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.
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Drew SmithGrand Canyon 2BNotes:
Ht: 5-10 | Wt: 190 | B-T: R-RThe Nebraska native stayed in-state for his first three seasons, playing six games as a freshman at Creighton before heading to Northeast Community College for his redshirt freshman and sophomore seasons. Smith earned the 2019 Spalding National Junior College Athletic Association D-II Player of the Year award after hitting .465/.538/.897 and transferred to Grand Canyon after the season. His Antelopes career got off to a bang when he went 7-for-14 in the opening weekend series against Oklahoma State, and he kept hitting until the season shut down. Smith is a second baseman in the mold of former big league infielder Andy Stankiewicz, who happened to be his coach at GCU. He has a strong, stocky frame with no flashy tools but with a gritty, gamer approach. He’s a good contact hitter with a line-drive swing and puts together quality at-bats with his strong plate discipline. Smith has below-average raw power but makes enough quality contact to be an offensive threat. He is an average runner and an above-average defender at second base, and where he is highly instinctual with good hands. In a normal year, Smith would be a candidate to be drafted in the top 10 rounds by a team that values his performance.
Commit/Drafted: Never Drafted
Age At Draft: 21.8More Less
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Ryland ZaborowskiBasha HS, Chandler, Ariz. 3BNotes:
Ht: 6-5 | Wt: 210 | B-T: R-RAt 6-foot-5, 210 pounds, Zaborowski passes the eye test with his tall, strong frame, but it’s likely that the Grand Canyon commit will make it to campus in the fall. He generates impressive exit velocities on contact and gets good loft while using all fields. Despite having an above-average arm, Zaborowski is a below-average defender at the hot corner, lacking the footwork and quickness needed for the position. He will likely wind up across the infield especially if he continues to get bigger. A below-average runner, Zaborowski is better underway and won’t be a base clogger, but speed won’t be a big part of his game. Zaborowski fits the mold of a player who will greatly benefit from three years of college ball, so look for him to be more of a draft prospect in 2023.
Commit/Drafted: Grand Canyon
Age At Draft: 18.1More Less