2020 MLB Draft: Nine Best Position Player Prospects Available In Draft

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Well, this is ironic.

The 2020 Major League Baseball Draft is considered one of the deepest in years, particularly when it comes to pitching prospects. Yet now, it’ll also be the shortest June draft in MLB history, spanning just five rounds — instead of the usual 40 — as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The unique parameters obviously will force each organization to change its strategy in some way, shape or form. Let’s not get too hung up on that aspect of the draft right now, though. Instead, let’s focus exclusively on talent and identify the best position players available.

Obviously, this is a difficult exercise that’s further complicated by the lack of baseball played this spring. Still, some names jump off the page thanks to past performance, tools, upside, etc., and we’ll examine them here.

The draft kicks off Wednesday with the first round and Competitive Balance Round A, spanning the first 37 picks, and continues Thursday with the remaining selections.

More MLB: Five Best Pitching Prospects Available In 2020 MLB Draft

1. Austin Martin, 3B/OF, Vanderbilt
It’s a two-horse race for the top spot in most mock drafts, with Martin and Spencer Torkelson each bringing something different to the table. We’re giving Martin the edge based on his athleticism and the likelihood he winds up playing a premium position, inherently boosting his overall value down the road.

Martin, a versatile defender, has an intriguing offensive profile buoyed by superb plate discipline. He controls the strike zone, boasts excellent contact skills and could add even more power in time. There’s really nothing to not like about this all-around talent.

2. Spencer Torkelson, 1B, Arizona State
Torkelson is a total bopper, even drawing comparisons to Pete Alonso, the reigning National League Rookie of the Year who won the 2019 Home Run Derby and crushed a major league-leading 53 bombs for the New York Mets last season. It’s easy to envision him soon batting cleanup in The Show as one of the league’s most feared sluggers.

There probably will be some swing and miss to Torkelson’s game. He’s admittedly dinged, fairly or unfairly, for being a right-handed masher who’s likely limited to first base on the defensive side. But his power is elite, even by today’s standards, and his plate discipline suggests his on-base numbers probably won’t suffer too badly if he strikes out frequently at the highest level.

3. Zac Veen, OF, Spruce Creek High School (Florida)
Veen, a sweet-swinging outfielder, is committed to Florida, but he’ll likely jump to the professional ranks, perhaps as the first high school player selected in this year’s draft. The 18-year-old’s smooth left-handed stroke is exactly what scouts fawn over, and there’s reason to believe he’ll enhance his offensive profile moving forward.

Veen, a slender 6-foot-4, makes hard contact, a product of both his swing and his bat speed. He already has some pop, but the power figures to improve as his frame fills out.

4. Robert Hassell, OF, Independence High School (Tennessee)
Hassell is very similar to Veen in profile: Beautiful left-handed swing, resulting in hard contact with projectable power. As with Veen, it remains to be seen whether Hassell will stick in center field or move to right field. His value seemingly lies in his offensive potential, however, as one conceivably could make the case for Hassell being the best prep hitter available in this year’s draft.

5. Nick Gonzales, 2B, New Mexico State
All Gonzales has done is hit, tearing apart both the WAC and the Cape Cod League. So, while there are questions about whether his power will translate to the major league level, particularly since he’s mostly played in a hitter-friendly environment at New Mexico State, it’s perhaps foolish at this point to underestimate the sub-6-foot middle infielder. If nothing else, there’s a good chance he’ll become a solid regular with decent tools across the board.

6. Austin Hendrick, OF, West Allegheny High School (Pennsylvania)
Not sold on either Veen or Hassell, two left-swinging outfielders who are more line drive- and contact-oriented? Well, maybe Hendrick is the guy for you. He also hits from the left side, only power is his calling card, sometimes at the expense of contact. One could say he’s much more violent in his offensive approach.

7. Garrett Mitchell, OF, UCLA
MLB.com ranks Mitchell above Veen, Hassell and Hendrick, arguing the UCLA product has “perhaps the best collection of tools in this draft class.” He’ll likely remain in center field thanks to his foot speed and athleticism — a projection that boosts his stock — and his raw power ultimately could thrust him to another level offensively. Mitchell’s defense and stolen-base potential raise his floor, even if he never reaches his ceiling with his bat.

8. Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, Harvard-Westlake School (California)
Multiple scouts told The Athletic’s Keith Law that Crow-Armstrong is the best defensive outfielder in the class, with both good speed and a plus arm. That should raise his floor and make him a useful player even if his bat never fully develops. If the offense continues to improve, then, well, you’re talking about a legitimate leadoff hitter who someday might win a Gold Glove in center field. We’re talking star potential if everything aligns.

9. Heston Kjerstad, OF, Arkansas
Kjerstad can really impact the baseball. MLB.com argues he “offers the best left-handed power in the 2020 college class” and that only Torkelson boasts more pop among college bats. That alone should be enough to tantalize MLB teams, although there are questions about the rate at which he whiffs with such an aggressive offensive approach.

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