The never-ending need for help on the mound means that a pitcher usually is the first player to reach the big leagues from a Draft class. Cubs infielder Nico Hoerner, a first-round pick in 2018, is a recent exception, but eight of the fastest debuts from the previous nine Drafts belong to hurlers.
That group includes the last three players to appear in the Majors in the same year in which they were drafted -- Chris Sale (White Sox, first round, 2010), Paco Rodriguez (Dodgers, second, 2012) and Brandon Finnegan (Royals, first, 2014) -- as well as the last to get to the big leagues without a stop in the Minors. That was Reds 2009 first-rounder Mike Leake, who signed late in his Draft summer and joined Cincinnati in April 2010.
With all that in mind, it should come as no surprise that seven of our top 10 candidates to reach the Majors the quickest from the 2020 Draft do their work on the mound. So does our leading high school contender. We list them alphabetically below.
Burl Carraway, LHP, Cubs (2nd round)
College relievers are always a good pick to be the first draftee to get to the big leagues, and Carraway is the leading candidate from the 2020 crop. A straight reliever who misses a ton of bats with a 93-98 mph fastball and a downer curveball, he could be better than any lefty reliever the Cubs have on their roster.
Garrett Crochet, LHP, White Sox (1st round, No. 11 overall)
A decade ago, the White Sox brought Sale to Chicago seven weeks after signing him and used him out of the bullpen while making a run at the playoffs, then moved him back to the rotation two years later. They could implement a similar plan with Crochet, who features high spin rates on a mid-90s fastball and a mid-80s slider while also flashing a well-above-average changeup.
Reid Detmers, LHP, Angels (1st round, No. 10 overall)
The most polished college starter in the 2020 crop, Detmers is similar to fellow former Louisville star Brendan McKay, the No. 4 overall pick in 2017 who needed just 165 innings in the Minors. He pounds the strike zone with a 90-94 mph fastball, a quality curveball and a sinking changeup.
Nick Gonzales, SS, Pirates (1st round, No. 7 overall)
Gonzales had one of the most advanced bats in the Draft, which he used to lead NCAA Division-I hitting (.432) in 2019 and home runs (12 in 16 games) in 2020, and to win the Cape Cod League MVP Award in between. How quickly he reaches the Majors will depend in part on how long the Pirates keep him at shortstop, where he's a long shot to remain.
Emerson Hancock, RHP, Mariners (1st round, No. 6 overall)
MLB Pipeline's top-rated Draft prospect entering the year, Hancock combines stuff and polish better than any pitcher available. He can hit 99 mph with his fastball and has three secondary pitches that grade as at least plus at their best: a mid-80s slider, a fading changeup and a hard curveball.
Bryce Jarvis, RHP, D-backs (1st round, No. 18 overall)
The son of former D-backs right-hander Kevin Jarvis, Bryce combines polish with improved stuff. He has a history of throwing strikes and confounding hitters with his changeup, and last fall his fastball jumped to 92-96 mph while his curveball showed flashes of becoming a plus offering.
Asa Lacy, LHP, Royals (1st round, No. 4 overall)
The Royals continued to stock up on college arms by taking the consensus best pitcher in the 2020 Draft in Lacy, who blew away college hitters with 46 strikeouts in 24 innings this spring. He attacks hitters with a 92-97 mph fastball with good metrics, a much-improved slider in the low 80s and a devastating changeup.
Austin Martin, SS, Blue Jays (1st round, No. 5 overall)
The Blue Jays were pleasantly surprised to find Martin, the Draft's best pure hitter and the consensus No. 2 prospect, available at No. 5. He puts the bat on the ball with ease and won't need much seasoning before he can handle big league pitching, though his defensive home is somewhat in question and he has little experience at the position at which Toronto announced him.
Max Meyer, RHP, Marlins (1st round, No. 3 overall)
Meyer not only has the best pitch in the Draft in a wipeout slider that reaches 91 mph, but he also features a mid-90s fastball that was clocked at 98 mph in the ninth inning of one game and has topped out at 100. A dominant reliever early in his college career, he'd be a natural candidate for the Chris Sale development path if the Marlins were more of a contender.
Spencer Torkelson, 1B, Tigers (1st round, No. 1 overall)
We'll let a longtime scouting director take this one: "Torkelson is as Major League-ready as any player I've ever seen in my entire life with his bat. If you want to take him and put him in the Major Leagues right away like Bob Horner, you could. Everything he does in the batter's box is elite -- his ability to take pitches, to walk, to hit for power, to hit for average. It's like watching a Major League player in college. He's as good a hitter as I've ever seen. Torkelson is like watching a No. 4 hitter on a Major League team in college."
Top high school candidate: Mick Abel, RHP, Phillies (1st round, No. 15 overall)
Abel may not have pitched in an official game as an Oregon prepster this spring, but he's the best high school arm in the Draft and much more advanced than a typical teenager. With a fastball that climbs into the upper 90s, the best slider and command in the high school class, not to mention a terrific feel for a changeup, he'll move swiftly.