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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.

3 Matches
Expand Collapse All Updated on: 6/9/2020
  1. 156
    Last: 157

    Shay Whitcomb

    UC San Diego SS
    Video
    Notes:

    Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 200 | B-T: R-R
    Commit/Drafted: Never Drafted
    Age At Draft: 21.7

    Whitcomb made waves in the Cape Cod League last summer when he hit .303 with eight home runs in 34 games while posting sizzling exit velocities. He continued mashing this spring at UC San Diego to solidify his rising stock before the season shut down. Whitcomb is the rare Division II prospect who scouts are confident will hit. He has a good swing, turns around velocity, consistently finds the barrel and has above-average raw power he gets to in games. Evaluators see him as at least an average hitter and possibly more. Whitcomb is a fringy defender with a below-average arm at shortstop, leading scouts to project him as an offensively-driven second baseman in pro ball. Whitcomb’s bat, solidified by his performance on the Cape, has him in top five rounds consideration. He has a chance to be the first Division II player drafted this year.
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  2. 421
    Last: 422

    Shay Hartis

    Grayson (Texas) JC RHP
    Notes:

    Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 190 | B-T: R-R
    Commit/Drafted: -
    Age At Draft: 20.0

    Hartis spent the fall season at Dallas Baptist, but never pitched in an official game for DBU before transferring to Grayson. This spring he showed an improved low-80s tight slider that he has better feel for locating. His 92-94 mph fastball has downhill angle.
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  3. 462
    Last: 463

    Blake Baumgartner

    UC San Diego 1B
    Notes:

    Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 200 | B-T: R-R
    Commit/Drafted: Never Drafted
    Age At Draft: 22.0

    Baumgartner took advantage of all the scouts watching teammate Shay Whitcomb this spring and drew some attention to himself. He hit .343/.515/.514 before the season shut down. Baumgartner is a big first baseman with plus raw power and a feel for the strike zone. He had as many walks as strikeouts (88) in his college career and showed the ability to get to his plus raw power in games, albeit against Division II competition. Baumgartner is a pure first baseman whose value is tied to his bat. His mix of power and patience give him the potential to do damage in pro ball.
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