With the college baseball season set to start today, it’s as good a time as ever to start looking ahead to the 2020 MLB Draft. Whether you liked or disagreed with the Braves first rounders from a year ago, the 2020 Draft will be a big one for the Braves as they try to keep the system stocked with talent as even more graduates at the top.
The below list is a list of 20 players at the college level who may be of interest when the Braves use their No. 25 pick. Spencer Torkelson, Emerson Hancock, Austin Martin, Asa Lacy, and Nick Gonzales are being excluded from this list because as of this writing it seems virtually impossible to imagine any of those five players dropping far enough down in the draft for the Braves to even have a shot.
Note that this is just the college list of prospects, and not the entire list of prospects the Braves will be looking at. The high school list will be coming out a little later since the college list easier to check out for most if they’re interested.
These guys are listed in the order I’d rank them as of now, so the guys you see towards the top are least likely to be around at 25- where the Braves will make their first selection this year. The additional names to watch are done by position as opposed to rank.
It is worth noting in advance the fact the Braves drafted three of these guys out of high school in the later portion of the 2017 Draft. Reid Detmers, Chris McMahon, and Cade Cavalli were all drafted late enough that they never really considered signing with the team, as each was a high profile recruit for their school.
Casey Martin, SS, Arkansas
While there is some question on if Casey Martin sticks at shortstop long-term, what is not in question is the fact that this kid is a winner. Martin started immediately at Arkansas, and was a key producer for some great Razorbacks squads. Martin is a double plus runner with a non-zero chance at having plus power and a strong arm that would allow him to try multiple other spots defensively.
Garrett Mitchell, OF, UCLA
Maybe the toolsiest player in the college class is UCLA’s Garrett Mitchell. Mitchell was a big time prospect out of high school, only to have his diabetes scare some teams away. After a breakout sophomore year with the Bruins, Mitchell has helped ease fears about the disease effecting his game. Mitchell’s scouting scorecard is all 60 grades, except for a 70 run time and likely 50 power.
Reid Detmers, LHP, Louisville
One of the Braves former draft picks, Reid Detmers is of the Ethan Small mold from last year- lefty with great pitchability and even better results in a high level league. Analytics teams will love him, despite the fact his stuff will likely limit him to being a middle of the rotation type of starter as opposed to a front-line guy. Still this is one of the top pitchers in the nation and while he isn’t a big time velocity prospect, he’s also not a soft tosser as he can touch 94 MPH with his fastball.
Patrick Bailey, C, NC State
The Braves top pick a year ago was a catcher, despite having William Contreras in the system already. Patrick Bailey is yet another catcher, though a better bat than Shea Langeliers despite not being nearly the same level of defender as last year’s top pick. Bailey isn’t very likely to be the pick, partly due to him expected to go higher than 25 and partly due to him also being a catcher- but if he’s there the Braves would absolutely need to consider him as the best available player on the board. Bailey isn’t a guy with plus tools, but he’s a sum of all parts college catcher who has produced at a high level.
Daniel Cabrera, OF, LSU
Daniel Cabrera turned down a chance to be a high pick out of high school to end up at LSU, where he has gone on to do nothing but produce in his first two years. He enters his junior year as one of the best, if not the best, college outfield bat in the 2020 Draft class. Cabrera needs to bounce back a little after seeing his on base drop and strikeouts spike last year, but he certainly has the potential to do that. Cabrera was once given a plus hit tool grade, but it’s dropped to above average and he’s got similarly above average raw power and speed in his game as well.
Tanner Burns, RHP, Auburn
A son of a coach, Tanner Burns is another prospect who turned down a chance to be a high pick to go to school. The fireballer has a career 2.89 ERA and 1.17 WHIP for the Tigers, and struck out 11.4 hitters per nine innings last year. Burns can touch as high as 97 MPH and has shown flashes of a plus slider in addition to having the pitchability you would expect from the son of a coach.
JT Ginn, RHP, Mississippi State
JT Ginn didn’t just turn down a chance to be a high draft pick out of high school, he was actually a first round pick by the Dodgers and chose not to sign. The draft eligible sophomore has arguably the best fastball in the draft, and looked dominant at State as a freshman outside of some injury concerns late in the year. There is some question on if Ginn starts longterm, but if he doesn’t he still has the stuff to be a multi-inning relief weapon with a fastball up to 97, a plus slider, and an above average change.
Heston Kjerstad, OF, Arkansas
Heston Kjerstad is another productive college outfielder in the mix for top college outfield bat, and his production has been next level since arriving on campus and joining the heart of the order for the Hogs. Kjerstad is a player who does strike out a bit too much, but gets on base a lot and offers significant power upside. Kjerstad could improve his stock a bit just by seeing his hit tool rise by a half of a grade.
CJ Van Eyk, RHP, Florida State
Florida State’s beef pitching prospect in a number of years is CJ Van Eyk. A promising hard throwing right hander who turned the corner for the Noles last spring. Unlike most other first rounders, it is a plus curve that stands out as his best pitch instead of his fastball- though the fastball can reach 95 MPH.
Cole Wilcox, RHP, Georgia
Emerson Hancock isn’t the only Bulldog starter to be a first rounder as Cole Wilcox has just nasty stuff. A local kid who wanted to make it to UGA bad enough to turn down the draft, Wilcox has the upside of an ace, but also comes with real command questions that could still have him in play around the 25th pick of the draft. Wilcox is a kid who can hit triple digits with the fastball and has effective slider and change pitches as well, but his future will be determined by his command.
Jordan Westburg, SS, Mississippi State
Jordan Westburg is the second Mississippi State Bulldog on this list, and the second Bulldog with potential positional questions. Westburg is a quality bat who plays the game at a high level, though plenty question if a move to second base is inevitable for him. Westburg is another player without any true plus tools, but has produced at such a high level for such a good team that you can’t help but be intrigued.
Cade Cavalli, RHP, Oklahoma
The second member of the former Braves 2017 Draft class to make this list is Cade Cavalli. The Oklahoma ace is a hard throwing two way player who has the upside to be a middle of the rotation arm, or better if his command manages to tick up by a grade. Cavalli has a four pitch mix with two plus pitches, a fastball he can run up to 98 MPH, and a big curve.
Aaron Sabato, 1B, North Carolina
A draft eligible sophomore, Aaron Sabato came on the scene and started to mash immediately for the Tar Heels last year. The slugger became arguably the most feared piece of their lineup, despite the presence of last year’s first rounder Michael Busch. Sabato has middle of the order potential, but as a first base only prospect could still be on the board for the Braves. In addition to being a below average defender limited to first base defensively, Sabato is a well below average runner as well.
Garrett Crochet, LHP, Tennessse
Tennessee lefty Garrett Crochet had an ok career going for him, pitching to a 4.02 ERA and 1.37 WHIP in six starts and 12 relief appearances for the Vols last year. But after a breakout in the summer and fall, Crochet is a potential Top 10 pick if he shows that he can handle a full season of starting considering he has hit 100 MPH from the left side, has a plus change, and a slider on the borderline of being yet another plus pitch.
Connor Phillips, RHP, Texas JUCO
The top JUCO prospect in the country is Connor Phillips, a hard throwing prospect out of Texas. Phillips hits 98 MPH and still has projection on his body, while also having a curve and change in the conversation as above average pitches as well. His biggest drawbacks are that his command is below average and he’s a JUCO pitcher, so he needs to really dominate to prove he belongs in the first round.
Parker Chavers, OF, Coastal Carolina
This year’s high level mid major college outfielder prospect is Parker Chavers. Chavers will miss the first few weeks of the year with injury, but this kid is a five tool prospect who had double digits in both home runs and steals a year ago while posting back to back .435 on base percentages for the Chanticleers.
Alika Williams, SS, Arizona State
Sometimes overlooked last year in a deep and talented lineup for ASU was Alika Williams. The toolsy shortstop is above average across the board with his tools, other than power that projects to be a little below average.
Gage Workman, 3B, Arizona State
Gage Workman broke out last year for the Sun Devils and now sits as a powerful third base prospect in the middle of one of the top lineups in the nation. Workman does strike out a bit too much, but there is still a lot to like as he is average or better across the board.
Tommy Mace, RHP, Florida
The next in a long line of Florida pitchers drafted on Day One of the MLB Draft is likely going to be Tommy Mace. Mace doesn’t have any plus pitches, but with strong results to go with four average or above pitches and average command, teams will be interested.
Nander De Sedas, SS, Florida State
Once a potential top pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, Nander De Sedas had a slightly disappointing high school senior year. He turned down a chance to still be a high pick instead picking the Noles and a chance to be a draft eligible sophomore. De Sedas arrived last year and had what would be qualified as another disappointing season in his college debut. Still this is a kid capable of going Top 10 if he proves the talent we saw in the summer of 2017 is still in there.
20 Additional Names to Watch
Austin Wells, C, Arizona
Matheu Nelson, C, Florida State
Justin Foscue, 2B, Mississippi State
Freddy Zamora, SS, Miami
Hayden Cantrelle, SS, UL Lafayette
Casey Schmitt, 3B/RHP, San Diego State
Alerick Soularie, OF, Tennessee
Jordan Nwogu, OF, Michigan
Jesse Franklin, OF, Michigan
Alec Burleson, OF/LHP, East Carolina
Cole Henry, RHP, LSU
Jack Leftwich, RHP, Florida
Max Meyer, RHP, Minnesota
Chris McMahon, RHP, Miami
Joe Boyle, RHP, Notre Dame
Slade Cecconi, RHP, Miami
Kevin Abel, RHP, Oregon
Gabe Shepard, RHP, Southern Miss
Carmen Mlodzinski, RHP, South Carolina
Burl Carraway, LHP, Dallas Baptist