Written by: Ian Smith (@FlaSmitty)
Follow us on Twitter! @Prospects365
The 2020 MLB Draft kicked off last night with the first 37 picks announced live on prime time, and boy it was absolute chaos.
99% of the mock drafts you’ve seen on any site this draft season (including my own) were collectively wadded up and thrown in the trash can when the Orioles selected Arkansas outfielder Heston Kjerstad with the 2nd overall pick. That pick, plus the Marlins selecting Max Meyer over Asa Lacy, led to a top-10 that was impossible to predict beforehand. Nick Yorke was unexpectedly taken in the first round while players like Cole Wilcox and Dillon Dingler were excluded altogether. It was a truly interesting night.
That leads us to today.
After our Mason McRae released his first round grades last night on Prospects 365, I decided to look under the fantasy lens and write about the best first round fits from that perspective. Along with each pick you’ll read about below, you’ll find bullish, 100th percentile ceiling projections as well as ETAs.
Let’s get into it.
Pick 1 – Detroit Tigers
1B Spencer Torkelson (Arizona State)
100th Percentile Ceiling- .290/.400/.600, 40 HR, 120 RBI, 100 R
ETA- Late 2022
- I can’t write my first fantasy-focused article without talking about the consensus #1 pick in your league’s next FYPD draft. Spencer Torkelson becomes the first ever college first baseman to go first overall, and it’s with good reason. Tork presents an MLB-ready bat at age 20. He instills fear into pitchers at the plate simply by showing an incredible eye and consistently destroying mistakes to the tune of 54 home runs in 129 career games at Arizona State. Torkelson stands 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds with one of the strongest, most compact right-handed swings I’ve seen in the college ranks, consistently producing exit velos in the 100+ range. His ability to put the ball out in any part of the ballpark with just the flick of the wrist is evident. Before last night, Detroit’s system seemed to lack a true juggernaut of a power bat, and Torkelson immediately fixes that problem. You back the pitching staff the Tigers are building with a trio of impact bats including Isaac Paredes, Riley Greene and now Spencer Torkelson. Things are starting to look up in the Motor City.
What number one overall pick Spencer Torkelson is good at:
Bat flipping ✅ pic.twitter.com/EoFdxBRt4V
— Alex Weiner (@alexjweiner) June 10, 2020
Pick 5 – Toronto Blue Jays
IF/OF Austin Martin (Vanderbilt)
100th Percentile Ceiling- .300/.380/.450, 20 HR, 80 RBI, 105 R, 24 SB
ETA- Late 2022
- No one expected Austin Martin to fall to 5th overall, but here we are. This fit is perfect on paper. Martin brings a college-level hit tool that should progress quickly through the minor leagues. A steady improver over his three years at Vandy that now looks capable of contributing to every offensive category. A sneaky runner who only possesses above average straight-line speed, the 21-year-old was able to swipe 43 bags in just 136 games due to great instincts and an elite baseball IQ. Truly, I think his game draws a lot of similarities to current Toronto shortstop Bo Bichette, with a bit less raw power. Martin could even have a superior hit tool between the pair going forward due to some of the class’ best plate discipline. The Vandy Swiss army knife *should* play center field and second base early in his professional career, where his bat can be maximized to its fullest extent. An ideal makeup as a top-of-the-order hitter who gives me the tingles thinking about a potential future lineup that includes Guerrero Jr., Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Jordan Groshans and Austin Martin.
Here’s Austin Martin hitting, running, and playing the outfield.
Some say he’s the best overall player in the draft. You love to see it. pic.twitter.com/lmyu2wg7GC
— Blue Jays Nation (@thejaysnation) June 10, 2020
Pick 9 – Colorado Rockies
CF/RF Zac Veen (Spruce Creek HS FLA)
100th Percentile Ceiling- .280/.370/.580, 35 HR, 110 RBI, 90 R, 6 SB
- Maybe the consensus #2 in your next FYPD, no? We’ll mark it down in pencil for now, but Zac Veen in Coors Field is a fantasy wet dream. Veen checks all the boxes when looking for a projectable prep hitter. A 6-foot-4 frame, athleticism, budding raw power and projection. The teenager was compared to Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich on live broadcasts during the first round, but I believe Veen has the tools to live up to those lofty expectations. The outfielder was a guy I was able to see live more than anyone in this class (he was a Florida prep), and I feel comfortable talking so highly on him. His left handed swing is geared for 70-grade raw power with natural loft and utter violence through the zone. The ball just sounds different off his bat. The hit tool should max out in the 50-55+ range and has shown consistent ability to find loud contact. As he fills out, a spot in right field seems likely for a long term landing spot, where his bat can absolutely thrive. Veen’s speed will never going to be a plus tool, but he should be able to steal a handful of bags a year. All in all, thinking about the loudness of Veen’s tools in a hitting environment like Colorado could make this the best pick of the draft, at least from a fantasy sense.
ZAC VEEN, 2020 OF from FL selected 1st Round of MLB Draft by Colorado Rockies! @PerfectGameUSA #MLBDraft pic.twitter.com/sPXb4lyQo2
— SkillShow (@SkillShow) June 11, 2020
Pick 12 – Cincinnati Reds
RF Austin Hendrick (West Allegheny HS PA)
Ceiling- .270/.350/.550, 35 HR, 100 RBI, 90 R
- Hendrick’s swing in Great American Ballpark? Sign me up. My second and last prep bat on this list has maybe the best bat speed of anyone in the 2020 draft class. This Pennsylvania prep draws a close second to Zac Veen in terms of raw power within this left-handed prep class. The hit tool is the big question here, and there’s certainly a chance Hendrick fights a high strikeout rate and unspectacular batting average throughout this professional career. His power numbers will be elite if he can unlock the extent of the tool in-game, and I think Cincinnati is a great ballpark for the outfielder to cook. I look at the power development of someone like Jose Garcia, who’s become a top-100 prospect after optimizing a number of his tools. Then I look at Hendrick, and it’s easy to find reasons to be excited for his development. This bat has 30+ home run potential.
With the 12th overall pick, the #Reds select OF Austin Hendrick. 🔴⚾
No. 13 on the Top 200 Draft Prospects list. Big power bat. #MLBDraft2020 @Aust_Hendrick7
— Joey Votto (@EvilJoeyVotto) June 11, 2020
Pick 20 – Milwaukee Brewers
CF Garrett Mitchell (UCLA)
100th Percentile Ceiling- .280/.360/.500, 20 HR, 80 RBI, 100 R, 25 SB
- Maybe one of my favorite picks in the entire first round. Garrett Mitchell is the perfect high-upside bat for the Brewers’ system. The UCLA product is as well-rounded of a player you’ll find at the college level. Mitchell possesses average-or-better tools across the board, including 70-game speed and fantastic defensive skills in center field. Another potent left handed bat in this class, Mitchell has shown light tower power during batting practice sessions, but he is yet to fully tap-in to the skill during games thanks to a lower body that leaks a bit early. Now, he enters an organization that assisted perennial MVP candidate Christian Yelich in unlocking the full extent of his in-game power. As he develops, Mitchell could become a legitimate 20/20 candidate who possesses undoubted staying power in center field. Type 1 Diabetes is something that will be brought up often when discussing the outfielder, but there’s no reason it should affect Mitchell’s professional career whatsoever. There are a lot of ingredients here that could lead to a future big league star. Let’s put him in front of Yelich and Keston Hiura in the Brewers’ lineup circa 2023 and have some fun.
OF Garrett Mitchell, 6’3, 210 lbs
UCLA Career Stats: 121 G, 543 PA, .327/.393/.478, 6 HR, 81 RBI, 28 SB
Five-tool potential, plenty to still tap into. Hits the ball to all fields and should gain more power as he progresses. 70 grade speed. pic.twitter.com/GuDjc7pkq3
— Alex Kielar – Baseball Guru (@AlexKielar) June 11, 2020
Pick 24 – Tampa Bay Rays
RHP Nick Bitsko (Central Bucks East HS PA)
100th Percentile Ceiling- 195 IP, 3.30 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 200 K, 50 BB
ETA- Late 2024
- Bitsko is the only starting pitcher you’ll find on this list, and that’s for a couple reasons. One, I trust Tampa Bay to develop pitchers as well as anyone; they’ve earned our trust. Secondly, the absolute filth and polish that this 17-year-old presents is impossible to ignore. I love Mick Abel to Philadelphia and Emerson Hancock to Seattle, but Bitsko and Tampa Bay is *chef’s kiss* mouth watering. The right-hander commands a three-pitch arsenal better than maybe anyone in this prep class. A fastball that sits in the mid to high 90s paired with a plus curveball and a changeup that continues to improve. A cold weather arm from Pennsylvania, Bitsko will be able to get full time work in warm, sunny Florida that will help him truly unlock the massive potential in his multi-million dollar right arm. I believe there’s three prep pitchers who possess frontline starter upside; Nick Bitsko is one of them. If he would have ended up at Virginia (his collegiate pledge), then he’d immediately be projected as a top-5 pick in 2023 as a 20-year-old junior. As it stands, this is an absolute steal for the Rays.
With the 24th overall pick in the #MLBDraft2020 the #Rays select RHP Nick Bitsko.
Notes on Bitsko:
– Very hard thrower (up to 99 MPH last fall)
– Great control for a hard thrower
– Decent arsenal, great command
– Ability to develop and grow #RaysUp pic.twitter.com/sZmRaZL3lu
— Jordan Moore (@iJordanMoore) June 11, 2020
Pick 28 – New York Yankees
1B/LF Austin Wells (Arizona)
100th Percentile Ceiling- .270/.370/.550, 30 HR, 100 RBI, 90 R
ETA- Late 2023
There are a few organizations that fit Wells’ skillset more comfortably than others, and the Yankees are certainly one of them. In a few seasons, the 20-year-old could very well replace DJ LeMahieu in terms of a swing that plays perfectly in Yankee Stadium. Wells is another highly-advanced college bat in this draft class who shows elite plate discipline. A .476 OBP in his 71 games as a Wildcat before being drafted is top notch. The bat to ball skills certainly developed nicely throughout Wells’ collegiate career, and they’re combined with plus or better power. The catcher officially announced his presence within the draft class last summer in the Cape, where he hit over .300 with 7 home runs in 42 games. If it wasn’t for Nick Gonzales, he likely would have been named MVP. While Wells was submitted by the Yankees as a catcher, he’s a better defensive fit in left field professionally. However, with robo umps on the horizon throughout baseball, Wells could develop as a Kyle Schwarber-type who actually plays behind the plate a bit at the MLB level. Without a second round pick, the Yankees nailed their first round pick, grabbing a high-floor prospect with an offensive ceiling to make this selection as potential steal. From a fantasy standpoint, I see shades of Max Muncy in Wells, and I love it.
I’m sure some of your favorite picks are excluded from this list, and that’s okay. Last night was chalked full of interesting picks, and the seven inclusions above were the names who jumped out to me the most.
Be on the lookout for more MLB Draft coverage on the site throughout the next week!
Follow P365 Prospect Analyst Ian Smith on Twitter! @FlaSmitty
Follow us on Twitter! @Prospects365
Featured image courtesy of photographer Mike Christy and Arizona Athletics