These are the names to remember for this year's draft
The 2020 MLB draft is set for June 10, although it will look different than usual. Because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which interrupted spring training and has put the start of the 2020 season on hold, the draft will only feature five rounds instead of the usual 40. Additionally, this year's draft was originally intended to be held in Omaha, Nebraska, in conjunction with the start of the College World Series. But the CWS was one of the countless sporting events that were canceled due to the pandemic and MLB announced in late May that the draft will once again originate from MLB Network Studios in Secaucus, New Jersey.
Each of the last two No. 1 overall draft picks has come from college (Adley Rutschmann and Casey Mize), and odds are that the streak will continue. Arizona State's Spencer Torkelson, Georgia's Emerson Hancock, and Vanderbilt's Austin Martin are the early favorites to go 1-1.
Here's a look at the top 50 high school prospects, courtesy of Baseball America's JJ Cooper:
1. Emerson Hancock, RHP, Georgia
Hancock already showed everything that scouts wanted to see during a dominating sophomore season at Georgia. If he just stays healthy and throws the same upper-90s fastball, slider, curve and changeup he showed last year, he’ll go near the top of the draft.
2. Spencer Torkelson, 1B/OF, Arizona State
Last year Andrew Vaughn paved the way for a bat-first college first baseman to go in the top three picks. Torkelson’s bat is every bit as impressive as Vaughn’s (he has 48 home runs in his first two seasons), and he’s more athletic, so he has a chance to go No. 1 overall.
3. Austin Martin, SS, Vanderbilt
Scouts can’t be sure yet where Martin will end up defensively. He’s athletic, and it will be at a premium defensive position, but it’s not clear if he’ll be a shortstop, center fielder or second baseman. His hitting ability is much more clear cut. As a sophomore he was as productive as teammate JJ Bleday, who was the fourth pick in the 2019 draft.
4. Garrett Mitchell, OF, UCLA
Tools-wise, Mitchell has a strong case as the highest-upside hitter in the 2020 college draft class. He’s a speedster who has a chance to hit for power and hit for average as well. He’s yet to full put it together at UCLA, and a diabetes diagnosis is something he’ll have to stay on top of as a pro.
5. Asa Lacy, LHP, Texas A&M
It’s going to be a great year for pitching in the SEC, and Lacy is one of the biggest reasons that Friday nights will be especially tough for league hitters. He has an excellent fastball-changeup pairing, and there still may be a little more velocity in his arm.
6. Nick Gonzales, 2B, New Mexico State
There’s little doubt Gonzales is going to hit. He led NCAA Division I with a .432 average in 2019 (with 16 home runs), and he followed that up by hitting .351 with a wood bat in the Cape Cod League during the summer.
7. Casey Martin, SS, Arkansas
After an outstanding freshman season in which he hit .345 to help lead Arkansas to a NCAA runner-up finish, Martin’s bat slumped a little as a sophomore. His athleticism, speed and defense remain impressive.
8. JT Ginn, RHP, Mississippi State
A first-round pick in 2018 (No. 30 overall) who spurned the Dodgers to play for Mississippi State, Ginn will get a second shot at the first round as a draft-eligible sophomore. He has a blazing mid-90s fastball, and he showed better than expected feel as a freshman.
9. Patrick Bailey, C, NC State
Bailey is a very well-rounded catching prospect with a smooth stroke from both sides of the plate and solid defense as well. He heads into spring as the clear top college catching prospect in the class.
10. Reid Detmers, LHP, Louisville
There are other pitchers who can post higher numbers on a radar gun than Detmers, but it’s hard to find a more effective pitcher in this draft class. The lefthander seems unfazed by anything, and hitters have a hard time getting a good look at his fastball.
11. Carmen Mlodzinski, RHP, South Carolina
A broken foot ruined Mlodzinski’s sophomore season after only three starts, but he came out in the summer in the Cape Cod League and showed everyone what he could do — keep hitters off balance with a mid-90s fastball and a biting slider.
12. Cole Wilcox, RHP, Georgia
Not everyone is enamored with Wilcox’s slider and his ability to set up hitters, but scouts love his ability to sink a 95-97 mph bowling ball to the bottom of the strike zone. His command just needs to get better.
13. Tanner Burns, RHP, Auburn
Burns struck out 15 in a complete-game shutout of Cincinnati early in 2019. He then ran out of gas by the end of Auburn’s season. This year, he just needs to show that he can maintain his stuff for an entire season.
14. Austin Wells, C/1B, Arizona
There’s a healthy debate as to whether Wells will play catcher, first base or a corner outfield spot in pro ball, but there is a solid consensus that he should hit enough to be a productive pro even if he ends up at first base.
15. Garrett Crochet, LHP, Tennessee
Crochet isn’t a fully refined ace yet, but he can dominate at times thanks to a devastating mid-90s fastball. He’s a big 6'6" lefty who just needs to find the feel for his slider to go with that fastball.
16. Alika Williams, SS, Arizona State
Williams is one of the best gloves in the 2020 draft class. His arm is only average, which is a little bit of a limiting factor at shortstop, but his feet and hands work so well that he should be able to stay at the position as a pro.
17. Max Meyer, RHP, Minnesota
Meyer was one of the stars of USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team. He is a two-way player, but his future in pro ball is on the mound. He is an undersized (6'0", 185 pounds) righthander, but his 93-97 mph fastball can be dominating.
18. Daniel Cabrera, OF, LSU
Cabrera was solid but unspectacular as a sophomore, but scouts are pretty unanimous that the corner outfielder will be a very solid hitter as a pro. He has a very simple swing that should not require much maintenance or tweaking.
19. Heston Kjerstad, OF, Arkansas
Kjerstad has some of the best power in the class, but during the summer he also showed steadily improving contact skills and better defense. He’s got a right fielder’s arm, but now he’s showing a right fielder’s range, too.
20. Jordan Westburg, SS, Mississippi State
A big (6'3") shortstop, Westburg’s arm gives him a chance to stay at the position as a pro. He showed steady improvement as a hitter as a sophomore and was even better in the Cape Cod League.
21. CJ Van Eyk, RHP, Florida State
Van Eyk has been an extremely productive pitcher in two years at Florida State. Last year he went 10-4, 3.81 with 129 strikeouts in 99.1 innings. Scouts see him as reliable but with a lower ceiling than some other draft candidates.
22. Freddy Zamora, SS, Miami
Scouts will debate Zamora vs. Arizona State’s Alika Williams all spring. Zamora shows more offensive potential but has more work to do to prove that he won’t eventually need to slide to second base as a pro.
23. Justin Foscue, 2B/3B, Mississippi State
Foscue makes it work at second base thanks to hard work and plenty of practice. At the plate, he has a pull-heavy approach with a big leg kick. That could eventually be troublesome, but like his defense, he’s made it work.
24. Tommy Mace, RHP, Florida
Mace started for Florida every weekend during the 2019 season, but his productivity tailed off badly as the campaign progressed. He showed an intelligent approach with solid stuff early on, but now he needs to do it for 15 starts.
25. Gage Workman, 3B, Arizona State
Workman has massive tools. He has some of the best power in the draft class and one of the best arms. An aggressive team may let Workman play shortstop in pro ball, although he likely is going to be a power-hitting third baseman.
26. Nick Loftin, SS, Baylor
Loftin has already shown he can play a little bit of everywhere. He did so for Team USA last summer, and his arm and athleticism work at pretty much any infield or outfield spot. At the plate, Loftin is more of a table-setter than slugger.
27. Cole Henry, RHP, LSU
Yet another in the endless wave of talented SEC pitchers, Henry is a draft-eligible sophomore. Coming off an impressive freshman season, Henry keeps getting stronger, which has boosted his fastball to a 90-95 mph weapon.
28. Kevin Abel, RHP, Oregon State
Abel was the star of the 2018 College World Series for Oregon State. He also pitched more — and more often — than recommended by medical experts, so it wasn’t shocking that he missed 2019 with Tommy John surgery. Now he needs to show he can return to his 2018 form.
29. Hayden Cantrelle, SS, Louisiana
A switch-hitter who has started to figure out that he’s more effective when he’s spraying the ball around than when he tries to muscle up. He is a capable shortstop defensively.
30. Cade Cavalli, RHP, Oklahoma
Cavalli isn’t a finished product, but he already has an MLB body and MLB stuff, with an 95-97 mph fastball and a 87-90 mph hard slider. He just has to refine everything.
31. Jeff Criswell, RHP, Michigan
A solid draft prospect out of high school (he turned down the Tigers as a 35th-round pick), Criswell has raised his stock by helping pitch Michigan to a runner-up finish at the College World Series last year. He’ll be the team’s ace in 2020.
32. Casey Opitz, C, Arkansas
Opitz is both one of the safest players in this draft class and one of the most debated. It’s easy to love the glove, and he has one of the best arms for a catcher in years, as much because of his accuracy as his arm strength. But the bat carries many more questions, and he has little power.
33. Joe Boyle, RHP, Notre Dame
Boyle’s rÃ©sumÃ© should not earn him a spot on a top-50 draft prospects list. He has thrown just 27.2 innings as a reliever, and he’s walked 35 batters, which explains his 6.83 ERA. But he has a 97-101 mph fastball and a developing slider.
34. Jake Eder, LHP, Vanderbilt
Every year, Vanderbilt loses several pitchers to the draft, and every year a next wave steps up. Eder is part of the next wave. A reliever on last year’s national championship team, Eder has a 91-94 mph fastball, above-average breaking ball and projectability.
35. Aaron Sabato, 1B, North Carolina
There’s a strong case that Sabato has the best power in the 2020 draft class. Put a fastball over the plate and he can hit it 400-plus feet. Now he needs to also prove he’s capable of doing something similar to breaking balls, or at least that he can lay off of them.
36. Chris McMahon, RHP, Miami
McMahon has one of the better changeups around as well as a solid fastball. After a modest role as a freshman, he stepped up to be Miami’s Saturday starter in 2019. He should be a key part of a potential Hurricanes resurgence in 2020.
37. Ian Seymour, LHP, Virginia Tech
Seymour has three pitches — a low-90s fastball, a slider and a changeup. All three work well on their best days, but scouts are going to be looking to see him show consistency and durability in his draft year.
38. Tyler Brown, RHP, Vanderbilt
The Vanderbilt star has endured enough adversity for someone four times his age, and he has handled it all. He also was excellent in the Commodores’ bullpen last year.
39. Zach DeLoach, OF, Texas A&M
DeLoach had an excellent summer in the Cape Cod League, which was much needed after he had an awful sophomore season. More than almost anyone on this list, his draft fate will be determined by how he hits this spring.
40. Gavin Williams, RHP, East Carolina
A 6'6" righthander, Williams has a shot to climb up draft boards this spring if he can show more consistency. He has one of the better fastballs in the draft class and has steadily improved his slider, which is now an average pitch.
41. Nander De Sedas, SS, Florida State
De Sedas will be one of the youngest players in the draft class, as his birthdate just barely qualified him to be a draft-eligible sophomore. A product of the same high school as Francisco Lindor, De Sedas is tooled up but needs to put together better at-bats.
42. Alerick Soularie, SS, Tennessee
Soularie had an excellent 2019 as he hit .357/.466/.602 for the Vols. There’s still some swing-and-miss to his game, but he’s a middle infielder with some athleticism and feel to hit.
43. Jack Leftwich, RHP, Florida
Leftwitch is coming off of an up-and-down sophomore season that saw him start and finish in dominating form, but in between he proved quite hittable against the best teams in the SEC. He has a shot at having three average pitches.
44. Parker Chavers, OF, Coastal Carolina
Chavers has hit over .300 in each of his first two seasons with the Chanticleers, and last year he developed his power. He runs well and hits the ball hard, but he does have some work to do on refining his approach at the plate.
45. Luke Waddell, INF, Georgia Tech
Waddell is a baseball player. He can play pretty much anywhere in the infield, and he makes consistent contact. He needs to get stronger, but his versatility should be appealing to pro teams looking for a multi-position player.
46. Trei Cruz, SS, Rice
Cruz is a polarizing prospect. He has much more power than the average college shortstop, but he strikes out a lot thanks to a pull-heavy approach. He also has the tools to play shortstop but needs to cut down on errors.
47. Burl Carraway, LHP, Dallas Baptist
Carraway comes from a long tradition of power arms that have had success at Dallas Baptist. But as good as his velocity and his breaking ball are, he needs to show he can throw a lot more strikes than he has so far.
48. Logan Allen, LHP, Florida International
Allen plays both ways at FIU, but his more promising role in pro ball will be as a lefty starter. He’s around the zone consistently, but he does have work to do at setting up hitters and figuring out when to attack and when to try to get hitters to chase.
49. Justin Fall, LHP, Arizona State
A big (6'6") lefty, Fall was a top prospect out of high school who turned down the Royals in the draft. After two years at Brookdale (N.J.) Community College and an excellent summer in the Atlantic Collegiate League, he’s expected to be a star in 2020.
50. Slade Cecconi, RHP, Miami
A draft-eligible sophomore, Cecconi had a solid freshman season with Miami, but bigger things are expected for 2020 thanks to his big fastball and promising breaking ball.