Baseball Prospect Journal

2020 MLB Draft: First-Round Mock 4.0

2020 MLB Draft

The 2020 MLB draft will be unlike any other due to the coronavirus pandemic, especially since the draft will only be five rounds. 

This year’s class has been challenging to scout with the prep and collegiate seasons canceled, which likely will cause the first round to be extremely college heavy. This mock draft features some changes from my last mock draft on April 14 after talking to advisors, scouts and players.

Remember, the Houston Astros forfeited their first-round and second-round picks in each of the next two years due to the illegal sign-stealing incident.

If you are looking for more draft content, stay tuned to the Baseball Prospect Journal. There are 60 in-depth profiles on this year’s top MLB draft prospects already published on the Baseball Prospect Journal and many more to come in the next month before June 10’s draft.

1. Detroit Tigers: Austin Martin, INF/OF, Vanderbilt

This pick still seems to be up in the air with Vanderbilt infielder/outfielder Austin Martin and Arizona State first baseman Spencer Torkelson the likely options. It all really comes down to if the Tigers want a proven power-hitting first baseman who is a polished hitter or a well-rounded baseball player who likely will play a premium position in pro ball.

No college first baseman has ever gone first overall, but it wouldn’t shock me if Torkelson is the first to accomplish that feat. I just think it would be hard to pass on Martin, who has five-tool potential and defensive versatility.

2. Baltimore Orioles: Spencer Torkelson, 1B, Arizona State

This pick will come down to who the Tigers don’t pick between Spencer Torkelson and Austin Martin. Torkelson is a 6-foot-1, 220-pound slugging first baseman with major raw power. He hit .337 with 48 home runs in his first two seasons at Arizona State. He projects as a first baseman in pro ball.

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

Asa Lacy was nearly unhittable in four starts this spring. The 6-4, 215-pound lefty used his mid-to-upper 90s fastball and devastating off-speed pitches to limit opposing batters to nine hits and eight walks while striking out 46 to record a 0.75 ERA in 24 innings.

Lacy and Georgia right-hander Emerson Hancock are the top two pitchers in this year’s draft. Unlike Hancock, Lacy has shown consistency and a better overall feel for pitching over the last three seasons.

4. Kansas City Royals: Nick Gonzales, 2B, New Mexico State

This is where the draft could start to get interesting. The Royals have a variety of options, whether that’s New Mexico State second baseman Nick Gonzales, Florida prep outfielder Zac Veen, UCLA outfielder Garrett Mitchell or even a college pitcher.

Right now, Gonzales appears to be the most likely option but that could still change over the next month. Gonzalez has thrived offensively throughout his collegiate career. He hit five home runs in a game this season and finished the spring hitting .448 with 12 home runs and 36 RBIs in 58 at-bats. 

He’s played at 3,900 feet above sea level at New Mexico State, but his success last summer in the Cape Cod League has quieted some of the critics. He played shortstop this spring but profiles as an offensive-minded second baseman in pro ball.

5. Toronto Blue Jays: Emerson Hancock, RHP, Georgia

Emerson Hancock is a 6-foot-4, 215-pound righty who has a high-90s fastball, an effective curveball and a changeup that shows above-average potential. He was a possible option for the first-overall pick this year but was inconsistent against average competition in his four starts this spring. He posted a 3.75 ERA with 34 strikeouts, three walks and 22 hits allowed in 24 innings against Richmond, Santa Clara, Georgia Tech and UMass.

Hancock still projects as a No. 1 starter in pro ball but the buzz around him isn’t as strong as it was before the start of his junior season.

6. Seattle Mariners: Max Meyer, RHP, Minnesota

Max Meyer has drastically improved his draft stock over the last year. He thrived in his four starts this spring, posting a 1.95 ERA with 46 strikeouts and eight walks in 27 2/3 innings. He throws a fastball that reaches triple digits and a devastating slider, which might be the best slider in this year’s draft class, despite being slightly undersized at 6-0, 185 pounds.

7. Pittsburgh Pirates: Heston Kjerstad, OF, Arkansas

Heston Kjerstad has been a consistent power hitter in his first three years at Arkansas. The 6-3, 200-pound left-handed hitter has above-average raw power and uses all parts of the field. He is a bat-first player who likely will play right fielder in pro ball. He has a strong arm but average speed.

8. San Diego Padres: Zac Veen, OF, Spruce Creek (Fla.) HS

Zac Veen has a complete set of tools. He has the potential to stick in center field but might be better suited for a corner position. The 6-4, 190-pound left-handed hitter has the chance to be an impact bat in pro ball, but he does have some swing-and-miss concern in his game.

9. Colorado Rockies: Reid Detmers, LHP, Louisville

Reid Detmers is maybe the most polished pitcher in this year’s draft class. He has the skills to at least be an effective middle-of-the-rotation pitcher who moves through the minor leagues quickly. He’s had tremendous strikeout numbers throughout his collegiate career, including 48 strikeouts in 22 innings this spring.

10. Los Angeles Angels: Mick Abel, RHP, Jesuit (Ore.) HS

Mick Abel is a 6-6, 185-pound righty who has a mid-90s fastball and an above-average curveball. He also throws a slider and changeup. The right-hander has a clean, fluid delivery that offers projection and the potential for him to have three above-average pitches. He has all the makings of being a top-of-the-rotation arm, but he didn’t pitch this spring due to the coronavirus pandemic. Despite his upside, his inability to pitch this spring could hurt his value. He’s an Oregon State commit, which major league teams will have to contend with.

11. Chicago White Sox: Patrick Bailey, C, North Carolina State

Patrick Bailey is the top college catcher in this year’s draft. He’s a defensive-first catcher, who possesses athleticism, above-average arm strength and solid receiving skills. He is a switch-hitting catcher who has solid raw power and plate discipline from both sides of the plate.

12. Cincinnati Reds: Garrett Crochet, LHP, Tennessee  

Garrett Crochet is a 6-6, 218-pound lefty that has all the makings of being a No. 1 starter in pro ball. His four-seam fastball sat in the high-90s and touched 99 mph in fall practices. He missed several starts this spring with a back injury and returned to make just one start, allowing two hits and striking out six batters in 3 1/3 innings. His limited track record could hurt his draft stock but he has a lot of potential, which could cause him to still be a top-15 pick.

13. San Francisco Giants: Cade Cavalli, RHP, Oklahoma 

Cade Cavalli thrived as Oklahoma’s ace last season, despite missing three weeks with a stress reaction in his right arm. He believes the injury was related to poor mechanics, which he’s cleaned up this offseason. In four starts this spring, Cavalli showed strong control of his pitches. Cavalli is 6-4, 218 pounds and throws a fastball that touches 98 mph out of a clean delivery. 

14. Texas Rangers: Garrett Mitchell, OF, UCLA

Garrett Mitchell is an all-around player who profiles as a center fielder in the professional ranks. He is an above-average defensive player, possessing elite speed and solid arm strength. He has the chance to hit for average and power in pro ball with his quick left-handed swing while also using his speed to steal bases. Some teams are worried about his offensive profile and the health concerns with his diabetes. He has the potential to go as high as fourth overall to the Royals.

15. Philadelphia Phillies: Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, Harvard-Westlake (Calif.) HS

Pete Crow-Armstrong entered last summer as the top prep prospect in the draft class. But an average summer, which consisted of him getting away from his line-drive approach early on the showcase circuit, resulted in teams having concerns about his ability at the plate.

The left-handed-hitting center fielder has five-tool potential. He showed encouraging results this spring. It’ll be interesting to see how teams view Crow-Armstrong, but I believe he is the most promising prep player in this year’s draft class.

16: Chicago Cubs: Tyler Soderstrom, C, Turlock (Calif.) HS

Tyler Soderstrom is a well-rounded catcher, but his top trait is his offensive ability. He has quick hands that generate bat speed, which allows him to consistently barrel up pitches from the left side of the plate. Prep catchers are a risky demographic, but Soderstrom has intriguing tools and potential.

17. Boston Red Sox: Austin Hendrick, OF, West Allegheny (Pa.) HS

Austin Hendrick, a lefty hitter, has elite raw power for a high schooler and profiles as a middle-of-the-order bat in pro ball. He is a good athlete and has a strong arm. He profiles as a right fielder in pro ball.  

18. Arizona Diamondbacks: Ed Howard, SS, Mount Carmel (Ill.) HS 

Ed Howard is a slick-fielding shortstop from Chicago with big-time potential. He makes all the throws from shortstop, as he has great range, clean footwork, and a strong and accurate arm. He has a slightly open stance with a simple load that allows him to be quick to the ball and produce line drives. He has the potential to add more power as he matures. 

19. New York Mets: Robert Hassell, OF, Independence (Tenn.) HS

Robert Hassell has a beautiful left-handed swing and consistently barrels up pitches. He currently has solid raw power. He has a chance to stick in center field, but he might end up in a corner position in pro ball.

20. Milwaukee Brewers: Clayton Beeter, RHP, Texas Tech

Clayton Beeter enhanced his draft stock in his four starts this spring. The 6-2, 220-pound righty served primarily as Texas Tech’s closer as a redshirt freshman last season. He earned All-American honors last year and returned this season as Texas Tech’s No. 1 starter. In 21 innings, Beeter recorded a 2.14 ERA with 33 strikeouts (14.1 per nine innings) and four walks allowed this season. He has an electric repertoire that’s headlined by his mid-90s fastball and above-average breaking ball.

21. St. Louis Cardinals: Dillon Dingler, C, Ohio State

Dillon Dingler is a defensive-mind catcher but has shown promise at the plate. He has above-average arm strength. The right-handed hitter posted a .340 batting average with five home runs and 14 RBIs in 50 at-bats in an abbreviated season this spring.

22. Washington Nationals: Carmen Mlodzinski, RHP, South Carolina

Carmen Mlodzinski missed most of last season with a broken foot but thrived in the Cape Cod League last summer. The 6-2, 232-pound right-hander has the intangibles to be a future top-of-the-rotation arm. There is some risk with Mlodzinski since he doesn’t have the college track record, but if he pans out, there is a ton of upside.

23. Cleveland Indians: Jared Kelley, RHP, Refugio (Texas) HS

Jared Kelly, a 6-2, 200-pound right-hander, throws a mid-to-high-90s fastball with ease. He has confidence in his swing-and-miss changeup and displays potential with his slider. He projects as a frontline starter. The Indians haven’t been afraid to take hard-throwing prep right-handers who have a ton of upside in recent years, drafting Ethan Hankins and Daniel Espino in the first round the last two years.

24. Tampa Bay Rays: Casey Martin, SS, Arkansas

Casey Martin entered the spring as a potential top-10 pick. He has blazing speed and above-average power. He has the skills to stick at shortstop and also would profile well in center field if he was moved out of the infield.

He’s a polarizing prospect due to the question marks surrounding his hitting ability. He has struggled at times against elite pitching and has displayed some swing-and-miss in his game over the last three years.  

25. Atlanta Braves: Cole Wilcox, RHP, Georgia

Cole Wilcox is a draft-eligible sophomore and has as much potential as any pitcher in the MLB draft class. He isn’t as polished as Hancock or some of the other top college arms, but he has an intriguing repertoire of pitches that is headlined by a high-90s fastball. There are reliever concerns with Wilcox, though. He also has leverage as a draft-eligible sophomore. 

26. Oakland Athletics: Nick Loftin, SS, Baylor

Nick Loftin doesn’t have one eye-popping trait but profiles as a solid all-around player in pro ball. He should stick at shortstop long term but also possess versatility that would allow him to play shortstop, second base, third base, left field and right field. He has sneaky power but is more of a line-drive hitter to all parts of the field.

27. Minnesota Twins: Tanner Burns, RHP, Auburn

Tanner Burns is a 6-0, 215-pound right-hander who has a strong and athletic build. He throws a mid-90s fastball. He might not have the upside as some of the other college pitchers but profiles as an effective major-league starter.

28. New York Yankees: Chris McMahon, RHP, Miami

McMahon is a safer college arm who has a higher floor than some of the arms in this year’s draft class. He projects as a middle-of-the-rotation starter. The Yankees have the second-lowest bonus pool in this year’s draft and likely won’t be able to roll the dice on any prospects who slide down the draft board.

29. Los Angeles Dodgers: CJ Van Eyk, RHP, Florida State

CJ Van Eyk is a 6-1, 185-pound right who has a solid three-pitch repertoire that he overwhelms hitters with. He also mixes his pitches well to throw off hitters. His fastball sits in the mid-90s, while his 12-to-6 curveball is his best pitch and consistently generates swings-and-misses. He’s shown improvements throughout his college career at Florida state.

Read more stories on top 2020 MLB draft prospects here.

Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for five years. He’s interviewed 191 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he’s appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.

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