For our first mock draft of the 2020 MLB Draft season we focused on personal preference (based on first-hand scouting, statistical analysis and industry contacts) while keeping in mind an overarching strategy for each team and, as applicable, historical preferences. This mock covers the full First Round and Competitive Balance A Picks, in the aggregate totaling the first 37 selections.
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Full 2020 MLB Draft Video Library (LINK)
Final MLB Draft Rankings – Top 125 and 125 to Know (LINK)
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Grabbing a college first baseman is generally a higher risk proposition due to the limited fallback options if the bat doesn’t play up to expectations. The impact potential of Torkelson, however, is too much to pass up for Detroit. The Tigers pop the Sun Devil slugger with the top overall pick and land a middle-of-the-order bat to build around.
There were a number of picks considered here for Baltimore and Nick Gonzales (2B, New Mexico State) was heavily advocated for in the virtual war room. When the time came to make a selection, the Orioles opted for the athleticism of Martin as future top-of-the-order threat who could also hit for some power and offer up good defense in center field. Paired with last year’s top overall selection, C Adley Rutschman, the Orioles could soon be cooking with gas at Camden Yards.
Lacy gives the fish a potential front-end arm that could be ready to impact the big league club in short order. A power arm that can work into the upper-90s with his heater, Lacy has a knack for punching out hitters as well as avoiding mistakes in the zone. Through 24 innings of work this spring, the southpaw struck out 46 while walking just eight and holding opposing hitters to a .111 average.
1:4 Royals: Nick Gonzalez, 2B, New Mexico State
The Royals are the beneficiaries of a very deep draft up top, landing an impact stick with the fourth overall selection. Gonzalez is a capable defender at present and should stick at the keystone, long term. But what gets him a top five selection is his remarkable feel for the barrel and at times underappreciated power potential. The 2019 Cape Cod Baseball League MVP also draws rave reviews for makeup and work ethic.
There was lots of back-and-forth in the virtual war room surrounding this pick, with Zac Veen (OF, Spruce Creek (FL)) and Emerson Hancock (RHP, Georgia) the stiffest competition for Meyer at this spot. Ultimately, Meyer’s big step forward this spring with his changeup, high level of comfort with his double-plus slider and ability to pump his heater into the 96/97 mph range in the late innings earned him the slot. It didn’t hurt that 2080 Baseball was in attendence for his dominant 14 strikeout, complete game performance against UNC at the 2020 Cambria College Classic in Minneapolis this spring.
1:6 Mariners: Emerson Hancock, RHP, Georgia
The Mariners go best available here, nabbing a power arm with two double-plus offerings in Hancock’s fastball and changeup. The hard-throwing righty can also mix in an above-average slider and has no difficulty pounding the zone with all three offerings. He’s a potential front-end arm for the Mariners and serves as an impressive addition to the stable of arms forming in the Seattle farm system that already includes RHP Logan Gilbert, RHP George Kirby and RHP Justin Dunn.
Pittsburgh is rumored to be focusing on college hitters, but in the 2080 Baseball war room it was high fives all around when the top high school talent in the country fell into the Pirates’ collective lap. Veen has a chance to hit for plus power with a plus hit tool at maturity and shows good overall feel for the game in the box, on the bases and in the grass. He should start out his career in center but the bat will play at the corner, as well, if that winds up the best long-term fit.
There are some interesting options here, with Heston Kjerstad (OF, Arkansas) and Robert Hassell (OF, Independence (TN)) both heavily considered. There was also a thought spared for scooping up Dillon Dingler (C, Ohio State) for a potential underslot deal to free up money for a high school arm later. Ultimately, the Padres settled on Hendrick, who boasts some of the best bat speed in the class and impact power potential from the left side.
1:9 Rockies: Robert Hassell, OF, Independence (TN)
After almost being selected with the eighth overall pick, Hassell slides exactly one spot to an eager Colorado club. Hassell will help to bolster the positional side of the Rockies’ system and is rated by some as the top overall high school hitter in the class. He should be capable of manning any of the three outfield spots, long-term, depending on need — a bonus given Colorado’s expansive gaps.
Detmers is one of the top lefties in the entire class and is among the closest to MLB ready. It’s not impossible to imagine the Angels grabbing the Louisville ace and utilizing him almost immediately in a shortened Major League season. Detmers’s plus curveball (2700 rpms) is a nasty weapon that tunnels well with his low-90s heater and allows him to regularly freeze hitters in addition to burying it when ahead in the count. He backs up the impressive 1-2 combo with an above-average changeup and average slide piece.
1:11 White Sox: Ed Howard, SS, Mount Carmel (IL)
Up-the-middle impact is the focus, here. While the White Sox are rumored to be seeking a college bat at this spot, Howard is too good a fit to pass up. The athletic shortstop is smooth and silky at the six-spot, capable of making both the routine and highlight reel play look easy. Offensively, he projects as a top-of-the-order stick with enough quick-twitch to grow into above-average power production fueled by doubles.
1:12 Reds: Mick Abel, RHP, Jesuit (OR)
It takes until the twelfth overall pick, but finally the top high school arm in the class comes off the board. Abel has a track record of success and has already shown an ability to hold his velocity late into starts. He could have three above-average offerings at maturity with above-average control, to boot. He has improved his ability to hit the same release on his fastball, changeup and slider over the past 12 months, helping the arsenal to play up across the board.
1:13 Giants: Garrett Crochet, LHP, Tennessee
There was a little of everything considered here, with Kjerstad and Bryce Jarvis (RHP, Duke) getting vocal support. Crochet winds up the pick for 2080 Baseball due to the decision makers seeing him throw very well, and the developmental arc pointing in the right direction for the southpaw. Crochet is evolving from a thrower to a pitcher, and the raw ingredients are here for at least a mid-rotation arm to emerge if things come together well. The fallback is a potential lights-out multi-inning weapon out of the pen in the vein of Josh Hader.
The industry buzz has the Rangers looking for a college arm, but the 2080 Baseball evaluators slightly favor Kelley here. The Texas hurler consistently works in the mid-to-upper 90s with his fastball and also shows impressive feel for an above-average changeup that should settle in as a consistent plus offering in the future. His breaker generally sits in the low-to-mid 80s with two-plane action. A broadly built 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, Kelley has the physicality to remain a starter paired with an athletic delivery and easy arm action.
1:15 Phillies: Heston Kjerstad, OF, Arkansas
At this point in the draft there are a number of directions the Phillies could go if the board unfolds as we’ve seen here. This selection for 2080 Baseball came down to Kjerstad and Dingler, with the power-hitting corner outfielder winning out. Kjerstad is one of the top power prospects in the draft class and performed very well in front of 2080 evaluators with the USA Collegiate National Team, slashing .395/.426/.651.
1:16 Cubs: Bryce Jarvis, RHP, Duke
It’s been a minute since the Cubs drafted and developed an impact arm for their rotation, and Jarvis has the potential to move quickly through the system once selected. The Duke ace boasts three impact offerings in his low-to-mid-90s fastball, a mid-80s power slider with sharp bite and a quality changeup with good armside deception and fade.
1:17 Red Sox: Dillon Dingler, C, Ohio State
We considered one of the big college arms still on the board — Cole Wilcox (RHP, Georgia), Slade Cecconi (RHP, Miami), Carmen Mlodzinski (RHP, South Carolina) and Cade Cavalli (RHP, Oklahoma), but ultimately liked better the idea of grabbing the talented Buckeye backstop here and focusing on pitching with the Sox next selection give the depth of the draft class. Dingler is a high-quality catch-and-throw defender with athletic actions behind the dish and little question he can impact the game on the defensive side. His bat has emerged over the past year to complete the profile, giving him a chance to move quickly through the system and settle in as an everyday contributor.
With a competitive balance pick also on the slate for the D’Backs, there’s a great opportunity for Arizona to stock up on arms in draft perfectly outfitted for the needs of their system. As a sophomore-eligible pick, Wilcox has the leverage to ask for over-slot money here, and the Snakes are one of the few teams well positioned to handle such a request by going with a college option in the comp round, as well. Wilcox has made good developmental strides between his freshman and junior year and a team able to grab the Georgia righty in the second half of the first round could find themselves with a top ten talent come spring 2021 if the development continues.
1:19 Mets: Slade Cecconi, RHP, Miami
It’s time for New York to start considering what their future rotation is going to look like and in our humble opinion Cecconi very much looks the part of a potential mid-rotation contributor for the Metropolitans. The Hurricanes’ Sunday arm boasts four quality pitches including a mid-90s fastball, upper-80s cutter, mid-80s slider and low-to-mid-80s changeup — all of which he throws with a high level of comfort. It’s a strong and athletic body with an easy arm, which should help him continue to refine his in-zone command.
The Brewers were tempted to pounce on one of the aforementioned college arms here and also considered catchers Patrick Bailey (NC State), Austin Wells (Arizona) and Tyler Soderstrom (Turlock (CA)). Instead, the Brew Crew elected to jump on an electric up-the-middle talent in Mitchell, who provides plus run and a plus glove and arm in center field to go with an above-average hit tool and improving approach. There’s some developmental risk here, as Mitchell continues to work on refining his pitch selection, but there’s also some power yet to be unlocked. If Milwaukee can tap into it, this selection would be a steal.
1:21 Cardinals: Cade Cavalli, RHP, Oklahoma
Cavalli utilizes a quick arm and athletic delivery to help generate plus-plus velocity on his fastball while mixing-in a plus upper-80s slider and above-average low-80s curve (which serves as his most effective off-speed offering). He’ll also flash a developing changeup and shows enough feel with the pitch to project it to average at maturity. It’s a high-quality arm with mid-rotation upside — quite a get at this point in the first round.
1:22 Nationals: Carmen Mlodzinski, RHP, South Carolina
Moldzinski feels like a perfect fit here, with the righty showing power stuff that fits with the Nationals’ preferred college pitching profile and a broad enough repertoire to set himself apart from some of the other options available. At his best, the South Carolina standout will show a mid-90s fastball, an above-average upper-80s cutter and two change-of-pace offerings in the form of a low-80s curve and changeup.
This pick came down to Crow-Armstrong, JT Ginn (RHP, Mississippi State) and Jared Shuster (LHP, Wake Forest), with the Vanderbilt commit ultimately providing the best bang for the buck. Crow-Armstrong is an impact defender with plus speed, plus arm strength and a double-plus glove in center field, consistently showing good reads and an ability to track and finish. Offensively, he profiles as a potential top-of-the-order stick with solid contact skills and enough speed to rack-up extra bases.
There was a lot of discussion here as to how to most effectively wield this 24th overall pick together with the competitive balance pick at 37th overall. Based on the other clubs selecting between 24 and 37, the Rays opt for snagging the top collegiate bat still on the board — NC State backstop Patrick Bailey. Bailey struggles at time with consistent contact, but shows over-the-fence power from both sides of the plate and pro defensive skills behind the plate. This pick sets up an upside high school pick at 37, where there should be a number of potential targets.
Burns is a quality SEC arm with a solid track record and four big league offerings, making him a good fit for Atlanta here as a high floor hurler with mid-rotation upside. As with Tampa, this pick lays the foundation for an upside prep play with a later selection.
There was some discussion about taking Soderstrom here as a high upside prep talent that wasn’t expected to be available, but some potential bonus concerns ultimately pushed Oakland to Loftin — a steady defender who should handle shortstop at the next level while providing a traditional high contact, two-hole stick at the plate. Adding Loftin to a system already rife with up-the-middle talent on the dirt give Oakland impressive depth to deal from, when needed.
1:27 Twins: Jared Shuster, LHP, Wake Forest
Shuster made a big jump this spring, thanks to improved consistency with his already impressive changeup and an above-average fastball that can reach 95/96 mph and plays up due to the quality of his offspeed. 2080 Baseball got a good look at the Wake lefty and his plus-or-better changeup early this spring and the showing was enough to push him up the board into late-first-round consideration. This pick should come at a slight discount here, allowing Minnesota to flex some finances later on in targeting one of the many high school talents being pushed down the board due to the depth of the college class.
The pick here was simply best available, and that lands the Yankees an offensive-minded backstop with a chance to stick behind the plate but enough stick to carry the profile should he shift to an infield or outfield corner at maturity. There’s natural lift in the lefty’s swing and a track record of performance that includes a .308/.389/.526 slash line on the Cape last summer to go along with seven round trippers (good for fifth place in the league, tied with Nick Gonzales).
1:29 Dodgers: Tyler Soderstrom, C, Turlock (CA)
Soderstrom has impact potential with the stick, showing an ability to easily lift and drive the ball while maintaining solid plate coverage and enough feel for the barrel to square up pitches across the quadrents of the hit zone. The LA system is an excellent landing spot, with the developmental track record to excite the young slugger and convince him to forego his commitment to UCLA. Soderstrom may shift out to an infield corner in time, but the bat is what’s going to drive profile and should play, regardless.
With a high end college talent already in the bag with Martin, Baltimore looks to tap into a solid collection of upside high school arms with its second selection. Bitsko is the pick here, but Justin Lange (RHP, Llano (TX)) was in heavy consideration. Baltimore’s next pick towards the beginning of round two is likely to skew back to the college ranks where a number of quality arms should be ripe for the picking.
Pittsburgh didn’t like to college bat options here and instead elects to grab a high-quality college arm that was not expected to be available at the start of the season. Were it not for Tommy John surgery earlier this spring, it would not have been surprising to see Ginn in the mix 15-to-20 picks earlier. This is a nice get for the Pirates in the competitive balance round.
After landing Nick Gonzalez with their first pick, the Royals jump at the opportunity to add to the pitching depth they began to build up in the 2019 draft. The southpaw wields a solid low-90s fastball and plus split-change with bat-missing dive, along with a serviceable two-plane breaker that works as a chase pitch or freeze offering.
There was some spirited discussion surrounding this pick, including consideration for Lange, Burl Carraway (LHP, Dallas Baptist), Bobby Miller (RHP, Louisville), Jared Jones (RHP, La Mirada (CA)) and Kyle Nicolas (RHP, Ball State). Beeter’s four-pitch mix was the difference maker, with the Texas Tech product able to tunnel the offerings well while showing comfort across the repertoire.
The Padres are thrilled to have Lange last to pick 34 and very quickly jump on the opportunity to add the young power arm to a system already teeming with potential impact arms. From build to power arsenal to velocity increases, there’s a lot of profile overlap between Lange and high school Michael Kopech.
1CBA:35 Rockies: Justin Foscue, 2B, Mississippi State
There was some discussion about going with a college arm here — most likely Miller or Nicolas — following the first round selection of Hassell. But Foscue provides a high floor offensive talent to balance the proximity risk of Hassell while leveraging the deep college pitching that should find a quality arm available when the Rockies next pick with the 46th overall slot.
1CBA:36 Indians: Jordan Walker, 3B, Decatur (GA)
Walker has some of the highest upside of any prep bat in the class, making him a nice pairing with the higher-floor profile of Crow-Armstrong. There was some discussion about grabbing a power arm here, but Walker’s impact potential slightly outweighed the other available options.
After seeing Bailey drop into their hands with the 24th overall pick, the Rays can stand to roll the dice a little here with an upside play. Winn is just that, providing above-average raw power and top shelf bat speed at the plate, as well as an electric mid-90s fastball and power breaker on the bump. The Rays have some recent experience creating a two-way development plan and Winn offers an excellent opportunity to further flesh out that process.