Written by: Ray Butler
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“And just like that, as mysteriously as (it) arrived, (it) was gone.”
Preparation for the 2020 MLB Draft seemed to take a lifetime, but as soon as draft day actually arrived, it was over in a flash.
It’s been an incredible process. From the Orioles breaking Twitter at 2nd overall, to the Rangers’ head-scratching second round pick, to several notable omissions at the conclusion of the draft, the industry has plenty to unpack in the coming days. Let’s hope we’re mixing draft content in with news of an upcoming MLB season!
To put a bow on my personal coverage (including my FYPD list, obsession list and Draft Tracker), I’ve decided to outline the best team hauls and individual picks of the 2020 MLB Draft. During the after party, there’s a lot of layers to peel-back on organizational philosophies and specific fits throughout all five rounds. Here’s to hoping this article will help you fill in the blanks of what transpired throughout the draft.
Best Team Drafts
Here, I rank the top-8 team hauls of the 2020 MLB Draft.
1. Detroit Tigers: Spencer Torkelson, Dillon Dingler, Daniel Cabrera, Trei Cruz, Gage Workman, Colt Keith
Why? Oh, no big deal. The Tigers only started their draft by selecting the best overall player (Torkelson) and the best catcher (Dingler) in this class with their first and second round picks. In the Comp B round, Detroit grabbed Daniel Cabrera, who’s one of the most polished college hitters in this class despite not being overly model friendly. While I wasn’t in love with grabbing Trei Cruz in the third round, the Tigers acquired tremendous value in Gage Workman and Colt Keith in the fourth and fifth rounds. The latter was a consensus top-100 prospect (drafted at 132nd overall), and he’s expected to sign with the Tigers in lieu of honoring his commitment to Arizona State. An absolute grand slam of a draft class.
2. Indians: Carson Tucker, Tanner Burns, Logan Allen, Petey Halpin, Milan Tolentino, Mason Hickman
Why? The Indians cherish fastball command and pitchability in their arms, and they acquired it in spades with Burns, Allen and Hickman at different stages of the draft. Specifically, we might look back on Hickman as highway robbery at 154th overall. Holistically, they balanced their tremendous floor with the upside of Tucker, Halpin and Tolentino. Cleveland was ecstatic to land Tucker at 23rd overall, and I believe Halpin is one of the more underrated preps in this class. The Indians raking-in a top draft class despite going underslot in the first round is a testament to one of the best amateur departments in the sport.
3. Padres: Robert Hassell III, Justin Lange, Owen Caissie, Cole Wilcox, Levi Thomas, Jagger Haynes
Why? The Padres’ class fits together like a puzzle. RH3 and Lange provided the organization with a solid, under-slotted foundation at the end of Day One. Caissie was a bit of a head-scratcher when he was announced, but it didn’t take long to make complete sense. Wilcox is the biggest steal of the draft, as many people assumed his drop meant—as a draft eligible sophomore—he’d return to Georgia. Assuming they’re able to sign all three (I’m hearing they will), I’d stack Hassell, Lange and Wilcox against any three picks in the entire draft other than the Tigers’ trio of Spencer Torkelson, Dillon Dingler and Daniel Cabrera. Never doubt A.J. Preller.
4. Dodgers: Bobby Miller, Landon Knack, Clayton Beeter, Jake Vogel, Carson Taylor, Gavin Stone
Why? The Dodgers will tinker with Miller’s usage (more four-seam, less two-seam), and the ceiling there—which will now be org aided—is quite appetizing. We all knew Landon Knack at 60th overall would open several doors later in the draft, and that chess move led to Beeter and Vogel in the CBB and third round. The former’s pitch traits are perfect for Los Angeles’ philosophy, and the latter is one of favorite prospects for the entire class. In the end, the Dodgers did Dodger things. PS: Amongst the top draft classes, the margin between the Padres and Dodgers is easily the thinnest.
5. Pirates: Nick Gonzales, Carmen Mlodzinski, Jared Jones, Nick Garcia, Jack Hartman, Logan Hofmann
Why? Gonzales falling to 7th overall really laid a sturdy foundation for the Pirates’ class. While I’m the low man on Mlodzinski, the organization probably views selecting him at 31st as a high-value pick. My love of Jared Jones knows no bounds, and I’m hopeful he’s the prospect in this class that points to a new line of thinking within Pittsburgh’s front office. Grabbing another top-100 draft prospect in the third round (Garcia) was simply the cherry on top of this impressive group. Welcome to Pittsburgh, Ben Cherrington.
6. Mets: Pete Crow-Armstrong, J.T. Ginn, Isaiah Greene, Anthony Walters, Matthew Dyer, Eric Orze
Why? This haul is certainly top-heavy, but you can’t argue with the Mets’ plan. Crow-Armstrong is one of the most well-rounded players in this class. Ginn will almost certainly be an overslot, but it ensures he signs instead of returning to Mississippi State. Greene was an extreme-upside pick, but it really created some balance to the meat and potatoes of the Mets’ class. Job well done.
7. Blue Jays: Austin Martin, CJ Van Eyk, Trent Palmer, Nick Frasso, Zach Britton
Why? This inclusion is largely due to Martin falling to 5th overall, but I’m also bullish on Van Eyk unlocking another level of performance as a professional; he was also a high-value pick at 42nd overall. Adding Nick Frasso in the fourth round ensured the Jays would be included on this list.
8. Orioles: Heston Kjerstad, Jordan Westburg, Hudson Haskin, Anthony Servideo, Coby Mayo, Carter Baumler
Why? One of my biggest questions heading into Day Two was whether the Orioles would right the ship after a disastrous start to their draft (massively underslotted Kjerstad only to miss on Nick Bitsko at 30th overall). Baltimore continued attacking college bats (Haskin, Servideo) in the second and third rounds before overslotting Mayo and Baumler to round-off their class. With hindsight, this haul would look better (and could have likely been accomplished) with Nick Gonzales as the headliner, but Mike Elias and Co. avoided a full tilt and rebounded nicely beginning in the second round.
Honorable mentions: Rays, Rockies
Here, I discuss several of the best individual picks from the 2020 MLB Draft. Whether it’s due to value or fit, the prospects below should immediately emerge onto your radar once baseball finally returns.
Austin Martin, Blue Jays (Round 1, Pick 5)
The top-end of the first round went off the rails quickly on Wednesday night, and the Blue Jays took advantage of a wild top-4 by scooping up a player who could be the toast of the class a decade from now. You can argue that Martin fits an organizational need for Toronto (up the middle defense), but this is all about the unexpected value at fifth overall. Assuming he moves through the minor leagues rather quickly, the 21-year-old could be the player who officially puts an end to the Blue Jays’ rebuild.
Zac Veen, Rockies (Round 1, Pick 9)
A lot of picks you’ll read about in this section will focus on specific organization philosophies and mantras. But Veen in Colorado is more about taking advantage of a draft room faller, and this skillset in Coors Field is easily one of the best fits in the first round.
Bryce Jarvis, Diamondbacks (Round 1, Pick 18)
The Diamondbacks prioritize command and excellent changeups amongst their pitchers, and those might be Jarvis’ best traits. I assume he’ll be an underslot, which should allow the organization to make a real run at A.J. Vukovich, who they drafted in the fourth round.
Pete Crow-Armstrong, New York Mets (Round 1, Pick 19)
The Mets had a lot of college pitchers on their board at 19th overall, but I love the fit with a well-rounded center fielder in PCA, especially since they were able to grab J.T. Ginn in the second round. In an ideal world, we’ll debate Crow-Armstrong versus Jarred Kelenic amongst center fielders throughout these players’ primes.
Garrett Mitchell, Brewers (Round 1, Pick 20)
The whole world knows Mitchell will need to tinker with his swing to unlock the extent of his in-game power, and the Brewers are a fantastic org to assist him in that endeavor. Even if you discard the flaws, Mitchell’s defense in center field, game-changing speed and bat-to-ball skills means he likely should have been taken higher than 20th overall.
Nick Bitsko, Rays (Round 1, Pick 24)
This fit is *chef’s kiss*. Bitsko wasn’t highly connected to the Rays leading up to the draft, but Tampa was able to meet the right-hander’s number and keep the Dodgers, Orioles and others at bay. Armed with advanced command, a deep arsenal and a strong build (all relative to demographic), Bitsko could ride his profile and the Rays’ tutelage to the top of Tampa Bay’s future rotation.
Tyler Soderstrom, Athletics (Round 1, Pick 26)
Another value-over-fit inclusion, but Soderstrom was widely ranked as one of the best prep hitters in the entire class leading up to Wednesday night. The catcher fell so far (largely projected 9th to Colorado or 13th to San Francisco) that we wondered if the Orioles were buying him down to the sandwich round, but the Athletics took advantage and scooped him up at 26th. This was the best case scenario for Oakland at the end of the first round.
Austin Wells, Yankees (Round 1, Pick 28)
Even if he doesn’t remain behind the plate defensively long term, it feels a bit inevitable Wells is going to rake in Yankee Stadium. I can’t wait to see how they handle the 20-year-old defensively, because his plate discipline, bat-to-ball skills and fantastic power should move quickly through the minor leagues.
Bobby Miller, Dodgers (Round 1, Pick 29)
Miller relied on a low spin two-seam a bit much for my liking while at Louisville. His four-seam is much more analytically friendly, so the shift will be a no brainer as a member of the Dodgers. The slider is already awesome, and Miller’s fiery personality will make it easy for LA fans to draw similar comparisons to Walker Buehler. I love this fit.
Tanner Burns, Indians (CBA, Pick 36)
The fastball velocity won’t blow you away, but the pitch is so analytically-elite it ranked towards the top of all collegiate fastballs in Trackman and Rapsodo rankings. Burns is polished and commands the entirety of his arsenal well, and the concerns regarding his unspectacular frame are a bit overblown. We knew the Indians were heavily connected to the right-hander leading up to the draft, but we suspected he would be the pick in the first round (23rd overall). Grabbing Burns in the sandwich round is one of the best values in the entire draft.
Dillon Dingler, Tigers (Round 2, Pick 38)
Dingler’s omission from the first round was puzzling enough that I began to wonder whether there might be an issue with his medicals. But the Tigers quickly put those concerns to bed with the first pick of the second round, grabbing a prospect who will immediately be hailed as the catcher of the organization’s future. In my eyes, this was one of the more high-value picks of the entire draft.
Dax Fulton, Marlins (Round 2, Pick 40)
Had he not needed Tommy John surgery last fall, there’s a good chance Fulton would have been a first rounder and one of the top prep arms selected on Wednesday night. Even leading up to the draft, rumors swirled the southpaw was heavily expected to be taken in the Comp A round. Instead, the Marlins took advantage of this high-value faller at 40th overall. The Max Meyer/Dax Fulton start for Miami was one of my favorite duos in the top half of the draft.
Zach DeLoach, Mariners (Round 2, Pick 43)
My affinity for DeLoach is well-documented, and the outfielder being selected inside the top-50 awarded me the confirmation bias I didn’t know I needed. The Mariners will soon reap the benefits of developing both Julio Rodriguez and Jarred Kelenic, and DeLoach could someday complete the trio. Had the entirety of the collegiate season been played, there’s a chance the 21-year-old would have been a first rounder.
Jared Jones, Pirates (Round 2, Pick 44)
I was nearly on an island by ranking Jones ahead of Jared Kelley leading up to the draft, so the former being picked first was 1) the unsubstantiated confirmation bias I needed (the White Sox reportedly executed their plan of buying Kelley down to 47th overall), and 2) a hopeful paradigm shift for a Pirates organization that has a painful recent track record of pitcher development. Jones is my favorite prep arm from this class.
Jared Kelley, White Sox (Round 2, Pick 47)
I’m not a fan of Kelley’s skillset, but you can’t argue the value of this pick relative to his standing on most draft boards. The White Sox also deserve credit for executing a plan that didn’t become completely obvious until Matt Vasgersian read Kelley’s name at 47th overall. The developing of the right-hander will be what I worry about moving forward. If I missed the mark on my pre-draft evaluation of the right-hander, this will be one of the better picks of the draft.
Ian Seymour, Rays (Round 2, Pick 57)
This pick was so Rays, it hurt. Seymour altered his mechanics heading into the 2020 season, which led to drastically-increased velocity and improved vertical movement. When you pair the profile-altering fastball with a changeup that’s plus or better, you get statistical success (Seymour’s short sample in 2020 was insane) and model friendliness. Seymour will be a name to closely watch moving forward.
Alerick Soularie, Twins (Round 2, Pick 59)
When I project draft prospects to the Twins, the first thing that comes to mind is ‘power uptick’. Luckily, that might be Soularie’s biggest need despite the fact it appeared he was undoubtedly breaking out early in the 2020 collegiate season. Left field defense means this might have been a bit of a reach according to draft boards, but I’m in love with this fit as well as Soularie’s offensive projection.
Daniel Cabrera, Tigers (CBB, Pick 62)
There was heavy word that progressive orgs were soured over Cabrera’s swing analytics and batted ball data leading up to the draft, but I still can’t justify him falling outside of the top-50, let alone the top-60. Even if you project the 21-year-old as a left fielder with minimal speed output (neither of these notions are necessarily true), the mature approach and hit tool makes him a steal at 62nd overall. Once Cabrera was on board, you knew the Tigers were in the midst of building a special class.
Clayton Beeter, Dodgers (CBB, Pick 66)
Beeter’s track record of injuries and lack of a viable third pitch means he’ll have to ward-off bullpen risk, but the right-hander landed in the best possible organization for his skillset. The Dodgers will need to help Beeter further develop his changeup while ensuring his biomechanics are optimized, but the massive risk/reward qualities within this profile are now in the best developmental org in the sport.
Nick Swiney, Giants (2C, Pick 67)
Assuming Farhan Zaidi and the Giants are targeting pitchers with similar traits as the Dodgers (Zaidi’s former employer), Swiney is a fantastic fit in San Francisco. The southpaw possesses fantastic vertical movement with his fastball (despite non-elite velocity) and two above average secondary offerings, all of which he commands well. Swiney is a bit slight in build (the thought is he could add a little weight to his frame as a professional) and still has a bit of a head whack, so it’ll be interesting to see how much leash he’s given in the starting rotation. I’m glad the Giants made this pick.
Isaiah Greene, Mets (2C, Pick 69)
This was a shrewd pick after the Mets had already selected likely overslotters in Pete Crow-Armstrong and J.T. Ginn, but Greene is ‘dream on it’ prospect who really put a bow on the New York’s top-heavy draft haul. The teenager’s athleticism and physical projection is top-notch so deep into the draft, and the fact he’ll likely develop alongside PCA means he might not shoulder the burden of playing center field as he develops his long-armed swing. Some would say this was a really nice pick.
Alex Santos, Astros (2C, Pick 72)
Leave it up to the freakin’ Astros to make a huge splash after not making a pick within the top-70. Santos’ raw spin ability is elite for this class, and Houston is the perfect organization to fix his unoptimized spin efficiency while further refining an already-solid curveball and changeup. This is one of my favorite fits of the draft.
Cole Wilcox, Padres (Round 3, Pick 80)
Widely a top-25 prospect leading up to the draft, Wilcox—a draft eligible sophomore—fell so far it became impossible to not assume he was heading back to Georgia. Instead, the Padres ponied up and selected the right-hander 80th overall. The price tag here will likely exceed $3 million, but San Diego is supremely confident they’ll be able to sign him. On paper, Wilcox in the third round is the steal of the draft.
Casey Martin, Phillies (Round 3, Pick 87)
Martin’s skillset is so volatile there’s a chance even 87th overall was too aggressive with the benefit of hindsight, but he was a top-50 player on almost all industry draft boards. If the Phillies can iron-out even a portion of Martin’s immense swing-and-miss issues, the surrounding tools means this will be one of the best picks of the entire draft.
Jordan Nwogu, Cubs (Round 3, Pick 88)
When you wish upon a star in the draft prospect world of abnormal swing mechanics or subpar pitch recognition, the star typically means that player is selected by the Cubs. Nwogu is one of the more uniquely-talented athletes in this class, but he’ll likely need some assistance to reach his gaudy offensive potential. Chicago is a fantastic organization to help make this dream a reality, and the corner outfielder should be fun to watch as he ascends the minor leagues.
Blaze Jordan, Red Sox (Round 3, Pick 89)
Once Jordan made it past the Indians’ pick at 56th overall, I was beginning to think he might end up on Mississippi State’s campus after all. Instead, the Red Sox used their massive savings from their first round pick (Nick Yorke at 17th overall) to pay Jordan, who should be fun to project hitting at Fenway Park. #HailStateAnyways
Petey Halpin, Indians (Round 3, Pick 95)
The Indians grabbing Halpin is the direct effect underslotting Carson Tucker in the first round (and maybe Logan Allen in the second round, too). The teenager is a top-50 prospect in The War Room, so this will be a worth while overslot by Cleveland.
Jake Vogel, Dodgers (Round 3, Pick 100)
My favorite pick of the entire draft, and it happened as I was preparing to devour a bowl of my favorite ice cream. The entire experience was thoroughly arousing. Weeks before the draft, there were major signability concerns surrounding Vogel. But as weeks dwindled to days, rumors circulated a few organizations were attempting to meet his number. The Dodgers making this happen was a direct result of a Landon Knack underslot in the second round. The outfielder should continue developing physically, and his landing spot in Los Angeles allows me to believe he’ll reach his power potential (the tool he’s lacking presently). The arrow is pointing directly upward here.
Coby Mayo, Orioles (Round 3, Pick 103)
While the Orioles’ reported, original plan of buying down Nick Bitsko didn’t come to fruition, their massive draft capital opened some interesting doors later in the draft. Most industry folks assumed Mayo was headed to Florida prior to his selection at 103rd overall, but I assume Baltimore will be able to reach his number. The outfielder is a top-75 prospect on several industry sites.
Marco Raya, Twins (Round 4, Pick 128)
The fit here is a bit weird, but Raya lands on this list after being selected 128th despite the fact he ranks 43rd on our Mason McRae’s War Room. The right-hander is undersized and lacks refined secondary offerings, but his athleticism and projection make him an uber-intriguing ball of clay so late in the draft.
Colt Keith, Tigers (Round 5, Pick 132)
The Tigers didn’t have to nail their fifth round pick to boast one of the draft’s best classes, but grabbing Keith at 132 really put their haul over the top. The third baseman is currently committed to Arizona State, but the Tigers fully expect to sign him; selecting Keith was simply an exclamation point on an already-great class for Detroit.
Hayden Cantrelle, Brewers (Round 5, 151)
Cantrelle ranks 64th on my current 2021 FYPD list, so you can imagine my surprise when he fell all the way to the fifth round. If he pops, the 21-year-old can be a 10 HR/20 SB second baseman at the next level; that’s tremendous value so late in the draft.
Mason Hickman, Indians (Round 5, Pick 154)
Hickman lived at the top of the zone while at Vanderbilt, he’s got polish/pitchability and he commands his arsenal well. He shouldn’t have been available at 154th overall, and he’s a match made in heaven with the Indians.
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