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2020 BA 500 Draft Rankings

Torkelson Martin Effect
Austin Martin and Spencer Torkelson. (Photos by Bill Mitchell (left) and Zach Lucy/Four Seam Images)

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.

2 Matches
Expand Collapse All Updated on: 6/9/2020
  1. 18

    Tyler Soderstrom

    Turlock (Calif.) HS C
    Video
    Notes:

    Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 190 | B-T: L-R
    Commit/Drafted: UCLA
    Age At Draft: 18.6

    Soderstrom 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.
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  2. 39

    Drew Romo

    The Woodlands (Texas) HS C
    Video
    Notes:

    Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 205 | B-T: B-R
    Commit/Drafted: Louisiana State
    Age At Draft: 18.8

    Romo has been regarded as an elite catch-and-throw backstop from essentially the day he started playing high school baseball. Area scouts were quick to note his prowess behind the plate, and some think he’s been the best defensive catcher in Texas for four years—and Baylor backstop Shea Langeliers was a top-10 pick in 2019. Romo is at the top of a deep prep catching class in 2020, along with the offensively-oriented Tyler Soderstrom, and teams believe he is a likely major leaguer despite high school catcher being one of the riskiest draft profiles. Romo has soft hands, is an excellent blocker and receiver and has a strong, accurate arm. He has a chance to be a plus-plus defender with plus arm strength, the type of catcher who wins Gold Glove awards. On top of that, the switch-hitting Romo offers solid raw power from both sides of the plate. His swing is a bit more grooved from the left side, while his righthanded swing is rigid with a tick more power. The biggest question with Romo is how frequently he is going to make contact. He has shown some swing-and-miss concerns and there’s reason to wonder how well he’ll hit better pitching. Still, he has a good understanding of the strike zone and could provide enough offense with his plate discipline and ambush power. The baseline for catcher offense is low and scouts almost unanimously see Romo as an impact defender at the game’s most premium position. Despite any offensive concerns, the Louisiana State commit has a chance to go in the first or supplemental first round.
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