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2020 MLB Draft Prospects Chat (4/9/2020)

Image credit: Austin Martin (Photo by Andrew Woolley/Four Seam Images)

Carlos Collazo: Hey guys, thanks for stopping by and chatting some draft stuff with me. Currently working on a lot of rankings/report stuff as we continue refining our draft list, soliciting feedback from scouts and working towards expanding to the BA 500. Which we’re still having this year, regardless of how many rounds the draft winds up being.

Carlos Collazo: A few questions have popped up in the chat by a number of commenters, so I’ll address them here. I still don’t have clarity on the specific rounds and the specific date of the draft, but a few people I’ve spoken to think we could be getting some more clarity on both fronts soon.

Carlos Collazo: As for mock drafts, as a few of you have pointed out, it will be more difficult to scout the scouts this year. I’ve been reaching out to a number of sources on mock draft fronts, but most people simply don’t know enough about who’s targeting who around them at this point. I imagine that could start to change as more advisors and teams have more conversations, but for now the information on the mock department is light. No, I do not know who your team is targeting in the second round. Sorry. We still have some things in the works for mocks you should see soon.

Carlos Collazo: With all of that out of the way, let’s jump into your questions.

Keith (California):

     Outside of the top 3 arms (Lacy, Hancock, Detmers), which 3 have the highest ceiling and which 3 have the highest floor?

Carlos Collazo: Fun one to get things started with. After those three our next arms are: Max Meyer, Jared Kelley, Mick Abel, Garrett Crochet, Tanner Burns, Nick Bitsko, Carmen Mlodzinski, and Bobby Miller. Ceiling: 1. Crochet 2. Meyer 3. Abel. Floor: 1. Burns 2. Mlodzinski 3. Meyer. Thought about putting Kelley in as the No. 3 floor guy but that just seems too crazy for the demographic.

Jeff (NY):

     Thoughts on Casey Martin as a draft prospect? Where do you see him going in this years draft?

Carlos Collazo: He’s a difficult one. The tools are electric and no one doubts that. I had conversations this week with scouts who think his pure toolset belongs in the top 10, but the big question marks about his offensive approach and defensive polish likely mean he’ll go more towards the middle or back of the first round and it wouldn’t shock me if he slid into the second either. I think some teams are really excited about him and some are really scared of him.

Brandon (California):

     How confident are you that Crochet can remain a starter? Do you think he will fall in the draft because he has yet to show he has the durability to be a starter?

Carlos Collazo: Less confident than I am about Reid Detmers being a starter and more confident than a lot of the pitchers in the back of the first and second/third/fourth round range. I don’t know how far he’ll fall from where we have him currently ranked (13). He seems like a safe bet to go in the 10-20 range based on his pure stuff, but I do think he would have had a good chance to move into the top 10 with a strong season in a starting role. His strike throwing has been fine and there aren’t any glaring concerns about why he couldn’t start, outside of less track record in the role than you’d like to see.

Roger (Greenville, SC):

     What are scouting departments doing at this point? Will teams line up their boards earlier than normal?

Carlos Collazo: Right now a lot of scouts are pouring over Synergy video of the college guys and other video that’s accessible through their internal databases. Crosscheckers are writing a lot of video reports and a lot of area scouts are doing the same thing. I would imagine teams are lining up their boards earlier than normal. We’re doing the same thing here at BA. It just makes sense to do so. Scouts can also now have conversations with advisors and players, so more of that activity is happening now as well.

Michael Smith (Lake Louise):

     Do you think Max Meyer could go in the top 5 ?

Carlos Collazo: Sure. But it seems unlikely that he would jump each of the top three bats on our board as well as all three college arms in front of him. It only takes one team to do it though. I wouldn’t bet on it.

James (Texas):

     Are the teams in the top 5 connected to certain players at this point?

Carlos Collazo: Not anything super solid I would say. The typical rumors and whispers of teams liking certain guys, but I don’t have a ton of confidence at this point I would say. Again, hopefully more of that clarity will come soon.

James (Texas):

     What separates Spencer Torkelson from Aaron Sabato?

Carlos Collazo: Torkelson’s hit tool is a full grade better or more than Sabato’s. That’s the biggest difference, but Torkelson also has a lengthier track record of hitting for impact power in-game, better zone control, fewer swing-and-miss concerns and he’s also more athletic and a better defender at first base. Both have loud raw power, but Torkelson is one of the better prospects in recent years in terms of his actual in-game power production.

Brandon (California):

     How many guys from this draft project to be in the BA Top 100 prospects?

Carlos Collazo: I have a bit better feel for this question this year than in previous years, after sitting through many of our Top 100 meetings. I believe right now we have 10 players from the 2019 class on the Top 100, while seven or eight made that list initially. This year’s class is deeper, but graduations could be tricky considering the shortened (or nonexistent) season. That will complicate things, but definitely Austin Martin, Spencer Torkelson, Asa Lacy, Emerson Hancock and Nick Gonzales would be on the list. That’s five. I would fight for Garrett Mitchell, Reid Detmers, Zac Even and Austin Hendrick to be on the list as well. That’s nine. After that it gets dicier, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see 1-4 more players with a good chance depending on how things work out this summer. 14 seems pretty high though, even for a deep class and especially considering the 2020 circumstances. I’ll guess nine, but anywhere in the 7-12 range seems like a good guess.

Keith (California):

     How much do you think the prep arms will fall in this years draft? Would you be confident taking a guy like Kelley or Abel in top 15?

Carlos Collazo: This one’s interesting. There are three players who are no-doubt first round talents: Jared Kelly, Mick Abel and Nick Bistko. A few others who are more fringe first round talents in Carson Montgomery, Alex Santos, Jared Jones, Masyn Winn and Victor Mederos. I personally probably would opt for a bat or a college arm if I were picking in this class. I like most of these prep arms but the risk in that demographic would likely scare me off considering the range and the other options available to me. Depending on where a team is picking, I think a viable strategy in this year’s class would be to take a bat or two at the top and then get some good value arms later. There are just so many to pick from. The prep arms always slide in some capacity, or at least they have in recent years. Your guess is as good as mine this year.

James (Texas):

     Which college pitching prospects projected to go in the first round/comp first round present the greatest relief risk?

Carlos Collazo: Bobby Miller is the first guy who jumps out to me in that range and probably fits that description most accurately. Cole Wilcox still has some reliever risk as well.

John (Inside):

     Do you anticipate there being a mlb combine or perhaps a small tournament with the elite prospects to get one more look at them before the draft?

Carlos Collazo: A medical combine seems more useful for scouting purposes than an NFL style, skills combine. Not sure what teams will learn from players taking batting practice, running 60s and taking in and out that they don’t already know about them. There are already a few organizations currently planning regional pre-draft showcase events that could wind up being important.

All Work and No Play (Overlook Hotel):

     Are players draft stock pretty much set at this point or could players still rise/fall?

Carlos Collazo: For teams I would guess this is the case if we don’t have any more on-field action before the draft takes place. We could still have players rise and fall on our draft board as we collect more and more information from those teams. There are players we could have an extreme opinion on moreso than what the industry as a whole sees that player as. There are also other players we could currently be lacking info on who make jumps on our board when we gather that information. Most of this movement will take place much further down the board, but because of the process use, players can certainly still move around a bit. If I get a new piece of information, there’s no reason not to incorporate that into the rankings and the reports so you guys can get the most complete and accurate picture of a player as possible.

Brandon (California):

     What type of offensive potential does Ed Howard have? Does most of his value come from his defense? What kind of hit/power grades would you give him?

Carlos Collazo: The value comes on projecting on his athleticism, frame and offensive, along with the high level of defense he plays at shortstop. It’s not just one or the other but the total package. The defensive side is certainly more of a known commodity for Howard right now. Most scouts feel pretty safe about that side of his game. There’s significantly more risk on the bat, but he has all the physical tools to be an average hitter. I think what you are really hoping is that he take the necessary steps forward in his offensive approach and pitch recognition to tap into those physical skills.

Ryan (LA):

     You guys are relatively lower than other publications on Jordan Walker. Is this primarily due to his hit tool? If so, what grade would you throw on his hit tool?

Carlos Collazo: Hit tool questions and general risk associated with a R-R corner infielder in high school are the reasons to not shove Walker up a list. But he did hit well in front of heat this spring and has a ton of upside. I think he’s another player that some teams will like a lot more than others because of the obvious upside that comes with his big-time power potential. But FWIW, yesterday I was talking to a scout I trust about our list and he also thought Walker was a tick low based on that upside potential, so he’s likely going to be up on our next update.

Ryan (LA):

     Is Brandon Marsh a good comp for Garrett Mitchell? Do you think Mitchell will ever get his power in games?

Carlos Collazo: I think Mitchell’s raw tools are quite a bit louder than Marsh. I wouldn’t necessarily compare the two. I do think Mitchell will start tapping into his power more in games. I’ve spoken about this before but I think he has the raw power, the bat-to-ball ability and the athleticism necessary to make the adjustments he’ll need to make.

Donny (MI):

     What are your thoughts on Nick Loftin? Will he be available for the tigers with the 38th pick?

Carlos Collazo: Wouldn’t surprise me if he was gone by then. There’s an interesting college shortstop group in the back of the first/comp round range with Loftin, Alika Williams, Jordan Westberg and maybe even Gage Workman. I could see a lot of those guys going off the board right in front of the Tigers at that pick. Loftin is fascinating to me. Like his ability to stick at short as a solid defender, and the tick up in power this season gives him a bit more upside than a guy like Williams might have.

Wilt (MI):

     What projected first round picks are most likely to fall to the second round? Maybe they are hs players or they were hurt or played poorly this year. Could you give me a couple?

Carlos Collazo: Any of the high school arms would be reasonable guesses for something like this. Bitsko and Abel didn’t get to throw so if they slid because of that it wouldn’t be a huge shock. Martin is a slide candidate as we’ve touched on before.

Logan Field (MI):

     What round do you think Dillion Dinglers, Chase Davis and Tyler Keenan go? Thank you! Appreciate your hard work.

Carlos Collazo: Dingler will move up on our next update. That’s a guy who could shoot all the way up into the back of the first round and it wouldn’t shock me. He has everyday potential behind the plate with a massive arm and some offensive upside as well. Early on I talked to more skeptical scouts about Dingler but lately I’ve gotten a ton of really positive feedback. I’d say this is an example of a player moving on our board after simply collecting more information. Second round seems a safe bet at the moment with Dingler; Davis and Keenan I could see going in the 2-4 round range. Basically around where we have them ranked at the moment.

Christian (MI):

     What are your thoughts on Tyler Keenan? What round do you think he goes?

Carlos Collazo: One of the better performers early this season. Power potential in the bat and a very strong lower half. I have some concerns about the body and an eventual position switch to first base that would hurt his overall profile.

Justin (Missouri):

     Any chance the royals pass on Nick Gonzalez? I’m just not a big fan of him, for some reason he reminds me of Christian Colon and we all seen how that turned out for the royals when they selected him with the 4th pick in the draft. If they do pass on him who do you think they will select? I’m kinda hoping they select ed Howard or zac veen and pay them under slot value, so they could maybe get Jordan walker and blaze Jordan in the comp round and 2nd.. I’m also a joe Boyle fan!

Carlos Collazo: Sure, there’s a chance. Like I’ve said there’s not a ton of clarity on what teams are doing at this point. Based on your picks, you seem to have an extremely high risk tolerance. I’d love to see a 10-round draft with you in charge. That seems rich for Howard, would be a fine spot for Veen IMO.

Dylan (MD):

     Who do you think would make the most sense for the O’s with the 2nd pick?

Carlos Collazo: The best player on their board who they can sign at the time.

Andrew (Alberta):

     Would it be a reach for the Jays to pick Mitchell at 5? I know everyone predicts them to choose whomever is left of the ‘Big Five’. I just really like his tools and the Jays desperately need impact OF’s at all levels.

Carlos Collazo: Nope. I don’t think so. The talent fits. If they think he’s going to hit and are confident with his medical situation I think it would be a fine pick. I’m with you, I really like his toolset. I would not want to draft for organization need with that pick, however. If he’s the best player on your board, sure. Win-win. Don’t pass up a player who you have graded out as a better talent just because you need outfielders.

Andrew (Alberta):

     Who are 2 or 3 of your favourite players to follow that will be 2nd rounders this year?

Carlos Collazo: I like Masyn Winn’s toolset. He’s immensely talented on both sides. I love Kevin Parada’s bat, as I’ve said many times before. I’m intrigued by Colt Keith’s upside potential and ability to stick on the left side of an infield. I love the upside potential with a guy like Ty Floyd. His fastball racks up whiffs. I think Isaiah Greene has an awesome all-around package with a hit tool that is going to surprise some people. Those are all guys we have currently in the second-second comp range who I’m personally excited about.

Pirate (Greenville, NC):

     Alec Burleson….top 5 round pick or no?

Carlos Collazo: Sounds like that’s a good possibility. A lot of teams like his feel to hit. He’s another guy who’ll be higher on our next update.

john (Det):

     Mize or manning for 2021?

Carlos Collazo: I personally like Mize. And the guys who do our Top 100 agree:

Mark (Mass):

     Nick Dombkowski at Hartford a strong cape, coupled with a strong 3 starts this year. What has the word been on him?

Carlos Collazo: Sounds like a day three guy. Solid fastball/changeup combo that got a good number of swings-and-misses but the stuff isn’t super loud. Fastball typically tops out in the 90-91 mph range. Nothing plus or even above-average there. Good pitcher with some track record.

Roger (Greenville, SC):

     Where would you draw the lines to divide this draft class into tiers?

Carlos Collazo: If you check out our draft board this might be easier to visualize but I have Tier 1A: Martin-Lacy. Tier 1B: Hancock/Gonzales. Tier 2: Garrett Mitchell-PCA. Tier 3: Tanner Burns-Gage Workman. Those are just rough estimates and lines that could be blurred. There will be a few different players inside different tiers on our next update that don’t show up where I personally view them at the moment, but that is coming soon.

Linc (Canada):

     Hi Carlos, thanks for providing so much draft content! Could you enlighten us, how do you guys separate prospects like Zac Veen, Austin Hendrick, and Robert Hassell? They’re all very intriguing OF prep bats with just as much risk, but a lot of upside with the stick. Is projectability & size the main factor?

Carlos Collazo: Yeah, tough to separate all those guys a ton. They are all roughly in the same range. Depends on the flavor you prefer. Hassell has the best pure hit tool IMO. Hendrick has the biggest raw power and the best bat speed. Veen has the frame you want to dream on and perhaps my favorite amateur swing—ever. Veen is the most patient hitter of the group, Hassell has the fewest holes in his swing and Hendrick has the best chance to do damage in-game right now. Hassell I think has a better shot to stick in CF than the other two, but all are likely corner guys, with Hendrick boasting the biggest arm. Hope that helps you think about how they compare and contrast.

Joe (Seattle):

     Carlos, Of all the guys in this year’s class, who do you think has the highest ceiling? In other words, is there a guy that sticks out as having the best shot at a Cy Young or multiple MVPs down the road?

Carlos Collazo: I tend to go with Garrett Mitchell for this pick. Just look at the raw tools. If he hits he’s a regular all-star. On the mound I suppose it’s Lacy.

James (Los Angeles):

     How concerned are you about Austin Hendrick’s hit tool?

Carlos Collazo: I was more concerned at the beginning of last summer than the end of it. He is aggressive at times and he showed some swing and miss, but he also showed the ability to make some adjustments—both mechanically and approach wise. I think Hendrick has the mentality that you need to fail and then respond positively to that failure in order to get better. Because of that and because of his bat speed (up there with Austin Beck for the quickest hands I’ve ever seen in person) I think he will be able to figure it out. I wrote about some of his mechanical adjustments here if you are curious:

James (Chicago):

     Tanner Witt is so intriguing on both sides of the ball. If drafted, might a team consider letting him continue?

Carlos Collazo: Perhaps. I like the upside on the mound better personally. I doubt he signs.

Javi (The Kingdome):

     Because the date of the draft is still up in the air, what would be the fallout if the final date makes a quality sophomore who wasn’t expected to be in this class eligible?

Carlos Collazo: Thought through this when the agreement was first announced and quickly had people reach out to me who said the date for eligibility wouldn’t get pushed back. That makes things easier for scouts, players and colleges. If the later draft date did push back that eligibility date, things would be a mess.

Kyle (Texas):

     Have you heard any rumblings of guys who have let clubs know they’re planning on heading back for junior year #2?

Carlos Collazo: Not yet. Baseball guys don’t have to declare for the draft so why would they do this? Let the process play out. If they like the range they were picked they can sign. If they don’t you can simply not sign and go back to school. No reason to hand away all your leverage.

Jon (Detroit):

     Are Anthony Servideo and Nick Loftin for real? Will the power translate to pro ball? Could either of them be taken in the Top 40 picks?

Carlos Collazo: Loftin more likely to go in that top 40 range than Servideo in my opinion. I also think Loftin’s power is more likely to translate than Servideo just because of some of the size questions I have with Servideo. That said he did add strength from his sophomore year to junior year. I don’t expect either to be big home run hitters.

Jared (Boise, ID):

     In a recent article you mentioned that Northern prospects like Mick Abel are most impacted due to recent events. Do you think video scouting will help them at all this spring or is it not valuable enough for them to solidify their stock (or help them move up)?

Carlos Collazo: I’ve been talking with scouts about how they value video reports compared to in-person reports. A lot of teams are still thinking through the best way to weight these. I talked with one smart scout recently who said he saw video reports as more supplemental information to an in-person report. There are a lot of small, nuanced things you can get from video like mechanical details, how a swing works, how a delivery or an arm action works, how a hitter’s swing changes on breaking balls compared to fastballs—stuff like that. But you still need those in-person looks to have more context on how the player moves, the physicality, stuff like internal clock and game instincts, on-field makeup and demeanor. All of that is vital for scouts and tougher to evaluate with just video.

Henry (Arkansas):

     Which guy outside of the top 37 ranked on the list (second round starts at pick 38) do you think has the best chance of being an All-Star?

Carlos Collazo: Slade Cecconi and Masyn Winn for me.

Dan (Greenville, NC):

     What round do you have Gavin Williams going in the draft?

Carlos Collazo: Third round seems to be the range his sort of profile starts going, though that changes if a team is excited about his odds to start.

Tyler (Georgia):

     Where would Tyler Soderstrom rank if he were not a catcher? Is his position helping or hurting his valuation in the draft?

Carlos Collazo: It’s helping his value, though I’m sure there are teams who don’t think he’s a catcher and still value his bat in the first round. High school version of Austin Wells in that regard.

Ryan (Fort Worth):

     Robert Hassell sounds like a corner outfielder without much pop or speed? What am I missing in his evaluation? Is his hit tool that strong?

Carlos Collazo: He could have average power production, a plus hit tool and be a good defender in a corner or average in center field. That’s a good player. Yes the hit tool is that strong and I think you’re also underrating his running ability and power.

DJ (North Carolina):

     Do you think there will still be a shorten summer baseball season for college players.

Carlos Collazo: Let’s not think about this for now. Too depressing.

KB (NY):

     Any chance Nick Gonzales is the number one draft pick?

Carlos Collazo: I would be surprised.

Lou (Atlanta):

     Do you think Austin Wells can stick at catcher for the long term?

Carlos Collazo: I would lean towards no, based on the industry feedback. But how teams value catcher defense is going to change fairly significantly soon, too.

Joe (Ithaca, NY):

     Could you elaborate on what makes Zac Veen’s swing the best amateur swing you’ve ever seen? That is incredibly high praise.

Carlos Collazo: Mechanically, the best swing I’ve ever seen, yeah. Also, know that this is my fourth year really doing this for BA, so my pool of hitters is much smaller than a lot of the scouts in the game who have been doing this for decades. I just love how fluid and loose the swing is. He’s explosive without being violent, he has a sizeable load in his lower half but it doesn’t disrupt his timing on getting the foot down and his hands are remarkable quiet throughout the entire process. He seems balanced before, during and after the swing in his follow through and it looks like he has plenty of natural leverage and loft as well without creating a ton of holes in the zone. We have some video of his swing on the site (go to the BA 300 and click the video), and from the open side it’s just nice to watch.

Frank (Des Moines):

     Based on several scouting reports it sounds as if Ed Howard has limited offensive potential. Is this an accurate conclusion or am I missing something?

Carlos Collazo: I don’t think limited is the right word. If you said there’s a lot you have to project on to get to solid offensive potential I think that would be more fair. The offensive tools are in the tank. He just needs more reps and continued improvement. Bat speed and the swing itself are fine.

RT (NC):

     CJ Abrams, arguably, had the best debut in 2019 for first year players. Who do you see having that type of debut in this class?

Carlos Collazo: Abrams has fantastic pure bat-to-ball skills and is a 70 or 80 grade runner from the left side. There’s no one in that range on the high school side this year.

Carlos Collazo: By that, I mean no high school player ranked close to where Abrams was a year ago with that skillset.

Steve (Houston):

     What is the usual proportion of high school to college kids drafted each year? And would you expect that number to change in one direction or another this year?

Carlos Collazo: This is a good question. We wrote a piece last summer discussing how teams have increasingly drafted college players. When we did the research then, high school players accounted for roughly 18-30 percent of the players drafted and signed going back to 1981. In 2019, 137 of the 960 players drafted and signed came from the high school ranks. That’s a tick over 14 percent. If you just look at the top 10 rounds, 56 of 291 drafted and signed players were high schoolers (19 percent). I would be surprised if we didn’t see lower percentages in the high school demographic this year, considering the number of players who simply didn’t play. Though how teams handle money-savers in the draft this year could affect those numbers.

Devin (Columbus):

     Might the shorter draft actually help most college seniors? Since most will now go undrafted, many might be able to get the $20k max instead of being drafted and signing for $5k.

Carlos Collazo: Do not bet on owners simply going up to that $20K limit because they can. It’s a cap, not a floor. Plenty of guys are going to sign for $5K.

Adam (Crown Point, IN):

     Love the work you guys do, but being a huge college baseball guy and want that sport to keep thriving, I feel like Zac Veen is a generational talent, percentage he actually lands at Florida?! Hey,there’s always a chance!

Carlos Collazo: Veen doesn’t need to get to Gainesville for college baseball to thrive next year. It’s going to have more talent than it knows what to do with.

Keith (California):

     Similar question as before… Outside of the top 4 hitters (Martin, Torkelson, Gonzales, Veen) which 3 hitters have the highest ceiling and which 3 hitters have the highest floor? Thanks!

Carlos Collazo: Wow. I’m disappointed you excluded Garrett Mitchell from this group. He is our fourth bat, and I’ll just group him in this selection of players because he would be the highest ceiling if we didn’t. Ceiling: 1) Austin Hendrick 2) Casey Martin 3) Pete Crow Armstrong. Floor 1) Patrick Bailey 2) Heston Kjerstad 3) Austin Wells/Daniel Cabrera.

Carlos Collazo: We have successfully ended with a question similar to what we started with. That’s good circular writing strategy, folks. Thanks for joining and thanks as always for your continued passion about the draft and amateur players in general. I’m glad we could talk some actual baseball and I look forward to seeing this transcript in a few years and looking foolish! Until next time. Stay safe.

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