Mock Draft: College players off the board early

May 20th, 2020

As we move closer to the June 10-11 Draft, the hope is that the first-round picture will become more clear. In some ways, that’s true; in some ways, it’s not.

There aren’t players with helium riding up boards because they’re dominating in conference play and there aren’t players sliding because they faltered in front of a bunch of scouting directors. These days, the only way players are getting in front of decision-makers is by way of Zoom interviews.

Still, there has been some movement up and down boards since our April mock as teams get a feel for the players they have some interest in, even if most teams, especially those lower down, are preparing for a whole lot of unknown this year. The top eight or nine names seem to be taking more shape, even if their order is not quite known yet. And there’s still some expectation that players with more of a track record, particularly college ones, will sneak upwards as teams grasp for as much certainty as they can find.

1. Tigers: Spencer Torkelson, 1B, Arizona State
There’s still no reason to make any changes here, with Torkelson’s offensive upside combined with the belief he’ll get to the big leagues quickly, making him the clear front-runner to go No. 1.

2. Orioles: Austin Martin, 3B/OF, Vanderbilt
Sure, the Orioles would love for the Tigers to take someone else and let them get Torkelson, but they’re not upset with getting Martin’s bat, even if it’s unclear where he’s going to play defensively at this moment.

3. Marlins: Asa Lacy, LHP, Texas A&M
The top three are staying the same as I had them back on April 28, with the Marlins nabbing the top arm in the class.

4. Royals: Nick Gonzales, 2B, New Mexico State
The Royals could add to their impressive stable of arms by taking Georgia’s Emerson Hancock here, but there’s been talk of them looking at high school outfielder Zac Veen and Gonzales here. This week, I’m going with them taking the more advanced bat in Gonzales, who could reach Kansas City and join those pitchers quickly.

5. Blue Jays: Zac Veen, OF, Spruce Creek HS (Fla.)
Emerson Hancock, Max Meyer or Reid Detmers could be targets if Toronto wants to go the college arm route, but if they want a hitter and Gonzales is off the board, the top high school position player in the country is a good way to go.

6. Mariners: Emerson Hancock, RHP, Georgia
While the Mariners would probably love for Gonzales to get here, they’re also likely to look at the college arms listed above with the Blue Jays. Hancock’s track record in the SEC could be too hard to look past here.

7. Pirates: Reid Detmers, LHP, Louisville
They could be all in on Veen if he were available and college bats like Heston Kjerstad and UCLA’s Garrett Mitchell could be a fit here. But there are some college arms to consider here as well, with Detmers definitely being discussed.

8. Padres: Max Meyer, RHP, Minnesota
There’s always the temptation to go high-end high school pick with the Padres, but Meyer has electric stuff and athleticism that shouldn’t make it out of the top 10.

9. Rockies: Heston Kjerstad, OF, Arkansas
Many teams like Kjerstad’s left-handed power and the Rockies would likely be very interested to see how it will play in Coors Field.

10. Angels: Robert Hassell, OF, Independence HS (Tenn.)
He’s the best pure high school hitter in the class, he’s pretty athletic and his makeup is off the charts. If they wanted to go college arm, they could look at Oklahoma’s Cade Cavalli and this is the first place I hear Illinois prep shortstop Ed Howard’s name come up at all, though that’s a bit of a reach.

11. White Sox: Patrick Bailey, C, North Carolina State
If one of the college bats or arms in the top 10 make it to 11, the White Sox could head in that direction. Bailey is the top college catcher in the country, and the next best college hitter on the board.

12. Reds: Cade Cavalli, RHP, Oklahoma
While there are some high school hitters they might look at, like Howard or Austin Hendrick, the Reds might prefer to see who the best college arm is still on the board. Cavalli’s size and electric stuff might fit that description.

13. Giants: Mick Abel, RHP, Jesuit HS (Ore.)
There are some high school bats in play here, like Hassell if he gets here, or Hendrick, but they’re also looking at top prep arms like Abel and Jared Kelley in Texas.

14. Rangers: Garrett Crochet, LHP, Tennessee
Scouts love Crochet’s stuff and, of course, his left-handedness, but there’s risk involved because of the shoulder soreness he had earlier this spring.

15. Phillies: Tyler Soderstrom, C, Turlock HS (Calif.)
Soderstrom’s name is popping up all over the middle of the first round, largely because of his impressive left-handed bat. Even if he can’t stick behind the plate, he probably could play third or the outfield and that bat is going to play.

16. Cubs: Austin Hendrick, OF, West Allegheny HS (Pa.)
The Pittsburgh area standout has been on radars for some time now, and he has as much bat speed and raw power as any prep hitter in the class.

17. Red Sox: Garrett Mitchell, OF, UCLA
Mitchell continues to be among the toughest players to place in a projection because his raw tools are undeniable, but his performance (especially power-wise) has been spotty and teams need to find a comfort level with taking a player with Type 1 Diabetes in the first round. Boston could go the high school pitching route with someone like Jared Kelley here.

18. Diamondbacks: Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, Harvard-Westlake HS (Calif.)
Continue to mostly hear hitters here, with Crow-Armstrong a good fit along with someone like Ed Howard. The D-backs would probably do a flip if Robert Hassell somehow made it here.

19. Mets: Jared Kelley, RHP, Refugio HS (Tex.)
There’s a good chance Kelley is gone by now, but the Mets would certainly have an interest should he get here. If they wanted to go the college route, there are slew of them to be considered, many who I’ll have coming off the board in the next six picks or so.

20. Brewers: Cole Wilcox, RHP, Georgia
Milwuakee could look at Wilcox and someone like Carmen Mlodzinski with this spot as the run on the next tier of college arms begins.

21. Cardinals: Carmen Mlodzinski, RHP, South Carolina
If the Brewers take Mlodzinski, then maybe the Cards go with Wilcox. Miami’s Slade Cecconi could be in play here as well.

22. Nationals: Slade Cecconi, RHP, Miami
Cecconi’s pure stuff measures up against a lot of other college arms, even if there’s some reliever risk in there.

23. Indians: Dillon Dingler, C, Ohio State
There aren’t a ton of catchers to consider in this Draft, especially in the first round, but Dingler is very intriguing because of his athleticism and strong defensive skills.

24. Rays: Bobby Miller, RHP, Louisville
Detmers got more of the ink at Louisville with his feel for pitching, but Miller’s pure stuff was being mentioned quite a bit in the back end of the first round.

25. Braves: Chris McMahon, RHP, Miami
While Cecconi might have better pure stuff, McMahon’s feel for pitching, mound presence and track record have him coming off the board right in the same neck of the woods. McMahon’s high floor could have him go before Cecconi’s ceiling come Draft night.

26. Athletics: Austin Wells, C, Arizona
The jury is out whether Wells can catch long-term, but few doubt he’ll hit at the next level. And he has played other positions in the past.

27. Twins: Ed Howard, SS, Mount Carmel HS (Ill.)
Because no one saw Howard this spring and he was an uneven performer over the summer, he remains a bit of an enigma. There’s a good chance he goes much sooner than this given his toolset, but this could be a landing place if he gets this far.

28. Yankees: Clayton Beeter, RHP, Texas Tech
There’s a lack of a track record with Beeter, especially as a starter, and some teams are concerned about his arm action, but his velocity (up to 98 mph) and chance to have two plus breaking balls might be too hard to pass up here.

29. Dodgers: Nick Loftin, SS, Baylor
The Dodgers don’t shy away from college players in the first round, taking six collegians with their eight first-round picks over the past five drafts. Many think Loftin will go higher than this thanks to his bat-to-ball skills and his ability to stay up the middle defensively.