20 things to know from Day 1 of the 2020 Draft

June 11th, 2020

While the 2020 MLB Draft certainly had a different look and feel to it than in years past, there was no shortage of intrigue and excitement -- especially for Arizona State infielder Spencer Torkelson, whom the Tigers selected with the No. 1 overall pick. 

As the baseball world recharges for Rounds 2-5 of the Draft on Thursday night (5 p.m. ET, MLB Network and ESPN 2), here are some facts you should know about this year’s first-round picks.

Tracking the trends

• The 2020 Draft saw seven straight college players taken at the top, breaking the previous record for the latest that the first high school player was selected in a Draft, which had been set in 2006. Eighteen of the 29 first-round picks came from the college ranks. 

• The SEC was all over the first round, leading all collegiate conferences with nine selections. That’s the second most picks the SEC has ever boasted in a single Draft, following the 10 that were picked in 2007. (The first round featured 64 picks that year).

• California accounted for five first-round selections, including Torkelson, who attended Casa Grande High School in Petaluma, Calif. That was the most of any state, followed by Illinois and Tennessee (three).

Torkelson goes No. 1

• Torkelson is the fourth Arizona State alum taken with the first overall pick in the Draft -- more than any other school -- following Rick Monday (1965), Floyd Bannister (‘76) and Bob Horner (‘78).

• Torkelson became the 22nd Arizona State first rounder, a total that trails only Stanford. Entering 2020, ASU first-round picks -- led by Barry Bonds -- have a record 374.3 WAR combined in their big league careers, by far the most of any school. Even if one subtracts Bonds’ 162.8 career WAR, ASU would still be top of the class.

• Torkelson shattered Bonds’ freshman home run record at Arizona State in 2018, clubbing 25 to surpass Bonds’ 11.

• Though Torkelson played first base in college, the Tigers announced him as a third baseman with the belief that he’s capable of manning the hot corner. The most recent No. 1 overall pick to be announced as a third baseman was Phillies slugger Pat Burrell, who wound up not logging a single inning at third over 12 big league seasons.

• Torkelson is the seventh college player taken with the No. 1 overall pick after he was undrafted out of high school. Fellow Tigers prospect Casey Mize (2018) was the most recent such pick before Torkelson, preceded by Stephen Strasburg in 2009.

School/regional history made

• Marlins selection Max Meyer tied for the highest-drafted player out of Minnesota in the regular June Draft. At No. 3, the only other Gophers player taken that high was Hall of Famer Paul Molitor, by the Brewers in 1977.

• Vanderbilt’s Austin Martin became the school’s sixth top-five pick in the history of the regular June Draft. The only schools with more top-five picks are Stanford and Arizona State, with eight each -- but Vanderbilt’s have all come since 2007.

No other school has had more than two top-five picks since 2007.

• Pirates selection Nick Gonzales became the first New Mexico State alum taken in the first three rounds of any Draft. Previously, the Aggies’ top selection by Draft order was Joey Ortiz, whom the Orioles picked in the fourth round (No. 108 overall) last year.

• Right-hander Mick Abel, from Jesuit (Ore.) High School, went to the Phillies at No. 15. That made him the highest-drafted high school selection from the state of Oregon since two-time NL MVP Dale Murphy went fifth to the Braves way back in 1974.

Related

• When the Cubs spent the No. 16 pick on Mt. Carmel (Ill.) High School shortstop Ed Howard, it was the first time the team used a first-round selection on an Illinois player since 1980 (Don Schulze).

• At No. 18 overall to the D-backs, lefty Bryce Jarvis became the highest-drafted player in Duke history, surpassing Marcus Stroman, who went No. 22 in 2012 to the Blue Jays. The two are Duke’s only first-round picks in school history. He’s hoping to follow in the footsteps of his father, Kevin, as the first father-son tandem to play for the D-backs franchise.

• For the 18th time in the last 19 years, a pair of teammates was selected in the first round -- left-hander Reid Detmers (No. 10 overall to the Angels) and right-hander Bobby Miller (No. 29 overall to the Dodgers) were both drafted out of the University of Louisville.

Late first-round stories to watch

• Pete Crow-Armstrong, the Mets’ pick at No. 19, is hoping to become the latest Harvard-Westlake (Calif.) High School alum to star in the big leagues. Harvard-Westlake already boasts three current Major League stars: pitchers Jack Flaherty, Max Fried and Lucas Giolito.

• Crow-Armstrong is the fourth player drafted in the first round out of Harvard-Westlake, and all four of those have been since 2012. No other high school has had more than two first-round picks in that span, and the four is tied for fourth-most overall.

• Crow-Armstrong also has a great family baseball connection: his mom, Ashley Crow, is the actor who played Billy Heywood's mom Jenny in the classic movie "Little Big League."

• Carson Tucker, a high school shortstop from Arizona, very nearly was drafted with the exact same pick as his older brother Cole was in 2014. Cole Tucker went 24th overall to the Pirates and debuted in Pittsburgh in ‘19. Carson now has bragging rights over his brothers -- at least in terms of Draft position -- after going 23rd to the Indians. Cole actually predicted seven years ago his younger brother would one day be drafted in the first round.

• When Tyler Soderstrom went No. 26 overall to the A's, he joined his father Steve as a first-round Draft pick. Steve was drafted No. 6 overall by the Giants in 1993. The Soderstroms are the 10th father-son duo to be drafted in the first round. It's the second year in a row a family has joined that club -- Bobby Witt Jr. went No. 2 overall in the 2019 Draft and joined his father, Bobby Witt, who went No. 3 overall in 1985.

The other eight father-son first-round pairings: Tom and Ben Grieve (1966 and '94), Jeff and Sean Burroughs (1969 and '98), Delino DeShields and Delino DeShields Jr. (1987 and 2010), Tom and Neil Walker (1968 and 2004), John Mayberry and John Mayberry Jr. (1967 and 2002/'05), Steve and Nick Swisher (1973 and 2002), Phil and Tyler Nevin (1992 and 2015) and Rod and Brad Boxberger (1978 and 2009).