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2018 MLB Draft Profile – Virginia Tech

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If you’re looking for a quality senior who has fallen through the cracks a little, then RHP Connor Coward might just be your guy. He may get dinged by the scouts for a lack of big velocity (88-92, 93 peak) and less than ideal size (6-0, 200). He may get dinged by the analytics side for not being a big-time college performer (5.23 career ERA). I think he makes up for the lack of fastball/size with a full assortment of intriguing offspeed pitches including an above-average low-80s breaking ball (plus upside), an average mid-80s change, and an emerging cutter. I also think he makes up for the lackluster college stats by trending in the right direction — admittedly not out of the ordinary for any soon-to-be 22-year-old senior — in all the relevant public facing metrics (he’s posting career bests in ERA, K/9, BB/9, BAA). All in all, Coward’s stuff and performance should be enough to get him a chance in pro ball.

RHP Nic Enright throws a little harder (88-92, up to 94) with a quality changeup, pro size (6-3, 215), and a little more youth (or, put another way, a little less experience) on his side (redshirt-sophomore). RHP Andrew McDonald fits somewhere in between Coward and Enright. He’s always missed bats, but it’s taken until his redshirt-senior season before showing he can keep runs off the board. Is that just a 23-year-old doing his thing against younger competition or has the big (6-6, 240) righty with decent stuff (90-93 FB, usable SL and CU) turned a corner? It’s likely the former, but lesser arms get drafted late every year so I wouldn’t count McDonald out.

RHP Joey Sullivan is a sinker/slider reliever with enough to warrant an honest pro look. I’ve long been a fan of RHP Luke Scherzer, an easy guy to root when you consider the hard work and dedication needed to get back on the mound after two full seasons away. I’m not sure pro ball is in the cards for him considering the many red flags (injury history, Short Righthander Bias, underwhelming results) he’ll have to confront in draft rooms, but, if healthy, he deserves a shot. His stuff at his best — 88-93 FB, 80-81 SL with above-average promise — is solid.

Both C Joe Freiday and C Luke Horanski are intriguing college backstops in a class in need of them. Freiday has a long track record of flashing power and athleticism, but his size (6-4, 240 and hacktastic ways (23 BB/110 K coming into the year) cast some doubt about both his future behind the plate and standing next to it. He’s still striking out too much (20.0 K%), but nowhere near the 30%+ rate of recent years. He’s also walking a touch more (10.0%). If you believe in him defensively, then Freiday deserves a spot in any conversation about top senior-sign catchers. Horanski, a transfer from Creighton, has gotten off to a great start in 2018. The big Canadian mashed last season at Cisco JC, so it’s not like there isn’t some track record beyond his hot small sample start this year. I’m sufficiently intrigued. If you can catch, you’re a prospect. If you can catch and hit a little bit, you’re a candidate for the top ten rounds.

2B Jack Owens has been hit by a pitch in 5.9% of his collegiate plate appearances. He’s also a career .342/.430/.479 hitter in 390 PA between his time at East Carolina (all two games there) and Virginia Tech. I don’t have much on him in the way of scouting notes, but those are certainly the type of offensive numbers that will get you noticed. SS Nick Owens (no relation) is a steadying presence in the middle infield with just enough offensive skills (little pop, little patience) to fit as a late round prospect this year or senior-sign next year.

OF/LHP Tom Stoffel is one of my favorite college players. He’s been a productive two-way player going back to 2014 (note: I’m old) topping out with last year’s magnificent redshirt-junior season. For all that college success, however, it is difficult to imagine a path to the big leagues for him. Still, there are worse org guys to bring into the fold with a late round pick or undrafted free agent contract.

1B/3B Sam Fragale has real power but an even realer swing and miss problem. The latter keeps the former from making him much of a prospect. JR OF/1B Stevie Mangrum‘s coach has compared him (via D1) to Marty Costes. That’s…no. I can appreciate a coach pumping up his own guy and there may even be some similarities from a body type and/or tools standpoint, but Mangrum has one walk to nineteen strikeouts so far in 2018. That puts his three year total at 15 BB/71 K. Costes is at 75 BB/105 K. Even if the two were physical clones that gap in plate discipline is too much for Mangrum to overcome to be anything but a “wait-and-see” 2019 potential senior-sign for me. That doesn’t sound great, I’ll admit, but there are still worse things to be at this point in the draft process.

SR RHP Connor Coward (2018)
rSO RHP Nic Enright (2018)
rSR RHP Andrew McDonald (2018)
SR RHP Joey Sullivan (2018)
rSR RHP Luke Scherzer (2018)
JR LHP/1B Paul Hall (2018)
rSR OF/LHP Tom Stoffel (2018)
rJR 2B Jack Owens (2018)
rSR 1B/3B Sam Fragale (2018)
JR OF/1B Stevie Mangrum (2018)
rJR C Luke Horanski (2018)
rJR SS Nick Owens (2018)
SR C Joe Freiday (2018)
SO RHP Dylan Hall (2019)
rFR RHP Connor Yoder (2019)
SO RHP Graham Seitz (2019)
SO 1B JD Mundy (2019)
FR LHP Ryan Okuda (2020)
FR LHP Ian Seymour (2020)
FR RHP Gavin Hinchliffe (2020)
FR OF Darion Jacoby (2020)

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