Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Best power-hitting prospects in 2020 Draft

@GoldenSombrero
June 4, 2020

With the 2020 MLB Draft just around the corner, MLB Pipeline is continuing to dissect this year’s class in various ways, with articles on the top 2020 prospect from each state, the best-ever hometown pick for all 30 teams and individual player profiles on some of the top-ranked prospects. After

With the 2020 MLB Draft just around the corner, MLB Pipeline is continuing to dissect this year’s class in various ways, with articles on the top 2020 prospect from each state, the best-ever hometown pick for all 30 teams and individual player profiles on some of the top-ranked prospects.

After highlighting the best pure hitting prospects in the class earlier in the week, our focus now shifts to power hitters, with a look at the 2020 Draft’s premier sluggers.

The five-round Draft will begin on Wednesday, June 10, at 7 p.m. ET, with both MLB Network and ESPN producing live coverage -- the first time more than one network will provide live primetime coverage of the event. The first night of coverage will span the first 37 picks, covering the first round and Competitive Balance Round A.

Coverage continues Thursday, June 11, on MLB Network and ESPN2 at 5 p.m. ET and will pick up with the start of the second round (pick No. 38) and run through the end of the fifth and final round of this year’s Draft. There will be a total of 160 picks in the 2020 Draft. The Draft usually runs 40 rounds but was shortened this year in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Go to MLB.com/Draft to see the Top 200 Prospects list, mock drafts, the complete order of selection and more. And follow @MLBDraft on Twitter to see what Draft hopefuls, clubs and experts are saying.

Spencer Torkelson, 1B, Arizona State (No. 1 on Top 200)
It took Torkelson all of 25 games to break Barry Bonds’ Arizona State freshman home run record (11). He finished the year with 25 homers, added another 23 as a sophomore and went deep six times in his first 17 games this spring to finish his Sun Devils career with 54 homers in 129 games. The 6-foot-1, 220-pound right-handed hitter’s power plays to all parts of the park, and scouts believe it will translate in the pro ranks because Torkelson is also a plus hitter with an advanced approach. On top of the impressive power numbers at ASU, Torkelson also produced a .337/.463/.729 line with more walks (110) than strikeouts (104).

Austin Hendrick, OF, West Allegheny (PA) (No. 13)
With electric bat speed and a present ability to generate big league-caliber exit velocities from the left side of the plate, Hendrick, a Mississippi State recruit, has one of the higher offensive ceilings among prep players in the 2020 class. The 6-foot, 195-pound outfielder has all the ingredients needed to become a true power hitter and showcased that potential by winning the 2019 Under Armour All-America Home Run Derby at Wrigley Field. He also was the only hitter to homer more than once during Major League Baseball’s PDP League and opened eyes on Day 3 of the event when he connected on a three-run, opposite-field home run with a 102.1 mph exit velocity.

Heston Kjerstad, OF, Arkansas (No. 10)
Kjerstad hit 14 homers to break an Arkansas freshman record (13, set by eventual first-rounder Zack Cox in 2009) in 2018 and encored with 17 as a sophomore, powering the Razorbacks to College World Series appearances in both years. He slashed .343/.421/.590 and totaled 37 homers and 129 RBIs over 150 games in the highly competitive SEC and offers the best left-handed power among collegians in the 2020 class.

Blaze Jordan, 1B, DeSoto Central HS (MS) (No. 42)
Jordan is one of the youngest (17 years, five months on Draft day) prospects in the 2020 group, but few players in this year’s class can do more damage to a baseball than Jordan, whose legend began to grow when he won his first national home run derby at age 11 and belted a pair of 500-foot homers at another when he was 13. He won the High School Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game in July and recorded the highest exit velocity (106.9 mph) at the WWBA World Championship in October. His combination of impressive strength and bat speed allows him to hit mammoth blasts without a lot of loft in his right-handed stroke, though there are some scouts who question his pure hitting ability.

Aaron Sabato, 1B, North Carolina (No. 41)
Sabato overcame a slow start as a North Carolina freshman to bat .380 with 17 dingers in his final 44 contests to set a Tar Heels freshman home run record (18) and claim Atlantic Coast Conference freshman of the year honors. At 6-foot-2, 230 pounds, Sabato combines physical strength with bat speed and a lofty right-handed swing that helps him generate well-above-average raw power. He’s one of the best sophomore-eligible prospects in the 2020 Draft, with power (25 HR in 83 games) that could land him in the first round.

Jordan Walker, 3B, Decatur HS (GA) (No. 33)
The 2019-20 Georgia Gatorade Player of the Year had already hit four home runs in his first eight games at Decatur High before the pandemic wiped out the spring season. He generates easy bat speed from the right side of the plate and has tremendous leverage and projectable strength in his 6-foot-5 frame, giving him some of the best power potential in this Draft. There are some mixed opinions on the Duke commit’s hitting ability because his swing can get long, but he’s shown the ability to make adjustments and makes enough contact that scouts believe his pop will play.

Zac Veen, OF, Spruce Creek HS (FL) (No. 7)
The top-ranked prep prospect in the 2020 Draft, Veen, a Florida commit, employs a smooth but explosive left-handed swing from a spread-out stance that enables him to leverage the ball to all fields. He’s more hit over power during games right now, though it’s easy to envision the 6-foot-4 outfielder tapping into his plus raw power at the next level. He improved his Draft stock with a red-hot start this spring, batting .500/.627/.969 with three homers, four doubles and 17 steals in just 11 games.

A.J. Vukovich, 3B, East Troy HS (WI) (No. 86)
A standout basketball player who averaged 27.8 points and 13.1 rebounds per game as an East Troy senior, Vukovich also offers some of the best high school power in the 2020 class and finished second to Blaze Jordan at the High School Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game last July. His 6-foot-5 frame is packed with strength, and he has the bat speed and type of lofty right-handed stroke to produce well above-average raw power.

Austin Wells, C, Arizona (No. 27)
A physically strong player at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, Wells combines bat speed with a knack for finding the barrel to generate power to all fields from the left side of the plate. He batted .353/.462/.552 with five home runs and started all 56 games en route to Pac-12 Conference Freshman of the Year honors in in 2019, then improved his stock over the summer in the Cape Cod League by hitting seven homers in 42 games with wood bats. Wells’ success continued this past spring, with the redshirt sophomore batting .375/.527/.589 with two homers in 15 games for the Wildcats.

Caden Grice, OF/1B, Riverside HS (S.C.) (No. 161)
There are mixed opinions on whether Grice offers more upside as a slugger or a pitcher, as some evaluators see a player with top-of-the-scale raw power, while others see a southpaw with the makings of three solid pitches. With his size (6-foot-6, 240 pounds), strength and leveraged left-handed swing, Grice offers some of the best raw power – 70- or 80-grade raw power, according to some scouts – in the 2020 class and has drawn comparisons to Joey Gallo. That being said, the Clemson commit will have to shorten the length of his stroke, tighten his approach and prove he can handle good velocity to make the most of his power.

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.