Colorado Rockies 2020 draft: ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel offers his predictions

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - FEBRUARY 05: A view of the logo during ESPN The Party on February 5, 2016 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for ESPN)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - FEBRUARY 05: A view of the logo during ESPN The Party on February 5, 2016 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for ESPN) /

With the ninth overall pick in the 2020 Major League Baseball draft, the Colorado Rockies will have plenty of solid options to add to their list of prospects.

Who will the Colorado Rockies take with the ninth overall pick in this year’s draft? I asked ESPN insider and MLB draft expert Kiley McDaniel that question on Thursday. McDaniel began working with MLB teams in 2005 and he will be a signature part of ESPN’s coverage of the upcoming draft on June 10 and 11.

McDaniel told me that, in his latest mock draft, he had University of Georgia junior pitcher Emerson Hancock going to the Rockies. You can read more about Hancock and his skills here, but he is also projected by a few outlets to be the first pitcher taken in the draft. With that in mind, could he really fall to the Rockies at number nine?

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“I think there’s a chance he slips that far. I wouldn’t say it’s likely but in the scenario I’ve laid out, he does get there and I think they would take him,” McDaniel said.

McDaniel added that it could be Hancock’s pitching arsenal that could land him in the Mile High City.

“I have said in the past that they (Rockies) specifically only draft pitchers who throw sinkers, given the ballpark,” McDaniel said, referencing Colorado playing at altitude. “That’s their strategy to work around that and we’ve seen some college pitchers specifically with sinkers drop in the mocks because a lot of teams are looking for the opposite sort of pitcher, all things being equal.”

With that pitch mix in mind, McDaniel thinks that right-handers Chris McMahon out of the University of Miami and Carmen Mlodzinski out of the University of South Carolina could be targets for the Rockies with the Competitive Balance Round A pick at number 35 and/or their second-round pick at number 46.

But let’s back up to the ninth pick. McDaniel told me that if Hancock isn’t available, he is hearing that the Rockies are, in his words, “very interested” in Robert Hassell, an outfielder from Tennessee who is considered the best “pure hitter” in this year’s high school class. The left-hander has a sweet swing and it could come down to the Padres and Rockies at the eight and nine pick for his services, McDaniel said.

“I think he goes eighth to San Diego but I’m told if he doesn’t go eighth to San Diego, there’s a very good chance he goes ninth to Colorado,” McDaniel said.

McDaniel also said that he believes another high school hitter the Rockies are strong on is versatile Tyler Soderstrom out of Turlock, Calif. Part of Soderstrom’s skills include playing catcher.

Hassell and Soderstrom are two well known high school recruits, but McDaniel believes that, because of COVID-19 and a lack of high school athletics this spring, this will be a draft dominated by college picks.

“Teams are telling me that they have drastically reduced the amount of high school players that they are willing to meet the price for,” McDaniel said. “In the case of even players who have multi-year history and were good over the summer and check all of the boxes, if they didn’t see them this spring or they didn’t have higher level scouts even this spring, they’re just not going to pay them what they thought they were going to pay them if they could have seen them for maybe one more month.

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“There are going to be a lot of college players getting pushed up and the high school players that are in demand that everyone feels comfortable will go quickly in those first 30 or 50 picks but I think it will be even more college-heavy than it is normally.”