2020 MLB Draft: Complete results tracker as Tigers take Spencer Torkelson; Orioles surprise at No. 2


Spencer Torkelson, 1B/3B, Arizona State

You’d think Torkelson was a Joe Hill creation given the fear he invokes in opposing pitchers. He walked in 31 of his 82 plate appearances during the abbreviated NCAA season, but he still managed to improve his career homer count to 54 in 498 at-bats. Torkelson has the requisite eye, strength, and barrel control to profile as a quick-moving thumper. The biggest knock on him is that he’s only a right-handed first baseman, and those seldom make for satisfying early selections — it’s basically a sample of the ballad of Andrew Vaughn, the third pick in last year’s draft. Don’t be surprised when Torkelson ends up going higher than Vaughn, perhaps even first.

Heston Kjerstad, OF, Arkansas

Heston won’t be the first Kjerstad to play pro ball: his brother Dexter spent a number of seasons as part of the Kansas City Royals and Miami Marlins organizations. He does have a chance to become the first one in his family to reach the majors, however. Kjerstad is a big left-hander with ample strength and a bad-ball appetite that keeps his walk rate lean. He has a track record of hitting against good pitching (.343/.421/.590 in three years of playing SEC competition), and this season he sliced into his strikeout rate, reducing it from 19.6 percent to 11.5 percent. Teams will have to decide if they trust his odd, albeit adaptable swing enough to project him as a Corey Dickerson type. If so, Kjerstad could be the first collegiate outfielder off the board.

Max Meyer, RHP, Minnesota

Call Meyer the Murder Hornet because he’s small but fierce. He’s about Sonny Gray-sized, yet he has well-above-average arm strength that lets him touch the upper-90s, and a wipeout slider that is one of the best secondary pitches in the draft. If asked, he could probably pitch out of a big-league bullpen this season. Obviously the long-term hope for Meyer is that he’s a frontline starter. He can’t do anything about his height, so he’ll need to improve his changeup and perhaps tweak his delivery so he doesn’t land quite as open. Given his athleticism and pair of top-end pitches, he has a better chance than most at defying the stigma against short righties.

Asa Lacy, LHP, Texas A&M

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 struck out 46 batters in 24 innings this season, seems primed to join that group in the coming years. At minimum, he has the highest upside and the best shot at realizing it among the pitchers in the class. Lacy’s repertoire features four usable or better pitches, including a low-to-mid-90s fastball and a slider that each grade as elite offerings, according to Trackman data. He also has the frame and demeanor scouts seek in their top-of-the-rotation prospects. The major (and arguably only) flaw in his game is his command: even though he walked three batters per nine in this abbreviated season, he still finished his Aggies career having walked four per nine. If Lacy can improve in that regard, he has the weaponry to become a frontline starter. Otherwise, he’ll likely settle in as a mid-rotation starter who has stretches and seasons where he teases more (think the aforementioned Ray).

Austin Martin, CF/INF, Vanderbilt

Martin, a top-of-the-order hitter and versatile defender, might be the most intriguing player in the class. He has an impressive feel for contact and for the strike zone, finishing his Commodores career with a .368 batting average and more walks than strikeouts. (He was the toughest batter to strike out in the power conferences.) Though he homered just 14 times, his exit velocities suggest there’s plus power potential under the surface, something he could achieve thanks to his offensive aptitude and a swing that already features loft. In short, Martin fits the profile of others who have added power to their games in recent years. He’s also a skilled baserunner with good speed and smarts. Generally, having an undefined position is a negative. In Martin’s case, it could turn out to be a positive. He was primarily a third baseman before this season, when he slid to center field to better leverage his wheels. A creative team could maximize his value by having him split time between the infield and the outfield, a la Whit Merrifield and Scott Kingery, among others.

Emerson Hancock, RHP, Georgia

Hancock does not have Lacy’s top-end potential because he does not have Lacy’s two top-end pitches. He might have the higher floor, however, thanks to a well-rounded arsenal and a better feel for throwing strikes. Hancock has three pitches that could be classified as above-average: his low-to-mid-90s fastball, his changeup, and his slider. His delivery features some recoil, yet he walked just over seven percent of the batters he faced in three years against top-end SEC competition. (Lacy, in the same conference, walked nearly 11 percent.) Of course, Hancock should be allowed to exist outside of the comparisons to Lacy. He’s a high-quality pitcher who ought to hold down a big-league rotation spot for years to come, beginning sooner than later.Hancock does not have Lacy’s top-end potential because he does not have Lacy’s two top-end pitches. He might have the higher floor, however, thanks to a well-rounded arsenal and a better feel for throwing strikes. Hancock has three pitches that could be classified as above-average: his low-to-mid-90s fastball, his changeup, and his slider. His delivery features some recoil, yet he walked just over seven percent of the batters he faced in three years against top-end SEC competition. (Lacy, in the same conference, walked nearly 11 percent.) Of course, Hancock should be allowed to exist outside of the comparisons to Lacy. He’s a high-quality pitcher who ought to hold down a big-league rotation spot for years to come, beginning sooner than later.

Nick Gonzales, 2B, New Mexico State

If one of the top-ranked hitters is going to slide on draft day, then it’s probably going to be Gonzales. Despite incinerating the Western Athletic Conference (.448/.610/1.155 slash line with 12 home runs and 11 more walks than strikeouts in 16 games) and last summer’s Cape Cod League (.351/.451/.630), there are nagging concerns about his upside. His exit velocities were more pedestrian than one might suspect, leading some evaluators to believe his power potential (and the validity of comparisons to Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Keston Hiura) is overstated. A data-driven team might find it hard to justify popping Gonzales so early, lest they end up with a singles-hitting second baseman who isn’t a threat to run or win a Gold Glove.

Robert Hassell, OF, Independence (HS)

Hassell, another well-regarded Vanderbilt commitment, is a legit prospect as a pitcher and outfielder. Evaluators favor him at the plate, where he employs an aesthetically pleasing left-handed swing that some believe will eventually produce above-average power. He has some backers in the industry who think he could become the best hitter in the class.





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