The 2020 MLB draft is less than a month away, and it’s going to look different.
As the league deals with the fallout from the coronarvirus pandemic delaying the start of the regular season, the draft, which is expected to begin June 10, will reportedly be shortened from 40 to five rounds, with teams allowed to sign an unlimited number of undrafted players.
For a rebuilding team like the Orioles — who have the most available bonus money for their six picks at roughly $13 million — an abbreviated draft raises questions about how the club will allocate its resources.
Though the later rounds will be affected, the Orioles are still in position to draft a top prospect at No. 2 overall after recording the majors’ second-worst record in 2019, behind the Detroit Tigers.
Here are some of the prospects analysts predict could be available when the Orioles are on the clock:
Vanderbilt third baseman/outfielder Austin Martin
MLB Pipeline: “Most feel the Orioles are in a good spot this year, being able to take whichever college bat the Tigers don’t take.”
Bleacher Report: “If the Tigers opt for [Arizona State first baseman Spencer] Torkelson, the Orioles would likely choose Martin to pair with 2019 No. 1 overall pick Adley Rutschman in their farm system. … Eleven of the Orioles’ top-20 prospects are pitchers, so they should feel comfortable landing either Martin or Torkelson. If the former is the selection, he may have a better shot right away as an infielder because Baltimore has just a single middle infielder among its top-10 prospects.”
Sox Machine: “Baltimore would be selecting Austin Martin because he does a lot of things well. He’s good defensively in the infield and has the athleticism to cover ground in center field. … If Martin can find more power in his swing, he’s got a chance to be a terrific player no matter where the Orioles play him.”
Perfect Game: “Martin’s future defensive home will be a question throughout his developmental process but what will not is his ability to find the barrel. The Vanderbilt product is the most polished bat in the draft with incredible barrel skills and the overall athleticism to slot both on the dirt or in centerfield.”
Prospects365: “While I’m sure Baltimore would’ve also opted for Torkelson over Martin, I doubt there would be any disappointment with the plausibility of an Adley Rutschman and Austin Martin-led lineup for the next fifteen years. The bat of Martin — while not as powerful as Torkelson — comes with heavy defensive flexibility, including the ability to play two premium spots.”
Arizona State first baseman Spencer Torkelson
Baseball Prospect Journal: “Spencer Torkelson has major raw power. The 6-foot-1, 220-pound slugging first baseman hit .337 with 48 home runs in his first two seasons at Arizona State. He profiles as a first baseman in pro ball but did gain experience playing right field in the Cape Cod League. He has a quick, compact swing from the right side of the plate.”
Georgia right-handed pitcher Emerson Hancock
Prospects Live: “[Texas A&M left-hander Asa] Lacy has a case for SP1, but the overall package with Hancock is simply too much to pass on for Orioles. Hancock possesses a prototype 6-4, 215 pound frame and the consistent long-term track record of high-end pedigree that teams covet at the top of drafts. … His “disappointing” 3.75 ERA is offset by a 1.04 WHIP and 34/3 K/BB over 24 IP and will just be a blip on the radar. He has all the ingredients of a potential ace and should become the anchor of an intriguing potential Baltimore rotation for the foreseeable future.”
New Mexico State second baseman Nick Gonzales
CBS Sports: “The Orioles have the largest bonus pool and an extra pick this year, and I think it’s possible they’ll go underslot with the No. 2 pick, and use the savings on a top talent that falls to their extra pick (No. 30 overall). … Gonzales put up absurd numbers this spring — he hit .448/.610/1.155 with 12 homers in 16 games — though he plays at altitude and in a not great conference. More importantly, he demolished elite competition in the wood bat Cape Cod League last summer (.351/.451/.630). Gonzales is not a standout defender but he projects to be solid at second base.”
Texas A&M left-handed pitcher Asa Lacy
Prospects365: “Lacy is equipped with a four pitch mix, two of which already grade at plus-or-better (fastball and slider) with another (changeup) seemingly on its way. ... There is a perception of reliever risk when looking at Lacy due to some delivery violence with similarities to former Oriole Zack Britton and some control issues in the past, but the 6-foot-4 southpaw did his best to show improvement in his short season in 2020 to look like a bonafide ace on the mound. Baltimore is loaded with three picks in the first 40 picks (2, 30, 39) and could potentially sign Lacy for a little less than slot value without dipping under the slot for the 3rd overall pick. That would essentially give the Orioles more flexibility in its next two picks while still getting their guy.”