Inbox: Does this Draft class top the last?

April 23rd, 2021

I've spent most of the last month working on MLB Pipeline's new Draft Top 150 Prospects list, so the Draft is on my mind. Yours, too, if your Pipeline Inbox questions are any indication.

I'll ask my annual draft question: If this year's draft prospects and last year's draft prospects were all in the draft together right now, who would be the top 5 picks and in what order?
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Great question as always, Mike, but five? Five? You know me better than that -- I can't give you just five.

Here's how I'd rank the top 15 prospects from the last two Drafts, based on what we know about the guys now and not just at the time they were chosen:

1. Spencer Torkelson, 1B/3B, Arizona State (No. 1, Tigers, 2020)
2. Jack Leiter, RHP, Vanderbilt (2021)
3. Jordan Lawlar, SS, HS/Texas (2021)
4. Marcelo Mayer, SS, HS/California (2021)
5. Austin Martin, SS/OF, Vanderbilt (No. 5, Blue Jays, 2020)
6. Max Meyer, RHP, Minnesota (No. 3, Marlins, 2020)
7. Kumar Rocker, RHP, Vanderbilt (2021)
8. Asa Lacy, LHP, Texas A&M (No. 4, Royals, 2020)
9. Emerson Hancock, RHP, Georgia (No. 6, Mariners, 2020)
10. Brady House, SS, HS/Georgia (2021)
11. Zac Veen, OF, HS/Florida (No. 9, Rockies, 2020)
12. Garrett Crochet, LHP, Tennessee (No. 11, White Sox, 2020)
13. Nick Gonzales, 2B, New Mexico State (No. 7, Pirates, 2020)
14. Jackson Jobe, RHP, HS/Oklahoma (2021)
15. Sal Frelick, OF, Boston College (2021) 

Torkelson is just too special a bat to consider anyone else at No. 1. I'm sure Rocker at 7 will raise some eyebrows, but I favor guys who can really hit and play up the middle, and Meyer has a better changeup and command. The first eight guys were pretty easy, while the back half was more muddled and I could have gone with a half-dozen different players at No. 15.

If Jackson Jobe has better grades than Jack Leiter with his slider, command and [changeup], why is he not being mocked higher to the Pirates? He has better tools as a 18 year old, who cares if he is a prep arm?
[email protected]_B_Smlth

Oklahoma high school right-hander Jobe might have the best combination of three pitches and the ability to locate them in this Draft. I've had some all-in scouts give his slider an 80 (on the 20-80 grading scale), his fastball and changeup each a 70 and his command a 60. His curveball is a very solid fourth offering as well.

Comparing him to Leiter, who ranks No. 1 on the Draft Top 150, I'd say Leiter has the better fastball while Jobe has better secondary pitches and control, though the margins in all of those areas are fairly close. The reason that we rate Leiter ahead of Jobe -- and I believe most teams do as well -- is that high school arms are riskier from an injury standpoint than their college counterparts and Leiter's dominance against a much higher level of competition is impressive.

Leiter has proven he can stay healthy for two more years, but the biggest difference is that he has absolutely destroyed the Southeastern Conference, by far the best league in college baseball. In his first full season at Vanderbilt, he's on pace to have the best ERA for an SEC starter since 1981 and the most strikeouts by an SEC pitcher since at least 2007. He leads NCAA Division I in strikeouts (94) while ranking second in wins (seven), hit rate (2.8 per nine innings) and WHIP (0.70) and fifth in ERA (0.98) and whiff rate (15.3 per nine innings), and that performance currently makes him the leading candidate to go No. 1 overall to the Pirates.

What do you think of Dylan Dodd?
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Stop me if you've heard this one before: Southeast Missouri State left-hander, priority senior sign, should go around the fourth round. That was Joey Lucchesi in 2016, and that's Dodd now.

Dodd doesn't have Lucchesi's breaking ball, but he's a four-pitch southpaw who really knows how to pitch. Arkansas has been college baseball's No. 1-ranked team for much of the spring, and Dodd held the Razorbacks to two runs in six innings while striking out 10 in front of a crowd of scouts in February. He sports a 3.20 ERA, 71/12 K/BB ratio and .233 opponent average in 56 1/3 innings -- and keep in mind that the Ohio Valley Conference is an extreme hitter's league whose 11 members have a collective 5.69 ERA.

A two-way player at Kankakee (Ill.) CC, Dodd has been a full-time pitcher for just three years. He features a plus changeup, a four-seam fastball that sits in the low 90s and touches 96 with good metrics, and an average curveball and slider that are improved this spring. He's an athletic strike-thrower and as one scout said, "He's everyone's favorite guy in our area."

The Padres-Dodgers game this Friday is an MLB Network Showcase Game for us, and I'll be at Dodger Stadium as part of the broadcast. Are we able to quantify how many former Padres prospects appear on the Top 30 Prospects lists of other organizations? Through San Diego GM A.J. Preller's busy trading activity, do Top 30 lists around the Majors include more former Padres than prospects from any other former organization?
-- Jon M., Ann Arbor, Mich.

We'll diverge from the Draft for our final question, which comes from our very own Jon Paul Morosi as he prepares for this week's MLB Network Showcase Game. A total of 141 of the 900 prospects on our 30 Top 30 lists were acquired from other organizations. That includes 13 Top 100 Prospects, led by Mariners outfielder Jarred Kelenic (from the Mets), Marlins right-hander Sixto Sánchez (Phillies) and Rays righty Luis Patiño (Padres).

Jon's instincts are correct, as San Diego leads all organizations by far with originally signing 20 Top 30 Prospects in other farm systems. Middle infielder Xavier Edwards (Rays) is another Top 100 Prospect, and other former Padres of note include shortstop Gabriel Arias (Indians), outfielder Hudson Head (Pirates), right-hander Cole Wilcox (Rays) and shortstop Reginald Preciado (Cubs).

After the Padres, the Dodgers rank second with 11 prospects on other team's Top 30s, followed by the Astros and Yankees with nine each, the Mets with eight and the Rays with seven. The Orioles and Tigers are the only organizations not to have originally signed a player on another club's Top 30. The Reds are the lone team to part with three Top 100 Prospects: middle infielder Jeter Downs (traded to the Dodgers, who sent him to the Red Sox), right-hander Josiah Gray (Dodgers) and outfielder Taylor Trammell (dealt to the Padres, who shipped him to the Mariners).