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2020 MLB Draft Review: American League

Well that was a fun MLB draft, wasn’t it? After the top pick went according to plan, things kind of went off the wall to a degree. Mock drafts were blown to bits but the excitement was there throughout with plenty of intriguing picks throughout. If you’re a Detroit Tigers fan, congratulations. They absolutely dominated this draft and landed a middle of the order beast that they can plop at cleanup for the next decade along with plenty of additional offensive talent. The Mariners also had a sneaky good draft, landing my favorite pitcher from this draft class. But let’s skip the small talk and get right into the team reviews and noteworthy picks for fantasy leagues.

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2020 MLB Draft Review – American League

Baltimore Orioles

2. Heston Kjerstad, OF, Arkansas

30. Jordan Westburg, SS, Mississippi State

39. Hudson Haskin, OF, Tulane

74. Anthony Servideo, SS, Ole Miss

103. Coby Mayo, 3B, Stoneman Douglas HS (FL)

133. Carter Baumler, RHP, Dowling Catholic HS (IA)

After the Tigers went chalk at 1.1, Baltimore kicked off the craziness that was the 2020 MLB draft, going under slot and taking Heston Kjerstad at #2 overall. While Kjerstad isn’t what you’d expect at this pick, the offensive potential he possesses was going to take him off the board by pick 20 at the latest. This is a big power bat with plus or better raw power and at least average contact skills. Peak Kjerstad could be something in the vicinity of a 50/55-hit, 60-65-power corner outfielder that hits in the middle of the order.

After Kjerstad, Baltimore continued to focus on loading up on bats, especially collegiate bats. Jordan Westburg kicked off the CBA round at #30 overall and is a potential 20/20 shortstop in time. He’s displayed above-average speed and raw power, but the contact skills are a tad behind. If he can improve in that aspect, Westburg should make a name for himself on prospect lists. The same can be said for Hudson Haskin, an outfielder from Tulane. From an offensive standpoint, I actually prefer Haskin to Westburg as he’s displayed a better hit tool and more speed. Anthony Servideo could move fairly quickly due to his speed and defensive skills at short, but the bat is behind with below-average power.

Boston Red Sox

17. Nick Yorke, 2B, Archbishop Mitty HS (CA)

89. Blaze Jordan, 1B/3B, DeSoto Central HS (MS)

118. Jeremy Wu-Yelland, LHP, Hawaii

148. Shane Drohan, LHP, Florida State

It’s probably fair to say that Red Sox fans were a bit shocked at the first pick in the Chaim Bloom era. There’s no doubt that Nick Yorke can hit with an above-average to plus hit tool, but this is about as under slot as you can go at this point. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against Yorke as a prospect, but this is a guy that should’ve been drafted in round three or so.

We then had to wait a while as the Red Sox were stripped of their 2nd round pick, but they made a buzzy pick in the 3rd round, taking Blaze Jordan at pick 89. Jordan has been in the spotlight for a few years now due to the prestigious power he’s shown since he was just 15. Outside of the power, Jordan is a project, but if he can make improvements at the plate, this is going to be a big bat for Boston. That’s a big if though. Where he plays is another question as the defensive skills are below-average. At this point, it’s probably a 1B/DH profile so he’s going to have to hit.

Lastly, Boston selected a pair of collegiate left-handers with Jeremy Wu-Yelland and Shane Drohan. Out of these two, Drohan is more intriguing to me. A 6’3 southpaw that has only been solely focusing on pitching for a few years now, Drohan is a projectable arm with the potential for three average or better pitches. This is a name that could rise up prospect rankings if he continues to develop once he hits Boston’s system.

New York Yankees

28. Austin Wells, C, Arizona

99. Trevor Hauver, 2B, Arizona State

129. Beck Way, RHP, Northwest Florida State (JC)

While the Yankees only had three picks this year, they certainly made an impact with them. First up was Austin Wells, a bat-first Catcher from the University of Arizona. It remains to be seen if he can stick behind the plate, but wherever he ends up, Wells has the bat to make an impact with the ability to hit for both power and average. Beck Way is another noteworthy name here that fell a bit to the Yankees. He’s got three average to plus pitches and is still developing as a starter after being a reliever prior to the last year.

Tampa Bay Rays

24. Nick Bitsko, RHP, Central Bucks HS East (PA)

37. Alika Williams, SS, Arizona State

57. Ian Seymour, LHP, Virginia Tech

96. Hunter Barnhart, RHP, St. Joseph HS (CA)

125. Tanner Murray, SS, University of California-Davis

155. Jeff Hakanson, RHP Central Florida

The Rays kept it simple in this draft, targeting arms and shortstops. The big name here is Nick Bitsko, a big 6’4 prep arm with a projectable frame and the potential for two plus or better pitches in his fastball and curveball. That fastball might even wind up as a 70-grade offering down the road. Bitsko has also shown a solid feel for his changeup and his better command and control than most prep arms his age. The upside here is massive and adds to the already-impressive group of young arms in this Tampa Bay system.

Outside of Bitsko, however, this wasn’t an impressive haul in my eyes. Alika Williams is a better real-life player due to his defensive skills, but does project to hit a bit with above-average speed as well. Both Hunter Barnhart and Ian Seymour possess two 55-60 grade offerings, but the upside with each isn’t overly high. Seymour might even wind up as a reliever due to his smaller size and lack of a reliable third offering.

Toronto Blue Jays

5. Austin Martin, 3B/SS/OF, Vanderbilt

42. CJ Van Eyk, RHP, Florida State

77. Trent Palmer, RHP, Jacksonville

106. Nick Frasso, RHP, Loyola Marymount

136. Zach Britton, OF, Louisville

If anyone picked the first five picks of this MLB draft correctly, they need to go out and buy copious amounts of Powerball tickets and hit up Vegas or Atlantic City as quickly as possible. Most mock drafts had Austin Martin going #2 overall to Baltimore, but those under slot rumors were swirling lately and Baltimore passed on the best pure hitter in the draft to save money later on. Baltimore’s loss is Toronto’s gain.

Being able to select a guy like Martin at 5 is a big get for the Blue Jays. Martin is a 70-grade hitter with enough power and speed to push some 20/20 seasons while hitting well over .300. I’ve comped him to a better version of Nick Senzel and believe we’re going to see him in Toronto sooner rather than later. Where he winds up on the field is another question, but Martin is athletic enough to play all over the diamond.

Skipping to their last pick, Zach Britton is a sneaky-good prospect in the 5th round. No, not the former all-star reliever that Buck Showalter refused to use in the 2016 AL Wild Card game. This Britton has been slow to develop, but performed well in the Cape Cod League in 2019 and there might be some additional power in this bat as well. As for the pitchers taken by Toronto, CJ Van Eyk was a tremendous value at pick 42. He’s not the biggest guy around at 6’1, but Van Eyk has a solid three-pitch arsenal highlighted by his fastball and curveball. If his changeup and command can take a step forward, there’s #3 starter upside here. Nick Frasso is another interesting name, but his future role is in question. If the secondaries improve, the big 6’5 righty could slot in at the back of a rotation.

Chicago White Sox

11. Garrett Crochet, LHP, Tennessee

47. Jared Kelley, RHP, Refugio HS (TX)

83. Adisyn Coffey, RHP, Wabash Valley College

112. Kade Mechals, RHP, Grand Canyon University

142. Bailey Horn, LHP, Auburn

With all the offensive talent throughout this system, I’m really digging the White Sox taking all pitchers in this draft. In fact, the first two arms they drafted are both considered top-15 arms in this class, maybe even both top-10. Garrett Crochet was their first choice and he’s arguably one of the most advanced arms in this draft. The 6’6 southpaw didn’t dominate statistically at Tennessee, but it’s the pure stuff that has everyone excited. And of course, the Chris Sale comparisons will be frequent due to which team drafted him and the similar tall and lanky frame. Crochet sits in the mid to upper-90’s with his heater our of a lower 3/4 arm slot (like Sale) and also featured two dynamic secondaries in his slider and changeup with the changeup grading a little better. This is a potential frontline starter in the making.

Nearly as high on my personal rankings is Texas prep arm, Jared Kelley. Some signability concerns caused Kelley to slide a bit, but assuming Chicago can get him signed, they got themselves an absolute steal at #47 overall. At 6’3/215, Kelly already has shown a dynamic three-pitch arsenal with better command and control than most prep arms. It’s possible that all three pitches finish as plus down the road with the fastball potentially reaching 70-grade. His upside is on the same level as Crochet’s.

Cleveland Indians

23. Carson Tucker, SS, Mountain Pointe HS (AZ)

36. Tanner Burns, RHP, Auburn

56. Logan Allen, LHP,  Florida International

95. Petey Halpin, OF, Mira Costa HS (CA)

124. Milan Tolantino, SS, Santa Margarita HS (CA)

154. Mason Hickman, RHP, Vanderbilt

It’s not often that my favorite player taken by a particular team was their fourth player selected. Petey Halpin is a California prep outfielder with a chance to really rise up prospect rankings over the next couple of years. Although a bit undersized at 6’/180, Halpin is a plus athlete with plus speed and above-average contact skills. If he can add some bulk, I believe we’re looking at a 55-hit, 50-power, 60-speed outfielder that can make an impact on both sides of the ball.

Moving back to their first pick in Carson Tucker, he’s not one I’m overly excited about from a fantasy standpoint. There’s a solid hit tool in place but his power/speed upside is underwhelming. Cleveland has a ton of middle infield prospects in their system that I like quite a bit more than Tucker moving forward. And honestly, I might take Tolantino before Tucker for fantasy purposes as he’s at least shown above-average speed with nearly as good of a hit tool.

As for the pitchers, both Mason Hickman and Logan Allen don’t do much for me as back-end starters, but Tanner Burns is one to keep an eye on. The 6’/215 right-hander thrived in his three seasons at Auburn and missed more bats each season. With two plus pitches and a serviceable changeup, Burns could settle in as a mid-rotation starter.

Detroit Tigers

1. Spencer Torkelson, 1B/3B, Arizona State

38. Dillon Dingler, C, Ohio State

62. Danny Cabrera, OF, LSU

73. Trei Cruz, SS, Rice

102. Gage Workman, 3B, Arizona State

132. Colt Keith, 3B/RHP, Biloxi HS (MS)

The Tigers absolutely dominated this MLB draft. With most of their top talent being on the mound, Detroit needed to attack hitting this year and they absolutely killed it. Having the 1st overall pick and drafting Spencer Torkelson is a great place to start. This is a middle of the order force in the making with elite power and the potential for an above-average hit tool as well. For a comp, how about Pete Alonso? Sounds good, doesn’t it? For fantasy FYPDs, this is the no doubt #1 pick.

When he was selected, Torkelson was announced as a third baseman and not a first baseman which surprised some. Tigers GM, Al Avila, seemed to be very confident in Tork at the hot corner when talking with ESPN following the pick.

Our scouts strongly feel he can play 3rd base and that’s our intent at this point.

While Torkelson is the crown jewel of this draft class, Detroit continued to make good pick after good pick in the subsequent rounds. While there aren’t any Joey Bart or Adley Rutschman caliber catchers this year, Dillon Dingler is a catcher that could carve out some fantasy value down the road due to his ability to hit for average and power. It wouldn’t surprise me if he wound up as the best all-around catcher from this draft class.

Two rounds later, Detroit nabbed a great value when they took Gage Workman out of Arizona State. A teammate of Torkelson in college, Workman is a plus power bat that I believe can get to an average hit tool as well. He’s also more athletic than most give him credit for and could add in a handful of steals annually as well. In between Dingler and Workman were two more collegiate bats in Danny Cabrera and Trei Cruz. Cruz isn’t one I’m high on offensively, but Cabrera has the tools to hit around .280/.290 with 15-20 homers and 15-20 steals annually. He’ll likely get overlooked in FYPDs due to not having any stand out tools, but Cabrera is a solid all-around player.

Kansas City Royals

4. Asa Lacy, LHP, Texas A&M

32. Nick Loftin, SS, Baylor

41. Ben Hernandez, RHP, De La Salle Institute (IL)

76. Tyler Gentry, OF, Alabama

105. Christian Chamberlain, LHP, Oregon State

Asa Lacy falling to Kansas City at four was both a surprise and a gift. They already had the fab four of Lynch, Singer, Kowar, and Bubic in this system and adding Lacy to that mix is huge. While Max Meyer was the first arm off the board, Lacy is arguably the top pitcher in this class, neck and neck with Emerson Hancock. His fastball/slider combination is absolutely filthy from the left side and there’s the makings of an above-average changeup and curveball as well. All the parts are here for Lacy to develop into an ace if he can improve his command moving forward. Ben Hernandez also has some intrigue as a potential mid-rotation arm with arguably the top changeup in this year’s MLB draft.

Moving over to the hitting side, Nick Loftin isn’t one that I’d be rushing to draft in FYPDs. This is more of a safer pick by the Royals than one they’ll build around moving forward. As a solid defender that can hit a little, he’ll likely move quickly and probably beat Bobby Witt Jr to Kansas City. Tyler Gentry is far more appealing to be for fantasy purposes as the Alabama outfielder has displayed plus raw power and at least average speed. If the hit tool develops, Gentry’s upside is intriguing at this point in the draft.

Minnesota Twins

27. Aaron Sabato, 1B, North Carolina

59. Alerick Soularie, OF, Tennessee

128. Marco Raya, RHP, United South HS (TX)

158. Kala’i Rosario, OF, Waiakea HS (HI)

People are going to be talking about Aaron Sabato next year like they are about Michael Toglia this year. This is a major power bat out of the University of North Carolina with legit 70-grade raw power. As a first-base only prospect, Sabato is going to have to hit and I believe he does just that and winds up as a 50-hit, 70-power first baseman with .260/35 upside.

Minnesota also nabbed a pair of outfielders in the 2nd and 5th rounds with Alerick Soularie from Tennessee and Kala’i Rosario from the prep ranks in Hawaii. These two are very different prospects. Soularie is a hit-first outfielder with solid contact skills but doesn’t project as a big power/speed threat. With Rosario, it’s all about the power. He’s already displayed plus raw power from the right side, but is a below-average runner and will need to make more consistent contact moving forward.

Houston Astros

72. Alex Santos II, RHP, Mount Saint Michael Academy(NY)

101. Ty Brown, RHP, Vanderbilt

131. Zach Daniels, OF, Tennessee

160. Shay Whitcomb, SS, UC San Diego

Since the Astros were naughty, they didn’t have a draft pick until the third round this year. Out of this quartet, Zach Daniels is the one I like the most. Listed at 6’2/205, Daniels is a strong and athletic outfielder that was enjoying a breakout season at Tennessee before the remainder of the season was cancelled. He’s still a bit raw for a collegiate bat, but the power/speed blend here is enticing and makes him an attractive late-round pick in FYPDs. If the hit tool takes a step forward, Daniels could really break out and rise up prospect rankings.

Both Alex Santos II and Ty Brown were solid values at their draft slots. While Brown projects more as #4 or #5 starter with a big and sturdy workhorse frame that could allow him to develop into an innings-eater at the Major League level, Santos could develop into more. The New York state prep arm toes the rubber at 6’3 with some nice projection left on that frame. He already flashes two plus pitches and has shown a feel for a fading changeup as well. With further development, Santos could develop into a nice mid-rotation arm for the Astros down the road. Not bad for not having a pick until #72 overall.

Los Angeles Angels

10. Reid Detmers, LHP, Louisville

82. David Calabrese, OF, St. Elizabeth Catholic HS (ON)

111. Werner Blakely, SS, Detroit Edison HS (MI)

141. Adam Seminaris, LHP, Long Beach State

The Angels only had four picks in this year’s MLB draft, but made big splashes with two of them and maybe even a third. There were rumors that they were going to go off the wall with their 10th overall pick but wound up taking an advanced collegiate arm in Reid Detmers out of Louisville. For left-handers in this draft, Detmers is my third favorite arm behind Asa Lacy And Garrett Crochet. Detmers isn’t as flashy as the other two, but possesses three potential above-average to plus pitches and above-average command and control as well. His upside is more of a back-end #2 or high-end #3 starter, but Detmers also could be one of the first from this draft class to reach the Major Leagues.

The other noteworthy pick here is David Calabrese. This little Canadian outfielder can absolutely fly and leave a trail of destruction on the bases. There’s no doubt that Calabrese is one of the fastest players in this draft but he’s going to need to improve at the plate to turn into a fantasy asset. He’s certainly one to monitor moving forward. Finally, Werner Blakely, a Michigan high school shortstop was a nice pick in the 4th round. There’s a strong Auburn commitment here, but if the Angels can sign him, Blakely will be one to watch.

Oakland Athletics

26. Tyler Soderstrom, C, Turlock HS (CA)

58. Jeff Criswell, RHP, Michigan

98. Michael Guldberg, OF, Georgia Tech

127. Dane Acker, RHP, Oklahoma

157. Stevie Emanuels, RHP, Washington

Honestly, this Oakland draft class underwhelms me. They mostly played it safe and took three collegiate arms with mid to back-rotation upside. Criswell could develop into a nice #3 type of starter with a solid three-pitch mix, but will need to start commanding his arsenal better to reach that level. He’d be the only one of this trio of arms that I;d target in FYPDs.

As for Soderstrom, there’s plenty to like here offensively, but in case you missed it, he’s a catcher. If you can ignore the position next to his name, Soderstrom is an intriguing target later in FYPDs due to his .280/15+ potential at the plate.

Seattle Mariners

6. Emerson Hancock, RHP, Georgia

43. Zach DeLoach, OF, Texas A&M

64. Connor Phillips, RHP, McLennan CC (TX)

78. Kaden Polkovich, 2B, Oklahoma State

107. Tyler Keenan, 3B, Ole Miss

137. Taylor Dollard, RHP, Cal Poly

This was a sneaky-good MLB draft for the Seattle Mariners. It all started at #6 overall where they selected the top pitcher in the draft in my eyes, Emerson Hancock out of the University of Georgia. The abbreviated NCAA season hurt Hancock’s draft stock a bit but the upside here is off the charts. Hancock possesses four offerings that flash 55-grade or better at any time and all but the curveball project as plus or better. Hancock sits in the mid to upper-90’s with his heater and has one of the best changeups in this year’s MLB draft. This is a legit ace in the making and should be one of the first 6-10 players taken in all FYPDs this year.

Right behind him in the 2nd round was a player I really like in Zach DeLoach. I’ve seen Ray Butler of prospects365 rave about him as well. DeLoach broke out on the Cape in 2019 following a mechanical adjustment and carried that success over into the 2020 NCAA season. It remains to be seen if what we’ve seen from him over the last year will continue, but this new DeLoach projects to have 55-grades across the board offensively with a solid approach as well.

Later on, Tyler Keenan is a prospect of note. The big third baseman has shown easy plus raw power, but has some contact and approach issues to iron out.

Texas Rangers

14. Justin Foscue, 2B, Mississippi State

50. Evan Carter, OF, Elizabethton HS (TN)

86. Tekoah Roby, RHP, Pine Forest HS (FL)

115. Dylan MacLean, LHP, Central Catholic HS (OR)

145. Thomas Saggese, SS, Carlsbad HS (CA)

While Foscue at #14 might’ve seemed a tad high, there’s plenty to like about the Mississippi State second baseman, especially offensively. He broke out in a big way in 2019, showing much more power, and kept that momentum going in 2020. There’s probably not any gold gloves in his future, but Foscue has displayed both above-average contact skills and above-average power with the ability to put the ball in play regularly and keep his strikeouts in check. In his shortened 2020 season, Foscue walked 15 times to only three strikeouts. Below-average speed likely keeps him out of the leadoff spot but this could be a solid #2 hitter down the road.

I’ll be honest, I don’t know a ton about Evan Carter. The Rangers took the Tennessee high school outfielder in the 2nd round which was a shock to many. I believe Mason McRae of Prospects365 said it best on Twitter.

Per JJ Cooper of Baseball America: “Rangers pick is the biggest surprise of the draft so far. Evan Carter. A good bit of swing and miss. Avg arm and run. A lot of area scouts who knew of Carter are very surprised by that pick.”

Moving onto the 3rd round, Tekoah Roby intrigues me. The Troy commit out of the state of Florida isn’t overly big at 6’1/185 but has already shown two above-average to plus pitches in his fastball and curveball with the makings of an average changeup as well. There’s also above-average command here as well. This could be an arm that rises up rankings once he finds his footing in the minors.

Media Credit: Mason McRae, Jacob Zweiback, John Korduner/Icon Sportswire, Rob Friedman (Pitching Ninja), Ralph Lifshitz, Carolina Baseball, ProspectsLive, Kyler Peterson, Kiley McDaniel

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