31. Logan Gilbert, Seattle Mariners
Gilbert comes from Stetson University which should perk up some ears. The Hatters have a solid track history when it comes to pitching at the Major League level as they’ve produced both Corey Kluber and Jacob DeGrom. Gilbert may not have the upside these two Cy Young winners have, but he looks like a solid pitcher who should stick around for a long time. There is a lot of variance between prospect rankings once you get past 30. With Logan being one of the only guys ranked in the top 35 by almost every scouting service I chose to go with him here.
Gilbert is tall and armed with a wide array of above average to potentially plus pitches. He’s been able to add some velocity since being drafted in 2018 and now hits 95+ late into his outings. He backs up his solid fastball with a slider, change, and curve. The two breaking pitches Logan throws alternate as to which one is better but they both have a chance to be solid pitches. The changeup is Gilbert’s best off-speed offering as he throws it with great conviction. The change-of-pace has great late fade as Logan extends well off the rubber.
Gilbert is somewhat similar to Matt Manning given how tall they both are but Manning has the upper hand when it comes to stuff. He seems to be able to dominate more given the quality of his repertoire. Neither of Gilbert’s breaking pitches have quite the life Matt’s curve does so it limits how high of a ceiling the former Hatter has.
Logan’s Minor League numbers show how good he could be. He throws a lot of strikes and is able to keep hitters off balance given how many offerings he has. If Gilbert can refine one of his breaking pitches to be closer to plus then he might have a chance to be the ace of the Mariners’ pitching core.
32. Michael Kopech, Chicago White Sox
Kopech has been on the radar for quite some time. He was drafted as a supplemental first-rounder back in 2014 by Boston and was traded to the south side in the Chris Sale deal. People took notice of this guy early on in large part due to his velocity. He regularly hits triple digits with it one time getting up to 105. There’s plenty of upside with Kopech and it is time for him to put it all together.
Michael is in a position where something good needs to happen. He required Tommy John surgery in 2018, putting him out for all of 2019. He then elected to sit out of the 2020 season due to Covid-19. It’s been quite a while since he’s pitched and he needs to come out guns akimbo is he wishes to make the kind of impact everyone believes he’s capable of. With Chicago in a position to win right now, it’s all hands on deck. Kopech needs to show he can hang with the big boys immediately if he wants to stick around with the White Sox.
Some people have compared the young righty to Noah Syndergaard and for good reason. Michael has one of the better fastballs you’ll ever see and he couples that with a plus slider. The fastball is much more than just velo. The pitch has great riding life to it, making it the perfect pitch to use up in the zone in strikeout situations. The slide piece is an offering Kopech can be really proud of because of how many whiffs he gets. The movement coupled with upper-80’s velocity makes it a tough pitch to handle for both lefties and righties.
He’s continually worked on a changeup and curve but neither have been very useful to this point. If one of them become serviceable then there’s no telling what Kopech could do. The problem has been the lack of development from both. Another issue surrounding the flame-thrower is his command. Michael seemed to get things under control toward the end of 2018, but he often has had problems locating his pitches. Something else worth mentioning is his health. Someone throwing as hard as Kopech does might be more susceptible to injury. He undeniably has the talent to be a star, but there are questions that need answers sooner rather than later.
33. Corbin Carroll, Arizona Diamondbacks
Carroll has started to rise up boards over the past year and finds himself firmly in the top 50 of almost every prospect rankings list. Most people have hime somewhere between 35-45, but I’m a little higher on him. The profile is an exciting one given his feel to hit and blazing speed. The only thing left for Corbin to do is to add some power and there are some signs he may be able to do that. Carroll handled himself well in 2020 while playing at Arizona’s alternate site, leaving some wondering if he could be the first player from the 2019 Draft to make it to the Majors.
Corbin’s strengths lie in his ability to hit and his speed. Many saw him as one of the better hitters in his draft class and he’s been able to live up to that so far. While it isn’t a very big sample size, Carroll hit .299/.409/.487 after being drafted. He’s a good decision maker at the plate. He hits the ball where it’s pitched and knows the strike zone well. You can tell he focuses on making good contact without worrying about what the end result is. The quality of his at-bats are very impressive for someone his age. He’s already added some power to his swing since joining the D-Backs and the thought is that there’s more yet to come. He may not be a big home run guy but he has a chance to hit 10-15 a season. His hit tool will always be better than the power production, but if Corbin can start to show more over the fence power he could be one of the more well rounded players in baseball.
Carrolls speed is easily plus. He can change the outlook of a play as he uses his wheels well when beating out a ball on the infield or tracking one down in center. Corbin will be a center fielder at the next level as he has all the ingredients needed to man the position well. Fans of the Diamondbacks that remember how well Ender Inciarte did when he first came will be reminded of his watching this young man.
Something that I love about Corbin is how hard he plays. He isn’t quite the spark plug type of guy that relies on hustle entirely, but he isn’t someone who’ll back down from a challenge. You need guys who play with a chip on their shoulder to help you win games. Carroll brings an edge to the game; it’s easy to envision him being the leader in Arizona once his Major League career gets under way.
34. Jordan Groshans, Toronto Blue Jays
Most people have Gorshans lower than this, but I love the guy. The only major scouting service I’ve seen that has Jordan in the top-35 is Baseball America (34). Groshans was a guy that I really liked coming out of the 2018 Draft. He had an at-bat in the Perfect Game All-American Classic in San Diego where he hit a high-and-in fastball down the left field line for a line drive homer; I was sold when I saw that. He generates great bat speed and is an advanced decision maker at the plate. Groshans is also a very good athlete and uses that well when playing the infield.
I listed Jordan’s position as infielder because I’m not entirely sure where he will play. He was drafted out of high school as a shortstop but given his size he more than likely won’t play there when reaching the Majors. Given his arm I would say he winds up at third, forcing Vlady Jr. to first base long-term.
Gorshans has played only 71 games in his Minor League career with none of the coming above Low-A, but he’s been incredibly impressive. His .309/.376/.457 triple slash line shows how good of a hitter he is. Jordan’s swing is pretty simple with a bat wiggle as he loads. It’s not really a hitch; the wiggle acts more like a timing mechanism in his swing and it works out well. Gorshans makes tons of contact and is more than capable of using the whole field. He uses his long levers well as he produces solid power with room to add more as he fills out his frame. He may need to add a little more loft to his swing as well to reach his full potential as a power hitter, but as of now he shows solid power numbers.
Groshans has played some solid defense at short, but he will more than likely move off the position as he climbs the organizational ladder. He’ll add more weight as he gets older and slow down, necessitating a move to third. He’s a pretty fluid defender that should be able to handle the hot corner well for years to come. The combination of solid defense and advanced hitting reminds me of a young Evan Longoria or Troy Tulowitzki.
35. Nick Madrigal, Chicago White Sox
Madrigal isn’t my type of player. There isn’t much power in his profile whatsoever and he doesn’t walk much. Despite that, he seems like the kind of guy that will have along, successful career. The former Beaver was drafted by Chicago fourth overall in the 2018 Draft and made his way to the south side in 2020 while hitting .340 in his first 103 at-bats. Nick was compared to Dustin Pedroia coming out of college for his stature and demeanor. Now that the 2008 MVP has officially retired, it’s time for Madrigal to pick up the mantle of ultimate spark plug.
Nick is limited to second defensively, doesn’t walk all that much, and will more than likely never hit more than 10 home runs in a season. The guy has his flaws, but he finds ways to be productive. The reason many think of him as a potential star is his ability to hit. He hardly ever swings and misses as he registered a minuscule 21 strikeouts in the Minors. His K% after being drafted was 3%. That elevated to 6.4% when reaching the Majors, but it is still incredibly impressive. He just doesn’t strike out, which is a major strength to have in today’s game. His flat bat helps him hit a lot of line drives and grounders which he beats out more times than not. He uses the whole field and hits plenty of liners and that usually leads to a high average. It has as Nick batted .309 in the Minors and .340 in his initial call-up. To put it plainly, the kid can hit.
The thing that reminded people of Pedrioa when they watched Madrigal in college was his acumen or the game. He has a knack for making the right play more often than not. Taking the extra bag or making a really smart play in the field is something Madrigal is no stranger to as he finds ways to make great plays. He’s also a very hard worker who wears his heart on his sleeve, willing to lead a team by his actions rather than his words. Nick will be the glue that holds the White Sox together as they look to win their first championship since 2005. There might be more talented players in Chicago, but there are none more important than this guy.
36. Emerson Hancock, Seattle Mariners
Hancock hasn’t thrown a single inning as a pro yet so it may seem a bit odd to have him this high, but his talent is undeniable. Some had the former Georgia Bulldog pegged as the number one guy in the 2020 Draft but he fell to sixth where Seattle snatched him up. Everything about this young man screams stud as he has all the ingredients of a future All-Star pitcher.
The pure stuff Hancock works with is extremely impressive. His fastball sits 93-97 with it reaching 99. He can throw is up or down in the zone to create weak/no contact. The riding life his four-seamer has generates a lot of whiffs up in the zone while his sinker/two-seamer creates plenty of weak grounders. He pairs the heat with a slider, curve, and change with the hook being behind the other two.
Emerson’s sliders seems like his best off-speed pitch as of right now. It has great late break and it very effective against righties when Hancock gets them to two strikes. The changeup is the third best offering Emerson has in his arsenal right now and looks like it will be a solid, maybe above average, pitch when said and done. The curve is his worst offering to date, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. It looks more like something Hancock will use to give batters a different look, but it can be effective. As of right now, Emerson has a chance at five above average pitches with three or four of them being elite; that’s hard to find anywhere else.
There have been some minor issues pop up for Hancock, but I don’t think they’re all that worrisome. He had some control issues early on in his college career and he also dealt with what the Mariners called tenderness after being drafted. The command doesn’t worry me because of how athletic Hancock is on the mound. He’s kept his body in sync well enough to where some of his sporadic outings have grown fewer. The injury seemed more like the team being cautious. Whatever possible hiccups he may face, Hancock has the talent to overcome them.
37. Drew Waters, Atlanta Braves
Waters’s dream came true when he was picked by his hometown team in the 2017 Draft in the second round. Ever since then, he’s done nothing but rake and display an array of skills. Waters has a knack for hitting the ball well and showing talent in all facets of the game. The switch-hitting 22 year old has a chance at being a five-tool player someday, making for one of the most talented outfield in MLB history with Pache and Acuña already in Atlanta.
Drew made it to AAA in 2019 so it won’t be a stretch whatsoever to say he’ll be up sometime in 2021. With Nick Markakis announcing his retirement, a position has opened up and I’m sure Waters will be eyeing it. Realistically, it will be Waters’ job to lose.
Drew can do a lot of things on the field. All five of his tools rate out to be solid-to-above-average and he displays that on a regular basis. While he won’t get the chance to play center for the Braves. Many believe Drew could do so given his arm strength and solid first step. He seems to react to the ball off the bat very well as he makes difficult plays look fairly routine. It doesn’t hurt he has good wheels as well. His speed isn’t quite on the level of the other outfielders in Atlanta, but Waters has got wheels and he uses them well on defense and offense.
Drew is pretty impressive at the plate and he’s only gotten better. His average since coming into pro ball has climbed from .278 in 2017 to .309 in 2019 when he split time between Double and Triple-A. He uses the entire field like most switch-hitters and has a knack for making a good amount of contact. That contact has gotten louder as time has gone on and it looks like there still some power left in the tank. He doesn’t have incredible bat speed, but his quality of contact is pretty great.
The only real wart on Drew’s profile is his eye at the plate. He’s struggled in the past with striking out and it is exacerbated by a low walk rate. He reportedly struggled at the Braves’ alternate site, but team officials choose to look at it as a great learning experience. Now that he’s been able to face advanced pitching in a no pressure setting, he may fare better once called up. Given the amount of data we have from his days in the Minors, he may always struggle with swinging and missing.
38. Max Meyer, Miami Marlins
The Orioles selected Keston Hjerstad with the second pick of the 2020 MLB Draft, surprising everyone. Miami followed Baltimore up with another eyebrow-raising move as they went with the righty out of Minnesota, Max Meyer. Meyer impressed everyone in his junior season as he showed the makings of an elite arm with room to grow.
Some people have likened the number three overall pick to former Louisville Cardinal Brendan McKay and current Reds reliever Michael Lorenzen. The comps mostly come from the fact that Meyer played in the field as well as pitched when in college. There’s very little chance he ends up playing much as a position player, but he may be able to offer up something at the plate.
The comparison to Lorenzen is one I personally like. They both had/have reliever questions while being able to fire in strikes at nearly 100 mph. Meyer is armed with a flame-thrower as his fastball routinely sits 93-97 with it holding velocity deep into starts. He couples that with what is already one of the best breakers in all of the Minors. His slider has nice two-plane action with incredible late life. He does throw a changeup, but the pitch hasn’t been consistent and is a distant third offering. Even without a reliable third pitch, Max has a chance to be a solid rotation piece based on his current stuff.
Meyer’s delivery is very repeatable given how athletic he is and he’s been able to maintain his velocity deep into starts despite being slight of frame. He’s by no means a small person, but you typically like to see players be a little bigger if you’re going to pick them third. His size may cause issues down the line and limit how high of a ceiling he has, but Max seems like the kind of guy that can overcome that. More so than anything, him being a starter or reliever comes down to him being able to throw some sort of off-speed pitch. To this point, the change lags behind his other offering mostly due to how good his fastball and slider are.
39. Triston McKenzie, Cleveland Indians
McKenzie made his debut for the Tribe in 2020 and posted solid numbers. In his 33.1 innings of work he had an ERA of 3.24 while striking out 42 batters. Cleveland has done a better job than anyone at developing MLB arms and Triston looks like he’ll be another notch in the team’s belt on the front.
The first thing that stands out about McKenzie is his size; he is incredibly thin and it scared people off when he was in high school, allowing him to fall to 42 in the 2015 Draft. People were optimistic about him being able to add weight once he got older, but that hasn’t happened and it may seriously hamper how good he can be. Hardly ever has there been a MLB player with his size regardless of position. The lanky bean pole is reminiscent of a young Chris Sale in terms of his frame but even Chris had 30 pounds on the kid way back then.
Despite the worries about McKenzie’s size, there’s no real denying his stuff. Triston throws four pitches (fastball, slider, curve, and changeup) with the fastball and curve ball being his two best offerings. Those two pitches proved to be good in his first time around the block, but it was really his slider that made Triston so good. Batters hit .130 against the slide-piece with a whiff% of 44.2. He predominantly used the numero uno and then used one of his two breaking pitches to get guys out. It was a recipe that worked and should continue to do so.
All the data says I should be looking at this guy as a frontline starter, but his frame makes it very difficult. His velocity dipped during his debut from one start to the next, meaning he isn’t meant for starting long-term right now. He’s also dealt with a few injuries over his MiLB career, meaning he’s going to have a hard time staying on the field if he doesn’t add at least 30 pounds of good weight. The stuff is undeniable but his body is a major concern and makes me think he may be best as a long relief specialist.
40. Luis Campusano, San Diego Padres
Born in Augusta, Georgia, Campusano was the first catcher taken off the board in the 2017 Draft. He was selected by the Padres out of high school and he has quickly ascended into being one of the best backstop prospects in all of baseball. I think the way he’s progressed has surprised even the Padres, but I’m sure there fine moving someone with All-Star upside quicker than expected.
Luis can hit; that’s all there is to it. The guy has a career .304/.372/.444 triple slash line in the Minors and it is no hoax. None of those at-bats came above High-A so some may question how real of a hitter he is, but the Padres have been in awe of the strides the young catcher has made over the past year and change. Campusano was at the team’s alternate site in 2020 and was so impressive they made the move to bring him up the bigs. He didn’t disappoint in his brief debut as he hit a laser out of Oakland, showing what should be in store for 2021 and beyond.
Watching him hit from year-to-year, you can tell Campusano is really starting to understand how to handle himself at the plate. He’s learned how to use his leverage well and it has helped him tap into considerable power. He starts in an open stance where he just attacks the ball at contact. His improvements at the plate have been more mechanical than mindset as he’s been willing to use the whole field. Small adjustments to his swing have resulted in large leap forward for Luis, making him a potentially elite catcher down the line.
Defensively, Campusano holds his own. Despite being 230 pounds, he moves well behind the plate. His weight is evenly distributed throughout his body with his thighs being his most noticeable feature. He isn’t going to lug around behind home as he is athletic and should stick at catcher for quite some time. The all-around skillset Campusano offers up is one people pray for out of there catchers. If the Padres weren’t rich enough, they are now with a prize backstop set to take the league by storm in 2021.