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Atlanta Braves 2020 MLB Draft Preview: OF

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Taking a look at the Top 50 outfielders in the 2020 MLB Draft.

College World Series - Michigan v Vanderbilt - Game Three
Austin Martin
Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

The Talking Chop 2020 MLB Draft preview has expanded over the years to now where we are taking a position by position look at the talent available this year. We started two weeks ago now with catcher and have moved through the infield completely with today’s look at outfielders being the last group of hitters to look at in the 2020 draft class. Next week (draft week) we will get into the pitchers, with lefties on Monday then the right handers coming out on the morning of draft day itself.

This year’s outfield class is pretty strong overall. Three guys have legitimate chances to go in the Top 5 picks with five guys potentially able to go in the Top 10, and likely seven guys will be gone in the Top 20. Not only is the talent at the top strong, but there is plenty of intriguing depth that follows. If anything the strength of this class is the prep group because outside of having three of the first seven, the college group only gets two more guys in the Top 15 outfielders.

Outfield is a position the Braves may be taking a look at despite having a projected Ronald Acuña Jr., Drew Waters, and Cristian Pache outfield just because they do need impact bats and they could potentially find one here. I don’t think outfield is a position they need to hit in this short draft, but if the right guy is there then it would be a good fit. I don’t expect the Braves to use their top pick on one unless one of the Top 7 names drops, as grabbing a second tier outfielder would be a slight reach at 25.

Due to the amount of names here, the first 15 will get a full write-up before just a brief rundown of the next group of 15 outfielders. With one of the bigger names pulling out of the draft and being included, I added a 51st name to the list at the last minute.

The Top 30

  1. Zac Veen, Florida HS

Veen is the best prep bat in the class, a player comped to Christian Yelich and Kyle Tucker among others because of his skill set. Veen is a plus hitter with above average athleticism, a player who can handle center with above average defense and someone with above average to potentially plus power. It’s hard to find anything about Veen to pick apart, a rarity for a prep bat, which just goes to show what kind of prospect he is. If there was one worry it is that he may need to eventually move to a corner outfield position eventually.

2. Austin Martin, Vanderbilt

The best hitter in the draft in terms of hit tool, some consider Martin to be the best prospect in the draft overall. Martin is a plus to potentially plus plus hitter and a plus athlete. There are some questions here, particularly the lack of a defensive home. Martin played third base this year, may end up in center field, has some thinking second base is ideal for him, and was set to get a look at shortstop this spring before Vandy lost their third baseman just before the season. That lack of a clear defensive position only matters so much because the hit tool plays anywhere, though he is more of an average power guy than a big source of power. The questions aren’t significant, but in a loaded top of the class it is just enough to have him bumped down to the second best outfielder in the draft.

3. Garrett Mitchell, UCLA

The most tooled up player in this class has to be UCLA star Garrett Mitchell. A potential high pick since his senior year of high school, Mitchell is a true plus plus runner with plus power, the ability to be a plus hitter, and a plus arm. However the reason he didn’t go as high as he should have back in 2017 is the fact he is a type 1 diabetic, which has scared some teams a bit. That is still an issue, and any fall he may experience is related likely to that more than the less than consistent performance at times. Mitchell is a legit Top 5 candidate, but he may drop because of the medical concerns.

4. Austin Hendrick, Pennsylvania HS

Long seen as a potential Top 10 pick, Austin Hendrick is still seen as such today. The Pittsburgh area native is the top high school power bat in the draft, with success in the MLB PDP League last summer. Hendrick has potentially double plus power and the ability to become an average to slightly above hitter. Really none of his tools grade below a 50, as he is an above average runner with an above average arm and should be a quality defender in right field. The only question with him is that he has had some peaks and valleys in his performance against top competition, and some question just how good the hit tool will be and if there is too much swing and miss. Hendrick is a well rounded player with the ability to be a traditional cleanup or #5 hitter in a lineup.

5. Robert Hassell, Tennessee HS

Tennessee prep outfielder Robert Hassell could give Hendrick a run for the second prep outfielder to go after Veen. Hassell is a legitimate plus hitter and a solid athlete, but there are questions about just how much power he will have and if his athleticism will be enough to handle center field as a pro. At worst he should be an excellent right fielder with solid athleticism and a big arm, but the power questions are real. Some see him filling in his 6’2”, 195 pound frame and being a borderline plus power guy, while others think he’s more of an average power guy. I rate him below Hendrick because I think to get more power out of his bat he would likely need to sacrifice a little of his hit tool- as his approach is best when he’s spraying line drives all over the field. The player is a legit Top 10 candidate, but the question of if he goes closer to the top end of that or drops to the mid-teens depends on what a team thinks of the power. It is worth noting that he is a Vanderbilt commit.

6. Heston Kjerstad, Arkansas

One of the biggest risers in the top group of players this spring is Heston Kjerstad. The Razorbacks star has hit since the day he arrived on campus and his plus lefty power is going to really attract teams. You can argue that Kjerstad is a Top 3 lefty power bat in the entire draft. Of course his swing isn’t the most picturesque, though it works against high end competition. That’s led to some variation on what teams think he will hit, with fringy to average grades being given. Defensively he should be a solid right fielder thanks to a huge arm and average athleticism. Kjerstad is probably going to get a 45 hit tool grade from me because the swing has questions, but he has a chance to prove that wrong if he just keeps on hitting. Either way he could be a Joc Pederson type of bat.

7. Pete Crow-Armstrong, California HS

Pete Crow-Armstrong reminds me a lot of a player I loved in last year’s draft in Corbin Carroll. I admit Carroll is the better of the two, but PCA is close enough that he is a Top 15-20 candidate. While not the biggest at 6’1”, 180 pounds, PCA is a plus hitter, plus runner, and plus defender with a strong arm. Similar tools to Carroll, though the hit tool is at least a half grade behind Carroll’s. Like Carroll there is some question about his ultimate power potential, with PCA being more of a 40 grade power guy that loads up on doubles and triples. PCA is a Vanderbilt commit leading to some question about his signability if he falls at all.

8. Daniel Cabrera, LSU

Daniel Cabrera starts the next tier of outfielders in the class. The LSU star turned down a chance to be a high pick out of high school and hit as soon as he arrived on campus at LSU. Cabrera is a potential plus hitter with above average power potential and he has regularly posted impressive exit velocities in games and practices because of it. Long considered a below average runner, Cabrera spent the winter working on that area of his game and actually saw his speed tick up as he managed to be a real threat on the bases for the first time in his career- a sign of his aptitude for the game. Cabrera was also seen as a left fielder longterm, but played in right this spring and mixed with the improved running ability and an above average arm, he gives a chance to play either corner spot.

9. Isaiah Greene, California HS

Toolsy prep outfielder Isaiah Greene is a prototypical centerfielder. A borderline double plus runner Greene has the potential to be a plus defender in center thanks to his speed and instincts, as well as an average arm. Greene isn’t much of a power guy at present, but he has a chance to grow into average power as he fills in and maybe makes some swing adjustments. The hit tool is above average as he has a good feel for making hard contact, another reason some think that the 6’1”, 180 pound lefty bat may eventually have some power. Greene is a Missouri commit.

10. Dylan Crews, Florida HS - OUT OF DRAFT

You can officially forget about Dylan Crews, as he announced last night that he is pulling himself out of the draft in order to attend LSU. Crews was one of the better prep hitters in the draft, but now is looking to be a first rounder in a couple more years.

11. Zach DeLoach, Texas A&M

Zach DeLoach has some similarities to former Aggie teammate Braden Shewmake, in that neither player is a guy with standout tools as much as they are both well rounded ball players without many weaknesses. DeLoach had a very productive 2020, but hadn’t done much in College Station before this spring and there is some concern that his 2020 numbers came in a short sample against weaker competition. However he did have a very strong Cape Cod League performance, winning the league’s batting title last summer, DeLoach is a potentially above average hitter with likely average power and an average to slightly above runner- but you have to believe in the summer of 2019 and this spring to not see more of an average hitter. Defensively he is likely destined for a corner outfield spot, where his solid athleticism and an adequate arm are a good fit. DeLoach is definitely among the most controversial college players among teams who see different things with his performance.

12. Chase Davis, California HS

If you were looking for a Jason Heyward comp in this draft, it would be Chase Davis. The toolsy Davis has some of the same strengths and weaknesses as the former Brave. It starts out with his double plus arm and borderline plus athleticism, making him a potential plus defender in right field. With the bat Davis has plus power from the left side, but his hit tool has been more fringy and inconsistent. Davis is committed to Arizona.

13. David Calabrese, Canada HS

One of two Canadian outfielders in this tier of the rankings, David Calabrese is the player with the higher floor. Calabrese is a true centerfielder, a borderline 80 grade runner with an average arm and an at least average glove, if not above average. Add that to a bat that plays to his strengths- a lefty with speed who makes hard contact and lets his legs help him to get on and take an extra base. Calabrese projects as a potentially above average hit tool guy. The power isn’t there at the moment, but he won’t turn 18 until September and he has plenty of room to fill in his 5’11”, 160 pound frame, so some can see the power getting to the fringy area. He is committed to Arkansas.

14. Enrique Bradfield, Florida HS

If Calabrese is a borderline 80 speed guy, Enrique Bradfield is a true 80 speed guy. Bradfield is a true centerfielder and a classic leadoff type of hitter, who is happy to make contact and get on base by using his legs. Bradfield projects to be a potentially average hitter, with a chance to have it play as above average because of the speed. Unfortunately the power isn’t there at all right now and he doesn’t project to add much, which will hurt him with some teams. The glove should be plus because of the speed and an average arm, but teams need to believe he will hit to take a chance on him. His signability is a question because he is a Vanderbilt commitment, and he has had a back injury in his past- important to note because of how a bad back can ruin a career, especially for a guy whose athleticism is the main selling point to his game.

15. Owen Caissie, Canada HS

The second Canadian outfielder is Owen Caissie, who really boosted his stock this spring with a strong showing with the Canadian Junior National Team against big leaguers. Caissie, who will still be 17 years old on draft day, is a natural center fielder that plays in the corner for Team Canada due to the presence of Calabrese. Caissie is an above average runner with a plus arm, so he could shift over to center if he doesn’t lose much athleticism as he fills in his 6’4”, 190 pound frame, or handle right field. Caissie has plus power from the left side of the plate, though his hit tool is going to need some work- understandable for a kid from a cold weather area. Caissie is a Michigan commit, so he won’t be an easy sign, but if a team thinks he can improve the hit tool or is sold on him in center then he would be worth the investment.

16. Petey Halpin, California HS

Petey Halpin is a toolsy SoCal prep with a pair of plus tools and a track record of strong performances in big events. Halpin brings plus speed and a plus arm with the ability to make consistent hard contact and the potential for average to above power at maturity. He is a Texas commit.

17. Hudson Haskin, Tulane

Tulane has another bat that is a likely Top 100 pick a year after producing Kody Hoese. Hudson Haskin has been extremely productive for the Green Wave and is a centerfielder with plus running ability and average to above average tools across the board. Teams would be interested because he is well rounded, has a history of production, and has produced with the wood bats in the past as well.

18. Tyler Gentry, Alabama

Toolsy Tyler Gentry is another guy who was on his way to breaking out in 2020 before things got shut down. In his second year at Bama following a stint in JUCO, Gentry started to show more power and take more walks. Despite some swing and miss concerns, he has hit everywhere he’s been from JUCO to Bama to the Cape, so his bat may also be an average tool. Defensively he is an above average runner with a strong arm, giving him a right field profile even though he can handle center. Gentry is definitely a guy who could end up going higher than where I have him rated.

19. Alerick Soularie, Tennessee

Alerick Soularie really hurt himself with his spring. He never really got going in the short time, producing numbers well below what he did last year- his first year in the SEC after coming from the JUCO ranks. Soularie is going to be drafted for his bat, which has played as an above average hit tool with average power and fringy speed. He’s going to be limited for a corner outfield position defensively because of the speed and probably isn’t a right fielder because the arm isn’t too strong, but could be an asset in left field. A team taking Soularie would be doing so based off what they saw at San Jacinto in 2018 and Tennessee in 2019, rather than what he did this spring.

20. Kala’i Rosario, Hawaii HS

Kala’i Rosario has some of the best power in the entire prep class, double plus raw power from the right side. That’s what will get him drafted, but the rest of his tools are more average at best and he is likely to be a left fielder based on his fringy speed and average arm- though he did play center in high school and has some instincts that could get him a look in right. Rosario is committed to Cal Baptist.

21. Elijah Cabell, Florida State

Elijah Cabell was a borderline Top 100 prospect out of high school because of some loud tools but also some real question marks. He is now a draft eligible sophomore with the same loud tools and real question marks. Cabell has double plus power and a plus arm with average speed. He also strikes out a lot, leading to questions on how often he can use that power in game, though he does draw plenty of walks. He was on his way to a breakout year this spring before things got shut down.

22. Mario Zabala, Puerto Rico HS

One of the most toolsy players in the entire draft, Mario Zabala has three true plus tools in his speed, power, and arm. So you may be asking why he isn’t ranked higher based off that, and that is because he just hasn’t put the tools together in game at this point. Zabala is the definition of a raw, lottery ticket pick. There is a lot to like with the Florida International commit, but at the same time he is also a guy with a chance to not get out of A ball if he can’t put things together.

23. Jesse Franklin, Michigan

One of the guys most hurt by the shutdown in college had to be Jesse Franklin, who has seen his stock drop without setting foot on the field. Just before the season started it came out that he was going to miss the first part of the season with a broken collarbone from a skiing accident. Franklin has shown both some ability to hit for average and some ability to hit for power, but he hasn’t shown the ability to do both at the same time. He could have plus left handed power, but it may take some tweaks to his approach to bring that out with the ability to hit for average. Franklin is an above average runner and will get a chance to stick in center, but if he can’t he would be limited to left as his arm is fringy. Already 21 and turning 22 later this year, Franklin can’t really take a chance on returning to school to show more with the bat.

24. Jace Bohrofen, Oklahoma HS

Jace Bohrofen is a player that needs to be drafted fairly high in order to sign him away from his Oklahoma commitment. That shouldn’t be too hard to find a team that likes him enough to grab him there as his bat is one of the better prep bats in the outfield and he is a solid defender. Bohrofen is a well rounded type of player and fills the scouting scorecard up with all average to above grades. The only thing working against him other than signability is the lack of a true carrying tool as the power is projected to be more above average than plus. Still he is a very good hitter and a team may believe in the bat enough to take a chance.

25. Parker Chavers, Coastal Carolina

Like Jesse Franklin, Parker Chavers season was shut down without playing a game after an injury just before the start of the season. Chavers is a plus runner with potentially plus speed and an above average arm. He has a history of production at Coastal and really stood out in the Cape last summer. The only reason he isn’t ranked higher is he doesn’t always make consistent contact and tap into that power. Despite the speed and strong arm, Chavers defense is in need of being cleaned up, and there is a chance he won’t be able to stick in his natural center field.

26. Jake Vogel, California HS

One of the biggest risers of the spring after missing last summer, Jake Vogel is another speedy centerfielder in this prep class. Vogel is a plus plus runner and a potential plus defender in center with a plus arm as well. The hit tool should also play and could be an average to above tool because he makes such consistent contact and due to the speed helping make him a threat anytime he’s in the box. The power isn’t there right now, but he’s got room to fill out and could get it to fringy in the future. Vogel is also a UCLA commit, likely effecting his signability.

27. Zach Britton, Louisville

Former Louisville catcher Zach Britton is an intriguing bat. He is an above average hitter with some power potential. The main issue is he hasn’t shown much home run power outside of a pair of short sample sizes, as it has usually manifested as doubles power. Still there is more in there that he could get to. A team drafting Britton would be doing so for the bat, as he is likely limited to left field defensively as a below average to fringy runner and not a guy that projects to catch.

28. Jordan Nwogu, Michigan

The “other” Michigan outfielder is Jordan Nwogu, a 6’3”, 235 pound plus runner with plus power. All the rest of his tools are between fringy and average, and he seems destined for left field which puts more pressure on the bat. The bat worked in college despite a definitely unorthodox swing, but he will need to keep working to get the hit tool where it needs to be to regularly tap into the power. A team taking him would be doing so thinking the work ethic and hand eye coordination will be enough to get that done.

29. Slade Wilks, Mississippi HS

Yet another Mississippi prep bat makes the list, the final one being Slade Wilks. Wilks has plus power but some length in his swing so the hit tool is a bit of a question. The Southern Miss commit is also a player who has already reached 19 years old and has an injury history that could give a team pause. He is a complicated player, but if a team believes in his hit tool he is likely going to be drafted.

30. Joey Wiemer, Cincinnati

Joey Wiemer is definitely unorthodox, but he is a 6’5”, 215 pounder capable of playing center field. Wiemer brings plus run times and a cannon for an arm, making him a real weapon defensively and allowing him to play anywhere in the outfield. His swing isn’t the prettiest, and the reason I call him unorthodox, and may need a complete overhaul as he really hasn’t done much with the bat to date. Still there is enough bat speed and plus raw power to dream on something being there.

More Names to Watch

*Robby Ashford, Alabama HS

Trevor Hauer, Arizona State

Allbry Major, Xavier

MacKenzie Wainwright, Ohio HS

Tanner Allen, Mississippi State

Baron Radcliff, Georgia Tech

Tyler McDonough, NC State

Steven Williams, Auburn

Blake Dunn, Western Michigan

Reese Albert, Florida State

Jake Deleo, Connecticut HS

Braiden Ward, Washington

Tim Tawa, Stanford

Elijah Dunham, Indiana

Alex Greene, Maryland HS

Dominic Johnson, Oklahoma HS

Billy Cook, Pepperdine

Tucker Bradley, Georgia

Hylan Hall, Illinois JUCO

Grant Richardson, Indiana

Brad Grenkoski, Georgia HS

*Ashford is a unique situation that likely makes his signing unrealistic in this draft based on where he is projected to be drafted. Ashford is a two sport star signed to play QB at Oregon next year in addition to baseball. He is a good enough prospect that he is considered a four star football prospect.