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2020 MLB Draft Prospects Chat (2/6/20)

Image credit: Robert Hassell (Photo courtesy of Team USA)

Draft season is heating up! With high school ball set to begin soon in some parts of the country, we’re in the midst of building out our 2020 rankings. You can see an updated BA 200, our preseason high school All-Americans, plus the latest Stock Watch here

Carlos Collazo: Hey everyone! Thanks for stopping in for today’s draft chat. I’m excited to start getting out to fields and seeing this class in person, but we have a ton of preview content for both the college season and the draft class on the site. Definitely check all of that out if you get a chance. But let’s jump into it!

Tony (New Jersey):

     What are your feelings about where Austin Hendrick might end up? Do you think he is the best power hitter in the draft and who would you compare him to?

Carlos Collazo: Right now we have him ranked in the top 10 and have him as the second overall prep prospect in the class, behind only Jared Kelley. So I could see him going in the 5-10 range now or slipping into the 10-20 range depending on what happens to the college class. He’s not the best power hitter in the draft. That would be Spencer Torkelson, who has 48 homers in two seasons with Arizona State. Hendrick’s raw power stacks up well with the top players in the class, but you have to project more on what that is going to be like in-game, where you have more confidence that Torkelson can get to his regularly.

Dan (Atlanta):

     With premium college pitching flying off boards these days (any good college arm with at least average velocity and performance getting a million+), what does a projection starter HS arm look like that is worth 500-700 thousand (a guy that teams feel could be worth over a million if he goes to school, makes some progress, and performs)? Right and left handed

Carlos Collazo: I don’t entirely agree with the premise. There are a lot of guys who fit the category you mentioned who aren’t getting $1M plus. Just 15 college guys last year got a more than a million and that number was only 12 in 2018, which is somewhat surprising given how poor the 2019 pitching class was. There’s just not that kind of money flying around in the draft. There are many different flavors of pitchers, but generally scouts are looking for a frame that offers future projection (don’t want to be physically maxed out in high school), good feel for throwing strikes, feel for spin and athleticism. If you check all of those boxes as a prep pitcher and continue making progress in college I would imagine you’re in pretty good shape.

Derek (Buffalo):

     See you have him ranked just outside of your top 100 but do you think David Calabrese could be a high riser this spring. With his speed, very young age and feel to hit will he remind scouts of an Alex Thomas, Corbin Carrol type

Carlos Collazo: I think Thomas and Carroll both had significantly better pure hit tools. But all three are undersized, speedy center fielders who hit lefthanded so sure there are some similarities you could draw. I think Calabrese has a lot of work to do to get to that level. Carroll and Thomas both started a lot closer to the first round. But as always, you never know what can happen with these kids. Would never want to count anyone out.

Brian (Somewhere in GA):

     Other than Hancock, and Walker (maybe Waddell) it seems like a down year for Georgia baseball prospects. Next years class appears to be loaded? Where would Brady House fall in the draft this year if eligible?

Carlos Collazo: Over the last five years, just over 10 players have been selected among the top 200 picks out of Georgia. On our current draft top 200, we’ve got 10 Georgia prospects ranked. Two of those (Hancock and his teammate that you didn’t mention, Cole Wilcox) are already solidly in the first round range. While it might not be a 2016 type year where six players from Georgia go in the first or supplemental first, I think it’s a solid year for the state. As for Brady House, I’ve seen him a couple times and he is very, very good. With Nick Bitsko now in the 2020 class, he’s the top prospect for 2021. I think he’d slot in somewhere in the 15-30 range in this class were he eligible. That’s more of a best guess at the moment.

James O (Chicago):

     Sure looks like a deep draft. What percentage of players on the first day of the draft, will be College players? They seem to be the deepest group.

Carlos Collazo: It is a deep draft. It’s the deepest one since I’ve been covering the draft for Baseball America, which granted is only around three years. It has a chance to be the best college group in five years or so depending on what happens this spring. That group is helped out by a number of draft-eligible sophomores that came from a stacked 2018 prep class. Guys like Cole Wilcox, JT Ginn, Austin Wells and Slade Cecconi who all have the potential to be first round picks. We did a way-too-early mock draft on Jan. 13 and 19 of the 29 (sorry Astros) first round picks were college players. In 2019 it was 23/34 (67 percent) and in 2018 it was 16/35 (46 percent). I think we’ll be a lot closer to 70 percent this year.

Justin (Tucson, AZ):

     What are the future projections for Nick Gonzalez? From what I’m reading he sounds like a plus to plus-plus bat. Power grades, from what I’ve read, give him below average but he hit with power in the Cape league using a wooden bat. Overall he sounds like someone who might have comparable tools to Gavin Lux.

Carlos Collazo: He has better than below-average power for sure. He’s small, and people are always going to be skeptical of the juice that comes out of New Mexico State. I think his Cape performance really showed that he’s got at least solid-average power and that could easily play up thanks to his insane hitting ability. I don’t see him and Lux being all too similar though.

KB (NY):

     I have read where some scouts believe 2B prospect Nick Gonzales may not be drafted in the 1st round due to inflated numbers in New Mexico State’s hitter friendly environment. Others feel his quick bat and Dustin Pedroia -like make up and work ethic makes him a top 10 pick. What is your opinion?

Carlos Collazo: Whoever is telling you he won’t be drafted in the first round is wrong. We have him ranked No. 5 in the class at this point, so I’ll let you guess where we stand on him based on that. FWIW I think the Pedroia comp is much better than the Lux comp for Gonzales, base on size, handedness and tools. Though Pedroia had more speed at the same time and controlled the zone better.

Andrew (Alberta):

     Who has the best hit tool out of the deep prep OF class this year? 2nd best?

Carlos Collazo: We actually have a best tools list for the high school and college classes if you check out our preseason all-american lists. Those were voted on by scouting departments, so they’re more accurate than if I were to decide each of them. Robert Hassell topped the high school list, but Austin Hendrick was very close to being the No. 1 as well. A bigger gap between those two and the third hitter, Pete Crow-Armstrong.

Joe (C’ville):

     I realize Kumar Rocker is a year away, but is he really the real deal to be #1 next year?/ His 2019 stats don’t jump out at you unless you consider he’s in a very good conference and he was a freshman…..

Carlos Collazo: Yep. He’s a monster and his stuff is insane. I think you’re underselling his numbers. He posted a 3.50 ERA and struck out 10 batters per nine while walking 1.85 over 87.1 innings. I was a bit concerned about his command coming out of high school, so that walk rate is fantastic in my mind. He’s the real deal.

Andrew (Alberta):

     It seems like Garrett Mitchell is a perfect fit for the Blue Jays at 5 this year. He fits an org. weakness and could possibly be the BPA. Would you agree?

Carlos Collazo: Why not? On talent alone he certainly belongs there. I think Mitchell might have a bit more variance than a lot of the college hitters ranked around him at the moment because of the Diabetes and the history of his hit tool. If he mashes he’s going to fly off the board though. No other college player has his raw tools.

White Sox (#11):

     The White Sox were poised to draft in the top 8 until a strong final week of the season pushed them down to the #11 spot. Who are some names that they could be after? Do they go for best available or someone closer to the majors that can contribute in the next couple of years with their rebuild ending?

Carlos Collazo: Chicago has gone with college players with each of its last seven first round picks. It’ll be interesting if Mike Shirley stays on that same path. It makes a lot of sense considering this year’s draft class and the White Sox’ competitive window. All the names in the 5-20 range on our draft list make sense at this point in my mind. Still too early to start tying teams to specific players though.

Alex (Bay Area):

     With the White Sox out of their rebuild and the roster stacked with a nice blend of veterans, young stars, and high end prospects on the cusp of the minors, do they go HS high upside with the #11 pick?

Carlos Collazo: They could definitely be able to pick some of the highest upside prep talent at No. 11 this year, which isn’t always the case. Shortstop Ed Howard would be a fun one for them as a White Sox fan and local kid.

Brendon (Canada):

     Does the big 3 at the top seem virtually set in stone, or is there enough room for one or two players to perform well enough to turn it into a big 4 or 5 come draft time?

Carlos Collazo: The big three could very well be a big five right now. I think Gonzales and Texas A&M LHP Asa Lacy are right in there.

Brian (AZ):

     Where do you predict Jared Jones to be drafted? Will it be as a pitcher or outfielder?

Carlos Collazo: He’s a tough one. His profile is a bit more risky, because I do think he has more pro upside as a pitcher. That’s what I expect him to be drafted as. He’s got three potential plus pitches and the bat needs to go a long way, so put him on the mound. There is reliever risk with his size and the erratic nature of his strikes. Second or comp round would be my best guess right now, but does he sign for that? Not sure. Texas has a lot of talent that could be headed its way depending on how the draft plays out.

Big Ern (Chicago):

     Have Cubs been linked to any players at 16?

Carlos Collazo: If I asked anyone who the Cubs were linked to right now I’d probably get laughed off the phone. Too early for that. I bet they would take Spencer Torkelson, Austin Martin or Emerson Hancock if those guys got there though….

Dave (Chicago):

     Blaze Jordan to Cubs at 16??

Carlos Collazo: Seems rich at the moment, though I like Blaze.

Big Ern (Chicago):

     Any chance Garrett Mitchell is available to Cubs at 16?

Carlos Collazo: Cubs and White Sox fans out here representing in the chat. I like it. I wouldn’t be stunned if he fell that far but I would be surprised. His upside is just too high IMO.

Fred (Mississippi):

     I know this is a crazy question but who are the top hitters in the 2021 draft?

Carlos Collazo: You are crazy! Fortunately we are as well. Here’s the college 2021 draft list: And here’s the high school list:

Stephen (Kansas City, Mo):

     The Royals pick 4th, they have had a good run picking college pitchers. The pipeline is flling up, so if they go with another pitcher, which of these two have the highest upside…Texas A & M LHP Asa Lacy ,or prep RHP Jared Kelley?

Carlos Collazo: I like Lacy’s upside a bit more than Kelley’s thanks to his handedness and a superior breaking ball. Lacy and Hancock are in a tier of their own in regards to pitchers in my mind. Kelley is at the top of that second tier however, along with Mick Abel, Carmen Mlodzinski, JT Ginn, Reid Detmers and Garrett Crochet.

Aaron (Atlanta):

     Does Freddy Zamora have a chance at being a top 10-15 pick? If so, what vaults him up the list more – overall hitting or just tappint into more power?

Carlos Collazo: Why not both? There are some scouts who have him in that range already, but I think most in the industry see him as a defense-first type at this point with a bit of skepticism about the bat. As a general rule, every college position player will move up the board by hitting well this spring. We love small samples in the draft game.

Chris (Pittsburgh):

     Local kid Austin Hendrick to the Pirates makes so much sense that it probably won’t happen. Is it more likely that his stock jumps enough to go earlier than #7 or that his stock falls against cold weather competition and too many people pass him up for the pick?

Carlos Collazo: It’s more likely that Hendrick gets passed by other players on the board rising than him “falling.” We’ve been exploring a story on this topic, but Hendrick seems like one of those players whose stock is basically set entering the spring. He’s not going to face good enough competition to really move up the board anymore. He made his moves last summer and barring something crazy this spring I don’t expect him to move too much on his own. I do think it would be sweet to see him go to the Pirates though.

Dan (SD):

     Are the Padres connected to any names yet?

Carlos Collazo: Now I know why they make me write mock drafts all the time.

Aaron (Huston):

     Is the 2020 draft one of the weakest you’ve seen for college SS?

Carlos Collazo: No, but it is for high school shortstops.

Frank (Michigan):

     Any players from the division 2 and NAIA Ranks you guys keeping a close eye on this spring. Is their a few players that could move up the Draft rankings with a solid spring . Thank you

Carlos Collazo: Bellarmine (Ky.) RHP Brandon Pfaadt is the highest-ranked DII player at the moment I believe. He has some upside potential.

Drew (Grand Rapids):

     Let’s say Hancock ends up as the consensus top prospect by draft day, but is only slightly ahead of Tork and Martin. Do the Tigers take the best player available, or bypass Hancock for the impact bat their system desperately needs?

Carlos Collazo: I could see them doing either. They have traditionally loved pitchers like Hancock, but after taking Casey Mize with the first pick a few years ago perhaps they think they bat is the better move for them, if they see those talents as comparable. I could by into either of those arguments. If they think Hancock is simply the best player available though, take the best player. That’s what you’re picking at No. 1 for.

Steven (Denver):

     Thoughts on some of the Colorado HS prospects? Jack Moss, Case Williams? Are there others?

Carlos Collazo: Case Williams is interesting. I saw him at Area Codes and scouts seemed to like him there. He’s got good feel for spinning a breaking ball. Sharp in the upper-70s and looked above-average in that look with good depth. He was 88-92 with some life on the FB. Would like to see him smooth out some of the hooking/stabbing action in the back of his delivery though. In general Colorado seems a bit down for high school players. Though last year none were drafted and only three were taken from the state overall. Wow. Also, do you guys in Colorado still claim Cole Winn or no? I think I would.

Stu (Tacoma):

     Big fan of Zac Veen’s swing. Seattle has been college-heavy in recent years but obviously they loved Jarred Kelenic. Do you think Veen makes sense as a guy at No. 6? Or does he have a reasonable shot at rising even past that/dropping well beyond?

Carlos Collazo: I love his swing as well. It’s awesome. He’s one of my personal favorites in this year’s draft class, I just think his upside is enormous and I love his patience and discipline at the plate. I could see Veen blowing up this spring and going in that range, for sure. I don’t think he’ll drop too far passed the middle of the first or so. I think someone is going to buy into that upside. Dude’s getting Yelich comps so…. count me in.

Joey D. (Kent, WA):

     What are the chances Casey Martin rebounds and jumps back into Top 6 consideration?

Carlos Collazo: I’m a little more skeptical of Martin jumping into that range at this point, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he went in the top 10. Tools are good.

Sully (NEB):

     Elijah Nunez & Ethan Long. Where they goin this June?

Carlos Collazo: I would say later on day two, but the current draft system means only college seniors are allowed to get selected then. I personally like Nunez a lot. Like his running ability and bat-to-ball skills. He’s a guy who could probably go to TCU and blow up in a big way in a few years though. Size might hurt him. Long has a ton of natural arm strength, but I’m not a huge fan of the arm action.

Andrew (Alberta):

     Are there 2 or 3 college pitchers to keep an eye on throughout the spring on that might go around pick 42?

Carlos Collazo: This is a very specific question. Pick 42??? I will entertain it: CJ Van Eyk, Tommy Mace, Jake Eder, Jeff Criswell, Cole Henry, Logan Allen. If one of those guys gets taken with pick No. 42 I better win some sort of prize.

Andrew (Alberta):

     Are there any pitchers ala Grayson Rodriquez, who if they got into better shape this spring, could vault up into the first round?

Carlos Collazo: We did a recent draft stock watch that touched on sleepers. That would be a better answer than anything I could give you here:

Eddie (Florida):

     Twenty years ago, being able to play multiple positions in the field at a high level was considered a negative. Have the tables turned? Which players in the draft could give a team the most position flexibility?

Carlos Collazo: Wait, was it? I would be surprised if playing multiple positions at a high level was every considered a negative. Playing multiple positions because you’re not great at any specific one but you can hit is a bit different… That guy is Austin Martin. Dude can play anywhere in the infield and outfield. Kyle Teel can play a lot of positions as well on the HS side, though not at Martin’s level just yet.

Carlos Collazo: I think that’s going to wrap it up for now. Thanks to everyone who submitted questions and sorry if I wasn’t able to get to yours. I think we’re going to try and do these draft chats a bit more regularly throughout the season this year. You all seem to like them and I enjoy doing them as well. With that said, be sure to check out our draft stock watch feature throughout the year every Tuesday. We’ll touch on rising and falling players, and dive into a ton of different draft topics. I’m excited for it and you guys seem to have been enjoying it as well. And if you like all this stuff and haven’t subscribed yet, please consider doing so. We’ve got tons of draft, college, minors, international and major league content you can’t get anywhere else. And thank you to our current subscribers! We couldn’t do this without you guys. Take care everyone!

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