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2020 MLB Draft Prospects Chat (5/29/20)

Image credit: Reid Detmers (Photo by Brian Westerholt/Four Seam)

Carlos Collazo: Hey everyone! Thanks for joining me in today’s draft chat. We’re just 12 days away from the draft, which seems crazy. The last month always flies by for me and that has been the case again in 2020 despite everything else that has changed. Hope you are all doing well. Let’s get into your questions—I probably have an hour or a tick more today.

Scott (Davie):

     Since there are generally big jumps in performance each year for top college players how do teams account for this in their evaluation for draft eligible sophomores like Slade Cecconi, Cole Wilcox and JT Ginn? If you were to look at the freshman numbers for the top junior pitchers this year outside of Detmers they are generally not even comparable to these guys and especially Ginn and Cecconi.

Carlos Collazo: This is an interesting question. Matt Eddy had a recent piece of analysis that speaks to the heart of this question, or at least the general tendencies of college players to improve year over year. Two of his big takeaways were that, as a group, college payers made their biggest jumps as sophomores. First rounders were exceptions to this in that they showed growth each year but even more growth as juniors. You can read the full piece here for his full analysis.

Carlos Collazo: I think what might be relevant to this question is age. Matt tied that sophomore jump to the typical age of players, which is around 20 years old, so in the case of draft-eligible sophomores (who are by definition older than their peers) it makes sense that their “jump” could have come earlier. At the end of the day though I think it’s important to look at each of these players as individuals instead of trying to ascribe broad trends to specific cases. I don’t know if that answers your specific question, but hopefully it adds something to the conversation at the very least. I’d also point out that Asa Lacy’s numbers as a freshman are pretty dang good.

Tim (Michigan):

     Could the Tigers look to draft Dax Fulton or Carson Montgomery in the 2nd round ahead of another hitter to usher in the next wave of pitching prospects? If not do you think Daniel Cabrera or Casey Martin will make it that far?

Carlos Collazo: Certainly they could. I think all of the players you mentioned have a chance to be available for Detroit’s second pick at 38, though I don’t know that they are trying to target a pitcher specifically with that pick. I’d love the Fulton selection, he was thought of as a first-round talent when healthy.

Andrew (Alberta):

     If you were the Blue Jays new Scouting Director Shane Farrell and his team, who would you choose given the opportunity, Zac Veen or Emerson Hancock? And Why?

Carlos Collazo: I would take whoever my scouts and team had as the best player on the board. In this hypothetical scenario I would undoubtedly have more information than I currently do to make this decision. If I just had to make the pick based on what I know now and my personal biases, I would lean towards the hitter. I could be convinced either way though. How about you?

John (WV):

     Which of the HS OFers Halpin, Bohrofen, Zabala & Bradfield do you think will go undrafted?

Carlos Collazo: It wouldn’t surprise me if all of those players went undrafted this year, especially given the commitments that they have. I think Halpin might be the most well-rounded and “ready” for pro ball now of the quartet and I think he might have the best pure hit tool of the group.

Greg (DC):

     Any chance Foscue or Sabato makes it to Baltimore’s second rounder? It seems likely that college players are going to be shoves up the board, no? Does that make it more likely that our second rounder is a high schooler? In that case do you think Fulton makes it to our pick?

Carlos Collazo: Both of those guys have been getting a lot of chatter in front of pick 39, so I think I would be surprised at this point if they made it that far. In our most recent mock we have them both going in the first round. I’d be surprised if either made it through the comp round as well. I think Fulton has a chance, but I am not sure what his sign ability is at the moment given his injury and his college commitment.

Mike (Ohio):

     If you were to choose a catcher after the 1st round and assuming Dingler is off the board which do you feel has a better career behind the plate Drew Romo, Kevin Parada or Jackson Miller?

Carlos Collazo: So this means Patrick Bailey, Tyler Soderstrom, Austin Wells and Dillon Dingler have already been taken. I think that’s a reasonable assumption, with Wells maybe the most likely to slide a bit more. Of those three, Romo has the better career behind the plate specifically. He’s in a different tier than these other two catchers in terms of glove work for me. I actually talked recently with Kevin Parada (podcast coming soon) who specifically praised Romo’s defensive ability and pointed to him as a player he was trying to get closer to on that side of the ball. Offensively, I love Parada’s bat, as I have maintained going back to last summer or even the fall of 2018. I think he’s going to hit.

Owen (NC):

     Who are the top senior signs in this draft aside from Knack? Do you expect a decent amount of them to be taken?

Carlos Collazo: RHP Jack Hartman, SS Cam Shepherd, RHP Luke Smith, RHP John McMillon, RHP Blake Brown, RHP Austin Smith, OF Bradlee Beesley, SS McClain O’Connor, 1B/OF Trevin Esquerra, RHP Nolan McCarthy, SS Scott McKeon, 2B Harrison Ray, RHP Eric Orze and RHP Hunter Stanley. That is roughly how they line up on the BA 500. You can check out all of their full scouting reports here. I do expect a good handful to be taken.

Tanner (St. Kitts):

     What guys in the draft are known to have trackman friendly fastballs and curves, it might help me figure out if my team, who is very analytically inclined, would be interested in them.

Carlos Collazo: Clayton Beeter and Cole Henry reportedly have really good pitch data with both of these offerings. Both will be rising on our next BA 500 update because of this as well. Teams have been able to pour over that information and I think that’s why Beeter specifically has been getting a lot of chatter in the first round (though we haven’t had him in that range yet).

Mike (Virginia):

     What is the range for Mick Abel – seems like a lot of teams in the teens could be interested. Chances that the Red Sox take him if he’s there at 17?

Carlos Collazo: It would be surprising for him to be available heading into the 20s. I think there are a few teams who might think about pulling the trigger in the top 10. At the same time, the prep RHP demographic has consistently slid in the draft, so we’ll see. Maybe a 30-40 percent chance he’s available for the Red Sox? That’s my best guess based on what I’ve been hearing but it’s difficult to precisely quantify this stuff without coming off as more confident in that number than I really am.

Mike (Virginia):

     There are reports that Pete Crow-Armstrong bulked up over the winter and was hitter for more power before everything shutdown. If there was more of a sample size of power output this spring do you think he would be ranked higher than #17?

Carlos Collazo: Crow-Armstrong did get more physical and was hitting with plenty of impact this spring. I do think he could have moved up higher with a full season to mash. I don’t know why that wouldn’t be the case. He defends and runs well, so hitting and hitting with pop was only going to help him, particularly in that area of the country.

Steve (Wilmington):

     Who are you hearing connected to the Phillies at #15? It seems like any of the categories (College position, College Pitcher, HS Position, HS Pitcher) are in play there. Does new scouting director Brian Barber have any tendencies from his Yankees days as a crosschecker?

Carlos Collazo: I had previously heard them linked with Bitsko, but now I’m coming off of that a bit as I talk with more people. I would now lean towards a more traditionally safe demographic, though whether that’s a HS hitter, college hitter, college pitcher… still not super clear.

Mike (Virginia):

     Do you think the Red Sox are targeting mostly prep players (you had PCA in your mock)? Seems there is (almost) industry consensus that the Sox are targeting upside at that pick.

Carlos Collazo: I don’t think the Red Sox are opposed to taking a prep player with some upside, but I also don’t think they have zeroed in on that specific demographic. In general all of these teams in the middle of the first round and later are simply waiting to see what’s going to fall to them. And they just aren’t sure who will be available yet. I haven’t talked to a single director in that range who’s ever said “yes we want this specific demographic.” It would make mocks easier to figure out if that was the case, but I think that oversimplifies things… I do think there could be a run of prep players in that general range though, just given how the board could play out.

Owen (NC):

     How hard is it to gauge what teams’ overall strategies are going into drafts? I don’t mean for this draft specifically which is obviously a unique one, just in general. Also how much do they tend to vary from team to team?

Carlos Collazo: It’s difficult. As we get closer you generally start to feel better about which direction teams are leaning, but it’s never something where you can look at what a team has done the last few years and bank on them doing that again. So much of what happens is simply teams reacting to what’s available. Some teams are easier to get a read on than others because of particularly strong tendencies, backed up by talk that they are leaning into those tendencies again, but at the back of your mind you have to understand something could happen that you never anticipated or thought about. This year that’s magnified without scouts being able to scout each other at games, as we’ve talked about before.

RICK (Atlanta):

     With only 3 picks, do the Yankees go for college proven bat(Cabtera,Loftin) and 1 of Jarvis, Burns,Wilcox or Mlodzinski?

Carlos Collazo: They could get one of those players, but two of them? They pick at 28, 99 and 129. I’d be surprised if they got two of that group. Five of the six players you just named could easily be first round picks. Ha, the only way they get two of them would be to trade for them in a year.

643 Sports MGMT (Puerto Rico):

     Please talk about how the changes in the Draft, And MILB affect HS players from PR. Probably the most impacted segment in HS with the Draft Reduction to 5Rds.

Carlos Collazo: We’ve talked at length about the changes to the draft and how it affects the high school players. I don’t know that the Puerto Rican players are any more adversely affected than players in northern states in the continental US. Generally, I think the players hurt most are those who weren’t seen at many (or any) big time events over the summer and fall. Whether due to injuries or other sports or not getting invites or costs being prohibitive, etc. Those guys who have talent or were about to take a jump but never got the opportunity to show it. Certainly, P.R. players could be in that mix, but I think there are plenty of other players in the same bucket with them.

Roger (Greenville, SC):

     Do you feel like the mock already accounts for trends like teams “fleeing to safety” by going the college route? Particularly later where solid links between teams and players are harder to get?

Carlos Collazo: I do. That’s the goal at least. The hard part is figuring out which of those college guys are going up there and where specifically they need to fit. Haha. After I’ve written a mock I’ll look through the demographics and ask myself if everything makes sense given the feedback I’ve gotten in terms of the number of preps and college guys. There’s not a specific number or percentage to hit or something like that, and some sources think differently than others, so it’s still very much up in the air in the back third.

Rod (Michigan):

     Are teams likely to focus even more than usual on college players in this draft – players they have more of a “book” on?

Carlos Collazo: I think so. That’s what plenty of higher ups in scouting departments have told me.

Zack S (Virginia):

     How do teams tend to project on hitters with hitches in their swings, such as Chase Davis? Do they tend to see it as a negative since it inhibits their ability to catch up to velocity, or is it seen more as a positive because it gives a (hopefully) easy opportunity to improve the hit tool beyond where it already stands? Kind of in the mindset of “if he can hit like this with that swing, just imagine how he’ll hit once we smooth it out.” Thanks!

Carlos Collazo: This is a good question. One I’ll have to run by a few scouts again, though the general concern that I’ve been told with them is due to getting in bad hitting positions. Like everything, I think it’s more of a case-by-case basis than “oh you have a hitch, you’re not going to hit.” If you have bat speed, timing and consistently put yourself in a good position with a hitch, I don’t think it will be an issue. Riley Greene is a good example from last year. He had a small hitch in his swing and was still best hitter in the class. Check out his report. I do think Davis might have a few mechanical tweaks to make in the future—scouts have pointed out a deep barrel wrap and a tendency for the swing to get long—but I think he has more than enough bat speed to make the necessary adjustments and figure it out. His bat path itself is really good. Hope that was helpful; I’m still learning about a lot of the mechanical details as well. By no means am I an expert!

VT Orioles Fan (St. Johnsbury, VT):

     If there is no 2020 MLB season, would the draft order for the first round (and all subsequent rounds) in the 2021 draft be the same as this year’s draft (minus the lost picks for cheating scandal)? Or, would MLB have to devise a new approach to the 2021 draft?

Carlos Collazo: I reached out to a few guys to try and get an answer to this question and they don’t know how this would be resolved yet. So I guess we just have to wait and see. Hopefully that doesn’t happen. It’s also worth noting that the Astros still have penalties in the 2021 draft.

Mark (Minnie):

     On paper Max Meyer stuff and potential could be that of a future ace, with the more recent info you have on him Can you see him passing Hancock on draft boards? Any word on Hancock’s medical status which has him slipping on some boards?

Carlos Collazo: I haven’t heard anything about Hancock falling because of medical concerns. I could see Meyer going in front of Hancock because of his own merit, and we’ve got them in that order in our most recent mock as well. They’re right in the same range based on everything I’ve been hearing.

Jace (Michigan):

     Feedback on Mason Erla from Michigan State

Carlos Collazo: We have a report on him on the BA 500. Really good fastball.

Tim (Seattle):

     If the ‘Big 5’ are gone when Seattle is picking at 6, would it shock you if they went with Abel over the other options?

Carlos Collazo: I wouldn’t be shocked but I would be surprised. I’ve heard college arms linked with the Mariners.

JD (Tex):

     Have you heard any names or rumors with Texas at 14? I saw Kieth Law say he’s heard Loftin the most and mocked us him. I know y’all gave us Mitchell and i would love that. Any rumors though? Do you think we are going with college like last year or have y’all heard prep bats? Thanks!

Carlos Collazo: That’s right in the range where things get a bit more unclear, sadly. Hope to know a bit more in the next mock, but most of the teams in the middle and late teens could go in a lot of different directions.

Josh (California):

     Where is Max Meyer’s floor in this draft? Could he slip out of the top 10, or is he a lock to be in the top 10?

Carlos Collazo: He’s beginning to seem like a top-10 lock. He has the pure stuff to blow you away and was able to show it off enough this spring to give teams a lot of confidence. His track record is pretty impressive.

Tom (Canada):

     How likely do you think Max Meyer is to be able to start as a pro? I hear a lot of talk about a team drafting him to contribute in the bullpen this season. I see the appeal, because the stuff is crazy, but if you don’t think he has a good chance to go back to starting afterwards it puts a pretty low ceiling on his value for an expected top 10 pick, doesn’t it?

Carlos Collazo: Yeah, I would rather just let him fail as a starter and then go back to the bullpen if he needs to. I don’t see a point in starting his pro career in the pen. It’s a lot harder to find good starters than good relievers. I think he can start. Let’s see him do it. Also, are the teams who are going to have a shot at drafting him really in a position where they need to push a reliever to the major league roster? What for?

Striker (Kalamazoo, MI):

     Which prep player do you like best for the White Sox @ #11?

Carlos Collazo: If Veen and Hassell are both gone (they very well could be) then Austin Hendrick, but that’s not a specific link between the two, just the best player on our board who may be available. They are one of many teams that have been tied to Tyler Soderstrom.

Keith (California):

     I’m having trouble differentiating the 2nd tier of outfield bats… How would rank the ceiling and floor of: Hassell, Kjerstad, Mitchell and Hendrick?

Carlos Collazo: If these guys are in the second tier who’s in the first tier? Floor: Kjerstad, Mitchell, Hassell, Hendrick. Ceiling: Mitchell, Hendrick, Hassell, Kjerstad

Dave (Houston):

     What is your take on Connor Phillips and what is your projection for him

Carlos Collazo: Full scouting report in the BA 500.

Carlos Collazo: I hate to be short on questions like this, but we have a ranking of 500 players with pretty in-depth scouting reports so you guys can read about all the top players in the class. A lot of work has gone into them over the last year. That’s what they are there for.

Richard Hansen (Milwaukee, WI):

     With such a short draft, do you see teams trying to draft players they know will sign vs. players who have the option to go back to college if not happy with their draft slot. J.T. Ginn comes to mind as he clearly was a top 15 player before his injury but he has an option to go back as he did when drafted by the Dodgers a couple years ago.

Carlos Collazo: Knowing the signability of a player is always important, but it’s crucial this year. There’s no fallback, safety option in the 11-15 round range that you can throw more money at if you’re left with more than you anticipated. And with only five rounds, each pick carries more weight. Ginn is the exact guy that I would point to as well. A guy who has turned down first round money before, has additionally eligibility and as you mentioned the injury factor. This is why real, living, breathing (dare I say, paid?) scouts are vital. They are very good at getting this information. Edgertronic can’t really figure that one out for you.

Toan (Keizer):

     Do you know anything about Kevin Abel’s draft stock and if there’s a good chance he could get drafted or come back to Oregon State next season? Thank you!

Carlos Collazo: More likely to come back to school I would say. Just a guess.

Jonathon (West Virginia):

     Congrats on being part of the draft line-up of MLB-ESPN. Do you have any insight on what to expect?

Carlos Collazo: Thanks! I appreciate it. I’m grateful to have been invited back. Two broadcasts this year and I’ll again be on the MLB Network broadcast this year with my good pals Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo and the rest of the awesome crew. First round starts at 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday, and rounds 2-5 will get started at 5 p.m. ET on Thursday. We’re taping a few preview shows next week, so be on the lookout for those as well.

Rick (Florida):

     We have been hearing teams may take chances on some HS players in 4th and 5th round and overpay while trying to save pool money on college players in earlier rounds. Even though those players have some limited leverage to come back to college, what college player at a $4 million slot would turn down $3 million and risk going back to college. They risk injury, down year, etc. Wonder what your thoughts are on this.

Carlos Collazo: I think teams take advantage of this exact scenario every year. That’s why I think it’s important for a player to figure out before the draft what their number is, and stick to it. If you start falling in the draft and freak out and then lower your number, well a team might have been on you earlier for that price but now it could be too late. It’s really just not a great system for players to be honest. Trust your talent, set your number, stick to it and let your advisors do the work if you’re a guy with a chance to ink a multi-million dollar deal. As for this year specifically, there are certainly more incentives to sign than usual. No way teams take advantage of that, right?

Kyle McLain (Pa.):

     Any idea why Cole Henry isn’t getting first round buzz and whether a HS prep like Alex Santos Jr. Could sneak into the top round?

Carlos Collazo: Could see Henry more than Santos at this point in the first round, but haven’t specifically heard either of them linked to a team in the first at this point.

Daniel (Brooklyn):

     Do you expect another round of minor league releases after the draft? Somewhat related, do you think certain/well-heeled teams will have a wider market for undrafted players, even given the $20K signing cost?

Carlos Collazo: The Athletics might have a hard time signing undrafted players, right?

Carlos Collazo: OK everyone, that’s going to have to do it for today. Thanks for all of your questions, we had some really interesting ones today. I appreciate it. As always, keep following for more draft info as we inch closer to the big day. A new mock at some point next week. Stay safe and take care!

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