The 2020 MLB Draft begins in about a half hour. Jake and I are going to live blog the entire first round, complete with our reactions and grades. Feel free to join along in comments and share your thoughts. Think of this as a game thread.
We’ll join at 7:00 PM ET, when the Tigers make the first selection. You can watch on ESPN, MLB Network, or MLB.com.
See you soon!
★ ★ ★
1. Detroit Tigers: Spencer Torkelson, 1B/3B, Arizona State
No surprise here: Torkelson was the consensus 1-1 pick. Tigers fans should be thrilled. The team is injecting an impact bat into a pitching-heavy system. Baseball America loves his plus-plus power, the kind that sprays to all fields. First base prospects don’t have a history of going high in the first round, but Torkelson draws comps to Pete Alonso and Mark Teixeira. There are no sure things in the MLB Draft, of course, but he has the chance to make a difference in Detroit—and quickly. - Tyler
The Tigers went chalk, as expected, swiftly setting us up for some intrigue with the second pick. Reports leading up to the draft had the Orioles split between taking the best player available, Austin Martin, and cutting an underslot deal with a lesser prospect in order to spread their bonus money around. We’ll see which way Baltimore decides to go. - Jake
GRADE: Miguel Cabrera nodding GIF
2. Baltimore Orioles: Heston Kjerstad, OF, Arkansas
Baltimore decided to get cute, opting to peg an underslot prospect instead of popping Austin Martin, the number-two player on most draft boards. Kjerstad is a 6-foot-3 outfielder with real power and swing-and-miss issues. The 21-year-old slugged .590 across three collegiate seasons, but also struck 129 times against 54 walks for his career.
Time will tell if the Orioles made the right call in saving money with their top pick. Taking Kjerstad should allow Baltimore to take more talented, more expensive prospects with their selections later in the draft. They also may have missed out on one of the best talents in the entire class. - Jake
GRADE: Yasiel Puig shrugging GIF
3. Miami Marlins: Max Meyer, RHP, Minnesota
The Marlins could have capitalized on the O’s draft pool maneuvering by selecting Austin Martin with the number three pick. Instead, they pulled off their own draft weirdness, tapping Minnesota right-hander Max Meyer. While he doesn’t have the prototypical power-righty build, standing at just 6-foot-tall and 180 pounds, he has a big fastball and a lights-out slider. Pair him with Sixto Sanchez and the Marlins have some good arms in their revamped system. - Tyler
GRADE: Somebody draft Austin Martin or nah?
4. Kansas City Royals: Asa Lacy, LHP, Texas A&M
Kansas City follows up Miami’s selection of perhaps the best right-hander in the class with the top-ranked left-hander. It’s hard to poke holes in Lacy’s profile: a 6-foot-4, 215-pound southpaw with quality velocity, a tumbling changeup and a useful slider. He turned in a 2.07 ERA across three seasons in the SEC, striking out 224 in 152 innings. Unsurprisingly, ESPN, The Athletic, and FanGraphs all ranked Lacy as their top pitching prospect in the draft.
Lacy seems like a great get at four. But how long will we wait to see Martin grabbed off the board? Looks like someone is going to find a real value soon. - Jake
GRADE: I bet Austin Martin goes sometime tonight.
5. Toronto Blue Jays: Austin Martin, SS, Vanderbilt
It took a little while, but Martin comes off the board at number five. The Jays pick up an all-around quality hitter. According to Baseball America, Martin has “eye-popping bat speed, excellent contact ability and impressive plate discipline as well.” He has positional versatility, too, with experience at third base and center field in addition to shortstop. Pair him with the other young bats in Toronto, and yikes. That’s going to be one heck of a lineup. - Tyler
GRADE: He’s going to annoy the Yankees in a few years.
6. Seattle Mariners: Emerson Hancock, RHP, Georgia
For the first time since the top pick, we get something resembling chalk, as Hancock to the Mariners was forecasted in a few public mock drafts. Hancock is another collegiate horse, a 6-foot-4 righty who sits in the mid-90s with a few interesting secondary pitches to boot. He held a sub-2.00 ERA in his 2019 season with Georgia, and though he only made four starts in 2020, he put up a 34-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Everything about this pick seems normal, something we haven’t been able to say all that much so far tonight. - Jake
The new market inefficiency is drafting dudes who might have signed the Declaration of Independence, apparently. - Tyler
GRADE: Seattle’s quietly solid farm system gets a little bit better.
7. Pittsburgh Pirates: Nick Gonzales, SS, New Mexico State
The Pirates go for the best available player by selecting Gonzales. Questions remain if he can stick at shortstop longterm, or if he’ll have to move to second base. Either way, his bat is his calling card: Baseball America suggested Dustin Pedroia or Keston Hiura comps. Ben Cherington has his work cut out for him considering the state of the organization, but assuming he doesn’t package Gonzales in an ill-advised trade, this is a win for Pittsburgh. - Tyler
This feels like a turning point in the draft. With the exception of Kjerstad, the top-seven picks have consisted of the guys that were expected to go at the top, if not in the expected order. From here, it’s hard to say with much certainty which players are about to go. Word before the draft was that many teams were looking to go underslot, which could give us some odd selections coming up. - Jake
GRADE: Smart choice
8. San Diego Padres: Robert Hassell III, OF, Independence HS (TN)
After watching the first seven teams pop college players, the Padres finally selected the first high school prospect. Hassell is certainly one of the best prep hitters in the class, sporting a sweet left-handed swing that causes scouts to swoon. He’s likely ticketed for an outfield corner; his plus arm could make him an asset in right field. A few public draft boards (e.g. FanGraphs, Baseball America) pegged Hassell as more a mid-first prospect, but this doesn’t seem like a huge reach by any means. - Jake
GRADE: AJ Preller keeps things normal, for a change.
9. Colorado Rockies: Zac Veen, OF, Spruce Creek HS (FL)
The Rockies go with the best-available player with the ninth pick, taking prep outfielder Zac Veen. The 18-year-old grew into his frame recently (6-foot-5, 200 pounds), and he is the prototypical big-league slugger, perfect for today’s game. He’s a launch-angle darling, lofting the ball with great raw power, but he’s prone to swing-and-miss. Best case scenario? He develops into an above-average corner outfielder. - Tyler
GRADE: This dude is made for Coors Field.
10. Los Angeles Angels: Reid Detmers, LHP, Louisville
Detmers isn’t quite the most imposing pitcher in the class, standing at 6-foot-2 and sitting in the low-90s, but scouts praise his polish and command. Other hurlers will beat him on pure velocity, but Detmers can place his fastball precisely, and his curveball and changuep reportedly are already average or better. There’s no such thing as a pitching prospect, but as far as drafting pitchers goes, Detmers appears to be among the safer bets. - Jake
GRADE: Nothing wrong with looking for a mid-rotation starter in the middle of the first.
11. Chicago White Sox: Garrett Crochet, LHP, Tennessee
Crochet throws hard—extremely hard. The 6-foot-6 southpaw touches 100 mph with his heater, and he has pretty good breaking ball, too. The thing is, Crochet doesn’t have a track record as a starting pitcher. He spent most of his freshman and sophomore seasons pitching out of the bullpen, making some starts, but this year was supposed to be his first legitimate test in the rotation. A flame-throwing lefty with questions if he can stick as a starter on the South Side of Chicago. I think I’ve seen this movie before... - Tyler
GRADE: Keep the clubhouse free of scissors and throwback uniforms and you should be fine.
12. Cincinnati Reds: Austin Hendrick, OF, West Allegheny HS (PA)
The Reds give us our third high school outfielder of the night. Hendrick gets praise for his lightning-quick bat speed and raw power (Clint Frazier comp, anyone?), though at 19 he’s old for this high school class. He also has swing-and-miss concerns behind the obvious raw pop. Hendrick is a Mississippi State commit, but with the Reds committing a top-12 pick to him, it seems doubtful Hendrick will be on campus this fall, regardless of whether college campuses are open in three months. - Jake
GRADE: Can’t believe I just called a teenager old.
13. San Francisco Giants: Patrick Bailey, C, North Carolina State
The Giants were linked to catchers in a few mock drafts, so naturally they take the best catcher available. He’s polished behind the plate, and Baseball America explains that he calls his own games. He might be a boom-or-bust bat, though, with good power but an unconvincing hit tool. - Tyler
Grade: No surprise here, this pick makes a lot of sense.
14. Texas Rangers: Justin Foscue, 2B, Mississippi State
This looks like one of the bigger reaches of the draft so far, based at least on public scouts’ big boards FanGraphs had Foscue 26th, ESPN had him 34th, while The Athletic had him all the way down at 63rd. Scouts are down on his pure tools, pegging him as a mediocre defender with below average power. Foscue is a very young player out of college, however, at barely over 21-years-old, and he produced a solid .297/.380/.482 line at school playing in the SEC. - Jake
I wanted the Yankees to pick Foscue. - Tyler
GRADE: Maybe a reach. Would’ve been nice to see him fall to New York.
15. Philadelphia Phillies: Mick Abel, RHP, Jesuit HS (OR)
The Phillies go with Mick Abel at 15th overall. Both MLB and Baseball America considered him the 11th best draft prospect. The prep right-hander sits at 90-94 mph, but he can reach back to hit 97. He’s considered one of the best pitchers in this year’s draft, with frontline potential. The only trouble is teams didn’t get to see him pitch this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. - Tyler
GRADE: Bryce Harper waving GIF
16. Chicago Cubs: Ed Howard, SS, Mount Caramel HS (IL)
I’m somewhat shocked that it took us 16 picks to get to our first true shortstop. Howard reportedly is a near-lock to stick at the six, with capable hands and good speed. FanGraphs had Howard as their 11th-ranked prospect, as he looks like he’ll have a high floor given his premium defensive position. The Cubs may have gotten a solid value here with their highest first pick in a while. - Jake
I also wanted Howard to fall to the Yankees. He’s one of my favorites players in the year’s draft. - Tyler
GRADE: After seeing shortstops fly off the board last year, Chicago gives us our first halfway through.
17. Boston Red Sox: Nick Yorke, SS, Archbishop Mitty HS (CA)
Boston’s first draft under Chaim Bloom finds the Red Sox getting weird. Yorke ranked 96th on Baseball America’s list, while MLB.com ranked him 139th. An infielder with middling power and a solid hit tool? Weird. Sounds like a Yankees pick. Keep in mind that the Red Sox don’t have a second-round pick either, because of the sign-stealing scandal. - Tyler
GRADE: Galaxy Brain Chaim Bloom
18. Arizona Diamondbacks: Bryce Jarvis, RHP, Duke
Keith Law and Eric Longenhagen had Jarvis mocked to Arizona earlier today, so it looks like the D-Backs got their man. Jarvis apparently can run the fastball into the upper-90s, to go along with a solid slider and changeup. He was actually a 37th-round pick by the Yankees last year, but saw his stock skyrocket after a huge velocity jump between seasons. The jump in stuff showed in the stats, as Jarvis allowed just two earned runs in 27 innings before baseball was shut down this year. - Jake
GRADE: Arizona gets a pitcher whose arrow is pointed in the right direction.
19. New York Mets: Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, Harvard-Westlake HS (CA)
Good for the Mets, they selected my personal favorite in this year’s draft. Crow-Armstrong probably could have gone in the top 10 if he got to play a season this year. He’s a Vanderbilt commit who sprays the ball to all fields, and is considered a fantastic defensive center fielder. If he can add some power, the Mets will have quite a nice player in their system. - Tyler
GRADE: Ode to the Mets by The Strokes
20. Milwaukee Brewers: Garrett Mitchell, OF, UCLA
The Brewers got one of the consensus top athletes in the draft here at 20. FanGraphs asserts that Mitchell has “huge raw power and straight line speed”. If Mitchell taps into his raw power, he could be a star, given his run tool and his quality center-field defense. Contact does appear to be an issue, however, as he can swing and miss sometimes and can struggle with pitch selection. On principle, I like swinging on the player that has the tools to be a stud at the highest level. - Jake
GRADE: Might as well take a chance on a potential star 20 picks deep.
21. St. Louis Cardinals: Jordan Walker, 3B, Decatur HS (GA)
Walker is committed to Duke University, but expect the Cards to make a hard push to sign him, and for good reason, too. He has 98th percentile bat speed, as evaluated by Perfect Game. Big, strong, and athletic, Walker has a chance to be the steal of the entire 2020 MLB Draft. - Tyler
GRADE: ”I love this guy!” - Bradley Mitchum
22. Washington Nationals: Cade Cavalli, RHP, Oklahoma
Cavalli has an interesting story, as he was two-way player, but primarily a hitter, in previous years. He focused solely on pitching this year, and to great results. Cavalli struck out 37 batters against five walks across 23.2 innings this year, impressing scouts with consistent mid-90s velocity and a pair of power breaking balls. I like the idea of grabbing the guy whose stock is on the rise, an athlete who’s thus far only hinted at his potential. - Jake
GRADE: The reigning champs get a high-end athlete who could’ve gone 12 picks earlier.
23. Cleveland Indians: Carson Tucker, SS, Mountain Pointe HS (AZ)
With the 23rd overall pick, the Indians go with Carson Tucker. A prep shortstop with no outstanding tools, he’s just steady across across the board. You may know his older brother, Cole, who plays for the Pirates. The Indians were linked to Cole Wilcox, a right-handed pitcher from Georgia, so this is a bit of a surprise. - Tyler
GRADE: Well, okay then.
24. Tampa Bay Rays: Nick Bitsko, RHP, Central Bucks East (PA)
Though Bitsko is a prep arm, and one of the youngest players in the draft at just over 18, I see some similarities to the Nationals’ pick of Cavalli. Bitsko also has a short track record, with just two high school seasons of pitching under his belt, thanks to the suspended 2020 campaign. The Rays are betting on what they’ve seen in that small sample, which includes good velocity and a plus breaker. The talent is there, but there’s definitely risk in this kind of profile. Regardless, public big boards had Bitsko as a clear first-rounder, so this is no reach. - Jake
This is such an extremely Rays pick. - Tyler
GRADE: In all likelihood, the Rays have added another good prospect to their stacked farm.
25. Atlanta Braves: Jared Shuster, LHP, Wake Forest
Wake Forest southpaw Jared Shuster is a bit of a reach for the Braves. Baseball America pegged him as the 43rd best prospect, while MLB.com had Shuster at 77. The 6-foot-3, 210 pound lefty owes his selection to an improved fastball and a strong changeup. The Braves have a tendency to build their farm system around pitchers, so this pick kind of makes sense. - Tyler
GRADE: Not gonna lie, I never heard of Shuster until just now.
26. Oakland Athletics: Tyler Soderstrom, C, Turlock HS (CA)
The A’s grabbed a catcher with a big bat, though Soderstrom’s skills behind the plate are reportedly shaky, so he may wind up somewhere else on defense, with every corner position a possibility. He’s one of the more polished prep hitters in the class, so the bat will have a chance to play regardless of where Soderstrom ends up.- Jake
GRADE: Oakland almost certainly did not draft a starting NFL quarterback with their first pick.
27. Minnesota Twins: Aaron Sabato, 1B, UNC
Sabato would fit right into the Bomba Squad, because he has legit raw power. He’s a bat-only prospect, probably not even a first baseman defensively, but hey, that’s not a problem when you can slug like Sabato does. I want to watch this dude mash. - Tyler
28. New York Yankees: Austin Wells, C, Arizona
Most public mocks had the Yankees focused on college pitching, but they ultimately with a big college bat in Wells. Rob Manfred announced Wells as a catcher, though it’s anyone’s guess as to what position Wells will man in the pros. Scouts are down on his receiving skills, and the smart money has him ending up in an outfield corner or at first base.
The good news: Wells can hit. He’s put up huge numbers both with Arizona and during the summer in the Cape Cod league, to the tune of a .357/.476/.560 career slash line across both formats. A lefty swinger, the hope is that Wells could be taking advantage of the short porch in Yankee Stadium in a few years. - Jake
I like Wells. He’s a big dude, and he has a power bat. That is exactly my kind of player. Good draft, Yanks, good draft. - Tyler
GRADE: Give me more large baseball players that can rake.
29. Los Angeles Dodgers: Bobby Miller, RHP, Louisville
The Dodgers wrap up the first round with Bobby Miller, a right-hander for Louisville. He offers an upper-90s heater with a slider and a changeup. Some question his ability to stay in the rotation long term, because he does have a bit of a funky delivery. - Tyler
GRADE: We outta here