LIVE: The First Round of the 2020 MLB Draft (Cubs Pick Shortstop Ed Howard)

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LIVE: The First Round of the 2020 MLB Draft (Cubs Pick Shortstop Ed Howard)

Chicago Cubs

The 2020 MLB Draft kicks off tonight (6:00pm CT), with the first round and the Competitive Balance Round A on tap (spanning picks 1-37). The Chicago Cubs will make their first of just five total picks this year at No. 16 overall. That’ll be their only pick of the night, though we’ll track every pick live down below.

Bryan got into some of the useful Draft info here earlier today.

Note, we’ve covered a lot of mock draft ground these last few weeks, and although a bit of a consensus was starting to form as recently as yesterday, the Cubs intentions are harder than ever to detect. Not only is this draft much shorter than usual (5 rounds) with no increase in slot values from last year (they were supposed to increase by 3%), the Cubs also have a brand new scouting director, Dan Kantrovitz, running the show for the first time since the new front office came aboard in 2012.

Moreover, due to COVID-19 school closings, efforts to scout players has been tougher than ever *and* there is a relatively great collection of college pitchers. Needless to say, we’re not quite sure which way the Cubs will go tonight, but this is a great draft to be picking in the middle of the first round.

You can catch all of tonight’s events on ESPN, MLB Network, and the ESPN app, or follow along on this live stream:

Round 1: Picks 1-30 and Slot Values

1. Tigers (slot value of $8,415,300): Spencer Torkelson, 3B, Arizona State – Interestingly, Rob Manfred (a.k.a. the Tigers) announced Torkelson as a third baseman, not a first baseman … which he is. Obviously, they’re free to try him out at third base for as long as he can handle it, though he was set to become the first ever college first baseman selected first overall in the draft. In any case, his bat is expected to play at the big league level, and I’ve seen him called the best college hitter out of the draft since Kris Bryant. Torkelson was long expected to go first overall, so no surprises here.

2. Orioles ($7,789,900): Heston Kjerstad, OF, Arkansas – Okay, this is actually a bit of a surprise. As far as my memory serves, Kjerstad was expected to be a top-10 pick, but wasn’t projected to go second overall. Perhaps, the Orioles believe they can go under-slot on Kjerstad and then take another, tougher sign later. Kjerstad has big power, some strikeout concerns, average – at best speed – and a good arm in right field.

3. Marlins ($7,221,200): Max Meyer, RHP, Minnesota – Back on track. Myer was a projected top-5 pick. He’s got a 99-MPH fastball and a 93 MPH slider, so he’s a very modern pitcher. He isn’t very tall at just 6 feet, but when you throw 99 MPH, you throw 99 MPH. Obviously, the Marlins are not much of a contending team this year, but if the opportunity presents itself, Myer could see time in the big leagues this season. That would be extremely unlikely in my estimation, but Keith Law did call it a possibility for the right team.

4. Royals ($6,664,000): Asa Lacy, LHP, Texas A&M – A few mock drafts had the Marlins going with Lacy over Myer, but clearly they had other ideas in mind. Lacy is taller than Myer, but doesn’t quite have the same overall top speed. He has touched 98 MPH, though, and has an above-average slider and that much-needed third pitch, a plus change-up. Often, the thing holding pitchers from taking the next step is a full arsenal, but with three legit pitches, plus a curve ball in development, he could be up sooner than later.

5. Blue Jays ($6,180,700): Austin Martin, 3B/OF, Vanderbilt – Austin Martin was actually ranked as the top overall player in the draft by Keith Law, though he was never expected to go first overall. Here’s what Law had to say: “There’s some Javy Báez to his hand speed, although unlike the young Báez, Martin rarely strikes out. We haven’t seen a top college prospect this athletic since George Springer in 2011, although before the draft Springer had the two-strike approach of a turnip. Martin punched out barely 10 percent of the time in 2019, and just twice in 69 plate appearances before baseball shut down in March.” That is one heck of a hitter profile.

6. Mariners ($5,742,900): Emerson Hancock, RHP, Georgia – Hancock was, at one point, expected to be the top pitcher in the draft, but obviously he wasn’t by the time draft day rolled around. Here’s why, according to Kiley McDaniel: “Hancock is the player sliding most in this projection, and there’s a reason. His TrackMan data is just OK, he’s unusual in that he’s a righty with a changeup as his out pitch, his 2020 performance was just OK, and most top scouts didn’t see him in 2019 because he didn’t pitch over the summer or at the SEC tournament.”

7. Pirates ($5,432,400): Nick Gonzalez, 2B, New Mexico State – Gonzales strikes me as a relatively safe pick. He’s got good bat speed, and has played shortstop, but is likely to be a second baseman when all is said and done. And although his power isn’t expected to translate to the pros, he’s supposed to hit for enough average (and doubles power) to remain productive. For what it’s worth, he did hit a ton of homers in the Cape Cod league, but it was a small sample size (remember those?). Kind of reminds me of Nico Hoerner. For the Pirates, a sure-fire big leaguer is a must.

*As expected this draft is literally historically college-heavy, with more college picks to start the draft than any other draft in MLB history. The Cubs, if they play by the book, could end up with a younger kid, with a ton of upside that wouldn’t normally reach No. 16 overall. For what it’s worth, the Padres, White Sox, Reds, Giants, and Phillies (all picking before the Cubs) have a lot of overlap with mocked picks.

8. Padres ($5,176,900): – Robert Hassell III, OF, High School – Okay, damn. I know Hassell has been mocked to the Padres a hundred times over, but I was really hoping he’d find his way to the Cubs in some miracle of a draft slip. That was probably always a pipe dream. The Padres system just got a lot better. Note, Hassell is the first high school pick in the draft, which, if my fantasy football drafts have taught me anything, means we may soon see a run. Here’s what Keith Law had to say: “Hassell’s swing rivals Veen’s for the best in the draft, and many teams view him as the best hitter in the class, which could be enough to push him into the top 10. Hassell has a classic left-hander’s swing with plus bat speed and some loft for hard, line-drive contact, more a hitter for high average with maybe 15-20 homer power as he fills out.”

9. Rockies ($4,949,100): Zach Veen, OF, High School – This feels like a huge win for the Rockies at No. 9. His bat is legit and playing at Coors Field is going to be a great place to hit. Law: “Veen provides the best combination of probability and upside among high school hitters in this class, although he’s not at the top of the board in either category (Robert Hassell or Austin Hendrick would be the former, Jordan Walker might be the latter). Veen is an athletic and still very projectable 18-year-old center fielder who has one of the best swings in the class.”

10. Angels ($4,739,900): Reid Detmers, LHP, Louisville – Brett was hoping this lefty would slip to the Cubs. He did not. Kiley McDaniel foresees the fast track: “Detmers is one of roughly six players in the draft who could contribute to a big league team later this year (joining Torkelson, Martin, Lacy, Meyer, possibly Hancock and possibly Garrett Crochet).” Others have called him the most polished pitcher in the draft, and with three plus pitches and plus control, he’s the kind of guy that can be in the big leagues sooner than later.

11. White Sox ($4,547,500): Garett Crochet, LHP, Tennessee – a 6’6″ left-handed pitcher that can hit 100 MPH … yeah, I get it. He also has a 70-grade slider. I’m getting the sense that the bullpen is in his future due to some issues with command and the lack of a third pitch, but he could be one of those utterly dominant relievers if he makes it, and those guys have unique value, as we’ve seen over the past 5-6 years.

12. Reds ($4,366,400): Austin Hendrick, OF, High School – As recently as this morning, Jonathan Mayo (MLB.com) and Baseball America (Carlos Collazo) predicted Austin Hendrick to the Cubs. And unlike Hassell, he had a legitimate shot to get there. Alas, he’ll go to the division rival Reds, which stinks, because he’s pretty exciting. The Reds were long expected to take one of the young high school hitters, though, so there’s not much surprise there. He’s got some of the best power among the HS hitters in the draft, but he’s also just days away from turning 19 (so he’s older than a typical high schooler).

13. Giants ($4,197,300): Patrick Bailey, C, NC State – Okay, this is a legitimate surprise. The Giants had been connected to a catcher in almost every single mock draft this season, but it was high schooler Tyler Soderstrom, not Bailey. Soderstrom has been connected to the Cubs and might be available when they go on the clock.

14. Rangers ($4,036,800): Justin Foscue, 2B, Mississippi – The Cubs were never connected to Foscue … until they were. Today. In a very surprising, last-minute mock draft. Turns out he’s heading to Texas. I don’t know a ton about Foscue, but I know Keith Law was not particularly impressed, ranking him as the 63rd best prospect in the draft: “Foscue has gotten some first-round buzz but the tools and performance don’t really back that up. He’s a dead pull hitter who nearly bars out with a deep, high load, showing power to left field but struggling to go the other way. He’s a below-average defender whose arm limits him to second base. He rarely strikes out, however, under 10 percent of the time in his college career, with 15 walks and just 3 strikeouts this spring in 69 plate appearances before the shutdown. Some teams see that and his exit velocities and think there’s a future plus hit/power combination.”

15. Phillies ($3,885,800): Mick Abel, RHP, High School – Abel had been mocked to the Cubs before and has been mocked as high as 12th overall. I know a lot of people, including Bryan and Brett had their eyes on him for the Cubs at 16, but the Phillies swooped in. I do love upside plays, particularly in this draft, but I won’t beat myself up over missing out on a right-handed high school pitcher who works 92-95 MPH. I know he’s good. I know he’s the best high school pitcher in the draft, but there’s still some great options on the board for the Cubs. At the same time … four developed pitches, with two plus pitches. It’s a lot to dream on. I’m just trying to make myself feel better.

16. Cubs ($3,745,500): Ed Howard, SS, Mount Carmel High School … in Chicago! The Chicago Cubs are taking the local shortstop (best shortstop and best defender in the class), Ed Howard! That is so exciting. Who doesn’t love a local guy? He’s another late mock to the Cubs, getting his first legitimate connection earlier this week but there’s a lot to like. I’ll add some more notes here in a second, but look out for a brand new post on Howard.

Here’s what Keith Law had to say:

Howard is one of the few true shortstops in the draft class at either the high school or college level, and that alone makes him at least a top two rounds guy, while the upside in his bat is probably going to make him a first-rounder. Howard is very projectable at 6-foot-2, 185 pounds, and is an above-average runner with very good hands, giving scouts no doubt he’ll stay at short in the long term. His bat speed is excellent and he rotates well for future power as he fills out. Howard did struggle at the end of the summer of 2019, and we don’t know if that was due to a sore shoulder or fatigue or just trouble with better competition — and he didn’t get to play this spring to answer any of that. In a draft with more polished shortstops, he might slip to the supplemental round and end up an overslot guy, but this year he seems likely to go somewhere in the back half of the first.

The defense is legit. The body is projectable (and his bat speed is impressive). And the Cubs love their shortstops. We know that. I love this pick. Many more thoughts coming, stay tuned.

I also want to point out that the Cubs left Garrett Mitchell *and* Tyler Soderstrom on the board. I am very surprised by that, given the mocks, but, hey, everyone’s mocks were messed up this year.

17. Red Sox ($3,609,700): Nick York, 2B, High School
18. D-backs ($3,481,300): Bryce Jarvis, RHP, Duke
19. Mets ($3,359,000): Pete Crow-Armstrong, CF, High School
20. Brewers ($3,242,900): Garrett Mitchell, OF, UCLA
21. Cardinals ($3,132,300): Jordan Walker, 3B, High School – hate this guy already.
22. Nationals ($3,027,000): Cade Cavalli, P, OK
23. Indians ($2,926,800): Carson Tucker, SS, High School
24. Rays ($2,831,300): Nick Bitsko, RHP, High School
25. Braves ($2,740,300): Jared Shuster, LHP, Wake Forest
26. Athletics ($2,653,400): Tyler Soderstrom, C, High School
27. Twins ($2,570,100): Aaron Sobato, 1B, North Carolina
28. Yankees ($2,493,900): Austin Wells, C, Arizona
29. Dodgers ($2,424,600): Bobby Miller, RHP, Louisville

Competitive Balance Round A

30. Orioles: $2,365,500
31. Pirates: $2,312,000
32. Royals: $2,257,300
33. D-backs: $2,202,200
34. Padres: $2,148,100
35. Rockies: $2,095,800
36. Indians: $2,045,400
37. Rays: $1,999,300 (from Cardinals via trade):



Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami