As the 2020 draft is now just one week away, industry stances on prospects have begun to become more transparent. While teams would normally be getting final looks at players while deliberating over prospect placement on their big board, this draft will be anything but ordinary.
Players are beginning to get a better sense of their placement on teams boards, with talented OF Dylan Crews headlining four prominent draft prospects who have removed their name from the draft pool — prep catcher Kyle Teel (Virginia commit), prep outfielder Brandon Fields (South Carolina commit), and Florida State junior Reese Albert rounding out the list. Crews, who would have ranked 16th on this list, was rumored to have lofty, multi-million dollar signing bonus demands, which he was improbable to receive as a likely second-round pick. Many top prospects haven’t taken the field in front of top evaluators in more than half a year, leaving videos of batting practice and bullpen sessions as the only means of improving current draft stock. Some prep hitters, like stud CF Pete Crow-Armstrong, have confirmed glowing reports from the shortened spring with impressive TrackMan sessions, while hulking 1B/OF Caden Grice skyrocketed himself into the public spotlight with circulating footage showing his exceptional torque and top-of-the-scale power capable of destroying moonshots that not even Yellowstone National Park could contain. It remains to be seen how large an impact the video from these BP sessions will have within industry evaluations beyond sculpting the public perception of these players. While hitters are unlikely to drastically change their narrative due to naturally restricted accessibility to live pitching stemming from the continued COVID-19 shutdown, pitchers can exhibit their pitch type characteristics which may carry significantly more weight to a team as they project future success.
This list ranks my top 20 high school position player prospects in the 2020 draft class. I decided to characterize each of the two-way prospects into their most likely position at the professional level, as there are few players who organizations would enable to continue both hitting and pitching. This means that fireballers Masyn Winn and Jared Jones aren’t in consideration for this list due to their superior upside on the mound, in addition to Texas high schooler Tanner Witt, who progressive front offices will dream on projecting into at least a middle-of-the-rotation hurler, or two-way, and two-sport star Cade Horton, who has a nasty three-pitch mix on the bump. This is a top-heavy crop of high school talent that features an infusion of left-handed bats, headlined by Zac Veen, Robert Hassell, Crow-Armstrong, Austin Hendrick, and Tyler Soderstrom. Meanwhile, teams typically cherish building around up-the-middle talent, but this prep class lacks impact middle infield strength beyond definite SS Ed Howard and Carson Tucker.
These rankings are reflective of my future value projections for the high school position player crop; they encompass traditional aspects of dynasty evaluation such as hit, power, and run tools, in addition to non-fantasy-relevant elements of player evaluation such as fielding abilities and arm strength. Overall, these tools combine with makeup and intangibles to form my total evaluation of each player on the 20-80 Future Value (FV) scale, where 50 is league average (FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen and ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel thoroughly explain their coined Future Value system here for those interested). Travis Sherer has already released his rankings of the collegiate crop of draft-eligible hitters, with the rankings for pitchers slated to be churned out in the coming days leading up to the draft.
1. Zac Veen, OF, Spruce Creek HS (Fla.)
Veen has established himself as the consensus top prep bat in the class, stemming from his advanced approach and plate discipline, coupled with projected future plus-hit and at least plus-power tools. While his widely projected strength gains upon entering a professional organization will only amplify Veen’s impressive power, they will likely shift him to an outfield corner at the next level. The lanky OF demonstrates rare athleticism in the box and has the makings of a slugger who will ultimately develop into a force to be reckoned for a long time. Veen’s offensive actions have been showered with lofty comparisons to stars like Cody Bellinger and Cristian Yelich. I detailed the sweet-swinging southpaw’s skill set about two weeks ago.
2. Robert Hassell, OF, Independence HS (Tenn.)
Scouts laud Hassell’s pure hitting abilities, as the Vanderbilt commit has consistently produced at all thresholds of competition. Hassell has some projection remaining to his slight, athletic 6-2, 190-pound frame, but he presently boasts a robust collection of tools and a sound approach at the plate. While scouts are in agreement about his future hit tool, Hassell’s power tool serves as a source of polarization. I believe that his fluid swing will ultimately generate at least average power, making him an elite offensive commodity. Hassell also has a chance to add value defensively in CF, enabled by slightly above-average speed, solid defensive instincts, and absolute cannon of an arm. Some scouts believe that a move to RF, where he would be an above-average defender, is in the cards for Hassell. He boasts the most well-rounded skill set in the prep class and should be plucked off of the board by the middle of the first round.
3. Ed Howard, SS, Mount Carmel HS (Ill.)
Howard is one of the prospects whose stock appears to be most damaged by the canceled season, as his high school team had merely just begun practicing when the shutdown occurred. As a result, teams have reportedly been skeptical of all players that they haven’t seen perform in games since last summer, including Howard, prep slugger Austin Hendrick, and fireballing prep hurler Mick Abel. It doesn’t help Howard’s case that teams have expressed concern over the severity of an ailing shoulder injury. Despite this concern over Howard’s health and the absence of his recent performance and data, has a solid combination of tools across the board and is extremely likely to remain at SS in the long run. Presently, his offensive abilities trail behind his glove wizardry, but Howard showed an ability to consistently make hard contact against quality pitching on the showcase circuit last summer. He has solid bat speed with natural loft, but his swing has depth to its load, creating overall length to his bat path. Howard shows adaptability at the plate, using his flexible hips to alter his swing for pitches in different locations. Some scouts were bearish on Howard’s plan of attack in the box last summer, which he never had an opportunity to alleviate this spring. Howard has solid footwork and smooth hands at short, with above-average arm strength that is accentuated by impressive arm utility that allows him to seamlessly throw from all angles and positions. Howard should continue filling out, which will improve his offensive profile, but he is the type of talent that a team with a strong player development department would be elated to welcome into the organization. Teams picking towards the back-end of the first round that were sold on his bat last spring would be thrilled to scoop Howard up if he slides.
4. Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, Harvard-Westlake HS (Calif.)
Crow-Armstrong has been in the limelight of the scouting industry for quite some time and had towering expectations coming into last summer. Scouts were hoping to see him demonstrate an improved ability to drive the ball, but PCA struggled across the board offensively, leading evaluators to develop swing-and-miss concerns. Despite his disappointing performance on the showcase circuit, the speedy centerfielder exhibited off-the-charts makeup, an ability to piece together gritty at-bats with regularity, and brilliant glove work throughout the summer. Many teams may have been more pessimistic on PCA heading into this spring than before, but his stock rebounded in a big way after he added significant muscle to his frame and began to tap into some power in a shortened spring season. In a recent TrackMan Hitting BP session posted by PBR California, Crow-Armstrong posted impressive batted ball characteristics, including an extremely low spin rate on balls hit in the air, which bodes well for his future power prospects. While it is still his weakest tool by a wide margin, if PCA’s power continues upon its apparent trajectory from this spring, he has a chance to become average in this area. Similar to Howard, I believe that Crow-Armstrong’s bat will ultimately yield substantial value at the big-league level, but his outstanding defensive prowess elevates his floor over other “risky” prep OF whose value will be largely contingent upon offensive production like Austin Hendrick. Teams believing in the validity of PCA’s offensive resurgence this spring will be thrilled to pounce on him in the mid-to-late first round.
5. Austin Hendrick, OF, West Allegheny HS (Pa.)
Hendrick has extremely loud tools, with arguably the quickest bat speed and raw power in the high school class, accompanied by an arm equipped to make rocket throws from RF. While he undeniably has redeeming qualities as a prospect, Hendrick also has some glaring deficiencies that will impact how progressive draft rooms value him. He frequently takes violent hacks that leave his body out-of-control and yield inherent swing-and-miss tendencies. The West Allegheny HS product also has some length to his swing, which is grooved with an uppercut. Another element of Hendrick’s profile that analytically-driven teams will interpret as a blemish is his relative elderliness for a high school player, meaning he has always been playing against younger competition. This was a model-induced knock on some top prep bats in previous years, such as 2019 draft prospect Brett Baty, whose age ended up being somewhat of a moot point when he was selected by the Mets with the 12th overall pick. Hendrick’s raw power consistently translates into mammoth shots in games, but questions linger about his hit tool. Regardless, his ability to piece together competitive at-bats and above-average plate discipline should yield an adequate OBP for the slugging OF, who lacks the necessary speed to play CF but has the potential to be an impact defender in RF. Overall, Hendrick is a promising prospect with volatile outcomes who is likely to come off the board before the end of Round 1.
6. Tyler Soderstrom, OF/C, Turlock HS (Calif.)
While Soderstrom has a fluid lefty swing that has drawn rave reviews from scouts, uncertainty remains regarding his future defensive home. He has athleticism in the box, with solid bat speed propelling his barrel that gets full extension through the zone. Soderstrom makes hard contact that warrants his present labeling as a hit-over-power bat, but the natural loft to his swing justifies industry-wide confidence that he will eventually access above-average raw power in games. The California prepster is still unrefined behind the dish, with necessary improvements to be made to his raw receiving and blocking abilities if he will be able to stick at Catcher at the professional level. He has a strong arm, but his pop times are slowed down by the substantial length to his arm stroke, which should be fixable. It is far more likely that Soderstrom will migrate to 3B or a corner OF slot, where his athleticism and strong arm should cement him as an average defender. Soderstrom is expected to be taken somewhere between the 13th overall pick (Giants) and the early 20s.
7. Carson Tucker, SS, Mountain Pointe HS (Ariz.)
Tucker has big-league bloodlines, with his older brother Cole being a mainstay on top prospect lists for the past few years leading up to his 2019 debut in the show for Pittsburgh. The younger Tucker, Carson, doesn’t jump off of the page with an influx of tools, but he does everything well enough to be an impact performer down the line. Tucker has a quick bat and will likely be more of a gap-to-gap hitter than a power bat at the next level. The Texas commit began to shoot up draft boards with a scorching hot start to the spring in 2020 after he altered his mechanics over the winter and added strength. Tucker has smooth defensive actions and a serviceable arm that should enable him to remain at SS. Teams could be lining up as early as late in the first round for Tucker’s services.
8. Chase Davis, OF, Franklin HS (Fla.)
I’m more optimistic about Davis than many other prospect evaluators within the industry. He has a knack for making jaw-dropping throws from the outfield and boasts impressive raw power, headlining his skill set with two plus tools. However, Davis has a deep load in his swing that leads to a bat wrap around his back shoulder, making his swing detrimentally long. As a result, Davis occasionally struggled to catch up to premier velocity on the showcase circuit last summer. He has extremely quick hands that give him plus bat speed, so Davis has been able to find success thus far, despite this hitch. I believe that this mechanical flaw will be correctable in pro ball, transforming Davis into a valuable slugger with a hit tool that is sufficient enough for him to access his power with regularity. His value is likely tied to the quality of an organization’s player development group. Defensively, the athletic RF has arguably the best arm strength in the entire draft class, which gives him a chance to be an impact defender with the glove too. Davis could be a player that pays solid dividends and comes off of the board soon after the 1st round.
9. Jordan Walker, 3B, Decatur HS (Ga.)
Walker has a titanic 6-5, 220-pound frame that is capable of catapulting baseballs out of sight. However, he occasionally struggles to control his body throughout his swing, often leading to unstable points of contact with the ball that hinder his ability to fully capitalize on his massive raw power. Walker undoubtedly has a lengthy swing but is capable of unleashing on balls when everything in the kinematic sequence clicks together. He needs to improve his footwork to become an average defender at 3B, where his smooth hands and strong arm could play. With room for added strength remaining in his lanky frame, Walker could lose a step and eventually shift to 1B or an OF corner. He has one of the highest ceilings in this prep class, with the potential to be a lethal middle-of-the-order bat for a long time, which will likely result in Walker being selected high enough to entice him to forgo his commitment to Duke.
10. Drew Romo, C, The Woodlands HS (Texas)
Romo is a switch-hitting backstop armed with a plus arm and an advanced feel for many of the nuanced areas of the catching position including blocking and framing. It remains to be seen if teams will begin to devalue the latter skill for catchers in anticipation of the robot strike zone’s imminent implementation, but Romo is one of the more defensively polished HS backstops to come out of the draft in recent years. Some scouts are skeptical about Romo’s offensive profile; like many others on this list, Romo whiffed at an alarming rate last summer, leading to concerns about the quality of his hit tool. Another obstacle for the Texas prep star could be that his market may become decimated early in the draft by the combination of these issues and a pessimistic draft model outlook on his profile due to the aforementioned reasons discussed with Hendrick. He is expected to be a difficult sign out of his commitment to Louisiana State, so teams will likely need to pounce early or offer a signing bonus substantially over their pick’s slot to secure Romo’s services.
11. Isaiah Greene, OF, Corona HS (Calif.)
Greene has a loose-and-easy swing that generates hard contact with regularity. His most valuable tool is plus speed that should eventually translate into tremendous value defensively and on the basepaths. Greene still has ample room in his frame to add muscle and he could be a swing change candidate to add loft. Despite not producing the results that his proponents would have hoped to see in a shortened spring sampling, Greene is trending in the right direction as a prospect and could be picked as early as the second round.
12. Caden Grice, 1B, Riverside HS (S.C.)
Grice has been the high school bat with the most helium in the weeks leading up to the draft, with a massive 6-6, 240-pound build that bears resemblance to Rangers slugger Joey Gallo. He could be the prospect with the widest range of outcomes on this list, as he boasts titanic, plus-plus raw power, but has an extremely long swing that is bound to output lofty whiff rates in pro ball. Grice was a legitimate two-way player on the showcase circuit last summer, but it has become clear that teams prefer the sky-high ceiling of his offensive profile. The late-riser is still raw in terms of plate discipline and approach, but his scarcely paralleled raw power is going to provide a big-league player development department with a potential impact commodity. Teams could try to slot Grice into an OF corner, where his plus arm should be an asset, but as a well below-average runner, he could ultimately be restricted to 1B duties at the professional level. Grice is a go-big-or-go-home asset who teams should covet in the second or third round.
13. Blaze Jordan, 1B, DeSoto Central HS (Miss.)
Jordan, the youngest player on this list after reclassifying last summer, had a legendary high school career that made him one of the most well-known prospects heading into the showcase circuit. He has speedy hands and plus-raw power but struggled mightily against the higher quality, older competition he faced last summer. Jordan has demonstrated some athleticism in his diligent quest to prove that he is capable of handling duties at 3B but is almost certain to end up at 1B due to his lack of a variety of necessary defensive characteristics. Jordan is a modern-day, three-true-outcomes type of prospect who could definitely make it to campus at Mississippi State as a tough sign if he falls beyond the first couple of rounds.
14. Cadyn Wallace, 3B, Greenbrier HS (Ark.)
Wallace has a muscular, mature 6-1, 210-pound physique that offers minimal remaining projection. His set of tools features plus future power projections and an above-average arm that will play at 3B. Wallace lifts the ball with an explosive swing that registers above-average bat speed and can to slug to all fields. The Arkansas commit may be a tougher sign, but his offensive upside should warrant a team selecting him in the second or third round and dishing out an over-slot signing bonus.
15. Enrique Bradfield, OF, American Heritage HS (Fla.)
Bradfield’s game revolves around plus-plus speed that has the potential to drastically alter games. His wheels presently provide the largest impact on defense, where Bradfield takes solid routes that enable him to be a plus defender in CF. At the plate, the Vanderbilt commit has a contact-oriented approach and uses his wiry 6-0, 155-pound build to spray the ball around the field. Bradfield’s offensive value will be derived from solid plate discipline and an ability to put pressure on the defense. Bradfield’s lack of power limits his ceiling, but the present defensively abilities of the speed demon give him a solid floor. Look for teams that prioritize speed and defense, like the Royals, to value Bradfield enough to call his name in Rounds 2 or 3.
16. Kevin Parada, C, Loyola HS (Calif.)
Parada, a muscular catcher who provides an offense-centric profile, is another one of the older players in this prep class. Although he drives the ball with authority and frequently finds the barrel, Parada’s right-handed stroke has limited extension through the zone and tends to yank the bat head through the zone. Parada’s uppercut barrel path should enable him to punish mistakes at the highest level. He is close to a finished product physically, with the present strength and skills to succeed at the next level. Scouts aren’t unanimous in their determination of Parada’s future defensive home, as he boasts an above-average arm and could have a chance to stick behind the plate with extensive seasoning with framing, blocking, and pitch calling. Parada is expected to be selected in the second or third round.
17. Jake Vogel, OF, Huntington Beach HS (Calif.)
Vogel’s best tool is his speed, which plays near the top-of-the-scale. His swing features a steep uppercut and athletic hip-torso separation that would normally expect from a power bat, but Vogel possesses below-average power. The speed demon throws bullets with a plus arm strength that will make him a defensive asset in CF. One of the biggest knocks on Vogel is his late bloom as a prospect that excluded him from competing against the best of his peers on the showcase circuit last summer. Vogel’s hit tool seems to be a source of disagreement within the scouting community, but organizations that are bullish on this aspect of his game will be thrilled to select the toolsy CF in the middle rounds of the draft.
18. Nick Yorke, 2B, Archbishop Mitty HS (Calif.)
Yorke’s biggest strength is his offensive game, which is centered more on spraying line drives between the foul lines, but he could eventually run into slightly above-average power as he continues to add strength. Yorke keeps a vertical barrel angle throughout his fluid swing that equates to a 60-grade hit tool. Yorke has played SS for the majority of his amateur career, but he will likely be forced to 2B due to below-average arm strength and limited arm utility throwing from different slots; his smooth hands and solid defensive instincts should translate to adequate defensive production at this slot.
19. Drew Bowser, 3B, Harvard-Westlake HS (Calif.)
Bowser is a physical specimen (6-3, 190 pounds) with an extensive track record of performance against top competition. He has promising raw power but is held back by his lengthy swing that leads to swing & miss issues. His bat speed is propelled more by strength than natural bat speed in the same manner of Veen or Hendrick, but it will need to be shortened for Bowser to have success at the big-league level. I’m higher on Bowser’s defensive outlook at 3B than most, as he has plus arm strength, respectable hands, and solid footwork that enabled him to survive as a SS in HS. He has a strong commitment to Stanford, Bowser could make it to campus if he isn’t selected in the first couple of rounds due to signability concerns.
20. Jace Bohrofen, OF, Westmoore HS (Okla.)
Bohrofen is an athletic OF who projects as a future power bat with strength projection remaining and a fluid uppercut swing that enables him to lift the ball. The Oklahoma commit has explosive lower-half mechanics that optimize his power generated, with exceptional back leg drive and hip-torse separation that allows him to maintain beneficial posture and balance when he rotates. Bohrofen also has a mature approach at the plate and seems to exhibit advanced pitch recognition skills in the box. However, there are lingering questions within the industry about his pedestrian bat speed metrics, which could be exposed when Bohrofen is challenged against higher levels of competition. He is likely to become between an average and fringe above-average runner once after he finishes filling out and has the arm strength to handle RF. Bohrofen could be a tough sign as a likely third- or fourth-round selection, but his promise should entice a team to manipulate their bonus pool to accommodate for his signing bonus request.
Milan Tolentino, SS, Santa Margarita HS (CA)
Sterlin Thompson, LF/3B, North Marion HS (FL)
Kala’i Rosario, OF, Waiakea HS (HI)
Petey Halpin, OF, Mira Costa HS (CA)
David Calabrese, OF, St. Elizabeth Catholic HS (ON)
Owen Caissie, OF, Notre Dame Catholic SS (ON)
MacKenzie Wainwright, RF, St. Edward HS (OH)
Yohandy Morales, 3B/SS, Braddock HS (FL)
AJ Shaver, OF, South Lake HS (FL)
Colt Keith, 3B, Biloxi HS (MS)
Coby Mayo, 3B/1B, Stoneman Douglas HS (FL)
Cole Foster, SS, Plano Senior HS (TX)
Carlos Perez, C, Florida Cristian HS (FL)
A.J. Vukovich, 3B, East Troy HS (WI)
Robby Ashford, OF, Hoover HS (AL)
Corey Collins, C, North Gwinnett HS (GA)
D’Andre Smith, 2B, San Dimas HS (CA)