2020 MLB Draft Top 50 Prospects: 11-20
20. Robert Hassell, Independence HS, Thompson's Station, TN
Pos: OF | B/T: L/L | Height: 6' 2" | Weight: 195 | Age: 18
Hit: 60 Power: 50 Run: 55 Throw: 55 Field: 50 Overall: 55
In a prep class that is not very deep with pure hitting ability, Robert Hassell might just be the best one. Hassell has tremendous contact ability, thanks in large part to his smooth swing from the left side of the plate.
Hassell showcased his hitting ability at the U-18 Baseball World Cup at the end of last summer, where he was the clear-cut best hitter on the United States National Team. The future power potential for Hassell is still up in the air, but if he can grow out a little more, he should provide at least respectable power from the left-hand side of the plate.
In the outfield, Hassell seems destined to move to a corner outfield position in the long run, though he should be a plus defender in either right or left field. Hassell has a pretty good amount of arm strength, so a move to right field could make a lot of sense.
19. Cade Cavalli, Oklahoma
Pos: RHP | Height: 6’4” | Weight: 225 | Age: 21
Previously Drafted: 29th Round, 2017 (ATL)
Fastball: 60 Slider: 60 Curveball: 50 Changeup: 50 Control: 45 Overall: 55
Cade Cavalli marks the eighth right-handed college pitcher to be featured in the last twelve spots of these rankings, and he might just be the best one of the group. Cavalli has the build that MLB scouts love to see and has effortless mechanics.
Cavalli’s fastball frequently gets into the upper 90s and has even touched triple-digits, but it doesn’t have much movement coming from an over the top delivery. This allows hitters to pick up on it easier than you would expect. The other top pitch
Cavalli features is a slider that is absolutely nasty to opposing right-handed hitters.
In addition to the slider, Cavalli has also started developing a curveball that he likes to offer up against lefties and complements his slider well. He also has a decent changeup, which gives Cavalli potential for four average or better pitches.
18. Tyler Soderstrom, Turlock HS, CA
Pos: C | B/T: L/R | Height: 6' 2" | Weight: 200 | Age: 18
Hit: 55 Power: 60 Run: 50 Throw: 55 Field: 45 Overall: 55
Earlier in this series we look at Drew Romo, who is the standout prep catcher on the defensive side of the ball. Now we will take a look at Tyler Soderstrom, who is a prep catcher on the opposite end of the spectrum from Romo.
In what is now my third year covering the MLB Draft for Twins Daily, Soderstrom is unquestionably the best hitting prep catcher that I have graded. He has a compact upper-cut swing that helps him generate some lift on the ball to maximize his power, without sacrificing much in the way of swing and miss.
The looming question that has been on every evaluators mind is Soderstrom’s future behind the plate. He doesn’t show the natural feel for the position and still needs a lot of fundamental work. However, Soderstrom is a good athlete with a big arm, so if he needs to move to a corner outfield position in the future, he should be able to play there, and still bring a plus bat.
17. Garrett Crochet, Tennessee
Pos: LHP | Height: 6’5” | Weight: 210 | Age: 20
Previously Drafted: 34th Round, 2017 (MIL)
Fastball: 65 Slider: 60 Curveball: 50 Changeup: 50 Control: 50 Overall: 55
Garrett Crochet is another pitcher that could land in drastically different spots on different teams’ draft boards. Stuff wise, Crochet deserves some Top 10 pick consideration, however, there are lingering concerns that could cause him to fall much lower than that with some teams.
Like many other pitchers at the top of the draft class, Crochet’s fastball-slider combo is a force to be reckoned with. He typically sits in the mid-to-high 90s with his fastball that has a lot of arm side run but can get away from him at times when he tries to overthrow it. He pairs that with his sharp breaking slider, that has some downward movement to it. Crochet also throws a changeup that has promise, but is still very much a work in progress, and a curveball that looked good in his one start this spring vs Wright State.
There are a few red flags that will give some teams pause with Crochet. First is Crochet’s inexperience starting, having started in just 13 of his 36 career appearances at Tennessee. Next is injury concern, as Crochet missed his first three starts of this spring with a shoulder injury, and didn’t have the time to prove he was fully recovered from that. Finally, Crochet can be a little erratic at times. However, if he can’t make it as a starter, Crochet has all the makings of a dominant left-handed relief ace.
16. Nick Bitsko, Central Bucks East HS, Doylestown, PA
Pos: RHP | Height: 6’3” | Weight: 220 | Age: 17
Fastball: 65 Curveball: 55 Changeup: 50 Control: 55 Overall: 55
Had Nick Bitsko been able to foresee the coronavirus pandemic wiping out the 2020 spring baseball season, he might not have reclassified from the 2021 class back in January, as scouts were unable to get a deeper look on a player that was likely on many of their back burners before his reclassification.
However, season or no season, Bitsko has tremendous potential as a starting pitcher at the major league level, and still will likely get a team to bite on his talent at some point in the first round. Late last summer, after turning just 17 years of age, Bitsko was routinely sitting in the mid 90s with his fastball.
After the fastball, Bitsko features a hard curveball that is typically in the low 80s, and will mix in the occasionally changeup. What helps set Bitsko apart from many other high school pitchers is the control he shows for all three of his pitches at such a young age.
15. Patrick Bailey, North Carolina State
Pos: C | B/T: S/R | Height: 6' 2" | Weight: 190 | Age: 21
Previously Drafted: 37th Round, 2017 (MIN)
Hit: 50 Power: 55 Run: 50 Throw: 55 Field: 60 Overall: 55
The Twins selected Patrick Bailey, when he was coming out of high school, in the 37th round of the 2017 MLB Draft. At the time, Bailey was a highly thought of defensive catcher, but most teams questioned his future with the bat. Bailey decided not to sign with the Twins, and instead opted to go play ball at NC State.
Bailey immediately proved his doubters wrong in his freshman season with the Wolfpack, when he hit .321 and finished fourth in the ACC with a .604 slugging percentage. After an okay season with the bat in 2019, Bailey was again displaying his power potential in 2020 with six home runs in just 17 games before the season was suspended.
Behind the plate, Bailey still has the tremendous ability that scouts saw coming out of high school. He is a smooth receiver of the baseball and is a tremendous blocker of pitches in the dirt. Bailey does have a big arm, though despite this, Bailey only threw out a pedestrian 28 percent of base stealers in his college career.
14. Reid Detmers, Louisville
Pos: LHP | Height: 6’2” | Weight: 210 | Age: 20
Previously Drafted: 32nd Round, 2017 (ATL)
Fastball: 55 Curveball: 60 Slider: 45 Changeup: 50 Control: 55 Overall: 55
Reid Detmers has been one of the most dominant starting pitchers in college baseball over the past couple of years. After putting up a 2.78 ERA in 2019, Detmers came back this season and allowed just three combined runs in his four starts. In total, Detmers had a 2.57 ERA with an impressive 215 strikeouts and just 39 walks in
133 and 1/3 innings pitched over that stretch.
On the mound, Detmers' stuff is not anything overwhelming, but he is a well-polished pitcher who has proven he knows how to get the most out of his stuff. Detmers has a clean delivery that is easily repeatable, which helps him be such a consistent strike thrower.
Detmers fastball sits in the low 90s, but with his ability to spot the pitch, it plays up a bit. He also throws an excellent curveball, that has served as his go-to strikeout pitch. Detmers also features a pretty decent changeup that has potential to become a third above average pitch, along with a slider that is still developing.
13. Ed Howard, Mount Carmel HS, IL
Pos: SS | B/T: R/R | Height: 6' 2" | Weight: 185 | Age: 18
Hit: 50 Power: 45 Run: 65 Throw: 55 Field: 65 Overall: 55
I would be lying if I didn’t say that Ed Howard is one of my favorite prospects in this draft, and that is because he has the one thing I look for over everything else in prep position players, and that is pure athleticism. Howard has the raw tools that cannot be developed, and the parts of his game that are lacking at the moment are the ones that have the potential to be.
Let’s start with Howard’s play at shortstop, because that is where he shines. Howard has the natural feel for the position that is required to play it at a high level, and it has been on display since he was 12-years old in the Little League World Series. Howard also has good quickness and enough arm strength for the position.
With the bat in his hands, Howard has shown the ability to be a solid contact hitter, with a quick stroke and excellent hand-eye coordination. There is not a lot of pop in the bat yet, but with his already prevalent bat speed, Howard should be able to develop some power as he grows and matures. If Howard is unable to develop the bat, he is still good enough at short to be a perennial 2 WAR player on just the defensive side of the ball alone, and if he does develop the bat, Howard is a star in the making.
12. Jared Kelley, Refugio HS, TX
Pos: RHP | Height: 6’2” | Weight: 225 | Age: 18
Fastball: 70 Slider: 50 Changeup: 60 Control: 55 Overall: 55
Jared Kelley has as much velocity on his fastball as any pitcher in this draft, outside
of maybe Cole Wilcox, and what is amazing about it is how effortlessly Kelley generates that power. This easy delivery is what scouts like to see most, as it creates projectability for Kelley as a starter long term.
In addition to Kelley’s fastball that get into the upper 90s with ease, Kelley also has a changeup that is advanced well beyond his years. Typically, with high school pitchers that have enough stuff to just blow past hitters, they rarely have developed changeups because they haven’t needed them. Kelley also features a solid slider, but it isn’t the put-away pitch that you would like to see just yet.
The part that will give teams hesitation on Kelley, through no fault of his own, is the poor track record that hard-throwing right-handed prep pitchers have had in the MLB Draft. Additionally, these pitchers typically demand high signing bonuses to draw them away from their college commitment. In a year where teams don’t have the extra rounds to draw bonus pool money from, Kelley could be a tough sign for a number of teams.
11. Heston Kjerstad, Arkansas
Pos: OF | B/T: L/R | Height: 6' 3" | Weight: 215 | Age: 21
Previously Drafted: 36th Round, 2017 (SEA)
Hit: 55 Power: 65 Run: 50 Throw: 55 Field: 50 Overall: 55
After breaking out in his freshman season at Arkansas, alongside Casey Martin, Heston Kjerstad has done nothing but prove that he is every bit the hitter we saw the potential of him becoming. In 145 career games for the Razorbacks, Kjerstad had an impressive .345/.425/.587 slash line with 35 home runs.
Kjerstad’s stance looks a little unorthodox, and he has a big leg kick, but at delivery he gets himself in a good hitting position where he can generate a lot of power. The swing itself has a nice uppercut, which helps him lift the ball to take advantage of all that power he possesses.
In the outfield, Kjerstad will never wow you, but at least for now he can get the job done. His arm is big enough to stick in right field, which is where he has spent his time in the Arkansas outfield.
Rest of the 2020 MLB Draft Top 50 Prospects
2020 MLB Draft Top 50 Prospect: 21-30
2020 MLB Draft Top 50 Prospect: 31-40
2020 MLB Draft Top 50 Prospect: 41-50
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