2020 MLB Draft Grades: NL Central

2020 MLB Draft Grades: NL Central Garrett Mitchell

The MLB Draft is now over and it is time to hand out grades for every team. There were a few surprise picks and steals, and mostly every team had at least a couple of solid selections. I am splitting these draft grades up by division, continuing with the NL Central and the Pirates who had the seventh pick. Keep in mind these grades are initial reactions without putting any potential futures into the equation.

Pittsburgh Pirates: B

Best Pick: Carmen Mlodzinski, RHP, South Carolina

Mlodzinski was on a lot of first-round draft boards and fell to the Pirates’ Competitive Balance A selection where they seemed to have gotten a steal. He had a tough time with control in his first two college seasons and held a 5.59 ERA. But he turned it on on the Cape as he posted a 40/4 K/BB ratio. He did a great job of working with and improving his three-quarter delivery and should be able to continue having good mechanics.

Worst Pick: Jack Hartman, RHP, Appalachian State

Hartman was pretty inconsistent during college, pitching two seasons in junior college before moving to App State. He posted an ERA near 5.00 in 2019 but improved with a 3.00 ERA in the shortened 2020 season. He has a high enough ceiling for a high-end bullpen arm with a two-pitch mix of 94-96 fastball and high spin breaking pitch. It isn’t a sexy pick, but it saved them room with the bonus pool money to use on Mlodzinski and their second-round pick Jared Jones.

Cincinnati Reds: B-

Best Pick: Austin Hendrick, OF, West Alleghany HS (PA)

This pick came a bit earlier than I expected, but Hendrick has some of the best raw power of the whole draft class with incredibly quick bat speed and hands. He also has a great arm and above-average speed which profiles well for right field. He has the most upside of any of the other prep prospects and has a good chance to move very quickly through the Reds’ system. Check out the pre-draft profile on Hendrick here.

Worst Pick: Mac Wainwright, OF, St. Edward HS (OH)

Wainwright wasn’t ranked in the top 200 prospects on MLB.com, but it was mostly because of a stress fracture to his tibia he suffered which kept him out of East Coast Pro. He is young at just 17, but he possesses a solid bat, raw power, good defense, and average speed. He will probably take a little while to develop in the Reds’ system, but he could be a hit for the Reds in as early as four years.

Chicago Cubs: B+

Best Pick: Ed Howard, SS, Mt. Carmel HS (IL)

Howard gets to stay in his home state and will have to learn to dislike the team he rooted for growing up and his new interstate rival in the White Sox. Howard was a big part of the Jackie Robinson West team that won the United States bracket of the Little League World Series in 2014, and then-Cubs’ GM Theo Epstein predicted him getting drafted by the Cubs, sort of. Epstein had said, “Keep playing the game of baseball. Keep grinding. Keep working in school. Go to college. Do your thing and we’ll see you in the draft in about… 2023.” He was obviously off on when he would be drafted as Howard will skip college and play in the Cubs’ minor league system. As John Lepore stated in Howard’s draft profile, seen here, he is the best overall shortstop in the entire draft class.

Worst Pick: Koen Moreno, RHP, Panther Creek HS (NC)

Moreno wasn’t listed on the top 200 prospects list and he will take a little while to develop as a prep pitcher, which is why he gets the “worst pick” tag. He could potentially be a sleeper pick for the Cubs if he could develop into a rotation ar. Moreno has the projectable body and plus arm speed for long-term success. He posted a 5-3 record and a 1.62 ERA over eight appearances in his junior season at Panther Creek.

Milwaukee Brewers: B+

Best Pick: Garrett Mitchell, OF, UCLA

This was one of the steals of the draft and definitely the steal of the entire first round. I originally had Mitchell going to the Angels at tenth overall and he went to the Brewers at 20th overall. He has five-tool potential and his speed garnered a 70 scout grade. The reason he slipped so far is because of injury concerns and the fact he has type 1 diabetes. But if those concerns can be avoided he should move very quickly through the Brewers system. Check out the draft profile on Mitchell here. His diabetes isn’t really a problem as you can see in the tweet below.

Worst Pick: Freddy Zamora, SS, Miami (FL)

Zamora was drafted way lower than where he was ranked, as he was drafted with the 53rd pick by the Brewers and was ranked 100 by MLB.com. He has five-tool potential but has health and off-field concerns as he did not play at all in the shortened 2020 season because of an injury and violating team rules.

St. Louis Cardinals: B-

Best Pick: Masyn Winn, Kingwood HS (TX)

Winn is a legitimate two-way prospect but has a higher ceiling on the mound. He has a solid arsenal of high-spin rate pitches, a 92-96 fastball with riding action, 79-82 curveball, and an average low-80s changeup. He has great athleticism and quick arm, but questions on his size and delivery make scouts wonder if he can stick as a starter. On the offensive side, he has raw power and solid speed with good instincts on the basepaths.

Worst Pick: Levi Prater, LHP, Oklahoma

Prater projects as a back-end starter or solid bullpen arm and he was an energetic pitcher in college. He pitched to a career ERA of 3.56 while striking out 194 batters and holding hitters to a .201 batting average.

Check out the NL West draft grades article next to round up this series.

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