For most of this year, Arizona State slugger Spencer Torkelson and Vanderbilt’s sweet-swinging Austin Martin have been locked in a duel for first overall pick in the 2020 MLB draft. Texas A&M lefty Asa Lacy has slowly worked his way into outside consideration as well. However, Torkelson has seemed to pull ahead of Martin as the clear favorite recently, and that impression is coalescing in a series of new mock drafts released this week.
FanGraphs’ lead prospect analyst, Eric Longenhagen, and The Athletic’s Keith Law, each released new first round mock drafts with Torkelson going first overall to the Detroit Tigers. At this point this isn’t a surprise, but it is notable that the certainty level seems to have increased dramatically in recent weeks.
Typically when we reach this point in the draft cycle teams are dialed in with their own rankings, so it’s unlikely that opinions are going to change much with just two weeks remaining until the draft begins on June 10. However, this season’s rumor-mongering is also spiced by the fact that numerous teams are cutting their scouting departments radically. There are an awful lot of people in the know who suddenly find themselves without a career and have no reason not to speak candidly to prospect writers and analysts around the game.
There may be more inside knowledge leaking than is normal, though it may well be countered by even more disinformation. Either way, expect the rumors to fly even thicker than usual in the run-up to the draft.
Check out this gem from Joe Doyle, prospect writer for Prospects Live and our sister site Lookout Landing, as an example.
One thing is becoming clear. A majority of first round picks this year might be under-slot picks. A majority of them. Several teams are bargain shopping and not being shy about it.— Joe (@JoeDoyleMiLB) May 27, 2020
If teams going cheap and not even using their full bonus pool turns out to be a widespread phenomenon, despite most of the money having already been deferred, it provides even more opportunity for the Tigers to grab first round talent in the second round. At that point it’s on the Ilitch family to take advantage.
Obviously Torkelson going 1-1 isn’t surprising. Where the two mock drafts get more interesting is late in the first round. FanGraphs has moved Texas Tech RHP Clayton Beeter all the way up to 15th overall, and projected to go to the Philadelphia Phillies in that spot. Previously most mocks had him late in the second round or even early in the third. Law has him 27th now and going to the Minnesota Twins, so there’s a good deal of consensus that he’s leapt pretty high on most boards.
Meanwhile, Nick Loftin, a good contact-oriented shortstop prospect from Baylor, who we hoped had an outside chance to fall to the Tigers in the second round, is now pegged to go 14th overall to the Texas Rangers in Law’s mock draft for The Athletic, while FanGraphs actually has him dropping out of the first round.
Both sites have also firmly moved slugging North Carolina first baseman Aaron Sabato into the first round. He was another that the Tigers might have been interested in despite the fact that he’s essentially a designated hitter with no legitimate position on the field. Everytime someone moves up into the first round on these boards, someone else drops, and therein lies the hope that the Tigers can do very well later on.
So far, neither site has produced mock drafts into the second round, but we’ll be on the lookout for updates. FanGraphs’ board hasn’t been updated to reflect the new mock draft, but when it does, it will be interesting to see who they have the Tigers selecting with the 38th overall pick to lead off the second round. Right now, LSU outfielder Daniel Cabrera is still projected to be their choice, but that seems likely to change soon.