2020 PBR Experts' Draft


Shooter Hunt, Nathan Rode and David Seifert

The 2020 MLB Draft starts Wednesday. There isn’t a team that’s about to hand the reins to our national staff, but we’ll pretend like they would. In the Experts’ Draft, Shooter Hunt, Nathan Rode and David Seifert will alternate taking picks in the first round. They are making picks as if they were the scouting directors of the teams. This is not a mock draft, forecasting what teams will do based on intel. Rather, it’s what our experts would do if given they were calling the shots of the respective organizations. For continuity’s sake, team’s with picks in Competitive Balance Round A were made by the staff member who had that team in the first round.

1. TIGERS (Seifert): No funny stuff here. I’ve seen the research on college 1B selected in the first round (not good), but I'm not passing on the best college slugger since Kris Bryant—1B Spencer Torkelson (Arizona State). PICK: Spencer Torkelson

2. ORIOLES (Shooter): It really comes down to two guys here, IF Austin Martin (Vanderbilt) or LHP Asa Lacy (Texas A&M), though an argument might be made for OF Zac Veen (Spruce Creek HS, FL) for a team unlikely to compete for some time. While Martin certainly packs all-star potential, I find it too hard to ignore the advancements Lacy has made. A left-hander with frontline, right now stuff who still looks to be getting better? Let’s build around that. PICK: Asa Lacy

3. MARLINS (Rode): I'm a big Martin fan so I’m excited he fell all the way to No. 3. He's an athlete with defensive versatility and a plus bat. I don’t think I really need to explain myself much more than that. Please and thank you. PICK: Austin Martin

4. ROYALS (Seifert): After selecting college arms in the early rounds over the past few years it may be time to take a bat. The top prep hitter on our board is Veen while 2B Nick Gonzales (New Mexico State) tops the collegians, and man do I love his swing. However, you can never have enough arms and we have them ranked 1-200 on our Draft Board for a reason. Next man up is a super athletic right-hander who tops out at 100 mph with his fastball, consistently shows a 70-grade slider and fills up the zone with strikes—Minnesota RHP Max Meyer. The Royals pick again at 32 overall and will prioritize a bat then. This is a couple picks higher than where he’s expected to go, so a slight bonus pool saving is likely, setting us up for greater flexibility with future picks. PICK: Max Meyer

5. BLUE JAYS (Shooter): Young and exciting is everything that the Blue Jays are right now, and they have done a stellar job in the draft recently. RHP Emerson Hancock (Georgia), a potential 1-1 pick heading into the spring, is still on the board, but the upside of the top prep product is too enticing to pass up. Veen has the chance to fortify an already imposing lineup in the next several years, and has similar upside, albeit left-handed, as fellow Floridian, Bo Bichette. PICK: Zac Veen

6. MARINERS (Rode): I would’ve been perfectly happy with any of the five above falling to me, but there’s a sixth that has “slipped” and I can’t pass on him. Hancock looked like a 1-1 guy a year ago and, quite frankly, has the profile for it still. Others just made their own big jumps. So getting him at six is tremendous value I think. PICK: Emerson Hancock

7. PIRATES (Seifert): Recently, Pittsburgh has shown a liking for picking high upside prep arms in the first round (Quinn Priester in 2019, Shane Baz in 2017) and another one will likely be staring at them in RHP Mick Abel (Jesuit HS, OR). With a first-year GM, we are not taking a gamble with this pick on yet another high school arm. We pick again in the supplemental round at 31 overall, so if a high upside prep arm like Abel, RHP Nick Bitsko (Central Bucks East HS, PA), LHP Kyle Harrison (DeLaSalle HS, CA) or RHP Jared Kelley (Refugio HS, TX) is still available, we will consider them there. I love the swing, the makeup and the profile of the top college hitter still available. PICK: Nick Gonzales

8. PADRES (Shooter): This is where I think the draft really starts to get fun. The Pads have three picks in the top 50. Combine that with the fact that they already boast one of the top farm systems in the League, and they have the ability to take some chances or spread out some money. Having gone after high schoolers in each of the past three drafts, the recipe appears to be working, so why stop? Abel has a blazing fastball and starter profile, and his upside is immense thanks to low mileage coming out of the state of Oregon. However, OF Robert Hassell (Independence HS, TN) is arguably the best prep hitter in the country with a left-handed stick that is sure to develop much more power. Taking him here, especially at a potential minor discount, is a win-win. PICK: Robert Hassell

9. ROCKIES (Rode): The slot here is a little under $5 million and I pick again with the Rockies at 35. It’s tough to lure free agents to Coors Field so the draft is a great place for Colorado to get impact arms. It’s tempting to go that route here, but the depth of arms in this class makes me comfortable with snagging a hitter now and seeing who’s around in Competitive Balance Round A. I believe in SS Ed Howard’s (Mount Carmel HS, IL) bat, but I’m going with a higher floor in the switch-hitting catcher. Give me C Patrick Bailey (North Carolina State). PICK: Patrick Bailey

10. ANGELS (Seifert): I can understand why the Rocks passed on Reid Detmers (Louisville) since he’s a fly ball pitcher with a big curveball that will likely not break as much in the high altitude of Coors Field. I’m also tickled that the Rockies did not snag my favorite college arm still on the board, and one who is in the mold of their past picks LHPs Kyle Freeland and Ryan Rolison. It’s not the best draft philosophy to select for need, but in this case, the Halos have plenty of bats and they are in considerable need of impact arms who are close to (or in) the big leagues. It’s time to go get one. Detmers is close to the big leagues with polished stuff. LHP Garrett Crochet (Tennessee) is close too, and he has more upside. PICK: Garrett Crochet

11. WHITE SOX (Shooter): Sitting at No. 11 and the top prep shortstop in the country hasn’t gone yet?! AND he’s a Chicago kid?! Howard is going to be difficult to let slide here, but the left-handed power bat and lengthy production record of OF Heston Kjerstad (Arkansas) is too much to pass up for a team that has put together a strong nucleus of young players. PICK: Heston Kjerstad

12. REDS (Rode): There are two high-upside prospects on the board in Howard and Abel, but they don’t come without risk obviously. I’m also a fan of Detmers, that curveball and his high floor, but like Seif mentioned, lots of fly balls and Great American Ballpark is...cozy. But that can play to my advantage. I’m going with a left-handed bat that will continue to grow into some pop. I’ll see how he takes to catching professionally, but if C Tyler Soderstrom (Turlock HS, CA) ends up moving to the hot corner, that’s perfectly fine with me. PICK: Tyler Soderstrom

13. GIANTS (Seifert): After watching the first 10 picks play out, things are getting awfully exciting in the Giants’ draft room knowing that with just two picks remaining between the White Sox at No. 11 and our pick here, we will have the choice of Kjerstad, Detmers or OF Garrett Mitchell (UCLA). The Sox took Kjerstad and the Reds selected a top prep bat in Soderstrom, leaving us the choice of Mitchell or Detmers. Having gone the higher-risk (swing/miss concerns) route of tooled-up OF Hunter Bishop in the first round last year, it's reasonable for the Giants to shy away from higher-risk, tooled-up Mitchell given the developmental uncertainty tied to his health profile (Type 1 Diabetes). Detmers is a quality pick on the merits and has the benefit of a little more certainty in his near-MLB-ready profile. It’s time for another Barry Zito-esque breaking ball by the Bay. PICK: Reid Detmers 

14. RANGERS (Shooter): The Rangers went college heavy in 2019 with the top four picks, a year after taking five consecutive high school players to start things in 2018. Abel and Kelley are the top prep right-handers in the class, each with an effortless upper-90s fastball and projectable frame. The top prep shortstop, Howard, is still in play, and I love his athleticism, but the chance to pair the likes of RHPs Hans Crouse and RHP Cole Winn with another power arm for the future is too enticing. PICK: Mick Abel

15. PHILLIES (Rode): Philadelphia took a shortstop last year, but Bryson Stott could handle second or third, and that shouldn’t have bearing on acquiring the best available talent. There are some questions about the bat, and he didn’t get a chance to prove anything this spring, but there is no doubt about his athleticism and defensive ability. PICK: Ed Howard

16. CUBS (Seifert): He’s fallen far enough. The reward of a five-tool potential all-star playing the big field in Wrigley now exceeds the risk of his medical. PICK: Garrett Mitchell

17. RED SOX (Shooter): After Torkelson, I believe 2B Justin Foscue (Mississippi State) is the best hitter in the class, and while the ceiling might be a bit lower than the high-end arms that are sure to go in subsequent picks, snagging Foscue in the first round helps to limit some risk while likely freeing up substantial money to tack onto the third-round selection. PICK: Justin Foscue

18. DIAMONDBACKS (Rode): Three of Arizona’s top four picks last year were high schoolers and they failed to sign their top pick in 2018, Matt McLain, who is now at UCLA. I could go with a high floor college guy here to inject some balance into the organization. Plus, I have an extra pick at 33. But I am a strong believer in taking the best talent available and he’s staring me right in the face. I first saw OF Pete Crow-Armstrong (Harvard-Westlake HS, CA) when he was a freshman and his aptitude and ability were as obvious then as they are now. PICK: Pete Crow-Armstrong

19. METS (Seifert): After selecting high school hitters in the first round in each of the past two drafts (Brett Baty in 2019, Jarred Kelenic in 2018), it’s time to go 3-for-3 with OF Austin Hendrick (West Allegheny HS, PA) PICK: Austin Hendrick

20. BREWERS (Shooter): A plethora of power arms left on the board, and I’d expect the Brewers to pounce on one of them. The four draft-eligible sophomores (Cecconi, Ginn, Henry, Wilcox) are all possibilities, but the easiness of the near-triple digits that Kelley throws up on a regular basis, and his profile as a frontline starter, makes it too much to pass up this late in the first round. PICK: Jared Kelley

21. CARDINALS (Rode): St. Louis has the 12th-largest bonus pool at about $7.9 million, giving them opportunity to pay some guys, but only one of those picks comes inside the top 50. That’s too much of a gamble to go below slot now and see what happens later. RHP Cade Cavalli (Oklahoma) is tempting, but there’s some injury history there. I also really like LHP Kyle Harrison (De La Salle HS, CA) and RHP Carson Montgomery (Windermere HS, FL), but I’m going with a Bulldog in RHP Cole Wilcox (Georgia). His stuff is just as intimidating as his stature on the mound. PICK: Cole Wilcox

22. NATIONALS (Seifert): After a run of preps and college bats from picks 14-20, the Nats are licking their chops over the buffet of college pitching still available, including Cavalli, Chris McMahon (Miami), Tanner Burns (Auburn), Carmen Mlodzinski (South Carolina) and sophomore-eligibles Slade Cecconi (Miami), Cole Henry (Louisiana State) and J.T. Ginn (Mississippi State). There’s also one very intriguing, high-ceiling prep arm in Bitsko, but despite his recent Driveline accomplishments, we just haven’t seen enough of him in game action due to his high school reclassification and his cancelled spring season to warrant our slot of $3 million. PICK: Cade Cavalli

23. INDIANS (Shooter): The top high school left-handed pitcher is still on the board?! The Indians have not been scared to attack high school pitching in the past, and picked up two of the top prep arms in each of the past two drafts (Ethan Hankins in 2018, Daniel Espino in 2019) who “fell” to them a bit later than expected. For this reason, I’m going with Harrison. He looks the part with equal parts stuff and toughness, and should be part of the next wave of Cleveland’s arsenal aided by a fantastic player development system. PICK: Kyle Harrison

24. RAYS (Rode): I’m tempted to jump on a bat here and tap into the pitching depth at 37, but you can never have enough pitching. The Rays have an extra pick, but a middle-of-the-road bonus pool, so I’m not quite sure I can comfortably get Montgomery done without taking a pretty good chunk of that. I’ll roll the dice in a slightly different way and gamble on the upside of an injured player. Ginn has wicked stuff and once he’s healthy, I’m sure he’ll move quickly. PICK: J.T. Ginn

25. BRAVES (Seifert): The top college arms on my board are Cecconi, McMahon and Mlodzinski, while the top hitter is C Austin Wells (Arizona). Cecconi’s signability is questionable for slot at this point. We really like the improvements McMahon made to his slider this spring, along with the ability to throw his fastball more often up in the zone for swing/miss. And we can’t forget about just how good Mlodzinski was in the Cape last summer. But, it’s time now to get a premium bat, then maybe dip into the loaded college pitching class with our next selection. PICK: Austin Wells

26. ATHLETICS (Shooter): The A’s have a pretty standard five picks with one of the lower (25th) bonus pools, so there is a chance they could try and save some money here to spread throughout the five, but the arms that are still on the board will make that tough. The draft-eligible sophomores will likely command higher than slot at this point, but a high-upside potential power-bat from the high school ranks like 3B Jordan Walker (Decatur HS, GA) could be in the mix. However, having one of the SEC’s top workhorse starters still available, at this point, is too much to pass up. PICK: Tanner Burns

27. TWINS (Rode): Minnesota doesn’t have much wiggle room in this draft with just a little more than $4.5 million. I’m not confident the slot here would get Montgomery done, but there’s an arm a little further down the board that I’m a huge fan of—RHP Alex Santos (Mount St. Michael Academy, NY). He has a plus fastball, plus curveball and his Trackman numbers are strong too. It might be a little off the PBR Draft Board, but on my board, he’s right in the mix. PICK: Alex Santos

28. YANKEES (Seifert): With only three picks in this draft (we’ll take forfeiting our fifth-round pick any day for signing Gerrit Cole) and just a $3.52 million bonus pool, we have limited flexibility. The top signable prospects for this pick on our board are the underrated McMahon and Mlodzinski. I also have a feeling that Henry could be signed for our $2.49 million slot, but I’m not operating on a hunch here. We must sign all three of our picks. PICK: Chris McMahon

29. DODGERS (Shooter): This late in the first round you’re either looking for high-floor sure-thing or taking a chance on the high-risk, high-reward guy. The Dodgers are in win-now mode AND have one of the top farm systems AND have taken chances in the past (Ginn in 2018). I’d do it again. Cecconi would likely head into 2021 as a presumptive top 10 pick, so buying out a year would be worth it. Plus, not signing him would only add a pick in what will be a historic year for talent in 2021. PICK: Slade Cecconi

COMPETITIVE BALANCE ROUND A 

30. ORIOLES (Shooter): Lacy is likely to eat up most if not all of the slot money at No. 2 ($7.78 million), so there won’t be any extra money hanging around, but with a quick turnaround from here to the 39th pick, the O’s have a chance to bolster their system with some real upside or potentially attack some closer-to-the-bigs college guys. 1B Aaron Sabato (North Carolina) might be a steal here for $2.5 million, as would switch-hitting high school C Drew Romo (The Woodlands HS, TX), but I'd rather not go too far over slot here, and both will (likely) be looking for more. Still a tough sign because he’s a draft eligible sophomore, Henry would challenge as the top SEC arm in 2021, so getting him a year early would be like adding another top 10 pick. I’m willing to take that chance. PICK: Cole Henry

31. PIRATES (Seifert): After snagging Gonzales with our first pick at seventh overall, the Zoom high-fives are now over and it’s time to get back to work. Does Gonzo need a double-play partner in SS Nick Loftin (Baylor)? Or do we go with the middle-of-the-order masher Sabato. We also like a tooled-up catcher in Dillon Dingler (Ohio State). The top college arms are LHP Logan Allen (FIU) and RHPs Bryce Jarvis (Duke), C.J. Van Eyk (Florida State) and Tommy Mace (Florida). We likely don’t have enough in our bonus pool to buy out Bitsko, Romo or Walker from their college commitments so we’re heading to the Buckeye State for a backstop. PICK: Dillon Dingler

32. ROYALS (Seifert): It’s time to get the best bat on the board. We may need to go overslot a bit, but we should have some savings from our pick at No. 4, or we can find additional from our next three selections to pay the right-handed masher. PICK: Aaron Sabato

33. DIAMONDBACKS (Rode): My selection of Crow-Armstrong probably won’t garner huge savings, but there might be a little left over and this pick has a slot around $2.2 million. Montgomery and Romo are probably tough signs at this point. I really like Jarvis, but he has just four weeks of track record with his stuff and if there’s no minor league season, he’ll be 23 before throwing a professional pitch. Teams don’t have much history with Bitsko, but if he hits on his upside, he’d be a steal. PICK: Nick Bitsko

34. PADRES (Shooter): No! Robbed by the Diamondbacks in the pursuit of Bitsko. Oh well, with the farm system that the Padres are trotting out right now, it doesn’t make sense to settle for low risk, especially when they have hit on so many high school players of late. Walker has top 10 pick upside (in the long run), so getting him this late could yield huge returns. They might pay a bit more here, but the talent is worth it. PICK: Jordan Walker

35. ROCKIES (Rode): Bailey at ninth overall probably saves me a little cash, so I think I can operate here with at least $3 million. I want to get an arm and there’s one that I think is a perfect fit. I want the ball on the ground in Denver and the metrics suggest Mlodzinski has the chance to be a high-end sinker ball guy. Going into the year, there wasn’t a chance he’d get this far. PICK: Carmen Mlodzinski

36. INDIANS (Shooter): After snagging Harrison at 23 for what will likely cost slightly more than slot (let’s say $3 million), the Tribe is still in good shape to make any play here at 36. A stellar crop of young position players is coming up through the system, so another arm should fit here. Jarvis is still on the board, and the plus stuff is tough to look away from. The same goes for Allen, who has the athleticism and aptitude that would make him easy to work with. However, the workhorse frame and wipeout slider of Montgomery fits almost too perfectly here. He’s an elite talent with plus potential for spin and a physical frame. PICK: Carson Montgomery

37. RAYS (Rode): I took Ginn with the Rays’ first pick, which is a small roll of the dice considering he had Tommy John and won’t pitch until next summer, so I considered playing it a little safer here. Allen comes to mind. Jarvis is an option. But this exercise is a departure from reality in itself, so let’s make a splash. I want someone who can bring it on the mound, but also give me confidence in the risk with their makeup. I’m going to Chicago to get a guy that has high character traits, an above-average fastball and plus changeup. He needs to develop a breaking ball, but I trust in the work ethic of RHP Ben Hernandez (De La Salle HS, IL) to find a serviceable one. PICK: Ben Hernandez

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