Last week was part one of this look at the last two draft and signee classes for prospects, looking at the 2019 class last week, and now in part two we’ll look at the bigger names from the 2020 classes who were really affected by the pandemic and the cancellation of the minor league season last year. These are players who will likely be up next year at the earliest but now is the time to grab them as keepers if possible because they’re stock will only rise from here on out if they do what I expect them to in their development.

We’ll cover a couple of recent call-ups as well before we dig into the 2020 FYPD (First Year Player Draft) prospects.

Jarred Kelenic, OF SEA - By now everyone knows about Kelenic and the lefty-hitting outfielder who should be the next great left-handed bat in the game. He’s drawn comps to some of the biggest bats in recent history and present day like Ken Griffey Jr. and Bryce Harper and while the beginnings of that are there, it’s too early to give those comps. He has a smooth, quick stroke that produces plus-power and then has plus-speed on the basepaths as well. If he is still available in your league, grab him now and listen to this week’s MLB Podcast to hear what I think he’s capable of this year as he comes up on Thursday.

James Kaprielian, RHP OAK - Kaprielian was the key piece in return for Sonny Gray when he was traded from the A’s to the Yankees. Since then the righty has been held off the field by a couple of different injuries including Tommy John which ate up his 2017 and 2018 seasons. He’s now slated to get his first MLB start on Wednesday for Oakland. The righty uses a mid 90s sinking fastball to anchor his four-pitch mix with his slider and curveball also grading as above-average while the changeup sits as an average MLB offering. The hope was there that he could be a frontline starter when drafted in the first round in 2015 but that has since past as he will likely transition between a number-four starter and a bullpen piece for Oakland.

Trevor Larnach, OF MIN - Larnach has made his long-awaited MLB debut with the injury to Byron Buxton after Alex Kirilloff came up last week. Larnach is the kind of corner outfield bat we’ve gotten used to in this day-and-age with above-average hit and power tools while not being great in the speed category; it's mainly the bat that we’re counting on to be a likely number-five hitter in a lineup and a run producer. Depending on how things shuffle out when Buxton returns, Larnach might be up for the long haul here with an outfield down the stretch of Kirilloff, Buxton, and Larnach from left to right.

2020 Draftees and International Signees

Heston Kjerstad, OF BAL - Kjerstad was a surprise pick at number two for the Orioles in 2020 but the power from the lefty stroke made sense at that spot. He has had health issues since being drafted that kept him from appearing at the alternate site last year and from spring training this year but now he’s back in the fold and working on consistently tapping into that power. There are a lot of moving pieces to his swing right now that will have to be worked out to make the swing more repeatable and dependable but the plus-power could be a field day in Camden Yards as we’ve seen from other lefty hitters in Baltimore. He’s a couple of years away but the 30-35 homer pop is real but average won’t ever be all that great and that’s the trade off here.

Max Meyer, RHP MIA - Meyer went third overall to the Marlins in the 2020 FYPD and even then, it was good value. Meyer had the best pitch in the draft class with his elite slider and backs it up with an elite fastball as well. The 6’0” 195-pound righty was the closer for the Minnesota Golden Gophers and coming out there was concern that he wouldn’t be big enough to be the frontline starter the stuff suggests he could be, but he’s since put those concerns to rest with his time at the alternate site last year. The stuff certainly opened eyes at spring training before being sent to the minors to open the season. The fastball is in the mid-90s and has topped out at 100 previously with tight spin that generates late movement. The slider is the masterpiece of the arsenal and is a true out pitch to both handedness of hitter while rounding it out with a changeup that is surprising people with it’s depth and fade. Meyer has the potential to come up later this summer as a high-leverage reliever or closer but if they want to develop him as a starter expect mid-season next year as the ETA and he likely slots in behind Sixto Sánchez and either Trevor Rogers or Sandy Alcantara making the Marlins rotation as deep as any in the majors.

Asa Lacy, LHP KC - Four plus-pitches and velo from a lefty is what made him an easy pick for the Royals at number four overall. He should move very quickly through the Royals’ system as a polished college starter with three years of SEC competition and a great feel for pitching. The fastball sits in the mid-90s and has great downward action with the southpaw using his 6’4” frame to its fullest extent and then backs that up with two plus-breaking pitches in an upper-80s hard-biting slider and a mid-80s downer curveball that both pile up the Ks on both sides of the plate. He also has a changeup with nice fade and deception that flashes plus at times. He’s the next ace of the Royals’ rotation that will fill out with arms like Brady Singer , Daniel Lynch, and Jackson Koward with Lacy expected to be up in mid-2022.

Emerson Hancock, RHP SEA - Just how loaded is the Mariners’ farm system? Hancock doesn’t get talked about at all and might just be the top pitching prospect in Seattle, at worst he’s the second-best arm in the Mariners’ system. He has FIVE plus-pitches, two elite fastballs, two breaking balls, and a changeup. The fastballs are each thrown with the same high-90s velocity in one being a four-seamer with riding life up in the zone and the two-seamer with riding and sinking life down in the zone. The curveball and slider are each distinct with the slider having more life and the curve being of the power variety while the changeup is at times his best secondary pitch. The 6’4” righty should be a quick mover through the system and eventually be a number-two starter for Seattle with an ETA of 2022.

Zac Veen, OF COL - If there was any landing spot for Veen in the 2020 draft class that really helps his immense raw power the most, it was certainly Colorado. The power is a 60-grade tool that goes with his 60-grade hit tool as well. The projectable 6’4” frame should only continue to add muscle and power as he fills out given that he’s still just 19 years old. The lefty swing has garnered comps to Cody Bellinger though the speed isn’t there for Veen and is simply average at best. He can play all three outfield spots, though played center fielder in high school, and at Coors the power will really play quite well. He’s probably the longest way off of any prospect on this list, but he may have the highest upside of any bat in that draft including Spencer Torkleson, and should be up in 2024 or late 2023.

Reid Detmers, LHP LAA - Detmers was the second-best college lefty in the draft and that’s just where he was taken at 10th overall and six picks after the first college lefty, Asa Lacy. Detmers came out of Louisville and is more of a command and control lefty rather than pure stuff type arm, though that’s under selling his stuff. He has four above-average pitches including a plus-curveball but the fastball sits more in the low-90s with movement that makes it tough to square up. The mid-70s curveball is an out pitch and he finishes the repertoire with a good changeup and a still developing slider. When all is said and done he should be a number three starter for the Angels potentially as early as 2022.

Yoelqui Cespedes, OF CWS - The younger brother of Yoenis Céspedes , his calling card is his double-plus arm strength and plus speed. The speed does play more as above-average in game situations but helps with the defense for sure. There are question marks about his ability to make consistent contact against better quality pitching in the upper minors and majors with a 45-grade hit tool. If he can make good contact though, his very good bat speed and quick stroke generates above-average power. A good comp for him is a similar prospect to Micker Adolfo , a fellow White Sox outfield prospect.

Pedro Leon, OF/SS HOU - Leon was a huge get for the Astros in the 2020-21 signing period as his grouping of skills would’ve made him a top-10 pick if he were draft eligible with four plus skills and one that’s got a chance to be average. He has an 80-grade arm and 70-grade speed which should make him a defensive weapon in centerfield as well as a menace on the basepaths. The small (5’9” 170-pound) frame generates deceptively good raw power that grades out as a 55-grade trait with flashes of plus if the 45-grade hit tool improves to average. Depending on how raw he is, which is up in the air as he’s a Cuban defector, he could move quickly and arrive in 2022 but it could be 2023 before we see George Springer ’s replacement patrolling center field in Houston.