The Draft order is set. Who goes No. 1?

October 3rd, 2019

After we published our story about the 2020 Draft order right after the regular season ended, I received several questions similar to this one:

I took a crack at projecting the top 10 picks in the 2020 Draft as soon as the 2019 Draft concluded. After a summer of college leagues and high school showcases, I have four new names in my updated predictions below.

Detroit has the No. 1 overall pick for the second time in three Drafts. While Georgia right-hander Emerson Hancock has a lot of parallels to Casey Mize, whom the Tigers took with the first selection in 2018, their system is much stronger in terms of pitching than position players so I'll guess that they'll go the latter route.

I'm giving Detroit's pick to Arizona State first baseman Spencer Torkelson, who has the most usable power in the Draft and may be able to handle a more challenging defensive assignment. I also could see the Tigers wanting to get more athletic and thus opting for a more well-rounded position player such as Vanderbilt's Austin Martin, especially if he proves he can handle shortstop.

Here's my best guess, bearing in mind that it comes eight months in advance of the Draft and much will change between now and June:

  1. Tigers: Spencer Torkelson, 1B, Arizona State
  2. Orioles: Emerson Hancock, RHP, Georgia
  3. Marlins: Austin Martin, 3B, Vanderbilt
  4. Royals: Nick Gonzales, 2B, New Mexico State
  5. Blue Jays: Asa Lacy, LHP, Texas A&M
  6. Mariners: Garrett Mitchell, OF, UCLA
  7. Pirates: Mick Abel, RHP, Jesuit HS (Portland, Ore.)
  8. Padres: Jared Kelley, RHP, Refugio (Texas) HS
  9. Rockies: Reid Detmers, LHP, Louisville
  10. Angels: Casey Martin, SS, Arkansas

For more on this topic, check out the video at the top of this Inbox. And for some thumbnail scouting reports on the players above, see our top 15 college and high school prospect lists from August.

I read your ranking of graduating 2019 rookies based on future value and wondered why Kyle Tucker was excluded from the list. I have been a Colt .45s/Astros fan for a long time, and until his recent promotion I thought he was overhyped. But I have seen a much improved version of Tucker since his September recall, thus bearing the question of where he fits on your list.
-- Dan A., Cypress, Texas

I omitted Tucker because when I wrote that story, it looked like he would fall just short of exceeding the 130 at-bat limit for maintaining his rookie and prospect status. Then he had a pair of six-AB games in the final two weeks and got to 131 with a pair of at-bats in the final contest of the season.

The first Minor Leaguer with three straight 20-20 seasons since Greg Vaughn in 1987-89, Tucker had 34 homers and 30 steals this year in Triple-A. Most of his value will come from his offensive production, but it should be considerable value. If I had known he would graduate from rookie/prospect status, I would have ranked him 12th on my list, right behind Alex Verdugo and Nick Senzel and just ahead of Chris Paddack and Brendan McKay.

I mentioned Marsh in my last Pipeline Inbox as part of a group of players who came up in the discussion when we made end-of-season tweaks and additions to our Top 100 Prospects list. Yet another Angels outfielder with all-around tools, he projects as a potential solid hitter for average and power while possessing plus speed and arm strength and the ability to play anywhere in the outfield.

To crack the Top 100 and eventually make an impact in the big leagues, Marsh needs to start tapping into his raw power. He hit .300/.383/.428 with seven homers and 19 steals at age 21 this season -- impressive if not spectacular numbers. He has the strength and bat speed to deliver 25 homers on an annual basis, but he'll need to pull more pitches and drive more balls in the air to get to that level.