2020 MLB Draft Instant Analysis, Full Scouting Reports For Every First Round Pick
Below, find our immediate feedback on each pick of the MLB Draft, as well as a full scouting report for every player selected once the draft begins at 7 p.m. ET.
Here is the draft order.
- Blue Jays
- White Sox
- Red Sox
Pick: Spencer Torkelson
School: Arizona State
Instant Analysis: The Tigers' farm system is rich in upper-level pitching prospects, led by Casey Mize, Matt Manning and Tarik Skubal. Now with Torkelson, the Tigers have added the No. 1 prospect on the BA 500 and a potential masher in the middle of a lineup who brings an outstanding combination of hitting ability, strike-zone discipline and plus-plus power. Torkelson was a first baseman at Arizona State, but the Tigers announced him as a third baseman. It's a long shot for him Torkelson to stick at third base long term, but his offensive impact is loud enough to carry him at first base.
Scouting Report: Undrafted after his four-year high school career in Northern California, Torkelson exploded onto the collegiate baseball scene at Arizona State with one of the best freshman seasons ever, leading the nation with 25 home runs. He was just as strong in his sophomore and junior seasons, but the early end to what is expected to be his final season left him three homers short of breaking Bob Horner’s ASU career record. Torkelson’s terrific hitting ability, advanced approach and plate discipline, plus bat speed, and plus-plus power make him one of the favorites for the first overall pick. Hitting with power to all fields, Torkelson showed more of an ability to pull pitches over the middle of the plate during his abbreviated junior season. There are still some tweaks to his swing that can be made, as he at times was too much out on the front side this season, pulling off and taking away the bottom half. He’s an above-average defender now at first base thanks to his agility and good hands, with the strong work ethic to continue improving. Torkelson played some outfield during his time with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team, where he ranked as the top prospect last summer. While he has below-average speed, he runs well underway and improved his throwing technique. He could be at least adequate in left field, but most observers want him to stay at first base where he can focus on being a middle-of-the-order masher. Torkelson may be the safest pick among those at the top of the draft thanks to his outstanding hitting ability and the most usable power in the class. He could rise quickly through the minor leagues, and gets compared to Mets first baseman Peter Alonso. If he does go 1-1, Torkelson would be the first ever college first baseman to do so.
Pick: Heston Kjerstad
Instant Analysis: It didn't take long for us to get our first surprise of draft night. No. 13 on the BA 500, Kjerstad goes to the Orioles at No. 2 overall in a move that will presumably allow them to cut an under slot deal here to shift more of their bonus pool money to other players later in the draft. Kjerstad has an unorthodox swing, but he has a track record of making it work, both in terms of hitting ability and power.
Scouting Report: While the shortened 2020 season impacts every player to some extent, Kjerstad might be one of the least negatively impacted players outside of the top five. The Arkansas outfielder has a long track record of hitting for average and power, both in the SEC and with Team USA’s Collegiate National Team. Last summer, Kjerstad led Team USA with a .395/.426/.651 line including two home runs, a triple and three doubles. He’s hit better than .330/.400/.550 in each of his first two seasons with Arkansas and was off to another hot start in his junior campaign. That type of consistency gives him one of the higher floors among hitters in the 2020 draft class. He’s a middle-of-the-order type bat but might be more power over pure hit, with 70-grade future raw power and the ability to leave a ballpark in any direction. His swing is a bit unorthodox, with a two-piece action and a pause with a big leg kick that interrupts his timing. The complex mechanics might why he’s historically struck out at a high clip. Kjerstad whiffed 17 percent of the time as a freshman, 21 percent of the time as a sophomore and struck out 10 times and walked just three times with Team USA last summer. While the early returns in that department were improved in a 16-game non-conference sample this spring, teams believe Kjerstad might always strike out at a decent rate. His power production might make the swing-and-miss palatable He’s a corner outfielder and a decent athlete for his size, but it would be optimistic to expect more than adequate defense from him in left or right. Kjerstad has a solid, accurate throwing arm, but most of his value is in his bat. He should go off the board at some point in the middle of the first round.
Pick: Max Meyer
Instant Analysis: The Marlins have the makings of exciting future rotation, with Sixto Sanchez, Edward Cabrera and now Meyer in the mix. An athletic strike thrower, Meyer climbed up draft boards this spring, with a fastball that reaches the upper-90s and a wipeout slider that he uses as a putaway pitch.
Scouting Report: If you’re looking for the best pure stuff in the 2020 draft class, Max Meyer might be your guy. A two-time member of Team USA’s Collegiate National Team, Meyer is a two-way player for Minnesota with a long track record of excellence on the mound. After posting a 2.06 ERA as a reliever only in 2018, Meyer successfully transitioned to a starting role in 2019, when he posted a 2.11 ERA with 87 strikeouts in 76.2 innings (10.2 strikeouts per nine). He took over the Friday night role this spring and was rapidly ascending draft boards before the season was cut short. Meyer has two 70-grade offerings with a fastball that he runs up to 97-98 and holds in the mid-90s deep into outings, along with the best slider in the 2020 class. The pitch is one of the better amateur sliders that many scouts have seen in years, and for some evaluators it’s the best amateur slider they’ve ever scouted. The pitch is not only hard, getting up to 92 or even 93 mph, but it has tremendous movement and depth. Meyer has excellent command of his slider. He can loosen it for strikes or tighten it for chases out of the zone. Meyer also has a changeup that he tried to improve this season. It is in the mid-80s with slight tailing life and a chance to get to an above-average ceiling. Teams wondered if Meyer would be able to consistently hold his electric stuff in a full-time starting role, and while he didn’t get to prove it over a full season, scouts thought he paced himself well in his four starts. He struck out 46 and walked eight in 27.2 innings and recorded double-digit strikeouts in three of his four outings. While Meyer is undersized at 6-foot, 180 pounds, there’s not a disconcerting amount of effort in his delivery and he also has a strong history of throwing quality strikes. He’s one of the more athletic pitchers in recent years and went from a late-first round arm to a potential top-10 pick thanks to his early-season performance.
Pick: Asa Lacy
School: Texas A&M
Instant Analysis: Three of the Royals' top four prospects coming into the draft were pitchers. Rather than balancing that with a college bat like Austin Martin or a high school hitter like Zac Veen, the Royals instead added to the strength of their farm system with another arm. Lacy was the top pitcher available on the BA draft board, with a promising combination of durability and swing-and-miss stuff.
Scouting Report: Lacy entered the year among the top tier of college arms, with only Georgia righthander Emerson Hancock ahead, but performed at such a high level in his first four starts that most clubs now have him as the top arm in the class. Coming out of high school, Lacy was a projectable lefthander who was only just starting to fill out his 6-foot-4 frame. He had good pitchability and a fastball that got into the low 90s, along with a tumbling changeup that showed promise, but no real breaking ball. The Indians drafted him in the 31st round in 2017, but he instead chose to attend Texas A&M, where he has improved across the board and now harnesses some of the best stuff in the country. After filling out to 215 pounds, Lacy has plenty of strength and a fastball that ranges from 90-98 to go along with a wipeout slider, a plus changeup and a power curveball. After posting a 2.13 ERA with 130 strikeouts in 88.2 innings in his first full season as a starter in 2019, Lacy was well on his way to more dominance in 2020. In four starts he struck out 46 batters compared to eight walks and allowed just two earned runs—good for a 0.75 ERA. Previously, scouts had wondered about the quality of Lacy’s slider and whether he could shape develop it into a true swing-and-miss pitch. Lacy answered those questions this spring by unveiling a powerful, 87-90 mph version of the pitch. In fact, some scouts say it’s the best slider they’ve seen from a college lefty since Carlos Rodon in 2014. The pitch doesn’t have quite that depth, but it is a true wipeout offering now. His changeup has long been a reliable weapon, and while he hasn’t thrown it as much this spring, most scouts believe it’s a plus pitch. Lacy’s curveball gives him a fourth pitch that’s at least average and has above-average potential. The one critique of Lacy is his pitch efficiency. He has shown a tendency to pitch into deep counts, which scouts think has inflated his walk rate more than his above-average command would indicate, but he also strikes out plenty of batters and doesn’t allow much contact. Lacy’s delivery is fluid and clean, with good usage of his lower half to drive downhill and above-average deception achieved by hiding the ball behind his body before releasing from a higher three-quarters slot. In addition to all of his pure stuff, scouts love Lacy’s demeanor on the mound, with a stoic, no-nonsense mentality. He should be one of the first two pitchers off the board.
5. Blue Jays
Pick: Austin Martin
Instant Analysis: The strength of the Blue Jays' young talent is position players, but it's hard to pass on Martin when the No. 2 player in the draft (and one who wouldn't be out of place going 1-1 overall) is available with the fifth pick in the draft. Martin is one of the most accomplished, polished players in the draft, offering a promising mix of upside and safety amidst a draft that's been filled with uncertainty. Where Martin fits best in the field is still in question, but he's one of the elite hitters in the class with power trending up.
Scouting Report: A first team All-American and Golden Spikes semifinalist after an outstanding sophomore season in which he hit .392/.486/.604 and was third in the country in hits, Martin has long been one of the favorites for the first overall pick in the 2020 draft. Martin has some of the best pure hitting ability in the class, with eye-popping bat speed, excellent contact ability and impressive plate discipline as well. Martin also appeared to be increasing his power production. He hit eight home runs as a sophomore after tallying just one in his freshman season. He hit three in 16 games in 2020 before the season was canceled, with the best isolated slugging percentage of his career (.286). Some people have thrown Dansby Swanson comparisons on Martin, as both are at the top of their respective classes and Vanderbilt products, but without spending any time at shortstop, it’s perhaps more misleading than accurate. There aren’t many 1-1 candidate prospects who made position changes during their draft-eligible seasons, so perhaps Ian Happ is a better comparison in terms of tools and defensive versatility, though Martin’s contact ability and presence in the box are superior to Happ’s at the time. After spending most of his time with Vanderbilt at third base, Martin moved to center field after a few games this spring. He also played center field with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team, and while he doesn’t have elite speed or the best first step, he has the instincts and athleticism to handle the position. Martin is more of a plus runner than a true burner, and while teams would have liked to see him handle shortstop, it is concerning for his pro potential at the position considering he wasn’t the shortstop on his college team. Even if Martin doesn’t wind up at shortstop, he has the defensive ability to become an asset at a premium position, whether that’s in center field, third base or second. While there are questions about his future defensive home, Martin’s offensive resume is as impressive as any in the country, with the ability to hit for high average, draw plenty of walks, hit for extra bases and also be a disruptive runner on the bases. His profile is as complete as it gets in the 2020 class.
Pick: Emerson Hancock
Instant Analysis: The Mariners have one of the best prospect duos in baseball with outfielders Julio Rodriguez and Jarred Kelenic. With Hancock, the organization adds to its stable of first-round college arms the last three years, joining righthanders Logan Gilbert (2018) and George Kirby (2019). Hancock is the top-ranked righthander in the 2020 draft class, thanks to his impressive combination of stuff and command that should help him move quickly.
Scouting Report: A notable high school prospect out of Georgia in 2017, Hancock established himself as one of the best college arms during a tremendous sophomore season in 2019. He posted a 1.99 ERA—the eighth best mark in Georgia history—and led the SEC with a 0.84 WHIP while allowing one run or fewer in nine of his 14 starts. Scouts lauded his delivery, command and repertoire at the time, with some believing each of his pitches were plus or better. The grades on each of Hancock’s offerings weren’t quite as gaudy early in 2020, but Hancock’s command, frame, delivery and pitch mix still place him among the class’ elite. Hancock’s command, possibly his attribute, earns him potential plus grades—rare for an amateur pitcher with his stuff. He walked just 1.79 batters per nine innings as a sophomore, and that rate was down to 1.13 after four starts in 2020. He spots his entire arsenal where he wants it, which can allow everything to play up. Hancock’s fastball ranges from 93-97, though some evaluators question the underlying quality of the pitch, wondering if it has the riding life and swing-and-miss qualities you’d like to see from a frontline starter. It’s possible a lower arm slot leads to some of those concerns. After the fastball, Hancock throws a slider in the low 80s that he worked on over the offseason and gets plus grades at its best. The pitch is more often a 55-grade offering, though, while a tumbling changeup is his most consistent offspeed pitch and generates whiffs from batters on either side. Hancock also throws a curveball, though less frequently than his other three pitches. Hancock is unsurprisingly efficient considering his command, and he also fields his position well with impressive natural athleticism and a clean delivery that leaves him in good fielding position. Hancock should be one of the first pitchers off the board, but teams would prefer a frontline pitching prospect to have a no-doubt, out-pitch breaking ball and Hancock’s haven’t reached that quality as consistently as scouts would like. Either way, his athleticism, frame, command, velocity, changeup and track record in the SEC all combine to provide some safety and make him difficult to pass up.
Pick: Nick Gonzales
School: New Mexico State
Instant Analysis: The new Pirates' regime has to be ecstatic to get an elite college hitter at No. 7 overall. Gonzales is a hitting machine with an outstanding track record, including an MVP performance in the Cape Cod League last year. The attributes he brings in the box—a short stroke, excellent plate coverage and the ability to drive the ball with impact—should translate as he moves up in pro ball.
Scouting Report: Gonzales is the prototypical baseball rat but with more of an innate ability to hit for both average and power than most gritty gamer types. A lightly recruited walk-on as a freshman at New Mexico State, Gonzales has turned himself into one of the top draft prospects in 2020 through sheer hard work. His .432/.532/.773 batting line in his sophomore year led the nation and earned All-America honors. While his video game-like offensive numbers during his three-year career with the Aggies have to be factored downward because of the extreme hitting environments in the state—including the 12 home runs in 82 plate appearances before his junior season ended prematurely—Gonzales proved that the bat is for real with his performance in the Cape Cod League, where he was named league MVP for 2019 and hit seven home runs. A second baseman in his first two college seasons, Gonzales switched to shortstop this year to showcase himself prior to the draft. Opinions are mixed as to whether he can handle the position, with most observers wanting to put him at second base and just let him be an elite hitter at the position. While he has solid arm strength, scouts believe he might be stretched in the hole, and he could lack the short-area quickness that teams prefer in their shortstops. He’s a solid defender at the keystone, with improved footwork and hands and the ability to throw from various arm slots. Gonzales has elite bat-to-ball skills and plate discipline, and his strong hands allow him to make hard contact to all fields. He’s an above-average runner and has good baserunning instincts. Keston Hiura is a frequent comp for Gonzales, though the New Mexico State product has a better defensive profile and less raw power. Dustin Pedroia has been thrown on him as well. With his tremendous track record of hitting and strong Cape performance, Gonzales should go off the board among the first five picks.
Pick: Robert Hassell
School: Independence HS, Thompson's Station, Tenn.
Instant Analysis: The consensus top high school hitter in the class is Zac Veen, but the Padres went a different direction to draft Hassell instead. While Veen has more power, Hassell is the player scouts voted as the best pure hitter in the class. He's smooth, calm and balanced in the box, with a lot of hitterish actions and qualities that lead to a lot of barrels in games.
Scouting Report: Hassell is at the top of the list when it comes to the best hitters in the high school class. He was voted as the top pure hitter in the class by scouting directors, over outfielders like Austin Hendrick and Pete Crow-Armstrong and has few holes in a loose, lefthanded swing. Hassell was the most consistent hitter for USA Baseball’s 18U National Team last summer, leading the Americans in 10 offensive categories while posting a .514/.548/.886 slash line. For his efforts, he was named the World Baseball Softball Confederation’s 2019 International Player of the Year. Hassell has a lean frame with an exceptionally handsy swing that reminds some scouts of players like Jarred Kelenic and Riley Greene, in terms of hittingl potential. He brings a sound approach to the table and understands the strike zone, rarely swinging and missing no matter the stuff, using the entire field and showing an advanced ability to make adjustments. Hassell has a fairly lean frame at 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, and scouts are mixed on his future power potential, with some wondering how much bigger he’ll get and others more optimistic about him developing average or 55-grade power. Defensively, Hassell has a chance to stick in center field. He’s an above-average runner with above-average arm strength, but his speed is better underway and he lacks the elite sort of footspeed that most major league center fielders possess. It’s more likely that he winds up in a corner, where he could be a good defender, though that will put more pressure on the Vanderbilt commit growing into more power. It’s rare for the top prep hitter in the class to fall out of the top half of the first round, but teams didn’t see Hassell much this spring and he’ll also be competing against a strong group of prep outfielders.
Pick: Zac Veen
School: Spruce Creek HS, Port Orange, Fla.
Instant Analysis: The Rockies must be elated to get the top high school player in the country with the ninth overall pick. Veen is a 6-foot-5 outfielder with big power, a swing conducive to tapping into that power in games and a good idea of the strike zone. Once he signs, Veen immediately steps into the top two prospects in the Rockies' system along with Brendan Rodgers.
Scouting Report: Veen started to raise eyebrows as a junior in high school, when he went on a bit of a home run binge in Florida, including homering against the top prep pitcher of the 2019 draft class, Matt Allan. While Veen didn’t attend USA Baseball’s PDP League, he was quick to impress evaluators with his exceptionally smooth and loose lefthanded swing and elite frame. After packing on around 20 pounds of muscle over the offseason, Veen stands at 6-foot-5, 200 pounds—still with room to add more strength. Veen has one of the best batting eyes of the prep class and brings a patient approach to the table. He frequently gets into deep counts and waits for a specific pitch to hit. His swing has natural leverage and good loft that should allow him to continue tapping into his ever-increasing raw power, which is at least plus now and could eventually reach double-plus. There are some swing-and-miss tendencies at the moment and critics wonder about his ability to handle velocity and adjust to offspeed stuff away, though most scouts believe he’ll be an above-average or better hitter thanks to his batting eye, the looseness of his operation and the way his hands work during his swing. Veen plays center field for his high school team, but he’ll be stretched there as a pro, especially as he adds weight. He’s a fine runner now but could eventually become fringe-average or below and will fit best in a corner, where he should have more than enough power to profile. He’s a solid defender with good arm strength. Veen has one of the more high-upside tools profiles in the class thanks to his power potential, swing and frame. After entering the season toward the back of the first round, the Florida commit is now one of the favorites to be the first high school player selected in a class that’s heavy on college players at the top.
Pick: Reid Detmers
Instant Analysis: The Angels have a pair of dynamic outfielders at the top of their farm system in Jo Adell and Brandon Marsh. With Detmers, the Angels had a polished college pitching prospect into that mix, a potential midrotation starter who shouldn't need too much time in the minors.
Scouting Report: Perhaps the most polished strike-thrower in the 2020 class, Detmers last year set a Louisville program record with 167 strikeouts and tied the program record with 13 wins. A 6-foot-2, 210-pound lefty with a workhorse frame, Detmers doesn’t have the biggest pure stuff, but is one of the more high-likelihood major leaguers in a deep 2020 pitching class. Detmers annihilated his competition before the 2020 season ended, striking out 48 batters (19.6 per nine) and walking just six (2.5 per nine) in four starts and 22 innings. Detmers’ fastball averages around 90-91 mph and touches 94 mph at his best, but it plays up and generates whiffs because Detmers is able to hide the ball well. Detmers also has outstanding control and command, along with one of the better breaking balls in the class. His low-70s curveball is a hammer, with massive depth and shape, which grades out as a plus offering at least. The pitch jumps out of his hand at times, and some evaluators have mentioned that it’s rare for a breaking ball with such a low velocity to fool professional hitters, but he has enough feel to add more power to the pitch at the next level if necessary. On top of his curveball, Detmers has a changeup that’s an above-average future offering and a slider that grades out as fringe-average, with little current usage. Scouts and coaches alike rave about Detmers’ competitive nature on the mound, and believe he has the makeup necessary to perform in any situation and at any level. It’s easy to throw a Brendan McKay comp on Detmers thanks to both pitchers’ handedness, velocity and school but that could be a lazy comparison. Others have cited Drew Pomeranz, who found major league success with below-average fastball velocity and a lethal curveball. A No. 3 starter is a solid future outlook for Detmers at this point, and he seems a safe bet to go among the top 10 picks.
11. White Sox
Pick: Garrett Crochet
Instant Analysis: The upside here is obvious: 6-foot-6, lefthanded, reaches 100 mph and finishes hitters with a plus slider. Once he signs, Crochet immediately is in the conversation for the best pure stuff of any lefthanded pitcher in the minors. It's a high-risk, high-reward play though, as Crochet doesn't have the same extensive track record as the other college pitchers going in the first round.
Scouting Report: A 6-foot-6, 218-pound southpaw with a fastball that is regularly in the 96-100 mph range as well as a plus breaking ball, Crochet could have the best overall stuff in the class and he certainly has the best stuff of any lefthander. The abbreviated 2020 season hurts Crochet, who doesn’t have the track record of starting that many of the college arms around him do. For this reason, some scouts have compared him to Duke lefthander Graeme Stinson from the 2019 draft class, though Crochet has more starts under his belt at this time than Stinson did entering his junior season. Crochet split time as a starter and reliever during his freshman and sophomore seasons before entering his junior season with a full-time starting role. That was delayed, reportedly due to shoulder soreness, and Crochet made just one start against Wright State—when he threw 3.1 innings with six strikeouts—before the season ended. His stuff looked as loud as ever in that outing, with a fastball that sat between 93-98 mph range and touched 99, as well as a plus slider and above-average changeup. Crochet routinely creates uncomfortable at-bats against hitters, particularly lefties, with his length and the angle he creates in his delivery. His fastball explodes out of his hand and is a plus-plus pitch at the moment, giving him an elite two-pitch mix that gives him the fallback of a relief ace if starting doesn’t work out. His secondary offerings have been inconsistent in the past, but both have flashed above-average potential frequently enough to project that in the future. There aren’t any glaring reasons why Crochet couldn’t start, and his strike-throwing with Tennessee has been fine (3.37 walks per nine for his career), but teams are wary of the relative lack of track record in that role. If a team is willing to take a risk, Crochet’s pure stuff fits at the absolute top of the draft and while there’s a good deal of variance in his current profile, it’s difficult to find this stuff and size from a lefthander.
Pick: Austin Hendrick
School: West Allegheny HS, Imperial, Pa.
Instant Analysis: Watch one swing from Hendrick and the appeal is obvious. He has vicious bat speed, generating the best power of any hitter in the high school class. There are scouts with questions on his pure hitting ability, but if Hendrick can keep his strikeout rate in check, the upside is an outfielder with 40-homer potential.
Scouting Report: Hendrick impressed scouts with his hitting and power potential over the summer showcase circuit, where he showed the ability to lay off bad pitches at East Coast Pro and at USA Baseball’s PDP League. He put together a three-home run game on June 27 and upped the ante at the 2019 Under Armour High School All-American Game when he hit a ball out of Wrigley Field. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound outfielder has the quickest pure bat speed in the class and complements it with light tower raw power, giving him arguably the best power/hit combo of any high school hitter. Hendrick has extremely quick hands that allow him to get to his 70-grade power, though he’s had to implement some timing mechanisms to keep himself back. Those adjustments have included a quirky toe-tap which has been replaced by a fluid leg kick. Hendrick’s consistency with his bat leaves fewer questions than for other high school hitters, though he does have some swing-and-miss concerns. However, the pitching he regularly faces in Pennsylvania is significantly worse than the better arms in the high school class, and he has the natural tools to make all the adjustments necessary as he moves up the ladder. He showed that ability to adjust last summer in games. Hendrick has proved he can play all three outfield positions in high school, but scouts are split on his defensive routes. Some scouts believe he tracks the ball well, but most agree that his arm strength is near the top of the class. Hendrick is best suited to play in a corner-outfield spot, where his power and above-average arm strength suit him well. A 2020 high school preseason first-team All-American, Hendrick wasn’t seen much this spring, but likely would have had a tough time changing his draft stock much given the competition. Hendrick is older for the high school class and will turn 19 in the middle of June. Still, he should be one of the first prep names selected, and it’s unlikely he makes it to campus at Mississippi State.
Pick: Patrick Bailey
School: NC State
Instant Analysis: Joey Bart has company behind the plate in the Giants' system. Two years after drafting the Bart at No. 2 overall, the Giants again selected the top catcher in the draft with their first-round pick. Bailey earns high marks from scouts for his defensive chops and has above-average power from both sides of the plate.
Scouting Report: Bailey was heralded as one of the better defensive catchers in the country coming out of high school in 2017, but scouts were concerned about the amount of offensive impact he would be able to provide and let him get to campus in Raleigh. He wasted no time showing that he did have impact ability in his bat, leading all ACC freshmen in hitting (.321), total bases (113) and slugging (.604) while also setting a new NC State freshman home run record (13). And while Bailey hit over .288 in each of his three seasons with the Wolfpack, his strengths are still on the defensive side of the ball. He earns plus grades for his catching and his throwing arm, giving pitchers tremendous confidence that they can rip off their best breaking ball without having to worry about it trickling to the backstop. Bailey is also one of the rare college catchers who calls his own game, which will give him better grades for some scouting departments, and he draws plenty of praise for his leadership ability behind the plate. Offensively, Bailey certainly has more impact than scouts expected back in his high school days and has shown above-average raw power from both sides of the plate. His swing is more fluid with better contact ability from the left side, and most scouts think he’s more of a power bat than a true hitter, with grades ranging from below-average to average on his future hit tool. Bailey has a solid eye at the plate, as evidenced by a 12.8-percent career walk rate, but there are concerns about the swing-and-miss tendencies that he showed last summer with USA’s Collegiate National Team (he led the team with 12 strikeouts) and early in the 2020 season. Still, catcher offense is a low bar to clear and as the best defender in the class with average or better power potential, he will be a coveted asset in the first round.
Pick: Justin Foscue
School: Mississippi State
Instant Analysis: Foscue going this high is a bit of a surprise—he ranked No. 36 overall in the BA 500 and there are questions about whether he stays at second base—but scouts highest on him do love his bat, with a chance to develop an above-average hit/power combination.
Scouting Report: You have to be a standout hitter to be a day one prospect as a second baseman, and Foscue fits the bill. After a mediocre freshman season with Mississippi State (.241/.332/.353), Foscue took off in 2019 when he hit 14 home runs and posted a .338/.402/.582 slash line while finishing fifth in the SEC in hits and third in total bases. Scouts believe Foscue will be an above-average hitter, though he does it with a fairly significant leg kick in his load and an approach that gets pull-heavy. Evaluators thought Foscue quieted the lower half a bit in his 14 games this spring. His strikeout and walk rates were significantly better than he’s shown before, but it was a very small sample. He has plus raw power in the tank, though scouts wonder how much of that he’ll tap into during games with a wooden bat. He played 12 games last summer with Team USA and hit just .255/.288/.362 with wood. Foscue will need to improve his defense to stick at second base, and there’s some concern that he’ll wind up in an outfield corner, which would hurt his overall profile. Coaches praise Foscue’s work ethic and baseball IQ though, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if he took the steps necessary to stick in the dirt. If Foscue were lefthanded or a bit bigger (he is listed at 6-foot, 203 pounds) it would be easier to see him in the back of the first round. A team that thinks he’s a plus hitter could still take him there, but it is more likely he goes in the second.
Pick: Mick Abel
School: Jesuit HS, Portland, Ore.
Instant Analysis: Teams have been cautious with high school pitchers to this point in the draft, understandable given the track record of that demographic and the additional risk this year with many pitchers not throwing this spring due to the pandemic. But Abel is the top high school pitcher in the class, and if you're going to draft a high school righthander in the first round, Abel has a lot of the attributes you want between his frame, fastball, offspeed feel, athleticism and command.
Scouting Report: Vying to be the first prep arm out of Oregon drafted in the first round since 1994—when the Royals drafted lefthander and first baseman Matt Smith—Abel has a tantalizing combination of present stuff, future projection and pitchability. A 6-foot-5, 180-pound righthander, Abel touched 97 mph last summer but is more often in the 90-94 mph range. Because of the shortened 2020 season, Abel will be one of the most difficult prep players to assess. While teams should have lots of history with him thanks to his notoriety as an underclassman—which included striking out 2019 No. 5 overall pick Riley Greene—teams have little to nothing from this spring on the Oregon State commit. His high school team didn’t play a single game, and the lack of recent information could give teams pause. Outside of a fastball that’s a potentially plus offering, Abel has two quality secondaries. The first is a slider that plays firm in the 82-86 mph range and was voted by scouting directors as the best breaking ball in the prep class. He throws the pitch consistently with hard, biting action and is capable of landing it in the zone for strikes or using it as a chase pitch. Abel also throws a changeup in the 81-85 mph range that has good tumble and fading life and consistently shows above-average quality. On paper, Abel checks plenty of boxes: He has a terrific pitcher’s frame, athleticism, three above-average or better pitches and arguably the best command in the class. If Abel had simply played this spring and been the same pitcher he was last summer, he would go somewhere in the middle of the first round. He could still go there, but the abbreviated season affects him more than
Pick: Ed Howard
School: Mount Carmel (Ill.) HS
Instant Analysis: The Cubs stay local to pick Howard and have to be happy to be able to land the top high school shortstop in the draft in the middle of the first round. Howard is a true shortstop who projects to stay at the position, with easy actions in the field and in the batter's box. With the Cubs expected to sign Dominican shortstop Cristian Hernandez (the top prospect in the 2020 international class for some scouts), that's a dynamic haul of premium shortstops coming for the organization.
Scouting Report: Howard is the top prep shortstop in a light high school class at the position and midwest area scouts should have good history with him considering he played alongside D-backs’ second-round pick Alek Thomas (2018) as an underclassman at Mount Carmel (Ill.) High. Howard wowed scouts as a junior in Perfect Game’s Jupiter WWBA tournament, showing high-level ability on both sides of the ball. While he has upside as a hitter, the polished part of Howard’s game comes from his glove. He’s a no-doubt shortstop at the next level as a solid athlete with reliable hands and a strong, accurate throwing arm. He moves fluidly in the middle of the diamond and has the ability to throw from all angles with excellent body control and a solid internal clock. In the 2020 class, he’s the clear-cut top prep defender at the position and has the potential to be a plus defensive shortstop in the big leagues . The one critique in his defensive game is that scouts would like to see better foot speed. He’s a solid runner, but not a burner by any means. Scouts will have to project more on Howard’s offensive game, particularly after not seeing him in games this season. He shows all the tools you want to see, with good bat speed, some bat-to-ball skill and a lithe, 6-foot-2, 185-pound frame that has plenty of room to add more muscle and impact ability. At present he’s more of a gap-to-gap, line-drive type hitter, but scouts want to see him refine his approach. He did a nice job of progressing throughout the summer in 2019 and showing he can make adjustments, but teams are still waiting for him to put it all together. While he is committed to Oklahoma, it’s rare for the top high school shortstop to not go in the first round, and a team that buys into his upside could jump on him in the middle or back half of the first round.
17. Red Sox
Pick: Nick Yorke
School: Archbishop Mitty HS, San Jose, Calif.
Instant Analysis: The Red Sox used the No. 17 overall pick in the draft on the No. 96 prospect in the class. They don't have a second-round pick, so they don't pick again until 89th overall. And Yorke was expected to be a tough sign away from his Arizona commitment. Scouts highest on Yorke think he has a chance to develop into a plus hitter, but this pick raises more questions than we have answers for on draft night.
Scouting Report: Some evaluators believe Yorke is the best pure hitter on the west coast, among high schoolers. A 6-foot, 195-pound shortstop committed to Arizona, Yorke has a long track record of performing as a high schooler, with a well-balanced swing that’s routinely on time. This spring before the coronavirus shut down the 2020 season, Yorke was tapping into a bit more power as well, hitting the ball with authority to the pull side and up the middle. He has a chance for a future plus bat and fringe-average power while handling a middle infield spot. Yorke dealt with a shoulder injury prior to his junior year and is still recovering from that, which leads some scouts to believe he’ll be a better fit as an offensive second baseman. Still, other scouts have said his arm has looked good, with a better arm stroke recently and above-average arm strength. With solid footwork, instincts and an internal clock, he has a chance to stay at shortstop, or he could slide to third base. Wherever he ends up defensively, teams love the bat that Yorke brings to the table. There are a number of teams that have Yorke evaluated in the second- or third-round range, but he could be a difficult sign out of Arizona.
Pick: Bryce Jarvis
Instant Analysis: Arizona's farm system leans heavily on position players, with their top five prospects all hitters. Now the D-backs add a big arm into that pipeline with Jarvis, who benefited from improved velocity during outings this spring to rise up draft boards.
Scouting Report: Jarvis is one of several big-time pitching risers in North Carolina, along with Wake Forest’s Jared Shuster and North Carolina State’s Nick Swiney. Jarvis didn’t pitch in the Cape Cod League over the summer, instead working to improve his game by working with Driveline and Cressey Sports Performance to improve his pitch mix and fastball velocity. The work paid off, as Jarvis increased his fastball from a pitch that topped out in the low 90s to a plus offering that sat 93-96 deep into outings early in the spring. That new fastball—combined with his already impressive secondary offerings—has taken his draft stock to a new level. Jarvis already had an impressive track record with Duke as a starter and reliever, racking up impressive strikeout totals no matter the role. After striking out 12.7 per nine during his freshman season primarily as a reliever, Jarvis whiffed 11.2 per nine in a split role as a sophomore. He was one of the most dominant arms in the country through four starts this spring, including a 15-strikeout perfect game against Cornell during the second week of the season. Jarvis has three potential plus pitches now, with a mid-80s slider and a changeup a tick below that range. The 6-foot-2 righthander throws all of those pitches effectively and showed above-average or better command in 2020 after walking more than four batters per nine innings as a freshman and sophomore. He works with a quick tempo and throws with a bit of effort and some recoil at times. It’s not the most fluid delivery, but it shouldn’t prevent him from starting at the next level either. Teams surely would have liked to see if Jarvis was capable of holding his newfound fastball velocity over a full season in a starting role. Now that that’s not possible, Jarvis is probably looking at a second- or third-round selection.
Baseball America Prospect Report—September 8, 2021
Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson homer, Ryne Nelson delivers his longest start of the season and more.
Pick: Pete Crow-Armstrong
School: Harvard-Westlake HS, Studio City, Calif.
Instant Analysis: At one point less than a year ago, Crow-Armstrong ranked as the top high school prospect in the country. An inconsistent summer at the plate hampered him, but at his best, Crow-Armstrong has shown good bat control with an adjustable swing and the ability to square up all types of pitches. There hasn't been any doubt about Crow-Armstrong's fielding, as he projects as a plus defender in center field. Had the season not been cut short due to the pandemic, Crow-Armstrong could have easily rebounded his stock and gone in the range of fellow prep outfielders Robert Hassell (8th overall), Zac Veen (9th) and Austin Hendrick (12th), so getting Crow-Armstrong here could be strong value for the Mets.
Scouting Report: Crow-Armstrong has fame and baseball in his blood. His mother, Ashley Crow, is an actress who played the mom of the lead character in the 1994 baseball movie "Little Big League." His father, Matthew Armstrong, is an accomplished television actor as well. Crow-Armstrong starred for USA Baseball’s 18U national team two years in a row and entered last summer as arguably the top high school player in the 2020 draft class. A disappointing summer dropped his stock a bit, but he rebounded with a sensational spring before the season shut down. Crow-Armstrong has a sweet lefthanded swing geared for contact. He hits both lefties and righties, stays balanced in the box and lines the ball to all fields. Evaluators see at least an average hitter and possibly plus, with the potential to hit at the top of a lineup. Scouts differ on Crow-Armstrong’s power projections. Some see below-average power, while others believe he is a good enough hitter that he’ll run into more home runs than his raw power would indicate. Crow-Armstrong should stick in center field as a plus defender with a plus arm and above-average-to-plus speed. He plays fast and hard and has an advanced feel and intellect for the game. Crow-Armstrong’s tools and instincts have teams interested in the first round even with questions about his power. He is committed to Vanderbilt.
Pick: Garrett Mitchell
Instant Analysis: Mitchell is the No. 6 prospect on the BA 500, but the Brewers were able to pick him up despite picking in the 20s. His raw tools are outstanding—80 speed, plus defense in center field, 70 raw power—though concerns about his pure hitting ability and whether he will be able to fully tap into that power in games are risk factors that made him available here. Once he signs, Mitchell immediately joins Brice Turang as the top two prospects in the Brewers system.
Scouting Report: Scouts eyed Mitchell as a potential first-round pick at Orange (Calif.) Lutheran High, but a middling senior season and concerns about his Type 1 diabetes caused him to fall to the 14th round, where the A's picked him. He opted for UCLA and became a three-year starter for the Bruins. After struggling as a freshman, Mitchell led the nation in triples during a breakout sophomore season and continued to raise his stock as a junior. He was batting .355/.425/.484 this spring when the season shut down. Mitchell possesses arguably the best package of tools in the 2020 draft. He's an 80-grade runner who changes games with his speed, is a plus defensive center fielder who effortlessly glides to balls and has a rifle for an arm. Mitchell shows massive, plus-plus raw power in batting practice, but his choppy swing produces mostly grounders and low line drives in games. His natural feel for contact gives him a chance to be an above-average or better hitter, and his natural speed and elite times out of the box should help inflate his batting average. Some evaluators are optimistic Mitchell can tap into his power with swing refinements in pro ball, but his in-game power production is concerning dating back to his high school career. Mitchell’s speed helps him to beat out infield singles and amass lots of doubles and triples, making him an offensive difference-maker even absent home run power. Mitchell has faced health and endurance concerns because of his diabetes throughout his career, but he played 62 of 63 games for UCLA in 2019 and all 15 games in 2020 before the season shut down. With a high probability to hit for average, steal bases and stay in center field, and the possibility of adding power, Mitchell is a top-10 talent, though his question marks make him a bit more polarizing than the other players around him.
Pick: Jordan Walker
School: Decatur (Ga.) HS
Instant Analysis: The Cardinals have one of the game's best third base prospects in Nolan Gorman. Now they add the top high school third baseman in the 2020 draft in Walker, a 6-foot-5, long-levered hitter with plus raw power and a chance to grow into more. As a power bat with some swing-and-miss risk, Walker drew a split camp among scouts, but the Cardinals clearly are in the group of believers when it comes to Walker's ability to keep his strikeout rate in check.
Scouting Report: The best high school third baseman in the class, Walker is a massive-framed, 6-foot-5, 220-pound slugger committed to Duke. He’s also the top-ranked prep prospect out of Georgia, which has been more pitcher-heavy than bat-heavy in recent years. Walker was one of the high school players who managed to get seen early and often during the shortened 2020 season. He performed at a high level against solid competition while all those eyes were on him. Walker has a solid feel to hit with plus raw power and plenty more projected as he grows into more strength. While there are some questions about his natural feel to hit thanks to the length of his arms and some swing-and-miss concerns, Walker has progressed in the right direction with his hit tool and could be an average or slightly better hitter. He moves remarkably well considering his size, though many scouts don’t think that will be enough to prevent a move to first base or a corner outfield spot in the future. Walker was something of a polarizing player last summer for scouts, largely thanks to questions about his profile, but he performed at the right time this spring and could go off the board at the end of the first round or shortly thereafter. Scouts praise Walker’s heady, cerebral nature and believe he could be a tough sign out of Duke, where he could elevate his draft stock with a few years of ACC performance.
Pick: Cade Cavalli
Instant Analysis: The Nationals have shown an affinity for big, physical power arms in the draft, and Cavalli fits that mold. He sits in the mid-90s and can reach back for more, pairing it with a power slider. Part of the risk factor with Cavalli is his injury history, but that's obviously not something that has dissuaded the Nationals from using a high pick on a pitcher with that concern before.
Scouting Report: If you were creating the blueprint for an ideal pitcher’s body, Cavalli might look like the end product. A towering, 6-foot-4, 218-pound righthander who looks like an All-American quarterback, Cavalli on paper has everything you’d want to see in a frontline arm. He can dial his fastball up to 98 mph and the pitch sits in the mid-90s with ease. After that, he has a devastating slider in the 87-90 mph range with impressive lateral movement and serves as an out-pitch to both lefties and righties. Next, he has a curveball and a changeup that are solid-average with growth potential. Cavalli throws everything out of a picturesque arm action and delivery as well. While the stuff, delivery and frame are all easy check marks, there are a few question marks. Perhaps because of how clean Cavalli’s operation is, hitters tend to square up his fastball more than the velocity would suggest. Scouts wonder if he has any deception in his delivery. While the fastball has 70-grade velocity, it plays down at least a grade and perhaps more, and he has a history of erratic control that makes it more difficult to work to his secondary offerings. He improved in the strike-throwing department through four starts this spring (just five walks in 23.2 innings) but he’s never posted a WHIP lower than 1.27 in his career and gives up plenty of hits. Additionally, he has a troubling injury history going back to his high school days. He rarely pitched during his senior year because of lingering back issues and also missed time in 2019 due to a stress reaction in his arm. While Cavalli has first-round pure stuff, big upside and one of the better bodies in the 2020 class, he could fall into the second round because of concerns about how that stuff plays, the quality of his strikes and questions about durability. He was trending up prior to the end of the season and never got a chance to put everything together, but enough scouts have seen him synched up in short stints to dream about his future potential.
Pick: Carson Tucker
School: Mountain Pointe HS, Phoenix
Instant Analysis: The No. 61 prospect on the BA 500, Tucker shares some similarities with current Indians shortstop Tyler Freeman, the organization's No. 2 prospect. The Indians pick again at No. 36 and 56, so Tucker might have still been available there had they waited and gone another route, but the Indians get a player who fits their mold and one who has trended up over the past year, getting taller and even a tick faster in the process.
Scouting Report: Tucker is following in the footsteps of his brother, Cole, a first-round pick of the Pirates in 2014. The younger Tucker was under 6 feet during his junior season, but he has gotten taller and stronger. Not only has he grown bigger, but he’s also gotten a tick faster, with reports of plus run times. Tucker isn’t a flashy tools guy, but rather a steady ballplayer who makes the game look easy. He projects to be able to stay at shortstop as a reliable defender with an above-average, accurate arm that he knows when to unleash. Tucker should be able to hit, using an open stance with a swing that’s short to the ball and consistent. He overhauled his swing in the offseason by getting his body better in sync with a kickback/scissor approach, and the results showed in the few high school games he got to play this spring. It’s a line-drive stroke but with the potential to add more power with strength. While his business-like approach on the field can sometimes be misinterpreted as being more aloof compared to his brother’s obvious zeal, Tucker is engaged in the game and loves playing baseball. A Texas commit, Tucker could go off the board in the second round, and with few standout prep shortstops in the 2020 class, his all-around package could excite many teams.
Pick: Nick Bitsko
School: Central Bucks East HS, Doylestown, Pa.
Instant Analysis: Bitsko was the top high school player in our 2021 draft rankings, then this year reclassified to the 2020 class, then because of the pandemic didn't get to pitch this spring. That means scouts were operating off limited live looks or information with Bitsko, but the brief glimpses he showed last summer were too good for him to get out of the first round. High school righthanders are inherently risky—even more so this year—but getting a pitcher with Bitsko's talent at the back of the first round is good value for the Rays, who seem to know a thing or two about pitching.
Scouting Report: Bitsko could be the most challenging player for teams to evaluate in the 2020 class. Previously the top-ranked prep player in the 2021 draft class, Bitsko announced that he would graduate early to enroll at Virginia, making him draft-eligible for 2020. While Bitsko was at a few big events last summer—including East Coast Pro and USA Baseball’s National Team Development Program in Chicago—teams were watching him with the impression that they would have more than a year of evaluation remaining. The teams who bear down early on underclassmen will be in the best position with Bitsko for the 2020 draft, but it wasn’t hard to see his talent fit with the top prep arms in the class. At East Coast Pro, Bitsko showed a fastball in the 92-96 mph range with a potentially plus curveball that had depth, power and impressive spin (2,100-2,500 rpm). With a physical, 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame, a clean, overhead windup and good strike-throwing ability, Bitsko has plenty of classic starter’s attributes. He reportedly touched as high as 98 mph with his fastball over the offseason and is solidly in the class’ elite tier of prep arms. Because his Central Bucks East High team wasn’t scheduled to start until April, Bitsko didn’t throw a pitch this season. Now, teams will be left to decide whether the glimpses of talent they saw last summer were enough to sign him out of a strong commitment to Virginia. The Cavaliers have done a nice job luring elite arms to campus in recent years, including Mike Vasil (2018 draft class) and lefthander Nate Savino, who was previously a member of the 2020 class and a first-round talent. Bitsko has a chance to be a top of the rotation-caliber arm.
Pick: Jared Shuster
School: Wake Forest
Instant Analysis: With Ian Anderson, Kyle Wright, Kyle Muller and Bryse Wilson already in their top six prospects, now the Braves add one of the biggest arrow-up arms in the draft. Shuster once looked like a second- or third-round pick, but a velocity bump, improved command and a strong start to an abrupt college season pushed him up the board.
Scouting Report: Shuster is one of the bigger rising pitchers in the 2020 class, and his ascension started with a strong summer in the Cape Cod League. The first thing to improve was his control. After walking more than five batters per nine innings over his first two seasons, Shuster showed dramatically better strike-throwing ability with Orleans, walking just five batters in 32 innings—a 1.41 per nine rate. Next came the fastball velocity. After mostly sitting in the 88-92 mph range, Shuster came out this spring with a fastball that got up to the 96-97 mph range from the left side. The dramatic improvement in both those areas vaulted him up into the second-to-third-round range and it wouldn’t be shocking for some scouts to have first-round grades on him. Lefties who throw 96-97 mph are rare enough, but Shuster has impressive starter traits to go along with that velocity, especially with his improved control. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Wake Forest product has a plus changeup and a developing slider that could become an average pitch as well. The shortened season hurt Shuster’s ascension up draft boards, but after striking out 43 batters in 26.1 innings with just four walks and a 3.76 ERA, he likely already showed enough teams that his improvement was legit.
Pick: Tyler Soderstrom
School: Turlock (Calif.) HS
Instant Analysis: With one of the top catching prospects in baseball near big league ready with Sean Murphy, the A's reload the lower levels with the top prep catcher in the 2020 draft. The track record of high school catchers drafted in the first round is dicey, but Soderstrom draws strong reviews for his lefthanded hitting ability and power, with an offensive-minded skill set.
Scouting Report: 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.
Pick: Aaron Sabato
School: North Carolina
Instant Analysis: When he signs, Sabato will instantly surpass Royce Lewis for the best raw power in the Twins farm system. Sabato hits massive, towering shots when he's on time and finds the sweet spot, and he has patience to go with that carrying tool in his power. Sabato is limited to first base, but this is about the range we expected him to land based on talent.
Scouting Report: Sabato has some of the biggest raw power in the entire 2020 draft class, rivaling even Arizona State first baseman Spencer Torkelson. A 6-foot-2, 230-pound first baseman, Sabato has a strong, bulky frame with massive forearms that allow him to consistently drive the ball hard to all fields. After going undrafted out of high school in 2018, Sabato loudly announced his presence in Chapel Hill in 2019, hitting .343/.453/.696 with a UNC freshman record 18 home runs. He led a team that included first-round pick Michael Busch in each triple-slash category and home runs and was positioned to further elevate his stock with another loud draft-eligible sophomore campaign. Sabato played in 19 games before the season was cut short, and in that time he hit seven home runs and six doubles with a .292/.478/.708 slash line. While Sabato has a patient eye at the plate and isn’t afraid to take his walks, teams are concerned with the number of strikeouts he’s racked up in his time with the Tar Heels. With almost all of his value tied to his powerful bat, teams will want to be convinced he is able to regularly tap into that power, but scouts typically put an average or solid-average hit tool on Sabato. Defensively, he’s limited to first base, where he’s a below-average defender and a well below-average runner. Considering his sophomore-eligible status, teams likely would have wanted a longer resume to feel confident in the bat but he did as well statistically as teams could ask for in the time allotted, though playing in the summer might have helped. Sabato and his 70-grade power should go off the board at the end of the first or early in the second round if he is inclined to sign.
Pick: Austin Wells
Instant Analysis: With Wells, the Yankees add an offensive-oriented catcher to the farm system, a hitter who draws praise for his offensive approach, bat-to-ball skills and power. Wells won't match Antonio Gomez when it comes to the defensive side of the game, with a lot of scouts skeptical of his ability to stay behind the plate at the major league level. That would probably mean a move to first base, but the Yankees have a high belief in their ability to improve catchers' defense.
Scouting Report: Picked by the Yankees in the 35th round in 2018 out of perennial high school powerhouse Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas, Wells instead chose to follow in his father’s footsteps by heading to Arizona. He’s posted outstanding hitting stats in both of his seasons with the Wildcats as well as last summer in the Cape Cod League. Wells has an outstanding approach at the plate with plus raw power, using a simple swing with good bat control. In both of his college seasons, he walked more than he struck out, impressive for any hitter but especially for a power hitter like Wells. A hole in his swing gives him problems with pitches away, but that’s a fixable problem. The bat is impressive enough that most teams view him as a first-round player, but questions remain as to where he fits best on the field. If he could stay behind the plate, he’d be a certain first-round pick, but there are more scouts who are skeptical of Wells’ receiving ability than think he can make it as a catcher. He has trouble blocking and receiving pitches, especially knee to knee on the glove side, and there’s a record of elbow issues dating back to high school. An arm that once earned plus grades is now too frequently below-average. He focused heavily on improving his defensive reputation over the offseason but didn’t have much opportunity to showcase the results in a shortened 2020 season. He’s seen time at both first base and all three outfield positions since leaving high school. Some observers believe Wells is athletic enough to handle the outfield and that the range and instincts can be developed, while others think he’s not twitchy enough for the outfield and doesn’t have the footwork for first base. He’s an average runner. If concerns with his defense cause Wells’ draft position to drop more than expected, he's got the leverage to return to Arizona for his junior year but lefthanded bats of his quality are typically highly sought after.
Pick: Bobby Miller
Instant Analysis: After Gavin Lux at No. 1, four of the next five top prospects in the Dodgers' system are pitchers, and all of them—Dustin May, Brusdar Graterol, Tony Gonsolin and Josiah Gray—are Top 100 prospects. The Dodgers beefed up that strength even more by drafting Miller, who has a lively fastball that can reach the upper-90s and a power slider with plus potential. Miller has more risk than the college pitchers who went ahead of him in the first round, but his value fits well in this range of picks.
Scouting Report: Out of high school in 2017, Miller showed flashes of the pitcher he could become one day, touching 93-94 mph with a frame that indicated more in the tank as well as a breaking ball that showed above-average potential. Three years later and Miller has started to actualize the potential he showed as a teenager with McHenry (Ill.) High. Now standing 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, Miller entered the 2020 season as a full-time starter for the first time, though he did log plenty of innings (146.2) in a hybrid role in 2018 and 2019. Miller now has a fastball that gets up into the upper 90s consistently, with heavy, sinking life. He pairs that pitch with a hard slider in the upper 80s that can touch 90, a pitch that has flashed plus potential. He’s also got a mid-80s changeup that gives him a third solid pitch, and a curveball that’s fringier. For all of his size and the explosive pure stuff that he’s shown, some scouts wonder what his dominant swing-and-miss offering is going to be. There’s also some reliever risk with Miller, as his delivery and arm action aren’t the smoothest or cleanest, but he has done a nice job holding his stuff deep into his outings and improved his strike-throwing this season. After walking more than four batters per nine innings in 2019, some scouts have put above-average command on Miller. He was trending in the right direction prior to the season ending and fits somewhere at the back of the first or early in the second round after posting a 2.31 ERA in 23.1 innings and four starts as a junior.
Pick: Jordan Westburg
School: Mississippi State
Instant Analysis: Westburg is a power/speed threat, one whose stock elevated after a strong summer in the Cape Cod League. Pairing Kjerstad with Westburg gives the Orioles two college bats to build their draft class around as they trend toward building a top 10 farm system, with another big pick looming early on Day 2 at No. 39.
Scouting Report: An impressive athlete with plus speed and plus raw power, Westburg has steadily improved as a hitter throughout his college career and had an exceptional summer in the Cape Cod League in 2019. In 25 games with Hyannis, Westburg hit .326/.385/.516 with four home runs and six doubles—enough to rank as the No. 4 prospect in the league. Westburg has been an aggressive hitter at times, with a tendency to strike out at a high clip, but he has made big strides in that department. After whiffing in 25 percent of his plate appearances as a freshman, Westburg cut that to 21 percent as a sophomore and then again to 18 percent through a small, 14-game sample in 2020. Still, scouts think he might wind up as more of a fringe-average hitter because of those concerns. While he does have plus raw power, he’s never been able to fully tap into that during games, and his six home runs in 2019 were the most he’s managed in a season. He’s been more of a doubles and gap hitter, but has a 6-foot-3, 203-pound frame that could add more weight and allow him to take a step forward in that area. Defensively, Westburg has a shot to stick at shortstop. He’s not the elite defender that scouts want to see at the position, but he’s quick, athletic and has a strong enough arm. Depending on the situation around him, he could likely handle the position, but a move to third base or second might be a better long-term fit. If a team thinks he has a chance to be an average hitter, he could go in the back of the first round, with good supplemental tools to fall back on.
Pick: Carmen Mlodzinski
School: South Carolina
Instant Analysis: The Pirates paired one of the elite college hitters in the class (Nick Gonzales at No. 7 overall) with one of the top college pitchers in the country. Mlodzinski, who at one point was in top 10 pick conversations, didn't look quite as sharp in the abbreviated college season as some scouts were hoping to see, but he could change that quickly with a strong start to his pro career.
Scouting Report: Mlodzinski (pronounced ‘Muh-jin-ski’) had some top-five round grades from clubs coming out of Hilton Head (S.C.) High, but he made it to campus at South Carolina, where he posted a 5.61 ERA over two abbreviated seasons. A foot injury limited him to just three games in 2019, but Mlodzinski entered the 2020 season as a redshirt sophomore with some of the most hype in the country. An exceptional summer in the Cape Cod League showed scouts exciting upside. He ranked as the top pitcher in the league with a fastball up to 97-98 mph, an impressive slider and cutter and a 2.15 ERA over six starts, with 40 strikeouts to just four walks. Because of that, he entered the season as a potential top 10 pick, though scouts wanted to see him put together some track record with the Gamecocks. He managed just four starts before the season shut down ahead of a big SEC matchup with Tennessee, posting a 2.84 ERA in 25.1 innings with less gaudy strikeout numbers but plenty of ground balls induced. Teams expected Mlodzinski to miss more bats this spring. He sat in the 92-94 mph range and showed 96 and 97 at times, but the pitch is a heavy sinking fastball that generates tons of ground balls. It wasn’t a pitch that generated whiff after whiff up in the zone. After flashing a plus slider and a plus cutter in the Cape, Mlodzinski’s breaking balls were more above-average or solid, with the slider lacking the depth and tilt that he had shown previously and the cutter sitting in the 89-91 mph range. He tinkered with a curveball that was fringe-average at times, and also infrequently threw a changeup that needs further refinement. Without a true swing-and-miss offering, it’s more difficult to see Mlodzinski going at the top of the first round. As a physical, 6-foot-2, 231-pound righty who throws a lot of strikes, has a clean arm action and forces hitters into beating the ball into the ground (38 groundouts in four starts in 2020) though, he still offers a reasonable floor as a middle or back-of-the-rotation starter.
Pick: Nick Loftin
Instant Analysis: This is right around the range we projected Loftin to go based on talent. There's no one spectacular thing that stands out about Loftin—the tools are more 50-ish types—but he has a good performance record at Baylor and the ability to stay up the middle.
Scouting Report: A steady player on both sides of the ball for Baylor since taking over at shortstop his freshman year, Loftin is solidly in the mix of the top shortstops in the college class. While there are others who might have louder tool sets or are half-grade better defenders, Loftin seems to do everything well. He’s hit above .300 in every season in the Big 12 with a clean, simple swing. He fields his position well, has good instincts and is an above-average defender at shortstop with the versatility to play almost every position. After hitting for more extra bases as a sophomore, Loftin may have been headed for a breakout offensive campaign in 2020, with two home runs, two triples and four doubles through just 13 games. The .264 isolated slugging mark he posted in that time was far and away the highest of his career, and he started moving up draft boards as a result. Some scouts have said he has just fringe-average power and noted that when he does impact the ball it’s typically only to the pull side, but a full season of the performance he started the year with may have been enough to change minds. Loftin’s speed is just average. While Loftin might not have any standout tools, teams have generally coveted the college shortstop performer with an all-around game, and that description fits the Baylor product well.
Pick: Slade Cecconi
Instant Analysis: After drafting Duke righthander Bryce Jarvis at No. 18, the D-backs added another college pitching prospect to a farm system that's heavy on hitters by picking Cecconi. In a shortened season where having history on a player is important for a club to feel more certainty in its evaluation, Cecconi is a player scouts have followed closely since he was a standout in the 2018 high school class.
Scouting Report: Cecconi has one of the best pedigrees of any player in the 2020 class going back to his high school days, fitting in talent-wise with the top arms in a loaded 2018 prep pitching class that included Indians righthander Ethan Hankins and Vanderbilt righthander Kumar Rocker. Cecconi looked like a no-doubt first-round pick based on his summer looks entering his senior year in high school but pitched sparingly during the spring due to an injury and made it to campus at Miami as a result. His freshman season was solid, and he handled 80 innings, although the stuff wasn’t quite as loud as he showed in shorter stints as a high schooler. Still, he showed enough flashes that teams were convinced he was the same pitcher and would become a first-round candidate with another strong season as a draft-eligible sophomore. With the season cut short, Cecconi started just four games, pitching to a 3.80 ERA in 21.1 innings with 30 strikeouts and seven walks. In terms of pure stuff, Cecconi has more than any arm in Florida and stacks up with the better starters in the 2020 class. But having everything together at once has been a challenge for the 6-foot-4 righthander, who also saw his velocity tick down in his last outing of the year. At his best he runs his fastball up into the upper 90s with impressive life and has a slider, cutter and changeup that all flash plus. On top of the quality of Cecconi’s pitches, scouts like his frame and strike-throwing ability but believe he gets too much of the plate at times. At the moment, Cecconi fits in the second round thanks to his track record and performance, but his overall talent likely fits higher than that. Whether a team wants to take the risk to draft and sign him in that range is another question, and with additional leverage as an eligible sophomore it could prove difficult.
Pick: Justin Lange
School: Llano (Texas) HS
Instant Analysis: Last summer, Lange would not have been in this range. He had good size and athleticism—he ran a 6.5 in the 60-yard dash—with a fastball that reached the mid-90s and the physical projection for more. Now that projection has come on, with Lange running his fastball up to 100 mph. That vaulted him up the draft in a big way, though he will need to improve his secondary pitches to show a deeper repertoire beyond a huge fastball.
Scouting Report: Lange looked fairly pedestrian at the 2019 Area Code Games, with a fastball that ranged from 86-93 mph with no real breaking ball and a lot of hard contact against him. But he looked significantly better at the Future Stars Series at Fenway Park in the fall, when he was up to 95, struck out four batters and also ran a 6.50 60-yard dash. He took an additional step forward this spring, getting his fastball all the way up to 100 mph—showing some of the best pure fastball velocity in the 2020 class. Lange has all of the foundational pieces to be an impact arm at the next level. He’s tremendously athletic with easy, high-octane velocity and lots of natural life on the pitch as well. With a 6-foot-4, 191-pound frame, it would be easy to see him add more weight and maintain his fastball velocity deeper into games and more consistently. There are also a lot of question marks with Lange. While he has some of the best natural arm talent in the country, he’s extremely unrefined. His command is near the bottom of the scale and his slider is a work in progress, with well below-average grades and inconsistent spin at best. The pitch has impressive velocity, getting into the upper 80s, but the shape and spin of the offering needs plenty of work. Perhaps 10 years ago, Lange’s arm talent, projectable body and athleticism would be enough to make him a no-doubt first-round pick. Today, teams are more skeptical of hard-throwing prep righthanders, but he has enough projection and athleticism to believe he can make the necessary control improvement. Any player development program would love to work with Lange’s collection of high-end tools instead of watching him go to Dallas Baptist, and it’s possible a team buys into his upside at some point on the first day.
Pick: Drew Romo
School: The Woodlands (Texas) HS
Instant Analysis: There's little catching in the Rockies farm system, but Romo immediately adds elite defensive tools to the organization. Romo earns high marks from scouts for his arm strength, quickness, blocking and receiving.
Scouting Report: Romo has been regarded as an elite catch-and-throw backstop from essentially the first day he started playing high school baseball. Area scouts were quick to take note of his prowess behind the plate, and some think he’s been the best defensive catcher in the state for four years—and Baylor backstop Shea Langeliers was a top-10 pick in 2019. He’s at the top of a deep prep catching class in 2020, alongside the offensive-oriented Tyler Soderstrom, and teams believe he’s as high a likelihood major leaguer as you’ll find out of one of the riskiest draft profiles. Romo has soft hands, is an excellent blocker and receiver and brings a strong, accurate arm to the table as well. By the way scouts talk about his defensive reputation and ability, he has a chance to be a plus-plus defender with plus arm strength. On top of that, Romo offers solid raw power from both sides of the plate. His swing is a bit more grooved from the left side, where his righthanded swing is rigid with a tick more power. The biggest questions with Romo are how frequently he’s going to hit. He’s shown some swing-and-miss concerns and there’s reason to wonder how well he’ll hit against better pitching. Still, he has a good understanding of the strike zone and could carve out offensive value thanks to that, with some ambush power. The baseline for catcher offense in today’s game is low, and the scouting industry almost unanimously sees Romo as an impact defender at the game’s most premium position. So despite any offensive concerns, the Louisiana State commit has a chance to go in the first round or supplemental first round.
Pick: Tanner Burns
Instant Analysis: Burns doesn't have the pure stuff to match Indians farmhands like Daniel Espino or Ethan Hankins, but he has a lengthy track record of success pitching in the SEC. It's solid but not plus stuff across the board mixed with above-average pitchability.
Scouting Report: Other pitchers in the 2020 class have bigger pure stuff and more physical frames than the 6-foot, 215-pound Auburn righthander, but Burns has one of the higher baselines of any pitcher in the country. He’s been a reliable workhorse over two-plus years with the Tigers in a full-time starting role, taking the bump 32 times and posting a 2.86 ERA in 188.2 innings. That sort of track record in the SEC speaks for itself, and Burns’ pitch mix is solid-average or better across the board. His fastball sits in the 92-94 mph range consistently, with more in the tank when he wants it. It’s a plus pitch that plays up because of his ability to locate it consistently. He dots the pitch wherever he wants, which allows him to set up his offspeed offerings. Burns throws an above-average curveball and a changeup that gets some above-average grades as well, though it fluctuates more around average than the curve or fastball. He also throws a slider, though some evaluators believe the two breaking balls blend together. Either way, he gets swings and misses from lefties and righties with his breaking stuff and is an above-average strike thrower. His career walk rate with Auburn is just 3.16 batters per nine, and if he stays healthy he’s got a high likelihood to impact a major league club. Some teams may question his durability and endurance thanks to his size, but he’s done all he can in college to show he can handle the workload. Burns has the upside of a No. 3 or 4 starter and should be taken in the middle or back of the first round.
Pick: Alika Williams
School: Arizona State
Instant Analysis: The Rays followed up a pick with a lot of uncertainty (high school righthander Nick Bitsko at 24) by draft Williams, a player scouts have see extensively at Arizona State and last summer as a standout in the U.S. Collegiate National Team. He projects to stick at shortstop, earning above-average or better grades for his defense, along with good strike-zone discipline, albeit without much power right now.
Scouting Report: Williams has drawn some comps to former Sun Devil shortstop Deven Marrero and will likely be the highest drafted ASU shortstop since Marrero went in the first round in 2012. While Williams has gotten some first-round buzz, there are plenty of opinions that he fits better in the second round. He’s at least an above-average defensive shortstop, earning plus grades from some talent evaluators, with sure hands and first-step quickness that consistently puts him in good fielding position. His solid-average arm plays up because of his footwork and quick exchange. Williams controls the strike zone well, walking more than he struck out during his college career, and his hands work well at the plate. He was miscast as a cleanup hitter during parts of his Sun Devil career, with observers believing he was pulling too many balls in the air instead of hitting to his strengths, which is making outstanding contact going gap to gap. He has room to add strength which would give more impact to his bat, but regardless he’s a glove-first shortstop who can stay at the position throughout his career. He’s no more than an average runner with good instincts on the bases, but speed will never be a big part of his game. Williams wisely chose not to sign when the Yankees took him in the 32nd round in 2017 out of Rancho Bernardo (Calif.) High but he should get selected high enough in 2020 to start his pro career.