Nati Harnik/Associated Press
Spencer Torkelson and Austin Martin are different types of hitting prospects, but both are coveted by teams at the top of the 2020 MLB draft.
Torkelson has been lauded for the power produced over three seasons at Arizona State, while Martin was a constant fixture on base at Vanderbilt.
The pair of top prospects should be the first two players off the board Wednesday night at the start of the two-day, five-round event.
Texas A&M’s Asa Lacy should follow Torkelson and Martin as the third overall pick and first pitcher chosen.
Lacy’s performance during the brief 2020 college baseball season edged him over a few other collegiate hurlers to be the marquee pitching prospect.
Scouting Reports for Top Prospects
Spencer Torkelson, 1B, Arizona State
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press
Torkelson is one of the best power bats to come out of the college ranks in the last decade.
He flashed consistent home-run hitting ability in three seasons at Arizona State, which has led some teams to put him in his own draft tier, per MLB.com’s Jim Callis: “Most clubs consider Torkelson on a tier by himself in this Draft, and it would be a major upset if the Tigers took anyone else.”
Not only has Torkelson impressed at the collegiate level, but he also shined with Team USA the last two summers, as ESPN.com’s Kiley McDaniel noted: “‘Tork’ is the safest pick in the draft because he raked from the moment he stepped on campus and in two summers for Team USA with a wood bat.”
If he lands with the Detroit Tigers, Torkelson could pair with 2018 No. 1 overall selection Casey Mize to form the backbone of the team’s young core as it continues to rebuild.
Torkelson may also have the easiest path to the majors of any prospect in the 2020 draft class, as Miguel Cabrera is 37 and the Tigers do not have a long-term plan at first base.
But Detroit may have to wait until the spring to put Torkelson on the field in the team’s uniform.
The window for minor-league play is closing by the day, which will affect how many professional at-bats Torkelson can get this calendar year.
Austin Martin, 3B/OF, Vanderbilt
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press
What Martin lacks in power he makes up for in getting on base.
Martin finished with 32 more hits and 10 more doubles and triples than Torkelson, and he recorded a better batting average and on-base percentage.
The Athletic’s Keith Law was impressed so much by Martin’s three-year SEC career that he put the player atop his draft board.
“Martin may not be the first overall pick this year, but he’s the best overall prospect due to his combination of performance, athleticism and all-around quickness,” Law wrote. “There’s some Javy Baez to his hand speed, although unlike the young Baez, Martin rarely strikes out.”
Callis described Martin as “the best pure hitter available in the draft” for the Baltimore Orioles at No. 2.
Martin played the majority of his career in the infield at third base, but he dabbled in the outfield during the shortened 2020 campaign.
McDaniel noted that Martin could play a handful of defensive positions at the professional level: “There was buzz Martin might begin the season at shortstop for Vanderbilt, but he’s still playing mostly third base. He’s also well-equipped to be average defensively in center field or at second base.”
If Martin continues to perform well at the dish, the Orioles, or whomever drafts him, should have no problem finding a position for him in the lineup.
Asa Lacy, LHP, Texas A&M
Sam Craft/Associated Press
Just like Torkelson and Martin were at the plate, Lacy was consistent on the mound for three collegiate seasons.
The southpaw solidified his position as the top pitching prospect by conceding two earned runs over 24 innings in four appearances in 2020.
Lacy finished with 224 strikeouts and 35 earned runs allowed in 152 innings of work, with most of those totals coming against SEC opposition.
Law was one of many experts who came away impressed from Lacy’s four spring starts.
“Lacy separated himself from the rest of this year’s very strong college pitching crop in the brief spring season, showing he could hold 93-94 mph deep into games, touching 98 mph, with a plus changeup and above-average slider,” Law wrote.
McDaniel detailed the arsenal of pitches Lacy will bring to the next level:
“The reason he’s the top-rated pitcher is his mid-90s heater and upper-80s slider that are 65-grade pitches on the 20-80 scale for some scouts. His curveball is a solidly above-average pitch, while his changeup is a 60-grade pitch at its best; being precise with location isn’t required when your stuff is that lively.”
With Torkelson likely landing in Detroit and Baltimore chasing a bat, the Miami Marlins have been connected most with Lacy, as MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo noted.
“Ever since Lacy separated himself as the top arm in this class, he’s been associated with the Marlins. If Martin were to be available HERE, that would be an interesting conversation,” Mayo said.
The only situation in which that pairing does not come to fruition is if the Orioles pass on Martin, which would leave the Marlins to choose between two of the top three prospects.
Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90
Statistics obtained from Baseball Reference