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Grading Every First Round Pick of the 2020 MLB Draft

The MLB Draft. Where dreams are made and expectations are created. Major League Baseball held the first round of their 2020 MLB Draft that featured a handful of our nations brightest prospects. These young men are the future of our great sport and could be seen on a national wavelength sooner than you may think. Lets now take a look at the first round to see who knocked their pick out of the park, and who flat out, struck out looking.

1. Tigers – Spencer Torkelson: 1B/3B, Arizona State

Grade: A+

The Tigers could do no wrong with this pick. Torkelson, who is a native of  Petaluma California, was the clear way to go for a variety of reasons. For starters, Torkelson has a swing that is as smooth as granite. When I watched the young infielder play at Tempe last season, I was amazed at how fluid his stroke was. Torkelson also carries some serious pop off his bat and can drive the ball out to multiple parts of the ballpark. This is a special ballplayer who is going to make Tiger fans very happy in the near future.

2.  Orioles – Heston Kjerstad: OF, Arkansas

Grade: C+

Im gonna be honest with you guys. I am not CRAZY about this pick. Kjerstad, who is the brother to former major league ballplayer, Dexter, is not your average #2 overall pick. Now, what do I mean by this exactly? To start, when I initially prepped for this years draft, I had Kjerstad being drafted anywhere from the 15-20 range. If you look at Kjerstad’s sophomore stats, which came courtesy of the 2019 season, the tall lefty collected 87 hits, had a .327 BA, drove in 51 runs and slugged 17 home runs. However, Kjerstad had the tendency to swing at pitches out of the zone, forcing him to strike out on more occasions than one. Could Heston one day be a solid major league ballplayer? Sure. But with the second overall pick, teams should be looking to draft stars.

3. Marlins – Max Meyer: RHP, Minnesota

Grade: A-

Oh, baby, let’s talk about the murder hornet. Max Meyer stands at just 6 feet tall which is considered to be small for a major league starting pitcher. But do not let this guys height fool you for a second. Meyer, who I see as being the next, right-handed Josh Hader, has some of the nastiest stuff you will ever see. His fastball sits in the high 90’s, his changeup dips like a dancer and his slider is as wipe out as the TV show. This kid was born with a gift and  South Beach is gaining one hell of a talent.

4. Royals – Asa Lacy: LHP, Texas A&M

Grade: B-

Fun Fact – Over the last three seasons, six left-handed starters have averaged 150 innings and more than a strikeout per inning: Chris Sale, Robbie Ray, Patrick Corbin, Eduardo Rodriguez, Clayton Kershaw, and Matthew Boyd. Lacy, who was a strikeout machine during his time at College Station, is primed to be that 7th started. What I really like about this Southpaw, is that he has such an over the top delivery, which allows him to keep hitters off-balance with what I like to call a heavy pitch. This heavy pitch was mastered by the great and late Roy Halladay. The one problem in Lacy’s game is that he has a tendency to walk batters and we all that at the major league level, free passes translates to trouble.

5. Blue Jays – Austin Martin: CF/INF, Vanderbilt

Grade: A+

Mark my words. Austin Martin will be the steal of the 2020 MLB Draft. The fact that this guy dropped lower than 2 and even out of the top 4 is absolutely absurd to me. Martin, who is a product of DeLand, Florida, is a superstar in the making. During his time at Vanderbilt, Martin hit for a career .368 BA, had more walks then total strikeouts, and was arguably the toughest guy to strikeout in the entire country. Martin also has the ability to flash the leather at a plethora of positions and has the wheels to steal anywhere from 15-25 bases a year. We are looking at a future five-tool player here who is about to add to the Blue Jays already filthy rich farm system.

6. Mariners – Emerson Hancock – RHP, Georgia

Grade: B+

For whatever reason, before Corona happened, I watched a lot of Georgia baseball. I don’t know why, and Im not even sure how, but I do know one thing. Emerson Hancock is a BALLER.  Hancock is a simple pitcher who is extremely efficient with what he uses. He has three pitches (Fastball, Changeup, Slider) that he pounds into the strike zone and can locate extremely well. Hancock doesn’t quite have the wipeout stuff like Lacy, but he may have a bigger upside, due to his ability to consistently throw strikes.

7. Pirates – Nick Gonzales: 2B, New Mexico State

Grade: A-

As a Phillies fan, Gonzales was the player I initially wanted us to draft. However, I knew there was a slim chance that he would fall to 15 because well…. he is a hell of a ballplayer. During his time at New Mexico State, Gonzales hit for a career .399 BA, had a .502 OBP, hit 37 home runs and drove in 152 runs, all during a 2 1/4 year span. Those are video game-like numbers. Gonzales also dominated during last summers Cape Code league, hitting for a .351 BA, collecting a .451 OBP and acquiring a .630 slugging percentage. This is a special hitter who is going to feast off of major league pitching once his name gets called.

8. Padres – Robert Hassell: OF, Independence (HS)

Grade: C+

May I introduce to you our first high school pick taken off the board, Robert Hassel. Im going to be honest. I am not going to grade ANY high school picks with high regard during this years draft. And my logic for this is quite simple. The matter of the fact is this. Any high school player who got drafted during this years draft had their senior year taken away from them due to the Coronavirus. This means that you are mainly basing your scouting off Junior year tape which can not be the smartest move, as these players still have so much developing to do. With that being said, Hassel is a really unique talent who has the potential to maybe, one day, possibly, be a solid major league ballplayer.

9. Rockies – Zac Veen: OF, Spruce Creek (HS)

Grade: C-

Zac Veen is a unique case study. The University of Florida commit has a tall stature that resembles the once great, Jayson Werth. He has an above-average arm, has bat speed that is faster than Usain Bolt and has hands that are softer than sand in the Bahamas. I really think Veen has a bright upside, but again, it is so hard to tell because he is so young. He may be the next Jason Heyward and he may be the next what could have been. We will just have to wait and see.

10. Angels – Reid Detmers: LHP, Louisville

Grade: A-

In many aspects, Reid Detmers entered this draft as the hottest prospect in the entire world. To end his career at Louisville, Detmers went on a four-game stretch in which he posted a 1.23 ERA to go along with a strikeout per nine of  19.6. That is not a typo. Detmers was so hot that he was striking out two batters per inning over a 4 game pace. That is an absolutely ludicrous stat line that you may never see again.

11. White Sox – Garrett Crochet: LHP, Tennessee

Grade: C-

Apart from the fact that he has an awesome name, Garrett Crochet is a pretty solid prospect. He throws hard and has good enough breaking stuff to where he can make hitters look silly. So why am I giving this pick a C-? Unfortunately, Crochet has had injury problems in the past and is what we like to call “injury-prone.” He also has proved that he is not THAT solid of a starter, and has become more comfortable in the bullpen. I feel as if the White Sox have some sculpting ahead of him.

12. Reds – Austin Hendrick: OF, West Allegheny (HS)

Grade: D+

I can’t seem to make sense of this pick. I have watched highlights of this kid, read scouting reports on the Pittsburgh native and even have seen future projections as to what Hendrick could possibly be. However, I just do not see it. Don’t get me wrong, Hendrick is a hell of a ballplayer. But he does have weaknesses in his game that makes me question as to why he is drafted as the 12th overall pick.

13. Giants – Patrick Bailey: C, NC State

Grade: A-

It is a shame that college baseball had their season cut short because I wholeheartedly believe that NC State would have been crowned as the 2020 National Champions. They had the best offense in the country by a mile and had enough arms to carry them through the dog days of summer. Leading the Wolfpacks star-studded offense, was catcher, Patrick Bailey. During his time at NC State, Bailey had a career .302 BA, a .411 OBP, hit 29 HRs and drove in 106 runs. Bailey is a reliable bat who knows how to manage a game behind the plate and I am a huge fan of this pick.

14. Rangers – Justin Foscue: 2B/3B, Mississippi State

Grade: C+

Justin Foscue is what I like to call a one tool prospect. He is not the fastest player on the field and is not the type of guy who is going to woo you with his defensive prowess. However, the one thing that Foscue does have working for him is that he is one tenacious warrior at the plate. During his time at Starkville, the Hunstville native acquired a career .297 BA, had a .380 OBP and slugged an impressive .482. Foscue also finished his collegiate career with 10 more walks (67) than strikeouts (57), a very impressive feat never the less. This is a guy who I can one day see being a middle to bottom of the lineup bat who grinds each and every plate appearance.

15. Phillies – Mick Abel: RHP, Jesuit (HS)

Grade: C+

If Mick Abel was able to pitch during his senior season, there is a good chance he would have been selected as a top 10 overall pick. The Oregon native is a hard-throwing righty who can command both sides of the strike zone with ease. Abeles best pitch is his sinker, which he tails away from lefties, and buckles into righties. When you look at Abel’s delivery, you can not help but make comparisons to the reigning world series MVP, Stephen Strasburg. This is a really solid pick for the Phils and my only concern here is that at just 18 years old, Abel is very young has a lot of developing left to do.

16. Cubs – Ed Howard: SS, Mount Carmel (HS)

Grade: B-

This is probably my favorite pick of the first round. And it is not due to the fact that Howard is necessarily the most talented prospect in this years draft class, but rather that this pick was filled with nostalgic vibes. Howard was apart of the 2014 Jackie Robinson West LL All-Star team that won the United States championship at the Little League World Series. I remember watching that tournament and rooting for the boys from Jackie Robinson West as they were one of the most electric squads to ever grace Williamsport. It is also important to mention that Howard’s LL team was from Chicago so the fact that he got drafted by his home town team is nothing short of a dream come true. As far as Howard’s game goes, the 6’2 SS is one of the better fielding prospects I have ever seen. He makes fielding the baseball look as easy as opening a door. I am excited to see what comes from this pick as Howard is a gold glove caliber talent.

17. Red Sox – Nick Yorke:  SS, Archbishop Mitty (HS ) 

Grade: F+

Ah, our first F of the night. Nick Yorke is not a bad baseball player. But this pick makes absolutely ZERO sense for the Boston Red Sox. Yorke, who is a native of San Jose, has not seen the field since his Sophomore year of high school. After getting shoulder surgery, Yorke was limited to DH at-bats for the duration of his Junior year, and of course, his Senior year was cut short due to Corona. Even though Yorke finished his Junior campaign with a .505 BA, many wondered if his head was truly in the game. “Not being able to play defense was a huge struggle for me,” he told SportStars Magazine. “It was tough staying engaged just playing DH.” Yorke is an undersized SS who lacks pop, speed and defensive tools. At most, I could see him one day being a bench player.

18. Diamondbacks – Bryce Jarvis: RHP, Duke

Grade: B+

February 21, 2020. Duke’s Bryce Jarvis gets set to make a home start vs Cornell. As the game begins, Jarvis is locked and loaded, mowing down every hitter in site. As the latter inning roll on and the scoreboards read zero, it becomes apparent that history is on the precipice. Jarvis makes his way to the mound for the top of the 9th, just three outs away from history. Good morning, good afternoon, and goodnight. In what was a 15 strikeout effort, Jarvis became the first Blue Devil in program history to complete a perfect game. 27 up and 27 down. It doesn’t get much sweeter than that.

19. Mets – Pete Crow-Armstrong: OF, Harvard-Westlake (HS)

Grade: C+

The Mets must love their Petes man. And can you blame em, its a hell of a name. In all seriousness though I actually don’t hate this pick. Crow-Armstrong comes from a school that has produced major league talents such as Jack Flaherty, Lucas Giolito, and Max Fried. That is not bad company to one day be apart of. While Crow is not the greatest hitting prospect in this draft, he may be one of the better defenders. He has phenomenal closing speed, which allows him to play back in CF, and has an above-average arm that can mow runners down. This is a solid mid-round pick for the Mets.

20. Brewers – Garrett Mitchell: OF, UCLA

Grade: B-

Garrett Mitchell is arguable, the fastest prospect in this years draft class. Racking up 28 stolen bases during his time in LA, Mitchell can be described as a thief on the base paths. The Orange County native can also handle the sticks, finishing his collegiate career with a .327 BA, hitting 15 triples and scoring 94 runs. Mitchell has the potential to be a solid leadoff hitter who could one day help compliment the bats of Lorenzo Cain and Christan Yelich.

21. Cardinals – Jordan Walker: 3B, Decatur (HS)

Grade: B+

Standing at 6’5, Jordan Walker is a big boy. In fact, if Walker were to make his major league debut tomorrow, he would be tied with Kris Bryant for the talent third basement at the major league level. This Duke commit has a lot of pop and is not afraid to use his upper body to drive balls out of the park. He also has a really smooth glove and is one of the premier corner infielders in this draft. Huge fan this pick for the red birds.

22. Nationals – Cade Cavalli: RHP, Oklahoma

Grade: C+

If Cade Cavalli were to be drafted out of high school, he may have been looked at as the next  Babe Ruth. And no, I am not saying this because he is one of the greatest baseballs players of all time, but because up until last season, Cavalli was a two-way player. Last season, Cavalli stroked a .319 BA to go along with an impressive OBP of .393. However, because of this balancing act, Cavalli would seem tired on the hill and would walk batters at a premium. This issue has been cleaned up, as Cavalli has transformed into primarily a pitcher and as a result of his efforts, he is seeing his name being called in the first round of the draft. Some times it pays off to take chances.

23. Indians – Carson Tucker: SS, Mountain Pointe (HS) 

Grade: B-

Carson Tucker, who is the brother of Pittsburg Pirates SS, Cole Tucker, was born to be a ballplayer. The 6’1 SS can pick it like you wouldn’t believe and has the tools to be a big-time star one day. When I watch Tucker’s game the one thing I really like is how effortlessly he makes it all look. It is very reminiscent of a Manny Machado or a Javier Baez who are as smooth as melted butter. With enough hard work, I truly believe we could be looking at a special product.

24. Rays – Nick Bitsko: RHP, Central Bucks East (HS)

Grade: C+/ B-

I actually think this could be considered as another steal of the draft. Bitsko, who is a product of Doylestown, PA is a flame-throwing workhorse. When you watch this kid pitch, you can’t help but grin over his fluid mechanics and deliberate delivery. Bitsko has a fastball that sits in the high 90s that he mixes in with a 12-6 curveball that has a heavy drop to it. The one negative that you can say about Bitskos game is that he is just 17 years old. That is so freaking young. If he were a year or 2 older, we could have seen this righty go anywhere from the top 10 to perhaps a top 5 pick in this year’s draft.

25. Braves – Jared Shuster: LHP, Wake Forest 

Grade: F+

For all intents and purposes, Jared Shuster should not be a first-round draft pick. In 2019, he walked 5 batters per 9 innings and experienced location problems like you wouldn’t believe. During his Freshman year at Wake Forest, Shuster gave up 28 earned runs on just 34 IP to go along with a 7.41 ERA. While Shuster has improved over the years, he has shown to many signs of inconsistency for me to agree with this pick.

26. Athletics – Tyler Soderstrom: C, Turlock (HS)

Grade: C-

This is another pick that I am not too fond of. While watching his tapes, it is clear that Sonderstorms arm is nowhere near strong enough to compete at the major league level. Don’t get me wrong, the guy has a good arm but to be a major league catcher, your arm has to be ELITE.

27. Twins – Aaron Sabato: 1B, North Carolina

Grade: B+

Aaron Sabato is a big bat that reminds me a lot of Luke Voit. He has a large frame and has raw power from head to toe. In 2019, during his redshirt freshman season with the Heels, Sabato slugged 18 HRs to go along with 25 doubles and 63 runs batted in. He also hit for a .343 BA which is an extremley impressive stat line coming from the likes of a power hitter. For a team that just broke the record for HRs a season ago, the Twins seem to be getting greedy with their surplus of power bats.

28. Yankees – Austin Wells: C, Arizona

Grade: B-

Austin Wells has not necessarily proven to anyone that he’s capable of being a major league catcher. However, if you were to watch this guy hit, it may not matter. During his time at Arizona, Wells had a .357 career BA, collected 99 hits, scored 85 runs, had an OBP of .476 and an OPS of 1.035. While Wells may not have as much pop as the Yankees current catcher, (Gary Sanchez), he may be more consistent.

29. Dodgers – Bobby Miller: RHP, Louisville

Grade: B-

Let’s take a quick second to give a round of applause to Roger Williams, who is in his 14th season as the pitching coach for the Lousiville Cardinals. Williams just had TWO of his arms taken in the first round of the MLB Draft. I don’t know what he is getting paid but that man deserves a raise. Anyway, this is a solid pick for the Dodgers. Miller is a hard-throwing righty who is hard to pick up due to a funky deliver. The only concern I have with this pick is a potential injury down the road as Miller uses A LOT of elbow with each pitch he throws.

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Peter Snyder is an Intern sportswriter who covers collegiate athletics as well as professional sports.
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