Prospects 365 MLB Draft Tracker: Day 1

Written by: Ray Butler

Follow us on Twitter! @Prospects365

Welcome to the inaugural Prospects 365 MLB Draft Tracker!

This is a live document that will be continuously updated throughout the first round and Comp A round of the 2020 MLB Draft.

Below, we’ve assembled a comprehensive list of players associated with each of the first 37 picks of the draft. Once a pick is made, the ‘Players to watch’ will be adjusted the drafted player and the content we’ve published on said player leading up to the draft. Content will include MLB Draft Analyst Mason McRae’s report from The War Room (it’s possible this draft board—complete with reports—will include every pick of the entire draft) and my evaluation from the first edition of my 2021 First Year Player Draft list. Drafted prospects will also be removed from the ‘Players to watch’ for teams who have not yet selected.

Because this is a live document that will be updated continuously once the draft begins, be sure to consistently refresh this page to view updated content. As we exhaust our contacts throughout draft night, our hope is to update this page with picks and content before they’re announced on the ESPN or MLB Network broadcast.

This is the first, live baseball event we’ve experienced. Kick back and enjoy draft night. We’ll keep you informed with everything you need to know about each and every pick—as the draft unfolds in real time.

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 8.58.18 PM

The Pick: Spencer Torkelson, 1B (3B), Arizona State. Age: 20

War Room: Torkelson’s been on draft radars ever since he blasted 25 HR as a freshman, and then 23 as a sophomore. In 129 Games at Arizona State, Torkelson slashed .337/463/.729 with 54 HR, 168 H, and 130 RBI. His 16.5 K%, 17.5 BB% are a perfect indication of his great discipline and advanced approach. Torkelson’s double plus power comes easy and he doesn’t have to throw away any contact to get to it. While his profile is an offensive-oriented one, don’t disregard him on defense. At first base – which is where he’s played – he could be an above average defender at the next level. At third base – where he played prior to his Arizona State days – he could be a below average defender, with an above average arm and instincts that would improve with more time at the spot. And his most likely landing spot, Left Field, is where his lackluster abilities with his glove and hands would be hidden and his quiet athleticism and above average arm would certainly make him at least a serviceable (-6 to -4 DRS) defender. Torkelson’s head coach at Arizona State had this to say about his under-valued defensive values – “He can move around, he can play second, he can play the outfield, he can play third. So I think his defense has improved and that’s only going to increase his stock as they evaluate”. Regardless of the position he runs out to for his Major League debt, one thing will be for sure – he’s gonna hit for plenty of power.

Fantasy Report: Torkelson is currently the odds-on favorite to the first ever collegiate first baseman selected with the first overall pick of the MLB Draft. Everyone (and I mean everyone) knows how valuable the 20-year-old will likely become from a fantasy standpoint, so allow me to talk about his real-life value for a moment. Right/right first baseman are a dime a dozen in today’s MLB, so Torkelson will have to really hit—and really hit consistently—to accrue the WAR organizations dream about with the first overall pick. Luckily, the first baseman’s most likely outcomes as a professional range anywhere from a 55-hit/55-raw power output to a 60-hit/70-raw power output. In an organization starving for pure offensive talent, Torkelson fits that label in spades. Much like Andrew Vaughn, Torkelson projects as a fast mover throughout the minor leagues, perhaps being ready for every day MLB playing time by sometime in 2022. As of now, Torkelson will immediately slot into the top-10 of my prospect list (yes, slightly ahead of Vaughn) as soon as he’s drafted.

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 8.59.59 PM

The Pick: Heston Kjerstad, OF, Arkansas. Age: 21

War Room: Five years ago, Arkansas OF Andrew Benintendi went 7th Overall after launching double digit home runs as a sophomore. Kjerstad was on pace to hit double digit home runs for the third straight year until the Coronavirus pandemic shut down the season, but is now set up to become the 10th Razorback selected in the first round since Jeff King went 1st Overall in 1986. Under Dave Van Horn, Arkansas has produced a top three round pick in every draft since 2009, when Dallas Keuchel was the top Razorback selected and went in the 7th Round. When JJ Bleday was drafted fourth overall last year, Heston Kjerstad immediately became the top left-handed power bat in the nation and displayed that en route to a .448/.513/.719 line while generating 19 R, 30 H, 5 2B, 6 HR, 20 RBI, and 53 TB. Kjerstad’s plus-power from the left side combined with above average speed are the exact combination that lands you in right field, where Kjerstad would play at the next level thanks to sneaky leg speed and an above average arm. In his career at Arkansas, all Kjerstad has done is hit, and hit for power. His .343/.421/.590 career line, and 34 2B, 37 HR, 129 RBI, 137 R, 204 H are picture perfect. But the one underlying issue in Kjerstad’s profile is massive swing-and-miss concerns (18.7 K%, 7.8 BB%) and underwhelming ball/strike recognition. While he’s not mechanically pleasing, Kjerstad gets fantastic launch angle numbers and creates exit velo numbers off-the-charts all the while playing solid defense at a position where there’s some value.

Fantasy Report: As the majority of prep prospects continue to descend on draft boards thanks to the canceled 2020 high school season, Kjerstad appears to be one of the biggest benefactors. With double plus power but very little speed output potential, the 21-year-old’s fantasy outlook will depend heavily on his hit tool. There’s some volatility there, with some outlets labeling it as above average and others slapping a 40 (below average) on it. I tend to side with the more pessimistic group, mostly because Kjerstad’s swing is naturally susceptible to elevated velocity and, when he becomes a professional and sells out to impact the high heater during an at-bat, advanced sequencers will expose him elsewhere (the set-up and swing itself reminds me of Colby Rasmus). The 21-year-old has a sterling track record of offense performance (he’s already unlocked his massive power in-game), and his above-average arm in right field practically makes him a lock to be selected in the top half of the first round next month. But for recent-memory fantasy purposes, Kjerstad is Hunter Bishop with less upside, and that means I’ll likely be avoiding him in FYPDs this offseason.

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 9.02.33 PM

The Pick: Max Meyer, RHP, Minnesota. Age: 21

War Room: The day Meyer hit triple digits on opening night was the domino that started his climb into top ten talks. An undersized build (6’0, 185 lbs), closer role in the summer for the US Collegiate team, and a two-pitch mix as a sophomore led to Meyer being tagged with relief risk. Meyer’s junior campaign was as good as he could’ve hoped for, he was sitting 97-99 with three above average or better (55+) pitches and two that flash plus. Meyer’s mechanics are as good as you’ll see from an amateur pitching prospect, his hip-shoulder separation help him create the high velocity numbers with such minimal mass, and his lower half torque helps his entire body stay in sync and help him generate upper-90’s velocity without creating overlying issues that’ll come back in the future. Meyer’s three-pitch mix, highlighted by one of the best slider’s in the class, which touches 91 and ranges from 88-90 with a devastating late cutting action. His Fastball, basically a cutter, will play at virtually every level of pro ball, touches triple-digits and ranges from 94-96 later on in Meyer’s starts. His changeup, a pitch that flashed plus at times this past year was his best swinging strike pitch and he threw it much more often as the feel for it increased. Prior to this year, Meyer’s control/command would’ve been right around average, but he showed plus control this spring and the command could suffice at the next level. In the short time I’ve covered the draft, Meyer’s been the most dominant, electrifying amateur pitching prospect I’ve seen, and it’s in large part to his ability to do everything well. Meyer’s gone on the record discussing the lack of analytically-driven inner-workings of his stuff, in this case, Seattle is getting a fully-equipped nuclear weapon with the ability to add much more power.

Fantasy Report: If you’re a glutton for risk/reward in First Year Player Drafts, look no further than Meyer. The right-hander fully transitioned to the starting rotation this season after relieving his freshman season and oscillating between the rotation and bullpen last season; the pre-shutdown numbers were fantastic: 4 GS, 27.2 IP, 15 H, 6 ER, 8 BB, 46 K (0.83 WHIP, 1.95 ERA). In the same mold as Asa Lacy and Garrett Crochet, Meyer’s arsenal is headlined by a fastball/slider combination. The former possesses premium velocity, but multiple sources have indicated the pitch plays down thanks to unintentional cutting (an obvious sign of unoptimized spin efficiency). The latter is a true 70-grade weapon and a pitch that would serve as an awesome foundation for any profile. The premise regarding the perception of Meyer’s relief risk is mostly based on his size (6-foot, 185 lbs.) and lack of track record in the rotation (his command and explosiveness tapered a bit later in starts in 2020). However, I fully believe the 21-year-old has the athleticism and arsenal to remain in the rotation long-term, especially if he’s able to optimize his fastball spin efficiency as a professional. The margin between Meyer and Crochet is fairly narrow, though I’m giving a nod to the former here thanks a presently-better third pitch (changeup) and superior athleticism.

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 9.04.41 PM

The Pick: Asa Lacy, LHP, Texas A&M. Age: 21

War Room: While Texas A&M has generated plenty of Big League Pitchers (AJ Minter, Michael Wacha, Ross Stripling, Alex Wilson), they have yet to produce a top four pick. Jeff Granger came close – and to this day is the highest selected Texas A&M player – going fifth overall in the 1993 Draft. With this selection Asa Lacy would become the highest selected player in A&M’s history, and the ninth pitcher to go in the first round, with Michael Wacha (2012) being the most recent. Asa Lacy’s two-pitch-mix and historically dominant numbers have him primed to become the first College Southpaw to go this high since North Carolina State’s Carlos Rodon went third overall in 2014. Lacy has quickly emerged on draft boards of late and his latest spring campaign was a perfect indication of how Lacy’s stuff plays in games. The Kerryvile, Texas native was dominant the day he stepped foot at College Station, posting a 2.75 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and 11.0 K/9 through 39.1 innings in a swingman role. After a summer of praise, and fall of continued dominance, he jumped into a starter role. In his sophomore year, Lacy went 88.2 innings with 130 SO, while allowing 49 H, 21 ER, and 43 BB. His 8-4 Record, 2.13 ERA, and 1.03 WHIP earned him All-American Honors. Then, Lacy put his foot on the gas and put up a 0.75 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, and 17.3 K/9 in 24.0 innings as a junior and immediately inserted himself into top 5 talks, and has gotten interest as early as first overall with Detroit. Lacy’s stuff features a Plus-FB, Plus-SL, and CH that flashes above average. While he’s worked on harnessing his overpowering mid-90’s fastball – which can get as high as 99 – he’s struggled and has control that’s just average as of now. Lacy’s vertical movement on his FB and carry allow him to control the upper portion of the zone, while his SL allows him to drop in a cutter-esque pitch with late vertical movement coming at you in the high-80’s.

Fantasy Report: Asa Lacy and Emerson Hancock form the perfect antithesis amongst top pitching prospects in this draft class. While Hancock (you can read his full report directly below) is practically the quintessential ‘sum-of-the-parts’ pitching prospect (the parts just so happen to mostly be above average), Lacy wows you with his explosion. Armed with a left-handed fastball that touches 98 mph with insane ride at the top of the zone (21.7″ vMov, 96% spin efficiency, 17.3% SwStr in 2020) and a true wipeout slider (46.4% SwStr in 2020, LOL) that’s weaponized versus both left-handed and right-handed hitters, Lacy undoubtedly boasts the best two-pitch combination (both of which grade at 70 in my eyes) in this draft class. It was primarily the fastball/slider duo that led to these ridiculous stats prior to the college season being canceled: 24.0 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, 8 BB, 46 K (0.71 WHIP, 0.75 ERA). Not too shabby, though it’s worth mentioning Lacy’s changeup is extremely underrated (46.2% SwStr in 2020, HAHAHAHA) and has become a viable third pitch in this impressive arsenal. So how the heck is the southpaw not the universal, consensus top-ranked pitching prospect in the 2020 draft class? Simply put, his mechanics. Varying opinions abound on just how durable Lacy will be throughout the course of a full professional season. The left-hander’s biggest proponents see a pitcher whose arm gets to an optimal position at release, all while being supported by a well-utilized, strong lower half. Those with concerns cede the previous points while pointing out Lacy’s head movement (it appears he’s looking directly downward at the ground at release) as his momentum carries him towards home plate. Consequently, the detractors point out that the left-hander’s mechanics remaining unaltered would lead to consistent, continual stress on the shoulder, leading to inevitable injuries and ailments throughout his professional career. It’s important to note that, while he’s likely the safer pitching prospect, Hancock currently has a longer injury track record than Lacy. It’s even more important to note that Lacy is so model-friendly within most organizations (he’s not a fantastic spinner of the ball from a raw RPM standpoint, but he is highly-efficient, extends well and has ridiculous vMov/hMov and SwStr% numbers) that teams will simply be willing to draft the stuff and track record this summer while acknowledging future mechanical alterations may be needed for the southpaw to continuously take the ball every fifth day throughout the minors and big leagues. In either direction, you can’t ‘full send’ on Lacy unless you rank him as the top pitching prospect in this class or bury him somewhere in the 20-30 range. After ranking him behind Hancock on my projected 2021 top-100 prospect list, I’m swapping the order here after attaining Lacy’s Rapsodo data and speaking with several people who aren’t overly concerned with the mechanics.

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 9.06.10 PM

The Pick: Austin Martin, INF/OF, Vanderbilt. Age: 21

The War Room: Where Martin lines up on defense is even more of a mystery in comparison to the aforementioned, Spencer Torkelson. Scouts low on Martin’s glove see him as a second baseman, with replaceable level skills. Though scouts that put some value on his glove see him as a possible center fielder, with an above average arm, improving feel for the spot and sneaky above average speed. It’s fair to call Martin a swish army knife, in the sense that the team selecting him, Baltimore in this case, could send him out to numerous premium positions and try to capitalize on his versatility. Martin’s glove is very much up in the air, but the bat couldn’t be further from a question mark. Martin’s career at Vanderbilt was luxurious, he slashed .368/.474/.532 and put up 200 H, 57 XBH, 76 RBI and 43 SB in 140 games. His bat gets elite grades (70 Hit, 50 Power) and his natural inclined feel for hit comes with no effort. Martin’s low maintenance swing creates plus bat speed and loft. Martin’s best feature is his advanced approach, as illustrated by his career 12.8 BB%, and 12.3 K%, though in 2020 alone, he posted a 2.9 K%.

Fantasy Report: While Spencer Torkelson likely projects as a better fantasy asset than real-life player, Martin will really have to compile offensive counting stats to outperform the real life value he’ll add to whichever organization selects him next month. Capable of playing multiple defensive positions at an average-or-better level, Martin’s defensive versatility really embodies the type of player he is in general. A true five-tool talent with a well-rounded skillset, the 21-year-old is commonly comped to Dansby Swanson, who’s also a former Vanderbilt Commodore. While I love Swanson and fully believe he’s destined for big things in 2020 and beyond, Martin carries a better hit tool and should produce at a higher clip in the stolen base department. If you already roster the 21-year-old in open-universe dynasty leagues or plan on drafting him in your league’s First Year Player Draft, cross your fingers and hope the organization that selects him inside the top-5 doesn’t insist on sticking him at third base or in the outfield exclusively. From a fantasy standpoint, Martin’s likely output will really pop if you can someday stick him in your second base, shortstop or middle infield slot once he hypothetically debuts at the big league level. I found this Keith Law chat response on Martin’s throwing arm from the outfield this spring really interesting and something to keep an eye on once the 21-year-old debuts professionally.

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 9.11.30 PM

The Pick: Emerson Hancock, RHP, Georgia. Age: 21

The War Room: Hancock’s been a hot conversation of late. His trackman data seems to point in the direction of a pitcher without bat-missing stuff and his history of arm soreness has created a dramatic wait for the disclosure of his physical to the public. Hancock sat out for all of the summer after missing the final few weeks of the College Season with shoulder soreness. Because of his spotty history, clubs heavily tuned into his opening night start, where he struggled (4.0 IP, 9 H, 6 ER, 1 BB, 4 SO, 2 HR) and struggled to miss barrels. Following that start, Hancock was his old self, throwing 20.0 innings and posting a 0.80 WHIP, 1.80 ERA, and 13.5 K/9. Some of Hancock’s concerns have arisen from velocity drops, but anybody with some sense of knowledge knows velocity of college pitchers are typically down at the beginning of the year, and climb towards the end, especially ones in good throwing programs. In Hancock’s case, he sat 94-95, touching 97 in his opening start against Dayton last year. Then, in his final start against Ole Miss, he was 96-97, hitting 98 seven times, with the last being in the fourth inning. In his ‘20 debut, Hancock was back to his early ‘19 spring self, touching 97 three times, and throwing 23 (of his 43 FB) in the 94-96 range, with the lowest being at 92 (3 times). Had the ‘20 spring not been canceled, Hancock likely gets back to himself, where at his best he flashes three plus-pitches, plus command, and upper-90’s velocity. Regarding the bat-missing life of his pitches, Georgia Head Coach Scott Stricklin said his FB had spin rates ranging from 2,450 to 2,550 rpm. Even Hancock’s pitch data is far from a concern, he’s got a 10.1 SwStr% on his FB, 20.1 SwStr% on his SL, 23.7 SwStr% on his CH, and 7.9 SwStr% on his CB. Some have wondered how Hancock’s stuff would fare against professional hitters (Bleday, Shewmake, India, Misner), fortunately for us, he faced four first round picks in his Freshman & Sophomore years. The four were slashed .091/.167/.091 and were a combined 1 for 11, with 0 XBH, 4 SO, and 1 BB. Hancock’s three plus pitches (65-Grade SL, 60-Grade FB, and 65-Grade CH) combined with plus feel for all three and a serviceable fourth pitch (55-Grade CB) make him the highest graded (55 FV) pitching prospect on my board.

Fantasy Report: Hancock epitomizes the phrase ‘prototypical college pitcher’. There’s an optimal frame (6-foot-4, 215 lbs.), plenty of stuff (you can make a case for three above-average-or-better pitches), solid command and elite pitchability that was evident in each of the right-hander’s four starts this spring. After allowing nine hits and six earned runs in just four innings in Georgia’s Opening Day game versus Richmond, Hancock settled in nicely throughout his final three starts: 20 IP, 13 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 30 K (0.75 WHIP, 1.80 ERA); even against the Spiders, scouts came away impressed with the crispness of the right-hander’s stuff. Hancock was sidelined at times last season due to arm soreness, which also kept him away from competition throughout last summer. He showed no lingering signs of ailment this winter and spring prior to the collegiate season being canceled. While Hancock doesn’t quite possess the otherworldly two-pitch combination of Asa Lacy (fastball/slider), the former’s holistic arsenal—paired with worry-free mechanics and the prospect of above-average-or-better command as a professional—makes him the easy choice as 2nd-ranked pitching prospect in this draft class. As the industry as a whole continues to dive-in and become more comfortable with this draft class, don’t be surprised if Hancock dips to the Max Meyer/Mick Abel/Garrett Crochet tier of pitchers before next offseason. The driving force behind that hypothetical drop would be further dissection of an arsenal in which no pitch posted a swinging strike rate higher than 13.0% in a shortened 2020 campaign.

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 9.13.36 PM

The Pick: Nick Gonzales, 2B, New Mexico State. Age: 21

The War Room: After being named the Cape Cod League’s Most Valuable Player, Gonzales quickly erased the asterisks on his profile enhanced by the hitter friendly environment at New Mexico State. Gonzales’ pure hitting abilities are some of the best in the class, his hit tool (65-Grade) trails only Austin Martin, and his plate recognition is elite. The walk-on at New Mexico State caught a lot of attention earlier this year when he was spotted starting at shortstop, not second base, for the Aggies. While still an inferior defender at shortstop, Gonzales is a superior athlete and with some patience from the team drafting him, he could become a serviceable defender at the spot, though I ratherly doubt it, and it seems like he’ll end up at second base where his offense can do the talking. Gonzales’ profile is offensive-oriented and he put up untouchable numbers in his three years in Las Cruces, New Mexico. In 128 career games, Gonzales slashed .399/.502/.747 with 39 2B, 7 3B, and 37 HR. A coach that faced Gonzales at New Mexico State had this to say – “He’s the real deal. He has lightning quick hands, and barreled a 95 mph pitch in on his hands down the line, then drove a solid left-handed changeup to right field. Gonzales is a complete balanced hitter with total command of the strike zone”. While Gonzales has just average raw power, he’s got an elite feel for hit (13.5 K%, 14.9 BB%) and all-fields approach that could help him move through the minors quickly.

Fantasy Report: Thanks to our Ian Smith’s deep dive on Gonzales last month, there’s not too much to add here. I will say the second baseman’s makeup has been compared to that of Royce Lewis. Prospect Live’s Matt Thompson is correct when he says you ‘can’t put those types of qualities in a spreadsheet’, but it does allow us to feel fairly confident Gonzales will always get the most of his skillset. If you’ve done much reading on the 21-year-old, you know we’re not allowed to finalize this evaluation without mentioning the similarities between Gonzales and Keston Hiura. The latter has massively outperformed his base stealing projections despite being an average runner; Gonzales will likely need to do the same to become a top-50 player in redraft leagues, which Hiura has accomplished leading up to the 2020 season.

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 9.16.03 PM

The Pick: Robert Hassell III, OF, Independence HS (TN). Age: 18

The War Room: Out of high school, Tennessee hasn’t produced a first round hitting prospect since Kyler Burke went 35th Overall in 2006. The last Tennessee-born high schooler to go this high was Ryan Weathers in 2008, who was taken 7th Overall. Since 2016, the state of Tennessee has produced 18 draft picks. Coming into the summer, we knew about Pete Crow-Armstrong, Zac Veen, Dylan Crews, and Austin Hendrick, but Robert Hassell was somewhere in the next tier of prep outfielders. After a successful run with the 18U National Team – where he slashed .514/.548/.886 – he jumped up on boards and seemed to be widely regarded as the top pure hitting prospect in the class from the high school ranks. The Vanderbilt commit has an easy, quick, contact-oriented swing with plus-hit, average power, and above average bat speed. It’s the all-around profile that’s drawing such high interest (SD, COL, LAA) amongst the clubs selecting in the top ten, Hassell’s been up to 88 from the left side on the mound. Likewise to Zac Veen, it’s a tricky profile defensively, though in much respect, Hassell’s a superior defender with a touch better leg speed and a much better arm (Above Average Grade) which in turn would lead to the belief of him playing right field at the next level, opposed to CF where’s not efficiently enough at running routes, and LF where he’s far too talented defensively to play. Similar to nearly every player selected this far, it’s an offensive profile for Hassell, and his present feel for hit has nearly every club interested to some degree.

Fantasy Report: Watching Hassell play for Team USA throughout the 2019 summer, I got some Bryce Harper vibes from the outfielder’s stance and timing mechanisms. There’s just something so satisfying about about an aesthetically-pleasing left-handed swing, and Hassell possesses exactly that. While it’s true that he and Pete Crow-Armstrong share some similarities within their respective profiles, Hassell’s frame projects better, his swing has more natural loft and he barrels the ball more frequently (presently, anyways). There’s a real chance the 18-year-old finalizes as a 55-hit, 55-raw power, 55-speed prospect who’s capable of remaining in center field defensively; that means there should be plenty of value to go around both in real life and in the fantasy world. Like PCA, Hassell is committed to Vanderbilt and figures to be a fairly difficult sign on draft day. FYPD discussions regarding this prep position player class tend to begin and end with Zac Veen, but Hassell and Crow-Armstrong are where the value will be found.

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 9.18.18 PM

The Pick: Zac Veen, OF Spruce Creek HS (Florida). Age: 18

The War Room: Cole Beverlin in 2018 became the first player to be drafted out of Spruce Creek in this decade, he went in the 38th round and didn’t sign. Barring any unforeseen events, Veen will become the first player from his school to go in the first round, though he’s far from the last Florida-born high schooler to be taken this high. Riley Greene in 2018 went fifth overall, Brendan Rodgers in 2015 went third overall, and Cole Tucker in 2015 went fifth overall. After a spring that saw him surge up boards, Veen took advantage of the shortened ‘20 spring and was lights out in the minimal live game action evaluators saw him in. Likewise to every player already mentioned, Veen’s profile is offensive-oriented, his plus raw power and plus hit are o3f the highest any prep bat’s received this year and his explosive swing’s drawn comparisons to Cody Bellinger & Christian Yelich. Unlike most prep bats, Veen’s present hitting abilities are obvious and his floor’s relatively high for his age and demographic. Defensively, Veen’s landing spot is still unclear, some believe he’d shift to RF, some think he could stay in CF, and others (like myself) believe he’ll end up in LF, where his below average speed, below average arm wouldn’t be a problem. Regardless of where Veen’s bat plays, he’ll hit for power, contact and everything else. He has an aesthetically pleasing swing with fantastic launch angle & exit velocity numbers as well as virtually everything you’d need from an offensive point-of-view.

Fantasy Report: There appears to be some legitimate smoke that Veen might not be as high within organizations as he is throughout the draft industry. While a hypothetical drop could possibly lead to an overslot in real life, it would only be advantageous in FYPDs this offseason, especially if you play with unsuspecting league mates. In actuality, Veen is indisputably one of the best hitters in this class. At this point, an eventual 50-hit, 55-raw power outcome would be relatively disappointing when you evaluate his present skillset. Luckily, it appears as though the most likely outcome is a 55-hit, 70-raw power output that chips in a handful of stolen bases per season (some outlets are bullish on Veen’s speed, but I believe he benefits from being a long strider and likely won’t impact the stolen base category much once he reaches the big leagues). The teenager likely transitions to a corner outfield spot defensively, but the offensive skillset will play fine regardless of position. If you’re a dreamer, .270 BA/30 HR/5 SB with a healthy OBP from right field isn’t even the 90th percentile outcome here.

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 9.20.51 PM

The Pick: Reid Detmers, LHP, Louisville. Age: 21

The War Room: 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 from the pitching side and the most recent being Brendan McKay, who went 4th overall in 2007. There’s something cynical about a southpaw who works in the low-90’s while flashing a plus-CB that’s more of a rainbow pitch, opposed to the new age hard-hitting power breaking ball that teams are paying high prices for. Detmers’ plus-control and great feel for all three of his pitches have put him in top ten talks, even with the shortage in velocity. At his best, Detmers sits 89-90, touching 93 with effective spin on all three offerings.

Fantasy Report: Detmers is such a unique profile in this class, sort of assuming the role George Kirby held last season. The southpaw’s track record of performance while pitching at Louisville is darn impressive; despite this, he’s perceived as more of a high-floor pitcher than a prospect oozing with upside like his college stats indicate. Why? Detmers has relied heavily on his fastball and curveball throughout his college career. The former sits in the low-90s (T94, 17″ vMOV, 11″ hMOV) and projects as a fringe average pitch professionally. The latter is widely-regarded as a 70-grade pitch and perceived by some as the single best pitch in this draft class, though some fear its high usage and shape will make it easily-distinguishable against advanced hitters. Both of Detmers’ primary offerings are assisted by above average command and obvious pitchability traits. Other than perhaps tinkering with the shape of his curveball post-draft, the 21-year-old will likely look to add a viable third pitch—probably a changeup that serves as a fading compliment to his curveball—to decrease his arsenal predictability while combatting right-handed hitters as his outings progress. For a prospect with Detmers’ track record and pedigree, there’s a surprising amount of unknown and variance attached to this profile.

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 9.23.54 PM

The Pick: Garrett Crochet, LHP, Tennessee. Age: 21

The War Room: Tennessee’s Ace and a clear First Round Talent, Garrett Crochet, was out-of-the-spotlight, and in his only 2020 start, Crochet was, well, sensational. Because of it he went from no. 26 on my board to no. 14 and is still rising. In his debut, he went 3.1 innings, allowing 0 R, 2 H, with 6 SO, and no BB or HBP. He was incredibly productive (only 42 Pitches, 74% Strikes) in his limited start, as expected. Crochet was coming off shoulder soreness that saw him land a spot on the injury report prior to Opening Day. In his first inning, Crochet threw eight fastballs, all 97 or 98 (mph), seven for strikes, and two for swing-and-misses. During his final four outs, he was sitting in the 93-95 (mph) range. At the end of the day, Crochet threw 22 FB, 20 for a strike, and 7 for a swing-and-miss – not only is Crochet’s FB a Plus-Pitch, but it has all the potential in the world to be the one of (if not the) best Fastballs the Class. Like most pitchers, Crochet faces “reliever or starter” questions, and this weekend he answered those by flashing a plus-SL that only got 4 swing-and-misses on 13 pitches, though it was only thrown for a strike 46%, he has elite spin on it, typically in the 2,800-3,000 (rpms) range. His CH was thrown 7 times, for a strike 5 times, and twice for a swing-and-miss, making it more than a capable third pitch. Crochet’s gone under-the-shadows of two elite LHP in Asa Lacy and Reid Detmers, both getting top 10 talk, and Crochet is trending in the same direction as them. An Injury to Crochet saw him drop from 12th to 26th on my board and boy did he show he’s more than healthy in an unfortunately shortened season. Showing exactly what he did in the fall, elite velo, capable secondaries, and a much improved control-over-command style. Crochet did struggle heavily against right-handed batters as well, and it’s a silver lining on his relief risk.

Fantasy Report: Crochet might have the best two-pitch combination of any arm in this draft class other than Asa Lacy. The left-hander’s fastball touches triple digits and is complimented by a wipeout slider that is assisted a bit by a closed-off delivery (Crochet begins on the third base side of the rubber, but his stride carries him directly towards the center of home plate). The 21-year-old’s eventual role will hinge greatly on the development of a reliable third pitch, an offering that will likely be utilized primarily against right-handers the second and third time thru the order. Luckily, a changeup might not even need to possess average qualities for it to be an extremely effective pitch for a left-hander with triple-digit fastball velocity that possesses fantastic horizontal movement in the opposite direction of a left-handed changeup. Crochet only made one start this season prior to the shutdown due to shoulder soreness, which adds to the complexity of this profile evaluation within MLB organizations. I’m interested to see where the southpaw is drafted this summer.

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 9.25.20 PM

The Pick: Austin Hendrick, OF, West Allegheny HS (Pennsylvania). Age: 19

The War Room: If you watch Austin Hendrick on the right day, you’re looking at top of the order right fielder with the raw power to put 40 souvenirs into the stands and put up an OPS over .850. Though if you watch him on the wrong day, you might be looking at a low .200 hitter with a strong chance to strike out 200 times, but still a highly probable shot at 35-40 HR. Hendrick, a 6’1/200 outfielder has undergone lots of changes to his swing in response to a late-summer slump. He once stood in an upright, open stance with a double toe-tap and hand wiggle before a long powerful stride. He now starts in an athletic base with a much shorter stride, and less (unwarranted) movement pre-pitch. While his mechanics have come and gone, the power he’s displayed has not. A Perfect Game Home Run Derby participant, USA alum, and Baseball America All-American – Hendrick has checked off every box imaginable. His Plus Plus raw power is one that no high schooler in this class can match. High Schoolers as talented as Hendrick come with flaws that can be easily fixed and tools that can’t be taught. His below average hit-tool, double plus-power, and plus-arm are characteristics that fit the trajectory of where the MLB is going. Hendrick, well regarded as a hitter still has some traits on the basepath, a somewhat instinctive player with slightly above average speed. Hendrick Probably has my favorite comp in the class, he’s in the mold of Shohei Ohtani with shades of Cody Bellinger. The profile of Hendrick is reminiscent of that of 2019 Royals first rounder Bobby Witt Jr – an old-for-the-class prospect with a near plus glove, plus plus-power, an near average hit tool, swing and miss concerns and a very strong matured swing. Every single one of those could be listed under Hendrick and you wouldn’t think twice. Sure, Austin Hendrick doesn’t play at a position as valuable as Bobby Witt Jr, but you can’t deny the similarities between the two.

Fantasy Report: Hendrick isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Old for his prep class and riddled with swing and miss issues at the worst possible time last summer, the teenager appears to project as the quintessential power-first outfielder whose real life and fantasy value will largely hinge on the development of his hit tool. For now, I worry a chicken-winged back elbow and a bat wrap will leave him extremely susceptible to elevated velocity, especially against advanced pitching. Shopping cart in hand, Hendrick is the Great Value version of Zac Veen (in a similar sense, he’s the high school version of Heston Kjerstad with slightly more upside); simply put, you’re receiving a discount because because the hit tool developing to average-or-better is a higher than average outcome. Not unlike Veen, Hendrick likely profiles best from right field, where his boom-or-bust offensive profile will be aided by adequate fielding skills and an above average arm. With very little speed output expected, Hendrick is the position player version of Jared Kelley in this class, meaning I’ll gladly let one of my league mates select him in our FYPDs prior to next season.

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 10.13.48 PM

The Pick: Patrick Bailey, C, North Carolina State. Age: 21

War Room: Having back-to-back drafts with elite switch-hitting catchers is a rare commodity in today’s day-in-age. Bailey, the no. 3 hitter for North Carolina State has put up numbers in a power-five conference that only Adley Rutschman topped. In his Sophomore year, Bailey had 236 AB, 50 R, 68 H, 17 2B, 3 3B, 10 HR, 46 RBI, and 41 BB to 43 SO. His .390 OBP and .513 SLG make it even better. While it’s a Deep Pitching Class, Bailey won’t get the attention he deserves. He has five average tools all at a premium position. Wherever he goes, some team will be getting a deal and with the Risk of HS catchers, College catchers are one of the only ways for teams to find cheap, homegrown backstoppers. The 2020 Draft is low on college catchers, Bailey and Arizona’s Austin Wells are the only two that have received first-round grades – so both of their stocks should be getting inflated because of the value they add, especially Bailey. As a switch-hitter, Bailey has 25+ HR potential, something only five catchers accomplished last year. Catching prospects are a diamond in the rough, when you can find one as talented as Patrick Bailey with the ability to hit with power and contact from both sides. Behind the plate, the story says the same – Bailey is an average defender with solid receiving abilites and an above average arm. The USA collegiate team member draws similarly to fellow Wolfpack draftee and Cardinals catcher, Andrew Knizner. Bailey’s swing is steady, with loose limbs and hands that allow him to adjust to a pitch in the case that he guesses wrong. Though he lacks explosion in his swing and the bat speed desired to adjust to advanced velo, he’s hit for contact and power in the second-best conference in college baseball that’s talent is compared to high-A by hundreds of professional scouts. If Bailey can raise his home run total once again as well as showing continued improvement with his receiving abilities and mobility on inaccurate pitches – he’ll get top 10 looks and end up getting grabbed by a team like the Angels, or Pittsburgh who sit with selections that could be the turning point from the upper-tier in the class to the next guys up, somebody like Bailey is a great fallout plan.

Fantasy Report: While it’s no longer the universal consensus it was a few months ago, Bailey is still largely regarded as the top catching prospect in this class. Statistically, the 21-year-old has a fantastic track record of success throughout his collegiate career at North Carolina State, even surpassing 2019 first round draft pick Adley Rutschman in several statistical categories. Unfortunately, in the fantasy world, Bailey’s likely road to viability will stem from compiling. A switch-hitter who should remain behind the plate, the 21-year-old projects as middle-of-the-road both from a hit tool and power standpoint. With no stolen base threat to speak of, Bailey reminds me a bit of a mixture between the 2019 versions of Omar Narvaez and Kurt Suzuki in terms of what we might come to expect from the backstop in the fantasy world once he hypothetically debuts at the big league level.

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 10.15.42 PM

The Pick: Justin Foscue, 2B, Mississippi State. Age: 21

The War Room: Mississippi State has produced three first rounders in the last four years, including Ethan Small (2019), Brent Rooker (2017), and Dakota Hudson (2016). 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 above average power and above average raw power. He taps into most, if not all of his power in-game with a bat that gets around everything and yanks it to left field. Defensively, he’s unlikely to find an everyday spot (unlike Westburg) and could split time at 2B, 3B, and LF where his average athleticism and leg speed wouldn’t be underlying issues. There’s some approach related issues in his profile and the hit tool’s only average.

Fantasy Report: The Kody Hoese of this draft class. Foscue’s skill set will never blow you away, but he’s a high floor player capable of playing multiple positions who should move relatively quickly throughout the minor leagues. While I wouldn’t certainly characterize the 21-year-old’s swing mechanics as ‘athletic’, I do wonder if starting from a more upright position would allow the infielder to tap-in to a bit more power. For now, Foscue is a 50-hit, 55-power (you can argue it’s plus to his pull side) prospect capable of playing both second base and third base. Possessing a profile that will likely be known more for it’s ‘compiler’ qualities than pure explosiveness, dynasty players should hope the 21-year-old’s draft suitor plans to primarily slot him at the cornerstone. Foscue strikes me as a prospect who could lean on pulled fly balls as a professional; this will help him maximize his power potential, but it will likely come at the expense of a high batting average. Luckily, the infielder’s patience and willingness to take a walk could make him a bit of an OBP-league darling if my ‘pulled fly ball’ hunch comes true.

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 10.21.42 PM

The Pick: Mick Abel, RHP, Jesuit HS (OR). Age: 18

War Room: Oregon hasn’t produced a first rounder (out of High School) since Matt Smith went 16th overall in 1994. Carson Kelley is the most recent product from Oregon and he went 86th overall in 2012. Mick Abel’s set to become the only first round pick in school history. Abel’s uber-projectable frame and electric arm have been all over twitter of late with recent bullpens showing a much more refined feel for his three pitches. Abel flashes two plus-pitches, the better being a steep CB that tunnels his FB. He’ll occasionally drop in a good-looking CH that has a good shape, but didn’t miss many bats in games. No pitcher in this class holds more upside than Abel, and his combination of size/stuff are the ideal traits possessed by starting pitchers at the next level.

Fantasy Report: While Emerson Hancock epitomizes a prototypical college pitcher within this class, Abel embodies the prototypical prep pitcher. Armed with a 6-foot-6, 215 lb. frame with some projection remaining, clean mechanics, premium fastball velocity and an advanced breaking ball for his age, Abel might have more upside than any prep prospect in this class other than Zac Veen. Recently-released Rapsodo information on the right-hander’s fastball included 99.5 mph velocity, a raw spin rate of 2660 RPM (would be 99th percentile amongst all MLB pitchers), a spin efficiency of 94% and above average vertical movement. I assume releasing that information (even if it was a max-effort rep) is a calculated, necessary step for a prep pitcher who didn’t pitch against varsity competition this spring prior to the high school season being canceled. If any under-exposed prep pitcher will be immune to a draft day drop this summer, it should be Abel. He likely has the most upside of any right-handed pitcher in this class.

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 10.23.36 PM

The Pick: Ed Howard, SS, Mt. Carmel HS (IL). Age: 18

War Room: Mount Carmel produced three first round picks prior to the 21st century in Eric Chavez, Erik Pappas, and Billy Beane. 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 (50+) 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 very much from him as his spring was shorter than most and he left the 18U US program earlier on in the summer.

Fantasy Report: Ed Howard is going to be an extremely good professional baseball player. A five-tool talent with average-or-better tools across the board, Howard currently possesses an extremely projectable 6-foot-2, 185 pound frame that should add strength in the near future. The teenager is a plus athlete with slick defensive skills at shortstop; he should remain at the position throughout his professional career. He’s also an above average runner and, with fantastic bat speed and a frame that should continue to add strength, there’s an outside chance he reaches plus raw power too. While it’s unfair to compare Howard to the top prep shortstops from last season’s draft class (Bobby Witt Jr. and CJ Abrams), that doesn’t mean the 18-year-old won’t be very good in his own right. Practically a shoe-in to be a first round pick in next month’s MLB Draft, I assume Howard might slide down some FYPD boards (further than his ranking here) due to a perceived lack of fantasy ceiling. Don’t let that happen in your dynasty leagues.

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 10.25.27 PM

The Pick: Nick Yorke, 2B, Archbishop Mitty HS (CA). Age: 18

War Room: Yorke, an Arizona commit, works with the entire field in a gap-to-gap oriented approach with above average raw power. He’s got good hands, and has a high energy cut with an active lower half. Defensively, he plays short, but likely ends up at second or third.

Fantasy Report: Did not make the first edition of my 2021 FYPD list

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 10.28.55 PM

The Pick: Bryce Jarvis, RHP, Duke. Age: 22

War Room: If anybody could’ve matched the historic season Asa Lacy had, it’s – Duke Ace – Bryce Jarvis. His lights out ’20 campaign came out nowhere, as he put up a ‘just okay’ Sophomore season (3.81 ERA, 1.41 WHIP), while he was drafted in the 37th round by the Yankees as a sophomore eligible prospect, no team could’ve predicted what he’d do in ’20. His 0.67 ERA and 0.48 WHIP are just mind-boggling and yes, his 9 inning perfect game helped out, just a little. The key component to Bryce’s massive jump is a huge drop-off in free-bases given away (4.4 BB/9 to 0.7), and his significant boost in bats being missed (8.3 H/9 to 3.7). Now, Jarvis is extremely old-for-the-class – he’ll be 22.4 on June 10th – and doesn’t have much of a track record. Jarvis’ go-to secondary is a CH that flashes double-plus at times with a heavily pronated action. When it comes to mechanics, Jarvis reminds me of Mike Soroka with a very similar arm action. As well as an unorthodox follow-through that is out of the ordinary but relatively meaningless when it comes to results. In ’19, Jarvis was in the 89-91 range when I saw him live in a short relief stint and he was rumored to be working in the 93-94 range in the fall and then proved it to be true in his four dominant spring starts. Jarvis’ age will hold him back and make for a very tough position in draft negotiations, but the talent is abundant so numerous team will offer at least seven figures.

Fantasy Report: There’s a whole lot to like about Bryce Jarvis. I don’t often talk too much about starting place on the rubber, but I feel it’s truly important here. Jarvis starts on the third base side of the rubber, and he uses the natural angle his delivery creates to attack left-handed hitters on their hands. Often when we see this, it typically means pitchers like Jarvis are incapable—or unwilling—to attack right-handed hitters on the hands as well. But this is simply not true for the right-hander, who confidently commands his arsenal well enough to be unencumbered by plane issues that hinder so many other pitchers. The stuff isn’t crazy elite—his changeup is his best pitch and both the fastball (T96, 18.6″ vMOV) and slider play-up thanks to his plus command—but the frame, mechanics, pitchability and command means Jarvis should start throughout the entirety of his professional career. It also doesn’t hurt he added muscle this offseason and enjoyed an uptick in velocity during the shortened collegiate season. The right-hander’s age (22.4) is the biggest knock on this profile, and it should certainly be taken into account as you create your own personal board for the First Year Player Drafts in your dynasty leagues. With less leverage than other top-tier college pitchers in this class, an underslot pick at the end of the first round or during the first competitive balance round makes a lot of sense.

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 10.30.45 PM

The Pick: Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, Harvard Westlake HS (California). Age: 18

War Room: Pete Crow-Armstrong, also known as PCA – is one of the more well-known prospects from this year’s crop, getting first round grades dating all the way back to his rising sophomore summer. The SoCal native has played in one of the more fruitful areas for baseball talent, playing alongside his teammate and also high end follow (Drew Bowser). The two have faced off against the likes of numerous high end talents, including La Mirada’s Jared Jones and Emilio Morales, Santa Margarita’s Milan Tolentino, and Loyola’s Kevin Parada. The six have all made SoCal one of the more desired places to scout, and Pete Crow-Armstrong is the most talented of them all. The future centre fielder for one lucky organization won’t face any change in scenery at the next level, he’ll stay in centre field, and that’s a guarantee. The Vanderbilt Commit, two-time USA alum, and Baseball America All-American has checked every box off his list with a long track record of success at showcases he’s attended. In nine games for the 18u team overseas, Pete hit .364 with a .405 OBP, and .606 SLG. He batted leadoff in eight of the nine games, and had a team-leading three triples and two home-run robbing grabs that caught the attention of the twitter world. In a class where college pitchers are a dime-a-dozen, taking a prep outfielder could be tough, making for a possible long day on draft night for PCA. The Raw prep outfielder in the realm of CJ Abrams, has a similar high-instinctive play, uber-athleticism, plus-plus-speed, and a plus-hit tool profile which all have him lined up for a future top 20 selection barring any unforeseen developments. He has the ideal makeup for a big leaguer as well as the instincts and tools desired by analytically-driven teams like the Padres, who select 8th overall and have shown they’re not afraid to take a prep player this early.

Fantasy Report: There are several prospects who matchup well with specific teams leading up to the first round of the next month’s MLB Draft, but none pair quite as well as Pete Crow-Armstrong and the Mets. An elite defender who should compete for Gold Gloves in center field someday, PCA also possesses above average bat to ball skills (with very little wasted movement in his swing mechanics) and plus speed, which form a fine foundation for any prep draft prospect as you prepare for your FYPDs. The 18-year-old is easily one of the most decorated high schoolers in this draft class, excelling for Team USA and being named a Baseball America All-American throughout his prep career. As a professional, the next step will be maximizing the outfielder’s power projection (read: adding 10-20 pounds of muscle to a frame that should be able to absorb a bit of bulk) without eroding the immense athleticism that makes PCA so intriguing. Optimistically, the teenager’s raw power likely finalizes somewhere between average and above average. Committed to Vanderbilt, it wouldn’t surprise me if Crow-Armstrong is an overslot selection next month. This might scare the penny-pinching Mets away, but after watching Jarred Kelenic’s meteoric rise to prospect stardom last season as a member of the Mariners after he was traded for Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano last offseason, the pairing makes a lot of sense at pick-19 next month.

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 10.33.43 PM

The Pick: Garrett Mitchell, OF, UCLA. Age: 21

War Room: Michael Toglia went 23rd overall out of UCLA just last year, and eight years before that, Gerrit Cole & Trevor Bauer went 1st and 3rd overall in the same draft. UCLA has only produced 3 first rounders since the famous 2011 class. Mitchell’s been dropping on public boards in part to his crude cut, and atrocious approach. Some believe that it’s his type one diabetes causing him to slide, but I can assure that there’s minimal concern with regards to that. Mitchell’s what some would call a tool shed, he’s got three plus-tool’s in the field (70 Run, 60 Field, 60 Arm) and a hit-tool that’s close, his raw power is plus, but it hasn’t played in-game in part to an unorthodox lower half in his swing. Chicago’s the best team for Mitchell’s problems and could tap into his power with the Cubs’ developmental staff.

Fantasy Report: Joe Doyle (a contributor for many different sites) has become a voice of authority throughout the MLB Draft world, and he recently did an outstanding job pinpointing the issues that have suppressed Mitchell’s in-game power to this point of his career. But even if that thread, Doyle admits the 21-year-old could peak at 20 home runs at the big league level if his eventual suitor is able to iron out the mid-pitch issues with his lower half. If Mitchell becomes capable of posting 20 home run seasons, this profile will be an absolute nightmare for anyone who doesn’t roster the outfielder in fantasy leagues. There’s an above average hit tool, 70-grade speed and undoubted aptitude in center field defensively. From a fantasy standpoint, Mitchell reaching his ceiling means we’re drafting him similarly to pre-2019 and pre-2020 Starling Marte in redraft leagues—all while he flirts with four-win seasons in real life (especially since there were no split concerns throughout his collegiate career). There’s a very real possibility Mitchell spins his tires a bit statistically the first season or two of his professional career, but don’t worry; in all likelihood, it would simply mean an organization has overhauled his swing to maximize his power output.


Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 10.35.21 PM

The Pick: Jordan Walker, 3B, Decatur HS (GA). Age: 18

War Room: Annual corner power-projection bat with raw juice. Is shockingly graceful at third, though a growing frame and toolset best fitted for right field will move him out of the infield. Viewed as the consensus top infielder bat within the prep class, with raw power that matches Jordan, Hendrick, and virtually any player from the high school ranks in this class.

Fantasy Report: While it’s a near-consensus that Zac Veen is the best outfield bat in this prep class, Walker is widely regarded as the best infield bat in this prep class. Armed with what will likely finalize as plus plus power with a surprising feel to hit relative to his frame (6-foot-5, 220 lbs.), Walker’s potential gives me vibes of the way Alec Bohm currently ranks on prospect lists (that’s more of a statistical comparison than mechanical similarities). With his massive frame, there will always be questions regarding Walker’s ability to remain at the hot corner defensively; however, most evaluators currently believe he possesses the lateral agility and throwing arm to remain at third base throughout the majority of his professional career. Much like Nick Bitsko receives a boost for being ‘young for his class’ amongst 2020 prep pitchers, Walker receives that same benefit amongst high school position players. There’s a lot to like here.

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 10.39.19 PM

The Pick: Cade Cavalli, RHP, Oklahoma. Age: 21

War Room: Oklahoma’s produced nine first round picks in its 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, who went 3rd overall in 2013. Cavalli’s power-profile highlighted by a hard-hitting mid-90’s fastball that flashes plus, and a CB that’s plus at it’s best. Working from 94-95, Cavalli has below average control, but when Cavalli sits 92-93, he’s got above average control and average command. He has two other offerings, an above average SL, a possible plus pitch in the future, as it’s taking a cutter shape. His CH’s a work-in-progress, but he doesn’t throw it much, and it’s an average pitch. Cavalli possesses all the traits needed to work in a big league rotation, including the size, velocity, and stuff.

Fantasy Report: Before we collectively begin guffawing over Cavalli, there’s some things we need to come to terms with. First, there’s a history of injuries. The right-hander didn’t pitch during his senior season in high school due to a back injury, and he only logged 17.1 IP during his freshman season at Oklahoma as he worked his way back from the ailment. Cavalli was fairly mediocre statistically last season in 12 starts (once again, he missed time with a stress reaction in his right arm) and 60.1 IP (1.46 WHIP, 3.28 ERA, 8.80 K/9) before beginning to miss more bats in 2020 prior to the college season being canceled (4 GS, 23.2 IP, 1.27 WHIP, 4.18 ERA, 14.07 K/9). Possessing a track record of statistical success, he does not. I’d like to go on the record and say I don’t have a legitimate issue with Cavalli’s mechanics, though I do wish he strode further. His short-ish stride does allow for a great front-leg hinge, which serves as a catalyst for a fastball that topped-out at 98 mph this spring. The 21-year-old’s over-the-top arm slot creates fantastic ride with above average vertical movement, so the heater projects to miss bats (especially at the top of the zone) throughout Cavalli’s professional career. The arm slot also assists with the tumble of both the right-hander’s slider and changeup; the former will likely finalize as plus while the latter flashes above average. And while he didn’t showcase it much in 2020, I’m very interested to see if Cavalli begins utilizing his curveball as a professional. On paper, his mechanics should lead to a nasty 12-6 hook if developed properly. For my money, the 21-year-old has one of the best frames (6-foot-4, 225 lbs.) of any player in this draft class, and there’s no question—assuming good health—he’ll remain in the rotation throughout his professional career. He’ll need to prove durability post-draft, but the body and arsenal scream middle of the rotation at the MLB level.

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 10.40.59 PM

The Pick: Carson Tucker, SS, Mountain Pointe HS (TX). Age: 18

War Room: 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 in 2018 (Matthew Liberatore, Nolan Gorman) and in 1999, Corey Myers went 4th overall, becoming the first & only Arizona high schooler to go in 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 box, Tucker’s got a feel for the barrel, but he’s twitchy and there’s some inefficiencies in the lower half that have held him back power wise. Carson’s above average hit tool and below average power profile for the spot and with some added strength, he could be a plus-hitter, double digit home run hitting shortstop with a plus glove.

Fantasy Report: If you’ve done any reading on Tucker leading up to next month’s draft, you’re already aware of two things: 1) yes, he is the younger brother of Cole, and 2) at some point, he’s going to need a lower-half overhaul—most notably an alteration with his stride foot—to ever possess much in-game power. Luckily, every other part of the teenager’s game is awesome. Lightning-fast hands with adequate bat-to-ball skills, above average speed and the defensive prowess to remain at shortstop give this profile a solid foundation. It also helps that—unlike most high school seniors—Tucker was able to give scouts and organizations a small sample sample this spring in Arizona before the prep season was canceled. The teenager will eventually need to unlock legitimate in-game power to attain true fantasy viability; luckily, you should be able to pay less than top-dollar to acquire ground-level shares in First Year Player Drafts. Assuming he has half of his big brother’s 80-grade makeup (from all accounts, he does), being patient with Tucker throughout the first few seasons of his development should lead to an easy positive return on investment.

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 10.42.19 PM

The Pick: Nick Bitsko, RHP, Central Bucks East HS (PA). Age: 18

War Room: The state of Pennsylvania hasn’t produced a first round pick (out of High School) since Alex Krilloff went 15th overall in 2016. The year before, Mike Nikorak went 27th overall. Scouts were flying out to see Nick Bitkso when there was an opportunity in the limited spring, and the only action scouts saw live was a lone bullpen in the spring. Bitsko reclassifying later on in the process made it tough on scouts to pinpoint where he is, but over-the-summer, Bitsko flashed three plus-pitches and feel for all three, his FB’s a high-spinning pitch with hard-hitting velocity in the 92-95 range and his SL/CH each compliment each other. He’s a Virginia commit, and should be a tough sign, making his draft stock volatile.

Fantasy Report: The first thing I noticed about Bitsko was his thicc lower half, which, if you’ve been following me for any amount of time, you know I’m a sucker for when evaluating pitchers. But Bitsko’s lower half is especially impressive because there’s plenty of athleticism here. The right-hander touts one of the best fastball/curveball combinations in this draft class, which is extremely important since he’ll battle the dreaded ‘cold weather, right-handed prep pitcher’ stereotype (not to mention the general lack of exposure thanks to a canceled 2020 regular season) leading up to the draft. The 18-year-old reclassified from the Class of 2021 in January, so the ‘young for the class’ label undoubtedly solidifies him as one of the best high school pitchers in this class. Cementing a viable third pitch and adequate command will be the most important hurdles Bitsko faces as a professional.

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 10.44.41 PM

The Pick: Jared Shuster, LHP, Wake Forest. Age: 21

War Room: Shuster has drawn first round interest as of late (April), and part of the reason is a velo-spike that saw him ranging from 93-94 and topping out at 95, on the Cape he was 89-91 and he managed to carve up the league. Shuster has well above average stuff and an arm slot that creates effective spin. While his arm slot is far from the usual, there’s deception and effective elbow spiral. He also flashes a plus-CH and high-spin FB.

Fantasy Report: If for some reason you ever doubt the legitimacy of forward-thinking collegiate baseball programs, look no further than the way Wake Forest has developed Jared Shuster. Once considered a crafty lefty with abnormal mechanics who leaned heavily on his secondary offerings, Shuster topped out at 95 mph this spring (18″ vMOV, 15″ hMOV) with a short, efficient arm path. An over-the-top delivery means working inside to both right-handers and left-handers will be a challenge professionally, but the delivery also works to aid the shape of an above average curveball and a plus changeup. While so many prep pitchers you’ll read about on this list will be penalized due to the COVID-19 pandemic, breakout college pitchers like Shuster—who will also receive a bump in a draft class starved for viable left-handed pitchers—will almost certainly benefit. If the fastball gains are here to stay, Shuster will carry SP4 upside moving forward.

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 10.46.44 PM

The Pick: Tyler Soderstrom, C, Turlock HS (CA). Age: 18

War Room: The son of 1993 sixth-overall pick, Steve Soderstrom – is in line to become the second Soderstrom in his family to go in the first round of the MLB Draft. Tyler has seen his name come up in first round talks thanks in part to a summer where he saw himself rise from an unknown prospect – from a little town in California – to one of USA Baseball’s top hitters. Unlike top prep catcher (Drew Romo), Tyler’s high rise inside the draft isn’t because of an elite glove, but because of a game changing hit-tool. Tyler is a long-limbed, dreamy built athlete with some quiet athleticism that doesn’t show up when he’s behind the plate. He works with a loose and easy swing that generates loud contact. His bat stays through the zone long, and leaves with contact more times than not which is why his hit-tool gets 55, and even 60 Grades. His all-fields gap-to-gap power approach has worked heavily, and is why he has one of my favorite swings in the class. The power has come and gone, with a 45 grade power tool, and it hasn’t appeared in-game thus far – but he has hands that can get to any ball in the zone and drive it wherever with some zip on it. His legs don’t explode, but they stay quiet and avoid making any unwarranted movement pre-pitch. When in the box, he regularly has a firm grasp of the zone and doesn’t give away at-bats. While speed isn’t something he falls back on, he’s had 60 times in the 6.86 to 7.00 range. Behind the Plate, Tyler is a below average receiver, but does create a clear target and sits in a low-squatting form that helps him excel in the running game and blocking in the dirt. He’s still very undeveloped behind the plate with tools that are displayed from time to time, making you believe with the right development, he could stay there – though his future looks to be at 2B, or RF. The Turlock HS product reminds me heavily of DJ LeMahieu. Both have tall builds and loose swings that are carried by really good usage of their hands and little to no explosion in the hips. D.J is listed as being three inches taller, but Soderstrom still hasn’t completely grown and could outgrow the catching position and move to third or second base like LeMahieu.

Fantasy Report: Soderstrom is a fun prospect to evaluate because, unlike most ‘catchers’, his future fantasy value is not entirely tied to his defensive position. Yes, the upside is that of a prospect with a plus hit tool and above average raw power who develops just enough defensively that we’re able to slot him as our catcher in redraft and dynasty leagues. While that’s certainly a sweet dream, it’s far more likely Soderstrom develops into a third baseman or right fielder with those same offensive tools. He’s athletic enough to play either position (the throwing arm is probably the best facet of his catching acumen), and the bat certainly plays at both spots. It’ll be interesting to see how committed his draft suitor is on keeping him behind the plate, especially with an automated strike zone in baseball’s near future. Once he fills out physically, this profile has 55-hit, 55-raw power written all over it.

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 10.49.22 PM

The Pick: Aaron Sabato, 1B, North Carolina. Age: 21

War Room: Sophomore eligible right handed first baseman with a beefed up body. Has put up similar to Torkelson and Vaughn as a freshman & sophomore but didn’t get the same recognition. Has easy plus power, probably a 65-Grade, with an above average hit tool. Sabato’s career 20.6 K% at UNC isn’t very flattering and his career 12.6 BB% is even more concerning. In my two live-looks at Sabato, he went 1 for 7, with a HR off an 86 mph 2-0 FB. Sure, the swing is great, it gets into hitting position, it has loft, it has advanced speed, but this is all while playing well below average defense at first. Players with a RR1B profile are tough to take, especially one’s that have only a year and a third of success, without any Cape Cod, or USA experience. If you’re going to pay up for the bat of Sabato, you better be sure, because I’m not. He’s not a comparable to Vaughn or Torkelson, both of them had Cape Cod experience, USA experience and didn’t strike out anywhere close to the pace that Sabato did. Putting all of that together, I’d love Sabato in the third round or later, no later. The money wouldn’t be groundbreaking, he’s not worth any more than slot value & the Sophomore leverage will get in the way, making it tough to dish out the money you’d expect to sign away Sabato from another year at Chapel Hill.

Fantasy Report: Studying Sabato—and hearing where he stands on organizational draft boards—proves two things. First, understanding a prospect’s real-life floor is crucially important when projecting future fantasy viability. Secondly, and in a smaller vacuum, Sabato is a fantastic example of just how tiny the margin for error is amongst first base prospects. The best fantasy prospect in this class (Spencer Torkelson) possesses the same archetype with potential to reach 60-hit and 70-raw power; he is hailed as a future organizational cornerstone. Sabato projects to be an average-or-better (50+) hitter with plus-or-better (60+) raw power, yet he’ll almost certainly be drafted outside of the first round and is facing an uphill battle to ever be labeled as a consensus every day big leaguer. Despite being a below-average athlete, Sabato should prove to be a bit underrated from a fantasy standpoint if the post-draft path to big league playing time is decent and he’s able to prove his adequacy at first base defensively (which won’t be overly easy, with some evaluators believing he’s a future designated hitter). Of course, he’ll need to consistently rake to ever attain and retain the all-important mark of >50 future value.

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 10.52.07 PM

The Pick: Austin Wells, C, Arizona. Age: 20

War Room: Wells is a sophomore eligible catcher w/ an offense-first profile. His arm is slightly below average, but his receiving abilities are well below average making 1B the likely landing spot though LF is a possibility with the arm strength. Offensively he’s got plus-bat speed and a really efficient swing that has some sneaky power.

Fantasy Report: Scroll down a couple of spots and read what I wrote about Tyler Soderstrom. It feels good to write up a ‘catcher’ prospect knowing the majority of his projected value won’t directly correlate with his ability to remain behind the plate defensively. Wells might have even less of a shot than Soderstrom at sticking at catcher, though he’ll surely be given a chance to succeed if he’s selected by an organization in the first round (and who knows how patient teams will be with robot umps on the horizon!). The 20-year-old ranks this favorably thanks to his bat. While I suspect the hit tool will settle somewhere between average and above average, there’s a chance Wells eventually accesses plus in-game power. There are some Three True Outcome traits that should give the 20-year-old some added value in OBP leagues, but he shouldn’t hurt your standard league teams either. If the industry is currently overrating Wells’ standing on organizational draft boards, it’s likely due to discrepancies in real life floor. Assuming he eventually moves away from catcher, Wells will be relegated to first base or left field defensively, which are the two least-valuable positions on the field. In this instance, the 20-year-old’s real life value will hinge greatly on his ability to consistently mash. Luckily, it appears this offensive skill set is up to the challenge.

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 10.54.36 PM

The Pick: Bobby Miller, RHP, Louisville. Age: 21

War Room: Works in the 94-96 range, hitting 98 at times. Reminds me of Matt Manning, with a similar arm action and follow-through. Has a SL that flashes plus at times, though it’s usually an above average offering. His ’20 season was exactly what scouts were hoping for (13.9 K/9 & 1.03 WHIP in 23.1 IP) and why he’s a dark horse candidate to get taken in the first round.

Fantasy Report: Miller and CJ Van Eyk form two different sides of the same coin. While the latter has some lower body flaws that will likely be ironed out once he’s drafted, Miller has some upper body abnormalities (long arm action, head tilt) I’d like to see tinkered with at the next level in hopes of enhancing his strike-throwing ability. Fortunately, much like Van Eyk, I don’t see anything within Miller’s mechanics that would naturally preclude him from starting as a professional. Mason McRae alludes to this in his War Room, but it’s fairly easy to get Matt Manning vibes when watching the way Miller carries himself on the mound. The former utilizes a mid-90s fastball (T98), a slider that should finalize as an easy-plus pitch at peak and a changeup that is becoming a viable weapon versus left-handed hitters. Despite the gaudy strikeout numbers in a shortened 2020 collegiate season (34 K in four starts and 23.1 IP) and premium fastball velocity, The right-hander commonly featured a two-seam fastball while at Louisville, a pitch that possesses a tilt similar to that Aaron Nola and Aaron Sanchez’s (somewhere between 1:00 and 1:30) primary fastball. Like most two-seamers, Miller will induce soft, ground ball contact with the pitch more frequently than he’ll miss bats as a professional. While I don’t think the 21-year-old should scrap the two-seam altogether, I do hope we see more of his four-seam (a fastball with bat-missing, vertical movement traits) as he ascends the minor leagues. This could unlock strikeout viability that does not currently exist within the right-hander’s profile. However, I do think Miller’s slider and changeup both tunnel well with a fastball that leans on horizontal movement, so the 21-year-old will still miss his fair share of bats after being drafted regardless of pitch usage. His ranking on this list reflects that.

Comp A Round

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 10.57.51 PM

The Pick: Jordan Westburg, SS, Mississippi State. Age: 21

War Room: Westburg’s the yearly contact hitting shortstop from a blue collar program with athletic enough actions at shortstop to stay there – though that’s up for question – and a track record (at a premium position) good enough to get first round talks. Similar low-profile SS w/ lots of average tools to Jordy Mercer. Westburg’s got above average power and a really good swing, he’s either a 3B/SS and the bat’s good enough to play third.

Fantasy Report: As a Mississippi State alum, it’s been an absolute pleasure to sneak back to Starkville a couple of times each spring to watch Westburg and Justin Foscue among others. If Foscue is the ‘floor’ prospect in State’s middle infield duo, Westburg is certainly the ‘ceiling’ prospect. In the fantasy world, this profile’s cup of tea is above-average-or-better raw power (he hasn’t accessed it in-game yet) and above average speed. The approach is aggressive, and the K/BB numbers throughout his collegiate career make it difficult to feel too confident about projecting the hit tool to improve to average once the 21-year-old begins his professional career. A lot of people assume Westburg (standing at 6-foot-3 and 190 lbs.) is destined to shift to third base defensively after he’s drafted. However, when you watch him play, you quickly realize the fantastic instincts, above average footwork and strong arm Westburg possesses from shortstop. I think he’ll be given every chance to succeed at the 6 throughout the minor leagues. I’m hopeful the 21-year-old is drafted by an analytically-leaning organization that will assist him in elevating the ball more frequently at the plate, which will undoubtedly assist in unlocking the power that is evident in Westburg’s collegiate exit velocities. Stargazers can dream on plus raw power, double-digit stolen bases annually and a hit tool that nears average—from shortstop.

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 11.00.28 PM

The Pick: Carmen Mlodzinski, RHP, South Carolina. Age: 

War Room: Clarke Schmidt was one of two Gamecocks to go in the first round during the 2010s, but the only pitcher. South Carolina’s highest pick was Drew Meyer, who went 10th overall in 2002. In the case Mlodzinski goes in the first round, he’d become the 14th in South Carolina history. Thanks to a broken foot that forced him to red shirt last year, Mlodzinski’s sophomore eligible. After a successful run on the Cape, where he flashed three above average or better (55+) pitches and plenty of starter traits, Mlodzinski flew up draft boards and into first round talks. While his size (6’2, 215 lbs) isn’t your traditional starting pitcher build, he’s athletic and moves around well while repeating his mechanics. He’s got a whippy arm and creates arm-side-run on his FB, and fade on his CH, his SL’s shape is somewhat of a slurve and flashes plus when it takes on a tighter shape.

Fantasy Report: After missing the entirety of the 2019 collegiate season due to a broken foot, Mlodzinksi showcased an interesting ‘sum of the parts’ profile earlier this spring before the college season was canceled. No present fact of the right-hander’s profile will overwhelm you: the body doesn’t project overly well, the arsenal benefits from depth instead of explosion and there’s a limited track record of success at the collegiate level (though he was great in the Cape Cod League last summer). In the end, I think Mlodzinksi will profile as a SP4 who leans heavily on a sinker/slider/cutter trio. The sinker and cutter specifically mirror each other well, with the latter taking a notable step forward this spring. The continued development of his curveball and changeup–especially against left-handed hitters throughout the minor leagues—would likely help him reach his ceiling. The fastball will never miss a ton of bats, but the holistic arsenal is good enough to make the 21-year-old a successful professional pitcher.

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 11.04.31 PM

The Pick: Nick Loftin, SS, Baylor. Age: 21

War Room: Baylor saw both Shea Langeliers & Davis Wendzel go 8th & 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’s got mostly all average tools – except for an above average hit tool – but they come from a premium position that he’ll likely stay at. He’s an instinctive player and moves around well at short. Offensively, his average raw power plays into the gaps during games and his swing’s flat planed, so he’s more of a doubles hitter opposed to a power-threat. Loftin makes good contact and squares up pitches often, he’s a smart player and was one of the more vocal players at Baylor.

Fantasy Report: It’s an impossible question to answer, but I really wonder how many home runs Loftin would have hit in a full 2020 campaign (he had already hit 2 home runs (8 XBH) in 15 games after only hitting 7 home runs (30 XBH) in 62 games between Baylor and the CCBL last season) after a swing change last offseason. The 21-year-old appears destined to be a better real-life player than fantasy contributor. Despite possessing non-elite speed, everything Loftin does defensively at shortstop is above average—mostly thanks to solid instincts and an impressive arm. There’s also a thought that—depending on the organization that selects him—Loftin could also be utilized at second base and center field defensively. The power expectation here should be fairly subdued (though the 106.8 max exit velocity in 2020 makes you raise your brow), but both the hit tool and speed grade at average. In the end, Loftin is a deep dynasty league target who makes the tail-end of this list, thanks largely to a solid real-life floor that should make the 21-year-old a top-40 pick in next month’s draft.

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 11.06.57 PM

The Pick: Slade Cecconi, RHP, Miami. Age: 21

War Room: It’s been four years since the Hurricanes produced a first round pick, and a pair of catchers in Zack Collins & Yasmani Grandal are the only two first round picks Miami has had this past decade. The Hurricanes have generated five or more picks in both of the last two drafts, and could very well produce three on day one this year with Cecconi, Zamora, and McMahon. At his best, Cecconi flashes two plus pitches, mid-90’s heat, and improving control of his four pitches. He works with two breaking balls, a tighter SL that’s plus at times, and the other being a CB that’s average, but not thrown very often. Cecconi’s CH rounds out his repertoire, and has an average shape. He’s got solid spin numbers, unlike his teammate Chris McMahon, and far more upside, but there’s less present traits in his profile. Cecconi’s sophomore eligible and touched 97 multiple times this past season.

Fantasy Report: Extension, extension, extension. If you prioritize it when you evaluate pitching prospects, Cecconi has it in spades. Oh, and while he rightfully leaned on his fastball/slider combination at Miami, the arsenal actually consists of four pitches (topped off with a curveball and changeup to combat left-handed hitters), all of which could finalize as average-or-better as a professional. The frame (6-foot-4 and 220 pounds) is awesome, the mechanics are smooth, the command is more than adequate and he’s a draft-eligible sophomore. There’s just not many holes to poke here. Even if Cecconi’s stuff isn’t explosive enough to project as an ace, this is a starter’s profile that should play well in the middle of a rotation at peak. Further refinement of the changeup and curveball and maintaining his fastball velocity (up to 96 mph) deep into outings will be the biggest boxes the right-hander needs to check post-draft. If he’s still on the board at the end of the first round next month, Cecconi will provide solid value in the Comp A round or at the beginning of Round 2.

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 11.09.25 PM

The Pick: Justin Lange, RHP, Llano HS (Texas). Age: 18

War Room: Lange has been soaring up boards every since he came off the mound at the Future Stars Series. Of late, he’s worked In the mid-90s, topping out at triple-digits. Some scouts have compared him to Max Scherzer; though he’s talented, I don’t think any pitcher can replicate the unnatural mechanics, and fierce competitiveness of a Scherzer type. Lange is committed to Dallas Baptist, not a tough place to sign guys from. While the demographic of high school arms that hit triple-digits in their teens isn’t one that sparks belief, Lange’s arm action is really good, with some elbow spiraling, a heavy dose of hip drive and a strong core that helps him use his lower-half, if I had extra money to spend, I’d be throwing it all at – highly-athletic & highly-projectable – Justin Lange.

Fantasy Report: Less than a year ago, Lange sat in the upper-80s and lower-90s. Now, he’s topped out in the triple digits and sits in the mid-90s. Pair that fact with a 6-foot-4 frame that’s ripe for good, added weight, and you begin to understand the stupefying projection within this profile. Despite the jaw-dropping velocity of Lange’s fastball, I actually question the bat-missing ability of the pitch at the next level. That concern centers around a tilt that will likely classify the pitch as a sinker, possessing more bat-busting horizontal movement than bat-missing vertical movement. Both the slider and changeup are only passable at the moment, but I have no problem projecting both secondaries to become average or better professionally (that’s a fairly conservative estimate, in my opinion), especially since the teenager throws from a lower arm slot (I would actually like to see the right-hander add more horizontal movement to his slider, which is currently a bit slurvy). I think of Lange in a similar sense as I thought of Jimmy Lewis last season: you have to dream a little bit since he’s more of a projection type than present skills that blow you away, but there are some big time ingredients here.

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 11.11.47 PM

The Pick: Drew Romo, C, The Woodlands HS (Texas). Age: 18

War Room: Another high end prospect from the great state of Texas, Romo is among a long-line of prospects developed from The Woodlands, including Paul Goldschmidt, Kyle Drabek and Jameson Taillon. The switch-hitting catcher has on-the-field traits that put him on top of my prep board as the top-ranked catcher from his class. Though he’s a prep catcher, the risk attached to his profile isn’t as heavy as others, with one of the highest defensive grades of the past decade. As a second year 18u member, Romo took on a leadership role. The higher-up’s at USA Baseball couldn’t stop raving about off-the-field qualities, citing his leadership and work ethic as traits that compare to some of the most elite players they’ve worked with. Being a switch-hitter, Drew is much more valuable than the vanilla catch & throw prospect. He has a very athletic base with great leg torque, and hands that stay through the zone and always find a way to square up a ball. He doesn’t have much warning-track power, given that for the US the past two seasons he only had 1 HR in 16 international games. In those 16 games, he had a near .500 SLG% and was exceptional at driving balls deep into gaps. The best part of his swing is the extension he gets from his wrists – if he can get more rhythm with his hand load pre-pitch he could make some serious damage. Romo has been more successful from the left side in the games I saw, but his swing is much more fluid from the right side where his legs seem to explode much more. That being said he’s still a plus-hitter from both sides. When you talk about Drew Romo, more times than not you’re talking about his wicked ability to get the ball in and out of his glove in a heartbeat, to be specific, 1.80 to 1.92 seconds. There’s not much more to say about his defensive abilities, he could catch in the MLB today if he wanted to, and I wouldn’t put it past him. Romo is a top 10 talent in the class if you ignored the history of high school catchers, which is something he can’t control but has to be considered. He’s without a doubt the best prep catcher in the class. He’s also one of three players with a 70 or higher grade on defense, and the lone catcher. Prep catchers are so tightly scouted given the hard task of projecting how their mind & body will deal with all the nuances of getting beat up behind the plate. Even with all of that – I’m still confident that Romo’s floor is a bottom-of-the-order catcher with elite defensive traits and his ceiling is similar to J.T Realmuto where he could be a middle-of-the-order thumper with the ability to put 12-18 balls into the bleachers and get on 35-38% of the time. Comp’s are always a crapshoot, but Gregg Zaun reminds me most of Romo. He wasn’t an elite (or even good) defender and that’s the one thing i’d say differs from them talent wise. Zaun typically slashed .260/.350/.360 (as a switch-hitter) which is what I could picture Romo achieving. Zaun was also a huge addition in the clubhouse as a guidance, like Romo – who was one of the leaders for USA’s 18U program. Anybody good enough to play two years on the nation’s most elite amateur roster, clearly has the talent to become a contributor on a big league roster.

Fantasy Report: Romo is practically on this list for one reason: assuming good health, he’s a lock to stay behind the plate. The teenager is the best defensive catcher in this class, and the skills are so immense, it’s easy to dream on Romo someday providing notable defensive value behind the plate at the big league level. Of course, Austin Hedges is currently the best defensive catcher in Major League Baseball, yet he’s completely unrosterable in most fantasy baseball formats. While the switch-hitting 18-year-old has a chance to develop an average hit tool and above average raw power, I don’t have to tell you the hurdles Romo—like any prep catching prospect—will have to overcome in order to ever become a top-200 type. Much like 99% of catcher prospects, the development here will be a slow burn. That should give us plenty of time to hope Romo eventually develops into a redraft-worthy fantasy catcher. The teenager possesses makeup and on-field leadership qualities that all organizations crave behind the plate.

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 11.15.30 PM

The Pick: Tanner Burns, RHP, Auburn. Age: 21

War Room: Burns is a mid-90’s right-hander with fierce competitiveness and durability questions. Works with a low effort delivery and filled out but smallish frame that make relief risk abundant. Pitchability in the mold of Rick Porcello. Burns throws four pitches, an above average SL, average CB, and above average CH. He’s undersized and might lack the late-game velocity to stay as a starter, but the stuff is certainly there.

Fantasy Report: There seems to be quite a bit of relief worry attached to Burns thanks to his 6-foot frame. While I do agree the body doesn’t project overly well, I’d contest that actually examining the frame—which is highlighted by a thick lower half—would render those concerns needless. Burns possesses four pitches that are all average or above, but none that are definitively plus. That makes the 21-year-old more of a floor-first profile rather than one that makes you drool when you ponder its potential. However, Burns certainly projects as a rotation arm professionally, and there’s no reason he can’t reach the label of SP4 at peak. The right-hander’s arsenal consists of four pitches (fastball, curveball, slider, changeup) that give him a nice mix of weapons versus both right-handed and left-handed hitters. After walking nearly four batters per nine innings in his freshman season, Burns posted a BB/9 under 3.00 both in 2019 and during an abbreviated 2020 campaign. The 21-year-old’s command should peak somewhere between above average and plus as a professional. The long track record of success at Auburn (including a line of 4 GS, 22.1 IP, 0.98 WHIP, 2.42 ERA, 12.9 K/9 during the shortened 2020 season) will surely give organizations a peace of mind during what will easily be one of the most volatile drafts in MLB history next month.

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 11.17.16 PM

The Pick: Alika Williams, SS, Arizona State. Age: 21

War Room: Glove-first college SS w/ well above average actions at the position and a strong arm. Was apart of college baseball’s top lineup (Torkelson, Hauver, Workman). Has a downward swing, which is why he has well below average power (career .101 ISO). His shortened ’20 was a disappointment (.250/.359/.344). His ability to make contact and show well above average plate discipline (5.1 K%/11.5 BB%) are main reasons why there’s hope he can become an average or better hitter at a premium position with more than enough tools to stay there.

Fantasy Report: Was an honorable mention in the first edition of my 2021 FYPD list

Follow us on Twitter! @Prospects365

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

Leave a Reply