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2020 MLB Draft Prospects Chat (4/23/20)

We've had plenty of updates over the last two weeks, which you can find here:

Our chat is below.

Carlos Collazo: Hey everyone! Thanks for stopping by for another draft chat. These have been fun to do over the last few weeks. It’s NFL Draft Day, which will be interesting, if only to see how the league handles a remote draft. I’m looking forward to how the coverage of the event looks. But we’re here for a much better sport, so let’s jump into your questions.

Bob M (Ontario):

    You’re Detroit. Tork or Martin?

Carlos Collazo: Kyle and myself actually did a recent draft podcast and spent a significant amount of time on this subject. I wouldn’t be surprised either way at this point. Personally I would lean towards Martin but Kyle and JJ (and I believe Teddy) would all prefer Torkelson. If you want to hear more about this debate, check out the pod.

Joseph (Knoxville Tn):

    How can a player up their draft stock at this point when there are no competitions or live scouting going on? Seems to have been a lot of movement on draft boards lately when there is no new sources

Carlos Collazo: This was also something we got into in the draft podcast and I explained a lot about the process of gathering information and updating the rankings there. But for those who haven’t listened, it’s simple. We continue to get more and new information that changes the picture for us, regardless of games being played or not. In an ideal world, we would be able to get information instantly from all the sources we use, but that’s not a realistic information cycle. As we continue to gather more information and look at more data points, we fold that into the rankings to make them as accurate as possible based on our industry feedback. Hope that answers the question well.

Dave (San Diego):

    How do Abel, Kelley and Bitsko compare to previous prep arms such as Priester, Liberatore, Gore etc?

Carlos Collazo: Most people I’ve talked with like this group of prep arms more than last year’s class. The 2018 group was much better on depth at the top IMO. None of these guys have the complete profile and advanced repertoire that Gore offered at the time, and he also has the benefit of being lefthanded. I would have him in a different tier than the 2020 trio right now. If we’re using Priester and Gore I would have all three in between them.

Tyler (San Diego):

    Of the top three high school arms which one are you most comfortable taking?

Carlos Collazo: I like a lot of Mick Abel’s traits, personally. He doesn’t have one obvious weakness, he’s got above-average or plus stuff across the board, has remaining projection in his frame, is a good strike thrower and has trended in the right direction over the offseason by all accounts. There’s a lot to like their IMO. At the same time I was extremely impressed with my two looks with Bitsko and I’ve never seen a prep pitcher locate velocity with the consistency and ease that Kelley has. These guys are all very close.

Joe (Syracuse NY):

    What’s the chances the draft is more then 10 rounds?

Carlos Collazo: I would be surprised. I’ve still been hearing 10 rounds in conversations but that’s just what everyone seems to be hoping for more than any sort of locked in number.

Andrew (Alberta):

    Do you feel like it is more beneficial to have the Draft sooner (June) or later (July)? Please explain. Thank you.

Carlos Collazo: I have been solidly in the camp of ‘sooner is better’ for a while now. I first wrote about the benefits on March 17. You can see the expanded reasons for that in the post, but the main benefit is that it clears up a lot of potential issues for colleges by having the draft sooner. The one benefit of pushing the draft back (in my mind) is to potentially get a few more looks at players, but I’m pessimistic of that happening, so I’d rather get the benefit of clarity for the college coaches and amateur players. While it’s looking more and more likely that the summer schedule is going to be disrupted regardless, I don’t like the logistic negatives that could come from delaying the draft.

Josh (Athens Tn):

    With the potential for only 5 rounds will you see less high school players taken early this year to give stock to those who have proven themselves at the collegiate level?

Carlos Collazo: Yep, I think we've touched on this question a number of times but I think 1) teams have been trending to more college players for basically the entire century up to this point and 2) this year's conditions would only seem to increase the perceived safety of college players.

Brandon (Georgia):

    Crochet and Cavalli are two guys that have numbers that don't match the stuff. What gives Crochet the edge over Cavalli in the rankings?

Carlos Collazo: I think handedness and the way the his stuff plays are two benefits for Crochet in this debate. There’s some concern with how Cavalli’s fastball has a tendency to play down and get hit a bit more than you would expect, given the velocity. Could be a deception or spin rate question mark, but the fastball is less explosive than Crochet’s.

Keith (California):

    Would you be surprised to see Bryce Jarvis and Clayton Beeter end up in the 1st round? Do you think their stocks would have increased significantly if the season had continued?

Carlos Collazo: I would not. Both did really well in the limited season that we got. Both have question marks, but Beeter has consistently improved as he’s gotten away from TJ, while Jarvis’ newfound fastball velocity took his entire repertoire to an entirely new level. I think teams would feel much more confident in their assessment of both players with a full 2020 season but unfortunately that’s not possible. Outside of those two there are a number of college arms who could slide into the first and I wouldn’t be as shocked as I probably would have been in previous years.

Lincoln (Minnesota):

    What pitcher in this years draft class has the potential for the best stuff? All other factors set aside, just pure stuff?

Carlos Collazo: Garrett Crochet, Jared Kelley, Max Meyer, Burl Carraway and JT Ginn all have some of the better fastballs. Meyer, Asa Lacy, Cade Cavalli, Ginn, Mick Abel, Crochet and Seth Lonsway all have some of the better breaking balls. Max Meyer and Garrett Crochet seem like the best options if we’re putting it all together. I’ll go Meyer because the slider is just so filthy.

Brett (Denver):

    Would Michael Conforto be an accurate comp for Heston Kjerstad? Do you have concerns about his BB/K ratio?

Carlos Collazo: I like to pull up player draft reports when answering these questions and I think on the surface it's not a terrible comp. They have some similarities. I think Conforto was seen as a better pure hitter than Kjerstad at the time, with better zone recognition and OBP skills, while Kjerstad might have a tick better power production. The swings are different, how they do it is different, but the production isn't too terribly different. I do have some concerns about Kjerstad's BB/K ratio. I would like a player with his impact to take more walks, and the strikeout rate is concerning. That's the biggest question with Kjerstad's profile for me, but there's a lot to like with him still. I would have been very interested to see how that strikeout rate changed or stayed the same this season against SEC pitching.

Ryan (LA):

    Do you anticipate signability issues with Wilcox or Ginn this time around? Seems as if Ginn could fall due to TJ and it's been reported Wilcox only will sign for top half of the 1st money.

Carlos Collazo: Both players have plenty of leverage as draft-eligible sophomores and Ginn has already turned down first round money so from the outside looking in, yes, they could be tough signs. Some scouts have mentioned as much to me as well. I don't have specific numbers that either are looking for. For the players, use whatever leverage you can because this whole draft thing is designed to pay them less than they are worth.

Boof (High School Prom):

    Did the abbreviated college season hurt or help Crochet?

Carlos Collazo: I didn't help him because he threw just 3.1 innings in one game. Compare that to Reid Detmers and Asa Lacy who both started four games and threw 22 innings and 24 innings respectively. Track record is a big deal and Crochet wasn't able to establish as much as teams were hoping for. With a strong season there's no reason why he couldn't have pushed up into the top 10.

Vince (Portland):

    Any way you could throw out some comps for the top arms in the draft (Lacy, Hancock, Detmers)?

Carlos Collazo: I go back and forth on the value of player comps on a daily basis. Generally I think they are more misleading than useful, but I understand they can be fun, at the very least. So take all these with grains of salt. Hancock has some similarities to Brady Singer and Aaron Nola. Detmers shares traits with Brendan McKay and Drew Pomeranz. Asa Lacy... I don't have an obvious comp. I've had Madison Bumgarner thrown out about Lacy, but that was more in regards to his mentality and demeanor than his delivery and stuff. Lacy's secondary offerings are all more advanced that Bumgarner's were when he was drafted, but he did come out of high school.

Keith (California):

    Would you consider Crochet/Cavalli or the top HS Arms as the riskier demographic?

Carlos Collazo: History would lean towards the preps, so I'll go with that.

Mike (Phoenix):

    How would you break down the tiers in the draft?

Carlos Collazo: I answered this question in the last draft chat and the answer hasn't changed significantly from then.

Parts and Gleyber (The Shop):

    What was the deciding factor(s) in ranking Lacy ahead of Hancock?

Carlos Collazo: First and foremost, the industry overall prefers Lacy at this point. But as for the why, he has the edge in handedness, his breaking ball has been more consistently plus than Hancock's has and he's improved his strike throwing. Hancock's command is still better overall, but there are fewer question marks with Lacy at this point. I think you could nitpick how Hancock's fastball plays in the zone question whether the breaking ball is a true wipeout offering. Hancock's arm slot is a bit more concerning than Lacy's. Those are all important factors to consider.

Owen (NC):

    If I made you take a guess, how many HS players will be taken in the first round? (29 picks)

Carlos Collazo: We've got nine players ranked inside the first round right now, with Jordan Walker (34), Carson Montgomery (36), Drew Romo (38) and Jared Jones (39) right on the edge. Three of those in the first round are high school righties, who are prone to slide. The outfielders (Veen, Hendrick, Hassell, PCA) all seem like locks, as does Soderstrom. Howard isn't the typical top shortstop in a class, but he still is the top guy at a valuable position. I'll stick with a guess of nine, which could allow for a pitcher to slide out and a player to jump into the first who I might not be thinking of as a lock right now.

Owen (NC):

    I asked you this about a month ago but lots of things have changed since then. Which prospects are looking like tough signs? Any commitments that seem all but set in stone?

Carlos Collazo: Kyle Teel seems like a good bet at this point: 

Mr. Fister (Arlington):

    I've read multiple articles that link KC with Nick Gonzales at #4. Wouldn't it make more sense for them to take whichever of Lacy or Hancock is left, considering that they have zero pitching at the major league level and can't expect all of Singer, Lynch, Kowar, and Bubic to develop into quality starters?

Carlos Collazo: I wouldn't ever argue with someone who wants to say you can never have enough pitching. That's certainly true and undoubtedly a number of Kansas City's collection of pitching prospects won't pan out. It comes down to whether or not the Royals think the pitcher available is a better talent than the hitter. If there's a gap, take whoever you evaluate as better regardless of the position. If they are seen as even, I think it makes sense to go with the bat, especially at the top of a draft class and considering the number of quality pitching prospects in their system right now. I think Gonzales is a special hitter.

Jon Simpson (Baltimore):

    Out of Jarred Kelley, Mick Abel and Nick Bitsko which is most likely to fall to the second round?

Carlos Collazo: I would guess Bitsko because of his reclassification. Most teams probably feel better about their information with Kelley and Abel.

Aaron (Seattle):

    How does this year's top 6 (Martin, Tork, Lacy, Hancock, Gonzales, Mitchell) compare to last year's top 6 (Rutschman, Witt, Vaughn, Abrams, Greene, Bleday)?

Carlos Collazo: Man, last years top six was really, really good. Rutschman is the best player of the entire group and I have always been sky high on Bobby Witt Jr. I'll go 2019. Those are really impressive position players.

Frank (Vermont):

    Any recent reports on how teams are evaluating draft prospects right now?

Carlos Collazo: As in, how are they physically evaluating players? A lot of video scouting and conference calls breaking them down.

Brad (Dallas):

    What type of power do you see Austin Martin developing? Do you think a team will try to see if he can stick at SS/3B or is he destined for the OF?

Carlos Collazo: Above-average juice. Yes and probably to your other questions.

Cade (New Orleans):

    Am I wrong to think Lacy best compares to Carlos Rodon/Andrew Miller? Seems to me he could have pretty high relief risk for a guy in the top 5?

Carlos Collazo: I've had a scout say Lacy's slider is the best college slider from the left side since Rodon. Outside of that I don't know that they compare super well. Lacy has a better fastball than Rodon did at the time and he can pitch off of the heater better than Rodon did at the same time. I don't have a ton of concerns about Lacy being a reliever at this point. Lacy's overall stuff sounds more similar to Miller's at the time, but the bodies are quite a bit different and Lacy has a better track record of racking up strikeouts than Miller did.

Spencer Torkelson (Phoenix):

    Am I the best 1B prospect ever?

Carlos Collazo: Do we even know that Tork is better than Andrew Vaughn? I don't think there's a ton of separation between the two at the moment. Certainly his size and power give him more upside, but Vaughn was a pretty impressive hitter just last year and he had fewer swing-and-miss tendencies. Tork is an awesome player, but let's not dub him the best 1B prospect ever just yet.

Martha (MA):

    What is the industry thinking in regards to a 5 round or 10 round draft?

Carlos Collazo: The industry wants 10 rounds.

Mike (Virginia):

    Do you think the lack of a 2nd round pick will change the Red Sox philosophy at 1-17?

Carlos Collazo: With less pool money and one less pick, that could potentially sway them to a more safe demographic, but personally I hope they don't change anything about what they are doing there. I know the financial games are something that every team has to be aware of, but I think you just take the best player available there and figure out the rest later. They are 26th in bonus pool money now. Maybe if you're looking a at a tier of players that you see as basically the same, you take the biggest discount you can and try and slide a player you like to No. 89, where your slot value is $667,900. In general it will be interesting to see how teams play the money game in this year's shortened draft. Good question.

Matt (Oceanside):

    How does Zac Veen compare to the top hs bats last year (Witt, Abrams, Greene)?

Carlos Collazo: I think all three from last year have better pure bat-to-ball skills. Veen has the most power potential by a pretty decent margin. Veen's zone recognition is similar to Greene's if not a tick better IMO. Abrams and Witt have much better defensive value, but I think Greene and Veen could be comparable defenders in the long run in a corner spot.

Mike (Ohio):

    What do you make of a prospect like Seth Lonsway? Bit of a mystery but numbers suggest the stuff is as good as anyone in this years draft. Late first? Sandwich? Early 2nd?

Carlos Collazo: The stuff is good, there are just huge questions about the control. Check out his career walk rate. That's extremely concerning to me. If a team thinks he has a chance to start he could go in the second, but that's a risky first round pick IMO. I would think of him more in that third round range, but I'm sure there are a few teams higher than me just because the raw stuff is pretty exceptional from the left side, as you mentioned.

Greg (California):

    Trying to figure out why the draft was moved from June to July? Thanks

Carlos Collazo: Unless I missed something while chatting, the draft date hasn't been set yet.

Nick (Ohio):

    Where would Nick Lodolo rank among this year's pitching prospects?

Carlos Collazo: Behind Meyer and ahead of Wilcox probably. Anywhere in that 13 to 23 range would probably make sense off the top of my head.

Ethan (Athens):

    How would you rate the life of Hancock's fastball? I know he has good velocity, but what kind of movement/spin rate does he have?

Carlos Collazo: Nothing exceptional. Hancock's command of the pitch is more impressive than its life.

Logan (Wash State):

    Do you see any likelihood of Max Meyer falling to 16 where the Cubs sit? I'm starting to really like him and would not be upset if he dropped to them.

Carlos Collazo: I would be surprised considering how loud his stuff and athleticism is.

Richard (California):

    What do you think the best option would be for a college senior who is not expected to be in the top 10 rounds but would have been drafted in round 11 through 25? Should they stay in college or sign for up to $20,000 if offered (probably less than $20,000)? It seems the NCAA and MLB really didn't help seniors.

Carlos Collazo: Me giving blanket advice to seniors is probably not the best idea here. It's going to vary for every player and it depends on how much they like their school situation, what their future job prospects are outside of baseball, what their family and personal financial situation is, etc. I'm not sure what else the NCAA and/or MLB could have done to help seniors. It's just a bad situation to be in outside of everyone's control. It's not like that group of players were making bank in the draft before this.

Bobby (Hawaii):

    What’s your opinion on Cal 2B Darren Baker ? I think he’s going to surprise many people who haven’t seen him play from lack of exposure in the Pac-12. Do you think that’s fair ?

Carlos Collazo: I like him. Not the toolsiest guy but he's a good baseball player. Has some speed, has some contact ability, has improved defensively. Seems like a guy who could get the most of his talent.

Phil (Baltimore):

    Do you see Baltimore taking a arm or a bat with the number 2 pick? I want them to take Zac Veen out of Florida. Any chance? As I feel we need run producers now not arms later.

Carlos Collazo: Most people I have talked with think a bat is more likely than an arm for Baltimore at that spot.

Michael (South Carolina):

    Who are the top JUCO guys in the draft? How many do you think will go in 5 rounds or 10 rounds?

Carlos Collazo: You can see all the juco guys we have on our 400 list right here. Northwest Florida JC RHP Beck Way is the top juco prospect.

Mike (NYC):

    Given the shortened Draft, do you expect a pitcher like CJ Van Eyk to go in the earlier rounds? I would guess under normal circumstances he is not a R1-R3 talent?

Carlos Collazo: I would expect Van Eyk in that range regardless of the circumstances. We've consistently had him as a top 50 player in this class. He's good.

DJ (North carolina):

    Please mix it up and talk about the mid major players or the safe proven seniors besides talking about the same guys over and over.

Carlos Collazo: Who do you want to hear about? All you have to do is ask. I'm answering the questions in the queue and it just happens that most people are interested in the guys at the top of the board. We always rank and write reports on more than 500 players so hopefully everyone can get their fill on depth guys as well. Landon Knack is a fascinating senior and the favorite to be the first one selected. He's got a great track record of throwing strikes. I like Cam Shepherd at UGA as well as one of the better senior position players, but feel like he could be a guy who might want to go back to school with a really talented UGA squad right now that has legit CWS chances.

David (Virginia):

    David from Va. where do you see relief pitchers going in the draft? Specifically Carraway and Abbott?

Carlos Collazo: Typically those guys start coming into play around the third round.

Tom (Canada):

    Obviously their backgrounds are different, but is it reasonable that I see some Jason Heyward in Garrett Mitchell? Both big, ultra toolsy lefty outfielders that have some trouble with their swings and therefore with getting to their power in games.

Carlos Collazo: Their toolsets are a bit different, as is their size, but I do think that's a pretty good comparison of the same issue with raw power translating to game power. There were comments that Heyward would need to change his setup to better backspin balls coming out of high school and Mitchell has similarly had trouble getting to his juice consistently going back to his high school days as well. I like that specific area of comparison actually. Nice.

Carlos Collazo: All right everyone, we're approaching the two hour mark so that's going to have to do it for today. Thanks to everyone for stopping in and throwing out some questions. Hope you all are staying safe out there and not going too stir-crazy. As always, if you have other questions you can reach me on Twitter: @CarlosACollazo.

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