The 2020 MLB Season is upon us and while there are major hurdles the league and its personnel must leap to get through the entire 60-game schedule, we will get a beginning to the campaign.

Considering the longest offseason of all-time and the dynamics that come with it for this season, let’s power rank every team in baseball.

1. Los Angeles Dodgers

It’s the best roster in baseball with two of the game’s top 5 position players in reigning NL MVP Cody Bellinger and former AL MVP Mookie Betts leading the way. The starting pitching might be a bit thin after Kenta MAeda was traded, Hyun Jin Ryu left via free agency and David Price opted out, but the re-signing of Alex Wood offers depth and young arms Julio Urias and Dustin May have a shot to help from the start this season.

Walker Buehler is primed to take over as the true ace of the staff, too, and while bullpen questions may remain, the addition of Blake Treinen and Brusdar Graterol could end up significant moves.

Ross Stripling is starting the season in the rotation, but if the club can add another quality arm Stripling can help out the bullpen down the stretch.

This is a juggernaut destined to get back to the World Series and the truncated schedule shouldn’t be much of an obstacle.

2. New York Yankees

Another very good roster, but the Yankees will be without Luis Severino this year and there are at least moderate concerns about the health stability of Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge.

The Yankees will mash and they might have the league’s best bullpen with Zack Britton, Tommy Kahnle, Adam Ottavino leading to Aroldis Chapman. If the rotation holds up behind Gerrit Cole, we could have the first Yankees-Dodgers World Series since 1981.

Houston Astros

The Astros lost their greatest advantage when Cole left for pinstripes, but Justin Verlander remains, Lance McCullers Jr. returns and the entire lineup remains intact. Aside from the bullpen, the main question here might be about how much the trash-can banging actually helped the Houston hitters.

I’m going to predict not a ton and another Astros division title, but with Zack Greinke and Verlander aging and with contracts up after 2021, and the pending free agency of outfielders Springer and Brantley, 2020 may be the last hurrah for their current core.

Whether that means they’ll be aggressive at the deadline or not remains to be seen, but there isn’t a lot left on the farm to go out and bring in impact players, so they may have to rely on what they have now to repeat in the west and get back to the World Series.

4. Washington Nationals

We can talk about the loss of Anthony Rendon all day if you’d like, but the defending champs boast the league’s best 1-2-3 rotation punch in Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin, and the bullpen gained Will Smith via free agency.

Starling Castro and Eric Thames add veteran help for the lineup and 21-year-old Juan Soto and 22-year-old Victor Robles are just scratching the surface. The Nationals are just as dangerous as a year ago.

5. Tampa Bay Rays

From a pure roster standpoint there are flashier clubs ranked behind them, but Kevin Cash is masterful at using his pieces and there are several young players trending up in their process, including shortstop Willy Adames and outfielder Austin Meadows.

If they stay healthy, the Rays’ top 3 starters — Charlie Morton, Blake Snell, and Tyler Glasnow — may be as good as any trip in the American League, and the Tampa bullpen led the American League in fWAR last year and everyone is back, led by Nick Anderson and Jose Alvarado.

6. Minnesota Twins

In a 162-game season, I’d pick the Twins to win the American League Central by 5-10 games. But they don’t have the impact rotation pieces Cleveland does, so I think the Twins are in for a season-long battle.

The key here for me the Twins’ bullpen which lacks names but performed very well in 2019 leading the AL in FIP, but it’s worth keeping an eye on some of the older players in that lineup, including Nelson Cruz and newly-acquired Josh Donaldson. It’s a short season, so the issue isn’t tiring down the stretch, but older players tend to get hurt more and Cruz is closer to 40 than 35 and Donaldson, 34, missed over 150 games to injury 2017-18.

Do they have the guns in the rotation for a deep playoff run? I don’t see it.

6. Atlanta Braves

The Braves aren’t quite as deep and veteran-laden as the Twins, but they have advantages in impact, starting with their rotation and MVP candidates Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuna Jr.

Atlanta’s key may be getting enough from an unproven young arm such as Kyle Wright and keeping Mike Foltynewicz healthy.

I look for Max Fried to take a big step forward this season, and the Braves’ catching tandem — Travis d’Arnaud and Tyler Flowers — is among the best in baseball.

8. Oakland Athletics

We used to say, yeah, they aren’t as talented as everyone else but they get the job done, kinda like the Rays. But from a pure talent standpoint, the A’s trail only the top 3 teams on this list.

Matt Chapman is an MVP candidate, Matt Olson is one the elite first baseman in the game, Marcus Semien is a top-level shortstop and this year’s rotation is more naturally gifted than any Bob Melvin has had.

If rookie lefty Jesus Luzardo shows he’s legit behind Sean Manaea — whom the club had for the final month only last season and still won 97 games — the A’s will challenge the Astros in the west.

One interesting situation to monitor on the field is left-hander AJ Puk, who is not ready to go to start the year, but could be a boost in some form in August.

Something to ponder as we watch these A’s in 2020: Where will Semien play in 2021? He’s a free agent at season’s end.

9. Cleveland Indians

Five years ago if you would have said Trevor Bauer and Core Kluber are no longer in Cleveland as of 2020, most would have replied “so much for that starting rotation.”

But Carlos Carrasco remains — and appears to be healthy — and both Mike Clevinger (30, 4.5 fWAR in 21 starts in 2019) and Shane Bieber (25, 5.6 fWAR in 33 starts) have effectively filled the gaps well.

Add to that the emergence of Adam Plutko and Jefry Rodriguez and the rotation is not only very strong again in Cleveland, but more sustainable than it’s been since the World Series run.

The Indians didn’t add a lot of help offensively, but the addition of Cesar Hernandez shores up a weak spot at second base and the additions of Domingo Santana and Franmil Reyes lengthen the lineup and bench.

The club has two MVP candidates in Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor, one of which is looking to rebound from a bit of an off year (Ramirez played 129 games and posted a 104 wRC+) and the other is playing for a contract. Lindor hits free agency after next season, suggesting this may be his final season in Cleveland if the Indians choose to move him rather than let him play out the string.

10. St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals aren’t among the 10 most talented rosters and in that regard do not belong ahead of divisional rival Cincinnati, but they won 91 games a year ago despite a down year for Paul Goldschmidt (116 wRC+, 2,9 fWAR | 5.2, 146 in 2018) and Carlos Martinez pitching out of the bullpen.

Not to mention the emergence of Jack Flaherty, who starts the year as the club’s ace after leading NL pitchers in fWAR (4.1) and ranking No. 2 in FIP after the All-Star break last season.

11. Cincinnati Reds

Lots of talent, not major holes in projected lineup, but they may lack rotation impact to put them over the top. Legit division contender and should score a lot of runs if they stay healthy.

12. New York Mets

Despite the loss of Noah Syndgergaard for the season, the Mets rotation boasts five mid-rotation or better talents led by Cy Young favorite Jacob deGrom. Marcus Stroman‘s recent injury puts a damper on that a bit, but he’s considered week-to-week and does not require surgery.

With Pete Alonso anchoring, the Mets’ lineup could be as daunting as any in recent years, but there are some ifs that serve as prerequisites, including a return-to-form by Robinson Cano.

13. Chicago Cubs

On paper, the Cubs should score runs, but the pitching staff is a lot of what-ifs and question marks with both performance and injury concern.

Keep an eye on Kris Bryant, a free agent after 2021, whom the Cubs may shop as early as this summer if they’re not in plain sight of a postseason berth in five weeks.

14. Philadelphia Phillies

Among the clubs outside the top 10, Philly might have the most upside. They were a .500 club last year, added Zack Wheeler and Did Gregorius, Andrew McCutchen is healthy to start the year (played just 59 games last season) and Joe Girardi is a significantly better puzzle master than his predecessor.

15. Texas Rangers

I’m high-man on Texas, and I’m fine with that. A year ago, the Rangers went 78-84, six games better than the division-rival Angels, and did so with Joey Gallo (paced for a 7-win season at the time) out for more than half the season.

General manager Jon Daniels added Kyle Gibson, Jordan Lyles and Kluber to a rotation that ranked No. 5 in the AL in fWAR last season, despite lacking a lot of impact performances beyond Mike Minor and Lance Lynn. the Rangers also boast multiple position players either on their way up or right in their prime, including Danny Santana (111 wRC+), Gallo, Willie Calhoun (110 wrC+) and Ronald Guzman.

16. Milwaukee Brewers

Still don’t see the starting pitching the Brewers need to do damage in October, but the lineup remains good and deep, led by former MVP Christian Yelich and the surging Keston Hiura, and the division isn’t exactly flush with flawless, runaway rosters.

17. Arizona Diamondbacks

I like Ketel Marte a lot, and liked him a lot before anyone else liked him at all, but I don’t buy his 7-win season as repeatable and the D-Backs didn’t do enough on the pitching front to lend confidence in competing for more than the No. 2 Wild Card. Madison Bumgarner and Starling Marte help, but they’re not stars and that’s what’s lacking in Phoenix.

18. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Yep, they have Mike Trout, and yes, they signed Anthony Rendon, an MVP candidate. But Rendon may start the year on the IL, and the Angels have questions marks all over the roster after that.

Albert Pujols is a shell of himself, Justin Upton is now 32 (33 in August) and showing some signs of slowing down (missed 99 games in 2019, posted 92 wRC+), and perhaps the tremendous wizardry at shortstop is taking its toll on Andrelton Simmons, too.

The good news for the Angels is Shohei Ohtani is ready to roll and the dude can hit and he can really, really pitch. The bad news is, Andrew Heaney is a No. 3 at best, and an injury risk. Dylan Bundy is a No. 4 at best and an injury risk. Griffin Canning, who might be the defacto No. 2, is not yet established and had a bit an elbow scare this week.

The re’s no pitching depth in the minors for Joe Maddon to go to, but Maddon himself might be the Halos’ biggest addition.

If I’m Gm Billy Eppler and owner Arte Moreno right now, I’m eyeing every impact starter in baseball – readily available or not — and offering anything in my organization outside Trout, Rendon, and prospect Jo Adell to try and add one. Otheewise, the long-term, pricey addition of Rendon, who is already 30, stumbles out of the blocks.

19. San Diego Padres

A very talented team just waiting for young arms to blow up, and that could start in 2020. Chris Paddack and Dinelson Lamet are ready to show they’re frontline arms to lead a staff, Garrett Richards will be good as long as he stays healthy and Cal Quantril has No. 3 written all over him.

The bullpen figures to be very good again and they start the season with a healthy Fernando Tatis Jr. The reliance on so many young players is the only reason why the Padres don’t rank 8-10 spots higher, but they do have that kind of upside in 2020.

20. Chicago White Sox

The White Sox don’t have the Padres’ depth just yet, but they might have as many or more high-impact talents. For every Tatis Jr and Manny Machado San Diego boasts, the White Sox have their Yoan Moncada, Yasmani Grandal, Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez, not to mention Lucas Golito at the top of a staff balanced by veterans Dallas Keuchel and Gio Gonzalez.

The South Siders have similar upside as the Padres, but come with more questions marks (pitching, overall depth) than the clubs ranked ahead of them to start 2020.

21. Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox are a mess. They traded Betts for Alex Verdugo ( a nice player, but one without Betts-level upside) and Chris Sale is out for the year, leaving the rotation to Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi and patchwork. The bullpen doesn’t look much more stable. They’ll score runs, but they’re going to need to threaten .500 this year.

22. Toronto Blue Jays

A team on the rise that will get Nate Pearson late in Week 1 of the season could be a nuisance to AL East rivals. They;re a year away, most likely, from even Wild Card contention, but are one of the clubs with a real shot should MLB and the PA agree on a 16-team playoff format before Opening Day.

Side Note: I hate changing the playoff structure this late. Doing so did not give fringe clubs a chance to consider their opportunity over the past month, likely leading to fewer trades, more focus on development and less interest in acquiring veteran free agents.

23. Colorado Rockies

I have no idea what it is the Rockies are doing. Neither do they.

There’s talent here and two top-10 players in the NL in Trevor Story and Nolan Arenado, but there are a lot of holes and it’s difficult to think the field staff and players buy into the brand right now.

24. San Francisco Giants

Do not know what the Giants think they are doing, but they seem stuck in the middle of rebuild and add veterans to stay relevant. Reeks of the Howard Lincoln-Chuck Armstrong led Mariners after Pat Gillick left in 2003.

25. Miami Marlins

Young talent starting to sprout — Sandy Alcantara, Caleb Smith, Pablo Lopez, Brian Anderson –and some sneaky veteran depth could get the Marlins out of the cellar trio in the league in 2020.

26. Pittsburgh Pirates

Chris Archer is out for the year, Gregory Polanco and Jameson Taillon are on the IL and after Josh Bell there doesn’t appear to be much firepower in the lineup.

The Bucs saving grace in 2020 is a future rotation including Taillon, Mitch Keller, Joe Musgrove joining forces this year, and the club is one year closer to the arrivals of Ke’BRyan Hayes’ bat and the overall games of Oneil Cruz and first-round pick Nick Gonzales.

27. Kansas City Royals

The Royals remains years from competing, but have several potential trade targets on which to keep an eye over the next six months, including White Merrifield, Danny Duffy, Trevor Rosenthal and Salvador Perez.

Otherwise, it’s a potential 40-loss season.

28. Seattle Mariners

Jerry Dipoto and Scott Servais are committed to continuing the development path, despite a 60-game season offering increased chances of a fluke postseason berth. Such consistency in approach to the rebuild is a microcosm of the differences between the current and previous front office and ownership.

It also appears, despite 2020 clipping their path a bit, the Mariners are on a faster track to being competitive than is typically foreseeable when clubs tear it all the way down the way they have.

29. Detroit Tigers

They have arms brewing in the minors to team up with Michael Fulmer and Daniel Norris in a few years, but 2020 is all about maximizing assets, so expect Matthew Boyd‘s name to come up in trade talks until he’s traded.

One thing to watch for with the Tigers this season is a healthy Miguel Cabrera, who will surpass 1700 RBI and could get to 2900 hits. He’s also 23 shy of 500 homers, but 23 in a 60-game stretch is prime Cabrera fire, not that of the 37-year-old version.

30. Baltimore Orioles

The O’s are still pretty early in their rebuild and had nothing of impact to trade to get a legitimate jump-start the way Dipoto and the Mariners did after the 2018 season, so this is going to take a while.

Baltimore has some pitching growing on the farm, namely Grayson Rodriguez and DL Hall, and their top prospect is catcher Adley Rutschman, among the top talents in all of baseball. That group should start showing up next season, but 2023 is probably the soonest the Orioles could be competitive again.…

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Yusei Kikuchi, LHP

Kikuchi displayed mid-rotation raw stuff a year ago, but reliever mechanics. He flashed a handful of times, but his command and the consistency of his secondaries was rarely a present combination for the southpaw. The result was a back-end starter that might ultimately be a middle reliever.

The club helped Kikuchi make some mechanical adjustments over the winter, however, and in his spring showing in March he sat 93-96 mph with a sharper slider and better command of everything.

The fix was essentially eliminating the pause at the top of his delivery, allowing a more fluid, consistent delivery, much easier to repeat, getting Kikuchi out front to release point on time with momentum. He was also over-striding at times a year ago and there were a few signs in the spring he’d cleaned up that, too.

It also seems to allow more violent lower-half work, producing better arm speed, and therefore the high range of Kikuchi’s velocity. A year ago, Kikuchi’s fastball averaged 92.9 mph per FanGraphs’ Pitch Info. If he can add a tick or more to that and attack the edges of the zone more effectively, everything else will play up and we’ll see a mid-rotation or better version.

He’s already a horse, so any kind of consistent production likely gets Kikuchi on a 200-inning pace, which in a shortened season won’t happen of course, but a strong 2020 could be harbinger for a big 2021.

PODCAST: Projecting Shed Long & Why Mariners Fans Should Watch the White Sox in 2020

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J.P. Crawford, SS

Crawford, too, entered the offseason needing to make some swing adjustments (plural) and he’s made at least one and was putting it to the test in the Cactus League when things were shut down in mid-March.

The idea is more balance and better timing, allowing Crawford to generate a little more pop, plus a hand position adjustment that could help the left-handed batter create a bit more loft.

Crawford showed good plate discipline and a reasonable 145 ISO for a defensive-minded shortstop, but there’s too much physical talent present (bat speed, hand-eye) to let his 2019 production stand.

If everything works by design, Crawford not only uses more of the field, makes more — and more valuable — contact, but may also show a bit of additional power in 2020. In a full sample, a .260/.340/.420 triple-slash isn’t out of the question.

Kyle Seager, 3B

Seager posted wRC+ marks of 108, 116, 127 and 115 his first four full years in the majors. In 2016, he jumped to 134 when he bashed 30 homers and hit .278/.359/.499 — all career highs. A year later, he dipped to 107, which was more in line with his first four seasons.

In 2018, his walk rate sank to a career-low six percent, his strikeout rate rose to a career-high 21.9% and it resulted in the worst year of his career by far. An 83 wRC+ and a .221/.273/.400 triple-slash was one of two outliers in Seager’s career. The other, a bit more subtle but still an outlier nonetheless, was the 134 he posted in ’16.

Seager has been a pull hitter his entire career, typically landing in the low-to-mid 40-percent range in pull rate, and using the opposite field less than a quarter of the time he put the ball in play.

It doesn’t help that Seager’s above-average power doesn’t support a severe fly ball swing (career: 44% FB, 8% IFFB ), so the former third-round pick may have been overdoing the power approach, particularly with two strikes.

Seager crowds the plate — he’s always wanted to pull the ball — and his swing is engineered to hit the ball in the air. That combination makes it awfully tough to handle hard stuff in unless he cheats a bit, which in turns exposes soft stuff away.

Last season, Seager employed a more line-drive friendly approach, which helps him keep the bat in the zone longer and get some value off balls in play that aren’t in the air to his pull side. His pull rate dipped five percent from 2018 and he used the middle and backside over 60% of the time he made contact.

He also stayed back better versus right-handed pitching, though the numbers didn’t pan out in his favor in just under 300 PAs against northpaws.

Seager was one of the more predictable left-handed bats in the American League the previous four years, making him a lot easier to defend, and therefore an easier hitter to attack from a pitching standpoint. All pitchers needed to do was stay out of his wheelhouse and make him deal with the outer edge.

The adjustments led to a terrific six-week period that began in late July. Sidebar: No, it had nothing to do with being moved down in the order by Scott Servais in early August. Seager was already raking, homering on July 22, hitting two balls hard in each of the next two games before homering again on July 25. The full results weren’t there thanks to some hard-hit outs, but he stayed hot until about September 5 — a two-homer game at Houston.

Seager may have found something legit here and it’s too bad we won’t see more than 60 games of it in 2020.  His new swing and game plan actually forces pitchers to attack him differently, and more specifically forces them to consider throwing fastballs middle-in a bit more often if he continues to hit the ball hard to center and left-center field on pitches middle-away.

If he finds more consistency for two months in 2020 it’ll be more of a return to prominence than a breakthrough, but Seager belongs in this discussion.

Justus Sheffield, LHP

Sheffield needs to find a way to get his slider more and avoid hitter’s counts. It starts with throwing more strikes, but digging a little deeper it may be about confidence in his fastball.

He threw a lot of two-seamers in March in attempt to limit the backspin and keep the ball in the ballpark more — and perhaps generate a few more ground balls. He sat 91-95 mph with the pitch, and still has the 93-96 mph four-seamer when he reaches back.

Most importantly, Sheffield seemed to have simplified his delivery a bit — a less aggressive leg kick for more control and balance — which helped him throw more strikes and hit his spots with more consistency. It was a small sample, like with Kikuchi, but there’s promise here that should excite Mariners fans.

Sheffield’s slider is above-average to plus and if he gets ahead in the count more he can offer a promising changeup to right-handed batters, who sat on the hard stuff last year and slugged .500 against him.

I expect more flashes of No. 2-3 stuff from Sheffield in the shortened schedule, and because the club may go with six starters for a decent portion of the season, both Kikuchi and Sheffield may show the high end of their velocity ranges more than otherwise could be expected.

CJ Edwards, RHP

Edwards signed for $950,000, which is a bargain considering the upside he brings to the table. The right-hander has a loose arm, athletic delivery and terrific arm speed, producing a fastball with life up to 97 mph, and a 70-grade power curveball. 

The key for Edwards is to throw more quality strikes with the heat; he’s never posted a walk rate under 10%, but he misses bats — career 32.8% strikeout rate and a 14.7% swinging strike rate — and despite turning 29 in September has but 176 big-league innings under his belt. 

Any fix that improves his control offers at least setup upside for Edwards in 2020, which would make him a prime trade candidate in August.

Bonus 1: Marco Gonzales, LHP

Gonzales isn’t likely to vastly improve upon the year he had in 2019 when he surpassed 200 innings for the first time in his career and was worth 3.7 fWAR in 34 starts.

But coming into the year I thought Gonzales might find a little more velocity in the fastball this year — not a lot, but maybe more toward where he was right after the trade from St. Louis to Seattle when he was sitting 90-92 mph  and occasionally touching 93, rather than living 88-90 mph as he did a year ago.

Everything he threw in 2019 was softer. The fastball was down 1.5 mph from 2018, the cutter was 2 mph slower, the changeup was down to 81.6 mph from 84.2 mph the year before and the curveball was 2 mph off the pace of the pitch the previous season.

This was partially by design, and while it’s not all that important the velocity ticks up with those other pitchers, the fastball is the key, since everything else works off the heater. Gonzales threw a lot more four-seam fastballs in 2017 than the last two seasons, which explains at least some of the dip in velocity. But even when he did throw it last season it often failed to scrape 90 mph.

Gonzales now is four full years off Tommy John surgery and three since he last had any symptoms. This may be the year Gonzales’ arm is strongest of any year in his entire career. It may not be intended, but we could see a little more out of the fastball if the lefty discovers the zip in side sessions and uses the four-seamer a little more in games.

And since everything works off the fastball, that can only be good for his curveball, cutter and changeup. He’s not going to change who he is, which is a command-and-feel sinkerballer with a plus changeup, but he had a tough time with the cutter last year and the effectiveness of the curveball works off the fastballs and the cutter.

If all else is equal to 2019, a little more bite on the heater makes Gonzales the equivalent of a 4-win starter in a league that had just 22 of them a year ago. That’s 22 in all of baseball. The American League had just eight such starters last season.

Bonus 2: Mitch Haniger, RF

Haniger has to get healthy and on the field consistently. That’s it. That’s the entire reason he’s mentioned here.

He wasn’t quite himself in 63 games prior to his season-ending injury last year, but his batted ball data and the scouting report match up pretty well, which suggests his time was coming.

Haniger was swinging under fastballs more than usual last year and that led to more pitcher’s counts, more strikeouts and more balls in play off offspeed pitches in defensive situations. He was also a bit unlucky.

Still, he smacked 15 homers — a 40-HR pace — and continued to draw walks at a high rate of 10.6%.

The only question is the health. Can he get back in 2020 for a significant enough amount of plate appearances to post confidence-building numbers heading into the offseason?

Starting camp this past week on the 60-day IL isn’t a great sign, but it doesn’t seem like it surprised anyone.


The Seattle Mariners have completed the process of their 2020 MLB Draft class by signing all six players, including top picks Emerson Hancock and Zach DeLoach. It’s clear at this stage the Mariners didn’t punt parts of the draft as it appeared was plausible after they went down the consensus board with every Day 2 pick … but we’re not here to discuss that just yet.

First, let’s do some firsts, bests and comps for the club’s draft class.

Most Likely All-Star
Emerson Hancock

By many accounts the top pitcher in the draft class and perhaps the safest best among all first-round arms to reach at least a mid-rotation floor. But there’s upside here, too, perhaps all the way to No. 1 starter. He’s built like a frontline arm, has four quality pitches and no significant issues throwing strikes, locating, tunneling the secondaries with the fastball or repeating his delivery.

Hancock could be part of 2022 or 2023 Mariners rotation that also boasts fellow first-round picks Logan Gilbert and George Kirby.

First Bat to the Majors
Zach DeLoach

The club’s second-round pick projects to hit for some average and showed solid plate skills and contact ability that combine for projectable on-base marks in pro ball.

The bat speed and strength DeLoach possesses suggests more power may be in the offing with the proper swing adjustments, which would only help his case for moving through the minors faster than any other bat in the six-player class.

Keenan, the Mariners’ fourth-round selection, isn’t far behind here, however. The biggest difference between the two overall is the defensive value and athleticism DeLoach brings versus Keenan’s likely limits to first base, but bat vs. bat it wouldn’t surprise anyone if either hitter reached the majors first, though DeLoach has the much better shot at a regular role.

First Arm to the Majors

The No. 6 overall pick pitched in the SEC, amateur baseball’s highest level of competition, and displayed plenty of stuff and enough polish to make this an easy choice considering the rest of the club’s pitching class is upside-based.

Barring injury snags, Hancock should be on a similar path as Gilbert.

Best Fastball

The right-hander has touched 99 mph and sits comfortably 93-96 with relative ease and big-league control and command.

Best Curveball

It’s not the former Georgia star’s best present secondary pitch but it’s further along than that of CB-round-B pick Connor Phillips, who is a close runner-up.

Best Slider

The best of Hancock’s two breaking balls is his slider, an 82-86 mph late breaker that plays well off his fastball.

Best Changeup

The most advanced of Hancock’s offpseed pitches is his mid-80s changeup that has proven to be a swing-and-miss offering. He’s comfortable throwing it a lot and can keep it in the strike zone as an early-count weapon.

Best Power

Keenan’s raw power sits somewhere above 60-grade, suggesting a full-season max-out in the 30-HR range.

Best Hit Tool
Kaden Polcovich was the club’s third-round pick on the strength of packing a solid hit tool into his equipment bag.

Led by a short, contact-oriented swing he’s learning to operate at higher efficiency rates, Polcovich enters pro ball equipped to continue the trend of high-quality plate appearances. He’s not going to walk a lot, but he’s also not going to strike out much and will find the barrel enough to hit for average. It’s a poor-man’s Nick Madrigal profile.

DeLoach has more upside in this area, but Polcovich has the present advantage.

Fastest Runner
DeLoach is no burner, but he uses his above-average speed well in the field and on the bases, giving him a slight edge over Polcovich for the honors.

Best Athlete
DeLoach edges Taylor Dollard and Polcovich here, thanks to average or better speed and overall physical tools.

Comps, Comps and More Comps

Round 1, No. 6: Hancock, RHP
I’ve gotten some Jake Peavy and James Shields comps for Hancock, and my own profile comp is Jack Flaherty, the current ace of the St. Louis Cardinals. Another one I have heard is Carlos Carrasco. Also: Chris Carpenter, Matt Garza, Jordan Zimmerman.

Keep in mind when folks find comps for players, it’s about the ceiling, both of the prospect and the comp itself, and that comping a prospect to a Hall of Famer just doesn’t happen very often, including right out of the draft before a prospect has a day logged as a pro.

Round 2, No. 43: DeLoach, OF
The most interesting one I heard was Kole Calhoun, not because it was the strongest or even the best, but because of the reason why.

Calhoun, always thought to be a right fielder, lacked the power of corner bat. Despite his 17 homers at Arizona State his junior year, scouts saw the numbers as a product of the bat (this was before the bat change in college baseball) and thought the hit tool was Calhoun’s best bet, but with a chance to get to average or better power — which Calhoun did. That’s DeLoach in 2020, but perhaps with a better tried and true skill set that projects safer than Calhoun’s.

I’ve also heard Denard Span — like DeLoach, an average center field glove with limited present power that relies on hitting, getting on base and solid skills across the board rather than wowing with one tool. DeLoach has the advantage of more raw power he could tap into, however.

Competitive Balance Round B, No. 64: Phillips, RHP
The most promising — and optimistic — comp on Phillips is Rick Porcello. Phillips is quite raw, however, and while he has comparable athleticism there’s probably not as much room to grow as a Porcello comp suggests.

Sound comps include Ian Kennedy, David Robertson, Daniel Hudson, Luke Gregerson, Jeremy Hellickson and Jeremy Guthrie.

Perhaps my favorite comp is Matt Shoemaker. Phillips tops out in the 93-96 mph range but if he’s to start could settle into the low-90s with average or better command, relying on solid-average secondaries and command, but perhaps with one plus offspeed pitch, which is what Shoemaker has done his entire career as a quality No. 4 starter.

Yes, there are some reliever comps in there — and I don’t really see the Robertson comp in any way — but if Phillips ends up being as valuable as any of these comps it’ll be a good pick by the Mariners.

Round 3, No. 78: Polcovich, UT
I’ve heard some David Eckstein comps, but I think Polcovich is more like Nick Punto, Ryan Theriot or Emilio Bonifacio in terms of skill. Eckstein wasn’t just short, he relied more on instinct and smarts at the plate than Polcovich will have to and the Mariners’ third-rounder has a clear strength and swing value advantage.

Round 4, No. 107: Keenan
Keenan, who likely moves to first base and could see a lot of time at DH as a big leaguers, has average or better hitting tools, including the potential for plus power.

On the upside, Lucas Duda and Luke Voit serve as physical and profile comps. On the profile side, Logan Morrison fits, too.

Adam Lind and Justin Bour also have been mentioned. I really like the Mike Napoli comp, but that’s also on the upside — and yes, I know, Napoli is a right-handed batter.

My favorite comps for Keenan are Eric Hinske and Garrett Jones.

Round 5, No. 137: Dollard, RHP

Dollard has four pitches. The fastball and slider lead the way, followed by his changeup and curveball, in that order. He’ll need more balance to remain a starter but all four project well enough to suggest legitimate promise.

The right-hander served as a reliever for his first two years at Cal Poly but was terrific in four starts in 2020, covering 27 innings and posting a 36-4 K/BB ratio. And before you get all “Cal Poly? They don’t play anybody,” take note: Dollard faced UConn, BYU, Michigan and Baylor this year, and Poly is a strong West Coast program, among the better ones outside the Power 5 conferences.

Dollard drew a lot of uninspiring comps from area scouts, but there were a few worth mentioning — and I really think scouts are putting too much stock in the fact Dollard made just four starts.

Kevin Correia was a fun one to check int.o. Correia pitched for parts of 13 seasons in the majors and at his best was  3-win starter for the San Diego Padres. He made 221 starts and 137 relief appearances. Dollard throws harder, but it’s very much a similar profile — average or above-average fastball (keep in mind Correia began his career in 2003 when the average fastball was in the 89-91 mph range, not 93-94 like it is now.

Other comps: Kevin Slowey, Jake Westbrook, former Mariners righty Scott Bankhead, Jon Garland, and Storm Davis.

The best comp I heard was Scott Williamson, a former reliever for the Cincinnati Reds. Dollard is taller and has a better chance to start long-term, but Williamson was athletic and in his prime touched the mid-90s and relied on a slider and changeup. Even the pitch mix is similar.…

The 2020 MLB Draft has come and gone — thanks to the owners cutting 35 rounds off the back end of the entire event — which means it’s time to have a little fun.

Who’s got the best fastball? Curveball? Who will make the majors first?

All of that and more in some bests and firsts of the draft.

*None of the below players have signed

Most Likely MVP
1. Spencer Torkelson, 1B — Tigers
2. Zac Veen, RF — Rockies
3. Austin Martin, SS — Blue Jays

Most Likely Cy Young
1. Emerson Hancock, RHP — Mariners
2. Asa Lacy, LHP — Royals
3. Max Meyer, RHP — Marlins

First Bat to the Majors
1. Torkelson, 1B — Tigers
2. Nick Gonzales, SS — Pirates
3. Martin, SS — Blue Jays

Day 2
1. Daniel Cabrera, OF — Tigers
2. Freddy Zamora, SS — Brewers
3. Zach DeLoach, OF — Mariners

First College Starting Pitcher to the Majors
1. Reid Detmers, LHP — Angels
2. Tanner Burns, RHP — Indians
3. Hancock, RHP — Mariners

Day 2
1. CJ Van Eyk, RHP — Blue Jays
2. Burl Carraway, LHP — Cubs
3. Chris McMahon, RHP — Rockies

First High School Bat to the Majors
1. Robert Hassell, OF — Padres
2. Austin Hendrick, RF — Reds
3. Veen, RF — Rockies

Day 2
1. Isaiah Greene, OF — Mets
2. Petey Halpin, CF — Indians
3. Blaze Jordan, 1B — Red Sox

First High School Starting Pitcher to the Majors
1. Nick Bitsko, RHP — Rays
2. Mick Abel, RHP — Phillies
3. Justin Lange, RHP — Padres

Day 2
1. Alex Santos, RHP — Astros
2. Jared Kelley, RHP — White Sox
3. Daxton Fulton, LHP — Marlins

Most Likely Batting Champ
1. Martin, SS — Blue Jays
2. Gonzales, SS — Pirates
3. Hassell, OF — Padres

Most Likely HR Champ
1. Torkelson, 3B — Tigers
2. Aaron Sabato, 1B — Twins
3. Jordan Walker, 3B — Cardinals

Best Fastball
1. Lacy, LHP — Royals
2. Nick Bitsko, RHP — Rays
3. Justin Lange, RHP — Padres

Best Curveball
1. Carraway, LHP — Cubs
2. Zach McCambley, RHP — Marlins
3. Detmers, LHP — Angels

Best Slider
1. Meyer, RHP — Marlins
2. Clayton Beeter, RHP — Dodgers
3. Lacy, LHP — Royals

Best Chanegup
1. Hancock, RHP — Mariners
2. Garrett Crochet, LHP — White Sox
3. Jared Schuster, LHP — Braves

Best Athlete
1. Austin Martin, SS — Blue Jays
2. Masyn Winn, SS/RHP — Cardinals
3. Meyer, RHP — Marlins

Best Defensive Player
1. Pete Crow-Armstrong, CF — Mets
2. Alika Williams, SS –Rays
3. Ed Howard, SS — Cubs


The Mariners selected Georgia right-hander Emerson Hancock with the No. 6 pick on Day, and under GM Jerry Dipoto the Seattle Mariners have shown a strong tendency to select college players in the MLB Draft, especially when it comes to the Top 5 rounds.

Expect that to change a bit on Day 2 this year.

Dipoto has overseen four drafts with the Mariners, three with current scouting director Scott Hunter. During those four years, the club has selected just two prep players before Round 6 — Joe Rizzo in Round 2 in 2016 and Sam Carlson in the second round in 2017.

The 2020 Draft is a little bit different:

  • It’s merely five rounds, rather than 40-50 it’s been the last several years.
  • The bonus pool for 2020 was locked in at 2019 rates and, obviously, sliced to five rounds worth.
  • Clubs didn’t get a chance to see players extensively, despite a month of the college season taking place before being cancelled.
  • Prep players have had to rely on video and data reporting.
  • Clubs have had to rely on that video and data, plus scouting info gleaned last spring and summer.

Why would Seattle be more prep heavy in a college heavy draft class?

It’s actually not that college heavy. All classes are heavier college than high school, and just about any way it’s diced up it comes out the same: college over high school. But in a year when owners are trying to avert risk, pinch pennies and think even more about the bottom line than ever before, college players are likely to be over-drafted.

For example: Most analysts have Aaron Sabato, the slugger from North Carolina, as a Top 40-60 pick, but not a first-round talent, yet it appears the Texas Rangers have zeroed in on him at No. 14. Jordan Westburg, a college shortstop who’ll move to third base in pro ball is another likely to go late in Round 1, but generally receives second-round grades. Arizona C Austin Wells and Arkansas SS Casey Martin are two others likely to go in Round 1 for reasons not based on pure talent and/or pool manipulation.

While this isn’t unheard of in previous drafts, this strategy is typically reserved for clubs attempting to push some of their bonus pool to later picks, rather than the big splash in Round 1, rather than to avert risk on the player himself.

This strategy will not end after the first round, either. Clubs are still expected to prefer college players more than ever well into Day 2.

The result is the value in the compensation round and beyond is high school talent, more than it otherwise would have been, and more than the last four classes.

Key prep prospects that could be passed on in Round 1  and become great values after that include Texas products RHP Jared Kelley from Refugio High School and two-way star
Masyn Winn from Kingwood High School.

My draft board includes 14 high schools players between No. 42 and 64 and 22 high school prospects between 42 and 80. When the ratio is near half, it’s a strong high school lean, compared to most classes, and there are large pockets after Round 1 where the prep talent is the clear value.

What Seattle has done in recent years is go college for the overwhelming majority of the picks inside the top 5 rounds, then venture out and take some shots at high school players. Carlson represents the only over-slot upside play at the prep level in the Dipoto era. The club went aggressively over slot at $2 million to get a player many believed was a Top 25 talent.

After the first round, Seattle selects at Nos. 43, 64, 78, 107 and 137. If their top pick is a slot player we may see some fancy footwork at 43 and 64 to try and take advantage of the flexibility they created with acquiring the extra pick from Milwaukee in the Omar Narvaez deal and the fact many clubs are looking to avert risk, leaving high school talent on the board.

I don’t expect a high-school heavy draft in general from Dipoto, Hunter and the Mariners, just significantly and notably more so than in previous drafts.

No matter the strengths and weaknesses of the players in a given class, or the value of the class as a whole, every club has an opportunity every June to gain ground on the clubs in front of them and put more space between themselves and the organizations behind them.

The Mariners, even in a five-round draft, have that inherent chance. But they also have a chance to take a few risks on prep prospects and, as I said on Baseball Things Wednesday morning, take the deep three-ball for the win, rather than looking for the push.

The buzz is Seattle wants to do something unique early on Day 2, which likely means prep talent to some extent.

As other clubs lay up, Seattle should be going for it. And it appears they will.


With this year’s MLB Draft being just five rounds, it’s quite easy to go through the entire set, check my board and lay out best-case, worst-case scenarios for all six Seattle Mariners picks.

So, that’s exactly what I did.

Note: These are not projected picks, merely best-case/Worst-case scenarios based on talent and general player projections. I did not refer to my CT&P (club trends & preferences) for this for any club, including Seattle. So if you see a player and think, “hey, fine, but I’d rather the Mariners took a little more risk here to try and get more upside” the truth is they might very well be able to do so.

One more time for those in the back — this is NOT a mock draft.

Round 1 / No. 6

Spencer Torkelson and Austin Martin have virtually no shot to get to the Mariners, but those chances rise above zero for everyone else, including the three top college arms in the class.

Best-Case Pick: Asa Lacy, LHP — Texas A&M
Lacy has drawn comparisons to James Paxton, but is noticeably more fluid, despite still lacking ideal athleticism, and will enter pro ball with a slightly better delivery and breaking ball.

Lacy likely remains a near-slot signing beyond the Top 5 and it’d be shocking to see him get beyond Toronto, but if he does, Seattle is sitting there waiting to pounce.

The Mariners have recently shown an affinity for a wider repertoire from college pitchers, and Lacy has that going for him, too, with two above-average breaking balls led by a plus slider, and a changeup with a good chance to develop.

On the downside of this pick, Seattle could watch their preferred five go off the board before they get a shot. With Torkelson and Martin pretty much out of the question entirely, Lacy, Emerson Hancock and Zac Veen are likely next on Seattle’s board in some order, assuming none of the three sit in the club’s top two.

The Mariners, in this case, would be hoping for Miami (3), Kansas City (4) or Toronto (5) to select Nick Gonzales, Max Meyer or Reid Detmers in order to give them what they want.

The Wild Card here is Hancock. Clubs have expressed at least preliminary concern about his medicals, though it sounds to me like clubs that rely more heavily on data for pitchers are the ones showing the most concern as the draft nears, and it has little to do with his health.

Hancock’s fastball is more of a sinker than a swing-and-miss offering with life at the top of the zone, which suggest a more limited ceiling, despite its velocity easily into the mid-90s. However, I have seen signs of upstairs fastball action from Hancock, including some arm side run, so I’m not entirely convinced clubs should be hung up on the pitch data here.

Seattle is typically one of those clubs that lean heavily on pitch data, so there’s a chance Hancock is not in their Top 5 and instead prefer Max Meyer. If Torkelson, Martin, Lacy and Veen are the first four picks, Seattle will get a shot at either of the two top college right-handers in the class.

And if that’s the worst-case scenario, Seattle is going to be fine here.

Worst-Case Pick: Emerson Hancock, RHP
I’m a firm believer in development, and that includes pitch development. If Hancock’s fastball is a real concern long-term, making some changes to it can be part of the evaluation process. He already owns a plus to plus-plus changeup and two average or better breaking balls. Instead of wondering if his sinker will miss enough bats, perhaps the question to ask should be centered on whether or not it’s feasible to re-grip the pitch in order to generate more backspin, or to simply try and turn the sinker into a dominant ground ball offering.

Round 2 / No. 43

Assuming Seattle goes near-slot in one direction or the other at No. 6, 43 could the most intriguing selection for the club this year because of the depth in the class overall, and the fact they have an extra pick thanks to the Omar Narvaez trade.

It would be easy to go college arm again here, but there’s a good chance the value here will be on the prep side. Jerry Dipoto, Scott Hunter and company will have an opportunity to take an over-slot player here if a top-30 pick slides but wants first-round money.

Best-Case Pick: Masyn Winn, SS/RHP — Kingswood HS (Texas)
Winn is just 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds but everything he does is with elite energy. That energy plays out in all facets of his game, including above-average raw power at the plate and his two-pitch arsenal that includes a fastball up to 98 mph and 65-grade curveball.

Scouts I talk to prefer him as a shortstop for now, where he projects at least average with a chance to be terrific, but admit he’s an interesting two-way opportunity that may develop in both roles.

Even if we ignore the mound ability, this is the type of player Seattle has very few of right now; considerable up-the-middle defensive tools with lightning quick hands and a feel for the game that suggests his bat will develop.

I have Winn in my Top 40 and I got several top 30 votes from checkers back in early May.

Worst-Case Pick: Gage Workman, 3B — Arizona State
I’m not nearly as high on Workman as some, but he’s interesting because he’s young for a college-eligible prospect and is a legit switch hitter, though he’s markedly better from the left side. The problem is it’s all projection. Clubs will have to trust their scout’s eyes on Workman, which isn’t a bad thing, but he lacks production, increasing the risk, especially this high.

Workman could be an under-slot pick at 43, but I’m not convinced that would be helpful unless the No. 6 pick requires a larger-than-slot bonus, because No. 64, the club’s next selection, isn’t likely to offer a player worthy of top 40 money.

One possible exception, however, is Hoover HS (Ala.) outfielder Robby Ashford, a two-sport star who’s committed to Oregon to play quarterback.

To get him to skip football, it may require as much as $3 million — essentially top-20 money. But how great would it be if the Mariners added a 6-foot-4 toolsy outfielder with big upside including power and a chance to stick in center, all while stealing a QB from the Ducks? Unless you’re  a Ducks fan, of course.

Workman could project similarly to Kyle Seager‘s prime at the plate and offer above-average to plus defense. He’s a third-round player for me, but so was Seager in a good draft 11 years ago, and Workman is bigger and more athletic.

Competitive Balance B / No. 64

Best-Case Pick: Isaiah Greene, OF — Corona HS (Calif.)
Green is an athletic outfielder with the speed and arm to project in center, but it’s the hit tool that sells clubs on Green as high as the comp round. He’s a top-50 player for most and if he adds strength and develops even average power there’s a chance at a borderline all-star in the mold of an Angel Pagan, who put up 4.6 and 4.9 fWAR seasons in his prime, or a Michael Brantley, who has had a nice, long career and is still hitting.

Worst-Case Pick: Zach McCambley, RHP — Coastal Carolina
McCambley touches 98 mph — 92-95 as a starter — with a power curveball. He’s just over 6-feet tall and scouts haven’t seen a consistent third pitch, but my biggest concern is the delivery. The right-hander doesn’t use his lower half well and appears to put a lot of torque on the arm, and that’s the reason the reliever concerns are more than real.

At this spot, picking a fringe starter that likely ends up in the bullpen might make sense for the Mariners, especially if they get here behind slot pace, but McCambley isn’t without solid upside, and in the bullpen he likely moves quickly.

Round 3 / No. 78

Best-Case Pick: Kyle Nicolas, RHP — Ball State
Nicolas would rank much higher, but control and command are below average despite a small-sample of improvement before the season was shut down in March.

He’s got starter size at 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds and pitches comfortably at 92-96 mph, but he’s shy of a complete arsenal, offering a fringe-average hard slider but a changeup not ready for pro ball.

Still, at 78 this is good value and about the best Seattle could expect.

Worst-Case Pick: Nick Yorke, SS — Archbishop Mitty HS (Calif.)
No, Seattle hasn’t scouted the west heavily — or well, for that matter — in the Dipoto era, but that doesn’t change what we’re doing here.

Yorke probably belongs in Round 4 or 5, but Yorke is a potential under-slot risk worth taking at 78, thanks to physical tools that may produce average pop. He leads with his ability to make consistent hard contact and is already learning to generate more leverage. He’s likely a second baseman if he remains on the dirt, but I love the idea of pushing him to center field from the get-go and trying to take advantage of the instincts.

One scout I talked to doesn’t love how much effort it appears to take from Yorke to field ground balls and make transfers, adding it doesn’t often look natural and his hands don’t seem to fit the middle infield.

For me, there’s not a large difference between the No. 75 player in this class and No. 100, so I can be convinced Yorke is better than Nicolas.

Round 4 / No. 107

Best-Case Pick: Patrick Reilly, RHP — Christian Brothers Academy (NJ)
Reilly offers size at 6-foot-4 and 208 pounds and a fastball that chased down the mid-90s when scouts saw him last summer and fall. He’s used a fierce work ethic and athleticism to put himself in draftable territory and looks like a terrific value at 107.

He offers a projectable curveball and life on the fastball.

I have Reilly at No. 81, while others have him outside the Top 100, so if I happen to be closer or Reilly agrees to an under-slot deal, he’s not even going to be around at this point.

Worst-Case Pick: Kevin Abel, RHP — Oregon State
Abel starred in the 2018 College World Series as the Beavers won it all. He’s had lower back stiffness at times and then was overused by most standards his freshman year and had elbow surgery last spring. He wasn’t set to return until at least May of this season.

He’s 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds and projects as a command-and-feel right-hander that will have to work to get back his low-90s velocity and ability to locate. Abel also has a 55 curveball and 60 changeup.

If you’re the player here, you might have already told clubs you’re leaning heavily toward coming back to school in order to enter the draft healthy with more track record on which to lean. But if he’s signable, Abel represents the low-end of what Seattle can expect at No. 107.

Washington right-hander Stevie Emanuels received consideration here, too.

Round 5 / No. 137

Best-Case Pick: Daniel Susac, C — Jesuit HS (Calif.)
Susac, the younger brother of former big-league backstop Andrew Susac, offers well above-average athleticism for the catcher position which gives scouts hope he can end up at least average defensively. He’s a project both behind the plate and with the bat and he’s a bit old for a prep pick, but there are tools that profile out, including a chance at above-average power.

Worst-Case Pick: Elijah Cabell, OF — Florida State
Cabell offers big raw power and some plate skills, but chases a bit above his hands and the swing can get long, leading to high strikeout totals. He’s a fringe-average defender in a corner, albeit with a plus arm, but he’ll have to shorten up and squeeze his zone to hit big-league pitching.

The tools are intriguing, however, and despite the likelihood Seattle takes advantage of the prep class on Day 2, Cabell represents a solid worst-case scenario in terms of available talent.

One common theme building around the ‘sphere is the Seattle Mariners should prefer the player with the most upside at No. 6 overall in the 2020 MLB Draft, and that Louisville left-hander Reid Detmers doesn’t meet the standard, particularly when compared to other prospects that may be available, such as Minnesota right-hander Max Meyer, New Mexico State infielder Nick Gonzales and Oklahoma right-hander Cade Cavalli.

From recent conversations, I’m starting to believe otherwise.

I think it goes without saying — but I’ll say it anyway — there is at least a semi-consensus Top 5 in this class, in some order: Spencer Torkelson, Austin Martin, Asa Lacy, Emerson Hancock, and Zac Veen. After that, a group including Gonzales, Detmers, Gonzales, Cavalli, and rep righties Mick Abel and Jared Kelly seems to be the harmonious consent.

I’m creating my personal board from a Seattle Mariners standpoint — I shared the first draft on Zoom Wednesday night — but a discussion Thursday morning with an area scout and a check session with another has changed my mind on where Detmers fits.

First, let’s discuss the upside and risk of the other prospects generally considered in this range, using rankings and mock drafts.

Nick Gonzales, 2B — New Mexico State

Gonzales, a college shortstop, likely slides to second base — or even left field for some clubs — but has a quick-moving hit tool and some scouts see at least average power, even if he’s limited after that. We could be talking about a .300/.375/.450 hitter with solid-average defense and base value. The downside is the power, but more and more clubs are convinced he’s a 30-40 double, 12-15 home run bat, where the over-the-fence pop could spill over in an environment similar to 2019.

The most common comp for Gonzales is Milwaukee Brewers first-rounder Keston Hiura, but I’ve heard some Ian Kinsler and Aaron Hill comps, too, and both had multiple 4-fWAR seasons. I don’t think Gonzales ends up as good defensively, but that’s what a handful of scouts thinks of Gonzales’ hit tool and potential for meaningful power.

Gonzales’ upside probably looks something like that — a 4-5 win player in his prime.

Cade Cavalli, RHP — Oklahoma

Cavalli was a two-way talent until this spring when he focused solely on pitching. He’s up to 98 mph and firmly sits 93-95 with the fastball, and complements with two breaking balls, both of which flash big-league average or better. Scouts tend to favor the slider, an upper-80 out pitch, but the curveball is a hard, tight-spinning version, which Cavalli can bury or throw for strikes.

Cavalli doesn’t have a lot of miles on the arm, which is a plus, but his fastball movement is inconsistent. An adjustment may be necessary to get enough fastball value to use his other three pitches, including an improving changeup.

I’m a huge fan of Cavalli, who is a very good athlete, but there have been some ongoing back issues that will understandably concern clubs. He comes with a clean delivery and some projection left, too.

Cavalli brings No. 2 upside.

The Prep Arms

Kelly has the best velocity in the prep class, touching triple digits and living in the 94-97 mph range, while Abel may have the most projectable profile of any arm in the class, starting with very good athleticism and comparable present stuff.

Kelly’s changeup is more advanced than Abel’s, which in some draft rooms will give him the nod — especially this year as clubs look to mitigate risk more than ever. The questions on Abel include where his fastball sits right now — he was 91-94 mph last spring, reached 97 over the summer in short stints, but didn’t get a chance to pitch in 2020 to put on a display.

For me, neither player makes a lot of sense at No. 6, even if the pool savings exceed $1 million, but each brings No. 2 upside with a chance at even more than that. Of course, they come with more risk, too, and are inherently further away from the majors.

Max Meyer, RHP — Minnesota

Meyer is an athletic sub-6-foot right-hander with the best two-pitch combo in the class — an exploding fastball into the triple digits, holding mid-90s deep into games, and a hard, 89-93 mph slider that received a few 75 grades.

He commands both pitches well enough to pitch out of the bullpen in the majors right now. His changeup remains a work-in-progress, but shows promise as he develops command of it.

Size is a factor here, and while it doesn’t scare me, the Mariners, and other clubs, may put a higher premium on that risk, especially with their top pick. I’m more concerned with the development of a third pitch so he doesn’t experience issues finishing off batters and end up building deep pitch counts.

Meyer’s upside may include some No. 1 starter profiles.

Now, Detmers, contrary to every pitcher noted above that projects into the conversations — and we can add Tennessee lefty Garrett Crochet and Llano High School right-hander Justin Lange to this convo, too — doesn’t exceed mid-90s heat, nor does he bring much physical projection.

So how in the world can he make as much sense for Seattle at No. 6?

For one, there’s not a lot of risk in taking Detmers. He’s going to pitch in the majors, as a starter, and probably somewhere in front of the No. 5 starter. Relatively speaking, because he’s a pitcher, he carries more risk than Gonzales, but far less than the other arms noted above.

His upside is being slept on, however, and it seems the reason is because many want the big fastball and physical tools that suggest the prototypical frontline starting pitcher.

Side Note: Folks using size to curb a college player’s upside always burns me, especially with pitchers. We’ve learned this lesson, over and over, so I’m not sure why it exists in conversation anymore. Either the stuff and projected performance carry big upside or they don’t. A player lacking certain size doesn’t dictate the upside, it presents reasonable concerns of risk of injury and durability, and factors in heavily to projections, but not upside. Meyer is an example right here in this class.

Look at last year’s fWAR leaders among starting pitchers. In the top 25 are Jacob deGRom, Zack Greinke, Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo, Marcus Stroman, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Marco Gonzales, all 6-foot-2 and under.

Reid Detmers, LHP — Louisville

Guess who else is 6-foot-2? Detmers.

Detmers owns the draft’s best curveball, a shapely hammer in the 71-74 mph range. The velocity is what generally pushes away the doubters. Detmers sits 90-92 mph and is up to 94. His fastball, however, plays up thanks to deception and the consistency and value of his secondaries, which also includes an average changeup with a chance to be plus, and a slider he could use more in pro ball to get inside to right-handed batters.

He also shows a bulldog mentality, ultra pitchability, and leadership.

He profiles as a No. 3 starter. Don’t let anyone suggest mid-rotation is bad. That is, by definition, a No. 3 starter, and they’re typically worth 3.5-4.5 wins a year, not surprisingly very similar to the projection on Nick Gonzales.

But what separates Detmers and gives him a chance to be more than a No. 3 is his command. Some scouts easily hand Detmers 60 command overall, 65 of the fastball, and a few others suggest by the time he reaches the majors we could be watching 70-grade command from a lefty into the 93-95 mph range with two above-average secondaries, including a plus curveball.

That is why Detmers is worthy of consideration over Gonzales.

He has risk and ETA advantages over Cavalli, Meyer and the prep arms, and while he’s unlikely to be signable at a significant discount like some, including the prep pitchers, Garrett Mitchell, Crochet, Tyler Soderstrom, Pete Crow-Armstrong, he’s also not going to take over-slot money.

I wouldn’t say I’m off Gonzales at No. 6, but it’s not as easy a decision as it seemed a month ago, and I’m leaning Meyer, Cavalli or Detmers at No. 6, assuming similar signability and cost in all cases.…

The following demographic information on the Seattle Mariners draft history under Jerry Dipoto pairs well with the Top 50 Prospects demographic in this year’s Top 50 Mariners Prospect Rankings Guide.

The guide is free for all Baseball Things subscribers. If you’re not a Baseball Things subscriber, become one here and gain immediate access to all podcast episode and the prospect rankings guide.

You can get the rankings guide without subscribing to the podcast right here.

PREP 0 2
ARM 2 12
BAT 2 9
OF 1 2
IF 1 5
C 0 2
LHP 0 2
RHP 2 9
LHB 0 2
RHB 2 5
SEC 1 6
BIG 12 0 2
PAC-12 0 0
ACC 0 2

I’ll have at least one other update before Draft Day as I continue to gather info, and may get to 100-150 players.


  1. This is a player ranking, not a mock draft
  2. A player not being on the Top 50 doesn’t mean he’s not highly ranked. Maybe that players is 51 or 72 or 85.
  3. Rankings are based on the combined evals of dozens of sources on players and my own profile evaluations based on the information acquired
  4. No two clubs rank players identically
  5. No two analysts rank player identically
  6. Differences in rankings may be due to differences in player evaluation OR the value of the profile
  7. Differences in rankings can also be due to variances in the value of a draft pick and the draft as a whole
  8. The below rankings are ‘in a vacuum,’ not from the angle of any club
1 Spencer Torkelson 1B Arizona State 6-1 205
2 Asa Lacy LHP Texas A&M 6-4 222
3 Emerson Hancock RHP Georgia 6-4 215
4 Austin Martin CF Vanderbilt 6-0 175
5 Max Meyer RHP Minnesota 6-0 188
6 Zac Veen OF Spruce Creek HS (Fla.) 6-5 200 Florida
7 Nick Gonzalez 2B New Mexico State 5-10 190
8 Cade Cavalli RHP Oklahoma 6-4 225
9 Austin Hendrick OF West Allegheny HS (Pa.) 6-1 195 Mississippi State
10 Reid Detmers LHP Louisville 6-2 210
11 Mick Abel RHP Jesuit HS (Ore.) 6-5 197 Oregon State
12 Jared Kelley RHP Refugio HS (Texas) 6-3 218 Texas
13 Robert Hassell OF Independence HS (Tenn.) 6-2 190 Vanderbilt
14 Garrett Mitchell OF UCLA 6-3 205
15 Patrick Bailey C North Carolina State 6-2 195
16 Garrett Crochet LHP Tennessee 6-6 220
17 Tyler Soderstrom C Turlock HS (Calif.) 6-2 190 UCLA
18 Heston Kjerstad OF Arkansas 6-3 205
19 Dillon Dingler C Ohio State 6-3 210
20 Justin Lange RHP Llano Hs (Texas) 6-4 195 Dallas Baptist
21 Pete Crow-Armstrong OF Harvard-Westlake HS (Calif.) 6-0 175 Vanderbilt
22 Jared Shuster LHP Wake Forest 6-3 210
23 Slade Cecconi RHP Miami 6-4 215
24 Ed Howard SS Mount Carmel HS (Ill.) 6-2 185 Oklahoma
25 Bobby Miller RHP Louisville 6-5 220
26 Nick Bitsko RHP Central Bucks East HS (Pa.) 6-4 220 Virginia
27 Tanner Burns RHP Auburn 6-0 215
28 Clayton Beeter RHP Texas Tech 6-1 205
29 Daniel Cabrera OF LSU 6-0 180
30 Alex Santos RHP Mt. St. Michael Academy (NY) 6-3 205 Maryland
31 Jordan Walker 3B Decatur HS (Ga.) 6-5 220 Duke
32 Alika Williams SS Arizona State 6-2 180
33 Carmen Mlodzinksi RHP South Carolina 6-2 230
34 Nick Loftin SS Baylor 6-1 180
35 Cole Wilcox RHP Georgia 6-5 230
36 J.T. Ginn RHP Mississippi State 6-2 195
37 Tommy Mace RHP Florida 6-6 216
38 Masyn Winn SS/RHP Kingwood HS (Texas) 5-11 180 Arkansas
39 Casey Martin SS Arkansas 5-11 175
40 Victor Mederos RHP Westminster Christian (Fla.) 6-4 215 Miami
41 Chris McMahon RHP Miami 6-2 205
42 Austin Wells C/1B Arizona 6-1 200
43 Jared Jones RHP La Mirada HS (Calif.) 6-1 185 Texas
44 Isaiah Greene OF Corono HS (Calif.) 6-1 180 Missouri
45 Cole Henry RHP LSU 6-4 215
46 Daxon Fulton LHP Mustang HS (Calif.) 6-6 225 Oklahoma
47 Carson Montgomery RHP Windermere HS (Fla.) 6-2 195 Florida State
48 Dylan Crews OF Lake Mary HS 6-0 195 LSU
49 Jeff Criswell RHP Michigan 6-4 225
50 Carson Tucker SS Mountain Pointe HS (Ariz.) 6-2 180 Texas


Photo: Cody Bellinger (35) & Corey Seager (5), who both could have been Mariners had Seattle drafted perfectly throughout the years.

2020 MLB Draft: Top 20 Prospects
Draft History: Every Teams Best Unsigned Pick

The Seattle Mariners haven’t won a thing since 2001, and the club hasn’t reached 90 victories in a season since 2003. The roster construction has been poor, but the franchise’s scouting and player development has failed miserably during that time.,

Since rebuilding, re-imagining, going young, properly supplementing, or whatever you want to call the club’s attempts over that span requires success in the draft and the Mariners haven’t enjoyed much of that, let’s re-draft for them over the 11-year period between Bill Bavasi’s tenure through Jack Zduriencik’s tenure.

We get to use hindsight here, but I’ll share some draft=day thoughts of each 1st-round pick by the club over the 11 seasons.

Below are the Mariners first-round picks, including 1st-round comp picks, and the re-draft selection based on our 20-20 hindsight.

Remember, other clubs in a re-draft scenario, including those drafting ahead of Seattle, would get shots on these players. The re-draft selection is the absolute best the Mariners could have done with that pick based on results since draft day, presenting what essentially would amount to perfect picks.

Yes, I’m trying to make you mad online about Mariners drafts.

I stopped at 2015 for two reasons. One, that’s the last draft before Jerry Dipoto took over as the GM, and not enough time has passed to do much analysis on draft class after that.

The No. 3 Pick: Jeff Clement, C — USC
The Mariners were heavily linked to Long Beach State SS Troy Tulowitzki and Virginia 3B Ryan Zimmerman — on the recommendation of former GM and then-consultant Pat Gillick — but catching coordinator Roger Hansen signed off on Clement’s hands and feet and the Mariners went the way of the bat-first catcher.

Had Clement not suffered injuries to both knees and to his left elbow, there’s a decent chance he not only would have caught a lot of games in the majors, but hit a little bit, too. But it’s also easy to see why he broke down. Clement was not a great athlete and lacked some of the strength attributes clubs look for in backstops, and Seattle simply went into this hoping Clement could get by in these areas enough to allow his bat to provide the value.

Re-Draft: Troy Tulowitzki

You can make a case for Andrew McCutchen, and by pure rWAR, Ryan Braun, too. Justin Upton may pass them all simply by playing longer. And No. 103 pick Brett Gardner‘s WAR output is between Tulowitzki and Upton.

The No. 5 Pick: Brandon Morrow, RHP — California
Seattle was linked to local arm Tim Lincecum early in the process, but mostly Luke Hochevar out of Tennessee. The fans wanted Lincecum or North Carolina lefty Andrew Miller, who was thought to be the best player in the class at the time by at least a slight majority. Miller went No. 6 to Detroit.

Re-Draft: Clayton Kershaw, LHP — Highland Park HS (Texas)
While it would have been fun seeing Lincecum, a University of Washington star out o Liberty High School, star for the Mariners, Kershaw tuned out to be the best player in the class and is a future Hall of Famer.

The No. 11 Pick: Phillippe Aumont, RHP — Ecole Du Versant
I heard a lot of Beau Mills and Matt Dominguez to Seattle in 2007, and they also were linked quite a bit to Daniel Moskos, who ended up going No. 4 overall to Pittsburgh.

The ideal selection here would have been Jason Heyward, who went No. 14 to the Atlanta Braves. Madison Bumgarner went one pick ahead of Seattle at No. 10 to the San Francisco Giants.

Re-Draft: Freddie Freeman, 1B — El Modena HS (Calif.)
Josh Donaldson, the catcher from Auburn, has compiled the highest rWAR for players picked after the Mariners, but
Heyward would have been a good pick, too, and second-round pick Giancarlo Stanton isn’t far behind. Freeman is less than a season’s worth of WAR behind Donaldson and Stanton and he’s younger than Donaldson by more than four years and healthier than Stanton.

The No. 20 Pick: Josh Fields, RHR — Georgia
This pick was made by the combo of Bill Bavasi and Bob Fontaine and the idea was Fields could be signed and perhaps pitch out of the big-league bullpen later that summer. But he didn’t sign at all in 2008, making the pick one of the worst in franchise history.

But an even worse decision came a year later when Jack Zduriencik decided to sign Fields before the deadline rather than get the No. 21 pick in the 2009 Draft as compensation.

Seattle was linked to numerous players for this pick, including lefty Christian Friedrich — who was my preference at the time — and 1B Ike Davis, whow ent two pick prior to the New York Mets. The Mariners also were linked to Brett Lawrie, who went No. 16 to the Milwaukee Brewers.

Re-Draft: Lance Lynn, RHP — Mississippi
Gerrit Cole is the best player drafted after Seattle in this class, but he went No. 28 to the New York Yankees and didn’t sign, even using our hindsight goggles we can’t suggest Cole would have signed with the Mariners.

Brandon Crawford, the shortstop from UCLA, has out-WAR’d Lynn, but he’s running out of steam while Lynn just had his best season. Crawford went to the Giants in Round 4.

Lynn, a draftee of the Mariners three years prior, would have had to give permission to be re-drafted by Seattle, but he’s clearly the next-best choice. Jake Odorizzi, who went No. 32 to the Brewers, wouldn’t have been a bad pick, either.

It wasn’t a good class, with only 11 players compiling 10 rWAR or more thus far.

The No. 2 Pick: Dustin Ackley, OF
At the time this was absolutely the right pick, with no other club believing any other player was worth the risk at No.2 overall.

Re-Draft: Mike Trout, OF — Milville HS (N.J.)

Trout would a lot of clubs’ re-draft pick in this draft, including the Nationals twice and the Diamondbacks twice. At least the Nationals got Stephen Strasburg at No. 1.

The most egregious misses in the round are the Padres at No. 3 selecting Donavan Tate, who never reached Double-A ball and is now out of baseball altogether, and the Pirates at No. 4 getting 0.1 rWAR out of Tony Sanchez.

There was a lot of talent in this class, but a lot of it was prep pitching that didn’t pan out including lefty-hander Tyler Matzek, a name Seattle was linked to as a backup plan in case negotiations went haywire with Ackley, and Shelby Miller.

The No. 27 Pick: Nick Franklin, SS — Lake Brantley HS (Fla.)

While Franklin wasn’t going to be a star or anything, the Mariners’ player development process failed him big time. He was a confident gamer with underrated hands and had plenty of tools to play second base.

Re-Draft: Nolan Arenado, 3B — El Toro HS (Calif.)

Paul Goldschmidt was taken No. 246 overall by Arizona and has compiled 43.6 rWAR to Arenado’s 37.6, but contracts aside, I’d take Arenado if we had a time machine.

The No. 33 Pick: Steve Baron, C — Ferguson School (Fla.)
Baron has all the physical tools to catch, but needed a lot of work at the plate and it never came to fruition. Another development issue, but with Rex Brothers, Matt Davidson and my favorite Tyler Skaggs on the board, this was a largely disappointing decision. Heck, Richards was available here, too.

Re-Draft: Goldschmidt

The Mariners, for picks 27 and 33, were connected to Cal outfielder Brett Jackson, who went to the Cubs at No. 31.

The Mariners did not have a first-round pick in this draft due to the signing of Chone Figgins, but they did have a comp-rounder.

The No. 43 Pick: Taijuan Walker, RHP — Yucaipa HS (Calif.)
By pure rWAR, Nicholas Castellanos has been more valuable to date and he went one pick later, but this story isn’t yet complete. Walker is just 27 years old.

Seattle was linked to Alex Wimmers, Deck McGuire, Jesse Biddle and Jake Skole quite a bit leading up to this pick.

Re-Draft: Andrelton Simmons, SS — W. OKlahoma State

The No. 2 Pick: Danny Hultzen, LHP — Virginia
We all know this story by now.

I was told by multiple sides the Mariners wanted to take Anthony Rendon but couldn’t risk the medicals, and they weren’t the only club convinced that was too big a risk. in the top 5. I was also told Seattle really liked Francisco Lindor and scouting director Tom McNamara told Lindor’s agent he was their guy.

And maybe he was, up until it came time to make the pick, anyway.

Zduriencik and McNamara went to see Hultzen four Fridays in a row and he became the club’s No. 1 target.

Bubba Starling was only signable for Kansas City. Dylan Bundy was only signable for Baltimore. So Seattle went with Hultzen, a lefty up to 96 mph and three potential big-league pitches.

Only problem was, they ignored his red-flag delivery.

Re-Draft: Mookie Betts, OF — Overton HS (Tenn.)
Rendon has the rWAR edge over Lindor entering 2020 but only by 1.5 and Lindor is three years younger. Cole, who went No. 1 to Pittsburgh, also would be a sound re-draft choice, as would George Springer, who has been worth 25.4 rWAR, just 2.2 fewer than Lindor. Springer is 30.

But Betts has a large rWAR lead over all of them, so far, including an MVP in 2018 when he posted 10.6 rWAR. Betts went No. 172 overall (Round 5).

2014 21 BOS 52 213 12 1 5 18 7 3 21 31 .291 .368 .444
2015 22 BOS 145 654 42 8 18 77 21 6 46 82 .291 .341 .479 MVP-19
2016 23 BOS 158 730 42 5 31 113 26 4 49 80 .318 .363 .534 AS,MVP-2,GG,SS
2017 24 BOS 153 712 46 2 24 102 26 3 77 79 .264 .344 .459 AS,MVP-6,GG
2018 25 BOS 136 614 47 5 32 80 30 6 81 91 .346 .438 .640 AS,MVP-1,GG,SS
2019 26 BOS 150 706 40 5 29 80 16 3 97 101 .295 .391 .524 AS,MVP-8,GG,SS
6 Yr 6 Yr 6 Yr 794 3629 229 26 139 470 126 25 371 464 .301 .374 .519
162 162 162 162 740 47 5 28 96 26 5 76 95 .301 .374 .519
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/8/2020.

The No. 3 Pick: Mike Zunino, C — Florida

I take issue with folks ragging on this pick in the manner they do. Did it work out well? No. Was it a BAD pick? Absolutely not.

Even if you think Zunino was a more proper fit in this class between Nos. 7 and 12, you can’t argue the No. 12 pick in an average class shouldn’t be better than a 6.8 rWAR player after seven and a half years.

Player development process failed Zunino big-time.

Still, Zunino has been the 13th most valuable player from this class, despite the awful developmental approach by the club.

I had heard Kevin Gausman, Byron Buxton, Kyle Zimmer and, somewhat oddly, Andrew Heaney connected to Seattle for this pick. Heaney may have been a below-slot backup plan, but the club scouted him heavily late leading up to draft day.

Gausman went No. 4 to Baltimore, Zimmer to the Royals at No. 5 and Heaney No. 9 to the Marlins.

I believe they would have taken Byron Buxton if he lasted one more pick.

Re-Draft: Corey Seager, SS — Northwest Cabbarrus HS (N.C.)
Seager has been the No. 2 player in this class so far, behind only No. 1 pick Carlos Correa, and Seager missed all but 26 games in 2018 with Tommy John surgery.

Marcus Stroman is a win behind Seager. Matt Olson is 3.5 wins back and Mitch Haniger, despite his late arrival and injuries, is next in line.

The No. 12 Pick: D.J. Peterson, 3B — New Mexico
Peterson was my least favorite first-round pick in the Jack-TMC era. There were questions about the hit tool, and there were question about his ability to play third base. It appeared Seattle may have selected a .240/.300/.450, 25-homer first baseman ahead of a number of other players with better profiles.

Seattle was linked heavily to Hunter Renfroe, who went a pick later to the Padres, and prep righty Phil Bickford, who went two pick before. I never heard them much on Dominic Smith, but it would have made more sense.

One Mariners checker at the time told me he wanted Aaron Judge, but McNamara wasn’t interested.

Re-Draft: Cody Bellinger, OF — Hamilton HS (Ariz.)
Aaron Judge has been the No. 2 player in this class so far behind Kris Bryant, but Bellinger, the No. 124 pick in this draft,  is the best player in the National League and is just 24.

Other key players drafted after Peterson include Tim Anderson, J.P. Crawford and Austin Meadows.

I know there were scouts in the room fighting for Anderson and Crawford at No. 12.

The Pick at No. 6: Alex Jackson, C — Rancho Bernardo HS (Calif.)
Another instance where the pick was right, but nothing else was.

Jackson was being considered as high as No. 4 and had all the tools to not only hit and hit for power, but catch. Despite being traded to the Braves, Jackson still has yet to put it together. He moved to the outfield early in his Mariners career, but is back behind the plate with Atlanta. He made his MLB debut last season. He’s just 24, so there still is time, but it didn’t happen in Seattle.

Re-Draft: Matt Chapman, 3B — Fullerton State
Chapman has been the class MVP thus far, just ahead of Aaron Nola.

Treat Turner, who went a pick after Seattle took Jackson, would have worked out OK, too.

The popular opinion on draft day was Seattle should have taken Oregon State’s Michael Conforto, who played at Redmond High School. While hindsight tells us that for sure would have worked out better, I’m not 100% sure the Mariners wouldn’t have ruined a lot of these players. Some of the elites like Lindor, Rendon and Trout would have found a way, but I wouldn’t put Conforto in that category.

Fun fact: The top two picks in this draft has yet to reach Double-A.

Seattle did not have a first-round pick in this draft thanks to the signing of Robinson Cano. In Round 2, they selected Nick Neidert, a right-hander out of Peachtree Ridge High School in Georgia.

Jerry Dipoto traded Neidert to Miami in the deal for Dee Gordon and Shohei Ohtani money. Neidert is on the brink of the majors, but it doesn’t look like he’s going to be more than a No. 4 or 5 starter, and likely is an up-and-down starter as a command-and-feel arm with below-average stuff.

Brandon Lowe, who went to the Rays at No. 87, would have been the better pick, as would have Harrison Bader, who went No. 100 to the Cardinals.…