Big news out of San Francisco today as the Giants are promoting their highly ranked catching prospect Joey Bart to the big league club.
Just a few years ago, the Giants had one of the worst farm franchises in all of baseball, but have since rebuilt their list of prospects to become quite a promising group of talent. Now, their top prospect gets the call to join the big league club and show them that he is their future and it is bright.
Bart comes to the Giants with an average hit tool, but some nice power in his bat. He’s someone who has done well with the bat, but with the potential for even more. Last season, over two levels of A+ and AA ball, Bart posted a .278/.328/.495 line with 16 home runs, 48 runs batted in and five steals. While most of his offensive damage was done in A+, he held his own in AA, batting .316 with four home runs over 87 plate appearances.
– the above chart displays Bart’s numbers over his four levels of professional ball: Rookie, A-, A+, AA
More specifically, Bart shows decent plate discipline during his at bats with a nice strikeout rate, showing that he puts a good amount of contact to the ball. While his K% – BB% rate in AA is promising, he wasn’t there long enough to see any sort of possible regression. If there is going to be regression with respect to that, it will unfortunately have to be while with the Giants in 2020.
I do like the fact that he can spread the ball around the field, specifically with those high rates towards Center Field and Right Field. The Park Factors for Oracle Park show that it is primarily a pitcher’s ballpark, but it plays well to those that can hit the ball all over the field. Just look at what it’s doing for Mike Yastrzemski and his .351 home batting average. I’m not comparing the two by any means, but I am saying that the ability to spread the ball all over the place can be helpful at Oracle Park.
Who’s Stopping Him?
In 2020, the Giants have started the following players at catcher at some point or another over 89 combined at bats:
Chadwick Tromp – .178/.188/.333, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 16 K Tyler Heinemann – .195/.283/.220, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 6 K Rob Brantly – .000/.000/.000, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0K
Needless to say, there’s not much standing in the way of Joey Bart and some consistent playing time. His bat should be much better than any other option the Giants have instead, so he should slot right in there and play. Added to that is his defense. If the above scale rating is to be believed, and I would dare say it is, he’s got the ability to be an even better catcher behind the plate than anyone else on the Giants too, meaning he should get the most amount of playing time going forward. Needless to say, he’s ready for this.
What about fantasy teams?
Bart needs to be added, especially in two catcher leagues where playing time is golden. With the catcher landscape being so wide spread speculative and volatile, picking up and starting a catcher that looks guaranteed to play with an offensive hitting tool such as his seems logical. There’s potential for greatness here, and, though it may not happen in 2020, his worst case scenario is probably better than their other options. Right now, I would put him in my Top 15 overall at the position, given the opportunity, the talent and the defense.
Words of Advice
If you own Yadier Molina, Jorge Alfaro or Francisco Mejia, and are waiting for a return, I wouldn’t hesitate to make the switch for Bart.
If you own Roberto Perez, Jason Castro or Danny Jansen, I would make the switch in an effort to rejuvenate your lineup instead of waiting for things to click for the scuffling catchers.
Go out and pick him up now. If he’s available in FAAB, I would see which other teams might need a catcher too, and would spend 25% of my remaining FAAB budget on him.
In dynasty leagues, he is a must own right now but is probably already owned.
Baseball is back and the first week barraged us with storylines, enough to make your head spin. We’ll focus on the week that was and highlight the “Debut Dandies,” rookie-eligible players that made their MLB debuts over the past week and represent the next wave in fantasy baseball. We’ll break down instant impacts in redraft leagues as well as dynasty league outlooks. Over 60 players made their debut to start the 2020 season, so let’s hone in on some key names.
The Elite Prospect Debuts
Week 1 saw a handful of consensus top prospects make their much-anticipated debuts.
After signing a MLB contract in the off-season, Luis Robert of the Chicago White Sox has lived up to the hype in the early going. Robert has started every game so far, typically batting 7th and playing CF. After an injury to Tim Anderson over the weekend, Robert soared up to the leadoff spot, promptly responding with a titanic opposite-field blast (highlighted below). He’s slashed .351/.385/.595 with 13 H, 2 HR, and 1 SB. Robert has 2 BB to 11 K, one of his only blemishes during the opening week. It’s not entirely surprising given his career marks and scores on the projection systems. Robert has been served well with an aggressive approach in the early going, where six of his hits and both home runs have come on the first offering in an AB. Robert is showing his all-around skill set as a bona fide future fantasy stud. There’s a reason he’s a top 5 prospect in the game, and we’re all smiling ear-to-ear with every highlight. Outlook: Robert is elbowing his way up rankings with a strong MLB showing, putting pressure on a spot within the top 25 overall dynasty players.
On the pitching side, “Nasty” Nate Pearson of the Toronto Blue Jays lived up to his nickname in his debut start against the Nationals on Wednesday. Pearson had an important tuneup start against Boston at the end of Summer Camp, during which he made critical adjustments after initially struggling with command. Pearson showed in his official debut that he can attack the zone with all of his offerings. When the righty is getting called strikes and chases on his wicked slider, hitters are in for a long night (highlighted below). He gets excellent velocity separation between his off-speed pitches and his high heat. Pearson threw 75 pitches in his opening start and should be on a strict pitch count as he has been his entire professional career.
Widely considered among the top pitching prospects, Pearson may have ups and downs and rack up pitch counts during some of his starts in 2020. Beyond this year, he’s bound to be a PitchingNinja GIF factory and one of the scariest starters in the majors. Outlook: Pearson gets a slight ding pitching in the tough AL East, but nonetheless possesses a rare SP1-SP2 fantasy ceiling. Over the next few years, his career path projects similarly to that of Tyler Glasnow in terms of potential for conservative usage. Once he’s unleashed, he could ascend to one of the top starting pitchers in fantasy.
Week 1 also saw a group of prospects in the 50+ overall rankings make their MLB debuts.
Evan White of the Seattle Mariners, like Robert, signed an MLB contract during the off-season. White has run with the 1B job from the jump. White has been great on both sides of the ball. A rare right-handed batter and left-handed thrower, White has shown exceptional defensive instincts and smoothness with the mitt. He’s bound to stick in the lineup even through offensive dry spells due to the glove, which helps his fantasy managers lock down a shallow position. White has hit in the 2 and 5 holes in the lineup so far.
He’s at a double-digit BB rate and he is delivering 91st percentile hard contact (highlighted below). White may be a more modest 2020 performer in terms of hits and power output but long term, he can be a 20-25 HR player and prove an asset in both average and on-base formats. There aren’t too many 1B that can also chip in some SB. White is one of those rare exceptions.
In somewhat of a surprise promotion, Andrés Giménez broke camp with the New York Mets to open 2020. Giménez has netted a single start; nonetheless, he has found his way into 9 of 10 games. He’s played 2B, 3B, and SS defensively and served as a pinch runner. Giménez is a good SB threat in 2020 and beyond. Notoriously young at every level of his development, he is still just 21 years old. Giménez carried over his hot Arizona Fall League performance to the big leagues.
Ever since I first saw Giménez back in 2018, he’s had the ability to drive (not slap) the ball the other way (highlight below). While there are some infield logjams, Giménez is certainly contributing every night in some fashion. He’s a beneficiary of the universal DH in 2020, and a middle infielder I am high on in dynasty.
The Kansas City Royals are using 2020 to showcase many of their young arms, and Brady Singer was the first man up. The 6’5″ righty had two starts this week, with nearly identical results in both: 5 IP, 2 ER, and right around 80 pitches. Singer K’d seven against Cleveland and three more against Detroit.
The fastball/sinker and slider are the primary offerings, with a show-me changeup right around 6% usage (though only 2 in his opening start). He was able to turn to the late-breaking slider in tough spots and generate swings-and-misses. Singer generates significant horizontal movement on both the sinker and slider. He projects as an innings-eater who can unlock his ceiling with further utilization of his changeup (highlighted below).
Nick Madrigal also debuted for the Chicago White Sox on July 31. Madrigal boasts some of the strongest bat-to-ball skills in professional baseball. He strikes out at absurdly low rates, and the question will be how this translates into driving the ball for fantasy. There’s high potential for strong batting average and he possesses plus speed. He hit 9th in the lineup in his debut weekend, so his short term value could be capped with that lineup placement. Madrigal showcased his hit tool prowess with a 4 hit day over the weekend, all singles (highlighted below). Madrigal plays a strong defensive 2B, earning the call to become the fixture at the keystone in Chicago.
Nick Madrigal's day just kept getting better. Baseball's No. 39 overall prospect racked up his first four (!) big league hits as his #WhiteSox finished a three-game sweep in KC. pic.twitter.com/ABTx2wjVPl
In the opposite dugout to Madrigal, the Kansas City Royals Kris Bubic drew the home opener against the White Sox. The nearly 23-year-old lefty hasn’t pitched above high-A professionally, which is a testament to his polish and compelled the Royals to grant Bubic competitive innings this season. Bubic held his own during his debut, getting tough outs after yielding some traffic on the bases.
Bubic surrendered a three-run homer – the extent of the damage in the outing. Bubic had a 1-2-3 third inning, striking out two facing the heart of the White Sox order. Bubic features a low-90s fastball, a devastating changeup (highlighted below), and deceptive delivery. He slots in right alongside other Royals starters Jackson Kowar and Brady Singer in terms of projectable rotation contributors.
Versatile catching prospect Daulton Varsho made his big league debut this week for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Varsho was detailed by RotoFanatic’s Mike Carter in this stellar deep dive article. The Diamondbacks love carrying a deep catching corps, and Varsho should be able to catch enough to maintain valuable catcher eligibility given his offensive upside.
He’s a potential 20 HR, 20 SB hitter at his peak with a strong hit tool and on-base prowess. He could also get his bat in the lineup via starts in the outfield. Varsho has been limited to pinch hitting over the weekend in getting 2 plate appearances (1 BB, 1 K), so it remains to be seen exactly how the Diamondbacks will deploy him in 2020. With a great AA track record already, Varsho may simply be getting a taste of big league action for a more expanded role heading into next year.
Other Notable Prospect Debuts
Left-handed starter David Peterson made his big league debut for the New York Mets against Boston. Peterson pitched 5.2 innings and surrendered two runs on seven hits to go along with a pair of walks and three strikeouts. Peterson dazzled in his next start against division foe Atlanta. Peterson showed good use of the slider and changeup as putaway offerings, helping particularly against righties. Peterson netted a quality start: in 6 IP, he limited the Braves to 5 hits and racked up 8 strikeouts against only 1 walk. The lefty is a groundball machine who also has a good ability to miss bats with a five-pitch arsenal. He has what it takes to stick in the Mets rotation, and is a name trending up.
Cristian Javier followed up a scoreless inning of relief on July 25 with a stellar first start in the big leagues. On July 29, he fired 5.2 IP with only 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB and 8 K on 82 pitches; thus, he became a popular FAAB target over the weekend. Historically Javier has had a high BB rate but showed how tough he can be when his command is on. Consistency will be key, but Javier should get some run in 2020 on the suddenly pitching-starved Astros.
Yoshi Tsutsugo has gotten into all but one game so far for the Tampa Bay Rays. I covered Tstutsugo in a recent episode of the “On the Bump” Podcast and think he can be a solid source of power and on-base ability, hitting from the middle of the Rays lineup. He’s also handy with dual-eligibility on multiple platforms. The 28-year-old Tsutugo hit 255 career home runs spanning 10 professional seasons in Japan.
Daniel Johnson made a cameo for Cleveland and the outfielder brings a nice blend of athleticism with power-speed potential. He’s always had a knack for getting on-base and could blossom into a viable fantasy outfielder. The outfield isn’t as wide open for playing time as it was previously in Cleveland, but Johnson should have an up-and-down taxi squad role with the big club this season.
Like Johnson, outfielder Leody Taveras had a quick up-and-down stint for the Texas Rangers. Taveras is just 21 years old, though he has seemingly been a touted prospect for many years. There’s some prospect fatigue with Taveras but the speedy outfielder projects a hit tool and stolen base potential. He is an elite defender but his ultimate power ceiling along with in-game production questions could limit his status to fourth outfielder or second division regular duties. He was recently optioned to the taxi squad in an “offensive move” to replace him with Adolis Garcia. That may be the case today, but here’s hoping Taveras can pass Garcia in the depth chart.
Edward Olivares caused some buzz as he debuted this week for the San Diego Padres. The toolsy outfielder has turned himself into a legitimate dynasty prospect after putting up consistently strong offensive performances during his professional career, dating back to his time in the Toronto organization. Offering power and speed off the bench, Olivares finds himself in a crowded outfield situation in San Diego; nonetheless, he could squeeze his way into more playing time with better production against LHP, especially if Wil Myers regresses.
Shogo Akiyama has come out of the gate in a strict platoon role for the Cincinnati Reds. The 32-year-old Akiyama has started two games while entering every other contest as a pinch-hitter. He is 0-3 against southpaws, but has a .263 AVG and .364 OBP in 22 plate appearances against RHP. Akiyama represents a particularly skilled source of on-base potential, though he will have to get more regular at bats to maintain fantasy appeal.
Two talented catchers made their debuts: Tyler Stephenson of the Cincinnati Reds and William Contreras of the Atlanta Braves. Stephenson is an imposing 6’4″ and he swatted a titanic blast in his first plate appearance. Stephenson could be a good offensive catcher for dynasty leagues; likewise, Contreras was pressed into duty due to two senior circuit catchers landing on the IL. Contreras has been a pleasant surprise since his debut, delivering four hits including a double in 10 at bats as of this writing.
Deep League Talents: Joe McCarthy (SFG), Enoli Paredes (HOU), Jose Marmolejos (SEA), Jonathan Arauz (BOS), Taylor Widener (ARI), Alex Vesia (MIA), Santiago Espinal (TOR), Taylor Jones (HOU), Jordan Holloway (MIA), Jake Cronenworth (SDP), Nick Heath (KCR).
Ben is a member of the RotoFanatic team as a Minor League Prospect Analyst and Dynasty Fantasy Baseball writer. Ben is a longtime fantasy baseball player with a focus on deep dynasty leagues. Ben broke into baseball writing in 2017 as a team writer at realmccoyminors.com. In addition, Ben currently writes for Prospects1500.com covering the Red Sox system. He has also been a team writer at Fantrax and contributor to notesfromthesally.com. Ben is also a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America (IBWAA). Follow Ben on Twitter @TBDubbs11 for player video and dynasty baseball content.
On Sunday, June 28th, Major League Baseball teams were required to reveal a list of sixty players to be included in their Club Player Pool (CPP) for the 2020 Summer Camp. Some teams have filled their entire CPP, while others are waiting until the last possible week to sort things out. This player pool can be up to sixty players deep, and each team will be required to submit a thirty-player active roster for the season by Opening Day. The active roster starts at thirty players, then will decrease to twenty-eight players after two weeks, and will subsequently decrease again to twenty-six players after another two weeks have passed by. There will be a maximum of three players from each MLB team’s CPP that will travel to away games with the team, as this group has been named the Taxi Squad.
The major caveat with utilizing Taxi Squads is that one of those three players is required to be a catcher, which could also work in favor for teams with exceptional catching depth within their system. Taxi Squads are certainly going to benefit certain teams more than others, as those will be the teams that have top prospects ready who potentially could step on the field and theoretically be at replacement level for their respective position. With the Universal Designated Hitter in play this season, positional Taxi Squad members could at the very least gain plate appearances in this role if injuries were to occur. Players that are able to make the Taxi Squad are going to be those who can be plugged directly into a Major League lineup and can be trusted to get the job done when they are eventually called upon.
With a sixty-game season looming on the horizon, many tough decisions lie ahead of fantasy managers regarding how to handle prospects who are far from guaranteed consistent playing time in 2020. Taxi Squads for each team are unlikely to be officially announced until closer to Opening Day, making roster moves and fantasy drafts fairly difficult to prepare for with so many unknowns still lurking. This theme strongly applies to the tier of prospects that by play for teams that have substantial depth throughout the entire organization, so even just being a part of the sixty-player CPP does not guarantee that a prospect will get quality development repetitions beyond the exhibition games in Summer Camp.
Though MLB teams have not yet announced their thirty-player Active Rosters, I present to you in this article a custom National League primer as to which players deserve to hitch a ride as part of their respective team’s Taxi Squad for the 2020 season. This article will be more geared toward describing players who could have potential fantasy value if called upon, but nevertheless each player for each team will be touched on. This is a lengthy article, so feel free to skip around to the teams you are interested in. Let’s take a tour around the league to examine which players are strategically better fit to fill a Taxi Squad role for their clubs this season.
National League East
C | William Contreras
Contreras isn’t exactly a candidate to become a viable fantasy producer within the next few seasons, but noting the impressiveness of his superior defensive abilities is always warranted. His defense certainly has the potential to get him to the MLB by the start of the 2021 season, but his bat is simply not ready to make the jump for this season. If Contreras can continue developing on the path that he’s been on then we will be looking at a left-handed hitting catcher that could post a .265 AVG/.350 OBP/.415 SLG line on top of boasting elite defensive abilities. If one of Travis d’Arnaud or Tyler Flowers were to go onto the IL for any period of time, William Contreras should be the next catcher up to fill a roster slot on the big league club.
RHP | Ian Anderson
If it wasn’t for Kyle Wright, Ian Anderson would be the pitcher taking over Cole Hamels’ spot in Atlanta’s starting rotation, but instead he will remain perfectly suited for the Taxi Squad. Despite his struggles last season in AAA of walking way too many batters (15.9 percent BB%) and consequently giving up the long-ball (17.2 percent HR/FB), Anderson has characteristically been a pitcher flashing above average command and nasty enough stuff to yield strike out rates north of 30 percent while also maintaining the ability to get ground balls with his sixty-grade changeup. Like most top pitching prospects with high strikeout potential, Anderson just needs to pitch smarter to not walk as many batters because this has only led to inflated ERA indicators that have no regard for what the underlying stats may say. If Ian Anderson gets a chance to pitch in the rotation, you must roster him because if he shows out then he might actually be there to stay. Watch below as he sits down Wander Franco.
OF | Drew Waters / Christian Pache
The Braves could insert one of Drew Waters or Christian Pache into a Taxi Squad role as they both provide different types of value for the team. If Pache were to be promoted to the Taxi Squad (note that he is considered Day-to-Day due to an in-game injury this past week), he is going to provide gold glove defense in the outfield and elite speed all over the field. His skill set unfortunately does not translate into a fantasy relevant value for 2020 due to the hit tool and game power not being fully developed. What is intriguing about Pache is that he possesses sixty-five-grade speed, stole thirty-two bags in A, but has only stolen seven and eight bases over the past two seasons across AA and AAA. If Pache can turn into an OBP machine by boosting his ability to take walks and use his elite speed on the base paths, then he will definitely deserve more of a look to fill a role on your fantasy roster.
Drew Waters on the other hand, is just about ready to make his offensive debut for the Atlanta Braves. Though he did not perform much better at the plate in AAA than Pache did, Waters has proven at each stop that he possesses the ability to potentially hit for a .300 AVG but has not yet shown the refinement to simply take more walks. The switch-hitting twenty-one year old could provide three category production once completely developed and inserted into the Braves’ lineup. There may be growing pains with a higher strikeout rate and not much power production to make up for it, but Waters is destined to be an above average fantasy producer if he performs when given the opportunity.
RHP | Sixto Sanchez
To start the 2020 season, Sixto Sanchez is currently not slated to be a part of Miami’s starting rotation. This is not to say that we will not see Sixto pitch in the MLB at some point this season, but the chances of seeing him the first half are not very great unless Jose Urena struggles. The most special aspect of Sixto’s game is his ability to limit walks (4.6 percent) and therefore the damage associated with those walks (1.03 WHIP). It is rare for a twenty-one year old display this level of command and stuff over all levels he has pitched at, making Sanchez one of the most intriguing pitching prospects to monitor throughout the 2020 season. If given the opportunity to compete in MLB games this season, Sixto would likely give you a very low WHIP but not elite strikeout rates, making him very useful as an innings eater and ration stabilizer pickup at some point in the season. There is a lot of change occurring over in Miami, this is a situation worth monitoring for the weeks to come.
1B | Lewin Diaz
Miami has yet to announce its complete Active Roster for this season up to this point, so Lewin Diaz still remains as one of the odd-prospects-out of the Opening Day roster. The majority of Miami fans want to see Diaz on the Active Roster for Opening Day, so we will see if the organization feels strongly enough about his fantastic Summer Camp performance thus far. Lewin has been barreling the ball very well the past couple of weeks, while proving to have a very loud hit tool and surprisingly low strikeout rates (16.7 percent). Diaz has done nothing but mash his way all of the way through AA, so it remains to be seen if the twenty-three year old phenom gets his well deserved shot in 2020. The fantasy implications of Lewin Diaz seeing playing time are fairly great, as his defense will keep him on the field while also being able to steadily produce in two-to-three categories. If given an opportunity, watch for the hot streak of homers!
Lewin Diaz homers off Caleb Smith in sim game today. 2 days earlier he hit this off Brad Boxberger.
There isn’t any fantasy value to be had from Chad Wallach, but he is a stout veteran catcher that could benefit the development of the Marlins’ bullpen pitchers as the 2020 season rolls on.
New York Mets
SS | Andrés Giménez
Giménez is really the only prospect in the Mets’ system that could be ready to debut at some point in 2020, but there is such a small chance of that happening with Amed Rosario beginning to break out both offensively and defensively. You never know what could happen this season, so it would be smart to carry their top prospect as an emergency replacement if something were to occur to an infielder on the road. Giménez has posted wRC+ totals greater than 100 in each of the four seasons that he has been a professional, showing a bit of offensive pedigree exists to compliment his slightly above-average defense. There likely will not be a chance for Andrés Giménez to generate any sort of fantasy value in 2020, but joining the Taxi Squad would be an incredibly rewarding experience for the young shortstop.
OF | Melky Cabrera
It goes without recapping what type of fantasy production Melky Cabrera can provide if healthy and on the field, but the power has severely diminished over the past few years to the point where he is only becoming a Batting Average stabilizer. Melky would be one of the better choices to have waiting in the shadows on the Taxi Squad in case an outfielder were to go down during this sprint season. If a situation were to develop and Melky were to see regular At Bats, he is worth watching on the waiver wire in case you are in need of some Batting Average stabilization later in the season. He isn’t going to provide much more value than that, but if provided an opportunity to play we must remember that Plate Appearances are “currency” for this shortened season. Yoenis Céspedes needs a handcuff and Melky is arguably the best candidate to take over for him if an adverse situation were to develop.
C | Patrick Mazeika
There is no fantasy value to be interested in here, but Mazeika provides the highest upside bat of the remaining catchers on New York’s CPP. He will not receive a chance before Rene Rivera and company.
RHP | Spencer Howard
Spencer Howard (26th ranked Top Prospect) lies in the same category as Nate Pearson of the Blue Jays does for this season, as the Phillies are going to promote Howard to the starting rotation as soon as it makes the most sense for everyone involved. Howard will undeniably be pitching in the rotation for Philadelphia at some point this season, it just remains to be seen if it will be after seven days go by or if the Phillies really want to wait around on Zach Eflin to try and do something cool. Give us Howard, please. He has three plus pitches that can be controlled enough to keep his walk rates below 8 percent while posting a 31.1 percent K% over 30.2 IP in AA. If a top pitching prospect can tout K-BB% rates of 23-34 percent, then that is something special and is worth uncovering as soon as possible. With an NFBC ADP of 279 over the past week, it is going to get more difficult to get your shares of this prime talent. Spencer Howard is going to provide immediate fantasy value across numerous categories while most importantly posting an elite WHIP ratio (0.95) to back his skill set.
It is Alec Bohm’s time to shine if Scott Kingery or Jean Segura are going to have a shaky presence over at the hot corner in 2020, but until then he may remain blocked from his MLB debut for longer than fantasy managers desire. Bohm has raked at just about every level he has played at for the Phillies, posting a wRC+ greater than 145 over each of his three stops in 2019 (A, A+, AA). He belted fourteen Home Runs while slashing .269 AVG/ .344 OBP/ .500 SLG/ .377 wOBA across sixty-three games in AA last season. Bohm is a fairly refined and balanced hitter, as he hits the ball to all fields with relative ease. In AA he posted a HR/FB rate of 17.3 percent, showing that he has started to optimize his hit and raw power tools for the next level of competition. If Alec Bohm receives an opportunity to receive regular playing time at third base, it is worth adding him to your fantasy teams if your counting stats need a boost throughout the season. The power and hit tool are very loud, while his sixty-grade defense will also help to keep him on the field to earn more Plate Appearances. Don’t sleep on Bohm, pick him up as soon as you hear he has earned a starting role.
C | Deivy Grullón
No fantasy value to see here, but Grullón is proving to be a catcher than can produce above-average numbers on the offensive side of the plate. There seemed to be an all-around breakout with his hit tool and power, as he has belted twenty-one home runs each of his past two seasons in AA and AAA. This is a catcher to watch over the coming years but does not possess fantasy value for this season. Grullón may be on the rise as a serviceable fantasy catcher but only time will tell.
RHP | Wil Crowe
Wil Crowe has consistently put up exceptional statistics across every Minor League level that he has pitched at with the exception of short stints in AA and AAA. Crowe only seems to get into a lot of trouble when he posts walk rates north of 10 percent and strikeout rates south of 15 percent, as his best statistical seasons have come when he has been able to limit walks and corresponding damage that comes along with them. Getting ground balls is the name of the game for Crowe, but giving up too many home runs (11.1 percent HR/FB) has inflated his ERA indicators to the point where he gets forgotten about as a prospect. Unfortunately, Crowe is most likely not going to provide elite strikeout rates if given a chance to take the mound for Washington, but he may provide a decent floor if he can control his walks. If there is an injury in Washington’s starting rotation this season, Wil Crowe could very well be the next man up and a name you will want to keep an eye out for on the Waiver Wire.
SS | Luis García
Luis García is simply one of those prospects that you need to see play in order to understand why his potential future value is through the roof. García is already a pure hitter that hasn’t even come close to reaching his full potential as a professional. Much like Alec Bohm, Luis García has the refined ability to spray his hits all over the field while boasting a very manageable strikeout rate (15.6 percent), but he is still raw in the sense that he works very few walks each season. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing per se, but when 50 percent or more of your Batted Ball Events (BBE) are ground balls paired with a .299 BABIP then having a 3.1 percent BB% does not look super appealing. Top pitching prospects struggle with walking too many batters, while a lot of top hitting prospects like García struggle to draw enough walks to drive up their counting stats. Until García continues to refine his approach at the plate to be pickier with the pitches that he is putting into play, he likely will not reach his projected ceiling as a fantasy player. García will most likely not see any time on a Major League diamond in 2020, but if all hell breaks loose he could be the next man up to help put out any fires that the Nationals may endure.
No fantasy value to discuss here, as Tres Barrera would simply be the next best option to fill the third catcher role on the Nationals’ Taxi Squad.
National League Central
2B/OF | Robel García
This spot on Chicago’s Taxi Squad could really go to one of either Hernán Pérez or Robel García. The Cubs definitely need to carry a position player on their Taxi Squad, and frankly, these two are their best options. Hernán Pérez is nothing flashy, but he can play solid defense and provide a ‘contact’ bat toward the bottom of the lineup if absolutely necessary (I watched him do it as a Brewer for multiple years). Pérez would provide a better ‘real-life’ value. Robel García will provide a lot more power and average upside than Pérez would, which is why he would be the desired Taxi Squad member for emergency fantasy services (…EFM…probably going to trademark that). Even so, given his 43.8 percent strikeout rate in 2019 (80 PA) there will likely not be a chance to squeeze any sort of fantasy value from García this season because of the high strikeout but low power output tendencies.
RHP | Adbert Alzolay
Adbert Alzolay is an exciting twenty-five-year-old pitching prospect who possesses two sixty-grade pitches in his fastball and curveball. If Alzolay could develop his changeup to even be just slightly above average, we are looking at a pitcher who is going to provide immense strikeout upside if the command can bloom along with it. Like most high strikeout upside pitching prospects, Alzolay has an issue walking too many hitters (15 percent BB%) which leads to a high WHIP (1.29 in AAA, 1.78 in MLB) and plenty of damage to come along with it. Even despite his control issues, making the jump from A+ to AAA in just one season and still post a league average or better ERA and FIP definitely says something. The raw talent is obviously present and just needs to be further refined with experience. It is extremely unfortunate that there will be no Minor League season played this year, as numerous budding prospects like Adbert Alzolay really need the developmental repetitions to continue progressing in a positive direction. He is the only pitcher other in Chicago’s system other than Jharel Cotton that is ready to join the Taxi Squad and compete at the highest level if called upon. Alzolay is worth keeping your eyes on and investing in Dynasty Leagues.
Will we see Adbert Alzolay back in the rotation this year?
There isn’t any fantasy value to associate with Higgins for this season unless literally all of the Cubs’ catchers were to go onto the IL (I’m a Brewers fan but no I am not hoping for that, let’s make that clear). Higgins has improved across every level and has proven to be able to hit .280 or higher with manageable strikeout (20.7 percent) and walk rates (12.1 percent). This is a fairly refined approach for a catcher, while he also provides just a little bit of power in a full season. It is very doubtful that he will see the Major League diamond this season, but he certainly deserves a chance at some point.
C | Tyler Stephenson
Tyler Stephenson is an exceptional defensive catcher, which alone is making the case for his arrival at the MLB level for the Cincinnati Reds. This is a very exciting player to watch, almost comparable to a Jonathon Lucroy in his prime but Stephenson likely will provide an even louder offensive presence than Lucroy ever did. The defense will keep Stephenson on the field, but we may not see him until halfway through the season. If the Reds are going to compete after the first week of the season, it would be smart to bring Stephenson up to the Major League club and start to regularly get him into the lineup. He could be a serviceable fantasy catcher this season if given the necessary amount of Plate Appearances to produce a viable hit sample. If you get wind of Stephenson joining the Reds’ Active Roster at some point this season, he is worth taking a waiver wire flier on to fill a void if you drafted catchers very late this season.
OF | Aristides Aquino
There were a lot of upset individuals in the fantasy baseball realm the other night when the Reds announced that Aristides Aquino would not be joining the team’s thirty-player active roster on Opening Day. This frustration is somewhat warranted, but fans have to understand that their outfield is already stacked and jammed packed full of quality MLB players standing in this power hitter’s way. Aquino still managed to post a 119 wRC+ in 2019 while launching nineteen HR and posting a .259 AVG. The production was still legit even with the large skid that Aquino experienced toward the end of the season, which still makes him an intriguing prospect to join the Taxi Squad. This would be a very smart move by the Reds, as not adding him to the Active Roster over Mark Payton may prove to become skeptical across the league as the season wears on. Put Aquino on your watch list and invest if you need the power when and if he receives another chance this season.
RHP | José De León
It would be extremely satisfying to insert ‘Nick Lodolo’ into this segment of the article, but unfortunately he is just not quite ready to succeed at the Major League level. José De León was once a very highly touted pitching prospect when with the Rays, and now is gracing Cincinnati with his beautiful changeup. There could be fantasy value to be captured here if De León was given the opportunity to eat innings as a mid-reliever or short starter. Given the depth that the Reds possess in their bullpen, there is a good chance that De León will be the first man up to replace anyone in the bullpen that may go onto the IL this season. Being on the Taxi Squad is no joke because injuries happen and when they do, these players need to be ready to perform at the Major League Level. If called upon, De León could be worth the flier if you need ratio help but otherwise will probably remain irrelevant to fantasy this season.
1B/C | Jacob Nottingham
The Brewers have a better catching prospect available in Mario Feliciano, but he is still very young and not quite refined enough to compete at the Major League level this season. Jacob Nottingham does not provide very notable fantasy value as his hit tool has not quite caught up with his sixty-grade raw power. He did have a very successful first seven Plate Appearances for Milwaukee, but this cannot be trusted as the sample size is all too small. There very likely will not be any fantasy value associated with Nottingham this season.
RHP | Trey Supak
Trey Supak prides himself on his changeup and big curveball, but he hit some road bumps last season while posting a 9.30 ERA, 6.00 FIP, and .365 BABIP across thirty innings pitched in AAA. Supak boasts strikeout rates lower than 20 percent but has the command (6.3 percent BB%) to flat out get hitters out by any means necessary. He is not a predominate ground ball pitcher (39 percent GB%) but does a good job at living in at the top and bottom of the shadow zone to keep hitters off balance. There are very few scenarios that would lead to Supak receiving an opportunity to pitch in Milwaukee this season, but if there are multiple IL candidates then he is the next most experienced pitcher to add to the Active Roster in an emergency.
1B | Ronny Rodríguez
The story of Ronny Rodríguez goes along the lines of absolutely destroying Minor League pitching, but really struggling to find his stride at the plate in the Major Leagues. He has continued to strike out more each season that he has progressed through the Indians’ and Tigers’ farm systems and has which has suppressed his ability to fully break out as a power-hitting middle infielder. Much like Rougned Odor, the strikeouts can really weigh down a power hitter in a small sample size, so Rodriguez needs to work on reducing them. He has looked good this Summer Camp, showing off his power in Miller Park and seemingly striking out less. Rodriguez would be a nice addition to Milwaukee’s Taxi Squad this season in the event that he is needed if IL stints occur. We must still remain skeptical of Rodríguez as a reliable fantasy producer if given playing time because he has not proven to be just that throughout his time in the MLB.
The only pitch thrown in the "waste" zone (a Statcast zone classification) that was hit for a homer in 2019:
Ke’Bryan Hayes could be a realistic addition to the Pirate’s Active Roster at some point this season if not after seven days to avoid service time manipulation. If Colin Moran simply does not perform well enough to hold a place in the lineup, Ke’Bryan Hayes should be added to the roster right away to step in and play elite defense in the hot corner for the Pirates in 2020. Defensively he is ready, but it can be argued that his bat needs more time to develop in AAA. Since there is no Minor League season this year, Hayes still needs to receive these repetitions even if at the Major League level to continue developing his hit tool to be a viable bat in the MLB. He has proven to have the ability to hit for average but must do so at the highest levels of professional baseball to prove to the Pirates that he is ready. Keep an eye on Ke’Bryan’s status this season, as he would be worth a skeptical add later in the season.
There is not much to cover here with JT Brubaker simply because he is likely not going to provide any fantasy value this season. There is no telling how the Pirates are going to build their Taxi Squad lineup, so here is the pitcher in their system that is the most ready to potentially compete at the next level. Brubaker performed well at the AAA level while posting a 2.57 ERA, 3.96 FIP, and 18.6 percent K-BB% in 2019. Those types of numbers will get you onto a Taxi Squad and potentially a shot at a bullpen role with the big league club. If Brubaker gets a shot at some point in the season, he will be worth paying attention to if his performance translates to the MLB level.
C | Christian Kelley
There is no fantasy value here, but Christian Kelley would likely be the next best catcher to add to Pittsburgh’s Taxi Squad.
St. Louis Cardinals
3B | Nolan Gorman
The Cardinals scored big when they landed Nolan Gorman in the 2018 MLB Draft and then proceeded to trade for his High School teammate Matthew Liberatore. Nolan Gorman has massive sixty-grade power and is starting to display a hit tool that could very well let him jump another two levels in 2021 when there is a Minor League season again. Gorman is an average defender but has the projectable body to become an all-around great baseball player who could provide immense power upside in the near future. The Cardinals have very few positional prospects other than Gorman and Carlson that are ready for the MLB, so I think boosting Gorman’s confidence by adding him to the Taxi Squad would even help his development along even more. He needs the exposure to this type of environment, but will likely not get time in 2020.
OF/CIF | Dylan Carlson
Dylan Carlson is not part of the Cardinals’ currently known Active Roster, so he will be briefly covered within this segment of the article. By now everyone knows what Carlson is all about, being a switch-hitting outfielder who can spray the ball to all fields like Matt Carpenter but also clear the fence like Tyler O’Neill. Carlson has proven his pedigree across all levels in the Minor Leagues, especially in his last stop at AAA Memphis where he posted .361 AVG/ .418 OBP/ .681 SLG in seventy-nine plate appearances. He is going to provide immediate fantasy value once he is awarded consistent playing time with the Cardinals, although it appears that it may not be right off the bat on Opening Day this season. It is worth drafting Carlson this week in hopes that he will find the lineup at some point this season and provide immediate value. If he goes undrafted, beat everyone to him before it is too late.
C | José Godoy
There is no fantasy value to be found in José Godoy any time soon.
National League West
C/OF | Daulton Varsho
Daulton Varsho is a wonderful combination of hit and speed while being so versatile that he will likely find his way to the outfield sooner rather than later. With Carson Kelley manning the dish this season, we could very well see Varsho in Arizona’s outfield at some point toward the middle of this season. Varsho has been absolutely tearing it up in the Minor Leagues thus far, showing that he may have a little more power in the tank than originally thought. The best part of Varsho’s profile is his refined approach to having minimal strikeouts (13.9 percent) and being able to draw walks to get on base (9.3 percent). Daulton Varsho is currently ranked the #62 Top Prospect in the MLB, and that ranking is being fairly conservative in regard to the skill set that this guy brings to the table. Sixty-grade speed and potentially a fifty-five-grade hit tool down the road will make Varsho a fantasy study once given consistent playing time for the Diamondbacks.
OF | Josh Rojas
Over the past few seasons Josh Rojas has done nothing but perform across all levels of the Minor Leagues, but unfortunately resides in a very deep Minor League system that is very outfielder-heavy. With Kevin Cron likely being added to the Active Roster, Rojas will most likely just miss out on getting a spot. As you probably just read, Daulton Varsho will likely be moved to the outfield which will even further block the path to playing time for Josh Rojas. That is not to say that he will not provide value for the team this season as part of the Taxi Squad, but he likely will not get the opportunity to provide fantasy value unless injuries were to occur. Rojas has shown the ability to be a good all-around player that knows how to get on base at an elite level, so having him on the Taxi Squad to be the next man up in an emergency puts the Diamondbacks in better shape than a lot of teams as far as outfield depth goes.
RHP | JB Bukauskas
The Diamondbacks have very few arms in their system that would be able to step in and potentially fill a Taxi Squad role if needed, and JB Bukauskas is certainly the best one for the job in 2020. JB’s main issue is walking batters (14.2 percent) but like other top pitching prospects, he has shown the ability to flash elite strikeout rates upwards of 40 percent in AA. Bukauskas could fill a bullpen role if Arizona was in need of pitcher to fill in for an IL candidate, as he arguably has three plus pitches right now to let him compete in the MLB if completely necessary. Arizona gets to luck out by adding Varsho as the eligible catcher on the Taxi Squad, so why not play with some upside and add your top pitching prospect for the ride.
C | Elias Díaz
Elias Díaz has proved to be a serviceable catcher at the Major League level with the Pittsburgh Pirates, so it could be interesting to see him get a shot to play at Coors Field. The Rockies do not have a better catching option to add to the Taxi Squad, so they may as well choose a veteran that has the ability to come off the bench and hit the ball with some authority. He will not provide fantasy value this season, but he has in the past so always keep your eyes on the catching situation in Colorado.
OF | Yonathan Daza
Now that Brendan Rogers and company have made it through the pipeline to Colorado’s Active Roster, this allows an opening for twenty-six-year-old Yonathan Daza to occupy a spot on their Taxi Squad. Daza has proven that he can hit .300 or higher across all levels until he reached the big leagues last season. The pedigree appears to be there for the late bloomer, as the past few seasons his power and speed have arrived just in time for him to get a taste of the Majors. The Rockies are always doing funky things with their prospects, so it is probably to be expected that Daza will not see playing time unless there are injuries that warrant it. Daza seems to be a more complete player than Raimel Tapia, so there could be a chance that Daza takes that spot from him. Rockies are always going to Rockies.
RHP | Alexander Guillen
If only I could write ‘Ryan Rolison’ here, then that would be true happiness. Rolison will be moving through the Rockies system faster than most think, as he will likely get the chance to prove himself in Spring Training 2021. Alexander Guillen might be the most interesting pitcher in the Rockies’ system aside from Rolison, as he is an intimidating right-hander that racks up the strikeouts and limits his walks allowed. This is a guy that the Rockies should add to their Taxi Squad and inject into their bullpen whenever someone is faltering or has to hit the IL. It is not very often that a non-top pitching prospect can yield a 30.3 percent strikeout rate, 7 percent walk rate, and 0.93 WHIP across an entire season. Keep Guillen on your bullpen radar.
C | Keibert Ruiz
Switch-hitting catchers that can actually hit for average as professionals are very rare to find, especially if they are above average at defense as well. Keibert Ruiz is a very intriguing catcher that is going to satisfy a lot of fantasy team’s catching needs come 2021. Ruiz experienced a bit of an offensive lull following his promotion to AAA, but then got sent back down to AA where he continued to crush the ball as he did before being promoted. If one of the Dodger’s catchers were to go down with an injury then Ruiz would definitely be the next man up to fill a slot on the Active Roster. It is very likely that Ruiz will start the 2021 season with the Dodgers, but it will be difficult for him to see playing time in 2020. This could be detrimental to his development, but at least he would be involved with the Dodger pitchers throughout the season to familiarize himself for next season.
RHP | Tony Gonsolin
In an alternate universe, the Dodgers didn’t go out and get Alex Wood which would have made Gonsolin a de facto starter in this rotation by now. The fact that he hasn’t even been announced to the Opening Day roster is bizarre, but faith shall not be lost quite yet. We all know that Tony Gonsolin has the skill set to be a starter for the Dodgers in 2020, but a jammed pitching staff will again push him off to the side for yet another season. If Gonsolin is added to the Active Roster at any point, he is worth adding because Dodgeritis will always be a thing and he will get the opportunity he needs to perform. The only reason Gonsolin may not be drafted in all leagues is the convoluted nature of his path to playing time.
Terrance Gore can play solid defense and provide a pinch-runner off of the bench if necessary. He will not provide very much fantasy value if given an opportunity to play, but he could provide some stolen bases if he is being used that way on the roster. It is a long shot for him to make it to the diamond in 2020, but the speed could play up in a shortened season if he does somehow get some playing time.
San Diego Padres
LHP | MacKenzie Gore
There isn’t much to add on MacKenzie Gore that hasn’t been hammered on by the fantasy baseball community this offseason, as he will likely find himself as part of the Padres’ rotation at some point in the 2020 season. They may even opt to go with a six-man rotation and use Gore as a versatile Swiss Army knife type pitcher if he proves to be effective at the MLB level right off the bat. The Padres have a strong rotation so it is not quite as easy adding Gore to the mix as they hoped, but his pure talents will force him into their Active Roster soon enough. Gore is worth drafting near the twentieth round if you are set on pitching and can go for an upside play with some risk.
OF | Taylor Trammell
If the Padres plan on contending in 2020 then they need to try and stack their bench and Taxi Squad as deeply as they can with quality defensive prospects who have recently proven to swing the bat well. Taylor Trammell is one of these players, as his superior defensive efforts could play up in an MLB game tomorrow if absolutely necessary. His hit tool has been improving over the past couple of seasons as the speed as also started to show up on the basepaths as the Padres hoped it would. Trammell could be a fantasy stud with a lethal combination of lightning speed, gold glove defense, and a well-above-average hit tool. Unfortunately, we probably will not see him on the field this season due to a strong and deep lineup ahead of him in the pecking order.
C | Luis Torrens / Luis Campusano
Neither of these two catchers will provide any sort of fantasy value in 2020, but Campusano is going to without a doubt become San Diego’s catcher by 2022. Luis Torrens is more so the catching prospect that is ready to serve a Taxi Squad role right now, while Campusano still may be a year out from joining the Padres in any capacity. Torrens has proven to be a serviceable ‘real-life’ catcher, but will not provide any fantasy value if given a chance to play. On the other hand, Campusano is going to be a pure hitting catcher with power that can also hold his own defensively behind the dish. Already through A+ as a twenty-one year old, Campusano has proven to mash all pitching thrown his way thus far.
San Francisco Giants
C | Joey Bart
There was a lot of speculation that Joey Bart may have been the starting catcher for the Giants on Opening Day given the news that Buster Posey opted out of the 2020 season. Since the Giants are really in no position to contend for a World Series this season, there is no reason in bringing up Bart at the beginning of the season. He may see some time later in the season if San Francisco wants to give him developmental at-bats, but there is no way to know how the Giants will handle him in a shortened season with no Minor League schedule. Bart is the ultimate catching prospect that can play gold glove defense behind the plate while providing sixty-grade power offensively. The hype is real with Joey Bart and for a great reason, but we will just have to wait until 2021 to see him gain consistent playing time. When the Giants have both Joey Bart and Patrick Bailey on their Active Roster someday, they might find themselves right back in the World Series with such a strong foundation of players coming up through their system.
Logan Webb didn’t exactly have a brilliant first cup of coffee with San Francisco in 2019, but he is doing good enough in Summer Camp that he may become their fifth starter by Opening Day. This is an intriguing situation as Webb is projected to not make the Active Roster but will likely be added before Opening Day and could potentially be starting games right off the bat. Webb possesses a very dangerous slider that helps him boast a 21.3 percent K%, which will not provide a ton of fantasy value but could be serviceable if he can lower his WHIP from last season. Refining the use of his fastball will lead to more successes with his slider, which will in turn increase his overall fantasy value. What Webb does have going for him is his ability to induce ground balls at an incredible rate (48.8 percent GB%), as this particular skill will save him from allowing too much damage after runners get on base. Webb might be worth picking up as a streamer if he has a good start or two to begin this season.
MIF | Yolmer Sánchez
There is not much fantasy value to be had from Yolmer Sánchez, but he is an experienced veteran that could be plugged into the lineup if any one of the Giants’ middle infielders were to hit the IL. Yes, Marco Luciano is a part of the sixty-player CPP, but he is entirely too young to fill a Taxi Squad role in such an abbreviated season. Look for Yolmer to be one of the players that San Francisco takes on road trips to help mentor the younger players on the squad. There is no desire for Sánchez in fantasy this season.
Be sure to tune in to RotoFanatic.com in the coming weeks to catch updated information about Taxi Squads as Active Rosters develop closer to Opening Day!
On Sunday, June 28th, Major League Baseball teams were required to reveal a list of sixty players to be included in their Club Player Pool (CPP) for the 2020 Summer Camp. This player pool can be up to 60 players deep, and each team will be required to submit a thirty-player active roster for the season by Opening Day. The active roster starts at thirty players, then will decrease to twenty-eight players after two weeks, and then will subsequently decrease again to twenty-six players after another two weeks have passed by. There will be a maximum of three players from each MLB team’s CPP that will travel to away games with the team, as this group has been named the Taxi Squad.
The major caveat with utilizing Taxi Squads is that one of those three players is required to be a catcher, which could also work in favor of teams with exceptional catching depth within their system. Taxi Squads are certainly going to benefit some teams more than others, as those will top prospects who potentially could step on the field and theoretically be a replacement level for their respective position. With the Universal Designated Hitter in play this season, positional Taxi Squad members could at the very least gain Plate Appearances in this role if injuries were to occur. Players that are able to make the Taxi Squad are going to be those who can be plugged directly into a Major League lineup and can be trusted to get the job done when they are eventually called upon.
With a sixty-game season looming on the horizon, many tough decisions lie ahead of fantasy managers regarding how to handle prospects who are far from guaranteed consistent playing time in 2020. Taxi Squads for each team will likely not get officially announced until closer to Opening Day, making roster moves and fantasy drafts fairly difficult to prepare for with so many unknowns still lurking. This theme strongly applies to the tier of prospects that by play for teams that have substantial depth throughout the entire organization, so even just being apart of the sixty-player CPP does not guarantee that a prospect will get quality development repetitions beyond the exhibition games in Summer Camp.
Though MLB teams have not yet announced their thirty-player Active Rosters, I present to you in this article a custom American League primer as to which players I believe deserve to hitch a ride as part of their respective team’s Taxi Squad for the 2020 season. This article will be more geared toward describing players who could have potential fantasy value if called upon, but nevertheless each player for each team will be touched on. This is a lengthy article, so feel free to skip around to the teams you are interested in. Let’s take a tour around the league to examine which players are strategically better fit to fill a Taxi Squad role for their clubs this season.
As previously stated in the introduction to this article, teams are not required to fill all three available slots on their Taxi Squads but are allowed to carry an extra catcher in that space if they desire to. There is nothing to lose by carrying a third catcher, and there is everything to be gained in regard to their professional development. In terms of fantasy production, there a very few of these catchers that will even see the field in 2020. Now to the Orioles.
Since Chance Sisco will likely be part of the Orioles’ Opening Day Active Roster as the primary backup catcher to Pedro Severino, Austin Wynns would be the next man up to make their Taxi Squad as an emergency catcher. Bryan Holaday is their only other additional catching option, which would force the Orioles to choose between adding a twenty-nine or thirty-year-old veteran to primarily serve as the bullpen catcher. Nothing to see here.
Mountcastle was finally added to the Orioles’ CPP on July 8th, easily making him the most desirable candidate to fill a primary Taxi Squad slot. Over his past two seasons in AA and AAA, Mountcastle has accumulated thirty-eight Home Runs, 142 Runs Batted In, 144 Runs, and a .304 Batting Average across 981 Plate Appearances. One intriguing facet of Mountcastle’s profile is the fact that both his Fly Ball% and Pull% have simultaneously decreased over the past three seasons while his Home Run totals have steadily increased. This can be taken as a sign that he has been consistently optimizing his swing to succeed in his current environment. These refinements are leading directly to his swing becoming perfectly optimized to succeed in Camden Yards.
This is one of the more intriguing potential Taxi Squad players within the American League, as he could immediately step in and provide viable fantasy value for those needing a power surge if he sees the field. There are still currently many unknowns with how rosters will be constructed for Opening Day, but fantasy managers definitely need to track this situation and be ready to scoop up Mountcastle if an injury or COVID-19 related incident were to occur.
Twenty-five year old Keegan Akin has flashed signs of becoming a serviceable pitcher for the back-end of the starting rotation. He has not been added to the sixty-player CPP, but there is still time, and I won’t give up that easily. Akin has proven to possess the ability to strike out hitters at a 26 percent rate in AAA while he was also able to maintain a 4.13 FIP in back-to-back seasons. The main problem with Akin’s profile is that he has issued too many walks (12.1 BB%), which has led to subsequent inflation of his ERA to a mark of 4.73. Of all the pitchers in the Orioles’ system that are MLB-ready for the 2020 season, Keegan Akin would likely provide the best pitching value for the Orioles if needed in an emergency situation.
The Red Sox can go one of two ways with their Taxi Squad catcher, as they can either choose to roster a seasoned veteran with great leadership qualities (Jonathon Lucroy) or they can roster their top catching prospect and start to develop him within a modified MLB environment (Connor Wong). Either way, neither of these two players are going to have an impact in fantasy leagues simply because they will not get the playing time to produce viable results.
If there is one prospect in the Red Sox’s system who is ready for his first cup of coffee at the Major League level, it undoubtedly is corner infielder Bobby Dalbec. In the past two seasons, Dalbec has flown through the Red Sox’s farm system by performing exceptionally well at all three levels (A+, AA, AAA) that he has played at. Historically, Dalbec has proven to possess the pedigree of an above-average power hitter that strikes out a tad too often, but who also has the unique ability to draw walks and get on base. With Mitch Moreland not getting any younger over at first base, all it would take is an IL stint for Dalbec to get some valuable at-bats for his development. He is in the same fantasy basket as Ryan Mountcastle, as the power production will surely be present, but the playing time may unfortunately not be.
Kyle Hart has yet to make his MLB debut for the Red Sox, and this may still reign true in 2020. Hart does not possess very high strikeout upside (19.4 percent), but is able to yield ground balls at a high enough rate (40.2 percent) to be considered as an above-average left-handed pitcher. There could be a very real possibility that Kyle Hart could take the mound in 2020 given the current state of Boston’s starting rotation. Ryan Weber and Brian Johnson are by no means “a lock” to stick in this rotation for the entirety of the season, even though it is substantially shortened. This bullpen and starting rotation are going to need help at some point this season, and Kyle Hart is a left-hander that deserves a chance to prove what he can do at the next level if called upon.
We got a limited look at Deivi Garcia in his Spring Training 1.0 debut, as he struck out three and walked one batter across two innings pitched against the Braves. Garcia could use another full season in AAA to further develop and refine his command, but we all know that the Minor League season will no longer be occurring. This is a prime opportunity for the Yankees to give massive strikeout pitcher like Garcia the opportunity to travel and develop with the other Major Leaguers on the team. Until he reached AAA, Deivi Garcia did not post a K% lower than 31 percent, but consistently posted BB% rates higher than 11 percent. Just given the eye test, it appears that Garcia very well could be ready to make his MLB debut regardless if fate allows for him to get that opportunity or not.
The Yankees do not really have any positional prospects ready to help the club this season, so why not carry two emerging stud pitchers to reinforce the bullpen and rotation? This is why the Yankees should add both Deivi Garcia and Clarke Schmidt to their Taxi Squad. Schmidt has also impressed in Spring Training 1.0 and now in Summer Camp. He looks like he is MLB ready, commanding each of his pitches in any count to left and right-handed hitters each time he takes the mound. Most recently, he sat down teammate Giancarlo Stanton and company by freezing them with beautiful fastballs up in zone paired with offspeed pitches down and away. Schmidt may not possess quite as high of strikeout upside as Garcia, but he certainly will provide the higher floor for fantasy managers if given the chance to compete.
C | Chris Iannetta
Not much to say about Chris Ianetta, other than he is the Yankees’ best option for a veteran Taxi Squad catcher. No potential fantasy value.
The #1 Top Prospect in the league will certainly find himself apart of Tampa Bay’s Taxi Squad, though it remains very cloudy whether he will receive any playing time short of being an emergency replacement. With Willy Adames breaking out as an exceptional defensive shortstop that can sustain average offensive abilities and Brandon Lowe platooning with Joey Wendle at second base, playing time will be very difficult for Wander to muster up. If either of these three middle infielders for the Rays ends up faltering one-quarter of the way through the season, it is likely that Franco will be given the chance that he deserves to try and prove himself on a Major League diamond.
Unfortunately for Wander, it will likely take one of these three to underperform in order for him to see any sort of consistent playing time. Fantasy managers will have to pay very close attention to the middle infield situation in Tampa Bay, though Franco should certainly still not go undrafted no matter what the circumstances are for playing time in 2020.
Surprisingly enough, the Rays do not have many pitching prospects that are ready to compete at the Major League level this season, but there could be one. McClanahan has proven to be nothing other than electric through AA, posting very high strikeout rates with astonishingly low walk rates. His 2019 season stats might appear to suggest negative regression lies ahead, but don’t overlook his .450 BABIP that came along with a 41.9 percent GB%. McClanahan got extremely unlucky in his first season in AA, as this can be extracted from pairing his 8.35 ERA and 4.12 FIP. At twenty-three years of age, McClanahan needs to develop at the next highest level in order to keep him on track. The best way for the Rays to do this is to give him the nod and slot him in as an emergency pitcher on the Taxi Squad.
The simple fact that Pearson has pitched for three professional seasons across five different levels (R, A-, A+, A+, AA, AAA) and has posted monster strikeout numbers while maintaining walk rates of 8.6 percent or lower. For a highly touted prospect who throws 100+ MPH with elite K-BB% rates, it is truly impressive that he doesn’t have walk rates that are through the roof like other pitching prospects that have similar profiles to Pearson’s (e.g. Darwinzon Hernandez). This is a pitcher that you need to jump on because the stuff is totally there and the command is there while getting better.
Long story short, Pearson is probably going to sit out for the first seven-game so of the season because of service time manipulation, of which five of those seven happen to be away games. If you do the math, Pearson very well could debut at home in Toronto and not lose a year of service time. Pearson is going to provide elite fantasy value right out of the gate if he can keep his walk rate somewhere below 10 percent.
Anthony Kay could certainly boost Toronto’s staff or bullpen if and when there will be individuals put onto the IL for whatever reason. Kay is an intriguingly crafty individual, having four really good pitches that he can command on most nights. Much like Pearson but without a power fastball, Kay flat out has the pedigree to post above-average strikeout rates while walking very few batters (7.9 percent) and to get hitters out at all costs. He had hiccups in his first cup of coffee with the Jays but he will certainly be diligent about fixing his mistakes if he gets a chance to take the mound in 2020.
If the Blue Jays do decide to carry a third catcher, it will likely come down to them either giving Riley Adams a shot or leaning back on thirty-four-year-old veteran Caleb Joseph. Either way, neither player is relevant to fantasy baseball this season.
Vaughn is currently the thirty-seventh ranked prospect in the MLB having just 245 Plate Appearances under his belt in 2019 across three professional levels (R, A, A+). He was fortunate enough to prove himself to potentially be considered for Chicago’s Taxi Squad, and a strong performance at Summer Camp 2020 could really improve his chances. It may be crazy to say he would be ready to join the MLB squad if necessary, but having just watched him play baseball it is apparent that he is ready to be challenged at a much higher level.
If Vaughn were to be given a chance to play on the Taxi Squad and travel with the team, you can bet that the White Sox have a darn good reason for him being there in the first place. If Abreu were to go down, there could be an opportunity there if Encarnacion doesn’t play the field. He could certainly mix in the first base and Designated Hitter rotation if injuries were to occur, but there is no telling how he would handle MLB pitching.
There is not very much more to say about Madrigal that hasn’t been thoroughly covered throughout the industry thus far. The guy can absolutely fly on the base paths, possesses an above-average glove and defensive ability at second base, and to top it all off he has proven at every level that he can get on base at an elite rate (.398 OBP). Madrigal was likely originally going to be included on Chicago’s Active Roster early on in 2020, but with the extreme rule changes, it may be best for him to be part of the Taxi Squad. Leury Garcia had a good 2019 season, but I don’t think he sustains that in 2020 which will allow Madrigal to directly take his place in the lineup. He would likely be hitting in the nine-hole, which isn’t ideal for fantasy production but it actually might be a good spot due to that lineup being so strong this season. He could provide a much-needed speed and OBP burst for all fantasy managers if he sees the field in 2020.
The White Sox could really score with their Taxi Squad this season if Zack Collins is considered to be eligible at catcher and first base. This could undoubtedly be the best Taxi Squad in the AL, filled by three prospects that Chicago expected to officially arrive at the Dark Side in 2020 even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Collins offers some power and hasn’t quite been able to prove it at the Major League level when given an opportunity to do so, but he is just twenty-five years old and things could certainly click for him. Zack Collins isn’t of excellent fantasy value because he hasn’t proven himself in the MLB, but could be useful as a third power-hitting catcher as part of the Taxi Squad.
An alternate universe choice to Bobby Bradley and Nolan Jones, Tyler Naquin would probably be the safest and most logical choice for a positional slot on the Taxi Squad. This may be a very unpopular opinion, especially among the prospecting community, but Naquin has frankly been in multiple ALCS and World Series previously in his career so that experience may be smart for the Indians to take on the road. Likely an unpopular take, but if the Indians are going to win this sprint in the Central, then they are going to need depth that has the certain ability to perform on a Major League diamond. Naquin probably wouldn’t provide much fantasy value if he were to get a chance to play, but he would be a great candidate to help the Indians get back to another World Series (asterisk).
The Indians are another team that lacks starting pitching prospect depth for the immediate future (exception of Triston McKenzie), but Logan Allen is in town and awaits his much deserved ride with the Taxi Squad. There is nobody better in the system to fill one of these slots, and a left-handed pitcher would surely be more than welcome onto the Indian’s Taxi Squad so that he can get the development and exposure that he needs to excel. Allen has one of the best changeups in the Minor Leagues and was a wizard at getting hitters to ground out last season (49.5 percent). The strikeouts haven’t been there as of late and he has been getting hit somewhat hard, but the Indians are a great developmental team that will help Allen will find his way soon enough. Potential fantasy value could lie ahead if given innings, and you never know what is going to happen with that staff and bullpen. Definitely a situation worth monitoring.
Detroit can’t really go wrong by selecting either Manning or Mize to fill a spot on their Taxi Squad, as both prospects were likely going to make their MLB debuts in a normalized 2020 season. Both prospects possess multiple plus pitches and the pedigree to become a number one or two starter for their Major League club within the next couple of seasons. Manning and Mize have massive strikeout rates, while also having the command to keep their walks under control. The best thing about both of these pitchers is the fact that they could be utilized out of the bullpen as well as in the rotation if necessary. They will be effective either way if they can limit their walks, as I could almost see Manning toward the back of the bullpen helping to anchor things down if there are any injuries. Service time is a big concern with both of these prospects, so it will be interesting to see how the Tigers choose to construct their Active Roster for Opening Day.
With very few positional prospects ready to contribute at the Major League level in 2020, Detroit could really stack their Taxi Squad with two of the Big Three arms from their farm system. Again, service time comes into play, and so does the fact that neither of them has thrown past AA. Tarik Skubal is unique in the sense that he is the only left-handed pitcher who is advanced in Detroit’s Top Prospect pool, and his skill set is always being craved by MLB teams.
Skubal is a lefty with an overpowering fastball and strikeout rates through the roof (48.2 percent), but he had too high of a walk rate in 2019 (10.6 percent) which kept his stat line from looking almost immaculate. With Skubal and any combination of Mize or Manning, Detroit’s Taxi Squad would arguably have the most feared pitching prospects in the league. If given an opportunity, Skubal is going to rack up the strikeouts at every level but has to improve on his command to become a viable starter. The Tigers may opt to add a position player to their Taxi Squad, but there may not be a reason to do so.
Jake Rogers is a twenty-five-year-old catcher who is a defensive magician. He is graded out to potentially become an eighty-grade defensive catcher with a sixty-grade arm, plus having an average power rating that just hasn’t shown up at the Major League level yet. This will get him into the lineup alone. Rogers struck out way too much in his Tigers debut in 2019 (39.8 percent K%) and had an OBP lower than .300 for the first time in his professional career since A+. Rogers could very well become a fantasy relevant catcher for the Tigers but likely not in 2020 due to lack of any assured playing time. Austin Romine and Grayson Greiner aren’t anything special, so Rogers could very well get his second nod on the big league club if the other two catchers are stale at the plate. Could be a mid-to-late season waiver wire catcher pick up if all else fails in Detroit.
There is no better fit for Kansas City’s Taxi Squad than Khalil Lee. Most are going to give me flack for not saying Bobby Witt Jr. here, but Khalil Lee is going to be needed as an outfielder in Kansas City a lot sooner than Witt Jr. will be needed at third base or shortstop. He still strikes out too much (28.2 percent) but proved to be the definition of efficient speed (53 SB) combined with the ability to flat out hit the baseball (124 Hits: 470 AB). As stated previously, this is a “needs-based” decision, as quality outfielders are going to dry up awfully quickly for the Royals when Brett Phillips has to start in left field because Alex Gordon seems to always find the IL. Lee will be waiting in the shadows, and he can provide a much-needed source of speed while also not tanking your fantasy team’s Batting Average (or OBP) or Runs totals. If Lee makes the Taxi Squad, he is worth the stash.
Another Royals prospect that is worth the stash if added to the Taxi Squad is twenty-three-year-old right-hander Brady Singer. There is a fairly common theme running in the American League right now where most of the top pitching prospects who are nearly MLB-ready have never even thrown a pitch in AAA. Brady Singer falls in this same category as Manning, Mize, Skubal, McClanahan, and others mentioned previously in the article. Besides Daniel Lynch and Kris Bubic, Singer is the best pitcher in Kansas City’s farm system who could hold his own in a Major League setting. Singer has thrown 147.4 innings across A+ and AA and has posted encouraging K-BB% rates thus far (17.6 percent in 2018, 15.3 percent in 2019). He hasn’t posted strikeout rates that are through the roof (22.1 percent), but has shown the ability to act mature on the mound and attack each hitter with a specific plan. Singer could provide some back-end of the rotation type fantasy value, especially with the fairly weak rotation that KC is sporting in 2020.
Twenty-three-year-old Meibrys Viloria will likely be the third catcher added to Kansas City’s Taxi Squad once he returns from the IL. Though he strikes out way too often for a catcher that doesn’t provide much power, he has proven to have a decent hit tool until he reached the MLB in 2019. If his pedigree persists, Viloria can be a .260/.340/.340 hitter if given the Plate Appearances to further develop. This could be a nice left-handed bat in the Royals’ lineup if all else fails once Perez can’t stick behind the plate anymore. No fantasy value here, but a catcher to keep your eyes on over time.
This positional role on Minnesota’s Taxi Squad could realistically be filled by Royce Lewis, Trevor Larnach, or Alex Kiriloff. Whoever is chosen to fill this role will be based on what Minnesota needs depth at the most, which currently appears to be outfield. All three of Lewis, Larnach, and Kiriloff are not quite MLB ready, but if anyone, Royce Lewis is the closest. His hit tool may not be the closest, but the speed and power combination is almost ready for the MLB in its current state. If an infielder were to go down, Lewis would be the next man up. The hesitancy with choosing an outfielder for this Taxi Squad role is because Jake Cave is still lurking and waiting for his chance to keep hitting well for the Twins. If Cave wasn’t on the bench, this decision would be more inclined toward an outfielder.
Royce Lewis could provide a very unique skill set for fantasy managers but it is likely not going to appear until 2021 or 2022. He could very well nab a spot on the Taxi Squad and play if called upon, but the Twins are in “win-now mode” and could very well not distribute playing time as much as other teams. Be very cautious when drafting him in Redraft Leagues, but for Dynasty Leagues he could very well be a late 2021 arrival based upon the state of the Twins’ infield.
For the record, Jordan Balazovic would be the choice for this Taxi Squad slot if he had been announced as part of Minnesota’s sixty-player CPP, but he sadly was not (there is still time). Jhoan Duran is also a very intriguing prospect who has a profile plays well no matter who is playing defense behind him. You cannot only look at a pitching prospect’s ERA, as poor defense can often inflate this indicator. In 2018, Duran started to find a great feel for his fastball, as his FIP becoming consistently lower than his ERA tells the story of how much better he actually pitched in contrast to how it appears on the surface. Duran has the potential to have three exceptionally lethal pitches if he can continue to develop in the Twins’ system. Don’t let his elevated BABIP fool you (.327), as Jhoan Duran is an excellent ground ball pitcher (63.3 percent) who has gotten unlucky with the defenses playing behind him. There likely won’t be fantasy value here in 2020, but there will be plenty of it sometime in 2021 or 2022.
Tomas Telis has proven that he can hit at the AAA level (.330 AVG), and has even hit over .300 at the Major League level back in 2016 with the Marlins. This is a catcher that would fit wonderfully on the Twins’ Taxi Squad. As an immediate World Series contender, Minnesota should want to have a veteran leader that has performed in the past as part of their traveling Taxi Squad. No fantasy value here, but an intriguing decision as to who Minnesota will choose as their third catcher. Telis provides the most offensive upside.
Despite a lackluster 2019 season, Forrest Whitely is still one of the more electrifying right-handed pitching prospects in the MLB (#15 Top Prospect). Whitley currently has three sixty-grade pitches but none of that matters if you cannot throw them for strikes. In 2019 alone he posted an 18.4 percent walk rate in AA, and then again posted a 12.6 percent walk rate in AAA. While this is a good sign, his strikeout rate also experienced a 10.5 percent decrease down to 24 percent. Whitley still possesses the pedigree to become one of the best rookie right-handed pitchers in the league when he debuts, but it will all come down to his walk rate. Definitely hold Whitley in Dynasty leagues for now and monitor the coming weeks for any roster announcements. Forrest Whitley will likely not be fantasy relevant yet again in 2020 due to the unfortunate inner workings that a shortened season has to offer. If he is set to debut due to an injury in the rotation, he may be worth claiming in Redraft Leagues.
#Astros Forrest Whitley is an ace in the making, & his ability to rip off 3 straight nasty breakers is a big reason why. Each pitch is 81-82 mph, but notices how he changes the shape: 2nd pitch is an up-then down curve, 3rd a sharper off-the-table tilt 🔥 pic.twitter.com/V7JzrqUGLF
Since the Astros are another team that really does not have many positional prospects that are ready for the MLB, they may very well go with a double pitcher stack on the Taxi Squad to supplement any IL occurrences that may happen within the rotation or bullpen. Christian Javier would likely be the second pitcher on the Taxi Squad along with Forrest Whitley. Javier has proven to tote high strikeout rates (36.4 percent) while also being able to limit his walks to a manageable rate of 9.1 percent. Posting a K-BB% higher than 20 percent across three levels last season (A+, AA, AAA) is a testament to how good Christian Javier could really be and nobody is talking about it. All eyes have been on Whitley, but when the day of reckoning comes for the Astros to win games, Javier will be right there in the conversation. It is worth watching him on the wire.
No fantasy value here, but Jamie Ritchie has proven to hit the ball fairly well across the upper levels of the Minor Leagues. He has the potential to be a .270 hitter at the Major League level if ever given a shot to crack the big league roster. There are much worse options to have as a third-string catcher. He is an OBP machine that knows how to take walks (similar to Yasmani Grandal), so he could very useful when Houston is in search of a more offensively inclined catcher.
Jo Adell is the most widely covered prospect across the fantasy baseball industry, so there is not going to be a whole lot added about his profile here. We all know what Adell is capable of, it is really just a matter of receiving the playing time for one reason or another. Everyone is eagerly awaiting the hit tool to fully come around and send his power potential into orbit, but until he is able to hit both left and right-handed pitching equally then he, unfortunately, isn’t going to make a full breakout. What else is concerning is the decrease in walk rate and an increase in strikeout rate, but this will come with prospects that start to somewhat sell out for some power. Adell could become fantasy relevant the moment that he steps on the field, as he should contribute in two-to-three categories. Make sure you have him when it’s his turn!
Since the Angels lack depth in pitching prospects for the immediate future, why not bring Jared Walsh along to the party because you never know if Albert Pujols is going to keep declining or not. Walsh has a refined approach at the plate, showing that he can hit for power while being able to walk at a decent rate to balance out the strikeouts. Walsh hit thirty-six home runs in AAA last season, but got called up to the Angels and struggled in his first thirty-seven games. He likely will not possess much fantasy value for this season unless the first base situation does open up for him, in which you can grab him in OBP leagues and for some supplemental power toward the end of the season. The Angels don’t have many other guys that could succeed at the MLB level at this instance.
No fantasy value to be had with Kruger. The Angels could really go with anyone for their third catcher, it will have zero fantasy implications unless Castro and Stassi somehow both go down. Even then, eh.
This one is for Matt Williams (@MattWi77iams). But in all seriousness, Sheldon Neuse needs to be on Oakland’s Taxi Squad and there should be no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it. Yes, he struggled in his first twenty-five games at the Major League level in 2019. Yes, he is a power hitter that strikes out a lot and doesn’t walk very often, but there is something to be said for the “eye test” as well. Neuse has appeared to reach his power breakout while also just arriving at his full hit potential. Given time on the Taxi Squad to develop with the team, Neuse would be a great addition to the Athletics because Tony Kemp just might not cut it. There isn’t much fantasy value at stake here, but if we do find out that he gets added to the Taxi Squad then he may be worth the deep-league stash.
James Kaprielian would be a nice utility pitcher to have on the Taxi Squad because he could serve in a multi-inning role if a starter or reliever were to go on the IL. He has proven that he can rack up strikeouts at the Major League level, so there could be a possibility of seeing him in some sort of role by the middle of this season. If he works his way into a “holds” situation, then he is absolutely worth picking up on the speculation that the Athletics will win a decent number of games. This is a situation worth monitoring, who knows what the A’s will do.
Jonah Heim is a 6’4″ catcher that is exceptional defensively and has started to make an offensive breakthrough over the past two seasons. Drafted at nineteen years old, Heim has been in the league for six years and has finally started to hit better than he ever has now at twenty-five years old (.358 AVG). The Athletics have two good catchers in Sean Murphy and Austin Allen, so Heim may be the Taxi Squad catcher but will likely not see the field in 2020. He is certainly a player to keep your eyes on over the next two seasons.
OF | Jared Kelenic
Ahhh, did you just see that home run that Kelenic absolutely destroyed in their intrasquad game the other day? Take a look at the video in the Tweet below, and turn the sound way up because the crack of his bat tells the whole story here. Kelenic is a Top Ten prospect in the MLB and would have undoubtedly arrived in Seattle this season if it were a normal year. He is going to be a three-to-four category contributor when he steps into his prime, and can even serve as a two-category contributor in 2020 if given an opportunity to play on the Major League team. There isn’t much stopping Kelenic from reaching the Majors this season as long as Haniger is still riding pine with another injury, because I don’t see Mallex Smith‘s skill set playing up in a shortened season. This is a complete side note, but Mallex Smith needs a large sample size of games to reach his stolen base potential since his offensive skills are very underwhelming. That skill set isn’t going to cut it and Kelenic will be the first to get the call. Draft him everywhere you can as long as you aren’t paying a premium in Redraft Leagues, but he could be fruitful in Dynasty Leagues as soon as 2020.
No other pitching prospect in the Mariners’ farm system deserves to be on the Taxi Squad more than Logan Gilbert does. Gilbert could provide fantasy value in 2020 if he were to turn a few quality starts, as he has proven to have the strikeout upside while also being able to really limit his walk rate (7.7 percent). He has been very sharp at every level he has pitched at, and deserves a chance to join the Taxi Squad in case Kendall Graveman just doesn’t cut it in Seattle. Gilbert is one of those prospects that really needed a Minor League season to develop late into the 2020 season, but Seattle may as well throw him right into the fire and develop him as much as they can while being part of the Taxi Squad. It is dangerous to draft Gilbert in Redraft Leagues this season just due to lack of assured playing time but he is worth still taking in Dynasty drafts as he could provide some late season value along with Kelenic.
If anything, Cal Raleigh should be the extra catcher taken on the Taxi Squad for developmental purposes. There is no fantasy value to be salvaged here, unfortunately, but Raleigh was having a good spring for what it is worth.
This system is fairly barren these days. Yerry Rodriguez would be the ideal pick for one of these developmental spots, but he just isn’t quite ready for an MLB stage. Tyler Phillips on the other hand has thrown through AA and has proven to be an above-average pitcher thus far. Ariel Jurado might very well be the pitcher that Texas chooses for their Taxi Squad, but that will be an absolute disaster and we all know it. Phillips has proven to possess exceptional command (which is even still developing), which has resulted in walk rates 5.2 percent or lower across all levels. There is definitely something to say about a pitching prospect who has such great command to get him this far, but now has to develop the stuff to make the jump to the MLB. Bryse Wilson is a very comparable prospect in the sense that they both have some of the best command across the Minor Leagues but can barely leap the 20 percent strikeout threshold. Not really any fantasy value, but now you know who Tyler Phillips is.
Ah yes, Greg Bird. Injuries have riddled Bird’s career thus far, but when healthy he has shown flashes of possessing a great hit tool that can produce some power to the pull side. We never got to see his full potential with the Yankees simply because he was never able to stay healthy. If Greg Bird is healthy, then the skill set should still intrigue some fantasy owners to either pick him at the end of drafts or watch for him on the waiver wire. There is no telling if he will be included on the thirty-player Active Roster on Opening Day, but he certainly deserves a chance to join the Taxi Squad if healthy. Proceed with caution, but pay close attention to the first base and Designated Hitter situation over in Texas.
There isn’t any fantasy value with Swihart, but he is a versatile player that can potentially be eligible at both catcher and outfield. Multi-position eligibility is always an advantage in fantasy baseball, but the player has to actually step foot on the field for it to mean anything. Not much to take away here, whichever way Texas goes with their third Taxi Squad member.
Be sure to tune in to RotoFanatic.com next week to catch the second article of this MLB Taxi Squad series, as it will follow the same general outline but will cover all of the National League teams!
The 2020 MLB Draft has come and gone, with tons of talent being added to Major League clubs. Mock drafts published over the last few weeks were ripped to shreds after The Orioles selected Heston Kjerstad with the second overall pick. After Max Meyer was selected third overall by the Marlins, the draft went into a completely different direction than anyone could have expected. Many were confident that Mick Abel would be taken by the Red Sox, but was instead taken two picks before by the Phillies. The Red Sox then drafted Nick Yorke, seemingly out of nowhere. Good players were left on the board after round one. The start of the MLB Draft went right along with everything else that has happened in 2020, completely unexpected.
Rob Cocuzzo and Chris Clegg will be breaking down each pick from day one with implications for your fantasy baseball leagues. There will also be players from day two who we think could be fantasy relevant down the road.
It is important to note that most of these players will not be relevant for a few years in redraft fantasy leagues. The focus here is dynasty leagues and how these players could eventually turn out when they make it to their respective big-league clubs.
Every player has been given a “prime projection.” While this is hard to nail down, our hope at RotoFanatic is to give you fantasy relevance on each player. Evaluating player’s tools and translating them to statistics can be hard, and many of these may eventually be far off. But, the hope is that we can give you an idea of how relevant the draftees will be when they hit their prime in the Major League.
Rob will be breaking down the odd-numbered picks, while Chris will be taking the even. With that being said, let’s break down the picks.
Pick 1 – Detroit Tigers: Spencer Torkelson, 1B (Arizona State)
Prime Projection: .280 AVG/32 HR/95 RBI/90 R/8 SB
The first pick in the 2020 MLB Draft was a bit of a surprise. Not because it was Spencer Torkelson, but because he was listed as a third baseman, making him the first third baseman to go first overall since Pat Burrell in 1998. Torkelson has potentially the highest floor of anybody in this draft class. The big body comes with elite plate discipline and sneaky base running abilities.
The former Sun Devil has a tremendous understanding of the strike zone, forcing opposing pitchers to hit their spots. Only problem is Torkelson has power to all fields and can spray the ball in the gaps, or over the fence, seemingly at will. With a very compact cut, the new Tiger possesses a 60-grade hit tool and at least a 60-grade power tool that can very easily progress into a 70 when he becomes more polished. While he does have the athleticism to play third base, or potentially even some left field, there is no sense in opening up Torkelson to any defensive woes. Al Avila, Ron Gardenhire, and the rest of the organization should keep their shiny new toy comfortable at all costs.
Defensive struggles often lead to offensive struggles. For this reason, expect Torkelson to only have 1B eligibility on your roster by the time he reaches the big leagues. But also expect him to be one of the best first basemen in the big leagues alongside division mate Andrew Vaughn of the Chicago White Sox. Torkelson mashed opposing pitchers for 54 home runs in 129 career games at Arizona State. That power will certainly play in the big leagues.
“Tork” has the potential to be the big bat in the middle of the lineup that the Tigers have been lacking and contribute 30+ home runs, 100+ RBIs, and maybe even a few stolen bases. The big right-hander is not a guy that sacrifices contact for power either. It would not be surprising to see the first overall pick keep his average up around .280 while also blasting 30 home runs a year.
OH. MY. TORKBOMB.
@spennyt19 with an absolute monster of a home run that still has not landed and just like that, ASU is back on top!
Pick 2 – Baltimore Orioles: Heston Kjerstad, OF (Arkansas)
Prime Projection: .240/36 HR/90 RBI/80 R/4 SB
This pick threw the entire first round for a whirlwind. There was smoke that the Orioles could try to underslot a college bat, but many speculated on it being Nick Gonzales. If any analyst pegged this pick, I give you kudos because I did not see this coming. Kjerstad does provide big, 70-grade raw power from the left side of the plate. Its an unconventional swing, but he makes it work and looks to have an easy 35-40 home run potential.
The concern is that his swing-and-miss potential will hurt his batting average. Some scouts rate his hit tool as average, while others say below-average. He should make enough contact to be a fantasy contributor from the power standpoint alone. Playing his home games in Camden Yards only helps the home run potential. Despite being the second overall pick, I would not take him nearly that high in FYPDs. The power could play for fantasy purposes, but the batting average could actually sink your team. The hope is he will continue to develop as a hitter.
Pick 3 – Miami Marlins: Max Meyer, RHP (Minnesota)
Prime Projection: 30 SV/3.30 ERA/1.20 WHIP/100 Ks
Max Meyer shot up draft boards across the league as Wednesday night approached. Many believed that the Marlins would select the brick house of a left-hander in Asa Lacy with this pick, but instead, they went with the skinny right-hander from Minnesota. Meyer was one of few guys across college baseball that actually benefited from the shortened season in 2020. He went from primarily being closer to earning a spot in the Golden Gophers’s rotation and ultimately supplanted himself on top of draft boards across the industry.
Meyer stands at only about 6 feet tall and 185 pounds, but he uses his athleticism to generate velocity, sitting in the mid-to-high 90s consistently. His fastball is certainly 70-grade, but his wipeout pitch is his slider which is arguably the best pitch in this draft class. Meyer has also toyed with a changeup and at times it has shown potential to be an above-average offering to add to his arsenal. Meyer profiles as a middle of the rotation arm at his ceiling with the possibility of being moved to the pen as he progresses through the Marlins system.
Evaluators in Miami might find his frame and his taxing delivery to be a bit concerning. But regardless, Meyer possesses some of the best K potential in the draft class with his wipeout slider and a blazing fastball. After trying the school record in saves, Meyer has the potential to head your bullpen and be an elite fantasy closer. Perhaps an Edwin Diaz type with the fastball and slider combination? Pre-New York Mets Edwin Diaz that is.
Lacy was the top pitcher on most team’s draft boards. When the Orioles took Kjerstad, it seemed likely he was heading to Miami until they drafted Max Meyer. Kansas City adds Lacy to an extremely deep pool of pitching prospects that includes Brady Singer, Jackson Kowar, Daniel Lynch, Kris Bubic just to name a few.
Lacy features one of the best fastballs in the draft class, wowing scouts with his explosion. The pitch sits 94-97 mph with a good downhill plane. He gets a great ride on the fastball with a lot of spin.
His slider also devastates hitters, being one of the best overall pitches in the entire draft class. The slider produced an unreal 46.4% SwStr in 2020. Both the Fastball and Slider grade out as a 70-grade-pitch. It is hard to find a better two-pitch combo in the draft. Both of these pitches were a big reason that Lacy began the season with a .75 ERA and struck out 46 batters in 24 innings.
His changeup is also an underrated pitch, which produced a 46.2% SwStr during the shortened 2020 college season. He has all the makings to be a legitimate fantasy ace. The mechanics may be the only concern that could keep him from putting it all together in the Majors. His strikeout potential is the type that could lead the Major Leagues one day. He has SP1 upside for fantasy purposes, but he does need to work on his control to lower his walk numbers. Check out the video in the tweet below to see his amazing slider.
Pick 5 – Toronto Blue Jays: Austin Martin, IF/OF (Vanderbilt)
Prime Projection: .290 AVG/18 HR/70 RBI/100 R/25 SB
The Blue Jays landed possibly the best value on the first day of the draft with Austin Martin falling to fifth overall. First and foremost, Martin is a leader. He is the guy that will have the respect of the locker room instantly and captain this rebuilding Blue Jays team in the near future. As a college hitter, Martin is extremely polished and has the closest thing to 5-tool potential in this draft.
With an already crowded Toronto infield, Martin may find himself patrolling the turf out in center field of the Rogers Centre when he arrives. However, he will most likely carry second base and shortstop eligibility as well, contributing even more to his fantasy value. Often described as a “Swiss Army Knife”, Martin can do it all. He has plus bat to ball skills, is an easy runner, and a solid defender with a great arm. As he grows into his own a bit more, the Vanderbilt product can potentially run into 15 jacks a year, too.
With above-average speed, great instincts, and a high baseball IQ, Martin was able to swipe 43 bags in a Commodore jersey in just 136 games. All around a great land for the team up north. It is hard not to salivate thinking of a lineup that consists of Vlad Jr, Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette, Austin Martin, and Lourdes Gurriel.
Here's Austin Martin hitting, running, and playing the outfield.
The Mariners were thrilled to see Emerson Hancock fall into their lap with the sixth pick of the draft. Hancock had been the favorite to go first overall for a while until a rocky start to the 2020 season for him. He did settle in nicely in his final three starts before the college season was shutdown. In 20 innings pitched, he struck out 30 batters, produced a 1.80 ERA with a .75 WHIP. The most impressive stat might have been that he only walked two batters in those 20 innings. He has been described as a “sum-of-all-parts” type of pitcher.
Hancock has a great frame and a good, repeatable delivery. His mechanics are worry-free, unlike Lacy. His stuff does not wow scouts like Lacy’s does, but there is nothing wrong with that. It is hard to compare the two because they are different pitchers. His fastball sits 94-97 mph but can reach 99 with a good run to it. His slider and changeup are both above-average pitches as well.
Hancock has great command and places his pitches where he wants very consistently. While Lacy may offer a higher upside for fantasy purposes, Hancock feels a little safer and more projectable. Don’t be surprised if Hancock falls in FYPDs because drafters are riding the prep-hype of Max Meyer, Mick Abel, or Nick Bitsko. Hancock should be a contributor to the Mariners soon, and while the upside on those prep pitchers is high, Hancock has already shown the ability to perform against elite college competition.
Pick 7 – Pittsburgh Pirates: Nick Gonzales, 2B (New Mexico State)
Prime Projection: .295 AVG/18 HR/80 RBI/80 R/15 SB
The Pittsburgh Pirates landed a top 3 bat in the class with Nick Gonzales. The 5’10 middle infielder has raked since high school, but scouts were always hesitant to believe in his ability. So much so that he had to walk on at New Mexico State. When he arrived there, he continued to rake, but scouts still had their questions as he played in a hitter’s haven at New Mexico State.
So, all Nick Gonzales did was go out and win MVP honors in the Cape Cod League last summer. In his sophomore campaign as an Aggie, Gonzales put up almost fiction looking numbers slashing 432/.532/.773 with 16 home runs and 80 RBI. Even after winning essentially every accolade known to mankind at the college level, scouts were still wary.
The knock on Gonzales has been his inability to play at a defensive level that would translate to the bigs. But at this point, it is safe to stop questioning his bat. The player he has been compared to for the majority of his college career has been Keston Hiura of the Milwaukee Brewers. With the quick hands, elite bat speed, and their fair share of defensive warts, the two profile very similarly; I don’t think fantasy owners would complain about Gonzales turning into Keston Hiura after the rookie campaign he just put together. Despite defensive struggles, Gonzales is an above-average athlete with good speed. He probably will not move too much from second base, but his speed should allow him to swipe some bags for the Bucs at the top of that lineup.
New Mexico State 2B (and probable top-10 pick) Nick Gonzales before the shutdown:
Prime Projection: .285 AVG/23 HR/85 RBI/95 R/15 SB
Robert Hassell to the Padres was a pick that many were pegged prior to the draft. This pick was one of the few early non-surprises. Hassell was arguably the best pure-prep-hitter in the draft. He has a plus hit tool and hits the gaps well to all fields. His frame projects well and he produces good, natural loft on contact. He won’t provide eye-popping numbers for fantasy purposes, but he should be good across the board. Still being so young, there is a chance he can grow into his power. Adding Hassell to an already elite San Diego farm system only helps their chances of building a very solid dynasty for years to come.
With the eighth overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, the #Padres select OF Robert Hassell from Independence High School (TN).
Pick 9 – Colorado Rockies: Zac Veen, OF (Spruce Creek HS)
Prime Projection: .310 AVG/35 HR/110 RBI/100 R/12 SB
Zac Veen…in Colorado?! Wow, that sounds like a fantasy owner’s dream come true. Veen is the top-ranked prepster on just about every board – and for good reason. Standing at 6’4 and 190 pounds as a high schooler, Veen is extremely projectable. He also possesses elite barrel control, and from what I have seen, already mashes baseballs in BP.
His swing was compared to Cody Bellinger on the broadcast, and I love that comp. Veen has a beautiful swing from the left side with a slight uppercut. While having above-average speed, Veen will mostly land in right field when he reaches Colorado. His glove is better suited for a corner outfield spot and he certainly has the arm to stay out there. Veen will find himself in the middle of the Rockies’ order for years to come.
Fantasy owners will be chomping at the bit when he becomes available across all leagues. Seemingly already accustomed to the launch angle wave, Veen has an easy 70-grade power tool and does not sacrifice contact with an above-average hit tool to boot. Although not a burner, Veen can also be a sneaky base stealer.
Zac Veen's power in Coors Field.. Give me all the shares in FYPDs 📈📈 I know I am not the first to say it, but lots of similarities to Cody Bellinger in how he loads and gets through the ball. Big home run potential! pic.twitter.com/PorKqjVYbR
Pick 10 – Los Angeles Angels: Reid Detmers, LHP (Louisville)
Prime Projection: 11 W/3.60 ERA/1.13 WHIP/215 K
The Angels were a huge wild card with the tenth overall pick. Some speculated that they might punt the draft and take someone completely unsignable. Instead, they took Reid Detmers, who was the ace of a very good Louisville Cardinals rotation. He is perceived as a high-floor pitcher, rather than a huge upside play like Lacy.
Detmers does not overpower batters like other pitchers in the class, but he does use elite command to get good strikeout numbers. His fastball sits between 90-94 mph with good run and deceptiveness. His curveball is a big breaker that is clocked between 73-76 mph. This is his best pitch and has been rated as a 70-grade by some scouts. The changeup is a fairly average pitch but could develop into a serviceable third offering to compliment his fastball and curve. Detmers may not provide the elite fantasy numbers that Lacy could, but he could provide good SP2-SP3 caliber numbers.
Pick 11 – Chicago White Sox: Garrett Crochet, LHP (Tennessee)
Prime Projection: 12 W/3.80 ERA/1.30 WHIP/220 K
Crochet is a powerful body from the left side. With arguably one of the best fastballs in the class, Crochet frequently touches 100mph and sits in the 95-97mph range. With the three-quarter arm slot and the big frame, Crochet triggers memories of a younger Madison Bumgarner. The only question with Crochet is if he will end up in the bullpen or ultimately break into the White Sox’ rotation.
The Volunteer has proven himself as a starter but has run into some arm fatigue which could lead to him serving in relief. The deceptive motion also allows Crochet to yield a plus-plus slider. He tunnels his breaking ball extremely well and keeps opponents off balance as they sit in the box worrying about a heater coming in at triple digits. If he can develop his changeup a bit more, the White Sox are looking at an arsenal that bears massive K potential coming out of the bullpen to back up the three-headed monster of Giolito-Cease-Kopech.
Hope Vol Nation will remember Garrett Crochet as a kid who pitched in an NCAA regional w a broken jaw – twice. Both were UT wins. pic.twitter.com/vglkfhqqvy
Pick 12 – Cincinnati Reds: Austin Hendrick, OF (West Allegheny HS)
Prime Projection: .260 AVG/35 HR/100 RBI/85 R/3 SB
Austin Hendrick’s raw power in Great American Ballpark is a match made in heaven. He provides some of the best power in the draft class from the left-hand side of the plate(a close second to Zac Veen). The hit tool has shown to be inconsistent, but on his good days, he has shown he is capable of making enough contact. Hendrick has drawn comparisons to a Zac Veen lite, and the high school version of Heston Kjerstad.
His upside is probably higher than Kjerstad but not Veen, especially with Veen being drafted by Colorado. There should be easy 30 home run power in his profile, and if the hit-tool continues to grow in the future, we could see a real fantasy stud. The power potential paired with Great American Ballpark gets me very excited to take Hendrick in dynasty leagues.
Torching baseballs and bat flipping is a good combo. All in on Austin Hendrick leading the Reds to the 2025 World Series pic.twitter.com/HUqiTlJF7X
Pick 13 – San Francisco Giants: Patrick Bailey, C (NC State)
Prime Projection: .265 AVG/25 HR/ 80 RBI/70 R/4 SB
Patrick Bailey was one of the more surprising picks for an organization that already employs the #2 ranked catching prospect in the game. A switch-hitter, Patrick Bailey has some unmatched pop. Here is a brief clip of Bailey absolutely eviscerating a baseball at NC State.
Giants top pick Patrick Bailey with the bomb and bat flip 😯
To complement the power, Bailey also has an above-average eye at the plate and will contribute nicely to OBP in Roto leagues. At only 21, Bailey was, impressively, one of the only catchers in NCAA to call his own game behind the dish. An elite-level defender with a high baseball IQ, Bailey profiles to be a big league backstop for a long time, making this an even more curious selection for the Giants.
Possibly they have plans of moving Joey Bart to first base? Regardless, Bailey has a great, fluid swing from the right side that should translate to the big leagues and a more aggressive swing from the left side that allows him to loft (or annihilate) balls over the right-field fence. He should be a great addition to your fantasy squad as catching is always at a premium.
The Rangers selecting Justin Foscue was another pick that caught many draft analysts by surprise. I expected to see Foscue get drafted in the late-first at the earliest. Foscue dominated the SEC while proving to have a great hit tool during his time at Mississippi State. He pulls a lot of pitches, while making consistently good contact.
It’s possible that Foscue moves to third base, but he should be fantasy relevant given his high floor. The ceiling is not very high though. I would expect somewhere between 15-20 home runs with a good batting average. He could debut as early as 2021.
Pick 15 – Philadelphia Phillies: Mick Abel, RHP (Jesuit HS)
Prime Projection: 22 W/2.90 ERA/1.10 WHIP/270 K
Mick Abel was by far my favorite arm in this class. The prepster stands at 6 feet 5 inches, 200 pounds, and can hit 100mph on the gun at only 18 years old. Here is Abel throwing to last year’s first overall pick, Adley Rutshcman, in the same bullpen session that he hit triple digits.
Mick Abel just became the first high school pitcher from Oregon taken in the first round since 1994.
Here he is throwing a bullpen to Adley Rutschman. No big deal.
That is some of the easiest high 90s you will ever see. Abel also complements the gas with a two-seamer with exceptional run that wreaks havoc on right-handed hitters. Not to mention that he also has a slider in his arsenal…and not just a slider. It is a plus slider that is the best breaker in the prep class – because why not?. He even has a changeup in his toolbox, as well!
I cannot get enough of Mick Abel and fantasy owners will not be able to either. Profiling as a top of the rotation arm with Cy Young upside, Abel has the ability to mow through hitters at the professional level.
Pick 16 – Chicago Cubs: Ed Howard, SS (Mt. Carmel HS)
Prime Projection: .280 AVG/23 HR/85 RBI/90 R/18 SB
Ed Howard is the best pure shortstop’s in the draft class and could be one of the few to stick at the position. He already possesses a plus arm with an above-average glove. He has very polished tools across the board that many scouts love. Howard is already an above-average runner that has a great hit tool. He has great bat speed through the zone and makes good contact.
Howard should only get better with time. Being a great fielder already, Howard will have to continue to work to refine his bat. He has the baseball IQ to do this. He makes consistently good contact and should grow into his lanky 6’2 frame, giving him more power. Dynasty players might be down on him when it comes to FYPDs, so you can probably get great value on him. Howard is worth the gamble, as I believe he will develop into a great all-around shortstop.
Ed Howard is STAYING HOME.
The #Cubs just got an Illinois high school product who MLB scouting departments voted as the best defensive infielder in the country.
Pick 17 – Boston Red Sox: Nick Yorke, 2B (Archbishop Mitty HS)
Prime Projection: AVG .270/HR 14/60 RBI/80 R/16 SB
This was one of the more puzzling picks of the first round. Many big boards had Nick Yorke ranked in the 130 range in terms of prospect rankings. But, the Red Sox selected him in with the 17th overall pick. What I am hearing throughout the industry is that he was the Red Sox guy from the get-go.
They wanted to land Yorke and with the absence of a second-round pick, they feared he would not be available when their turn came around again in the third round. In addition, Yorke will sign for way under slot value, allowing the Red Sox to throw big money at a later, more difficult to sign, draftee.
I did not catch many of Nick Yorke’s high school baseball games this year, but scouts have declared him the best hitter in California. Sentiment around the industry is that he has an advanced approach at the plate, pure swing, and even some potential to develop power as he progresses.
Bryce Jarvis came into 2020 fairly unknown. He did not have a strong track record during his freshman and sophomore years at Duke. After training with Driveline in the offseason, Jarvis looked like a different pitcher to begin his junior year. He threw a 15 strikeout, perfect game against Cornell early in the season.
He has a good fastball/changeup combo that work off each other well. His pitch velocity jumped tremendously in 2020 after his Driveline training. While it was a small sample, scouts think the velocity can stick.
Pick 19 – New York Mets: Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF (Harvard-Westlake HS)
Prime Projection: .280 AVG/12 HR/65 RBI/80 R/12 SB
Mets General Manager, Brodie Van Wagenen, was stoked to have Pete Crow-Armstrong fall to him at 19. PCA was the top outfielder on the Mets’s big board and they were able to land their guy. Scouts believe Crow-Armstrong has the ability to patrol the spacious Citi Field outfield right now at 19 years old. I can’t even imagine what a few more years of development will do for him. Here is a web gem by PCA last summer.
In addition to Gold Glove caliber defense, Crow-Armstrong also has innate bat to ball skills that are extremely advanced for his age. He has a natural stroke and consistently belts line drives to all fields. In terms of fantasy value, Crow-Armstrong will be consistent at the plate with his smooth stroke, but does not project to have loads of pop in the professional ranks.
With his quick first step that allows him to be an elite defender, it would not be surprising to see Crow-Armstrong steal his fair share of bags in the big leagues. It has been too long since the Mets have had a center fielder that could contribute offensively consistently – now they have their guy. His defense will also keep him in the lineup every day allowing him to build up his counting stats.
Here is a look at some Rapsodo metrics for Crow-Armstrong.
Pick 20 – Milwaukee Brewers: Garrett Mitchell, OF (UCLA)
Prime Projection: .285 AVG/20 HR/80 RBI/100 R/25 SB
I can imagine the Brewers were incredibly happy when Garrett Mitchell fell into their lap at pick 20. Mitchell has battled Type 1 Diabetes since he was younger, which could have led to his fall in the draft. It has not affected his game yet, and there is no reason to believe it should affect his professional career.
Mitchell has plus tools across the board including 70-grade speed. While he not shown great power at the college level, many scouts believe that he could develop into 20 home run power. If he can tap into that, Mitchell will be an elite fantasy asset. See Starling Marte who produces a similar stat-line to my prime projection, who is a top 25 fantasy asset.
We have seen the Brewers unlock the elite potential in Christian Yelich, and they should develop Mitchell well. He should be a high-end contributor in fantasy leagues in the future, so grab him in First-Year Player Drafts in dynasty leagues. He will likely be undervalued because many owners won’t look into his profile, rather than the fact he was drafted 20th overall. Look past that and know that Mitchell is a top ten player for FYPDs.
OF Garrett Mitchell, 6’3, 210 lbs UCLA Career Stats: 121 G, 543 PA, .327/.393/.478, 6 HR, 81 RBI, 28 SB Five-tool potential, plenty to still tap into. Hits the ball to all fields and should gain more power as he progresses. 70 grade speed. pic.twitter.com/GuDjc7pkq3
Pick 21 – St. Louis Cardinals: Jordan Walker, 3B (Decatur HS)
Prime Projection: .250 AVG/35 HR/90 RBI/70 R/1 SB
Jordan Walker is the top ranked third baseman in this class and he is built like a Mack truck. Standing at 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, the high school senior is an impressive athlete. With a frame that size, Walker obviously has the power potential that the Cardinals are craving. The only issue is Walker’s strikeout susceptibility – which is natural for a high schooler with long appendages and a big swing.
Luckily for him, Walker will have the ability to work through the ranks with some of the best player development coaches in the league…if he chooses to sign. Growing sentiment around the league is that Walker will be very difficult to sign away from Duke as he places a heavy emphasis on academic performance, in addition to performance on the diamond. If he does choose to sign, look for him to be leading the charge in the power department for your fantasy team in 3-4 years. Despite his athleticism and arm strength, Walker profiles more as as first baseman than a third baseman.
Pick 22 – Washington Nationals: Cade Cavalli, RHP (Oklahoma)
Prime Projection: 13 W/3.85 ERA/1.29 WHIP/190 K
Cade Cavalli is a great fit in the Nationals organization who has shown the great ability to develop pitching. Cavalli has easy velocity, with a great fastball that sits 92-96, but can top out at 98 mph. His plus curveball has shown the ability to make hitters look silly. There is potential that his slider and changeup could also develop into plus pitches, which would give him a tremendous arsenal. There are injury and control concerns, but Cavalli is also fairly new to pitching. If he can stay healthy and gain control, he has elite upside.
Prime Projection: .270 AVG/12 HR/60 RBI/90 R/20 SB
The little brother of Pittsburgh Pirates’s Cole Tucker, Carson was selected by the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday night. Just like his brother, Carson is already a high-level defender with quick reaction times and an above-average arm. With a short, compact swing, Tucker has tremendous gap to gap power. Through his growth spurt this year, Tucker has actually added a bit more pop to his game, too – mostly to the pull side. With already above-average speed, an above-average hit-tool, and developing power, Carson Tucker has the chance to be a fantasy star similar to the likes of Marcus Semien or Elvis Andrus.
Pick 24 – Tampa Bay Rays: Nick Bitsko, RHP (Central Bucks East HS)
Prime Projection: 13 W/3.30 ERA/1.13 WHIP/210 K
Tampa Bay does a tremendous job developing pitching and Nick Bitsko has some of the highest upside of any starting pitcher in the draft. The skills that Bitsko has shown at 17-years-old, are hard to ignore. For those that do not know, Bitsko was originally in the class of 2021, but graduated early and re-classified for the 2020 draft.
Bitsko features three plus pitches in his fastball, curve, and changeup. His changeup could use some refining, but it has the makings of a good pitch. His fastball/curve combo is one of the best in the draft class. Bitsko has a good feel for his pitches and projects to have future plus-command. He is one of the most polished 17-year-old pitchers that I have seen. The upside is endless and being drafted by the Rays boost his value even more. Bitsko will be moving up my first-year player ranks near the top ten.
👏 Doylestown native and CB East HS pitcher Nick Bitsko picked in 1st round by Tampa Bay tonight!
Pick 25 – Atlanta Braves: Jared Shuster, LHP (Wake Forest)
Prime Projection: 12 W/3.90 ERA/1.35 WHIP/200 K
What stands out the most about the southpaw is his physical stature. Shuster stands at 6-feet-3 inches tall and over 210 pounds. He hurls from the left side in a quirky fashion. Shuster sits in the mid-90s with the ability to touch the upper 90s. To complement the gas, Shuster has a plus, tumbling changeup. Shuster has much upside and adds to the talented farm system in Atlanta.
His broad build should give him longevity in the big leagues despite the quirky motion. The funky windup and arm action from the left-side should lead to problems for the hitters, leaving him with plenty of K potential in fantasy leagues. Shuster has also been improving his command, dropping his BB/9 from nearly 5 in his second year at Wake Forest to 1.4 in both the Cape Cod league and his short stint at Wake this year.
Pick 26 – Oakland Athletics: Tyler Soderstrom, C (Turlock HS)
Prime Projection: .280 AVG/21 HR/80 RBI/75 R/5 SB
Tyler Soderstrom is one of the more impressive prep hitters in the class. It is unlikely that he sticks at the catcher position, but his bat will play from most positions on the field. If he can continue to develop behind the plate, he will be a great fantasy contributor at a thing catcher position. He seems like a great fit in Oakland wherever they decide to develop him in the field.
He should produce a solid batting average thanks to his plus hit tool. He should also produce good, but not great power. He also runs decent enough to not give you goose egg in that category. Others like him more than I do, but he should still be a solid fantasy asset.
Pick 27 – Minnesota Twins: Aaron Sabato, 1B (UNC)
Prime Projection: .220 AVG/35 HR/98 RBI/80 R/0 SB
Aaron Sabato has one of the best power tools in this class. His plus-plus raw power leaves him with the chance to carry on the Minnesota Twin tradition of smashing long balls. However, this pick does come with a bit of risk. The slugger, while possessing elite power from the right side, strikes out more than his fair share and plays well under replacement level defense.
This seems like a boom or bust pick for Minnesota. The slow-footed Sabato will most likely find himself as a DH and the Twins are betting on his power to get him there. He does have an average hit tool but needs to improve on plate discipline with breakers down and out. While he does draw walks, that is where opposing pitchers have been able to expose Sabato. The Tar Heel could make a good utility player in fantasy leagues if his power does carry him to the big leagues – potentially a Nelson Cruz type player.
The #MNTwins have drafted UNC first baseman Aaron Sabato with the 27th overall pick. He hit 18 home runs during the 2019 season, and seven more in the virus shortened 2020 campaign. pic.twitter.com/SGy9AJ012C
Pick 28 – New York Yankees: Austin Wells, C/1B/OF (Arizona)
Prime Projection: .265 AVG/27 HR/95 RBI/85 R/ 6 SB
The Yankees drafting Austin Wells seems like another great fit. Wells bat will play great in Yankee Stadium. He has shown great on-base ability with a career .476 OBP during his college career. There is also a lot of untapped power ability that should play well in his future home ballpark. Although his running ability is not great, he has shown an ability to be a sneaky source of steals. So, he will not provide a goose egg in that category. Another player who gets a boost for fantasy purposes, Wells should be a great fantasy asset for the Yankees in the future.
Pick 29 – Los Angeles Dodgers: Bobby Miller, RHP (Louisville)
Prime Projection: 17 W/3.60 ERA/1.35 WHIP/240 K
Well Los Angeles is the perfect landing spot for Bobby Miller. Potentially a work in progress if drafted by a number of teams, Miller is in good hands in Los Angeles with an organization that has churned out some of the greatest pitchers in baseball history. Miller has an electric arm and can touch 99mph on the gun. His heater has late life and explodes into the zone.
With his big frame, Miller is able to hurl blazing fastballs deep into outings. His strong core and powerful legs allow him to have great stamina as he works through the lineup. In addition to his explosive fastball, Miller also possesses a nasty slider that he tunnels extremely well. His changeup sits 10+mph slower than his fastball in the low 80s and is coming along quite nicely. He has the build to project as a starting pitcher, but his unorthodox motion and tendency to get a little erratic might land him in the bullpen in LA.
Fortunately for Miller, the Dodgers are one of the best across baseball at developing pitchers. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, Dodgers’s pitchers never seem to carry value as they often bounce between the pen and the rotation. MIller has high upside as a starter but also has the chance to be a dominant reliever. Regardless of his role in LA, one thing is for certain, the swing and miss potential of Bobby Miller is undeniable.
Pick 30 – Baltimore Orioles: Jordan Westburg, SS (Mississippi St.)
Prime Projection: .260 AVG/24 HR/80 RBI/85 R/9 SB
When looking at his college stats, Westburg appears to have a good hit-tool, posting a respectable .285 career average while playing in the SEC. Currently, Westburg’s hit-tool is suspect. He swings at a ton of pitches, while pulling the majority of the pitches he makes contact on. The power is raw and it feels like he could reach 20-25 home runs in the future. If he refines his approach at the plate, its likely we could see a solid fantasy contributor.
Pick 31 – Pittsburgh Pirates: Carmen Mlodzinski, RHP (South Carolina)
Prime Projection: 13 W/4.10 ERA/1.40 WHIP/180 K
Carmen Mlodzinski made a rapid ascent up draft boards this summer after dominating the Cape Cod league. However, there are still some major flaws in Mlodzinski’s efficiency. He has decent velocity, sitting in the low to mid-90s, but that is not enough gas to get by when you frequently leave balls out over the middle of the plate.
Mlodzinski has good movement on his fastball but is often hesitant to work the inner half of the plate, leading to frequent mistake pitches right down the pipe. Even playing in the SEC, Mlodzinki had enough talent to get by even with these mistake pitches, but professional ball is a whole different animal. To be a valuable fantasy asset or big leaguer, Mlodzinski needs to fine-tune his command and attack hitters on the inner half more consistently. He also wields a cutter and a changeup that both have solid downward action. Perhaps his calling is a groundball pitcher instead of a swing and miss guy.
If he can keep the ball down and in the yard, despite his lack of strikeouts, he could still be a valuable asset in fantasy leagues if he develops into this Marcus Stroman type of pitcher.
Pick 32 – Kansas City Royals: Nick Loftin, SS (Baylor)
Prime Projection: .275 AVG/12 HR/60 RBI/80 R/10 SB
Nick Loftin will likely be more of a real-life contributor than fantasy. He is a plus fielder with a good arm and will likely stick at the position. He had a good hit tool and makes a contract-first approach. A career .311 hitter at Baylor while getting on base at a high clip is nothing to scoff at. His ceiling is fairly capped due to his lack of power. Its not likely that Loftin is ever a big fantasy contributor for anything other than batting average a decent amount of steals.
Cecconi, as a sophomore, comes with a few question marks. The first being his rather shallow toolbox. He holds a plus fastball with good command to both sides of the plate and hard slider that is his putaway pitch. But he is rather one dimensional with his pitch mix. The report on Cecconi is that he also may falter as a starting pitcher as he often tires later in his outings.
His sturdy, 6’4 220 pound build is what big-league clubs drool over in starting pitchers. However, Cecconi has a long way to go before he can start in the big leagues. If he does land in the pen, he could be an effective long-relief arm that can spot up his fastball and overpower hitters with his hard, breaking slider.
Pick 34 – San Diego Padres: Justin Lange, RHP (Llano HS)
Prime Projection: 12 W/3.56 ERA/1.25 WHIP/190 K
Justin Lange was a fast riser this spring due to really growing into his 6’5 frame by gaining 20 pounds, while also showing his ability to hit 100 mph with his fastball. Lange has also worked to develop his slider and changeup. The slider has shown to be inconsistent, but it should improve with age and strength. He is also known to be pretty wild with his command.
There is plenty of reason to believe that he could continue to refine these pitches as he continues to grow as a player. Lange has an immense talent with his arm and being drafted by the Padres only helps his value as they have a great track record of developing pitching. It will be fun to watch Lange’s development over time, as he is still very raw, but has a high ceiling.
Pick 35 – Colorado Rockies: Drew Romo, C (The Woodlands HS)
Prime Projection: .220 AVG/15 HR/55 RBI/50 R/3 SB
Drew Romo is a defensive enigma for a high school athlete. He already possesses a 60-grade arm and 70-grade defensive ability. His high baseball IQ has allowed him to develop strong relationships with his staff members as he knows their tendencies and understands the flow of the game. The Rockies did not draft him for his bat as it projects to be well below average at this point, but hey, in Colorado, you never know what a guy can turn into.
The Texan profiles as a top-notch defensive catcher with limited ability at the dish. Unfortunately, defense does not play a role in fantasy leagues, so fantasy baseball players will have to admire Drew Romo from afar.
The Cleveland Indians are another great organization at developing their pitching. Tanner Burns seems like he will be a great fit and continue his development. Burns places his fastball well, with 92-95 mph speed that can reach 97. He also has a good breaking pitch, while his third is a changeup. He still needs some work on refining those pitches in order to be successful at the Major League level.
Being in the Indians organization will only benefit him as they have a long track record of developing high-caliber pitching. Burns does have a history of injuries, with the shoulder issue during his sophomore year being the most notable. If he can prove that he can stay healthy and continue development, he will provide fantasy owners great value.
Pick 37 – Tampa Bay Rays: Alika Williams, SS (Arizona State)
Prime Projection: .240 AVG/8 HR/60 RBI/80 R/15 SB
Much like Ed Howard, Alika Williams is a smooth fielding shortstop who will see his glove play at the major league level. Williams has a slender build, allowing him to swiftly move through the infield, but this build inhibits his offensive production. He has a sweet swing and decent power to the gaps, but Williams has not been able to muster enough strength to really drive the ball.
The Rays were most likely locking up his glove as he has the chance to be the best defensive shortstop in this class. Keep an eye on his weight, he has broad shoulders which suggests he could fill out with age and develop some power, but for now, Alika Williams is a defense-first type of player with a gap-to-gap swing. His quick feet could potentially turn himself into a stolen base threat, as well.
Day 2: Fantasy Relevant Draft Picks
Pick 38 – Detroit Tigers: Dillon Dingler, C, (Ohio State)
Prime Projection: .270 AVG/22 HR/80 RBI/70 R/6 SB
Al Aliva and the Detroit Tigers had a franchise-altering draft in 2020, adding Spencer Torkelson and Dillon Dingler through the first three rounds to an already loaded farm system. Dingler is a freak athlete behind the dish and should do wonders for the development of top-ranked arms Casey Mize, Matt Manning, and Tarik Skubal with his strong wrists and framing ability. The Buckeye has a 60-grade arm and uses his athleticism to generate elite pop-times.
Being a catcher, Dingler seems to have translated his knowledge of the strike zone from behind the dish to the batter’s box. With above-average sprint speed, Dingler has the option to be the most athletic catcher in the game, or hold down center field, as he did briefly at Ohio State. In terms of his bat, Dingler has above-average bat to ball skills and ran into a career high in homers before the cancelation of the remainder of the season this year.
The new Tiger has decent power to the pull side and there is definitely room for that to blossom throughout the professional ranks. Dingler will provide immense fantasy value with his athleticism as he also bears the potential to swipe some bags as a catcher.
Pick 44 – Pittsburgh Pirates: Jared Jones, RHP, La Mirada HS (CA)
Prime Projection: 18 W/2.80 ERA/1.25 WHIP/280 K
Jared Jones has been an elite talent throughout his prep career and can very well turn out to be the most dominant pitcher from this class. The 6-foot-1 right-hander does not have the typical build of a guy that can touch triple digits, but he has unmatched arm speed. The whip that he generates with his athleticism allows him to sit between 94-97mph with his 70-grade fastball that he complements with a plus slider that has, again, elite movement and horizontal tilt.
The California product has also toyed with a changeup that has shown flashes of developing into another plus offering. After his high school season came to a screeching halt, Jones began working on a 12-6 breaker that, from bullpen videos, seems to be developing quite nicely. The Pittsburgh Pirates have landed another stud right-hander from California – let’s hope they hang onto this one.
Pick 47 – Chicago White Sox: Jared Kelley, RHP, Refugio HS (TX)
Prime Projection: 18 W/2.80 ERA/1.13 WHIP/270 K
Jared Kelley has some of the highest upside of any starting pitchers in this draft. His frame is that of a typical fireballer from Texas. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound right-hander from Refugio High School has a deadly fastball and changeup combination. Had it not been for Bitsko and Abel making such huge strides, Kelley would have been the first prep arm off the board this year.
He has an effortless, repeatable delivery and pounds the zone at an extremely high rate for an 18-year-old. The Texan is a cerebral pitcher on the mound, as well as raising his big league floor pretty high. At 94-96mph, Kelley pours over strikes before dropping the tumbling, plus-plus changeup off the table for a strikeout. His fastball has developed some run as he has progressed, but his slider leaves much to be desired.
As mentioned, he is only 18, so he has plenty of time to develop more spin on this third pitch. Until then, he will be plenty fine with his lethal fastball/changeup combination that has drawn him comparisons to Chris Paddack. One scout even said Kelley has better stuff than Paddack had in high school, and look how quickly Paddack made the leap into stardom.
Pick 52 – New York Mets: JT Ginn, RHP, (Mississippi State)
Prime Projection: 17 W/3.10 ERA/1.20 WHIP/240 K
The Mets took another gamble with JT Ginn deploying the same strategy that they used last year to land Florida prepster, Matthew Allan. JT Ginn is undeniably a first-round talent and potentially even a top 10 talent. But, after undergoing Tommy John surgery after only a handful of outings this year, Ginn slid down draft boards.
For that reason, it is known that JT Ginn will be very difficult to sign away from Mississippi State. The Mets will have to get creative with their bonus pool as they did last year to pry Matthew Allan away from his University of Florida commitment. But when healthy, JT Ginn profiles as a front of the rotation arm.
Like third overall pick, Max Meyer, Ginn has a devastating fastball/slider combination. Here is a look at some Rapsodo data from Ginn earlier this year.
In 2019, on four-seam fastballs coming in at a velocity over 95 mph with a spin rate above 2500 RPM, pitchers were able to generate a 30.8% whiff rate. When healthy, JT Ginn has been clocked as high as 97mph. The Bulldog will not be ready for action until 2021, but if he signs, Brodie Van Wagenen automatically gets an A for this draft.
Pick 54 – St. Louis Cardinals: Masyn Winn, RHP/SS (Kingwood HS)
Prime Projection: 10 W/ 3.90 ERA/ 1.30 WHIP/ 175 K
.250 AVG/ 18 HR/ 75 RBI/ 80 R/ 12 SB
Winn is a legitimate two-way player both as a pitcher and a shortstop. It is hard to currently project whether he will focus on one or the other as a professional, but he is equally talented at both. He is listed in this section just because of his massive potential to contribute to fantasy owners. He is one of the best athletes in the draft class, drawing comparisons to Francisco Lindor at shortstop. Some scouts like him better as a pitcher, while others at short. Right now, he is tough to project, but the talent level is there.
On the mound, he has a fastball that can get to the high-90s. He also has a high-spinning curveball that makes batters look silly. He should develop his changeup into an average pitch with time.
At the plate, he possesses plus raw power and good sprint speed. He does need to refine his hitting ability to be a successful hitter at the highest level. His fastball speed mentioned earlier shows his great arm in the field, and his quickness leads to him making great plays.
Winn is a risky play, and one not likely to be taken in many FYPDs. But he is someone to keep an eye on moving forward in dynasty leagues.
Pick 69 – New York Mets: Isaiah Greene, OF (Corona HS)
There are few prospects in this draft that can hit 20-plus home runs while having the speed to steal 30 bases. Isaiah Greene is one of those players. He does not have the track record or name recognition of players like Robert Hassell, Pete Crow-Armstong, or Garrett Mitchell, but he has an equally high ceiling.
Greene has impressive raw tools and showed improved ability in the fall of 2019. He does not have the polish like some other prospects but showed growth in recent months. He has a contact-oriented approach with a ton of speed to burn. The speed will allow him to be aggressive on the basepaths. The floor is pretty low, but the ceiling is also very high. If he can put it all together, he can be a real five-category contributor for fantasy purposes.
Pick 80 – San Diego Padres: Cole Wilcox, RHP (Georgia)
Prime Projection: 12 W/ 3.65 ERA/ 1.23 WHIP/ 190 K
Signability issues are the only reason that I can peg Wilcox falling this far in the draft. After day one, many thought he might return to Georgia, to be the ace of the staff, no longer under the shadow of Emerson Hancock. Now, reports are that Wilcox and the Padres have a deal in place for around 3.3 million dollars.
Wilcox has some of the best pure stuff in the draft. His fastball headlines his arsenal, reaching high-90s with some sink and run. He also has a sharp slider that has excellent swing-and-miss potential. His fading changeup also provides him a good third pitch. Some believe that the changeup will end up better than the slider.
Wilcox has a questionable delivery and release, allowing batters to see his pitches well out of his hand.
Regardless, the statistics speak for themselves. In the shortened 2020 college season, Wilcox pitched 23 innings with a 1.57 ERA, a .87 WHIP, and 32 strikeouts. Questions have arisen whether we can stick in the rotation, but if he does, he will provide excellent fantasy value.
Pick 89 – Boston Red Sox: Blaze Jordan, 3B (DeSoto Central HS)
Prime Projection: .250 AVG/34 HR/85 RBI/75 R/2 SB
Blaze Jordan could end up being the steal of the draft. Reports are that he will elect to sign with the Red Sox instead of going to Mississippi State to play college baseball. Jordan, like Nick Bitsko, is another 17-year-old who re-classified from the 2021 class. He will not turn 18 until December of 2020. He will likely move to first base, given his already big 6’2, 220-pound frame. He will probably still grow with age.
Jordan has some of the best raw power in the draft class. He put this on full display by winning the High School Home Run Derby at the 2019 All-Star Game last July. At the age of 13, Jordan belted a pair of 500-foot home runs. His impressive strength also produces a high exit velocity. At the World Wood Bat Championship in October, he was recorded at 106.9 mph.
With still only being 17, there is plenty of reason he could continue to improve on his somewhat suspect hit tool. Right now, I would peg his hit tool as average. He projects very similar to Triston Casas, another top Red Sox prospect.
He is a long ways away from making an impact at the Major League level, but there is significant power potential. Jordan could be a stud at first base if he can continue to refine his hit tool and limit swing-and-misses. Depending on how deep your dynasty league is, Jordan could be of great value in FYPDs.
Pick 132 – Detroit Tigers: Colt Keith, SS Biloxi (MO)
Prime Projection: .290 AVG/25 HR/90 RBI/80 R/3 SB
It is impossible to read about Colt Keith without seeing a Chase Utley comparison. And there is a good reason for that. To add to the Detroit Tigers already stellar draft, they went out and added a prepster in the fifth round who has the chance to be the best offensively in the class. The 2019 Gatorade Player of the Year was off to a hot start as he hit .527 and bashed 8 home runs before the cancelation of his season.
He already possesses a 60-grade hit tool and 50-grade power from the left side- as sweet of a swing as you’ll see in this class. Keith has the range and arm strength to stay at shortstop, but his size may ultimately force him to third base where his bat profiles better anyway. An all-around, dynamic, impact player who will most likely be found on many top-100 boards already. The Tigers won the draft with this pick.
As literally everyone in the baseball industry prepares for the MLB Draft, our extensive positional coverage of the 2020 MLB Draft concludes with our top 100 overall rankings. We’ve slow-rolled out our top position-by-position rankings over the last two weeks, and you can find those by clicking HERE.
Treat this list as a big board; it’s strictly organized in that manner. A player’s signability was not taken into consideration when it came to ranking them. There are some players that have already pulled their names out of the draft, or will do so shortly, so they will not be included on this list for those reasons.
With all of that being said, and after the countless hours of extensive research that went into all of this draft coverage, let’s take a look at our 2020 MLB Draft top 100 overall ranks:
1. Spencer Torkelson, 1B, Arizona State.
Torkelson represents one of the highest floors of any slugger to come through the draft in a few years. At 6-foot-1, ‘Tork’ is an inch taller than 2019 draftee Andrew Vaughn who carried a similar profile. Both have beautifully sound swings, though the Arizona State product has a much more compact cut. Torkelson is also a better athlete than Vaughn. While the floor is high, the ceiling is just as tantalizing. Torkelson has an easy 60 hit tool, quite possibly more. He also owns a comfortable 60 power, that too may reach 70 when all is said and done. At the end of the day, you’re looking at a guy who should have no problem hitting .280 at the big league level with 30+ home runs. Again, he may eclipse both of those figures. On the diamond, he’s an average defender with good athleticism for the position. He probably has the ability to shift to third base or left field, but why expose his profile to defensive warts? Torkelson has every chance to be one of the best first basemen in the game.
2. Austin Martin, OF/INF, Vanderbilt
Depending on your flavor, Martin might not fit on this list at all. A Swiss Army Knife, the Commodore boasts some of the best versatility in the class and should see time at a number of positions wherever he’s drafted. There’s peak value up the middle of the diamond, and for that reason, we have him slotted as a center field prospect. Martin has more than enough range to man the position and should represent the best outfield prospect in any of the Tigers, Orioles, or Marlins systems. The polish on his player should immediately make him a top 30 prospect in all of baseball.
As one might imagine, Martin can do it all. He’s a plus hitter with solid-average power potential, maybe more. He’s an easy plus runner and projects to play above average at whatever position he ultimately calls home. The arm could be showcased anywhere on the diamond — another 55 offering. There’s legitimate 5-tool potential in Martin’s game, it all depends on how quickly and to what lengths he develops. The swing is already sound with natural loft and lower body leverage. Just 180 pounds, he’s not the most imposing guy on the diamond, but he’s stronger than most players his size and it shows in his barrel velocity and athleticism. Martin has gotten better every single year at Vanderbilt, culminating in an abbreviated 2020 season where he slashed .377/.507/.660 with three home runs and just two strikeouts in 68 plate appearances. It’s not hard to envision an Alex Bregman-esque player here. He has star potential.
3. Asa Lacy, LHP, Texas A&M
The top pitcher on most teams boards, there isn’t much to not love about Asa Lacy. If we were basing evaluation off pure track record alone, Lacy’s production at Texas A&M tops virtually anyone in the draft. His strong and sturdy 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame is an ideal frame for him to hold innings deep into a 162-game season.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a fastball better than Lacy’s in this class, regularly sitting in the 94-97 mph range and working on a downhill plane, getting some fairly ugly swings from opposing bats. He throws two breaking balls, both hard and with conviction, but each has its own distinct break. His curveball shows a tight 1/7 shape with downer actions, while the slider is arguably the best overall pitch in the entire draft. It’s tight, tunnels well off his fastball, and is already a true big league swing-and-miss pitch. Lacy also features an above-average changeup with natural fade, giving him four above-average to plus offerings. While he’s a damn good pitching prospect, Lacy is just like everyone else and isn’t perfect. His delivery is a bit quirky and he doesn’t have excellent command right now, but notice that he’s still been extremely effective lacking that plus control. A couple of mechanical tweaks, including extending his stride downhill, could help lower the walk numbers and increase his overall production more. Lacy has the makings of a bonafide top-of-the-rotation pitcher.
4. Zac Veen, OF, Spruce Creek (FL)
The top-ranked prep player on most draft boards, Veen has skyrocketed up lists after an impressive summer circuit and a scorching hot start to his senior season prior to the shutdown. His swing is absolutely gorgeous, showing excellent barrel control and consistently repeating his silky-smooth mechanics. His feel to hit is right up there with any prep prospect we’ve seen over the last five years and don’t sleep on his power production either. Veen unloads on baseballs in batting practice, flashing plus raw power while slowly starting that ever-so-important power transition to games. There’s so much projection to his 6-foot-4, 190-pound frame leaving us evaluators with plenty to drool about what he could look like a few years down the road. Veen easily projects as an above-average hit, above-average power type of bat that could even be plus in both categories down the road. He’s a safe bet to give you quality defense in right field and his bat is best suited for a corner outfield role anyway. Veen has all the tools necessary to be an absolute super prospect.
5. Emerson Hancock, RHP, Georgia
Emerson Hancock has seen his stock surge and now falls over the course of two calendar years. A year ago, Hancock was the odds-on favorite to go 1-1 in the 2020 Draft. But after a few lackluster starts over the course of an abbreviated 2020 campaign and some questions surrounding his health, the Georgia Bulldog now finds himself firmly in top 10 consideration, but likely not a top-three selection.
Hancock is built exactly how organizations want to see their starting pitchers. Standing 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, Hancock has an athletic build. He has long legs and a high waist, meaning he’ll likely develop and age well. It’s a super projectable frame. He’s free and easy on the mound and has a beautifully repeatable delivery. The fastball is a 60 offering with consistent tail and run. He had a more difficult time spotting the pitch this year than in the past, but the pitch still displayed exceptional life. Alongside the heater, Hancock possesses an above-average slider and changeup, both of which have shown swing-and-miss capabilities. There’s also a curveball that he seldom offers, but has shown growth and development. Given the body, athleticism, track record, and arsenal, Hancock is a good bet to enjoy a long big league career somewhere near the top or middle of a team’s rotation, so long as the health holds up.
6. Nick Gonzalez, 2B, New Mexico State
A virtual unknown coming out of high school, Gonzales burst onto the scene for the Aggies as a freshman in 2018. While his first-year numbers were impressive, his historic sophomore season made them look pedestrian. Gonzales slashed an unbelievable .432/.532/.773 with 16 home runs and 80 RBI en route to earning basically every accolade a college baseball player could dream of. Critics still questioned his overall offensive abilities, however, and attributed his success to the hitter-friendly park that New Mexico State calls home. In response to the question marks, Gonzales went on to slaughter Cape Cod league pitching with a wood bat and also won the league MVP honors.
There’s a lot to love about his offensive game. Gonzales has purely electric bat speed and controls his barrel well in the zone. He doesn’t have much raw power in his 5-foot-10, 190-pound frame, but instead creates power with the quick-twitch he has in his hands. His true hitting ability rivals anyone in this class and Gonzales bat will play at the professional level. The questions now lie with his glove, as Gonzales is an average at best defender that is strictly limited to second base in the field. He does have athleticism with above-average run times, but he just doesn’t get it done with the glove. Nonetheless, his bat should play enough to masquerade the value he loses defensively and it’s not like he won’t be able to hold his own at second base. Gonzales is eerily similar to former first-round pick Keston Hiura and the two have drawn several comparisons to each other over the last few months.
7. Max Meyer, RHP, Minnesota
Arguably no prospect in the entire country benefited more from the shortened college baseball season than Meyer. He went from primarily being a closer in college to earning a spot in Minnesota’s starting rotation and cemented himself as a top-five talent in this class. Some would consider Meyer undersized for a pitcher. He’s only six feet tall and weighs in at roughly 185 pounds, but Meyer’s extreme athleticism on the mound allows him to play up. He uses that athleticism to keep himself under control despite having an efforty delivery that might be a concern for some evaluators. Meyer boasts two 70-grade pitches and has arguably the most strikeout effective pitch arsenal in this class. His heater regularly sits in the mid-to-high-90s with blistering life, exploding out of his hand and into the zone. Meyer’s money pitch is his slider and some consider it to be the best overall pitch in the draft. It typically sits between 87-91 mph, tunneling well with his heater and working effectively on both sides of the plate. Don’t disregard his changeup either, as it’s flashed above-average potential at times with natural tumbling action. His pitch mix, athleticism, and demeanor all suggest that he can stick as a starter long-term. Meyer likely profiles as a number three starter with top-of-the-rotation upside during his peak seasons.
8. Mick Abel, RHP, Jesuit (OR)
Mick Abel is by and large our favorite pitching prospect in this entire draft. Right-handed prep pitchers are a volatile bunch and tough to value near the tops of drafts. There’s the looming question of fragility and long-term projectability with frames that have not yet been pushed into bigger workloads and professional ball. That being said, it’s hard not to love everything in the package Abel brings to the table.
At 6-foot-5, 200 pounds, Abel has an uber-projectable frame with long levers and a high waist. His mechanics are fluid and consistent. The pitch arsenal is every bit as impressive as anyone on this list. The fastball is some of the easiest high 90s you can find. It’s a 2-seam primarily that exhibits exceptional arm-side run and tail. The pitch is a terror on right-handed hitters. Also in the toolbox is a plus slider, easily the best prep breaking ball in the class. It’s a tight slider with good vertical and horizontal movement at the plate. More importantly than anything, Abel knows the pitch and consistently commands it. There’s also a changeup that shows similar life to the 2-seam with impressive tumble and tunneling on the first two pitches. It’s generally a low-80s offering that plays beautifully off the fastball. Abel has also messed around with a curveball and cutter, both of which have shown the potential for fringe-average pitches. If Abel were a left-handed pitcher with this arsenal, or 21 years old, he’d likely be a top 3 pick in this draft. As it stands, he likely gets picked in the middle third of the first round and will sign, forgoing his commitment to Oregon State.
9. Robert Hassell III, OF, Independence (TN)
Hassell has been a high riser over the last few weeks and some publications have started putting him in the top 10 conversations. There’s a lot to like with Hassell, headlined by a natural hitting ability that might be the best in this class. His bat-to-ball skills resemble 2019 first-round pick CJ Abrams as Hassell doesn’t swing-and-miss much and consistently sprays line drives to all fields. It’s certainly a hit-over-power type of profile, but Hassell can pepper the gaps and should run into some home runs every once in a while. The reason he’s the number two outfield prospect on our list is that Hassell has the highest chance to stick in center field. He’s a solid athlete with above-average run times and an above-average arm that’s touched 93 mph on the mound. No prep prospect should truly be considered “safe”, but Hassell’s feel to hit and his defense gives him a high floor.
10. Garrett Mitchell, OF, UCLA
If we’re only looking at tools, Mitchell belongs right up there with anyone in this class. He’s got the freakish athleticism to put them all together and blossom into a truly special player. Mitchell’s swing is a bit awkward and he gets on top of the baseball at times. When he does stay on plane, Mitchell can drive the baseball with authority into the gaps. There’s plenty of raw power in his strong 6-foot-3, 205-pound frame, but he rarely translated that into home runs with the Bruins. Evaluators were eager to see him try and tap into that well-known power this season but were robbed of that opportunity because of the shutdown. It’s well documented that Mitchell is a true 70-grade runner that uses his speed to impact the game in multiple facets. He’s got the wheels to steal 20+ bags each season and stick in center field long-term. The big concern with Mitchell, outside of his power production, is the Type 1 diabetes he’s been playing with for most of his baseball career. He’s managed to turn himself into a ridiculously good athlete even with that obstacle, however, and this isn’t as big of a concern as some people are making it out to be. Mitchell has the tools to be a mega prospect should he put it all together. Keep an eye on which organization drafts him because that could ultimately be the deciding factor.
11. Austin Hendrick, OF, West Alleghany (PA)
From a pure physicality standpoint, Hendrick’s natural bat strength rivals anyone in this class. He uses a combination of that and borderline electric bat speed to send baseballs into orbit, giving him an extremely high power ceiling. Hendrick’s swing is a bit unconventional and quirky with an aggressive bat waggle prior to starting it. He does struggle to consistently repeat his swing mechanics and stay in sync, but almost all teenage prospects struggle with consistency issues anyway. There are some question marks about his hit tool, which grades out as fringe-average and it’s possible that he doesn’t hit enough to tap into that massive power potential we all know he has. His pitch recognition skills are suspect as well, so you’re looking at someone who could potentially have high strikeout rates throughout his professional career. Nonetheless, Hendrick’s upside is undeniable and it all relies on how much he’ll be able to hit in order to reach that power. Should he go to the right organization that can improve his game in that regard, Hendrick could be on another level.
12. Ed Howard, SS, Mt. Carmel (IL)
Howard is in a league of his own in the 2020 draft, representing the only true shortstop likely to stick at the position with a first-round grade. When you talk about Howard it’s all projectability. The Mt. Carmel product has a frame scouts dream on. Long levers, broad shoulders, and a high waist. Not only are the tools polished, but they’ll likely continue to grow and develop for years to come. Howard is smooth on the field. His defensive actions are fluid and precise. The arm is already a plus, and his defense is already above average. He’s a true future shortstop through-and-through. The lanky 6-foot-2 prepster makes every play to his right, left, and center, all the while displaying body control. At the plate, Howard still has a ways to go, but flashes plus potential at every turn. At his peak, Howard probably represents an above-average hitter with below or fringe-average power. There’s more to dream on with his frame, but as it stands, there’s strength gains and swing tinkering that needs to happen. A University of Oklahoma commit, it’s unlikely he ends up on campus as most teams covet the opportunity to acquire a sure thing up the middle.
13. Patrick Bailey, C, NC State
Widely regarded as the top catching prospect in this draft, Bailey brings a unique skill-set to the table that somewhat resembles that of last year’s number one overall pick, Adley Rutschman. He’s a switch-hitter that embraces the power-over-hit type of approach at the plate and is capable of crushing the ball to all fields. Bailey’s swing looks smoother from the left side, showing a natural ability to elevate the baseball while his right-handed swing is more line-drive oriented. He controls the strike zone well and is more than capable of walking at an above-average rate at the next level despite some strikeout concerns over the summer circuit. Even with the improvements in his bat, Bailey should be known for his advanced defensive abilities. He’s a natural receiver that regularly steals strikes on the corners and is quick to release the baseball. Bailey, like the aforementioned Rutschman, was one of the few catchers in college baseball this season to call his own game. That’s an impressive feat for a 21-year-old and something that teams will certainly take into consideration when making their evaluations. Bailey’s shown enough over the last three seasons for me to confidently say he’s a safe bet to be an everyday big-league backstop.
14. Garrett Crochet, LHP, Tennessee
Barely 21 years old, Crochet represents one of the younger college pitchers available in this year’s draft and a damn good one at that. The biggest question mark on Crochet’s profile is whether or not he’s going to be a starting pitcher or end up in the bullpen. The stuff is absolutely electric, and he’s got a proven track record starting. Crochet has run into some arm fatigue in the past, and he’s been known to get a tad erratic from time to time. From this chair, you’re looking at a shutdown reliever at the next level.
Crochet arguably has one of the best fastballs in the entire draft. Working out of a low, three-quarter slot, the Volunteer touches 100 in bullpen work and comfortably sits 95-98 in-game. There are some herk and jerk to his motion, but it’s deceptive and allows for his pitches to tunnel off each other beautifully. The slider is yet another plus-plus offering. Running through the zone in the high 80s, Crochet’s breaking ball comes out of the exact same deceptive arm slot as the fastball and shows deep lateral action and some vertical tilt. The two-pitch mix, as well as the delivery, are eerily similar to Josh Hader’s profile. There’s also a changeup and a curveball, the former being a little more advanced than the latter. If he were to move into a relief role, Crochet should dump the curveball and focus exclusively on his two plus-plus bread and butter offerings while occasionally working in the potential 55-grade changeup.
15. Cade Cavalli, RHP, Oklahoma
It’s possible that us here at RotoFanatic could end up being the highest publication on Cavalli once all draft ranks are finalized. There’s a lot to like about him, so much so that we’ve comfortably put him above two of the best right-handed pitching prep prospects in the class. With a strong 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame, Cavalli just looks like a big-league starter. He’s built proportionally, with broad shoulders and strong legs that allow him to generate some of the easiest velocity in the class. His fastball is an easy 93-96 mph, touching 98 mph with late elevation into the zone. Cavalli throws two distinct breaking balls, both of which have flashed above-average to plus potential. He’ll throw a low-80s curveball down in the zone to strike batters out and it’s an offering that he’s comfortable throwing. The slider shows strong lateral movement and it plays in the upper-80s, but he’s still learning how to throw it. His fourth offering is a changeup, although he doesn’t throw it much. Cavalli is still relatively new to pitching and he does struggle to control his pitches at times. He also doesn’t have the best track record of staying healthy, which is obviously the biggest concern with pitchers. There’s frontline upside here with Cavalli and it’s all about him just putting it together.
16. Nick Bitsko, RHP, Central Bucks East (PA)
Nick Bitsko is one of the high-risers in recent weeks leading up to the draft. He’s barely 18 years old on draft day, and because of that, he gets a small stock bump in the eyes of scouting and player development staffs. But the age has nothing to do with the ascent. Bitsko’s Rapsodo readings are absolutely insane. A heater that touches 99 and plus spin, a cutter that has elite, elite horizontal tilt, a changeup that tumbles through the zone. There is certainly reason to believe there are three-plus pitches in the profile and a top-of-the-rotation role. At 6-foot-4, and 220 pounds, Bitsko already has the body to handle a big workload. The mechanics are clean and very advanced for his age. Command is the biggest question mark surrounding his name right now, but that’s the case for 99 percent of preps. There’s almost no doubt he’s a starting pitcher at the next level and could be ready at some point in 2023 or 2024. It’s some of the best stuff in the draft and he’ll be highly sought on June 10.
17. Reid Detmers, LHP, Louisville
Detmers was the undisputed ace of an extremely talented Louisville rotation this season, one that could potentially include another first-round pick in Bobby Miller. His stuff isn’t nearly as overpowering as some of the true power pitchers on this list, but Detmers uses a combination of deceptiveness and elite command to unlock a new level in his repertoire. Detmers fastball works in the 90-94 mph range with natural lefty arm-side run to it and plays up because of that aforementioned deception. He’s known for a high-spin curveball that sits between 73-76 mph and profiles as a plus pitch long-term. Detmers also throws a changeup, but it doesn’t project more than an average pitch. There’s little risk in taking Detmers because you already know what he’s going to be: a command-oriented big league lefty that’s going to fill up innings towards the back of a rotation.
18. Jared Kelley, RHP, Refugio (TX)
After the summer circuit came to an end, Kelley was considered by most publications as the consensus top prep arm and a potential top-10 pick. Things have changed since then, but that’s mostly because both Abel and Bitsko have made significant jumps in their games. Kelley should still be viewed as an impact talent in the class and he could end up being the best arm of the bunch.
Kelley is built like your typical hard-throwing Texas right-hander. He’s every bit of 6-foot-3 and 215-pounds with proportional strength, but there’s little-to-no projection left. He repeats his delivery well, doesn’t throw with much effort, and throws a ton of strikes for an 18-year-old. Kelley throws some of the easiest gas you’ll ever see, regularly sitting between 94-96 mph and flashes arm-side run. His bread-and-butter pitch is a plus changeup that dives down into the zone with swing-and-miss actions. The knock on him, for right now, is his inability to consistently spin his slider. Thankfully, some organizations have the technology and player development teams to teach spin, so that isn’t a grave concern right now. Kelley’s stuff paired with his pure pitchability gives him a relatively safe big-league floor. It’s rare to say that a teenage pitching prospect could ascend through the minors quickly, but Kelley could be up at the major league level around age 21 or 22.
19. Tyler Soderstrom, C/3B, HS
Tyler Soderstrom has one of the more impressive prep bats in the class. He will likely move off the catcher position, but that’s okay as the bat is the carrying tool anyway and should ultimately define his ceiling. He could move to either corner outfield spot, but his fringe-average run tool and lateral ability is probably best suited at third base. The hit tool projects at solid average, while the game power should reach 50. From this chair, Soderstrom should make the immediate move to a corner position and let the bat develop, though he has made it clear his passion for catching. Whomever selects may give him a year or so to sink or swim behind the plate, similar to the path Kyle Schwarber took when he was drafted. Placing him at third or left field may shave 18 months off his development schedule.
20. Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, Harvard Westlake (CA)
Harvard Westlake has produced several high-end big league players, most notably Jack Flaherty, Max Fried, and Lucas Giolito. Crow-Armstrong seemed like the next big thing prior to the summer of 2019, coming into the showcase circuit as the industry-wide number one prep player in this class. He did struggle a bit against high-end competition throughout the summer and has dropped on lists because of it, but Crow-Armstrong is certainly still a first-round talent. His natural feel to hit and bat-to-ball skills are both drastically advanced for his age and he consistently makes steady line-drive contact. He’s not known for putting up power numbers, but don’t be surprised if he runs into anywhere between 8-12 home runs on an annual basis. Defense plays a key factor in Crow-Armstrong’s ranking, as he’s a sure-fire bet to stick in centerfield moving forward and could compete for Gold Gloves down the road. It might not be the sexiest profile or skill-set but he does have a high floor.
21. Cole Wilcox, RHP, Georgia
Wilcox is no stranger to first-round grades. 2018 saw him ranked as one of the best prep arms in the entire country, but signability concerns pushed him into the 37th round to the Nationals. That pick was largely posturing — a way for Washington to get to know Wilcox a little better before his eventual eligibility into the 2020 draft.
Ironically, Wilcox now slots pretty comfortably into the Nationals draft position at the 22nd pick. Regardless, he’s an immense talent, albeit still a bit raw. The fastball is a mid-90s offering with significant tail and sink. He couples the heater with a mid-80s slider and changeup, both of which have flashed plus at times. The story on Wilcox is his command. Walks have been an issue during his time in Athens, though 2020 saw improved control and the walks were way down. At 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, he’s built like a prototypical starter and will have every opportunity to achieve that mid-rotation ceiling. There’s a legitimate reliever floor here if the command doesn’t ultimately improve, but it’s more likely than not he straightens things out and remains in a team’s stable of starting pitchers.
22. Heston Kjerstad, OF, Arkansas
It’s hard to argue against Kjerstad’s production with the Razorbacks over the last three seasons. He has one of the best statistical track records in the draft and that especially applies to this season where he was clearly a frontrunner for Player of the Year honors. Kjerstad’s calling card is true 70-grade raw power from the left side. He does major damage to the baseball, albeit in an unconventional way, and has easy 40+ home run power in his swing. Numbers aside, Kjerstad does have some pretty major flaws in his game that are cause for concern. He’s incredibly aggressive at the plate and did strike out a ton in college despite consistently putting up monster numbers. His hit tool is below-average, leaving little room for optimism that he’s going to make enough contact in order to tap into that power upside we all know he has. The upside alone warrants the ranking on our list but he’s someone that could plummet once he starts to go up against high-end professional talent.
23. Dillon Dingler, C, Ohio State
A ridiculous athlete behind the plate, Dingler is an all-around catching prospect with an intriguing bat and the actions to stick behind the dish moving forward. His bat has come a long way since his arrival to Ohio State and he’s developed a profound understanding of the strike zone. We haven’t seen much home run power from the 21-year-old at Ohio State prior to this season, but he did set a single-season high this year prior to the cancellation and has flashed pull-side power in the past as well. A former center fielder, Dingler is arguably the best athlete of this group posting above-average run times and will easily be one of the more athletic catching prospects in baseball once he signs with an organization. His receiving skills are advanced with strong wrists that allow him to work under the baseball at times. Dingler boasts an above-average arm and uses that athleticism of his to explode out the crouch, recording above-average pop times as well. Even though he’s best suited behind the plate for the future, Dingler has played adequately in centerfield in the past and would be able to handle himself should he ever need to make a move. The finished product could end up being a power-hitting big league catcher with the speed to impact the game in multiple facets.
24. Bobby Miller, RHP, Louisville
Drafted by the Orioles in the 38th round of the 2017 MLB Draft, Miller obviously honored his commitment to Louisville and quietly turned himself into one of the best arms in college baseball. You’ll be hard-pressed to find multiple arms with a more effective fastball than Miller, regularly sitting in the high-90s with explosive life into the zone. He doesn’t just hold his fastball velocity well into starts, but consistently pumps a high-80s slider late into outings as well. It’s his strikeout pitch, tunneling well with his fastball and generating some pretty ugly swings. He started to show comfort in a changeup that sits in the low-80s and works down in the zone.
Miller has the velocity, strikeout pitch, and massive 6-foot-5 frame to stick as a starter long-term. He throws with some effort and doesn’t always stay in sync, causing him to get a bit erratic at times. Some evaluators believe he’s destined for a bullpen role, while others view him as an absolute steal towards the end of the first round. His upside as a starter is obviously appealing, but he also has the stuff to be a dominant reliever. Miller will hold value regardless of what role he ends up being long-term.
25. Jordan Walker, 3B, Decatur (GA)
The top third baseman in this class, Walker is a physical specimen standing at 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds. He’s an impressive athlete, moving well for his size and showing a strong control for his body. The clear appeal with Walker is the jaw-dropping power potential that could come once he’s fully matured in a few years. There’s going to be unavoidable swing-and-miss issues because of his long levers, but Walker does have feel to hit with at least an average hit tool to pair alongside his massive raw power. Despite the arm strength to stick at third base moving forward, Walker’s pure size alone makes a transition to either first base or the outfield inevitable. Touted by evaluators as a smart kid with high academic pedigree, Walker is expected to be a tough sign out of Duke. Look for a team that chooses to under slot their first pick to take a chance with him either in the competitive balance round or later in the draft. If he makes it to that highly analytical Duke program, Walker could end up being a monster come the 2023 MLB Draft. Going to the right professional team, however, may unlock a new element to Walker’s game and turn him into an absolute menace.
26. Austin Wells, C, Arizona
Wells, much like several other catchers near the top of this draft, likely won’t find a permanent home behind the plate. Also much like his contemporaries, the bat should carry him through the minors to and onto an eventual big league roster. Wells is a proven leader and an infectious personality in the clubhouse. He receives high marks for his attitude and ability to bring the most out of his teammates. As far as the tools go, it’s one of the more polished bats in the class. The approach is impressive, and the accompanying swing is compact and powerful. Wells has plus power to his pull-side but can get pull-happy at times. It’s a solid average bat with the potential for plus game power, especially to his lefty pull-side. Wells projects as a corner outfielder or first baseman at the next level. He should move quickly through the low minors.
27. Daniel Cabrera, OF, LSU
Widely regarded as one of the safest prospects in the draft, Cabrera is going to make whichever team takes him towards the end of the first-round extremely happy. He was a 26th-round pick by the Padres in 2016 and someone who evaluators considered a top prep bat in his high school class, but ultimately chose to attend LSU instead. Cabrera owns an advanced approach at the plate and doesn’t try to do too much. His ability to recognize pitches and make adjustments when he’s fooled is certainly something that stood out. He boasts an above-average hit tool and should have no problem adjusting to professional pitching once he reaches the minors. There’s some strength in his 6-foot-1, 195-pound frame that results in at least average power. Defensively, Cabrera is a solid athlete, but his overall outfield instincts and route running suggest he’s best suited for left field. Still, he’s as safe of a prospect that you’ll find in this class and should be one of the first members to reach the big leagues from this group.
28. Carson Montgomery, RHP, Windemere (FL)
Carson Montgomery is pretty advanced for a high school pitcher, as is evidenced by his high draft stock. At 6-foot-2, Montgomery isn’t the tallest or most projectable build in the class, but his ability to manipulate a baseball is seldom seen in players his age. The fastball comfortably projects as he develops. The pitch has a ton of arm-side run and late life. It generally sits 90-92 right now, but explodes at the plate and plays way more superior than the velocity would suggest. The slider is already an above-average offering and will likely be a plus offering with a couple years in pro ball. The biggest question mark on the breaking ball is its consistency, but the late break it’s shown is extraordinary. It tunnels unbelievably well with the fastball. Montgomery does a good job of hiding the ball prior to release, so everything in his arsenal tends to play up. There’s also a changeup in the arsenal, though he’s had a difficult time separating its velocity from the fastball enough to make it anything more than an average offering for now. Montgomery is committed to Florida State and could be a difficult sign in this draft unless a team is really sold on the profile and willing to stretch their budget to bring him on board.
29. Chris McMahon, RHP, Miami
There are so many good college pitchers coming out of the state of Florida this year, but for my money, McMahon is the best of the bunch. Super-athletic for his position, McMahon looks like he could be a starting quarterback on the mound. At 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, he has an extremely controlled and fluid motion to the plate. There’s not a ton of concern in long-term durability, though that’s never a statement you can take to the bank.
McMahon features a mid-90s fastball with good life thanks to plus spin rates and efficiency. Deception in his delivery makes the pitch appear as though it’s exploding at the plate. He also employs a cutter/slider as well as a changeup. The slider is probably his best out pitch, though the changeup projects an above-average offering at the next level too. McMahon is a reasonably safe bet to achieve his no. 3/4 ceiling.
30. Slade Cecconi, RHP, Miami
A draft-eligible sophomore, Cecconi is one of the youngest college arms available in the draft. At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Cecconi’s strong with the type of frame that makes scouts’ jaws drop. His fastball typically sits in the mid-90s, touching 96 mph with decent control to both sides of the plate. For someone that has started for most of his life, Cecconi doesn’t hold his velocity well deep into starts and his stuff leaks over the heart of the plate as his outing goes on. His best secondary offering is a hard high-80s slider with late lateral break and serves as a true power pitch. That’s pretty much it for Cecconi in terms of his mix, as he’ll occasionally throw a changeup and curveball but both don’t do much. Cecconi has upside because of his size but there are also some pretty evident question marks to his long-term future. He does hold leverage in these contract negotiations as a sophomore that can return for his junior season. There will be a team that takes a chance on him, as they should, but there’s certainly going to be an inherent risk.
31. Jared Jones, RHP, La Mirada (CA)
Jared Jones has been considered a premier talent for his entire prep career. At 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, he doesn’t possess prototypical size or length like a lot of other players on this list. He does, however, possess quite possibly the fastest arm in the entire draft. It’s elite arm speed. That’s not a gradable tool, but if it were, he’d stand alone at the top. The arm speed generates high 90s fastballs that can touch triple digits. But it’s not just brute force with Jones. He’s got a ton of polish with three, maybe four offerings on the mound.
The aforementioned fastball is a 70, maybe 80-grade heater. He dances pitches around that to keep hitters off balance. The slider is a plus offering that has extraordinary depth and lateral tilt. Control has been an issue, but that’s all too common for pitchers his age. There’s also a changeup that grades out as average, maybe 55 on occasion. Since the pandemic started, Jones began working on a 12-6 curveball to mix in. He’s already achieving true shape, though spin efficiency and consistency are a work in progress. So long as the health holds up, Jones should be a force for whichever team brings him on board. Teams are generally apprehensive to overspend on prep righties, especially those with smaller frames. Jones hopes to buck that trend this June. He’s committed to the University of Texas.
32. Dax Fulton, LHP, HS
Dax Fulton is truly just scratching the surface to what he could eventually become. At 6-foot-6, 230 pounds, Fulton is already equipped with a grown man body, a physique that isn’t soft either. The Oklahoma hoss was squarely in the conversation with guys like Mick Abel and Jared Kelley last summer before tearing his UCL, forcing him onto the shelf and absent from the 2020 circuit. Nobody’s seen Fulton throw in more than a year, but that hasn’t stopped scouts from flocking to his side when asked about his potential as a big-league starter. Fulton will be fully healed and ready to pitch this fall.
As you might imagine, a guy of his size packs some pretty good gas in the tank. Last spring, Fulton was comfortably sitting 90-93 with natural cutting action on his fastball. Most scouts believe there’s far more in profile, assuming he’ll likely end up in the 95-96 range in his prime. While the fastball is impressive, Fulton may have the best true curveball in the class. It’s a power offering with 11/5 break. The pitch sits in the upper 70s right now, creating a good bit of separation off his stiff heater. At 17 years old, Fulton was commanding the pitch with ease, leading some to believe it’s a plus offering as a floor. He mixes in an inconsistent changeup as well that was showing promise before he was shut down. With three pitches, two of which have already shown plus or better potential, Fulton has the making of a top of the rotation arm that should move quickly for a prep, so long as his health permits.
33. Nick Loftin, SS/UTL, Baylor
Loftin may not be viewed as a first-round talent by most evaluators, but him being arguably the top college shortstop in an already unique draft could ultimately lead to him being selected towards the end of the first round. That’s not any knock on him at all, he’s a talented player with an advanced glove and feel to hit, but it’s just an overall down year for shortstop prospects in general. He brings plenty of defensive versatility to the table as well, originally starting his college career off as a left fielder and also playing both third and second base throughout his three seasons with Baylor. Loftin’s approach at the plate is simple and to the point. He doesn’t try to do too much with the ball, focusing on making contact, minimizing swing-and-misses, and spraying line drives. This isn’t someone who’s going to provide much power, but he’s going to get on base and use all fields. Loftin’s ceiling is fairly capped because of his limited power production, although there’s certainly an avenue where he makes it to the big leagues as a versatile asset.
34. JT Ginn, RHP, Mississippi State
Let’s be clear out of the gates — the chances of Ginn actually signing this year as a draftee are slim. He will almost certainly be selected, but after missing the entire 2020 campaign with Tommy John surgery, his stock has really never been lower. Considered a top ten selection by many pre-season publications, Ginn’s ability has never been in question. He, like Meyer, has a devastating fastball-slider combo, both of which have flashed plus-plus in recent years. The talent is there. The durability is not.
Ginn missed all of 2020 after missing several starts in 2019 with right arm soreness and general fatigue. He gutted through several short outings toward the latter half of the year and ended up taking most of the offseason off to recover. The 30th overall pick by the Dodgers in the 2018 draft, Ginn is still barely 21 years old. He’ll hold value in next year’s draft too. Ginn probably won’t be ready to pitch opening day in 2021 for Mississippi State. Teams will be cautious in selecting the small-statured righty in the 2021 draft, so from this chair, if he sneaks into the Top 40, Ginn should consider eating his dinner while it’s hot.
35. Bryce Jarvis, RHP, Duke
After being a relative unknown, potentially not even a top five-round pick, Jarvis exploded onto the scene in 2020 after several dominant performances — one, a 15-punch out perfect game against Cornell. The stuff has ticked up in a huge way this season. Because of it, Jarvis has shed his reliever profile and established himself as one of the better right-handed pitching prospects in the draft.
Jarvis’ fastballs generally sits 93-95, but he’s touched triple digits in bullpens during this down period. The changeup is one of the more underrated pitches in the entire draft and plays off his heater extremely well. It’s a low-to-mid 80s offering with late tumble. He controls the pitch very well and is comfortably a plus offering. There’s also a slider that flashes plus but is more often than not a 55-grade offering. It’s likely a plus offering with some tinkering and consistency at the next level. Jarvis is your prototypical pop-up prospect from the 2020 season and may represent excess value in Comp Round A if he lasts that long. He’s already 22 years old, so there’s no doubt he’ll sign.
36. Gage Workman, 3B/SS, ASU
In selecting Workman, you’re buying high on potential. A switch-hitter, Workman’s bat is still a work in progress. There’s easy 60 raw power in the tank, though he’s had a difficult time getting to it in-game. The approach at the plate needs some work as strikeouts and weak ground balls have been too prevalent. As it stands, he projects as a fringe-average hitter with solid-to-average power. Again, he could surpass both of those marks. A supreme athlete, Workman could play a passable shortstop with his soft hands, solid range, and a plus arm. At 6-foot-3, Workman is built exactly how scouts want to see them. There’s a ton of projectability in his profile and if given plenty of time to develop, three or four years, he could legitimately turn into one of the best third basemen in baseball. The bat will ultimately dictate how high his profile can ascend.
37. Tanner Burns, RHP, Auburn
To be completely honest, Burns has the talent and pure stuff to rank higher on this list. He came into Auburn as one of the top prep players in his class and immediately vaulted himself into a weekend rotation that featured former number-one overall pick, Casey Mize. His fastball typically sits anywhere between 92-95 mph, touching 97 mph, and he has excellent quadrant command of it. He’s flashed feel to spin a potential plus breaking ball that doesn’t have a true consistent shape yet but does have advanced actions. Burns’ third pitch is a changeup with sink that could someday be an average pitch, even though he doesn’t throw it much. The one thing holding Burns back from being ranked higher on this list are durability concerns, most notably a shoulder issue that he suffered during his sophomore season. Still, from a true talent and stuff standpoint, Burns belongs to go somewhere in the first round.
38. Kevin Parada, C, Loyola (CA)
Parada is an intriguing prep talent that some consider an early frontrunner as a potential top pick come the 2023 MLB Draft if he doesn’t end up signing with an organization. An athletic 6-foot, 200-pound backstop with proportional strength to him, Parada’s feel to hit is advanced with easy bat speed and grades out as an above-average tool long term. He’s flashed above-average power in spurts at times, particularly to his pull-side where he does an excellent job of getting his bat head out in front and crushing the baseball. There isn’t much swing-and-miss to his game either, giving Parada a truly special offensive ceiling if he’s able to put it all together. The questions with him lie behind the plate, where Parada projects to be nothing more than an average defender with an average receiving ability and a strong arm. It’s likely that we see him move off from the position if he reaches pro-ball, but Georgia Tech actually has had success developing catching prospects over the last few seasons. That bodes well for Parada’s future draft value because improvements in his defense paired with the expectations we have for his offense make him a surefire first-round pick in three years. Getting a read on his draft value is difficult right now and it’s hard to project whether or not Parada will sign with a team. Regardless, he’s always going to be a bat-first prospect with a high offensive ceiling.
39. Jared Shuster, LHP, Wake Forest
Shuster significantly improved his draft stock this spring, albeit in a small sample size. His physicality is the first thing that stands out is impressive, standing at a strong 6-foot-3, 215-pound frame. While his delivery is quirky and unconventional, Shuster does actually repeat it well and has the size to stick in a rotation long term.
The uptick in his stuff is a big reason why Shuster has vaulted himself into first-round discussions. His fastball came out of the gates this spring sitting 92-94 mph and touching 97 mph with late riding action to it. There’s no denying the effectiveness of his plus changeup from the left side and its natural downward tumble allows it to pair perfectly with his fastball. Most left-handed pitchers typically post high-spin rates on breaking balls, but that isn’t the case with Shuster. When he does manage to effectively spin something, it plays more like a slurve and the consistent feel for it just isn’t there. Shuster’s upside is undeniable and he’s likely to go in the top 40 picks as things stand right now.
40. Drew Romo, C, The Woodlands (TX)
Romo represents one of the best defensive prep catchers in recent history. His acumen for work behind the plate is nothing new, considered one of, if not the top defensive prep catcher in the state of Texas for the better part of two, maybe three years now. At worst, Romo is almost assuredly a big-league backup thanks to his 70 defense and 60 arm. His flexibility and lateral mobility lead most to believe he’ll have no problem sticking behind the plate and surviving the workload of 400+ innings. Romo’s ceiling will be dictated by how the bat develops. Currently it projects below average as swing-and-miss has been a problem in the past. There’s definitely some juice at the plate, though Romo has had a hard time reaching it against better competition. If a team is willing to table his debut for five years and allow him the time necessary to reach his potential, Romo could develop into one of the better catchers in baseball.
41. Alika Williams, SS, Arizona State
A serious case can be made that Alika Williams is the best collegiate shortstop in this class. At 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, Williams is on the lighter side but has the shoulders to suggest there’s more good weight on the way. Probably the most likely candidate to play shortstop at the big league level, the Sun Devil has smooth actions at the position and shows off a very accurate throwing arm. Williams has quick feet and a good first step that allows him to get in a good position defensively where his soft hands can do the talking. At the plate, Williams looks similar to Trea Turner; a slender build with a smooth gap-to-gap swing. The jury is still out on whether he can ever hit for enough power to become an impact player on offense. If his predecessor Turner can run into 19 home runs at the big league level on a 185-pound frame, so too can Williams with proper development.
42. Jordan Westburg, SS, Mississippi State
Westburg, to me, is one of the more intriguing players in this class. A physical and strong 6-foot-3, 190-pound shortstop, Westburg and Justin Foscue formed arguably the country’s best middle-infield duo this season. Westburg doesn’t have a refined approach at the plate, he swings at absolutely everything and primarily hits the ball to his pull-side, and it’s a below-average hit tool right now. He’s got some bat speed with strong hands and enough raw bat strength for me to comfortably say he has enough power to hit 25+ home runs at the professional level. That number will only be reached if Westburg drastically improves his approach and cuts down on the swing-and-miss numbers. Should he end up getting picked by the right team that can fully develop his tools, Westburg could be an intriguing draft day steal in a few years down the road.
43. Justin Foscue, 3B, Mississippi State
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a prospect out of the first round with a safer floor than Foscue. A highly decorated college career that included All-American honors and complete dominance of the SEC, Foscue boasts an impressive hit tool. He makes contact at a steady rate and doesn’t strike out much, a skill that’ll certainly bode well in his favor moving forward. There’s natural pull-side power in his strong 6-foot frame and it’s not hard to see a scenario where he hits 15-20 home runs on an annual basis. He’s an experienced second baseman with an average glove that may ultimately play better at third base, which is where we project him to play at the next level. Foscue is a high- floor, low-ceiling prospect that could be one of the first players to make his major league debut from this class.
44. Ian Seymour, LHP, Virginia Tech
Up until 2020, Ian Seymour wasn’t regarded as a premier pitching prospect. That changed after his shortened junior year. Traditionally 90-92, Seymour saw his fastball touch 95 this season, resulting in far more strikeouts, far fewer walks, and a minuscule ERA. The Hokie projects as a solid mid-rotation starter at the next level so long as the organization that selects him does not try to move him into a bullpen where his stuff may tick up another notch.
The fastball is now a plus offering, sitting 92-95. Seymour has been known to tinker with its grip now and again, manipulating spin and creating some cut action to the pitch. This differs from his true slider that flashes now and again, drawing above average-to-plus grades from scouts. His third offering is a changeup that more often than not grades out as a 55 offering, also flashing plus now and again. It’s a three-pitch mix that should develop well in a starter role. There’s some effort in his delivery, but that shouldn’t stop him from reaching his ceiling as he’s a strike-thrower and limits free passes.
45. Aaron Sabato, 1B, North Carolina
Sabato has all the makings of one of the better sluggers in pro ball. Frankly, Pete Alonso probably opened the door to his stock surging in 2020. Sabato is a boom or bust bat that has a track record all too similar to his predecessor. Sabato has a longer track record of power than Alonso did, but Alonso also struck out a little less during his days at Florida. At the end of the day, Sabato will have to write his own script. As it stands, the Tar Heel projects a fringe-average hitter with plus-plus power. He has no problem getting to it in-game. Sabato should easily eclipse 30 home runs per year should he get the at-bats to do it. Sabato crushes mistake pitches but can struggle with breaking balls away. He’s a well-below average defender and a 30 runner as well. There’s no doubt he’s a first baseman and likely a designated hitter if the National League adopts the position in the coming years.
46. Isaiah Greene, OF, Corona (CA)
One of the best overall athletes in this class, Greene has an intriguing combination of several raw tools that, if brought together appropriately, could result in him being an absolute steal a few seasons down the road. The first thing that stands out with Greene is a true 70-grade run tool that he uses to impact the game both offensively and defensively. He can afford to hit the ball on the ground more because of his speed and can be a long-term centerfield option for a team as well. There’s plenty of stolen base upside with his wheels, too. Greene can straight-up hit with a strict contact-oriented approach that doesn’t generate much power. His bat can get a bit flat through the zone at times and he doesn’t try to elevate the ball a whole lot. He does have room to add muscle onto his 6-foot-1, 180-pound frame that could ultimately result in some power output in a few years. Greene has the tools that some scouting directors or high-end front office officials will fall in love with. Don’t be surprised if he gets taken in the sandwich round, but understand that his floor isn’t particularly high, either.
47. Tommy Mace, RHP, Florida
Mace strung together one of the more impressive starts of the 2020 season when he went into Miami and tossed seven innings of one-run ball, only allowing two hits and striking out eight. He would’ve been the Friday starter on arguably the best team in the country this season had there not been a cancellation. Mace has the size that scouts can’t help but dream on. At 6-foot-6, there’s still more projection to come in his wiry frame. His fastball is heavy with low-riding action, topping out at 96 mph and usually sitting in the low-90s with natural movement. His go-to secondary pitch is a hard cutter that’s thrown with conviction and flashed swing-and-miss potential. He uses a low-70s, somewhat loopy curveball simply as a change of pace pitch, and his fourth offering is a changeup that he’ll use sparingly. While his arsenal isn’t anything to write home about, Mace’s demeanor, command, and pitchability all make him an intriguing prospect on the mound. He brings that true bulldog mentality on the mound and consistently throws a ton of strikes down in the zone. Mace has a fairly safe floor as a back-end starter.
48. Cole Henry, RHP, LSU
Cole Henry is another guy entirely familiar with being near the top of draft boards. Possessing a 97-mph heater in high school, he was squarely one of the top 200 guys in the 2018 draft. Two years later, he’s clearly ascended to a new prospect tier. Henry generally sits 91-94 with his fastball, mixing in a curveball and changeup. The former is a power bender that tunnels well with the fastball when he’s able to spike the pitch. When Henry misses, the curveball can get loopy and sit in the zone too long. Nevertheless, the pitch flashes an above-average offering at the next level. More than anything, Henry currently lacks the consistency to profile him a top of the rotation big leaguer. If he can find better command and consistency with his secondary offerings in pro ball, the ceiling is awfully high. Henry won’t even be 21 years old in June, so there are some signability concerns that come with his draft ability.
49. CJ Van Eyk, RHP, Florida State
Van Eyk enters this draft as one of the more polished right-handed arms available. He owns a solid three-pitch mix, two of which grade out as above-average to plus offerings, and he’ll comfortably throw all three for strikes. Van Eyk’s fastball typically sits between 93-94 mph and he’s able to consistently locate it on both sides of the plate for strikes. His best pitch is his high-spin 12/6 breaking ball with exceptional bite to it. It’s already a swing-and-miss pitch that he’s comfortable with throwing at any time in the count. Van Eyk’s changeup isn’t as advanced as his breaking ball, but it mimics his fastball and typically plays down in the zone. He might not have this illustrious high strikeout profile, but he’s a relatively safe prospect with back-end starter written all over him
50. Zach DeLoach, OF, Texas A&M
DeLoach is a personal favorite of several industry-wide draft evaluators and it’s not hard to see why. He dominated the Cape Cod league last summer and kept that hot streak going into this spring, ending the season with a .421/.547/.789 slash line with six home runs in 17 games. DeLoach added muscle onto his 6-foot-1 frame, giving him more proportional strength and further developing his power tool. He’s got at least above-average raw power now, something that we slowly started to see at the start of this season. DeLoach doesn’t have crazy good bat speed and instead relies on a solid approach at the plate to do damage with the baseball. He does get a bit aggressive at times, but he stays within himself for the most part. His feel to hit is average and doesn’t project to get much higher than that mark. He’ll be a tough prospect for evaluators to analyze because they didn’t get an entire season to see if the adjustments he made this season were real. Look for him to go somewhere between the second or third round of the draft.
51. Justin Lange, RHP, Llano (TX)
Lange has been one of the fastest risers in this entire draft class and for good reason. At 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, Lange has completely transformed his body over the past calendar year. He’s packed on a ton of muscle and alongside it has come velocity and athleticism. Already a projectable frame, Lange turned that projection into reality earlier than many anticipated. He’s put on 20 good pounds in one calendar year and now absolutely looks the part. The biggest criticism of Lange has been his erratic control. At times, he can dot his fastball for strikes at will. Other times, he completely loses the zone and simply can’t find it. That’s something that could come in time with increased strength, athleticism, and experience. Already an above-average offering last summer, Lange’s heater now hovers in the high 90s, touching triple digits consistently in bullpens. It’s a smooth, clean, and easy 70-grade offering. There’s also a fringe-average slider and changeup being worked into his arsenal, though both are in their infancy. Lange’s arm talent is undeniable and if drafted into the right player development system, the ceiling could be massive. He’ll be a project for sure, but it’s hard not to like the raw ability put on display.
52. Cayden Wallace, 3B, Greenbrier (AR)
The top prep prospect out of Arkansas in this class, Wallace has slowly crept up our composite rankings as the draft approaches. He truly balled out at the Perfect Game National Showcase in Arizona last June, where he posted borderline elite exit velocities for his age with a wood bat. It’s a short and simple swing with easy bat speed that helps him drive the ball to all fields. There’s 60-grade power potential in Wallace and the ball just sounds different off his bat when he finds the barrel. His hit tool will likely never be anything more than average, which could hinder Wallace’s production, but he makes enough contact to still be a threat at the plate. Defensively, Wallace has a true 60-grade arm across the diamond and has even been up to 93 mph on the bump. He’ll likely stick at third base in the future with an average glove that is capable of holding its own. Luring a hometown kid away from a hometown commitment is never an easy task, so it’s possible we see Wallace make it to Arkansas in the fall. If a team matches his price, however, they’ll be taking on a raw prep prospect with a high offensive ceiling.
53. Logan Allen, LHP, Florida International
Allen is virtually the definition of a soft-tossing, command-oriented southpaw. He’s only six feet tall and roughly 180 pounds, but his ability to consistently spot-up three pitches for strikes allows his stuff to play up. Allen’s fastball works around 89-91 mph, touching 93 mph occasionally and playing with plenty of late arm-side run. He’ll consistently dot it up to either corner of the plate and is excellent at getting ahead of hitters early. From a stuff perspective, Allen’s changeup is the best pitch in his arsenal. It looks exactly like his fastball coming out of the hand and then just drops off a cliff, flashing plus actions. Allen’s feel to spin is above-average, although his breaking ball does get loopy at times and hangs over the heart of the plate too much. It is an average third pitch, however, and gives him a solid three-pitch repertoire to build off once he becomes a professional. Similarly to Detmers, Allen’s pitch ability will carry him through the minors and into the big leagues as a safe back-end starter. Don’t be surprised if he’s one of the first players from this class to make his debut.
54. Casey Schmitt, 3B/RHP, San Diego State
This year’s top two-way talent, Schmitt has a legitimate chance to do both for at least the first few seasons of his professional career. He’s a polished bat that can hit for both average and contact, driving the ball with authority when he finds the barrel. Schmitt should hit for more home run power than he does, especially given the all-around strength in his frame, but he was slowly starting to tap into that right before the season-ending cancellation. Tapping into that plus raw power that we all know is there would put Schmitt on another level in terms of pure polished bats from this class. Schmitt has all the actions of an above-average third baseman. His feet field in rhythm and his silky smooth hands do an excellent job of corralling the baseball. Like the aforementioned Wallace, Schmitt also owns a true 60-grade arm with borderline elite velocities across the diamond from the hot corner. An injury-free track and the right organization could develop him into an absolute masher.
If Schmitt flails out offensively he’ll be able to continue his professional career on the mound. He controls a low-to-mid-90s fastball that jumps out of his hand and works comfortably up in the zone. His go-to out pitch is a splitter with natural downward tumble and he’ll mix in a simple breaking ball with gradual depth. Schmitt’s arsenal isn’t overpowering, but it resembles that of current Padres’ closer, Kirby Yates, because of its effectiveness. He mixes speeds effectively and tunnels his fastball/splitter combo efficiently, making him a tough at-bat for any opponent. Schmitt is a unique talent that will be drafted somewhere between rounds two and four come June 11th.
55. Masyn Winn, RHP/SS, Kingwood (TX)
You could make a case for Winn to be the most athletic player in this entire class. He’s a legitimate two-way prospect that blew up this past October after hitting 98 mph with his fastball and launching a home run in the same game. Winn has drawn some intrigue in the field, but his upside is much higher on the mound. His athleticism is on full display when he’s pitching, showing excellent body control and truly elite 80-grade arm speed. He’ll run his heater up to 98 mph and usually sits anywhere between 93-96 mph. It’s a high-spin fastball that works well up in the zone, giving him a true swing-and-miss pitch right there. Winn consistently flashed a plus high-70s breaking ball in October and a sinking changeup that grades out as average. There’s no denying that Winn could be a special talent, but his delivery is high effort and he’s barely even six feet tall, leading to some obvious durability question marks. He’s without a doubt one of the more intriguing prospects in the class and it’ll be interesting to see what teams do with him should he get drafted. If he does make it to campus, Winn could form a formidable up-the-middle duo with Robert Moore at Arkansas.
56. Chase Davis, OF, Franklin (CA)
Davis is fairly similar to the aforementioned Austin Hendrick. He has pretty electric bat speed with loose hands that allow him to whip his bat through the zone with no problem. A left-handed hitter, Davis has flashed raw power to his pull-side at times and crushes pitches on the inner half of the plate. Scouts do question how much he’ll actually be able to tap into that power because of a below-average hit tool and high swing-and-miss issues. Davis is a solid athlete that runs well and has one of the strongest outfield arms in the class, making him an ideal fit for right field. He does have upside at the plate and right now it’s just a question of whether or not he’ll make enough contact to reach his ceiling. He is committed to Arizona and could be a tough sign.
57. Ben Hernandez, RHP, De La Salle (IL)
Hernandez finally made a name for himself this summer after a stretch of impressive performances at the PDP league and basically the entire showcase circuit. Illinois has produced some pretty intriguing draft talent over the years and it’s possible that Hernandez ends up being one of the more successful players of that bunch. At first glance, Hernandez just straight up looks like he belongs. He’s a strong, well-proportioned 6-foot-2, 205-pound athlete with a durable frame capable of holding a starter’s workload. Hernandez was extremely impressive in his bullpen at the PBR Super 60. His mechanics are clean and he consistently repeats an extremely simple delivery. Hernandez’s fastball usually sits between 93-95 mph and he can essentially throw it wherever he wants to whenever he wants to. He pairs that fastball with an elite changeup that’s arguably the best in this class. It’s a 70-grade pitch with elite fading action that is already an effective strikeout pitch. As wonderful as his changeup is, the huge knock on Hernandez is his consistent inability to spin a breaking ball. He tried to throw a cutter/slider hybrid at the Super 60 and couldn’t get a feel for it, which could ultimately hurt his draft status in the future. If he goes to an organization that can properly develop at least an average breaking ball, Hernandez could be a serviceable back-end starter for a big league club. He has the makeup, pitchability, and command to carve out a fairly lengthy career as a professional baseball player.
58. Carmen Mlodzinski, RHP, South Carolina
Mlodzinski’s ascent up draft boards started this past summer when he was truly masterful in the Cape Cod league. He looked every bit the part of a first-round caliber player at that point, but there have been some pitch arsenal concerns that have caused him to drop this far on our list.
Mlodzinski’s fastball has effective velocity, typically sitting between 93-96 mph arm-side run and occasional sink. The problem that he has with his fastball is that he isn’t comfortable throwing it inside to hitters and tends to leave stuff over the heart of the plate as a result. This is something that he could’ve gotten away with in college based on pure talent alone, but professional hitters will absolutely hammer pitches in that area of the zone. Mlodzinski does have two featured off-speed pitches, both of which could be above-average down the road. He throws a power-cutter that plays in the low-80s, usually staying down in the zone, and also throws a changeup with natural sink. Mlodzinski is talented enough to go in the first round and be an impact arm, but there are some pitch ability red flags in my opinion that’ll hold him back from being that type of player.
59. Colt Keith, SS, Biloxi (MO)
If you’re a fan of Chase Utley, Colt Keith might just be your next favorite player. A sweet, compact left-handed swing has many comparing the Biloxi HS product to the former Philly great. Keith has a very loud barrel for his age and controls the strike zone with ease. Already 6-foot-3 and pushing 200 pounds, he’s a force at the plate. The hit tool already projects at least average and the game power could touch plus. That being said, his size may ultimately force him off the position. As it stands, he certainly has the range and arm to be given the opportunity to stick at shortstop. Whether or not Keith can continue to develop his footwork and the reliability in his hands will determine his future home on the diamond. Even if pushed to third base, Keith’s bat is more than capable enough to handle the expectations of the hot corner. An Arizona State signee, this future Sun Devil will garner more than his fair share of interest in the draft. It’s pretty up in the air whether he’ll go pro or report to Tempe.
60. David Calabrese, OF, Maple (ON)
Calabrese is one of the top pure runners in the class, recording 80-grade run times both out of the box and in the outfield. His speed plays anywhere on the diamond and he’s got enough athleticism to impact a game with that alone. Expect him to wreak havoc on the basepaths and steal a ton of bags at the college or professional level. At the plate, Calabrese makes consistent contact and is more of a gap-to-gap hitter than anything else. He does get a bit slappy at times but gets away with it because of that game-changing speed. Calabrese is going to stick in centerfield moving forward, adding more value onto his plate. A team could lure Calabrese away from his Arkansas commitment later on in the draft with over slot money based on his athleticism alone. He’s an intriguing player to monitor, especially in the fantasy game.
61. Markevian Hence, RHP, Pine Bluff (AR)
Markevian “Tink” Hence has been compared to some extraordinary pitchers of the past. Whenever your name is being thrown around with the likes of Tom Gordon and Yordano Ventura, there’s clearly a special talent there. Hence fits the tall billing. The arm speed, athleticism, and fluidity of it all are remarkable.
Just 17 at the time of the draft, Hence has shown every inclination of signing and jumping into pro ball. He’s currently committed to Arkansas, a premier program, though most would be surprised if he makes it to Fayetteville. The arsenal is already impressive. Hence sits in the mid-90s with his fastball, though he’s touched 100 in bullpens. More than anything, he’s shown touch in spinning his slider and curveball. In bullpens, he can land both consistently for strikes. Just 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, there’s still a lot of growth and development to be had here. The athlete is special, and with time, could develop into one of the more fun pitchers in baseball, or an absolute shutdown reliever.
62. Cam Brown, RHP, Flower Mound (TX)
Standing at 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Brown has that prototypical big-league starter build that evaluators look for. He’s proportionally strong, with broad shoulders and a defined lower half. His delivery is fairly simple, although he puts an emphasis on his back leg during his load, and Brown’s short arm circle allows him to keep everything short and to the point. His fastball plays between 92-94 mph with heavy sinking action and is more effective against right-handed hitters. Brown can really laterally spin a sharp 78-82 mph slider that flashes plus potential and he throws a firm changeup in the mid-80s that plays straight. Brown’s consistent mechanics allow him to pound the zone with strikes at a high rate. He’s certainly polished on the mound for his age and could go anywhere between the second or third round, although his commitment to TCU could end up being strong enough to get him to campus.
63. Enrique Bradfield Jr., OF, Hialeah (TX)
Similarly to David Calabrese, Bradfield is a true 80-grade runner with game-changing wheels that play both offensively and in the field. He’s a grinder-type at the plate, working counts and doing whatever it takes to get on base in order for his speed to impact the game. Bradfield isn’t afraid to put a bunt down, hit the ball on the ground, or even get a bit slappy at times either because he understands how truly special his athleticism is. There is absolutely no power to his game right now, although it could end up reaching the 40-grade level should he add more muscle onto a fairly lean 6-foot, 155-pound frame. Bradfield is as safe of a bet to stick in centerfield as anyone in the class, where he’ll essentially get to everything and play borderline elite defense at a key position. He could end up being an everyday leadoff hitter that gets on base at an above-average clip and plays elite outfield defense.
64. Petey Halpin, OF, St. Francis (CA)
Halpin wasn’t invited to participate in either of the All-American games this past summer as somewhat of an under-the-radar in draft circles early on. He then balled out in the PDP League and performed well at the Area Code games later in the summer, rightfully locking himself in as a name-to-know from the California crop. Halpin is a quick-twitch outfielder with easy bat speed that does legit damage from the left side of the plate. We’ve seen him hammer some baseballs to his pull-side in batting practice and he keeps his hands inside the baseball. His swing mechanics are smooth and while there isn’t much elevation, he does consistently find the barrel. Halpin is a plus runner that has shown natural baserunning instincts in the past. He’s athletic enough to stay up the middle and has a 60-grade arm as well. While it’s likely that he gets to Texas this fall, Halpin is a name to monitor for the 2023 class as a potential first-or-second round guy.
65. Drew Bowser, SS/3B, Harvard Westlake (CA)
A teammate of potential top-15 pick Pete Crow-Armstrong, Bowser is another intriguing prospect hailing from the perennial California powerhouse. He’s a proportional 6-foot-3, 205-pound athlete with plenty of room to fill out his frame. Bowser has made significant improvements in his swing over the last two seasons, shortening it up completely and driving the baseball with more authority. His hit tool projects to be a slight tick below average, but there’s no doubt that he has plus raw power in that athletic frame with room to add more should he continue to grow. As things stand right now, Bowser has played shortstop for most of his amateur career and even on the summer circuit last year. The actions and limited athleticism scream that a move to third base is coming soon. That won’t be the worst thing in the world for Bowser, where his limited lateral range and above-average arm strength will play up. He’s an intriguing prep talent and a name-to-know moving forward, but Bowser’s commitment to Stanford is fairly strong. It’s highly likely that we see him on campus this fall.
66. Sam Weatherly, LHP, Clemson
Sam Weatherly doesn’t project all too dissimilar to the aforementioned Seymour. A two-pitch pitcher with a bullpen likelihood, Weatherly should move through the low minors very quickly as he works to debut as early as 2021. Weatherly’s track to this point has been far different than Seymour. The Clemson Tiger has been on scouts radars for the better part of five years. In high school, Weatherly had a build that most scouts felt would tack on strength, supplementing his already live arm. That has certainly happened during his time on campus.
At 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, Weatherly certainly looks the part. It’s a clean, repeatable delivery, though his mechanics haven’t helped him avoid free passes. In 22 innings his junior year, Weatherly walked 14 batters. He punched 43 tickets in the process, but those base on balls lead most to believe he’s a bullpen arm at the next level. The fastball is a plus pitch at 93-95. He works in an equally impressive plus slider and occasionally throws a changeup. Weatherly is a fairly polished profile for what he is. He’s likely a 3rd or 4th round pick.
67. Clayton Beeter, RHP, Texas Tech
There’s no way around it, Clayton Beeter has some of the loudest stuff in this draft. The Red Raider pumps mid-to-high 90s fastballs over the plate, and couples that with a power curveball that is a plus offering. He’s shown improved command and tallies a bevy of strikeouts along the way. But at the end of the day, his stuff really isn’t the story.
Beeter has one of the most combustible profiles in this draft. Having already had Tommy John surgery in high school, the chances of it happening again obviously increase. The mechanics of his extreme over-the-top delivery give scouts a lot of pauses. There’s a significant lag in his arm action, and some worry his body won’t be able to hold up to an extended starter’s workload. That being said, whoever selects Beeter this year will almost assuredly be drafting him as a power reliever. As previously mentioned, he’s the true two-pitch mix guy with extreme strikeout numbers. The walks have been an issue throughout his career, but they were improved in the abbreviated 2020 campaign. At just 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, and with questionable actions to the plate, look for Beeter to get plugged into the backend of a bullpen somewhere. He should be a quick mover and could debut as early as 2020 in a taxi squad.
68. Kyle Harrison, LHP, De La Salle (CA)
Harrison garnered some early attention by some draft individuals, including me, as the potential top left-handed pitching prospect in this year’s prep class. We didn’t see an uptick in the stuff coming out of the gates this spring, and Fulton’s upside is ultimately higher, but Harrison is still an intriguing draft prospect nonetheless.
A lean, athletic 6-foot-2, 200-pound southpaw, Harrison has plenty of room to fill out his frame and add 10-15 more pounds of muscle as he continues to grow. His fastball sits between 90-93 mph, coming clean out of the hand and with life into the zone. It’s difficult to square his heater up, and all of his pitches for that manner, because he attacks hitters from a deceptive ¾ arm slot that is somewhat reminiscent of Chris Sale’s FGCU days. When Harrison gets ahead in the count he’ll turn to a sweeping slider as his put-away pitch and it has flashed plus actions in the past. His changeup is thrown with fastball arm speed but is a bit flat and doesn’t project as anything more than a change-of-pace pitch. Harrison’s frame and pitch ability suggest there’s more to unlock and he would benefit greatly from going to UCLA, a program known for developing talented high school pitching prospects into pro-ready arms. Should he one day become a Bruin, keep your eyes peeled for him in the first round of the 2023 MLB Draft.
69. Carson Tucker, SS, Mountain Pointe (AZ)
You can’t start a conversation about Carson Tucker without mentioning his brother, Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Cole Tucker. Unfortunately for the latter, that may change in a few short years. Carson is every bit the defender his brother was coming out of Mountain Pointe in 2014. Tucker is already a plus runner with above-average actions at shortstop. The arm grades out above average. At this point, it’s just a matter of whether he’s done growing. At 6-foot-2, 185 pounds, Tucker looks like a shortstop right now. Whether that remains the case is to be determined as Tucker is in the midst of quite a growth spurt. Over the past year he’s gotten taller and much stronger. At the plate, the bat has become far louder. It’s a short, compact swing that produces plenty of gap-to-gap power, but Tucker also ran into more balls over the fence this year, especially pull-side. There were more question marks surrounding his brother’s value six years ago and Carson may end up having the greater upside when all is said and done.
70. Landon Knack, RHP, East Tennessee State
You have to feel for a guy like Landon Knack. At 23 years old, he finally had his breakthrough campaign, albeit a very short season at that. Now, that being said, a lot of guys never experience a breakthrough, so Knack has that going for him. But here’s the thing; a 23-year-old will never receive the signing bonus he deserves. Teams know he can’t go back to school, so when he should probably be receiving a few hundred thousand dollars, he’ll likely receive a fraction of that, especially in a financial crisis like baseball is currently in.
On the mound, Knack possesses some of the best command in the draft. His 51:1 strikeout to walk ratio easily bested the country in 2020. That control didn’t come at the expense of his stuff either. Knack saw a meteoric uptick in his fastball velocity, pumping 97-98 into the zone on occasion. His first four years of college ball saw radar guns flashing 90-92. Impressive, indeed. Knack also has an average curveball and a developing changeup, so he has the repertoire of a starting pitcher. At the next level, unless those pitches improve, you may see him slot into a long-relief role. There’s some funk in the delivery, so don’t be surprised if a team uses that motion as a change of pace mid-game. Considered a fourth-round talent, Knack will probably be selected in the second round of this draft, but more than likely as a cost-saving measure for a team looking to stretch their pool.
71. Anthony Servideo, SS, Ole Miss
Servideo and his big, loud blonde head of hair will represent a very fun pick for whoever lands him. A smooth defender, Servideo gets high marks for his lateral ability, as well as the ability to plant and throw. He’s dealt with some focus errors in the past but looked much improved over the abbreviated 2020 season at Ole Miss. The bat is going to be what dictates his ceiling. After a brutal summer in the Cape Cod League, Servideo slashed .390/.575/.695 over 17 contests in Oxford, plugging five home runs — more than his freshman and sophomore years combined. He’s also a plus runner who figures to snag his fair share of extra bases if given the at-bats. At worst, he’s a fringe-average hitter with below-average power — a solid backup. At his best, you may be looking at an above-average hitter with fringe-average power. Couple those ceilings with an already impressive defender and Servideo has the makings of an above-average regular at the big league level.
72. Burl Carraway, LHP, Dallas Baptist
If you take Crochet out of the equation, Carraway is unequivocally the best lefty reliever in this class. The only thing pushing him down this list is his role. Some of the aforementioned guys like Seymour and Weatherly have a shot at being starters at the next level. Carraway does not. That being said, there’s a legitimate case to be made that Carraway will have a bigger impact than at least half of the names above him on this list.
Just six feet tall, weighing a shade over 170 pounds, Carraway is a slender build with a live, explosive arm. The fastball is a plus offering sitting around 97 most nights. Besides the heather, Carraway employs a plus breaking ball that generates a ton of swing and miss. The wart on his game is the command. If he can hone in the control for his two-pitch mix, there’s reason to believe Carraway could pitch in 2020 for a big league club, especially given the taxi squad idea being thrown around. The command is the only thing holding him back from moving extremely quickly. We’ve got this guy slotted as the first player to debut from the 2020 MLB Draft.
73. Kyle Nicolas, RHP, Ball State
Ball State has produced some flamethrowing right-handed pitchers over the last few seasons and Nicolas figures to follow in their footsteps as the next man up. His fastball is one of the best in the draft, consistently sitting somewhere in the mid-to-high-90s and touching triple-digits early on in his starts. It’s a high-spin rate pitch that he’ll comfortably be able to throw up in the zone and use as a swing-and-miss offering. Nicolas’ go-to secondary pitch is an overpowering slider with sharp break and can touch 90 mph. The slider is also a high-spin pitch, just like his fastball, and it’ll legitimately be able to get professional hitters out. Nicolas should scrap his curveball all together, as it’s basically a worse version of his slider, and he needs to start throwing his changeup more if he wants to stick as a starter long-term. He doesn’t repeat his mechanics and or stays in sync well, causing him to fly open at times and lose command. There’s high reliever risk with Nicolas, but that’s honestly not a bad thing in today’s game. An improvement in mechanical efficiency should increase the strike rate and make him a potential weapon out of the bullpen.
74. Alejandro Rosario, RHP, Miami Christian (FL)
Alejandro Rosario is a ball of power and electricity when he takes the mound. Tipping the scales at just 165 pounds, Rosario exhibits some of the best arm speed in the class and has seen his fastball touch 98 because of it. There’s a changeup and slider in there as well, both of which flash the ability to be above average offerings.
The story on Rosario is how hittable he is. Although his stuff is electric, he wasn’t missing many bats as a junior, and that carried over into his senior year at Miami Christian as well. It’s not to say he wasn’t dominating his high school district, but moreover, his stuff just didn’t strike many batters out. We’re not talking about national premier circuits here or even select league guys. We’re talking about high school league play — a bit concerning. It’s a clean delivery, smooth, easy, and fluid… but it lacks deception. It’s easy to wonder if Rosario telegraphs his pitches a bit. A commit to Miami, odds are he ends up at school. He’s a guy that could have serious helium moving into 2023 where he’ll be draft-eligible again.
75. Jake Eder, LHP, Vanderbilt
Somewhat of an outcast on Vanderbilt’s loaded roster, Eder would certainly be an impact starter on several teams across the country. A physical 6-foot-4, 220-pound southpaw, Eder’s intriguing performance on the Cape this summer certainly boosted his draft stock. At peak, Eder’s fastball sits between 92-94 mph, touching 96 mph at times. His inability to consistently hold velocity from start to start is concerning, and probably the reason he’s this low on our list, as we’ve seen him come out throwing 90-91 mph a few days after registering higher velocities. Eder’s curveball is his best pitch, although there are some outings where he just doesn’t have a feel for it, just like his fastball. His changeup is a below-average offering right now and he just needs to throw it more for more comfort. Eder can be flat out dominant on any given day while also looking like a completely different arm on another. His inconsistency issues continue to plague him, but there will always be upside.
76. Jake Vogel, OF, Huntington Beach (CA)
Vogel missed out on almost the entire summer circuit this past year and most teams didn’t get extensive looks on him because of that. He kicked off his senior season with some impressive performances that put him back onto team’s radars and has been somewhat of a riser dating back to March. It’s impossible to deny the tools that Vogel has. He’s a 70-grade runner with impact wheels and knows how to use his speed on the bases to swipe bags. That athleticism translates onto the field, as Vogel is a rangy defender with an above-average arm that can lock up center field for a long time. His swing is simple and he doesn’t try to do too much at the plate, leaving some evaluators to believe that he’ll be able to hit at the next level. He’s fairly undersized at 5-foot-11 and roughly 165-pounds with little-to-no power in his game. Vogel’s combination of speed/athleticism make him an interesting draft prospect, but it’s more likely that he finds himself at UCLA than with a professional team.
77. Carson Seymour, RHP, Kansas State
From a pure physicality standpoint, Seymour might be the most physical arm in the class. He’s every bit of his listed 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, and just brings a different kind of physicality to the mound. Seymour’s fastball is his best pitch, sitting between 92-95 mph and touching 97 mph with natural downward tilt. His recently added slider is his best pitch, although it was his curveball that flashed above-average actions in the Cape this past summer. Seymour also has a changeup in his arsenal, although he rarely throws it and it’s a below-average pitch. There’s certainly upside with Seymour given his pure physicality, he doesn’t throw nearly enough strikes to stick as a starter long-term. He does still have sophomore eligibility and could return to Kansas State to improve some minor things before testing the draft waters again next season.
78. Alex Santos, RHP, Mount St. Michael Academy (NY)
The top prep prospect from New York this draft, Santos has plenty of projectability left in his lanky 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame. He showed well on this past summer circuit against tough competition and held his own in the PDP league against top competition, too. Santos’ fastball regularly sits between 92-93 mph with life out of the hand and plays up due to the extension he gets downhill. His slider is his best secondary pitch and he’s comfortable throwing it to get ahead of hitters or put them away. He also throws a low-80s changeup that primarily plays straight, although it’s somewhat deceptive because he maintains fastball arm speed when throwing it. Santos has some polish on the mound, but he’s almost certainly a developmental prospect right now that we need to see fill out his frame. Should he continue to grow and add muscle, the velocity gains this kid can make are borderline jaw-dropping. It’s pretty likely that he makes it to Maryland in a draft like this.
79. Freddy Zamora, SS, Miami
Had it not been for a nasty knee injury in 2020, Freddy Zamora may very well have been the first shortstop off the board in this years’ draft. The Miami Hurricane can do it all. He’s an above-average defender with an above-average arm. Prior to the injury, he was an above-average runner who could comfortably handle the position. At the plate, Zamora was showing above-average potential and the possibility of average power. It’s a sound approach at the plate that results in his fair share of walks and a lack of strikeouts, a rarity in Miami’s aggressive philosophy. The whole package is very intriguing, especially if a team can look past the injury concerns. It should be noted, Zamora was suspended for the first four games of the 2020 season for a violation of team rules, so it’s not the most pristine resume off the field. That’s not to say it’s anything worth worrying about, but it’s not spotless, cut and dry. If the knee heals to 100%, it wouldn’t shock us whatsoever if Zamora ended up the best pro shortstop on this list.
80. Cade Horton, SS/RHP, Norman (OK)
Much like San Diego State’s Casey Schmitt, Horton is a legitimate two-way prospect in this class. He’s going to find his way onto our starting pitcher ranks, that will come out later in the week, and could honestly be drafted as a shortstop alone were he not a pitcher. He’s a highly athletic 6-foot-2, 190-pound prospect that has room to add muscle onto his frame. Horton’s a power-over-hit type of bat with raw pull-side juice. His offensive game needs more work, but Horton’s glove and athleticism in the field are big-league caliber. His hands are soft, his feet field in a fluid rhythm, and he moves well laterally to cover enough ground. Pair all that with a true 60-grade arm that can touch 96 mph on the mound and you have a guy capable of sticking at shortstop throughout his professional career. We’ll have to wait and see how teams value him, or if he even gets drafted, but most evaluators like Horton as a pitcher more.
81. Tyler Keenan, 1B, Ole Miss
At 6-foot-4, 250 pounds, Keenan is a big-bodied third baseman with the accompanying power you’d expect from a player of his size. Scouts are pretty sure he’ll move off third base in pro ball and over to first base. Defensively, he profiles as one might expect. He has soft hands and receives the ball very well, though his lateral ability is limited. The arm is fringe-average to maybe average with consistency being the biggest piece in question. Keenan has a sound approach at the plate, limiting strikeouts. He has shown an ability to drive the ball to all fields and hit for plenty of power while he does it. He likely projects as an average hitter with above-average game power. Like Sabato, a universal DH would help his big league value.
82. Ricky Tiedemann, LHP, Lakewood (CA)
Our second prep on the list, Tiedemann won’t be 18 years old until October. He’s incredibly young for the class, and for that reason, will be enticing for player development programs. Tiedemann could quite possibly play centerfield at the next level, he’s that kind of freak athlete. He runs well, fields his position at an elite level, and has a livewire arm on the mound. There’s a ton of projection here.
Already 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, Tiedemann just looks the part. His fastball sits in the low 90s right now, but most would be stunned if he’s not sitting 94-95 by the time he’s fully developed. He works in two developing pitches in the slider and changeup, though neither are even above average offerings at this time. There’s a ton to like about the University of San Diego commit, but he’s going to be a project. He’ll likely require five full years in a minor league system before debuting, but when that day comes, he could be special. If the secondary pitches develop into a plus, or even above-average offerings by 2023, Tiedemann could quite easily be a Top 15 selection.
83. Victor Mederos, RHP, Westminster Christian (FL)
Mederos is a physical, fully projected 6-foot-3, 220-pound right-handed pitcher out of Florida. He was regularly sitting in the mid-90s this summer with his fastball, albeit in short spurts, and is around the zone for the most part. His best pitch is a hard 85-87 mph slider that he uses to put hitters away, although he sometimes flips in a slower 12/6 breaking ball just to simply get ahead early in the count. Mederos’ changeup plays with natural sink and he does have some feel for it, but it’s not an offering he uses much. While Mederos has the stuff to likely be higher on this list, there are some injury concerns that arise because of his delivery, body type, and arm action. He’ll probably make it to campus unless a team pays a hefty price, which would be a great get for Miami as they prepare to lose all three of their arms from the 2019 team.
84. Coby Mayo, 3B, Stoneman Douglas (FL)
Hailing from a high school that’s produced several highly talented big league players, Mayo could potentially be on pace to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors. He’s a physical 6-foot-5, 215-pound corner infielder with pure raw strength throughout his build. There’s easy double-plus raw power to the pull-side in his swing and Mayo’s power potential alone will make some high-end talent evaluators fall in love with him. His hit tool is where the questions start to pop up as there are concerns about whether or not he’ll hit enough to truly tap into that power. There are swing-and-miss issues as well and right now you’re looking at a player who’s likely going to strike out a ton if he makes his way into the professional ranks. Mayo has arguably the strongest arm of any prep corner infield prospect, but his hands are average and his footwork gets a bit stiff at times. A move over to first base could come sooner rather than later, but he has enough pure power that it doesn’t matter which corner infield spot he plays. Mayo is a hometown kid committed to Florida that could end up being a tough sign. He’d be better off going to a pristine college program like Florida and improving his all-around offensive game.
85. Milan Tolentino, SS, Santa Margarita Catholic (CA)
Tolentino is a name that’s been heating up in draft circles over the last few weeks and rightfully so. He has an interesting skill-set that could ultimately pave a path to the big leagues for the 18-year-old UCLA commit. Tolentino’s a pest at the plate, working deep counts and not trying to do too much. His bat travels on a level path through the zone and produces steady line drive contact to all fields. You’re not going to get much power production out of him, mostly because he doesn’t try to elevate or lift the ball at the plate. He projects to have an average hit tool, but will consistently compete at the plate and not strike out much. Tolentino’s glove is his calling card to the big leagues. He’s a virtual lock to stick at shortstop with excellent lateral range, quick feet, and a plus arm. All in all, Tolentino is a gamer-type player that is going to grind out at-bats, all while providing excellent defense at an up-the-middle position. His signability is a question mark as a SoCal kid committed to UCLA, but don’t be surprised if he ends up being like Nick Ahmed down the road.
86. Blaze Jordan, 1B, DeSoto Central (MS)
Jordan has been on, well, everyone’s radar for the better part of four years. A viral sensation, Jordan was once labeled “The Next Bryce Harper” by No Day Off, a popular baseball YouTube channel. While he almost certainly won’t reach such heights, Jordan does represent an intriguing corner power bat profile at the next level. There’s little doubt he’ll get to his plus, maybe plus-plus power in pro ball. Just 17 years old, Jordan will almost certainly have to move off third base and over to first base once he gets to Mississippi State or into a big-league organization. The arm is more than strong enough to handle the hot corner, though his footwork and mechanics need a lot of refinement to stick if he hopes to stay on the left side of the infield. Jordan is still growing into his body, shedding baby weight the last couple of years and getting into better shape. He’s still young enough to conceivably stick at third, but it’ll require patience and plenty of player development. Defense aside, the bat is his calling card. He’s potentially a solid average hitter with plus, maybe plus-plus power depending on what direction he takes his body.
87. Luke Little, LHP, San Jacinto CC (TX)
Many became infatuated with Little a few weeks ago after a video surfaced of him hitting an absurd 105 mph with his fastball. While there’s certainly a lot to love, and he’s at the premier pitching JUCO for pitchers right now, Little does have his fair share of mechanical flaws, including an unconventional delivery that includes a fairly prodigious head whack. Little does have that ridiculous fastball power in his 6-foot-8, 225-pound frame, but he struggles to repeat his delivery and doesn’t hold velocity into starts, typically sitting in the 93-96 mph range. He struggles to throw any of his off-speed pitches for strikes and even struggles to locate the fastball as well. Little has the loud tools that give him a high ceiling, but even the floor is fairly low.
88. Hayden Cantrelle, SS, Louisiana-Lafayette
Hayden Cantrelle is just the type of player that has enough tools to make an impact on the field on any given night. Just 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, he’s not the most imposing figure, but what he lacks in size he makes up for with intelligence, instincts, and grit. Cantrelle was a stalwart at the top of Louisiana’s lineup for the last two years and performed well during the Cape in 2019. With that helium, Cantrelle came into the 2020 collegiate year with a good bit of expectation but struggled mightily out of the gates. The day-one buzz has faded a bit, but Cantrelle still figures to be selected in the first three rounds of the draft. He’s a 60 runner and a fringe-average hitter, though he’ll probably never be much more than a single-digit home run guy. He’s a good reliable defender and there’s a lot to like in the makeup of the player. It’s easy to see Cantrelle carving out a big-league role for himself down the road.
89. Jimmy Glowenke, SS, Dallas Baptist
Dallas Baptist has become a bit of a hotbed for big-league infielders of late and Glowenke figures to continue that trend. Following in the footsteps of fellow Patriot infielders Ryan Goins and Ben Zobrist, Glowenke has a good chance of breaking onto a big-league roster someday thanks in large part to his bat. Glowenke has a chance to be a 55 hitter and register 10-15 home runs per season. He’s not the defender Zobrist is, but he should be able to stick on the dirt, albeit probably at second base. Glowenke has a below-average arm and is a below-average runner. He is finally fully recovered from Tommy John surgery that took place in the summer of 2019 and should be ready to go when baseball resumes. Barely 21 years old for this draft, Glowenke does have a little bit of leverage should he want to return to school and prove he’s a capable defender.
90. AJ Vukovich, 3B/RF, East Troy (WI)
An All-State basketball player with ridiculous athleticism, Vukovich is a tantalizing prospect hailing from the Badger state. He’s the next big prospect to come out of Wisconsin, which has apparently become a breeding ground for electric draft prospects over the last five seasons. Nonetheless, Vukovich is a lanky 6-foot-5, 210-pound prospect with massive raw power and minimal feel to hit. His overall setup and swing are unconventional but he somehow still manages to get the job done. Seeing him crush home runs at the high school All-Star game last summer was impressive and there’s easy pull-side pop there that he hasn’t fully tapped into because of his 45-grade hit tool. Vukovich has moved all around the diamond over the last year and could make the full-time move to right field sometime soon. A five-round draft hinders his chances of being drafted and it’s looking increasingly likely that he’ll make his way to Louisville this fall. Vukovich is the type of prospect that could absolutely blow up after his college career is over and solidify himself as a first-round pick in 2023.
91. Seth Lonsway, LHP, Ohio State
We may be a little lower than some other pundits on Lonsway, but after watching him in action during the 2019 Cape Cod League, we were left unimpressed. Lonsway is fully capable of being a starter at the next level, which should help him in getting selected in the first few rounds of the 2020 draft. He’s a four-pitch guy that has shown a glimpse of spotting all four offerings.
The fastball is currently a fringe-average pitch. The velocity is there, comfortably sitting in the low-90s, but the feel for the pitch is not. Lonsway walked 12 batters in 12 innings last summer, and a lot of that was thanks to falling behind in counts and not being able to spot the heater. He mixes in a slider, curveball, and changeup, all of which have flashed above average at times, though are generally regarded as average offerings. It’s a slate of pitches, which you don’t find from most lefties in college. If the fastball command doesn’t improve, he too will be destined for a bullpen.
92. Yohandy Morales, INF, Braddock (FL)
‘YoYo’ Morales is another extremely exciting shortstop that likely profiles well, not at shortstop. At 6-foot-4, Morales is an impressive specimen, especially at the plate, but in the field, he lacks a quick first step and struggles with body control while moving to his left and right. There’s more than enough arm for the profile, and the routine plays are made with ease, but Morales almost certainly projects to move to third base before debuting. The frame is super projectable and provided a good player development program, it’s not hard to see Morales turning into a plus power guy at shortstop. The hit tool needs refinement as he too often finds himself chasing breaking balls away, but when he gets a hold of one, they’re ripped. The swing is still a little disjointed and long at times, but there’s a lot to like in what the final package could look like here. Morales is committed to Miami and could really go in either direction — sign or go to campus. If a team loves him, he’d be a sound investment.
93. Nick Swiney, LHP, NC State
Swiney has served as both a starting pitcher and reliever for the Wolfpack over the last three seasons. He excelled out of the bullpen, where his fastball velocity played up into the low-to-mid-90s and led to his potential plus breaking ball just being flat-out more effective. They then moved him into their rotation and his fastball velocity dipped down. Swiney contributed quality innings for the Pack, but he was ultimately more valuable to them out of the bullpen, where he profiles best in the long-term. He’s got the stamina-experience combination to be a spot starter here and there, but Swiney’s ultimate role is as an effective long reliever.
94. Mason Hickman, RHP, Vanderbilt
Most people forget that Hickman headlined a Vanderbilt rotation that features two bonafide first-round talents in next year’s class. Standing at 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds, Hickman doesn’t have the overpowering velocity or stuff, for that manner, of some Vanderbilt arms that have come before him. He uses every bit of that lanky frame, however, to create excellent extension downhill and stifle hitters with a high-80s to low-90s fastball. He throws three other pitches (curveball, slider, changeup), but the curveball is the only one of that group that projects to actually be something moving forward. Hickman’s stuff doesn’t suggest he’d be a top 100 player in this class, but it’s his pitch ability, polish, and consistent strike-throwing ability that truly solidifies his spot.
95. Mario Zabala, OF, International Baseball Academy (PR)
Zabala is the perfect example of high risk, low reward type of prospect. His tools and athleticism are off the charts, but his actual baseball instincts and feel for the game just aren’t there. Zabala is a plus runner with borderline elite athleticism that is on display no matter what he does. He makes some fairly difficult things look easy and that makes him such a treat to watch on the field. There’s plus raw power from the right side of the plate and we saw him perform well against top competition at times during the summer circuit. Zabala’s hit tool is below-average and he’s way too aggressive at the plate. He doesn’t yet understand how to pick out his pitch to do damage with and instead tries to launch everything into the bleachers. Zabala is athletic enough to play center field but lacks the instincts necessary to have success. There’s no denying his raw arm strength with accuracy that’ll almost certainly play in right field. A Florida International commit, someone may decide to take a chance on him on the upside alone, although that isn’t the likeliest outcome.
96. Cole Foster, SS, Plano Senior (TX)
A true sleeper prospect in this class, Foster is one of my personal favorite prospects. He isn’t a hulking figure by any means but don’t let that discourage you from him. He’s a true switch-hitter that does damage from both sides of the plate with a 55-grade hit tool and 45-grade power. It seems like he elevates the ball more from the left side, while his right-handed swing is more gap-to-gap. He isn’t an uber-athlete like others on this list, relying on natural instincts and a strong arm to stick at shortstop moving forward. Foster is committed to Auburn and it’s pretty likely that he gets to campus unless a team gives him a lucrative offer he can’t refuse. If that’s the case, remember this name for the 2023 MLB Draft as a potential top 50 pick.
97. Tyler Gentry, OF, Alabama
Gentry has been the best position player for Alabama over the last two seasons after transferring in from Walters State following his freshman year. His pure raw power is his most intriguing tool and he’s even flashed double-plus raw power at times. Like a majority of power-hitters in our game, Gentry struggles with strikeout issues, whiffing 51 times in 210 at-bats as a sophomore in the SEC. He doesn’t have a great history against spin or an innate ability to pick it up out of the hand either. A significant improvement in the hit tool could result in more contact and less strikeouts, allowing that power to truly show itself. It remains to be seen if that is even possible, but Gentry has upside.
98. Daniel Susac, C, Jesuit (CA)
The brother of a former second-round pick and current San Francisco Giant catching prospect Andrew Susac, Daniel seems to fly under the radar when compared to other prep catchers in this class. He’s a strong 6-foot-3, 205-pound switch-hitting backstop that brings physicality and raw bat strength to the plate. There’s clearly power to dream on with his frame. Susac’s swing does get a bit long and he consistently struggles to get his upper and lower body in sync. It’s apparent that he’s more comfortable from the right side, showing most of his raw power on that side of the plate. He’s an average defender with an absolute bazooka for an arm and the ball simply explodes out of his hand. A move to right field could be in his cards at some point but he’s cemented behind the plate for now. One thing to note with him is that Susac just turned 19 years old a few weeks ago, making him older than your typical high school senior. There’s no denying that he has a high ceiling, as you’d expect from someone with his profile, but it’s hard to look past how raw he is from a pure prospect standpoint. Any team would be taking a gamble on him at this point.
99. Jack Leftwich, RHP, Florida
Leftwich is a physical 6-foot-2, 210-pound right-handed arm that is certainly a thrower type of arm. His fastball sits in the mid-90s with explosive life into the zone, but he struggles to even be around the zone at times. Leftwich also throws a power slider in the low-to-mid-80s with late break, yet the inconsistent feel for it makes it an average offering at best. There’s upside with Leftwich, but he’s destined to be a reliever at the professional level right now.
100. Zach McCambley, RHP, Coastal Carolina
For a team that loves guys who spin absolutely everything, McCambley is going to be an easy favorite on their draft board. He has some of the highest overall spin numbers in this class on all of his pitches, including a high-riding four-seam fastball that obviously plays up because of the spin efficiency numbers. He also owns a true double-plus curveball that clocks in at above 3,000 RPM (rotations per minute) and has excellent depth, too. Unfortunately for his future starter profile, McCambley doesn’t throw much else outside of those two pitches. He’s mixed in a changeup in the past, but it’s a below-average offering right now and there’s a ton of refinement that needs to happen for that to occur. He’s going to get a shot, solely on those spin numbers, and going to the right developmental organization could do wonders for him.