Last week’s draft chat had plenty of interesting questions. While I couldn’t get to all of them at the time, I put a few in my pocket to expand on at a later date.
That date has come.
Below are answers to five questions about the 2020 draft class, including questions about comparing the top talent in the 2019 and 2020 classes, ranking college shortstops, finding all-star potential among players ranked in the second round and more.
Mock draft of the top 6 last year and top 6 this year. Who are you taking 1-12?
-All Work and No Play from Overlook Hotel
In some ways this is a follow up to another question I got in the chat about which top six I would rather have: the 2019 group or the 2020 group? I leaned towards the 2019 group and the fact that Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman is clearly the best talent of the twelve players helped me in coming to that decision.
This question is asking for a bit more. Let’s tackle it. Just for the purposes of clarity, I’ll go 1-12 with no regard to the teams who could be taking the players—just lining up the talent as best I can.
A few caveats: you could arrange these names in a number of different ways and it would make sense. This is just my best attempt to do it. Additionally, we have more pro information from the 2019 class, so if you wanted to put CJ Abrams significantly higher because of his loud debut, that would make sense. You could also try and ignore any post-draft information and line them up based on our pre-draft ranks and nothing more.
I’ve taken a bit of a hybrid between these two approaches as you will see from my list when comparing it with our current Top 100 Prospects.
In case you forgot about how the players lined up in both classes:
- Adley Rutschman, C, Oregon State
- Bobby Witt Jr., SS, Colleyville (Texas) Heritage High
- Andrew Vaughn, 1B, California
- CJ Abrams, SS, Blessed Trinity High, Roswell, Ga.
- Riley Greene, OF, Hagerty HS, Oviedo, Fla.
- JJ Bleday, OF, Vanderbilt
- Austin Martin, OF, Vanderbilt
- Spencer Torkelson, 1B, Arizona State
- Asa Lacy, LHP, Texas A&M
- Emerson Hancock, RHP, Georgia
- Nick Gonzales, SS, New Mexico State
- Garrett Mitchell, OF, UCLA
Here’s how I would personally line these guys up now with all the information I have now and my personal biases on players included in the list.
- C Adley Rutschman
- SS Bobby Witt Jr.
- OF Austin Martin
- 1B Spencer Torkelson
- SS CJ Abrams
- LHP Asa Lacy
- 1B Andrew Vaughn
- OF Riley Greene
- RHP Emerson Hancock
- SS Nick Gonzales
- OF Garrett Mitchell
- OF JJ Bleday
Abrams might be the biggest wild card on this list. At least a few of my colleagues prefer him to Witt Jr. because of his running ability and pure bat-to-ball skills, so he could jump from No. 5 all the way to No. 2 and that wouldn’t be crazy. I have personally always been high on Witt Jr. and of this list of twelve players he’s probably the only one who sticks at shortstop long term. I put a lot of value in that.
The last three bats on the list were also difficult to separate. I went with Gonzales at the top because of my confidence in his pure hit tool and his ability to stick on the dirt in some capacity and then center field defense and all-around tools helped me put Mitchell in the No. 11 spot instead of Bleday.
So that’s my list. I’m curious where you guys agree and disagree. If you want to send me your own personal 1-12 of this player group, feel free to shoot that to me on Twitter (@CarlosACollazo)
Can you rank the college SS and assign a round value to the top few? Thanks.
–Sam from Miss
Sure thing. This ranking stems from our current draft list, so if you wanted to find out how I would line any position up you can go to the list and filter by position. There would be an extra step in this specific case of just eliminating the high school players who are included, but the filter gets you halfway there.
Once we’ve done that, here are the top college shortstops on our draft board:
- Nick Gonzales, New Mexico State
- Casey Martin, Arkansas
- Nick Loftin, Baylor
- Alika Williams, Arizona State
- Jordan Westburg, Mississippi State
- Freddy Zamora, Miami
- Anthony Servideo, Mississippi
- Jimmy Glowenke, Dallas Baptist
- Luke Waddell, Georgia Tech
- Hayden Cantrelle, Louisiana-Lafayette
And here is how I would separate those players into different round tiers:
Top of the first: Nick Gonzales
First-second round: Casey Martin, Nick Loftin, Alika Williams, Jordan Westburg
Second-fourth round: Freddy Zamora, Anthony Servideo
Third-fifth round: Jimmy Glowenke, Luke Waddell, Hayden Cantrelle
We heard a lot of good things about the college shortstop class last year and even over the summer, but the group is a bit more shallow than I would have expected. That’s due to a few different things.
The biggest one is that Austin Martin never once handled the position for Vanderbilt after some rumors that he could move from the hot corner to shortstop this season. Instead he moved from third base to center field, and now most of the industry believes shortstop would be a long shot with him after entering the year excited to see how he would look at the position.
After Martin, we go to Gonzales, who played second base for New Mexico State before sliding over to shortstop this spring. It’s more likely that Gonzales winds up at second base, where his short-area quickness, range and arm strength are probably a better fit. Still, there are some scouts who believe he could handle the position with more reps. He’s a work-in-progress at the position and needs to refine his rhythm, timing and footwork to stick, but depending on the defensive philosophy of the organization that drafts him, he could do enough to stick there.
Both Martin and Gonzales are locks to go in the first round but they are far from locks to actually be shortstops long term.
Casey Martin is the last player we should touch on in detail here, as he was ranked as a top-of-the-first-round talent in January—we ranked him No. 13 in our Top 200 list—thanks to his toolset and upside. He was a wild card at the time thanks to questions about the playability of those tools and didn’t answer any of those questions in a limited 2020 season, and could slide out of the first round because of those concerns.
Compare the 2020 group with a 2019 class that had five college shortstops selected and signed in the first round: Bryson Stott (14 to the Phillies), Will Wilson (15 to the Angels), Braden Shewmake (21 to the Braves), Greg Jones (22 to the Rays) and Logan Davidson (29 to the Athletics).
You were a little “light” on C Dillon Dingler out of the gates it seems. Now sounds as though he has a good chance to be a 1st rounder. What is his ceiling? Top 15?
–JR Impact from Tampa
Yep. We had Dingler ranked No. 93 on our first combined draft list and he remained in the same spot when we expanded to the Top 200.
On our next two updates, Dingler jumped up into the 72-75 range, and now on our current draft list we have him up even more at No. 37 as the No. 4 catcher in the class. On a recent draft podcast, I talked a little bit about how players can continue to move around the board without games being played if you’re curious to hear more about that.
The short version is we continue getting more information and feedback from teams.
Dingler is an interesting prospect and has a number of traits that have allowed him to continue rising up the board, but the first thing that’s worth mentioning is that he has steadily improved his offensive numbers in every season with Ohio State. Here’s his OPS in every season:
2018 — .701
2019 — .816
2020 — 1.164
While that 2020 sample included just 13 games, Dingler still managed to hit a career-best five home runs in that period and scouts were excited about how he was more regularly tapping into his plus raw power. Maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that he was hitting for more impact as he got further and further away from a hamate injury that limited him in 2019, but previously scouts were concerned that he was more of an ambush power hitter than a consistent impact bat.
When you combine his offensive potential and growth with his defensive skillset and athleticism at the position, you’re looking at a guy with a chance to be an everyday catcher at the big league level. That’s obviously incredibly valuable. Part of the reason we might have been a bit lower on Dingler is because he didn’t play over the summer. That’s a bias that can be difficult to avoid at times, and we’ll have to keep that in mind moving forward.
Another part of that is the scouts we talked to earlier in the process were more skeptical of his offensive potential than a lot of the evaluators we’ve spoken to lately. One long-time crosschecker told me he would be surprised if Dingler got out of the top 40. I think his ceiling in the draft is somewhere in the middle of the first round.
What college seniors other than Landon Knack could you see being drafted in a 10 round draft?
–Devin from Columbus
Devin has correctly identified the top senior in the 2020 class and I’ve had a number of conversations with scouts who believe that Knack is going to be the first senior off the board this year. His transformation is legit and his track record as a strike thrower is exceptional.
But beyond Knack, there are some interesting seniors to be aware of. Here are the four beyond Knack who currently rank on the BA 400.
No. 283 — Jack Hartman, RHP, Appalachian State
No. 299 — Cam Shepherd, SS, Georgia
No. 344 — Luke Smith, RHP, Louisville
No. 355 — John McMillon, RHP, Texas Tech
Hartman has a fastball that gets up to 97 and a breaking ball that looks like a no-doubt plus offering when it’s on; Shepherd ranked No. 247 on the 2019 BA 500 and is a well-rounded performer in the SEC without a ton of tools; Smith has a solid three-pitch mix with a clean delivery and athleticism; McMillon has a fastball that gets into the mid-to-upper-90s and a slider that’s been an out pitch as well, but has been pretty erratic.
Outside of those names, here are a few other seniors who I think are interesting and could be in BA 500 consideration: Bradlee Beesley, OF, Cal Poly; McClain O’Connor, SS, UC Santa Barbara; Trevin Esquerra, 1B/OF, Loyola Marymount; Nolan McCarthy, RHP, Occidental (Calif.); Scott McKeon, SS, Coastal Carolina; and Harrison Ray, 2B, Vanderbilt.
It will be interesting to see how teams handle college seniors in the 2020 draft. With a five-round draft I wouldn’t expect many of those players to be drafted and I would imagine there are fewer than a typical year in a 10-round draft as well.
Undrafted seniors are a different story and I’m sure there will be a number who I just don’t know a ton about at this point that teams like for one reason or another.
Who are some prospects you expect to go in the second round that has all star potential?
–Jon from Baltimore
This has been a college-heavy mailbag so far, so I’ll use this last question to focus on a few high-upside prep prospects we currently have in the second-round range who I believe have significant upside. Almost all of the players in this range on the high school side do have plenty of upside, which is why they rank here, but perhaps a few other questions that hold them back.
Third baseman Jordan Walker out of Decatur (Ga.) High is the top-ranked prep in this range, and he’s got some of the better power potential in the 2020 high school class, right up there with Austin Hendrick and Blaze Jordan. If he hits he could be a monster.
Righthander Jared Jones and righthander/shortstop Masyn Winn always jump out to me with questions like this. Both are exceptionally athletic two-way players at the high school level with massive raw stuff on the mound. Winn probably has more pro upside as a hitter than Jones does, but both have fastballs in the upper 90s and potentially plus secondaries as well. They are undersized, which is a concern, but they both have tons of talent.
Lefthander Dax Fulton would likely rank as a first-round talent if he hadn’t undergone Tommy John surgery. A 6-foot-6, 225-pound southpaw with great feel for repeating his delivery, plus potential with a fastball and curveball there are some comparisons here with Matthew Liberatore and Spencer Jones in previous draft classes.
Outfielder Dylan Crews was once thought of as one of the best hitters in the 2020 prep class. A disappointing summer raised questions about his hit tool, but I have seen him when everything is clicking and there’s a lot to like. Crews has a gorgeous righthanded swing that doesn’t have a lot of moving parts and when he’s not expanding the zone he has a lot of impact potential from the right side. He’s probably a corner guy but I like his instincts in the outfield and arm strength as well.
It’s hard to not throw righthander Justin Lange into this conversation as well. He’s a good one to end on as a high school pitcher who has already touched 100 mph and has a projectable, 6-foot-4, 191-pound frame. Lange is incredibly raw, but his pure arm talent is among the best in this class. If a team can channel that and refine it at the next level … watch out.
Those are a few of the names who intrigue me in this range.