If you’re a hardcore baseball fan, you’ve probably already mulled through your fair share of 2020 MLB mock drafts. It seems like every website worth a damn posts one, yet no one really knows what to expect, and it only takes one curveball to throw the entire equation out of whack. Even so, I figured I’d give it a try for Razzball’s sake, if for no other reason than to give Grey some spicy motivation to tune in on Wednesday night. See, now it’s a mock draft.
There’s a lot of uncertainty with this draft. Nobody knows for sure just how college heavy teams are ultimately going to go with the unique situation created by COVID-19, and which teams will elect to play the strategic bonus tomfoolery game. It’s difficult to project just how these factors will play into each and every team’s respective strategy. We might see more teams than ever taking on the “best-available” approach.
But as it relates to fantasy baseball, Wednesday’s draft is relevant because it sets the stage for the ensuing trajectory of every drafted player’s stock as a prospect. Not only does draft position tend to influence how people value prospects in first-year player drafts, but who drafted said player can also go a long way in determining what their Minor League journey will look like and how confident we are as fantasy owners that they will develop successfully. That being said, here is my carefully-concocted mock draft of the first 29 picks this upcoming Wednesday. Mush! Onward into the unknown!
1. Tigers: Spencer Torkelson, 1B, Arizona State
Torkelson going No. 1 has basically become a foregone conclusion at this point. You can hear more about what The Itch and I think about Torkelson in last week’s Goin’ Deep Podcast, as well as what I wrote about him several months back while ranking him the No. 1 college prospect to target in dynasty leagues.
2. Orioles: Austin Martin, 3B/OF, Vanderbilt
Many consider Martin to actually be the best overall prospect in the 2020 draft class, backed by his 65-grade hit tool, 55-speed and defensive versatility. Personally, I like Nick Gonzales and Asa Lacy better in this spot, but I think the O’s go with Martin.
3. Marlins: Asa Lacy, RHP, Texas A&M
It’s tempting to do something more creative with the first three picks, and it’s possible Zac Veen, Emerson Hancock or Gonzales could make their way into the trio, but all signs have pointed to Lacy, the consensus top arm in the class, going to Miami at No. 3 overall. Max Meyer could also be a dark horse here, but I think he goes to the Blue Jays, Mariners, Padres or Angels.
4. Royals: Nick Gonzales, 2B/SS, New Mexico State
Although the consensus opinion seems to be that the Royals will make Zac Veen the first prep schooler to have his name called, I’m going with Gonzales at No. 4 almost as a means of wishful thinking. As a top three bat in this class, I think the Royals would be wise to take Gonzales, a player that should have received more consideration at No. 1.
5. Blue Jays: Zac Veen, OF, Spruce Creek HS (Fla.)
As I said before, many mocks have Veen going between picks two-to-four, but if the scenario I laid out above plays true, I think Veen is a good bet to go at No. 5 to the Jays as the best overall high school player in the draft. Hancock and Meyer could also potentially be targets for Toronto as well.
6. Mariners: Emerson Hancock, RHP, Georgia
This could also be a landing spot for the other remaining top college arms (Meyer, Reid Detmers), and probably the earliest I could see Arkansas’ Heston Kjerstad going. In the end, if the preseason No. 1 player on the board falls to the Mariners at No. 6, I think they’ll jump on him.
7. Pirates: Heston Kjerstad, OF, Arkansas
No. 7 is about as high as you’ll see anyone projecting Kjerstad, but I’ve read he could slide up into the first 10 picks. He has an offensive upside that ranks right up there with the top college bats in the draft, sporting the best pure left-handed power in the class and maybe even giving Torkelson a run for his money in that department.
8. Padres: Max Meyer, RHP, Minnesota
As I mentioned earlier, I think Meyer goes either at No. 5, 6, 8 or 10. The Padres are definitely interested in Meyer’s lethal arsenal, but they could also go high school here.
9. Rockies: Reid Detmers, RHP, Louisville
After Lacy, you could potentially see Hancock, Meyer and Detmers go off the board in any order. I would be surprised if another arm (prep or college) went before those four, although it’s possible one of the prep pitchers (Mick Abel, Jared Kelley, Nick Bitsko) could slide up if a team tries to cut a deal.
10. Angels: Robert Hassell III, OF, Independence HS (Tenn.)
There’s been a lot of talk of Hassel’s draft rise in recent weeks and he’s been connected to both the Padres and Angels in the top 10. Personally, I like other players at this spot and probably even prefer Austin Hendrick to Hassell, but I’m going with what I’m hearing and reading vs. what I would do myself. And even in a college heavy class, we need to start getting some prep names off the board.
11. White Sox: Garrett Mitchell, OF, UCLA
There seems to be a pretty strong consensus building that Chicago will select Patrick Bailey with this pick, seeing as they don’t have a true catcher among their top 20 prospects. I was also tempted to go with Mick Abel here, but Chicago hasn’t gone high school in the first round in eight years despite having a new scouting director. For that reason, this pick is a wild card — so I went with the the best all-around player on the board in Mitchell.
12. Reds: Austin Hendrick, OF, West Allegheny HS (Penn.)
This is a boring choice, as a lot of mocks out there have Hendrick going No. 12 to Cincinnati, but I think it would be hard for the Reds to pass up on a prep bat this talented. If they don’t cut a deal with a prep player, my next guess is they go college arm here, likely Cavalli, Van Eyk, Crochet or Cole Wilcox.
13. Giants: Mick Abel, RHP, Jesuit HS (Ore.)
If I used the same mindset as I did with No. 12, the pick here would be Tyler Soderstrom, the top prep catcher in the class. Even though baseball is unique in the fact that teams don’t draft for immediate need, I think it would be odd to spend a first rounder on Soderstrom with Joey Bart working his way through the ladder. Abel is the best pitcher remaining at this pick and if he does fall to the teens, I think the Giants scoop him up.
14. Rangers: Garrett Crochet, LHP, Tennessee
If the draft plays out anything like the manner I’ve laid forth, Texas is probably looking at Crochet, Cade Cavalli (among other college arms), Pete Crow-Armstrong or one of the remaining first round prep hurlers. With the velo gains he’s made in the last calendar year, I’m taking Crochet the Garrett. You guys know me and the love I have for these Garretts by this point. Guilty as charged.
15. Phillies: Nick Bitsko, RHP, Central Bucks East HS (Penn.)
I’ve seen Bitsko fall to the 20s and even the second round in some mocks, but the Phillies are known to cause surprises in the first round, and could they ever do much worse than Cornelius Randolph? I think they get suckered into taking the Pennsylvania kid, which could also make them a landing spot for Hendrick if he falls. And if Bitsko doesn’t pan out, he can always make a living starting his own bite-sized snack franchise: Bits Co. You’re welcome in advance, no royalties will be required.
16. Cubs: Patrick Bailey, C, NC State
There’s a good chance Bailey goes before this to one of the teams sitting in the 11-15 range, but if he’s around at this pick, my best guess is Chicago pounces on the draft’s top backstop. If they don’t, I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Soderstrom or a college pitcher taken here. That’s the kind of talk that’ll get David Ross horned up.
17. Red Sox: Cade Cavalli, RHP, Oklahoma
If Cavalli slides to here, I have to think this is about as long as he’ll last. There’s top three pitcher in the class upside with Cavalli, whose arm issues probably have his ceiling at No. 12 or 13. Other remaining college arms, like Wilcox, Tanner Burns and CJ Van Eyk could also be targeted here, as could Crow-Armstrong.
18. Diamondbacks: Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, Hardvard Westlake HS (Calif.)
It’s picks like this one that make mocking so maddening, as it’s impossible to fit every player you think has top-half of the first round potential into those first 15 picks. This has to be Crow-Armstrong’s floor. If he doesn’t get snatched up before this, the D’Backs should be all over him.
19. Mets: Bryce Jarvis, RHP, Duke
The Mets love Crochet, but he’s gone in this scenario. There’s also other pitchers on the board that the industry has ranked ahead of Jarvis, but I personally think he’s the best pitcher on the board and maybe the most underrated talent among the top 50. Come on, Brodie! I know you have it in you, you crazy bastard.
20. Brewers: Cole Wilcox, RHP, Georgia
Is this high enough for Wilcox’s liking, or will he be headed back to Georgia? For all we know, his first round demands are simply a posturing act, although he’s too good to go much past this. If the Brewers instead go with someone like Burns or one of the remaining catchers, look for the Cardinals or Nats to draft the Bulldog right-hander.
21. Cardinals: Tyler Soderstrom, C, Turlock HS (Calif.)
Soderstrom, Dillon Dingler and Austin Wells are all still on the board, but I have to give the edge to the former if he’s still available at No. 21. It seems as Yadier Molina’s playing days in St. Louis are numbered, but maybe the Cards go with the prep player to give themselves some extra wiggle room.
22. Nationals: CJ Van Eyk, RHP, Florida State
Van Eyk is a bit of a wild card, as I could see him going in the early teens or falling to the last few picks of the first round. The consensus seems to be that the Nats will go college here, meaning JT Ginn, Bobby Miller, Slade Cecconi and Burns are all options as well, but I think Van Eyk is the smart choice at No. 22.
23. Indians: Jared Kelley, RHP, Refugio HS (Tex.)
Kelley might turn out to be the best prep arm in this class, although high school right-handers historically represent one of the larger gambles come draft day. It’s possible all three of the prized prep pitchers fall in this draft and I’m betting Cleveland nabs any of the aforementioned trio if they’re still on the board.
24. Rays: Aaron Sabato, 1B, North Carolina
There it is! I actually did something creative in this mock. The Rays love Sabato, as does Texas, and I think he’s an intriguing candidate to sneak into the first round. On the other hand, Tampa Bay picks again at No. 37, so they may gamble and see if they can snag him there instead.
25. Braves: Chris McMahon, RHP, Miami
Call me nostalgic, but something about McMahon just screams “Braves” to me. Or that could just be Bobby Cox, who moved in below us about midway through his retirement. But McMahon has great command and feel for pitching, especially his refined change, so this seems like a solid fit.
26. Athletics: Casey Martin, SS, Arkansas
Alright, Harley Earl! I better hear your opinion on this one. Truthfully, I think Martin’s 2020 likely played him out of the first round, as he needs to begin refining some components of his game. His “raw” talent profile might have been cute in high school, but now it’s beginning to get old. Perhaps the best overall tools in this draft, but far from a complete product and there are a lot of holes in his swing. Visions of Kyler Murray at No. 9 dancing through my head forced me to do this one.
27. Twins: Clayton Beeter, RHP, Texas Tech
This is another pick that may be more what I think a team should do than what they will do, but there’s a legitimate shot Beeter sneaks into the first round. Minnesota is also one of the more analytically-driven organizations these days and Beeter rules that world. Know what they say when he drills someone? “Better go lick him, skip — he’s a batter Beeter!”
28: Yankees: Ed Howard, SS, Mount Caramel HS (Ill.)
*yawn* I’m getting tired, and the fact that Howard fell to this spot might indicate that I should have gone to bed hours ago. Then again, Howard could indeed fall to the 20s, so what’s another few spots? There’s still a lot of very talented college arms here, so don’t be surprised if the Yankees jump on Burns, Cecconi, Mlodzinksi or Bobby Miller — four hurlers with a decent probability to go in the first round.
29. Dodgers: Nick Loftin, SS, Baylor
Lots that could happen here. Any of the aforementioned college arms, maybe even Nick Swiney or Logan Allen make the jump to this spot. JT Ginn is another option, especially since the Dodgers took him 30th overall back in 2018. Like I said, a lot can happen here. Tommy Lasorda could even call Dave Roberts in to speak with him while he’s on the crapper and demand they select prep shortstop Carson Tucker, who could rise to the back-end of the first. In the end, I’m going with Loftin and rounding out a 2020 first round class littered with college talent.
That’s all for this week, especially since the Astros screwed us all, including some poor soul that will be taken 30th overall yet not be considered a true first rounder. In the meantime, you can follow me on my brand new Twitter account, @WorldOfHobbs.