The 2020 MLB draft will be held on June 10-11, and it will consist of five rounds. Teams will also be able to sign non-drafted players for a maximum $20,000 bonus.
The Pittsburgh Pirates own the seventh overall pick in this draft, as well as the 31st and 44th overall picks. Their draft bonus pool for five rounds was announced last month (that link has been updated since the Red Sox lost their second round draft pick). Each Saturday, we have been taking an in depth look at draft prospects who could be a good fit for that seventh overall pick, as well as players who fits better with those two lower picks. We have run out of guys who have been mentioned near the seventh pick, but we still have plenty of options for the two lower picks. In case you missed it, here’s our draft preview article.
We have posted 21 Draft Prospect Watch articles so far, which are all linked here:
Today we look at two of the top ranked players who haven’t been covered here yet. Both are strong possibilities for the 31st overall pick. At this point we are just trying to cover all of the bases here, so we are looking at the two highly rated players by Baseball America in their latest draft rankings, who aren’t listed above. The top two left at this point South Carolina right-handed pitcher Carmen Mlodzinski and Baylor shortstop Nick Loftin. They rank 25th and 29th respectively by Baseball America.
We start with Mlodzinski, who stands 6’2″, 230 pounds and he turned 21 years old earlier this year. He’s a redshirt sophomore this year due to a foot injury that cost him almost all of the 2019 season. His stock took a huge leap in the Cape Cod League last summer due to improved velocity and secondary pitches, as well as a strong performance throughout the season.
Before play stopped this season, Mlodzinski made four starts. He had a 2.84 ERA in 25.1 innings, with a 22:8 SO/BB ratio and a .258 BAA. He had a 5.52 ERA in 45.2 innings as a freshman and a 5.91 ERA in 10.2 innings last year before the injury, so his college success was limited to last summer and his decent start to this season. However, he was considered a solid prospect coming out of high school, so there is more of a track record than the college stats indicate.
Mlodzinski can get his fastball up to 98 MPH, and shows consistent 94-96 MPH velocity as a starter. The pitch has a lot of life, as you can see in the video below. His breaking ball was once a curve, but now is more of a slider/cutter combo, at times looking like two different pitches. It’s an effective pitch that he uses to get outs. His changeup is also above average at times. He’s a strike-thrower, who gets a lot of contact on the ground.
This isn’t a safe pick here, but there is significant upside potential with refinement. More consistency on his secondary pitches could turn him into a starter with a big frame, who throws strikes with three plus pitches.
Here is video from this year showing off all of his pitches
Nick Loftin is 6’1″, 185 pounds, and he turned 21 back in September. He’s a right-handed hitter. Loftin went undrafted out of high school, then immediately put up strong results as a freshman at Baylor. He’s a shortstop now, though his college career began as an outfielder. MLB Pipeline says that he has one of the highest floors in this draft class. He’s not only a safe pick, he has some solid defensive tools and the ability to make consistent contact at the plate.
Loftin was hitting .298/.339/.544 through 14 games this season. He appeared to make a change to add more power, as his slugging and strikeout rate went up, while his OBP went down. He put up an .811 OPS as a freshman, and it jumped to .908 last year in 53 games. Loftin had just 17 strikeouts last year in 268 plate appearances. BA calls him an above average defender at shortstop, who does everything well. MLB Pipeline gives him 55 grades for defense and arm. They also say that he’s not a flashy defender, though he makes all of the plays he should get to and has terrific instincts.
Loftin could have benefited from a full season this year. His power grades low, but we were seeing more before play shut down. His ability to make contact is above average, which should lead to decent OBP numbers in the pros. His speed is just average and he won’t be much of a stolen base threat. The potential upside here is that he has added some pop to his game, which would give him more value. The floor is an above average shortstop, who gets on base, but won’t reach double digits in steals or homers.
Here is video from this year
Here’s video from 2080 Baseball from last summer