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Home » 2018 MLB Draft » 2018 MLB Draft Profile – Duke

2018 MLB Draft Profile – Duke


OF Griffin Conine is hitting .211 through eleven games as of this writing. This is normally the time where you expect me to bring up how there’s more to life than batting average (true) and an eleven game sample is not something to get worked up over (true, again). Instead, let’s go the other way. In fact, let’s go the other way completely. Conine hitting .211 at this stage of the season is important. Not only that, it’s a good thing. Hear me out. For most hitters, hitting .211, small sample or not, would be a disaster. However, Conine’s .211 is far from an empty .211. His complete triple slash: .211/.354/.421. He’s still walking at an impressive clip (just about one per game) and his ISO is north of .200. The mini-lesson is here is that Conine is such a damn good hitter that he can provide offensive value even when the hits aren’t falling. Conine can be an above-average hitter even when batting .211. Imagine him at .250. Or .275. Or even .300. When you consider many, myself included, think Conine has a plus hit tool then that means big league seasons hitting .280+ could very well be in his future. Give me that with his plus raw power (25+ homers), average to above-average speed (closer to average raw, but it definitely plays up), the athleticism and arm strength to excel in right field…yeah, I’m pretty happy with that. Perfect Game has mentioned two-thirds of the Mets outfield as possible comps (Michael Conforto and Jay Bruce) while I’ve gotten “better Phil Plantier” as a possibility. The Conforto comparison is particularly interesting when you look at their respective sophomore seasons…

.328/.447/.526 – 41 BB/47 K – 6/11 SB
.298/.425/.546 – 41 BB/45 K – 9/9 SB

Conforto on top, Conine on bottom. Pretty close! Conforto went tenth overall in 2014. That may be a little rich for Conine in this particular class, but it’s not crazy. As one of this class’s cleanest prospects — seriously, there’s no real hole in his game to pick at unless you want to ding him for not being able to play center — Conine offers some of the same high floor certainty that makes Seth Beer appealing to me. High floor, good shot at being an above-average regular, and a chance of a star peak. Pretty, pretty good.

Also good: OF Jimmy Herron. I love watching Herron play baseball and think he’s one of the draft’s best outfield talents. If I had to nitpick, I guess I’d question whether or not his arm is consistently strong and accurate enough to play regularly in center field. Besides that, he’s golden. Herron can run, defend, and, most importantly, hit. He makes a ton of quality contact with enough pop to keep opposing pitching honest and a discerning eye that has led him to a very comforting career (so far) 66 BB/63 K mark. Herron’s final ranking on this site is very likely going to wind up higher than anywhere else on the internet. He’s really good.

OF Kennie Taylor has many of the same strengths (speed, CF range, athleticism) and weaknesses (arm strength) as Herron, but is a step behind him as a hitter, especially in the plate discipline department. His tool set may be too good for teams to pass up this June, but I think his game looks even better as a potential 2019 senior-sign. Up-the-middle defenders who can run tend to get more benefit of the doubt as seniors since it’s fairly easy to envision roles for them in pro ball.

I love SS/3B Zack Kone almost as much as I love Herron. His approach is a definite work in progress — though early returns are promising — but the physical gifts are all there. He’s a no-doubt shortstop with enough arm and speed to play the position well in the pros. As a hitter, he’s begun to make the leap as he’s begun to find more of his natural power while fighting through longer, better at bats so far this spring. His defense gives him a high floor (utility infielder?) while his offensive upside is enough to make him a potential starter in the big leagues. It’s repeated all the time, but it’s true: with very few exceptions, college shortstops who can remain at the position in pro ball are a dying breed. Kone is an exception.

C Chris Proctor is a nice little sleeper — in as much as any starting ACC catcher can be a sleeper — who doesn’t wow as a defender, but gets the job done behind the dish. Same can be said for him as a hitter, though a quality start to 2018 could suggest an expected power uptick coming to fruition is more real than not. It doesn’t add up to a potential starter for me, but there are some big league tools to work with all the same.

3B/RHP Jack Labosky has long been a favorite, but I’ve cooled on him a bit now that it’s becoming clearer his approach is always going to be a little more “grip it and rip it” than I personally like. That doesn’t make Labosky a lesser prospect on the whole, just less appealing to me personally. I’d still go to bat for his athleticism, power, and defensive talent even though he’s more of a solid mid- to late-round candidate than a sleeper top ten round senior-sign pick like I may have once thought. 2B/SS Max Miller is a sensational defensive player who can’t hit. I don’t know if the former will outweigh the latter for some teams, but my hunch is probably not. 2B/OF Peter Zyla‘s positional versatility makes him a little interesting, especially if a team is willing to try him behind the plate again.

LHP Chris McGrath is a wild lefty with a nice enough fastball/slider combo. LHP Mitch Stallings has a touch less velocity (87-91 as opposed to McGrath peaking at 93), but has a more well-rounded arsenal including a solid 79-81 changeup. RHP Al Pesto was great in 2016, but that feels like a long time ago for the junior pitcher. Jimmy’s nephew (probably) has enough of a fastball/slider mix to at least get in the conversation as a potential relief prospect if he can get back on the mound. RHP Hunter Davis has similar stuff, but I like him a little less since he offers no lame Bob’s Burgers joke for me to make. RHP Ethan DeCaster is a ton of fun as a sidearmer with a long track record of success as a Creighton Bluejay. I can’t speak to his stuff (yet!), but he’s definitely a player worth investigating this spring.

Years of waiting for RHP/SS Ryan Day to break out might finally be paying off. The senior pitcher is off to a sizzling start so far in 2018. I’ve long been a believer in his athleticism (he was once a standout defender at short with as impressive an arm for the position as you’ll find) and his fastball/slider one-two punch is among my favorite of its kind in his class. Day’s fastball doesn’t have premium velocity at 87-92 (94 peak), but the movement he routinely gets on it makes it a plus pitch. His slider is more of a cut-slider and is a really tough pitch for opposing hitters to square up. At 82-85, it’s already an average offering with plus upside as he works to refine it. A fastball known as much for movement and command as velocity + a knockout secondary pitch + elite athleticism = an easy Baseball Draft Report FAVORITE.

SR LHP Chris McGrath (2018)
SR LHP Mitch Stallings (2018)
JR RHP Al Pesto (2018)
JR RHP Hunter Davis (2018)
rSR RHP Ethan DeCaster (2018)
SR RHP/SS Ryan Day (2018)
SR 3B/RHP Jack Labosky (2018)
JR OF Jimmy Herron (2018)
JR OF Griffin Conine (2018)
JR OF Kennie Taylor (2018)
JR SS/3B Zack Kone (2018)
JR C Chris Proctor (2018)
SR 2B/SS Max Miller (2018)
SR 2B/OF Peter Zyla (2018)
SR 1B/OF Michael Smicicklas (2018)
SO LHP Graeme Stinson (2019)
SO LHP Adam Laskey (2019)
SO RHP Coleman Williams (2019)
SO LHP Bill Chillari (2019)
SO RHP Cam Kovachik (2019)
SO RHP/1B Matt Mervis (2019)
SO C Chris Dutra (2019)
SO OF Chase Creek (2019)
SO 3B Erikson Nichols (2019)
FR RHP Bryce Jarvis (2020)
FR RHP Josh Nifong (2020)
FR OF Steve Mann (2020)
FR C/1B Mike Rothenberg (2020)
FR 1B Chris Crabtree (2020)
FR 1B Joey Loperfido (2020)



  1. mlbdraftfan5 says:

    Great to see fresh content, really enjoying it so far. I’m excited about Conine, hoping that my Mets select him.

  2. Hinkie says:

    Always love reading your draft stuff !!!
    Thanks for returning !!!

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