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Atlanta Braves 2020 MLB Draft Preview: LHP

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Taking a look at the Top 45 LHP in the 2020 MLB Draft.

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-Louisville vs Vanderbilt
Former Braves draft pick Reid Detmers is one of the top prospects in this class.
Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

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 three weeks ago now with catcher and have moved through the infield, followed by the outfielders late last week to close out our look at hitters in the 2020 draft class. With hitters done, now we get into the pitchers, with lefties today and right-handers coming next.

I’m sure you’ve heard this before if you follow the draft, but this draft is simply loaded with arms. There are so many good arms that some very good ones will be slipping into the second and third rounds of this draft. That is no exception with the left-handers this year, even though right handed pitching is the stronger group of the two.

The lefties have a legitimate top end guy, a pair of other potential Top 10 picks, and a handful of others who could sneak into the late first round. There is also plenty of depth as you can see here, just by the way I listed almost 20 additional names after the Top 25.

The Braves will draft at least one, if not two or even three arms in this draft. That doesn’t mean they are going to take a lefty, but it also doesn’t mean we won’t see two of these guys become Braves. Though lefties have more value to teams, I don’t believe in passing up a better right-hander just to get a lefty if you are looking to grab an arm.

The Top 25

  1. Asa Lacy, Texas A&M

Even though he was always going to be a first rounder this year, Texas A&M lefty Asa Lacy broke out with a huge spring to push himself into the mix for a Top 5 draft pick thanks to a huge improvement in his slider. The 6’4, 215 pound lefty has a four pitch mix that includes three pitches you can put plus grades on. The mid to upper 90’s fastball is his best pitch, and one hitters struggle to make hard contact against, but his hard slider is also a plus pitch and his change could be his third plus pitch with some additional work . His fourth pitch is his curve, a solidly average to slightly above average pitch itself. Lacy’s command is a work in progress, and he walked 4.4 batters per nine last year. It did seem improved this spring, but remember we are working off a four start sample size, so it isn’t really something that can be judged. His command isn’t quite as bad as the walk numbers may suggest, but it is still in need of work.

2. Reid Detmers, Louisville

Former Braves draft pick Reid Detmers had a slight breakout of his own. I use the word slight because is it really a breakout when you are talking about a guy already considered one of the best pitchers in the nation? Detmers went from among the best to untouchable this spring. Detmers critics will point to the fact he lacks any plus pitches, but those who like him will point out strong three pitch mix with command and great results against top competition. His fastball is 90-94, though his curve may be his best pitch and could potentially end up being a plus pitch. Detmers change is more solid average and a clear third pitch for him, but it works with his arsenal. Detmers also brings excellent command and pitchability along with being a decent athlete in a 6’2, 210 pound frame. When the Braves took him in the 32nd round out of high school it was never going to work out for him to sign money wise, and they’re not going to get another shot at him out of college.

3. Garrett Crochet, Tennessee

Remember big Duke lefty Graeme Stinson last year, massive stuff but limited track record as a starter and needed his junior year to prove himself as a potential Top 10 pick? Well Stinson scuffled with injuries and inconsistency and fell well down the boards. That is Garrett Crochet this year, maybe the highest upside college arm in the draft but the same questions as Stinson regarding his ability to start and he battled a minor injury that shortened his already shortened spring. Crochet is a 6’6, 220 pound lefty with a borderline double plus fastball that has touched 100 MPH in the past, and a slider and change that each have plus potential. Not only does Crochet have the velocity, but he has the spin rates to make things even tougher on hitters. Of course he has two issues, the smaller one being his command still needs work. The command could be ironed out with more work as he has a clean delivery and good arm action along with being a decent athlete, it is just a matter of more reps. The bigger question is his lack of a track record as a starter. He made just six starts as a freshman and another six as a sophomore, combining for 23 relief appearances, and this year had one start that went three and a third innings. The upside is massive, but you also have to remember with a full season he could have seen his stock crater like Stinson as we got our first look at how he held up with a starter’s workload. If he is there at 25 he would be hard to pass up for me.

4. Daxton Fulton, Oklahoma HS

Speaking of lost springs, Dax Fulton missed all of his after having previously gone under Tommy John surgery back in the fall. Fulton did enough in his past looks to convince scouts that he is the top prep lefty in the class. The 6’6, 225 pound lefty hits 93 MPH with his fastball and brings a plus curve. Fulton’s third pitch is a change that as expected for a prep power arm needs work, but should get to be an average pitch in time. Fulton brings solid command and pitchability to his stuff, and that stuff plays up because of it. His stuff could also tick up as he fills in the rest of his frame. It is worth noting that he is committed to in-state Oklahoma, so if he drops in the draft, signability will come into play.

5. Kyle Harrison, California HS

Kyle Harrison is the prep version of Reid Detmers. Harrison doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but he has a solid three pitch mix, great command and pitchability, and a real track record of success while playing for a nationally respected program. The 6’2, 200 pounder can hit 93 with his fastball, but typically sits 90-91, has a slider that can get some swings and misses, and a change that is definitely going to get to at least solid average. Harrison is safer than most prep arms, though he doesn’t bring the upside most other prep arms rated this high have. Harrison is committed to UCLA should he not sign.

6. Nick Swiney, NC State

Nick Swiney has some of the same question marks about holding up as a starter that go with Crochet. The 6’3, 190 pound lefty made just four combined starts for the Wolfpack prior to this spring, when he made another four before things got shut down. Swiney has one of the weaker fastballs of the college arms at the top, being more solid average as a starter this spring than even above- however it did play up out of the bullpen in the past. What makes him so intriguing despite some things working against him are his plus curve and a change that flashed the potential to be a second plus pitch. Should starting not work out he would be an intriguing reliever, especially if you factor in the fastball playing up to more above average there in the past- but to draft him in the first two rounds you are drafting him as a starter. There are definitely questions on his ability to handle the workload, if the command improvement we saw in a short sample this spring is real, and if the fastball can get to what we saw out of the pen.

7. Jared Shuster, Wake Forest

Jared Shuster got bombed in his first two years in Winston-Salem, but followed his 2019 season with a huge showing in the Cape Cod League, as his command ticked up there. He continued the progress over the fall when there started to be some buzz on him, then saw another jump this spring. In addition to the command improvements Shuster saw his fastball go from low 90s to touching 97 MPH, which goes well with his truly plus changeup. His breaking ball is a real work in progress, and while it did make progress this spring it will need a lot of work with pro coaching. A team taking Shuster believes in his fastball/change combo, the improved command, and the ability to find a consistent breaking ball. Of course without a long track record for him holding up with these things on a starter’s workload he will be a bit of a mystery.

8. Burl Carraway, Dallas Baptist

Burl Carraway is going to be the first reliever taken in the 2020 MLB Draft. Not potential reliever like some of these other arms, but Carraway is a college closer who will stay in the bullpen. Carraway is an interesting case as he is still a newcomer to pitching. He came to DBU as a bat, barely pitched as a freshman, then took off in 2019 as he saw his velocity tick way up. The 6’0, 175 pounder can hit 98 MPH with his fastball and has a nasty curve, both being plus pitches and the curve having a chance to be a plus plus offering. Carraway has been a strikeout machine, striking out at least 15.6 hitters per nine in each of the last two springs. His command is questionable right now and he walks more guys than you would like for a high leverage reliever, but there is room for improvement as he gets more experience.

9. Luke Little, Texas JUCO

One player who has drawn some attention on social media recently is Luke Little. The 6’8, 225 lefty from JUCO pitching factory San Jacinto, was hitting 105 MPH on the radar gun. While the 105 may be overstating things a little, he has been known to touch the 100 mark in games. Little’s fastball is obviously a true plus plus pitch, but the rest of this package doesn’t match up to the fastball. None of his other three pitches are close to the fastball, with the solid slider, fairly new but similarly promising curve, and a change in need of a lot more reps to be usable pitch. As if the rest of his arsenal lagging behind wasn’t enough of an issue, his command is fringy and his delivery has plenty of effort in it, leading more than a few scouts to turn him in as a reliever- a spot he pitched mostly out of this spring after missing some time with a minor injury. Still despite the flaws, the fastball is very real and he has a chance to develop as a starter considering he is only 19 years old until September and he has an incredible work ethic. Little is essentially a piece of clay for a team to work with and build up.

10. Logan Allen, Florida International

Logan Allen is not what you think of when you think Top 50 arm. He’s an undersized (6’0, 180) lefty without a single plus pitch in his arsenal, however the FIU two way star has exceptional command and pitchability. The fastball typically only sits 90 MPH, though he can dial it up a bit at times, and he has a plus change. His third pitch is a curve that has the makings of an average pitch, but will need some work to get there. Make no mistake, Allen isn’t a high upside guy but rather a pitchability guy who will move fast with a high floor and has a great track record at both FIU and in the Cape.

11. Ian Seymour, Virginia Tech

One of the guys really shooting up the boards on the college side is Ian Seymour. The Virginia Tech lefty is a smart competitor who has shown a real willingness to study analytics as a way to improve, and teams love that about him. He doesn’t have a true plus pitch, but the above average fastball plays up above the 92-93 MPH range thanks to the spin rate as well as some deception in his delivery. Seymour also has an above average change that with spin and deception really keeps hitters off balance. His slider projects more as an average pitch, with some projection needed to get there based on his work ethic and aptitude for making adjustments. Seymour is a player really appealing to teams who value analytics and could come off the board in the second round.

12. Seth Lonsway, Ohio State

Seth Lonsway is a cold weather state arm with some real intriguing pieces as well as some questions that give teams pause. Lonsway has a nasty curve, among the best in the entire draft class, a pitch that borders on plus plus and commands it well. None of the remainder of the 6’3, 200 pound lefty’s three pitches represents a plus offering- but all could be average to above. His fastball saw a spike to touching 96 this spring, but he has inconsistent command of it. The slider he added recently gives him another weapon, but it is still a pitch he is improving. He has a change as well, but it is more of a projection than a currently usable pitch. Making things tougher for him is the fact he didn’t pitch as a true freshman due to eligibility issues, had a full year last year, then had this spring cut short, limiting his resume. His curve is a real weapon, but the ability to command the fastball will determine if he can start or if he is going to need to pitch out of the pen. A team drafting him may end up tweaking his delivery in order to see if that can improve the command, as the delivery is a bit unorthodox.

13. Sam Weatherly, Clemson

Clemson’s 6’4, 205 pound lefty Sam Weatherly has an impressive arsenal led by his plus slider and above average fastball. However he also has iffy command that gives him significant reliever risk. Weatherly touches 96 with the fastball and regularly sits low to mid 90’s and that slider is a swing and miss offering. The change is a pitch that has been improving to the point that he could be average with it in time as well. It is worth noting that he came from a cold weather state and is a very good athlete, so there are teams that believe he could get his command issues fixed with additional work.

14. Dylan MacLean, Oregon HS

One of the late rising helium guys in this class is Oregon prep arms Dylan MacLean. The projectable 6’3, 180 pound lefty, who will still be 17 on draft day is a Washington commit. MacLean isn’t just young and projectable, but has three pitches that project as average or better offerings and should have at least average command to further help his stuff play up. The reason MacLean moved up without playing this spring is because he saw a velocity spike in workout videos, hitting 92 MPH and showing that there just might be more in the tank. His curve has similar promise, and as a pitcher who was in the 80’s last summer he is more used to using his change than most of these top prep arms. MacLean is really going to be a lottery ticket type of pick since a team is taking a chance after not seeing his velocity spike in game, but the upside for a young, athletic, projectable strike thrower with three average or better offerings is significant.

15. Jake Eder, Vanderbilt

Jake Eder is a tough guy to really get a feel for. He was never overpowering with his stuff, but he has two at least above average pitches with a fringy change and was making strides with his command. Then this spring his stuff and command both took a step backwards- of course with it being a shortened season that doesn’t mean as much as if it was down for a full season. Both of the above average pitches, the fastball and curve, have shown as plus offerings at times while looking more average at other times. His command has limited him to shorter stints and midweek starts for Vandy, but things seemed to take a real step forward in the Cape before going backwards this spring. Eder has plenty of potential, as both the fastball and curve have flashed as plus pitches, he has the frame to start, and the change should be an adequate offering with more work. Of course you have to also buy into the command coming around and the fastball and curve becoming more consistent.

16. Ricky Tiedemann, California HS

The younger brother of Rangers prospect Tai Tiedemann, Ricky Tiedemann is a projectable 6’4, 200 pound lefty who moved up a bit in the brief spring. Tiedemann is intriguing because he projects to have three above average pitches, led by a fastball that touches 93 MPH, a very strong changeup, and a slider that is considered his third pitch. Tiedemann has potential for average to above command as he is a guy who can pound the zone. With his projection, stuff, athleticism, and bloodlines a team may want to take a chance on this helium prospect and sign him away from San Diego State.

17. Shane Drohan, Florida State

Shane Drohan is a very intriguing college arm. The 6’3, 195 pounder is still somewhat raw and projectable for a college arm after being a two sport star(football) in high school. He also has bloodlines as the son of a former pro. Drohan can touch 95 MPH, has the makings of an above average curve, and a change that could be a third average pitch for him. His command is a work in progress, but still being raw overall as a pitcher does lead to hope that it can continue improving. While teammate CJ Van Eyk is the higher ranked prospect, there are some who believe it is Drohan who holds more upside longterm.

18. Justin Fall, Arizona State

Justin Fall broke out last spring at a New Jersey JUCO, then headed west this year for an abbreviated college season. The 6’6, 240 pounder has a plus fastball that has touched 96 MPH with a pair of potentially average pitches in his slider and change. Fall’s command is a bit inconsistent, but that’s understandable when you factor in that he’s a cold weather state guy who spent a very short time at a high level program. There is plenty of potential here once you get him into a pro organization because of that fastball and two other average pitches.

19. Andrew Abbott, Virginia

Andrew Abbott is not a normal prospect. He’s a college reliever with a great track record of success within the ACC, Cape League, and even Team USA. However he may have the stuff to potentially get a look as a starter. Either way he has a plus curve, above average fastball that reaches 95 MPH out of the pen, and average command. His change isn’t a pitch he has needed to use much out of the pen, but there is some feel for it and if a team thinks he could develop it without losing velo on the fastball in longer stints he has a chance to get a look as a starter. Even if he’s just a reliever, he is still a good enough arm to make this list despite the fact he would be more of a multi-inning reliever than a potential closer like most college relievers this high on the list.

20. Michael Kirian, Louisville

Michael Kirian is a college closer for Louisville. The imposing 6’6, 235 pounder dominated out of the pen this spring and has a track record of success. His fastball hits 95 MPH and plays up because of the deception in his delivery, helping it to play as a plus or slightly above pitch. His slurvy breaking ball is more of an average second pitch. Kirian probably doesn’t have the stuff to be a big league closer, but with his fastball and at least average command he is a guy who has 7th or 8th inning potential when you consider his college resume.

21. Hugh Fisher, Vanderbilt

Hugh Fisher is all about projection. The 6’5, 195 pound Vandy lefty turned down being a high pick out of high school. He pitched mostly out of the pen at Vandy, then missed this spring with Tommy John surgery last fall. The still projectable lefty hasn’t had a chance to showcase himself as a starter yet, but has tools that project well in that role. His fastball is a plus pitch, and has touched 96- though that did come out of the pen in a shorter stint. His slider is also an above average offering, while he hasn’t needed the change out of the pen. Fisher is more of a fringy command guy as his delivery doesn’t really help to command his stuff. A team taking him will have to believe it can put in the work to turn him into a starter.

22. Magdiel Cotto, South Carolina HS

A nearly total unknown at the start of 2020, Magdiel Cotto showed up at the PBR Super 60 event and wowed scouts. The 6’3, 225 pound lefty was arguably the best arm there that day, hitting 95 MPH and showing off a nasty slider. His change is a pitch he has feel for, but will need work with. He would be ranked a lot higher if not for the fact he saw his stuff drop in his short high school season. That is important because without a ton of projection remaining, he doesn’t have much room to add on. He also has command that is more on the fringy to average projection, making him further reliant on his stuff being there. Cotto is committed to South Carolina and will only be 17 years old on draft day.

23. Mitchell Parker, Texas JUCO

Another San Jacinto pitcher, Mitchell Parker is most known for leading JUCO in strikeouts with 64 in 30.1 innings this spring- better than two an inning. The 6’4, 195 pound lefty has his stuff play up because of a deceptive delivery, which helps explain why a guy who sits up to 93 MPH, a inconsistent but flashing plus curve, and a potentially above average offspeed pitch posted such dominating strikeout numbers. With Parker he is going to need to improve his command as well as his consistency with the curve.

24. Levi Prater, Oklahoma

Levi Prater makes this list despite not having any true above average or better pitches, or a great frame for starting (he’s 6’0, 185). What Prater has is a great track record of success against top competition. His fastball touches 93 MPH, but sits more 90-91, though does have life on it. That fastball grades as his third best offering, with it being more fringe average than his average change and slider. Prater also has fringe average command. Despite this his pitchability helps everything play up, and makes him every bit as successful for the Sooners as Cade Cavalli and Dane Acker, who are also both going to be on the right-hander list. Prater isn’t going to wow anyone, and he will need to keep having success at every level to keep on moving up, but what he has done so far has to be considered when evaluating him.

25. Grayson Hitt, Tennessee HS

Grayson Hitt is a projectable 6’3, 185 pound multi-sport star (football) with a fastball and curve that project as above average to plus offerings in time. To buy him out of his Alabama commitment you would need to believe that he can turn those pitches into plus offerings as he fills in his body and focuses only on baseball, but there is enough there to tempt a team into doing that.

Best of the Rest

Ryan Bruno, Florida HS

Jackson Phipps, Georgia HS

Christian Chamberlain, Oregon State

Nick Griffin, Arkansas HS

Liam Norris, North Carolina HS

Kyle Carr, California HS

Timmy Manning, Florida HS

Adam Seminaris, Long Beach State

Mason Miller, Florida HS

Jeremy Wu-Yelland, Hawaii

Brant Hurter, Georgia Tech

Ryan Webb, Georgia

Matt Mikulski, Fordham

Jaden Woods, Georgia HS

Jacob Brustoski, Texas Tech

Ronan Kopp, Arizona HS

Luke Wagner, Pennsylvania HS

Caden Grice, South Carolina HS

Tyson Guerrero, Washington JUCO

Jackson Wolf, West Virginia