Well, that was fun. Let’s do it again today, please. Wednesday night was full of some big surprises early and a few later on, all of which are covered below. I’ll start moving drafted players onto their new teams over on The Board once I wake up, so make sure to take a peek at the farm system rankings as they currently stand — they’re about to change as the new prospects get moved over. Briefly, before I dive in, here are the states from which the most players were drafted yesterday:
|4||AZ, CA, NC, TX|
**Editor’s Note: This piece initially incorrectly stated that the Baltimore Orioles had absorbed their four corners area. It has been corrected. FanGraphs regrets the error.**
The lone surprise there is Arizona, notable because a couple of teams (the Yankees) have either “absorbed” their four corners area recently or have considered it, meaning they let go of their area scout there and had other scouts fill in, thinking the area doesn’t have enough talent to justify having that extra scout. Four kids from the area went on Day 1, and with a lot of junior college spillover expected next year (there are lots of southwest JuCos), it seems especially foolish for other teams to really consider such cuts. Plus, there’s so much low-level pro ball here, baseball for which amateur scouts have a great context since the players are about the same age as their usual coverage. That makes turning over rocks on the complex backfields inexpensive since most of the four corners scouts live in Phoenix. Okay, I’m done. On to my team-by-team analysis.
|18||23||45||Bryce Jarvis||RHP||22.4||Duke||FB carry, plus change, command|
|33||21||45||Slade Cecconi||RHP||21.0||Miami||Frame, velo, slider|
As I mentioned in yesterday’s mock, Jarvis is very similar to the pitchers Arizona has acquired in recent drafts and trades. His fastball has impact vertical movement, he has a plus changeup, and his command will allow his breaking stuff to play above its raw stuff. He’s going to move fast. I had Cecconi ranked slightly ahead of Jarvis on The Board (same FV, though) based on his prototypical frame and superior arm strength and breaking ball. He’s raw from a control/command perspective, but Cecconi is only a draft-eligible sophomore and he missed time in high school due to injury, so I expect late growth.
|25||62||40+||Jared Shuster||LHP||21.8||Wake Forest||Deception, FB angle, breaking ball|
If the four-start clinic that Shuster put on in his four 2020 starts is what he will be going forward, then I’m too low on him. He struggled with walks as an underclassmen, then started to improve on the Cape, then retained the strikes amid a serious stuff spike this year. He was throwing harder, his breaking ball had more power, and the extra velo helped the changeup, which is his best secondary.
|2||7||50||Heston Kjerstad||RF||21.3||Arkansas||Power, plate coverage, SEC stats|
|30||32||45||Jordan Westburg||SS||21.3||Mississippi State||Contact, MIF fit|
We should all wait until the end of the draft before levying an opinion on Baltimore drafting Kjerstad at two, presumably to sign him to an under slot bonus so they can do more damage on Day 2. He’s the right player with whom to execute such a maneuver, in my opinion, just as Kyle Schwarber was the right guy to do it with in 2014. I had Kjerstad in the 50 FV tier (Tork is in a tier on his own as a 55 FV, then have Lacy, Hancock, Kjerstad etc. as 50s) and he was likely to be the last of the 50s drafted. Taking $5 million or so (I don’t know the exact number but that’s what other clubs have speculated to me) is about $2.8 million below the slot at two, but it’s more than Kjerstad would have gotten for slot from pick nine on, which is where he was likely to go. He rakes, he performed against SEC pitching, and he doesn’t have the injury risk the pitchers do. It makes sense.
My sources with other teams thought Baltimore was trying to float Nick Bitsko to their second pick, 30th overall, for something close to $3.5 million. The Rays were a speed bump. The Orioles took Jordan Westburg instead. He’s one of the many very stable, up-the-middle college hitters who performed at a big conference his entire career. Baltimore will probably flex what I think is an extra $2.5 million in pool space today.
|17||78||35+||Nick Yorke||SS||18.2||Archbishop Mitty HS (CA)||Contact, MIF fit|
On yesterday’s mock, I mentioned a rumor that Boston might cut under slot with a high schooler in the first round to scoop up a bunch of high schoolers with their later picks. I wasn’t sure if it was real because they don’t have a second rounder and a whole lot of players are going to come off the board before they pick again. I had Yorke ranked 165th on The Board. He’s a good player (35+ FV), a contact-oriented middle infielder from California with good infield hands and footwork, but limited physical projection. That’s what Indians shortstop Tyler Freeman was coming out of high school and I thought he was a reach. Now he’s a top 100 prospect. Hit tool high schoolers from Cali have been pretty popular high six-figure targets in recent years (Joe Naranjo, Cody and Tyler Freeman, maybe Thomas Saggese yet this year). Red Sox fans should be very intrigued by what might happen today. I’m not sure it’s going to work but it’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen in the draft before because there are so few rounds.
|16||11||45+||Ed Howard||SS||18.4||Mount Carmel HS (IL)||Contact, SS lock, physical proj.|
I think Howard is a dude, evaluated with the same FV as the kind of players who sit at the top of most international signing classes. He has feel to hit, is going to stay at shortstop, and he’s going to get stronger as he matures and hit for power without needing a swing overhaul. The latter is almost certainly true based on what the Cubs strength program has been able to do for Brennen Davis, Benny Rodriguez, Cole Roederer, and a lot of the other teenagers in the system. Howard almost went at 10 and was in Philly’s mix at 15.
|11||22||45||Garrett Crochet||LHP||21.0||Tennessee||Velo, breaking ball|
There’s a non-zero chance Crochet can be stitched into the White Sox bullpen this year. He certainly has the stuff for it. He touched 99 in his lone 2020 start and has a 70-grade slider, a big hook rather than a small one (congrats to the five of you who get that joke). His delivery is kind of weird, but we all said that about Chris Sale, didn’t we?
|12||13||45+||Austin Hendrick||RF||19.0||West Allegheny HS (PA)||Huge power|
The Reds have had no qualms about taking older high schoolers (Tyler Callihan), even if they have swing and miss issues (Rece Hinds), so long as they have huge power. Hendrick does, perhaps the best power projection in the entire draft. His ability to rotate is like (gulp) Cody Bellinger’s, it’s just scary that Hendrick is both older and swung and missed a lot last summer against good high school pitching on the showcase circuit. Older + whiffs = bust risk, but Hendrick made adjustments to his swing throughout last summer so he should be able to get things dialed in, cut back on the strikeouts, and have a viable hit tool while getting to a ton of power.
|23||54||40+||Carson Tucker||SS||18.4||Mountain Pointe HS (AZ)||Athleticism, bat speed, MIF chance|
|36||56||40+||Tanner Burns||RHP||21.4||Auburn||Deep repertoire, SEC stats|
Tucker’s deal is supposedly close to $2 million, which is about $1 million under slot at 23. I’m not sure if Burns is slot or above. He’s a Boras advisee, and pre-draft buzz was that it’d take first round money to sign him ($2.4 million is slot at the end of round one, $2 million where Burns went). Tucker is an athleticism and abstract projection prospect. He’s a plus athlete who can really rotate, but his swing was a mess last summer and he struggled to throw the ball from short to first base accurately. This spring he came out with a better swing and was putting down 70 run times. If shortstop doesn’t work out, the wheels play in center field. Between Tucker, Brayan Rocchio, Junior Sanquintin, Gabriel Rodriguez, Tyler Freeman, Angel Martinez and Jose Tena, Cleveland might be in violation of antitrust laws for monopolizing young, tooled-up shortstops.
Burns I’m not on as much. I have a 40 FV on him. He’s maxed out and has had some injury issues, but most clubs had him higher than I do and think he could have four average or better pitches and above-average command, which would be a 45 FV.
|9||5||50||Zac Veen||CF||18.5||Sprice Creek HS (FL)||Frame, power projection|
|35||66||40+||Drew Romo||C||18.8||The Woodlands HS (TX)||Glove, arm, switch-hitter|
Veen is the top high schooler in the class, an arousing combination of present power, present feel to hit, and perhaps the best frame in the entire draft, which means he might grow into astronomical pop. Romo, for a while now, has been rumored to be headed to school but I imagine he’s signable here. He’s the best defensive catcher among the high schoolers and has the best arm. He also has rare physicality for a catcher, a walking embodiment of the state of Texas. He also switch-hits and has power, but there are real concerns about his ability to make contact, and that is what was driving teams to think he’d head to school. High school catching is scary and busts a lot. Go back and read any M.J. Melendez reports from a few years ago and it’s almost exactly the same. Romo might be the riskiest pick from Day 1 but he has All-Star ceiling.
|1||1||55||Spencer Torkelson||1B||20.8||Arizona State||Everything but defensive profile|
I don’t have much to say here. Tork was the top player on my board and I’m lucky to lay my head six miles from where his office has been the last couple of years.
|4||2||50||Asa Lacy||LHP||21.0||Texas A&M||Elite heat and slider|
|32||33||45||Nick Loftin||SS||21.7||Baylor||Contact, MIF fit|
There are folks in baseball who think Lacy was the best player in the draft and some who were worried about his medical. I don’t know whether that had anything to do with why Miami passed on him at three but now the Royals have another really nasty young arm who is likely to move quickly, and their big league rotation might soon be packed with as many young, hyped prospects as those early 2000s Marlins and Cubs teams. (Royals fans old enough to drive probably remember Mike Montgomery, Aaron Crow, Luke Hochevar, John Lamb, etc. and know not to let their guard down, for such is pitching.)
It sounds like Loftin had an overslot deal somewhere in the comp round, something north of $3 million, but I’m not sure if it was here or elsewhere and the Royals just decided to take him. I’m lukewarm on Loftin. I think he can play short but I think his power is limited to his dead pull side only and that he can be pitched to.
|10||10||45+||Reid Detmers||LHP||20.9||Louisville||Deep repertoire, plus command|
Detmers is a perfect fit for the Angels and has a non-zero chance of pitching in the big leagues this year. His curveball is beautiful, a deadly rainbow that freezes lefty batters. Righties see it for a while because it’s so slow, but his command of a tailing (40 velo) heater, changeup, and cutter/slider should enable everything to work even if all the other stuff is average.
|29||27||45||Bobby Miller||RHP||21.2||Louisville||Arm strength, slider, on-mound makeup|
This is just a good value pick for the Dodgers here. I’ve said it before in chats and whatnot: Miller is a great example of this draft’s depth because he is so much like 2019 Cubs first rounder Ryan Jensen (long arm action, upper-90s that he holds deep in games, goes right at hitters) except his secondary stuff is better.
|3||8||45+||Max Meyer||RHP||21.2||Minnesota||Elite heat and slider|
Meyer is going to move fast because his stuff is so good (control/command is not right now, though), he’s one of the best on-mound athletes in the class (a reason to believe the control will improve), and accelerating his timeline means it will line him up with the other good Marlins prospects who are already a few years in.
|20||14||45+||Garrett Mitchell||CF||21.8||UCLA||Raw power, speed, PAC 12 stats|
Mitchell is similar to former Pirates first rounder Travis Swaggerty (who I have toward the middle of my top 100). He’s a thick dude with plus-plus straight line speed, he has considerable raw power, and his college swing does not enable him to get to it. Mitchell is explosive but kinda stiff, so not everyone thinks he’s capable of making adjustments to get to the power.
|27||37||45||MIN||Aaron Sabato||1B||21.0||North Carolina||Power, ACC state|
Pre-draft rumors had Sabato all over the middle of round one (Texas, Arizona, and I heard he was in San Francisco’s mix, too) but he falls to Minnesota, in a coup that feels similar to Trevor Larnach’s fall from a few years ago (I was higher on Larnach than Sabato, though).
|19||25||45||Pete Crow-Armstrong||CF||18.2||Harvard Westlake HS (CA)||Glove, speed|
PCA is the best defensive center fielder in the class, period. He also returned from the offseason having added a bunch of muscle, but the industry didn’t have enough time to see if it would manifest itself in games. His swing works a lot like Blake Rutherford’s, which is to say he’s capable of making sweet-looking oppo gap contact and golfing balls out to his pull side, but I’m not sure if he’ll be able to get to stuff at the top of the zone.
|28||40||40+||Austin Wells||1B||20.9||Arizona||Power, young for class, Cape stats|
Area scouts haven’t considered Wells a viable pro catcher since his senior year of high school, but some of that could be due to arm health issues that may be remedied with more time. He’s only a sophomore, after all, and athletic enough to roam the outfield and avoid first base. What the Yankees got here is a well-rounded lefty college bat with all-fields pop, who had one of the better 2019 Cape Cod statlines.
|26||20||45||Tyler Soderstrom||C||18.5||Turlock HS (CA)||Stick, might catch|
Early intel on this one is that it’s over slot, so Oakland will have to cut today, maybe close to $700,000. They could do that with a $500,000 high schooler in round two, which is the player pool Boston seems to want to play in late. Soderstom is the anti-Drew Romo. He’s not a lock to catch, at least not every day; I love the idea of him receiving who he can then playing 3B/OF the rest of the time. Instead the carrying tool is the bat, among the most advanced in the high school class.
|15||9||45+||Mick Abel||RHP||18.8||Jesuit HS (OR)||Velo, spin, frame|
A bunch of teams picking from seven through 17 are under new leadership, including Philly, which has been overwhelmingly college heavy since Matt Klentak took over. I think Abel is the best high school pitcher in the draft. At his best he was 93-96, up to 98, with a plus curveball and the occasional above-average changeup. His velo declined as last summer went on and I worried that he had thrown a lot, both that summer and the year before when he pitched until Labor Day weekend. The shutdown might have hurt his stock (he might have gone top 10 had he been seen this spring) but it also might have helped rest his arm.
|7||6||50||Nick Gonzales||2B||21.0||New Mexico State||Hit/power combo, MIF fit|
|31||48||40+||Carmen Mlodzinski||RHP||21.3||South Carolina||Cape performance, cutter|
Gonzales was good value where the Pirates got him. His New Mexico State stats are more Picasso than just a caricature, but he can hit and he does have relevant pop. Where he ends up on defense is TBD. He makes some great plays, but boots some easy ones. I had Mlodzinski ranked 15 spots below this based on looks from this spring, which were much worse than how he looked last summer on the Cape, where he was filthy.
|8||15||45||Robert Hassell||CF||18.8||Independence HS (TN)||Contact, makeup, CF shot|
|34||36||45||Justin Lange||RHP||18.7||Llano HS (TX)||Elite velocity, frame|
Hassell has the most polished hit tool of all the high schoolers in the class, well-timed, with laser-guided bat control. The industry is split about his ability to either stay in center, or grow into big power, or both. He’s an intense kid and works his ass off. Lange was 89-93 for me last summer, then got ripped during the offseason and came out throwing 96 and up this spring. He’s a plus athlete with an elite frame and elite arm strength; the Padres will have to develop the rest.
|13||12||45+||Patrick Bailey||C||21.0||North Carolina State||Stays at catcher, switch-hit, ACC stats|
Some scouts think Bailey’s kind of a slow-twitch guy but I like him. He’s a polished switch-hitter who performed throughout his entire college career (.302/.411/.568) and plays a premium position. He’s a capable hitter from both sides of the plate, utilizing a gap approach from the right side and more of a pull/lift one from the left. He’s a fine receiver and blocker, catching on one knee until a runner reaches base. Most of Bailey’s good pop times rest around 1.95, which is about average. He has a very good chance to be an everyday catcher but likely lacks the offensive impact to be a star. Watch for the Giants to get creative on Day 2 since they have consecutive picks in the 60s.
|6||4||50||SEA||Emerson Hancock||RHP||21.0||Georgia||Mid-90s, plus change, slider command|
I think the teams picking at the very top of the draft were in to see Hancock in week one (since he was among the consensus top prospects) and he just didn’t pitch well that day, then never had an opportunity to recover in those clubs’ eyes. His fastball doesn’t work like Logan Gilbert‘s nor George Kirby’s — Hancock is a little different from a pitch data perspective — but there are still ways to optimize his stuff and approach to pitching, such as having him throw his changeup more. I think Seattle will make those tweaks.
|21||41||40+||Jordan Walker||3B||18.0||Decatur HS (GA)||Age, power, frame|
At the end of last summer I had Walker in the 45+ FV tier with Hendrick and Howard. He came out this spring looking a little slower and like he might go the Sano route and be a defensive liability in short order. I slid him, perhaps overcorrecting. I still like Walker and even though you’d think a big guy with giant power would be more of a scout-y type, the model teams liked him due to his age and measurable thump.
|24||16||45||Nick Bitsko||RHP||18.0||Central Bucks East HS (PA)||Age, frame, velo, spin|
|37||77||40||Alika Williams||SS||21.2||Arizona State||Contact, MIF fit|
You can arguably add Bitsko’s name to the Rays/Cardinals winter swap centered around José Martínez, Randy Arozarena, and Matthew Liberatore since the Rays acquired the comp pick that turned into Alika Williams and also facilitated the pool space flexibility for them to scoop up Bitsko as Baltimore tried to float him to 30. Bitsko’s foundation is strong. He has mid-90s heat, it has backpin, he throws quality strikes with the fastball, he’s got a big strong frame, and he can spin a breaking ball. Williams is an acrobatic defensive shortstop with great feel for contact. He’s not very strong and his swing is weird, unique in such a way that it’s hard to describe. I don’t think he impacts the baseball with power enough to play every day but think he’s a high-probability utility man.
|14||26||45||Justin Foscue||2B||21.3||Mississippi State||Contact, MIF fit|
Foscue projects as a steady everyday second baseman based on his terrific plate coverage and feel for contact, while the rest of his tools are in the 40/50 area. Most interesting here is that Texas was on this type of player rather than the typical huge-framed athletes they’ve targeted seemingly forever.
|5||3||50||Austin Martin||CF||21.2||Vanderbilt||Elite contact/approach, multi-positional|
There are fair criticisms of Martin. He has modest power and nobody can really be sure where he fits defensively because he struggled throwing to first early this year and we never got an extended look at him in center field. But he has arguably the best approach in the draft, high-end bat-to-ball skills, and his swing has lovely natural loft that, in concert with the approach, ensures he’ll hit for power even though he’s not sending anything to space. And I believe enough in him as an athlete to think he’ll find a way to play a valuable defensive position rather than left field or something.
|22||17||45||Cade Cavalli||RHP||21.8||Oklahoma||Frame, arm strength, slider|
I really liked this pick for Washington. Teams behind them were champing at the bit for Cavalli to fall. He was in the mix in the early teens all the way through St. Louis and somehow got here. I mentioned Cecconi was among the best-framed players in the class earlier; Cavalli is one of the others. He has mid-90s heat and a plus slider but his track record is a little shorter due to early-career time in the bullpen, and a mediocre strikeout rate last year.
Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.