MLB Mock Draft
By Carlos Collazo
Note: We have removed Houston's first round pick following MLBs punishment of the organization for sign-stealing.
The amateur baseball season has not yet begun, but with the release of the top 100 draft prospects last week, here at Baseball America we are already getting excited about the 2020 draft.
While that draft is still close to 150 days away, we figured it would be fun to look at how the top 30 picks in the first round could play out. Perhaps this will give you an idea as to what sort of players will be available when your team is on the clock in June. Perhaps this is simply a fun exercise to do in January. Perhaps we’ll get all of the picks exactly right and look like geniuses in six months.
While that last comment is undoubtedly wishful thinking, we have spoken with many scouts and scouting directors over the last few months and during the summer, and there are reasons to be excited about the 2020 class.
Most evaluators are in agreement that the 2020 class is stronger than the 2019 edition, thanks to better pitching groups on both the high school and college side. The college class as a whole is particularly strong and one scout said with a good spring, this could wind up being the strongest college class in five years.
In addition to plenty of firepower on the mound, the college position player class is strong, with depth at the middle infield positions and at catcher. On the high school side, there lacks middle infield impact—particularly after a 2019 class that had CJ Abrams and Bobby Witt Jr.—but it’s a strong year for catchers and outfielders.
- 1Vanderbilt SSNotes:
There’s no clear No. 1 overall player in the class like a year ago with Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman, so for now each of Austin Martin, Spencer Torkelson and Emerson Hancock make perfect sense as No. 1 candidates. However, for now we’ll lean towards Martin, who has hit .376/.479/.521 in two years in the SEC and could elevate his draft stock by playing a capable shortstop this spring after handling third base as a sophomore. There are some easy comparisons to make with Martin and both Alex Bregman and Dansby Swanson—the first two picks in the 2015 draft class.More Less
- 2Georgia RHPNotes:
As with the Tigers, we expect the Orioles to be choosing one of the Martin/Hancock/Torkelson trio at this point. While Torkelson makes sense here as the best hit/power bat in the 2020 class, it’s worth noting that Mike Elias and Sig Megdal have always taken up-the-middle hitters or pitchers with top-five picks, going back to 2012 with the Astros. Hancock could also fit nicely as a fast-moving, top-of-the-rotation caliber arm who should be breaking into the majors around the same time Baltimore again becomes competitive. The 6-foot-4 righty has four potential plus pitches and is coming off a sophomore campaign with Georgia where he posted a 1.99 ERA while striking out 97 batters and walking 18.More Less
With Martin and Hancock off the board, that means #TankForTork goes here. The Marlins and scouting director DJ Svihlik went after college bats early last year and Torkelson is the best of a strong 2020 class. Torkelson has the best power in the class and has hit .337/.443/.723 with 48 home runs in two seasons with Arizona State. Those are loud numbers and should be more than enough to allow him to join a small club of first baseman to be selected among the first three picks of the draft, joining Andrew Vaughn (2019 White Sox, No. 3), Eric Hosmer (2008 Royals, No. 3), Adrian Gonzalez (2000 Marlins, No. 1), Travis Lee (1996 Twins, No. 2) and Dave McCarty (1991 Twins, No. 3).More Less
A strong summer on the Cape Cod League has elevated Gonzales into the top tier of players in the 2020 draft. The second baseman hit .351/.451/.630 with seven home runs and 14 doubles for Cotuit in the nation’s premier college summer league and is a career .392/.484/.690 hitter over two seasons with New Mexico State. Scouts will likely still be critical of Gonzales during the spring, as he plays in a hitter-friendly park, but his summer went a long way in showing his hitting prowess and extra-base thump were legit. Gonzales and Martin form one of the strongest draft class college middle infield duos since Bregman and Swanson.More Less
Lacy would have ranked as the top pitcher in the 2019 draft class, but will have to settle for No. 2 behind Hancock for now. With that said, his combination of physicality, stuff, handedness and a no-nonsense, business-like mentality on the mound could easily elevate him to being the best arm in the class during the spring. Lacy has a 93-97 mph fastball and a wipeout slider to go along with a power curveball and a changeup—he’s been dominant in two seasons with Texas A&M, posting a sub-3.00 ERA in back-to-back seasons with 178 strikeouts in 128 innings (12.5 K/9).More Less
- 6UCLA OFNotes:
Remember Kameron Misner from last year’s class? A toolsy, high upside college player who comes with some risk? That’s essentially Mitchell, though the UCLA outfielder is starting out in a much better position with terrific high school pedigree—he ranked No. 62 on the 2017 BA 500 as a high schooler with Orange (Calif.) Lutheran HS—and a strong sophomore campaign where he hit .349/.418/.566 with 18 stolen bases and 12 triples. Mitchell is loaded with plus tools, but he’s been inconsistent as a hitter and never really tapped into his power. Mitchell is a Type I Diabetic, which may give some teams pause.More Less
It’s a strong year at the top of the class for high school prospects from Pennsylvania, with Hendrick and recently reclassified righthander Nick Bitsko. Many teams believe Hendrick is the best pure hitter in the high school class and he brings jaw-dropping raw power and elite bat speed to the table as well. While he’s likely a corner outfielder in the long term, teams covet that sort of lefthanded bat—going to school 16 miles from PNC Park is just icing on the cake.More Less
We’ve got the Padres going with a high upside prep pitcher in this spot, though it wouldn’t be shocking at all to see San Diego pivot to a college player with this pick thanks to the major league team’s competitive window. Still, Kelley could be one of the faster-moving high school players in this class thanks to his physicality (6-foot-3, 215 pounds), 70-grade fastball and advanced control.More Less
- 9South Carolina RHPNotes:
The Rockies have been tremendously college-heavy in recent years and picking at No. 9 in this class means they could have a number of interesting collegiate options, whether that be with an arm or bat. Like Gonzales, Mlodzinski used an outstanding summer in the Cape to elevate his draft stock after an injury-shortened 2019 season with the Gamecocks. He has a 94-97 mph fastball with heavy sink, a polished change and an improved curveball, though a full season will be important for him to go among the top 10.More Less
It’s a weak middle infield class for prep players. There are no shortstops of the caliber of Bobby Witt Jr. or CJ Abrams, but Howard is the cream of the crop and is a standout defender with an uber projectable frame and athleticism most teams love. He’s not the most polished bat, but is mechanically sound and has shown enough flashes for teams to dream on his offensive ability in the future. This could be the first year without multiple high school shortstops selected in the first round since 2006, when none were taken.More Less
- 11Tennessee LHPNotes:
It’s a good year for college lefties. There are some comparisons to make here with Crochet and Duke lefthander Graeme Stinson from last year’s class in that they are both big (in different ways) southpaws with some of the best pure stuff in the class with limited track records of starting. Crochet has started six times in each of his two years with Tennessee (compared to 23 relief appearances) so a strong spring as a starter is crucial for him this year. If he succeeds he could easily jump into the top 10.More Less
Another of the talented southpaws in the 2020 class, Detmers has a strong collegiate track record with one of the best programs in the country. While he doesn’t have the same overpowering pure stuff that Lacy or Crochet possess, he has more than enough stuff to miss bats and has some deception that allows it all to play up. On top of that, Detmers is one of the better strike throwers in the class and walked just 2.3 batters per nine last spring in 107.1 innings.More Less
- 13Mississippi State RHPNotes:
A first round pick out of high school in 2018, Ginn faced questions about whether he was a starter or reliever when he showed a potent fastball-breaking ball combo out of Brandon (Miss.) High. The Dodgers were believers, and took Ginn with the 30th overall pick, but the two sides couldn’t come to terms and Ginn instead went to Mississippi State where he was one of the best freshman in the country. Posting a 3.36 ERA in 16 starts in his first taste of the SEC, Ginn is the best of a number of draft-eligible sophomores with first-round potential in the 2020 class.More Less
- 14Arkansas SSNotes:
Martin established himself with Arkansas immediately, hitting .345/.418/.556 as a freshman to lead the national runners-up in hitting. While he does have an exciting power-speed combo and exciting tools, Martin will need to show that he can make the most of them this spring, as he tends to get over-aggressive in the box and saw his average dip to .288 in his sophomore season. Still, a shortstop with back-to-back double-digit home run seasons in the SEC will get plenty of teams interested. The Rangers could get their fill of tools while still playing in the college demographic they pivoted to after last year’s draft.More Less
Abel has top-10 talent and perhaps the best combination of projection, strike throwing ability and fastball-breaking ball combination in the high school class. Kelley is the more fully developed pitcher, but there are probably teams who peg Abel as the better prospect thanks to a more consistent breaking ball. Prep righthanders tend to slide down boards as the draft approaches, but he fits anywhere in the 10-20 range, and potentially a tick higher.More Less
If Hendrick isn’t the best hitter in the prep class, that accolade belongs to Hassell, who was the best hitter on a disappointing 2019 18U National Team, bringing home a slew of awards, including being named the World Baseball Softball Confederation’s 2019 International Player of the Year. Hassell led Team USA in 10 offensive categories in South Korea, including a .514/.548/.886 slash line, and makes excellent adjustments within at-bats.More Less
- 17Georgia RHPNotes:
Another draft-eligible sophomore, Wilcox rated as the No. 37 prospect on the BA 500 out of high school. Wilcox’s range of outcomes seems moderately wide, as the massive 6-foot-5, 232-pound righthander has tremendous physicality and pure stuff—including a fastball he can run up into the upper-90s—but limited track record as a starter.More Less
Wells is another draft-eligible sophomore who had a chance to go early in the draft out of high school, but an elbow injury limited him behind the plate and he instead made it to Arizona, where he’s shown an impressive lefthanded bat. Wells hit .353/.462/.552 in his first season, with five home runs and 15 doubles, and followed that up with a solid summer on the Cape, though his over-the-fence power disappeared with a wood bat. Wells has been polarizing thanks to mixed reviews about his receiving ability, but the hit tool plays and Arizona loves a good hit tool.More Less
- 19Miami RHPNotes:
This is perhaps the most aggressive pick we have in this edition of the mock—relative to our current draft rankings—but Cecconi was a monster on the showcase circuit out of high school. He compared well with the Emerson Hancock/Ginn/Kumar Rocker/Carter Stewart/Wilcox group of righthanders, but barely pitched during his senior season of high school, causing him to slip and make it to Miami. Scouts love Cecconi’s stuff and large mix of pitches and he could blow up with a loud spring for the Hurricanes. The Mets also haven’t taken a college arm in the first round in a few years and we think they might get back to that in 2020.More Less
So, we’re at pick 20 and we have nine college pitchers off the board. Remember what we said about the strength of the college pitching crop? It’s legit. Burns doesn’t have the upside that some of the other arms here possess, but he has above-average control of a solid three-pitch mix and a better chance to stick as a starter because of that.More Less
Bailey and Wells will be difficult to figure out this spring, as both could go around the same spot and will be ordered No. 1 and No. 2 in the catching pecking order depending on the team you talk to. Where Wells is bat-first, Bailey has some of the best defensive skills in the country, with excellent receiving, blocking and throwing ability and solid power from both sides of the plate as well. He seems like a safe bet to go in the first round because of those skills, but how much he hits this spring should determine how high.More Less
Kjerstad is a bat-first corner outfielder, but he’s been one of the more consistent, powerful hitters in the college ranks over the last two years. During his debut season with Arkansas, the 6-foot-3, 200-pound lefthanded hitter put up a .332/.419/.553 line with 14 home runs and he followed that up with a .329/.404/.574 line with 16 homers as a sophomore. Outside of Austin Martin and Torkelson, it’s tough to find a better bat—it’ll be interesting to see how the industry balances that with his defensive limitations.More Less
The Indians are obsessed with youth and after reclassifying Bitsko is one of the youngest players in the class. As their last two first-round picks show, Cleveland is not hesitant to take a prep righthander with their first pick, and perhaps their pitching development explains why. If both Bitsko and Hendrick go in the first round, it will be the first year with two Pennsylvania high schoolers taken in the first round since 1996.More Less
The Rays are another team not afraid to take a few risks in the draft and they’ve also gotten a lot out of their arms. Santos is more of a projection pitcher than each of the first three high school arms off the board, but he has a chance for a plus fastball and breaking ball, impressive athleticism and a great frame to grow into. Northeast arms get a bonus on most draft models as well.More Less
Santos and Bitsko would both make sense in the old Braves scouting department, but last year the team targeted college bats and performers with both of their first-round picks. Teams love Foscue’s bat—perhaps enough that he doesn’t make it here—and while he can get pull-happy at times, he hit .338/.402/.582 with 14 home runs and 22 doubles last spring for Mississippi State, with average defensive potential at second and third base.More Less