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Joe’s Final 2020 MLB Mock Draft

Tomorrow, there’s real, pertinent baseball things happening!

Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News

With Wednesday’s shortened five-round right around the corner, team targets and potential picks are beginning to become clear. That being said, this is, without question, the most unpredictable draft I’ve covered. MLB front offices aren’t communicating with each other as much as they usually do. Players and their agents are less informed of their fates than we are generally accustomed to. The top-10 picks are seemingly in flux, and almost every pick from that point on is in question as well.

That being said, this mock draft is the product of eight months of industry conversations. In total, I was able to speak with 22 of the 39 players mocked in this draft. Conversations with 51 agents, 54 employees inside front offices and scouting departments, 7 industry “insiders”, as well as an additional 181 draft-eligible players also went into these predictions. 2020 has been a challenging year for the industry, but tomorrow will be a big day, and the beginning of a new chapter for many of these players.

For several picks, I’ve provided alternative players connected to the organizations. Few of these picks are set in stone, and several scouting departments are in wait-and-see mode. Let’s get into it.

1. Detroit Tigers Spencer Torkelson, 1B, Arizona State

Alternatives: Asa Lacy

For what it’s worth, I think Lacy has the greater long-term ceiling here, but Torkelson is as good a bet as any player in recent years to be a very good big leaguer. Selecting a first baseman at 1.1 is risky business. The Tigers have to be convinced Torkelson is a future Top-5 player at the position to warrant this pick. I think he’s just that.

2. Baltimore Orioles, Nick Gonzales, 2B, New Mexico State

Alternatives: Asa Lacy, Zac Veen, Austin Martin, Heston Kjerstad

This is where things get a little dicey. Mike Elias isn’t shy about taking the most affordable option on the board, and who can blame him with two more picks in the Top 40 (31, 39). In 2012, Elias and Scouting Director Bobby Heck selected Astros shortstop Carlos Correa over Max Fried, Mark Appel and Byron Buxton. Unconfirmed reports are Correa was the lowest bidder. I think that’s the case here too.

In conversations I’ve had with folks connected to the situation, Gonzales may be the most affordable option here. The Orioles could save upwards of $2 million with this pick, opening the door for some real splash picks later. Heston Kjerstad could save them even more. Also, it should be noted, if Austin Martin ultimately ends up at second base, suddenly the value margin between he and Gonzales drastically shrinks. With Martin being a Scott Boras client, don’t be surprised if he prices himself out of the Elias market.

3. Miami Marlins: Asa Lacy, LHP, Texas A&M

Alternatives: Austin Martin

Martin is a Boras client and is reportedly asking for 1.1 money. Martin loves the Marlins and the Marlins have money to spend. In all likelihood, Derek Jeter and the Fish will select one of the top two players left on the board. Martin and Lacy both represent the best players on the board, and both come from positions of need for Miami. Lacy is probably the more affordable option here. It really begs the question... how far does Martin fall?

4. Kansas City Royals: Austin Martin, 2B/OF, Vanderbilt

Alternatives: Zac Veen, Nick Gonzales

In a perfect world, Gonzales is here for the Royals to snag and under-slot. I don’t think that happens. GM Dayton Moore really cashed in with college arms in 2018, several of which are shaping up to be big league starters. The team needs position players to bolster their farm, and Martin has the most upside at this pick. It seems no one team is completely in love with Veen as the top player on the board, but the talent is undeniable. Too hard for Moore to pass-up arguably a top two talent at no. 4.

KC picked Bobby Witt Jr. in 2019 and had no issue paying him slot value. They selected Brady Singer in 2018 and paid him almost $1 million over-slot. I think that happens again here.

5. Toronto Blue Jays: Zac Veen, RF, Spruce Creek HS (Fl.)

Alternatives: Reid Detmers, Max Meyer, Emerson Hancock

I’m hearing Toronto all over the board. They’ve done a huge amount of due diligence on Max Meyer. He’s spoken to virtually everybody at the top of the organizations, and frequently. If Meyer goes to Toronto at 5, the entire draft gets an enormous shakeup.

The team has long held Veen in high regard and he hasn’t wavered from the top of their board. If Veen makes it to 6 (and ostensibly 7), there’s a huge number of teams that may be scrambling.

Emerson Hancock has long floated right near the top of their board, and makes a lot of sense too. Louisville southpaw Reid Detmers has made a late charge thanks to a cross-checker who’s in love with the profile. I think this is truly a four-horse race and none of these players would surprise me at no. 5.

6. Seattle Mariners: Emerson Hancock, RHP, Georgia

Alternatives: Nick Gonzales, Max Meyer, Reid Detmers

In a perfect world, Gonzales is on the board for Seattle to scoop up at 6. At the end of the day, his price and signability will drive him up the draft. That leaves three college arms for Jerry Dipoto and Scott Hunter to select from. The team has spoken extensively to all three listed above. I think they go Hancock — the guy with the best combination of track record, project-ability, and a rotation floor.

I’d be remiss not to mention Mick Abel here. Personal bias totally aside, so many folks in the industry question why Seattle wouldn’t jump at grabbing the guy just down I-5. It’s a small chance, but Abel is a name to keep on your periphery.

7. Pittsburgh Pirates: Pete Crow-Armstrong, CF, Harvard-Westlake (Ca.)

Alternatives: Heston Kjerstad, Austin Hendrick, Patrick Bailey, Mick Abel

Let’s get really weird, shall we? The Pirates have been surging late on Crow-Armstrong. He’s the best defensive centerfielder in the draft, and projects as the one, true prep outfielder to surely stick at the position. Power was always the question on “PCA”, and evaluators now see him as a potential average power hitter, some saying possibly more. PCA gets the highest makeup marks on this entire board, and draws comparisons to Jarred Kelenic in terms of his undeniable desire for greatness.

Kjerstad and Patrick Bailey have both been mentioned here as under-slot options for the pick-rich Pirates. If they go the college route, they could have a lot more fun with their two other Top 40 picks. Abel is the wildcard here as the best prep pitcher on the board. Austin Hendrick simply deserves mention as the hometown kid, though his name has been seldom attached to the Pirates in the last couple months.

8. San Diego Padres: Max Meyer, RHP, Minnesota

Alternatives: Robert Hassell III, Zac Veen, Austin Hendrick, Nick Bitsko

Hassell makes a lot of sense here, and he’s been attached to the Friars for some time, but Meyer represents an immediate, out-of-the-box option for the Pads if there’s a 2020 season. At worst, he’s an overpowering big league reliever, at best he’s Sonny Gray+.

If Veen falls to this spot, which is entirely possible, it’s a done deal. For this exercise, let’s go Meyer. Lock it in.

9. Colorado Rockies: Heston Kjerstad, OF, Arkansas

Alternatives: Reid Detmers, Max Meyer, Emerson Hancock, Cade Cavalli, Tyler Soderstrom

Kjerstad is a popular name all over draft boards, and Colorado is no different. Putting his power in Coors Field will be awfully fun and he should move awfully quick, possibly debuting as soon as 2022. The Rockies have been attached to several college arms left on the board here too.

If Kjerstad ends up in Baltimore or Pittsburgh, don’t be surprised to see Colorado grab prep bat Tyler Soderstrom here. It’s become a very real possibility with Kjerstad rising.

10. Los Angeles Angels: N/A

Alternatives: Reid Detmers, Mick Abel, Cade Cavalli, **Shakeup**

There’s a lot of guys that make sense here, but with LAA firing it’s entire scouting staff and showing some uncertainty financially, it’s been hard to lock them in on any one specific guy. Mick Abel makes a lot of sense here, as does Meyer if he falls this far.

Don’t be surprised if Arte Moreno finds away to inject some ineptitude into the 10th pick in the draft. I’ve heard things aren’t so heavenly in Halo-land. Angels fans might not leave this draft happy...

11. Chicago White Sox: Reid Detmers, LHP, Louisville

Alternatives: Tyler Soderstrom, Cade Cavalli, Mick Abel, Ed Howard, Garrett Crochet

I’ve talked to probably six different well-connected people on this pick and have never once been told Bailey is a top option. He’s oft-connected to this Sox, but I don’t think there’s any legitimacy to that with some of the other names on the board. Hey, maybe there’s some subterfuge taking place. Who knows.

Alas, all I’ve heard over and over and over at this pick is Soderstrom, Crochet and Detmers. Those three would be my odds-on favorites to go to the ChiTown.

12. Cincinatti Reds: Robert Hassell III, OF, Independence HS (Tn.)

Alternatives: Austin Hendrick, Patrick Bailey, Mick Abel

The Reds are largely a recipient of Hassell falling out of the jaws from San Diego. He’s a polished hitter with a strong track record. Cincy hasn’t shy’d away from preps and I think Hassell fits the bill for this current front office regime, as well as the long term health of the organization.

13. San Francisco Giants: Tyler Soderstrom, C/3B/OF, Turlock HS (Ca.)

Alternatives: Garrett Crochet, Cade Cavalli, Reid Detmers

The Giants absolutely love Detmers and are hoping he falls. If he doesn’t, they’re well lined up to add an impact bat in Soderstrom. He may end up being every bit the bat that Veen is, albeit without the dynamic ability on the base paths and in the field. The Giants have been all over Soderstrom over the past month, and I doubt he falls past here. If Detmers and Soderstrom are both off the board, look for Farhan Zaidi and Zack Minasian to add an impact college arm.

14. Texas Rangers: Austin Hendrick, RF, West Allegheny HS (Pa.)

Alternatives: Garrett Crochet, Aaron Sabato, Cade Cavalli, Heston Kjerstad, Patrick Bailey, Carson Tucker, Nick Bitsko, Mick Abel

If Texas doesn’t pull the trigger on Hendrick there’s no telling where he could go. He’s got elite power and projects as an above average right fielder. Perfect Game’s Brian Sakowski actually put a present-day Bryce Harper comparison on Hendrick. He’d be a fun bat to throw into the Rangers lineup in due time.

A number of preps have been connected to Texas in recent days, and they’re spread all over the diamond. The team could go any number of ways here, and I’m not going to sit here and pretend I have any sort of legitimate clue where they’ll go.

15. Philadelphia Phillies: Nick Bitsko, Central East Bucks HS (Pa.)

Alternatives: Pete Crow-Armstrong, Bobby Miller, Slade Cecconi

While the Phillies have been connected to a number of arms, I have a fairly reliably source connecting them to Crow-Armstrong as well. They love the makeup and the fit in Philly. I’m not sure he makes it here. If he does, he’ll be at or near the top of their board. The Phillies also love drafting big arms, and Bitsko, a guy in their backyard, may be the biggest arm on the board at this point. Getting him at 15 might be a steal as he quite possibly may be a Top 5 talent when all is said and done.

16. Chicago Cubs: Garrett Mitchell, CF, UCLA

Alternatives: Mick Abel, Slade Cecconi, Clayton Beeter, Chris McMahon

I think Mitchell fits the Cubs plan pretty well. He’s a swing change away from being a Top 5 guy in this draft, and probably represents one of the more cost-controlled options for Chicago at 16. The organization desperately needs arms, so don’t be surprised if they draft an advanced arm. Beeter, in particular, represents an arm that can slot into the Cubs bullpen during this final 2020 playoff push, and then develop into a rotation arm in the future. In the end, I think Mitchell is too much value to pass up.

17. Boston Red Sox: Mick Abel, Jesuit HS (Or.)

Alternatives: Garrett Crochet, Nick Bitsko

It feels like a crime watching Abel fall this far, but Boston acquires possibly the most excess value of the draft so far at 17. Abel has very real ace potential. The pandemic did his draft stock no favors. Crow-Armstrong has been mentioned here as well, but as this stage, I’d be surprised if he falls that far.

18. Arizona Diamondbacks: Patrick Bailey, C, NC State

Alternatives: Nick Bitsko, Carson Tucker, Dillon Dingler, Aaron Sabato, Ed Howard

The Diamondbacks have plenty of money and picks to spend on this draft. Bailey is excess value at this point and makes too much sense for the Rattlers to pass up. He may not be a total position of need with Daulton Varsho on the way up, but the jury is still out whether his athleticism even fits behind the plate.

One name to watch for here is North Carolina masher Aaron Sabato. Mike Hazen loves the bat and may not want to risk waiting until 33 to acquire his guy. He’d represent a massive under-slot at 18, and would open the door for a fruitful Comp A pick, depending on who falls that far. Dillon Dingler is also a fun pick.

19. New York Mets: Dillon Dingler, C/OF, Ohio State

Alternatives: Pete Crow-Armstrong, Nick Bitsko, Bryce Jarvis

The Mets are undeniably in love with Crow-Armstrong, but as has been mentioned earlier, I think he’s a draft-day riser. A couple sources I’ve spoken to suggest they’ve been in on Dingler for some time and may go that route at 19. Bitsko would be another fun option for that player development staff. Duke RHP Bryce Jarvis is a sleeper here.

20: Milwaukee Brewers: Garrett Crochet, LHP, Tennessee

Alternatives: Dillon Dingler, Bobby Miller, Cole Wilcox, Slade Cecconi

If Crochet falls into the Brewers lap at 20, it’ll be a match made in heaven. Josh Hader reincarnate. The acquisition may even open the door for a Hader trade in 2021. Dingler makes the most sense as a college bat, while a few other college arms should start to pump off the board at this stage as well.

21: St. Louis Cardinals: Cade Cavalli, RHP, Oklahoma

Alternatives: Justin Foscue, Bobby Miller, Cole Wilcox, Slade Cecconi, Patrick Bailey

Cavalli could very well end up going much higher than this. I’ve heard his name mentioned in the Top 12. Cavalli is the prototypical Cardinals first round type of arm. He’s a fast-mover and super athletic. I think this is a good fit, though any number of polished pitchers fit the bill for the Cards as well.

22: Washington Nationals: Cole Wilcox, RHP, Georgia

Alternatives: Bobby Miller, Slade Cecconi, Clayton Beeter, Burl Carraway

I’m fairly certain a college arm comes off the board here. The Nationals are still in their competitive window, and they’ve only gone college pitching the last three years. Wilcox is a great fit for the organization and fits the bill of the type of pitcher they’ve selected in recent years.

Burl Carraway and Beeter are dark-horse candidates here as backend of the bullpen options for the team for immediate use in 2020.

23: Cleveland Indians: Tanner Burns, RHP, Auburn

Alternatives: Bobby Miller, Slade Cecconi, Clayton Beeter

There’s a number of directions Cleveland could go here, but all I’ve heard is college arms to set them up for a splash later in the draft. Burns is the polished, injury-free arm they covet in drafts. The Indians love his plug-and-play ability for the immediate future. Burns should be in their rotation sooner rather than later.

24: Tampa Bay Rays: Nick Loftin, SS, Baylor

Alternatives: Bobby Miller, Slade Cecconi, Aaron Sabato, Clayton Beeter

The Rays have been connected to shortstops in a number of conversations I’ve had. Loftin represents the most versatile guy on the board, and could conceivably move to 2B, 3B or LF with ease. Tampa Bay has been no stranger to selecting up the middle talent at the top of drafts, and I think 2020 will be no different.

25: Atlanta Braves: Justin Lange, RHP, Llano HS (Tx.)

Alternatives: Cole Wilcox, Tink Hence, Bobby Miller, Clayton Beeter

I think Cole Wilcox makes a ton of sense here, but ultimately believe the Braves will flex their player development muscles and go after Lange at 25. He’s certainly an under-slot pick here, setting them up for future picks without sacrificing upside. Lange has been one of the quickest risers in the 2020 draft cycle, and is the prototypical tall, explosive righty the Braves covet.

26: Oakland Athletics: Jordan Westburg, SS, Mississippi State

Alternatives: Chris McMahon, Slade Cecconi

Oakland is a giant question mark in 2020. Will they spend in this draft? Will they punt? Will they aim for immediate success or brace for a minuscule payroll over the next five years? Ultimately, I think the team grabs the hopeful heir to Marcus Semien who will likely depart after the 2020 campaign.

If the team goes arm-heavy like they’ve done in the past, Chris McMahon makes a ton of sense as the projectable, super-athletic arm the team has generally targeted.

27: Minnesota Twins: Clayton Beeter, RHP, Texas Tech

Alternatives: Alika Williams, Nick Loftin, Carson Tucker, Aaron Sabato

Minnesota loves a slugger, and Sabato makes a ton of sense here, but I think the Twins go and replace the loss of Brusdar Graterol at 27. Beeter can slot right into the back-half of a bullpen and get hitters out in big spots for a competing team. I’m convinced he’s a reliever due to some lag in his arm action previous injury history. He’s also struggled with command during his career. If taken care of, Beeter can be one of the better relievers in the league.

The Twins have made a ton of calls on college shortstops here too. Don’t be surprised if they go Sun Devil Alika Williams, Loftin or Westburg if available.

28: New York Yankees: Bryce Jarvis, RHP, Duke

Alternatives: Nick Loftin, Carson Tucker, Bobby Miller

Yankees Pitching Coach Matt Blake used to work with Jarvis at Driveline during the 2018 offseason. The Yankees also just hired Eric Cressey too, another training guru. Jarvis has been working religiously with both guys over the past two off-seasons, and they know his arm better than anyone. Jarvis jumped from 88-89 to 94-95 in 2020. This is a match made in heaven.

I would say Tucker makes sense at this pick too, but their acquisition of SS Anthony Volpe from the prep ranks last year leads me to believe they’ll go a different direction this season.

29: Los Angeles Dodgers: Carson Tucker, SS, Mountain Pointe HS (Az.)

Alternatives: Carson Montgomery, Bryce Jarvis, Burl Carraway, Jared Kelley

The rich get richer, here. Tucker falling to 29 is quite a coup for the Dodgers will likely find their eventual replacement for Corey Seager here. Had he received an entire season of exposure, Tucker could have played his way into the Top 15. His speed and power both took dramatic steps in the right direction this season, and he now more comfortably projects as a big league regular.

This could be the eventual landing spot for the plummeting Jared Kelley too. Would be quite a steal if Los Angeles believes in his ability to develop a breaking ball.

30: Baltimore Orioles: Ed Howard, SS, Mt Carmel (Il.)

Alternatives: Nick Bitsko, Jared Kelley, Jordan Walker, Kevin Parada, Dax Fulton

What a fortuitous bounce turn of events for Baltimore. After landing Gonzales with their first selection, the Orioles will double-down on middle infield and take the best prep shortstop in this class. There’s a number of guys that make sense here, but I’m reasonably comfortable saying Elias will land a big-time prep impact player.

Frankly, any one of Jordan Walker, Kelley, Tucker or even the likes of Kevin Parada and Dax Fulton make a ton of sense here.

31: Pittsburgh Pirates: Bobby Miller, SP, Louisville

Alternatives: Slade Cecconi, Chris McMahon, Justin Foscue

The run on college pitchers begins here after it uncharacteristically didn’t develop toward the backend of the first round. Miller is probably the biggest pop-up from the 2020 crop of arms. His fastball ticked up a few marks this season. His 6-foot-5 frame is exactly what Pittsburgh likes to see in their prototypical big-bodied starters.

32: Kansas City Royals: Drew Romo, C, The Woodlands HS (Tx.)

Alternatives: Slade Cecconi, Chris McMahon

This may be tricky with the Royals splurging and acquiring Martin in round one, but we’re going to hedge our bets and hope we get one right. Romo is a tough sign and I’ve been told will only consider deals with the Cardinals, Royals and Rangers. The Royals have the most money in this draft and a perfect situation to allow the polished prep backstop to follow in the footsteps of Salvador Perez. He’s committed to LSU, and has absolutely no problem going to school if the circumstances dictate.

33: Arizona Diamondbacks: Aaron Sabato, 1B, North Carolina

Alternatives: Slade Cecconi, Chris McMahon, Justin Foscue

Hazen and company love Sabato and to see him fall this far is a blessing to their front office. They already spend a good chunk of change on Howard in round one, so Sabato should offset that price tag. Of course, like most teams in Comp Round A, there’s still plenty of pitching to be had if they so choose.

34: San Diego Padres: Austin Wells, 1B/LF, Arizona

Alternatives: Slade Cecconi, Chris McMahon

The Padres went with their high-profile prep in round one, so they dial it back to the collegiate ranks here. Wells is one of the best college bats in the draft, the only question is his future position. There’s a very minimal chance he sticks behind the plate.

35: Colorado Rockies: Slade Cecconi, RHP, Miami

Alternatives: Chris McMahon, Tommy Mace, Jared Shuster

The Rockies absolutely have to take pitching in every draft out of necessity. The team reached and went with Kjerstad (or Soderstrom?) in round one, so an arm will balance out their haul here.

36: Cleveland Indians: Blaze Jordan, 1B/3B, DeSoto Central HS (Ms.)

Alternatives: Tanner Witt, Chris McMahon, Masyn Winn

And cue the jaw-drop. This is where Cleveland makes its annual splash. The team has long been enamored by Jordan after seeing him hit moonshot after moonshot in the T-Mobile HS Home Run Derby at Progressive Field. He’s a fun, eccentric name to watch.

37: Tampa Bay Rays: Markevian ‘Tink’ Hence, RHP, Watson Chapel HS

Alternatives: Tanner Witt, Chris McMahon, Masyn Winn, Jared Kelley

‘Tink’ Hence has been mentioned all over the back-third of the first round and Comp Rd A. He makes a lot of sense here, though if he lands in KC or Atlanta it wouldn’t surprise me either.

Masyn Winn would be an especially fun pick here, though I’m not sure Tampa would go SS in the first and then SS in Comp A. Then again, Winn is a RHP prospect too. The Rays do love their two-way players.

43: Seattle Mariners: Tommy Mace, RHP, Florida

Alternatives: Anthony Servideo, Coby Mayo, Chase Davis, Jared Shuster, Cole Henry, CJ Van Eyk, Kyle Nicolas

All of these guys have been connected to Seattle in the last 2 months. I’m not saying the pick is absolutely going to be one of these guys, but there’s a decent chance. Either way, I still think Seattle splashes with a prep in the later rounds.