The first round of the 2020 amateur draft begins on June 10, and the growing feeling is that the Tigers will take Spencer Torkelson with the first overall pick. Torkelson comes into the draft on the heels of an outstanding college career, which Baseball America’s Teddy Cahill notes could have reached historic proportions had Torkelson’s 2020 campaign not been cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic. The young slugger had a shot at breaking the NCAA record for walks in a season, and Torkelson sat just two home runs away from setting a new Arizona State school record for career homers (a record held by longtime Braves third baseman Bob Horner). Though Torkelson will miss out on these individual accomplishments and a shot at being part of a potential national championship contender, his Arizona State tenure has already been the stuff of legend, especially considering that Torkelson came to the program on a relatively low profile after not being drafted by a Major League team when coming out of high school.
Some more on the draft…
- The NCAA’s decision to give an extra year of eligibility to spring sports will give at least some players extra signing leverage in this abbreviated five-round draft. As The Athletic’s David O’Brien (subscription required) writes, right-hander Cole Wilcox has the option of returning to the University of Georgia for a do-over of his sophomore year if doesn’t receive a signing bonus to his liking, which “some in the industry believe” is a “top-half-of-first-round” asking price. (So, in the neighborhood of $4MM, based on the recommended slot prices.) It isn’t out of the question that the hard-throwing Wilcox is selected within the top 15 anyway based on his strong track record at Georgia, though many prognosticators have the righty in the bottom half of the first round.
- Speaking of prognostication, let’s give into some mock draft action! The latest projections are up from The Athletic’s Keith Law (subscription required), Baseball America’s Carlos Collazo, and MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis, and all have identical top threes: Torkelson to the Tigers, Vanderbilt’s Austin Martin to the Orioles with the second overall pick, and Texas A&M southpaw Asa Lacy to the Marlins third overall. Assuming Detroit does take Torkelson, the O’s are favored to select Martin or at least another position player — Collazo and Callis note that Baltimore could opt to take New Mexico State infielder Nick Gonzales, while Law has heard “rumblings” that Arkansas outfielder Heston Kjerstad could be the pick if the Orioles wanted to spread around their draft pool money.
- All three mock drafts are well worth a read, as Law, Collazo, and Callis share some reports and rumors about which prospects could be on various teams’ radars, and what particular teams may or may not be targeting on their draft boards. For instance, the Royals (who pick fourth overall) seem to be leaning towards picking a position player this after focusing on adding pitchers in recent drafts, which could lead them to Gonzales or Florida high school outfielder Zac Veen. Callis has K.C. taking Gonzales while Collazo and Law have the Royals taking Veen, with Law adding that he has “heard they’re cool on Gonzales.” Then again, a pitcher might not be out of the question either for Kansas City, as Collazo writes “lately, we’ve also heard Minnesota right-hander Max Meyer linked to this pick.” As for Wilcox’s placement, Callis projects the Mets (19th overall), Law projects the Nationals (22nd), and Collazo projects the Yankees (28th).