Major League Baseball’s 2020 draft will last just five rounds, and it’s set to start this Wednesday. While that’s a departure from the norm (and not in a good way), we here at CBS Sports will be providing coverage up through the draft. That process began on last month, with a ranking of the top 25 position players in the class. It continued . Now, the rankings portion will culminate with a focus on the top 50 prospects in the class.
Before we get to the rankings, we’re legally obligated to offer a few caveats: 1) these were formed through a combination of insight gleaned from scouts and executives, as well our own analysis of the players; and 2) these are not supposed to align exactly with the actual draft order; their expected draft range was a consideration, however, along with their talent level and overall potential.
With that in mind, let’s rank some draftees.
1. Austin Martin, CF/INF, Vanderbilt
Martin, a top-of-the-order hitter and versatile defender, might be the most intriguing player in the class. He has an impressive feel for contact and for the strike zone, finishing his Commodores career with a .368 batting average and more walks than strikeouts. (He was the toughest batter to strike out in the power conferences.) Though he homered just 14 times, his exit velocities suggest there’s plus power potential under the surface, something he could achieve thanks to his offensive aptitude and a swing that already features loft. In short, Martin fits the profile of others who have added power to their games in recent years. He’s also a skilled baserunner with good speed and smarts. Generally, having an undefined position is a negative. In Martin’s case, it could turn out to be a positive. He was primarily a third baseman before this season, when he slid to center field to better leverage his wheels. A creative team could maximize his value by having him split time between the infield and the outfield, a la Whit Merrifield and Scott Kingery, among others.
2. Spencer Torkelson, 1B, Arizona State
You’d think Torkelson was a Joe Hill creation given the fear he invokes in opposing pitchers. He walked in 31 of his 82 plate appearances during the abbreviated NCAA season, but he still managed to improve his career homer count to 54 in 498 at-bats. Torkelson has the requisite eye, strength, and barrel control to profile as a quick-moving thumper. The biggest knock on him is that he’s only a right-handed first baseman, and those seldom make for satisfying early selections — it’s basically a sample of the ballad of Andrew Vaughn, the third pick in last year’s draft. Don’t be surprised when Torkelson ends up going higher than Vaughn, perhaps even first.
3. Asa Lacy, LHP, Texas A&M
Over the last three seasons, six left-handed starters have averaged 150 innings and more than a strikeout per inning: Chris Sale, Robbie Ray, Patrick Corbin, Eduardo Rodriguez, Clayton Kershaw, and Matthew Boyd. Lacy, who struck out 46 batters in 24 innings this season, seems primed to join that group in the coming years. At minimum, he has the highest upside and the best shot at realizing it among the pitchers in the class. Lacy’s repertoire features four usable or better pitches, including a low-to-mid-90s fastball and a slider that each grade as elite offerings, according to Trackman data. He also has the frame and demeanor scouts seek in their top-of-the-rotation prospects. The major (and arguably only) flaw in his game is his command: even though he walked three batters per nine in this abbreviated season, he still finished his Aggies career having walked four per nine. If Lacy can improve in that regard, he has the weaponry to become a frontline starter. Otherwise, he’ll likely settle in as a mid-rotation starter who has stretches and seasons where he teases more (think the aforementioned Ray).
4. Emerson Hancock, RHP, Georgia
Hancock does not have Lacy’s top-end potential because he does not have Lacy’s two top-end pitches. He might have the higher floor, however, thanks to a well-rounded arsenal and a better feel for throwing strikes. Hancock has three pitches that could be classified as above-average: his low-to-mid-90s fastball, his changeup, and his slider. His delivery features some recoil, yet he walked just over seven percent of the batters he faced in three years against top-end SEC competition. (Lacy, in the same conference, walked nearly 11 percent.) Of course, Hancock should be allowed to exist outside of the comparisons to Lacy. He’s a high-quality pitcher who ought to hold down a big-league rotation spot for years to come, beginning sooner than later.
5. Max Meyer, RHP, Minnesota
Call Meyer the Murder Hornet because he’s small but fierce. He’s about Sonny Gray-sized, yet he has well-above-average arm strength that lets him touch the upper-90s, and a wipeout slider that is one of the best secondary pitches in the draft. If asked, he could probably pitch out of a big-league bullpen this season. Obviously the long-term hope for Meyer is that he’s a frontline starter. He can’t do anything about his height, so he’ll need to improve his changeup and perhaps tweak his delivery so he doesn’t land quite as open. Given his athleticism and pair of top-end pitches, he has a better chance than most at defying the stigma against short righties.
6. Zac Veen, OF, Spruce Creek (HS)
With due respect to the fine people at the University of Florida, there’s little chance Veen will be crossing paths with the Tom Petty tree anytime soon. Instead, he’s likely to be popped early enough to justify beginning his pro career. Veen has the tall, lean, broad-shouldered frame that bodes well for him adding muscle over the coming years (and for drawing comparisons to Jayson Werth). He also has more than enough bat speed and discretion at the plate to project as a potential middle-of-the-order hitter. Veen’s odds of remaining in the middle of the outfield are considerably more remote, but his strong arm should make him a fit in right field.
7. Mick Abel, RHP, Jesuit (HS)
Abel figures to become the highest prep right-hander drafted since Hunter Greene went No. 2 in the 2017 draft. (Carter Stewart, who didn’t sign and now plays in Japan, was selected eighth overall in 2018.) He’ll do that despite the pandemic wiping out his season, and preventing teams from taking additional looks. Based on their past observations, Abel has a chance to be a high-quality big-league starter. He has a tall, lean frame that ought to support muscle gain over the coming years; he’s a good athlete who can repeat his delivery, boding well for his command and control; and his arsenal includes three flowering pitches: a lively fastball that can bump the upper-90s and a slider and a changeup. The top of this class is loaded with good college arms, so Abel might slip outside of the top five. Whatever team gets him should be thrilled.
8. Reid Detmers, LHP, Louisville
Louisville has produced a pair of top-five picks in recent years, in outfielder Corey Ray (No. 5, 2016) and two-way-player Brendan McKay (No. 4, 2017). Those two are the only Cardinals ever taken in the top 20, let alone the top 10. Detmers will change that this summer. He finished his career at Louisville with a four-start stretch that saw him post a 1.23 ERA and strike out 19.6 batters per nine innings. You read that right: he fanned more than two per inning, or 48 of the 91 batters he faced, and he did that while allowing 16 hits, three runs, and six walks. Detmers, whose delivery and high three-quarters release will remind some of Drew Smyly or Tarik Skubal, pairs a low-90s fastball with a slow, knee-buckling curveball. Scouts have concerns that the curve won’t be as effective against big-league hitters due to its low-to-mid-70s velocity and its out-of-hand visibility. Detmers could help his own case by nursing along his slider and changeup. Should he prove successful, he ought to be a quick-to-rise mid-rotation starter.
9. Nick Gonzales, 2B, New Mexico State
If one of the top-ranked hitters is going to slide on draft day, then it’s probably going to be Gonzales. Despite incinerating the Western Athletic Conference (.448/.610/1.155 slash line with 12 home runs and 11 more walks than strikeouts in 16 games) and last summer’s Cape Cod League (.351/.451/.630), there are nagging concerns about his upside. His exit velocities were more pedestrian than one might suspect, leading some evaluators to believe his power potential (and the validity of comparisons to Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Keston Hiura) is overstated. A data-driven team might find it hard to justify popping Gonzales so early, lest they end up with a singles-hitting second baseman who isn’t a threat to run or win a Gold Glove.
10. Austin Hendrick, OF, West Allegheny (HS)
The most notable baseball alum from West Allegheny High School is Scott Patterson, who played Luke on Gilmore Girls. Hendrick could usurp Patterson if he someday lands the role of cleanup hitter. His explosive swing lends itself to an approach that sees him trade contact for power. Hendrick scorched good competition last summer, posting absurd exit velocities along the way, and that performance ought to protect him against the typical cold-weather state bias. Not every team has the stomach for his swing-and-miss tendencies, and it’s easy to envision him becoming a left-handed Clint Frazier, but that isn’t the worst outcome by any means.
11. Garrett Mitchell, OF, UCLA
Mitchell is one of the fastest runners in the class, and he should have no problem remaining in center for the long haul. (He played right in 2019 out of deference to former first-round pick Matt McLain, who moved to shortstop this season.) The other elements of his game are less certain. Mitchell has the kind of athleticism and angular frame that scouts dream about, and he puts on a better BP than his in-game power numbers indicate (his .151 career ISO is propped up by 15 triples, as compared to six home runs). He’s already reconfigured his swing once since high school, and a team hoping to help him unlock his star potential could task him with trying it again. Mitchell, a Type 1 diabetic, should serve as a positive role model regardless.
12. Nick Bitsko, RHP, Central Bucks East (HS)
No pitcher ranked this highly on this list has less on file than Bitsko does. He reclassified earlier in the year from the 2021 draft, putting the onus on his performance this spring. That decision could have played in his favor under normal circumstances, but the spread of the novel coronavirus caused his season to be canceled. He’s still a candidate to go high in the draft because of what teams saw in the past: a good, physical frame; a clean delivery; a hot fastball; and a curveball that looks good through the lens of Trackman. Bitsko has to be convinced to forego his commitment to the University of Virginia, meaning whatever team takes him will have to put its money where its confidence is. It could pay off, and some, if that team is right.
13. Patrick Bailey, C, NC State
A collegiate catcher has been selected either first (Adley Rutschman in 2019) or second overall (Joey Bart, 2018) in the last two drafts. That won’t happen this year, but Bailey should come off the board early thanks to his high floor and the evergreen demand for catchers. He’s more than adequate at the defensive tasks that matter most — receiving and throwing — and he has ample game-calling experience. Scouts are less bullish on his bat. While he’s skilled at working deep counts and punishing mistakes with his above-average raw power, he’s a candidate to finish with a below-average hit tool due in part to his tendency to whiff. (He struck out in nearly a quarter of his plate appearances this season in 17 games.) Bailey’s boosters believe he’ll have four average or better tools, and that’ll be enough for him to go in the top half of round one, even if others think he’ll fall on the spectrum between second-division starter and backup
14. Garrett Crochet, LHP, Tennessee
Crochet missed the onset of the season due to injury, meaning his first start of the year doubled as his last. The availability heuristic might work against him on draft day: teams will ostensibly view him as a starter, but he opened in just 13 of his 36 appearances over three years with the Volunteers. To Crochet’s credit, he does have the essential attributes teams desire in their starters: a big frame (6-foot-6), a strong arm (he can flirt with triple digits), and an out pitch (his slider). Should he fail in the rotation, he’d probably make a mighty fine setup man.
15. Tanner Burns, RHP, Auburn
Burns was on pace to lead the Tigers in innings pitched for a second consecutive season prior to the pandemic. He also finished second (behind No. 1 pick Casey Mize) in that category during his freshman year. That’s a comforting run of durability for a pitcher who is listed at 6-foot and who has missed time due to shoulder soreness. Burns has other things going for him, too: an average or better three-pitch mix, a sturdy frame, and nearly 200 innings’ worth of high-quality work (2.86 ERA, 3.13 strikeout-to-walk ratio) against SEC competition. He should go in the first round, and should be able to step into the middle of a rotation before long.
16. Cade Cavalli, RHP, Oklahoma
Cavalli is a former two-way player who looks good in the uniform and who hit .319/.393/.611 in 2019. Focusing exclusively on pitching this year paid off, as he showed improved control by walking five batters in 23 innings; he’d previously walked five per nine in 90-plus innings between Oklahoma and the Cape Cod League. Cavalli has a fastball he can run into the mid-to-upper-90s as well as a quality slider. He needs to work on his changeup and command, and to prove he’s durable enough to start, but he’s an intriguing prospect who should go early.
17. Heston Kjerstad, OF, Arkansas
Heston won’t be the first Kjerstad to play pro ball: his brother Dexter spent a number of seasons as part of the Kansas City Royals and Miami Marlins organizations. He does have a chance to become the first one in his family to reach the majors, however. Kjerstad is a big left-hander with ample strength and a bad-ball appetite that keeps his walk rate lean. He has a track record of hitting against good pitching (.343/.421/.590 in three years of playing SEC compeition), and this season he sliced into his strikeout rate, reducing it from 19.6 percent to 11.5 percent. Teams will have to decide if they trust his odd, albeit adaptable swing enough to project him as a Corey Dickerson type. If so, Kjerstad could be the first collegiate outfielder off the board.
18. Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, Harvard-Westlake (HS)
If Harvard-Westlake’s name sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the same school that has produced Jack Flaherty, Lucas Giolito, and Max Fried. If Crow-Armstrong’s name sounds familiar, that’s because his parents are both actors (Ashley Crow and Matthew Armstrong) and he’s the same outfielder who made a terrific grab during the Under-18 Baseball World Cup. He could be an impact-level defender in center thanks to his range, arm, and all-out demeanor. He isn’t expected to be a zero at the plate, either, thanks to a contact-tailored swing that could make him a leadoff type. Crow-Armstrong may be a Vanderbilt commit, but he seems unlikely to ever caw on campus.
19. Ed Howard, SS, Mount Carmel (HS)
Howard isn’t just the best bet among prep players in this class to remain at shortstop, he’s arguably the purest shortstop to come along in years. He has all the attributes that scouts look for defensively: a strong arm, soft hands, nimble footwork, and an innate feel for the position. Howard’s offensive value is tougher to peg. The hope is that he can add power as he fills out his lanky 6-foot-2 frame, but there’s a chance his bat plays light. (It doesn’t help his stock that he’s from Illinois, a cold-weather state, either.) Nonetheless, the wide berth granted by his secondary skills should permit Howard to go early in the draft to a team looking for a potential starting shortstop.
20. Robert Hassell, OF, Independence (HS)
Hassell, another well-regarded Vanderbilt commitment, is a legit prospect as a pitcher and outfielder. Evaluators favor him at the plate, where he employs an aesthetically pleasing left-handed swing that some believe will eventually produce above-average power. He has some backers in the industry who think he could become the best hitter in the class, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone if he goes higher than expected come draft day.
21. Tyler Soderstrom, C, Turlock (HS)
A prep catcher hasn’t been selected in the top-20 since 2015, when the Cincinnati Reds picked Tyler Stephenson 11th overall. Soderstrom might change that this year. The key word is “might,” as there’s disagreement on whether he should remain behind the plate. Soderstrom has a strong arm, but he’s a work-in-progress in other ways. Besides, his offensive upside is such that moving him to another position could free up his bat and hasten his arrival. Wherever Soderstrom’s future employer decides to play him, he ought to come off the board early.
22. Jared Kelley, RHP, Refugio (HS)
Kelley’s physicality is unmatched among prep arms. He’s big and stout and looks like he could give a team seven strong if he was given a day’s notice. He’s likely to be one of the first prep arms off the board on draft day thanks to his mid-to-upper-90s fastball and a high-grade changeup. Typically, the top high-school arms have a breaking ball as their best secondary pitch. That jives with the rule of thumb that states any pitcher can be taught a changeup with enough repetitions, but that spinning the ball is an innate skill. (It would be fair to propose that he could just learn a cutter if his breaker fails to materialize.) Kelley has one other notable concern working against him that isn’t his fault: the failures of pop-up prep arms in recent years. Maybe Kelley will turn into the next Tyler Kolek. Some team will gladly take that chance.
23. Chris McMahon, RHP, Miami
McMahon, a three-sport athlete in high school, has the potential to make a team happy in the later portions of the first round. He could have three above-average offerings at his maturation, with a good fastball and changeup and a promising breaking ball. Over the course of his collegiate career, he struck out more than a batter per inning and proved to be difficult to square up, as he allowed just four home runs in 112 innings. McMahon did miss time as a freshman due to a knee injury, and his delivery features a high elbow that could ostensibly cause him harm down the road. Still, he should be a quick-moving big-league contributor with upside.
24. J.T. Ginn, RHP, Mississippi State
Ginn entered the spring as a potential top-10 pick on the strength of his fastball-slider pairing and his freshman season with the Bulldogs (3.13 ERA and 5.53 strikeout-to-walk ratio). Unfortunately, his lofty standing lasted as long as his season did: a single start. He underwent Tommy John surgery in early March, right before the spread of the novel coronavirus, and he likely won’t return to the mound until next summer. Scouts believe he’s likely to go high enough to justify signing. He’s a draft-eligible sophomore, so don’t expect him to come super cheaply.
25. Daniel Cabrera, OF, LSU
LSU has produced a number of passable big-league outfielders over the past decade, including Mikie Mahtook, Andrew Stevenson, JaCoby Jones, and Jake Fraley. Cabrera likely isn’t going to alter a franchise, or make All-Star Games, but he should be viewed as a potential no-frills starting left fielder. His contact-heavy approach worked well enough in both the SEC (.305/.392/.518) and in last summer’s Cape Cod League (.287/.369/.400) to assure an early selection.
26. Austin Wells, C, Arizona
Wells’ standing is tied to a team’s belief that he can catch. As it is, his bat is doing the heavy lifting. A draft-eligible sophomore, he hit .357/.476/.560 with seven home runs and more walks than strikeouts in 71 games with the Wildcats. (He also had a strong showing in the Cape Cod League, batting .308/.389/.526, albeit with a higher K rate.) Wells has a pretty swing from the left side, and he has a chance to further tap into his power. The risk is, as suggested, with his defense. He has a substandard arm, and he doesn’t grade as a good receiver. He could end up at the other end of the defensive spectrum, either at first base or in the outfield; alternatively, he could benefit more than any other draftee from robot umpires. Who knows in this economy.
27. Carmen Mlodzinski, RHP, South Carolina
Mlodzinski doesn’t have an extensive track record to offer scouts. He was limited to 14 starts over parts of three years, with 10 of those coming during his shaky freshman and injury-shortened (broken foot) sophomore seasons; hence his career 4.74 ERA. Mlodzinski is still likely to be picked early on thanks to his athleticism; his performance in last year’s Cape Cod League; and his arsenal, which could feature three above-average pitches: sinker, cutter, slider. It doesn’t hurt that he might have the best head of hair among pitching prospects, either.
28. Jared Shuster, LHP, Wake Forest
Few, if any pitchers in this class have improved their stock as much as Shuster has over the past year. Despite walking nearly five batters per nine in 2019, he’s walked just nine batters over his last 11 appearances, dating back to the Cape Cod League. His precision gains have coincided with a velocity boost that enables him to touch into the mid-to-upper-90s. Factor in Shuster’s durable frame and the rest of his arsenal (a high-grade changeup and slider), and he has a real chance to go late in the first round, which would’ve been unthinkable a June ago.
29. Nick Loftin, SS, Baylor
The Jed Lowrie-sized Loftin is your prototypical late first-round collegiate infielder, complete with a high floor and a broad skill set. He can hit a little, run a little, field a little, maybe even make the world a better place a little. The only tool in his box that grades as below-average is his power, and that’s just as well considering he has a contact-orientated swing that resulted in a career strikeout rate around eight percent. Loftin has past experience at other positions, and his protean nature could come in handy if his bat plays too light to assume a starting role.
30. Cole Wilcox, RHP, Georgia
For as good as Hancock was during the abbreviated season, it was Wilcox who led the Bulldogs in strikeout-to-walk ratio (16). That accomplishment was a departure from the wildness he showed during his freshman and Cape Cod League efforts, when he walked nearly 15 percent of the batters he faced. Wilcox has top-shelf arm strength, and a promising slider. His delivery features enough effort that scouts think he’ll wind up in the bullpen, but he should get a chance to start at the onset of his career.
31. Bryce Jarvis, RHP, Duke
Jarvis received a lot of attention in February, when he threw a perfect game against Cornell. He followed up that start with a pair of dominating performances against Purdue and Florida State that brought his seasonal totals to 27 innings, 11 hits, two walks, two earned runs, and 40 strikeouts. Jarvis has improved his velocity, now pitching in the mid-90s, and he has one of the draft’s best changeups. His slider is also a quality offering, giving him three legit weapons. His uptempo delivery is a little awkward, and he has a history of walking more than four batters per nine. Teams will likely give him the benefit of the doubt in that regard, given his hard work and marked improvement in other areas, with someone eyeing him as a mid-rotation starter.
32. Justin Foscue, 2B/3B, Mississippi State
Foscue isn’t going to win many footraces. He can handle himself at the plate, though, and proved as much by hitting .297/.380/.482 with 19 home runs and 10 more walks than strikeouts. (He struck out three times in 69 plate appearances this season.) Foscue will have to work on his defense, but his track record of making contact, commanding the zone, and posting above-average exit velocities should attract a team with a good development staff.
33. Logan Allen, LHP, FIU
Allen has a common name for baseball players, but he has an uncommon profile for this list. He’s on the short and lean side (6-foot, 180 pounds) with a fastball on the slow side (low-90s). Yet Allen could go earlier than his raw stuff indicates he should because of his polish. He has good command, a plus changeup, and the utmost confidence in his ability on the mound. He isn’t going to be anyone’s ace, but he knows how to pitch and should reach the majors quickly.
34. Slade Cecconi, RHP, Miami
The other Hurricanes starter in the top-25, Cecconi has the size and arm talent to be a value addition for a team picking later in the draft. He’s listed at 6-foot-4 with a frame that suggests he should be able to eat innings at full maturation. Stuff-wise, he’s able to touch into the upper-90s with a plethora of secondary offerings, including a swing-and-miss breaking ball. The biggest knocks on Cecconi are his inconsistency and his delivery, which sees his elbow get above his shoulder. That quirk helps to explain his so-so command, and is believed to be a precursor to injury. Cecconi could still prove to be a good get, especially if he slips into the second round.
35. Dylan Crews, OF, Lake Mary (HS)
Were this based on name recognition, Crews would be much higher. Alas, he had a brutal spring that, combined with the fatigue that develops over time with well-known prospects, makes him difficult to rank. When Crews is right, he looks like a potential starting right fielder: an above-average hitter with a strong arm. Because of his stock’s volatility, it stands to reason he might honor his commitment to LSU and re-establish himself as a top-of-the-draft player there.
36. Alika Williams, SS, Arizona State University
Williams is the second of three Arizona State infielders likely to be selected within the top 100 picks, alongside first baseman Spencer Torkelson (No. 2 on this list) and third baseman Gage Workman. Williams is a lanky, able-bodied shortstop with more than sufficient arm strength, hands, and burst for the position. That’s a good thing because his offensive skill set is limited to putting the bat on the ball and minding the zone (he was on pace to walk more than he fanned for a second year in a row). His .703 OPS this season was the second-lowest among the eight Sun Devils with at least 50 plate appearances, and he finished his collegiate career with a .100 ISO, as well as just five home runs and 15 stolen bases (on 25 tries). As a statistical point of reference, Nick Ahmed was a light-hitting, glove-first shortstop at UConn, and he compiled eight home runs, 68 steals (on 85 tries), and an .087 ISO. (Of course, Ahmed is currently playing on a contract worth more than $30 million, so having a presumed low floor isn’t all bad news.)
37. Clayton Beeter, RHP, Texas Tech
Beeter is one of the most intriguing arms in the class. During an uneven freshman season spent in relief, he struck out (40) or walked (20) more than 64 percent of the batters he faced. Beeter joined the rotation this season, and he showed much improved control over four starts. His stuff is beyond questioning: his Trackman metrics are absurd, with his curveball possessing spin rates that would be elite among big-league pitchers; his command is more suspect, and his arm is often late to get up. A team enamored by his upside could pop him earlier than his track record suggests, but they’ll do so knowing he could just be a reliever when all is said and done.
38. Dax Fulton, LHP, Mustang (HS)
Fulton underwent Tommy John surgery last September, but he could still be picked by a team willing to buy him out of his Oklahoma commitment. He possesses several of the foundational building blocks teams look for in starters: a big frame; a good fastball; a promising curveball; and so on. A team with multiple early round picks seems likeliest to pull the trigger.
39. Carson Montgomery, RHP, Windermere (HS)
Montgomery already possesses a starter’s frame, at 6-foot-2 and nearly 200 pounds. He has other innate qualities teams desire in their rotation arms, too, like the raw spin on his pitches and the ability to touch the mid-90s with his fastball. Montgomery will need to work on his changeup and his command, and he’ll have to be convinced to leave his Florida State commitment in the past, but whatever team commits could benefit in the long run.
40. Jordan Walker, 3B, Decatur (HS)
Walker, armed with a Duke commitment, is viewed as a tougher sign than his peers. If he signals to teams he’s turning pro, he should be the top prep corner infielder off the board. Walker is listed at 6-foot-5, which would tie him with Kris Bryant for the tallest third baseman in the majors. Predictably, one of his top selling points is his power potential. Even more predictably, there are concerns he’ll have to move away from the hot corner due to his size. A team who believes he can play third and hit in the middle of the order could pop him in the first round.
41. Bobby Miller, RHP, Louisville
Miller has a big, strong frame. He has a firm fastball with plenty of oomph. He has a pair of average or better secondaries. And so on. What’s not to like? Mostly his delivery, which includes a long, whip-like arm action that robs him of command and could threaten his long-term wellbeing. Some team that believes in his ability to stick in a rotation could take him earlier.
42. Masyn Winn, SS/RHP, Kingwood (HS)
If a position player selected outside of the first round is going to turn into a star, it might be Winn. He’s an absolute toolshed; a two-way player with an Arkansas commitment who could become a notable player on either side of the ball. Winn pairs near-elite bat speed with average strength. He swings and misses a fair amount, but he counterbalances that tendency with an athletic profile that could see him develop into an above-average shortstop and baserunner. Winn is raw, and some prefer him as a pitcher, but he’s a deep cut of a name to keep in mind.
43. Drew Romo, C, The Woodlands (HS)
Romo is the best prep defensive catcher in the draft. He’s a sure thing to remain behind the plate and he can do it all: block, throw, frame. As a point of comparison, scouts believe Romo has a better chance to hit than Will Banfield, the 69th pick in last year’s draft who was heralded for his defensive polish. Romo, like Banfield, should go high enough to justify walking away from a commitment to a prestigious school. For Banfield, that was Vanderbilt; for Romo, it’s LSU.
44. Justin Lange, RHP, Llano (HS)
Lange, a lean and athletic righty, put himself on the radar earlier this spring by hitting triple digits. Most of his promise remains unrealized, especially his feel for throwing strikes and secondary pitches. In other words, he’s going to be a long-term upside play for whomever picks him. Lange has a commitment to Dallas Baptist, and while that program doesn’t have the biggest name, it is known for helping pitchers get the most out of their arsenals. As such, even if Lange doesn’t turn pro now, he could crack this list again in a few summers’ time.
45. Jordan Westburg, SS, Mississippi State
Westburg, the other member of the Bulldogs’ pro-caliber double-play combination, has more raw tools than his former partner does. He’s a good runner and he has the arm strength required to play the left side of the infield. At the plate, his 6-foot-3 frame lends itself to above-average raw pop, and he’s improved his contact rate in consecutive years: reducing his strikeout percentage from 25 percent to 21 percent, and then from 21 percent to 20 percent this season. Westburg will have to continue to mind his whiffs if he’s to eventually reach the majors.
46. Casey Martin, SS/OF, Arkansas
Martin is a tantalizing talent. He has above-average power and top-of-the-scale speed; he hit .310/.389/.542 over three years in the SEC; and he should play a premium position (likely center field). Why is he ranked this low? Because Martin has well-below-average pitch recognition and is helpless against breaking balls. He struck out in more than 24 percent of his career plate appearances (including 30 percent in 2020), and finished with a 2.46 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Will Wilson, who went 15th last June to the Los Angeles Angels, was considered risky because of his 1.61 strikeout-to-walk ratio. (The Angels traded Wilson over the winter to dump Zack Cozart’s contract.) Martin’s potential is immense; so are his odds of realizing it.
47. Dillon Dingler, C, Ohio State
Dingler, a converted outfielder, was on his way to a banner year when the season was canceled. In 13 games, he’d hit .340/.404/.760 with nearly as many homers (five) as strikeouts (seven). Dingler has the arm strength and the athleticism to stick behind the plate. His lacking exit velocity and track record means a team will have to be confident to take him in the first round.
48. Aaron Sabato, 1B, North Carolina
As with Torkelson, it’s hard to justify taking a right-handed first baseman early on. Sabato, a draft-eligible sophomore, will presumably land somewhere in the 20s at earliest after an impressive college career that saw him hit .332/.459/.698 with 25 home runs in 83 games. Sabato’s game may not feature another average or better tool outside of his bat, so he’ll have to hit, hit, and then hit some more in order to justify his selection and punch his ticket to the Show.
49. Jared Jones, RHP, La Mirada (HS)
Baseball is in Jones’ blood. His father played in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization; his mother was a collegiate softball player; and two of his cousins (Randy and Ron Flores) pitched in the majors. Predictably, Jones is a stellar athlete who has also impressed in the outfield with his arm and legs. On the mound, he’s been clocked up to 98 mph, and he’s shown the makings of an above-average slider. Jones is even willing to tinker with the tempo of his delivery, a la Marcus Stroman or Johnny Cueto, to disrupt hitters’ timing. Because he’s just 6-foot-1, and because his delivery requires effort, some scouts think he’ll end up in the bullpen. His youth, athleticism, and upside will convince a team to let him begin his career in a rotation.
50. Burl Carraway, LHP, Dallas Baptist
Everyone else on this list is a reliever as a fallback option. Not Carraway. He pitched out of the bullpen in 37 of his 38 appearances at Dallas Baptist, and he is certain to remain in that role as a professional. Carraway has an upper-90s fastball and a slow curve that he used to great effect for the Patriots, striking out 15.6 batters per nine for his career. He does have below-average command (which might not surprise anyone who has seen his high-tempo, crossfire delivery), and he’ll need to find the zone more often as he progresses. The upside here is a quick-moving late-inning dynamo, and with due respect to CJ Van Eyk and Tommy Mace and the other capable starters who could easily slot in here, that’s likely to get him popped sometime over the first 50 picks.