CBS Sports released a mock draft for the 2020 MLB Draft which will (finger crossed) take place in June. CBS analyst Mike Axisa projected two Arkansas Razorbacks be selected in the first round.
He predicted junior right-fielder Heston Kjerstad to be drafted 15th overall by the Philadelphia Phillies.
“With the understanding that the jury is still out on 2018 (Alec Bohm) and 2019 (Bryson Stott), the Phillies have had some terrible first-round picks the last 15-20 years. Aaron Nola (2014) is a stud and Adam Haseley (2017) looks like a nice ballplayer, otherwise Philadelphia hasn’t had a first rounder have a substantial career for them since Cole Hamels in 2002. Kjerstad might have the most raw power in the draft class — he hit .448/.513/.791 with six homers in 16 games prior to the shutdown — enough to make teams overlook the swing-and-miss in his game, and only adequate corner outfield defense. He’s been a top performer in college baseball’s toughest conference the last few years and that track record will land him solidly in the middle of the first round.”-CBS Sports’ Mike Axisa
Kjerstad is a quality hitter who seems to be destined for a career in the big leagues. He is a top 10 quality pick who I think could get drafted as high as 8th overall.
He was having a great year before the pandemic halted his junior season. His batting average was climbing towards .500 and his power is undeniable. He has shown the ability to hit top pitching in his first two seasons in the SEC.
The Phillies may not be the best fit for Kjerstad. Philadelphia already has Bryce Harper signed for the next 12 seasons. Both are left-handed power hitting right fielders. Kjerstad could learn a lot under Harper but it would be a long time before he got to start in Philadelphia barring a position change.
As for the second Razorback, Axisa slotted Casey Martin as going 24th overall to the Tampa Bay Rays.
“Martin (Austin, not Casey) and Gonzales are clearly the top two middle infielders in the 2020 draft class. Martin (Casey, not Austin) headlines the second tier. He’s an exceptional athlete with game-changing speed and sneaky power (28 homers in 133 games from 2018-19). There are some questions about Martin’s ability to hit high-end pitching — he authored a .271/.386/.458 batting line in 15 games prior to the shutdown, which is underwhelming for a first-round caliber prospect — but the natural gifts are among the best in the draft class. The Rays are a great player development organization and Martin is someone with a lot of untapped potential.”
Casey Martin is a lot riskier of a pick than Heston Kjerstad. Martin had a fantastic freshman season. However he struggled at the end of his sophomore season and in the College World Series. His junior campaign was off to a slow start, but in the last few games he seemed like he was heating up and breaking his slump.
Martin is a potential five-tool superstar who also has the potential to be a draft bust. He has very good speed and power. He has shown the ability to make the flashy play on defense but has been inconsistent on that side of the ball, racking up errors and some easy plays.
He also has a tendency to swing and miss. His hitting against top pitching could be questioned.
He is a similar type of player to the Chicago Cubs’ Javier Baez. Both are flashy shortstops that like to take big, aggressive cuts at the baseball and have trouble laying off the breaking ball down and away.
Martin could be a great player if he becomes more consistent but could also top-out in the minor leagues if he can’t figure out the breaking ball.
Both Martin and Kjerstad have been projected top-10 picks and both possess top-10 potential. Kjerstad is the safer pick of the two but Martin arguably has the most potential because he is a more all-around player.
The future holds good things for these two Razorbacks as they enter the next phases of their careers.
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