Mock Draft 2.0

Below is my second 2020 mock draft. The first pass can be found here and is suggested reading as context for the top 13 or so picks. The full 2020 Draft Board can be found here.

Teams’ boards are entirely built now, and the focus of orgs and scouts has shifted toward assessing the signability of individual prospects so there aren’t high stakes mathematical puzzle pieces being smashed together on the fly on Wednesday. The higher a player is ranked, the more likely it is that someone higher up on a team’s organizational ladder is the one talking to the advisor. Some medical reviews are also underway.

I’ll do one more mock for Wednesday morning and, if necessary, a mock of just names with teams just ahead of the draft.

1. Detroit Tigers- Spencer Torkelson, 1B, Arizona State
No change up top, as the overwhelming industry sense remains that Tork goes here. If something unexpected occurs and negotiations break down, I’d have Lacy the favorite to go based on Detroit’s tendencies.

2. Baltimore Orioles- Austin Martin, CF, Vanderbilt
There’s a pretty significant fork in the road here. Teams picking behind Baltimore still think this situation is fluid, that the Orioles have been shopping around (initially Nick Gonzales, who has realistic homes at four through six) looking to cut a deal as they try for an optimal quality/quantity combination for their class as a whole. Sources think the team has explored getting a deal done for between $4 million and $4.5 million, which is the slot amount between picks 11 and 14. It’s logical for Baltimore to explore this with Arkansas outfielder Heston Kjerstad and North Carolina State catcher Patrick Bailey, as they’re two pretty stable college bats generally ranked in the eight to 11 range on most teams’ boards. They’re both in the mix between picks seven and 11, and are likely to get something close to slot there, which is more than the $4.5 million mark teams think Baltimore might be shooting for. In short, I think Martin is the most likely one (which is why I have him mocked, duh), with Gonzales next, and then some wild card deep cut.

3. Miami Marlins- Asa Lacy, LHP, Texas A&M
If Martin doesn’t go at two, I still think Lacy is the guy here. Teams selecting in the next couple of picks have been doing work on Lacy’s medical, which is either a symptom of the possibility that Baltimore cuts a deal at two and Martin goes to Miami (which, again, I don’t think is true), or them thinking he might fall due to something related to the medical. Team sources told me Lacy was the lone prospect of the top few pitchers who submitted to MLB’s MRI submission program. Team reviews of the medicals I’m aware of have ranged from “unconcerned, very typical” to “slightly above-average concern.”

4. Kansas City Royals- Zach Veen, OF, Spruce Creek HS (FL)
I’m not sure what they’d do if Martin were staring them in the face (if Lacy were, I think they’d take him), but otherwise it sounds like the mix is Veen and Gonzales.

5. Toronto Blue Jays- Max Meyer, RHP, Minnesota
I have Meyer as the heavy favorite for Toronto with Veen strong in the mix. Gonzales, too, but to a lesser degree.

6. Seattle Mariners- Nick Gonzales, 2B, New Mexico State
This feels like Gonzales’ floor, with Veen and Georgia righty Emerson Hancock in the mix, but it would take Gonzales at four and Veen at five for things to fall in such a way that Hancock moves to the front of this line.

7. Pittsburgh Pirates- Emerson Hancock, RHP, Georgia
Pittsburgh has the least-defined interests of anyone in the top 10, which makes sense considering that this six to eight area is where the line between the top tier of post-Tork talent starts to blur. This is where Bailey and Kjerstad first get mentioned without a big underslot deal in mind, and sources have speculated Oregon high school righty Mick Abel (based on the club taking a first round prep arm last year) and Western Pennsylvania outfielder Austin Hendrick. I’ve also heard Mississippi State second baseman Justin Foscue as a potential underslot target as early as this pick, but I think Hancock is just great value here.

8. San Diego Padres- Robert Hassell, CF, Independence HS (TN)
Veen, Hassell, and Meyer are in the mix, and I think they’d have to consider Hancock here were Pittsburgh to do something cheeky.

9. Colorado Rockies – Heston Kjerstad, OF, Arkansas

10. Los Angeles Angels- Reid Detmers, LHP, Louisville

11. Chicago White Sox- Patrick Bailey, C, North Carolina State
Nothing sexy here, just strong value. Colorado has a robust recent history of taking corner thumpers and hasn’t touched the hot prep arm stove since Riley Pint, but I do think NorCal prep catcher Tyler Soderstrom is a possibility under slot here if the Rockies think a lot of college pitching they like will spill over into the comp round. Robert Hassell is a great fit with this org, too. Detmers gives the Angels quick-moving pitching, which they need, though I also have them on Illinois high school shortstop Ed Howard. Bailey is the best catching prospect in the class.

12. Cincinnati Reds- Austin Hendrick, OF, West Allegheny HS (PA)
The Reds haven’t been scared off by older hitters (Rece Hinds and Tyler Callihan were both 19, so is Hendrick), and this is the last of the high school bats who are generally seen as top 15 picks.

13. San Francisco Giants- Justin Foscue, 2B, Mississippi State
I think part of the reason so many high schoolers get mentioned on the phone in connection with the Giants is because they’re assessing signability in case someone falls to their next pick. Foscue is a model darling (he’s barely 21 and performed in the SEC for three years) similar to Will Wilson, who the club liked enough to trade for in the offseason.

14. Texas Rangers- Nick Loftin, SS, Baylor
This one’s based on intel from an industry source as well as general sentiment that Texas will be a little more conservative this year. That fits with Loftin, a shortstop with a lengthy performance track record. Foscue is off the board in this scenario.

15. Philadelphia Phillies- Cade Cavalli, RHP, Oklahoma

16. Chicago Cubs- Garrett Mitchell, CF, UCLA
Again, two value college picks. Some of the industry think Cavalli is in a college pitching tier of his own after Detmers. I think Soderstrom is also a possibility at either of these picks.

17. Boston Red Sox- Garrett Crochet, LHP, Tennessee
Crochet is falling because of injury and makeup concerns but his stuff is incredible, a line I copied and pasted from Jay Groome’s 2016 report.

18. Arizona Diamondbacks- Nick Bitsko, RHP, Central Bucks East HS (PA)
I think Bitsko is probably signable at slot here and he’s one of few remaining pitchers with the fastball traits the D-backs clearly covet (Abel and Duke righty Bryce Jarvis are the others).

19. New York Mets- Tyler Soderstrom, C, Turlock HS (CA)
Soderstrom belongs ahead of this on talent but high school catchers are risky and tend to fall.

20. Milwaukee Brewers – Clayton Beeter, RHP, Texas Tech
Milwaukee’s past Alex Claudio acquisition (they traded a comp pick for him) tells us a lot about how they value ready-made relief contributors, and Beeter’s stuff could get big leaguers out tomorrow assuming he throws strikes.

21. St. Louis Cardinals- Mick Abel, RHP, Jesuit High School (OR)
There’s no way Abel should get here based purely on talent, but he’s one of the players who might fall unexpectedly if there’s a stretch of teams that either a) are disinclined to take high school pitching or b) aren’t comfortable taking a player they haven’t seen in several months, or both. Lest ye think this is unreasonable, I need only point you to Nolan Gorman and Zack Thompson falling to the soul-selling Redbirds the last two years. (Right? There’s gotta a pact with Satan, who is no doubt also responsible for Busch beer.)

22. Washington Nationals- Cole Wilcox, RHP, Georgia
This might be Crochet’s floor.

23. Cleveland Indians- Peter Crow-Armstrong, CF, Harvard Westlake HS (CA)
Cleveland hops on players who’ve fallen a bit further than expected (Brady Aiken, Ethan Hankins) and younger high schoolers. PCA is both.

24. Tampa Bay Rays- Slade Cecconi, RHP, Miami
The Rays don’t really have a type — their only real tendency is to diversify. Cecconi belongs in this range. They pick again at 37 and 57, and a college arm here probably gives them some flexibility later rather than committing overslot dollars to a high schooler here.

25. Atlanta Braves- Bryce Jarvis, RHP, Duke
Jarvis’ stuff is tailored to modern specifications. I have them attached to Cole Henry with their next pick.

26. Oakland A’s- Aaron Sabato, 1B, North Carolina

27. Minnesota Twins- Carson Tucker, SS, Mountain Pointe HS (AZ)
I still have dope that says Tucker goes on Day 1 for something close to $1.5 million, which would be $1 million below slot here.

28. New York Yankees- Bobby Miller, RHP, Louisville

29. Los Angeles Dodgers – Tanner Witt, RHP, Episcopal HS (TX)
This draft environment is made for LA, which has had no issues taking players who haven’t pitched in over a year due to surgery, or who have short track records of performance because they transferred. Witt has premium raw materials to work with (frame, athleticism, breaking ball) and the Dodgers have arguably the best player dev group in baseball.





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.

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SenorGato
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SenorGato

I would wonder why Theo has chosen to forsaken me during these dark, uncertain times with Mitchell! I just can’t get on that wagon for some reason, maybe to be cool and against the crowd. Kelley, please! Hell, pay Robby Ashford if you want all world tools in CF and Hendrick is gone

Hendrick to the Reds makes tons of sense

Why does Bailey keep ending up with the White Sox in mocks? Is it a dollar/WAR thing with Grandal? It might be the most popular mock pick outside of Torkelson at 1

sadtrombone
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sadtrombone

I agree with Hendrick–this is exactly the kind of pick they like. But the Cubs would have to be thrilled with the options in this scenario: Mitchell is a great pick there but with a bunch of prep pitchers and Howard there are a lot of good options.

I think the love for Bailey is the idea that the White Sox are now in the market for college bats, based on their recent picks.

SenorGato
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SenorGato

The White Sox drafted a college catcher recently, Collins, and signed arguably the best catcher in baseball this offseason. Bailey just seems like an odd choice, but also he shouldn’t last so long anyway

Stunned Kelley isn’t in this mock, best RHP in this draft IMO albeit a very tight race

sadtrombone
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sadtrombone

Decent chance Collins doesn’t stick at catcher and/or doesn’t make enough contact to make up for bad defense. They clearly aren’t confident enough in him to play him as the primary catcher right now, so I would guess they’re also not sold on him as the post-Grandal catcher either.

SenorGato
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SenorGato

Post-Grandal is an almost ready college guy with the 11th pick in year one of the deal? Smells like Reinsdorf and the owners has some kind of $/WAR scheme and is having their media (it’s one of the more popular mock picks I’ve seen) plant the idea that it makes sense somehow

fordhamflash
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fordhamflash

Where does $/WAR come into play here? Grandal’s on a 4 year deal with a no-trade clause. The White Sox are paying him every dollar in that contract.

With that being said, 4 years isn’t that long. So it’d be smart to have a post-Grandal plan now instead of waiting until the last year of his deal

SenorGato
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SenorGato

The options aren’t take the best, basically pro ready catcher with pick eleven in year one or wait until year 4

The $/WAR conspiracy: Grandal has a “big” contract (in the sense that it woulda coulda been smaller for the owners and their legions), baseball’s using this time to bring prices down from any angle, Bailey directly undercuts the signing, Reinsdorf is one of sports’ most anti-labor owners, MLB desperately wants to devalue FA while elevating the draft especially NCAA players, the White Sox get a good player but with lower utility there than say Anaheim or Colorda so aren’t as big a threat to commit the heinous salary raising crime of winning…Mic that all together and makes more sense than drafting Yasmina Grandal’s replacement immediately after signing him, particularly with pick 11 with one of the most polished top prospects in the draft

matt
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matt

With robot umps coming receiving is going to become less important. Bailey is a reach in the top 20 imo with how the catcher position will evolve over the next 3 years

SenorGato
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SenorGato

Why? He can hit

The whole robot ump thing makes Wells a top ten possibility, all he’s done is rake

matt
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matt

Wells has good OBP skills but his power output is mediocre. That being said this wasn’t about wells

E-Dub
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E-Dub

You could mock Kelley to LAD instead of Witt pretty easily. If they think they can give him a consistent slider, he’s a steal. The FB, change and physical attributes are all present. Teams’ risk aversion will likely have Abel and Bitsko ahead with projectability, three pitch mixes (featuring avg to plus breakers) and, in Bitsko’s case, age on their side.

I forgot Witt in my list of prep arms the other day, and his journey from position prospect to arm the last two years has been one to watch. His video from this year before lockdown is compelling with a moving FB and a sweeping breaking ball from an extremely high angle (6’6” plus high 3/4 slot) as well as the makings of a change. Factor in youth, athleticism, bloodlines and projection and he’s a good gamble. Reputed to need Rd 1 dollars, so he probably has to go late first or overslot in Comps/Rd 2.

SenorGato
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SenorGato

I think the only reasons to have Abel and Bitsko over Kelley are that both have builds closer to what people think SPs should look like and less about stuff or skills. He has the best two pitch combo between the three, best fastball, best command, best control, most pro ready body, at this point the breaking ball is underrated the way it’s talked about – he shows some feel just maybe needs a new grip (coughknucklecurvecoughh…

I actually prefer Witt the hitter to Witt the pitcher

sadtrombone
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sadtrombone

It is 100% about the breaking ball. There’s been this huge shift towards curveballs and away from changeups as pitch tunneling theory gets more and more popular. I’m partial to changeups simply because I think they’re fun, but I also think the San Diego system has shown pretty well that it’s an undervalued asset right now.

The big reason to be on Abel is because, frankly, he’s got the best mix overall, and the reason to be on Bitsko is because he’s very young. And they’re both a bit more projectable. But I would tend to agree that no matter what, the difference between all three is not that great.

SenorGato
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SenorGato

Huge shift away from changeups in baseball? No, that is definitely not a thing

A draft prospect pitcher gettimg bumped over an 18 YO because he himself 17 is weird draft noise, not even sure models would look at it that way or why

sadtrombone
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sadtrombone

Eric’s talked about both a lot here. I would expect they are in his book with Kiley.

SenorGato
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SenorGato

I read all Longenhagen and do not recall this, first I’ve heard of it

matt
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matt

No it’s not. Age is a significant factor in draft stock, it’s why kids are classifying up as teams aren’t fooled by older guys more physically mature beating up on younger talent. Every single team uses age in their draft models

SenorGato
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SenorGato

What’s the benefit to being 17 rather than 18 on draft day for a pitcher? Bitsko turns 18 a week after the draft, and this would be his age 18 season in the pros same as Abel or Kelley. To pull an example from the Cubs’ system – being a 17 YO pitcher is the biggest deal when someone like Richard Gallardo likely pitches themselves out of short season ball. It’s not the same for draft pitchers as it is hitters

sadtrombone
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sadtrombone

As a kid, did you ever play against the kids one grade above you in a sport? How about the ones one grade below you? Teams have found that the guys like Bitsko, who are practically one grade below guys like Kelly and Abel, have more upside. So he gets a bump on that. Not a big one, but he doesn’t need a big bump.

Eric talks about “model friendly” prospects all the time, I think even in this mock. This is one of the inputs into the model.

SenorGato
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SenorGato

Specifically about Bitsko, he reclassified to not be an older prospect next year when he turns 19 in June rather than to be young for this draft. Generally, being a 17 YO elite hitting prospect is more meaningful than being a 17 YO elite pitching prospect.

I believe in model friendly prospects, don’t find being a 17 YO pitcher on draft day meaningfully model friendly. Also not model friendly is his home state or even region for a prep arm

SenorGato
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SenorGato

This was on the changeup thing btw, no one in this discussion is unaware that age is included for draft models

matt
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matt

Kelley would be the top prep guy if he could flip a breaking ball. But between those 2 being more athletic/having better builds/showing some feel for breaking ball spin I’d have Kelley third of the group. In my view Abel is the best with 2 future plus pitches and a third possibly on the way. Kelley’s body is a red flag imo. Have Abel 8/Bitsko 11/Kelley 12. Abel a tier ahead of both tho. I do think it’s close tho

SenorGato
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SenorGato

The Kelley breaking ball thing feels hyperbolic…Callazo and Law seem to take less issue with it and overall it’s more his third pitch than non-existent. I think his paths to improvement are easiest – more two seams up to RHs and find a consistent grip (coughknucklecurve) – and he’ll be the quickest to the majors. Abel needs mass and to hone control, Bitsko needs a bigger body of work. Kelley’s changeup is arguably the best as secondary pitch in the class

matt
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matt

It’s not, Kelley’s breaking ball on the very rare occasion he does throw it is not good.

SenorGato
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SenorGato

Are either of these things true or just you said it?

E-Dub
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E-Dub

I disagree about control/command. Abel and Bitsko both show ability there, and are commanding breaking balls to boot. Kelley’s FB is greatly predicated on the fact that he’s pretty close to maxed out. Abel’s projectability and the winter growth he’s shown will likely be an equalizer, as he has shown similar velo just in shorter stints. Kelley is a horse, and I expect good things. He’s just more about present stuff, which can work against prep arms perversely.

I preferred Witt as a hitter until this spring. I agree with scouts that the value as a pitcher seems definitively greater now. I like the swing, but he is really tall, and it’s legit to question whether he’ll ever get to avg hit even if the power is enticing. It’s close enough that a team could prefer the bat, but I’ll be surprised if he goes high enough to sign as a position player. He’s a late riser, and that’s all based on mound presence apparently.

SenorGato
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SenorGato

The difference in between maybe having the abilities and maybe having them with development is the deal breaker for me. Neither guy has Kelley’s rep for strike throwing and spotting his top offspeed, and remember Abel faded last Fall down while Kelley held it down

Sounds good on Witt, he is pretty tall for a bat

I actually probably end up with this for prep arms:

Kelley
Winn
Abel
Fulton
Griffin
Witt
Tiedemann
Austin
Bitsko

Just find Bitsko undraftable in the first because of a bias towards cold weather state prep arm especially one getting marketed most as like the young gun among these 17-18 YOs

matt
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matt

But it’s not about them maybe having the ability they have it, it’s just going to take some time to get consistent with it. Kelley currently has no third pitch and has a bad body, maybe 2 awesome pitches will be enough but to be a FOR arm it likely isn’t.

SenorGato
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SenorGato

Bad body now too? Woof

So these guys are for sure going to develop ace level command and control of their power stuff, but it’s carazy a guy with a way more loaded resume and similarly loud tools can improve a third pitch? More power to you but it don’t add up!

The only one of the more mainstream pubs so gung ho about Kelley’s breaking ball being non-existent is here

E-Dub
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E-Dub

Abel actually gets high marks on strike-throwing. BA’s survey of scouts actually gave Abel the better command rating of the two. One outlet, but not nothing.

I hadn’t followed Kiley since he migrated (defected?) to ESPN but he did a writeup on Bitsko that may explain some of the hype. Apparently ESPN was given Bitsko’s pitch analytic data and his FB efficiency rate was spectacular. With instruction he showed marked improvement in curve and slider efficiency as well. It doesn’t sound as if the data have been shared with teams, so it’s…interesting.

The “bad body” stuff with Kelley has been around all spring since he showed up in mediocre shape. I don’t know that it’s much to worry about, and it reminds me of the nitpicking on Nolan Gorman, who (of course) got in great shape after turning pro. Unless a guy’s body really goes sideways, like a Kevin Maitan, it’s usually no big deal.

SenorGato
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SenorGato

I think Abel’s got first division ability, I’m down but not out on him. Consensus seems to be Kelley on comtrol and command

First thought on Bitsko’s metrics were “oh, they’re the laying the groundwork for a combine and this is our first unofficial workout warrior”

Bad body stuff is noise and/or amateur height/weight reading. First I heard on this Spring, which he dominated, but the bosy is more in line with like a young Scherzer or Schilling

E-Dub
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E-Dub

Kelley was the FB command guy last year, but Abel’s command of three pitches is routinely lauded. There’s just not enough of a gap there for it to be a differentiator.

Abel goes in the 10-15 range as expected, which is impressive in this draft. TB picks the O’s pocket on Bitsko. Kelley goes Rd 2?

matt
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matt

Bitsko’s actually an analytics team dream, Kelley is actually the “safe” pick with present stuff and decent current strike throwing skills

SenorGato
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SenorGato

What makes Bitsko an analytical team’s dream? Posting an Insta with strong Rapsodo numbers? Being a 17 YO pitcher for another week? These things are less vital or predictive to and of future success than you imagine