It appears increasingly possible that when the 2020 MLB Draft begins on Wednesday evening, it still won't be clear if there's going to be a major-league season this year or not.
Though it hasn't officially been said, with uncertainty about the major-league season - and the expectation that rosters will be greatly expanded if there is a big-league campaign - there's almost no chance that there will be a minor-league season in 2020. That will make it interesting to monitor how teams introduce their top draft picks (and inevitable undrafted free-agent signings) to their organization and avoid losing a season's worth of development.
So from a baseball perspective, Wednesday and Thursday could very well be the peak of the 2020 summer, as sad as that may be. Here's RADIO.COM Sports' final projection of how the first round will play out:
Tigers Select College First Baseman Compared to Pete Alonso With Top Pick
1. Detroit Tigers: Spencer Torkelson - 1B, Arizona State
2. Baltimore Orioles: Austin Martin - IF/OF, Vanderbilt
3. Miami Marlins: Asa Lacy - LHP, Texas A&M
4. Kansas City Royals: Zac Veen - OF, Spruce Creek High School (FL)
5. Toronto Blue Jays: Max Meyer - RHP, Minnesota
Perhaps it's not a fait accompli that the Detroit Tigers will select former Arizona State first baseman Spencer Torkelson with the No. 1 overall pick, but it seems as though it would be pretty surprising if they went in another direction. ESPN's Kiley McDaniel says that Torkelson reminds him of New York Mets' first baseman Pete Alonso, who won the 2019 National League Rookie of the Year after he slugged 53 home runs and drove in 120 runs. MLB Pipeline says that the Tigers have the No. 5 farm system in baseball, but their major-league team went just 47-114 a year ago and is largely devoid of talent, so they need to continue to stack young talent.
Padres Add High-School Outfielder to Already-Deep Organization
6. Seattle Mariners: Emerson Hancock - RHP, Georgia
7. Pittsburgh Pirates: Nick Gonzales - 2B, New Mexico State
8. San Diego Padres: Robert Hassell III - CF, Independence High School (TN)
9. Colorado Rockies: Heston Kjerstad - OF, Arkansas
10. Los Angeles Angels: Patrick Bailey - C, North Carolina State
Since A.J. Preller took over as the Padres' general manager in August of 2014, the team has yet to post a winning record. However, the organization is flush with talent and set up to be one of the most successful teams this decade. Not only do the Padres already have Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado and Chris Paddack at the major-league level, but MLB Pipeline says they possess the No. 2 farm system in baseball, headlined by lefty MacKenzie Gore, the No. 5 prospect in the sport. Robert Hassell III, a Vanderbilt-commit, was described as having "the best strike zone recognition I've ever seen" by Summit High School head coach Chad Kirby. Assuming the Padres would be able to convince him to turn professional, rather than attending college, Hassell III could join an already-established Padres team in a few seasons.
Phillies Select College Righty
11. Chicago White Sox: Garrett Mitchell - OF, UCLA
12. Cincinnati Reds: Austin Hendrick - RF, West Allegheny High School (PA)
13. San Francisco Giants: Reid Detmers - LHP, Louisville
14. Texas Rangers: Garrett Crotchet - LHP, Tennessee
15. Philadelphia Phillies: Cade Cavalli - RHP, Oklahoma
In our last mock, we had the Phillies taking righty Nick Bitsko, a local product that attended Central Bucks East High School. However, Insider Keith Law poured cold water on what would be a cool story, saying that the Phillies "seem open to any player type except high-school pitching." The Phillies, who have struggled to develop left-handed starting pitching since Cole Hamels, would probably love for Reid Detmers to fall to them at pick No. 15, though that feels unlikely. Law has the Phillies selecting Cavalli - who possess a fastball, curveball combination that ESPN's Kiley McDaniel has raved about - and we're inclined to agree. In a few short years, Cavalli could potentially join Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler and top prospect Spencer Howard to build an elite rotation.
Chaim Bloom Looks to Bring Elite Talent-Building to Boston
16. Chicago Cubs: Pete Crow-Armstrong - OF, Harvard-Westlake High School (CA)
17. Boston Red Sox: Mick Abel - RHP, Jesuit High School (OR)
18. Arizona Diamondbacks: Tyler Soderstrom - C, Turlock High School (CA)
19. New York Mets: Nick Bitsko - RHP, Central Bucks East High School (PA)
20. Milwaukee Brewers: Jared Kelley - RHP, Refugio High School (TX)
During Chaim Bloom's 15 seasons in the Tampa Bay Rays' organization - the final four of which he was the senior vice president of baseball operations - the small-market organization remained consistently competitive in the American League East, despite not being able to compete financially with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. Now Boston's chief baseball officer, Bloom obviously has a ton of resources available to him that he didn't in Tampa Bay. But as Andrew Friedman has done in Los Angeles, don't expect Bloom to bail on what got him the job in Boston - the Red Sox are going to draft and develop really well under Bloom. WEEI's Rob Bradford recently spoke with pitching whisperer Kevin Gunderson, who compared high-school righty Mick Abel to three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer from a competitiveness standpoint. It's a great read, and Abel appears to be a strong fit in Boston, who doesn't possess a ton in the way of short or long-term certainty in the starting rotation.
Cardinals Bet on Righty With Strong Upside
21. St. Louis Cardinals: Cole Wilcox - RHP, Georgia
22. Washington Nationals: Justin Foscue - 2B, Mississippi State
23. Cleveland Indians: Bryce Jarvis - RHP, Duke
24. Tampa Bay Rays: Dillon Dinger - C, Ohio State
25. Atlanta Braves: J.T. Ginn - RHP, Mississippi State
There would perhaps be much more clarity on former Georgia right-hander Cole Wilcox's place in the 2020 MLB Draft if his final college season hadn't been halted because of COVID-19. Wilcox was nasty in his first - and ultimately, only - four starts of the 2020 season, going 3-0 with a 1.57 ERA. Keith Law ranks him as the 14th-best overall prospect in this class, and talks about how he has reached 100 MPH with his fastball. So why isn't Wilcox a top-five pick? In 19 games, six of which were starts, in 2019, Wilcox posted a 4.07 ERA. He struggled mightily in two summer-league appearances as well. Wilcox, as Law notes, is far from a sure thing, and may take longer to develop than some of the other college righties expected to be taken in the first round. Having some patience may ultimately land the Cardinals - a team that's already pretty flush with talented starting pitching - a front-line starter. But that's far from a guarantee, which is why Wilcox is still on the board at this stage.
Yankees Draft College Pitcher With Star Potential
26. Oakland Athletics: Nick Loftin - SS, Baylor
27. Minnesota Twins: Carmen Mlodzinski - RHP, South Carolina
28. New York Yankees: Clayton Beeter - RHP, Texas Tech
29. Los Angeles Dodgers: Ed Howard - SS, Mount Carmel High School (IL)
There's a chance for the rich to get even richer here. For the next nine seasons, the Yankees will employ Gerrit Cole. There's still hope that Luis Severino will return from Tommy John surgery and bounce back to the elite form that he showed between 2017 and 2018. Imagine adding another righty with elite stuff to that rotation. Texas Tech's Clayton Beeter had a 3.20 ERA in 20 appearances in his freshman year of 2019, before going 2-1 with a 2.14 ERA in four starts in his shortened sophomore season. Though ESPN's Kiley McDaniel does acknowledge that it's worth weighing the fact that Beeter had Tommy John surgery in the fall of 2017 and needs to learn to limit his walks, he says Beeter may have the best repertoire of any pitcher in this draft. If the Yankees were picking in the top 10, Beeter may be too much of a risk. At 28, picking him would give the organization a chance to strike gold.