Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

Pipeline

Who's got the best tools in the 2020 Draft?

@JimCallisMLB
May 12, 2020

When the Tigers spent the No. 1 overall pick in 2018 on Casey Mize, they came away with a right-hander who had the single best pitch (a splitter) and the best control in that Draft, as well as one of the best sliders and a not-too-shabby fastball. Detroit owns the

When the Tigers spent the No. 1 overall pick in 2018 on Casey Mize, they came away with a right-hander who had the single best pitch (a splitter) and the best control in that Draft, as well as one of the best sliders and a not-too-shabby fastball.

Detroit owns the top choice again this year and is expected to use it on a player with superlative tools once again. The favorite appears to be Arizona State first baseman Spencer Torkelson (the 2020 Draft's best power hitter), with Vanderbilt outfielder/third baseman Austin Martin (the top pure hitter available) not far behind.

Torkelson also is one of this Draft's better hitters, making him the lone position player with more than one mention in our tools accolades (based on players on MLB Pipeline's recently expanded Draft Top 200) below. Georgia right-hander Emerson Hancock, Texas A&M left-hander Asa Lacy and Minnesota right-hander Max Meyer each received support in multiple categories -- and it would be no surprise if they were the first three pitchers selected.

Best hitter: Austin Martin, OF/3B, Vanderbilt

Martin has a quick, compact right-handed swing and uncanny feel for the barrel, allowing him to make repeated hard contact with ease and secure a starting job as soon as he arrived at Vanderbilt. He topped the Southeastern Conference in batting (.392) and on-base percentage (.486) while helping the Commodores win the College World Series last year and posted similar numbers this spring.

Also in the discussion: Nick Gonzales, SS/2B, New Mexico State; Robert Hassell, OF, Independence HS (Thompson's Station, Tenn.); Spencer Torkelson, 1B, Arizona State.

Best power: Spencer Torkelson, 1B, Arizona State

Torkelson's bat speed, strength and the loft in his right-handed swing give him at least double-plus raw power, but what makes him an elite slugger is his bat control and patient approach, allowing him to hit home runs to all fields without swinging for the fences. He broke Barry Bonds' Arizona State freshman record with 25 homers in 2018, led the Pac-12 Conference for the second straight year with 23 in 2019 and went deep six times in 17 games this spring. He fell just two homers shy of surpassing Bob Horner's Sun Devils mark of 56 despite losing most of his junior season.

Also in the discussion: Heston Kjerstad, OF, Arkansas; Austin Hendrick, OF, West Allegheny HS (Imperial, Pa.); Blaze Jordan, 1B, DeSoto Central HS (Southaven, Miss.).

Fastest runner: Enrique Bradfield, OF, American Heritage HS (Plantation, Fla.)

Bradfield turned in the best run times on the high school showcase circuit last summer, starting with a 6.26-second 60-yard dash at the Perfect Game National. He gets the most out of his speed with good instincts on the bases and in center field, though questions about how much impact he'll make with his bat may make it tough to sign him away from a Vanderbilt commitment.

Also in the discussion: Braiden Ward, OF, Washington; Casey Martin, SS, Arkansas; David Calabrese, OF, St. Elizabeth Catholic HS (Thornhill, Ont.)

Strongest arm: Chase Davis, OF, Franklin HS (Elk Grove, Calif.)

Davis wowed scouts with a 99-mph throw at the Perfect Game National showcase last June and his right-field arm was a weapon all summer. His raw power is as impressive as his arm strength, a combination that could get the Arizona recruit drafted in the top two rounds.

Also in the discussion: Mason Winn, RHP/SS, Kingwood (Texas) HS; Joey Wiemer, OF, Cincinnati; Dillon Dingler, C, Ohio State.

Best defender: Drew Romo, C, The Woodlands (Texas) HS

Romo has a complete defensive package -- soft hands, advanced receiving skills and a strong arm with a quick release -- that allowed him to claim the starting catching job on the U.S. 18-and-under national team in each of the last two years. A Louisiana State recruit, he also earns praise for his baseball IQ and leadership, though scouts are somewhat mixed in their opinions of his bat.

Also in the discussion: Alika Williams, SS, Arizona State; Pete-Crow Armstrong, Harvard-Westlake School (Studio City, Calif.); Ed Howard, SS, Mount Carmel HS (Chicago).

Best fastball: Joe Boyle, RHP, Notre Dame

Boyle reaches triple digits with his fastball as consistently as any pitcher in the 2020 Draft, peaking at 102 mph and showing the ability to sit in the upper 90s for several innings at a time. He struck out 17 batters and surrendered just three hits in 8 1/3 innings as a reliever this spring, but his 13 walks showed that he's still having trouble keeping his delivery in sync.

Also in the discussion: Max Meyer, RHP, Minnesota; Gavin Williams, RHP, East Carolina; Justin Lange, RHP, Llano (Texas) HS.

Best curveball: Zach McCambley, RHP, Coastal Carolina

Teams that place a premium on spin rates adore McCambley, who can top 3,000 rpm on a low-80s curveball that seems to dive at the plate. He also produces high spin on his 90-96 mph fastball and harnessed his stuff better than ever this spring.

Also in the discussion: Seth Lonsway, LHP, Ohio State; Burl Carraway, LHP, Dallas Baptist; Clayton Beeter, RHP, Texas Tech.

Best slider: Max Meyer, RHP, Minnesota

As good as Meyer's fastball is, his slider is better and is perhaps the best pitch in the entire Draft. He can manipulate the shape of his breaking ball, which ranges from 87-91 mph and wipes out left-handers and right-handers alike. His slider helped him rack up 46 strikeouts in 27 2/3 innings this spring while earning David Cone comparisons from evaluators.

Also in the discussion: Emerson Hancock, RHP, Georgia; Asa Lacy, LHP, Texas A&M; Bryce Elder, RHP, Texas.

Best changeup: Ben Hernandez, RHP, De La Salle Institute (Chicago)

Though Hernandez didn't get a chance to pitch in a high school game this spring, scouts remember his changeup well from last summer's showcase circuit. The Illinois-Chicago recruit throws it in the low 80s with tremendous fade, will use it in any count and isn't afraid to double and triple up on it.

Also in the discussion: Asa Lacy, LHP, Texas A&M; Emerson Hancock, RHP, Georgia; Jarred Kelley, RHP, Refugio (Texas) HS.

Best control: Landon Knack, RHP, East Tennessee State

The best fifth-year-senior prospect in years, Knack has a long history of throwing strikes but took it to another level this spring while his fastball suddenly jumped to 93-98 mph. He won each of his four starts, posting a 1.08 ERA and leading NCAA Division I in strikeouts (51 in 25 innings) and K-BB ratio (51-1).

Also in the discussion: Emerson Hancock, RHP, Georgia; Reid Detmers, LHP, Louisville; Logan Allen, LHP, Florida International.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.