2020 MLB Draft Prospects Chat (3/25/20)

Image credit: Zac Veen (Photo by Alyson Boyer-Rode)

We expanded our MLB Draft prospect rankings today, pushing our list to the 300 prospects you should know. BA draft expert Carlos Collazo also examined 10 particularly surging prospects

Here’s today’s chat transcript.

Carlos Collazo: Thanks for stopping by everyone. Today we released our updated draft list, which expanded to the top 300 players in the country. 

Carlos Collazo: I’m sure the list itself will serve as an answer to many of the questions you guys have. Additionally, I wrote about 10 of the more prominent risers on this list and why they trended up. That’s here. 

Carlos Collazo: But let’s get into it. Everyone wash your hands a few times, keep your distance from the other chatters, and let’s all pretend we live in a world where baseball things are happening for a an hour or two.

Logan Field (MI):

     Thanks for doing this! I could really use some draft talk these days! Do you think the Tigers go with Torkelson or Martin at 1 and why? Who could they target in the 2nd round? Loftin? Foscue? Westburg? Any other players come to mind? Do u think those guys will be available? Thank you! Appreciate all your hard work as always!

Carlos Collazo: Happy to do it, and thank you for stopping by! Yes, it’ll be nice to just pretend things are normal for a while and talk players, though I believe we’ll get into some COVID-19/draft related questions in here as well. We now have Martin at the top spot in the class and I think I would lean towards him over Tork at this point because of his better all-around profile. If you wanted to argue that Tork’s bat was worth taking at 1-1 regardless, I wouldn’t argue too much with you.

Carlos Collazo: As for second round targets, all of those names could make some sense. Our draft list is probably the best bet for you guys looking to find names for the second round and onward, just FYI.

Dylan (Mi):

     Will the draft happen? Very hopeful it will!

Carlos Collazo: As someone who gets paid to almost exclusively cover the draft… I am right there with you. As of today I think it happens.

Johny (MI):

     What have you heard regarding the draft? Do they expect it will happen? Hopefully!! When will your next mock draft come out?

Carlos Collazo: We’ve heard all sorts of things regarding the draft. The AP report that talked about rumblings of no draft talk spooked a lot of people. I think it is/was legitimately being concerned, but I also think everything under the sun is on the table. That said, pretty much everyone I’ve talked with has said they think it would be farfetched for the draft not to happen. The fact that the NFL and NBA are both still having their drafts I think are good signs here.

Carlos Collazo: There could be some significant changes to the draft though. If owners are concerned about spending money, maybe the pools are adjusted. The simplest solution would probably be to either shorten the draft or defer bonuses and draft as scheduled. As I’ve written about recently, you get into a logistical nightmare when you start talking about postponing the draft or combining this year’s class with next years. Though I have talked with scouts who like both of those ideas.

Adam (Quarantine):

     What do you think the odds are that the draft is completely cancelled this year and how much would having an entire draft class merge with next year mess with things? So many guys would be seniors and have less negotiating leverage, guys would lose money because there are going to be more prospects drafted in front of you, colleges were probably planning on scholarships based on who might leave, etc. The list goes on and seems like it would be really hard to deal with. Long question, but a lot to think about. Thanks

Carlos Collazo: This is a great followup to the previous questions. I think a lot of the points you bring up are good ones. There are just so many complicating factors that you have to deal with if you don’t draft this year or if you delay the draft. One of the benefits of drafting as usual would be that colleges don’t have to deal with as much roster crunch. It’s a tough spot for seniors in college especially because they have to weigh the negatives of competing in a (theoretically) much deeper college senior class next year with the positive of, you how, playing your senior season. Especially for those seniors are teams with legitimate CWS aspirations.

Jim (MI):

     Is it possible that there is actually a high school and college draft? If for some odd reason there is who would the Tigers take in the high school draft? Thank you!

Carlos Collazo: As in separating it by school source and having two separate drafts? I don’t know why anyone would want to do this. What’s the benefit? Doesn’t make much sense to me on the surface. What would those benefits be for you?

James (Chicago):

     Anything firming up as to showcases for the players pre-draft?

Carlos Collazo: This was something I was going to try and tackle earlier, but with MLB’s ban on scouting for the time being, it’s a weird spot to be in. As we get more clarity on the direction we are headed those events will get more clarity as well. We’ll report on it as it happens as well. Stay tuned, we’re all kind of waiting and seeing at this point. There were people who were already trying to get those setup though.

Owen (NC):

     Hey Carlos, love the list. Great job as always. One thing that jumped out to me was the fall of Dylan Crews from 45 to 65. I’ve heard he looked good early in the spring. What’s the main reasoning behind the drop? Thanks

Carlos Collazo: Thanks for the kind words, Owen. I actually got the opposite feedback from some scouts I trust who didn’t think he looked great early this spring. Which is disappointing because I personally love Crews. I love the swing, I love the power potential, and I love the makeup. It’s a tough profile though as a right-right, likely corner guy and if he’s not mashing I think teams could get a bit nervous about trying to buy him out of LSU. I’m still personally in on Crews, but haven’t got the sort of feedback from the industry at this point to warrant boosting him. Still making calls though, so we’ll see.

David (Canada):

     Where would Calvin Ziegler from the Canadian team fit on your board? Surprised he was ommitted.

Carlos Collazo: I think Ziegler will fit in that next range when we expand to 400 and 500. It’s tough. The Canadian kids had just started to get rolling, so we don’t really have a great picture of them right now. I know Owen Caissie was doing pretty well and I also talked with some scouts who really like David Calabrese, but those are still the top guys for us from Canada. As for the Western part of the country, Theo Millas, Justin Thorsteinson and Jack Seward seem to be the top names.

Owen (NC):

     Are you hearing about any notable signability concerns in this class?

Carlos Collazo: Drew Bowser is the biggest one at this point and he’s the highest-ranked Stanford commit we have on the list so… that tracks. Robby Ashford is another one. He’s a dual-sport commitment to Oregon and a four-star quarterback according to 247 Sports. I think scouts wonder whether he would prefer to play both sports in college or sign. Those are two who come to mind right away.

William (Bronx, NY):

     Any rumblings to where Nick Gonzales might go to? It’s disappointing that we couldn’t get a longer look at him this year.

Carlos Collazo: It is disappointing that we couldn’t see more of him. But Gonzales is one of the guys who will be affected the least by this. He had already banked quite a bit of his draft stock. I keep hearing the Royals tied to him.

Owen (NC):

     Cade Cavalli is a guy that opened many eyes this season as highlighted by his rise up your list to 32. What holds him back from being part of that top 5-6 college pitcher group?

Carlos Collazo: Yep, he was definitely moving in the right direction before things got shut down. Right now he’s the 12th college pitcher on our board and as you mentioned he slots in at No. 32. That’s a lot of pitching talent. Part of this is he just has a lot of really good arms to compete with. I think there are also some questions about how well his fastball plays. I’d love to get my hands on some of the pitch data on that one because there’s not as much swing and miss as you would expect with a FB that has 70-grade velocity. Still there’s a lot to like. His slider is a real out-pitch.

Owen (NC):

     Casey Martin looked…pretty rough at the plate this spring, albeit in only a few weeks of sample size. However, he obviously has loud tools that you can certainly dream on in the pros. I’m wondering what are scouts attributing his early season struggles to?

Carlos Collazo: Hit tool questions and pitch selection questions. What’s concerning with Martin is that those early season struggles weren’t shocking. He’s always had a strikeout rate north of 20 percent and there are questions about his ability to make adjustments at the plate. Still, like you said his tools are loud. He hits the ball hard when he does make contact and has speed and quickness, a chance to be an impactful player in the middle of the infield. He needs more polish though, and not playing is obviously not going to help that. I’m very curious what teams will wind up doing with him.

Carlos Collazo: Also, let’s pour one out for Owen from NC. Tons of questions. Must be going a little stir-crazy like the rest of us!

HOMIE (Cal):

     Where do you see Heston Kjerstad, Garret Crochet, Carmen Mlodzinski and Freddy Zamora going!

Carlos Collazo: Kjerstad seems like one of the safest bats in the entire class, so I think he’s going to go really well. Especially now. You have to feel good about everything he’s done in his college career and with team USA. He’s a career .331/.412/.563 hitter with 30 home runs in 132 games in the SEC. Crochet is more of a question mark than you’d like because of his delayed start to the season, but the reports on the stuff were good when he did come back. Someone will buy into that huge upside from the left side, as they should. I’m bummed because I was planning on seeing Crochet and Mlodzinski the weekend when everything started getting shut down. Would have been fun. Zamora’s injury makes things complicated. All the other guys in the first round though, with high likelihood.

Jeff Driskell (Charlotte):

     What type of helium do you believe Shuster and Bryce Jarvis had for themselves this year? Do you think either could sneak into first round?

Carlos Collazo: These are two of the pitchers who have done really well for themselves. I think Jarvis probably has the better shot to go in the first round because he was showing three potential plusses with above-average command as well. The size is going to be a question and scouts are definitely going to wonder whether or not he would have held this sort of stuff over a full season. Shuster has been similar. Improved stuff, throwing harder. I think most teams probably have him in that 2-3 round range with a few outliers on either side certainly possible. A lot of pretty good college lefties in this class actually, which is nice. Wrote about Shuster and Jarvis in recent stock watch pieces as well if you want more.

Carlos Collazo: Shuster is in this one.

Carlos Collazo: Jarvis in this one.

Thomas Gray (Georgia):

     Cole Wilcox stock after shortened season where he was showing signs of being a top guy like expected.

Carlos Collazo: I don’t think it changed a ton, as evidenced by our updated list. He’s in the same spot. He could have benefitting from getting more time to show some improvement with command and the ability to handle a starter’s workload. I like the stuff and body.

Bill (Poughkeepsie, NY):

     Any chance Zac Veen sneaks into the top 5? He seemed to be trending that way before the season ended.

Carlos Collazo: Certainly a chance. I don’t think it’s likely though. Outside of Garrett Mitchell, the college guys ahead of him have fewer questions and similar impact potential. I would love to see a team say screw it, we like the talent, we believe in the player, and take him up there. That would be fun. But I wouldn’t necessarily bet on that at this moment. Where we have him ranked seems like the more likely range.

Dylan (MI):

     Who are some sleepers the Tigers could get in later rounds? Maybe rounds 5-10. Thank you! Thanks for all ur hard work!

Carlos Collazo: Check out the 300 list and start reading the names from around 130 or so. Though that range has typically been the money-saver area where a lot of senior signs get selected. Appreciate the kind words. I’m exciting to keep rolling out more draft content and info every week.

Logan Field (MI):

     Who are some guys on the college end who had slow starts or were injured and their stock dropped that could be steals in later rounds? Someone like Matheu Nelson or Parker Chavis come to mind. Thank you!

Carlos Collazo: Two we’ve already mentioned fit those categories with Freddy Zamora and Casey Martin. Not sure how much Martin will slide at this point, but he certainly started slow. Parker Chavers at Coastal is an excellent pick for that as well. He has some really interesting tools. Believe he was set to come back near the end of the season. JT Ginn fits the injured category but if you want him you better take him in the first, so not sure if that’s the answer you’re looking for. Is Kevin Abel that guy? He was pretty good before all the injuries. Loyola Marymount RHP Nick Frasso actually might be my favorite answer for this question. That guy is interesting.

Mike (Iowa):

     I have followed Calvin Harris through high school. He is a tremendous athlete. Past player of the year in baseball and football and a 4 year starter on the basketball team. I have seen him listed in the 120 draft range with other services. I see you have him listed at 290 lbs and I know he only weighs about 200 lbs. With that said, what round would you expect him to be drafted? I would assume listing him at 290, which he has never been, hurts his status?

Carlos Collazo: Whoops. Glad you mentioned that. 290 pounds is certainly a mistake. I’m guessing we had him at 190 or something and 290 was inputted on accident. I’ll get that fixed. He’s a good athlete with a good arm, and has some history hitting, though the swing is a bit unorthodox and he didn’t perform at a high clip for the national guys at Area Code Games last summer. He did impress me with his catch-and-throw skills at that event.

Carlos Collazo: His height and weight should be accurate now. Though I wonder how long we’d have to be quarantined before I blew up to 290??? Gotta get some pushups going.

Andrew (Atlanta):

     Georgia Tech’s Brant Hurter is an exciting LHP who seemed to be on a 2020 Top 50 trajectory this time last year. After undergoing Tommy John in April 2019 it looked like he’d miss most (if not all) of the 2020 season. Now that the rest of his class has also been “benched” how do these circumstances affect his status? He’ll be a RS-JR next year if he were to return.

Carlos Collazo: Tough for him to move up, but it’s certainly possible his talent is better than where he’s at on our list at the moment. There are simply a lot of question marks with him. I’ve talked with scouts who do like him, but put him in the range we have him presently.

Chris (Massachusetts):

     Do you see PCA dropping to the Mets at 19??

Carlos Collazo: Seems like a reasonable range, though he was trending up a bit higher than that before the season stopped. Some guys I talked with said he was a top 15 lock. Middle of the first makes sense for me considering the class, his talent and the questions that are probably going to come up regarding his size and impact potential. He’s probably the best defensive outfielder I’ve seen at the high school level.

Jimmy (Fresno):

     Who are the top 2020 HS pitchers out of Northern California??

Carlos Collazo: LHP Kyle Harrison and RHP TJ Nichols are the top two guys right now. They’re both on the 300.

Linc (Canada):

     Hi Carlos, great work with all the draft content! On one of your recent pod cast with JJ Cooper, you mentioned Max Meyer has one of the nastiest breaking balls (slider) in the class. Are there any other pitchers in this class carrying a potential double-plus pitch?

Carlos Collazo: Love this question. And thanks for listening to the podcast! Hoping to hop on and do another one soon. Garret Crochet’s fastball is probably just that. Jared Kelley’s fastball might be that as well. Chris McMahon’s changeup. JT Ginn might have two when he’s healthy with his FB and SL.

Dave (Pueblo):

     Any merit to idea of having fewer rounds of draft, say 20. Allow others who are not drafted to be open to bargaining their own contract. Teams must keep their draft budget restrictions. If HS kid wants to sign but team hasn’t seen him play, they do like they did in the old days before the draft. Go on what scout has seen and negotiate with the family and compete against other teams.

Carlos Collazo: If the draft is shortened I imagine the biggest reason will be financial. Owners don’t want to spend a lot of money right now, so they’re certainly not going be keen on signing players outside of the draft. The draft is by far the cheapest way teams acquire talent.

Gary (Boston):

     What is it about Chris Lanzilli of Wake Forest that keeps him off draftboards? Last year as a sophomore, he hit .347 with 16 home runs.

Carlos Collazo: Think we got a similar question to this one in our last draft. To put it simply, putting up good numbers doesn’t make you a prospect. There’s more to it than scouting the box score. At some point the production might be so good that you take a flier, but I’ve talked with scouts who question the defensive profile, hit tool and power production at the next level.

Brogan (Toledo):

     Hey Carlos, what led to the decision to bump Martin ahead of Torkelson, and is that indicative of what the Tigers might do at 1-1?

Carlos Collazo: That’s not indicative of anything specific to the Tigers, more about conversations we’ve had with scouts throughout the industry on these players. I think there’s a comfort in the all-around profile that Martin brings, in addition to an impactful bat. Hopefully when we get the mocks rolling we’ll be able to give you some details on what the Tigers specifically are thinking. I’m guessing this will be a difficult draft to mock accurately, but we’re up for the challenge.

Kyle (Oregon):

     Does Garrett Mitchell have a completely different swing for BP? I’m having trouble reconciling the idea that people keep reporting he has plus raw power in BP with his low power output (even a lot of his doubles are hustle doubles). Also, are you hearing that teams in the top 10 will be scared away by diabetes?

Carlos Collazo: There are lots of players who have better raw power than game power. Actually, pretty much every player has more raw power than game power. As you can probably imagine, it’s a lot easier to homer off of someone throwing BP than someone trying to get you out. The confidence a team has in Mitchell eventually tapping into that power is going to determine where they see him. We have talked with some scouts who think the swing is choppier in game, and he gets out of the box quickly. I’ve seen him slap and dash a bit and that will certainly dampen the power he’s able to get to. But when you know the power and the strength is in the tank and you believe in the bat-to-ball skills and the approach… it doesn’t take much to start believing a swing change or a few tweaks at the next level will unlock some of that.

Jose (Everywhere):

     If I’m a fan of a team picking in the late 20s, should I hold out hope for Max Meyer or move on?

Carlos Collazo: Might want to find a new draft crush, pal. Sorry.

JD (Seattle):

     Are there any highly ranked high school bats that you could see slipping into the second round? I’ve fallen in love with the idea of the Mariners snagging Jordan Walker at 43…

Carlos Collazo: Walker might have to go higher than that to sign, and there was a lot of heat on him when he was playing, so that might be tough. Mountain Pointe High shortstop Carson Tucker is a high school bat who could jump into that range. I really like Petey Halpin too. He could be a fit there.

John (NJ):

     Obviously a lot of unknowns right now, but please tell me there will be a draft this year. I need a draft this year.

Carlos Collazo: There will be a draft this year. There will be a draft this year. There will be a draft this year. Let’s try and will it into existence. Together now! There will be a draft this year.

Devin (Columbus):

     Thank you for the chat. If there is a draft, how much more negotiating leverage will College Seniors have with the option to return to school next year?

Carlos Collazo: More than previously, but they also will have to consider that they could be competing against a much larger pool of college seniors next year, depending on how the extra year of eligibility is decided and implemented.

El Zilcho (Fighting Crime):

     Was Reid Detmers on a historic strikeout pace? Do you think that his curveball will translate to pro ball, or is there too much hump?

Carlos Collazo: It seems like he was, though I wonder if he would have kept up that pace throughout the ACC season. Checking back at the NCAA record book the season strikeout record is 234 from a pitcher who threw 174.1 innings in 1979 (Derek Tatsuno, Hawaii). Detmers wouldn’t have thrown those innings, but he was actually on pace for that exact number if he threw the 107 innings that he managed in 2019. I expected to look this up and tell you know, but that’s pretty crazy. On a per/inning basis he’s also there. It would have been extremely difficult to keep that pace up though.

Carlos Collazo: As for the second part of your question, my buddy and colleague Josh Norris had the same concern, that pro hitters would be able to more easily make contact and/or spit on the breaking ball because of that hump that occurs at times.

Derek (Tampa):

     How do you come up with your rankings? Are they just personal opinions? Would decision makers really give up a pref list? It’s interesting how different these rankings are from other rankings.

Carlos Collazo: Our draft rankings are always built around feedback from scouts and scouting departments. That’s always been the way we’ve done it here. My feeling is always, ‘Why would readers care what I personally think about all these players? I am not paid by teams to make these evaluations.’ We feel that getting the information that actual scouts have on players is more valuable. Now, obviously I can throw my own opinions out there on players in podcasts and chats and on Twitter, and when I’m watching a player, but when it comes to the draft rankings we try and base it entirely on feedback from the industry. That’s the goal, to capture the industry’s consensus on the 2020 draft talent. Others will have different processes, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It’s just different.

Zak (Boston):

     Assuming we have a draft this year, do you think a lot of high school players will reclassify for next year, since they didn’t have much of a chance to showcase this year? Or will the abundance of talent in next years draft class scare players away from reclassifying?

Carlos Collazo: I believe it’s too late to reclassify for draft purposes. MLB has a deadline for that.

Alan (Pittsburgh):

     Outside of the top 10 or so guys, who do you think are the three players with A)the highest ceilings, and B)the highest floors?

Carlos Collazo: Alright here’s where I’ll throw a bit of personal opinion in here. Fun question. So, not considering the top 10 guys we have (which ends at Max Meyer) here are my answers. Highest ceiling: 1. Garrett Crochet 2. Robert Hassell 3. JT Ginn. Highest floor: 1. Patrick Bailey 2. Heston Kjerstad 3. Carmen Mlodzinski.

Ben (Green Bay):

     Who is a player that you’re really high on that might be a sleeper because no one is playing ball right now?

Carlos Collazo: I like Kevin Parada’s bat, I like Dylan Crews’ hit/power combo and I really liked Dax Fulton when he was healthy and pitching. I love Colt Keith’s bat, he always hit really well for me. I also like RHP Koen Moreno, love the athleticism.

Luke (PHX):

     This may be naive, but why are changes to the draft all that necessary? Every team is in the same position here regarding limited looks, so it’s not like some teams would significantly benefit from the scouting shutdown. Yes there’s going to be more uncertainty regarding player evaluations but if that’s even across the board then I’m not sure why it’s really such a problem. In some ways the uncertainty almost adds an extra level of intrigue to the draft.

Carlos Collazo: The people in charge of scouting the players and signing the checks probably all agree with you. They will be able to make the picks. The guys writing the checks are the ones who will disagree with you. It’s a financial issue more than a looks/information issue. As you said, all teams are dealing with the same issue and all teams have had years to scout these players. The depth players and projection guys and lower-level high school kids are the ones who get hurt the most from this though. I think you’re also right that this does in some ways add more intrigue. Still, I’d take a return to normalcy over that intrigue.

Carlos Collazo: Alright everyone, that’s going to have to do it for today. We got through a lot of questions, so thank you for sending them and apologies if I couldn’t get to yours. Thanks so much for supporting BA and stay safe out there! Hopefully we’ll be back to normal sooner rather than later.

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