Mason McRae’s 2020 MLB Mock Draft 9.0

Written by: Mason McRae (@mason_mcrae)

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With the 2020 MLB Draft officially less than 60 hours away, there’s no better time to release my ninth and final mock draft for this class.

The picks you’ll read about below are projections of what I believe will happen Wednesday night, based on conversations with MLB employees and other people within the industry. While it’s nearly impossible to exactly pinpoint where every player will go, the final paragraph of every selection should help you figure out the possibilities at every spot and who’s in the conversation for each team.

If you have any questions draft-related, be sure to check out The War Room (a free, 766-prospect draft board) and message me on Twitter (my profile can be found here), and I hope everybody enjoys the draft!

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Arizona State has already produced three 1st Overall Picks in Bob Horner (1978), Floyd Bannister (1976), and Rick Monday (1965). With this selection, Torkelson would join that growing list as well as become the first college first baseman taken first overall.

Torkelson’s about as offensive-oriented as a prospect can come. He’s likely the best college hitter we’ve seen since Kris Bryant. Torkelson’s plus-power and plus-hit tools are the highest grades I’ve handed out since I began evaluating draft prospects. Whether he can shift to the outfield, or play a spot in the infield other than first base – like Arizona State head coach Tracy Smith suggested – remains to be seen, but he’ll still add upwards of four to five wins as a middle-of-the-order thumper at the big league level.

While it’s not quite as crystal clear as Adley Rutschman being selected with the top pick last season, it’s a given Al Avila and the Tigers will draft Torkelson. The rumors surrounding Asa Lacy being in play here for a cost-effective deal are interesting, but I’ve been told it’s just noise. Austin Martin also appears to be out of the picture at 1-1.

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Under Tim Corbin, Vanderbilt has produced 16 first round picks and two 1st overall picks, with Dansby Swanson (2015) paving the way for prospects like JJ Bleday, Kyle Wright and now Austin Martin, who’d become Vanderbilt’s fourth player taken in the top two picks.

Regardless of whether you think Martin’s a Swiss army knife that can play two premium positions or a fringe defender who’ll shift to second for his professional career, he’s a pure hitter and the best in the class. Martin’s tools across the board are all average or better (50+) and his hit tools the best, getting plus grades from most, and double plus (70-grade) from me.

Baltimore’s selection is the domino effect; they’ve been heavily linked to both Asa Lacy and Nick Gonzales, with the latter appearing to be the name to watch on June 10th. Zac Veen has also popped up here, but Baltimore will be going with a college player. If it’s not Martin, I believe it will be Gonzales.

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While Texas A&M has generated plenty of big league pitchers (AJ Minter, Michael Wacha, Ross Stripling, Alex Wilson and more) of late, none have been selected this high. With this selection, Asa Lacy would become the highest draft pick in Aggie history, topping Jeff Granger’s 5th overall selection in 1993.

Had the season not been canceled, Lacy more than likely would’ve broken dozens of records for a three-year player. Instead he spent the duration of four starts flashing two plus-pitches—a 60-grade fastball and a 65-grade slider, while displaying advanced stuff and overpowering mid-90’s velocity from the left side. He’s deceptive and a movement aficionado thanks to a vertical arm slot, but his mechanics are atypical and could hinder his success at the professional level.

With Baltimore opting for Martin over Gonzales and Lacy, Miami’s card is sent in without hesitation. Had the Orioles taken Gonzales, this pick would’ve remained the same, and Martin would fall to at least fourth, but he goes second and Gonzales is still on the board in this mock. Miami’s also kept close tabs on Heston Kjerstad here.

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The state of Florida has produced a first round pick in every draft since 1995, including five within the first overall four picks: JD Drew (1997), Brendan Rodgers (2015), Manny Machado (2010), Eric Hosmer (2008) and Lou Montanez (2000). Veen’s set to become Spruce Creek’s highest draft pick in school history, as well as the only prospect taken in the first round.

Veen’s combination of upside and present tools leave little doubt he’ll be a middle-of-the-order run producer someday. He’s arguably the most advanced prep hitter this year, and he’s without-a-doubt the best prep player in the class. Veen’s plus-power and plus-hit tools come from a swift cut with natural loft and sublime bat speed. Veen should see time in both right field and center field at the next level, but his arm and leg speed (both project to be average-at-best as he fills out) could hold him back a bit defensively.

If Veen goes off-the-board second, Kansas City would likely end up with Austin Martin or Nick Gonzales. Kansas City seems to feel more inclined with Veen, opposed to Gonzales, and this would likely be the selection here unless Asa Lacy is an eleventh-hour dropper.

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The last Georgia Bulldog picked in the first round was Robert Tyler, who went 38th overall in 2016. As a whole, Georgia has produced nine first round picks, including six pitchers, highlighted by Chris Carpenter, Josh Fields, Brooks Brown and Derek Lilliqust.

Hancock’s four-game spring was a bumpy road on an otherwise successful stint in Athens, but the sample size was too little for a holistic condemnation. The right-hander worked in the mid-90’s, featuring three plus offerings and plus command with repeatable, athletic actions on the mound. Hancock’s changeup and slider are both bat-missing pitches, and regardless of the lack of the 21-year-old’s bat-missing potential with his fastball, he’s a top-of-the-line starter with ace potential.

Max Meyer appears to be extremely close to Hancock on the Blue Jays’ Board, and some believe Toronto will just grab whoever Kansas City doesn’t between Gonzales and Veen. However, my latest intel suggests Hancock is still firmly in the picture, and a strange feeling in my gut leads me to believe the recent rumors suggesting a Hancock drop won’t manifest themselves once the Blue Jays go on the clock.

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New Mexico State produced its highest-ever pick last year in Joey Ortiz, who went in the fourth round. Not only will Gonzales become the highest pick in Aggie history with this selection, he’ll also become the only first round pick in program History.

Had Gonzales gone to a blue collar program like fellow draft prospects Torkelson or Martin, he’d likely be in 1-1 talks. Gonzales’ summer on the Cape did the justice of highlighting his plus-hit tool and plus bat speed, which helps his above average raw power play in-game. There’s concerns about Gonzales’ ability to stick it in the dirt, but he’s athletic and talented enough to be at least average at second with professional instruction.

Seattle’s only apparent option here, other than Gonzales, seems to be Max Meyer, who’s an option at 5 or 6, then likely slides to a double-digit selection. The Mariners would’ve likely taken Hancock had he been available here (which would likely mean Gonzales would already be off the board). 

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Five years ago, Andrew Benintendi went 7th overall out of Arkansas. Kjerstad’s set to become the tenth Razorback selected in the first round since Jeff King was the top overall pick in 1986. Under Dave Van Horn, Arkansas has produced a top three round pick in every draft since 2009.

While he’s not mechanically pleasing at the plate, Kjerstad gets fantastic launch angle numbers and creates off-the-chart exit velocity numbers, all the while playing solid defense in right field. There’s some swing-and-miss concerns in Kjerstad’s profile, but that comes with the raw-power and hitability traits. Heston’s uphill bat plane creates some risk in his profile as it’s a crude cut, but it’s worked to this point in the outfielder’s career.

Pittsburgh’s model-driven board – brought over by the new regime from Toronto – makes somebody like Kjerstad the rational option here. Had Hancock fallen, Pittsburgh would consider him here. Patrick Bailey from the college side and Austin Hendrick from the prep side are both in play, and Hendrick’s reportedly open to take a hometown discount.

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The state of Tennessee hasn’t produced a first round, position playing prospect (out of high school) since Kyler Burke went 35th overall in 2006. The last Tennessee-born high schooler to go this high was Ryan Weathers in 2018, who was taken 7th overall by the Padres. With this selection, Hassell’s set to become the highest selection in his high school’s history.

After a successful run with the 18U National Team, Hassell jumped up on organizational and industry boards. The Vanderbilt commit now seems to be widely regarded as the top pure hitting prospect in the class from the high school ranks. Hassell’s swing is quick, loose and more gap-to-gap oriented, which is where his average power is more effective. His plus-hit and above average bat speed profile anywhere in the grass, though he’s likely slated to play the corner in pro ball.

I’ve had Hassell linked to San Diego since April. Preller’s track record in the first round perfectly coincides with his profile, and the only other option available seems to be Max Meyer. Nick Bitsko’s been mentioned here as of late because of the Padres’ progressive background, and Dillon Dingler is also a name to watch as a popular slot-saving sign.

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Since Dan McDonnell took over Louisville’s program in 2006, they’ve had 84 players drafted into the MLB, including six in the first round. Of the six, four hail from the pitching side with Brendan McKay being the most recent, at 4th overall in 2017. Detmers would become the third highest draft pick in Louisville history with this pick.

There’s something cynical about a southpaw who works in the low-90’s while flashing a plus-curveball that’s more of a rainbow pitch, opposed to the new-age, power breaking ball that is currently trending around the sport. Detmers’ plus control and feel for all three pitches (fastball, curveball, slider) have him in top-10 talks, even with the shortage in velocity. At his best, Detmers sits 89-90, touching 93 with effective spin throughout his arsenal.

Colorado’s atmosphere at Coors Field makes guys like Max Meyer (who has some cut in his fastball) hard to take here. Colorado’s been linked to Kjerstad, and if Pittsburgh went with Meyer or Hancock (had he fallen), then the outfielder would likely go here. Tyler Soderstrom has been associated with this pick, and this is the earliest Garrett Mitchell’s name has popped-up recently.

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The Golden Gophers haven’t produced a first round pitching prospect since Glenn Perkins was selected 22nd Overall in 2004 by the Minnesota Twins. While Meyer won’t be the first Minnesota player to go this high, he’ll join Paul Molitor, Dan Wilson and Dave Winfield as the only Golden Gophers to ever be drafted inside the top-10. 

While simultaneously hitting triple-digits on opening night and flashing three above average or better pitches, Meyer flew up draft boards. He’s uber-athletic on the mound and generates elite torque from his lower-half, which helps create premium, upper-90s velocity. Meyer’s three-pitch mix features two plus-pitches and is highlighted by one of the draft’s best sliders. Meyer’s skillset projects to move relatively quickly throughout the minor leagues, assuming good health.

The Angels let a major portion of their amateur scouting department go recently and will likely target the ‘safety’ of selecting a college prospect with this pick. Had Meyer gone to Toronto or Seattle, the organization might deliberate between Cade Cavalli or Patrick Bailey. Jared Kelley’s name has come up here as well, but mostly as a fit for what the Angels target (velocity) and not due to organizational links.

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North Carolina State has produced seven first round picks, but only one has ever been selected this high in the first round. Carlos Rodon went 3rd overall in 2014, immediately becoming the highest pick in school history. With this selection, Bailey would become the second highest draft pick in Wolfpack history.

Having back-to-back drafts with elite switch-hitting catchers is a rare commodity in today’s day and age. He has five average or better tools, and he just so happens to play the most premium position on the field. Behind the plate, Bailey is an average defender with solid receiving abilities and an above average arm. With the stick, the backstop displays a steady swing with above average raw power from both sides and a natural feel to hit.

The White Sox have first year amateur director Mike Shirley at the helm, and what follows is likely a change of pace from the college driven history they’ve had in recent memory. Bailey fits Chicago’s past track record, but Tyler Soderstrom has been heavily linked to them recently. If the catcher isn’t submitted here, look out for Soderstrom or Cade Cavalli.

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Oklahoma has produced nine first round picks in program existence, with the latest being 9th overall pick Kyler Murray in 2018. Dating back to 1995, Oklahoma’s had five pitchers taken in the first round, the most recent being Jon Gray at 3rd overall in 2013. With this selection, Cavalli would become the fifth highest draft pick in school history.

Cavalli’s power-profile highlighted by an explosive, mid-90s fastball that flashes plus and a curveball that also flashes as a 60 at its best. Cavalli can overthrow at times, leading to below average control; however, when he’s dialed in and dialed back, the right-hander displays above average control and average command. He has two other offerings, including an above average slider and a changeup that serves as a second weapon versus left-handed hitters. Cavalli possesses all the traits needed to work in a big league rotation, including the size, velocity, and stuff.

Cincinnati could very well grab Austin Hendrick here, and he’s been linked to the organization. The Reds have a rather limited pool for this selection in this mock, with Meyer, Detmers and Hassell all considered targets but already selected. Tyler Soderstrom and Pete Crow-Armstrong from the prep side have been name dropped here as well.

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Turlock High, a small school in Northern California, has only been connected to one draft pick this century (Kevin Kramer), who went in the second round of the 2014 draft. In the 1990s, Turlock produced four draft picks, including Tyler Soderstrom’s father (Steve), who was taken 6th overall in 1993 out of Fresno State.

Soderstrom’s plus hit tool from the left side comes naturally, and his hitability is as good as you’ll see from a prep catcher. But while he’s listed as a backstop, Soderstrom is likely to shift away from the spot, with third base and right field being possible destinations thanks to adequate mobility and a plus throwing arm. The teenager is athletic behind the plate, but his receiving skills leave some to be desired. Soderstrom’s above average raw power plays in-game, and it’s an all-fields approach that helps him drive balls deep into gaps.

Had the White Sox or Reds taken Soderstrom, the Giants would likely target Mick Abel or Garrett Crochet. San Francisco’s front office has gone on the record saying they’ll certainly consider prep prospects, so Austin Hendrick is another name to monitor with this pick. Cade Cavalli might also be a possibility here, had the Reds selected Hendrick instead. 

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The Volunteers haven’t had a pitcher taken in the first round since James Adkins went 39th overall in 2007. Since Tony Vitello took over in 2016, Tennessee’s seen rapid amounts of talent be selected in the draft, including five in 2017, two in 2018 and six last season. Crochet would become the 14th first round pick in Tennessee school history.

It was a limited spring for Crochet, who started just once, and was on a pitch limit coming back from a shoulder injury. In his lone start, Crochet sat 94-95 (T98) while utilizing a fastball and slider that both grade as plus. His control is touch-and-go, but I believe it’s good enough to stick in a rotation. Along with his command, Crochet’s biggest question marks will be remaining healthy and his ability to get right-handed batters out, which needs to improve if he wants to take the ball every fifth day as a professional.

The Rangers are leaving no stones unturned with this spot, and Heston Kjerstad would be the choice had he been available. Texas is considering both Nick Loftin and Justin Foscue as slot-saving options, and Dillon Dingler has appeared here as well. With Hassell III already off the board, Mick Abel is the only other prep option that is in consideration here.

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The state of Pennsylvania produced a first round pick just last year in high schooler Sammy Siani. Three years before that, Alex Kirilloff went 15th overall. In 2015, Mike Nikorak went 27th overall. Nick Bitsko is not only set to become the highest draft pick in his high school’s history, but he’ll also be their only first round pick.

Some scouts consider themselves extremely lucky to have seen Nick Bitsko during his lone bullpen of the spring before the COVID-19 shutdown. The right-hander reclassifying from the class of 2021 late in the process has made him a bit of a wild card compared to other high school pitchers in this class. Over the 2019 summer, Bitsko flashed three above average or better pitches with feel for all three. His fastball is high-spin with and sits in the 92-95 range. The teenager’s slider and changeup compliment each other well. Bitsko is a Virginia commit and will be tough to sign, which makes his stock a bit volatile even days before the draft. 

The Phillies have been one of the tougher teams to project leading up to June 10th. If Patrick Bailey or Cade Cavalli are available, they should be considered prime candidates. Bitsko has recently been mentioned as early as 8 to San Diego, and his name appears regularly around this spot. Pete Crow-Armstrong is the only player available, in this scenario, that’s been linked to the Phillies.

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Michael Toglia went 23rd overall out of UCLA just last year, and eight years before that, Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer went 1st and 3rd overall in the same draft. UCLA has only produced three first rounders since the famous 2011 class, but Mitchell would tie James Kaprielian as the highest pick from the school since 2011.

Mitchell’s been dropping on public boards in part to his crude swing and questions concerning his approach. Some believe it’s his Type 1 diabetes causing him to slide, but I can assure that there’s minimal concern with regards to that amongst organizations. Mitchell’s a bit of a tool shed; he’s got three plus-tools in the field (70 run, 60 field, 60 arm) and bat-to-ball skills that are above average. His raw power is plus, but it hasn’t played in-game in part to an unorthodox lower half in his swing. Chicago is an ideal landing spot for Mitchell’s flaws, and he’ll be perfectly instructed on tapping into his power with the Cubs’ developmental staff.

If Mitchell is unavailable at 16th overall, the Cubs will open up their board and consider a handful of college players, including Austin Wells, Dillon Dingler, Cade Cavalli and Garret Crochet. This range is close to the outfielder’s draft floor, though Boston could be another possible landing spot immediately below. 

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Oregon hasn’t produced a prep first rounder since Matt Smith went 16th overall in 1994. Carson Kelley is the most recent high school product from Oregon, as he was selected 86th overall in 2012. Mick Abel is set to become the only first round pick in Jesuit High School history.

Abel’s uber-projectable frame and electric arm have been all over Twitter of late, with recent bullpens showing a more refined feel for his three pitches. Abel flashes two plus-pitches, the better being a steep curveball that tunnels well with his fastball. He’ll occasionally drop in a good-looking changeup that displays fade, but the pitch hasn’t missed many bats as of yet. No pitcher in this class holds more upside than Abel, and his combination of size and stuff are the ideal traits professional organizations are prioritizing currently. 

Boston has been linked to every prep pitcher in the class, including Jared Kelley and Nick Bitsko. As I alluded to above, Garrett Mitchell is a name to watch if he remains on the board until this pick. With Boston’s next pick being in the back-end of the third round, they’ll try to target prospects with high ceilings, like Chaim Bloom did in Tampa Bay.

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Just last year, Sammy Siani went 37th overall as a Pennsylvania prep prospect. In 2018, his brother Mike went in the 4th round. With this pick, Hendrick would join Alex Kirilloff, Neil Walker, Devin Mesoraco, Chris Lubanski, the younger Siani and Nick Bitsko as the only Pennsylvanian-born position players to go in the first round this century.

If you watch Austin Hendrick on the right day, you’re looking at possibly the best power bat in this prep class. His sweet-looking swing and plus bat speed combined with fantastic hands and barrel control are the traits that have scouts projecting him as a middle-of-the-order bat. If you catch Hendrick on the wrong day, you’re looking at a guy with a below average hit tool thanks to massive red flags in the contact department. He hits everything hard and the power will profile from anywhere, but he’s best suited for right field because of his plus arm.

Most are aware of Ed Howard’s connection to the Diamondbacks, as high school teammate Alek Thomas was selected by the organization in the second round of the 2018 draft. That makes the shortstop a possibility here, but Arizona has also been linked to Clayton Beeter and Pete-Crow Armstrong. Considering this class, 18th overall feels like a good spot to draft from in the first round.

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Harvard-Westlake produced three first round picks from 2012 to 2014, including Lucas Giolito, Jack Flaherty and Max Fried. All three have become household names at the big league level. However, since 2014, Harvard-Westlake has only seen one player get drafted, and Pete Crow-Armstrong is set to become the school’s only first rounder since 2014.

Since his rising sophomore summer, PCA has been on draft radars. He was widely regarded as the top prep bat in this year’s class heading into last summer. His combination of plus tools—hit, glove and run—are the perfect combination for a hypothetical, perennial All-Star with Gold Glove caliber defense in the outfield. His average raw power is more gap-oriented for now and his bat lacks the angle to hit for power, but his batter’s eye is advanced and his feel for the barrel comes naturally.

The Mets are in love with Pete Crow-Armstrong, and this would be the ideal scenario for them. Had Arizona or Philadelphia taken PCA, the Mets could choose between college pitchers (think Tanner Burns or Cole Wilcox). In the case Philadelphia takes PCA, Nick Bitsko is in play here.

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The Blue Devils haven’t produced a first round pick since undersized righty Marcus Stroman went 22nd overall in 2012. Duke also produced a second (Griffin Conine) and third (Jimmy Herron) round pick in 2018, and just last year Graeme Stinson went in the fourth round to Tampa Bay despite being considered by some a first round talent.

Jarvis’ age and limited track record make him a massive slot-saving option for the Brewers here. His plus changeup could go head-to-head with any changeup amongst college pitchers in this class, and his command gets plus grades. As spending time at Driveline prior to his junior season, Jarvis mostly sat 92-93 (T95) with feel for all three offerings, all of which flash above average or better. His curveball has average shape, but he locates the pitch extremely well. Mechanically speaking, Jarvis has some arm traits similar to Mike Soroka.

The Brewers reached for Ethan Small just last year with the 28th overall pick to save some money. With Dillon Dingler still on the board, they could go with him (it’s been rumored), but they’ve been mostly connected to a trio of college pitchers in Cole Wilcox, Slade Cecconi and Jarvis. All are available in this scenario, and it’ll be their choice of the bunch.

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It’s been four years since the Hurricanes produced a first round pick, and a pair of catchers in Zack Collins and Yasmani Grandal are the only two first round picks from Miami in the last decade. The Hurricanes have generated five or more total picks in both of the last two drafts, and they could very well produce three on Day One this year with Cecconi, Freddy Zamora and Chris McMahon.

At his best, Cecconi flashes two plus pitches, mid-90s heat and improving control of his four-pitch arsenal. He works with two breaking balls, the best of which is a slider that flashes plus. Cecconi’s changeup rounds out his repertoire, and the offering possesses average shape. He’s got solid spin numbers (unlike McMahon) and far more upside, but there’s less present traits in his profile. Cecconi is sophomore eligible and touched 97 multiple times during the shortened 2020 collegiate season.

With the Brewers taking Bryce Jarvis, it’s likely we see a run on college pitchers in this area of the first round. This pick is also considered Patrick Bailey’s floor, and Jarvis would have been an option here had Milwaukee taken someone else. Cole Wilcox and Carmen Mlodzinksi are two other names the Cardinals are monitoring closely.

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In Emerson Hancock, Georgia will have already had a prospect selected by this point of the first round. With Wilcox’s selection, they become the only pair of Bulldog pitchers to both go in the same first round since Derek Lilliquist and Chris Carpenter in 1987. More recently, Bulldog teammates Gordon Beckham and Josh Fields were taken 8th and 20th overall in 2008.

Wilcox is one of many sophomore-eligible arms who remain on the board at this pick. He’s an overpowering arm and was viewed as a first round talent coming out of high school. He displayed much more refined control of his three pitches during the shortened 2020 campaign, and all three of his pitches flash above average or better. The right-hander’s fastball sits in the upper-90s and might be the best offering in his repertoire. The slider is a power breaking ball with cutter shape, and his changeup was a plus pitch out of high school but became devalued as he worked to refine his breaking ball while at Georgia. There’s some relief risk here, but Wilcox’s mechanics are repeatable, and he showed starter traits this spring in limited outings. He’s got heavy arm-side-run on his fastball and a fade in his changeup that coincide with this fantastic arm action.

Washington’s been linked to Wilcox since they almost took him 27th overall in 2018, but his commitment to Georgia led to them taking him in the 37th round. Washington’s been connected to a handful of college pitchers outside of Wilcox, including Slade Cecconi, Chris McMahon and Carmen Mlodzinski. All are in play here (though Cecconi was mocked to the Cardinals at 21st overall) as the Nationals narrow their scope to focus on college pitching. 

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Ohio State and the MLB Draft are somewhat of a cruel joke, but they’ve produced three first round picks in their existence and all of them have reached the major leagues. Nick Swisher is the best of the bunch, having gone 16th overall in 2002. Cory Luebke went 63rd overall in 2007, and Alex Wimmers went 21st overall in 2010.

An uber-athletic freak, Dingler started out playing on the dirt in high school before transitioning to the outfield grass when he arrived at Ohio State. Finally, it appears Dingler has settled behind the plate, where he’s considered a plus defender by many. The 21-year-old’s athletic abilities behind-the-plate are well known, but his plus-arm is actually his best defensive tool. Offensively, he has average raw power that becomes more gap-oriented in-game. Dingler makes good contact and gets into an ideal launch position, and he possesses solid ball/strike recognition and a knack for making contact.

Cleveland loves upside, even if it comes with inherent risk. They are one of the few teams that’s taken a prep catcher in the first round in recent years, and the organization doesn’t shy away from the risky demographics. Jared Kelley is an option here and Nick Bitsko is name to watch if he falls to this pick.

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Mount Carmel produced three first round picks prior to the 21st century in Eric Chavez, Erik Pappas and Billy Beane. Alek Thomas is the only alum to go in the first two rounds this century, and Howard would be the fourth highest pick in the school’s history with this selection.

Howard’s been considered the top prep shortstop in the class for quite some time now, and the only reason he’s falling on boards is because of shoulder issues and cold weather bat concerns. He’s got five average or better tools including an above average arm and hit tool. He’s likely to stay at short, and the bat profiles perfectly there. He’s an above average runner and has solid instincts on the dirt. Offensively, Howard has a sweet swing and makes hard contact, but his track record is limited and scouts didn’t get to see him much following a short spring and the fact he left the 18U US program early last summer.

Whether Tampa Bay would prefer to take Howard here or 37th overall is unclear, but what’s abundantly clear is how much they like him. The Rays have been connected to Jared Kelley recently, but if Howard isn’t the pick here, I think they’ll take one of the two Miami arms in Chris McMahon or Slade Cecconi.

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Clarke Schmidt was one of two Gamecocks to go in the first round during the 2010s, but he was the only pitcher. South Carolina’s highest-ever pick in the first round is Drew Meyer, who went 10th overall in 2002. With this selection, Mlodzinksi would become the 14th Gamecock selected in the first round. 

Thanks to a broken foot that forced him to redshirt last season, Mlodzinski is currently sophomore eligible. After a successful run on the Cape last summer—where he flashed three above average or better pitches with plenty of starter traits—Mlodzinski flew up draft boards and into first round talks. While he doesn’t project overly well from a physical standpoint, he’s functionally athletic and moves around well while repeating his mechanics. He’s got a whippy arm and creates arm-side-run on his fastball and fade on his changeup. His slider’s shape is a bit slurvy, but it flashes plus when it takes on a tighter shape.

Alex Anthopolous loves college performers—especially pitchers—and Mlodzinski fits that type. Atlanta’s mostly been linked to college arms, including Clayton Beeter, Bryce Jarvis and Chris McMahon, but the one prep arm they’ve been connected to is Justin Lange, who is now likely to be selected sometime in the first round or sandwich round. Mississippi State infielders Justin Foscue and Jordan Westburg are also possible here.

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Baylor saw both Shea Langeliers and Davis Wendzel go 8th and 41st overall just last year. Those two were the only first rounders out of Baylor in the 2010s, and you’d have to go all the way back to 2009—when Aaron Miller went 36th overall—to find their last first round pick. Loftin would become the fourth position player drafted in the first round from Baylor with this selection.

Loftin possesses mostly average tools—except for an above average hit tool—but they come from a premium defensive position, where he excels. He’s an instinctive player and moves around well at shortstop. Offensively, his average raw power plays into the gaps during games. His swing plane is currently a bit flat, so he’s more of a doubles hitter as opposed to being a power threat. Loftin makes good contact and squares up pitches often, he’s a smart player and was one of the more vocal leaders while at Baylor.

Oakland is a common landing spot for a handful of college performers in mock drafts, especially infielders like Loftin, Jordan Westburg, Justin Foscue and Casey Martin. All of those names remain on the board when the Athletics go on the clock in this mock. Oakland tends to love middle-of-the-field, high floor guys with security, and Loftin is exactly that. 

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Mississippi State has produced three first rounders in the last four years, including Dakota Hudson (2016), Brent Rooker (2017) and Ethan Small (2019). In all, they’ve had 14 players drafted in the first round, and Justin Foscue would become the sixth hitter in that group.

Foscue’s been compared to his double play partner Jordan Westburg for quite some time, but the two are completely different sides of the coin. Foscue’s more of a pull side hitter, showing average game power and above average raw power. He taps into most of his power on the left side of the diamond. Defensively, he’s unlikely to find an everyday spot (unlike Westburg) and could split time at second base, third base or left field, where his average athleticism and speed wouldn’t be underlying issues. There are some approach related issues in his profile, and the hit tool is only average.

We’re in the range where college infielders will start flying off the board, and Minnesota is likely to follow Oakland’s lead and select one of the four (Foscue, Jordan Westburg, Casey Martin, Nick Loftin) who have been mentioned in this portion of the first round. Jordan Walker has been name-dropped in this spot, and he could be the pick if Minnesota opts to go with upside over floor.

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The only first round pick in Mountain Pointe school history is Carson’s brother, Cole, who went 24th overall in 2014 to the Pirates. The state of Arizona produced a pair of first rounders (Matthew Liberatore and Nolan Gorman) in 2018. In 1999, Corey Myers went 4th overall, becoming the first and only Arizona high schooler to go inside the top five.

Thanks to the warm weather in Arizona, scouts got plenty of live looks at Carson Tucker during the spring prior to the COVID-19 shutdown. He’s an all-around gamer and should stick in the dirt as a shortstop; his arm and glove are both above average tools. In the batter’s box, Tucker possesses a feel for the barrel, but he’s twitchy and there’s some inefficiencies in the lower half that have suppressed his power to this point. Thankfully, the teenager has an above average hit tool and below average present power profile could eventually evolve into a plus hit tool and average power, which would be lovely from shortstop.

The Yankees have had so many players mocked to them throughout the past calendar year. While Austin Wells and Daniel Cabrera appear a bit unlikely, Clayton Beeter and Bobby Miller have been gaining steam recently. If Slade Cecconi or Dillon Dingler make it this far, the Yankees would likely snatch either one of them. Tucker’s stock has been gaining momentum as draft day approaches; he’s been connected as high as 18th to his ‘hometown’ team in Arizona, but he could be a surprise pick even earlier.

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Santos is set to become the only first round pick from his high school. In 2016, Ian Anderson went 3rd overall from a New York prep school. In 2015, Garrett Whitley went 13th overall from the same demographic. Lenny Torres, who went 41st overall in 2018, is the most recent prep first rounder from New York.

Numerous pitchers with high spin and adequate size are possibilities at this spot, but Santos’ high-spinning curveball/fastball combo project to be two, future plus pitches. The right-hander’s long limbs allow him to present a tough angle on hitters, he gets good extension on his pitches and presents more of a sinker opposed to a traditional fastball thanks to currently poor spin efficiency. The teenager’s mechanics are inconsistent and he lacks a viable third offering as of now, but his changeup is average for his demographic and Santos throws the pitch with confidence.

The Dodgers have recently been linked to Justin Lange, who could go as high as 25th to Atlanta. Los Angeles could also take a college infielder—like they did last year with Michael Busch and Kody Hoese—with Jordan Westburg, who’s still on the board in this mock. Daniel Cabrera has been mentioned here, and college pitchers JT Ginn and Clayton Beeter should appear around this spot.

Follow P365 MLB Draft Analyst Mason McRae on Twitter! @mason_mcrae

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Featured image courtesy of site graphic designer Dorian Redden. Follow him on Twitter (@dRedden26) and Instagram (@d26gfx)

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