Baseball Prospect Journal

Tigers have plenty of options with No. 1 pick

Emerson Hancock Tigers Georgia Baseball

The Detroit Tigers have the worst record this season and clinched the first overall pick in the 2020 MLB draft. It marks the second time in the last three years that they will pick first overall, as they drafted Auburn right-handed pitcher Casey Mize in 2018.

The Tigers have one of the best farm systems in baseball with Mize, right-hander Matt Manning and outfielder Riley Greene, who they selected fifth overall in 2019, headlining their talented crop of prospects.

In the MLB draft, teams don’t draft for need, which opens up numerous possibilities for the Tigers when they go on the clock with the top overall selection in about eight months.

Jared Kelley of Texas and Mick Abel of Oregon are the top prep pitchers in the 2020 MLB draft class, but both are right-handers, which is a demographic that a team has never selected first overall. Don’t expect that trend to change due to the deep class of college talent and high-end prep hitters.

Although there is a lot of time until the 2020 MLB draft in June, below are five players the Tigers could select first overall.

Emerson Hancock, RHP, Georgia

Emerson Hancock is a 6-foot-4, 215-pound righty who has a hig-90s fastball, an effective curveball and a changeup that shows above-average potential. He has an advanced feel for pitching and respectable command. He has frontline starter potential.

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. His ability at the plate will put him in consideration for the top overall pick in the 2020 MLB draft.

Austin Hendrick, OF, West Allegheny HS (Pa.)

Austin Hendrick was already one of the top prep prospect in the 2020 MLB draft class, but after a strong summer, he moved up the prep rankings to be considered the top prep position player at the end of the prep showcase circuit. He has arguably the best raw power in the prep class and displays a consistent approach at the plate. The left-handed hitter consistently squares up pitches and shows solid plate disciple. 

Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, (Harvard Westlake HS (Calif.)

Pete Crow-Armstrong has five-tool potential. The left-handed hitter had high expectations entering the summer showcase circuit, but he didn’t standout at the plate, causing his stock to take a slight hit. He has above-average speed and arm strength in center field. He has a smooth left-handed swing, and if he can show better strike zone discipline and square up pitches consistently in his senior season, he will be a top-five pick and in the mix for the No. 1 pick.

Austin Martin, 3B, Vanderbilt

Austin Martin had a notable sophomore season at Vanderbilt, leading the SEC in hitting with a .392 average and on-base percentage with a .486 mark. Martin is versatile defensively and profiles as a third baseman, outfielder and maybe even a shortstop in professional baseball. If he can prove that he can play shortstop in the spring, it will solidify him as a top-five pick. He possesses elite bat speed and hitting ability from the right side of the plate.

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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