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.

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: 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.