I’ve taken a fresh, top-to-bottom pass at my draft rankings, which have changed based on continuous discussion with team sources, review of my own notes and video, and the sourcing of data. The updated list, which includes approximately five rounds of players, can now be found on The Board, which is a benevolent spreadsheet-god that controls my thoughts, feelings, and choices.
The exact date of the draft and the specifics of its format (length, etc.) remain unknown, but team sources anticipate there will be about a month between when those details are announced and Day 1 of the draft, which those sources feel provides them with a reasonable, sufficient window to prepare for the specifics. Especially if that eventual announcement includes an adjustment to the length of the draft, it will likely trigger another update to this list.
At this stage, without games going on, there is no new information about players but there will continue to be information that is new to me, be it what I can get my hands on from a statistical standpoint or from sources I haven’t yet spoken to at length. These evaluations are still subject to change between now and the draft.
Player Movers and Surprises
I now have Heston Kjerstad not only in my 2020 Draft top 10 but in the 50 FV tier, in essence putting him on my top 100 overall list. He has two seasons plus one month of elite performance against mostly SEC pitching, longer and more resounding than any of the other college hitters currently projected to go in the middle-to-back of the first round. That also compares favorably to recent top 10 to 15 college bats. For instance, Hunter Bishop (45+ FV) had just one year of performance (and he was really only dominant during non-conference play), while Garrett Mitchell (45+ FV) had two but has a weaker visual evaluation than Kjerstad, just to name a few. Those two play center field, but I’d rather have the better hitter. Kjerstad’s swing is a little less traditional-looking but his track record and profile are more similar to JJ Bleday’s than the hitters who’ve recently gone in the middle of the round, or the ones I think will go there this year, and I think his tools fit in neatly with the corner bats who are scattered near the back of my overall list of pro prospects. The records for all the 50 FV or better draft prospects on The Board now include where they’d rank on the overall top 100.
A few other four-week shooting stars (mercurial Ole Miss shortstop Anthony Servideo, slugging Ohio State catcher Dillon Dingler, and thumping Baylor shortstop Nick Loftin, among others) also moved up and are now mixed among the college hitters who either have been hurt (Parker Chavers, Freddy Zamora) or floundered badly (Casey Martin) during the four weeks of games that were actually played. As usual, the up/down trend arrows on The Board indicate movement since the last update.
A Deep Dive on Reid Detmers
Unlike some of the players I just mentioned, I was not initially willing to move Louisville lefty Reid Detmers up based on his dominant four starts in 2020 (22 innings, 48 K, 6 BB). In fact, the opposite is true; I’m skeptical about his stuff playing to this level in pro ball. He doesn’t throw hard (88-93) and his fastball doesn’t clearly have the visual characteristics (points back to data acquisition hopes in third paragraph) consistent with fastballs that are effective against pro hitters despite mediocre velocity. I also worry because of how slow his curveball is, and because these kinds of big, looping curveballs that break like a cresting wave typically play best when paired with rising/riding fastballs, which Detmers’ does not appear to be. There are totally reasonable counterarguments to this opinion — his curveball is freakish and he has mowed down big conference hitters since he set foot on campus — but I think they ignore the quality of big league hitters.
If this draft does indeed end up being just five rounds and any other players acquired thereafter can sign for a maximum of just $20,000, then seniors will play a larger role in this year’s selections. Even the best seniors typically only sign for $20,000 (fourth round senior and SEC hit king Jake Mangum signed for $20,000 last year) and signability might be a point of emphasis for teams in this draft, which could lead them to squeeze a priority senior into their top five picks to be sure they have enough pool space to get a deal done with a tough sign. I like Eastern Tennessee State senior Landon Knack, a husky, power armed righty who had a 51-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 25 innings this year, best among them.
I also think the extra year of eligibility the NCAA granted to spring athletes will likely impact the signability of “stock down” college players and draft-eligible sophomores who came out of the gate slowly. I’ve begun to stack seniors I like at the bottom of The Board, which yes, has a bottom but is simultaneously endless. They’re denoted with a **.
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.