2020 MLB Draft Picks Who Could Debut This Season

The MLB is just three games into the season and already getting alarming news, with two games cancelled last night due to a COVID outbreak in the clubhouse of the Miami Marlins, who saw 14 positive tests. Both the Marlins and the Phillies  – Miami’s opponent this past weekend – cancelled their Monday-night contests while awaiting more results. It was a definitive risk of playing with no bubble, and it only took one weekend for the virus to rear its ugly head. 

That being said, it’s far too early to call the season a bust. The outbreak, as far as we know, was contained to just one team, so let’s not announce it doomsday just yet. Rather, what more exciting way to talk about baseball than to look at some of the promising young talent on its way to the league. In the piece below, we’re taking a look at players selected in the recent MLB draft that could make an appearance in the show this season. This would be historic in that, due to no minor league season, any prospect to do this would be the first to make the college-majors jump without a pitstop in the minors since Mike Leake did so in 2009. Only a small handful of players have gone from the collegiate game to the major league game in the same season in that window, each of those athletes requiring a small showing in the minors. That being said, this is a weird season, and the shortened schedules seem like a perfect chance to try out the unexpected. So here are a handful of college athletes I think may ascend to the majors this season – because why wouldn’t 2020 get weirder? 

Miami Marlins – Max Meyer, RHP0

Even in this wacky 60-game sprint with expanded playoffs, the Marlins aren’t expected to really come close to a playoff berth in 2020. Coming off a 57-win season, they are a clear pick to finish last in the National League East. They don’t fit the bill of a team that would be rushing a prospect to the majors, but they did include Meyer in their 60-player pool. They’ll toss their third-overall selection into some intrasquad games and see what they have. If Miami is well out of contention entering the final 12-15 games (which is about what qualifies as the ‘stretch run’ this season), and Meyer has performed well in intrasquad action, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised to see the Marlins give their new star prospect a little taste of the majors in some low-pressure situations, likely with no fans. 

Max Meyer was added to the Marlins’ 60-player pool

Los Angeles Angels – Reid Detmers (LHP), Adam Seminaris (LHP) 

The Angels put two of their draft selections into their player pool, highlighted by first round selection Reid Detmers. Detmers was the second southpaw taken in the draft, and he’s considered the most polished pitcher in the draft. A quick jump to the majors was very possible regardless of the unusual circumstances. The Angels have only made the playoffs once since 2009 (in 2014) and they haven’t posted a winning record since 2015. But the Angels are not a normal rebuilding team. They have the best player in baseball in Mike Trout, a dynamic two-way player in Shohei Ohtani, and a bevy of solid pitchers and a loaded lineup that features free agent signee Anthony Rendon, and the legendary Albert Pujols. After bringing in the ingenious Joe Madden to manage this talented roster, the Angels look primed to breakthrough, particularly with an expanded playoff. 

Enter Detmers and Seminaris, who I like to potentially debut this summer for different reasons. Detmers is obvious enough – he’s a polished left-hander with a fastball that plays beyond its normal 90-94 range and two plus offspeed offerings. If Detmers shows maturity facing big league talent in intrasquad games, he might be an intriguing late-season call-up for the Angels. Madden may also look to include the Louisville product in his taxi squad at some point, allowing the potential rookie to add some pitching depth to the roster for road trips. 

Seminaris was one of my favorite selections of the draft in that he was considered a prototypical left-handed pitching prospect, according to the MLB.com’s scouting analysis. The same report also said Seminaris has a limited ceiling, but that almost makes him perfect for a 2020 promotion. Seminaris has already learned to be a pitcher – not just a thrower – and scouts rave over his high-IQ pitching while utilizing an impressive four-pitch arsenal. There are question marks as to whether he has much room to improve, so Madde may not even be sacrificing tons of development in exchange for adding a pitcher that could be a very nice asset in a playoff push. 

Los Angeles Dodgers – Bobby Miller (RHP), Landon Knack (RHP), Jake Vogel (OF)

The theme of straight pitching prospects is broken by outfielder Jake Vogel, which we’ll get to in a minute. First off, let’s address the sheer number of prospects here. If there’s any team that will do absolutely anything to win, it’s the Los Angeles Dodgers. Although they seemingly increased their window to win via their recent extension of Mookie Betts, Dave Roberts’ squad has been knocking on the door for far too long. They were the only unanimous pick to win their division by ESPN, and they are once again considered the National League favorites. So, if there seems to be a prospect from this draft class that looks ready to contribute at the major league level, expect the Dodgers to immediately call their number. They’ve put five of their selections in their player pool; It’s all-in in L.A. 

Miller was the Dodgers’ first round selection out of Louisville, and his stock trajectory has been trending nothing but up for a year now. After moving into the Cards’ weekend rotation in his sophomore season, Miller continuously impressed with a mid-to-high 90s fastball that he maintained into the later innings, to go with an array of offspeed offerings that included a changeup, split change, and slider/cutter hybrid. Some scouts think Miller may be an elite bullpen piece rather than a starter down the road, and the Dodgers may be inclined to try him in that role, at least in the short term, if his stuff is proving good enough to miss big league bats. 

Landon Knack is a curious case. Drafted a little earlier than expected by the Dodgers in the 2nd round, the fifth-year senior hadn’t been considered a big prospect by any stretch, but he came into his final collegiate season and put up astounding numbers. He went 4-0 in four starts with a 1.08 ERA and led D-1 baseball with 51 strikeouts and in strikeout-to-walk ratio, 51:1. After pitching in the high-80s, and low-90s for most of his career, but he bulked up and came back touching 98 this past spring. Already 23 years old, Knack has plenty of experience and his improvement has been remarkable. How sustainable that improvement is remains to be seen, but I would hardly be shocked to see the Dodgers try to capitalize on Knack, who may prove to be a 2nd-round gem. 

Finally, we come to the only non-pitcher on this list, and there’s one specific reason. Vogel is also the only high school prospect on the list, because there’s almost zero reason you would ask a high school player to make that jump. But Vogel may just be the fasted prospect in this draft class, and speed will play at any level. Need a guy that can come in and steal a base, or maybe score that winning run from second on a single? Vogel, who hails from baseball-hotspot Huntington Beach, may just be the guy they want.Speed doesn’t make a good baserunner by itself, but it sure helps, and if Vogel proves to have the maturity and IQ to do the job for the Dodgers, they might be watering at the prospect of adding an 18-year old who could change the momentum of a postseason game with a timely steal. Keep an eye out for Jake Vogel this summer.

MLB Draft: College Teams And Players Who Won and Lost the Draft

Much is made of which MLB teams had good and bad drafts, with each team’s selections graded and separated into distinct winners and losers. But what about collegiate teams? College baseball is more affected by the draft than most other sports, as high school prospects battle a decision between signing with the team that drafted them, or honoring their commitment to play at the NCAA level. So which teams and players were most impacted by the results of the shortened, two-day, five-round MLB Draft? 

Winner: Texas
There’s one reason for Texas making the winner’s category, and that reason is Jared Kelley. Kelley became the first ever draft pick out of Refugio High School in Texas, but despite being ranked as the 12th best prospect by MLB.com, Kelley’s name went uncalled during Wednesday’s first round. Fears of the power-throwing righty being a tough sign caused Kelley to slip all the way to the Chicago White Sox at pick #47. Why is that good news for Texas? Because if Kelley was considered a tough sign near the top of the first round, it’s going to be way tougher for the White Sox to lure the Texas product from his in-state commitment. The slot value for pick #12 is 4.4 million, the 47th overall pick comes with an expected 1.6 million dollar signing bonus. Getting Kelley to leave his home state for barely a third of the money is going to be a tough one to sell for the White Sox, leaving Texas ready to enjoy the luxuries of a stud who looks like he’ll be one of the best pitchers in the country. 

Losers: Mississippi State, Arizona

On the flip side of Texas’s situation is Mississippi State and Arizona, who both couldn’t have been too happy with the Boston Red Sox. For Arizona, they watched one of their premium prospects in Nick Yorke get drafted 112 spots above his ranking, going from a projected fifth-round pick to 17th overall. While the Red Sox did make the pick to save some money on the slot value of the 17th pick, they will likely make an offer far more competitive and enticing to Yorke, who was described by Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin as “the best high school hitter in the nation”. Arizona may not have anticipated it being a battle to keep Yorke in the program for the next three years, but Boston just made it a lot harder. Meanwhile. Mississippi State was likely ecstatic when viral slugger Blaze Jordan slipped all the way to the third round. The further he slipped, the more it looked like they would be benefiting from the services of one of the nation’s best power hitters, until Boston swooped in and grabbed the Missouri product at 89th overall. Boston did not have a second round pick, and they will either not sign Yorke or sign him for below slot value, leaving them with plenty of money to throw at Jordan, making his decision a lot tougher. With some of their top prospects’ future on their teams in doubt, Mississippi State and Arizona are in the losers category for this draft. 

Winner: Austin Martin
Slipping from a potential first overall pick to fifth may not be a ideal situation normally, I think this a massive win for Austin Martin. Martin got drafted to the Toronto Blue Jays, meaning he avoids the hapless organizations of the Detroit Tigers, Baltimore Orioles, Miami Marlins, and the Kansas City Royals. The Blue Jays are the only team out of that group of five that has recently shown some upside, and they have a recent track record of developing elite prospects like Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. It’s a great situation for the best all-around player in the 2020 MLB Draft.

 Loser: Texas A&M
The Aggies knew they were losing Asa Lacy, their ace left-hander was picked fourth overall. However, they then saw outfielder Zach DeLoach go 36 spots earlier than his ranking suggested, and pitcher Christian Roe jump 41 slots. Both juniors, it looks unlikely they’ll return to the crowded collegiate rosters, with their expected signing bonuses jumping up by nearly a million dollars, leaving Texas A&M floundering a little more than expected in a highly competitive SEC next season. Long-term, however, the Aggies may look like a winner if they can turn this draft night surprise into success on the recruiting front.

THE TREND THAT MIGHT CHANGE BASEBALL AS WE KNOW IT

The MLB Draft has never been the primetime sporting event that many fans of the league hope for it to be one day. This has always been due to the fact that the players drafted will not see MLB playing time for another three to four years – in the best case scenarios. However, the 2020 Draft had a greater trend that might shorten the time it takes players to reach the show, while also increasing the talent that college baseball fans will see on fields across the country.

The first high school player drafted this year was Robert Hassell at eighth overall to the Padres. This is far from just three years prior when each of the top three picks hailed from high school, not college. This trend towards more mature collegiate prospects rather than the raw high school arms and bats might just be a passing fad because of the circumstances of this draft, but I don’t believe this to be the case. I believe that, because of the various changes that are bound to occur as a result of the pandemic and its impact on professional sports, high school baseball players will become more likely to end up on college fields rather than in major league farm systems. 

This is a bold claim for anyone to make, especially after seeing last year’s second overall pick, high school shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., have success despite foregoing his offer to play at the University of Oklahoma. The problem with players such as Witt and many other aspiring baseball stars who have been drafted out of high school is that many casual baseball fans see the success stories, but neglect to see those who fail before reaching the peak. 

According to the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), only about 27.5% of high school players chosen in the first round of the draft ever make it to the MLB. This number, compared to the 39.3% of college players who reach the show, demonstrate that many high school prospects just fail to pan out at the same rate as collegiate athletes. This difference is only exacerbated when you look beyond the first round. High school players drafted within the 2nd – 5th rounds reach the MLB about 14% of the time, much less than the 25% of college players able to do the same. 

The sheer fact that college players are more likely to make it to the MLB is not the sole determining factor behind my belief that more high school players will choose the route of higher education rather than the minor leagues. 

High school players who are drafted in the early rounds of the draft also tend to demand higher pay than those in similar positions coming out of college. For many MLB teams, it’s easier to pick a player with less negotiation leverage, such as those from college, rather than dealing with the threat of losing a top draft pick for nothing in return. The Houston Astros know this story all too well as their No. 1 overall pick from 2014, Brady Aiken, decided against signing with the team because of an offer that was lower than slot value. There are stories like these every single year from the draft. Nick Lodolo was the 41st overall pick in the 2016 MLB draft, but did not sign with the Pirates. Instead, he played three years at Texas Christian University and was drafted 7th just three years later.

College baseball is also a growing sector of the NCAA and, now more than ever, it is a legitimate option to spur playing in small towns for major league clubs, in order to shine in large collegiate conferences. This natural cycle is mutually beneficial for players and colleges alike. The colleges are able to brand their new star athletes to sell more seats and gain more exposure for their school and program. This exposure then leads more high school prospects to ignore the glamorous cash that the draft has to offer, delaying their entry into minor league baseball and playing competitive baseball for a much wider audience in college instead. 

The MLB is often seen as the league for old men. The demographics of its fans might support this narrative. However, recent draft trends suggest there might be a change on the horizon – one that many people might not recognize at first, but will, no doubt, change the way that the game is viewed and grows. If more collegiate programs are able to gain the notoriety that Vanderbilt, Florida, and South Carolina have established, the door for baseball to regain its status as America’s Pastime might not be too far away. 

MLB Draft: Grading Every First-Round Selection

The first 37 selections of the 2020 MLB Draft have come and gone – with 29 players fulfilling their dreams to be a first-round pick. Here’s a brief thought on each of those 29 picks, along with grades for each of the 37 selections made on Wednesday night.

R1 P1: Detroit Tigers select Spencer Torkelson, 1B, Arizona State
Expected pick here. The Tigers have a pitching-rich system, so the obvious choice was the premier power bat available in this year’s draft in Torkelson, who’s average exit velocity exceeded 96 mph, greater than Aaron Judge’s MLB-leading mark. Detroit didn’t overthink it, and they make a solid selection here. Grade: A

R1 P2: Baltimore Orioles select Heston Kjerstad, OF, Arkansas
This one was an early surprise. Austin Martin was considered the favored option for Baltimore here, but the Orioles were intrigued by the power-hitting outfielder out of the SEC, who hit 30 HR in his first two seasons with the Razorbacks. With a clear-cut top-3 prospects, this is a bit of a risk that will haunt Baltimore if Kjerstad doesn’t pan out. Grade: C-

R1 P3: Miami Marlins select Max Meyer, RHP, Minnesota
If you are going by draft rankings, this pick is very surprising, as the Marlins had their choice of pitching prospects, and #3 overall prospect Asa Lacy available here, but Miami goes for Meyer. I really like Meyer as a prospect, but Lacy projects more as a starter, so using a top-3 pick on a player that projects more as a reliever is definitely risky. Grade: C

R1 P4: Kansas City Royals select Asa Lacy, LHP, Texas A&M
I thought the Royals may jump for Austin Martin, somehow still available at pick #4, but Kansas City opted to boost their farm system via the mound, snaring left-handed Lacy. Considered by many the best pitching prospect in the draft, there isn’t too much to second-guess on this pick. Grade: A-

R1 P5: Toronto Blue Jays select Austin Martin, OF/3B, Vanderbilt
Toronto was expected to have to make a potentially very difficult decision between several prospects, but Martin fell into their laps, and Toronto made the obvious selection. Great pick, and I consider this one of the top steals of the first round. Grade: A+

R1 P6: Seattle Mariners select Emerson Hancock, RHP, Georgia
Another very solid pick here, as the surprising selections by Baltimore and Miami pay dividends for the Mariners. Hancock was their top target, and the fourth-ranked prospect survives to the sixth pick, allowing Seattle to scoop up yet another SEC product, giving the conference four of the first six picks in the draft. Grade: A

R1 P7: Pittsburgh Pirates select Nick Gonzales, SS, New Mexico State
Gonzales was projected anywhere from Picks 4-9, and the Pirates gladly snare one of the best pure hitters in the draft class with the seventh overall selection. Gonzales was the Cape Cod League MVP this past summer with a .351 average and seven home runs, and he’s put up video game numbers at New Mexico State. Grade: A

R1 P8: San Diego Padres select Robert Hassell III, OF, Independence HS (TN)
Eh. I liked the Padres going for a hitter, which is what our mock draft had them doing. But with OF Zac Veen still on the board, I would have liked to see San Diego go in that direction, or maybe for Austin Hendrick or Garrett Mitchell, another pair of outfield prospects. Hassell is a bit more speed than power and definitely a very solid player, just not sure he was the best available here. Grade: C+

R1 P9: Colorado Rockies select Zac Veen, OF, Spruce Creek HS (FL)
The Rockies capitalize on San Diego’s surprising pick, grabbing Veen, who was projected to go as high as fourth overall. Only other prospect I considered a potential fit here was Garrett Mitchell at UCLA, but Mitchell brings a few health question marks, and Veen has extremely high upside. Grade: A-

R1 P10: Los Angeles Angels select Reid Detmers, LHP, Louisville 
The Angels were known to be targeting Detmers, and the eighth ranked prospect slipped just far enough for Los Angeles. With the possibility of expanded playoffs in the next few seasons, the Angels could be looking at the possibility of a return to the playoffs, and Detmers is one of the most major-league ready arms. Grade: A

R1 P11: Chicago White Sox select Garrett Crochet, LHP, Tennessee
The White Sox go with a high-risk, high-reward option in Crochet. Injuries are a concern, but the Tennessee southpaw offers three-above average pitches, leading with a fastball that plays up to 97 mph. I think Chicago could have gotten more upside and less question marks with one of the available high school pitching prospects. Not bad, but maybe a reach by the White Sox. Grade: C+

R1 P12: Cincinnati Reds select Austin Hendricks, OF, West Allegheny HS (PA)
The Reds become the fourth team of this draft to adhere to our mock draft, snaring Hendricks at twelfth overall. I didn’t anticipate Mitchell still being available at this point – I really think people are overblowing the concern surrounding him being a Type 1 diabetic – so I would have preferred the UCLA product at this point, but Hendricks is an excellent alternative. Grade: A-

R1 P13: San Francisco Giants select Patrick Bailey, C, NC State
I’m not personally extremely high on Bailey, and the Giants were thought to prefer high school prospect Tyler Soderstrom, but they elect for the more proven collegiate option in Bailey. The decision between those two may be a bit of a toss-up, so I can’t fault San Francisco too much. It just feels slightly early, but if they felt Bailey was their guy, it’s a decent pick. Grade: B+

R1 P14: Texas Rangers select Justin Foscue, 2B, Mississippi State
I thought I was bold when slotting Foscue at pick #29 in our mock, but the Texas Rangers are even bolder, jumping for the Mississippi State product at 14th overall. The Rangers were known to be targeting Crochet, but he is somewhat surprisingly already off the board, and Texas shifts gears entirely, not selecting a pitcher and preferring a second baseman in Foscue. To reach this high for Foscue and not address a seemingly more prominent need on the mound seems highly questionable. Grade: D 

R1 P15: Philadelphia Phillies select Mick Abel, RHP, Jesuit HS (OR)
The Phillies needed a pitcher, and they went out and got the best available, with Abel sliding to pick #15. No complaints here. Grade: A 

R 1 P16: Chicago Cubs select Ed Howard, SS, Mt. Carmel HS (IL)
I do think the Cubs got great value in Howard, who we had projected at #11, but I would have liked Chicago to pursue a pitching prospect with their first-round selection. Drafting for ‘need’ is always tricky in the MLB Draft, when dealing with prospects that are still years away from the major leagues, so it’s difficult to judge this pick too much. Grade: B+

R1 P17: Boston Red Sox select Nick Yorke, 2B, Archbishop Mitty HS (CA)
No words will suffice my absolute shock at this pick. I had seen Yorke’s name in creating our mock draft, but I never considered him a first-round possibility. With the Red Sox not picking again until 89th overall, it seemed like they would want a surer thing with their first-round selection. Multiple pitching prospects were still on the board, particularly high school products Jared Kelley and Nick Bitsko. But Boston went diving for a player I really believe would still have been available at pick #89, losing out on some premium prospects. Grade: F

R1 P18: Arizona Diamondbacks select Bryce Jarvis, RHP, Duke
Jarvis was definitely a first round talent, but there were a few college arms most draft boards had rated above the Duke righty, along with the aforementioned Kelley and Bitsko. Right position, but, in my opinion, not the right selection from the D-Backs. Grade: B- 

R1 P19: New York Mets select Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, Harvard-Westlake HS (CA)
Our mock had the Mets going after an outfielder, but our target for New York – Hassell – was taken off the board over ten picks ago, so the Mets grab the best available here. Crow-Armstrong was ranked the 20th-best prospect, and he truly feels like the right pick for New York here. Grade: A

R1 P20: Milwaukee Brewers select Garrett Mitchell, OF, UCLA
I knew our mock draft, which had Mitchell going fifth overall, may have been high on the UCLA outfielder, but his fall to #20 was absolutely shocking. Thought the Brewers may go for a pitcher, but Mitchell is just too good a prospect to pass up on here – best value pick of the first round. Grade: A

R1 P21: St. Louis Cardinals select Jordan Walker, 3B, Decatur HS
Our mock had Walker going to the Rays at pick #24, which may have been a reach, but the Rays have the best farm system in the league, so they can afford to draft for need. St. Louis’s system, ranked 24th, has not such luxury, and coming off a NLCS appearance, I would have preferred see St. Louis go with a college pitcher, or somebody that may make an impact sooner than a high school third baseman. Grade: D+ 

R1 P22: Washington Nationals select Cade Cavalli, RHP, Oklahoma
I was all over the map with who the defending World Series champions would pick here, and although I thought they may go after a bat, there wasn’t necessarily a clear-cut pick available at 22. I didn’t anticipate Cavalli to be on the board here, so it’s definitely a solid pick, although I still believe Bitsko and Kelley were the top options available, but I respect the decision to go with a college arm. Grade: B+ 

R1 P23: Cleveland Indians select Carson Tucker, SS, Mountain Pointe HS (AZ)
Got some major question marks surrounding this pick. Francisco Lindor is entrenched as a franchise shortstop for Cleveland, so it seems strange to draft one with their first pick. And if they were committed to going for a shortstop, there seemed to be other options available prior to picking Tucker. Cleveland later picked at 36th overall, and it’s likely Tucker still would have been there for the taking. They did not seem to address a priority, nor attain top-level talent with this selection. Grade: D 

R1 P24: Tampa Bay Rays select Nick Bitsko, RHP, Central Bucks HS East (PA)
It’s worth wondering whether the Rays even had Bitsko on their draft board, as he was projected to go roughly ten picks earlier. Regardless of whether they thought he or Jared Kelley would be available at this point, Tampa Bay had to be thrilled to have their choice of these two hurlers. My only argument is that the Rays have a pitching rich system, so drafting for a need may have been more prudent, but again, Bitsko is absurdly good value at pick #24. Grade: A-

R1 P25: Atlanta Braves select Jared Shuster, LHP, Wake Forest
Shuster, along with Yorke, was one of two first-round selections that didn’t appear anywhere in our two-round mock, so I was quite surprised at this selection. I didn’t think Atlanta would go for a pitcher, and if they did, Jared Kelley was far and away the highest ranked prospect available. And if they wanted a college arm, there were five other projected first round college pitchers available. And if they wanted a lefty, there were four more southpaws ranked above Shuster. However, Atlanta doesn’t pick again until #97, so if they truly felt Shuster was their man, it makes sense to get him here, as he likely would not have survived the second round. Grade: C-

R1 P26: Oakland Athletics select Tyler Soderstrom, C, Turlock HS (CA)
Sometimes in the draft, it’s hard to weigh value versus need. The Athletics have Sean Murphy one of the best catching prospects in the game, as one of their top prospects, so going for a catcher is strange. On the flip side, Soderstrom is superb value – as many mocks had him going at Pick #13 to the Giants. Hard to blame the Athletics going after the Cali product, but there may have been better ways to address their farm system needs. Grade: B

R1 P27:  Minnesota Twins select Aaron Sabato, 1B, UNC
Sabato only played one full season in college, but he absolutely mashed ACC pitching with the Tar Heels, and it’s no surprise to see a first round selection used on him. I considered first base and catcher the biggest needs in a deep Minnesota system, and I did feel there were some better catching prospects available, but Sabato was the best available 1B, so overall a very solid pick. Grade: A-

R1 P28: New York Yankees select Austin Wells, C, Arizona (AZ)
Our mock also had the Yankees going after a college catcher, but with 24th-ranked Dillon Dingler out of Ohio State still on the board, it was slightly surprising that New York opted for Wells, but nothing crazy like we saw in this first round (see: Red Sox). Addressing a need with a very solid prospect is a great use of their first round pick. Grade: A- 

R1 P29: Los Angeles Dodgers select Bobby Miller, RHP, Louisville
My original pick for LA’s selection here was Foscue, who ended up going fifteen picks earlier to the Rangers. Miller is definitely first-round value and a solid pick for the Dodgers, although they do have three top-100 right-handed pitching prospects. There were three available right-handers rated above Miller, including two college prospects and Jared Kelley, who is still inexplicably available. Our mock had Miller going one pick later, to the Orioles, but we also didn’t anticipate so many top right-handers still available. Some question marks, but not a bad pick by any stretch. 

Round 1, Supplementary Round

Baltimore Orioles: Jordan Westburg, SS, Mississippi State
Grade: B

Pittsburgh Pirates: Carmen Mlodzinski, P, South Carolina
Grade: A-

Kansas City Royals: Nick Loftin, SS, Baylor
Grade: A

Arizona Diamondbacks: Slade Cecconi, RHP, Miami
Grade: B+

San Diego Padres: Justin Lange, RHP, Llano (TX)
Grade: D

Colorado Rockies: Drew Romo, C, The Woodlands HS (TX)
Grade: B-

Cleveland Indians: Tanner Burns, RHP, Auburn
Grade: A-

Tampa Bay Rays: Alika Williams, SS, Arizona State
Grade: A-

2-Round MLB Mock Draft

Welcome to the College Kids Talking College Sports MLB Mock Draft. It covers the first 72 picks – two full rounds. No explanations are written here, but if you are interested in a particular selection, or your favorite team’s picks, or have comments, as always you can contact our writers at collegetalking@gmail.com, or leave a comment.

FULL MOCK DRAFT

Round 1

Detroit Tigers: Spencer Torkelson, 1B, Arizona State

Baltimore Orioles: Austin Martin, OF/3B, Vanderbilt

Miami Marlins: Asa Lacy, LHP, Texas A&M

KC Royals: Nick Gonzales, SS/2B, New Mexico State

Toronto Blue Jays: Garrett Mitchell, OF, UCLA

Seattle Mariners: Emerson Hancock, RHP, Georgia

Pittsburgh Pirates: Zac Veen, OF, Spruce Creek HS (FL)

San Diego Padres: Heston Kjerstad, OF, Arkansas

Colorado Rockies: Max Meyer, RHP, Minnesota

Los Angeles Angels: Reid Detmers, LHP, Louisville

Chicago White Sox: Ed Howard, SS, Mount Carmel (IL)

Cincinnati Reds: Austin Hendrick, OF, West Allegheny (PA)

San Francisco Giants: Mick Abel, RHP, Jesuit (OR) 

Texas Rangers: Jared Kelley, RHP, Refugio HS (Texas)

Philadelphia Phillies: Garrett Crochet, LHP, Tennessee

Chicago Cubs: Nick Bitsko, RHP, Central Bucks East HS (PA)

Boston Red Sox: Tyler Soderstorm, C, Turlock HS (CA)

Arizona Diamondbacks: Cade Cavalli, RHP, Oklahoma

New York Mets: Robert Hassell, OF, Independence HS (TN)

Milwaukee Brewers: Cole Wilcox, RHP, Georgia

St. Louis Cardinals: Carmen Mlodzinski, RHP, South Carolina

Washington Nationals: Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, Harvard-Westlake (CA)

Cleveland Indians: Bryce Jarvis, RHP, Duke

Tampa Bay Rays: Jordan Walker, 3B, Decatur HS (GA)

Atlanta Braves: Casey Martin, SS, Arkansas

Oakland Athletics: Chris McMahon, RHP, Miami

Minnesota Twins: Patrick Bailey, C, NC State

New York Yankees: Dillon Dingler, C, Ohio State

Los Angeles Dodgers: Justin Foscue, 2B, Mississippi State

Round 1 Supplementary

Baltimore Orioles: Bobby Miller, RHP, Louisville

Pittsburgh Pirates: Austin Wells, C, Arizona

Kansas City Royals: Drew Romo C, The Woodlands HS (TX)

Arizona Diamondbacks: Nick Loftin, SS, Baylor

San Diego Padres: Tanner Burns, RHP, Auburn

Colorado Rockies: Daniel Cabrera, OF, LSU

Cleveland Indians: Aaron Sabato, 1B, UNC

Tampa Bay Rays: Slade Cecconi, RHP, Miami

Round 2

Detroit Tigers: Carson Montgomery, RHP, Windermere HS (FL)

Baltimore Orioles: Alika Williams, SS, Arizona State

Miami Marlins: Blaze Jordan, 1B, DeSoto Central HS (MS)

Kansas City Royals: CJ Van Eyk, RHP, Florida State

Toronto Blue Jays:  Dax Fulton, LHP, Mustang HS (OK)

Seattle Mariners: Kevin Parada, C, Loyola HS (CA) 

Pittsburgh Pirates: Logan Allen, LHP, Florida International

San Diego Padres: J.T. Ginn, RHP, Mississippi State

Colorado Rockies: Cade Horton, RHP/SS, Norman HS (OK)

Chicago White Sox: Burl Carraway, LHP, Dallas Baptist

Cincinnati Reds: Cole Henry, RHP, LSU

San Francisco Giants: Seth Lonsway, LHP, Ohio State

Texas Rangers: Carson Tucker, SS, Mountain Pointe HS (AZ)

Chicago Cubs: Clayton Beeter, RHP, Texas Tech

New York Mets: Masyn Winn, RHP/SS, Kingwood HS (TX)

Milwaukee Brewers: Justin Lange, RHP, Llano (TX)

St. Louis Cardinals: Tanner Witt, RHP, Episcopal HS (TX)

Washington Nationals: Jared Jones, RHP, La Mirada HS (CA)

Cleveland Indians: Isaiah Greene, OF, Corona HS (CA)

Tampa Bay Rays: Alex Santos, RHP,  Mount St. Michaels Academy (NY)

Oakland Athletics: Jeff Criswell, RHP, Michigan

Minnesota Twins: Jake Eder, LHP, Vanderbilt

Los Angeles Dodgers: Kyle Harrison, LHP, De La Salle HS (CA)

Round 2 Supplementary

Miami Marlins: Kyle Nicolas, RHP, Ball State 

Detroit Tigers: Drew Bowser, 3B, Harvard-Westlake HS (CA) 

St. Louis Cardinals: Nolan McLean, 3B/RHP, Garner HS (NC) 

Seattle Mariners: Cam Brown, RHP, Flower Mound HS (TX)

Cincinnati Reds: Ryan Hagenow, RHP, Farragut HS (TN) 

Los Angeles Dodgers: Hudson Haskin, OF, Tulane

San Francisco Giants: Ben Hernandez, RHP, De La Salle (IL)

San Francisco Giants: Petey Halpin, OF, St. Francis (CA) 

New York Mets: Alejandro Rosario, RHP, Miami Christian (FL)

St. Louis Cardinals: Nick Garcia, RHP, Chapman

Washington Nationals: Daniel Susac, C, Jesuit (CA) 

Houston Astros: Tommy Mace, RHP, Florida

MLB Draft Feature: Nick Swiney, LHP, NC State

Despite being ranked 79th on MLB.com’s top 200 prospects, NC State left-handed pitcher Nick Swiney was projected as a first-round pick in Keith Law’s first mock draft for the Athletic? Why? Well there’s a few reasons why there will be more than a few teams hoping to secure his services in the upcoming 2020 draft. One of the most impressive stats about Swiney is his near-spotless record on the mound. Between 2+ seasons with the Wolfpack and his final two high school campaigns, Swiney is 32-3. At NC State, he is 15-1 over 50 appearances (8 starts). Despite not featuring what scouts traditionally label as ‘dominant’ stuff, opponents have struggled to hit the southpaw, managing just a .191 average against Swiney over his career. This year, the in-state product has seemingly fixed one of the pressing concerns in his game – his control – while transitioning into a starter for the Wolfpack. His dominant – albeit shortened – junior season has Swiney skyrocketing up draftboards. Heading into the season, Swiney was a projected late fourth round pick, possibly early in the fifth round. Recent predictions have Swiney slotting in as high as the first round, with very few seeing the Wolfpack lefty dropping too far past the second round. 

Projection

As mentioned above, Swiney transitioned to a starter this year for NC State, and he showed no signs of needing an adjustment period. He fired off 28 stellar innings over four starts, allowing just four earned runs, 13 hits, and six walks. After 49 walks in his first 87 ⅓ career innings, the improved control addressed a major concern in his game, and he didn’t seem to sacrifice his swing-and-miss stuff, striking out 42 batters. Swiney’s biggest improvement in his stuff has been an improved feel for his changeup, giving him the three-pitch combination necessary to be an effective starter. He’s got a solid fastball that plays up to 94 mph, sitting consistently in the low-90s, and he features a curveball that scouts are high on as an above-average offering with high upside. Swiney is absolutely a high-upside play for whoever selects him in the upcoming draft, and he can be developed as the starter, with the comfort of knowing he has two years of collegiate experience in the bullpen.

 Prediction: Round 2, Pick 55, Washington Nationals

Only seven teams in the MLB do not have a left-handed pitcher in their top 10 prospects, so it’s a tough need to identify within farm systems. The Nationals have southpaw Matt Cronin as their 10th-best prospect according to Bleacher Report. However, it’s a coveted position to be deep in, and if Swiney remains available this deep into the second round, the Nationals should definitely jump to secure his services. He could develop as a starter, or maybe provide some relief to Washington’s heart attack-inducing (albeit World Series-winning) bullpen. Definitely look for Swiney to be a high-upside pick in the first two or three rounds in a couple of weeks.

MLB Draft Feature: Aaron Sabato, 1B, UNC

Aaron Sabato started his collegiate career by hitting .186 in his first fourteen games, and questions were raised about whether UNC had made the right decision to recruit and start the undrafted Connecticut high school prospect. However, Sabato quickly quelled those doubts and answered the bell in a big way for the Tar Heels, absolutely tearing the cover off the ball for the rest of his freshman campaign. The right-handed hitting first baseman seemingly never missed a barrel in the last three-quarters of the season, hitting .343 with 18 home runs, 25 doubles, and 63 RBI. Not known for his speed, Sabato also legged out a triple en route to hitting for the cycle in a rivalry victory over NC State. His on-base percentage checked in at a stellar .453. Although his sophomore season waas cut short, Sabato had hardly cooled down, hitting .292 with seven dingers in just 19 contests. Sabato has transitioned from a little-hyped, slumping first baseman to one of the best collegiate prospects in the upcoming draft. After Arizona State’s Spencer Torkelson, Sabato is considered by many the next best first baseman available on this year’s draft board. He’s ranked 41st on MLB.com’s Top 200 prospects. 

The question is not whether Sabato will get drafted – as he is a fringe first-round pick, and certainly an early second-rounder – but whether he intends to turn pro, with three seasons of eligibility remaining at UNC. The Tar Heels won the 2019 ACC championship and were one game away from the College World Series last season, losing a Game 3 Super Regional contest at home to Auburn. This year, North Carolina was 12-7 when the season was cancelled, and despite some early season ACC struggles, they promised to be one of the premier programs in the country once again. Sabato may want to return to Chapel Hill, but he also may take advantage of being one of the most sought-after players at his position and head for pro ball right away. 

Projection

Sabato is most certainly a power and offense-first player, but his defense is certainly respectable – he had a .981 fielding percentage his freshman year, improving that mark to .991 in his most recent campaign. Offseason shoulder surgery placed some questions on his range, but scouts applaud his reliable hands, a much-needed attribute to stick at first base long-term, rather than projecting solely as a designated hitter. Comparisons have been made between Sabato and the New York Mets’ Pete Alonso, although Sabato has featured more raw power than Alonso did in college. Considering Alonso hit 53 home runs last season, that’s not a bad comparison at all for the UNC sophomore. Look for a team to jump at Sabato’s power and offensive upside early in this year’s draft, grooming him as their next great power hitter. 

Prediction: Round 1, Pick 22, Washington Nationals

Some may say this is a touch early, considering Sabato’s 41st ranking, and a first-round draft pick will only be spent on the UNC prospect if teams are convinced he’s returning to college. If he is, though, the Nationals have one of the worst farm systems in baseball, and they don’t have a standout prospect at first base. They’ve got franchise player Ryan Zimmerman manning the position now, along with Eric Thames, but they are 35 and 33 years old, respectively, and so now is a great time to scoop up a player like Sabato. It would be a great situation for the Tar Heels’ first baseman, as the Nationals are the defending champions, and with Zimmerman holding down first base, there’s no need to rush Sabato’s development. Give him a few years in the minors, and Sabato could be ready to slug it out with the best of them in America’s capital.

MLB Draft Feature: Grant Richardson, OF, Indiana

Next in our MLB draft feature series is Indiana outfielder Grant Richardson. Richardson has only played a little over one complete season of collegiate ball with the Hoosiers, but the in-state product made an immediate impact as a freshman, and he was one of the most impressive hitters in the country in his shortened sophomore campaign. 

Richardson was a high profile IU recruit from the end of his freshman year of high school, and he didn’t disappoint when he stepped on campus. Starting 42 games, and appearing in 46, Richardson knocked his way to a .264 average with nine home runs, He put the Big 10 on notice in a midseason blowout of Maryland, blasting three home runs in a 5-6 effort at the plate. Overall, Richardson boasted 11 multi-hit games, leading the Hoosiers to their third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. Richardson was named a freshman All-American.

Although the 2020 season was cut short after 15 games, both Richardson and Indiana were on pace for great seasons, as the Hoosiers were off to a 9-6 starts with ranked road victories over #11 LSU, #30 South Alabama, and #17 East Carolina. Richardson was front and center of a prolific Indiana offense that averaged 6.3 runs per contest. Starting fourteen games, the sophomore led the squad with a .424 average, banging five home runs, three doubles, and two triples, driving in 17 runs. His five long balls led the Big 10. In the season-opening road trip to LSU, Richardson rapped out six hits in 12 at-bats, hitting a double, triple and home run over the weekend, driving in five runs and scoring four. He finished the year with 9 multi-hit games. 

Projection

Grant Richardson still has four season of eligibility with the Hoosiers, so, with the shortened draft, the probability is that he returns to Indiana for at least one more season. Regardless, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Richardson’s name be called, as one team may definitely try to take a flier on the Indiana outfielder with a fourth or fifth round pick and try to lure him away from college with a signing bonus. Richardson has solid speed, running around a 6.7 60-yard dash, and his bat carries serious upside. A former pitching recruit with a 90 mph fastball, Richardson has a very solid arm. At 6’2 and 186 pounds, Richardson may also be able to fill out a little bit to add a little more power at the plate. As he continues to develop, Richardson looks like a guy that could roam center field in the MLB. Although this prediction will be for this year’s draft, don’t be surprised if Richardson returns to school, and his draft stock continues to skyrocket. 

Prediction: Round 5, Pick 155, Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays have one of the best farm systems in the league, and so they can afford to take a flier on Richardson, hoping that he opts to head to one of the best franchises at developing players. Tampa Bay does not have a Top-100 outfield prospect right now, and while Richardson probably would slot into that list, at least not right away, the Indiana outfielder could become a long-term replacement plan for 30-year old center fielder Kevin Kiermaier.

MLB Draft Feature: Garrett Crochet, P, Tennessee

Left-handed pitchers are always a commodity in the MLB, and Garrett Crochet will be one of the best available come the 2020 Draft, as the Tennessee junior is ranked as the 18th best prospect on MLB.com’s Top 200, and he slots in as the third best available southpaw.

Crochet was a 34th-round draft pick out of high school, but he elected to honor his commitment to the Volunteers, and that decision has paid off, with his draft stock skyrocketing over two full seasons of pitching in the very competitive SEC. Crochet has been utilized as both a starter and a reliever, coming up clutch in both situations. His freshman year, Crochet displayed ice in his veins, stranding the bases loaded against #13 Kentucky to earn his first career save.

Despite only six starts in his sophomore year, Crochet still made 18 appearances and was third on the team with five victories. He was second with 81 strikeouts. In his first appearance of the year, he faced nine batters from Appalachian State, and he struck out all nine of them in a dazzling performance that had Crochet on every scout’s radar from the start of the season. In his return from injury in the NCAA Tournament, Crochet fired 2 1/3 scoreless innings with four strikeouts to help the Vols to their first tournament win in nearly fifteen seasons.

Projection

Crochet is a power-first lefty, with his fastball touching 99 mph, but his slider, curve, and change-up combination complement his heater well. If all four pitches develop, Crochet projects as a above-average middle of the rotation starter. Even with his fastball and his slider, his top off-speed offering, and deceptive delivery, Crochet can be an elite and valuable asset out of the bullpen, so he will be a solid pick in the mid-to-late portion of the first half.

Prediction: Round 1, Pick 14, Texas Rangers

There’s a little injury risk when it comes to Crochet, but his upside is too teasing to pass up here. Touching 99 with his fastball, featuring a wipe-out slider with the potential for another consistent swing-and-miss pitch in his changeup, Crochet has the pieces to be a huge asset in Arlington, and if he continues to rebound well from his injury, he will be a great pick-up at 14th overall for the Rangers.

MLB Draft Features: Logan Allen, LHP, Florida International

The first spotlight in our MLB Draft prospect profile series, Logan Allen is primarily a left-handed pitcher, although he also boasts a solid bat, for Florida International. After being drafted in the 19th round out of high school, Allen honored his commitment to FIU, and the southpaw has consistently raised his draft stock, and he’s a borderline first round draft pick, if he decides to forego his collegiate eligibility. 

This past season would have been Allen’s junior campaign, and although the NCAA is giving back a year of eligibility, the FIU lefty may capitalize on his high draft stock, which was boosted by a strong, if brief, start to the shortened season. In just four starts this season, he averaged over six innings per outing, boasting a sparkling 2.45 ERA. That followed up a sophomore year with a 3.11 ERA. Allen has also been a threat at the plate, hitting .311 in ten games this year after knocking his way to a .276 average last season. Although he will likely be drafted as a hurler, Allens’ dual abilities on the mound and on the plate are notable to say the least. 

Top Games
Allen has had more than a few memorable performances on the mound for the Panthers. He burst onto the scene his freshman year with eight shutout innings, sending FIU to the conference championship game. In his sophomore year, during which he made 14 starts, Allen recorded his career high of 13 strikeouts against Georgia Mason on Feburary 23, 2019. However, Allen seemed ready to hit a new level, as he was firing on all cylinders to start the season. Facing George Mason again in a non-conference game, Allen shut them down once more with seven innings of one-hit ball, once again punching out 13 batters. It was one of the finest performances of his career, and a potentially fitting punctuation mark on what has been a spectacular run with FIU. Projection
Logan Allen will be a useful talent for whoever lands him. Many believe Allen has the best changeup in the draft class, and with two full collegiate seasons behind him, after being a draft pick out of high school, Allen could be on the fast track towards the major if he acclimates to the professional lifestyle.
Prediction: Round 2, Pick 47, Chicago White Sox
The White Sox have only one left-handed pitcher in their Top 30 prospects, and their window to win is fast approaching. Grabbing Allen, a decently polished pitcher who could help out in the big leagues in just a few years would be a great asset, and a boost to the thinnest part of their farm system.