Scouts attacked the high-end college pitching in the 2019 Draft, with some veterans calling it the worst group they had seen in decades. Texas Christian left-hander Nick Lodolo was the lone college arm selected in the top 10 picks, and West Virginia right-hander Alek Manoah was the only other taken in the first 16.
There are no such concerns with the 2020 Draft, which already looks like perhaps the best since 2011. College pitching is one of its strengths, starting with Georgia right-hander Emerson Hancock, the current favorite to go No. 1 overall. Eight pitchers made our list of the top 15 college prospects below, and left-hander Garrett Crochet (Tennessee) and righties Cade Cavalli (Oklahoma), Tommy Mace (Florida) and Max Meyer (Minnesota) also received strong consideration.
"In 2019, there was no college pitching," a scouting director for a National League team said. "Next year, there are going to be some guys who are very good pitchers who get pushed down because there's so much of it."
While there isn't an Adley Rutschman (the Oregon State catcher who went No. 1 overall to the Orioles in June) or an Andrew Vaughn (the California first baseman who went No. 3 to the White Sox), the 2020 college position crop is deeper than usual. Arizona State first baseman Spencer Torkelson is Hancock's biggest rival for the No. 1 choice at this point, and Vanderbilt third baseman Austin Martin is next in line.
1. Emerson Hancock, RHP, Georgia
Hancock has several similarities to 2018 No. 1 overall pick Casey Mize as a Southeastern Conference right-hander who pounds the strike zone with a deep repertoire and missed some time with physical issues as a sophomore. He has top-of-the-rotation upside with a fastball that reaches 98 mph, a slider that can be an out pitch, a changeup that shows flashes of becoming a plus offering and an effective curveball. He allowed a total of eight runs in his first 10 starts last spring but didn't dominate as much after missing two weeks with a lat issue.
2. Spencer Torkelson, 1B, Arizona State
Like Vaughn, Torkelson generates almost all of his value with his bat but will go near the top of the Draft because he generates a lot of value at the plate. He's not a much of a pure hitter as Vaughn but may have more right-handed pop -- he broke Barry Bonds' Sun Devils freshman home run record with 25 in 2018, then encored with 22 homers last spring.
3. Austin Martin, 3B, Vanderbilt
Martin had a sophomore year to remember, leading the SEC in hitting (.392) and on-base percentage (.486) while helping the Commodores win their second national title. The best pure hitter in the college crop, he has great feel for the barrel and developing power from the right side of the plate plus the versatility to play solid defense at multiple positions -- perhaps even shortstop.
4. Garrett Mitchell, OF, UCLA
A better all-around player than Torkelson or Martin, Mitchell is a lefty hitter who already gets some plus grades for his bat, speed, arm and center-field defense, and he also has the bat speed to develop similar power. He broke out as a sophomore, batting .349/.418/.566 with 32 extra-base hits and 26 steals, though his Type 1 diabetes is a concern for some clubs.
5. Asa Lacy, LHP, Texas A&M
Hitters have trouble making contact against Lacy, the best left-hander (college or high school) in the 2020 Draft, who can make them look bad with a 92-97 mph fastball, a deceptive changeup and a distinctly different curveball and slider. He ranked third in NCAA Division I in opponent average (.162) and eighth in strikeouts per nine innings (13.2) as a sophomore.
6. Casey Martin, SS, Arkansas
Martin has the best power/speed combination in the college ranks, slamming 28 homers in his first two seasons with the Razorbacks while displaying quickness that earns top-of-the-scale grades from some evaluators. His right-handed swing can get too uphill at times when he gets too focused on home runs, and there's a chance he winds up in center field rather than sticking at shortstop.
7. Nick Gonzales, 2B, New Mexico State
Gonzales topped NCAA Division I in batting (.432) while also ranking second in OPS (1.305), third in slugging (.773) and fifth in on-base percentage (.532) in the spring. He dispelled the notion that those numbers were simply a product of favorable hitting conditions by making a run at the Cape Cod League triple crown this summer, with scouts admiring his compact right-handed stroke, hitting ability, solid raw power and plus speed. He's not as advanced defensively and probably would be stretched at shortstop, though he does have arm strength.
8. Heston Kjerstad, OF, Arkansas
The top offensive performer on the U.S. collegiate national team this summer, Kjerstad is a better hitter than Martin and has posted slightly better numbers with the Razorbacks. The top left-handed power hitter in the college class, he's a decent athlete who profiles well in right field with his pop and solid arm strength.
9. Reid Detmers, LHP, Louisville
After leading D-I in wins (13) and finishing second in strikeouts (167 in 113 1/3 innings) during the spring, Detmers was the best starter on Team USA this summer. The most polished college arm in the 2020 crop, he's reminiscent of former Cardinals ace Brendan McKay as a strong-bodied lefty with nifty command of a low-90s fastball, potential plus curveball and effective changeup.
10. J.T. Ginn, RHP, Mississippi State
Ginn helped Mississippi State reach the College World Series as a freshman after turning down the Dodgers as a first-rounder in 2018. A Draft-eligible sophomore, he has an electric arm that produces mid-90s fastballs and wipeout mid-80s sliders, though he missed time with a sore arm at the end of the season.
11. Cole Wilcox, RHP, Georgia
Another Draft-eligible sophomore, Wilcox showed first-round talent as a high schooler in 2018 but his asking price dropped him to the Nationals in the 37th round. While he's not as polished as the other pitchers on this list, he has better pure stuff than most of them with a fastball clocked as high at 100 mph and the makings of a plus power slider and changeup.
12. C.J. Van Eyk, RHP, Florida State
A swingman as a freshman, Van Eyk became a full-time starter as a sophomore and sparked the Seminoles' surge to the College World Series by outdueling Hancock in a regional playoff matchup. He still needs to refine his control and command but can run his fastball up to 97 mph and flash a plus curveball and changeup.
13. Patrick Bailey, C, North Carolina State
Bailey's strongest attributes are his power from both side of the plate and his solid arm behind it. He makes consistent hard contact, draws walks and has the tools to become an average or better receiver. He's the best college catcher available, though Arizona's Austin Wells (a Draft-eligible sophomore) is closing fast.
14. Carmen Mlodzinski, RHP, South Carolina
Though Mlodzinski has a 5.59 ERA in two years with the Gamecocks and made just three starts last spring before breaking his left foot, he dramatically raised his profile by starring in the Cape Cod League (2.15 ERA, 12.3 K/9, .150 opponent average) this summer. A redshirt sophomore in 2020, he runs his fastball up to 97 mph, overmatches hitters with a slider that features power and depth and has an intriguing cutter.
15. Tanner Burns, RHP, Auburn
The sixth SEC pitcher on this list, Burns succeeded Mize as Auburn's ace and thrived with a 92-97 mph fastball and sharp breaking ball. He'll move up this list if he can ease concerns about his durability, which date back to high school and were exacerbated when he missed a May start with shoulder tightness and was limited during the Tigers' College World Series run.
Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.