The Baseball Draft Report

2018 MLB Draft Profile – Cincinnati

SS Manny Rodriguez is in the midst of a power breakout unlike many I can remember at the college level. Rodriguez’s ISO’s per season: .060, .086, .089, .297. His senior year ISO tops his first three years combined. Power surge or not, Rodriguez is still only a borderline prospect at best based largely on the three lackluster years leading up to this one and his below-average plate discipline. His defense might be good enough to get drafted late, but I’d pass. I like 3B/2B Connor McVey a touch more, but probably not enough to use a pick on him either. Same goes for OF AJ Bumpass (a power/speed athlete with a questionable approach), C Joey Thomas (steady glove, light bat), and OF Treg Haberkorn (lots of speed/range in center, inconsistent hitter). Maybe 2B Kyle Mottice‘s big senior season will push him over the draft hump, but, like Rodriguez, the overall body of work is far less impressive when viewed with a wider lens.

LHP JT Perez is a rare sinker/slider lefthander who gets by more on movement and command than velocity. I’m not sure how pro ball will look at a mid-80s (88 peak) guy with peripherals more good than great, but I think there’s enough good in his game to get him a shot in the pros.

LHP/1B Cameron Alldred holds some appeal as an athletic lefthander who has struck out a batter per inning so far in 2018. Additionally, LHP Doug Lowe, RHP Clayton Colvin, RHP Jarod Yoakam, RHP Tristan Hammans, and RHP David Orndorff all have pitched well enough so far in 2018 to warrant at least a shred of draft consideration. Hammans might get a little extra love for his imposing 6-8, 250 pound frame while Yoakam’s track record could make him the preferred option among the analytically inclined. Lowe and Colvin each have another year of eligibility ahead, so they could be in a position to keep improving and wind up as 2019 senior-sign candidates.

SR LHP JT Perez (2018)
SR RHP David Orndorff (2018)
SR RHP Jarod Yoakam (2018)
SR RHP Tristan Hammans (2018)
SR LHP AJ Olasz (2018)
rJR LHP Doug Lowe (2018)
JR RHP Cal Jarrett (2018)
JR RHP AJ Kullman (2018)
JR RHP Clayton Colvin (2018)
JR LHP/1B Cameron Alldred (2018)
SR SS Manny Rodriguez (2018)
rSR 3B/2B Connor McVey (2018)
JR OF AJ Bumpass (2018)
SR C Joey Thomas (2018)
SR OF Treg Haberkorn (2018)
SR 2B Kyle Mottice (2018)
JR 1B Cole Murphy (2018)
JR OF Vince Augustine (2018)
SO RHP Nathan Kroger (2019)
SO RHP Reese Robinson (2019)
SO SS/2B Jace Mercer (2019)
SO 1B Eric Santiago (2019)
FR LHP Garrett Schoenle (2020)
FR INF Dondrae Bremner (2020)
FR OF Joey Wiemer (2020)



2018 MLB Draft Profile – Central Florida

1B/RHP Rylan Thomas can flat mash. He swings and misses too much, he comes with the dreaded R/R first base only profile, and his size (5-11, 235) isn’t what some evaluators have come to expect out of a potential thumper in the middle of the lineup, but, boy, can he mash. Thomas is a plus power hitter with a much better feel for hitting than most sluggers typecast for the role. He’s not for everybody, but it’s worth noting that he’s made serious improvements in his approach in his two years at Central Florida. Last year, Thomas did this: 33.2 K% and 5.8 BB%. This year, his K% is down to a high but manageable 21.3 and his BB% is up to a much more comforting 14.7. If those gains are real — or, better yet, part of a larger trend to come — then Thomas could be of those sleeper R/R first basemen that everybody has been hunting for since the big Paul Goldschmidt breakout. I could see him being viewed as a shorter, righthanded draft prospect equivalent to Darick Hall, fourteenth round pick of the Phillies in 2016. With a little more perceived upside than Hall — Thomas was a pretty big deal as a high school star at Windermere Prep — he could go even higher than that. Signability could play in, however, as Thomas has two years of college remaining if he decides to opt in. He’s a really tough yet fun evaluation this year.

OF/SS Ray Alejo, a transfer from Mississippi, would have been one of my breakout picks coming into the year if I was the type to actually have things done on time. It might be for the best that I didn’t because Alejo’s 2018 has been a mixed bat so far. His speed, athleticism, and defense up the middle have all been as promised. His limited pop (for now) paired with a power hitter’s whiff rate (29.3%) hurt. I’d say the good outweighs the bad because where Alejo wins (speed, athleticism, defense…if you have already forgotten) tends to translate well to pro ball. Like Thomas, he’ll be another challenging evaluation for scouts this spring/summer.

2B Matthew Mika is a plus runner who goes into at bats with a solid plan in place. I like guys like that. Limited power and the unknowns about his defensive versatility hold him back. If those unknowns are known by those who know more than me, then Mika could work himself into a late-round potential utility player place in this draft. For now, I have him as a primary second baseman and that’s a tough path to the pros.

Much was expected of OF/1B Brody Wofford as a prospect going back to his high school days. Minus one good but not great year at junior college, there’s not a ton to show for all his promise. C Logan Heiser could get a look for his defense by a team badly in need of a late round catcher. I don’t see the bat as pro-quality, but reasonable minds may differ. I don’t have a ton on OF/3B Tyler Osik, but he’s hit enough this season to at least enter the draft conversation. SS Brandon Hernandez had the chance to do the same with a solid junior season, but will now probably have to wait until 2019 to rebuild his draft stock. He’s a good enough defender to be a late pick, so if the bat comes around that’s where he’ll likely go.

The five year mystery of RHP Cre Finfrock‘s name continues to beguile me. As far as I can tell, Cre isn’t short for anything. It’s just Cre. Just this morning I realized that all this time I’ve been thinking about his first name when his last name is unlike any I have ever heard either. Finfrock is a great last name. Cre Finfrock altogether is just perfect. Making this even better is the fact that Finfrock is really good when healthy. So far so good on that front this year after missing his 2017 season due to injury. At his best (and healthiest), Finfrock can run it up to the mid-90s (97 peak) while sitting anywhere from 88-94 with serious sink. He’s also shown flashes of a quality breaking ball (77-84) and change (79-81), both potential average or better pitches in time. If you can get past his shorter build (6-1, 200) and give him a break on his 2018 wildness (expected, I’d think, after a year away), then I think a strong case could be made for Finfrock to get a shot as a starting pitcher in pro ball. The stuff and pitchability are there. If not, he could move really quickly as a reliever. That would hardly be a bad thing, especially considering the way modern relievers are being used by certain teams. Finfrock could make his make in the pros as a starter, a one-inning reliever who goes all out, or a multi-inning relief ace. None of the above would surprise me. I’m a fan.

LHP Bryce Tucker had an eye-popping junior sophomore season. Look at his 2017: 13.03 K/9 and 2.84 BB/9 in 38.0 IP of 1.66 ERA ball. That’s about as good as it gets on the college level. He hasn’t bee as good in any area so far in 2018, but that’s hardly a concern considering his numbers (outside of an inflated walk rate) have all only dropped from great to very good. Tucker’s most logical fit in the pro game will be to continue as a lefthanded weapon out of the bullpen. His raw stuff may not blow you away, but his overall repertoire is one that works for him. Tucker can command an average or better fastball (86-92, 94 peak), a quality low-80s changeup, and an emerging 79-83 slider that will flash above-average. On top of that, his deceptiveness and fearlessness of throwing any of his three pitches in any count help everything play up. Tucker would be an easy player to miss in a class filled with fun college pitching, but he’s a good one.

RHP Jordan Spicer was really high on my preseason intrigue list. Billed as an athletic righty with a chance for a plus sinker (87-92, 94 peak) and slider (80-82) mix, Spicer was expected to hit the ground running at Central Florida from day one. That hasn’t exactly been the case from a run prevention point of view (his 5.04 ERA is second highest on the team), but he’s managed to miss bats and limit free passes at more than acceptable rates. That’s all a long way of saying that I’m still buying what Spicer’s selling.

RHP JJ Montgomery‘s fastball is enough to get him selected pretty high. That’s what you get when you can run it up to 97 MPH while also managing to live between 90-94 with plus sink. That’s a really nice start for any relief prospect. RHP Thad Ward has a touch less velocity (sits 88-92, hits 94-95), but similar movement and command of the pitch. Ward’s offspeed stuff (82-85 SL, 81 CU) is a little further along, but, like Montgomery, it’ll be his ability to pitch off that fastball that gets a team excited on draft day.

RHP Eric Hepple may not be a household draft name, but any pitcher with pro stuff (90-92 fastball, 76-80 breaking ball, 88-89 cutter) and a double-digit strikeout rate (11.67 K/9 as of this writing) is worth knowing. The senior’s ERA has spiked a bit from his crazy junior year success (0.87 ERA in 20.2 IP), but the peripherals remain strong.

RHP Garrett Westberg and LHP Luis Ferrer both have good numbers and names that sound like those you’d find in a pro bullpen near you. RHP Nick McCoy has bounced around a bit and seen some tough times from an injury standpoint (most notably Tommy John surgery), but the soon-to-be 25-year-old (in July) has worked his way back to the mound for five really good senior year innings this year. Future pro or not, that’s cool.

I get a lot of questions about projection versus production. Specifically, I’m asked to what degree should a college player’s production be weighed with a professional ball projection in mind. I tend to factor it in more heavily than most real BASEBALL KNOWERS probably like, but there natural limits to scouting the box score. RHP Chris Williams has done nothing but produce since stepping foot on Central Florida’s campus. His ERA’s by year: 2.30, 2.65, 2.14. As of this writing, he’s closing in on a career high in innings with 71.1 (also a team high). Williams is a great college pitcher. Unfortunately, this does not necessarily make him a great pro prospect. Depending on who you talk to, he may not be a pro prospect at all. The good news here is that we’ll all likely have another season to figure this out — Williams is a redshirt-junior — so hopefully the undersized righthander will keep dominating the competition and wind up making us look bad for doubting him.

JR LHP Bryce Tucker (2018)
JR RHP Jordan Spicer (2018)
rJR RHP Cre Finfrock (2018):
rJR RHP Chris Williams (2018)
SR RHP Eric Hepple (2018)
SO RHP Thad Ward (2018)
JR RHP JJ Montgomery (2018)
rSR RHP Nick McCoy (2018)
JR RHP Garrett Westberg (2018)
rJR LHP Luis Ferrer (2018)
SO 1B/RHP Rylan Thomas (2018)
rSO OF/SS Ray Alejo (2018)
JR 2B Matthew Mika (2018)
SR OF Max Wood (2018)
JR OF/1B Brody Wofford (2018)
SR C Logan Heiser (2018)
rJR OF/3B Tyler Osik (2018)
JR SS Brandon Hernandez (2018)
JR C/1B Anthony George (2018)
rJR C Michael Higgins (2018)
rSO 3B Jackson Webb (2018)
SO LHP Joe Sheridan (2019)
SO RHP Daniel Litchfield (2019)
SO C/1B Dallas Beaver (2019)
FR RHP Jack Sinclair (2020)
FR 3B Griffin Bernardo (2020)
FR OF Dalton Wingo (2020)

2018 MLB Draft – Top College Talent

Feels like as good a time as any to revisit this piece from back in October to see what the top of this year’s college class looks like…

Casey Mize is fantastic. Names I’ve gotten back as comparable (for different reasons and with the disclaimer that Mize is fairly unique in terms of his power stuff/plus-plus control combination) include Sam Carlson, Corbin Burnes, Masahiro Tanaka, Kevin Gausman, and, wait for it, Shohei Ohtani. Going to go out on a limb and say that last one is more about similarities with their splitters (still high praise, of course) and less about the chance Mize turns into a modern day Babe Ruth. Of those comps, I find the Gausman one particularly instructive. The LSU star went fourth overall in 2012 behind Carlos Correa (!), Byron Buxton (!), and Mike Zunino (…), and moved so quickly through the O’s farm system that he made his big league debut less than one year after being drafted. That could be Mize. I know there’s some concern with him being physically maxed out and more of an injury risk than most. It’s impossible to speak to the injury concerns from the outside looking in, but the first point, fair as it may be, doesn’t particularly concern me when the present version of Mize is so dominating. To get his kind of power stuff paired with that best control of any amateur in the county put into a player who is so advanced he could pick up a new pitch (87-91 cut-slider, easy plus upside) seemingly on the fly is special. With two plus pitches (splitter, cutter) and two above-average pitches (fastball, slider), Mize is a force to be reckoned with.

I still believe in Logan Gilbert, though his diminished fastball velocity and stalled development of his offspeed stuff (more good than great this year) are enough to give some when locking him in to the draft’s top ten. He’s certainly been passed by Mize and there are fun arguments to be made for up to a half-dozen other pitchers over him as well. Of course, Gilbert’s argument (best combination of high strikeouts/low walks this side of Mize, still able to pitch off of that excellent fastball even without big velo, extension/deception/frame all pro-ready) is pretty strong in its own right.

If not Gilbert, then maybe it’s Brady Singer for the top spot after Mize. The internet sure seems like it has turned on him this year and it is tough to figure out why. Singer has been really good both statistically (more strikeouts and fewer walks for the second straight year) and from a scouting standpoint (fastball up to 95, change and breaking ball both sharp). The old Aaron Nola comps remain relevant. I’ve also since heard a young, healthy Zack Wheeler. Nola went seventh, Wheeler went sixth, and Kevin Brown, the name mentioned by Brett Myers as a comp for Singer during last year’s postseason, went fourth. That seems like a realistic if somewhat generous draft range for Singer, though my own appreciation for him would have him in the mix as early as three to the Phillies…unlikely as that may be in reality.

Shane McClanahan is missing a crazy amount of bats (15.21 K/9!) and showing his typical premium fastball velocity. He’s starting to give off a little bit of a lefthanded JB Bukauskas (15th overall pick last year) vibe, but with a good shot to go higher than that. His fiercest competition for top college lefty is draft-eligible sophomore Ryan Rolison, a more conventionally strong lefty pitching prospect. We’re talking big velo, monster breaking ball, enough changeup, and superior command. There’s little not to like.

Those five — or arguably the four after Mize if you want to put the big guy from Auburn in his own tier altogether — are all so closely lumped together that I don’t think there’s a wrong way of sorting them. Personal preferences kick in at this point as each player has pretty clear pros and cons to their game.

I mentioned Mize and Gilbert being one and two among the best strikeout/walk statistical types in this class, but the real king in that area might be off the board a bit. Nick Sandlin of Southern Mississippi has posted an eye-popping 13.86 K/9 with only 1.14 BB/9. He’ll go well outside the first round because he’s a sinker/slider sidearmer who stands six feet tall on his best day, but his college dominance should in no way be downplayed. Other guys with big numbers (but better stuff/projection) include Griffin Roberts and Tim Cate. Kyle Brandish and Jason Bilous are personal favorites with great stuff and no control. The next tier down includes guys on the preseason list like Konnor Pilkington, Blaine Knight, and Jackson Kowar plus pitchers like Sean Hjelle and Tristan Beck. In other words, there’s a ton of quality pitching to go around even after the first few big names go off the board.

Nick Fortes, Ryan Jeffers, Nick Meyer, and Cal Raleigh were the four catchers identified before the season on this very site as being potential first round party crashers. Turns out none of that group will do so (still love them all, BTW), but Joey Bart, who wasn’t even mentioned with the “others” (13 total) at the position before the season, is likely the man for the job. I really like Bart, but the love for him that I keep hearing about — I’ve legitimately been in my own draft bubble this spring due to having no extra time beyond work/baby/my own writing, but I have just enough friends who read Fangraphs/Baseball America that I get fun questions about certain guys as they shoot up rankings — seems a little over the top to me. Here’s a couple of draft season lines for you…

.322/.394/.669 with 31 BB/47 K in 245 AB
.347/.457/.612 with 30 BB/40 K in 170 AB

Top was Mike Zunino in 2012, bottom is Bart so far in 2018. Not exactly twins, but there’s some family resemblance there, right? Maybe distant cousins or something. From a draft argument, this works out really well for Bart. Zunino went third overall in his draft, so why can’t Bart do something similar this year? I have no answer for that. I do know that I wouldn’t be the one to pick him at the top of the draft — warm take coming: maybe not even in the first round at all — and Zunino’s pro start would actually be a small strike against Bart for me. Zunino has had his ups and downs in his career with a case to be made he’s trending in the right direction, but he’s still a guy entering his age-27 season with a 90 career wRC+ though 1700 PA. No two players are the same and the disappointment of one outcome shouldn’t directly impact how we feel about a different individual, BUT I think there’s something to be gleaned from looking at what style of players succeed in making the transition to pro ball to find what particular traits and skills work best at the highest level. Bart is a really gifted hitter who deserves a ton of credit for the massive strides he’s made defensively this spring, but the amount of swing-and-miss in his game scares me enough to keep him from being one of the draft’s elite college hitting prospects. It seems like that’s a minority view at this point. I can live with that.

A few weeks ago I would have used this space to gear up for the forthcoming “Alec Bohm – Number One Overall Prospect in 2018″ post. Bohm’s bat has cooled just enough since then to officially put my Kris Bryant 2.0 takes on ice, but it bears repeating that I did mention Rhys Hoskins as a potential comp for Bohm before his breakout junior season began. That’s not me trying to say I called Bohm’s meteoric rise up the board this spring (I very much did not), but rather to point out Bohm’s success is hardly out of nowhere. He’s really, really good. The increasing likelihood he’ll be able to hang at third for at least a few years into his pro career has helped raise his stock as much as anything he’s done offensively. First baseman Alec Bohm was a mid-first round type. Third baseman Alec Bohm rightly belongs in the 1-1 mix.

Nick Madrigal has yet to strike out in 55 at bats this year. He’s incredible. If the worst thing you say about a baseball player is that he’s not as tall as you’d like, then he might be pretty good. Mize, Madrigal, Bohm, and the next guy are the four college players with the most obvious claims to the top overall pick. I’m not sure any one of them would be a bad choice.

Jonathan India was listed with the “others” in the potential first round third base prospect bin before the season. That would have put him with guys like Brendan Donovan, Romy Gonzalez, Kyle Datres, and Jordan Verdon. All but Gonzalez is having at least a solid season of that group, but India is on a whole other planet. I love Alec Bohm. I love the hype he’s apparently been getting this spring. I’m also not sure he’s clearly the better prospect when matched up head to head with Jonathan India. There may be a few too many strikeouts and I’d be open to arguments there’s no clear carrying tool, but India’s been able to pile up the walks at the same time and he’s loaded with legit above-average tools (hit, power, speed, arm, defense…literally all five tools!). Bohm’s awesome power may ultimately win the day, but India’s athleticism and well-roundedness are pretty damn appealing. He’s “better than [Dansby] Swanson” is something I’ve both heard and agree with.

I’ve finally come around to the idea that college shortstops aren’t as good an investment as I once believed. The hit rate on these guys sticking at the position in the pros ain’t great. That doesn’t mean they aren’t without value, of course. Johnny Eierman, likely a future third baseman, is like the Joey Bart of college middle infielders. Cadyn Grenier is as steady as they come defensively, but the bat feels a bit short for regular work. I continue to like Ford Proctor, Jax Biggers, and especially Richard Palacios, an all-around talent with enough of a shot to stick at short that he’s my early favorite to rank as my college shortstop…if I wind up ranking Eierman at third base. If not, that’ll be a fun debate that I’m guessing only I will be making.

The college outfielders in this class are kind of a mess. Griffin Conine is sliding. Travis Swaggerty is climbing. Greyson Jenista is holding on. Slight dips for Tristan Pompey and Alex McKenna. Trevor Larnach is trending up. The four outfielders (Alfonso Rivas, Brock Hale, Carlos Cortes, Lars Nootbaar) I tabbed from big-time conferences as potential first round candidates have all more or less flopped while the mid-major quartet of DJ Artis, Andrew Moritz, Jameson Hannah, and Ashton Bardzell have all done quite well for themselves. Swaggerty’s rise up the board has closely mimicked what Adam Haseley did in last year’s class. A slightly better Haseley, the eighth overall pick last year, feels like a more than fair comparison for Swaggerty, who has a chance to go slightly better than Haseley in this year’s draft. After Swaggerty gets selected, it’s anybody’s guess who is next out of this group. Could be Jenista, could be Larnach, could even be a team still after Conine. Interesting to note the strength of this group is in corner guys with power rather than true center fielders with speed.

2018 MLB Draft Profile – UMBC

3B/2B AJ Wright is/was a FAVORITE for his high-contact approach and underrated athleticism, but his draft year has been more down than up. That’s probably putting it nicely, especially considering my original notes on his 2018 were just one word: “disaster.” The lack of power has been an ongoing concern with Wright, but the belief here was that his discerning eye at the plate would make him an effective enough overall player to compensate. Small samples abound, but the trend in BB/K for Wright over the years is not moving the way you’d like to see. Wright has gone from 25 BB/20 K to 20 BB/24 K to his current 8 BB/16 K. That’s troubling. His ISO has ticked up a bit — moving from .127 to .120 to .144 currently — but not enough to justify the backslide in on-base ability. It’s probably best for all involved to run it back in 2019 and hope a big senior season breakout gets Wright back on the draft radar. That’s where C Zack Bright hangs out currently as a potential senior-sign catcher with just enough pop and patience (though not so much in 2018…what’s going with these UMBC hitters this year?) to parlay his passion into a path to the pros.

I don’t have much on RHP Stephen Schoch, a redshirt-sophomore transfer from Appalachian State, but the big (6-5, 235) righthander has been a revelation on the mound for the Retrievers in 2018. How does a 13.26 K/9 and 2.80 BB/9 in 35.1 relief innings of 2.04 ERA ball sound? What if I also told you he had a very good Twitter account, pitched well in a short run on the Cape (and ridiculously well in a longer stint in the Ripken League before that), and throws from a wicked submarine angle (his favorite player: Darren O’Day) that no doubt helps explain his great success without great velocity? I’m not sure Schoch is signable with two years of eligibility remaining past this one and an expressed desire to earn a college degree, but whenever he’s ready for pro ball he’d have a spot on my team.

RHP Matt Chanin held some appeal coming into the season as an upper-80s fastball guy with plus command, but getting picked now would rely on a team valuing his overall body of work far more than a draft season where he’s only pitched 6.2 innings to date. Some guys get the benefit of the doubt when they miss time. I’m not sure Chanin is one of those guys. He is, however, a member of the 2015 College Baseball Jewish Sports Review All-America team, so that’s cool. The things you find when trying to research whether or not a guy is injured…

SR RHP Matt Chanin (2018)
JR LHP David Lyskawa (2018)
rSR RHP Chase Bailey (2018)
rSO RHP Stephen Schoch (2018)
rSR 2B/SS Matt Campbell (2018)
rSR 3B Mitchell Carroll (2018)
SR OF Collin Stack (2018)
SR C Zack Bright (2018)
JR 3B/2B AJ Wright (2018)
JR OF Raven Beeman (2018)
SO RHP Mitchell Wilson (2019)
SO 3B Christian Torres (2019)
SO 1B Dalton Stewart (2019)
FR RHP Nick Trabacchia (2020)
FR C Dmitri Floyd (2020)
FR INF Joey Goodwin (2020)

2018 MLB Draft Profile – UMass-Lowell

RHP Collin Duffley seemed primed for a big draft year, but he’s only tossed six innings for the River Hawks so far in 2018. Three minutes of research revealed nothing, but I’ll assume injury. That would be a bummer for the 6-3, 200 pound righthander with the low-90s fastball and promising breaking ball. Healthy or not, I like Duffley so much that I’d still use an irresponsibly high pick on him and hope for the best.

RHP Andrew Ryan is a rock solid senior-sign who would fit in nicely in any pro bullpen tomorrow. His stuff (88-92 FB, good SL) and performance to date (6.82 career K/9) are both more good than great, but sharpened command and increased whiffs as a senior (9.18 K/9) suggest there may be more than first meets the eye. I like Ryan as a mid- to late-round depth piece. With similar stuff, RHP Nick Rand falls into the same category. With any non-premium mid-major non-senior talent there exists a strong possibility that he returns to school in 2019. If three straight hyphenated words isn’t a record, then I’ll just have to go for four next time. RHP Luke Tomczyk is a senior already, so it’s now or never for the big (6-5, 235) effectively wild (8.68 K/9 and 6.79 BB/9 career) hard thrower (up to 94, also mixes in a good cutter) from Chili, New York. He’s no lock to get picked with those walk rates, but 94 MPH is 94 MPH.

The fact that LHP Ricky Constant has been allowed to throw 73.1 combined innings in three years as a River Hawk despite posting a ridiculous 8.84 BB/9 is a testament to his intriguing raw stuff (85-91 FB, has been up as high as 93-94) and the eternal hope we all feel when watching 6-6, 200 pound lefthanders throw off the mound. To his credit, Constant has missed a bunch of bats in his (small sample) 2018 run to date. He’s also walking slightly fewer batters. Maybe a small corner has been turned here. I don’t have any notes on LHP Jack Riley, but was told not to forget him when asking around about UMass-Lowell. So here he is. Same with RHP Kendall Pomeroy. So here they are.

OF Colby Maiola has some shockingly big fans among those who have seen him consistently. I don’t mean to say that I’m shocked a player like Maiola would have fans — he’s good, after all — but rather there’s always some element of surprise for me when a player with little public fanfare (i.e., not once featured at BA, PG, or FG) gets mentioned as often as Maiola’s name has come up to me in private. All I can figure is that this draft — like all drafts, really — is dying for some power/speed types, and that’s exactly what Maiola, above-average in both departments, brings to the table. There’s still way too much swing and miss in his game to like him more than a later round lottery ticket, but I get the appeal of any college hitter with tools that should play in pro ball and a track record of producing as his team’s best hitter. 1B/OF Steve Passatempo also got a little more love than I expected as a power guy with enough defensive versatility (some think he can catch) to eventually got a chance at pro ball. Like Maiola, his approach leaves something to be desired. Also like Maiola, Passatempo may have to wait until his senior season is complete before embarking on the minor league adventure.

You know who has a BB/K ratio I find a little more exciting? 1B/OF Russ Olive. My personal system for adding guys to my database is pretty simple. You can get on with any kind of scouting buzz (whether it’s something I read, hear, or see) or you can get on by doing something that piques my interest statistically. Olive did not make the cut after his freshman year. He was added after that sophomore year on the basis of his power production. Now, as a junior in the middle of a .375/.479/.708 season with 22 BB/23 K in 120 AB, Olive is breaking out in a way few college hitters in this class can match. Going from an unheralded recruit once seen as a 50/50 possibility of winding up on the mound to a lefty power bat with more than enough athleticism to field his position at first and a suddenly very healthy approach at the plate is one of the draft’s best under the radar stories. Get ready to see Russ Olive ranked higher here than anywhere else this June.

JR RHP Collin Duffley (2018)
SR RHP Andrew Ryan (2018)
JR RHP Nick Rand (2018)
rJR LHP Jack Riley (2018)
SR RHP Luke Tomczyk (2018)
SR RHP Tim Fallon (2018)
SR RHP Dan Cunico (2018)
JR LHP Ricky Constant (2018)
JR RHP Kendall Pomeroy (2018)
SR OF Colby Maiola (2018)
JR 1B/OF Russ Olive (2018)
JR 1B/OF Steve Passatempo (2018)
SR 2B Ben Prada (2018)
JR OF Michael Young (2018)
rSO C Austin Young (2018)
JR SS/3B Oscar Marchena (2018)
SO RHP Connor Metelski (2019)
SO RHP/1B John Polichetti (2019)
FR RHP Henry Funaro (2020)
FR SS Joey Castellanos (2020)
FR OF Vinnie Martin (2020)
FR C/1B Kyle Maurice (2020)

2018 MLB Draft Profile – Stony Brook

RHP Aaron Pinto is every pitcher I’ve pushed on this site the past few seasons. Or maybe that’s just what it feels like sometimes. That pitcher would be an undersized righthander who doesn’t walk anybody, strikes out a batter an inning like it’s nothing, and gets by (or, more accurately, more than gets by) with superior fastball command and well-timed offspeed stuff (an impressive low-80s slider in this case). For what it’s worth, most of these style of pitchers aren’t ones to wow on the radar gun. Pinto brings a little extra juice with a fastball up to 94 MPH (87-92 mostly). On top of that, all Pinto has done since day one — well, day one of his sophomore year technically since his first ten-ish innings as a freshman need not be spoken of — at Stony Brook is get results. He’s good. Use a pick on him late, get him in a pro bullpen, and let him do his thing. Maybe it all catches up to him in AA or maybe he keeps getting strikeouts, limiting free passes, and one day reaches the big leagues. All for the cost of a late-round pick, too. Not for nothing, but the word I jotted down in my notes for Pinto was “awesome.” That one was just for you, Neil. Be cool for once, man. You’re smart – we get it. Let people enjoy things. Damn.

RHP Bret Clarke is a decent prospect who has gotten decent results with decent stuff (88-93 FB, above-average SL). Decent here is meant in the best way possible as the athletic, deceptive Clarke truly is a draft-worthy talent. Nothing necessarily jumps off the page about him, but there’s value in across the board decency. Sidearming LHP Teddy Rodliff is a fun college arm who comes up a little short in stuff to make it in pro ball. In one of those things that is almost certainly only neat to me, here are Rodliff’s BB/9 rates over the years: 3.96, 0.69, 6.33, and 6.59 (and counting). What in the world got into Rodliff in 2016? RHP Greg Marino is a little more conventionally interesting as a redshirt-sophomore with a pro build (6-6, 200) and better peripherals than results. He’s one to watch going forward.

It’s tough to find a sure bet to be drafted out of Stony Brook’s collection of 2018 draft-eligible hitters. My vote for most likely/deserving to be selected is 2B/SS Bobby Honeyman, a versatile defender who makes loads of quality contact at the plate. I like him a lot as is, but can also admit that the thought of him converting to catcher in the pros, as some have deemed possible, is pretty damn appealing as well. Honeyman may not have the pop necessary to make it in pro ball, but I’d be willing to spare a late-round pick or undrafted free agent contract to find out for sure.

1B/3B Andruw Gazzola has hit a lot over the years, so maybe he gets a shot. There’s some positional versatility working him there as a potential four-corners defender. OF Dylan Resk showed a ton of power last year, but hasn’t been able to match his sophomore season stats in his chance at collegiate draft eligibility. Maybe next year. OF/1B Brandon Alamo could also be a senior-sign to watch in 2019. Led by 3B/SS Nick Grande, OF Chris Hamilton, and 2B/OF Michael Wilson, next year’s class of non-senior hitters at Stony Brook has a good shot at making a little bit more draft noise than the present one.

SR RHP Aaron Pinto (2018)
rSO RHP Greg Marino (2018)
JR RHP Bret Clarke (2018)
SR LHP Teddy Rodliff (2018)
SR LHP Kevin Kernan (2018)
JR RHP Michael Russell (2018)
JR RHP Kyle Stinson (2018)
rSO RHP Aaron Glickstein (2018)
SR RHP Nick Montefusco (2018)
SR LHP/OF Cole Creighton (2018)
SR 1B/3B Andruw Gazzola (2018)
SR 2B/SS Bobby Honeyman (2018)
JR OF Dylan Resk (2018)
JR 2B Brandon Janofsky (2018)
JR C Sean Buckhout (2018)
JR OF/1B Brandon Alamo (2018)
JR OF Cristian Montes (2018)
SO RHP Brian Herrmann (2019)
SO RHP Sam Turcotte (2019)
SO 2B/OF Michael Wilson (2019)
SO OF Chris Hamilton (2019)
SO 3B/SS Nick Grande (2019)
FR C John Tuccillo (2020)

2018 MLB Draft Profile – Maine

Everybody seems to love SS Jeremy Pena. We’re talking top three round buzz in some quarters kind of love. I won’t go so far as to say I don’t get it, so let’s just say I’m more in the “like” camp than the “love” side. He’s a good bet to stick at shortstop, so that alone makes him a prospect of some note. He has a plus arm, above-average to plus speed, and average raw power that could result in double-digit home run seasons at his peak. Sounds really good, right? So what is it about him that I can’t quite bring myself to love? Call it a combination between old scouting intuition (note: I know I’m not a scout and try not to pretend to be, but we’re all baseball watchers who get instinctual feelings about certain players and after thousands of games observed it’s only fair to occasionally listen to your gut every now and then) and a personal aversion to overly aggressive college hitters with statistical red flags in the BB/K categories. Of course, this doesn’t mean that I don’t still like Pena. As mentioned, just being a viable pro shortstop gives him value at the jump. That’s good. All of those average or better tools (power, speed, arm, potentially the glove) are good, too. Even with the approach as is, Pena has a shot to be a potential regular up the middle or at third with a floor as an offensive backup infielder. That’s a really nice overall prospect profile.

I should also point out that I’m wrong about guys a lot. While I generally believe that the track record of guys with Pena’s brand of aggressive college hitting in pro ball isn’t great (not exactly a hot take, I think), there are notable exceptions that I’ve missed on in the past. The first two that come to mind are Paul DeJong (who I ranked 37 spots lower than when he was actually picked) and Marcus Semien (“isn’t enough there to project as a big leaguer at this point”). Both conveniently enough work as potential comps for Pena in pro ball. Here’s a quick statistical comparison of what the three did while in school…

.326/.427/.547 with 17.8 K% and 12.1 BB% in 528 AB
.285/.367/.428 with 14.8 K% and 11.3 BB% in 495 AB
.297/.355/.432 with 17.1 K% and 6.9 BB% in 553 AB

Top is DeJong, middle is Semien, and bottom is Pena. DeJong was a fourth round pick and Semien was a sixth round pick. If you really like Pena, then I could see that as a potential draft range for him this June. You could also use last year’s similarly tooled up shortstop prospect, Kevin Smith out of Maryland, as a reference point. Smith, an eventual fourth round pick (ranked 35 spots lower than where he was picked, FWIW), hit .267/.331/.455 with 17.0 K% and 7.6 BB% in 675 AB in his college career. Those numbers are probably the closest match out of the three pros to what Pena has done to date. So maybe the fourth to sixth round range fits. Then again, the numbers above could also potentially indicate that the sixth round is more of a draft ceiling for Pena, who is likely to enter pro ball with the least impressive resume of the group. Call the range from rounds six to ten (with an outside shot at round four or five) and I think you’re on the money with where Pena could go. The upside, like Semien, is a league average hitter who provides defensive value at short, second, and third. The downside is getting buried under an avalanche of strikeouts in AA.

C Christopher Bec is one of those hitters that I don’t know a ton about outside of the stat line, but feel confident enough in based primarily on the numbers to put him on my own “maybe” senior-sign list. That’s what playing a position of need will do for you. Bec hit in high school, at Miami-Dade, and he’s still hitting at Maine. Hard not to like that. 3B/2B Danny Casals is a solid defender at the hot corner with enough arm to stay there in pro ball. A junior year breakout at the plate has him squarely in the draft mix. I like these Maine hitters.

Grows up in Maine, attends high school in Maine, leads the University of Maine pitching staff…now all RHP Justin Courtney has to do is get selected by the Red Sox so he can play minor league ball in Portland and he’s all set. Eventually getting to AA is well within reach for the 6-5, 225 pound righthander with strong secondary stuff (cutter, breaking ball) and enough fastball (86-91). What Courtney lacks in present velocity he makes up for (in part) by extension and deception in his delivery. Unfortunately, all of this is on hold as he recovers from Tommy John surgery with the full intention of returning to Maine as a fifth-year senior in 2019. So, assuming we stave off nuclear annihilation another year, we can revisit this conversation in twelve months.

RHP Nick Silva has never been known as a consistent strike thrower. That’s not exactly ideal for a pitching prospect but certainly forgivable when you can run the fastball up to 95 MPH. His offspeed stuff (low-80s CU, low-70s CB) remains a work in progress, but Silva’s success getting swings and misses with his heat might be enough to jump to pro ball a year ahead of graduation. It also doesn’t hurt that Silva’s uncle is Alex Rodriguez. I’m not quite sure how it helps during the draft process — visibility? maybe? — but I know it doesn’t hurt.

RHP John Arel is a tough guy to figure. Working for him is his size (6-7, 275), out pitch (an above-average slider), enough velocity (up to 92), and a 2016 season that showed what he can do at his best (9.20 K/9 and 2.39 BB/9 in 75.1 IP with a 3.94 ERA). Working against him is his size (too big?), a lack of velocity (sits only 86-90), and back to back underwhelming seasons (2017 was a disaster, 2018 has been good in terms of ERA but bad everywhere else). Weighing the pros and cons gets you a 50/50 at best late round senior-sign type. RHP Chris Murphy has similar size (6-5, 270), strengths (88-92 FB, quality SL), and weaknesses (not nearly enough missed bats to make up for well below-average control). He has an extra year of eligibility before we talk about him as a potential 50/50 (at best) senior-sign in 2019. I’ve got nothing on LHP Eddie Emerson besides his fun high strikeout/high walk totals over the years. Disastrous 2018 ERA aside, as a lefty who has missed some bats over the years he may be worth watching in 2019.

JR RHP Nick Silva (2018)
SR RHP Justin Courtney (2018)
rSR RHP Jonah Normandeau (2018)
rJR RHP Chris Murphy (2018)
SR RHP John Arel (2018)
SR LHP Connor Johnson (2018)
rSR RHP Zach Winn (2018)
JR LHP Eddie Emerson (2018)
JR SS Jeremy Pena (2018)
SR C Christopher Bec (2018)
JR 3B/2B Danny Casals (2018)
SR OF Brandon Vicens (2018)
SR C Jonathan Bennett (2018)
rJR 2B/SS Caleb Kerbs (2018)
JR OF Colin Ridley (2018)
SO RHP Cody Laweryson (2019)
rFR RHP Matt Geoffiron (2019)
RHP/1B Matthew Pushard (2019)
SO 1B/OF Hernen Sardinas (2019)
SO C Cody Pasic (2019)
FR OF/LHP Ben Terwilliger (2020)

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