In a shortened 2020 MLB Draft with no high school spring season, it’s widely assumed that high school players are going to fall down the board. Some could fall to the Milwaukee Brewers at No. 20.
In a normal draft, high school players are selected early on and throughout the first round, depending on their talent level and signability. This year, since MLB teams were not able to watch these players play their senior year, it makes it difficult for them to get a clear, final look at them.
According to The Athletic‘s Will Sammon, the Brewers feel they’re ahead of the game on video scouting on players this year and that the lack of a high school season this year will not hinder them.
If the Brewers feel comfortable with their scouting ability on those young players, and other teams aren’t quite at that level, they could be poised to pick up a high school prospect that has fallen down the board as other teams passed them up for safer college talent.
Which high school prospects could fall down the board long enough to be there for the Brewers? Here are three.
Robert Hassell, OF, Independence (TN) HS
If Robert Hassell falls to the Brewers at No. 20, I think Tod Johnson and David Stearns would be ecstatic. This guy’s tools just scream everything that the Brewers would want.
Hassell is the best pure hitter in this high school class, according to MLB Pipeline, who has him as their No. 16 draft prospect. His 60-grade bat is the best of his tools, but his speed and defense aren’t far behind.
There’s a good chance that he can stick in center field in the long run, but if he can’t, he has the arm strength to play right field. Hassell also has some raw power, although it won’t be his calling card in the future. He’s also left handed, and playing in Miller Park should help the power that he does have play up even more.
Plus, his swing is just a thing of beauty.
A lefty with a smooth swing like that is enough to get any scout’s attention. With his combination of average or better tools to go with his plus-bat, Hassell would be a great Brewers draft pick.
He fits the recent trend of drafting the bat first and figuring out the defense second with Brewers draft picks. He may not stick in center, but his bat will play anywhere with potentially solid power and great speed.
If he’s there, I have a hard time seeing the Brewers passing him up.
Jared Kelley, RHP, Refugio (TX) HS
Without fail, every single year there is a high school pitcher from Texas that is a projected first round pick. Last year, it was J.J. Goss. In 2018, it was Grayson Rodriguez. In 2017, it was Shane Baz, and so on and so forth. Back in 2004, Yovani Gallardo was selected by the Brewers early in the draft out of a Texas high school.
This year’s version is Jared Kelley from Refugio, who is MLB Pipeline’s No. 12 prospect. Kelley has a huge fastball that sits in the mid-90s, can hit upper 90s, and does so with very little effort in his delivery. He pairs that with a plus-changeup and then a slider that’s also above average.
With a strong three pitch mix, above average control, and good size (6’3″, 215 lbs), Kelley has all the tools to be a frontline starting pitcher.
The Texas Longhorns commit has a bright future ahead, but there’s also a lot of risk. High school right handed pitchers are the riskiest, most volatile demographic in the draft. That alone, could push Kelley further down the board for some teams. Perhaps it will push him far enough down the board that he’ll be available for the Brewers at 20.
The last time the Brewers took a high school RHP in the first round was Dylan Covey in 2010, and he didn’t sign. Prior to that, 2006 with Jeremy Jeffress. So it’s been a while since the Brewers have selected from this demographic in the first round.
With Jared Kelley, there’s no guarantee of success, but the upside is undeniable.
Mick Abel, RHP, Jesuit (OR) HS
What were we just saying about high school righty pitchers being the riskiest group in the draft? Mick Abel is Pipeline’s 11th ranked prospect and in a normal draft, he probably wouldn’t even get close to reaching the Brewers at the 20th pick. In some recent mock drafts, Abel has been falling to the late teens, and there’s at least a chance that he falls to No. 20 overall.
Abel is another big kid, standing at 6’5″ and 190 pounds. As he matures and develops, Abel should add on some more muscle and fill out his frame. He has a four pitch mix, with three of them showing to be plus-pitches. His fastball sits in the mid-90s with movement, and he follows that with a slider that’s probably his best secondary pitch. Abel also has a changeup that projects to be an above average pitch, as well as a curveball.
There is so much to like about Abel. He has the size, he has the stuff, and he has the control to be a frontline starting pitcher in the big leagues.
Abel is committed to play at Oregon State and there’s a chance he still ends up playing there, depending on how far down the board he falls. But by the looks of it, he’s probably not going to last past the first round and will sign.
The upside potential is crazy high with Abel, and it’s enough for a team to dream on in the first round. If enough teams pass on him in the first round due to not being able to see him recently pitch, it could end up being the Brewers reward to reap.
The MLB Draft is coming up soon, and if any of these three players are still on the board at No. 20, it would be tough to pass up on them, even though there’s a huge risk with them.