Back in February, I wrote about how there wasn’t going to be a Mock Draft on Sox Machine until June. Figured I would be mostly busy recapping what was happening on the collegiate and high school levels. Getting a chance to follow a local prospect in Ed Howard was something I looked forward to because it’s rare for a first-rounder to be in Chicago. Thanks to COVID-19, I’ve been mostly spending my time watching videos on YouTube and clips on Twitter to learn more about the incoming class of prospects.
That activity needs to ramp up as Major League Baseball has finalized the 2020 draft format with just five rounds held on June 10 and 11. Slot values will remain the same as last year giving the Chicago White Sox a bonus pool of $7,764,800. Any undrafted player can sign a bonus for up to $20,000. Drafted players will receive a bonus payment structure of up to $100,000 in 2020, and 50% remaining in 2021 and 2022. This bonus payment structure will carry over to the 2021 MLB Draft.
I’m publishing this Mock Draft as an exercise that will help me identify who is most likely going to be available for the Chicago White Sox at Pick 11. A lot of my influence in these picks is using the 2020 MLB Draft Top 100 Prospect Board that is available to our Patreon supporters. Also, the conversations I’ve had with other MLB Draft analysts and scouts.
Without further ado, here are my best guesses a month out from the draft.
Pick 1: Detroit Tigers – 1B Spencer Torkelson, Arizona State
It seems like a foregone conclusion that Detroit is selecting Spencer Torkelson first overall. Comparing him to last year’s third overall pick, Andrew Vaughn, Torkelson has more power but not as great of contact skills.
|Spencer Torkelson||Andrew Vaughn|
The Detroit Tigers will need a new offensive anchor soon, and Torkelson will be an excellent get for them.
Pick 2: Baltimore Orioles – 3B/CF Austin Martin, Vanderbilt
Baltimore would be selecting Austin Martin because he does a lot of things well. He’s good defensively in the infield and has the athleticism to cover ground in center field. Martin has plus contact skills and is a plus runner (55 to 60 grade). If Martin can find more power in his swing, he’s got a chance to be a terrific player no matter where the Orioles play him.
Pick 3: Miami Marlins – LHP Asa Lacy, Texas A&M
Asa Lacy was dominant in his four starts for the Texas A&M Aggies in 2020, only allowing nine hits and eight walks over 24 innings while racking an incredible 46 strikeouts. Watching him against New Mexico State, Lacy has the makings of being a successful MLB starter. The fastball is 60-grade (95 to 96 mph), and it pairs well with his slider that often reminds me of Carlos Rodon when he throws it. Changeup and command need more refinement, but Lacy proved on the field that he’s the top college starting pitcher of this class.
Pick 4: Kansas City Royals – 2B Nick Gonzales, New Mexico State
Last year, Nick Gonzales turned heads hitting .432/.532/.773 with 16 home runs. Then he hit .351/.451/.630 with seven home runs during the Cape Cod League.
In 18 games this shortened season, Gonzales hit 12 home runs. His slash line was a ridiculous .448/.610/1.155 (yes, that was his slugging percentage). Thus, solidifying a Top-5 pick standing for Gonzales. The only concern in his game is defense. Gonzales is not a shortstop and will stick at second base for whichever team selects him. If the Royals go this route, they can pencil in their future middle infield to be Gonzales and last year’s first-round pick, SS Bobby Witt Jr.
Pick 5: Toronto Blue Jays – RHP Emerson Hancock, Georgia
A popular preseason #1 pick, Emerson Hancock’s arsenal is impressive with a 60+ grade fastball (95-97 mph) that can hit triple digits at times paired with above-average slider and changeup.
Pick 6: Seattle Mariners – RHP Max Meyer, Minnesota
When talking to other people about this upcoming draft class, everyone raves about Max Meyer’s stuff. I’ve yet to come across anyone who didn’t say his slider is a 70 grade and is the best pitch in this draft class. The fastball velocity has a chance to be 70 grade, too (97 to 99 mph). His athleticism on the mound is another plus, and Meyer was featuring the changeup more frequently in his starts this season.
The one knock is his height. At just six feet tall, there might be a reliever risk associated with Meyer as his command and effectiveness wane later in games. If he can find a way to stay strong through the sixth inning and beyond, Meyer is another pitcher in this draft class that can help lead a rotation.
Center fielders Zac Veen and Garrett Mitchell are considerations for this pick, too.
Pick 7: Pittsburgh Pirates – LHP Reid Detmers, Louisville
The run of college starting pitchers continues with Reid Detmers to Pittsburgh. While Lacy, Hancock, and Meyer have a more impressive pitching arsenal, Detmers has the best command. Even though his fastball sits at 92 mph, Detmers just finds a way to post eye-opening strikeout numbers consistently. A large part of that is his curveball, which is a plus pitch.
Last year, Detmers racked up 167 strikeouts in 113.1 innings. In four starts this season, Detmers had 48 punchouts in just 22 innings.
Pick 8: San Diego Padres – CF Zac Veen, Spruce Creek HS (Florida)
I only got a chance to watch Zac Veen in-person once, but he was impressive, matching Austin Hendrick in the home run derby and playing well in center field. Five-tool gets thrown around a lot, but I do think Veen has that chance to earn that title. However, the same thing was said about former #1 overall pick Mickey Moniak (.252/.303/.439 in AA) and Oakland A’s first-rounder Austin Beck (.251/.302/.411 in A+). Neither has lived up to that potential, but people I’ve spoken to like Veen better. San Diego isn’t shy taking prep players in the draft, so I see this as a fit.
Pick 9: Colorado Rockies – RF Heston Kjerstad, Arkansas
The Rockies would prefer to have someone of the Lacy/Hancock/Meyer/Detmers group fall to them. Rumor has it they are hesitant to go prep arm with this pick, and the next best college starting pitcher on the board would be Tennessee’s LHP Garrett Crochet, but I think that’s a reach. Between UCLA’s Garrett Mitchell and Kjerstad, I like the fit better for Colorado taking Kjerstad. His power at Coors Field would be an excellent boost for a ballclub that needs to start thinking about life after Charlie Blackmon soon.
Pick 10: Los Angeles Angels – RHP Mick Abel, Jesuit HS (Oregon)
The Angels want to add pitching, and RHP Mick Abel is the best available pitcher on the board, according to FanGraphs and MLB Pipeline. There were concerns about velocity dips during his showcases last year. When Abel is on his game, the fastball sits 94-95 mph and arguably has the second-best curveball in the draft behind Detmers.
Pick 11: Chicago White Sox select . . .
On the 2020 MLB Draft Top 100 Board, the best prospect available is UCLA CF Garrett Mitchell. An athletic outfielder who can stick in center field with plus-speed and plus-arm. Offensively, Mitchell hasn’t tapped into the home run power some thought he had his senior year of high school.
A month away from the draft, I don’t think that’s the direction new Director of Amateur Scouting, Mike Shirley, will go. The early whispers I hear around the rumor mill is that the White Sox are showing more interest in high school prospects. That draft angle is a far cry from what the team has done since 2014, relying on college players in the first round. Still, if the draft plays out as this mock has, there is excellent prep talent available.
Jared Kelley, RHP, Refugio HS (Texas)
At the Under Armour Showcase, Jared Kelley had the best performance. Sitting at 95-96 mph gives him a 60-grade fastball, but it’s the changeup that has impressed scouts and analysts the most. It’s an advanced pitch for Kelley, which is a bit out of the norm for most prep pitchers. Typically, it’s a high-velocity fastball and super spin breaking pitches that gain the most attention. Eric Longenhagen at FanGraphs has Kelley’s changeup grade as currently a 60 with a future value of 70. Kelley’s breaking pitch needs more refinement, and I think moving to a slider to tunnel with his fastball would work best for him.
Ed Howard, SS, Mount Carmel HS (Illinois)
The hometown kid is a smooth defender at shortstop. Watching him this past summer, I compared what Howard was doing to CJ Abrams. I found Abrams to be inconsistent with this fielding and often would have happy feet when making his throws to first base. Howard is the opposite. Well-balanced, soft hands, great range to either side and does a terrific job of setting his feet with each throw.
The reason why Howard is not a Top-10 pick is because of his bat. He’s still pretty raw at the plate with inconsistent swings. While the contact and power skills will grade below average at the moment, the analysts I’ve spoken to are very impressed with how well Howard makes adjustments during a game. He’s still learning and doesn’t get the same opportunity as other high school prospects in facing high-quality pitching. There are no doubts he will get better with the bat, and paired with his defensive ability, Howard is a future everyday MLB starter at shortstop.
Tyler Soderstrom, C, Turlock HS (California)
If the White Sox contemplating a high school player in the first round wasn’t a big enough shock for you, how about a high school catcher? Last time the White Sox used a first-round pick on a high school catcher was back in 1994 when they selected Mark Johnson 26th overall.
So why consider Tyler Soderstrom? His swing.
Soderstrom is the opposite of Howard. Bat is far more polished than his defensive skills, and any team that picks Soderstrom would have to be patient if they want him to be a catcher long-term. Other positions Soderstrom has played are third base and the outfield. It’s a long shot for Soderstrom to be taken by the White Sox at Pick 11, but the more I watch Soderstrom, the more I’m impressed.
One month away from the draft, if I were in the White Sox draft room, my pick would be RHP Jared Kelley. There is a significant amount of risk for any team taking a high school pitcher, as we learned in our last Sox Machine Book Club meeting. The failure rate of high school arms drafted in the first or second round is 48%. That’s not taken into consideration if those pitchers are successful (career 10+ WAR) when they reach the majors.
So why take the risk? With more development, Kelley could be a potential frontline starter with a 97-98 mph fastball, a terrific changeup, and a slider as his third offering. There isn’t another pitcher remaining on the draft board who has that arsenal.
Remaining Mock Draft Picks:
12. Cincinnati Reds: CF Garrett Mitchell, UCLA
13. San Francisco Giants: RHP, Nick Bitsko, Central Bucks East HS (Pennslyvania)
14. Texas Rangers: RF Austin Hendrick, West Allegheny HS (Pennslyvania)
15. Philadelphia Phillies: C Patrick Bailey, NC State
16. Chicago Cubs: RHP Cade Cavalli, Oklahoma
17. Boston Red Sox: LHP Garrett Crochet, Tennessee
18. Arizona Diamondbacks: SS Ed Howard, Mount Carmel HS (Illinois)
19. New York Mets: CF Robert Hassell, Independence HS (Tennessee)
20. Milwaukee Brewers: RHP Cole Wilcox, Georgia
21. St. Louis Cardinals: CF Pete Crow-Armstrong, Harvard-Westlake HS (California)
22. Washington Nationals: RHP Slade Cecconi, Miami
23. Cleveland Indians: C Tyler Soderstrom, Turlock HS (California)
24. Tampa Bay Rays: RHP Bobby Miller, Louisville
25. Atlanta Braves: RHP Carmen Mlodzinski, South Carolina
26. Oakland Athletics: RHP Bryce Jarvis, Duke
27. Minnesota Twins: RHP Chris McMahon, Miami
28. New York Yankees: SS Jordan Westburg, Mississippi State
29. Los Angeles Dodgers: SS Nick Loftin, Baylor