Draft Prospect Watch: A Look at Two of the Top High School Bats

The 2020 Major League draft will be held on June 10-12, with the Pittsburgh Pirates making the seventh overall pick on day one of the event. They also have the 31st and 44th overall picks that day. Each Saturday, we will take an in depth look at one prospect who could be a good fit for that seventh overall pick, as well as another who rates a little lower and fits better with those two lower picks. In case you missed it, here’s our draft preview article.

Last week we featured two of the top college bats in this class. Today we move on to high school bats. We start with a player who is all over the prospect map. Depending on which source you like, he either fits the seventh overall pick, he’s much better for the 44th pick, or he’s a big reach at #7, but won’t be around for the 31st pick. Jordan Walker, a 17-year-old third baseman from Georgia, has the followings rankings:

Fangraphs – 7th

MLB Pipeline – 21st

Baseball America – 43rd

I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone this high up with such a split like that, where experts think he actually makes sense for three different picks. So to properly do this, I’m going to say why he fits all three spots, using the scouting reports from those three sources.

Walker is a 6’5″, 220 right-handed hitter, who turns 18 right before the draft. Fangraphs doesn’t have a great report as far as content, just saying that he has a big frame, “some” bat control and he might grow into power. That’s not exactly much of a sales pitch for the seventh overall pick in a strong draft class.

Pipeline has a glowing report, calling him “arguably the best Duke recruit ever”, who comes from a great upbringing and he’s a quality student. He has easy bat speed and some of the best power potential in the draft class. The thing that keeps him from a higher rank is that his swing can get long and he needs better pitch recognition. He is an athletic player, but he will probably end up being a slightly below average runner and could move off third base. His arm is strong and would play up in a corner outfield spot.

Baseball America hits all of the same key points for Walker, but they don’t mention the weaknesses at the plate. They think he might be able to stay at third base, but see first base as more realistic if he has to move.

So all three sources focus in on power potential, with BA actually giving him the best report, despite the lowest ranking. In case his rankings weren’t confusing enough to start, the lowest source on him seems to like him the most when you go by descriptions.

Anyway, here are some videos of the potential high-mid-late first round pick

Prospect Pipeline has fielding and hitting

This video from Perfect Game is a great chance to get to know Walker

I decided to go with another player who has an odd split, though not as extreme. Fangraphs has 18-year-old, lefty hitting outfielder Zac Veen, rated at the fourth best player in the draft. That’s 12 spots ahead of Baseball America and 19 spots ahead of MLB Pipeline. Not quite the Walker split, though that’s the difference between a great first pick for the Pirates and a real reach with that pick.

Veen has a projectable 6’4″ frame, with some in game power now, but more raw power at this point and plenty of time to increase that raw potential as he fills out. He checks all of the boxes while in the batter’s box. Besides the power, he has discipline, a great eye, a consistent/smooth swing and above average bat speed. BA calls him a potential five-tool center fielder. Fangraphs says a prototypical center field prospect, while Pipeline believes he might end up at a corner spot, but still gives him solid grades across the board. Veen has a commitment to Florida, but that won’t be an issue if he really is drafted this high in the first round.

Here’s a video from Prospect Live

Here’s a second one from 2080 Baseball

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