The 2020 MLB Draft is just under a month away, shortened this year to five rounds, giving more importance to each pick. It also means we are in prime mock draft season, and Kiley McDaniel at ESPN on Monday unveiled his first mock first round.
McDaniel notes high school players could be especially hurt this year, with many not starting their 2020 season. Less information for draft evaluators could lean risk-averse teams more toward college players. And suppressed bonus rules this year — teams only have to pay $100,000 up front, with the remainder split between 2021 and 2022 — might nudge more players toward college.
His mock draft goes through Competitive Balance Round A, and McDaniel projects 25 college players selected in those 37 picks.
McDaniel’s pick for the Dodgers is reasonably familiar, projecting Mississippi State second baseman Justin Foscue 29th overall. He was the double play partner in college with Jordan Westburg, who Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com projected to the Dodgers last month. Mayo had Foscue 26th and Westburg 29th, while McDaniel projects Westburg 27th to the Twins.
The two Bulldog middle infielders seem intertwined at this point. From MLB.com’s scouting report of Foscue: “He and Jordan Westburg form the best double-play combination in college baseball, with scouts fairly split about who is the better prospect. Foscue has a higher floor while Westburg has the high ceiling, and both project to go in the top two rounds of the 2020 Draft.”
Foscue, a 6-foot, 203-pound junior, hit .297/.380/.482 in parts of three seasons at Mississippi State, including .321/.464/.509 in 16 games this year before the season was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Foscue hit .331/.395/.564 as a sophomore with 14 home runs and 22 doubles in 67 games, and made various All-American lists — including first-team by College Baseball Foundation, second-team by D1 Baseball, third-team by Baseball America and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. He was not drafted out of high school.
During Mississippi State’s run to a second straight College World Series in 2019, Foscue was the only player on the team who didn’t have consecutive hitless games all year. He overhauled his swing after his freshman season, per Tyler Horka of the Mississippi Clarion Ledger:
Foscue continued to struggle during fall practices and scrimmages during the offseason until hitting coach Jake Gautreau corrected a hitch in his mechanics.
Gautreu told Foscue his hands were too close to his head in his set up. If he could learn to create more separation there, his swing path would get a little flatter and he would be able to stay on top of balls much better than he did before.
Foscue played for Team USA’s collegiate national team in the summer of 2019.
“All things being equal, draft studies and clubs’ desires lean toward picking college position players, the safest of the demographics,” McDaniel wrote, “The group of likely every-day college bats with some data/track record are starting to run out at this point, with Foscue and Arizona C/1B/LF Austin Wells among the best of the last few for the Dodgers to choose from here.”
Foscue was rated the 32nd-best draft prospect by MLB.com, and 40th by Baseball America, the latter noting, “You have to be a standout hitter to be a day one prospect as a second baseman, and Foscue fits the bill.”
Keith Law at The Athletic ranked his top 30 draft prospects plus four honorable mentions, and Foscue was not included.