We are still months away from the 2020 MLB Draft, but this year is set to a different tone than previous years. In mid-March, leagues across the world took swift action and suspended play indefinitely as the world fights the COVID-19 pandemic. This has left severe ramifications for scouting departments league-wide, as college baseball had been entering league play and high school baseball had just gotten started for most states across the nation.
As of now, we know the draft can be pushed back from its tentative June 10th starting date, with the latest push back date being July 20th. The draft will also be shortened to five or ten rounds in 2020, with a clear number of rounds not yet set in stone. The 2021 draft will be affected as well, as the maximum amount of rounds will be limited to 20. There is growing industry optimism that the draft will see ten rounds in 2020, per Joe Doyle of Lookout Landing.
Furthermore, the MLB has instituted a payment plan for draft signees involved in the next two drafts, as they will receive $100,000 up front before receiving equal payments of the remaining bonus on July 1, 2021 and July 1, 2022. Any undrafted free agents will be limited to $20,000, down from $125,000 prior to counting towards draft pools for teams.
With the severe ramifications, the likelihood of high school talent reaching college campuses is high, especially for middle tier players. The NCAA has agreed to grant spring athletes an extra year of eligibility, but that will cause significant problems, as the incoming flux of talent will cause roster crunch issues and scholarship dilemmas.
To alleviate some concern, returning seniors will not count towards the scholarship, roster, and counter rules that the NCAA had in place, and a roster cap will be removed, but the limit of players for classes under the seniors will be limited to 35. This includes players who were freshmen, sophomores, and juniors in 2020, as well as the incoming freshmen class. Nonetheless, many coaches expect tough decisions to be made with the new rules. One high school coach I spoke to last week expects the college landscape to be “a mess” for players.
As for scouts and teams, MLB lifted a ban on contacting players earlier this month, giving them a chance to reach out and gather information as they prepare for the draft. With that said, confidence is low still, so this mock will be speculative and there is no certain player locked to a team.
For this mock, I will go through the entire first round, including Competitive Balance Round A picks. Expect a potential two round mock draft as we get closer to draft day.
#1 – Detroit Tigers
Pick: 1B Spencer Torkelson, Arizona State
The first overall pick will likely come down to either Torkelson or Austin Martin, and Detroit isn’t entirely out on the idea of taking a pitcher here as well.
For now, I’m writing in Torkelson, who excelled at the plate during the brief NCAA season, posting a 1.378 OPS and an insane 31:15 BB:K ratio in 82 plate appearances. His bat possesses the best power in this draft class and there was an improvement in his defense at first base, leaving some scouts to believe a move to the outfield could be staved off for now, but time will tell there.
#2 – Baltimore Orioles
Pick: UTL Austin Martin, Vanderbilt
With Martin, Baltimore would acquire the best bat in the class. After nearly hitting .400 in the SEC last season, Martin picked up where he left off before the season came to an abrupt halt, slashing .377/.507/.660 with three home runs and a 10:2 BB:K ratio in 69 plate appearances.
Martin played at the hot corner and in the outfield for Vanderbilt this season and projects well at both positions, despite scouts wanting him to play shortstop. Wherever he plays, Martin is excellent at controlling the strike zone and has an insane feel for the barrel. Keep an eye on the potential of an arm going here too.
#3 – Miami Marlins
Pick: LHP Asa Lacy, Texas A&M
Lacy put together arguably the best season in college baseball on the pitching side. In four starts, Lacy only allowed two runs, nine hits, walked eight, and struck out 46 batters in 24.0 innings pitched, propelling himself into top three conversation.
For Miami, this could be the easiest call for them to make if Torkelson and Martin go 1-2, no matter the order. A polished southpaw with four plus offerings, Lacy still needs to refine his command and control a bit, but he’s the best pitcher in an incredibly deep class.
#4 – Kansas City Royals
Pick: 2B Nick Gonzales, New Mexico State
Last year’s Cape Cod League MVP was nothing short of amazing for New Mexico State this year. Despite playing subpar competition and an offense-happy environment, Gonzales slashed .448/610/1.155 in 82 plate appearances and hit 12 home runs, which was the top mark in the NCAA.
A common comp for Gonzales is current Milwaukee Brewer Keston Hiura, but Gonzales does possess a better defensive profile and just a tad less power. He saw time at both shortstop and second base in 2020, but he may project better at second base due to a weak arm and range. Emerson Hancock and Zac Veen are both viable options to be picked here, but Gonzales seems more likely for the Royals.
#5 – Toronto Blue Jays
Pick: OF Zac Veen, Spruce Creek (FL) HS
This draft could make history as college players could take up the top seven spots, but Veen could be the one who breaks that trend. Benefiting from Florida’s early start to the prep season, Veen soared up boards after starting off very strong against quality competition.
With a left-handed swing that scouts have adored, Veen is projected to be an above-average hitter and could find himself in a corner outfield spot in the future. There is a good chance he may fall further due to the exceptional college talent at the top of this class, especially to the Padres at eight.
#6 – Seattle Mariners
Pick: RHP Emerson Hancock, Georgia
Once we get outside the top five, the draft becomes more complex in terms of putting names to teams. Seattle’s pick is likely the point where the draft opens up, and in this scenario, we find Hancock, who was a 1-1 candidate before the season began, drop outside the top five.
The likelihood of this happening is low, but Hancock’s stock did drop a bit after a subpar season with Georgia. His stuff was not as excellent as it was in 2019, but it still graded high and his control/command were pristine in 2020, as he walked just three batters across 24 innings pitched. Hancock still projects as a top-end starter in the future and his value at this pick is immense.
#7 – Pittsburgh Pirates
Pick: OF Garrett Mitchell, UCLA
A leg injury during the summer and fall did not seem to hold Mitchell back in the spring, as he showcased all of his tools for UCLA. With 80-grade speed and an improved swing, Mitchell slashed .355/.425/.484 in 73 plate appearances, racking up five stolen bases in the process and showcased sturdy defense in center field, where he projects to stay at long term.
Mitchell’s power is a plus tool, but due to his swing, the power is more on display during batting practice than in game. He has worked on his swing since coming to campus, but some more refinements are necessary if he wants to tap into his power more. One thing that could hamper Mitchell is that he is a Type I diabetic, but he has shown that he can prosper despite the condition.
#8 – San Diego Padres
Pick: RHP Max Meyer, Minnesota
Meyer’s stock has taken a steep rise in 2020 after a dominating start to his campaign. In his first start against Oregon, Meyer came out guns blazing, showcasing a fastball that reached triple digits and a slider that reached 92 MPH with vicious movement and would later reach 98 MPH with his fastball in the ninth inning of a complete game gem against a talented UNC squad in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. He would go on to strike out 46 batters and walk just eight in the span of 27.2 innings.
Both his fastball and slider have a 70 grade next to them on scouting reports and his slider is the best one in this class. His change-up lags behind a bit, but still flashes plus potential as well. It would have been nice to see what Meyer could do with a full season of starting under his belt, but he made enough people believe that a transition to a relief role is a distant thought for the time being.
#9 – Colorado Rockies
Pick: C Patrick Bailey, NC State
While this might be a bit of a reach to make, Bailey is expected to be a highly coveted player in this year’s draft class. With NC State, Bailey has been a force to be reckoned with, as he has slashed .302/.411/.568 across 578 plate appearances in three seasons, including a .296/.466/.685 slash line in 2020.
Bailey has shown off an ability to hit, but his power has the upper hand. He has showcased plus pop from both sides of the plate, but there is a concern with swing-and-miss tendencies, which was evident in his time with Team USA last summer. Defensively, Bailey excels, as he has a stout throwing arm and solid receiving abilities, as well as being athletic at the position. He did struggle with a wood bat, but he still projects well enough to be a starter at the big league level.
#10 – Los Angeles Angels
Pick: LHP Reid Detmers
Detmers is one of the most polished, if not the most polished, pitcher in this draft class. After posting 167 strikeouts in 113.1 innings last season, Detmers was well on pace to come close to that mark or best it in 2020, as he had 48 strikeouts to six walks in 22 innings.
Detmers is much like former Louisville pitcher Brendan McKay, just with slightly less stuff. The fastball jumps out of Detmers’ hand, and if he added more velocity to the pitch, he’d go higher in this draft. His hammer curveball is otherworldly and his control and command rates just as highly. There’s a good chance he goes higher than this, but if he falls to the Angels, do not expect them to pass on him.
#11 – Chicago White Sox
Pick: LHP Garrett Crochet, Tennessee
Crochet might have the best stuff from the left side in this class, with a fastball that can touch tripe digits and a slider that creates a difficult angle for hitters. However, with the season ending early and a shoulder injury delaying his season debut to the last weekend of the abbreviated season, his track record lacks a consistent starting role and could hurt him come draft time.
With that said, his stuff is overpowering and he could find himself being the highest pick in school history, beating out R.A. Dickey (18th overall in 1996). In his lone start against Wright State, Crochet impressed in a shortened outing, reaching 99 MPH on the gun and flashing above-average potential in his slider and change-up. He creates a tough angle due to his delivery, but his command could use some refinement if he wants to continue being a starter.
#12 – Cincinnati Reds
Pick: OF Austin Hendrick, West Allegheny (PA) HS
Hendrick possesses the best raw power of any high school prospect in this draft class and he left quite an impact on scouts after a relatively strong summer circuit last year. When I got to see him at Under Armour All-America last July, he won the Home Run Derby in outstanding fashion, even hitting a ball out of Wrigley Field.
Hendrick’s hands are exceptionally quick and he generates insane bat speed that gives him his 70-grade power. With that power comes swing-and-miss concerns, but he has made some adjustments to his swing. Defensively, he’s better suited for a corner outfield position and he possesses one of the stronger arms in the class.
# 13 – San Francisco Giants
Pick: RHP Mick Abel, Jesuit (OR) HS
Abel is the top high school arm in this class, but what makes him tough to pin is where he plays. Hailing from Portland, Oregon, Abel is one of the tougher players to assess due to the sudden stop of play, as his team did not get to start their season. He also faded a bit towards the end of the summer, but he still has an intriguing combination of pitchability and projection.
In recent weeks, Abel did manage to release video of a bullpen that had him touch 99 MPH, but the sample size is incredibly small. To go along with his heater, Abel has showcased plus control and command, as well as a plus slider and change-up. He throws a curveball that sometimes morphs with his slider, but he has a good feel for the pitch.
#14 – Texas Rangers
Pick: OF Heston Kjerstad, Arkansas
If there is anyone that could rival the power of Torkelson in this draft, it’s Kjerstad. He was on an absolute tear to start the 2020 season, slashing .448/.513/.791 in 78 plate appearances before the season was suspended.
Kjerstad’s power projects highly, as he has excellent bat speed, but a complicated swing. When he loads in his swing, Kjerstad’s hands do a big circle, which affects the timing of his swing and he has to be precise with it. An aggressive approach at the plate has led to an accumulation of strikeouts at Arkansas as well. As a defender, he’s built perfectly for the corner outfield position.
#15 – Philadelphia Phillies
Pick: OF Robert Hassell, Independence (TN) HS
Hassell had an exceptional summer last year, showing well at the MLB PDP League and leading Team USA in ten offensive categories at the U-18 World Cup, slashing .514/.548/.886, but did struggle with power a bit.
The hit tool for Hassell is his biggest asset, as he is the best pure hitter in the high school class this year. He has a great feel for the barrel and and has a smooth left-handed swing that is capable of producing solid line drives, but his swing became too downhill when he tried focusing on power over the summer. Defensively, he fits well in center field, but he could end up in a corner outfield spot given his footwork.
#16 – Chicago Cubs
Pick: RHP Cade Cavalli, Oklahoma
Cavalli has the body and arsenal of a frontline starter, as he possesses a fastball that has easy velocity in the mid-to-high 90’s, a wipeout slider with great lateral movement, a very solid curveball, and a change-up that flashes average potential. In 2020, Cavalli made improvements in his control, as he finished the year with a 37:5 K:BB ratio in four starts.
At 6’4, 218 pounds, Cavalli fits the mold of an ideal pitcher, but scouts are concerned about his ability to throw strikes. He did improve in that department, as he found a way to manage walks that have hurt him in the past, but he has given up lots of hits during his career, leading to a bloated WHIP hovering at 1.47 at Oklahoma. He will be an interesting player to follow in this draft class, but scouts love the potential he brings to the table.
#17 – Boston Red Sox
Pick: OF Pete Crow-Armstrong, Harvard-Westlake (CA) HS
Pete Crow-Armstrong has long been one of my favorite high schoolers in this draft class, as I have had several good looks at him. When I saw him at NHSI last April, he showcased good speed and an ability to hit, which is what he is known for, but over the summer he did struggle a bit, arising some concerns about swing-and-miss tendencies.
Crow-Armstrong has a good track record of making loud contact, and he got off to a sensational start to his senior campaign before the stoppage. His power does have some question marks to it, as scouts are split on how it will project, but more power was seen in the spring. He is the best defensive outfielder in this class, with great speed and a plus arm leaving many to believe he will stay at center field.
#18 – Arizona Diamondbacks
Pick: RHP Jared Kelley, Refugio (TX) HS
Kelley is the most big-league ready high school pitcher in this class thanks to physicality and his current arsenal. He absolutely dominated the summer circuit last year, showing well at Under Armour All-America and blowing scouts away with an incredible performance at the Area Code games. Some scouts believe that performance was one of the best in the long history of the event.
Kelley’s delivery is one of the easiest I have seen, with a loose and fluid delivery that allows him to get easy velocity, as his fastball explodes out of his hand and has touched 99 MPH. Due to the delivery, he can locate premium stuff with relative ease. His best off-speed offering is a plus change-up that has late life to it, and he possesses a hard slider that acted more like a slurve during the summer, but scouts have said he made improvements on the pitch during a short spring.
#19 – New York Mets
Pick: RHP Nick Bitsko, Central Bucks East (PA) HS
Bitsko was the top pitching prospect in the 2021 class, but an announcement that he would be graduating early catapulted him to the 2020 class, where he ranks just behind the likes of Abel and Kelley.
The scouting industry knows Bitsko well, as he has excelled at showcases, particularly East Coast Pro in Alabama last August. In that event, his fastball played well in the mid-90’s and he showcased a hard breaking ball in the low-to-mid 80’s and a change-up that flashes potential. However, his spring was cancelled before the season even began, so most teams are behind in scouting on him due to his early graduation. He is also a Virginia commit, a school that has a knack of bringing in good talent, as they have brought touted 2020 prospects Nate Savino and Kyle Teel to campus.
#20 – Milwaukee Brewers
Pick: C Tyler Soderstrom, Turlock (CA) HS
Son of former big leaguer Steve Soderstrom, Tyler hails from the same school as his father, but is not likely to go as high as his father did in 1993 (sixth overall). Soderstrom was a massive riser due to his stellar performance last summer, including one of the better performances at the Area Code games.
The best high school catcher in this class, Soderstrom’s bat is ahead of his defense. He has frequently tapped into his raw power and offers exciting offensive potential, but his defense comes with some concern. He has above-average speed for a catcher and this could lead to him playing at the hot corner, first base, or a corner outfield position later on, despite having a passion to play catcher. He has a strong arm, but his blocking and game management are concerns, and he was the backup catcher for his high school since the starter was a better defender.
#21 – St. Louis Cardinals
Pick: RHP Cole Wilcox, Georgia
A draft-eligible sophomore who was highly touted in the 2018 draft, Wilcox is the second Georgia pitcher that could go in the first round, something that Georgia has not had happen since 1987. While he’s not quite as good as Hancock, he has shown immense potential.
At 6’5, his fastball can sit in the high-90’s and can touch 100 MPH with sink and run. He pairs that heater with a power slider and fading change-up, with the change-up being the more reliable pitch currently. Despite being athletic and strong, the main concern is his track record, as he was a reliever for most of his freshmen year before moving to the rotation late and starting four games in 2020. He did an excellent job at cutting down on walks, as he walked just two in 23 innings and struck out 32 batters in the process.
#22 – Washington Nationals
Pick: RHP J.T. Ginn, Mississippi State
This pick just screams Washington. Ginn excelled in 2019 as a freshmen, posting a 3.13 ERA and a 105:19 K:BB ratio in 86.1 innings, but left his lone start in 2020 early due to injury and had elbow surgery, leaving him out of commission for the year. Despite this, he brings a lot of potential to the draft as an eligible sophomore, and Washington is likely to pounce on him here.
Washington is not afraid to grab pitchers who fall due to injury. Ginn still has insane pitchability, as his fastball has some of the best life in the draft and can reach the high-90’s. He has a wipeout slider to accompany the heater, giving him one of the best fastball-slider combos in the draft class. His change-up flashes serious potential as well, and he has plus command and control of his pitches.
#23 – Cleveland Indians
Pick: C Austin Wells, Arizona
With Wells, this would make three straight selections of draft-eligible sophomores. Wells had an excellent freshmen year, slashing .353/.462/.552 in 277 plate appearances and drew 46 walks compared to just 43 strikeouts. He started 2020 just as well, slashing .375/.527/.589 in 74 plate appearances with 17 walks to 14 strikeouts.
Wells’ bat will play well, and so will his power. He possesses a nice, simple swing with good bat control and he knows the strike zone well, drawing walks aplenty. He does have some strikeouts issues, but the main concern comes in his defense. His throwing ability behind the plate is inconsistent and his receiving abilities are a bit lacking, so there is a good chance he might move to first base in the future.
#24 – Tampa Bay Rays
Pick: RHP Tanner Burns, Auburn
Burns took over the reins of ace in Auburn’s rotation after Casey Mize went first overall in 2018, and he has pitched exceptionally well. A legitimate workhorse, Burns has posted a 2.86 ERA and 210:67 K:BB ratio in 188.2 innings at Auburn.
Despite being one of the smaller pitchers in this class, Burns’ heater sits in the mid-90’s and can be located on both sides of the plate. He pairs that with a curveball and a slider that can sometimes morph with each other, as well as a change-up that has some potential to it. There is some concern about injuries, as he had shoulder issues in 2019 and saw his stuff dip a bit as the season progressed.
#25 – Atlanta Braves
Pick: RHP Bobby Miller, Louisville
Miller’s stock has rose drastically in 2020, as he has gone from a late Day 1 pick to the back of the first round. He has previously flip flopped between the rotation and bullpen in Louisville prior to this year, but in 2020, he excelled as the Saturday starter behind Detmers, posting a 2.31 ERA and a 34:9 K:BB ratio in four starts.
Miller’s fastball took leaps forward this year, as he has been able to run the pitch in the high-90’s with serious life to it. He pairs the heater with a hard slider that can touch 90 MPH and a change-up that sits in the low-to-mid 80’s. The delivery has some concerning characteristics that may lead Miller to become a reliever, but he has no issue with maintaining his stuff during starts.
#26 – Oakland Athletics
Pick: SS Nick Loftin, Baylor
This is the part of the draft where the college shortstops will start coming off the board and Loftin might be the first one to go. A three year starter at Baylor, Loftin has slashed .311/.370/.479 and has done well with a wood bat during the summer. He was primed for a breakout in 2020, as he started to use his power more and in turn, rose up draft boards.
Loftin’s bat has a clean and simple swing and while he’s more of a line drive hitter, the power surge in 2020 would have gotten him higher in this class if the season was not suspended. Defensively, he fits well at shortstop, showing off an above-average arm and good instincts at the position.
#27 – Minnesota Twins
Pick: C Dillon Dingler, Ohio State
Dingler is another player whose stock rose significantly after the short season. He had already set a career high in home runs with five in just 58 plate appearances and was slashing .340/.404/.760 when the season stopped, which was a stark improvement from the past two seasons.
So far, Dingler has reminded scouts of Athletics catcher Sean Murphy. Defensively, he has a solid arm and he has shown improvements in his receiving ability and accuracy behind the plate. He is also one of the more athletic catchers in this class. Offensively, he has good raw power that he was beginning to tap into more in 2020 and he knows how to control the strike zone well.
#28 – New York Yankees
Pick: RHP Chris McMahon, Miami
The first of two potential first round picks in the Miami rotation, McMahon grades just slightly better than Slade Cecconi. McMahon rose to the occasion with Team USA’s collegiate team last summer and continued that into 2020, as he posted a 1.05 ERA across four starts, striking out 38 and walking just five in 25.2 innings of work.
His fastball sits in the mid-90’s with some late action and touched 98 MPH in fall practice. Both his slider and curveball are solid offerings, with his slider being the better of the two, and he offers a change-up that he has a good feel for. He learned to get out in front more in his delivery, which led to him keeping pitches down in the zone. That and his athleticism give an edge for scouts.
#29 – Los Angeles Dodgers
Pick: OF Daniel Cabrera, LSU
Cabrera was highly touted out of high school in 2017, but he found himself on LSU’s campus after falling to the Padres in the 26th round that year. Scouts have loved his swing for a while now and he has managed to hit well at LSU, including a .345/.466/.500 slash line to start the 2020 campaign.
Cabrera’s swing is simple and easy, giving him an ability to hit to all fields consistently. He tapped into his raw power more in 2019 and it projects as an above-average tool in the future. Defensively, Cabrera projects to stay in an corner outfield position, preferably right field, as he has solid arm strength to handle the position.
#30 – Baltimore Orioles
Pick: RHP Slade Cecconi, Miami
Here is the aforementioned Cecconi, who is just slightly behind McMahon in terms of projection. Another draft-eligible sophomore, Cecconi has one of the better pedigrees in this class, as he was a highly touted arm out of high school in a loaded 2018 class, but an injury limited him and he found himself in Miami.
In four starts this year, he found some success, striking out 30 and walking seven in 21.1 innings, but he was hittable in that span. His upside is immense, as he has a solid frame that is both strong and durable. His fastball sits in the mid-to-high 90’s, but the velocity does dip deeper into starts, which causes him to leave it up in the zone more and causes him to be hit more. His best off-speed pitch is his slider, that can reach as high as 87 MPH and flashes as plus. His curveball and change-up flash potential as well, but the slider is better than both at this point. There is some reliever risk with Cecconi, but the fastball-slider combo could play well in that role too.
#31 – Pittsburgh Pirates
Pick: SS Ed Howard, Mount Carmel (IL) HS
This year’s high school shortstop class is pretty weak compared to previous years and in my opinion, Howard can go a lot higher than this. Howard is the best defender at the position in the high school ranks and he flashes more potential there than in the bat, but the bat still has some likeness to it.
Howard is able to make repeated contact with a smooth right-handed swing and has excellent bat speed, which will help him tap into his power potential with added strength. Scouts do want him to work on his approach, but he is a good line drive hitter presently. In the field, he shows off a strong arm and quick hands, leading many to believe he will stay at the position.
#32 – Kansas City Royals
Pick: RHP Bryce Jarvis, Duke
If it was not for Lacy and Detmers, Jarvis would have put up the best season by a pitcher in the NCAA this season. In four starts, Jarvis pitched to the tune of a 0.67 ERA in 27 innings, striking out 40 and walking just two. At one point, he had retired 49 consecutive batters at home, including a perfect game against Cornell in his second start of the year.
Jarvis worked on improving velocity during the off-season and it paid off, as he now sits in the mid-90’s and and can hold the velocity deeper into starts. His slider took strides this year too, as it has nasty late movement, and his change-up looks just as nasty, as it has late fade and sink to it, which he showcased well in his last start against Florida State. His curveball is behind those pitches, but still projects to be an above-average pitch. His delivery isn’t necessarily fluid and he works with a fast tempo, but with his improved control/command and stuff, he could find himself knocking on the door of a first round selection.
#33 – Arizona Diamondbacks
Pick: SS Alika Williams, Arizona State
Williams broke out in 2019, slashing .333/.429/.474 in 262 plate appearances and drawing more walks than strikeouts in the process. However, in 2020, he got off to a rough start to the year, slashing .250/.359/.344 in 78 plate appearances, but showed solid control of the strike zone with nine walks and just four strikeouts.
As a defender, scouts see Williams as an above-average player, with a solid hands and a good first step setting him up well for plays. With the bat, power has not been a part of his game, and probably never will, but he has a solid swing and controls the strike zone exceptionally well, as he has more walks in his career at Arizona State than strikeouts. His strengths involve gap-to-gap hitting, but he’s tried pulling the ball too much in college.
#34 – San Diego Padres
Pick: 3B Jordan Walker, Decatur (GA) HS
Walker is far and away the best third base prospect in this class on the high school side. Hailing from Georgia, he got to be seen early and impressed against strong competition. At 6’5, 220 pounds, the young slugger is a Duke commit and has insane power.
Walker has a solid feel to hit, but the power outranks the hit tool and is his best asset. The bat speed is easy to generate for Walker and he has tremendous leverage, but his swing is quite long due to his stature. However, he has made adjustments and improved the swing recently, which staves off some concerns for Walker. At the hot corner, he moves well given his size, but the likelihood is that he could move to first base.
#35 – Colorado Rockies
Pick: 1B Aaron Sabato, UNC
Sabato shined in his freshmen year at UNC and he was someone I was high on going into 2020. After hitting .343/.453/.696 in his freshmen year with 18 home runs, Sabato started off a bit slow in 2020, but still hit seven home runs in 90 plate appearances, with a .292/.478/.708 slash line and 22 walks to 16 strikeouts to go alongside.
Sabato’s value is almost strictly in his bat, but his power rivals that of Torkelson in this class. The hit tool is projected as above-average and he is not afraid to take walks, but the strikeouts are a concern moving forward. He is strictly limited to first base defensively, but the defense is lackluster at best.
#36 – Cleveland Indians
Pick: RHP Carmen Mlodzinski, South Carolina
Mlodzinski shined in the Cape Cod League over the summer after missing significant time last spring due to a foot injury with South Carolina. In 29.1 innings of work across six starts, Mlodzinski posted a 40:4 K:BB ratio, which was a significant improvement after walking 32 batters across 56.1 innings in the previous two years. In 2020, he managed four starts to the tune of a 2.84 ERA, but the strikeouts went down a bit. In turn, he induced more ground-balls, but he did allow three home runs in the process.
Mlodzinski’s upside is still abundant, as his heater touched 99 MPH during the fall with serious run and sink to it and paired it with solid slider and change-up that could give him three plus pitches. The control has gotten better as he has smoothed out his delivery since high school as well, possessing a clean arm action and repeated mechanics during the summer.
#37 – Tampa Bay Rays
Pick: SS Jordan Westburg, Mississippi State
Westburg and teammate Justin Foscue helped give Mississippi State a dynamic duo up the middle in 2020. After a slow start to his career, Westburg has really picked it up the past two years and impressed with a wood bat in the Cape Cod League, slashing .326/.385/.516 in 104 plate appearances.
An aggressive hitter, Westburg has a higher ceiling than Foscue, though Foscue is the better hitter here. This has shown through Westburg’s strikeout numbers in college, as he has struck out 119 times at Mississippi State compared to just 55 walks. His pull happy approach at the plate, plus struggles with pitch recognition, do need some work, but as a defender, he profiles well to stay at shortstop. He possesses a strong arm and solid speed, but do not be surprised if he moves to third base.