Baseball Prospect Journal

2020 MLB Draft: First-Round Mock

MLB Draft Austin Martin Vanderbilt Athletics

The MLB draft is about 118 days away. The college baseball season is starting and the amateur season is slowly getting underway. Although there are about four months until the draft begins on June 10 in Omaha, Nebraska, here is a look at how I see the first round of the draft plays out if the draft started today.

This year’s draft class is stronger than in 2019. It also is deep in college talent, especially pitching. With college guys having a more proven track record, they will dominate the first-round discussions until prep guys start their seasons.

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 25 in-depth profiles on this year’s top MLB draft prospects already published on this website and many more will be coming out in the upcoming months. 

1. Detroit Tigers: Austin Martin, SS, Vanderbilt

As of now, there is no clear-cut favorite for the top pick in June’s MLB draft. But Austin Martin is a five-tool player who profiles well at shortstop and center field. He played third base as a sophomore last year and bounced around the diamond as a freshman.

2. Baltimore Orioles: 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 has a quick and clean arm action, displays an advanced feel for pitching and has respectable command. He has frontline starter potential.

3. Miami Marlins: Spencer Torkelson, 1B, Arizona State

Spencer Torkelson has major raw power. The 6-1, 220-pound slugging first baseman has hit .337 with 48 home runs in his first two seasons at Arizona State. He profiles as a first baseman in pro ball but did gain experience playing right field in the Cape Cod League. He has a quick, compact swing from the right side of the plate. His profile as a right-handed hitting first baseman, which hurts his value slightly.

4. Kansas City Royals: 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.

5. Toronto Blue Jays: Asa Lacy, LHP, Texas A&M

Asa Lacy is the top left-handed pitcher in this MLB draft class. The 6-4, 215-pound lefty throws a mid-90s fastball, a big breaking curveball, slider and deceptive changeup from a low-effort delivery. He had a big sophomore year, and if he can dominate hitters this spring, he will be in consideration for the first-overall pick in June’s MLB draft.

6. Seattle Mariners: Nick Gonzales, 2B, New Mexico State

Nick Gonzales had a phenomenal sophomore year at New Mexico State and then in the summer in the Cape Cod League. He led Division I college baseball in batting average with a .432 mark and ranked top five in on-base percentage and slugging. 

His production didn’t dip in the highly competitive Cape Cod League where he showed off his compact right-handed swing and impressive plate discipline. He is 5-10, 190 pounds but has solid raw power and above-average speed.

7. Pittsburgh Pirates: Jared Kelley, RHP, Refugio (Texas) HS

Jared Kelly is the top prep hurler in this year’s MLB draft class entering the spring. Kelley, 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. 

8. San Diego Padres: 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.

His hitting ability will determine where he goes in the draft. If he can refine his skills from the right side of the plate, he could be a top-five pick. 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. 

9. Colorado Rockies: Garrett Crochet, LHP, Tennessee  

Garrett Crochet’s numbers from his first two years at Tennessee don’t jump off the page. But the 6-6, 218-pound lefty 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. If he can show improvement with his changeup and experience better results this spring, Crochet could push his way into the first five picks.

10. Los Angeles Angels: Reid Detmers, LHP, Louisville

Reid Detmers’ success as a sophomore last season and intangibles on the mound have made him a sought after prospect. He doesn’t possess as high of an upside as some of the other college pitchers in this draft class, but he has the skills to at least be an effective middle-of-the-rotation pitcher who moves through the minor leagues quickly.

11. Chicago White Sox: Robert Hassell, OF, Independence (Tenn.) HS

Robert Hassell is the best prep hitter in this year’s draft class. He thrived with the 18-and-under U.S. National Team and earned the World Baseball Softball Confederation’s 2019 International Player of the Year award. He has a beautiful left-handed swing and consistently barrels up pitches with ease. 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.

12. Cincinnati Reds: Carmen Mlodzinski, RHP, South Carolina

Carmen Mlodzinski missed most of last season with a broken foot but thrived in the Cape Cod League. The 6-2, 232-pound right-hander is an intriguing prospect to watch. He has the intangibles to be a future top-of-the-rotation arm but will have to perform this year to solidify himself as a first-round pick.

12. San Francisco Giants: JT Ginn, RHP, Mississippi State

JT Ginn was a first-round pick by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2018 but didn’t sign and attended Mississippi State instead. He’s a draft-eligible sophomore and has three above-average offerings in a fastball, slider and changeup. He battled a sore arm in the second half of last season. If he can prove he’s durable and show consistency with his pitches and command, he will be an early selection in June.

14. Texas Rangers: Casey Martin, SS, Arkansas

Casey Martin, a right-handed hitter, offers an exciting combination of power and speed. He’s one of the best athletes in this year’s draft class due to his elite speed, which he uses in all facets of the game. Defensively, he believes he can stick at shortstop, but he might profile better in center field. If he can improve his plate disciple, Martin could easily be a top-10 pick.

15. Philadelphia Phillies: 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 is in the mix as the top prep pitcher in this year’s draft class. He’s an Oregon State commit.

16: Chicago Cubs: 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. Although he likely could play center field, he profiles better in right field. Scouts will be watching to see if Hendrick has improved his plate discipline this spring since it’s probably his biggest weakness. It’ll be interesting to see where Hendrick lands in June because he plays in the Northeast and this year’s draft also is deep with prep outfielders.

17. Boston Red Sox: Heston Kjerstad, OF, Arkansas

Heston Kjerstad has been a consistent power hitter in his first two years at Arkansas. The 6-3, 200-pound left-handed hitter uses all parts of the field but is an aggressive hitter, which leads to strikeouts at times. He is a bat-first player who likely will play right fielder in pro ball. He has a strong arm but average speed.

18. Arizona Diamondbacks: Nick Bitsko, RHP, Central Bucks-East (Pa.) HS

Nick Bitsko is a 6-4, 220-pound right-hander who reclassified from the 2021 draft to this year’s draft. He’s in the running to be the top prep arm in this year’s draft and offers a lot of projection and potential to profile as a potential No. 1 pitcher in pro ball. He throws an above-average fastball and curveball. He has solid command of those two pitches and his changeup. He is committed to the University of Virginia.

19. New York Mets: 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 has a strong feel for his pitches and respectable command. The New York Mets selected Van Eyk in the 19th round in 2017, even though he was headed for Florida State.

20. Milwaukee Brewers: 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. Although he’s been over scouted throughout his prep career, it wouldn’t shock me if he moves into the top 10 this spring due to his intangibles and big-time potential.

21. St. Louis Cardinals: 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. He will have to show better plate disciple this spring to be selected in the first half of the first round.

22. Washington Nationals: 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. Cavalli is 6-4, 218 pounds with his fastball that touches 98 mph. His command and control are average, but if he can improve those two areas, Cavalli could find himself in the first round.

23. Cleveland Indians: 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. He profiles as a top-of-the-rotation arm.

24. Tampa Bay Rays: Dylan Crews, OF, Lake Mary (Fla.) HS

Dylan Crews is one of the best hitters in the draft class. The 6-0, 175-pound right-handed hitter shows an ability to hit for average and power. He profiles as a right fielder in pro ball. He struggled with consistency during the summer and will have to show improvement in that area this spring. He’s a Louisiana State commit.

25. Atlanta Braves: 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. Despite his size, he’s thrived in his first two years at Auburn. He was a top prep prospect in 2017. He battled shoulder tightness last year but is 100 percent healthy entering this spring. He might not have the upside as some of the other college pitchers but profiles as an effective major-league starter.

26. Oakland Athletics: Daniel Cabrera, OF, Louisiana State

Daniel Cabrera was a top prep prospect in 2017 but had a strong commitment to Louisiana State. He’s been a steady performer in his first two years at LSU. He has a simple swing and an advanced approach at the plate that allows him to be an impact bat. He has solid power from the left side of the plate. He profiles as a corner outfielder.

27. Minnesota Twins: Max Meyer, RHP, Minnesota

Max Meyer is a fringe first-round pick entering the spring. He is slightly undersized at 6-0, 185 pounds but excelled in his first two years at Minnesota and with Team USA last summer. He’s bounced between the rotation and bullpen his first two years. If a team believes he can stick as a starter long term, don’t be surprised if he goes in the first round.

28. New York Yankees: Patrick Bailey, C, North Carolina State

Patrick Bailey is the top college catcher in this year’s draft. His production decreased slightly last year during his sophomore season. He’s a defensive-first catcher, who possesses athleticism, above-average arm strength and solid receiving skills. He is a switch hitter who has solid raw power and plate discipline from both sides of the plate. He has proven he can barrel up pitches, regardless of what side he’s hitting from, but wants to improve his approach as a junior this spring, he said.

29. Los Angeles Dodgers: 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.

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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