2020 MLB Draft: Five Best Pitching Prospects Available In Draft

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Drafting and developing starting pitching is almost always a crapshoot — and it will be even more difficult in the 2020 MLB Draft.

Baseball’s annual prospect gold-mining expedition will take place Wednesday and Thursday, but it will look far different than it has in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic not only has the sport in danger of eradicating the entire season at its highest level, but coronavirus already has wiped out most of the college season and all of the high school season across the country.

The toughest task in player development just got tougher, but teams should feel confident taking any one of these guys, the top pitchers available in the draft.

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LHP Asa Lacy, Texas A&M
The Aggies were able to get in 18 games before the season was canceled, with Lacy making four starts. And boy, oh boy, did he make an impression. The left-hander went 3-0, striking out 46 over 24 innings with a microscopic 0.75 ERA. That’s, uh, good — very good.

Lacy features a four-pitch repertoire with a fastball that he gets up there in the mid-90s from the left side. That’s tantalizing on its own. The question with Acy, however, will be his strike-throwing ability. He walked 43 batters in just 88 2/3 innings a season ago, but those bouts of wildness are overshadowed by elite stuff that has Lacy going as high as No. 2 in some mock drafts.

RHP Emerson Hancock, Georgia
If he had been eligible and the draft had been held midway through the first half of last college baseball season (big ifs, we know), Hancock probably would have been the first pitcher selected. Such is life when you allow eight runs in 10 starts (not a typo). Unfortunately for him, he got hurt and didn’t regain that same momentum upon returning. Then, of course, this year happened.

But obviously, the performance has been there. Undoubtedly, the stuff is there. Hancock lives in the mid-90s with his fastball, and MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo says all three of his secondary pitches come with at least a plus-grade. ESPN.com’s Kiley McDaniel says Hancock’s changeup — which he didn’t feature a ton at Georgia — is a 70-grade (on the 20-80 scouting scale) pitch when he’s got it going good. If Hancock falls due to injury concerns but stays healthy, he could be a steal if he tumbles a bit.

RHP Max Meyer, Minnesota
Meyer is smaller than most top pitching prospects. He throws very hard from a three-quarters delivery and has, according to MLB.com, the best slider in the draft. Sure sounds like a reliever, doesn’t he? Meyer was used as a closer for most of his career at Minnesota, saving 16 games for the Golden Gophers in the 2018 season. He pitched out of the rotation in the abbreviated 2020 season, but he’ll probably move pretty quickly through the minors if he’s used as a reliever upon being drafted.

LHP Reid Detmers, Louisville
The Athletic’s Keith Law describes Detmers as the “most polished of the first-round college arms” earlier this spring. That has to be intriguing for any team but especially a small-market team looking to make the most of rookie service time from a fast-rising prospect.

According to multiple publish scouting reports, Detmer makes up for a lack of head-turning stuff with feel and a command from a consistent arm slot.

RHP Nick Bitsko, Central Bucks East HS (Pa. — Virginia commit)
How teams approach high schoolers in this draft will be fascinating. It’s always a bit of a dice roll to take an 18-year-old high up in the draft, especially when it’s a pitcher. That will be even more pronounced this season considering scouts didn’t get a chance to see players this spring.

But if you hit on a high school arm, it’s like hitting the lottery. Someone will fall in love with Bitsko, who is a massive human being already, standing 6-foot-3 and weighing 210 pounds. He’s just a horse, who throws in the upper-90s from an over-the-top arm slot with a plus curveball, per Law. Put him in a good system where he’ll get to work with smart people and further develop his changeup, you can squint hard enough and see a top-end starting pitcher.

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