2020 BA 500 Draft Rankings
The BA 500 is an attempt to capture the industry’s consensus on the talent of the 2020 draft class—not to predict where players will be selected. The list was compiled in consultation with major league scouts, front office executives, scouting directors, college coaches and other professional evaluators. Teddy Cahill, JJ Cooper, Kyle Glaser, Joe Healy, Bill Mitchell, Chris Trenkle and Carlos Collazo contributed to the reporting and writing.
By Carlos Collazo
June 2 Update: Final tweak to rankings made based on last-minute industry feedback. See how the class breaks down by the numbers.
RELATED: See our 2020 MLB Mock Draft
We didn’t take the expected route to get here, but after almost a year of evaluating the 2020 draft class, Baseball America is proud to release the BA 500.
A comprehensive ranking of the top talent in the 2020 draft class, the BA 500 is the result of almost a year of watching, evaluating and reporting on the most talented high school and college players in the nation. This list has been tweaked, adjusted, sent to MLB scouting departments for feedback and argued over for many months in an attempt to capture the industry’s consensus on the talent of the 2020 class.
The 2020 draft will be remembered as one of the most unusual drafts of all time. The novel coronavirus threw a wrench into the plans of scouts and players alike, giving Division I colleges just four weeks of action and many high school players even less than that. Because of that, the draft will be significantly shorter and teams will have to make picks based on evaluations from last fall and last summer more than spring performances.
It would be a shame for any draft class to be affected in this way, but it’s especially true for a 2020 class that was among the strongest in recent memory.
“(We) entered the spring believing the 2020 class was strong, but the class looked even better than expected in the first four weeks of the college season,” said one American League front office executive. “The upper crust of college talent is excellent on both sides of the ball, and a number of pitchers really elevated their stock early in the spring. We’ll never really know what the spring would’ve held now.
“But it was shaping up to be a special spring. It’s probably on par with the 2014 class, which has ended up being better than the industry expected, especially given the career outcomes of the first two picks. It could’ve been as good as the 2012 class with a strong remainder to the spring, which we’ll never know.”
The college class has a chance to make history in a variety of ways, with the top six players on the BA 500 hailing from the collegiate ranks. If six college players were selected to begin the draft this year, it would break the previous record of five straight collegians to start the draft (which happened in 1992 and 2018).
“Almost everything about the college crop is above-average for recent years,” the AL exec said.
Additionally, the 2020 draft could consist of the largest percentage of college players drafted ever, thanks to the expedited information disadvantage for high school prospects. Scouting departments have been drafting more and more college players since the start of the century for a variety of reasons, but the coronavirus could take that to a new extreme.
“There’s likely to be a flight to safety,” said the exec. “The high school class is going to take a hit, in particular, due to the lack of exposure relative to prior years. It’s absolutely going to have a ripple effect on how teams operate in the future.”
The draft will be five rounds and begin June 10. The length of the draft itself could have huge ramifications on how scouting departments operate, with the role of area scouts shifting dramatically depending on the length.
“Technology is not only more useful this year, it’s paramount.” the exec said. “The involvement of area scouts will likely depend on the number of rounds of the draft, which is still to be determined. If it’s only a five-round draft, area scouts will likely have less input than ever before. If it’s a 40-round draft—which is unlikely—area scouts could really make a huge difference throughout the depth of the draft. (We’re) waiting on pins and needles to hear the parameters of the draft from MLB.”
The 2020 draft class is led by a group of players at the top, rather than a no-doubt No. 1 prospect like we saw with the 2019 (Adley Rutschman) and 2018 (Casey Mize) draft classes. Arizona State first baseman Spencer Torkelson and Vanderbilt outfielder Austin Martin top the list at No. 1 and No. 2, though scouts are split on who the best player in the class is.
We will continue to make tweaks and adjust the BA 500 as necessary as we get closer to draft day, and we’ll also regularly roll out scouting reports on every player ranked. Currently all 500 players have scouting reports available.
Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 205 | B-T: R-RUndrafted after his four-year high school career in Northern California, Torkelson exploded onto the collegiate baseball scene at Arizona State with one of the best freshman seasons ever, leading the nation with 25 home runs. He was just as strong in his sophomore and junior seasons, but the early end to what is expected to be his final season left him three homers short of breaking Bob Horner’s ASU career record. Torkelson’s terrific hitting ability, advanced approach and plate discipline, plus bat speed, and plus-plus power make him one of the favorites for the first overall pick. Hitting with power to all fields, Torkelson showed more of an ability to pull pitches over the middle of the plate during his abbreviated junior season. There are still some tweaks to his swing that can be made, as he at times was too much out on the front side this season, pulling off and taking away the bottom half. He’s an above-average defender now at first base thanks to his agility and good hands, with the strong work ethic to continue improving. Torkelson played some outfield during his time with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team, where he ranked as the top prospect last summer. While he has below-average speed, he runs well underway and improved his throwing technique. He could be at least adequate in left field, but most observers want him to stay at first base where he can focus on being a middle-of-the-order masher. Torkelson may be the safest pick among those at the top of the draft thanks to his outstanding hitting ability and the most usable power in the class. He could rise quickly through the minor leagues, and gets compared to Mets first baseman Peter Alonso. If he does go 1-1, Torkelson would be the first ever college first baseman to do so.
Commit/Drafted: Never Drafted
Age At Draft: 20.8More Less
- 2Vanderbilt OFNotes:
Ht: 6-0 | Wt: 170 | B-T: R-RA first team All-American and Golden Spikes semifinalist after an outstanding sophomore season in which he hit .392/.486/.604 and was third in the country in hits, Martin has long been one of the favorites for the first overall pick in the 2020 draft. Martin has some of the best pure hitting ability in the class, with eye-popping bat speed, excellent contact ability and impressive plate discipline as well. Martin also appeared to be increasing his power production. He hit eight home runs as a sophomore after tallying just one in his freshman season. He hit three in 16 games in 2020 before the season was canceled, with the best isolated slugging percentage of his career (.286). Some people have thrown Dansby Swanson comparisons on Martin, as both are at the top of their respective classes and Vanderbilt products, but without spending any time at shortstop, it’s perhaps more misleading than accurate. There aren’t many 1-1 candidate prospects who made position changes during their draft-eligible seasons, so perhaps Ian Happ is a better comparison in terms of tools and defensive versatility, though Martin’s contact ability and presence in the box are superior to Happ’s at the time. After spending most of his time with Vanderbilt at third base, Martin moved to center field after a few games this spring. He also played center field with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team, and while he doesn’t have elite speed or the best first step, he has the instincts and athleticism to handle the position. Martin is more of a plus runner than a true burner, and while teams would have liked to see him handle shortstop, it is concerning for his pro potential at the position considering he wasn’t the shortstop on his college team. Even if Martin doesn’t wind up at shortstop, he has the defensive ability to become an asset at a premium position, whether that’s in center field, third base or second. While there are questions about his future defensive home, Martin’s offensive resume is as impressive as any in the country, with the ability to hit for high average, draw plenty of walks, hit for extra bases and also be a disruptive runner on the bases. His profile is as complete as it gets in the 2020 class.
Commit/Drafted: Indians '17 (37)
Age At Draft: 21.2More Less
Ht: 6-4 | Wt: 215 | B-T: L-LLacy entered the year among the top tier of college arms, with only Georgia righthander Emerson Hancock ahead, but performed at such a high level in his first four starts that most clubs now have him as the top arm in the class. Coming out of high school, Lacy was a projectable lefthander who was only just starting to fill out his 6-foot-4 frame. He had good pitchability and a fastball that got into the low 90s, along with a tumbling changeup that showed promise, but no real breaking ball. The Indians drafted him in the 31st round in 2017, but he instead chose to attend Texas A&M, where he has improved across the board and now harnesses some of the best stuff in the country. After filling out to 215 pounds, Lacy has plenty of strength and a fastball that ranges from 90-98 to go along with a wipeout slider, a plus changeup and a power curveball. After posting a 2.13 ERA with 130 strikeouts in 88.2 innings in his first full season as a starter in 2019, Lacy was well on his way to more dominance in 2020. In four starts he struck out 46 batters compared to eight walks and allowed just two earned runs—good for a 0.75 ERA. Previously, scouts had wondered about the quality of Lacy’s slider and whether he could shape develop it into a true swing-and-miss pitch. Lacy answered those questions this spring by unveiling a powerful, 87-90 mph version of the pitch. In fact, some scouts say it’s the best slider they’ve seen from a college lefty since Carlos Rodon in 2014. The pitch doesn’t have quite that depth, but it is a true wipeout offering now. His changeup has long been a reliable weapon, and while he hasn’t thrown it as much this spring, most scouts believe it’s a plus pitch. Lacy’s curveball gives him a fourth pitch that’s at least average and has above-average potential. The one critique of Lacy is his pitch efficiency. He has shown a tendency to pitch into deep counts, which scouts think has inflated his walk rate more than his above-average command would indicate, but he also strikes out plenty of batters and doesn’t allow much contact. Lacy’s delivery is fluid and clean, with good usage of his lower half to drive downhill and above-average deception achieved by hiding the ball behind his body before releasing from a higher three-quarters slot. In addition to all of his pure stuff, scouts love Lacy’s demeanor on the mound, with a stoic, no-nonsense mentality. He should be one of the first two pitchers off the board.
Commit/Drafted: Indians '17 (31)
Age At Draft: 21.0More Less
Ht: 6-4 | Wt: 215 | B-T: R-RA notable high school prospect out of Georgia in 2017, Hancock established himself as one of the best college arms during a tremendous sophomore season in 2019. He posted a 1.99 ERA—the eighth best mark in Georgia history—and led the SEC with a 0.84 WHIP while allowing one run or fewer in nine of his 14 starts. Scouts lauded his delivery, command and repertoire at the time, with some believing each of his pitches were plus or better. The grades on each of Hancock’s offerings weren’t quite as gaudy early in 2020, but Hancock’s command, frame, delivery and pitch mix still place him among the class’ elite. Hancock’s command, possibly his attribute, earns him potential plus grades—rare for an amateur pitcher with his stuff. He walked just 1.79 batters per nine innings as a sophomore, and that rate was down to 1.13 after four starts in 2020. He spots his entire arsenal where he wants it, which can allow everything to play up. Hancock’s fastball ranges from 93-97, though some evaluators question the underlying quality of the pitch, wondering if it has the riding life and swing-and-miss qualities you’d like to see from a frontline starter. It’s possible a lower arm slot leads to some of those concerns. After the fastball, Hancock throws a slider in the low 80s that he worked on over the offseason and gets plus grades at its best. The pitch is more often a 55-grade offering, though, while a tumbling changeup is his most consistent offspeed pitch and generates whiffs from batters on either side. Hancock also throws a curveball, though less frequently than his other three pitches. Hancock is unsurprisingly efficient considering his command, and he also fields his position well with impressive natural athleticism and a clean delivery that leaves him in good fielding position. Hancock should be one of the first pitchers off the board, but teams would prefer a frontline pitching prospect to have a no-doubt, out-pitch breaking ball and Hancock’s haven’t reached that quality as consistently as scouts would like. Either way, his athleticism, frame, command, velocity, changeup and track record in the SEC all combine to provide some safety and make him difficult to pass up.
Commit/Drafted: Diamondbacks '17 (38)
Age At Draft: 21.0More Less
Ht: 5-10 | Wt: 190 | B-T: R-RGonzales is the prototypical baseball rat but with more of an innate ability to hit for both average and power than most gritty gamer types. A lightly recruited walk-on as a freshman at New Mexico State, Gonzales has turned himself into one of the top draft prospects in 2020 through sheer hard work. His .432/.532/.773 batting line in his sophomore year led the nation and earned All-America honors. While his video game-like offensive numbers during his three-year career with the Aggies have to be factored downward because of the extreme hitting environments in the state—including the 12 home runs in 82 plate appearances before his junior season ended prematurely—Gonzales proved that the bat is for real with his performance in the Cape Cod League, where he was named league MVP for 2019 and hit seven home runs. A second baseman in his first two college seasons, Gonzales switched to shortstop this year to showcase himself prior to the draft. Opinions are mixed as to whether he can handle the position, with most observers wanting to put him at second base and just let him be an elite hitter at the position. While he has solid arm strength, scouts believe he might be stretched in the hole, and he could lack the short-area quickness that teams prefer in their shortstops. He’s a solid defender at the keystone, with improved footwork and hands and the ability to throw from various arm slots. Gonzales has elite bat-to-ball skills and plate discipline, and his strong hands allow him to make hard contact to all fields. He’s an above-average runner and has good baserunning instincts. Keston Hiura is a frequent comp for Gonzales, though the New Mexico State product has a better defensive profile and less raw power. Dustin Pedroia has been thrown on him as well. With his tremendous track record of hitting and strong Cape performance, Gonzales should go off the board among the first five picks.
Commit/Drafted: Never Drafted
Age At Draft: 21.1More Less
- 6UCLA OFNotes:
Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 204 | B-T: L-RScouts eyed Mitchell as a potential first-round pick at Orange (Calif.) Lutheran High, but a middling senior season and concerns about his Type 1 diabetes caused him to fall to the 14th round, where the A's picked him. He opted for UCLA and became a three-year starter for the Bruins. After struggling as a freshman, Mitchell led the nation in triples during a breakout sophomore season and continued to raise his stock as a junior. He was batting .355/.425/.484 this spring when the season shut down. Mitchell possesses arguably the best package of tools in the 2020 draft. He's an 80-grade runner who changes games with his speed, is a plus defensive center fielder who effortlessly glides to balls and has a rifle for an arm. Mitchell shows massive, plus-plus raw power in batting practice, but his choppy swing produces mostly grounders and low line drives in games. His natural feel for contact gives him a chance to be an above-average or better hitter, and his natural speed and elite times out of the box should help inflate his batting average. Some evaluators are optimistic Mitchell can tap into his power with swing refinements in pro ball, but his in-game power production is concerning dating back to his high school career. Mitchell’s speed helps him to beat out infield singles and amass lots of doubles and triples, making him an offensive difference-maker even absent home run power. Mitchell has faced health and endurance concerns because of his diabetes throughout his career, but he played 62 of 63 games for UCLA in 2019 and all 15 games in 2020 before the season shut down. With a high probability to hit for average, steal bases and stay in center field, and the possibility of adding power, Mitchell is a top-10 talent, though his question marks make him a bit more polarizing than the other players around him.
Commit/Drafted: Athletics '17 (14)
Age At Draft: 21.8More Less
Ht: 6-5 | Wt: 200 | B-T: L-RVeen started to raise eyebrows as a junior in high school, when he went on a bit of a home run binge in Florida, including homering against the top prep pitcher of the 2019 draft class, Matt Allan. While Veen didn’t attend USA Baseball’s PDP League, he was quick to impress evaluators with his exceptionally smooth and loose lefthanded swing and elite frame. After packing on around 20 pounds of muscle over the offseason, Veen stands at 6-foot-5, 200 pounds—still with room to add more strength. Veen has one of the best batting eyes of the prep class and brings a patient approach to the table. He frequently gets into deep counts and waits for a specific pitch to hit. His swing has natural leverage and good loft that should allow him to continue tapping into his ever-increasing raw power, which is at least plus now and could eventually reach double-plus. There are some swing-and-miss tendencies at the moment and critics wonder about his ability to handle velocity and adjust to offspeed stuff away, though most scouts believe he’ll be an above-average or better hitter thanks to his batting eye, the looseness of his operation and the way his hands work during his swing. Veen plays center field for his high school team, but he’ll be stretched there as a pro, especially as he adds weight. He’s a fine runner now but could eventually become fringe-average or below and will fit best in a corner, where he should have more than enough power to profile. He’s a solid defender with good arm strength. Veen has one of the more high-upside tools profiles in the class thanks to his power potential, swing and frame. After entering the season toward the back of the first round, the Florida commit is now one of the favorites to be the first high school player selected in a class that’s heavy on college players at the top.
Age At Draft: 18.5More Less
Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 210 | B-T: L-LPerhaps the most polished strike-thrower in the 2020 class, Detmers last year set a Louisville program record with 167 strikeouts and tied the program record with 13 wins. A 6-foot-2, 210-pound lefty with a workhorse frame, Detmers doesn’t have the biggest pure stuff, but is one of the more high-likelihood major leaguers in a deep 2020 pitching class. Detmers annihilated his competition before the 2020 season ended, striking out 48 batters (19.6 per nine) and walking just six (2.5 per nine) in four starts and 22 innings. Detmers’ fastball averages around 90-91 mph and touches 94 mph at his best, but it plays up and generates whiffs because Detmers is able to hide the ball well. Detmers also has outstanding control and command, along with one of the better breaking balls in the class. His low-70s curveball is a hammer, with massive depth and shape, which grades out as a plus offering at least. The pitch jumps out of his hand at times, and some evaluators have mentioned that it’s rare for a breaking ball with such a low velocity to fool professional hitters, but he has enough feel to add more power to the pitch at the next level if necessary. On top of his curveball, Detmers has a changeup that’s an above-average future offering and a slider that grades out as fringe-average, with little current usage. Scouts and coaches alike rave about Detmers’ competitive nature on the mound, and believe he has the makeup necessary to perform in any situation and at any level. It’s easy to throw a Brendan McKay comp on Detmers thanks to both pitchers’ handedness, velocity and school but that could be a lazy comparison. Others have cited Drew Pomeranz, who found major league success with below-average fastball velocity and a lethal curveball. A No. 3 starter is a solid future outlook for Detmers at this point, and he seems a safe bet to go among the top 10 picks.
Commit/Drafted: Braves '17 (32)
Age At Draft: 20.9More Less
Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 192 | B-T: L-LHendrick impressed scouts with his hitting and power potential over the summer showcase circuit, where he showed the ability to lay off bad pitches at East Coast Pro and at USA Baseball’s PDP League. He put together a three-home run game on June 27 and upped the ante at the 2019 Under Armour High School All-American Game when he hit a ball out of Wrigley Field. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound outfielder has the quickest pure bat speed in the class and complements it with light tower raw power, giving him arguably the best power/hit combo of any high school hitter. Hendrick has extremely quick hands that allow him to get to his 70-grade power, though he’s had to implement some timing mechanisms to keep himself back. Those adjustments have included a quirky toe-tap which has been replaced by a fluid leg kick. Hendrick’s consistency with his bat leaves fewer questions than for other high school hitters, though he does have some swing-and-miss concerns. However, the pitching he regularly faces in Pennsylvania is significantly worse than the better arms in the high school class, and he has the natural tools to make all the adjustments necessary as he moves up the ladder. He showed that ability to adjust last summer in games. Hendrick has proved he can play all three outfield positions in high school, but scouts are split on his defensive routes. Some scouts believe he tracks the ball well, but most agree that his arm strength is near the top of the class. Hendrick is best suited to play in a corner-outfield spot, where his power and above-average arm strength suit him well. A 2020 high school preseason first-team All-American, Hendrick wasn’t seen much this spring, but likely would have had a tough time changing his draft stock much given the competition. Hendrick is older for the high school class and will turn 19 in the middle of June. Still, he should be one of the first prep names selected, and it’s unlikely he makes it to campus at Mississippi State.
Commit/Drafted: Mississippi State
Age At Draft: 19.0More Less
Ht: 6-0 | Wt: 185 | B-T: L-RIf you’re looking for the best pure stuff in the 2020 draft class, Max Meyer might be your guy. A two-time member of Team USA’s Collegiate National Team, Meyer is a two-way player for Minnesota with a long track record of excellence on the mound. After posting a 2.06 ERA as a reliever only in 2018, Meyer successfully transitioned to a starting role in 2019, when he posted a 2.11 ERA with 87 strikeouts in 76.2 innings (10.2 strikeouts per nine). He took over the Friday night role this spring and was rapidly ascending draft boards before the season was cut short. Meyer has two 70-grade offerings with a fastball that he runs up to 97-98 and holds in the mid-90s deep into outings, along with the best slider in the 2020 class. The pitch is one of the better amateur sliders that many scouts have seen in years, and for some evaluators it’s the best amateur slider they’ve ever scouted. The pitch is not only hard, getting up to 92 or even 93 mph, but it has tremendous movement and depth. Meyer has excellent command of his slider. He can loosen it for strikes or tighten it for chases out of the zone. Meyer also has a changeup that he tried to improve this season. It is in the mid-80s with slight tailing life and a chance to get to an above-average ceiling. Teams wondered if Meyer would be able to consistently hold his electric stuff in a full-time starting role, and while he didn’t get to prove it over a full season, scouts thought he paced himself well in his four starts. He struck out 46 and walked eight in 27.2 innings and recorded double-digit strikeouts in three of his four outings. While Meyer is undersized at 6-foot, 180 pounds, there’s not a disconcerting amount of effort in his delivery and he also has a strong history of throwing quality strikes. He’s one of the more athletic pitchers in recent years and went from a late-first round arm to a potential top-10 pick thanks to his early-season performance.
Commit/Drafted: Twins '17 (34)
Age At Draft: 21.3More Less
Ht: 6-5 | Wt: 198 | B-T: R-RVying to be the first prep arm out of Oregon drafted in the first round since 1994—when the Royals drafted lefthander and first baseman Matt Smith—Abel has a tantalizing combination of present stuff, future projection and pitchability. A 6-foot-5, 180-pound righthander, Abel touched 97 mph last summer but is more often in the 90-94 mph range. Because of the shortened 2020 season, Abel will be one of the most difficult prep players to assess. While teams should have lots of history with him thanks to his notoriety as an underclassman—which included striking out 2019 No. 5 overall pick Riley Greene—teams have little to nothing from this spring on the Oregon State commit. His high school team didn’t play a single game, and the lack of recent information could give teams pause. Outside of a fastball that’s a potentially plus offering, Abel has two quality secondaries. The first is a slider that plays firm in the 82-86 mph range and was voted by scouting directors as the best breaking ball in the prep class. He throws the pitch consistently with hard, biting action and is capable of landing it in the zone for strikes or using it as a chase pitch. Abel also throws a changeup in the 81-85 mph range that has good tumble and fading life and consistently shows above-average quality. On paper, Abel checks plenty of boxes: He has a terrific pitcher’s frame, athleticism, three above-average or better pitches and arguably the best command in the class. If Abel had simply played this spring and been the same pitcher he was last summer, he would go somewhere in the middle of the first round. He could still go there, but the abbreviated season affects him more than most and leaves his status more questionable despite his top-of-the-rotation upside.
Commit/Drafted: Oregon State
Age At Draft: 18.8More Less
Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 215 | B-T: R-RA man among boys in the high school class, Kelley is the most MLB-ready prep pitcher thanks to his current stuff and physicality. Standing 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, Kelley runs his fastball up into the 97-99 mph range with shocking ease. He looks like he’s playing catch on the mound with a loose, fluid delivery and little to no head whack in his finish. Perhaps in part because of the ease of his entire operation, Kelley locates his premium stuff in a way that’s beyond his years, with some scouts projecting him to have future plus command. The ease in which he does everything makes it look like his fastball explodes out of his hand, and he pairs that pitch with a low-80s plus changeup that he throws with good arm speed. The pitch is a swing-and-miss offering with excellent diving life and, like he does with his fastball, Kelley shows good feel to spot it where he wants in or out of the strike zone. The biggest question with Kelley entering the spring was in regard to his breaking ball. Over the summer he showed a slider in the low 80s, sometimes-slurvy slider. It was inconsistent and far from the wipeout projection that teams would like to see out of the top high school pitcher in the class. While Kelley didn’t get a full spring season, scouts still saw signs of improvement from his breaking ball and gave it a chance for it to become average or above-average. Kelley will battle the stigma and spotty track record that comes with being a hard-throwing high school righty, while also competing in one of the strongest college pitching classes in recent memory. Still, he does several things at an exceptionally high level that are impossible to teach, and has No. 2 starter upside. Kelley is committed to Texas.
Age At Draft: 18.7More Less
Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 200 | B-T: L-RWhile the shortened 2020 season impacts every player to some extent, Kjerstad might be one of the least negatively impacted players outside of the top five. The Arkansas outfielder has a long track record of hitting for average and power, both in the SEC and with Team USA’s Collegiate National Team. Last summer, Kjerstad led Team USA with a .395/.426/.651 line including two home runs, a triple and three doubles. He’s hit better than .330/.400/.550 in each of his first two seasons with Arkansas and was off to another hot start in his junior campaign. That type of consistency gives him one of the higher floors among hitters in the 2020 draft class. He’s a middle-of-the-order type bat but might be more power over pure hit, with 70-grade future raw power and the ability to leave a ballpark in any direction. His swing is a bit unorthodox, with a two-piece action and a pause with a big leg kick that interrupts his timing. The complex mechanics might why he’s historically struck out at a high clip. Kjerstad whiffed 17 percent of the time as a freshman, 21 percent of the time as a sophomore and struck out 10 times and walked just three times with Team USA last summer. While the early returns in that department were improved in a 16-game non-conference sample this spring, teams believe Kjerstad might always strike out at a decent rate. His power production might make the swing-and-miss palatable He’s a corner outfielder and a decent athlete for his size, but it would be optimistic to expect more than adequate defense from him in left or right. Kjerstad has a solid, accurate throwing arm, but most of his value is in his bat. He should go off the board at some point in the middle of the first round.
Commit/Drafted: Mariners '17 (36)
Age At Draft: 21.3More Less
Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 192 | B-T: B-RBailey was heralded as one of the better defensive catchers in the country coming out of high school in 2017, but scouts were concerned about the amount of offensive impact he would be able to provide and let him get to campus in Raleigh. He wasted no time showing that he did have impact ability in his bat, leading all ACC freshmen in hitting (.321), total bases (113) and slugging (.604) while also setting a new NC State freshman home run record (13). And while Bailey hit over .288 in each of his three seasons with the Wolfpack, his strengths are still on the defensive side of the ball. He earns plus grades for his catching and his throwing arm, giving pitchers tremendous confidence that they can rip off their best breaking ball without having to worry about it trickling to the backstop. Bailey is also one of the rare college catchers who calls his own game, which will give him better grades for some scouting departments, and he draws plenty of praise for his leadership ability behind the plate. Offensively, Bailey certainly has more impact than scouts expected back in his high school days and has shown above-average raw power from both sides of the plate. His swing is more fluid with better contact ability from the left side, and most scouts think he’s more of a power bat than a true hitter, with grades ranging from below-average to average on his future hit tool. Bailey has a solid eye at the plate, as evidenced by a 12.8-percent career walk rate, but there are concerns about the swing-and-miss tendencies that he showed last summer with USA’s Collegiate National Team (he led the team with 12 strikeouts) and early in the 2020 season. Still, catcher offense is a low bar to clear and as the best defender in the class with average or better power potential, he will be a coveted asset in the first round.
Commit/Drafted: Twins '17 (37)
Age At Draft: 21.0More Less
Ht: 6-6 | Wt: 218 | B-T: L-LA 6-foot-6, 218-pound southpaw with a fastball that is regularly in the 96-100 mph range as well as a plus breaking ball, Crochet could have the best overall stuff in the class and he certainly has the best stuff of any lefthander. The abbreviated 2020 season hurts Crochet, who doesn’t have the track record of starting that many of the college arms around him do. For this reason, some scouts have compared him to Duke lefthander Graeme Stinson from the 2019 draft class, though Crochet has more starts under his belt at this time than Stinson did entering his junior season. Crochet split time as a starter and reliever during his freshman and sophomore seasons before entering his junior season with a full-time starting role. That was delayed, reportedly due to shoulder soreness, and Crochet made just one start against Wright State—when he threw 3.1 innings with six strikeouts—before the season ended. His stuff looked as loud as ever in that outing, with a fastball that sat between 93-98 mph range and touched 99, as well as a plus slider and above-average changeup. Crochet routinely creates uncomfortable at-bats against hitters, particularly lefties, with his length and the angle he creates in his delivery. His fastball explodes out of his hand and is a plus-plus pitch at the moment, giving him an elite two-pitch mix that gives him the fallback of a relief ace if starting doesn’t work out. His secondary offerings have been inconsistent in the past, but both have flashed above-average potential frequently enough to project that in the future. There aren’t any glaring reasons why Crochet couldn’t start, and his strike-throwing with Tennessee has been fine (3.37 walks per nine for his career), but teams are wary of the relative lack of track record in that role. If a team is willing to take a risk, Crochet’s pure stuff fits at the absolute top of the draft and while there’s a good deal of variance in his current profile, it’s difficult to find this stuff and size from a lefthander.
Commit/Drafted: Brewers '17 (34)
Age At Draft: 21.0More Less
Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 190 | B-T: L-LHassell is at the top of the list when it comes to the best hitters in the high school class. He was voted as the top pure hitter in the class by scouting directors, over outfielders like Austin Hendrick and Pete Crow-Armstrong and has few holes in a loose, lefthanded swing. Hassell was the most consistent hitter for USA Baseball’s 18U National Team last summer, leading the Americans in 10 offensive categories while posting a .514/.548/.886 slash line. For his efforts, he was named the World Baseball Softball Confederation’s 2019 International Player of the Year. Hassell has a lean frame with an exceptionally handsy swing that reminds some scouts of players like Jarred Kelenic and Riley Greene, in terms of hittingl potential. He brings a sound approach to the table and understands the strike zone, rarely swinging and missing no matter the stuff, using the entire field and showing an advanced ability to make adjustments. Hassell has a fairly lean frame at 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, and scouts are mixed on his future power potential, with some wondering how much bigger he’ll get and others more optimistic about him developing average or 55-grade power. Defensively, Hassell has a chance to stick in center field. He’s an above-average runner with above-average arm strength, but his speed is better underway and he lacks the elite sort of footspeed that most major league center fielders possess. It’s more likely that he winds up in a corner, where he could be a good defender, though that will put more pressure on the Vanderbilt commit growing into more power. It’s rare for the top prep hitter in the class to fall out of the top half of the first round, but teams didn’t see Hassell much this spring and he’ll also be competing against a strong group of prep outfielders.
Age At Draft: 18.8More Less
Ht: 6-0 | Wt: 175 | B-T: L-LCrow-Armstrong has fame and baseball in his blood. His mother, Ashley Crow, is an actress who played the mom of the lead character in the 1994 baseball movie "Little Big League." His father, Matthew Armstrong, is an accomplished television actor as well. Crow-Armstrong starred for USA Baseball’s 18U national team two years in a row and entered last summer as arguably the top high school player in the 2020 draft class. A disappointing summer dropped his stock a bit, but he rebounded with a sensational spring before the season shut down. Crow-Armstrong has a sweet lefthanded swing geared for contact. He hits both lefties and righties, stays balanced in the box and lines the ball to all fields. Evaluators see at least an average hitter and possibly plus, with the potential to hit at the top of a lineup. Scouts differ on Crow-Armstrong’s power projections. Some see below-average power, while others believe he is a good enough hitter that he’ll run into more home runs than his raw power would indicate. Crow-Armstrong should stick in center field as a plus defender with a plus arm and above-average-to-plus speed. He plays fast and hard and has an advanced feel and intellect for the game. Crow-Armstrong’s tools and instincts have teams interested in the first round even with questions about his power. He is committed to Vanderbilt.
Age At Draft: 18.3More Less
Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 190 | B-T: L-RSoderstrom is at the top of a strong 2020 prep catching class (along with Texas catcher Drew Romo) and was one of the biggest risers last summer after a wire-to-wire terrific offensive performance. A 6-foot-2, 190-pound UCLA commit, Soderstrom hit well at a number of big showcase events, including the Area Code Games, showing power potential and a polished lefthanded bat. Almost every scout is excited about the offensive potential he offers, with plus raw power that he gets to frequently in games now, and more physical projection. Defensively, there are more questions. While the consensus on his bat is glowing, almost every evaluator questions his ability to remain behind the plate moving forward. His size is a question, as is his ability to sit behind the plate and be a good receiver. He’ll need to improve his lower-half flexibility, and while his natural arm strength is impressive, he needs to shorten his arm stroke and improve his footwork on throws. Scouts believe Soderstrom has the passion to catch, so some teams could send him out and let him figure it out, while others might be more inclined to let him play third, first or even a corner-outfield spot, where his bat could move quicker and still profile well. There are some similarities with Soderstrom and 2018 Indians first-round pick Bo Naylor (though Naylor had better natural feel to hit at the time) and enough teams seem to like him in the first round that he won’t get to campus in Los Angeles.
Age At Draft: 18.6More Less
Ht: 6-4 | Wt: 220 | B-T: R-RBitsko could be the most challenging player for teams to evaluate in the 2020 class. Previously the top-ranked prep player in the 2021 draft class, Bitsko announced that he would graduate early to enroll at Virginia, making him draft-eligible for 2020. While Bitsko was at a few big events last summer—including East Coast Pro and USA Baseball’s National Team Development Program in Chicago—teams were watching him with the impression that they would have more than a year of evaluation remaining. The teams who bear down early on underclassmen will be in the best position with Bitsko for the 2020 draft, but it wasn’t hard to see his talent fit with the top prep arms in the class. At East Coast Pro, Bitsko showed a fastball in the 92-96 mph range with a potentially plus curveball that had depth, power and impressive spin (2,100-2,500 rpm). With a physical, 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame, a clean, overhead windup and good strike-throwing ability, Bitsko has plenty of classic starter’s attributes. He reportedly touched as high as 98 mph with his fastball over the offseason and is solidly in the class’ elite tier of prep arms. Because his Central Bucks East High team wasn’t scheduled to start until April, Bitsko didn’t throw a pitch this season. Now, teams will be left to decide whether the glimpses of talent they saw last summer were enough to sign him out of a strong commitment to Virginia. The Cavaliers have done a nice job luring elite arms to campus in recent years, including Mike Vasil (2018 draft class) and lefthander Nate Savino, who was previously a member of the 2020 class and a first-round talent. Bitsko has a chance to be a top of the rotation-caliber arm.
Age At Draft: 18.0More Less
Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 185 | B-T: R-RHoward is the top prep shortstop in a light high school class at the position and midwest area scouts should have good history with him considering he played alongside D-backs’ second-round pick Alek Thomas (2018) as an underclassman at Mount Carmel (Ill.) High. Howard wowed scouts as a junior in Perfect Game’s Jupiter WWBA tournament, showing high-level ability on both sides of the ball. While he has upside as a hitter, the polished part of Howard’s game comes from his glove. He’s a no-doubt shortstop at the next level as a solid athlete with reliable hands and a strong, accurate throwing arm. He moves fluidly in the middle of the diamond and has the ability to throw from all angles with excellent body control and a solid internal clock. In the 2020 class, he’s the clear-cut top prep defender at the position and has the potential to be a plus defensive shortstop in the big leagues . The one critique in his defensive game is that scouts would like to see better foot speed. He’s a solid runner, but not a burner by any means. Scouts will have to project more on Howard’s offensive game, particularly after not seeing him in games this season. He shows all the tools you want to see, with good bat speed, some bat-to-ball skill and a lithe, 6-foot-2, 185-pound frame that has plenty of room to add more muscle and impact ability. At present he’s more of a gap-to-gap, line-drive type hitter, but scouts want to see him refine his approach. He did a nice job of progressing throughout the summer in 2019 and showing he can make adjustments, but teams are still waiting for him to put it all together. While he is committed to Oklahoma, it’s rare for the top high school shortstop to not go in the first round, and a team that buys into his upside could jump on him in the middle or back half of the first round.
Age At Draft: 18.4More Less
Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 200 | B-T: L-RPicked by the Yankees in the 35th round in 2018 out of perennial high school powerhouse Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas, Wells instead chose to follow in his father’s footsteps by heading to Arizona. He’s posted outstanding hitting stats in both of his seasons with the Wildcats as well as last summer in the Cape Cod League. Wells has an outstanding approach at the plate with plus raw power, using a simple swing with good bat control. In both of his college seasons, he walked more than he struck out, impressive for any hitter but especially for a power hitter like Wells. A hole in his swing gives him problems with pitches away, but that’s a fixable problem. The bat is impressive enough that most teams view him as a first-round player, but questions remain as to where he fits best on the field. If he could stay behind the plate, he’d be a certain first-round pick, but there are more scouts who are skeptical of Wells’ receiving ability than think he can make it as a catcher. He has trouble blocking and receiving pitches, especially knee to knee on the glove side, and there’s a record of elbow issues dating back to high school. An arm that once earned plus grades is now too frequently below-average. He focused heavily on improving his defensive reputation over the offseason but didn’t have much opportunity to showcase the results in a shortened 2020 season. He’s seen time at both first base and all three outfield positions since leaving high school. Some observers believe Wells is athletic enough to handle the outfield and that the range and instincts can be developed, while others think he’s not twitchy enough for the outfield and doesn’t have the footwork for first base. He’s an average runner. If concerns with his defense cause Wells’ draft position to drop more than expected, he's got the leverage to return to Arizona for his junior year but lefthanded bats of his quality are typically highly sought after.
Commit/Drafted: Yankees '18 (35)
Age At Draft: 20.9More Less
Ht: 6-4 | Wt: 226 | B-T: R-RIf you were creating the blueprint for an ideal pitcher’s body, Cavalli might look like the end product. A towering, 6-foot-4, 218-pound righthander who looks like an All-American quarterback, Cavalli on paper has everything you’d want to see in a frontline arm. He can dial his fastball up to 98 mph and the pitch sits in the mid-90s with ease. After that, he has a devastating slider in the 87-90 mph range with impressive lateral movement and serves as an out-pitch to both lefties and righties. Next, he has a curveball and a changeup that are solid-average with growth potential. Cavalli throws everything out of a picturesque arm action and delivery as well. While the stuff, delivery and frame are all easy check marks, there are a few question marks. Perhaps because of how clean Cavalli’s operation is, hitters tend to square up his fastball more than the velocity would suggest. Scouts wonder if he has any deception in his delivery. While the fastball has 70-grade velocity, it plays down at least a grade and perhaps more, and he has a history of erratic control that makes it more difficult to work to his secondary offerings. He improved in the strike-throwing department through four starts this spring (just five walks in 23.2 innings) but he’s never posted a WHIP lower than 1.27 in his career and gives up plenty of hits. Additionally, he has a troubling injury history going back to his high school days. He rarely pitched during his senior year because of lingering back issues and also missed time in 2019 due to a stress reaction in his arm. While Cavalli has first-round pure stuff, big upside and one of the better bodies in the 2020 class, he could fall into the second round because of concerns about how that stuff plays, the quality of his strikes and questions about durability. He was trending up prior to the end of the season and never got a chance to put everything together, but enough scouts have seen him synched up in short stints to dream about his future potential.
Commit/Drafted: Braves '17 (29)
Age At Draft: 21.8More Less
- 23Mississippi State RHPNotes:
Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 192 | B-T: R-RAfter being selected by the Dodgers in the first round out of high school in 2018, Ginn entered the 2020 season as a draft-eligible sophomore with a chance to double up on the accomplishment. However, he made it through just three innings of his first start of the season against Wright State before exiting the game. It was later announced the Ginn would need surgery on his right elbow and that he would miss the season. While the rest of the college season was canceled due to the novel coronavirus, Ginn’s status is more up in the air after being considered a top-15 caliber player in the 2020 draft class. He has plenty of prospect pedigree going back to his high school days, when his pure stuff stacked up among the best arms of a loaded 2018 prep pitching class. As a high schooler, Ginn ratcheted his fastball up to 99 mph and buried a mean, wipeout slider as well. Rather than sign with Los Angeles at the back of the first round, he had a strong freshman season at Mississippi State and proved he could be a dominant starter. He posted a 3.13 ERA over 17 starts and 86.1 innings, while striking out 105 batters and walking 19. When healthy, Ginn possesses two potentially double-plus pitches. His fastball has impressive velocity, but the pitch’s life and running action makes it even more impressive. His slider has also been graded as a future plus-plus offering by some evaluators, and he has a solid changeup as well. Ginn showed he could hold his stuff over longer outings, repeat his delivery consistently and throw enough strikes to start, but now teams will have to decide whether to take the risk on his health. He could again be a difficult sign because of the additional leverage that comes with being a draft-eligible sophomore.
Commit/Drafted: Dodgers '18 (1)
Age At Draft: 21.1More Less
Ht: 6-5 | Wt: 232 | B-T: R-RWilcox was in the middle of an extremely talented Georgia prep pitching class in 2018, along with arms like Indians righty Ethan Hankins and Vanderbilt righty Kumar Rocker. Wilcox was seen as a day one talent at the time, with a projectable frame, plus fastball and two promising secondary offerings, but the depth of the class and his commitment to Georgia allowed him to slide. Two years later, Wilcox is again a potential first-round pick and one of many impressive draft-eligible sophomores in the 2020 class. Wilcox has worked with Georgia’s strength and conditioning coach, Ryan Gearhart, to add significant muscle to his 6-foot-5 frame in his two years at school. He’s now listed at 232 pounds and is one of the more physically intimidating pitchers in the country. His stuff matches his size, as Wilcox attacks hitters with a fastball that frequently gets into the 97-98 mph range and has touched 100 mph. After spending most of his time as a reliever in 2019, Wilcox entered the 2020 season as the Bulldogs’ Saturday starter behind Emerson Hancock and was off to a great start before the season was cut short. Wilcox posted a 1.57 ERA in four starts, with 32 strikeouts and just two walks in 23 innings. That walk rate is encouraging for teams, who are skeptical of Wilcox’s strike-throwing ability after he walked close to six batters per nine innings in 2019. Scouts would have liked to see him continue that trend against SEC batters, as Wilcox has a tendency to get scattered and miss the zone, but his stuff is overpowering enough that overmatched hitters would still chase out of the zone. Wilcox pitched mostly off of a 93-96 mph fastball as a starter, with a mid-80s slider that also grades as plus. He also throws a changeup in the same mid-80s range that could give him an average or better third offering. Wilcox was trending in the right direction prior to the season ending and was already a first round-type of talent entering the year, so how much a team likes his upside and buys into his improved control will determine where he goes. As an eligible sophomore, Wilcox will have more leverage than most college players and could be a costly sign.
Commit/Drafted: Nationals '18 (37)
Age At Draft: 20.9More Less
- 25South Carolina RHPNotes:
Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 231 | B-T: R-RMlodzinski (pronounced ‘Muh-jin-ski’) had some top-five round grades from clubs coming out of Hilton Head (S.C.) High, but he made it to campus at South Carolina, where he posted a 5.61 ERA over two abbreviated seasons. A foot injury limited him to just three games in 2019, but Mlodzinski entered the 2020 season as a redshirt sophomore with some of the most hype in the country. An exceptional summer in the Cape Cod League showed scouts exciting upside. He ranked as the top pitcher in the league with a fastball up to 97-98 mph, an impressive slider and cutter and a 2.15 ERA over six starts, with 40 strikeouts to just four walks. Because of that, he entered the season as a potential top 10 pick, though scouts wanted to see him put together some track record with the Gamecocks. He managed just four starts before the season shut down ahead of a big SEC matchup with Tennessee, posting a 2.84 ERA in 25.1 innings with less gaudy strikeout numbers but plenty of ground balls induced. Teams expected Mlodzinski to miss more bats this spring. He sat in the 92-94 mph range and showed 96 and 97 at times, but the pitch is a heavy sinking fastball that generates tons of ground balls. It wasn’t a pitch that generated whiff after whiff up in the zone. After flashing a plus slider and a plus cutter in the Cape, Mlodzinski’s breaking balls were more above-average or solid, with the slider lacking the depth and tilt that he had shown previously and the cutter sitting in the 89-91 mph range. He tinkered with a curveball that was fringe-average at times, and also infrequently threw a changeup that needs further refinement. Without a true swing-and-miss offering, it’s more difficult to see Mlodzinski going at the top of the first round. As a physical, 6-foot-2, 231-pound righty who throws a lot of strikes, has a clean arm action and forces hitters into beating the ball into the ground (38 groundouts in four starts in 2020) though, he still offers a reasonable floor as a middle or back-of-the-rotation starter.
Commit/Drafted: Never Drafted
Age At Draft: 21.3More Less