Major League Baseball kicked off its 2020 draft on Wednesday night. For the second time in three years, the Detroit Tigers held the first overall pick. In 2018, they used it on Auburn right-hander Casey Mize; this year, they used it on Arizona State first baseman Spencer Torkelson, who has been widely regarded as the class's best hitter.
With the No. 4 pick, the Royals selected Texas A&M left-hander Asa Lacy, who CBS Sports ranked as the third-best prospect in the class, and the top pitcher. Here's what we wrote at the time:
Over the last three seasons, six left-handed starters have averaged 150 innings and more than a strikeout per inning: Chris Sale, Robbie Ray, Patrick Corbin, Eduardo Rodriguez, Clayton Kershaw, and Matthew Boyd. Lacy, who struck out 46 batters in 24 innings this season, seems primed to join that group in the coming years. At minimum, he has the highest upside and the best shot at realizing it among the pitchers in the class. Lacy's repertoire features four usable or better pitches, including a low-to-mid-90s fastball and a slider that each grade as elite offerings, according to Trackman data. He also has the frame and demeanor scouts seek in their top-of-the-rotation prospects. The major (and arguably only) flaw in his game is his command: even though he walked three batters per nine in this abbreviated season, he still finished his Aggies career having walked four per nine. If Lacy can improve in that regard, he has the weaponry to become a frontline starter. Otherwise, he'll likely settle in as a mid-rotation starter who has stretches and seasons where he teases more (think the aforementioned Ray).
CBS Sports interviewed one of Lacy's coaches at Texas A&M, Kyle Simonds, earlier this month. You can read the full Q&A by clicking here, but he explained how Lacy developed his devastating slider.
"I think it was just the grip, where his hand was/his hand placement, where he could get on top of that slider and still throw it in the upper-80s and with conviction," Simonds said. "There were times where it was kind of a cutter, and there were times where it was a true slider, or a true slurve. I think he has the ability to manipulate that every now and then, depending on if he's facing a left-hander or a right-hander. It's just a testament to him, to how hard he works, and how much he knows."
Lacy is the first Aggies pitcher selected in the first round since the St. Louis Cardinals drafted Michael Wacha in 2012. This is the second consecutive draft the Aggies have had a player taken in the first round, as last year the Atlanta Braves selected infielder Braden Shewmake with the 21st pick.