrick Bailey, C, North Carolina State
Outside of the top-10 is where things shift into the unknown. The Chi-Sox are doing their research on top hitters and mostly college pitchers, but will ultimately go for value with this pick. Austin Hendrick would be a steal here. Unfortunately, their system is clogged with outfielders. There’s sure to be a log jam in a year or two there. With Zack Collins’ lack of consistent hitting in 2019, and a snag on his once fast track to the majors, Patrick Bailey could be a good insurance selection to solidify the organization’s catching future. Bailey is a switch-hitter with more pop than average. He also calls a good game. If he isn’t selected here, he’ll see a big draft day fall.
12. Reds: Austin Hendrick, OF, West Allegheny HS (Imperial, Pa.), Mississippi State commit
At this point heading into the draft, there will be slight rises and falls, based on nitpicks and over-reactions to hypotheticals of a prospect’s game. Hendrick falling to 12 is a victim of this. If the Reds pick Hendrick, they’ll fill the void left by the Taylor Trammell trade. If they don’t go Hendrick, they’ll go SEC pitcher.
13. San Fransisco Giants: Garrett Crochet, LHP, Tennessee
Crochet is garnering Josh Hader comparisons, with a possible relief role guess at his future, rather than a starting role. That’s a little premature. Crochet was a gem near the end of 2019 and at the start of Tennessee’s 2020 season. If Gabe Kapler had the pick, he’d take Garrett Mitchell. But he isn’t making the calls, so Crochet it is.
14. Texas Rangers: Garrett Mitchell, OF, UCLA
I’m doing it now. Mitchell has fell too far for my liking. The madness has to stop. Yes, there could be a potential jam in center field, but he can play the corners very well, too. Mitchell has five-tool upside. It was reported he also has Type 1 diabetes, which I’m not sure is the reason he fell but teams will surely be scared of everything in this draft, as noted before.
15. Philadelphia Phillies: Mick Abel, RHP, Jesuit HS (Portland, Ore.), Oregon State commit
Mick Abel is all about command. His game is very matured for a high school player. He’s all of 6’5 and then some and the Phillies would be lucky to land such an arm.
16. Chicago Cubs: Tyler Soderstrom, C, Turlock (Calif.) HS, UCLA commit
I like Soderstrom’s overall hit tool. In the next couple weeks I wouldn’t be surprised if he made a bigger jump near the top-10. Although, high school catchers are tough to evaluate. They haven’t caught a lot of big games. No one really knows if they will be able to catch stronger arms, and they sometimes have a second position as an insurance. Somehow, though, I don’t see any big holes in Soderstrom’s game. His first year in the farm will tell us a lot more. The Cubs do a great job of developing high schoolers, so picking Soderstrom at 16 will be beneficial for both parties.
17. Boston Red Sox: Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, Harvard-Westlake School (Studio City, Calif.), Vanderbilt commit
Crow-Armstrong’s fall from the top-10 was due to an inconsistent circuit performance. This year’s class is filled with outfield prospects marvel over. The next Mike Trout or Mookie Betts could very well be in this draft. Crow-Armstrong shouldn’t be left out of the conversation of top outfielders. Sox get a steal here and make up for getting rid of Mookie… sort of… Okay, not really.
18. Arizona Diamondbacks: Nick Bitsko, RHP, Central Bucks East High School (Pennsylvania), Virginia commit
Bitsko is the most popular name to rise since Cleveland’s RHP Ethan Hankins. He reclassified to the 2020 draft class in January and has thrown just one bullpen session for scouts since then. Instagram video of him throwing aside, Bitsko is a popular name among the 11-15 picks. He’ll see more rise than fall in his draft future.
19. New York Mets: Cole Wilcox, RHP, Georgia
The Mets could go in many directions here. With the recent turnover of management and possibly new ownership destined to take control, they might not go big and just stick to playing it safe for 2020. Wilcox was number 2 behind Hancock at Georgia but would’ve been the ace at any other school.
20. Milwaukee Brewers: Cade Cavalli, RHP, Oklahoma
Big pitcher. Big arm. What’s not to like? Cavalli is another player who should fly through the minors and provide either a mid-to-bottom rotation help or even bullpen strength, if the Brew crew go that route.
21. St. Louis Cardinals: Jared Kelley, RHP, Refugio High School (Texas), Texas commit
Kelley has always been in consideration for the best high school pitcher in this draft, next to the fast-rising Bitsko. His performance at the Area Code Games really showed what he was made of. For a high-schooler, he sure has a mature approach on the bump and strikes comparisons to other high school picks of the past that became starters in the show.
22. Washington Nationals: Dillon Dingler, C, Ohio State
Dingler rose late this spring. He could go top-20 or in the final five picks of the first round, or even dip into the Competitive Balance Rounds. He strikes many comparisons to Brian McCann and even Mike Napoli. He might not become a star pro, but he’ll sure become a solid, middle-to-end of the lineup bat who will play in the bigs a long, long time.
23. Cleveland Indians: Clayton Beeter, RHP, Texas Tech
Beeter’s tip toe into the first round should be stuff of legends. He had Tommy John surgery in his past and doesn’t have a big track record, but his stuff is lethal and it can’t, nor shouldn’t, be denied. Cleveland yearns for more righties and Beeter just makes sense. If not, look for Tanner Burns, Bobby Miller or Bryce Jarvis.
24. Tampa Bay Rays: Bobby Miller, RHP, Louisville
I’ve seen Miller bounce around the back half of the draft more than any other player. 24 is a good spot for him. Tampa needs his arm.
25. Atlanta Braves: Bryce Jarvis, RHP, Duke
I would love to see Austin Wells selected here, and that still might happen. However, it’s the Braves. They go for pitchers 90% of the time. Jarvis is a solid pick for a program that knows how to develop their arms best.
26. Oakland Athletics: Slade Cecconi, RHP, Miami
Good news for the A’s with this pick. Bad news for Cecconi. I don’t think there is a single prospect who would love to go to Oakland currently, after recent events of their cheapness.
27. Minnesota Twins: Justin Foscue, 2B, Mississippi State
The Twins would bolt to the podium…err…computer with this pick. If Foscue drops to them they’d be over the moon. Foscue’s plate discipline is no joke and he projects higher than a 50-grade for his hitting. I’d say closer to 55.
28. New York Yankees: Ed Howard, SS, Mount Carmel HS (Chicago), Oklahoma commit
Howard is a hard prospect to pinpoint. The tools are there. He was productive in high school, even though the talent he played against was subpar. There’s a lot of upside to adore. If he does drop it’s basically because of team needs in this limited draft, and not because of his skillset or projectability.
29. Los Angeles Dodgers: J.T. Ginn, RHP, Mississippi State
I’m a big fan of J.T. Ginn. His stock dropped due to injuries. When healthy, Ginn shows up in big games. There’s a winning vibe in him that can’t be taught. He has a knack for turning it up when the game calls for it and his stuff turns magical. Back in 2018, the Dodgers selected him in the 30th round. To their luck, they get him again, but in the 1st round.
DRAFT NOTES: We could see a run on shortstops in the backhalf of the first round, or the beginning of the Competitive Round.
POTENTIAL 1st ROUND SLEEPERS: Tanner Burns, RHP, Auburn, Cole Henry, RHP, LSU, Blaze Jordan, 1B, DeSoto Central HS (MS); Casey Martin, SS, Arkansas; Austin Wells, C, Arizona; Chris McMahon, RHP, Miami