Inbox: Will Padres promote Gore in 2020?

July 15th, 2020

When is MLB Pipeline going to update its Top 100 Prospects and organization Top 30 lists? I get that question nearly every day, both related to the Inbox and not, and I will answer it yet again here.

We traditionally revamp our prospect lists between the Draft signing deadline (usually early July, but Aug. 1 this year) and the Trade Deadline (usually July 31, but Aug. 31 this year). Because both of those dates got pushed back, I suspect we'll unveil our new rankings very soon after the signing deadline.

On to more involved questions ...

MacKenzie Gore is the best pitching prospect in baseball and needs work, even if he only has 21 2/3 innings above Class A Advanced at this point. The Padres have realistic Wild Card hopes with all of their young talent and a 60-game season. So I'd put my favorite left-hander on the Opening Day roster, break him in as a long reliever like Earl Weaver successfully did with so many Orioles back in the day, then move him to the rotation as soon as he seems ready.

I wouldn't skip shortstop C.J. Abrams or catcher Luis Campusano two or three levels to get them to San Diego, but I'd be aggressive with prospects who could potentially help a playoff push: right-hander Luis Patiño, outfielder Taylor Trammell, lefty Adrian Morejon, righty Michel Baez, infielders Owen Miller and Jorge Mateo, outfielder Edward Olivares and more. The Padres can't go crazy with prospects, but I would worry more about talent and readiness than guys being too young.

Given the special circumstances and brevity of this year's Draft -- and now that the dust has settled a bit -- are you hearing any rumbles of a larger than usual number of prep players potentially backing out of college commitments and taking the junior college route in order to enter the 2021 Draft? I can't imagine a large number of these players intended to actually land on campus.

--Joe L., Easton, Md.

I think we will see a better-than-usual crop of junior college talent in 2021, but not necessarily for the reason Joe suspects.

Despite some thoughts that a five-round Draft with bonus pools roughly $1 million lighter than usual might make it difficult to sign top high school players, that didn't prove to be the case. In 2019, 43 prepsters selected in the first five rounds received bonuses of $500,000 or more. In 2020, once the last four remaining high school players sign pro contracts, that number will be ... 43.

The biggest difference is that 2020 didn't get the chance to match 2019's total of 11 high schoolers who were taken after the fifth round and landed bonuses of at least $500,000.

There hasn't been a rush yet of players who have changed their commitments to junior colleges. The biggest so far is Ricky Tiedemann, one of the top prep lefties in the 2020 class, who switched from San Diego State to Long Beach (Calif.) CC and will be Draft-eligible next year.

I think we'll see more players follow Tiedemann's lead, however. Four-year schools are going to face a huge scholarship crunch with returning players who figured to depart if 2020 had featured a normal 40-round Draft (or even a 20-round Draft), which will squeeze out loads of incoming freshmen who will find immediate playing time and less expensive tuition bills at junior colleges. Also, with the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus, the economy and the immediate future of college sports, I bet more players decide to head to junior colleges to become Draft-eligible again in 2021.

All six of the Orioles' Draft choices ranked on our Draft Top 200, none lower than Florida high school third baseman Coby Mayo (fourth round) at No. 132. Joe Trezza and Jonathan "Don't Call Me Coby" Mayo handle our Orioles Top 30, so it's not up to me, but if it were I would include all six on the list. And I'll give Joe and Jonathan my advice for free.

I would put Arkansas outfielder Heston Kjerstad (No. 2 overall) at No. 3 between right-hander Grayson Rodriguez and left-hander D.L. Hall. Mississippi State shortstop Jordan Westburg (supplemental first round) would fit at No. 7 between outfielder Austin Hays and shortstop Gunnar Henderson. Tulane outfielder Hudson Haskin (second round) would slide in at No. 10 between outfielder Yusniel Diaz and right-hander Michael Baumann.

I'd place Mayo and Iowa prep right-hander Carter Baumler back to back at Nos. 17 and 18, behind shortstop Adam Hall and in front of outfielder Kyle Stowers. Mississippi shortstop Anthony Servideo would go at No. 25 between right-handers Cody Sedlock and Brenan Hanifee.