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.
- 317Last: 318
Tucker BradleyGeorgia OFNotes:
Ht: 6-0 | Wt: 206 | B-T: L-LA consistent performer at Georgia, Bradley hit over .300 each season for the Bulldogs outside of a three-game 2019 campaign that was cut short due to a shoulder injury. Now a redshirt junior, Bradley's calling card is his bat. Through 18 games this spring he managed a career-best six home runs and hit .397/.513/.730 with 13 walks and only four strikeouts. Bradley doesn’t have a gaudy toolset and is undersized for a corner outfielder at 6-foot, 206 pounds, but he could profile in left field after tapping into more power this spring. While Bradley isn’t a burner, he’s a sneaky good runner for his frame and is an intelligent and opportunistic base stealer, with 26 steals in 32 attempts (81.2 percent) for his career. Bradley has also showed the ability to bunt for a base hit, which keeps defenses on their toes when he’s at the plate. Bradley has a unique profile and isn’t a typical middle-of-the-order college bat, but given his performance and developing power, he would have been a top-10 round pick for many teams in a typical draft year.
Commit/Drafted: Never Drafted
Age At Draft: 22.1More Less
- 362Last: 363
Gage BradleyRossview HS, Clarksville, Tenn. RHPVideoNotes:
Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 182 | B-T: R-RA projection righthander, Bradley showed some upside potential last summer with a good frame and solid feel for pitching. He pitched mostly in the 89-93 range over the summer, but scouts weren’t able to see him frequently this spring to see if he had taken a jump. Bradley has also shown solid feel for a mid-70s curveball and a changeup in a similar velocity range. It might be hard to select Bradley based on his present stuff in a five-round draft, but scouts believe he has the projectable frame—he’s listed at 6-foot-2, 182-pounds—to make a jump in college at Vanderbilt with added strength. He has a chance to throw hard in the future, but brings some reliever risk due to the funk in his delivery and some questions about his strike throwing.
Age At Draft: 18.7More Less
- 490Last: 491
Brooks GossweinBradley LHPNotes:
Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 180 | B-T: L-LGosswein could have potentially climbed into draft consideration, even in a shortened draft, with a strong spring thanks to solid velo from the left side, a varied assortment of secondary pitches and an easy delivery. That didn’t happen. Three starts didn’t give him a chance to show much of what he could do. An awful outing against Lipscomb ensured his final numbers were ugly—23 hits, six walks and two hit-by-pitches in 16.2 innings and a 5.94 ERA. Gosswein can sit 90-93 mph with the quality to sink his fastball or elevate it. He has an average slider, fringe-average curveball and improving but still fringy changeup. Gosswein will likely head back to Bradley with a chance to turn it back around in 2021.
Commit/Drafted: Never Drafted
Age At Draft: 21.7More Less