A number of possible 2020 Baltimore Orioles draft picks had impressive starts to their collegiate seasons this past weekend.
Anyone else still coming down off the high of having live baseball on your tv? The Division I baseball season kicked off with a bang this past weekend, giving baseball starved fans an opportunity to watch some of the top amateur talent in the country. For Baltimore Orioles fans, it was an opportunity to get their first 2020 looks at a few different possible first round draft pick options.
Sitting at the top of this year’s draft board are Arizona State first baseman Spencer Torkelson, Vanderbilt infielder Austin Martin, Georgia’s Friday night starter Emerson Hancock, and New Mexico State infielder Nick Gonzales.
The season is still very young and more names could emerge, but early mock drafts believe the Orioles will land one of these talented college standouts with the second overall pick in the 2020 draft.
Throughout the season, we’re going to check in on these guys and follow their college seasons and provide updated scouting notes and projections as they become available.
Here’s how each of the four names mentioned above performed on Opening Weekend.
Arizona State’s Spencer Torkelson
Considered the safest pick in this year’s draft, Torkelson picked up right where he left off last season, mashing bombs and terrorizing opposing pitchers.
Through five games, Torkelson has almost as many walks (9) as he does official at-bats (13). That’s not a typo, folks. Torkelson hit .308 with two home runs and a double, posting a .591 OBP and 1.437 OPS through the first five days of the NCAA baseball season.
The junior first baseman owns a career slash line of .336/.449/.727 with 50 home runs and 30 doubles in 117 games. If the Detroit Tigers pass on Torkelson with the top overall pick, Orioles fans should rejoice. Just take a second and imagine a starting rotation with Grayson Rodriguez and DL Hall at the top, backed by a powerful offense with Adley Rutschman and Torkelson in the middle of the lineup. Did you just giggle a little bit? I did.
Georgia’s Emerson Hancock
I was able to watch Georgia’s Opening Night game against the Richmond Spiders, getting my first look at RHP Emerson Hancock. A four-pitch pitcher with a 6’4″ and 215-pound frame, Hancock struggled in his first start of 2020, but there’s no cause for concern at the moment.
Hancock gave up six earned runs on nine hits in four innings of work against the Spiders, struggling to produce swings and misses with his mid-90’s fastball. However, Georgie Head Coach Scott Stricklin isn’t concerned.
As quoted in a piece from William Newlin on RedandBlack.com, “No concern at all,” Stricklin said. “[Hancock’s] got premium stuff. He’s the right kid. He’ll handle it the right way. He’ll go into this work week with a little chip on his shoulder.”
As a sophomore last season, Hancock put together one of the more dominant seasons in school history with a 1.99 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, and 97 strikeouts in 90 innings. He is currently ranked second on Baseball America’s Top 200 Draft Prospects list.
Vanderbilt’s Austin Martin
I’m watching Martin and the rest of the Vandy Boys game from Tuesday night against South Alabama as I write this, mostly to watch Jack Leiter strike out 12 Jaguars in five innings, but potential Baltimore Orioles draft pick Austin Martin is also having himself a solid mid-week game.
Martin has spent the majority of his time at third base for Vanderbilt, but scouts believe he has the ability to play anywhere in the infield, maybe even center field. He went 2-4 on Tuesday night with two runs scored, matching his hit total from over the weekend where he went 2-10 with two doubles and three walks.
Martin has a plus-hit tool, arguably one of the best in this year’s draft class. A top of the lineup hitter, Martin also possesses elite speed and he’s tapping into his power. After hitting one home run in 222 at-bats as a freshman, Martin hit eight last season in 244 at-bats and scouts hope he can continue to tap into more power in 2020.
He currently owns a career slash line of .376/.479/.521 with 33 doubles, 40 stolen bases, and almost as many walks (73) as strikeouts (77). If he taps into that power and shows he can handle a heavy workload at shortstop, there’s a strong possibility he goes 1.1 to Detroit.
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New Mexico State infielder Nick Gonzales
Second baseman Nick Gonzales had one of the top offensive performances in the country on opening weekend, showcasing his elite hit tool at the plate. The junior was named Perfect Game/Rawling’s national Player of the Week, along with Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, and was named the Western Athletic Conference’s Hitter of the Week after a monster performance at the plate.
Gonzales extended his unbelievable on-base streak to 70 games, slashing .571/.727/.1.571 with four home runs, two doubles, 17 RBI, and six walks, including a three home run, nine RBI day on Sunday.
Gonzales led the nation with a .429 average last season and is coming off an impressive season in the Cape Cod League where he hit .351 with 25 extra-base hits and a 22/20 K/BB ratio, showing he’s pretty impressive with his bat away from the friendly confines and high-altitude ballpark at New Mexico State.
Gonzales is certainly worth keeping an eye on with the lack of middle infield depth down on the farm. It’s not very often you see a second baseman drafted. Gonzales will change that come June’s draft.
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Stay tuned all season as we keep up with these four guys, plus likely add a few more names to the list as the season continues. Do you have a favorite? Who do you want to see the Baltimore Orioles take with their first-round pick?