The 2020 MLB draft was perhaps the most exciting MLB draft we have had in the last decade simply for the fact that we got to see live baseball of sorts when we haven’t gotten anything for months. Sure it was only 5 rounds, but because of that, it became very clear what teams were trying to do and therefore understand which teams succeeded and which teams fell on their face. The San Diego Padres did a marvelous job of manipulating money to get a couple of high-ceiling guys to add to their already impressive minor league collection of talent. The Friars added the following to their pipeline:
1.8 Robert Hassell III, OF – Independence HS (Tenn.) – Updated Top-50 Ranking – No. 9
Comp A (#34 overall) Justin Lange, SP – Llano HS (Texas) – No. 14
2.45 Owen Caissie, OF – Notre Dame HS (Canada) – No. 21
3.80 Cole Wilcox, SP – University of Georgia – No. 11
4.109 Levi Thomas, SP – Troy University – No. 35
5.139 Jagger Haynes, P – West Columbus HS (N. Carolina) – Unranked
The draft overall is top-heavy in talent, as Wilcox and Hassell are huge talents. The cost of acquiring those guys, however, meant that some players were cost-saving selections. Even so, I really like what the Padres did here as the picks that they were able to save some money on still have some serious upside. Here is my profile on the 2020 class for the Padres.
Robert Hassell III, OF – The Padres were the first team to pull the trigger on the high school talent pool in 2020 and they chose Hassell over Zac Veen (who went No. 9). Hassell was considered to have the best hit tool of the prep hitters, and it is indeed very pretty and level. He has room to grow, but looks athletic and has the fundamentals already, which is very impressive for a young kid. His swing reminds me a little of Bryce Harper‘s, but without the astonishing violence that Harper is famous for. He loads early on and probably sacrifices some power because of it, but with some advanced coaching, there is reason to hope that he can develop modest power. He is a great athlete who also was considered a LHP prospect before the draft.
Most pundits had Veen ahead of Hassell because of the power, but the Padres clearly loved his hit tool and think that the power just needs to be unlocked. I agree with them. To me, I’d slot Hassell in at No. 9 in my rankings, right behind Gabriel Arias and before Ryan Weathers. The hit tool should carry him, and if he can get some higher exit velocities as he matures there is a really nice ceiling here.
Highlights of Padres first pick in the 2020 draft CF Robert Hassell pic.twitter.com/ItqH39FQKD
— Judson Richards (@Judson1360) June 11, 2020
Justin Lange, RHP – The Padres took a chance on another high school player with the Comp. pick at No. 34 overall with Justin Lange. Lange got the added benefit of actually playing some games before the COVID-19 shut down and he did not disappoint. Already showing a nice arm, he showed up a huge spike touching 100 MPH in games and even 101 in a bullpen session. His delivery isn’t super athletic as of now, which makes his arm strength even more impressive. He also added serious muscle in his senior year.
The offspeed offerings are a ways off and his delivery worries me for future injuries. He also has such a limited showing of his new elite velocity that it’s impossible to know if he can maintain it or what the long term effects will be on his body. Lange is very risky to be sure. However, with that risk also came a discount — if Lange had a full season of high school showing off his new velocity he most assuredly would have gone top 20. For now, I will stay a little pessimistic on him with my rankings but he is someone that I can’t wait to see in the future. I’ll slot him in at No. 14, just ahead of Owen Miller.
▫️Full Draft Report
▫️Data from @TrackManBB
— PBR Texas (@PBR_Texas) May 5, 2020
Owen Caissie, OF – Caissie is a very intriguing pick, both in his talent and what he allowed the Padres to do with their next pick. A Canadian prep bat who is celebrated for his cerebral hitting and massive (potential) power. Looking at him, you wouldn’t believe he his a 17-year-old kid — the dude looks like Joey Gallo already. He also has above-average speed and studies the game nonstop. There is a lot to like. However, there are some question marks as well. He looks like he might struggle against left-handed pitching as some of the videos I’ve watched show some in-the-bucket tendencies. He also is a cold-weather kid which means there will be a lot of development with him in addition to his very young age. There are a lot of different roads he could take. He was around the #75-100 ranked prospect in the draft as well, which leads to the main value of taking Caissie here: the money.
The savings that Caissie will undoubtedly bring allowed the Padres to splurge on Cole Wilcox. To be fair, I like Caissie as a prospect to be sure. His size at his age is eye-popping and the power is there. His sneaky athleticism also reminds me more of Gallo. I’ll go ahead and slot him in at No. 21, ahead of Jorge Ona. He’s going to take a long time to develop but his monetary savings and ceiling make this a wonderful pick for the Padres.
— PBR Ontario (@PBR_Ontario) June 11, 2020
Cole Wilcox, RHP – The savings of Caissie (in addition to Levi Thomas) allowed the Padres to float Wilcox to them at No. 80. Wilcox was pretty unanimously a top-30 type of player going into the draft, so the Padres clearly had a plan here. At 6’5” and 230 pounds Wilcox is a potential ace with his high 90s heat and plus slider. Watching him pitch will get anyone pretty excited as his stuff is simply off the charts. As a draft-eligible sophomore, he will command a hefty signing bonus. With the picks the Padres made, they should be able to get it done.
Wilcox isn’t without imperfections of course. His delivery does not instill a lot of confidence as he falls off-balance after he lands pretty dramatically. He repeats it well, to be fair, but it clearly has led to some command issues in the past (although in 2020 he only walked 2 batters in 23 innings). The stuff is there, however, and I could see a case to make a claim that Wilcox is the best player the Padres drafted. For me though, I like the hitter, so I’ll slot Wilcox in at No. 11, just ahead of Jake Cronenworth and after Ryan Weathers.
Clip of Cole Wilcox RHP (UGA) @baseballUGA in most recent/final start of the yr. 1) SL inner third & gloveside break. 2) Plus FB control, K. The 6’5″ sophomore has a control over command profile, flashes two plus pitches, FB 94-96 & SL 86-88, a dangerous combo. 📈 #MLBDraft #MiLB pic.twitter.com/rO08UCL2ki
— Michael Marino (@MMarinoMiLB) March 26, 2020
Levi Thomas, RHP – After the money allotted to Wilcox, there wasn’t a lot left for the Padres and their last two picks show that quite clearly. Thomas showed he could pitch very effectively at Troy, and throws a ton of strikes. Also, teams seemed to love his attitude and tenacity on the mound. Of course, the real value here is the signing bonus that Thomas already has agreed to — $80k. That’s far below the $533K slot bonus for that pick. Thomas wasn’t a lock to even be drafted, so the Padres stuck to their plan here.
It’s not to say that Thomas is a non-prospect. He gets some nice run on his fastball, running it up to 93 MPH at times. As a stalwart in the Troy pitching staff, Thomas comes with a lot of valuable experience. He was picked to sign Wilcox — but that shouldn’t mean you write him off. I’ll slot him in at No. 35, ahead of Mason Thompson.
ICYMI: Levi Thomas recorded 14 strikeouts on Friday night…
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) February 18, 2020
Jagger Haynes, LHP – Jagger Haynes seems like the guy you take in MLB the Show because you haven’t scouted anyone else, and he has a sweet name. The Padres may have done that in addition to saving a bit more money for Wilcox. Haynes is a big lefty who is committed to North Carolina (he might still elect to go there to be fair). Also, he comes from the same county as MacKenzie Gore so maybe the Padres hope something is in the water over there.
He sits around 88 at the moment, but I like his delivery and is all projection at this point. I really think that the best thing for him would be to go to UNC and develop there to up his stock. I can’t imagine the Padres have much to offer him. If he does sign, however, I don’t think I would have him in the top 50 for the Padres.
Really good look at 2020 #Heels commit Jagger Haynes (NC) as he’s scoreless through 3. Athletic deliv w/ a projectable frame; 86-88 w/ good life & an above avg CH here @ 78-80. Like the upside. pic.twitter.com/iTaDQuVmx3
— Vinnie Cervino (@vcervinoPG) July 9, 2019