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2020 MLB Draft: 10 Prospects Who Improved Their Stock Before Play Stoppage

Bobby Miller Louisville Brianwesterholtfourseam
Louisville's Bobby Miller (Photo by Brian Westerholt/Four Seam)

Below are reports on 10 players who made significant jumps on our most recent update to the 2020 draft rankings. We expanded the list to 300 players, and while we haven’t had any real baseball in the last few weeks, movement on the list reflects the bit of baseball that was played before the novel coronavirus shut down baseball around the country

It’s a testament to both this class and the scouting process that the biggest risers were mainly pitchers. There’s an absurd amount of pitching depth in the class and pitchers can more rapidly change their stock (both positively and negatively) than hitters, especially when most teams weren’t yet in conference play.

Still, there were a few interesting prep bats who made jumps up the board with their early-season performances—and it should come as no surprise that each of those players call the southern part of the country home. 

Bobby Miller, RHP, Louisville

BA 300 Rank: 29
Previous rank:

Miller entered the season among the Top 100 prospects in the draft, but was towards the back of that list thanks to results that were less dominant than the impressive stuff he has at his disposal. 

The results this year were much better through his first four starts, as he posted a 2.31 ERA in 23.1 innings with 34 strikeouts (13.11 per nine) and nine walks (3.47 per nine). Scouts who saw him thought he looked like a comp round or fringe first-round candidate, with a chance to cement himself in the first round with continued performance throughout the season. 

He showed a fastball that got up to 99 mph and sat in the 95-97 mph range pretty consistently with a hard slider in the upper-80s that touched 90 mph, and a changeup in the mid-80s. He also showed above-average command for some scouts, giving him a number of starter traits to go along with a physically impressive 6-foot-5, 220-pound frame. 

Scouts will now have to try and square his performance in an abbreviated season with his track record as a starter and reliever. 

Justin Lange, RHP, Llano (Texas) High

BA 300 Rank: 62
Previous rank: Unranked

Lange was on our radar entering the season after an impressive showing at the 2019 Future Stars Series. After a pedestrian showing at the Area Code Games, Lange took a step forward in stuff and results at Fenway Park during the fall, and scouts were impressed with the stuff he showed early in Texas this year. 

He got his fastball up to 100 mph with impressive life. A decade ago, a 6-foot-4 prep righty out of Texas putting up triple-digits with standout athleticism was a lock for the first round. But today, and with this year’s draft class, that’s not a guarantee. 

Lange is a raw pitcher, who would be a dream for player development to mold into a future star, but he has a lot of areas where he can improve. His command is near the bottom of the scale at the moment, and his slot varies—taking away the life on his fastball at times when it gets lower—and his slider is rudimentary and needs work, though it has present power. Lange is incredibly risky because of the many question marks, but his arm talent is among the best in the nation and a team confident in honing and refining that ability could wind up with a steal. 

Christian Roa, RHP, Texas A&M

BA 300 Rank: 64
Previous rank: Unranked

Asa Lacy wasn’t the only Texas A&M arm surging on draft boards. Saturday starter Christian Roa impressed scouts in his four starts despite a 5.85 ERA and 18 hits allowed in his 20 innings of work. 

Roa was unranked entering the year, but jumps up into the second/third-round range thanks to a solid four-pitch mix and good strikes. His fastball was up to 96 at its best but mostly 92-94, with a slider and a curveball he is able to land consistently. He throws from a repeatable, high arm slot and also throws a changeup that gets plus grades.

With a physical, 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame and solid arm action and delivery, Roa has plenty of starter traits and had a chance to establish himself with a full season this spring, but he has never had a full season in a starter-exclusive role. 


Nick Garcia, RHP, Chapman (Calif.)

BA 300 Rank: 76
Previous rank: Unranked

One of the bigger pop-up players in the country, Garcia’s name was mentioned in passing in previous years, but he surged onto the draft scene this spring with a loud start for Division III Chapman. 

Over five starts and 27 innings, Garcia posted a 2.00 ERA with 36 strikeouts (12.0 per nine) and seven walks (2.3 per nine), while showing some of the best stuff among Southern California arms. 

Garcia throws a fastball in the 92-95 mph range—and up to 97—with a cutter and slider in the mid-80s. Both breaking pitches have a chance to be above-average and he does it with an easy operation. He overwhelmed Division III batters, has plenty of upside and will be just 19 and a half on June 10—exceptionally young for a college junior.

However, his ceiling could be capped in this year’s draft considering his lack of track record (this is his first season starting) and the amount of more proven arms he’ll be competing with. Still, the stuff, frame and operation are all legit for a team willing to take a risk on a prospect out of a more unconventional source. 

Clayton Beeter, RHP, Texas Tech

BA 300 Rank: 79
Previous rank: Unranked

Beeter didn’t land on the preseason Top 200, but was a freshman All-American as a redshirt freshman in 2019, after saving eight games in 20 appearances, with a 3.20 ERA.

This spring Beeter transitioned to a starting role for Texas Tech, and he performed well in four starts and 21 innings in that role, to the tune of a 2.14 ERA, 33 strikeouts (14.1 per nine) and four walks (1.7 per nine).

He shows a power fastball that gets up to 97 mph and a plus present curveball to go with it. The stuff has ticked up and the breaking ball is better than in previous seasons, and Beeter had drastically improved his strike throwing this season after walking almost a batter an inning last year.

If Beeter had continued to show that consistent strike-throwing ability this season as he gets further away from Tommy John surgery, he could have worked himself further up the board. Now teams will try and decide if the 2020 version, the 2019 version or some hybrid is the true pitcher. 

Kyle Nicolas, RHP, Ball State

BA 300 Rank: 85
Previous rank: Unranked

Nicolas showed some premium stuff last summer in the Cape Cod League, where he was a bit too erratic, but ran his fastball up to 97 mph and started making strides with his breaking ball. A big righthander with a 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame, Nicolas has a poor track record of throwing strikes, but started putting the ball in the zone more this spring. 

In four starts, Nicolas posted a 2.74 ERA with 37 strikeouts in 23 innings (14.5 per nine) to just seven walks (2.7 per nine), which is substantially lower than his previous career rate. He had done a nice job working with first-year Ball State pitching coach Larry Scully to shorten his stride and simplify things. In a brief look, it seemed to work. 

His fastball was in the 93-96 mph range with a slider in the mid-80s that flashed some downward bite and a distant changeup. There will be real starter/reliever questions with Nicolas because of his history, but he has big stuff, a big frame and has shown some aptitude to make adjustments. 

Ricky Tiedemann, LHP, Lakewood (Calif.) High

BA 300 Rank: 90
Previous rank: Unranked

An athletic lefthander committed to San Diego State, Tiedemann has become something of a favorite for SoCal area scouts who dream on the potential he offers. He has a physical frame at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds with big hands and athletic bloodlines. His father played college football and his brother, Tai, is a pitcher in the Rangers organization.

Tiedemann will also be young for the draft and still 17 on June 10. Tiedemann throws a fastball that’s typically in the 89-91 mph range, but has touched 93 at his best, with good feel for a changeup that some scouts project as plus and a hard breaking ball that has some promise as well. 

Scouts praise his strike throwing and believe he has room to add 15-20 more pounds with ease, and could eventually be pitching with average velocity and touching the mid-90s regularly. 

All the elements you want to see of a prep pitcher are there with Tiedemann, though he is dealing with a wrist injury to his right hand after a collision at first base. 

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Colt Keith, SS, Biloxi (Miss.) HS

BA 300 Rank: 55
Previous rank: 87

Keith now ranks as the top prep prospect in a strong state of Mississippi. He entered the season regarded highly, but scouts continued to be impressed with his lefthanded bat and the all-around package he offers.

Some evaluators believe that his pure toolset and profile could garner first-round grades, though his performance didn’t quite reach that level. He’s got a projectable, 6-foot-3, 185-pound frame with has a number of plus tools, including his arm strength—he gets into the low 90s on the mound—raw power and running ability.

A current shortstop, some scouts believe he’ll have to move off the position and he has the toolset to be a well above-average defender at third base. He’s shown power during games and could have an average bat. 

Carson Tucker, SS, Mountain Pointe HS, Phoenix

BA 300 Rank: 74
Previous rank: 135

Tucker entered the year on the Top 200 as an all-around shortstop who did everything well, but he’s gotten a ton of buzz from area scouts and national-level evaluators alike. 

Tucker doesn’t have any tools that jump off the page at you, but he has a solid all-around game that’s packed with solid-average or above-average tools across the board. He’s an instinctive defender at shortstop who gets to difficult balls to both sides and always seems to be in the right position. 

In a high school class that’s dying for shortstops, Tucker has perhaps one of the most complete middle infield profiles in the country. He’s gotten faster since last year and has a chance to hit, with some evaluators putting him as high as the second round.

Jake Vogel, OF, Huntington Beach (Calif.) HS

BA 300 Rank: 95
Previous rank: 147

Vogel entered the year ranked around Tucker, but had some helium early in the spring after hitting at a high clip at one of the best high school programs in the nation. A 5-foot-11, 165-pound center fielder, Vogel has some standout tools highlighted by his running ability. 

He ran a 6.15 60-yard dash at Perfect Game’s National showcase last summer, which is a top-of-the-scale time, and uses that speed in the outfield where he’s a plus defender. His arm strength is just average but he is still among the better defenders in the prep class.

Offensively, Vogel was raking to start the season with some sneaky pop to the pull side. At the moment he’s more of a line drive hitter in the gaps, where he can create havoc with his running ability, though some scouts have criticized the amount of swing-and-miss in his game and are skeptical of his overall offensive future because of it.

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