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 are finishing up today with the final position remaining, right handed pitchers.
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. Making this list even more appealing is the fact that the right handers are the more talented group of the pitchers overall this year, so there is a lot of talent to look at here from top to bottom.
It is hard to imagine the Braves not coming away with a right hander this year, even in this shortened format. That is because even if you aren’t looking to grab one, odds are that at least once their four picks the board sets up to have a right handed pitcher be the best available player to choose from.
Get ready for a long list, as the Top 50 will get writeups and then the next group of 50 will get a mention, covering the Top 100 RHP in the 2020 MLB Draft. Despite the list being 100 deep, there are still plenty more arms out there this year that would normally crack a Top 100 list of RHP arms in a draft who don’t make the list this year. That’s how deep this group is.
The Top 50
- Emerson Hancock, Georgia
Emerson Hancock has been strongly in the mix for #1 for over a year now and hasn’t dropped off that top tier. The still projectable 6’4, 215 pound Georgia hurler could have four plus pitches when all is said and done. His fastball that sits mid 90s and touches 99 MPH is his best pitch, and has some willing to call it plus plus. His nasty slider is his best secondary offering, and he has a curve that has plus potential as well. The change hasn’t been used much, but it flashes as a potential plus or even better pitch and is something to watch out for. In addition he doesn’t have any trouble commanding his pitches, throwing them all for strikes. Not only does Hancock have frontline upside, but he has a very high floor for a pitcher and should at the very least be a #2/3 starter as there isn’t a lot to pick apart here.
2. Max Meyer, Minnesota
If there has been one guy who could challenge Hancock for the top arm in the draft it is Minnesota’s Max Meyer. Only 6’0, 185 pounds, Meyer is the owner of two plus plus pitches. His best pitch is his slider, a pitch that may be the best slider in the entire draft class. His second double plus pitch is his mid 90’s fastball, which has touched 100 MPH in a game. As expected for a guy with such nasty stuff, the change is a work in progress but has the makings of a third above average pitch. Meyer also has average or slightly above command, which only further enhances the profile. There isn’t a doubt that Meyer has the better stuff between him and Hancock, but being undersized and skinny leads to some questions on if he can hold up long-term with a starters workload.
3. Mick Abel, Oregon HS
Mick Abel is what you want from a prep arm. He is a projectable 6’5, 190 pounds with a plus mid 90’s fastball, a plus slider, a change that will be a plus pitch with work, and an average or better curve in the making. He takes that four pitch arsenal and adds in above average command and a very high level of pitchability for a prep arm. Add that all together and you are looking at a potentially very special arm once he fills his body out and gains a little more velocity. Abel is not only a high upside prospect, but he is a fairly high floor guy for a prep arm, which has led to him being the top prep arm in the class for about a year now.
4. Nick Bitsko, Pennsylvania HS
One of the guys really hurt by the shutdown is Nick Bitsko. The Pennsylvania prep was a Top 10 pick for sure in 2021, but over the winter reclassified into 2020. Scouts saw him last summer, but didn’t really focus on him since he was going to have another year before being draft eligible. That wasn’t a problem when teams were going to get a look this spring, but things were shut down before Pennsylvania high schools got going. Bitsko brings two plus pitches, led by a fastball that reaches 97 MPH, and a nasty swing and miss curve. The change is a work in progress like most young power arms, but has the makings of an average pitch. Bitsko is a strike thrower, and some teams have felt he can get a future plus grade for his command, helping his already impressive arsenal play up further. The 6’4, 225 pound Bitsko will still be 17 years old on draft day, and is still a year behind Abel in terms of development, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if he passed Abel out in the next year or two. A few weeks ago he was the guy I most wanted to fall to the Braves at 25, but he seems to have some momentum to go higher than that, so that possibility might be gone.
5. Cole Wilcox, Georgia
Emerson Hancock isn’t the only Georgia native on the Bulldogs pitching staff who will go in the first round, as Cole Wilcox will join him. The 6’5, 235 pound Wilcox has very loud stuff, led by a potentially plus plus fastball capable of hitting 100 MPH. His change and slider each flash as plus pitches as well, with the change being his better secondary. The biggest issue with Wilcox is that he has command issues, leading to him being hit harder than a guy with three potential plus pitches should be. Some of that could fall on his delivery, and a tweak to it may help progress the command at the next level. Still the upside can’t be denied with Wilcox.
6. Jared Kelley, Texas HS
Jared Kelley is a Texas prep power pitcher, a 6’3, 215 pounder with a potentially double plus fastball already up to 98 MPH. His plus change is already his second best pitch, and he is far more comfortable using it than any other prep power arm in this draft. His slider is still a work in progress with the shape, but it could be another weapon and at the very least should become an above average pitch. Kelley is a strike thrower with solid average or better future command grades. The Texas commit has a pretty high ceiling, but he may not have a lot of projection remaining, so what you see is what you get.
7. Cade Cavalli, Oklahoma
If the name Cade Cavalli sounds familiar to you, it is because he was drafted by the Braves late in 2017 out of high school. They were never going to be able to sign him that late, and he ended up at OU to become a two way star. The 6’4, 225 pounder brings a pair of plus pitches in his fastball that has touched 98 MPH, and a power curve. He has a third pitch that you could optimistically give a future plus grade to in his slider, and his change can be average with more use. Despite the stuff to be an ace and the frame to be a starter, Cavalli posts fairly high WHIP numbers because he gets hit more than a guy with his stuff should. That is because his command is fringy and he doesn’t have much deception in his delivery. Cavalli has major upside if a team was able to help him improve his command. Still he should at the very least be able to eat innings, though without the command improvement he would be forced to start in a lesser role than what his stuff indicates he can do.
8. Slade Cecconi, Miami
Slade Cecconi broke out in the summer before his senior year of high school, featuring just nasty stuff. Unfortunately he was injured and inconsistent that year and dropped in the draft because of it. Last year as a freshman he was a starter for the Canes, but didn’t really do anything special. He was all set to push his way up the draft board this spring before things got put to an end early. Cecconi has a pair of plus pitches in the fastball that is normally in the mid 90’s and touches the high 90’s, and a slider that is just nasty when on. His change lags behind as it isn’t used often, and he also has a rarely used curve. Despite having no trouble throwing strikes, Cecconi gets hit more than a guy with his stuff should because his command isn’t perfect. His stuff when it’s right can be dominating, but it isn’t always on and he hasn’t always held that velocity deep into his starts. There is plenty of upside with Cecconi, but he is also a guy with more risk than most of these top arms.
9. Chris McMahon, Miami
Another one of the Braves picks in the 2017 draft, Chris McMahon never really had a chance to sign where he was taken back then. McMahon finally broke out with the US National Team last summer, and that seemed to carry over to his work at Miami. He brings a plus mid 90’s fastball up to 98 MPH, an average breaking ball, and a change that has flashed plus. McMahon has the ability to have average command, which isn’t a surprise given his feel for pitching is strong. McMahon feels like he is just scratching the surface as he is a former multi-sport prep star from a cold weather state, who had his freshman and junior years in Coral Gables limited by injury and the virus. A team that believes there is more he can get to may be willing to grab him even earlier than this.
10. Jared Jones, California HS
There may be no prep pitcher with better raw stuff than Jared Jones. The 6’1, 180 pounder is a legit two way prospect and has good bloodlines with family members having played pro ball, including his father. Jones sits mid to upper 90’s with his fastball and its easy to see him as a future triple digit guy, and he has a nasty slider that projects as a second plus pitch with refinement. The change lags behind, but has the potential to be a third average pitch. The only thing working against the Texas commit is the fact his command is a weakness, though with his athleticism and the move to full time pitcher some teams believe he can get that worked out in pro ball.
11. Carson Montgomery, Florida HS
Carson Montgomery used to be a pitchability guy with a great feel for the game and okay stuff. Then over the winter he saw his velocity spike, and he is now a pitchability guy with the potential for premium stuff. Montgomery is 6’2, 200, and has a fastball that can touch 98 MPH with two secondaries that could be future plus pitches. The slurvy slider is his best presently, while his seldom used change has shown signs of being a quality pitch as well. Montgomery is a strikethrower who knows how to pitch, and when you have three potentially plus pitches, it is easy to see why he could go in the first round of this loaded pitching draft.
12. JT Ginn, Mississippi State
A first rounder by the Dodgers out of high school, JT Ginn didn’t sign and ended up in college. Now a draft eligible sophomore, things are very cloudy for him. Ginn stepped on campus and was every bit the guy he was hyped to be, but was slowed late last year with an injury. Then this spring just before the season he went down with Tommy John surgery. The 6’2, 195 pounder isn’t very big, but has a plus plus fastball close to triple digits, a plus slider, and a change that you could put a plus projection on. He also throws strikes at a higher rate than most young power pitchers. The main question here is how he can hold up with a starter workload which was a question even before the surgery. The good news is Ginn would still be a very high pick if he couldn’t start, as he has the stuff to either close or be a multi-inning relief weapon. If the medicals check out, Ginn would be an intriguing pick. However he already passed up first round money once, and was a sure thing first rounder before the surgery again, so signing him if he drops is a question.
13. Tanner Burns, Auburn
Tanner Burns passed up big money out of high school to attend college, and became a star the minute he set foot on campus for the Tigers. The son of a coach, Burns lacks ideal size for a starter at 6’0, 205, and he doesn’t have projection remaining. He makes up for the lack of size with pitchability and his style of attacking hitters to make them uncomfortable, and the lack of projection isn’t a huge issue because the stuff is already significant. Burns has a plus fastball, up to 97 MPH, and a slurve that flashes as a plus pitch. He doesn’t use his change much, but it shows signs of being an average third pitch. Burns also commands his stuff well and gets an average grade for his command. The biggest issue for me with Burns is the fact he had a shoulder injury shut him down last year and experienced a velocity dip. If this was based on talent, I would be excited if the Braves drafted the Alabama native, but because of the medical concerns I would be hesitant.
14. Clayton Beeter, Texas Tech
Clayton Beeter had a slightly surprising breakout this spring. The breakout wasn’t because of lack of talent- I had him penciled into the Preseason First Team All Big 12, but I did so as a reliever, where he pitched previously. Instead, Beeter proved too good to keep out of the rotation, and made his mark there. The 6’2, 220 pounder has three potentially plus pitches in his four pitch arsenal. The former Tommy John surgery recipient has a fastball that sits mid 90’s and touches 98 MPH, and mixes in a plus slider and curve that both get swings and misses. The change is a pitch that has some average grades on it, but he hasn’t really needed it considering he hasn’t made many starts in his career and the stuff is so overpowering. Beeter saw a dramatic drop in walks this spring and started to throw a lot more strikes, but with the small sample size it is hard to really get a feel for if that’s real or not. It is important to note that Beeter is very interesting and would be a significant prospect as a reliever only with his stuff, because the ability to start is a major question mark going forward for a guy we haven’t seen do it for any length of time. If Beeter had this same stuff and a track record for starting, he would rank significantly higher on these lists. It is no surprise the Braves have been linked to Beeter, especially with their connections to the Texas Tech program in recent years.
15. Bryce Jarvis, Duke
A name who has pushed his way heavily into first round consideration, and has even been linked to the Braves is Bryce Jarvis. The 6’2, 195 pound son of former big leaguer Kevin Jarvis, Bryce had a breakout junior season for the Blue Devils as his stuff took a jump up. Jarvis now has a plus fastball, sitting in the mid 90s up to 96 MPH. Jarvis has a second plus pitch in his changeup. He follows that with a curve that has the potential to be a third plus pitch, and a potentially above average slider. In addition he has command that is easily average to more likely above average. Jarvis had been a pitchability guy, one who had to add and subtract, and manipulate his pitches in the past. That is all still there for him, but after putting on some weight to fill in his frame he now has the stuff to get swings and misses. He is the type of arm that teams who value analytics love based on his numbers and spin rates. The drawbacks are that he doesn’t have the ideal frame for a starter, and despite his great junior season we haven’t seen how his newfound stuff plays over the course of a full season with a starter’s workload- important when he isn’t built to eat innings. Jarvis is a guy with potential, but he has some real risk that his stuff backs up with more workload and becomes more of a #5 type of pitcher. In addition Jarvis is a little old for the class, being a draft eligible sophomore last year and is set to turn 23 in December.
16. Carmen Mlodzinski, South Carolina
Which Carmen Mlodzinski is going to show up is the question here. After a lesser role as a freshman, the 6’2”, 230 right hander took over the Gamecocks Friday night role last year, but broke his foot three games into his 2019 and didn’t return. He went to the Cape and dominated, with many saying he was the best pitcher they saw there. The hopes for him were high coming into this spring after sitting mid 90’s up to 99 in the Cape and fall ball with the ability to miss bats, mixed with a slider and cutter(as a change) that each showed signs of being potential plus pitches and commanded everything very well. Then this spring things weren’t quite the same. The fastball dropped to low to mid 90’s up to 97, and the swings and misses were replaced by ground balls. Even the secondaries each backed up to being more average to above average pitches instead of potential plus pitches. The Mlodzinski of the Cape and fall was a potential #1/2 starter, while the Mlodzinski we saw this spring is more of a #4/5 starter. In addition to that question, this is a kid that doesn’t have a long resume for starting- getting three starts last year and four this year, and he is a pitcher without remaining projection. Taking a guy like this at 25 is a real risk because you don’t know if he is a steal or an overdraft, depending on which version reports to camp.
17. Justin Lange, Texas HS
Maybe the biggest helium guy this spring on the prep side is Justin Lange. Lange is what you think of when you think Texas pitcher - a 6’4, 220 power pitcher with a big fastball capable of touching 100 MPH. The fastball didn’t quite sit there, as he usually worked more in mid 90’s, but it did have heavy sinking life to it. The rest of the profile takes a lot of projection for a team to grab him early. Lange does have a slider that flashes as a second plus pitch, but it is extremely inconsistent and needs a lot of work, and he hasn’t needed to use a changeup at the high school level because of how dominant the fastball is. Lange also needs a lot of work with his command, which is presently well below average- though a delivery tweak may help that along as most scouts don’t exactly love his delivery. There is lots of potential, some remaining projection, and plenty of athleticism to the point he is a legit two way prospect if he ended up heading to school at Dallas Baptist. Lange presents a huge risk or huge reward type of pick.
18. Bobby Miller, Louisville
Bobby Miller has been the Louisville #2 for the past couple seasons behind Reid Detmers. The 6’5, 220 pounder was always a candidate to get drafted, but he shot up the rankings after a velocity spike in the fall had him hitting as high as 99 MPH. It’s a plus pitch, and maybe even better than that though it leads to more ground balls than swings and misses because it can be a little straight. Miller gets his swings and misses with his slider, his second above average pitch. His change is a solid average third pitch. In addition to some concerns about the fastball, his command is fringy and he does have a little effort in his delivery. Miller comes from a cold weather state, and there is some hope that he could just be getting started to reach his full potential.
19. CJ Van Eyk, Florida State
CJ Van Eyk is one of a pair of Seminoles arms who will go in this draft, and the one who has a chance at going in the first round. The 6’1, 200 pounder has an above average fastball that touches 95 MPH, with a plus curve that he uses to get swings and misses. His change is a clear third pitch, and while it does need some refinement it is a projected third average offering. Command has been an issue on and off for him in his career, and it is the one thing holding him back from really being ranked a little higher. Still Van Eyk has three average or above pitches and a strong track record of success in the ACC.
20. Masyn Winn, Texas HS
Masyn Winn is a tough guy to figure out because as good as he is on the mound, there are actually some scouts who prefer him as a shortstop. Winn is a bit undersized for a pitcher at just 5’11, 180 pounds, but still has potentially three plus pitches in his fastball that touches 98 MPH, a plus curve, and a change that could get to plus. His command also projects as average going forward. As a shortstop he has plus raw power, above average speed, above average glove, and a double plus arm. So as a shortstop you are looking at a potential plus fielder with an intriguing power and speed combo that makes him really interesting if he is able to hit enough. There are concerns though. Not only does he not have the ideal frame for being a starter, but there are character questions after he was sent home from the MLB PDP League last summer, and with the bat the hit tool is more fringy and in need of work to allow the power to really play. Winn is a guy you could easily fall in love with as a prospect, but also has some serious questions that come up with him.
21. Cole Henry, LSU
Cole Henry is another prospect who turned down a chance to go high in the draft out of high school. The 6’4, 210 pound LSU ace is a draft eligible sophomore with three potential plus pitches. His fastball, which has touched 97 MPH is his best pitch, followed by a curve that flashes plus but isn’t always consistent. His change is his third pitch, but the progress he has made with it already lets some of the more optimistic scouts give him a future plus grade there. Henry also has command that points to a future average grade there as well. Henry is still just 20 years old and has plenty of remaining projection in his body. That’s important because the guy he is now is a potential middle of the rotation starter, but if he improves enough he could be more of a future #2 starter.
22. Alex Santos, New York HS
Alex Santos is the type of projectable cold weather arm that some teams cover in the draft process. The 6’3, 185 pound right hander has the makings of a future plus fastball, hitting 94 MPH now, and a slider that can also become a plus pitch. The change is a clear third pitch for him at present, but he has good feel for it. Santos also doesn’t have any problems with his command and a future average grade there isn’t hard to project for him. Really with Santos it is all about the future, once he fills in that frame and starts to play with a pro organization instead of a cold weather prep program.
23. Alejandro Rosario, Florida HS
Like Bitsko, Alejandro Rosario reclassified into this year and was hurt by the shutdown. Rosario is a 6’2”, 180 pound pitcher with two pitches at present- a plus fastball that is up to 99 MPH this spring, and a splitter he can manipulate that rates as a potential above average pitch for him. Rosario is still working to find an offspeed pitch, but has made some progress with a cutter to act as his change. With just two present pitches and command concerns, he brings serious reliever risk. Still the stuff is loud enough to get him in the Top 50 picks or so.
24. Kyle Nicolas, Ball State
One year after producing #34 overall Drey Jamison, Ball State is back at it with a chance for another pitcher to go in the Top 50 overall. Kyle Nicolas is a 6’4, 225 power pitcher with good bloodlines, being the nephew of former NFL player Todd Blackledge. Nicolas’ best offering is a plus plus fastball that sits mid to upper 90s and has touched 100 MPH out of the bullpen. He also has a sharp slider that has the potential to become a second plus pitch for him. His third best pitch is a curve that has the makings of a solid average pitch, but needs refinement in being consistent with its shape. The change is a clear fourth pitch, and is going to need real work in the pros before he gets to the big leagues. The only real drawback with Nicolas is the fact that his command is iffy, giving him reliever risk. A team could believe a mechanical or delivery tweak could fix the command issues, which could make him come off the board quite a bit higher than this. Even if he is stuck in the bullpen, Nicolas has major upside to offer.
25. Connor Phillips, Texas JUCO
Connor Phillips is a very intriguing JUCO arm as a freshman. He reportedly turned down third round money last year to try the draft again this year. The 6’2, 190 right hander has a plus fastball that he runs up to 98 MPH presently. He also has a curve that while inconsistent, does work as a plus pitch at times. His change is in need of work, but has the makings of an average third pitch. The only real drawback is his command is a work in progress and keeps his stuff from playing at the level it should to hitters. Should he improve the command, he could really be a special prospect.
26. Victor Mederos, Florida HS
The 6’3, 225 pound Victor Mederos is an interesting arm from the prep side. Mederos has a big fastball up to 96 MPH, a potentially plus slider, and a change that has the makings of a third average pitch for him. Command isn’t a strength for Mederos, but he has enough to also not have it be a huge question mark against him. Mederos brings good pitchability, character, and a strong work ethic to the game, which only adds to the list of reasons to like him. Really the only question here is the fact he has had some past health issues pop up, making his medicals important for teams to review prior to drafting him.
27. Jeff Criswell, Michigan
The 6’4, 225 pound Michigan ace was expected to have a big year as he moved into the Friday night role following the loss of a pair of last year’s first day picks. Criswell is a tough guy to get a good feel for because he is a guy with three above average pitches, led by his heavy sinking fastball up to 96, but nothing is a true plus offering. Then you factor in that his command can be inconsistent, and there are some more questions about him. He is probably more of a middle or the rotation type of starter since he lacks the high end pitch to be something more, but the command could hold him back to more of a backend role if he can’t be more consistent with it.
28. Nick Garcia, Chapman
The most unlikely breakout this shortened spring has to go to Nick Garcia, from tiny Division III Chapman College out in California. The 6’4, 215 right hander arrived on campus as an infielder and didn’t move to the mound until last year, pitching out of the pen as the closer. Garcia got himself on the map in some way by pitching well in the Cape last summer, but again it came out of the pen. He only moved to the rotation this spring, and that’s when he got himself on the radar of teams. Garcia has a plus fastball that touches 97, a solid average slider, and a cutter that is also potentially an average pitch. He doesn’t have a change, but there is enough of a velocity difference in the fastball and cutter that it has offset that so far. His command is iffy, but it isn’t awful, and there is hope it could develop considering his background. Garcia is still raw as a pitcher and also has some remaining projection, so the upside is big. However the risk is also huge considering he hasn’t faced any high end competition outside of the bullpen stint on the Cape. Garcia isn’t likely to be around at pick 97, but he is certainly the type of pitcher who could do big things in an organization like Atlanta’s.
29. Kevin Abel, Oregon State
A top recruit for Oregon State, Kevin Abel got off to a strong start as a freshman. He came in as a sophomore and was dominant to the point he was in the conversation for the best pitcher in the country and potential Top 10 pick for this year. Then he blew out his elbow and needed Tommy John surgery. Complicating things even further in terms of his health was the fact OSU left him off their roster this year- meaning that even if this season never came to a stop, he wasn’t going to be eligible to pitch in a game for them this year, a sign his recovery may be going slower than you would hope. Abel is a command and pitchability guy with a great track record of success in limited action overall, and some stuff. His best pitch is his plus change, though his curve also earns some plus grades as well. His fastball is his third best pitch, more solid average and sitting low 90’s to touching 93. While this isn’t a comp exactly, the easiest way to think of him pre-injury is a right handed version of Reid Detmers with dominating results, stuff that is solid but not overpowering, a great feel for pitching, and a history of winning.
30. Tommy Mace, Florida
It seems like every year Florida is producing a highly drafted pitcher or two, and this year Tommy Mace is the best the Gators have. The still projectable 6’6, 200 pound Mace is more a sum of all parts pitcher without any true plus pitches in his four pitch mix. His fastball, which goes to 96 MPH and his cutter are both above average, and the cutter could potentially be a plus pitch going forward. He also has an average curve and the makings of a usable changeup, but a pitch that still needs more work. Command is another thing that Mace should get a future average grade on, really helping to solidify his profile. Mace is more of a pitch to contact and get ground balls type than he is a guy who will rack up the strikeouts, but his solid arsenal, remaining projection, and success at a top program are all working in his favor.
31. Markevian Hence, Arkansas HS
Markevian Hence has become one of my favorite arms in the prep class. The 6’1, 175 pounder is a very good athlete and also young for his class as he doesn’t hit 18 until August. Hence looks to have a plus fastball, one that hits 95 with heavy sinking action now and has projection remaining. He also adds an above average slider, and promising change for a prep arm that should be a third average pitch. Unlike most young power arms, Hence doesn’t have a hard time throwing strikes either, and projects as an average command guy. It is worth noting he is committed to Arkansas, so he may not be the cheapest arm to sign. It Hence can fill in and add enough velocity, there is a chance his profile soars to another level of pitcher than the guy he is already projected to be.
32. Cade Horton, Oklahoma HS
Winn isn’t the only prospect who could just as easily be drafted as a shortstop as he can a pitcher, as Cade Horton falls into the same category. One slight difference here is where some teams are legitimately split on where they would want Winn, more prefer Horton as a pitcher. The 6’2, 190 pound Oklahoma prep is still a little raw on the mound because of not only his two way play, but because he is also a two sport star and a top quarterback recruit for the Oklahoma football program, complicating his signing status a bit. On the mound Horton has a plus fastball up to 96 MPH with one of the better prep changeups in the class and a promising slider. It is possible he ends up with three plus pitches considering the athleticism, projection, and being raw. Horton is also a more than capable strike thrower, leading to some average to above projections on his command. In the field he is an average to above athlete with a plus arm that should make him an above average defender at short, and he offers plus power. The hit tool is behind the power, but if he was to focus solely on hitting it could catch up and make him an impact guy with the bat as well. Horton is very interesting, but at the same time a complicated prospect because of the in-state football and baseball commitment.
33. Tanner Witt, Texas HS
This sounds a little familiar, a highly ranked prospect named Witt who is the son of a former big leaguer. Unlike last year’s #2 overall selection Bobby Witt Jr., Tanner Witt, the son of Kevin Witt, isn’t likely to go in the first round. Like Winn and Horton, Witt is also a legitimate two way guy, as a power hitting third baseman, but unlike those two there isn’t much debate among scouts that Witt belongs on the mound. The 6’6, 200 pound Texas commit is athletic and projectable, and will still be just 17 years old on draft day. Presently Witt doesn’t have a single plus pitch, so a team buying him away from Texas is doing so purely off his projection. Witt has a fastball up to 95 MPH with the life to be a presently above average pitch already and it could easily get to plus once he fills out. The curve is a second potentially plus pitch for him once he fills in and adds a little more power to it, while he has good enough ability to manipulate his slider that it also gets an at least above average future grade. The change really lags behind, as expected for a power pitching prep arm, but he is the type of pitcher who should be able to develop it. Witt is also a guy who can fill up the strike zone, so he isn’t a player you need to worry about command with. The upside is huge, but it is all about the projection and he may not be easy to get away from the Longhorns so his situation is one to watch going into the draft.
34. Bryce Elder, Texas
Bryce Elder is a kid with an interesting story. Baseball wasn’t his top sport until late in his high school career and he was a late addition to the Texas recruiting class in 2017. Things have worked out well for him since then, as he has gone on to become the ace for one of the top programs in the country. Elder isn’t a pitcher with overpowering stuff, in fact he only has one true plus pitch in his slider. His above average curve is his second best pitch. His fastball is more of a low 90’s pitch that gets ground balls than it is a swing and miss offering. He also has a solid average change. Elder is a solid average command guy with plenty of pitchability, enhancing the stuff. His upside is fairly limited since he doesn’t have much projection remaining, but he is a strong candidate to be a #4 starter for a big league team. There is also a chance he could have a little more yet to come since he got a bit of a late start focusing solely on baseball. I normally prefer upside to high floor, but Elder is just a kid who competes at a high level and knows how to work a hitter.
35. Ben Hernandez, Illinois HS
Ben Hernandez has the best changeup in the prep class and it isn’t even close. The 6’2, 205 pounder has a potentially double plus change. His fastball is his second best pitch, a sinking fastball that touches 95 MPH, and adds a curve that should be a third average pitch. Hernandez is a very good command and pitchability guy as well, helping him to get the most out of his stuff now, which will only continue as he adds more to his projectable frame. One issue here is that he is committed to Illinois-Chicago, and it is rumored to be a very strong commitment so he won’t be an easy sign.
36. Beck Way, Florida JUCO
It’s been an unusual path to the draft for Beck Way. The projectable 6’4, 200 pound LSU commit started off at a D2 college, had a big showing in the Cape last summer out of the pen, and moved to JUCO this year as a starter. Way has a low to mid 90’s fastball up to 97 MPH which could become a plus pitch as he fills in. His slider isn’t consistent yet, but at its best has flashed as a second above average pitch, if not slightly more when he fills out. The change is behind since he has limited high level starting experience, but with his athletic body and fast arm it should be able to become an average offering with work. Way is also a pitcher with average or better command potential since he already throws strikes. Way, who is from a cold weather state and only pitched against top competition out of the pen in the Cape for a summer then made a few JUCO starts this spring, is a fairly raw but promising arm for a team to work with.
37. Cam Brown, Texas HS
Cam Brown may not have the loudest stuff in the draft, but the 6’3, 210 Texas prep has a chance to have a pair of plus pitches in his fastball and slider. The fastball tops out at 96 MPH, but usually sits in the low 90’s with sinking action. He has a sharp slider which isn’t a finished product right now, but has flashed as a plus pitch for him. His change isn’t as far behind as a lot of prep pitchers, and it is easy to give it a solid average grade. The TCU commit has an interesting package with a starter frame, remaining projection, two plus pitches with a third that should be average, and at least solid command. He is one of the better combinations of middle of the rotation upside mixed with a high floor by prep arm standards.
38. Gavin Williams, East Carolina
Sometimes overlooked because of the presence of two way star Alec Burleson (listed at 1B), Gavin Williams is the top pitching prospect on the Pirates pitching staff. Williams has a plus plus fastball that has hit triple digits in a game and sits mid to upper 90’s. Unlike most guys with that type of fastball, Williams has an above average changeup that can really keep hitters off balance. His curve is more of his third pitch, but it could become an average pitch for him. As good as that sounds the 6’6, 240 pound right hander has had issues with his command throughout his career, which has limited his role a bit- he made just five career starts, all coming last year and managed just three innings this spring. Williams made some progress with the command in the fall, but we didn’t get to see how it worked for a full season or how he could handle a full time starting role with the season ending early. He brings significant reliever risk because of this, but his stuff is more than good enough for him to still be an asset if he wasn’t able to make it as a starter.
39. Bryce Bonnin, Texas Tech
Beeter wasn’t the only Red Raider arm to see his stock move up this year, as Bryce Bonnin did as well. The 6’2, 190 pound power pitcher started his college career at Arkansas before coming to Tech to get a shot at starting. He has been a little inconsistent in that role, but the stuff is undeniable. He has two plus pitches, the fastball which hits 97 MPH, and a slider that has late movement. Bonnin also features a curve and change that project as average pitches, so he does have a four pitch arsenal. That four pitch mix and good athleticism would normally point to a starter, and while he does have a chance to start there is real reliever risk due to a crossfire delivery with effort and fringy command. Bonnin is the type of arm who would be a welcomed addition to any organization whether it is as a starter or reliever.
40. Joe Boyle, Notre Dame
A few years ago Joe Boyle was in the mix for a late first round slot in the draft but pulled himself out to go to Notre Dame. He was most known for hitting 100 MPH with the fastball back then, and has hit 102 MPH in games during his career in college. His slider is another strong pitch, a second plus pitch potentially and at least an above average offering. The change lags behind as expected since it has been barely used. Boyle’s biggest issue is that he struggles to throw strikes. That’s not surprising when you consider both the overpowering stuff and the fact he has a massive 6’7, 240 pound frame as big guys tend to have a harder time keeping their long limbs in sync during the delivery. Boyle made some progress here in the Cape last summer, but he struggled a bit this spring in the small sample size we got. There is massive upside with his big, athletic frame, and two overpowering pitches, but with the lack of a change and iffy at best command he may be destined for a relief role.
41. Christian Roa, Texas A&M
Asa Lacy wasn’t the only Aggie starter who was breaking out this spring, as Christian Roa turned in two great starts to open the year. Of course unlike Lacy, Roa’s stuff backed up a little from there over his next two outings. Roa isn’t a guy with overpowering stuff, but he could have four average or better pitches and has no problems throwing strikes. Roa’s best pitch is a mid 90’s fastball up to 96 MPH at its best, an above average pitch when its on. His curve and change are also above average pitches for him, while the slider is slightly behind as just an average fourth offering. Roa is a tough guy to give a command grade on because he is control over command, but the 6’4, 220 pounder hasn’t walked many throughout his career so giving his command an average grade seems reasonable, and it could develop into an above average grade. Roa doesn’t have a ton of upside, but if he can become a #4 starter, maybe slightly more if the best stuff we saw in the spring was to show up consistently for him.
42. Carson Seymour, Kansas State
Another pitcher who has a unique background story, Carson Seymour started his college career in the Ivy League at Dartmouth and barely pitched, transferring to the Big 12 and sitting out last year. He came in as a pretty hyped guy for the Wildcats this spring because he looked so good on the Cape last summer, which is a little surprising when you consider he barely pitched in the Ivy League two years ago. The 6’5, 250 pound Seymour can touch 99 MPH, though he typically sits mid to upper 90s and has the pitch get borderline plus plus grades. His secondaries are a work in progress to say the least, but there is promise. The curve looked like at least an above average pitch in the Cape, but wasn’t quite as crisp this spring as he added a slider, a pitch that flashed as a potential above average pitch itself. It is possible he could end up with two above average or even better breaking balls, if he doesn’t end up having to scrap one to focus on the other. Seymour doesn’t have much of a change right now as he hasn’t needed to use it much thus far, and it feels like more of a fringy pitch from the little we have seen. Seymour has command issues that have been with him dating back to Dartmouth, and are the reason why he didn’t pitch much there. For him to stay a starter he will need to see some progress with the command and do a better job of holding his velocity over the course of a full season, as he didn’t hold what we saw in the Cape and fall ball through the entire spring this year.
43. Dane Acker, Oklahoma
Dane Acker was a player I liked quite a bit out of San Jacinto JUCO last year, but he passed up the draft to attend Oklahoma. It’s safe to say he made the right choice, as he really established himself this spring in a rotation featuring Cavalli and Levi Prater when he threw a no hitter against LSU of all teams. The 6’2, 190 pound pitcher isn’t overpowering but has produced good results at Rice as a freshman, San Jacinto last year, and OU this spring. His fastball tops out at 94 MPH and sits low 90’s, but he does a good job of getting ground balls with it. Acker has an average to slightly above curve, and that has helped him to get swings and misses. His slider and change are his third and fourth pitches that grade as average. While Acker doesn’t sound exciting, his stuff plays up due to above average command and strong pitchability. He profiles as a #4/5 starter that pitches to get weak contact rather than high strikeout numbers.
44. Ian Bedell, Missouri
Despite not being an elite program, it feels like Missouri produces a solid draft prospect every year recently. This year it is 6’2, 200 pound Ian Bedell. Bedell isn’t a guy with overpowering stuff, similar to Acker, but his command and pitchability help his stuff play up and he has a history of results..well....at least to an extent. Bedell was a top reliever for Mizzou last year, only getting a chance to start in the Cape last summer and continuing as a starter this spring, so we haven’t seen him hold up with a full starter workload yet. Bedell has two different fastballs that he uses, both in the low 90’s, one that misses bats and the other that produces ground balls, giving the fastball an above average grade despite the velocity because his command makes it play at that level, his change and curve are also above average offerings, and he has a cutter that plays as average. Bedell has five pitches if you count both fastballs separately, and commands everything at an above average level. He is a guy limited to the back end of a rotation, but he just gets results in whatever role he pitches in as he knows how to attack and challenge hitters, comfortable using all of his pitches and locating them wherever he wants in the strike zone.
45. Trenton Denholm, UC Irvine
Trenton Denholm isn’t the ideal pitcher for most, as the UCI right hander is both undersized at just 5’11, 180 pounds, and he also lacks high end stuff. What Denholm does offer is well above average command and pitchability along with a great track record of success in both college and the Cape. Denholm actually has one plus pitch in his advanced changeup, but the rest of his pitches are merely average. His fastball works 90-93, while his curve has a chance to maybe improve to an above average pitch based on his pitchability and work ethic. Denholm is definitely a backend of the rotation type of prospect, but teams who value his skill set would love to get him- especially when you see what he did on the Cape against top competition, a 0.00 ERA and sub 1.00 WHIP over 28.2 innings in two seasons, mostly coming two years ago.
46. Mason Erla, Michigan State
I’m a little lower on Mason Erla than most others for two reasons. The first is the fact that he will turn 23 years old in August, and the second being that he has an injury history that raises some eyebrows. The 6’4, 220 pound pitcher hasn’t had any recent injury woes, but his past knee and lat injuries make him a guy you want to scrutinize the medicals on in a year where you can’t afford to miss on any of your picks. That said the jump he experienced this year is significant, although also just a small sample size like all of these other spring breakouts. Erla saw his fastball go from more of a solid average pitch to a plus pitch that sits mid 90s up to 98 MPH. His slider is now a potentially above average second pitch, and he has the makings of an average change with just a little more work. Erla is a guy who if he was a little younger or had a little longer track record holding this velocity on a starter’s workload, would rank quite a bit higher. Still he is a strike thrower who survived on pitchability in the past, so the combination of his newfound stuff and that ability to pitch make him intriguing if he can indeed keep his stuff at this level.
47. Nick Frasso, Loyola Marymount
Nick Frasso isn’t exactly like most college arms in that he is a 6’5, 190 pound pitcher with remaining projection on his skinny body. The former high school basketball star has an at least plus, if not a tick higher fastball that touches 97 MPH. That pitch is his bread and butter and his whole game is based off that fastball. His curve flashes a solid average potential, but it isn’t always consistent, while his change lags behind presently and is more of a fringy pitch. Frasso has solid command, but not quite enough to help his stuff play up. Where the concerns come in with him are they coming into this year only 13 of his 35 career appearances were starts. He was all set to get a look at starting this spring, but even before things got shut down for everyone his season was shut down with a shoulder injury. While he is reportedly healthy and back to throwing now, his medicals will come into play as well as his lack of a track record as a starter. He offers plenty of upside with his combination of stuff and projection, but also comes with some questions that need to be answered.
48. Hunter Barnhart, California HS
Hunter Barnhart is the last helium guy to make the list of writeups. Barnhart didn’t get much of a season, but he certainly made the little season he had count with scouts. Barnhart has a potentially plus fastball that topped out at 96 MPH this spring after a spike in velocity, but it is his definitely plus curve that stood out as his best pitch. The change is way behind the rest of his arsenal, but he has the aptitude to be at least average with it as he gains more reps. The 6’2, 205 pound pitcher is still fairly raw overall because he was also a star quarterback for his high school. That newfound stuff and the newness to being a full time pitcher have really caught some teams attention. Barnhart is committed to Arizona State and will need to be bought out of that commitment.
49. Landon Knack, East Tennessee State
Landon Knack is a rarity, he makes this list and is a senior sign- a fifth year senior to be exact. While most senior signs are taken high due to the discount they will give, Knack belongs on this list if you don’t take that into consideration at all. The 6’2, 220 pound Knack will turn 23 next month and has had a long and winding career. He got hurt as a high school senior, took a medical redshirt at JUCO as a freshman, hurt his other shoulder as a redshirt freshman, led his team to the JUCO World Series as a two way star in 2018, had a very strong debut at ETSU last year, then flat out dominated this spring before things ended. This spring his fastball became a plus pitch, pushing its way to sitting in the mid 90’s up to 98 MPH, saw his slider become an above average pitch, his curve become a legitimately average offering, and flash the makings of an above average changeup. Knack gets plus grades for his command, which isn’t a surprise considering the success he had even before the velocity spike, and only further helps his stuff play up. While not a perfect prospect considering the age and the fact the stuff hasn’t held up for a full season, some team is getting a great value with Knack as they will be getting a legitimate draft talent who will be leveraged into taking a below slot deal due to his fifth year senior status. You can make the argument that we haven’t seen a senior sign this good since 2016 when Kyle Funkhouser re-entered the draft after failing to sign with the Dodgers was a first rounder in 2015.
50. Franco Aleman, Florida JUCO
As much attention as Detmers, McMahon, and Cavalli get as being Braves draft picks from a few years back, Franco Aleman was also a Braves draftee but in the 2018. Aleman wasn’t quite as hyped then, but he was a super projectable arm heading to Florida International. After a solid year there and a very strong Cape performance, Aleman headed to JUCO on his way to end up at Florida next year should he not sign. He’s 6’6, 230 pounder without a ton of present stuff, but he has solid average or slightly better command and a low to mid 90’s fastball that produces ground balls. That fastball typically comes in more towards the very low 90’s than it does the mid 90’s. His slider is another pitch currently below average. I believe I’m higher on most than Aleman because there is plenty of potential here, but he may be best served going to Florida for a year and trying the draft again in 2021.
The Best of the Rest
Zach McCambley, Coastal Carolina
Nolan McLean, North Carolina HS
Stevie Emanuels, Washington
Tyler Brown, Vanderbilt
Jack Leftwich, Florida
Nate Wohlgemuth, Oklahoma HS
Kyle Hurt, USC
Trent Palmer, Jacksonville
Carlos Rodriguez, Florida HS
Marquis Grissom Jr, Georgia HS
Tyler Chadwick, Wisconsin HS
Ty Floyd, Georgia HS
Brandon Birdsell, Texas JUCO
Patrick Reilly, New Jersey HS
Will Klein, Eastern Illinois
Josh Swales, California HS
Jason Savacool, New York HS
TK Roby, Florida HS
Koen Moreno, North Carolina HS
Braden Olthoff, Tulane
Max Rajcic, California HS
Ryan Hagenow, Tennessee HS
Holden Powell, UCLA
RJ Dabovich, Arizona State
Gavin Stone, Central Arkansas
Will Sanders, Georgia HS
Carson Ragsdale, South Florida
Jackson Fristoe, Kentucky HS
Levi Wells, Texas HS
Travis Sthele, Texas HS
Shawn Guilliums, Florida HS
Carter Baumler, Iowa HS
Christian Rodriguez, California HS
Max Carlson, Minnesota HS
Chase Hampton, Texas HS
Gabe Shepard, Southern Miss
Mason Hickman, Vanderbilt
Storm Hierholzer, Texas HS
Lebarron Johnson, Florida HS
Dylan Ray, Alabama HS
Jacob Misiorowski, Missouri HS
Taylor Dollard, Cal Poly
Jermaine Vanheyningen, South Carolina JUCO
Marco Raya, Texas HS
TJ Nichols, California HS
Jackson Leeth, Tennessee
Theo Millas, Canada HS
Jonathan Hughes, Georgia Tech
Jake Smith, Florida JUCO
Griff McGarry, Virginia
This list is so deep that I couldn’t even include everyone I truly like, as Johnny Ray of TCU is just one example that doesn’t crack the Top 100. However I like Ray enough that if you told me the Braves took him in the fifth round, I would like the pick. I use Ray as an example since he was the first guy cut, just to illustrate how deep this group really is since I can’t really say the same about any of the other positions in this draft.
It is worth noting the Braves could be a serious candidate to sign some of these types of players as undrafted free agents as players and their agents know how well the organization has done with its pitching development and since teams can’t outbid the rest of the league with money, things like this will be a big selling point to prospects. This won’t be the only selling point for the Braves, as the international sanctions thinning out the system at the lower levels has to appeal as an organizational depth chart that gives these kids a better chance to climb the ladder than a team that is firmly loaded top to bottom,
This undrafted free agent class will be the best ever- but that doesn’t mean elite top end players will be signing. Some of these kids know they need to get into a pro organization and start their careers now rather than putting it off and waiting a year, especially when senior sign money a year from now isn’t going to be much more for them. Also with the extra year of eligibility and shortened draft classes, scholarship and playing time questions could be staring some of them in the face, giving them that little extra push to just go pro right now instead of trying in a year. This of course doesn’t apply the same to all prospects, as it feels like it is mostly going to be college guys who either aren’t at an elite academic school or in position to compete for a national title next year, assuming we get a normal season at that point- another thing they could give some guys pause to consider their pro options if they don’t get drafted.