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LL’s MLB Mock Draft 2020

it’ countdown (DOO DOO DOO DOO)

2020 Major League Baseball Draft Previews Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Yes, I know you’re up to your ears in mock drafts. We’ve done one on the pod, Joe’s done one, every outlet has done draft after draft. But I promise this will be the last one here because after today that’s it. Round One will be over and you will be sad and wishing you still had the anticipation of Draft Day to look forward to. You’ll beg us for mock drafts and we’ll be like no, sorry, fresh out. You will have as much luck finding a mock draft as you did toilet paper at the beginning of this pandemic (remember that? doesn’t that feel like one hundred years ago? I’m glad that’s mostly no longer a problem, at least). So savor this, cats and kittens, because after this there won’t be any more like it. And make sure to tune into the draft today at four and log on to this here website to talk about it in our open thread. I might attempt to do some kind of streaming thing too if I can a) figure out how to stream or b) talk anyone into doing it with me.

Here’s how each of us (or as many staffers as I could wrangle into doing this exercise) see the first round unfolding.

1. DET: SS Austin Martin, Vanderbilt (John, Tim, Grant); 1B Spencer Torkelson, ASU (Kate, Joe, Eric)

Kate (KP): Taking the surest power bat in the draft is a good move for a system heavy on arms and light on mashers.

Grant (GB): A first baseman has to really hit to be worth the 1st overall pick, so gimme the up-the-middle defender with a strong bat.

Eric (ES): If you weren’t Tanking for Tork, what were you even doing last season, Detroit?

2. BAL: Martin (Kate, Eric); Torkelson (John, Grant); LHP Asa Lacy, Texas A&M (Tim); 2B Nick Gonzales, New Mexico State (Joe)

JT: Whichever of Torkelson and Martin remains seems suited here. Baltimore’s system has no shortage of need, but a possible heir to the slugging legacy of Chris Davis, Nelson Cruz, and Eddie Murray fits like a glove.

JD: I think Baltimore is going the affordable route. Gonzales is the guy.

TC: No inside information here. I just think Baltimore will go projectable pitching, and Lacy seems to be the top consensus arm.

KP: Baltimore is in a tricky spot with a fanbase that’s tired of losing, and if they cheap out on an SEC-tested potential 1-1 to save a few bucks on Gonzales I think the Charm City will turn to Harm City. Take the cannoli (the cannoli is Austin Martin).

3. MIA: Gonzales (Kate, John, Grant); Lacy (Joe, Eric); Torkelson (Tim)

KP: Gonzales, who can really hit, would provide a safe floor with upside in a system full of high-variance boom-or-bust prospects, although I’ve heard they’re interested in pitching and might go for Lacy here.

TC: It’s hard to imagine Torkelson getting past here. This is less about organizational fit and more about best player available to me.

4. KC: RHP Emerson Hancock, Georgia (Kate, Tim, Eric), Lacy (John, Grant), Martin (Joe)

JT: Kansas City, like Miami, has been unwilling to go big in free agency for stars. If they want an ace, they’ll have to grow their own, and Lacy has the profile to be that guy.

KP: Same argument as John, but with Hancock, whose command is superior to Lacy’s and has been pitching in the SEC three seasons. However I think it’ll be a moot point because I have a feeling the Marlins will take Lacy, KC goes for Gonzo, and KP goes home sad.

JD: If not Martin, he falls, and falls far.

ES: I don’t know how a guy named Emerson Hancock isn’t already a Kansas City Royal, to be quite honest.

5. TOR: Hancock (Grant, John), Lacy (Kate), OF Zac Veen, Spruce Creek HS, FL (Tim, Joe, Eric)

JD: I don’t think Veen falls past 5.

TC: Veen has been connected to Toronto so much that if he makes it here, it’s probably his floor.

KP: It seems Toronto really likes Veen and could use an impact outfield talent in their system, but I also wouldn’t be surprised to see them go for a polished college arm here to complement phenom Nate Pearson and get the party jump-started north of the border.

ES: I am selfishly hoping Veen is still on the board for the Mariners, but I feel like Toronto will snatch him up for sure if he’s still there at 5.

6. SEA: Veen (Grant, John), Hancock (Joe), Gonzales (Tim, Eric), RHP Max Meyer, Minnesota (Kate)

GB: He may not be the type of player that this regime gravitates toward...but, c’mon, he’s a high-upside outfielder with true five-tool potential. Jerry will look to the college ranks with this pick. If Veen is on the board, he shouldn’t.

JT: You’ve had 4+ years to set up your system, Jerry. Take the toolsiest player on the board and show us you can groom a star.

JD: In a perfect world, Nick Gonzales falls to Dipoto at 6, appeasing his desire to acquire an impact, up-the-middle player who moves fast. With Gonzales off the board, Hancock arguably represents the next impact player, albeit packaged in a risky profile.

KP: If Gonzales is gone, I think they go to the next tier of college pitching. I prefer Meyer’s slider to Detmers’s curve. If Austin Martin is somehow on the board still (I don’t think he will be), I don’t see how Seattle passes him up unless he’s asking for draft-wrecking money.

TC: And here’s Gonzales’ floor. With the consensus top 2 arms gone, and an elite up the middle presence available, Seattle bolsters a weak area of their farm.

ES: What Tim said. If Gonzales is still available, take him and run!

7. PIT: OF Austin Hendrick, West Allegheny HS, PA (Kate, John, Tim, Eric)

JD: Hendrick is the perfect fit for hometown Pittsburgh. He packs a major wallop at the plate, and should hit enough to become a valuable everyday regular. Some pundits have drawn comparisons to present day Bryce Harper; a guy that runs into several home runs each year all while hitting .260 and playing an above average corner outfield.

KP: This is more a pick I wish to happen than one I actually think will happen. Do something good for your fans, Pittsburgh! Get them a fun thing! If Veen somehow sneaks past the top five, and we know Seattle won’t take him, this is probably where he stops, but I like the idea of the Pirates drafting a hometown kid who also happens to have electrifying power.

8. SD: Meyer (John); RHP Mick Abel, Jesuit HS, OR (Tim, Eric); Veen (Kate)

KP: The Padres love a prep prospect and would love to have Veen get this far, but if he’s not available I could see them going with Hendrick. With a farm system that’s so stacked as to be close to clogged, the Padres have the luxury of taking a slow-moving prospect like a HS arm or catcher, but I also wouldn’t be surprised to see them pick up a college arm who fits their desired window of contention here, even one who might be an elite reliever type like Meyer or even someone like DBU’s Burl Carraway, which would give them a relative windfall to shower on a prep prospect in the second round.

TC: A consensus thing in reading about the Padres is they’re not afraid to get weird. While Abel is certainly an elite talent, as a prep righty, this is so, so high for him, but the Padres are the team to do it.

9. COL: OF Heston Kjerstad, Arkansas (John, Eric); OF Garrett Mitchell, UCLA (Kate, Tim)

KP: I like either Kjerstad or Mitchell for this spot but think Mitchell has the better breadth of tools between the two even though Kjerstad has significantly better power.

TC: Mitchell feels very signable, which should be good for the Rockies, who gave Ian Desmond 80 million dollars, which is a thing I love to remember and consider periodically.

10. LAA: LHP Reid Detmers, Louisville (John, Kate, Eric); Meyer (Tim)

TC: With hot fresh rumors that the Angels may punt this selection, Meyer makes sense as a signable college arm if they do decide to go the “actually try to acquire good players” route. However, in light of furloughing a ton of scouts, the idea of lying low for 2021 seems possible, if not especially probable.

KP: I don’t buy the rumors about them punting the pick, mostly because it saves them virtually no money. The Angels need pitching to prop open their Trout Window and I think they’ll go college arm with Detmers or maybe Max Meyer if he’s around, sorry to both these men and their UCLs.

11. CHW: RHP Jared Kelley, Refugio HS, TX (John); LHP Garrett Crochet, Tennessee (Joe, Kate); Detmers (Tim)

TC: Detmers goes more in the bin here of “this guy surely couldn’t slide past here” rather than a real fit for me, but with Chicago seeing a window opening for them in the perpetually blah AL Central, there’s some fit here too.

KP: What Tim said, but with Crochet instead. I also like the idea of Max Meyer here if he somehow squeaks out of the top ten, as the White Sox could either keep developing him as a reliever or move him to a closer role if the team is in contention in ‘21 or ‘22.

12. CIN: OF Robert Hassell III, Independence HS, TN (Kate, John, Tim)

KP: Hassell has an infuriatingly perfect lefty swing that looks honed to perfection, reminiscent of Kelenic in his draft year; he too faces questions about the power tool, but I like his chances to blossom and think he’s a steal here at 12. He can really hit, and has added a ton of good muscle during the shutdown. I am sad he won’t be a Mariner.

13. SF: Pete Crow-Armstrong, Harvard-Westlake HS, CA (John); Kelley (Kate); Detmers (Joe); C Tyler Soderstrom, Turlock HS, CA (Tim)

KP: I flip-flop between PCA and Kelley in this spot but ultimately I think the big, polished righty is an irresistible talent here for SF, who don’t have much of the front-of-rotation upside Kelley brings.

TC: Soderstrom is something of a local choice here, but has enough talent to justify the selection.

14. TEX: Abel (Kate, John); Kjerstad (Tim)

KP: We all have a type and Texas loves them a prep pitcher. If SF doesn’t grab Kelley I don’t think the Rangers could resist the Lone Star native here.

15. PHI: Mitchell (John); Crow-Armstrong (Kate)

KP: PCA is the best defensive outfielder in the entire class, for my money, and I am endlessly entertained by the idea of PCA in 2026 patrolling the entire outfield in CBP while trying to avoid the Harper statue in RF.

16. CHC: Crochet (John); Kjerstad (Kate)

KP: Mitchell could fall to here if the Rockies like Kjerstad’s power; both clubs could use an infusion of outfield talent.

JT: I think Crochet would be a dream get for the Cubs here, giving them a shot at a legit starting pitching prospect for the first time in ages.

17. BOS: RHP Nick Bitsko, Central Bucks HS, PA (Kate, Tim); RHP Cade Cavalli, Oklahoma (John)

KP: There’s a good chance Bitsko goes higher than this, but at this point he’s the best pitcher on the board left, period, to my mind, and Boston needs [consults farm system list] everything.

18. ARI: RHP Cole Wilcox, Georgia (John); C Patrick Bailey, NC State (Kate)

KP: Arizona likes going the prep route, but Bailey is the best college catcher in the draft and a good Plan B in case top prospect Daulton Varsho doesn’t stick at catcher (he ended the 2019 season at Double-A Jackson in center field). Plus, you can never have too many catchers.

19. NYM: Cavalli (Kate), Bitsko (John)

KP: There are too many good college arms in this draft and one of them is going to slide a little. I’ve somewhat unfairly chosen it to be Cavalli, and equally unfairly assigned him to the Mets.

20. MIL: Bailey (John), SS Ed Howard III, Mt. Carmel HS, IL (Kate)

KP: It’s hard not to give the Brewers a college player who might fit their Yelich window better here, but the system is so weak it could really use a swing-for-the-fences potential star like Howard. The Midwest connection is also appealing from a marketing standpoint.

21. STL: SS Casey Martin, Arkansas (Kate, John)

KP: Oh Casey Martin, you mysterious thing. A nice set of tools including some of the best power in the class, but a questionable hit tool that might cut that lovely power off at the knees. This is a high-water mark for Martin in my opinion because swing-and-miss issues are hard to solve, but maybe a little sprinkle of that old Cardinals devil magic will fix it right up.

22. WAS: C Austin Wells, ASU (John, Kate)

KP: Washington used their farm system to do what it’s supposed to do—win a World Series. Now they need to rebuild it, and to do so from the 22nd position in the draft. Wells is a good candidate to build around, despite being somewhat of a polarizing prospect; the Nats can afford to take time to figure out if he can tap into his tremendous offensive ceiling and if he’ll stick behind the dish while still coasting the wave of their recent World Championship. A high-upside prep who’s been tumbling down the board would also make sense here.

23. CLE: C Dillon Dingler, Ohio State (Kate); Howard (John)

KP: Dillon Dingler sounds more like a character from Archie comics than a future major leaguer, but his skillset behind the dish is anything but laughable. He’s the second-best college catcher in this draft and a big get at a position of need for Cleveland, who could also tap Wells if he’s available at this slot.

24. TB: C Drew Romo, The Woodlands HS, TX (John); Soderstrom (Kate)

JT: Tampa has had eight picks in the first round the past three years thanks to competitive balance rules and trades, giving them pool space lure preps to sign. Romo is polished for a teen backstop, and has the glove skills the Rays have shown they value with Mike Zunino and fellow HS 1st round pick Nick Ciuffo.

KP: I might actually like Soderstrom more as a target for Washington a couple of picks earlier, but Tampa Bay isn’t afraid of a prep prospect, and Soderstrom has the bat that ensures a safe floor even if he doesn’t stick behind the dish.

25. ATL: Wilcox (Kate); Soderstrom (John)

KP: This is significantly lower than where John has the draft-eligible sophomore mocked in this draft, but I am sending Wilcox to his hometown Braves, which I think would delight him significantly more than the godless landscape of the desert.

26. OAK: 3B Jordan Walker, Decatur HS, GA (John); 2B Justin Foscue, Mississippi St (Kate)

JT: Oakland understands the importance the draft holds for them as their ownership will not invest in the big league club. They’ve gone bold in the past, showing a willingness to spend huge on Kyler Murray, ill-fated as that was. Walker has the frame and tools to be a star if honed properly, but will likely require an over-slot investment to break his commitment to Duke.

KP: Oakland likes to get wild in the draft but this year I have them caging the elephant and solidifying their infield with steady-Eddy Foscue or perhaps his double play partner SS Jordan Westburg. I like Foscue’s floor better but many scouts prefer Westburg’s ceiling.

27. MIN: RHP CJ Van Eyk, FSU (John); RHP Chris McMahon, Florida (Kate)

KP: Minnesota is one of the teams that will profit most favorably from the depth of college arms in this draft. They have multiple intriguing options at this pick from the college ranks, but McMahon has reportedly been touching 98 with a solid changeup and a breaking ball that would benefit greatly from one of the rapidly improving pitching PD departments in baseball. Not a bad get at pick 26.

28. NYY: SS Nick Loftin, Baylor (John); Walker (Kate)

KP: It physically pained me to fill in Walker’s name here, but I think the Yankees, who have the second-smallest pool in this draft, might try to maximize their few picks by swinging big at high-upside players. Walker has two highly educated parents and a hard commitment to Duke but the allure of pinstripes might beat out the allure of college, especially if the Yankees are willing to cut some costs elsewhere in this draft and assume they’ll be at the top of most free agents’ wishlists.

29. LAD: RHP Carson Montgomery, Windermere HS, FL (John); RHP Bryce Jarvis, Duke (Kate)

JT: The Dodgers haven’t picked higher than 20th since 2013, nor higher than 15th since 2006, yet they maintain one of the league’s strongest farms thanks to great player dev and scouting, and a willingness to spend big. The Dodgers haven’t shied away from prep arms in the back of the 1st round, and Montgomery offers the tools to craft another above-average starter from L.A.’s seemingly endless stores.

KP: There is soooooooooo muuuuuuuuuuch college pitching in this draft. I like Jarvis, who skipped the Cape to train at Driveline and Cressey and added good muscle and a few ticks on his fastball, but there are a ton of players who could fit here. As John pointed out, this would also be a good place for LAA to capitalize on a prep who wanted to go in the first round—and like the Yankees before them, the Dodgers are also in an advantageous place for attracting top free agents (maybe even more so, considering the number of Cali-born players who grow up as Dodgers fans).

And thus ends the first round, since the Astros were penalized a pick in this round for being cheaty-cheaty-bang-bangers. We’ll look forward to seeing how wrong we were in just a few hours.