2020 was certainly an interesting year for the MLB draft to take place. While scouts had a few months in spring to study top prospects, they also had to rely on earlier player performances from seasons prior, once the COVID-19 virus hit the world.
In addition to that, it was announced in May that the draft will be reduced from 40 rounds to just 5. While boosting opportunity for some it was a big damper on the big league hopes of young stars nationwide.
With all of that being said, the show must go on. The draft went off without a hitch, and we are here to look at which teams were able to draft prospects that may have flown under the radar, but will soon be on our televisions playing in big league games.
Looking at it from a distance, this year’s draft may seem by-the-numbers, especially with top prospect Spencer Torkelson unsurprisingly going #1 to the Detroit Tigers.
Top 5 Value Picks [a 2020 MLB Draft Review]
Here are five teams that got away with a steal, as well as one bonus team who took home the surprise of the MLB draft, according to us here at Batsmash.com!
Tyler Soderstrom – Pick 26 (Athletics)
Tyler Soderstrom is a standout player from the Central Valley of California – playing ball at Turlock High School. As one of a handful of high school players that were selected in the first round of this year’s draft, Soderstrom stands out among the pack.
While he is drafted to be a catcher, his athleticism has allowed him to play in the outfield and even 3rd base. He also is noted for his advanced bat skill with big pop when he makes contact.
Soderstrom has committed to playing college ball at UCLA, one of the premiere baseball programs in the NCAA. This should only help improve his already impressive skill set.
Bryce Jarvis – Pick 18 (Diamondbacks)
Bryce James was a solid pick for the Diamondbacks because of his newly improved fastball (runs from 92-96 mph deep into starts) as well as his 4-pitch arsenal which is sure to keep opposing batters guessing.
Just last year he was said to have put on 20 pounds of weight, adding velocity to his already dangerous fastball. While the spring was cut short, he showed great ability and improved control as he continued to improve his craft.
Austin Martin – Pick 5 (Blue Jays)
It was a bit of a surprise that Martin was selected at 5 in the draft, as most draft boards had him being selected in the top 3, and for good reason. He has been called the best “pure hitter” in the draft, utilizing a lightning-fast swing that usually leads to hard contact.
Next, he is confident at the plate and is great at controlling the strike zone and using the entire field when collecting hits. With his advanced speed and experience excelling at many positions, the Blue Jays should be more than satisfied with their first-round pick.
Garrett Mitchell – Pick 20 (Brewers)
The Brewers were lucky to have Garrett Mitchell still on the board at pick 20, and wasted no time selecting their guy. With an inconsistent swing coming out of high school, Mitchell spent his time at UCLA perfecting it and hitting consistently in 2019 and 2020.
At 6’3” tall and sporting a strong frame, he has shown he is capable of huge power at the plate. He is also extremely fast and covers a lot of ground, making center field a logical landing spot. Mitchell is an especially inspiring player because he is a type 1 diabetic, but he has shown time and time again that this diagnosis does not hinder his game-changing talent and grit.
Jared Kelley – Pick 47 (White Sox)
Jared Kelley is another high school prospect that made our list. He entered 2020 as the top high school prospect in the nation according to a large number of scouts. Kelley has a fastball that can reach speeds up to 98 mph, while also using an advanced change-up with fade and sink to keep hitters off-balance.
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Before the draft, Kelley was projected to be chosen in the mid-1st round, but he fell into the 2nd round. The White Sox could not pass up the opportunity to pick a pitcher that they have said they view as a future top-of-rotation player.
Biggest Surprise 2020 MLB Draft: Heston Kjerstad – Pick 2 (Orioles)
Kjerstad was an unlikely choice for the Orioles at the number 2 position in the draft, with many experts thinking he would be chosen later in the top 10. However, when looking more closely at his time at Arkansas, you can see why Baltimore fell in love with him.
In his Freshman year, Kjerstad broke Arkansas’ Freshman home run record with 14 and followed that up with 17 home runs in his Sophomore season. While his 2020 Junior season was cut short by the pandemic, he was putting up his best numbers yet.
The possible downsides to his game are his strikeout numbers due to being aggressive at the plate, as well as average speed for his position. Time will tell if the Orioles surprise number 2 pick will pay off, but there is certainly compelling evidence he will be a formidable pro for years to come.
Thank you for reading our MLB 2020 Draft review – if you enjoyed, please share on social media. Who was your favorite steal of this year’s draft?