Top Northern California 2020 MLB Draft Prospects

Image credit: Tyler Soderstrom (Photo by Bill Mitchell)

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State List Talent Ranking: ??????
(Stars are listed on a 1 to 5 scale relative to what the state typically produces, with 1 being the weakest)

Nat Rank Player Pos School Ht Wt B-T Commit/Drafted
18 Tyler Soderstrom C Turlock (Calif.) HS 6-2 190 L-R UCLA
Soderstrom is at the top of a strong 2020 prep catching class (along with Texas catcher Drew Romo) and was one of the biggest risers last summer after a wire-to-wire terrific offensive performance. A 6-foot-2, 190-pound UCLA commit, Soderstrom hit well at a number of big showcase events, including the Area Code Games, showing power potential and a polished lefthanded bat. Almost every scout is excited about the offensive potential he offers, with plus raw power that he gets to frequently in games now, and more physical projection. Defensively, there are more questions. While the consensus on his bat is glowing, almost every evaluator questions his ability to remain behind the plate moving forward. His size is a question, as is his ability to sit behind the plate and be a good receiver. He’ll need to improve his lower-half flexibility, and while his natural arm strength is impressive, he needs to shorten his arm stroke and improve his footwork on throws. Scouts believe Soderstrom has the passion to catch, so some teams could send him out and let him figure it out, while others might be more inclined to let him play third, first or even a corner-outfield spot, where his bat could move quicker and still profile well. There are some similarities with Soderstrom and 2018 Indians first-round pick Bo Naylor (though Naylor had better natural feel to hit at the time) and enough teams seem to like him in the first round that he won’t get to campus in Los Angeles.
55 Chase Davis OF Franklin HS, Elk Grove, Calif. 6-1 210 L-L Arizona
A toolsy, physical outfielder out of Northern California, Davis has a strong 6-foot-1, 210-pound frame, impressive bat speed, raw power and a big arm. Davis is the type of athlete who jumps off the field quickly in a showcase environment thanks to his tool set. He recorded a 99 mph throw from the outfield at Perfect Game’s National showcase at the start of the summer, and scouting departments voted Davis as the second-best outfield arm in the 2020 class. Additionally, he can show impressive raw power in batter practice. The Arizona commit has also shown the ability to get to his tools during games. He was particularly impressive last fall in Jupiter, where he hit a home run, two triples and a double in six games, showing solid contact and the ability to drive the ball in a game setting. Davis’ swing can get a bit long, which can hurt him, as does his ability to pick up and recognize offspeed offerings. When he stays within himself and times up pitchers, however, he does a lot of damage. Some scouts have given him 70-grade bat speed and love how long he keeps the barrel in the zone. Mechanically, he can get himself into poor positions with a deep, tight bat wrap, but when he launches for contact his bat path is direct with natural loft that helps him get to his above-average power. Defensively, Davis needs continued refinement, but he’s a solid enough runner to develop into at least an average defender in a corner with more than enough arm to fit in right field. Davis has an impressive work ethic and loves to get in the gym, as his physique suggests.
71 Kyle Harrison LHP De La Salle HS, Concord, Calif. 6-2 200 R-L UCLA
One of the more polished lefthanders in the prep class, Harrison was one of five starters for USA Baseball’s 18U National team. With the Americans, Harrison threw 10 innings over two starts (and one relief appearance) with 12 strikeouts and four walks. A 6-foot-2, 200-pound low-slot lefty, Harrison pitches in the 90-92 mph range and can reach up to 94. The pitch has plenty of running action thanks in part to a low, three-quarters arm slot. He shows signs of good secondary offerings, though they need a bit more polish. The UCLA commit throws a sweeping breaking ball in the 75-79 mph range that gets slurvy at times, but the pitch has a big break and Wiffle ball-like movement at times. He shows good feel for the pitch, which presents a tough angle for lefthandters, but he has also shown an ability to back-foot righthanded hitters. Additionally, he throws a changeup that has the makings of a third solid offering. Harrison is a good athlete and strike-thrower, with a clean delivery and a fastball that plays up thanks to its natural movement. Scouts believe that he could become a monster in three years if he makes it to campus at UCLA, and he could be tough to sign away from the Bruins program.
96 Nick Yorke SS Archbishop Mitty HS, San Jose, Calif. 6-0 195 R-R Arizona
Some evaluators believe Yorke is the best pure hitter on the west coast, among high schoolers. A 6-foot, 195-pound shortstop committed to Arizona, Yorke has a long track record of performing as a high schooler, with a well-balanced swing that’s routinely on time. This spring before the coronavirus shut down the 2020 season, Yorke was tapping into a bit more power as well, hitting the ball with authority to the pull side and up the middle. He has a chance for a future plus bat and fringe-average power while handling a middle infield spot. Yorke dealt with a shoulder injury prior to his junior year and is still recovering from that, which leads some scouts to believe he’ll be a better fit as an offensive second baseman. Still, other scouts have said his arm has looked good, with a better arm stroke recently and above-average arm strength. With solid footwork, instincts and an internal clock, he has a chance to stay at shortstop, or he could slide to third base. Wherever he ends up defensively, teams love the bat that Yorke brings to the table. There are a number of teams that have Yorke evaluated in the second- or third-round range, but he could be a difficult sign out of Arizona.
111 TJ Nichols RHP Oakmont HS, Roseville, Calif. 6-3 170 R-R Arizona
A converted shortstop, Nichols impressed scouts last summer at the 2019 Area Code Games by showing one of the bigger fastballs of the event. He threw twice during the week and touched 96 on both occasions, sitting in the 92-95 mph range in his shorter outings. He got hit around more than you would expect with that sort of velocity and his strikes were scattered. Nichols showed an inconsistent slider in the 78-81 mph range but flashed solid bite. Nichols has plenty of refining to do, but he has impressive arm strength and a lanky, 6-foot-3, 170-pound frame that can add significantly more weight. Many scouts believe he’ll add 20-30 pounds with a chance to throw 100 mph. He has present reliever risk because of his delivery and strike-throwing concerns, but he’s an athletic pitcher and could make strides in the command department as he develops. An Arizona commit, Nichols is talented enough to potentially fit into a two-way role if he makes it to campus, though his pro future is certainly on the mound.
118 Daniel Susac C Jesuit HS, Carmichael, Calif. 6-3 205 B-R Arizona
A 6-foot-3, 205-pound backstop who’s also a high school quarterback and has major league bloodlines (his brother Andrew was a big league catcher for five years), Susac offers plenty of intrigue for scouts. He has a power-oriented game on both sides of the ball, with the current strength and frame that allow scouts to project future plus power on top of plus arm strength that he has presently. Defensively, Susac has a chance to be an average catcher, though his arm action is too long at the moment, which prevents his arm from playing up to the exceptional strength it has. He’ll need to get more efficient and quick with his throws, but if he does he could have a real weapon behind the plate. Offensively, Susac does a nice job leveraging his strength in batting practice and showing big power potential, but scouts haven’t seen much of that power translate to games just yet thanks to a passive approach that can put him in less than optimal counts to hit in. He’ll need to adjust that approach to find success at the next level. Susac was originally committed to Oregon State but is now committed to Arizona. He’s expected to be a tough sign. Some teams like him as high as the supplemental first round, while others prefer him in the third or fourth. He’s a bit polarizing for clubs, but Susac a chance for solid-average defense behind the plate and above-average power, which is an all-star caliber player even if his bat winds up being below average.
184 Darren Baker 2B California 6-0 175 L-R Nationals ’17 (27)
Darren has a long way to go before he’s as recognizable in the baseball world as his father, Dusty, but he is an impressive prospect in his own right. One of the more instinctual and polished players on the West Coast, Baker is a steady hitter and has improved his defensive ability at second base tremendously. While the 6-foot, 175-pound second baseman has below-average present power he has a mature, professional approach at the plate that is to be expected from someone who’s been around the game his entire life. More of a slash-and-dash lefthanded bat, Baker’s extra-base hits are singles that he turns into doubles after hitting line drives into the gaps and using his plus speed to take an extra bag. Scouts believe he’s a better runner underway than out of the box, but it plays as at least above-average at worst on the offensive and defensive sides of the game. Defensively, Baker can do everything necessary to be a valuable defender at second base, with reliable hands, solid range and body control and a solid, accurate throwing arm. Baker is a career .290/.342/.331 hitter with California and made the all-star team in the Cape Cod League last summer after hitting .342/.384/.376, a line that was heavily influenced by a.465 BAPIP. If Baker winds up adding more physicality and power to his game in the future, he could be a steal, but at the moment most teams see him as the sort of steady, reliable player who gets scooped up in the 4-6 round range more than an impact type.
199 Tommy Troy SS Los Gatos (Calif.) HS 5-10 185 R-R Stanford
A 5-foot-10, 185-pound shortstop committed to Stanford, Troy is the type of player who grows on you the more you watch him. While he doesn’t have many above-average tools that show well in a showcase or workout environment, he has impressive baseball instincts, a mature approach at the plate and a chance to be an above-average hitter. He doesn’t have gaudy raw power, but Troy is stronger than he looks on first glance and might grow into fringe-average or average power in the future. He controls the zone well and had a chance to climb boards with more games this spring. Defensively, Troy is an in-between infielder who might not fit long term at shortstop but has the instincts and hands to move around all the infield positions and play wherever necessary in a utility role. He’s posted above-average run times in the 60-yard dash. Some scouts like Troy’s polished bat enough to sign him in the fourth or fifth round, but it’s unlikely he’s signable in that range considering the history of Stanford high school commits. He’s a candidate to raise his stock in three years after performing in the Pac-12.
202 Tanner Murray SS UC Davis 6-2 170 R-R Never Drafted
Murray has a strong three-year track record of hitting at UC Davis in the Big West Conference and has a chance to stick at shortstop. The 6-foot-2, 170-pound shortstop hit over .300 in each season with the Aggies and posted a career .343/.394/.469 line in 115 games. He’s a hit-over-power bat at the moment, but scouts think he could grow into more power in a few years with some projection and room for more weight on his frame. While Murray has performed with UC Davis, he struggled last summer in the Cape Cod League, where he hit just .211/.272/.307 in 35 games, with 27 strikeouts to nine walks. Defensively Murray has a chance to stick at shortstop with solid hands, but some scouts think he’ll outgrow the position and be a better candidate to move around the infield. He’s a fringy runner without a ton of present pop, so Murray’s value comes from his hit tool, defensive versatility and collegiate track record.
228 Jacob Palisch LHP Stanford 6-4 190 L-L Never Drafted
Palisch found immediate success as a freshman with Stanford out of the bullpen in 2018, posting a 1.72 ERA over 47 innings and 26 appearances. While the 6-foot-4, 190-pound lefthander doesn’t have the loudest stuff—with a fastball that is regularly in the upper 80s—he spots his three-pitch mix well and has good feel for pitching. After being used in a full-time reliever role as a freshman, Palisch made seven starts in 2019 and was primed for a more prominent role in the rotation this spring after a strong summer in the Cape. With Harwich, Palisch posted a 0.77 ERA over 35 innings and six starts with 38 strikeouts and just five walks—better strikeout and walk rates than he’d posted at any other point in his career. In addition to his fastball, Palisch throws a slurvy breaking ball and a changeup that was his best offering over the summer. The pitch keeps hitters off-balance and frequently generates both whiffs and groundouts on soft contact. With his track record of performance as a college lefthander, Palisch could have climbed boards this spring, but after taking the fall off he didn’t pitch at all in 2020, leaving scouts to wonder about his health. Some coaches have compared him to former Stanford lefthander Kris Bubic— who was drafted by the Royals in the 2018 supplemental first round—but Palish’s stuff and athleticism aren’t quite at that level.
247 Brendan Beck RHP Stanford 6-2 190 R-R Never Drafted
The younger brother of Giants pitching prospect Tristan Beck, Brendan is a college performer and polished competitor going back to his days at Corona (Calif.) High, where he also played shortstop. Beck has shown a reliable arm going back to his days as a freshman, when he posted a 2.43 ERA over 66.2 innings and finished the season with a perfect 8-0 record. He followed that strong college debut with a 3.63 ERA over 16 starts and was off to more of the same in 2020 over four games before the season ended. While Beck’s performance is impressive, his arsenal is more pedestrian. He doesn’t have a single plus pitch and it takes an optimistic grader to give him average offerings. His fastball sits in the 88-89 mph range and touches 91-92 at his best. He throws both a slider and a curveball and favors one over the other depending on the day. He also has a changeup that’s a distinct fourth offering. Some days he’ll only have two average pitches to work with, but he has always made the most of his stuff thanks to impressive command and poise on the mound. While Beck has a vanilla arsenal and doesn’t offer much projection with a maxed out, 6-foot-2, 217-pound frame, he could be a nice safety pick for a performance-driven organization.
254 Michael Brown 1B Vacaville (Calif.) HS 6-5 230 L-L Washington
A hulking, 6-foot-5, 230-pound first baseman, Brown has plus raw power and plenty of potential to add more as he adds more muscle and strength to an already imposing and physical frame. He’s big and strong with solid bat speed, but his swing is more strength-based than twitchy, and he also gets on top of the ball too frequently. If he’s able to leverage his swing more and put the ball in the air Brown has a chance to do a lot of damage. A participant in the PDP League and a number of other high-profile events last summer, Brown was seen by plenty of high-level scouts and recorded one impressive 101-mph exit velocity against a 93 mph fastball at Perfect Game’s All-American Classic. Brown will likely be limited to first base at the next level thanks to his well below-average running ability and below-average arm strength, which will put more pressure on his bat at the next level. Brown is committed to Washington.
265 Tim Tawa SS/OF Stanford 6-0 191 R-R Never Drafted
An exemplary high school athlete, Tawa was a heralded football and baseball player at West Linn (Ore.) High, where he was a three-time Gatorade Football Player of the Year and the 2017 Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year. He led his high school’s football team to a 2016 state championship and set records for career touchdown passes and passing yards, while also leading his baseball team to three league titles. After three years with Stanford, Tawa has hit .267/.307/.435 with the ability to handle almost any position. Versatility is the calling card for the 6-foot, 191-pound infielder and outfielder. Scouts believe his best fit is in the outfield, while coaches have said he handles second base naturally as well. Tawa has a tendency to put his foot on the gas pedal at all times and that can allow the game to speed up on him. Coaches have said he plays baseball like a football player. His bat is a bit light and scouts wonder how much he’ll hit at the next level, and he also doesn’t have much power to speak of. It’s difficult to see Tawa developing into an everyday player without more offense, but teams who value the defensive versatility he offers could be interested.
489 Eddie Park OF Valley Christian HS, San Jose, Calif. 6-1 182 L-L Stanford
A 6-foot-1, 182-pound outfielder committed to Stanford, scouts admire Park’s pure hitting ability and think he has a chance to be an average or tick better bat from the left side. With his college commitment, Park would have been a tough sign in a normal environment, so he’s a virtual lock to get to campus in a five-round draft. Park is more of a hit-over-power outfielder who has below-average power and average tools at best across the board. He’s an average runner with a chance to be an average defender in a corner, but his arm might limit him to left field, and as a corner outfielder scouts would like to see more power to profile better at the position. He’s a name to keep an eye on in the Pac-12 and a player scouts think could perform at a high level in college.
492 Jamison Hill RHP Fresno State 6-1 180 R-R Never Drafted
An athletic righthander, Hill pitched mostly out of the bullpen for Fresno State over his first two seasons but transitioned to a starting role in 2020. Through three starts and 17.1 innings, Hill posted a 4.67 ERA with 18 strikeouts and just five walks—good for the best walk rate (2.6 per nine) of his career. Hill throws a fastball in the 88-92 mph range for the most part, with a solid-average curveball. He throws the breaking ball in the 74-78 mph range with good spin. While Hill isn’t overly physical at 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, scouts like his athletic delivery.

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