2020 MLB Draft: Dodgers Big Board, v 1.0

Jared Kelley

We’re getting closer and closer to the 2020 MLB Draft — we think. It still isn’t 100 percent confirmed, but it is tentatively scheduled for June 10.

Normally a 40-round affair, the 2020 MLB Draft will be a measly five rounds. That’s not great for a lot of reasons, the most of which is the amateur players themselves.

MLB has made no secret about its desire to reduce the number of Minor League Baseball teams because the profit margins aren’t aren’t. Limiting the number of rounds in the draft could lead teams to acquiring fewer players all to save $500,000. This was all the brain child of Jeff Luhnow, because of course it was. Thanks, dick.

Another impact of this is a lot more prep players are going to go to college. Some will opt for junior colleges so that they’re eligible for the 2021 draft, but some have commitments and scholarships from other schools already. Signability guys are going to be interesting in this draft. They have a lot more leverage than in years past. College juniors (or draft-eligible sophomores) also have more leverage.

As for players who don’t get drafted, they are eligible to sign … for up to $20,000. Considering teams routinely signed players for $125,000 as post-10th-rounders, that’s quite the drop off. It also doesn’t give a top-tier prep player a reason to forego a nice scholarship from a D-1 school. Some of them could opt for junior college, which would make them eligible for the 2021 draft, but the others won’t be eligible until 2023, which could be the craziest draft ever. Of course, we don’t know how this pandemic is going to play out, and we don’t know how the new Collective Bargaining Agreement will go (expires in December 2021), but the talent pool should be super deep.

OK, enough bitching about greedy billionaires, let’s get to the real bones of this post.

On these boards (planning to do four), there won’t be any players included who have no chance to make it to the Dodgers at No. 29. So, no Emerson Hancock, Austin Martin, Spencer Torkelson, or any other surefire Top 10 picks.

And since there aren’t any live games, the only reason these rankings will change are because I’ve done more research on them. But make no mistake, I tend to prefer prep players.

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Billy Gasparino‘s first draft was with the Padres in 2013. He took over as Dodgers’ scouting director in 2015. Let’s look what he has done with his first-round picks in his seven drafts.

*Didn’t sign
**Supplemental 1st-round pick

Gasparino has gone with six college bats, three college pitchers, one high school bat (Lux) and one high school pitcher (Ginn). We’re definitely not in Logan White‘s neighborhood anymore.

For fun, here are his second-rounders.

***Competitive Balance pick

The track record is … not great. Grove and Lewis still have a chance, but outside of Sborz and Peterson, no one else has made it to the majors. Gettys was a non-roster invitee to Padres’ Spring Training this year, while White is on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster. But Paroubeck (former Dodger via trade) and Hansen have retired, while Cooper has yet to throw a pitch in the pros because of a bum shoulder.

As for this class, there are a lot of strong prep bats in this class, but not a lot of high-end ones. With the draft limited to five rounds, college players are likely to dominate draft boards. But I’ve never met a prep player I didn’t like, so you’ll see more of them here than you might expect.

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My Big Board, v 1.0

1. OF Robert Hassell, Independence HS (Tenn.)
2. RHP Jared Kelley, Refugio HS (Texas)
3. OF Pete Crow-Armstrong, Harvard Westlake HS (Calif.)
4. SS Ed Howard, Mount Carmel HS (Ill.)
5. RHP Bobby Miller, Louisville
6. OF Daniel Cabrera, LSU
7. RHP Cole Wilcox, Georgia
8. RHP CJ Van Eyk, Floirda State
9. OF Dylan Crews, Lake Mary HS (FL)
10. RHP Slade Cecconi, Miami (FL)
11. RHP Carmen Mlodzinski, South Carolina
12. RHP JT Ginn, Mississippi State
13. C/1B/LF Austin Wells, Arizona
14. SS Jordan Westburg, Mississippi State
15. RHP Justin Lange, Llano HS (Texas)

Seemingly every year, a Top 10-15 talent falls in the draft. The Dodgers have taken advantage of this in the past. Grant Holmes fell to No. 22 in 2014 when he was a surefire Top 15 guy. Buehler (No. 24) would have gone a lot higher if not for the injury concerns (and he got better after Tommy John surgery). Kendall was a 1-1 candidate before the 2017 season, but ultimately fell to No. 23. With things being so uncertain this year, I have a few more guys on my board who could fall than I normally would. There’s still no Top 5-10 guys, but it wouldn’t be at all surprising if the Top 4 on my board are gone by No. 29. It also wouldn’t be at all surprising if at least one of them were there.

Hassell is a Vanderbilt commit who could be a tougher sign for clubs. But his overall offensive profile is among the best of any prep hitter in the class. He might even stick in center field.

Kelley is simultaneously the most and least likely guy on my board to fall. His talent is undeniable (high-90s fastball, plus-changeup, developing slider), but he’s also a prep right-handed pitcher. They tend to fall on draft day.

Crow-Armstrong, a local fellow, is similar in ways to Hassell. He’s also a Vandy commit and could have a high price tag. He’s more of a contact/on-base guy rather than a power guy. He also has a better chance of sticking in center field long-term.

Howard is a right-handed version of Lux, when Gavin came out of high school. The immediate profile is glove first with a little hit. If the Dodgers are able to land him, they could work wonders with their top-notch developmental staff. He’s the best prep shortstop in the class.

Cabrera is one of the safer college bats in the class. He has great feel for hitting and at least average power. The profile screams Trevor Larnach/Michael Conforto to me. He can play center in a pinch, but probably ends up in a corner (probably left field).

Miller is one of the more intriguing college arms who could be there for the Dodgers in the first round. He’s a flamethrower (mid-to-high-90s with life), has a mid-80s slider/cutter and a Tony Gonsolin-like splitter/changeup combo. However, he has a higher-effort delivery and command/control concerns. Of note, the Dodgers do like the University of Louisville prospects (Funkhouser, Smith, Devin Mann).

Wilcox was a first-round prospect back in 2018 but opted to go to school. He has some of the best stuff (mid–90s fastball, mid-80s slider and changeup) in the class. Like Miller, he has command/control issues he’ll have to iron out.

Van Eyk is a less imposing, less explosive pitching prospect than the ones before him on the board, but he’s also a bit more refined. He has solid stuff (low-to-mid-90s fastball, high-70s curveball, low-80s changeup) that all grade out at above-average or better and more pitchability.

Crews is an interesting prep prospect who should develop into an above-average hitter and hitter for power with a clean swing from the right side. He’ll get a chance to stick in center field, but a corner seems more likely for him.

Cecconi continues a bit of college pitcher run for me. He has prototypical size and the stuff to go with it (mid-90s fastball, wipeout slider/hard cutter). He has a changeup and curve, but they’re works in progress. There’s reliever risk here.

Mlodzinski sure is a name (coming from a guy named “Nosler”), but he’s an imposing figure on the hill. He has a mid-90s heater with sink, a plus-slider/cutter and a solid changeup. His command/control has improved, too.

A familiar name here. Ginn had Tommy John surgery this spring. Before that, he was viewed as a Top 10 pick in the draft thanks to improved secondaries. The Dodgers aren’t shy about taking a pitcher with injury risk and they know a lot about him since they did a ton of work on him in 2018. Ginn would have to agree to be selected by the Dodgers (per the CBA), so that’s something to watch. But by all accounts, there were no hard feelings on either side, so the Dodgers might very well be intrigued by the chance to get Ginn for real this time.

Wells is a defensively versatile prospect who isn’t a plus-defender at any of his potential positions. However, his bat plays at any of them. His offensive profile isn’t dissimilar to Max Muncy‘s, but he might have a little more hit and a little less power.

Westburg fits the Dodgers’ mold pretty well when it comes to athletic infielders. He’s a bit bigger (6’3), but he can run and has a strong arm. There are concerns about him making contact against advanced pitching, but the Dodgers are great at developing hitting prospects.

Lange, in the right system, could turn into a monster. He saw his velocity jump from low-to-mid-90s to high-90s. He also has a mid-80s sweeping slider and a work-in-progress changeup. There’s a ton of potential because of his athleticism and would be a great target for the Dodgers in the second round, if he’s there. If he went at 29, that would be surprising, but also exciting.

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Draft profiles should begin by next week. I’m thinking we’ll lead off with one of the prep players or with one of my preferred college arms.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler
Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.