MLB Mock Draft 2020: Latest Predictions for Zac Veen, Top Outfield Prospects

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMay 22, 2020

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred speaks during the first round of the Major League Baseball draft, Monday, June 3, 2019, in Secaucus, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Julio Cortez/Associated Press

Zac Veen has established himself as the top high school and outfield prospect in the 2020 MLB draft class. 

The Florida native could be an intriguing selection for a handful of ball clubs selecting in the top 10, and once he is chosen, it may spur a run on outfielders. 

As many as six outfielders from a mixture of high school and collegiate talent may be selected in the top half of the first round June 10. 


2020 MLB 1st-Round Mock Draft

1. Detroit Tigers: Spencer Torkelson, 1B, Arizona State

2. Baltimore Orioles: Austin Martin, 3B/OF, Vanderbilt

3. Miami Marlins: Asa Lacy, LHP, Texas A&M

4. Kansas City Royals: Emerson Hancock, RHP, Georgia

5. Toronto Blue Jays: Max Meyer, RHP, Minnesota

6. Seattle Mariners: Nick Gonzales, 2B, New Mexico State

7. Pittsburgh Pirates: Zac Veen, OF, Spruce Creek HS (Florida)

8. San Diego Padres: Reid Detmers, LHP, Louisville 

9. Colorado Rockies: Heston Kjerstad, OF, Arkansas

10. Los Angeles Angels: Cade Cavalli, RHP, Oklahoma

11. Chicago White Sox: Garrett Mitchell, OF, UCLA

12. Cincinnati Reds: Austin Hendrick, OF, West Allegheny HS (Pa.)

13. San Francisco Giants: Jared Kelley, RHP, Refugio HS (Texas)

14. Texas Rangers: Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, Harvard-Westlake HS (Calif.) 

15. Philadelphia Phillies: Robert Hassell, OF, Independence HS (Tenn.)

16. Chicago Cubs: Mick Abel, RHP, Jesuit HS (Ore.)

17. Boston Red Sox: Garrett Crochet, LHP, Tennessee

18. Arizona Diamondbacks: Nick Bitsko, RHP, Central Bucks East HS (Pa.)

19. New York Mets: Patrick Bailey, C, NC State

20. Milwaukee Brewers: Ed Howard, SS, Mount Carmel HS (Ill.)

21. St. Louis Cardinals: Tyler Soderstrom, C, Turlock HS (Calif.) 

22. Washington Nationals: Cole Wilcox, RHP, Georgia

23. Cleveland Indians: Carmen Mlodzinski, RHP, South Carolina

24. Tampa Bay Rays: Slade Cecconi, RHP, Miami

25. Atlanta Braves: Dillon Dingler, C, Ohio State

26. Oakland Athletics: Dylan Crews, OF, Lake Mary HS (Fla.) 

27. Minnesota Twins: Nick Loftin, SS, Baylor

28. New York Yankees: Justin Foscue, 2B, Mississippi State

29. Los Angeles Dodgers: Jordan Westburg, SS, Mississippi State


Top Outfield Prospects

Zac Veen 

Veen should land somewhere between the Kansas City Royals at No. 4 and San Diego Padres at No. 8. 

The Athletic's Keith Law projected Veen to land with the Royals, which would make him the top second-tier pick behind the consensus top three of Spencer Torkelson, Austin Martin and Asa Lacy. 

ESPN.com's Kiley McDaniel noted the Toronto Blue Jays, with the No. 5 selection, have showed interest in Veen for quite some time: "The strongest buzz is they were enamored with Veen during their multiple early-spring looks while many of their scouts and execs were in Florida for spring training."

CBS Sports' Michael Axisa detailed that Veen "wowed against elite competition in summer showcase events last summer, which left a great impression." 

Kansas City has valued pitching at the top of three of the last four drafts, but the last two hitters they selected in the first round came from high school, including 2019 No. 2 overall pick Bobby Witt Jr. 

Although Toronto has displayed interest in Veen, its first-round draft trend favors collegiate players. The Blue Jays have selected a single high school player in the opening round since 2014.

The Jays could go after Emerson Hancock, Max Meyer or Reid Detmers to bolster their pitching depth or settle on Nick Gonzales, who is the best middle infield prospect. 

If he drops past Kansas City and Toronto, the Pittsburgh Pirates could be a good fit for Veen. 

The Pirates have selected four high school players in the first round over the last seven years, and they could add Veen to three top-10 outfield prospects at Double-A or lower. 


Heston Kjerstad

Michael Woods/Associated Press

Heston Kjerstad's power during the shortened 2020 college baseball season may have boosted him into the top 10. 

The Arkansas outfielder hit six home runs in 78 plate appearances and recorded a .448 batting average and 1.304 OPS. In 2019, Kjerstad produced 17 long balls with a .327 batting average and .975 OPS. 

Although the early power occurred outside of the SEC, Kjerstad still displayed improvements that should intrigue the Padres, Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Angels among others. 

MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo pointed out that teams, like Colorado, could benefit from his lefty bat: "Many teams like Kjerstad's left-handed power and the Rockies would likely be very interested to see how it will play in Coors Field."

Colorado should be in the market for an outfielder since one player at the position is listed in its top 10 prospects by MLB.com.

The decision could come down to Kjerstad and high school outfielders Austin Hendrick, Robert Hassell and Pete Crow-Armstrong. 

If Colorado opts for a more experienced outfielder, the high school players could be in contention for picks Nos. 10-15 along with UCLA's Garrett Mitchell.


Austin Hendrick

Once you get past Veen and Kjerstad, there is plenty of variety when it comes to projections for other outfielders. 

Austin Hendrick has been predicted to go as high as No. 8 by McDaniel and as low as No. 16 in Mayo's mock draft.

There is a chance the Pirates show interest in Hendrick because he resides in the club's backyard in western Pennsylvania. 

McDaniel linked Hendrick with the Padres at No. 8 because his tendencies at the plate are in line with what the National League West team prefers: "Hendrick's electric bat speed and plus raw power fit the Padres' tendencies a little better." 

Most experts are in agreement on Hendrick's raw power, but there are some concerns about his consistency, which could drop him outside of the top 10. 

"There are days Hendrick will look like the best hitter in the country and days he'll get overmatched by lower-caliber competition," Axisa wrote, "but the raw tools are quite promising." 

Cincinnati, Texas and Philadelphia could all be in the mix for outfielders in the middle of the first round, and they could all land prep players to develop in their respective minor league systems. 

Given all of the interest in the position, Hendrick is not expected to fall out of the top 15.


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Statistics obtained from Baseball Reference