2020 MLB Draft Prospects Chat (2/20/19)
Carlos Collazo: Thanks for stopping by to chat about the draft everyone. We’re officially rolling here at Baseball America and it’s been awesome to have real games to watch and players to see. Spring Training is lame compared to college baseball kicking off. In case you missed it, we’ve had a lot of draft content this week, including a new mock draft, reports on 10 standouts from a heavily-scouted PBR event, a stock watch with notes on Emerson Hancock, Cole Wilcox and many more and a profile on Zac Veen, who has loads of helium already. With those plugs out of the way, let’s get into the chat!
Michael M. (Gilbert, AZ):
- Your first mock had the Diamondbacks picking up U of A catcher Austin Wells. Does he have a good chance of being able to stick behind the plate or will he need to move to a corner infield/outfield position in order to keep developing his bat?
Carlos Collazo: I’ve actually written a lot about this topic lately. I think it’ll depend on how the environment for catching changes (or stays the same) in the future in terms of robo umps. If framing is less of a factor for catchers, that’ll definitely help his ability to stick behind the plate. We’ve also seen amateur catchers who don’t have terrific reputations for their defensive work go into pro ball and seemingly do an immediate 180. I think a lot of it comes down to work ethic as much as natural talent. Wells has spent the last year focusing on improving his defensive game, and I’m curious to see what scouts think of that this year. We'll have more on that development on the site tomorrow. I wouldn’t be surprised either way, because I do think his bat is special enough for him to try out a number of different positions.’
Drew (Neosho, MO):
- Now that I can watch all these games on ESPN+, are there any players from under the radar teams you suggest I watch weekly?
Drew (Neosho, MO):
- I have been trying to watch some of the highest profile NCAA starting pitchers. What would be your "must watch every start" list of guys?
Carlos Collazo: For both of these questions, I think the easiest answer is to simply work down the top 200 list that we have and pick out guys who interest you. Follow along with Teddy Cahill and Joe Healy’s coverage of the college game specifically and if there’s a team you want to watch…. watch them. There’s always something fascinating on the field in college baseball, whether that’s from a draft perspective, a team perspective or simply seeing a style of baseball that’s different than the pro game. As for “must watch” starters, how about all the arms we just mocked in the first round? It’s a deep year and it’ll be tough to see them all—this is a challenge MLB scouting departments will face this year as well—but with DVR, YouTube TV and the like, you can make it happen if you want to. Vandy boys Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter are must-see guys outside of this class as well.
- if Cristian Hernandez were in this draft class/draft eligible where would he slot?
Carlos Collazo: James is asking about one of the better international prospects in the class. Hernandez has power, a fast bat, good running ability and a chance to stick at shortstop. You can read more about him here: https://www.baseballamerica.com/stories/2020-mlb-international-prospects-preview/ I enlisted Ben Badler’s help for this one because he’s the expert on all things international. He figured somewhere in the first round was a safe bet and Ben is mostly right about things.
- What do you think the chances are that Baltimore takes Nick Gonzales number two over Spencer Torkelson given the opportunity? Is the Oriole's farm system deeper in middle infielders than corner guys?
Carlos Collazo: At this point there seems to be a solid group of five players who I really wouldn’t be shocked to see go in any order. It’ll be interesting to see if any of that group really separates and establishes himself as THE top guy, but for now it’s mixed. Gonzales certainly had a strong opening weekend though. Baltimore’s system is pretty weak at second base unless you project a few of their shortstops to move over to the keystone in the future, so maybe you’re on to something here.
- Any update on JT Ginn's injury, and how much will it affect bis draft stock?
Carlos Collazo: Too soon to tell as far as draft stock, though any sort of injury is a big concern for pitchers in the class. I’m hearing that it’s just soreness now, but that kept Garrett Crochet out the first week and it looks like he’s not pitching this weekend as well. Without having medical details it’s difficult to know for sure. Someone else asked in the chat whether one or both of these players could slide out of the first round if they come back and are both decent. If both players come back and pitch the year and are just “decent” I think they still go in the first. Both of their talents are too impressive to pass up if they’re healthy and throwing.
Brian R (New Jersey):
- JT Ginn and Garrett Crochet will both miss time early with injury. How much do these recurring arm issues damage their draft stock? If they come back and are just "decent" could either drop out of the 1st round? Finally, could you see a scenario where we only see 1-2 pitchers selected in the top 15? Right now it seems like the top of this draft is very bat heavy despite the depth in pitching this year.
Carlos Collazo: Here's the question, with another one about pitching in the top 15. If just two pitchers went in the top 15 I would be stunned. We had two pitchers go among the top 15 in last year's draft and that was one of the worst pitching drafts of all time. It would take so much going wrong for that to happen this year that I just don't think it's possible. In our mock Wednesday we had seven pitchers go in the top 15 picks and that's with Crochet going at 19. If you can get one of your friends to take that bet maybe do it if they've been annoying you lately or something. There will be more than two pitchers in the top 15.
- Who are the better college arms in the state of Indiana?
Carlos Collazo: Joe Boyle headlines that group at this point, but really needs to improve the strikes. Kyle Nicolas is an interesting righty from Ball State. Bo Hofstra (Purdue) is interesting as well and has some arm strength and physicality.
- What range do you see Blaze Jordan going in?
Carlos Collazo: Blaze continues to be the most popular player in the draft! Nice. Right now he could sneak into the back of the first or go in the comp or second round. That range seems fair at this point based on everything I’ve heard.
- What is deepest part of draft this year?
Carlos Collazo: We’ve consistently heard about the pitching and I think for now that’s probably still the case, but we’ve had some attrition already with guys leaving the class (Nate Savino) and injuries (Daxton Fulton and the aforementioned Ginn and Crochet). There’s a chance for it to be college hitters, but I think the smart money is still on pitching, generally. There are a lot of really good arms.
- Do you have couple names the Cubs can realistically consider at 16?
Carlos Collazo: We had a mock draft just yesterday with a new name, though it’s very early still. Again, for these sorts of questions our draft rankings are the best resource. Check over the guys ranked around that range: https://www.baseballamerica.com/rankings/2020-mlb-draft-top-prospects/
- Can you tell us thoughts on the TCU pitchers in the draft?
Carlos Collazo: Johnny Ray is maybe the most interesting for me. He was a talented pitcher in the 2019 class out of Logan (Ill.) JC and has a big arm with a fastball that can get into the 94-97 range and a promising slider. Injury issues have hurt him, so if he’s healthy he’s extremely fascinating. He had a solid debut and struck out seven batters against Kentucky as the Friday arm.
- Who are the top Canadian players/arms in this years draft?
Carlos Collazo: OFs David Calabrese and Owen Caissie and RHPs Theo Millas and Calvin Ziegler.
- Of the 9 college starters in your top 30 (Hancock, Lacy, Mlodzinski, Detmers, Ginn, Crochet, Burns, Wilcox, and Meyer), would the rankings change much if it was just who has the highest ceiling?
Carlos Collazo: This is a fun one. Basically, we would just move down the guys who are very polished but might not have the loudest stuff of the group. This hypothetical would slide down Detmers and Burns for me, but all the other guys have super loud pure stuff. So maybe something like: Hancock, Lacy, Crochet, Ginn, Meyer, Wilcox, Mlodzinski, Detmers, Burns? Man, that is very tough to do. Basically from No. 4 to No. 7 on that list I think you could arrange them in any order and have it make sense. Again, there is a lot of pitching talent in this class. It’s insane.
Andrew (Buffalo Ny):
- Any chance Anthony Servideo plays himself into the day 1 discussion?
Carlos Collazo: I think so. That seems to be a solid profile of a guy who could elevate himself to that range if he really impresses with the bat. While he’s not going to hit over .500 the whole season, his first four games were really impressive offensively. It sounds like he can pick it at short and really run well. I’m excited to see him and talk to a few more scouts about his future hitting potential. That’s definitely a guy to look out for though, good call. Especially with some of the shortstop issues we are running into with this class…
Logan Field (MI):
- Where does Freddy Zamora go in the draft now that he is out for the year with the ACL tear? Who are some late round sleepers? Who are some realistic targets for the tigers at 38? Thank you!!
Carlos Collazo: This one was a bummer to hear about. Sucks for Zamora and Miami. He was probably their most important position player. We had him right outside the back of the first round in our draft rankings and he’ll probably fall to the back of the second round or third round with this injury. Could still see him going late on day one. This is the sort of thing that could open more doors for players like Servideo though, when combined with a pretty thin high school shortstop class.
Not Jaypers (Wisconsin):
- What is Cole Wilcox ceiling in the draft? Is he a first or second round pick? Thanks
Carlos Collazo: If his command takes a step forward he could go in the top 10 with his stuff and size. I saw him opening weekend and the control was solid, but the command was a bit more erratic than you’d like from a guy in that range. Still, he’s improved and has one of the better bodies in the class. Very high upside for me and I was impressed with how well he landed a very solid changeup this weekend. We have him in the back of the first now and I think right now he fits anywhere in the 15-40 range, maybe? That’s wide, but I think there might be some variance with a guy like Wilcox. I’ve gotten some polarizing feedback on him from scouts.
- Thanks for the chat Carlos! I was wonder how this year's pitching class compares to 2021's in terms of top level arms and depth. Is one significantly better than the other?
Carlos Collazo: Hmmmm... well it helped that Nick Bitsko left the 2021 class and entered the 2020 class. I obviously know the 2020 group at a deeper level than I know the 2021 group, but Kumar and Leiter are a terrific one two punch and there are a ton of righthanders in that class who are exciting. It has a chance to be another really good year for college arms. Going further into the future on the high school side, I am really excited to see what Dylan Lesko looks like in two years. He's at the top of the 2022 class and man he has looked good in the brief exposure I've had to him.
- Who are some impact players the tigers could take in the second round? They have the 38th pick. I like Nick Loftin, Justin Foscue, Jordan Westburg and Blaze Jordan. Are they realistic for that pick? Thank you for ur time
Carlos Collazo: Those names seem like fine guesses, though I would guess Foscue and Westburg are the least likely of that group to be available there. There are a few teams that really, really like Foscue's bat.
- To liven up the Hancock-Torkelson-Martin discussion, where would you slot Rocker, Leiter and Ginn if all three were eligible for this draft?
Carlos Collazo: Well, considering Ginn is in fact eligible, I think he slots around... *checks notes* No. 12 in the class. Rocker would be solidly in the conversation of 1-1 candidates and I think Leiter would fit behind that group.
Zack Silverman (Virginia):
- The recent track record of high end college starters with command questions is relatively poor (see Kyle Wright, Dillon Tate, Carson Fulmer, Jon Harris, etc.) Asa Lacy is a more complete pitcher than most of those guys besides Wright, but it still gives me just a little bit of pause when considering him in the top five. Is it reason for concern, or is his abundance of other starter's traits enough to offset that?
Carlos Collazo: I'm not too concerned with Lacy at all. He checks pretty much every box. He's going to be very good. There are a lot of other college pitchers who are just fine and I still haven't given up on Wright. Think he's going to have a good season this year.
- How would you rank today the 2019 draft plus J2 for fantasy baseball purposes? Adley, Vaughn, Dominguez, Witt JR, Abrams?
Carlos Collazo: Oh man, do I have a list for you! https://www.baseballamerica.com/stories/dynasty-hot-100-your-2020-fantasy-draft-guide-to-first-year-players/ That will take you to our first ever Dynasty Hot 100, a dynasty fantasy focused list of the top 100 first-year pro players. Matt Eddy, Ben Badler and myself spent a lot of time discussing the list and we're really happy with it. We went Abrams, Vaughn, Witt Jr., Rutschman, Dominguez for the top five.
- Does Martin have the best hit tool in this class?
Carlos Collazo: Take your pick of Martin, Tork or Gonzales. FWIW, scouts voted Gonzales has the best pure hitter in the college class on our preseason all-america teams: https://www.baseballamerica.com/stories/2020-college-baseball-preseason-all-americans/
- Is there anyone outside of the Big 3 ( Hancock, Torkelson or Martin) that with a big season could be in the conversation for Detroit at number 1?
Carlos Collazo: Let's start talking about it as a Big 5 and throw Texas A&M LHP Asa Lacy and New Mexico State 2B (or SS, perhaps?) Nick Gonzales into the mix.
bk (Vancouver, BC):
- I get that you shouldn't ever draft for need, but Toronto seems to have a lot of org depth in all areas except OF. There is almost NOTHING there in the system. Who are some names that could rise up draft boards and end up a viable OF selection at the number 5 spot?
Carlos Collazo: I don't think Garrett Mitchell has to rise a lot at all to fit there on talent. He has some of the biggest pure upside in the class. Massive raw power, close to 80-grade speed, solid arm strength. If he has a big year he could easily go in the top five. Zac Veen is putting himself in serious consideration for that range and Austin Hendrick has massive power potential as well. Those names excite me. Maybe they'll excite you as well.
- Where do you see HS outfielders Crow-Armstrong. Hendrick, Hassell and Veen-- all first round? Any going to drop/rise?
Carlos Collazo: Veen has already risen, Hendrick seems safely in the first round and Crow-Armstrong has as good a chance as any high school player to rise with a strong spring thanks to his competition and his previous track record of excellence. I'll say yes, all of them go in the first round.
- Tigers need to compete sooner than later. No chance they take anything but a college bat right? More likely Martin than Torkelson? Who else might emerge? Thanks!
Carlos Collazo: I think regardless of their major league window, the talent where they are picking is best in the college ranks. I feel like we've touched on a number of names who could make sense in this chat, hope one of the previous questions could answer this one for you.
- Surprised by the sudden drop of Emerson Hancock from easy top-three pick candidate to No. 5 overall in the latest mock. Any particular reason for this aside from his poor outing last week?
Carlos Collazo: We broke down Emerson's start and the scout takeaways from that here: https://www.baseballamerica.com/stories/2020-mlb-draft-stock-watch-big-year-for-draft-eligible-sophomores/ It's more that Asa Lacy and Nick Gonzales are both very, very good than any real worry about Hancock himself. I think Emerson is going to be just fine this season, don't want to overreact too much to one game.
Carlos Collazo: Thanks for chatting with me today everyone, but we've been going for an hour and apparently North Carolina is about to be shut down due to the threat of an inch of snow. I've got a 10 mile drive back to my apartment and if I don't leave soon all the milk and bread at Harris Teeter will be gone and I will starve. Apologies if I couldn't get to your question this time, you guys have really brought the energy for these draft chats early in the season and I'm super thankful for that! We'll be doing them more frequently than last year, so don't be discouraged if I couldn't get to yours today. Just join us next time, and you can always ask me anything at anytime on the Twitter machine: @CarlosACollazo. See ya next time!