We’ll need a few years to see how every team did in the 2020 draft, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get excited about some of the classes right now. Here are five draft classes that stood out to us right away after the picks were all in Thursday night.
Players are listed with BA 500 ranks in parentheses, where applicable.
After landing Garrett Crochet in the first-round and Jared Kelley in the second round, this class can officially be dubbed “Chicago Fire.” Crochet and Kelley earned scouting directors’ nods as the best fastballs, respectively, in the college and high school classes and will make deciding the Best Fastball category in the Best Tools section in the upcoming Prospect Handbook an exceptionally difficult challenge.
That task would get even trickier without a major league season, which would leave flamethrower Michael Kopech prospect-eligible. Both pitchers come with an element of volatility—Crochet has struggled with control, command and injury history, while Kelley is part of the extremely mercurial high school righthander demographic. Kelley also needs to work to further develop his breaking ball to complement his electric fastball and excellent changeup.
All in all, though, Mike Shirley and his staff should be doing socially distanced cartwheels around their draft room after landing two pitchers who checked in at No. 12 and 15 on BA’s annual ranking of the 500 best available draft prospects.
— Josh Norris
Where the White Sox’ strategy seemed to be heavily putting resources to the team’s first two picks, the Indians had a more balanced approach, with top-100 players selected with their first five picks and a top-200 player with their final pick.
Cleveland seems to have a great feel for what their player development does well, as each of their college arms grade out strongly in the strikethrowing department, while they’ve also done a good job with contact-oriented, athletic up-the-middle players. It wouldn’t be surprising at all to see each of Burns, Allen and Hickman make jumps in the next year or so.
Perhaps the Tolentino selection jumps out the most, as his UCLA commitment could have made him difficult to sign in the fourth round. Tolentino is an immensely polished high school product to go off the board with the 124th pick, and if he adds strength in pro ball, he could be a dangerous all-around threat.
— Carlos Collazo
It shouldn’t be surprising that the team with the top pick in the draft stands out to us. After taking the No. 1 player in the class in Spencer Torkelson, Detroit took three productive college hitters before getting exceptional value with their final two picks.
Workman had an outside shot to go among the first or supplemental first round thanks to his athleticism and power/speed combo as a switch-hitter. Strikeout concerns might have caused him to slip, but at pick No. 102 we see this as excellent value. The same is true for Keith—Detroit’s lone prep selection—who has plus run, arm and power tools with athleticism and impressive pedigree with the bat dating back to his underclass days.
Torkelson is the star of this class, and rightfully so, but the Tigers did an exceptional job taking advantage of their draft position and putting plenty of quality hitters around him. It’s hard to not see Detroit’s system as top-10 worthy after this draft.
— Carlos Collazo
Pittsburgh took a top-three bat in the class in Gonzales, who was a good value at pick No. 7, and then surrounded him with plenty of exciting arms.
Mlodzinski was a potential top-10 sort of prospect entering the spring before a few middling starts, and has upside if he can rediscover his Cape Cod League form from last summer. Jones is potentially the most athletic prep arm in the class and has three potential plus pitches to go with improving command, while Garcia was arguably the biggest pop-up player in the class. Jones and Garcia were the clear-cut top arms in Southern California, and Pittsburgh still added two interesting arms with their fourth- and fifth-round picks in Hartman and Hoffman. Hartman has the louder stuff and more questions about strikes, and Hoffman didn’t allow an earned run early this spring with a solid fastball/curveball combination.
There’s plenty of pitching talent here. Now we have to see if the Pirates can develop it.
— Carlos Collazo
We had a feeling the Padres weren’t going to play things safe—and we love it. San Diego never hesitates to target upside and they did that with their second, third and fourth picks after taking the best prep hitter in the class in Hassell at No. 8.
Lange’s pure arm talent and fastball rivals anyone in the high school class, including Jared Kelley, and could be a monster if San Diego can teach him some of the finer aspects of pitching. Caissie was thought of as the top Canadian prospect in the class by some scouts, and offers plus power with a big frame. Wilcox has loud enough stuff that even AJ Preller had to pause on the high school selections and take him when he fell into the third round and the 80th pick. This pick has an argument as the best value of the draft, as Wilcox is a legitimate first-round talent with a big frame and even bigger pure stuff.
The Padres already have a top-three farm system in the game. It doesn’t look like that’s changing any time soon.
— Carlos Collazo