2020 BA 500 Draft Rankings
The BA 500 is an attempt to capture the industry’s consensus on the talent of the 2020 draft class—not to predict where players will be selected. The list was compiled in consultation with major league scouts, front office executives, scouting directors, college coaches and other professional evaluators. Teddy Cahill, JJ Cooper, Kyle Glaser, Joe Healy, Bill Mitchell, Chris Trenkle and Carlos Collazo contributed to the reporting and writing.
By Carlos Collazo
June 2 Update: Final tweak to rankings made based on last-minute industry feedback. See how the class breaks down by the numbers.
RELATED: See our 2020 MLB Mock Draft
We didn’t take the expected route to get here, but after almost a year of evaluating the 2020 draft class, Baseball America is proud to release the BA 500.
A comprehensive ranking of the top talent in the 2020 draft class, the BA 500 is the result of almost a year of watching, evaluating and reporting on the most talented high school and college players in the nation. This list has been tweaked, adjusted, sent to MLB scouting departments for feedback and argued over for many months in an attempt to capture the industry’s consensus on the talent of the 2020 class.
The 2020 draft will be remembered as one of the most unusual drafts of all time. The novel coronavirus threw a wrench into the plans of scouts and players alike, giving Division I colleges just four weeks of action and many high school players even less than that. Because of that, the draft will be significantly shorter and teams will have to make picks based on evaluations from last fall and last summer more than spring performances.
It would be a shame for any draft class to be affected in this way, but it’s especially true for a 2020 class that was among the strongest in recent memory.
“(We) entered the spring believing the 2020 class was strong, but the class looked even better than expected in the first four weeks of the college season,” said one American League front office executive. “The upper crust of college talent is excellent on both sides of the ball, and a number of pitchers really elevated their stock early in the spring. We’ll never really know what the spring would’ve held now.
“But it was shaping up to be a special spring. It’s probably on par with the 2014 class, which has ended up being better than the industry expected, especially given the career outcomes of the first two picks. It could’ve been as good as the 2012 class with a strong remainder to the spring, which we’ll never know.”
The college class has a chance to make history in a variety of ways, with the top six players on the BA 500 hailing from the collegiate ranks. If six college players were selected to begin the draft this year, it would break the previous record of five straight collegians to start the draft (which happened in 1992 and 2018).
“Almost everything about the college crop is above-average for recent years,” the AL exec said.
Additionally, the 2020 draft could consist of the largest percentage of college players drafted ever, thanks to the expedited information disadvantage for high school prospects. Scouting departments have been drafting more and more college players since the start of the century for a variety of reasons, but the coronavirus could take that to a new extreme.
“There’s likely to be a flight to safety,” said the exec. “The high school class is going to take a hit, in particular, due to the lack of exposure relative to prior years. It’s absolutely going to have a ripple effect on how teams operate in the future.”
The draft will be five rounds and begin June 10. The length of the draft itself could have huge ramifications on how scouting departments operate, with the role of area scouts shifting dramatically depending on the length.
“Technology is not only more useful this year, it’s paramount.” the exec said. “The involvement of area scouts will likely depend on the number of rounds of the draft, which is still to be determined. If it’s only a five-round draft, area scouts will likely have less input than ever before. If it’s a 40-round draft—which is unlikely—area scouts could really make a huge difference throughout the depth of the draft. (We’re) waiting on pins and needles to hear the parameters of the draft from MLB.”
The 2020 draft class is led by a group of players at the top, rather than a no-doubt No. 1 prospect like we saw with the 2019 (Adley Rutschman) and 2018 (Casey Mize) draft classes. Arizona State first baseman Spencer Torkelson and Vanderbilt outfielder Austin Martin top the list at No. 1 and No. 2, though scouts are split on who the best player in the class is.
We will continue to make tweaks and adjust the BA 500 as necessary as we get closer to draft day, and we’ll also regularly roll out scouting reports on every player ranked. Currently all 500 players have scouting reports available.
Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 205 | B-T: R-RUndrafted after his four-year high school career in Northern California, Torkelson exploded onto the college baseball scene at Arizona State with one of the best freshman seasons ever. He led the nation with 25 home runs that year, breaking Barry Bonds' ASU freshman home run record. He was just as strong in his sophomore and junior seasons, but the early end to what is expected to be his final season left him three homers short of breaking Bob Horner’s ASU career record. Torkelson has terrific hitting ability with an advanced approach and plate discipline, plus bat speed, and plus-plus power. He hits with power to all fields and showed an increased ability to pull pitches over the middle of the plate during his abbreviated junior season. At times he gets too much out on his front side and pulls off of pitches, so there are still some swing tweaks to be made. Even so, his power potential and hitting ability are that of a middle-of-the-order force. Torkelson is an above-average defender at first base thanks to his impressive agility and good hands, as well as his strong work ethic to continue improving. Torkelson played some outfield with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team, where he ranked as the top prospect last summer. While he has below-average speed, he runs well underway and has improved his throwing technique. He could be at least adequate in left field, but most observers want him to stay at first base so he can focus on hitting. Torkelson may be the safest pick at the top of the draft thanks to his outstanding hitting ability and the most usable power in the draft. He draws comparisons to elite mashers like Mets first baseman Pete Alonso and should rise quickly through the minors. If Torkelson does become the first overall pick, he would be the first college first baseman to ever do so.
Commit/Drafted: Never Drafted
Age At Draft: 20.8More Less
Ht: 6-0 | Wt: 170 | B-T: R-RA first team All-American and Golden Spikes semifinalist as a sophomore after he hit .392/.486/.604 and finished third in the country in hits, Martin has long been one of the favorites for the first overall pick in the 2020 draft. Martin has some of the best pure hitting ability in the class with eye-popping bat speed, excellent contact ability and impressive plate discipline. Martin is more pure hitter than masher, but he increased his home runs from one as a freshman to 10 as a sophomore. He hit three homers in 16 games before the 2020 season was canceled, with the best isolated slugging percentage of his career (.286). Some have compared Martin to Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson as a fellow Vanderbilt product, but Martin mostly played third base with the Commodores and moved to center field this season after experiencing throwing accuracy problems. He also played center field for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team. While Martin doesn’t have elite speed or the best first step, he has the instincts and athleticism to potentially handle center field. Martin is more of a plus runner than a true burner, and while teams would have liked to see him handle shortstop, it is concerning he wasn’t the shortstop on his college team. Even if Martin doesn’t wind up at shortstop, he has the defensive ability to become an asset at a premium position, whether that’s center field, third base or second base. While there are questions about his future defensive home, Martin’s offensive resume is as impressive as any in the country, with the ability to hit for high average, draw plenty of walks and be a disruptive runner on the basepaths.
Commit/Drafted: Indians '17 (37)
Age At Draft: 21.2More Less
Ht: 6-4 | Wt: 215 | B-T: L-LLacy entered the year among the top tier of college pitchers, with only Georgia righthander Emerson Hancock ahead, but he performed at such a high level in his four starts that most clubs now view him as the best pitcher in the draft class. A 31st-round pick of the Indians out of high school, Lacy has filled out his projectable 6-foot-4 frame and now harnesses some of the best stuff in the country. After filling out to 215 pounds, Lacy's fastball ranges from 90-98 mph to go with a wipeout slider, a plus changeup and a power curveball. After posting a 2.13 ERA with 130 strikeouts in 88.2 innings in his first full season as a starter in 2019, Lacy was well on his way to more dominance in 2020. In four starts he struck out 46 batters compared to eight walks and allowed just two earned runs—good for a 0.75 ERA. Scouts previously wondered about the quality of Lacy’s slider, but answered those questions this spring by unveiling a powerful, 87-90 mph version of the pitch. Some now say it’s the best slider they’ve seen from a college lefty since Carlos Rodon in 2014. Lacy's changeup has long been a reliable weapon, and while he hasn’t thrown it as much this spring, most scouts believe it’s a plus pitch as well. Lacy’s curveball gives him a fourth pitch that’s at least average and has above-average potential. The one critique of Lacy is his pitch efficiency. He has a tendency to pitch into deep counts, which has inflated his walk rate more than his above-average command would indicate, but he strikes out plenty of batters and doesn’t allow much contact. Lacy’s delivery is fluid and clean, with good usage of his lower half to drive downhill and above-average deception. In addition to his pure stuff, scouts love Lacy’s stoic, no-nonsense demeanor on the mound. He should be one of the first two pitchers selected.
Commit/Drafted: Indians '17 (31)
Age At Draft: 21.0More Less
Ht: 6-4 | Wt: 215 | B-T: R-RA notable high school prospect out of Georgia in 2017, Hancock established himself as one of the best college pitchers in the country during a tremendous sophomore season in 2019. He posted a 1.99 ERA—the eighth best mark in Georgia history—and led the SEC with a 0.84 WHIP while allowing one run or fewer in nine of his 14 starts. Scouts lauded his delivery, command and repertoire at the time, with some believing each of his pitches were plus or better. The grades on Hancock’s offerings weren’t quite as gaudy early in 2020, but his command, frame, delivery and pitch mix still place him among the elite pitchers in the draft class. Hancock’s command earns potential plus grades—rare for an amateur pitcher with his stuff. He walked just 1.79 batters per nine innings as a sophomore, and that rate was down to 1.13 after four starts in 2020. He spots his entire arsenal where he wants it out of his lower arm slot, which allows everything to play up. Hancock’s fastball ranges from 93-97 mph, though some evaluators question if it has the riding life and swing-and-miss qualities you’d like from a frontline starter. Hancock's low 80s slider is an above-average offering that gets plus grades at its best, while a tumbling changeup is his most consistent offspeed pitch and generates whiffs from batters on both sides. Hancock also throws an infrequent curveball as his fourth pitch. Hancock is unsurprisingly efficient considering his command. He fields his position well with impressive natural athleticism and a clean delivery that leaves him in good fielding position. Hancock lacks an out-pitch breaking ball, but his athleticism, frame, command, velocity, changeup and track record in the SEC all combine to make him difficult to pass up. He should be one of the first pitchers off the board.
Commit/Drafted: Diamondbacks '17 (38)
Age At Draft: 21.0More Less
Ht: 5-10 | Wt: 190 | B-T: R-RA lightly recruited walk-on to New Mexico State, Gonzales turned himself into one of the nation's top draft prospects through sheer hard work. He hit .432/.532/.773 as a sophomore, leading the nation in batting average, and was named an All-American. He continued to post video game-like numbers with 12 home runs in 82 plate appearances this spring before his junior season ended. Gonzales' big numbers came playing in extreme hitting environments, but he proved his bat is for real with a star turn in the Cape Cod League last summer. He hit seven home runs and was named league MVP, alleviating concerns he would struggle against better pitching. Gonzales is the prototypical baseball rat, though he has more innate hitting ability than most gritty, gamer types. He has elite bat-to-ball skills and plate discipline, and his strong hands allow him to make hard contact to all fields. He consistently finds the barrel and has excellent natural timing, allowing scouts to project 15-20 home runs even though he's undersized. Gonzales has above-average speed and good baserunning instincts, which should help him steal plenty of bases as well. A second baseman his first two seasons, Gonzalesmoved to shortstop this year to showcase himself prior to the draft. Opinions are mixed whether he can handle the position, with most observers wanting to put him at second base and just let him be an elite hitter at the position. While he has solid arm strength, scouts believe he might be stretched in the hole, and he lacks the short-area quickness teams prefer in their shortstops. He’s a solid defender at the keystone, with improving footwork and hands and the ability to throw from various arm slots. With his tremendous track record of hitting and a strong Cape performance, Gonzales should go off the board among the first five picks. Scouts see him developing into an All-Star level second baseman who competes for batting titles at his peak.
Commit/Drafted: Never Drafted
Age At Draft: 21.1More Less
Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 204 | B-T: L-RScouts eyed Mitchell as a potential first-round pick at Orange (Calif.) Lutheran High, but a middling senior season and concerns about his Type 1 diabetes caused him to fall to the 14th round, where the A's picked him. He opted for UCLA and became a three-year starter for the Bruins. After struggling as a freshman, Mitchell led the nation in triples during a breakout sophomore season and continued to raise his stock as a junior. He was batting .355/.425/.484 this spring when the season shut down. Mitchell possesses arguably the best package of tools in the 2020 draft. He's an 80-grade runner who changes games with his speed, is a plus defensive center fielder who effortlessly glides to balls and has a rifle for an arm from the outfield. Mitchell shows plus raw power in batting practice, but his choppy swing produces mostly grounders and low line drives in games. Some evaluators are optimistic Mitchell can tap into his power with swing refinements in pro ball, but his in-game power production is concerning dating back to his high school career. Mitchell’s speed helps him to beat out infield singles and amass lots of doubles and triples, making him an offensive difference-maker even absent home run power. His natural feel for contact gives him a chance to be an above-average or better hitter. Mitchell has faced health and endurance concerns because of his diabetes throughout his career, but he missed only one game in three years at UCLA. With a high probability to hit for average, steal bases and stay in center field, and the possibility of adding power, Mitchell is a top-10 talent, though his question marks make him a bit more polarizing than the other players around him.
Commit/Drafted: Athletics '17 (14)
Age At Draft: 21.8More Less
Ht: 6-5 | Wt: 200 | B-T: L-RVeen started to raise eyebrows as a Florida high school junior when he went on a home run binge, including a homer off the top prep pitcher in the 2019 draft class, Matt Allan. While Veen didn’t attend USA Baseball’s PDP League, he was quick to impress evaluators with his exceptionally smooth and loose lefthanded swing and elite frame. Veen has one of the best batting eyes of the prep class and brings a patient approach to the table. He frequently gets into deep counts and waits for a specific pitch to hit. His swing has natural leverage and good loft that should allow him to continue tapping into his ever-increasing raw power, which is at least plus now and could eventually reach double-plus. Veen has some swing-and-miss tendencies and critics wonder about his ability to handle velocity or adjust to offspeed pitches away, but most scouts believe he’ll be an above-average or better hitter thanks to his batting eye, the looseness of his operation and the way his hands work during his swing. Veen plays center field for his high school team but he’ll be stretched there as a pro, especially as he adds weight. He’s a fine runner now who could eventually become fringe-average or below and will fit best in a corner, where he should have more than enough power to profile. He’s a solid defender with good arm strength. Veen has one of the more high-upside profiles in the class thanks to his power potential, swing and projectable 6-foot-5, 200 pound frame. After entering the season toward the back of the first round, the Florida commit is now one of the favorites to be the first high school player selected in a class that’s heavy on college players at the top.
Age At Draft: 18.5More Less
Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 210 | B-T: L-LPerhaps the most polished strike-thrower in the 2020 draft class, Detmers set a Louisville program record with 167 strikeouts last year and tied the program record with 13 wins. He annihilated his competition in 2020 before the season ended prematurely, striking out 48 batters and walking just six in 22 innings. A 6-foot-2, 210-pound lefty with a workhorse frame, Detmers throws a fastball that averages 90-91 mph and touches 94 mph at his best, but it plays up and generates whiffs because he hides the ball well in his delivery. His low-70s curveball is a hammer with massive depth and shape, and grades out as a plus offering at least. Evaluators note it’s rare for a breaking ball with such a low velocity to fool professional hitters, but Detmers has enough feel to add power to the pitch at the next level if necessary. On top of his curveball, Detmers has a changeup that's a potential above-average future offering and a fringy but usable slider he'll occasionally throw. Detmers ties it all together with outstanding command and control. Scouts and coaches alike rave about Detmers’ competitive nature on the mound and believe he has the makeup necessary to perform in any situation. Scouts have cited Drew Pomeranz, who found major league success with below-average fastball velocity and a lethal curveball, as a potential comparison. A No. 3 starter is a solid future outlook for Detmers at this point, and he seems a safe bet to go among the top 10 picks.
Commit/Drafted: Braves '17 (32)
Age At Draft: 20.9More Less
Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 192 | B-T: L-LHendrick impressed scouts with his hitting and power potential over the summer showcase circuit, where he showed the ability to lay off bad pitches at East Coast Pro and at USA Baseball’s PDP League. He put together a three-home run game on June 27 and upped the ante at the 2019 Under Armour High School All-American Game when he hit a ball out of Wrigley Field. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound outfielder has the quickest bat speed in the class and complements it with light tower raw power, giving him arguably the best power/hit combo of any high school hitter. Hendrick has extremely quick hands that allow him to get to his 70-grade raw power, though he’s had to implement some timing mechanisms to keep himself back. Those adjustments have included a quirky toe-tap which has been replaced by a fluid leg kick. Hendrick’s consistency with his bat leaves fewer questions than for other high school hitters, though he does have some swing-and-miss concerns. The pitching he regularly faces in Pennsylvania is significantly worse than the top pitchers of his age, but he has the natural tools to make the adjustments necessary as he moves up the ladder. Hendrick has played all three outfield positions in high school, but scouts are split on his defensive routes. Some scouts believe he tracks the ball well and most agree his arm strength is near the top of the class. Hendrick is best suited to play in a corner outfield spot, where his power and above-average arm strength fit well. A 2020 high school preseason first-team All-American, Hendrick wasn’t seen much this spring, but likely would have had a tough time changing his draft stock much given the competition. Hendrick is old for the class and will turn 19 in the middle of June. Still, he should be one of the first high school players selected, and it’s unlikely he makes it to campus at Mississippi State.
Commit/Drafted: Mississippi State
Age At Draft: 19.0More Less
Ht: 6-0 | Wt: 185 | B-T: L-RIf you’re looking for the best pure stuff in the 2020 draft class, Meyer might be your guy. A two-time member of USA Baseball's Collegiate National Team, Meyer is a two-way player for Minnesota with a long track record of excellence on the mound. After posting a 2.06 ERA as a reliever as a freshman in 2018, Meyer successfully transitioned to starting in 2019 and posted a 2.11 ERA with 87 strikeouts in 76.2 innings (10.2 strikeouts per nine). He took over the Friday night role this spring and was rapidly ascending draft boards before the season was cut short. Meyer has two 70-grade offerings in his arsenal. He holds a mid-90s fastball deep into outings and runs it up to 97-98 mph, while his slider is the best in the 2020 draft class. Meyer's slider is not only hard, reaching 92-93 mph, but it has tremendous movement and depth and he has excellent command of it. He can loosen it for strikes or tighten it for chases out of the zone at will. Some observers have called it the best amateur slider they've ever scouted. Meyer also has a mid-80s changeup with slight tailing life and above-average potential, giving him the third pitch needed to start. Meyer is undersized at 6-foot, 185 pounds, but he holds his stuff and there’s not a disconcerting amount of effort in his delivery. He has a strong history of throwing quality strikes and is one of the more athletic pitchers to come out of the draft in recent years. Meyer draws frequent comparisons to other small but high-octane starters like Sonny Gray and Marcus Stroman. He's gone from a late-first round option to a potential top-10 pick thanks to his early-season performance.
Commit/Drafted: Twins '17 (34)
Age At Draft: 21.3More Less
Ht: 6-5 | Wt: 198 | B-T: R-RVying to be the first prep pitcher from Oregon drafted in the first round since 1994—when the Royals drafted lefthander and first baseman Matt Smith—Abel has a tantalizing combination of present stuff, future projection and pitchability. A 6-foot-5, 180-pound righthander, Abel touched 97 mph last summer and sits in the 90-94 mph range. Aside from a fastball that’s a potentially plus offering, Abel has two quality secondaries. The first is a slider that plays firm in the 82-86 mph range and was voted by scouting directors as the best breaking ball in the prep class. He throws the pitch consistently with hard, biting action and is capable of landing it in the zone for strikes or using it as a chase pitch. Abel also throws a changeup in the 81-85 mph range that has good tumble and fading life and consistently shows above-average quality. On paper, Abel checks plenty of boxes: He has a terrific pitcher’s frame, athleticism, three above-average or better pitches and arguably the best command in the class. But because of the shortened 2020 season, Abel will be one of the most difficult prep players to assess. While teams should have lots of history with him thanks to his notoriety as an underclassman—which included striking out 2019 No. 5 overall pick Riley Greene—teams have little to nothing from this spring on the Oregon State commit. His high school team didn’t play a single game, and the lack of recent information could give teams pause. If Abel had simply played this spring and been the same pitcher he was last summer, he would go somewhere in the middle of the first round. He could still go there, but the abbreviated season affects him more than most and leaves his status more questionable despite top-of-the-rotation upside.
Commit/Drafted: Oregon State
Age At Draft: 18.8More Less
Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 215 | B-T: R-RA man among boys in the high school class, Kelley is the most MLB-ready prep pitcher thanks to his current stuff and physicality. Standing 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, Kelley runs his fastball up into the 97-99 mph range with shocking ease. He looks like he’s playing catch on the mound with a loose, fluid delivery and little to no head whack in his finish. Perhaps in part because of the ease of his entire operation, Kelley locates his premium stuff in a way that’s beyond his years, with some scouts projecting him to have future plus command. The ease in which he does everything makes it look like his fastball explodes out of his hand, and he pairs that pitch with a low-80s plus changeup that he throws with good arm speed. The pitch is a swing-and-miss offering with excellent diving life and, like he does with his fastball, Kelley shows good feel to spot it where he wants in or out of the strike zone. The biggest question with Kelley entering the spring was in regard to his breaking ball. Over the summer he showed a slider in the low 80s, sometimes-slurvy slider. It was inconsistent and far from the wipeout projection that teams would like to see out of the top high school pitcher in the class. While Kelley didn’t get a full spring season, scouts still saw signs of improvement from his breaking ball and gave it a chance for it to become average or above-average. Kelley will battle the stigma and spotty track record that comes with being a hard-throwing high school righty, while also competing in one of the strongest college pitching classes in recent memory. Still, he does several things at an exceptionally high level that are impossible to teach, and has No. 2 starter upside. Kelley is committed to Texas.
Age At Draft: 18.7More Less
Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 200 | B-T: L-RWhile the shortened 2020 season impacts every player, Kjerstad might be one of the least negatively impacted players outside of the top five draft prospects. The Arkansas outfielder has a long track record of hitting for average and power, both in the Southeastern Conference and with USA Baseball's Collegiate National Team. Kjerstad hit .395/.426/.651 to lead Team USA in all three slash line categories last summer, with three doubles, a triple and two home runs in 14 games. He hit better than .330/.400/.550 in each of his first two seasons at Arkansas and was off to another hot start in his junior campaign. Kjerstad is a potential middle-of-the-order hitter with plus-plus raw power and the ability to leave a ballpark in any direction. He can change games with one swing and brings premium lefthanded power to a lineup. Kjerstad's swing is a bit unorthodox, with a two-piece action and a pause with a big leg kick that interrupts his timing, which has led to more strikeouts than evaluators would optimally like to see. While Kjerstad cut his strikeout rate in a small sample size this spring, teams believe he may always strike out at an elevated rate. Kjerstad is a decent athlete for his size, but it would be optimistic to expect more than adequate defense from him in left or right field. He has a solid, accurate throwing arm. Most of Kjerstad's value is tied to his bat. He should be drafted at some point in the middle of the first round.
Commit/Drafted: Mariners '17 (36)
Age At Draft: 21.3More Less
Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 192 | B-T: B-RBailey was heralded as one of the best defensive catchers in the country coming out of high school in 2017, but scouts were concerned about the offensive impact he would provide. He wasted no time at North Carolina State showing he could hit, leading all Atlantic Coast Conference freshmen in batting (.321), total bases (113) and slugging percentage (.604) while also setting a new NC State freshman home run record (13). While Bailey showed he could hit with the Wolfpack, his strengths are still on the defensive side of the ball. He earns plus grades for his catching skills and his throwing arm, giving pitchers tremendous confidence that they can rip off their best breaking ball without having to worry about it trickling to the backstop. Bailey is one of the rare college catchers who calls his own game and he draws plenty of praise for his leadership behind the plate. Offensively, Bailey certainly has more thump than scouts expected back in high school and has shown above-average raw power from both sides of the plate as a switch-hitter. His swing is more fluid with better contact ability from the left side, and most scouts think he’s more of a power bat than a true hitter, with grades ranging from below-average to average on his future hit tool. Bailey has a solid eye at the plate, as evidenced by a 12.8-percent career walk rate, but there are concerns about the swing-and-miss tendencies that he showed last summer with USA’s Collegiate National Team (he led the team with 12 strikeouts) and early in the 2020 season. Still, catchers have a low bar to clear offensively. As the best defender in the class with average or better power potential, Bailey will be a coveted player in the first round.
Commit/Drafted: Twins '17 (37)
Age At Draft: 21.0More Less
Ht: 6-6 | Wt: 218 | B-T: L-LA 6-foot-6, 218-pound southpaw with a fastball regularly in the 96-100 mph range and a plus breaking ball, Crochet has arguably the best overall stuff in the 2020 class and certainly the best stuff of any lefthander. But the abbreviated 2020 season hurt Crochet because he doesn’t have the track record of starting that many of the college pitchers around him do. Crochet split time as a starter and reliever during his freshman and sophomore seasons before entering his junior season with a full-time starting role. That was delayed, reportedly due to shoulder soreness, and Crochet made just one start against Wright State—when he threw 3.1 innings with six strikeouts—before the season shut down. His stuff looked as loud as ever in that outing, with a fastball that ranged from 93-99 mph as well as a plus slider and above-average changeup. Crochet creates uncomfortable at-bats against hitters, particularly lefties, with the length and angle he creates in his delivery. His fastball explodes out of his hand and is a plus-plus pitch at the moment, giving him the-pitch mix of a relief ace to fall back on if starting doesn’t work out. His secondary offerings have been inconsistent in the past, but both have flashed enough potential to project as above-average or better offerings in the future. There aren’t any glaring reasons why Crochet couldn’t start, and his strike-throwing with Tennessee has been fine (3.37 walks per nine for his career), but teams are wary of his relative lack of track record in the rotation. If a team is willing to take a risk, Crochet’s pure stuff fits at the top of the draft. While he has a a wide range of potential outcomes, it’s difficult to find this stuff and size from a lefthander.
Commit/Drafted: Brewers '17 (34)
Age At Draft: 21.0More Less
Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 190 | B-T: L-LHassell is at the top of the list when it comes to the best hitters in the high school class. He was voted the top pure hitter in the class by scouting directors and has few holes in a loose, lefthanded swing. He was the most consistent hitter for USA Baseball’s 18U National Team last summer, leading the Americans in 10 offensive categories while posting a .514/.548/.886 slash line. For his efforts, he was named the World Baseball Softball Confederation’s 2019 International Player of the Year. Hassell has a lean frame with an exceptionally handsy swing that reminds scouts of players like Jarred Kelenic and Riley Greene. He brings a sound approach to the plate and understands the strike zone. He rarely swings and misses, uses the entire field and shows an advanced ability to make adjustments. With his swing, discipline and approach, he projects as a consensus plus hitter who could hit .300 in his best years. Hassell has a fairly lean frame at 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, and scouts are mixed on his future power potential. Some wonder how much bigger he’ll get, while others are more optimistic he'll develop average or 55-grade power. Defensively, Hassell has a chance to stick in center field. He’s an above-average runner with above-average arm strength, but he lacks the elite footspeed most major league center fielders possess. It’s more likely he winds up in a corner, where he could be a good defender, though that will put more pressure on him to grow into more power. It’s rare for the top prep hitter in the class to fall out of the top half of the first round, but teams didn’t see Hassell much this spring and he’ll be competing against a strong group of prep outfielders. He is committed to Vanderbilt.
Age At Draft: 18.8More Less
Ht: 6-0 | Wt: 175 | B-T: L-LCrow-Armstrong has fame and baseball in his blood. His mother, Ashley Crow, is an actress who played the mom of the lead character in the 1994 baseball movie "Little Big League." His father, Matthew Armstrong, is an accomplished television actor as well. Crow-Armstrong starred for USA Baseball’s 18U national team two years in a row and entered last summer as arguably the top high school player in the 2020 draft class. A disappointing summer dropped his stock, but he rebounded with a sensational spring before the season shut down. Crow-Armstrong has a sweet lefthanded swing geared for contact. He hits both lefties and righties, stays balanced in the box and lines the ball to all fields. Evaluators see at least an average hitter and possibly plus, with the potential to hit at the top of a lineup. Scouts differ on Crow-Armstrong’s power projections. Some see below-average power, while others believe he is a good enough hitter that he’ll run into more home runs than his raw power would indicate. Crow-Armstrong should stick in center field as a plus defender with a plus arm and above-average-to-plus speed. He plays fast and hard and has an advanced feel and intellect for the game. Crow-Armstrong’s tools and instincts have teams interested in the first round even with questions about his power. He is committed to Vanderbilt.
Age At Draft: 18.3More Less
Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 190 | B-T: L-RSoderstrom is at the top of a strong 2020 prep catching class (along with Texas catcher Drew Romo) and was one of the biggest risers last summer after a wire-to-wire terrific offensive performance. A 6-foot-2, 190-pound UCLA commit, Soderstrom hit well at a number of big showcase events, including the Area Code Games, showing power potential and a polished lefthanded bat. Almost every scout is excited about the offensive potential he offers, with plus raw power that he gets to frequently in games now, and more physical projection. Defensively, there are more questions. While the consensus on his bat is glowing, almost every evaluator questions his ability to remain behind the plate moving forward. His size is a question, as is his ability to sit behind the plate and be a good receiver. He’ll need to improve his lower-half flexibility, and while his natural arm strength is impressive, he needs to shorten his arm stroke and improve his footwork on throws. Scouts believe Soderstrom has the passion to catch, so some teams could send him out and let him figure it out, while others might be more inclined to let him play third, first or even a corner-outfield spot, where his bat could move quicker and still profile well. There are some similarities with Soderstrom and 2018 Indians first-round pick Bo Naylor (though Naylor had better natural feel to hit at the time) and enough teams seem to like him in the first round that he won’t get to campus in Los Angeles.
Age At Draft: 18.6More Less
Ht: 6-4 | Wt: 220 | B-T: R-RBitsko could be the most challenging player for teams to evaluate in the 2020 class. Previously the top-ranked prep player in the 2021 draft class, Bitsko announced that he would graduate early to enroll at Virginia, making him draft-eligible for 2020. While Bitsko was at a few big events last summer—including East Coast Pro and USA Baseball’s National Team Development Program in Chicago—teams were watching him with the impression they would have another year of evaluation remaining. The teams who bear down early on underclassmen will be in the best position with Bitsko for the 2020 draft, but it wasn’t hard to see his talent fit with the top prep arms in the class. At East Coast Pro, Bitsko showed a fastball in the 92-96 mph range with a potentially plus curveball that had depth, power and impressive spin (2,100-2,500 rpm). With a physical, 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame, a clean, overhead windup and good strike-throwing ability, Bitsko has plenty of classic starter’s attributes. He reportedly touched as high as 98 mph with his fastball in the offseason and is solidly in the elite tier of prep pitchers. Because his Central Bucks East High team wasn’t scheduled to start until April, Bitsko didn’t throw a pitch this season. Now, teams will be left to decide whether the glimpses of talent they saw last summer were enough to sign him out of a strong commitment to Virginia. The Cavaliers have done a nice job luring elite arms to campus in recent years, including Mike Vasil (2018 draft class) and lefthander Nate Savino, who was previously a member of the 2020 class and a first-round talent. Bitsko has a chance to be a top of the rotation-caliber arm.
Age At Draft: 18.0More Less
Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 185 | B-T: R-RHoward is the top prep shortstop in a light high school class at the position. Midwest area scouts should have good history with him considering he played alongside D-backs 2018 second-round pick Alek Thomas as an underclassman at Mount Carmel (Ill.) High. Howard wowed scouts as a junior in Perfect Game’s Jupiter WWBA tournament, showing high-level ability on both sides of the ball. While he has upside as a hitter, the most polished part of Howard’s game is his defense. He’s a no-doubt shortstop as a solid athlete with reliable hands and a strong, accurate throwing arm. He moves fluidly in the middle of the diamond and has the ability to throw from all angles with excellent body control and a solid internal clock. He’s the clear-cut top prep defender at the position and has the potential to be a plus defensive shortstop in the big leagues. The one critique in Howard's defensive game is scouts would like to see better foot speed. He’s a solid runner, but not a burner by any means. Teams have to project more on Howard’s offensive game, particularly after he didn't play any games this season due to the coronavirus pandemic. He shows good bat speed, some bat-to-ball skills and a lithe, 6-foot-2, 185-pound frame that has plenty of room to add muscle. Howard is more of a gap-to-gap, line-drive type hitter at present, and scouts want to see him refine his approach. Howard did a nice job progressing through last summer and showed he can make adjustments. Howard is committed to Oklahoma, but it’s rare for the top high school shortstop to not go in the first round. A team that buys his upside could take him in the middle or back half of the first round.
Age At Draft: 18.4More Less
Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 200 | B-T: L-RPicked by the Yankees in the 35th round in 2018 out of perennial high school powerhouse Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas, Wells instead chose to follow in his father Greg's footsteps by heading to Arizona. A draft-eligible sophomore, Wells posted loud numbers in both seasons with the Wildcats as well as last summer in the Cape Cod League. Wells has an outstanding approach at the plate with plus raw power, using a simple swing with good bat control. He walked more than he struck out both years at Arizona, impressive for any hitter but especially for a power hitter. A hole in his swing gives him problems with pitches away, but that’s a fixable problem. Wells' bat is impressive enough that most teams view him as a first-rounder, but questions remain as to where he fits best on the field. If he could stay behind the plate, he’d be a certain first-round pick, but there are more scouts who are skeptical of Wells’ receiving ability than think he can make it as a catcher. He has trouble blocking and receiving pitches, especially knee to knee on his glove side, and he has a record of elbow issues dating back to high school. An arm that once earned plus grades is now frequently below-average. Wells focused heavily on improving his defense over the offseason, but he didn’t have much opportunity to showcase the results in a shortened 2020 season. He’s seen time at both first base and all three outfield positions since leaving high school. Some observers believe Wells is athletic enough to handle the outfield and that his range and instincts can be developed, while others think he’s not twitchy enough for the outfield and doesn’t have the footwork for first base. He is an average runner. If concerns with his defense cause Wells’ draft position to drop more than expected, he's got the leverage to return to Arizona for his junior year. Lefthanded bats of his quality are typically highly sought after.
Commit/Drafted: Yankees '18 (35)
Age At Draft: 20.9More Less
Ht: 6-4 | Wt: 226 | B-T: R-RIf you were creating the blueprint for an ideal pitcher’s body, Cavalli might look like the end product. A towering, 6-foot-4, 218-pound righthander who looks like an All-American quarterback, Cavalli on paper has everything you want in a frontline pitcher. He can dial his fastball up to 98 mph and sits in the mid-90s with ease. He complements it with a devastating 87-90 mph slider with impressive lateral movement that serves as an out-pitch against both lefties and righties. He also has a curveball and a changeup that are solid-average with growth potential. Cavalli throws everything out of a picturesque arm action and delivery. However, hitters tend to square up Cavalli's fastball more than his velocity would suggest, partially because his delivery is so clean it lacks deception. His fastball plays down at least a grade below its velocity and perhaps more, and he has a history of erratic control that makes it difficult to work to his secondary offerings. Additionally, Cavalli has a troubling injury history going back to his high school days. He rarely pitched during his senior year because of lingering back issues and also missed time in 2019 due to a stress reaction in his arm. While Cavalli has first-round pure stuff, big upside and one of the better bodies in the 2020 class, he could fall into the second round because of concerns about how that stuff plays, the quality of his strikes and questions about durability.
Commit/Drafted: Braves '17 (29)
Age At Draft: 21.8More Less
23Mississippi State RHPNotes:
Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 192 | B-T: R-RAfter being selected by the Dodgers in the first round out of high school in 2018, Ginn entered the 2020 season as a draft-eligible sophomore with a chance to double up on the accomplishment. However, he made it through just three innings of his first start of the season against Wright State before exiting the game. It was later announced the Ginn would need surgery on his right elbow and that he would miss the season. While the rest of the college season was canceled due to the novel coronavirus, Ginn’s status is more up in the air after being considered a top-15 caliber player in the 2020 draft class. He has plenty of prospect pedigree going back to his high school days, when his pure stuff stacked up among the best arms of a loaded 2018 prep pitching class. As a high schooler, Ginn ratcheted his fastball up to 99 mph and buried a mean, wipeout slider as well. Rather than sign with Los Angeles at the back of the first round, he had a strong freshman season at Mississippi State and proved he could be a dominant starter. He posted a 3.13 ERA over 17 starts and 86.1 innings, while striking out 105 batters and walking 19. When healthy, Ginn possesses two potentially double-plus pitches. His fastball has impressive velocity, but the pitch’s life and running action makes it even more impressive. His slider has also been graded as a future plus-plus offering by some evaluators, and he has a solid changeup as well. Ginn showed he could hold his stuff over longer outings, repeat his delivery consistently and throw enough strikes to start, but now teams will have to decide whether to take the risk on his health. He could again be a difficult sign because of the additional leverage that comes with being a draft-eligible sophomore.
Commit/Drafted: Dodgers '18 (1)
Age At Draft: 21.1More Less
Ht: 6-5 | Wt: 232 | B-T: R-RWilcox was in the middle of an extremely talented Georgia prep pitching class in 2018, along with arms like Indians righty Ethan Hankins and Vanderbilt righty Kumar Rocker. Wilcox was seen as a day one talent at the time, with a projectable frame, plus fastball and two promising secondary offerings, but the depth of the class and his commitment to Georgia allowed him to slide. Two years later, Wilcox is again a potential first-round pick and one of many impressive draft-eligible sophomores in the 2020 class. Wilcox has worked with Georgia’s strength and conditioning coach, Ryan Gearhart, to add significant muscle to his 6-foot-5 frame in his two years at school. He’s now listed at 232 pounds and is one of the more physically intimidating pitchers in the country. His stuff matches his size, as Wilcox attacks hitters with a fastball that frequently gets into the 97-98 mph range and has touched 100 mph. After spending most of his time as a reliever in 2019, Wilcox entered the 2020 season as the Bulldogs’ Saturday starter behind Emerson Hancock and was off to a great start before the season was cut short. Wilcox posted a 1.57 ERA in four starts, with 32 strikeouts and just two walks in 23 innings. That walk rate is encouraging for teams, who are skeptical of Wilcox’s strike-throwing ability after he walked close to six batters per nine innings in 2019. Scouts would have liked to see him continue that trend against SEC batters, as Wilcox has a tendency to get scattered and miss the zone, but his stuff is overpowering enough that overmatched hitters would still chase out of the zone. Wilcox pitched mostly off of a 93-96 mph fastball as a starter, with a mid-80s slider that also grades as plus. He also throws a changeup in the same mid-80s range that could give him an average or better third offering. Wilcox was trending in the right direction prior to the season ending and was already a first round-type of talent entering the year, so how much a team likes his upside and buys into his improved control will determine where he goes. As an eligible sophomore, Wilcox will have more leverage than most college players and could be a costly sign.
Commit/Drafted: Nationals '18 (37)
Age At Draft: 20.9More Less
25South Carolina RHPNotes:
Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 231 | B-T: R-RMlodzinski (pronounced ‘Muh-jin-ski’) had some top-five round grades from clubs coming out of Hilton Head (S.C.) High, but he made it to campus at South Carolina, where he posted a 5.61 ERA over two abbreviated seasons. A foot injury limited him to just three games in 2019, but Mlodzinski entered the 2020 season as a redshirt sophomore with some of the most hype in the country following an exceptional summer in the Cape Cod League. He ranked as the top pitcher in the league with a fastball up to 97-98 mph, an impressive slider and cutter and a 2.15 ERA over six starts, with 40 strikeouts to just four walks. He managed just four starts before the season shut down ahead of a big SEC matchup with Tennessee, posting a 2.84 ERA in 25.1 innings with less gaudy strikeout numbers but plenty of ground balls induced. Mlodzinski sat in the 92-94 mph range and showed 96-97 at times. The pitch is a heavy sinking fastball that generates tons of ground balls but doesn't as miss many bats as scouts would like. After flashing a plus slider and cutter in the Cape, Mlodzinski’s breaking balls were more above-average or solid this spring, with the slider lacking the depth and tilt he previously showed and the cutter sitting in the 89-91 mph range. He tinkered with a curveball that was fringe-average at times, and also infrequently threw a changeup that needs further refinement. Without a true swing-and-miss offering, it’s more difficult to see Mlodzinski going at the top of the first round. As a physical, 6-foot-2, 231-pound righty who throws a lot of strikes, has a clean arm action and forces hitters into beating the ball into the ground, he still offers a reasonable floor as a middle or back-of-the-rotation starter.
Commit/Drafted: Never Drafted
Age At Draft: 21.3More Less