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2016 MLB Draft Reviews – Atlanta Braves

Top 500 Prospects Drafted by Atlanta in 2016

17 – Ian Anderson
25 – Joey Wentz
87 – Brett Cumberland
92 – Kyle Muller
275 – Bryse Wilson
376 – Drew Harrington

Complete List of 2016 Atlanta Braves Draftees

1.3 – RHP Ian Anderson

Ian Anderson (17) is a better prospect than the number in parentheses next to his name indicates. A general fear of high school pitching caused him to move down my final board — a board with Groome/Pint in the top two spots, go figure — but I like the Braves going bold (and underslot) with Anderson at three. The logic behind the pick feels sound (in a draft with no sure-things, spread that bonus around to take as many stabs at early round talent as you can) and the player they actually landed is as good a bet as any first round pick to make a difference over the long haul. Feels like a win-win to me. A few older notes on Anderson from April 2016…

Fans of twenty-nine other teams would not like this one bit. Ian Anderson, a dark-horse 1-1 candidate, has everything you’d want to see in a high school righthander with worlds of projection left. He also helps my pet theory that there’s an easy shortcut to amateur scouting: just follow the recruits. If a player is committed to Vanderbilt, like Ian Anderson is, move him up ___ spots on your board. Let the college teams do the hard work for you! Vanderbilt, Florida, UCLA, LSU…if a guy has a commitment to a school on that level, then you should want to draft him. I loved Anderson as much as anybody as he began to put his name on the national map, but once he had that Vandy commit in his back pocket he started looking better than ever.

You can ignore the college commitment thing if you want, but the “dark-horse 1-1 candidate” bit is worth keeping in mind. I saw some kill Atlanta for reaching badly for Anderson here, but it’s hard to call a pitcher identified as a dark-horse 1-1 candidate two months before the draft all that much of a reach at three. From April 2016 as well…

A pre-season FAVORITE who has only gone on to bigger and better things in the interim, Ian Anderson can make a case for being the top prep righthander in this class. He’s one of the handful of young arms with the potential for three plus pitches — 88-94 fastball (95 peak), 77-80 breaking ball, and a 80-85 change — but what truly separates him from the pack is his ten years in the big league veteran command. Fantasy owners rightfully scared off by high school pitchers — so far from the big leagues with so much time to get hurt! — not named Groome and Pint would be wise to include Anderson in that big three on draft day. One scout friend of mine called Anderson a “more explosive Aaron Nola.” A little bit of upside (or a lot), a little bit of certainty (very little, but still more than most HS arms)…where do I sign up?

“More explosive Aaron Nola” is exceedingly high praise, I’d say. Anderson has a legit claim to three future plus pitches (88-94 sinking FB, 96 peak; 75-80 CB, 80-85 CU) with plus command and plenty of projection left in his 6-3, 170 pound frame. I’m literally not sure what more you could want in a high school pitching prospect. Atlanta’s system is loaded with both high-end (albeit risky) talent and crazy depth, so offseason prospect rankings of the team’s farm will be some of the most interesting we’ve seen in years. There’s so much top-heavy talent that there’s really no wrong way to organize the team’s cream of the crop (or at least I hope not…); hopefully my kind of out there take that the two best prospects in the system right now are Anderson and Kolby Allard in some order (with mystery man Kevin Maitan on the same tier but too hard for me to place just yet) isn’t seen as too nuts. On second thought, who really cares if it is?

1.40 – LHP Joey Wentz

You’re free to ignore my Joey Wentz (25) take considering I initially liked him better as a hitter than a pitcher after seeing him for the first time last summer. That’s when I first starting thinking of him as a bigger Pavin Smith, a comp that feels outdated now that we know Wentz is a pro pitcher and Smith will soon be a pro hitter. Probably wasn’t a great comp to begin with considering the two guys throw with opposite hands, but what’s done is done. Moving past that, we’re free to talk about Wentz and how fantastic he looked on the mound for scouts all spring. With a big fastball (89-94, 96 peak), a 69-76 curve with above-average to plus promise, and a 79-85 change that looks a little better with every chance he has to throw it, Wentz has the kind of stuff to pitch near the front of a rotation. His command is far better than you’d expect out of two-way performer, but his control remains a bit of a work in progress. The all-around package is very enticing, and his athleticism (plus whatever you get out of him as a hitter, assuming our little non-DH league survives) and physical strength (“very well put together” was a familiar post-draft refrain) are cherries on top.

Interestingly enough (to me), I have no comps for Wentz. Asked around — hence the “very well put together” bit — and nobody could offer nothing. Closest I got was the “not a real comp” comp of the high school version of Madison Bumgarner (pre-slider) based on very general shared traits like size, strength, athleticism, ability at the plate, and fastball velocity. Again, that’s not a direct comparison by any stretch — and, as mentioned a few times lately around here, Bumgarner’s development makes him a tough guy to comp any young pitcher to — but it’s the closest I got all spring/summer for the “uncompable” Wentz.

2.44 – LHP Kyle Muller

Apparently Atlanta liked Joey Wentz so much that they decided to grab him again just four picks later. Fine, Kyle Muller (92) isn’t an exact clone of Wentz, but the two are close. Both had dominant springs in competitive high school environments. Both have seen considerable velocity jumps over the past twelve months. Both were seen by some as better hitters (hey, even if I was the only one who liked Wentz’s bat that much, it still counts!) at one point or another during their amateur careers. And both are lefthanders with intimidating size. Their differences, however, help explain the roughly half-million dollar difference paid out to the two on draft day. Honestly, I assumed it would have been a larger difference before I started typing that sentence. Let’s use this one instead: Their differences, however, explain why one guy (Wentz) was ranked 25th on the pre-draft board while the other (Muller) came in at 92nd. Little self-serving, but better.

The point either way is that Wentz is the better prospect than Muller. That doesn’t mean Muller is a bad prospect, obviously; it simply means that Wentz is better. Muller’s present fastball (85-92, 94 peak) isn’t quite on the same level as Wentz’s and his offspeed stuff (73-78 CB, 77 CU) tops out as average for now unlike Wentz’s potential plus breaker. When Wentz can look like a potential game one or two playoff starter at his best, Muller’s ceiling feels closer to the middle of the rotation than the top. He’s still a really good prospect with as much a chance to become a great one than to fade away.

2.76 – C Brett Cumberland

On Brett Cumberland (87) from April 2016…

Brett Cumberland primary claim to fame is and will be his bat. His hit tool is legit and his power is really appealing. He’s also been described to me as a guy who can be pitched to while also being the kind of smart, naturally gifted hitter who can then make adjustments on the fly. His glove is more “good enough” than good, but there’s enough there that you can work with him to make it work.

I’ve since heard two things about Cumberland’s defense behind the plate. First, Atlanta is going to do whatever it takes to work with him to make it work as a catcher. Second, he’s not a catcher. Those two bits of information could not possibly make less sense when lumped together as one, yet they 100% could both be true. I believe in Cumberland enough as a hitter to think he could carve out a big league role for himself even if he can’t catch regularly. I also believe that said role (bat-first 1B/C platoon and/or bench option?) would not quite justify his second round pedigree. It’s not quite so simple to say that Cumberland has to catch to make this pick worth it, but…he kind of has to catch to make this pick worth it. That is, unless you really believe in him as a hitter. I qualified my earlier belief in his bat with “enough” and “could,” so that should tell you something about where I stand there. I still like the pick because, as an upside junkie, getting a potential impact offensive catcher this late in the draft is a rare and beautiful thing. If you have any confidence at all you can squeeze out an average-ish defender out of him behind the plate, then this is worth a shot. I’d personally lean towards wanting a better defensive catcher (Sean Murphy and Jeremy Martinez were two of the next three catchers off the board, FWIW) to grow and work with the bevy of young pitchers coming up through the system.

3.80 – LHP Drew Harrington

Drew Harrington (376) breaks my longstanding rule of exhausting a pitcher out as a starter before moving him to the bullpen as a last resort. I’d still have Harrington pitch in a minor league rotation as long as possible, but I think a future in a big league bullpen as a two-pitch reliever (88-93 fastball with plenty of movement, above-average to plus 76-82 breaking ball he leans on heavily) suits him better than trying to get through a lineup multiple times as a potential fifth starter. Harrington as a reliever at Louisville missed bats like crazy. I’d take more of the 2015 version of Harrington (12.19 K/9 and 0.29 ERA in 31.0 relief innings) than the 2016 starting pitching version (6.95 K/9 and 2.08 ERA in 103.2 IP). I get the value of a starter over a reliever, and I think Atlanta would be wise to keep him starting as long as he can handle it. HOWEVER, Harrington looks like a future reliever to me any way you slice it. Getting him accustomed to that role sooner rather than later seems like good business to me. It also doesn’t hurt that Atlanta has a much-discussed starting pitching surplus throughout the system. Get Harrington in the bullpen and I think he could pitch his way into the relief mix by 2018.

To add fuel to my Harrington as reliever fire, Frankie Pilliere dropped one of my all-time favorite comps on the young lefty from Louisville this spring. Ready for this one? Pilliere said that Harrington reminded him of Ron Villone. How great is that? I love that the MLB Draft allows us to discuss a player compared to Ron Villone. And it’s a really good comp, too!

4.109 – RHP Bryse Wilson

The internet is a big place, so I’m quite sure that somebody else has already done this. Just in case…

26.2 IP 29 K 8 BB 2 ER
27.2 IP 38 K 12 BB 2 ER
39.2 IP 36 K 12 BB 9 ER
44.0 IP 53 K 25 BB 18 ER

Those are the debut lines for the four high school pitchers selected by Atlanta within their first six picks. That comes out to a 2.02 ERA in 138 IP with 10.17 K/9 and 3.72 BB/9. If we take out the “worst” (relative term!) of the quartet (sorry, Joey Wentz), then the numbers look like this: 9.86 K/9, 3.06 BB/9, and 1.24 ERA in 94 IP. That’s insane. I don’t love what Atlanta did once we get past the first few rounds, but it may not matter if these prep pitchers pan out as hoped. Bryse Wilson (275), the latest prep pitcher in question, looks like a keeper. He shares many of the same traits as the three high school pitchers to come before him — dominant spring performance, athletic, good fastballs — with a little less size and physical projection left than his peers. That’s not much of a problem when a) you’re already hitting the mid-90s with your fastball, and b) you’re no longer talking about a player being taken in the first hundred picks. Wilson’s big arm (88-94, 96 peak), intriguing 77-80 slider, and deceptive if sometimes unruly delivery give him a solid relief floor even if starting doesn’t work out.

5.139 – RHP Jeremy Walker

Jeremy Walker is pretty close to the ascending college pitcher prototype. He’s been good in the past, sure, but his best days look to be ahead of him. I was impressed with his jump in strikeouts from his sophomore season (6.86 K/9) to his junior year (8.88 K/9), and he kept that up in his pro debut (8.39 K/9). I’ve long looked at his as a future reliever because I could see his fastball eventually living in the mid- to upper-90s with a wipeout hard slider, but he’s got the size, athleticism, and third pitch (not a change, but a softer curve) to get through the order multiple times. I like this pick a lot. So often I’ll go fifth starter/middle reliever on a college guy’s upside, but Walker is a clear cut above that for me. I think he’s either a mid-rotation arm or a late-inning reliever. He’s good.

6.169 – 2B Matt Gonzalez

I’ve really, really liked Atlanta’s draft to this point. This, however, is where the wheels begin to come off a little bit for me. Fortunately (because my opinion is all that matters, naturally), Atlanta came back around with some later picks like Rowland, White (x2), Howell, Benson, Crowley, Clouse, and Pokorney. Until then, we get a little bit of a lull. Now back to your regularly scheduled pick-by-pick analysis…

We probably should have seen this coming. Matt Gonzalez went from a Georgia HS (Harrison) to Georgia Tech to Atlanta, Georgia. He looks the part and has many of the physical skills needed to reach the big leagues, but his approach at the plate has long limited his overall value as a hitter. His prospect status gets a slight bump thanks to his defensive versatility — he played second, third, and left field in his debut — and there’s always some hope that a player as talented as he looked to be entering Georgia Tech will figure things out in the pros. I have a hard time getting on board with a college prospect without overwhelming tools who enters pro ball with a 63 BB/191 K college mark, but Atlanta did not consult me before making the pick.

7.199 – OF JB Moss

I love that the Braves went aggressive in promoting JB Moss to High-A Carolina after just about 100 or so impressive plate appearances in rookie ball. That promotion didn’t go all that well, but if you’re drafting a 23-year-old in the seventh round then you should expect him to be able to handle a full-season assignment as soon as possible. If the experience helps Moss start strong at High-A next season, it’ll have been worth it. For as much as I love the aggressive promotion, I’m not quite as in love with the prospect. Moss has clear big league skills in his speed, center field range, and throwing arm, but offensively he’s too much of a hacker to justify his below-average pop. I suppose taking players like Moss is just the cost of doing business when you go overslot early in the draft. Still, there are other senior-signs that could offer more than his fifth outfielder upside.

8.229 – LHP Taylor Hyssong

A jump in velocity from the upper-80s to the low-90s (94 peak) helped Tyler Hyssong get drafted in the eighth round. He might not have been my preferred senior-sign in this case, but I suppose there’s some logic in getting a low-mileage lefthander with that kind of velocity when you can.

9.259 – OF Tyler Neslony

On Tyler Neslony from April 2016…

Tyler Neslony, the top returning position player prospect in the conference per this very site (he peaked at third behind CJ Hinojosa and Ben Johnson last year), is hurt by the strong likelihood that he’ll be confined to the corners as a pro. I still like his power and plate discipline combination as a mid- to late-round senior sign. Scouts who saw a lot of him during his awesome sophomore season will likely give him more of the benefit of the doubt than those in the national media who consider going fifty deep with a draft list an exhausting task.

As alluded to above, Neslony looked like a contender to eventually crash the top first few rounds after his humongous sophomore season (.375/.454/.600 with 20 BB/16 K), but never quite reached the same peaks over his next two seasons at Texas Tech. I think the barrier to entry as a corner outfielder is likely too high for Neslony, but I can get behind him as a potential platoon and/or bench bat if he can keep hitting.

10.289 – SS Marcus Mooney

Marcus Mooney is about as straightforward an evaluation you’re going to get. Defensively, he’s reliable with good hands and a strong arm without exceptional range. Offensively, he has a knack for making lots of contact but his overall upside is limited due to a lack of pop and merely average foot speed. His work ethic and demeanor in the clubhouse make him exactly the kind of player you want other prospects in the organization to learn from. The fact he can play multiple spots — he saw time at short, second, and third in his debut — makes him a perpetually useful plug-and-play option. If he hangs on long enough there’s at least a glimmer of hope he can one day be a big league utility guy, but that’s a long shot at this point. There’s still some real overarching developmental value with having a guy like him on your side, but I get that this isn’t a pick that will excited the masses.

11.319 – RHP Matt Rowland

I like Matt Rowland a lot more today than I did a few months ago and that’s without the benefit of having thrown a single professional pitch yet in his career. The one-man operation I’ve got going here means that occasionally my information will be dated enough to render it more or less useless. Between that and the fact that some teenagers simply refuse to stop growing and getting stronger, I can miss on certain players due to bad or old information. My notes on Rowland paint a picture of a 6-3, 180 pound kid with some projection left, a present 86-91 fastball, and a pair of inconsistent breaking balls that often run into each other. The current version of Rowland is listed at 6-5, 175 pounds with a fastball that can hit the mid-90s and a much sharper breaking ball thrown with far more consistent power.

12.349 – RHP Brandon White

Born 12/21/1994. Outstanding pro debut. Good size. Went to school at Lander. Got $100,000 to sign. Put up these numbers –13.40 K/9 and 3.13 BB/9 in 40.1 IP — as the Bearcats closer. Leans on a solid cut-slider he’ll throw in any count. Not a ton of upside, but relatively high floor as a potential quick-moving reliever with a long track record of missing bats. Nice pick.

13.379 – RHP Brandon White

Born 12/6/1992. Decent pro debut. Good size. Went to school at Davenport. Got $85,000 to sign. Did this — 9.44 K/9 and 1.77 BB/9 in 61.0 IP — in the Panthers rotation. College teammates with Corbin Clouse, Atlanta’s twenty-seventh round pick (see below). Athletic delivery with a fast arm capable of running it up to the mid- to upper-90s (97 peak) gives him more upside than most thirteenth round picks, but he’ll have to move quick as a 23-year-old rookie. With his heat that’s certainly possible assuming he is shifted full-time to the bullpen. Nice pick.

14.409 – 1B Ramon Osuna

When I reached out to a few different contacts for information on Ramon Osuna the first thing out of each guy’s mouth was about the kind of person and worker he is. Talk about his baseball ability came second, but everybody (two people, fine) wanted to share how good a guy he was first and foremost. How much that matters to you is a personal call, but, if nothing else, I think it makes rooting for Atlanta’s fourteenth round pick a lot easier from the outside looking in. Osuna, of course, is more than just a nice fellow, snappy dresser, and good tipper.. His final year at Walters State saw him hit a robust .389/.513/.755 with 54 BB/45 K and 12/12 SB in 208 AB. The big (6-3, 240) lefty moves well enough for his size to have played some outfield for the Senators, though first base was the only position he spent time at in his pro debut. Curtailing some of the swing-and-miss in his game would go a long way to moving him from “intriguing” to “hey, this guy is legit and more people need to pay attention” as a prospect, but his power and underrated athleticism are enough to get him on the radar for now.

15.439 – RHP Zach Becherer

I write draft reviews across the league in a scattershot way, jumping from team to team depending on my current mood. One hour I might be working on the Rockies, the next hour I might come back to Atlanta. It’s all about my motivation in that given moment as well as the flow of information I’m getting at that time about that team. Sometimes that produces some odd looking results. I walked away from Atlanta’s draft for about a month to finish other team reports (and, you know, real life stuff), so when I finally came back to this one week ago things looked a little…chaotic. Here are my unedited notes on Zach Becherer, Braves fifteenth round pick…

Cool video can be found on Zach Becherer here.

14.33 K/9 in 27.0 IP

same school as unsigned Dayton Tripp, who is off to Lipscomb.

only 5 starts

88-92 (93), 76-81 BB

95, reports of rumored higher peaks

April 13th TJ surgery

17.499 – RHP Devan Watts

Devan Watts struck out 11.31 batters per nine innings in his junior season at Tusculum. That figure helped up his two-year mark to 10.93 with a 2.26 BB/9 and 2.44 ERA to go with it. He’s part of a larger draft trend of emphasizing track record and not worrying about level of competition or size. The converted infielder’s reputation as a hard sinker/slider ground ball roller didn’t quite hold up in a pro debut he actually allowed more fly balls than ground balls, but everything else about his start in pro ball (9.89 K/9 and 0.76 ER in 23.2 IP) looks good from the outside looking in.

18.569 – LHP Zach Rice

Much respect to Atlanta’s area guy down in North Carolina if this one works out. Zach Rice has always been regarded as a live-armed lefty (87-92 FB, 94 peak; 82-84 SL) with considerable natural talent, but getting him the innings needed to show off his ability has been a persistent challenge. His ugly pro debut was certainly less than both he and Atlanta could have hoped for, but at least he was out on a mound for an extended period of time. The 17.2 IP he threw Danville almost matched his innings total (36.1) achieved in three seasons as a Tar Heel. Some of the sting of that rough start can also be taken away when Rice’s age (20-years-old all season, young for his class) is taken into account. The Braves seemed to bet big on many small school prospects who put up big numbers later in the draft. This pick is the complete opposite of that. I like the diversification of their draft portfolio in that way.

19.599 – LHP Tucker Davidson

Tucker Davidson used his good stuff (everybody raves about his slider) to get off to a great start in pro ball. He’s well worth watching going forward. Davidson also gets high marks from the numbers side of my brain for doing this at Midland JC: 9.47 K/9, 2.52 BB/9, and 2.27 ERA in 71.1 IP. Those numbers look good without context, but consider that the cumulative staff ERA at Midland this past year was 5.49. Without Davidson, the staff ERA would have jumped to 6.10.

20.589 – 2B Gabe Howell

I say it a lot, but any high school prospect signed after the completion of the top ten rounds is a gamble worth taking. Gabe Howell, twentieth round pick of Atlanta, is no exception. Howell is an exceptional athlete with legit plus speed and burgeoning power. There’s some uncertainty about where he’ll wind up defensively — the prep shortstop played third in his debut, but could also be tried at second or center to see what sticks — but he’s a skilled enough player to make it work somewhere. Great pick.

21.619 – RHP Dalton Carroll

Dalton Carroll’s career K/9’s by season as a Ute: 4.81 in 2013, 5.76 in 2014, 5.42 K/9 in 2015, and 5.15 in 2016. Once he signed his first pro contract and put on a Danville Brave jersey, his K/9 spiked to 8.46. Stuff like that really reinforces the pointlessness of trying to guess what direction 18- to 22-year-old ballplayers’ careers will go. That doesn’t mean we’ll quit trying, of course. Carroll has decent stuff — 88-92 FB (94 peak) with two average or so offspeed pitches (change and slider) — and solid command, so he should continue to pitch well in the low-minors. His big test will come around AA or so. It’s a fifth starter skill set if it all works out, but middle relief seems his most likely realistic destination if he is to make it in the big leagues.

22.649 – 1B Alex Lee

Alex Lee finished up his final year at Samford as one of college baseball’s most productive senior bats. The lefthander hit .335/.421/.523 with 35 BB/28 K in 239 AB. That alone makes him a nice pick in my book. The most likely outcome is probably organizational hitter with a slim chance at being an up-and-down bench bat, but the process (find enough highly productive amateur bats) is more important to me here than the probable result.

23.679 – 1B Griffin Benson

Griffin Benson was being pulled over by a police offer when he found out the Braves had drafted him. That’s great. It’s also all I have on him. The earlier rule about there being no such thing as a bad high school pick after round ten applies to Benson. He’s big (6-5, 210), he’s a switch-hitter, and he’s from Texas. Works for me.

24.709 – OF Matt Hearn

Turns out that Atlanta really love their California Community College Baseball players. One such player is Matt Hearn, an outfielder who hit .383/.458/.467 with 22 BB/11 K in 193 PA at Mission JC this past spring. He didn’t hit nearly that well in his pro debut and the quick notes I had on him weren’t particularly encouraging (good approach, but not quite enough power/speed to make an impact), but I can’t get too mad at a team taking a shot on a guy with twice as many walks as whiffs in his draft year.

25.739 – 3B Ryan O’Malley

Ryan O’Malley hit .335/.442/.557 with 34 BB/34 K in 176 AB for Sonoma State in 2016. I don’t mean to oversimplify the Braves approach — and keep in mind I’m only guessing as best an outsider can — but it appears that performance matters and level of competition isn’t all that much a concern. I can dig it. Feels a little Cardinals-y.

26.769 – C Alan Crowley

Forgive me for having to double-check if it’s Alan Crowley from Reedley or Alan Reedley from Crowley. Either way, it appears the Braves have done it again. Crowley hit .363/.463/.525 with 24 BB/18 K in 190 PA at Reedley this past year. The power spike was new for him, but the plus approach has always been a part of his game. All I know beyond that is that he’s good enough defensively to stick behind the plate. Works for me.

27.799 – LHP Corbin Clouse

75 strikeouts and 25 walks in 50 innings. That’s a very pretty line. And it’s exactly what Corbin Clouse did as a redshirt-sophomore at Davenport. His numbers were even better in the pros, though slightly less pretty to look at. In 30.1 IP (damn that third of an inning), Clouse struck out 53 batters and walked 15. That’s good for a 15.74 K/9 and a 4.46 BB/9 with the majority of his innings taking place in Low-A. I can dig it. His stuff fits the standard sinker/slider middle relief prototype with the added benefit of coming from the left side. He can also mix in a curve that flashes average or better and a nascent change, but both pitches have largely been phased out in lieu that one-two low-90s sinker/low-80s slider punch better suited to relief work. Fantastic work by the Braves zeroing in on this guy. It wouldn’t shock me to see him contribute to a big league bullpen as early as the middle of next season.

28.829 – 2B Nick Shumpert

A little bit of data can mean a lot to me. I don’t know if that makes me a “box score scout” or what, but the one-eighty spin I did on Nick Shumpert from 2015 to 2016 was based far more on performance informing an opinion than projection influencing judgment. I can live with whatever that makes me. Here’s some of what was written about the high school version of Shumpert…

Nick Shumpert (Highlands Ranch HS, Colorado) is another high-level easy to like middle infield prospect. On straight tools alone, he might rank second only to Rodgers in this year’s high school shortstop class. If power upside is what you want, I’d say he’s pretty clearly second only to Rodgers. That average or better raw power combined with a fascinating mixture of athleticism, arm strength (average, maybe more), speed (above-average, plays up), defensive upside (love him at second, but think he could also excel at short in time), and bat speed (so hard to measure objectively, but whatever it is he has it) make him a pretty large personal favorite. He’s even got the big league bloodlines thing going for him, if you’re into that sort of thing. If there’s a player in this class I’d compare to [Brandon] Phillips, it would be Shumpert and his explosive hands at the plate.

And here’s something written about Kyle Lewis and scouting hitting in general that applies…

It goes back to something I mentioned in the comments section a few weeks back: guys either learn to hit or they don’t. That’s my paraphrased take from this scout’s quote talking about the likelihood of Jahlil Okafor improving his outside shot as a professional: “He needs to become a better shooter and free throw shooter. He either will or he won’t.” Scouts work very hard evaluating amateur and minor league talent across the country, so their collective insight into projecting a young hitter’s future is not to be dismissed. But…can we ever really know how a guy is going to react when thrown into the professional environment? A 95 MPH fastball with movement is a 95 MPH fastball with movement at any level. Plus speed, outstanding glove work, and the ability to miss bats are all translatable skills when honed properly. Hitting is an entirely different animal.

The possibility that Shumpert won’t hit enough to tap into his big raw power feels a lot more real now after a year of underwhelming junior college stats (.284/.348/.420 with 15 BB/51 K) than it did when his future as a hitter was, like all high school prospects, a larger unknown. Having written all this and dropped Shumpert way down on my personal rankings, I should be clear that I don’t think he’s a bad prospect nor do I believe the Braves made a bad move here. If anything, Atlanta getting him in the twenty-eighth round is a serious coup. What made Shumpert so appealing in the first place remains; his considerable physical gifts as outlined above remain present. We know more about his bat — or we think we know more, at least — and that has changed his overall future value, but that hardly makes investing in his development not worth it. It could just be that Shumpert will take time. Most twenty-eighth round picks aren’t afforded that luxury, but Shumpert is a talented enough guy that he should get what he needs in pro ball.

29.859 – OF Jackson Pokorney

Prospects like Jackson Pokorney are right at home in the twenty-ninth round. Athletic, speedy, physical, and still a bit raw, Pokorney was a star at Mater Dei HS (the Indiana one, not the California one…I had to check and recheck that myself a few times) in both baseball and football. The switch-hitter makes a lot more contact than you’d expect from such a late pick, so consider me bullish on his future as a hitter. I like this one.

30.889 – RHP Cameron Stanton

Cameron Stanton had a good year for St. Edward’s baseball: 8.07 K/9, 1.75 BB/9, 3.16 ERA. All fine marks on the surface. Unfortunately, two of those three stats were actually worse than the overall team performance on the year. As a pitching staff, Hilltopper pitchers (including Stanton) did this: 8.74 K/9, 2.59 BB/9, and 2.63 ERA. That doesn’t negate the nice work done by Stanton, but a little context never hurt anybody. When it comes to contextual production, consider Stanton the anti-Tucker Davidson.

32.949 – RHP Ryan Schlosser

I’m wasn’t happy I didn’t have anything on Ryan Schlosser in my notes. Then I realized he attended a junior college that I’ve literally never heard of and felt a tiny bit better. Schlosser, the pride of Century College (located in beautiful White Bear Lake, Minnesota) put up really good sophomore numbers for the Wood Ducks: 11.91 K/9 and 3.57 BB/9 in 68.0 IP. Schlosser is the first player from Century College drafted since 2013. The Braves selected Jared Dettmann that year. Hmm. It’s also worth noting (or not) that the Wood Ducks best hitter (arguably) was named Wes Anderson. Neat.

34.1009 – OF Jared James

Long Beach State transfer Jared James hit .312/.411/.494 with 32 BB/24 K and 14/18 SB in his senior season at Division II Cal Poly Pomona. He kept right on hitting as a pro. In a debut highlighted by a sensational 101 PA in Low-A, James hit a combined .300/.379/.420 with 21 BB/30 K in 207 AB. Can’t speak to anything but the production you see before you, but that’s impressive enough to at least get on the deepest depths of the prospect radar heading into 2017.

39.1159 – LHP Parker Danciu

Decent stuff (87-90 from the left side) with good size (6-3, 220) turned into pretty terrible junior year numbers (4.57 K/9 and 5.74 ERA in 84.2 IP) at Marshall. Then he signed a pro contract and got not terrible again: 7.89 K/9 and 2.43 ERA in 29.2 IP. Baseball is a funny game, they say. Parker Danciu is living proof.

Unsigned Prospects and Where You Can Find Them in 2017

Dylan Beasley (Berry), Dayton Tripp (Lipscomb), Zac Kristofak (Georgia), Andres Perez (North Georgia), Michael Gizzi (?), Handsome Monica (Louisiana), Cameron Jabara (Oregon), Josh Anthony (Auburn)

I can’t for the life of me figure out why this Josh Anthony story wasn’t picked up by any of the national draft/prospect writers…

Anthony confirmed to the Montgomery Advertiser that Atlanta executives called him Friday morning to say they could no longer honor their offer. Anthony said Braves officials informed his father that if they signed Anthony to the agreed upon amount that would put them over Major League Baseball’s bonus pool cap and force them to potentially lose a future draft pick.

“They told me that if they honored the deal then that would put them in the tax and so they couldn’t do it,” Anthony said. “I was ready to sign and they revoked the offer.”

I get that offers can be pulled at any time. I get that the draft rules put teams in crummy situations like this far too often. Still feels like a low thing for Atlanta to do. Maybe I’m wrong and there’s a lot more to it than I know. Optics look bad from here, though.

2016 MLB Draft Reviews – Arizona Diamondbacks

Top 500 Prospects Drafted by Arizona in 2016

42 – RHP Jon Duplantier
60 – OF Anfernee Grier
194 – C Gavin Stupienski
227 – RHP Curtis Taylor
255 – 2B Manny Jefferson
279 – C Andy Yerzy
366 – C Ryan January
392 – OF Connor Owings
410 – LHP Colin Poche

Complete List of 2016 Arizona Diamondbacks Draftees

1.39 – OF Anfernee Grier

You’d think three years of SEC experience would have me reevaluating my original high school comp for Anfernee Grier (60), but I keep coming back to Devon White every time I see him play. Maybe the body types are a bit off — Grier is plenty graceful, but doesn’t quite give off the same gazelle-like movements of a young White — but I think they two share plenty of traits that could translate to a similar professional upside. Even his doubters would have to admit that Grier has star upside if it all comes together as a pro. It might be rich for some in certain areas, but I think putting above-average future grades on all five of his tools isn’t crazy. Even if you knock a few tools down to average (hit, power, arm), he’s still got a chance to be an outstanding regular and long-term fixture in center field.

If you didn’t know much about Grier until now, then I can imagine you sitting there wondering how a guy with tools like his fell to the thirty-ninth overall pick. Here you go: the aforementioned high school evaluation on this site contained this line — “questionable approach biggest current impediment to success as pro” — which remains as true now as it did then. Grier is such a naturally gifted talented young hitter — his “lightning quick wrists” were also mentioned in that report — that at times his approach at the plate looks like what one might expect out of a hitter unfamiliar with not being able to hit everything even remotely near the plate hard and far. I’m not sure this is a mainstream enough topic to qualify it as a #hottake, but I’ve wondered at times when watching Grier if he was too gifted a hitter for his own good. The confidence he has as a hitter made him a great amateur, but could keep him from being a great pro. Grier will have to learn that just because he can hit almost any pitch in any count it doesn’t necessarily mean that he should. More so than most early-round college draftees, Grier’s pro development is going to hinge greatly on his receptiveness to pro instruction, to say nothing of the quality and patience of those doing the instructing.

Of course, any attempt to change Grier too much could move him away from what made his approach work for him in the first place. The real challenge for Grier and the Diamondbacks going forward will be finding a happy medium between his natural inclination to swing at anything close and a more patient, nuanced approach at the plate. If that can be achieved, Grier is a star. If not, I think there’s still enough in the way of physical talent here to suggest Grier will have a long, fruitful career as a speed/defense backup outfielder. With a high ceiling and reasonable floor, Grier is a quality prospect and deserving first round pick.

2.52 – C Andy Yerzy

I believe in Andy Yerzy (279) as a hitter. I don’t believe in him as a catcher. That puts him in a really tough spot as the former belief isn’t nearly as strong as the latter. Yerzy will hit, sure, but will it be enough for first base? The most honest answer is ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, but that’s not what you come here for. Forced to give a definitive answer on the long-term future of an 18-year-old hitter from York Mills Collegiate Institute in beautiful Ontario …I guess I’d take the easy way out and say he’s not likely to hit enough to hold down a job at first base at the highest level. That’s playing the percentages, after all. The honest answer remains the silly shrug. I don’t have nearly enough feel for Yerzy as a hitter — what I’ve seen and heard and read, I like — to give a more solid take on his future. I clearly love going on and on and on about players I think I have a good feel for — somebody on the internet recently dissed me as being “too wordy and authoritative,” so I guess that reputation as a know-it-all yakker precedes me — but I’d like to think I also know when to shut up about a guy I don’t have enough information on to give a meaningful opinion about. So I’m going to shut up now.

3.89 – RHP Jon Duplantier

“If Duplantier flops in the pros, I’m out on Rice pitchers forever,” was a thing written here back in April. It’s true. If Jon Duplantier (42) doesn’t make it due to either injury or reduced stuff caused from injury, then I’m swearing off Rice pitchers…until next June. If Duplantier does make it, however, then me calling this one of the best picks in the draft and arguably the best value of any drafted college arm will look pretty smart. On Duplantier from March 2016…

The good news for Rice is that their ace is very clearly the best pitching prospect in the conference. Jon Duplantier is awesome. There are only so many college baseball and draft writers out there and there are a ton of quality players to write about, but it still surprises me that Duplantier has managed to go (kind of) under the radar this spring. I mean, of course Duplantier has been written about plenty and he’s regarded by almost anybody who matters as one of the top college arms in this class – not to mention I’m guilty of not writing about him until now myself – but it still feels like we could all be doing more to spread the word about how good he really is. Here’s what I wrote about him in his draft capsule last year…

175. Rice SO RHP Jon Duplantier: 87-94 FB, 95 peak; good CU; good 73-75 CB; average 82-85 SL, flashes above-average when harder; good command; great athlete; fascinating draft case study as a hugely overlooked injured arm that one scout described to me as “every bit as good as Dillon Tate when on” and another said his injury was a “blessing in disguise” because it saved him from further abuse at the hands of Coach Graham; 6-4, 210 pounds

His fastball has since topped out as high as 97-98 and more consistently sits in the mid- to upper-band of that velocity range (90-94). His command has continued to improve and his breaking balls are both showing more consistency. I’ve heard his change has backed up some – more of a future average pitch at 82-84 than anything – but seeing as that’s just one of three usable offspeed pitches, it’s not the end of the world. Duplantier is big, athletic, and getting better by the day. I don’t know if that all adds up to a first round selection in this class, but it is damn close if not.

Duplantier finished his college season ranked 42nd on my board. The draft’s first round went 41 picks. Damn close to a first round pick indeed. I’m still hopeful that his history of nagging injuries turns out to be more of a blessing in disguise we all look back on and laugh about rather than an ongoing issue that plagues him in pro ball. Get him healthy, get him working on refining his offspeed stuff (average 82-84 CU, average 82-85 SL, average mid-70s CB), get him the reps he’ll need to bump that fastball (87-95, 98 peak) command up a grade, and watch him work. I called it “sneaky top of the rotation upside” back in April, and I think some of that is still there with Duplantier. It’s aggressive, I know, but I believe. There’s just something about pitchers from Rice that I like…

4.119 – RHP Curtis Taylor

I’m really excited to watch Curtis Taylor (227) pitch in the pros. If ninth round pick Tommy Eveld (we’ll get to him) is my Platonic Ideal of what a ninth round pick college pitcher should look like, then Taylor fits the bill for the fourth round. More accurately, he’s what I want in any college pitcher outside of the first few picks in the draft. Size (6-5, 210), projection (cold weather factor), present velocity (90-94, 96 peak), offspeed with promise (slider and splitter), results (11.10 K/9 and 2.16 BB/9 in 91.2 IP at the University of British Columbia), and ground balls (around 60% in his debut)…the guy checks every box. There’s number two starter upside here with Taylor.

5.149 – 3B Joey Rose

I heard really good college player and potential 2019 first day pick when asking around about Joey Rose for much of the spring. There’s plenty to like such as his easy above-average righthanded power and above-average arm strength at the hot corner, but he’s a long way away from what he could be. I still like Arizona taking a shot on him here in the fifth round. If you think he could be a first round pick in 2019, then why not grab him well before that in a much lower round? Why let college ball have all the fun developing him when you can do it yourself? Got a Matt Rose (Cubs) comp on him after signing, which amuses me because it wasn’t until I wrote it down right this very second that I realized the players had the same last name. They even each have four-letter first names. Could some subconscious association between the two young players be the root of that comparison? Maybe!

6.179 – LHP Mack Lemieux

LHP Mack Lemieux (Jupiter HS, Florida): 84-86 FB; 75-76 CU; 72-74 CB; good command; 6-3, 185 pounds

Those were my high school notes on Mack Lemieux from 2015. Baseball America (among others) have him peaking at 94 MPH after a season at Palm Beach State JC. Between that, his youth (just turned 20), his great pro debut (on the heels of a fine junior college season), significant athleticism, and a cool name, he’s one to watch closely.

7.209 – LHP Jordan Watson

Sometimes you don’t know what you’re missing in life until you’ve found it. I love this Jordan Watson guy. NAIA or not, striking out 176 batters in 104.2 innings is straight up awesome. And then to follow up that 15.14 K/9 with a 16.43 K/9 in his first 12.2 innings pitched as a pro? I’m firmly on the bandwagon.

Incidentally, Watson’s Science and Arts of Oklahoma baseball team also had a hitter named Yariel Gonzalez who did this as a senior: 457/.508/.796 with 24 BB/9 K and 12/14 SB. He latched on with the Cardinals as an undrafted free agent where he kept hitting as a pro. I like this guy, too. We’ll get to the Cardinals draft next Monday, so I won’t drone on and on and on about how well they identify quality amateur talent, but…man, they have a knack for this. Apologies to any Diamondbacks fan who feels slighted by St. Louis co-opting their draft review. You guys drafted well, too!

8.239 – C Ryan January

Recently got a text from a friend who saw Ryan January (366) for Missoula this summer that called him a “lefthanded Alex Jackson, but good.” I’m not necessarily throwing in the towel on the Mariners 20-year-old prep catcher to pro outfielder (and, for the record, neither was my friend), but that still made me laugh. Comparison to the currently stalled Jackson aside, the real takeaway here is that January can play. There are certainly some rough edges surrounding his bat and his overall approach as a hitter remains a work in progress, but there’s no doubting his bat speed, surprisingly deft feel for contact, and the special sound he’s capable of making on impact when he gets a hold of one.

The Alex Jackson mention was serendipitous (retroactively so since it’s been about two months since I got the text, but just go with it) as I’ve actually been thinking about him a lot as I type up these draft reviews. This is hardly groundbreaking stuff, but I’ll share it anyway. I champion future bench players and middle relievers on this site all the time. I think there’s tons of hidden value there, both on the field (duh) and on the margins of the payroll sheets (save money on those homegrown guys, spend savings on bigger stars). You can find these players all over the draft if you look hard enough. However, I don’t like when teams move a questionable defender off a tough defensive spot to an easier one when the player in question doesn’t have special upside with the bat. You’re more likely to get a good player that way, but far less likely to get a great player. That was my dilemma with Alex Jackson back when he was a draft prospect. As a catcher, sign me up. Even if the bat suffers some and he never becomes a great defensive player, it would have been worth it to me to see it through with him behind the plate. As an outfielder, conventional wisdom says that he can focus more clearly on his hitting and his overall offensive game will be the best that it can be. When the best that it can be is truly great, I get it. Bryce Harper is an all too obvious example of this. But a guy like Jackson was never Harper. A guy like Jackson was never all that likely (in my view) to ever be a top ten or so offensive player (at the position) as a corner outfielder. You’ve effectively downgraded the upside from a should-be major potential asset into just another interesting potential regular. You’ve gone from admittedly longer odds of maybe great to slightly better odds of maybe good. Jackson’s bat is good, but is it good enough to give up such a huge chunk of his potential defensive value to find out?

There are way more complicating factors than those stated above. Every player should be judged on his own specific strengths and weaknesses. And Alex Jackson the individual isn’t really the point here; I don’t know enough about him to say the M’s were wrong to move him or not, and I’m willing to defer judgment on their player development staff on that call. For me, moving him wasn’t the issue, but picking him where they did in the draft knowing that moving him was the likely plan was. I’m not saying never move a player from a position that you don’t think he can handle. That would obviously be ridiculous. Not everybody is a catcher or a center fielder or a shortstop. The previously mentioned Bryce Harper is just one of many times it does make sense to make such a switch. Maybe I’m just greedy. I don’t know. “Perfect is the enemy of the good,” they said. “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars,” they said. Who knows what to think these days…

All of this somehow brings us back to Ryan January. As a catcher, he’d instantly be on the short list of highest upside players at the position in all of baseball. If forced to shift to the outfield, his odds of reaching the big leagues would go up — yes, there would be more pressure on the bat, but I think that would be counterbalanced (and then some) by the easier day-to-day existence of a corner outfielder versus a catcher — but the odds of him being a difference-making overall player would go down. I really can’t say for sure if a full-time move to the outfield is worth it in January’s specific case, but it does appear that the Diamondbacks are committed to doing what they can to exhaust all possibilities to find out what it takes to keep him behind the plate for as long as possible. I’m thankful for that. January as a catcher could be a star.

9.269 – RHP Tommy Eveld

I don’t know why I didn’t rank Tommy Eveld in the top 500 of this draft class. Arizona clearly did and they were very smart to do so. So much time and energy on this site has been spent preaching about the advantages athleticism gives young pitching prospects. Somehow Eveld, arguably the most athletic pitcher in this entire class, fell through the cracks. This is what I had on him in March…

Tommy Eveld’s question marks fall more on me than him right now. He’s got a great frame, fantastic athleticism, and legitimate low-90s heat, but beyond that I don’t know a ton about him.

Time marched on and I never got around to filling in my Eveld knowledge gaps along the way. Extreme athleticism, a big-time arm (90-94) with plenty of bullets left in the chamber, a frame to dream on (6-5, 190), offspeed stuff that seemingly got better with every trip to the mound, and tons of missed bats (11.38 K/9 in 53.0 IP) along the way…I’m not really sure what more you could want. Fantastic pick by Arizona here. Eveld is worth getting excited about.

10.299 – OF Stephen Smith

What you see is what you get with Stephen Smith. There’s power, strength, and some athleticism. It’s a potential platoon bat in a corner if it really works and a 4A slugger if it doesn’t. If that worst case scenario comes to fruition, there’s always Japan.

11.329 – RHP Jake Polancic

Not too pleased that I whiffed so badly on Jake Polancic, a good looking Canadian arm up to 88-92 with his fastball with a promising curve to match. Few teams scout Canada as aggressively as Arizona and Tim Wilken’s arrival only upped the ante on getting as many eyes on prospects from the Great White North as possible.

12.359 – C Gavin Stupienski

Wrote this in March about Gavin Stupienski (194)…

Every June I kick myself for not writing more about unheralded players that I like more before the rest of the world catches on. There’s never enough time once the college season gets going and I always feel guilty about doing quick posts off the top of my head that would better suit the daily “hey, this guy is REALLY good” thoughts that have a habit of coming up about certain prospects. The premise of this post is goofy, but I’d like to think the content stands up enough to be taken seriously. That makes this the perfect platform to express again how much I like Gavin Stupienski. He’s hit during his summers, he hit as a redshirt-sophomore, he’s hitting so far this year…he can hit. There are no questions about his defense behind the plate and he’s a leader on one of the nation’s best mid-major teams. I’m not sure what more you could want. I’m all-in on Stupienski. Add him to the increasingly impressive top ten round catcher pile.

Getting a potential regular catcher (or high-level backup) with pick three hundred fifty-nine is a major win for the Diamondbacks. This really was a great year for college catching. Arizona got themselves a good one.

13.389 – 2B Manny Jefferson

I’m surprised more hasn’t been written about Manny Jefferson (255) on this site considering how much I like him. As a college hitter coming off a breakthrough draft season in spite of an ugly 25 BB/50 K ratio, Jefferson is not exactly my usual cup of tea. One line from my notes on him stands out: “best is yet to come as a hitter.” That’s always some cognitive dissonance when it comes to such claims. For high school players, sure why not. For college prospects carrying years of meaningful data, it’s tough to really buy into the persistent scout chatter about how close a guy is to flicking the switch. Too many smart people were in on Jefferson this spring, so I pushed him up the board here even with the scary BB/K ratio. We’ll see how it all turns out. The difference between real improvement there (long-time big league regular), moderate improvement (see below), and little improvement (AA washout) will make or break his career.

With that moderate improvement in approach, I could see Jefferson settling nicely into a bat-first (power-first, really) utility player role capable of holding his own at literally any spot on the diamond save catcher and probably center. I have a player in mind I really want to comp him too, but for some reason the name keeps escaping me. In lieu of that perfect comp, I’ll throw out a pretty good one instead. I’m thinking Jefferson’s upside is something not unlike former Brewer do-everything Bill Hall.

14.419 – LHP Colin Poche

Old comps die hard, so when Perfect Game busted out an Andy Pettitte comp for Colin Poche (410) many years ago it really stuck with me. Poche is very clearly not Pettitte — few are — but he’s still a solid prospect and a great get here in the fourteenth round. What works for Poche is really good command of a slew of decent to slightly better pitches he can throw in any count or game situation. His low-90s fastball hasn’t yet returned from the Tommy John surgery that knocked him out of the 2015 college season, but he can still be effective living in the upper-80s and occasionally touching 90. Deception, extension, and athleticism are all pretty big points in his favor as well. He’s a prospect teetering on that fifth starter/middle relief line with a chance for a little more if some of his pre-injury stuff ever comes back.

15.449 – RHP Tyler Keele

Tyler Keele is the first of three straight college relievers taken by Arizona known best by their propensity for sinking fastballs and generating ground balls. I have Keele’s breaking ball as more of an in-between slider/curve, but it serves a similar purpose as the slider thrown by both Nick Blackburn and Jake Winston. Keele has a chance to be the best of the trio thanks in part to a usable split-change. The limited batted ball pro data on the three is interesting. Keele did not get many ground ball outs in his debut. Blackburn didn’t pitch enough for it to matter. And Winston got a ton of ground ball outs. Small sample size caveats apply, but so far advantage Winston.

16.479 – RHP Nick Blackburn

These are written out of order, so the Jake Winston thing you’ll read below was actually finished before whatever it is I’m about to write about Nick Blackburn. You can skip to that to get some of my feelings on Blackburn, but the short version is this: sinker/slider college reliever with a chance to be a sinker/slider big league reliever with continued work.

17.509 – RHP Jake Winston

“Better stuff than he’s shown” was a common refrain from those who have seen Jake Winston do his thing over the years for Southern Mississippi. The sinker/slider reliever has solid stuff across the board (87-92, 94 peak with the sinker; above-average slider; good command of both pitches), but lacks that singular put-away pitch to make him much more than a potential mid-relief ground ball guy. There’s nothing wrong with that in the seventeenth round, of course. Winston leaves us wanting more, and that’s something that probably says more about us than it does him.

19.569 – SS Mark Karaviotis

It’s really easy to say you love a pick after said pick goes out and hits a combined .347/.491/.485 in 217 across two levels in his pro debut. Still, I really do love this pick. Mark Karaviotis is a really good prospect who suffered from “out of sight, out of mind” syndrome in his draft year at Oregon. You would think more teams would have been on a true shortstop who kicked off his college career with two seasons of fine on-base showings (.369 OBP in 2014, .407 OBP in 2015), but injuries kept him off the field enough in 2016 that he slipped through the cracks more than his talent should have allowed. He’s not a tools monster in any way — good arm, solid range, average speed, decent pop — but he’s shown a knack for getting on base, coming up with big hits when needed, and playing mistake-free ball. He won’t keep hitting as he did in his debut, but he could very well hit enough to wind up a big league utility guy with the chance to earn some run as a starter depending on his timing. Kudos to Arizona for staying with him and being willing to give him $100,000 to sign. The young college junior (20-years-old all season) had plenty of leverage if he wanted to go back to school.

20.599 – RHP Connor Grey

No reports here on Connor Grey’s stuff while at St. Bonaventure, but he did get a mention on the site for his standout senior year performance: 9.29 K/9 – 3.23 BB/9 – 92.0 IP – 2.84 ERA. He added an even 60.0 innings on quality pitching as a pro on top of that. That kind of workhorse behavior is doubly impressive when you consider Grey’s a compactly built 6-0, 180 pound guy who gets by more on guile than big raw stuff.

22.659 – RHP Kevin Ginkel

Kevin Ginkel has impressive size (6-5, 215) and a slider with serious upside. His pro start was better than his draft year at Arizona. Funny how that works sometimes. I didn’t have any reports on his velocity as an amateur, but apparently he was up to the mid- to upper-90s in his pro debut. Putting that and his slider together adds up to one serious late-round relief steal.

23.689 – C Luke Van Rycheghem

I know very little of Luke Van Rycheghem. The Canadian does have a name very well-suited for hockey. I could see it really working as a defenseman. Maybe I’m thinking of Luke Richardson (who, incidentally, I hadn’t thought of in at least a decade before now) combined with James van Reimsdyk. Anyway, Van Rycheghem is a big (6-3, 210) and strong former catcher now being asked to worry first and foremost about hitting it long and far as a first baseman.

24.719 – RHP Riley Smith

On Riley Smith from January 2016…

JR RHP Riley Smith is the biggest wild card on the staff. His raw ability suggests he could be the highest drafted arm off of this staff in 2016, but there’s always some risk in projecting a college arm who hasn’t done it at this level that high. I’ve always preferred talent to experience, so count me very much in on Smith heading into his draft year.

The former LSU Tiger remains a big old wild card to me. His draft season was an unmitigated disaster (4.59 K/9 and 5.05 BB/9 in 19.2 IP), but the arm talent (89-93 FB, 95 peak; pair of interesting low-80s offspeed pitches) was obviously enough for Arizona to look past his struggles. So far, so good for Smith in the pros: 8.35 K/9 and 1.11 BB/9 in 32.1 IP (2.51 ERA).

25.749 – OF Myles Babitt

I love the MLB Draft. Where else do you see a player drafted from Cal State East Bay by way of the Academy of Art? Myles Babitt is a fascinating guy who has put up tons of weird, fun numbers over the years. His draft season saw him hit .308/.410/.400 with 22 BB and 5 K. That’s an insane BB/K ratio. He followed it up by hitting .300/.406/.322 with 16 BB/14 K in his pro debut. I don’t know what’s crazier there: is it the still great BB/K ratio or the comically small ISO? There’s no way that Babitt’s golden approach and whatever the opposite of golden (rusty? dull? Yahoo Answers says purple is the opposite color to gold, so maybe that?) power output can continue to coexist in pro ball, right? Or are we looking at the Willians Astudillo of the outfield? Either way, I’m excited to find out. Worth pointing out that Myles is the son of Shooty Babitt, a former Arizona and current New York Mets scout.

26.779 – 1B Tanner Hill

A friend of mine really likes Tanner Hill. He called him the next Tyler White. I don’t personally see it, but there you go.

27.809 – RHP Gabe Gonzalez

Gabe Gonzalez checks a lot of boxes: size (6-5, 220), fastball (90-94 FB, 95-96 peak), breaking ball (above-average yet inconsistent SL), and a track record of missing bats (8.11 K/9 in 2015, 10.41 K/9 in 2016). He’s still searching for a consistent slower third pitch to use — he’s used both a splitter and a forkball as a means of changing up speeds in the past — and his control remains spotty at best (4.77 BB/9 in 2015, 5.89 BB/9 in 2016), but there’s a lot to work with.

31.929 – RHP Williams Durruthy

Williams Durruthy has top ten round arm talent and undrafted free agent levels of control. The Diamondbacks split the difference with his thirty-first round selection. At his best, Durruthy is spotting a low-90s heater and a legitimate plus cutter. At his worst, he’s walking every hitter in sight. A phrase I heard more than once about Durruthy this spring: “too much movement for his own good.” If Arizona’s pro coaching can help him harness his stuff, he’s got real late-inning reliever upside. That’s a hefty “if,” admittedly, but betting on talent that can’t be taught in the latter stages of the draft is just good sense.

32.959 – RHP Trevor Simms

The highly athletic and well-traveled Trevor Simms has a good (90-95 MPH) yet wild right arm that should get him his share of chances over the next few seasons. He’ll need to act fast, however, as he’ll enter his first full year as a 25-year-old in A-ball.

33.989 – SS Paxton De La Garza

A very impressive debut for Paxton De La Garza has put the righthanded middle infielder from Angelo State on the deep sleeper map. His numbers as a Ram were good, so you can see what Arizona must have seen in him. I approve.

34.1019 – OF Connor Owings

Wow. A highly productive player from the national champions who can play multiple positions and run a little bit falling to the thirty-fourth round? Nice grab by Arizona here taking Connor Owings (392) this late. There’s a chance they only pulled the trigger because of the family ties at play — brother Chris is a 2B/SS/OF for the big club — but whatever the reason for taking Owens was, the fact remains he’s now part of the Diamondbacks organization and that’s a good thing for them.

35.1049 – OF Billy Endris

On Billy Endris from March 2016…

Further down the list is another Florida Atlantic product, Billy Endris. Endris is a good college player who has built a decent case over the last year plus that he’s got enough to warrant a late look in the draft.

His senior year was lackluster enough that I’m surprised that prediction came true. Still cool for him to be drafted. They can never take that away from him.

36.1079 – LHP Rob Galligan

Maybe a matchup lefty. Have him as a mid-80s guy with a nice curve and good size in my notes. Senior year numbers were wild (6.57 BB/9), but not really indicative of his decent overall control.

Unsigned Prospects and Where You Can Find Them in 2017

Jordan Wiley (San Jacinto), Nelson Mompierre (Missouri), Welby Malczewski (Auburn), Brandon Martorano (North Carolina), Hunter Kiel (LSU), Edmond Americaan (Chipola JC), Cameron Cannon (Arizona), Bowden Francis (Chipola JC), Jacob Olson (West Georgia Tech)

2016 MLB Draft Reviews – New York Yankees

Top 500 Prospects Drafted by New York in 2016

11 – Blake Rutherford
37 – Nick Solak
65 – Dominic Thompson-Williams
117 – Nolan Martinez
214 – Mandy Alvarez
295 – Tim Lynch
371 – Joe Burton
375 – Connor Jones
384 – Taylor Widener
449 – Keith Skinner

Complete List of 2016 New York Yankees Draftees

1.18 – OF Blake Rutherford

Delvin Perez and Nolan Jones were the only players on my board that I would have considered over Blake Rutherford (11) where the Yankees selected him. That makes this a slam dunk pick for New York. Whatever trepidation there was before the draft about staying away from anointing Rutherford a real deal 1-1 candidate ceased to matter the moment he started falling past the first handful of picks. Rutherford at 1-1 (or the surrounding area) was justifiable, but admittedly tough to swallow. Rutherford at 1-18 is flat robbery. A quick look at the timeline that got us here beginning in December 2015…

Despite some internet comparisons that paint him as the Meadows, I think the better proxy for Rutherford is Frazier. Issues with handedness, height, and hair hue aside, Frazier as a starting point for Rutherford (offensively only as Frazier’s arm strength blows the average-ish arm of Rutherford away) can be used because the two both have really good looking well-balanced swings, tons of bat speed, and significant raw power. The parallel gets a little bit of extra juice when you consider Frazier and Rutherford were/are also both a little bit older than their draft counterparts.

Pretty cool that Rutherford is now teammates with Clint Frazier with the Yankees. Well, I guess they aren’t technically teammates yet but rather organization-mates. You get the idea. Here are their respective professional debuts with Frazier on top and Rutherford on the bottom…

.297/.362/.506 – 31.1 K% and 8.7 BB% – 196 PA
.351/.415/.570 – 23.1 K% and 10.0 BB% – 130 PA

Not a bad start for the Yankees latest potential star prospect. We’ll jump now to April 2016 to see what was said about Rutherford then…

At some point it’s prudent to move away from the safety of college hitters and roll the dice on one of the best high school athletes in the country. Blake Rutherford is just that. Him being older than ideal for a high school senior gives real MLB teams drafting in the top five something extra to consider, but it could work to his advantage developmentally in terms of fantasy. He’s a little bit older, a little bit more filled-out, and a little bit more equipped to deal with the daily rigors of professional ball than your typical high school prospect. That’s some extreme spin about one of Rutherford’s bigger red flags — admittedly one that is easily resolved within a scouting department: either his age matters or not since it’s not like it’s changing (except up by one day like us all) any time soon — but talking oneself into glossing over a weakness is exactly what fantasy drafting is all about. I like Rutherford more in this range (ed. note: For the sake of context, this was originally written in a mock that had Rutherford going 11th) in the real draft than in the mix at 1-1.

There’s a bit of a fantasy spin to that, but the larger point about Rutherford being better equipped to deal with the minor league grind straight away better than many of his high school class peers held up in his debut. When Rutherford starts next season in Charleston as a 19-year-old (20 in May, but still), nobody will be talking about his age relative to the competition anymore. That doesn’t change the pre-draft evaluation where his age most certainly should have been factored in as he was doing his thing against younger pitchers, but that’s all old news by now. Outside of the potential desire to track certain developmental progress indicators, those pre-draft evaluations can more or less be thrown out now that he’s 130 plate appearances into his pro career.

It took me until May 2016 before I managed to succinctly describe how I viewed Rutherford as a prospect…

His upside is that of a consistently above-average offensive regular outfielder while defensively being capable of either hanging in center for a bit (a few years of average glove work out there would be nice) or excelling in an outfield corner (making this switch early could take a tiny bit of pressure off him as he adjusts to pro pitching). His floor, like almost all high school hitters, is AA bat with holes in his swing that are exploited by savvier arms.

I’d update that now to raise Rutherford’s ceiling (above-average regular, sure, but some years of star quality output seem well within reach) and more or less nix the idea of him playing center much longer (pro guys were a lot harder on his defense than the amateur evaluators) while keeping the floor basically the same (maybe bump him up to AAA, but the difference there is minute). No player in this class save AJ Puk has been picked apart in quite the same way as Rutherford. I’m not absolving myself from guilt as I know I’ve done the same over the past year or so. So much time and energy have been spent trying to talk ourselves out of him being the type of prospect that could go first overall that his combination of polished skills and toolsy upside, a blend of talent unique to him in this entire class of hitters, has gone underappreciated. This pick really is as good as it gets in the draft’s first round.

2.62 – 2B Nick Solak

Nick Solak (37) in three quotes…

October 23, 2015

The day you find me unwilling to champion a natural born hitter with a preternatural sense of the strike zone is the day I hang up the keyboard. Solak is a tough guy to project because so much of his value is tied up in his bat, but if he build on an already impressive first two seasons at Louisville in 2016 then he might just hit his way into the draft’s top two rounds.

April 4, 2016

Nick Solak can flat hit. I’d take him on my team anytime. He’s likely locked in at second in the infield, so I don’t know how high that profile can rise but I have a hunch he’ll be higher on my rankings than he winds up getting drafted in June. I’m more than all right with that.

April 21, 2016

Nick Solak is an outstanding hitter. He can hit any pitch in any count and has shown himself plenty capable of crushing mistakes. His approach is impeccable, his speed above-average, and his defense dependable. I think he’s the best college second baseman in this class.

If you’re getting the impression that I think Nick Solak is a good hitter, then you’re on the right track. I straight up LOVE this pick for New York. I got a recent DJ LeMahieu (shorter version) comparison for Solak that I think is pretty smart. Yankees would surely be thrilled with getting that kind of hitter in the second round.

3.98 – RHP Nolan Martinez

I loved the Blake Rutherford pick. I loved the Nick Solak pick. I love the Nolan Martinez (117) pick. Three for three for the Yankees so far. Martinez is all about projection at this point. The 6-2, 165 pound righthander has a fastball (87-94, 96 peak) with crazy movement and a low- to mid-70s breaking ball with above-average upside. Those two pitches alone could be enough for him to get pro hitters out right now. It’s a lot of fun to imagine what they could do with a few years of growth behind them. Further development of a low- to mid-80s changeup could make Martinez a long-term fixture in a big league rotation. It’s not hard to imagine some good weight being added to his frame, a few extra ticks added to his fastball (could see him sitting mid-90s by the time he’s in his early-20s), a little more power added to his slider, and overarching improvements in command as the highly athletic two-way high school star begins to devote himself full-time to pitching. Martinez is a really tough player to put a ceiling on right now. I’m honestly not sure how good he can be. I’m not even sure he even realizes just yet how good he can be. Tremendous pick by New York.

4.128 – RHP Nick Nelson

I didn’t necessarily love the Nick Nelson pick, but that doesn’t stop me from loving this quote from his 2015 player page at Gulf Coast State JC. His answer to”Best Sports advice given to you” was “To be the best…you have to be the best!” Could be wrong, but I think something got lost in translation there. Typo or not, I think I actually like this version better. Sometimes direct and literal is the way to go. All advice should be so pointed. Maybe if somebody had given me this advice as a younger man, I’d be the best. Maybe…

As for Nelson the ballplayer, I wasn’t as up on him before the draft as I could have been. I can see what the Yankees liked about him: he’s an athletic, sturdily built guy coming from a two-way background with plenty of arm strength. If you’re buying him, you’re thinking that some of his issues — control and underdeveloped offspeed stuff — can be ironed out with full-time dedication to working out on the mound. I’m not quite there, but it’s easy to be incredulous without having seen him. On paper, it sure seems like he has a long ways to go before he’ll provide the value I’d want from a fourth round pick.

I can’t prove it, but players like Nelson strike me as the type that area scouts are willing to pound the table on. The pieces are there, but he hasn’t come all that close to putting it together yet. I think many scouts actually prefer guys like this. I sounds mean even though it’s not the intent, but I think players like this make some scouts feel more important in their role. It’s “easy” to point to a finished product and say “yeah, get him” because anybody who has seen a ballgame or two can likely do the same. Players like Nelson are the hidden gems of the industry that separate the “real” scouts from the wannabes. Hitting on an established name is never a bad thing, but getting a player like Nelson right is a true notch on the belt worth bragging about. I don’t know, maybe I’m projecting too much. Just a theory.

5.158 – OF Dominic Thompson-Williams

The college outfielders ranked third through ninth on my final board all came out of the SEC. That is some seriously useless trivia. It is somewhat topical here, however, in that Dominic Thompson-Williams (65), the man ranked eighth on said list, had this written about him at the time of said ranking: “lost some in the SEC shuffle, but raw tools stack up with anybody here.” Nothing has changed over the summer, so consider that statement a true testament to Thompson-Williams’s obvious physical gifts. His athleticism, speed, and center field range are enough to get him to the big leagues, and his burgeoning pop and approach at the plate give him a chance at a future much greater than that. As my pre-draft ranking can attest, I’m a believer in Thompson-Williams finding a way to continually get better as he figures out how good he can really be. Tremendous value pick here by the Yankees.

6.188 – RHP Brooks Kriske

Brooks Kriske has the goods to pitch out of a big league bullpen one day. His fastball (88-94, 96 peak) and slider (low-80s) both have the chance to be above-average offerings and his mid-80s changeup could be serviceable assuming he doesn’t scrap it completely in the pros. A good frame (6-3, 190) and strong senior season (10.71 K/9 in 35.1 IP) bolster his case. The sixth round feels a bit early to me for these kind of guys, but a quick look at league-wide drafting trends shows that rounds five to ten are the college reliever sweet spot. Fair enough.

7.218 – C Keith Skinner

Nobody cares, but Keith Skinner (449) going in the top ten rounds helped me win a bet. He’s now one of my favorite players in pro ball. Those two things may or may not be related. Skinner’s glove behind the plate leaves some to be desired, but his power and approach at it make a seventh round pick worth it. I’m not that complicated a guy sometimes; if you hit .382/.466/.486 with 36 BB/14 K in a college season, you get noticed.

8.248 – 1B Dalton Blaser

Dalton Blaser, a highly productive college performer known best for a measured approach at the plate, went one pick before a similarly productive college performer known best for a measured approach at the plate. I’m less enthused about the Yankees eighth round pick than the guy who comes next, but can respect the rationale behind the pick.

9.278 – 1B Tim Lynch

Here he is! Tim Lynch (295) was a damn fine pick in the ninth round. He’s got a disciplined approach with legitimate big league thunder in his bat. The first base only profile makes the road to the highest level predictably challenging, but his brand of lefty power could help get him there. I think he’s got a very realistic shot to be at least a productive platoon bat with a real chance for more than that. For the cost of a ninth round pick and ten grand, that’s a steal.

10.308 – LHP Trevor Lane

Effectively wild and athletic. Those were the three pertinent words most often used to describe Trevor Lane to me. His pro debut also pointed to something else interesting about his profile: ground balls everywhere. So an effectively wild, athletic, ground ball inducing lefthanded reliever. That’s Trevor Lane.

11.338 – LHP Connor Jones

Connor Jones (375) was the man behind this should have been bold prediction that didn’t quite get there because I wimped out with all kinds of qualifying language…

It may be a little out there, but a case could be made that the other Connor Jones actually has more long-term upside than the righthanded Virginia ace. This Jones has gotten good yet wild results on the strength of an above-average or better fastball from the left side and a particularly intriguing splitter.

There’s a lot to like when it comes to Jones’s raw stuff. His fastball flirts with plus from the left side (88-94, 95 peak), his breaking ball (78-81 CB) flashes average or better, and a newly refined splitter could act as a needed strikeout pitch at the pro level. He’s also a really good athlete coming off a nice season at Georgia and a very nice trial in the GCL.

12.368 – RHP Taylor Widener

If a fast-moving reliever drafted outside of the top ten rounds is your thing, look no further than Taylor Widener (384). Check what the former Gamecock did in his pro debut: 13.86 K/9, 1.64 BB/9, 0.47 ERA in 38.1 IP. Those numbers aren’t all that out of line with what he did in his final year at South Carolina: 10.94 K/9, 2.12 BB/9, 4.06 ERA in 51.0 IP. His fastball/cut-slider combination is obviously good enough to miss bats, and his athleticism and command are on point. I like getting Widener here a heck of a lot more than I do getting Nelson and Kriske where they did. Heck, draft position aside, I just plain like Widener better. Great pick.

13.398 – RHP Brian Trieglaff

Armed with a fastball that’s been up to 96 and an above-average low-80s slider, Brian Trieglaff has the stuff to move relatively quickly in relief. His control has been inconsistent over the years and his 6-1, 190 pound frame is far from the classic intimidating late-game mound presence, but the good outweighs the bad for this thirteenth rounder. I’ll take this Widener/Trieglaff back-to-back over Nelson (fourth round) and Kriske (sixth round).

14.428 – OF Jordan Scott

There are two Jordan Scott’s on the Minor League Players section of Fangraphs when you search the name. One was born in 1991, the other in 1997. Knowing that this Jordan Scott had the latter birthday instantly gave me a dozen more gray hairs. I also got a gray hair — the disappointment kind, not the old man variety — when I realized that the only Jordan Scott I’ve written about on the site was a different Jordan Scott altogether. Decent righthanded pitcher from Liberty aside, this Jordan Scott had a solid debut in the Gulf Coast League, a not unfamiliar theme shared by many of the younger 2016 Yankees draftees. His would-be college coach seemed to offer high praise for the one who got away…

“Jordan may be the best athlete in this class,” Mountaineers head coach Randy Mazey said after Scott signed a letter of intent with WVU in November. “He can play multiple positions, hit home runs, steal bases and is also a great defender.”

Jordan Scott is now officially on my radar.

15.458 – LHP Tony Hernandez

I’ve got next to nothing on Tony Hernandez, fifteenth round pick of the Yankees. “Big fastball from the left side” is all I’ve got. I can at least note that his two junior college teams both have ties to the organization. Hernandez was first at Lackawanna College in Scranton, home of the Yankees AAA affiliate. He was most recently at Monroe College in Rochester. I do realize New York is a big state and that Rochester is over five hours away from Yankee Stadium, but when you’ve got no pre-draft notes on a guy you have to find a way to make connections when you can. Turns out a few extra seconds of exhaustive investigating reporting (some might call it Googling), makes this connection get a little better. Hernandez apparently attended the New Rochelle campus at Monroe (about thirty minutes from the Stadium), so all’s well that ends well. Here’s a quick piece from the Monroe website that caught my eye…

Hernandez, who idolized former Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez and Red Sox ace Jon Lester, was a member of this season’s Mustangs baseball team that went 38-16 overall and won a Regional Championship before being eliminated in the Eastern District final.

Either they know something we don’t or they meant Alex Fernandez, who retired from baseball when Hernandez was four-years-old. I really like to think that somebody at Monroe has a time machine or something and just broke a major offseason scoop. Probably not, though. Stupid boring reality.

(Damn. I do these draft reviews in stops and starts, so this particular player capsule was written in early September. Puts the Fernandez mistake “joke” in a totally different light. Stupid boring reality? More like stupid awful reality. Wild how the death of somebody you’ve never met can still make you feel physically ill just thinking about it a month after the fact.)

17.518 – 3B Mandy Alvarez

The Yankees challenged seventeenth round pick Mandy Alvarez (214) with an aggressive assignment to Low-A Charleston shortly after signing and he responded with a solid run in the South Atlantic League. Such a run wasn’t totally unexpected for the mature . I think he’s just good enough in all other phases of the game to stick at third base; if that’s the case, I believe in Alvarez’s bat enough to think he could be right around a league average big league player in time. I’ll even go a step further and say that I think his realistic floor is that of a quality bat-first utility guy. Getting a player with that kind of range of outcomes with pick 518 is nothing short of tremendous value for the Yankees.

Tangential thought alert! Drafting can be as hard as you make it sometimes. The Yankees made it look pretty easy in 2016. Look at their college position player picks in the top ten rounds: Solak, Thompson-Williams, Keith Skinner, Blaser, and Lynch. The combined collegiate BB to K ratio for those players (at the time of the draft) was 167 to 114. Think they have a type? In the interest of full disclosure, all but the ultra-athletic rangy in center Thompson-Williams from this group can be called bat-first prospects, so, yeah, there could be some defensive growing pains along the way, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Yankees clearly went out of their way to target prospects with above-average feel for hitting, average or better pop for their respective positions, and highly advanced plate discipline. Kudos to them for that. If you’re curious like I was, that 167 to 114 combined walk to strikeout ratio turned into a still solid 109 to 142 mark in the pros. I’d put the over/under of future big league players out of that group at 2.5 and still be inclined to bet the over with little hesitation.

18.548 – RHP Greg Weissert

On Greg Weissert from February 2016…

Greg Weissert can throw three pitches for strikes – 88-93 FB, 78-79 CU, mid-70s CB – and has missed bats at the kind of clip (10.45 K/9) to warrant his spot at the top [of the Atlantic 10].

Sounds about right. And he’s a local product (Fordham!) to boot. Weissert will attempt to be the best modern Fordham alum since Pete Harnisch. I didn’t know that Pete Harnisch was a Ram. How about that? Don’t ever let it be said that this site doesn’t teach you something new every now and then. If you knew that already then at least this site taught me something.

19.578 – OF Evan Alexander

Evan Alexander got $100,000 to sign as a nineteenth round pick. That alone makes him a name worth watching. Beyond that, all I know is that the Yankees have liked him for a long time going back to seeing him up close and personal in Jupiter of last season. That’s all I’ve got.

20.608 – RHP Miles Chambers

Miles Chambers is one of a handful of Yankees draftees with nice peripherals and ugly run prevention stats in their debuts. The righthander from Cal State Fullerton has fairly generic potential middle relief stuff (88-92 FB, SL that comes and goes). Could be better, could be worse.

21.638 – OF Timmy Robinson

I don’t always quote myself in these things, but I liked the Timmy Robinson passage from April 2016…

Timmy Robinson‘s tools are really impressive: above-average to plus raw power, average to above-average speed, above-average to plus arm, above-average to plus range, and all kinds of physical strength. That player sounds incredible, so it should be noted that getting all of his raw ability going at the same time and translating it to usable on-field skills has been a challenge. He’s gotten a little bit better every season and now looks to be one of the draft’s most intriguing senior-signs.

There’s no telling if Robinson will amount to anything more than a slightly too aggressive tooled-up just-missed ballplayer, but his physical gifts more than warrant a gamble in the twenty-first round. I like this pick.

23.698 – RHP Braden Bristo

For whatever reason I had Braden Bristo as a lefthander in my notes. Don’t let that stupid inaccuracy on my part obscure the real deal part of his quick scouting blurb. Bristo has a really fast arm that has been up to 96 in the past (90-94 generally). Both his command and control have seen ups and downs, but getting a fastball like that — lefthanded, righthanded, anyhanded — in the twenty-third round is a pretty good deal. I also had an honest to goodness dream the night after finishing this that I can’t really remember anything from except for stopping in the Braden Bristo Bistro for a glass of water. Guess the “joke” popped into my head when seeing his name (boo), I forgot about it (thankfully), and then recovered it (noooo) from deep down in the stupidest recesses of my brain while sleeping. That’s how dreams work, right?

24.728 – OF Joe Burton

Having already picked off my tenth ranked college first baseman, the Yankees go back and grab number twelve in big Joe Burton (371). Burton, the rare junior college player that I got a chance to see in person (albeit in a workout session and not a real game), is a mountain of a man with underrated athleticism, a quick bat, and a chance to hang in left field professionally. That’s exactly where he played exclusively in his debut run with the Yankees, so maybe they’ll find a way to make it work. There’s still considerable swing-and-miss to his game, but Burton’s encouraging start in pro ball reinforces his standing on the prospect map.

25.758 – OF Edel Luaces

I had nothing on Edel Luaces prior to the draft. I have nothing on Edel Luaces now. I can tell you he’s now one of four players with the given name Edel to have played professional baseball. There’s also been an Edelano (Long), Edelkis (Reyes), and Edelyn (Carrasco). No idea if any of those gentlemen went by Edel. Anyway, here’s a nice interview with Luaces via Robert M. Pimpsner.

27.818 – LHP Phillip Diehl

Thanks to above-average control and an average or better slider, Phillip Diehl is a better version of Tyler Honahan, another college lefty taken nine rounds later by New York. Both guys have enough fastball — 88-91 in the case of Diehl — to make it as a lefty specialist if the chips fall in their favor.

28.848 – RHP Will Jones

I’ve got nothing on Will Jones. Good peripherals in his debut. Not so much in the runs allowed department. Points for being an athletic two-way standout at Lander University with a low-90s heater and rapidly improving cutter. An athletic Yankee reliever known best for sawing off bats with nasty cutters? You don’t think? Nahhh…

30.908 – OF Ben Ruta

I’ve long been in favor of going with what you know in later rounds. I assume the Yankees know the prospects at Wagner College, a school that plays their home games in the very same park as the Staten Island Yankees. Ruta has pro size, a strong arm, and solid speed. He also has the exact kind of approach (college career 77 BB to 83 K) that seemingly all Yankees draftees must have to warrant draft consideration. You could do a lot worse in the thirtieth round.

36.1088 – LHP Tyler Honahan

Here’s another example of going what you know. Tyler Honahan played his collegiate home games just ninety minutes east of Yankee Stadium at Joe Nathan Field. In this case, going with what they know could result in a useful lefty reliever down the road. Honahan has always had solid stuff from the left side — 88-93 FB, 77-83 CU with upside — and his track record of missing bats is strong, so it was no shock to see him pitch effectively in his first shot at pro ball. The odds are against any thirty-sixth round pick, but Honahan can at least point to clearly defined big league skills to help his cause.

39.1178 – RHP Brian Keller

An excellent senior season (8.91 K/9, 1.80 BB/9 and 2.88 ERA in 100.0 IP), above-average command, and a fastball up to 93 were enough to get Brian Keller drafted. I would have guessed that combination would have been enough to get him drafted ahead of the thirty-ninth round (“mid-rounds” was my prediction during the season), but that’s neither here nor there at this point. It was enough to get him his chance at pro ball and he is more than making the most of it so far. Improving on all of your impressive senior season stats is good, right? Because Keller’s debut did just that: 11.20 K/9, 1.54 BB/9, and 0.88 ERA in 41.0 IP. Keller has a chance to be Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s first big league player. Very easy player to root for.

Unsigned Prospects and Where You Can Find Them in 2017

Miles Sandum (San Diego), Nate Brown (Florida), Zack Hess (LSU), Juan Cabrera (?), Bo Weiss (North Carolina), Blair Henley (Texas), Zach Linginfelter (Tennessee), Sam Ferri (Arizona State), David Clawson (BYU), Corey Dempster (USC), Bryson Bowman (Western Carolina), Gage Burland (Gonzaga)

2016 MLB Draft Reviews – Minnesota Twins

Top 500 Prospects Drafted by Minnesota in 2016

15 – Alex Kirilloff
108 – Akil Baddoo
120 – Ben Rortvedt
146 – Matt Albanese
154 – Jose Miranda
189 – Griffin Jax
244 – Jordan Balazovic
381 – Thomas Hackimer
436 – Brandon Lopez
476 – Tyler Benninghoff

Complete List of 2016 Minnesota Twins Draftees

1.15 – OF Alex Kirilloff

I don’t know if Alex Kirilloff (15) has a lucky number or not, but, if he didn’t before, he might have one now. His pre-draft ranking on this site? Fifteen. His ranking at Baseball America? Fifteen. And, of course, what pick did the Twins take him with in the 2016 MLB Draft? Doesn’t take a genius to figure out where I’m going with this. On Kirilloff from December 2015…

Alex Kirilloff is a clear step down athletically from the rest of the top tier, but, man, can he hit. If I would have kept him at first base on these rankings then there’s no question he would have finished atop that position list. He’s behind potential stars like Moniak, Rutherford, McIlwain, Benson, and Tuck for now, but that’s for reasons of defensive upside and athleticism more than anything. By June, Kirilloff’s bat might be too loud to be behind a few of those names.

Then again in April 2016…

As a hitter, Kirilloff can really do it all: big raw power, plus bat speed, a mature approach, and a hit tool so promising that almost every scout has agreed that he’s an advanced hitter who happens to hit for power rather than the other way around. He’s the rare high school prospect who could hit enough to have confidence in him as a pro even if eventually confined to first base.

A finally the longest look from about two weeks before the draft…

Another potential angle with this year’s prep outfielders is one that has been generally underplayed by the experts so far this spring. My sources, such as they are, have led me to believe that there is serious internal debate among many scouting staffs about the respective merits of Rutherford and Kirilloff. The idea that there’s a consensus favorite between the two among big league scouting departments is apparently way off the mark. This may surprise many draft fans who have read about 100x more on Rutherford this spring than Kirilloff, but I think the confusion at the top of the high school outfield class is real. I’d guess that most teams have either Moniak or Rutherford in the first spot; the teams that Moniak first, however, might not necessarily have Rutherford behind him at second. Kirilloff is far more liked by teams than many of the expert boards I’ve seen this spring.

It’s really hard to break down two different high school hitters from two different coasts, but I’ll do my best with what I have to compare Rutherford and Kirilloff. This is hardly a definitive take because, like just about any of my evaluations, I’m just one guy making one final call based on various inputs unique to the information I have on hand. I’m not a scout; I’m just a guy who pretends to know things on the internet. I give Kirilloff the slight edge in raw power, a definite arm strength advantage, and a very narrow lead in bat speed. Rutherford has the better swing (very close call), defensive upside (his decent chance to stay in center for a few years trumps Kirilloff’s average corner outfield/plus first base grades), and hit tool. The two are very close when it comes to approach (both plate discipline and ability to drive it to all fields), athleticism (another slight lean Rutherford, but Kirilloff is underrated here), and foot speed. I actually had Kirilloff ahead by a hair going into the NHSI, but Rutherford’s run of fantastic plate appearances on day two were too much to ignore. Both are great prospects and very much worth top half of the first round selections. I can’t wait to see how high they wind up on my final board.

It’s an imperfect comp, but I can see Kirilloff turning into a prospect on the same level (offensively) as Josh Bell. Great approach, big power upside, and as consistent a young hitter when it comes to hitting frozen ropes all over the field as you’ll see. Kirilloff is also an outstanding defender at first with enough speed (average) and plenty of arm (plus, but plays down for now) to roam the outfield for the foreseeable future. There’s very little reason to doubt Kirilloff as a hitter, so I won’t. He’s going to hit and he’s going to hit a lot. I think Kirilloff will be an excellent big league player for a long time. The Twins did quite well here, both for the player they drafted (clearly) and the overarching draft philosophy they seemed to kick into action.

2.56 – C Ben Rortvedt

On Ben Rortvedt (120) about a month ahead of the draft…

Ben Rortvedt has first round catcher tools; his defensive upside isn’t quite as high as Cooper Johnson’s – it’s close, but Johnson is in a league of his own – but his offensive edge more than makes up the difference. I’d say Rortvedt is the best bet of this group to be first off the board.

Not exactly a bold prediction at the end there as Rortvedt was at or near the top of any list of prep catchers the internet has to offer, but still interesting to see him go in the mid-second just a few picks after the first high school catcher (Andy Yerzy, who probably isn’t a catcher for long). In other words, I (and everybody) figured Rortvedt would go high, but he still managed to go higher (at least to me) than expected. That surprise isn’t so much about what Rortvedt can or can not do on the diamond, but rather a reflection on how risky I view high school catchers. I’m too lazy to link to my ramblings on the subject, but trust me (or not, it’s a free country) when I say that high school catchers are the highest risk of any level/position in recent history.

Of course, as I’ve also mentioned frequently in the past, draft trends can only tell us so much; it’s far more important to focus on individual player skill sets than historical precedent. Rortvedt’s skill set is that of a big league regular behind the plate. He’s a quality defender with both agility and sheer physical strength. As a hitter, he’s equal parts natural hitter and power threat with optimistic forecasts giving him a shot at being above-average in both areas. There just so happen to be loads of developmental landmines that could undermine Rortvedt between now and his hopeful big league debut that it’s really difficult to project any teenage catcher as a regular unless the tools are truly special. Rortvedt falls just short of that, but he’s close enough that you can see what the Twins were thinking here. The boom/bust prospect archetype is so often mischaracterized as a toolsy teenage center fielder/shortstop or a physically immature high school pitcher with an electric fastball, but I think a prep catcher like Rortvedt is the boom/bust poster child. If he can survive the minor league gauntlet, he could be an above-average regular at one of the most critically important positions on the diamond for a decade. If he can’t, then he’ll join the almost inconceivably long list of early round high school catchers who came up short.

2.73 – SS Jose Miranda

Jose Miranda (154) is on par with Ben Rortvedt as a talented natural hitter with average or better raw power that just so happens to come with the added bonus of being almost a year younger than his catching counterpart. Perhaps as impressive is Miranda’s mature approach at the plate that belies his age. He’s also shown enough arm to stick on the left side of the infield giving him a shot to potentially play a little bit of shortstop even as his body fills out. Still, it seems most likely that he’ll wind up at third base over the long haul, which is fine with me since I think he’s got a chance to be an impact defender. Miranda is also a little bit like Rortvedt in that he’s a bit of a boom/bust type at the hot corner (though there’s a shot he could be a bat-first utility infielder if he doesn’t make it as a regular), but if it works out then the Twins will have another talented infielder to add to the stable. Three for three in adding teenagers with advanced bats, too. Hmm…

2.74 – OF Akil Baddoo

You could point to a lot of fun things in Akil Baddoo’s (108) scouting report that explain his selection in the second round by Minnesota, but “chance for plus hit tool” is the line that I keep coming back to. Kirilloff to Rortvedt to Miranda to Baddoo: you can really see the emphasis Minnesota placed on advanced hit tools out of their early round high school position players. If this works out for them — and I’d consider hitting on two of the four as a big win — then this draft will be looked back with great fondness by those in the scouting over stats war. Is that even still a thing? Feel like we’ve moved past it (finally), but I’m not nearly as active on such things anymore. Anyway, I respect the heck out of Minnesota for going so high school heavy here. Whether it works out or not obviously remains to be seen, but the trust that the Twins showed in their scouting staff is admirable. The selection of Baddoo is a fine example of that trust in action. Natural hitting ability combined with above-average or better speed and athleticism earned Baddoo one of my favorite comps (Rondell White) from David Rawnsley of Perfect Game. I’m into it.

3.93 – RHP Griffin Jax

On Griffin Jax (189) from March 2016…

I’ve followed Jax with a little more interest than I might have otherwise due to the fact that he was originally drafted by my hometown team. The Phillies selected a pair of high school pitchers that they were prepared to go overslot with in 2013: the recently released Denton Keys and Jax. It’s easy to say with the benefit of hindsight that Philadelphia made the wrong call in going with Key, but that assumes that they were ever in a position to truly make said decision; after all, it takes two to sign a contract and talking a young man out of a commitment to Air Force can’t be easy. He’s strong, he throws hard (86-94, 96 peak), and he command both his curve and change for quality strikes. It’s a relatively safe mid- to late-rotation starter package with the added upside going forward of a) not having to worry about playing both ways at all (admittedly less of an issue this year, but last year he played some first on non-pitching days), b) shifting towards a pro future that makes baseball your number one priority professionally (for better or worse), and c) being viewed as a still ascending player figuring out just how good he can be on the mound full-time.

I’m still of two minds when it comes to Jax. He’s still the “relatively safe mid- to late-rotation starter” that I thought he could be back in March while also still somehow being an “ascending player figuring out how good he can be on the mound full-time.” How can that even be? Is it possible to be both? How much do I love asking rhetoretical questions?

As for Jax’s future, I’d lean more towards the former possibility — a fine outcome, no doubt — due to his current lack of a knockout offspeed pitch. That said, it wouldn’t be a shock if something clicked for him as a pro and he took off as a prospect sooner rather than later. That’s vague enough that you could probably say that about any prospect, but I think Jax’s unique set of extenuating circumstances make pointing out the wider range of potential outcomes for him more meaningful than it might for others. There’s such a fine line between back-end starter and something much more with Jax. Minnesota’s player development staff is going to really earn their keep here.

4.123 – RHP Thomas Hackimer

Wouldn’t it be something if Thomas Hackimer (381), the funky sinker/slider righthander out of St. John’s, winds up beating the cadre of fire-balling college relievers drafted by the Twins in recent years to the big leagues? They’ve got a head start, but it’s not totally inconceivable. Hackimer can flat pitch. Here are some words on him from March 2016…

The most famous pitcher in the Big East is Thomas Hackimer of St. John’s. The sub six-foot righthander (5-11, 200) has a long track record of missing bats coming out of the pen (9.84 K/9 in 2014, 9.52 K/9 last season) with all kinds of funky stuff (above-average low- to mid-80s SL and average CU) coming at you from an even funkier delivery. He clearly doesn’t fit the classic closer mold, but a recent uptick in velocity (92-93 peak this year, up from his usual 85-90 MPH range) could raise his prospect profile from generic college mid-round righty reliever to potential late-inning option if things keep clicking. I like guys like this a lot on draft day, so consider me a big Hackimer fan…as long as the price remains reasonable. At this rate, he could pitch his way right out of the “undervalued draft steal” category and into “fair value” territory.

The “bad” thing about this pick is the timing as I think the fourth round was about five rounds too early to be called “fair value,” but if the aim of the Twins was to take one of college ball’s “sure things” (scare quotes necessary because we all know there are no sure things in the draft) in order to mitigate some of the risk of their first four picks then mission accomplished. I won’t try to guess what the Twins have planned for Hackimer going forward, but I think he can be ready for the big leagues by the end of the upcoming season if that’s what they want to see. It’s what I want to see, but nobody has asked me.

5.153 – RHP Jordan Balazovic

It’s a strained comparison, but I’ll go there anyway: Jordan Balazovic (244) is the Jose Miranda of pitching prospects. Both guys are young for their class, possess enviable size for their positions (Miranda is 6-2, 180 and Balazovic is 6-4, 180), offer advanced skills (Miranda’s approach: Balazovic’s changeup), and come from elsewhere on the continent (Ontario for Balazovic and Puerto Rico for Miranda…though I guess PR isn’t “on the continent” but it’s late as I write this and you get what I’m saying). Strong present change aside, projection really is the name of the game for Balazovic. His fastball is good enough (88-92, 93 peak) for now (but not great) and his curve still needs work, but he has the size, athleticism, and work ethic to hit that three pitch threshold to be a ground ball heavy mid-rotation arm if it all clicks.

6.183 – RHP Alex Schick

Alex Schick had a really weird career at Cal. Take a look…

2014: 5.29 K/9 – 8.47 BB/9 – 17 IP – 3.18 ERA
2015: 11.50 K/9 – 5.25 BB/9 – 36.1 IP – 4.25 ERA
2016: 6.09 K/9 – 2.71 BB/9 – 13.1 IP – 2.03 ERA

8.47 BB/9 and a 3.18 ERA as a freshman? Weird. Then doubling that K/9 in his sophomore season? Promising! Then cutting it back in half but doing the same for walks in an abbreviated draft year? That’s just confusing. I’m not sure what we can read in to any of that, if anything at all. Maybe it’s best to instead focus on his stuff. At his best, Schick can throw low-90s (95 peak) darts with a power breaking ball capable of getting swings and misses in bunches. Between that and his imposing size (6-7, 210), I get the appeal even with the spotty college track record. It’s still a stunner to me to see him off the board in round six, but I get it. Minnesota likes to keep you on your toes with their early picks. The more I think about it, the weirder the Twins draft looks. I liked so many of their high school picks, but am less enamored with their college preferences. For a known college prospect lover like me, that’s a tough trick to pull off. Minnesota, I do not understand you. But I’m pretty intrigued at what you’ve done…

7.213 – OF Matt Albanese

The biggest selfish reason for doing these draft reviews is the enjoyment I get when looking up a temporarily forgotten draft favorite’s pro numbers. I loved Matt Albanese (146) at Bryant. See this pre-draft bullishness for proof…

Matt Albanese has average or better big league regular upside and should be in the conversation with the second tier of college outfielders with a chance to sneak into the draft’s top two or three rounds.

Falling to the seventh round makes him one of my favorite steals in the entire draft. I was excited to check back in with him and see how he handled the transition to the pro game. Then I remembered he broke his arm late in the college season. That injury kept him out of action after being drafted. Damn. Guess I’ll have to wait until next year to see how he takes to the pros. With his above-average speed, average raw power, strong arm, outstanding approach, and capable center field range, I think he has a chance to hit the ground running.

8.243 – OF Shane Carrier

Didn’t have anything on Shane Carrier before the draft, so you get his numbers at Fullerton CC: .387/.436/.694 with 15 BB/21 K in 204 PA. Not bad. He hit well in his pro debut, especially in the power department. Worth being a little intrigued about, I think.

9.273 – C Mitchell Kranson

Mitchell Kranson, a player I dubbed the “West Coast version of Gavin Collins” before the draft, split his time pretty evenly between catcher and third base in his pro debut. If he keeps getting time behind the plate, I could see him working his way into the backup catcher mix down the line. I think he’s got the glove, arm, and temperament to do just that with a high-contact approach at the plate that could make him a frustrating out for opposing pitchers.

10.303 – SS Brandon Lopez

On Brandon Lopez (436) from December 2015…

I thought that SR SS Brandon Lopez was a likely senior-sign at this time last year, so it’s not entirely shocking to see him back at Miami for one final year. Still, after the improvement he showed offensively in 2015 (.303/.417/.382 with 29 BB/26 K) it is a little bit surprising that a team wouldn’t be intrigued by the steady fielding, plus-armed, non-zero offensive shortstop. He’ll make whatever pro team drafts him this year very happy.

As you can read above, I had a hunch that Lopez would make his first pro team happy…and that was before he went out and hit like gangbusters his senior year at Miami. Still, even the most optimistic parts of my brain didn’t think it would happen this quickly for him in pro ball. Lopez’s debut was one of the best out of this entire 2016 class: .315/.438/.377 with 32 BB/35 K and 4/4 SB in 162 combined AB between rookie ball and Low-A. The lack of pop could keep him from ever being an everyday contributor, but between his glove, arm, and approach as a hitter, he could very well wind up as a ten-year big league utility infielder. Nabbing a money-saving senior-sign like this — you know, one who can actually play — is exactly why the tenth round exists.

11.333 – RHP Tyler Benninghoff

If injury had kept Tyler Benninghoff (476) from signing, he would have been a sure-fire projected first round pick down the line for me. So, in a way, the Twins nabbed themselves the equivalent of a potential first round pick with their overslot eleventh round selection. Nice work, Minnesota. A healthy Benninghoff is a low-90s fastball guy with a damn fine upper-70s hook and enough of a present changeup to think he might be on to something with the pitch down the line. He’s also got the ideal prep pitching build to dream on (6-4, 180) with all kinds of athleticism to tie the whole package together. Landing a high-ceiling overslot prep prospect like this is exactly why the eleventh round exists.

12.363 – OF Zach Featherstone

Zach Featherstone left NC State and never looked back. Or maybe he did, I don’t know him personally. What I do know is that he hit .320/.450/.563 with 70 BB/63 K and 5/7 SB across two seasons (300 AB) at Tallahassee CC. That would qualify as not looking back in a baseball-sense, I’d say. Solid runner, decent pop, and an impressive approach? I don’t hate it.

13.393 – RHP Ryan Mason

On Ryan Mason from April 2016…

Fellow senior Ryan Mason’s scouting dossier has always looked better than his peripherals: upper-80s heat (92 peak) with plus sink, a deceptive delivery, and lots of extension thanks to a 6-6, 215 pound frame should have resulted in better than a 3.69 K/9 last season. Of course, the ugliness of his peripherals was overshadowed by his consistently strong run prevention skills (2.97 ERA last season). It’s a really weird profile, but everything seems to have caught up this year: stuff, peripherals, and run prevention all are where you’d want them to be. I remain intrigued.

The weird profile followed Mason from his final months at Cal straight to the professional ranks. He feels like he should be better than he is, so you keep on thinking that maybe one day he will be. It’s probably time to accept him for what he is: a good arm capable of getting enough ground ball outs to be effective but without the necessary two-strike pitch to consistently miss bats. Into the middle relief battle royal he goes.

14.423 – SS Andre Jernigan

Andre Jernigan didn’t get a ton of ink on the main page of the site, but I wrote a good bit about him in the comments back in March 2016…

I love Jernigan as a college player, but I’m not sure his ultra-aggressive approach as a hitter will translate to the pro game. He can get away with it for now, but advanced pitching is a different animal. He’s defied the odds so far, so I’m not necessarily doubting him…but my hunch is that it’ll catch up to him in the pros. That doesn’t mean that he won’t get drafted, but rather I’m personally less high on him than others. Still probably a better bet than some of the guys in the same area of the hitting list even with the swing at everything approach.

The scouting buzz on him is probably stuff you already know: unusually physical (in a good way) for a middle infielder, very strong, solid athlete, and better defensively than he might look after a quick first impression (i.e., he grows on you). I know some have questioned his long-term future at short, but I wonder if that’s more on how he looks rather than how he plays, which isn’t particularly fair. One friend of mine affectionately calls him the Juan Uribe of college baseball. It’s not a pro comp per se, but still pretty fitting.

Jernigan stayed true to himself in his pro debut by staying the same low-average, solid pop, and lots of swing-and-miss kind of hitter he’s shown himself to be the past two seasons at Xavier. I’d write him off as an org guy, but for the tiny sliver of hope for his defense helping him climb the ladder going forward. The college shortstop played almost all of his innings at second base in his debut with the very notable exception being the one game he started behind the plate. As a catcher — or even a utility type capable of serving as a real honest to goodness catcher in a pinch — he has just a bit more of a shot than I would have thought a few months ago.

15.453 – RHP Tyler Wells

Tyler Wells, the big righthander (6-8, 265) out of Cal State San Bernardino, managed to do enough (8.71 K/9 and 3.72 BB/9) in his junior season to get himself on the draft map. Then he went out and kicked major tail in the pros to the tune of a 11.22 K/9 and 3.23 BB/9. Armed with imposing size, improved fastball command, a clear strikeout pitch (slider), and the momentum from a great debut, Wells is one to watch going forward.

16.483 – RHP Tyler Beardsley

Tyler Beardsley, owner of an explosive fastball that can hit the mid-90s, showed the Twins enough in rookie ball to get an audition in Low-A in his debut season in the organization. Not bad for a sixteenth round pick.

17.513 – C Kidany Salva

I’m stumped on Kidany Salva. I know nothing about him that you couldn’t also easily Google yourself.

19.573 – RHP Sean Poppen

Like Tyler Beardsley above, Sean Poppen showed enough in Elizabethton to warrant a closer look in Low-A before the close of his first season with the Twins. I love aggressive promotions like that. Whereas I see Beardsley as a definite reliever going forward, Poppen’s stuff (good slider, improved change) is well-rounded enough to keep him starting if that’s how the Twins want to use him.

21.633 – LHP Domenick Carlini

Domenick Carlini: 85-91 FB (93 peak), average or better SL, usable soft CB. That’s what I’ve got. That’s what you get.

22.663 – OF Hank Morrison

It’s a long way from Mercyhurst to the big leagues, but Hank Morrison has the power to give him an extended look in pro ball. He’ll look to become the fifth big league player in school history. If he makes it that far, he can then set his sights on matching David Lough’s career 3.6 fWAR, the best all-time of any Mercyhurst alum.

23.693 – SS Caleb Hamilton

Like Andre Jernigan, Caleb Hamilton was announced as a shortstop during the draft. Also like Jernigan, Hamilton played pretty much everywhere but shortstop in his debut. In the 45 games to kick off his pro career, Hamilton started games at 2B (6), 3B (12), LF (6), CF (13), RF (2), and SS (1). That kind of versatility speaks to his outstanding athleticism and sure-handedness. I don’t see enough offense coming from him to make it past the handy minor league do-everything type, but forecasting potential utility players is a tricky thing.

25.753 – RHP Colton Davis

The twenty-fifth round is the perfect spot to take a chance on a low- to mid-90s reliever with an extended track record of missing bats (10.09 K/9 in 2014, 10.93 K/9 in 2015, 12.05 K/9 in 2016) and iffy control (5.45 BB/9 in 2014, 8.04 BB/9 in 2015, 5.12 BB/9 in 2016) like Colton Davis.

28.843 – LHP Matt Jones

As one of the younger players in his class, Matt Jones, all of 18-years-old as of October 16, has plenty of time to make his mark on pro ball. He barely pitched in his debut, but that didn’t stop some the generating of some positive buzz About Jones’s stuff. He can presently pump up his fastball to the low-90s and has shown some early signs of command of both a curve and a circle-change. In one of the draft’s weirder coincidences (or was it…), Jones had a scholarship offer to play at Montevallo before opting to sign with Minnesota. The very next player selected by the Twins hailed from, you guessed it, Montevallo. Hmm…

29.873 – SS Dane Hutcheon

Dane Hutcheon hit pretty well — .365/.424/.468 with 24 BB/27 K and 16/17 SB — in his draft year at Montevallo. That’s where Rusty Greer went to school. He was pretty good. Turns out that he’s the only big league player to ever come out of Montevallo. Pretty interesting that their only big league player was a pretty darn good player. Wonder if he’s the best player to ever come out of a school that has only produced one big league player? That would be a fun research project…for somebody else. Anyway, Hutcheon will try to mess up that fact for Greer by becoming the second ever big league player to come out of Montevallo. He has a tough road ahead — drafted as a shortstop, he’s already been moved to second in the pros — but, hey, stranger things have happened, right?

30.903 – RHP Quin Grogan

Quin Grogan at Lewis-Clark: 9.14 K/9 and 4.36 BB/9. Quin Grogan in rookie ball: 9.73 K/9 and 4.26 BB/9 in rookie ball. If nothing else, you’ve got to respect the consistency. That’s all I’ve got. Sorry.

31.933 – C Juan Gamez

One can only assume Juan Gamez was amateur baseball’s best defensive catcher in 2016. That’s about the only way we can explain away a .197/.287/.268 (12 BB/28 K) hitter getting drafted and signed in the thirty-first round.

33.993 – RHP Clark Beeker

I didn’t have much on Clark Beeker before the draft, but he sure sounds like a typical effective college starter (decent heater, leans on offspeed) who has a chance of sneaking in some innings in middle relief one day if the stuff plays up in shorter outings as hoped.

34.1023 – SS Joe Cronin

Drafted as a shortstop, Joe Cronin played just about everywhere but short in his pro debut. The 3B/2B/1B/LF has proven himself to be a reliable defender at the hot corner, his primary position at Boston College, but I don’t see him having the bat to make it past “useful for his versatility” org player status.

35.1053 – LHP Austin Tribby

All I have on Austin Tribby are general “lefty with good size and numbers” platitudes. He’s been able to get by with heavy doses of offspeed stuff — curve and change, mostly — rather than an underwhelming upper-80s fastball.

36.1083 – RHP Patrick McGuff

Improved control has made Patrick McGuff, the sturdily built righthander from Morehead State, an interesting prospect. His fastball (88-92), changeup, and breaking ball work well together to miss bats (9.23 K/9 as a junior). He’s worth watching in as much a way as any thirty-sixth round pick is worth watching.

39.1173 – Casey Scoggins

Pushing a thirty-ninth round pick all the way to Low-A Cedar Rapids after signing is really cool. Good for the Twins for being aggressive with Casey Scoggins. And good for Scoggins for holding his own when faced with the challenge. His .243/.323/.282 line didn’t exactly light the world on fire, but just treading water for the season is some measure of an accomplishment. Scoggins is better than your typical second-to-last round pick, too. He is a good runner with center field instincts and a leadoff approach at the plate. He’s a long shot like any player drafted so late, but there are some usable tools to work with here.

Unsigned Prospects and Where You Can Find Them in 2017

TJ Collett (Kentucky), Dan Mayer (Pacific), Brent Rooker (Mississippi State), Greg Deichmann (LSU), Matt Wallner (Southern Mississippi), Scott Ogrin (Cal Poly), Matt Byars (Michigan State), Timmy Richards (Cal State Fullerton), Shamoy Christopher (Roane State CC)

2016 MLB Draft Reviews – Oakland Athletics

Top 500 Prospects Drafted by Oakland in 2016

12 – LHP AJ Puk
36 – C Sean Murphy
63 – RHP Daulton Jefferies
122 – RHP Logan Shore
159 – RHP Brandon Bailey
190 – RHP Mitchell Jordan
215 – OF Tyler Ramirez
222 – RHP Skylar Szynski
229 – 3B JaVon Shelby
283 – LHP Dalton Sawyer
304 – OF Kyle Nowlin
346 – OF Luke Persico
393 – 2B Nate Mondou
499 – OF Cole Gruber

Complete List of 2016 Oakland Athletics Draftees

1.6 – LHP AJ Puk

I vaguely remember writing a little bit about AJ Puk (12) somewhere along the line. Let’s check.

Ah, here’s something way back from June 2013…

LHP AJ Puk (Washington HS, Iowa): 85-90 FB, 91-92 peak; uses two-seam a lot; good 72-76 CB; shows 79-81 CU, pitch has improved some; hides ball well; emulates Sean Marshall; 6-6, 220 pounds

So young! And then again about a year ago from October 2015…

Extension, deception, and power would be three words that come immediately to mind when describing Puk. He’s every bit of 6-7, 225 with a delivery that hides the ball damn well. His power comes both with his left arm (92-96, 98 peak) and at the plate (he’d quickly be among the better hitting pitchers in the game), so it’s no big shock that some guy on the internet (that’s me) sees some similarities between him and the prospect version of Madison Bumgarner.

I’ve stressed it plenty since then, but couldn’t hurt to do it again here: prospect version of Madison Bumgarner. Prospect version. Bumgarner the prospect turning Bumgarner the big league ace was an absolute best-case scenario outcome. Could it happen for Puk? It’s not an impossibility, no. Is it likely? Also no. Let’s move forward to February 2016…

My non-scout view on Puk hasn’t changed much since he’s debuted as a Gator: he’s an excellent prospect who has always left me wanting after seeing him pitch up close. I wasn’t up close this past weekend, but I did check out his start against Florida Gulf Coast via the magic of the internet. Again, for all of Puk’s strengths he’s still not the kind of college prospect that gives off that 1-1 vibe when watching him. Even when he was cruising — 11 pitch first inning, 19 total pitches through two (15 strikes), and a 1-2-3 swinging strikeout to end the second that went slider, fastball, change — it was still on a very fastball-heavy approach with little evident feel for his offspeed stuff. His slider picked up from there and he mixed in a few nice changeups, but neither offering looked like a potential big league out-pitch.

In the third inning his defense let him down — literally and figuratively, as he made one of the two errors in the inning — but what really hurt him was his command falling apart. These are all players learning on the job so I don’t want to sound too negative, but he failed to locate an 0-2 pitch and that was what really led to his undoing. On the plus side, his velocity was good for a first start (90-94, 96 peak), his delivery looks better, the aforementioned handful of nice changeups were encouraging, and he responded really well in the fourth inning after losing his way in the third. I still struggle with his underdeveloped offspeed stuff, inconsistent command, and puzzling lack of athleticism (where did it go from HS?), but 6-7, 225 pound lefthanders who can hit 96 (98 at times last year) are worth being patient with.

That was early in the season, but it sounds more or less like the Puk that we currently know and love. Another overview on Puk from April 2016…

The Rays take advantage of our draft rules to land arguably this draft’s top college pitching prospect. Even coming off an aborted start due to a balky back, AJ Puk is currently trending up as he rides the roller coaster that has taken him from underrated (this time last year) to overrated (much of the offseason) to potentially a tad underrated once again. He probably never should have been pushed so heavily as a potential 1-1 guy — in the mix, sure, but not as the favorite/co-favorite — but his value settling even just a few picks after feels about right. It sounds a bit superficial because maybe it is, but 1-1 guys get picked apart in a way that even potential top five candidates do not. The focus has been on Puk’s inconsistent slider, underwhelming change, and spotty command. That’s what he can’t do. What he does well — pitch off an explosive mid-90s fastball, flash a dominant mid-80s slider, and use his 6-7, 225 pound frame to every advantage possible — he does really darn well. Needless to say he’d be a steal at thirteen.

Is a steal at thirteen also a steal at six? With so little separation between prospects at the top of this class, I buy it. In fact, I think Puk’s placement on my final pre-draft ranking (12th) created that first giant tier of “elite” prospects, at least by the standards of this class. The dozen at the top included Groome, Pint, Moniak, Lewis, Perez, Collins, Senzel, Ray, Lowe, Jones, Rutherford, and Puk. Most were rumored as potential 1-1 considerations at one point or another, and all would have been justifiable picks by the Phillies, in my view. The drop began right after Puk with the second tier of prospects that included Craig, Kieboom, Kirilloff, Erceg, Anderson, and Garrett. So, does that make Puk a steal at six? Sure!

Next stop takes us to the early days of May 2016 when it was time to really hone in on Puk and offer some possible comps and career paths for the big lefty…

I’ve long been in the “like but not love” camp when it comes to Puk, partly because of my belief there were superior talents ahead of him in this class and partly because of the handful of red flags that dot his dossier. The three biggest knocks on Puk coming into the season were, in some order, 1) command, 2) inconsistent quality of offspeed offerings, and 3) good but not great athleticism. It says a lot about what he does well that he’s risen as a prospect in my mind despite not really answering any of the questions we had for him coming into the season. All of this has held up so far…

Extension, deception, and power would be three words that come immediately to mind when describing Puk. He’s every bit of 6-7, 225 with a delivery that hides the ball damn well. His power comes both with his left arm (92-96, 98 peak) and at the plate (he’d quickly be among the better hitting pitchers in the game), so it’s no big shock that some guy on the internet (that’s me) sees some similarities between him and the prospect version of Madison Bumgarner.

I’ll be quick to point out again that it says “prospect version of Madison Bumgarner” without speaking to what the San Francisco ace grew into as a finished product in the big leagues. Bumgarner is a kind of special player who just kept adding on and getting better as he progressed up the chain. That’s not something that you can predict for any other prospect, though you can’t really rule it out either. You don’t know either way, is the point. Putting Bumgarner aside for now, I think there are two recent-ish draft lefthanders that can help create a basis for what to expect out of AJ Puk in the early stages of his pro career. In terms of a realistic prospect upside, Puk reminds me a great deal of recently promoted big league pitcher Sean Manaea.

Their deliveries are hardly identical – Puk is more over the top while Manaea slings it from more of an angle, plus Puk has a more pronounced step-back with his right foot at the onset and a longer stride, both aspects of his delivery that I personally like as it gives him better balance throughout – but they aren’t so different that you’d point to mechanics as a reason for tossing the comparison aside. They have similar stuff starting with fastballs close in velocity and movement (Puk has been 90-94 this year, up to 97), inconsistent yet promising low- to mid-80s sliders that flash above-average to plus (82-86 and more frequently showing above-average this year for Puk), and changeups still in need of development that clearly would be classified as distant third pitches (Puk’s has been 82-88 so far). Both have missed a lot of bats while also having their ups and downs in the control department with Puk being better at the former while Manaea maintained a slight edge at the latter. Both are also very well-proportioned, physical lefthanders with intimidating size with which they know how to use to their advantage.

A cautionary comparison for Puk might be current Mariners minor leaguer James Paxton. Paxton and Puk are closer mechanically – more similar with the height of their leg kick and overall arm action, though Paxton is more deliberate across the board — than Manaea and Puk, but the big difference between the former SEC lefthander and the current SEC lefthander is the breaking ball. Paxton’s bread and butter is a big overhand curve, a pitch that remains unhittable to this day when he can command it. Puk’s slider has its moments and it’s fair to expect it to develop into a true big league out-pitch (I do), but it’s not quite on that level yet. Paxton’s career has stalled for many of the same reasons some weren’t particularly high on Puk coming into the season: up and down fastball velocity partly attributable to a series of nagging injuries (also a problem of Manaea’s at times), an underdeveloped changeup, and consistently inconsistent command. I think Puk is ahead of where Paxton was at similar points in their development and prefer his ceiling to what we’ve seen out of Paxton to date, but the realistic floor comp remains in play.

One additional notable (or not) similarity between Puk, Manaea, Paxton, and Sean Newcomb, a fourth player often thrown into the mix as a potential Puk point of reference (it’s not bad, but Newcomb’s control issues are greater than anything Puk has dealt with), comes via each player’s respective hometown. We’ve got Cedar Rapids (IA), Valparaiso (IN), Ladner (BC), and Brockton (MA). That’s two raised in the Midwest, one in Canada, and one in New England. When you start to piece everything together, the similar career trajectories for each young pitcher (so far) begin to make some sense. All come from cold weather locales, all are large men with long limbs (thus making coordinating said limbs more of a challenge), and all are lefthanders, a fact that may or may not matter to you depending on your view of whether or not lefties really do develop later than their righthanded counterparts.

Put me down for a realistic Sean Manaea type of upside, a James Paxton floor, and the crazy pipe dream where literally everything works out developmentally ceiling of Madison Bumgarner. Do those potential career paths add up to a 1-1 draft pick? I’m not sure I have a good answer for that yet.

There’s more to judging a pitcher than K/9 and BB/9, but look at how similar Manaea (7.71 and 2.30) and Paxton (7.88 and 2.63) were in the respective age-24 seasons. That barely has anything to do with what we’re talking about, but I still think it’s cool. As for Puk, I’m sticking with those there names (plus a fourth to come) as possible career arcs for him to follow. He could come out and establish himself as a big league starter right away like Manaea seems to have done. He could have a few up-and-down seasons before settling in as a rotation fixture like Paxton. Or he could hit that 1% outcome (or whatever number you want to give it, this isn’t scientific), have some things click for him in the pros, and go full Bumgarner on the league. Or he could follow the path of this fourth guy we touched on later in May 2016…

I’m cheating and tacking Puk back on at the end here even after he got his own post last week. Like many draft-obsessed individuals, I watched his most recent start against South Carolina with great interest. I’ve seen Puk a few times in person and tons of times on the tube, but it wasn’t until Saturday night that the comparison between him and Andrew Miller really hit me. I saw about a dozen Miller starts in person back in his Tar Heel days (in a very different time in my life) and watching Puk throw brings back all kinds of memories, good and bad. The frustrating thing about this comp is that it doesn’t really tell us much. Maybe we can use it as a baseline floor for what Puk could become – though Miller’s dominance out of the pen is a tough expectation to put on anybody as a realistic worst case scenario – but pointing out the similarities between the two (size, length, extension, delivery, mound demeanor, fastball, slider, underdeveloped change…even similar facially minus Miller’s draft year mustache) hardly means that Puk is destined to the same failed starter fate. I mean, sure, maybe it does, but there’s so much more that goes into being a successful big league starter than what gets put down on a scouting card. I love comps, but they are meant to serve as a starting point to the conversation, not to be the parting shot. Every player is unique and whatever extra reasons are out there for Miller not making it in the rotation should not be held against Puk. Maybe that’s obvious, but it doesn’t hurt to say it again. I do think that Puk, barring injury, has a pretty clear big league skill set in some capacity (maybe not -0.15 FIP out of the bullpen good, but still good) even if he doesn’t reach his ultimate ceiling. In that way he is similar to Miller, so at least there’s that to fall back on. The odds that you get nothing out of Puk, again barring injury, are slim to none. For the risk-averse out there, that’s a comforting thought.

I’m 100% sure that nobody copied that thought from me, but the Puk/Miller comps started popping up left and right in the last few weeks heading into the draft in June. It was a weird coincidence (truly); that comp seemed to come together for a lot of the internet almost exactly at the same time. For good reason, too: Puk and Miller share a lot of similarities, as I attempted to outline above. There are certainly worse names to be compared to than Bumgarner, Miller, Manaea, and Paxton. Speaking of which, let’s see what Oakland scouting director Eric Kubota thinks

AF: So looking at this group of pitchers, is there anyone you might compare Puk to?

EK: For Puk, as a starting pitcher, I would say James Paxton, although physically he may be more Andrew Miller-ish. But his stuff I think is similar to Paxton.

Would you look at that? Turns out this Eric Kubota character is a pretty smart guy. I have a hunch he’s got a front office future if he’s interested.

1.37 – RHP Daulton Jefferies

If you follow the above link, you’ll see one of the best draft traditions the internet has to offer. Bill Moriarity of Athletics Farm has talked with A’s scouting director Eric Kubota about Oakland’s most recent draft for years now. His interview can also be found on Athletics Nation, my preferred landing spot due to the lively comment section that follows the piece. It’s a really well done interview (as always) and it gets the highest possible recommendation from me. Even if you’re not an A’s fan, you should check it out. If you did, you’d already know that Kupota compared Daulton Jefferies (63) to Mike Leake. That comparison was floating around pre-draft (via Perfect Game), as were comps to Walker Buehler (D1 Baseball) and Sonny Gray (PG again). Depending on how you feel about each guy, that could be a potential spectrum of outcomes for the young righthander out of Cal. In an odd coincidence, I actually gave Jefferies to Oakland in one of my weird mocks that wasn’t really a mock that everybody was confused by and/or hated…

A high performing college player who defies conventional scouting wisdom going to Oakland? That’ll work. Jefferies is really, really good.

Clearly, I’m a fan of Jefferies’s work. Before the season even began, I wrote this about him…

To have Jefferies, maybe my favorite draft-eligible college pitcher to watch, this low says way more about the quality at the top of this year’s class then his long-term pro ability. Jefferies brings three potential above-average to plus pitches to the mound on any given night. I like the D1 Baseball comparison to Walker Buehler, last year’s 24th overall pick. Getting Jefferies in a similar spot this year would be something to be excited about.

And finally from April 2016…

Jefferies is a rock-solid future big league starting pitcher. I love Daulton Jefferies. An overly enthusiastic but well-meaning friend comped Jefferies to Chris Archer after seeing him this past summer. That’s…rich. It’s not entirely crazy, though. Velocity-wise, at his best, Jefferies can sit 90-94 and touch 97. He’s been more frequently in the 88-92 band this spring (94 peak). He’s also focused far more on his low- to mid-80s slider than his mid- to upper-70s curve. I thought both had the potential to be above-average breaking balls at the big league level, but I can’t blame him for going all-in on his potentially devastating slider. Then there’s the compact, athletic delivery and plus fastball command and above-average mid-80s change-up that flashes plus and…well, you can see why he’d get such a lofty comp. Lack of size or not, Jefferies has the kind of stuff that could make him a number two starter if everything goes his way developmentally. That’s big time. High ceiling + high floor = premium pitching prospect. I think Jefferies draft floor is where Walker Buehler, a player that D1 Baseball comped to him earlier this year, landed last year. That would be pick 24 in the first round for those of you who haven’t committed Walker Buehler’s draft position to memory yet. A case could be made (and it kind of has above, right?) that slipping any further than that would be ridiculous value for his new pro team. I think he’s worth considering in the top ten depending on how the rest of the board shakes out.

I wimped out on my final ranking of Jefferies because I was spooked by the combination of his slight build (I know, I know…), velocity loss, and reported shoulder soreness, so consider all the praise above valid even in the face of what could look to be a dumb ranking in time. If healthy, Jefferies is a big league starting pitcher. Done deal in my mind. The only question then becomes how high up the rotation he can rise. Can he be a two? I don’t see why not. Three potential plus pitches and standout control seem to help support that case. I agree with those who see some of the prospect version of Mike Leake in Jefferies right now, but I think the finished product will wind up a better all-around pitcher than the $85 million man. If that’s enough to be a two for you, then he’s a future two.

2.47 – RHP Logan Shore

Living in Philadelphia, I happen to know more than a few Phillies fans who were hoping to grab AJ Puk and Logan Shore (122) with their first two picks. I think most fans were fine landing Mickey Moniak and Kevin Gowdy instead, but there has to be some lingering jealousy that Oakland got to live the Puk/Shore dream from a few spots lower on the draft board. Some words on the “other” Florida ace from May 2016…

Logan Shore has made similar progress over the last few seasons: 6.37 K/9 to 6.75 K/9 to 9.05 K/9. He’s always had solid fastball velocity and a devastating changeup. This year he’s found a few more ticks with the heater (more so in how he maintains it rather than a peak velocity jump), gained a little more consistency with his breaking ball, and arguably improved that already potent circle-change into something even scarier to opposing hitters. He’s gotten stronger, smarter, and better. I mentally wrote him off as one of the draft’s most overrated arms coming into the spring – thankfully I never wrote that on the site, but I’m man enough to admit I’ve had those thoughts on more than one occasion – but now I see the error in my ways. When a young arm has big-time stuff and command beyond his years, be patient with his development and don’t rely on one metric to make an ultimate judgment on his future. Shore is good and quite possibly still getting better.

Love the changeup, question the rest. That’s where I eventually landed on Shore before the draft. He commands his fastball as well as anybody, but was too often upper-80s (87-91, 93 peak) rather than low-90s (89-93, 95 peak) this past season. I think I’ve come around to valuing fastball command and movement (he’s got that, too) so much (and rightfully so), that velocity gets taken for granted a little bit. Shore’s fastball is still at least an average pitch if not slightly better at the lower velocity, but every little bit less heat you throw with pushes the degree you can get away with mistakes down a notch. I’ll put on my own personal “not a scout” scout hat and question Shore’s breaking ball outright. I know some like it just fine, but I’ve never seen it as anything much more than flashing average on his best days. It’s a fifth starter or so profile as is, but with significant room to improve if he can get back to that low-90s range more consistently and/or he figures out how to tighten up that slider. Assigning starter number designations isn’t a perfect science (and I say that knowing I just threw a “number two starter” ceiling on Daulton Jefferies), but I think we can all understand the gap in value between a fifth starter type (Shore now) and a potential third starter (if he can fill in the gaps in his game).

For what it’s worth, Eric Kubota said that Shore “reminds [him] of Jake Peavy a little bit.” Young, San Diego Peavy? No way. Mid- to late-career White Sox/Red Sox/Giants Peavy? I can see it.

3.83 – C Sean Murphy

If Logan Shore might have gone a little high for my personal tastes, then Oakland made up for it and then some by getting a borderline first round talent all the way down in the third round. Sean Murphy (36) is really good. His defense alone should carry him to the upper-minors (if not the big leagues) and his offense has a chance to make him an all-around above-average impact player. I’ll throw out Jonathan Lucroy as a best-case scenario and Max Pentecost — a former first round pick, it should be noted — as a comparable prospect contemporary. The love of Murphy isn’t new, of course. Here we are from March 2016 (with an embedded quote from October 2015 thrown in for good measure)…

I think I was pretty optimistic about Sean Murphy in the pre-season…

Watching Murphy do his thing behind the plate is worth the price of admission alone. We’re talking “Queen Bee” level arm strength, ample lateral quicks on balls in the dirt, and dependable hands with an ever-improving ability to frame borderline pitches. He’s second in the class behind Jake Rogers defensively — not just as a catcher, but arguably at any position — but with enough bat (unlike Rogers) to project as a potential above-average all-around regular in time. I expect the battle for top college catching prospect to be closely contested all year with Thaiss, Okey, and Murphy all taking turns atop team-specific draft boards all spring long.

…but there’s a chance that even the praise and his lofty ranking (22nd among college prospects, top three college catcher) undersold how good a player he is. Murphy has a chance to be a game-changing talent defensively as well as a significant contributor offensively. If you ever sat down and counted up all of the players that various experts considered first rounders you’d wind up with a first round approaching triple-digit selections; for that reason, I hesitate to call Murphy a future first round pick. I think it’s much easier to identify him instead as a first round talent, a minor distinction that speaks more about his ability as a player than an attempt to explain the vagaries of how teams draft. I have no idea if Murphy will be a first round pick in June. I don’t even know if he’ll wind up as one of the top thirty or so (“first round”) players on my final big board before the draft. What I do know is that he’s talented enough to warrant a first round pick, so fans of any team picking him then should be pleased. I also know that college players I like in that late-first to mid-second round range have had a tendency of slipping some on draft day, what with there being so many talented players that sorting through the top 100 can produce lists with all kinds of different orders. Brandon Lowe (ranked him 24/drafted in the third), Scott Kingery (25/second), David Thompson (35/fourth), and Harrison Bader (42/third) are all examples of this kind of player from last year. Those were all serious value picks in my mind, and I can see Murphy’s (late-first to third round) selection being written about in much the same way in a few months.

I’ll say this about more than a few guys before June 9th, but Sean Murphy will become one of the draft’s best values the moment he falls out of the first round. I think he’s going to be a really good big league starting catcher for a long time.

There you go. A’s scouting director Eric Kubota called Murphy a “Mike Matheny type.” Matheny had a career .239/.293/.344 line, good for a wRC+ of 62. That’s…not good. My memory and the numbers at least back up the oft-held assertion that his defense was pretty darn great. Maybe that’s where Kubota was coming from. The one red flag with Murphy’s game is how much power he’ll be able to produce as a professional hitter. I think there’s enough here for double-digit homers and plenty of gappers, but the possibility that his power plays lighter than expected is out there. The fact that he hit for more power than ever as a junior recovering from a broken hamate is a good (if not confusing) point in his favor. A slightly less offensive Lucroy feels like a reasonable ceiling with a solid floor of useful backup (and future manager?) a la Matheny.

4.112 – RHP Skylar Szynski

I like Skylar Szynski (222) just fine. Good fastball (88-94, 95 peak), potential above-average 76-80 breaking ball, and a hard 84-86 changeup, all boosted some thanks to advanced command from a teenager. It’s a nice package. A future in the pen could be in the cards unless Szynski can introduce something a little softer into his repertoire, but time is very much on his side there. I also liked Eric Kubota’s honest answer when asked about a comp for Szynski: “I honestly didn’t have a great one, but one of my scouts said Collin McHugh.” Honesty AND trusting a comp a scout passed on? Nice.

5.142 – 3B JaVon Shelby

A year ago I was banging the JaVon Shelby (229) as the next Ian Happ drum. A mere 67 strikeouts in 198 junior year at bats later and I think that call might have been off just a bit. It was never a direct one-to-one comp, but it’s still not a good look today. My bad. Delusional Happ optimism aside, I remain a fan of Shelby’s game. Here was an April 2016 take on him…

JaVon Shelby is a good prospect who might suffer some from the expectation that he’d finish the year as a great prospect. His physical gifts – above-average to plus speed, ample bat speed, impressive arm strength, athleticism that has allowed him to play third, the outfield, and improve every game at second – and scorching junior year start were great, but now he’s settled more into a good range. Good is still good, of course…it just isn’t great. Maybe the heightened expectations and failure to live up to them says more about us – me, specifically – than him. I still like Shelby quite a bit, but the red flag that is his approach remains. He checks every other box, so I’d still give him a chance sooner rather than later on draft day to see if the pro staff could work with him to figure things out.

Figuring out a way to improve Shelby’s approach at the plate and minimize a hole or two in his swing will probably be the difference between him being a regular and potential star at third base or him trying to make it as a power over hit, free swinging super-sub.

6.172 – RHP Brandon Bailey

Daulton Jefferies to Logan Shore to Brandon Bailey (159) to Mitchell Jordan to Seth Martinez…the A’s have a type when it comes to college starting pitchers. The heavy emphasis on command and offspeed-heavy repertoires makes the AJ Puk look even funnier (though not in a bad way) as this draft drags on. Time will tell if Oakland’s overarching approach will pay off, but I know for sure that I like the singular selection of Bailey here a lot. The righthander from Gonzaga has everything you’d want in a pitching prospect. He has a solid fastball (88-94), above-average 78-81 changeup, a mid-70s curve that flashes above-average, and a usable low- to mid-80s slider. He commands all of those pitches beautifully and sets up opposing hitters with what looks like relative ease. The whole package reads like a potential first round pick, but two factors have held Bailey’s prospect stock back. When I said he had everything you’d want in a pitching prospect that also included a few red flags you don’t: an injury history (he’s a Tommy John survivor) and an underwhelming physical profile (listed at 5-10, 175). First round command + fifth round stuff + tenth round red flags = a rough average of around a fifth round selection. That’s about where I ranked him (159th is a late-fifth rounder) and about where the A’s took him in the early-sixth round. I think he’s a future big league starter and potentially a damn good one, height be damned.

7.202 – OF Tyler Ramirez

Sometimes it kind of sort of maybe feels like I know a little bit about what I’m talking about. On Tyler Ramirez (215) from March 2016…

Ramirez doesn’t have a carrying tool that makes him an obvious future big league player, but he does a lot of things well (power, speed, glove) and leverages an ultra-patient approach to put himself in consistently positive hitter’s counts. His profile is a little bit similar to his teammate Zac Gallen’s in that both are relatively high-floor prospects without the kind of massive ceilings one would expect in a first day pick. Gallen is the better prospect, but I think many of the national guys are sleeping on Ramirez. I’ve been guilty of overrating Tar Heels hitters in the past, but Ramirez looks like the real deal. Former Carolina outfielder Tim Fedroff, a seventh round pick in 2008, seems like a reasonable draft day expectation in terms of round selected. I’d happily snap up a guy like Ramirez in that range.

Boom! Seventh round! Lucky guess aside, I think the point that the seventh round would be a great time to take a chance on a bat like Ramirez’s is the more pertinent one. A few weeks before the draft I actually compared Ramirez’s production as a junior to that of Bryan Reynolds from Vanderbilt. At that point they were really close — Ramirez’s power started to sag down the stretch — and they finished with relatively similar final years. It probably means nothing — even a numbers guy like me knows there’s more to this whole player projection thing than that — but it still creates a fun comparison to track going forward. An actual comparison I’ve gotten for Ramirez since signing is Randy Winn. Checked my archives and it turns out that I’ve used that once before on Ryan Boldt. Since I was curious, it turns out that Ramirez finished 215th on my draft rankings and Boldt came in 234th. Stands to reason that both should have long, successful careers with sustained runs of above-average play as everyday guys before eventually being traded for an over-the-hill mentally checked out manager.

8.232 – LHP Will Gilbert

Every system needs a few potential matchup lefthanders. That’s my attempt at an explanation for the A’s going with Will Gilbert in the eighth round. That and him being a money-saving senior-sign, of course. Gilbert has always gotten results despite ordinary stuff (87-90 FB, average or better 80-84 SL) and size (5-11, 170 pounds). Not much of an upside play, but can’t argue with #results.

9.262 – LHP Dalton Sawyer

On Dalton Sawyer (283) from April 2016…

Sawyer seems destined for the bullpen, a spot where his fastball (up to 94), mid-70s breaker, and effectively wild ways could get him to the big leagues sooner rather than later.

Six months later and that still sounds about right to me. Wish I had something more insightful to add, but think past-me nailed it. Or, you know, not at all. This was Eric Kubota on Sawyer after the draft…

Well, he’s another tall lefty. We’ve seen him up to 93-94 mph. He definitely had a good year as a starter this year and he’s going to go out as a starter. He’s a left-handed pitcher who’s physically imposing with velocity and a good changeup, so we’ll see where that takes him. One of my scouts said Sawyer reminded him of Jim Kaat. So if any of your readers remember Jim Kaat…

So maybe he will remain a starter. I suppose this Kubota guy might know better than an internet nobody like me, though I at least have the benefit of not having to worry about being strategic about setting player expectations. And, whoa, a Jim Kaat reference! That’s pretty cool. We’ll see if Sawyer has a Gold Glove or sixteen in his future, too.

10.292 – RHP Mitchell Jordan

On Mitchell Jordan (190) from March 2016…

I can’t get enough of Mitchell Jordan. His command, control, pitchability, and willingness to throw any pitch in any count make him a lot of fun to watch at this level. There will be understandable questions about how his slightly below-average fastball velocity (upper-80s, though it can sit low-90s and hit 93 on his best days) will translate to the pro game, but put me down as a believer that his command of the pitch coupled with the unpredictability of his pitch selection (happy to go CB, SL, or CU in plus or minus counts) will make him a viable long-term big league starting pitcher with continued development. He reminds me some of Kyle Hendricks, an eighth round pick out of Dartmouth in 2011. Feedback on Jordan has returned a wide range of potential draft outcomes with some saying as high as the third and others insisting his ceiling as fifth starter/swingman puts him closer to the bottom of the single-digit rounds than the top. Hendricks lasting until the eighth round has turned out to be a great value, so we’ll see if teams learned their lesson and pop Jordan sooner in 2016.

Jordan didn’t quite match Hendricks’s eighth round outcome, but he didn’t quite match his draft year excellence, either. Fair enough, I figure. Jordan was still very good from both a peripheral and stuff standpoint, so that fifth starter/swingman ceiling remains. Anecdotally, Jordan feels like the kind of pitching prospect that Oakland seems to get the most out of. I’m far more bullish on Jordan seeing success in the big leagues than I probably should be for a tenth round pick.

11.322 – SS Eli White

On Eli White from August 2015…

A fourth college shortstop, draft-eligible sophomore Eli White, understandably couldn’t agree to terms as a 37th round pick and will head back to Clemson to try again this year. I’d be surprised if his stock didn’t jump thirty or so rounds before next June rolls around.

Round 37 to round 11 isn’t quite a thirty round jump, but it’s close. White’s athleticism, speed, range at short, and flashes of offensive promise give him a shot to play regularly at short. All those positives ticked off in the previous sentence are exactly what teams look for in utility guys, too. I think White is a big league player based on that alone. Just for fun, let’s go back again in the archives to December 2015…

White is a good athlete who can really run with tons of bat speed and a high probability of sticking at shortstop. I compared him to Daniel Pinero last year and think he could have a similar impact in 2016.

They came by it differently, but White and Pinero wound up having very similar offensive debuts if you’re willing to lean on wRC+ as the best all-encompassing offensive stat out there. Check it out…

.261/.371/.317 – 16.0 K% and 13.7 BB% – 114 wRC+ – 175 PA
.279/.348/.361 – 24.3 K% and 9.7 BB% – 115 wRC+ – 267 PA

Top is Pinero (ninth round pick), bottom is White (eleventh round pick). There’s really no point to this other than I thought it was cool. I guess we could stretch a little and say that both guys are maybe regulars on the left side of the infield, but certainly toolsy enough to have long careers as backups otherwise.

12.352 – OF Luke Persico

Despite piling up well over 700 PA during his three years at UCLA, Luke Persico (346) is almost closer to a high school position player prospect than a college guy. That’s both a good and bad thing, though I tend to lean to the positive with the former Bruin. Despite a rough debut with Vermont, I have little personal doubt that Persico will hit as a pro. His kind of polish at the plate is what you want when drafting a major college guy this early in the draft. The big offensive question for Persico has long been and will continue to be whether or not he can ever find a way to consistently tap into his huge raw power during game situations. The gap between his brand of raw power and what he’s shown to date is one more often seen in teenager hitters who haven’t yet faced consistent big-time competition. Persico is at least an average runner with an arm to match, so it’ll be interesting to see if Oakland decides to play around with him defensively in the coming years. He played exclusively in the outfield in his debut, but his experience in the infield (1B, 2B, 3B) make him an intriguing potential Swiss Army knife defender if the A’s deem him playable at those spots. That kind of defensive intrigue is something we see more often with high school prospects than established three-year college starters. You see where I’m getting the college prospect with high school questions narrative from now? My hunch here is that Oakland looks at Persico, one of the younger players in this year’s college class, as a hitter with enough upside to be a potential regular in the outfield — or at least a high-level reserve — that they’ll opt to keep him focused on hitting as his primary developmental task rather than try to force him back in the dirt.

13.382 – 2B Nate Mondou

On Nate Mondou (393) in January 2016…

I wanted to mention the Daniel Murphy comparison I got for JR 2B/OF Nate Mondou that I heard recently, but I couldn’t remember the major media outlet that had it first. I could have missed it elsewhere, but I think mentioning it again would be one of those instances where I plagiarize myself. I hit thirty a few months back and my memory has gone up in flames since. In addition to Murphy, I’ve also heard Todd Walker as a reference point for Mondou’s bat. Lefty bats who love to attack early in the count, provide average or better power, and can hang in at the keystone spot are always going to be valued highly by pro clubs. Or at least they should.

I first tossed that Daniel Murphy comp out for Mondou in October of last year. Safe to say that a lot has changed out Murphy’s perceived value in the last twelve months or so. Timing really is everything. Mondou’s 2016 season saw an uptick in plate discipline — few more walks, few less whiffs — at the expense of some power. It’ll be interesting if we see more of the same as a professional. So far, that’s exactly what he’s done at Vermont.

14.412 – RHP Nolan Blackwood

On Nolan Blackwood from January 2016…

JR RHP Nolan Blackwood intrigues the heck out of me as a big (6-6) lanky (175 pounds) submariner with a legit fastball (88-91) and sustained success keeping runs off the board. His peripherals aren’t anything to write home about (4.11 K/9 last year), but the shiny ERA (0.52) is fun. A few more whiffs and continued success doing whatever he’s doing to get guys out (I’d love to see the batted ball data on him as I suspect he’s getting his fair share of ground ball outs and weak contact) would help him move way up the rankings.

That last line issued a challenge to Blackwood (in a pretend universe where he read it, of course) and he rose to the occasion. Blackwood bumped that K/9 from 4.11 as a sophomore to 7.54 as a junior. He gave up a few more runs (3.76 ERA), but that’s forgivable as that shiny 2015 ERA looked unsustainable from the outside looking in. Even better, that high GB% suspicion seemed to be on the money as Blackwood’s batted ball breakdown at MLB Farm had him at a 62.7 GB% in his debut. On top of all that, his velocity bumped just a bit to a more consistent 88-92 with an increasing number of 93’s sprinkled in as the year went on. I think we’ve got a future big league reliever here. If that’s the case, Blackwood would attempt to be only the third positive value player to come out of Memphis since 1981. He’ll have a long way to go to top Memphis’s best ever alum, Dan Uggla. I had no idea that he went to Memphis. Learned something new today.

15.442 – LHP Ty Damron

I have Ty Damron as a potential back of the rotation arm lefthander with the chance for three average or better pitches in his 88-93 fastball, upper-70s breaking ball, and a workable change. Ultimately, it looks like underwhelming command and below-average control could push him to the pen. That might be a blessing in disguise assuming his stuff plays up in shorter bursts the way it does for most pitchers. Now we’ve got a power lefty coming out of the bullpen all of a sudden. Cool. Maybe not as cool as the guy I now always think of when I read his name, but cool nonetheless.

16.472 – OF Anthony Churlin

I have absolutely nothing on Anthony Churlin. He plays baseball. That’s all I know.

17.502 – RHP Seth Martinez

Seth Martinez is the quintessential undersized athletic college workhorse with limited pro projection. There’s a chance he can keep doing his four-pitch mix thing with above-average overall command in a professional rotation, but I think he might be best served shifting to relief. Martinez as a starter is the kind of up-and-down arm you have stashed in AAA as the unofficial seventh or eighth member of a rotation. Martinez doing the sinker/slider thing with the occasional change added in for good measure out of the bullpen could be a long-term bullpen fixture.

18.532 – C Skyler Weber

Skyler Weber is one of the many highly athletic, average or better running catchers that I’ve profiled from this draft class so far. Starting to sense a trend here. I don’t see him hitting enough to be a big leaguer, but I’m never opposed to betting on an athletic backstop.

19.562 – RHP Sam Gilbert

Sam Gilbert, a righthanded reliever coming off of two lackluster seasons with Kansas, is a prime example of the limits of this site. I do my best to cover as much as I can but, alas, I’m only one man (with a wife, a full-time job, a part-time job, etc.), so liberties — I won’t call them shortcuts, but you can if you want — have to be made at times. Seeing a 6-0, 185 pound college reliever from Kansas with a 5.84 K/9 (2015) and 6.12 K/9 (2016) is pretty close to an insta-skip. Well, maybe he has elite control, I think. Nah: 4.86 BB/9 (2015) and 4.81 BB/9 (2016). Fine, his peripherals are ugly but might he have magic run prevention skills? He might…not: 4.62 ERA (2015) and 6.10 ERA (2016). So what in the world was Oakland thinking here? Sam Gilbert is an outstanding athlete with a two-way background who is still relatively new to pitching. His fastball climbed from upper-80s to low-90s to mid-90s as his time in Lawrence rolled on. Mediocre numbers or not, you take a chance on a highly athletic fresh-armed mid-90s throwing righthander in the nineteenth round every single time. Sometimes I catch guys like this, sometimes I don’t.

(Gilbert didn’t pitch this year for Oakland and I couldn’t pin down an exact reason why. If anybody knows anything, I’m all ears.)

21.622 – OF Kyle Nowlin

Wrote about Kyle Nowlin (304) last June after the Phillies selected him in the thirtieth round in 2015…

The second player selected from the Ohio Valley after Bosheers, Nowlin is an honest five-tool outfielder with real power (.690 SLG), speed (18/24 SB), athleticism, and, keeping up with one of the new scouting director’s first rules, an average or better hit tool. Asking around after the draft resulted in a surprise admission from a contact who said he preferred the all-around offensive game of the 31st round pick Nowlin over that of Kyle Martin, the fourth round pick. He said that if he came back for a senior season he would have the chance to jump up twenty or more rounds and potentially get into the single-digit round range as a high-priority 2016 senior-sign.

Like the player taken a round after him (stay tuned for that!), I thought Nowlin had sneaky eighth/ninth/tenth round upside as a money-saving senior-sign. Baseball did not agree with me. During Nowlin’s senior season, I wrote this: “I’m fascinated to see how Nowlin’s high BB% and K% will translate to pro ball; maybe it’s a cop-out, but I think he’s either going to be a really good player or a total washout with little middle ground.” With the benefit of a little more time and reflection, I think there’s definitely more of an opportunity for some middle-ground outcomes for Nowlin. I think a “really good player” could mean a bench bat/platoon option, but, if you disagree with that verbiage, then there’s a potential middle-ground outcome that is neither “really good” nor a “total washout.” It might take some hanging around as a supposed AAAA hitter to reach those heights, so there’s another potential middle-ground outcome that makes sense to me. A perfect world outcome for Nowlin that became all the more fitting after we found out what team had drafted him: righthanded Matt Stairs.

22.652 – C Roger Gonzalez

On Roger Gonzalez from February 2016…

I’m intrigued by Roger Gonzalez, a plus defender behind the plate and a potential contributor at it. The Miami transfer had a fine junior season and now rates as one of this class’s better senior-signs at the position.

As one might infer from the pre-draft take above, I thought Gonzalez could creep into the back of the top ten round mix as a money-saving senior-sign. He obviously didn’t, so getting him in the twenty-second round is a big win for Oakland. I’m a little surprised that he didn’t crack my top 500 heading into the draft. I think Gonzalez has a realistic big league backup backstop floor. He’s a legit defender, switch-hitter, and a good athlete with a history of taking good at bats and doing damage to pitches he can handle. Not sure what more you could want in a mid-round college catching prospect.

24.712 – OF Rob Bennie

Rob Bennie is an interesting power/speed guy with a good bit less in the way of plate discipline (22 BB/41 K as a redshirt-junior at East Stroudsburg) than one might expect from an Oakland draftee. The former Virginia Cavalier has a brother, Joe, who was drafted by Oakland in 2013. Joe has slowly but surely climbed the ladder, but has hit (or not hit, in a manner of speaking) a road block in his late-season promotion to AA. Rob should be so fortunate; hit your way to AA and then anything can happen.

25.742 – OF Jeramiah McCray

Listed as both Jeramiah McCray and Jeremiah McCray, but I’m pretty sure the former spelling is correct. That’s all I’ve got. Where’s Eric Kubota with a comp when you need him?

26.772 – 1B Charley Gould

Charley Gould can flat swing it. He was a far more interesting prospect as a catcher back in the day, but still should be a solid organizational masher at first base in the short-term. Whether or not he plays long enough to see that destiny through, however, remains to be seen. Turns out Gould is listed as being on the “voluntarily retired list” on his MiLB player page. Two minutes of searching couldn’t find anything out beyond that. If this is it for him in pro ball, we wish him luck on all future professional endeavors.

27.802 – OF Cole Gruber

I was 17-years-old when Moneyball came out. To say that Michael Lewis’s book shaped my baseball worldview would be an understatement. Still, I can admit that drawing a clear line between Oakland’s drafting in 2016 to those Moneyball days is a major stretch. But even with all the changes the last thirteen years have brought, the A’s seem to land a few personal favorite prospects of mine every draft. I can’t help that it makes me think we’re more on the same page than we probably are. Maybe I just want to believe. Anyway, Cole Gruber (499) joins Roger Gonzalez and Josh Vidales (below) as big-time favorites that Oakland managed to snag past round twenty. Here’s what was said about Gruber in March 2016…

Cole Gruber joins Taylor in what may be the country’s best pair of senior-sign hitters in one lineup. Gruber has always hit and has the bat speed to give confidence that he’ll keep doing so going forward, but his true calling card is his combination of speed and range in CF. When the first word out of one’s mouth after watching a prospect patrol center is “easy,” then you know you’ve got a keeper. Count me in as a big fan of his game, both aesthetically in the here and now and how it will translate to the pros.

And then in May 2016…

Cole Gruber will enter pro ball with two clear big league tools with his speed (43/50 SB this year) and CF range. I think he’s a solid mid- to late-round target.

Gruber finished his college career swiping 99 of 116 bases, good for an 85% success rate. He then went out and stole 28 of 30 bases (93%) in just 35 games in his debut. The guy knows how to steal a base. Between that skill and his range in the outfield, I think he can carve out a big league role down the line. And his name always makes me think of this.

28.832 – 2B Josh Vidales

Josh Vidales and this site go way back. Let’s take a quick tour through the years starting in December 2014…

I wish JR 2B Josh Vidales had even a little bit of power (.327 and .306 slugging the past two seasons) because his approach (88 BB/51 K career), defense (plus) and speed (26/34 SB career, not a burner but picks his spots really well) all rate high enough to be an entertaining prospect to follow professionally. The fact that he’s currently seen as a second base or bust (though, again, he’s fantastic there) defensive prospect works against him, though I wonder — I honestly don’t know — if that’s something he can change minds about this spring. If he could be trusted on the left side of the infield, then we’re talking a strong potential utility future, even without the power. For all his flaws, I’d still want him to be a member of my organization.

Then again in January 2016…

I’m all about SR 2B Josh Vidales. I can’t help it. He upped his SLG to .387 last year. That’s not great, but it’s an improvement. It also gave him his best ISO (.087) in his career. He kept getting on base with a .397 consistent to what he’s done in the past (now up to 123 BB/74 K career), swiped a few more bags (32/43 SB career), and played his usual brand of excellent defense at second. It’s not unusual to see spikes in production during a player’s senior season — far too often draft outlets overrate players on this basis, something I’ve been guilty of in the past — so hopefully Vidales enjoys the same fate this spring. If that’s the case, I think his consistent year-to-year output should get him drafted; this indirectly yet directly contradicts my previous point about overrating seniors, but this would be the case of a steady player having a better than usual senior year and not a guy having a breakout senior season out of nowhere. Consider the bigger than expected senior season prediction my attempt at wish-casting that others begin to see Vidales as I do. He’s an excellent college player and an honest pro prospect.

And finally in March 2016…

Vidales has been my guy for a while: he’s small (5-8, 160), he can defend the heck out of second base, and he’s an on-base machine. It’s a scary profile to project to pro ball, but I’d still take him late in the draft as an org second baseman and let the chips fall where they may.

I should have known that a team like Oakland would love Vidales as a player as I do. And, damn, did he go out and reward them (and me) for that love: how does .345/.437/.507 with 20 BB/16 K and 5/6 SB in 175 PA sound? Yes, he was a 22-year-old (he actually turned 23 in August) dominating teenagers in the AZL. But he still dominated! That has to count for something. Even if this is the peak of his pro career, I’ll take it. If he keeps hitting, well, that’s even better. There are few active players I root harder for than Vidales.

29.862 – RHP Matt Milburn

All I had on Matt Milburn before the draft were his consistently stellar numbers piled up over the years at Wofford. The guy got better every season before putting it all together for an outstanding (in terms of peripherals) senior season (9.40 K/9 and 2.65 BB/9 in 98.2 IP) with the Terriers. He then followed that up with a 10.82 K/9 and 0.49 BB/9 in 36.2 innings as a pro. The short-season competition wasn’t quite what it could have been for the 23-year-old, but standout peripherals are standout peripherals. I’ve made a point so far to mention that it’s his peripherals that are impressive…now why could that be? For whatever reason — and I honestly don’t know — his run prevention stats have always been pedestrian. His ERA as a senior with those great peripherals? 4.47. His awesome pro debut? 4.66 ERA. Weird, right?

30.892 – RHP Nick Highberger

Nick Highberger was always one of those “better stuff than results” guys while at Creighton. He has enough of the sinker/slider thing going to be an effective reliever, but he’s never been able to miss enough bats to have you feel really good about making that kind of actual prediction. I’m still on the fence because he still doesn’t miss those bats, but, man, can Highberger’s stuff kill some worms. His GB% could be so high that it wouldn’t surprise me if he became a bit of a cult favorite on certain corners of the internet who are into that sort of thing.

31.922 – RHP Sam Sheehan

Sam Sheehan (14.26 K/9, 5.35 BB/9, 1.48 ERA, 30.3 IP) was the closer this past spring for NAIA power Westmont. Solid, Still, I find the odds that the Oakland brass truly believes that two of the forty best amateur players available to them in the country came from Westmont to be quite long, but I’m just a guy on the internet. What do I know?

32.952 – C Colin Theroux

(Major copy/paste foul here. I have no idea how it happened. Only the second half of poor Colin Theroux’s draft profile was salvaged. Sorry, buddy. We join the second half already in progress…)

in his only year of D-1 ball (minus that one AB he had for Nevada as a freshman) will work out for the A’s. Maybe. In fairness, Collin Theroux did hit .273/.430/.500 with 39 BB/43 K in 202 PA at San Joaquin Delta in 2015 (with a successful run with the Madison Mallards in the Northwoods League to boot), so maybe there’s some hope after all. It would be a Disney-worthy story if he made it, I know that much.

33.982 – C Jarrett Costa

Jarrett Costa hit .333/.441/.492 with 27 BB/28 K in 183 AB for NAIA power Westmont this past spring. Solid. Still, I find the odds that the Oakland brass truly believes that two of the forty best amateur players available to them in the country came from Westmont to be quite long, but I’m just a guy on the internet. What do I know?

34.1012 – SS Casey Thomas

I’m sure Casey Thomas is a nice guy, but I’m not feeling this one. ISO in 2015: .046. ISO in 2016: .072. ISO in his pro debut: .017. Next!

40.1192 – 2B Brett Bittiger

Son of an A’s scout. Been around enough to have once been a forty-first (!) round pick of Oakland back in 2011. Hit .204/.252/.253 in his career at Division II Pace. I’m no fan of nepotism picks, but Pace is my sister’s alma mater so we’ll let it slide here.

Unsigned Prospects and Where You Can Find Them in 2017

Shane Martinez (Arizona), Matthew Fraizer (Arizona), Brady Schanuel (Mississippi), Michael Farley (San Jose State), Danny Rafferty (Bucknell), Christian Young (Niagara County CC), Brigham Hill (Texas A&M)

2016 MLB Draft Reviews – Chicago Cubs

Top 500 Prospects Drafted by Chicago in 2016

102 – Bailey Clark
104 – Thomas Hatch
158 – Michael Rucker
236 – Tyson Miller
326 – Duncan Robinson
332 – Chad Hockin
374 – Dakota Mekkes
415 – Delvin Zinn
435 – Zack Short
448 – Michael Cruz

Complete List of 2016 Chicago Cubs Draftees

3.104 – RHP Thomas Hatch

That check from Chicago should be coming in the mail any day now as the Cubs first overall pick, Thomas Hatch (104), was selected in the exact same spot one clever, handsome internet draft writer ranked him on his final board. Good work, Cubs. Took me a while, but now I get why you’re the National League Champions. Needless to say, I like this pick. Hatch is a live arm (88-94 FB, 96 peak) with an effective 78-82 circle-change that drops like a splitter, and a pair of above-average sliders (a cut-slider in the mid- to upper-80s and a truer slider anywhere from 77-85).

His college coach has compared him to Tim Hudson; I’ve heard another former name with Oakland ties evoked in Bob Welch, a pitcher who came and went before my baseball watching time. Hearing that name caused me to dig out the old Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers, a task once as simple as going to a nearby bookshelf but, after moving over the summer, now a twenty minute odyssey deep into the three giant storage bins filled with books now in my basement. Worth it. Welch is listed as having thrown a fastball, cutter, curve, change, and a forkball. Most modern pitching coaches will flat out refuse to teach a young arm a forkball these days, but Hatch’s funky circle-change/splitter hybrid is as close a proxy as we’re likely to find in this draft class. The genesis for that comp is realized. I feel better now.

The Cubs would have to be thrilled with getting a Hudson or a Welch or even just a best-case Thomas Hatch out of their third round pick. If his elbow stays intact, Hatch has a bright future on the mound. Even if he does need surgery sooner rather than later, I like the gamble here. Getting an extreme ground ball pitcher like Hatch* to play on one of the few teams that properly values defense (in practice, not just in theory) seems like as good a marriage as any pick to player in this draft.

* I went and did the math on Hatch’s ground ball ways while a Cowboy. The OK State ace had more ground ball outs than fly ball outs in 17 of his 19 starts this past season. Add it all up and his GB% was a robust 68.3%. Ground ball suspicions confirmed.

4.134 – RHP Tyson Miller

Tyson Miller (236) confuses me. His stuff is wholly impressive — 87-94 FB, 96 peak; above-average 77-84 SL; usable 82-86 CU — but his performance (7.74 K/9) at the Division II level didn’t quite match the arm talent. That may seem unduly harsh for a righthander with supposed ground ball stuff and impressive control (1.93 BB/9) coming off a 2.27 ERA stretch in 107.0 IP, but, hey, the bar is high for prospects taken in the draft’s top handful of rounds. Miller kept up his confusing ways in his brief pro debut by striking out only 5.34 batters per nine in his first 28.2 inning as a Cub. That would be far more forgivable if his batted ball data matched the ground ball praise he seems to get in every scouting report, but MLB Farm only had him 43.96% ground balls in his overall batted ball profile. See what I mean by Miller being a confusing prospect? Thankfully, confusing or not, the big righthander’s stuff remains strong and his future projection as a potential back-end starting pitcher remains in reach. I’m less bullish on him than most, but I can see the appeal if he can ever put it all together and become the power sinker/slider ground ball guy that many allege he already is.

5.164 – RHP Bailey Clark

Bailey Clark (102) is what many think Tyson Miller is. The big righthander who misses bats (9.71 K/9 as a junior at Duke), gets ground balls (60.61% in his debut), and flashes elite stuff (90-94 FB, 96 peak; nasty mid-80s cut-slider; hard upper-80s split-change) was the best prospect drafted by the Cubs in 2016. I’ll go bold on Clark and say that if it doesn’t work out as a starter for him, then he has honest to goodness Andrew Miller upside in relief. A righthanded Andrew Miller as the Chicago’s next relief ace? That’s not even fair. A quick timeline on how we got to this point. We’ll start a fully calendar year ago in October 2015…

Poised for a big potential rise in 2016, Clark has the kind of stuff that blows you away on his best days and leaves you wanting more on his not so best days. I think he puts it all together this year and makes this ranking [47th among college prospects] look foolish by June.

And now let’s jump ahead to December 2015…

…and obviously not much has changed in the two months since. Clark pitched really well last year (2.95 ERA in 58 IP), but fell just short in terms of peripherals (7.60 K/9 and 3.26 BB/9) where many of the recent first day college starting pitchers have finished in recent years. That’s a very simplistic, surface-level analysis of his 2015 performance, but it runs parallel with the scouting reports from many who saw him this past spring. Clark is really good, but still leaves you wanting more. That’s not necessarily a bad thing — being a finished product at 20-years-old is more of a negative than a positive in the eyes of many in the scouting world — but it speaks to the developmental challenges facing Clark if he wants to jump up into the first round mix. The fastball (88-94, 96 peak) is there, the size (6-5, 210) is there, and the athleticism is there, so it’ll come down to gaining more command and consistency on his mid-80s cut-SL (a knockout pitch when on) and trusting his nascent changeup in game action enough to give scouts an honest opportunity to assess it. Even if little changes with Clark between now and June, we’re still talking a top five round lock with the high-floor possibility of future late-inning reliever. If he makes the expected leap in 2016, then the first round will have to make room for one more college arm.

Here was an update from March 2016…

On the other end of the spectrum is a guy like Bailey Clark. Clark has dynamite stuff: 90-96 FB (98 peak), mid-80s cut-SL that flashes plus, and an extra firm 87-90 split-CU with some promise. The fastball alone is a serious weapon capable of getting big league hitters out thanks the combination of velocity and natural movement. What continues to hold Clark back is pedestrian command: having great stuff is key, but falling behind every hitter undercuts that advantage. Questions about his delivery — I personally don’t stress about that so much, but it’s worth noting — and that inconsistent command could force him into the bullpen sooner rather than later. He’d be a knockout reliever if that winds up being the case, but the prospect of pro development keeping him as a starter is too tantalizing to give up on just yet.

The final breakdown from April 2016…

Bailey Clark could keep starting, but most of the smarter folk I talk to seem to think he’ll fit best as a closer in the pros. At his best his stuff rivals the best Jones has to offer, but the Virginia righthander’s command edge and less stressful delivery make him the better bet to remain in the rotation. I personally wouldn’t rule out Clark having a long and fruitful career as a starting pitcher, but I’ll concede that the thought of him unleashing his plus to plus-plus fastball (90-96, 98 peak and impossible to square up consistently) over and over again in shorter outings is mighty appealing.

You can see the pretty clear “maybe he can start, but, damn, he’d be something special in relief” narrative play out as the year went on. In either role, Clark is an exciting talent with some of the best raw stuff of any college pitcher in this class. I’ll close with thinking relief is the most likely option. Any one of his issues — iffy command, questionable mechanics, and the lack of a necessary soft pitch to keep hitters consistently off the hard stuff — could be sorted out independently if that was all he had to worry about as he made his transition to pro ball, but when you combine all three…relief just feels like the safest projection. It bears repeating that Clark in the bullpen would not be seen as a negative outcome here; as a reliever, he has a chance to flat out dominate in a way not too many pitchers in baseball can. I’m all-in on Clark.

6.194 – RHP Chad Hockin

It took four picks to get a dummy like me to see it, but we’ve officially got a Cubs draft trend going here. Chad Hockin (332) makes it four straight college righthanded pitchers lauded for power sinkers and ground ball tendencies. Specifically, Hockin can crank in anywhere from 92-97 in relief with an above-average mid-80s cut-slider (83-87) that flashes plus. Depending on how aggressive the Cubs want to be with him, Hockin could be ready to see some big league action by next September. That’s what you get when you take one of college ball’s nastiest relievers. Of course, Chicago could surprise us all and opt to give Hockin a shot as a starter. I mentioned this possibility back in March…

Then there’s Hockin, the Fullerton arm who really is deserving of all the attention he’s gotten so far this spring. The sturdy righthander was seen by some I talked to back in day as having an impressive enough overall repertoire to get consideration as a starting pitching conversion project in the pros. While that talk has died down – maybe he could pull it off, but Hockin’s stuff plays way up in short bursts – the fact that it was mentioned to me in the first place speaks to his well-rounded offspeed arsenal and craftiness on the mound. Hockin leans on his mid-90s fastball (87-93 in longer outings turned into 94-96 with every pitch as a reliever) and a power 83-87 cut-slider that frequently comes in above-average. Those two pitchers alone make him a legitimate late-inning prospect, but the promise he once displayed with both a low-80s change and an upper-70s curve could give him that softer little something extra. I’ve heard he’s ditched both during games, but still toys with them in practice. It bears repeating that he’s a fine prospect pumping fastballs and sliders all day, but knowing he could mix in a third pitch in time is a nice perk.

It wouldn’t be crazy to give it a go — wild postseason aside, starters > relievers — but Hockin has demonstratively shown a major uptick in stuff while in relief already. The starters > relievers math changes a bit when it moves towards fifth starter/swingman vs late-inning, high-leverage reliever. The latter is what you hope Hockin will be when you take him in the sixth round.

7.224 – C Michael Cruz

I thought I liked Michael Cruz (448), but turns out the Cubs really liked him. I obviously get the appeal: Cruz is crazy young for his class (not 21-years-old until January), has flashed some defensive upside (still a long way to go, to be fair), and was once called a “certified hitting machine” by one draft writer (me). What’s not to like here? The Cubs went very light on position player talent in the 2016 MLB Draft — far too light, in my view, even understanding the relative strengths and weaknesses in their organization — but they at least get my stamp of approval with their first 2016 foray into the offensive side of the diamond. The lefthanded hitting Cruz could make a fine backup and complementary player to righthanded hitting Willson Contreras one day.

8.254 – RHP Stephen Ridings

Haverford College is about thirty minutes from my old apartment. Haverford College is also about a fifteen minute walk from Tired Hands Brewery. Coincidentally, I really, really like it when Haverford College has a prospect worth checking out. I was limited with what I could say about Stephen Ridings, the second straight eighth round pick out of baseball hotbed Haverford after Tommy Bergjans was selected by the Dodgers last year, this past spring for, you know, #reasons, but my quick scouting report on him is fair game now. Really, it’s simple: huge arm (low-90s typically, with 96’s, 97’s, and even a 98 at his peak), inconsistent secondary stuff (CB, SL, CU), and a delivery that managed to somehow come across as both rushed and too deliberate that pretty clearly hindered both his command and control. So we’ve got the good (velocity!), the bad (my amateur eye didn’t see an offspeed pitch good enough to get pro hitters out just yet, especially with his two breaking balls running into each other as often as they did), and the uncertain (mechanics). That uncertain is what intrigues me the most about Ridings. My “not a scout” observations saw his wonky mechanics as workable in the pros; in all honesty, his mechanics weren’t particularly “bad” but more the kind of inconsistent slightly awkward kind of mechanics that appeared to be the byproduct of what happens when a young pitcher attempts to figure out his growing body on the fly. That’s something I think time and quality coaching can improve, but we’ll have to wait and see. I didn’t expect Ridings to go off the board when he did, but I probably should have guessed: after all, you can’t teach 98 and 6-8, 220.

Spencer Sohmer and Justin Herring are my Haverford guys to watch next year, BTW.

9.284 – RHP Duncan Robinson

Back to back players I’ve seen multiple times. OK, Cubs. I see you. I really like Duncan Robinson (326). Let’s go back and see how much. We can start in March 2015…

Dartmouth JR RHP Duncan Robinson isn’t just a good pitching prospect for the Ivy League; he’s a good pitching prospect full stop. Guys with his size (6-6, 220 pounds), fastball (consistently low-90s), and breaking ball (have it listed as an in-between pitch in my notes; I’d call it a slider, but think folks at Dartmouth call it a curve) are easy to get excited about. The mechanics and control both check out for me, so his chance at crashing the draft’s top tier of pitching prospects will largely come down to the development of a softer offspeed pitch that will keep hitters off his fastball/breaking ball combo and enable him to start as a pro.

And jump a year into the future to March 2016…

Forget the Ivy League, Duncan Robinson is one of the best senior-sign pitchers in all of college ball. He’s a power righthander with size (6-6, 220) capable of beating you with a low-90s fastball and average or better slider. As his changeup develops he’ll become an even more attractive prospect, what with the standard starter ceiling that typically comes with three usable pitches, size, clean mechanics, and a good track record of amateur success. If the change lags, then he’s still got the solid middle relief starter pack to fall back on.

Finally, the pre-draft one line summary…

I’m 100% all-in on Duncan Robinson. He’s a big-time talent who seems to get better with every start. Definitely one of this class’s top senior-signs.

Love this pick. I think Duncan Robinson can pitch in the big leagues. I think he can even pitch in the big leagues as a starter. I won’t go the super obvious Kyle Hendricks (same school, one round off, both Cubs eventually) comparison here (in part because I used it already on Oakland sixth rounder Mitchell Jordan), but…I mean it’s sitting right there.

10.314 – RHP Dakota Mekkes

Dakota Mekkes (374) is the truth. Striking out 15.16 batters per nine as a redshirt-sophomore was only beginning for the 6-7, 250 pound righthander. His first 20 pro innings: 12.15 K/9 and 1.80 BB/9. How does he do? I have no idea! Or, more honestly, I can only make guesses on what I’ve seen, heard, and read. Mekkes’s stuff is what you’ll see out of literally dozens of mid-round college relievers (88-92 FB, 94 peak; average 82-84 SL), but the results point very strongly to their being more to the story. That’s where we start to see what separates Mekkes from the rest. Before we get to that, some earlier praise beginning with this from March 2016…

If you read this site and/or follow college ball closely, this might be the first pick to surprise in some way, shape, or form. Mekkes wasn’t a pitcher mentioned in many 2016 draft preview pieces before the start of the season, but the 6-7, 250 pound righty has opened plenty of eyes in getting off to a dominant (16.36 K/9) albeit wild (7.16 BB/9) start to 2016. His stuff backs it up (FB up to 94, interesting SL, deceptive delivery), so he’s more than just a large college man mowing down overmatched amateurs. He’s a top ten round possibility now.

Hey, he went in the tenth round! Neat. We got a little bit bolder by April 2016…

Any pre-draft list of “fastest moving” potential draftees that doesn’t include Dakota Mekkes is one I’ll look at with a suspicious eye. Mekkes may not be one of the biggest names in college relief, but he’s one of the best. I’ll go closer upside with him while acknowledging his most likely outcome could be a long career of very effective, very well-compensated middle relief. Either way, I think he’s as close to a lock to be a useful big league pitcher as any reliever in this class.

With Mekkes, it’s really about how how he maximizes his size and delivery to create all kinds of extension and deception. As he continues to figure out how to repeat that delivery, his command will only keep getting better. I think Mekkes can pitch in a big league bullpen in 2017 if that’s how the Cubs decide that’s what’s best for his development. I stand by that “as close to a lock to be a useful big league pitcher as any reliever in this class” comment.

11.344 – RHP Michael Rucker

On Michael Rucker (158) in March 2016…

Michael Rucker checks two of our three boxes pretty easily: he’s 88-94 (96 peak) with his fastball while commanding three offspeed pitches (low-80s SL, low- to mid-80s CU, mid-70s CB) with a veteran’s mindset on the mound. He’s not particularly big (6-1, 185) nor does he have that plus offspeed pitch (slider comes closest), but it’s still a potential big league starter skill set.

That sounds about right to me. Rucker is on that fifth starter/middle reliever line that could still go either way for him. If he can get one of those offspeed pitches to creep to average or slightly above-average, then he might have the all-around package (adding in his fastball, command, and control) to keep starting. His pre-draft ranking feels a little rich in hindsight, though that’s far less about Rucker than it is about the realization that there are A LOT of pitchers like him in this class.

13.404 – LHP Wyatt Short

To the WABAC machine to talk about Wyatt Short from January 2015…

I’m particularly looking forward to talking more about the aptly named Short, as any discussion about a 5-8, 160 pound lefthander capable of hitting the low- to mid-90s is all right in my book.

As it turned out, we never really got around to talking more about Short. Life just got in the way, I guess. We got older, got jobs, met that special someone, and next thing we knew we woke up one morning with a serious lack of Wyatt Short in our lives. It’s a pity, really. Thankfully, the show went on for Short, who followed up his good freshman season with a great sophomore season (10.15 K/9 and 1.38 ERA in 39.0 IP) before coming back to earth some in his junior season. The Cubs still thought enough of the diminutive lefty to pop him in the thirteenth round. Can’t argue with that based on his overall body of work, 88-94 MPH fastball, and low-80s slider he can both consistently get over and use as a chase pitch.

15.464 – RHP Jed Carter

I’ll hide my lack of Jed Carter knowledge by pointing out his crazy debut stats instead. In 9.2 innings of work, Carter struck out 17 batters. That’s great. He also walked 6 guys and threw 3 wild pitches. That’s less great. 60% ground balls, too. That’s so Cubs.

16.494 – RHP Holden Cammack

I like taking a shot on a catcher turned reliever type in Holden Cammack here. What he lacks in refinement he makes up for with arm strength.

17.524 – SS Zack Short

On Zack Short (435) from February 2016…

Short should be on any short list (no pun intended) of best college shortstop prospects in this class. He’s really, really good. Offensively he’s a high-contact hitter with an above-average blend of patience and pop. As a defender, he’s capable of making all the plays at short with range that should have him stick at the spot for years to come. There simply aren’t many two-way shortstops as good as him in this class. He’s an easy top ten round player for me with the chance to rise as high as around the fifth round (reminiscent of Blake Allemand last year) and a realistic draft floor of where Dylan Bosheers (round fifteen) eventually fell.

Short didn’t quite land in that five to fifteen round range, but the seventeenth isn’t that far off. I love this pick. Everything from February stands today, even after Short’s down junior season forced me to swallow hard and drop him lower on my final draft list than I would have liked. I think he’s a future big league player. My one note of caution with Short comes from the name drop of Dylan Bosheers in the pre-season paragraph above. Short and Bosheers aren’t the same guy and the disappointing pro career of the latter shouldn’t be put on the former, but the two players are cut from a similar prospect cloth. Something to consider. If Short busts, it’ll be time for me to reconsider how much I personally value these types of players. Hope it doesn’t come to that.

18.554 – LHP Marc Huberman

Marc Huberman was described to me as the perfect guy to watch if you want to see a “good command, bad control” pitcher in action. Huberman can spot his solid for a lefthander stuff (86-92 FB, 94 peak; good 76-82 CU; usable 75-78 CB) in the zone to keep hitters guessing, but can’t consistently find the strike zone enough to keep from issuing hitters who would struggle squaring him up otherwise off base via the free pass. In other words, many of Huberman’s strikes are quality strikes, but he just doesn’t throw enough of them right now to be considered anything other than effectively wild, for better or worse.

19.584 – RHP Matt Swarmer

You can’t say that Matt Swarmer didn’t get results in his career at Kutztown. His senior year K/9: 13.12. His career K/9: 11.79. Good numbers, good size, and a good enough head on his shoulders to bank a fine education to fall back on just in case — my mom has literally never read this site, but I’ll still shout out her alma mater — make him a worthy pick here.

20.614 – LHP Colton Freeman

If deep cuts are your thing, then hop on the Colton Freeman bandwagon while you can. The 6-1, 200 pound lefthander has a good fastball (up to 93), above-average slider, and impressive athleticism. He also pitched just 9.2 innings at Alabama in 2016. In those 9.2 innings, Freeman struck out 18 batters (16.88 K/9) while walking only 3 (2.81 BB/9) and keeping the opposition entirely off the board (0.00 ERA). Fun guy to follow professionally if you’re into the deepest of draft sleepers. Or if you’re just a generally obsessed baseball fan. Know anybody like that? Me neither.

21.644 – C Sam Tidaback

Sam Tidaback is a lifelong Cubs fan who grew up an hour from Wrigley Field. That’s enough to get you drafted by Chicago these days. And in the twenty-first round, no less.

25.764 – 2B Trent Giambrone

Trent Giambrone was off my radar in June, but looks like a nice value pick at this point in the draft. My only pre-draft notes on him were “good but not earth shattering numbers” and first-hand source who told me flatly that Giambrone “can’t play shortstop except in a pinch, but good anywhere else you stick him.” Those two things more or less disqualified him from any additional research (time and energy are finite, after all), but his intriguing pro debut at the plate has me feeling some regret. Cubs could have something with Giambrone. If it all keeps working, maybe you’ve turned a twenty-fifth round pick into a bat-first utility guy.

23.704 – SS Delvin Zinn

Few players from the entire 2016 MLB Draft class intrigue me quite as much as Delvin Zinn (415). I have no idea what to make of him. He’s as good an athlete as you’ll now find in pro ball with a big arm and enough range to hang at short (he split his time at SS and 2B evenly in his debut) for the foreseeable future. He’s also a smart hitter who makes a ton of contact with enough patience to put himself into favorable counts more often than not. His current issues are about the kind of contact he makes and what he does when he’s up in the count. At present, Zinn has true 20 power. He could grow into some as he puts on some good weight and tweaks his swing, but he’s currently a long way from being an extra base threat in the professional ranks. Thankfully, he has a long way before he’ll have to be a finished product. The 19-year-old infielder has enough positives on his side that he should get plenty of opportunities over the next few years to sink or swim in pro ball. A player with that kind of unpredictable but intriguing future is exactly who you should target when still available in the twenty-third round.

27.824 – OF Connor Myers

Connor Myers is way more talented than your typical twenty-seventh round senior-sign. His approach at the plate needs a good bit of tightening up if he wants to advance past AA, but his physical gifts (speed, arm, athleticism) are enough to keep him employed long enough to potentially figure things out as a hitter.

29.884 – RHP Tyler Peyton

Tyler Peyton has long frustrated me as a pitcher with the kind of stuff (88-94 FB, intriguing SL, average CU that flashes better) to be a true impact college performer who never quite got there. That doesn’t give me a ton of hope he’ll suddenly start missing more bats in the pros (his junior year 7.01 K/9 was a college career high), but you never know with two-way players like him. Maybe complete dedication to pitching will help him unlock the secret to getting more whiffs. It’s worth a twenty-ninth round pick to find out.

32.974 – OF Zach Davis

I don’t know what to make of the Zach Davis pick. I’m not one to toot my own horn, but if you’re stumping me with a power conference D1 prospect then you’re really digging deep for a player. Chicago must have seen more out of his 30 AB in 2014, 98 AB in 2015, and 39 AB in 2016 than most.

33.1004 – RHP Nathan Sweeney

A six-figure bonus ($100,000) for a low-90s (92-93 in my notes) righthander with size (6-4, 185) out of a state with an unusually high success rate (same HS as Brad Lidge!) of producing successful amateur pitchers? I’m in on Nathan Sweeney. Nice pick by Chicago here.

38.1154 – OF Tolly Filotei

The Cubs drafted and signed a player coming off a .268/.373/.338 season (71 AB) at Faulkner State. Could there possibly be more to the story than that? Probably not. In totally unrelated news, Tolly is the son of Cubs regional crosschecker Bobby Filotei. In fairness, Filotei was drafted out of high school by Colorado in 2014. I don’t believe that Bobby was employed by Colorado at that time (or ever), so, at least there’s that.

All in all, the Cubs drafted 38 guys. Only 11 were hitters. Of that 11, only 8 signed. Their college hitters came from these schools: Chipola, Delta State, North Georgia, Bethune-Cookman, Faulkner State, Texas Tech, Old Dominion, Itawamba, and Sacred Heart. Throw out North Georgia and Texas Tech, and I’d put the “guess what state the school is in” over/under for the casual fan at 1.5. Drafting players from all over isn’t a bad thing. There’s no “right” or “wrong” way to draft.

Still, something seems off to me about Chicago’s draft. I don’t think they drafted well just because they are the Cubs and can do no wrong. I also don’t think they drafted poorly because I have different opinions about the players they selected. They clearly went all-in on pitching, but did so with a hyper-focused attention to pitchers with ground ball statistics and/or stuff. I don’t hate that one bit, especially when you see how all the ground ball pitching fits with their emphasis on building an outstanding defensive infield. One thing I didn’t like about their draft was the lack of offense. I know the big league team is loaded with young hitting. I know the strength of the system tilts overwhelmingly towards bats. An important draft rule, however, is that you don’t just draft for yourself but rather for each of the twenty-nine other teams in baseball. Mixing in a few quality bats with the bushel of relatively high-floor pitchers would have at least given Chicago a chance to replenish the (admittedly still stacked) lower-levels with potential easier to identify and develop trade assets. Or maybe the Cubs just had more confidence in their ability to identify and develop pitching than I do.

Either way, I went from not understanding this draft at all, to understanding it and not particularly liking it, to understanding it and talking myself into it. I still don’t love it, but if you can get one or two of Hatch, Miller, Robinson, or Rucker to stay in the rotation (either in Chicago or elsewhere if dealt) and then get valuable quick-moving bullpen pieces like Clark, Hockin, and Mekkes up for a team very much in win-now mode, you’re on to something. It was too conservative an approach for a team with as good a present and future as the Cubs seem to have — swing for the fences at least once, Cubbies! What do you have to lose? — but it was an approach and that matters. I mean, say what you want about the conservative approach the Cubs took, Dude, at least it’s an ethos. Or maybe a logos? I don’t know. This wasn’t my best work.

Unsigned Prospects and Where You Can Find Them in 2017

Reynaldo Rivera (Chipola), Montana Parsons (Baylor), Austin Jones (Wisconsin-Whitewater), Rian Bassett (?), Parker Dunshee (Wake Forest), Trey Cobb (Oklahoma State), Ryan Kreidler (UCLA), Jake Slaughter (LSU), DJ Roberts (South Florida), Davis Moore (Fresno State), AJ Block (Washington State), Davis Daniel (Auburn), Brenden Heiss (Arkansas), Dante Biasi (Penn State)

2016 MLB Draft Reviews – Cleveland

Top 500 Prospects Drafted by Cleveland in 2016

10 – Nolan Jones
43 – Logan Ice
51 – Aaron Civale
57 – Will Benson
95 – Ulysses Cantu
138 – Michael Tinsley
149 – Conner Capel
176 – Andrew Lantrip
195 – Trenton Brooks
226 – Shane Bieber
250 – Gavin Collins
356 – Zach Plesac

Complete List of 2016 Cleveland Draftees

1.14 – OF Will Benson

The draft works in funny ways. Will Benson (57) going in the first round (pick 14) seemed like a bit of a reach to me on draft day. Not a bad pick by any stretch and easily justifiable (huge raw power, electric bat speed, solid runner, built like a tank, huge arm…yeah, I get it), but not a pick I might have made when Cleveland made it. I probably would have gone with a different high school hitter with that first round pick. Maybe somebody like Nolan Jones, a prospect I ranked tenth overall yet inexplicably (well, money explains some of it) fell all the way to pick 55…when Cleveland snapped him up with their second rounder. If I knew nothing of how draft day played out and you told me that Cleveland landed both Jones and Benson at the conclusion of the first two rounds, it would be cause for major celebration. Choosing to look at their first two picks that way makes me feel better about Cleveland’s draft — and I already really, really like this draft — so that’s exactly what I’ll do. I’ll also look at what Benson and Jones did in their pro debuts…

.209/.321/.424 – 12.0 BB% and 32.6 K% – 184 PA – 112 wRC+
.257/.388/.339 – 17.2 BB% and 36.6 K% – 134 PA – 118 wRC+

…to note the similarities between the two teenagers. They aren’t twins, but there’s no denying certain commonalities. No overarching attempt at a point here, just thought it was neat. Neat is a fine word to describe a bunch of words about Benson from this past spring. First, from April 2016…

The name Will Benson brings about all kinds of colorful opinions from those paid to watch him regularly. To call him a divisive prospect at this point would be an understatement. If you love him, then you love his power upside, defensive aptitude, and overwhelming physicality. If you’re cool on him, then he’s more of a future first baseman with a questionable hit tool, inconsistent approach, and overrated athleticism. I’m closer to the love side than not, but I think both the lovers and the haters can at least agree that his bat speed is explosive, his frame is intriguing, and his sheer strength as a human being should beget some monstrous BP performances. He’d be the rare type of hitter who could make Petco look small.

Then again from May 2016…

I never really got the Jason Heyward comp for Benson – the most Heyward thing about Heyward is his plus defense, something that Benson is a long way from, if he ever gets there at all – but I like the connection between him and Kyle Lewis. I don’t think he lasts until the second, but he would make for an excellent consolation prize for a team picking at the top of the first round that misses out on the Mercer star with their first pick. Or just grab them both and begin hoping that you’ve just taken care of your outfield corners for the next decade.

I’ll toot my own horn on the Kyle Lewis/Will Benson connection. I think that’s a good one. A riskier Lewis with considerable upside and a very real bust factor. In isolation, that’s probably too risky a pick for me in the mid-first; thankfully, drafts run longer than one round and all subsequent selections are connected thanks to the current (stupid) draft bonus system. Underslot deals in round one (Benson!), two (supplemental), three, four, seven, eight, nine, and ten helped pay the overslot bonus second round pick Jones required. Beyond just dollars and cents, drafts have to be viewed as complete entities because (smart) teams draft with talent diversification (position, level of competition, age, etc.) in mind. Cleveland went relatively safe with their pitching (college-heavy, emphasis on command over stuff) while taking bigger swings on offensive guys (lots of high variance prep and juco talent). The overall portfolio is one of my favorites across the league and that’s with a first round pick I didn’t love. The draft works in funny ways.

2.55 – 3B Nolan Jones

I saw a lot of Nolan Jones (10) over the last eighteen months or so. I’ve written about Jones a lot in that same time span. I’m not sure what else I have to add, so I’ll let the pre-evaluation stand on its own…

First off, I’m incredibly biased when it comes to Jones. I’m pleased to admit that out front because said admission of bias was well worth getting to watch him play a bunch this spring at Holy Ghost Prep. Getting the chance to see a young man with his kind of talent thirty minutes play his home games thirty minutes from the office was an incredible experience. Jones is an electrifying player who really can do it all as a prospect. In about twenty minutes of game time in his most recent appearance, he was able to hit a homer (one of two on the day), swipe a bag, and turn a slick double play at short. That run was topped only by an earlier game when he smoked the ball every time up before ending the game in extras with an opposite field rocket that cleared the fence in left. He’s outstanding. I think the sky is the limit for him as a professional ballplayer. I’ve seen him more frequently than any other top prospect in this class, which gives me a little more insight to his strengths and weaknesses as a player (whether or not said insight should be trusted is up to the reader) but also presents a challenge in fighting human nature. It’s only natural to want to see a player you’ve come to watch and appreciate throughout the past year succeed going forward. My assessment of him as a player won’t help him or hurt him in any conceivable way, but there’s definitely some subconscious work going on that pushes players we’re more familiar with up the board.

Of course, all of those firsthand observations can be a double-edged sword when it comes down to doing what I attempt to accomplish with this site. My process for evaluating players here includes all kinds of inputs, the least critical of which being what I see with my own two eyes. It’s not that I lack confidence my own personal evaluations; quite the opposite, really, so realizing that my ego needs to be in check brings me to not wanting to fall into the trap that has led to more botched first round picks than any other singular mistake. The easiest way to ruin all the hard work of so many is to have one supposed “expert” come in and make decisions with little regard to the opinions of the group. When a general manager overrules the collective decision of the scouting staff to select a first round player that he has fallen in love with after just a few short views, the resulting pick is almost always a disaster. It’s admittedly a rare occurrence – there’s a reason real analysis of a team’s drafting record gets pinned on the scouting director and not the general manager – but it does happen. Whether it’s ego, pressure to find a quick-mover to potentially save jobs (including his own), or actual conviction in the prospect (the most palatable option for sure, but still tough to stomach when dealing with small firsthand scouting samples), it happens.

Long story short: I don’t want to be like one of those GM’s. I like trusting what I read and hear, both publicly and privately, because those are the closest analogues to a “scouting staff” that any one outsider like me can hope to assemble. That will never stop me from going to games and showcases to form my own opinions, but I’d prefer to use those to supplement the larger scouting dossier assembled than to make up the basis of it. In many ways I consider what I see up close as a tie-breaker and not much more.

It is, however, quite nice when what I’ve heard is backed up by what I’ve seen. That’s exactly what has happened with Jones this spring. The total package is awfully enticing: chance for a legit plus hit tool (lightning fast hands, advanced pitch recognition, consistent hard contact), plus arm strength (confirmed via the eye and the low-90s fastballs on the gun) that is also uncannily accurate, average or better run times, prodigious raw power (have seen him go deep to all fields this spring), and loads of athleticism. I’d even go so far as to suggest he’s shown enough in the way of shortstop actions to at least get certain teams thinking about letting him try to stay up the middle for a bit, but that might be pushing it. Recent big shortstops like Carlos Correa and Corey Seager have reversed the trend somewhat, but I still think Jones would be best served getting third base down pat as a pro.

Finding reasonable comps for a lefthanded hitting third baseman – which, naturally, just so happens to be what our top three prospects here happen to be – is unreasonably challenging. I’ll start with the WHOA (not to be confused with wOBA, BTW) comp and work backwards.

One older fan – not a scout, not a Holy Ghost Prep booster, but just a fan of the game – was at frequent games this spring. I got friendly enough with the gentleman, around the same age (late-60s) as my father if I had to guess, over the course of the spring that he felt good about dropping an Eddie Mathews comp on Jones as an all-around player. Now that’s a name that gets your attention. My dad raves about Mathews’s physical tools to this day. All of the numbers suggest that he’s on the very short list of best lefthanded third basemen ever to play the game, so that’s not a comparison to be taken lightly. I’ll repeat that it was coming from a fan – though, again, not one with a vested interest in the team or the player, only the sport – and I’m nowhere near qualified to say whether or not he was on the right path with such a lofty comp, but, hey, Hall of Fame comps are fun, so there you go.

Two additional names that came up that I think fit the lefthanded hitting third base profile pretty well were Hank Blalock (strictly as a hitter, though I think the raw power difference between the two makes this one questionable) and Corey Koskie. The Koskie comparison is one I find particularly intriguing. Koskie, a criminally underrated player during his time, was good for a career 162 game average of .275/.367/.458 with 20 HR, 12 SB, and 75 BB/130 K. We’re totally pulling numbers out of thin air with any amateur prospect projection – doubly so with teenagers – but that seems like a reasonable hope based on what I’ve seen out of Jones. Offense like that combined with plus defense at third would make one heck of a player in today’s game. For reference’s sake, that’s almost like a better version of late-career Adrian Beltre. Of course, the mention of Beltre is not meant to serve as a direct comparison but rather a potential production comp.

Now if I wanted to drop a righthanded hitting third baseman comparison on Jones that wasn’t Beltre, I think I’d go with a young Ryan Zimmerman. His 162 game average to date: .282/.347/.473 with 25 HR, 5 SB, and 64 BB/124 K. Not entirely dissimilar to Koskie, right? A young Zimmerman/Koskie type is a tremendously valuable player, with those two each clocking in right around 4.0 fWAR average (Zimmerman a bit more, Koskie a hair less) during years of club control. Going back to our lefthanded third base comp in Koskie brings us to this final “hey, maybe Jones should be a top five pick in this class” moment of the day. Koskie, the 715th overall pick in 1994, finished his career with 24.6 rWAR. That total would have placed him fourth behind only Javier Vazquez (46.0), Nomar Garciaparra (44.2), and Paul Konerko (27.6) in his draft class. He’s just ahead of Jason Varitek (24.3) and AJ Pierzynski (24.0). My non-comprehensive look on the Fangraphs leaderboards has him ahead of all but Vazquez and Garciaparra. We live in a world where Corey Koskie ranked in the top three (or four) in a given draft class, so why not Nolan Jones?

Why not Nolan Jones, indeed.

2.72 – C Logan Ice

On Logan Ice (43) back in April 2016…

.365/.460/.533 – 22 BB/5 K
.360/.483/.697 – 20 BB/5 K

Top is Matt Thaiss this year, bottom is Logan Ice so far. It’s no wonder that a friend of mine regularly refers to Ice as “Pacific NW Thaiss.” That sounds so made up, but it’s not. Anyway, Ice is a really good prospect. He’s received some national acclaim this season, yet still strikes me as one of the draft’s most underrated college bats. There are no questions about his defense behind the plate – coming into the year many considered him to be a catch-and-throw prospect with a bat that might relegate him to backup work – and his power, while maybe not .700 SLG real, is real. I don’t think a late-first round selection is unrealistic, but I’ll hedge and call him a potential huge value pick at any point after the draft’s first day. I can’t wait to start stacking the college catching board; my hunch is that prospect who comes in tenth or so would be a top three player in most classes. My only concern for Ice – a stretch, admittedly – is that teams will put off drafting college catchers early because of the belief that they can wait and still get a good one later.

Let’s update that Thaiss/Ice comparison with their final junior year stats…

.375/.473/.578 – 39 BB/16 K – 232 AB
.310/.432/.563 – 37 BB/25 K – 174 AB

Pretty close! Thaiss went sixteenth overall and was transitioned immediately to first base in the pros. Ice fell to the seventy-second pick and remains a catcher. I still think Thaiss is the better hitter and the better all-around prospect by a hair — and I think he should continue to catch, but nobody asked me — but the non-theoretical defensive differences between the two certainly gives fans of Ice a legitimate claim that he’s the more valuable asset going forward. Being better than Matt Thaiss isn’t what will make or break Ice’s career (obviously), but it’s a fun benchmark to come back to as the two young men embark on what should be long, successful pro careers.

3.92 – RHP Aaron Civale

As a world-renowned internet draft writer, I’d like to think my credibility is such that any and all accusations of bias can easily be refuted by my sterling track record of good old fashioned tellin’-it-like-it-is-ness. I’m practically perfect, really. One teeny tiny dark spot on my record is a strange affinity for pitchers out of Northeastern. It’s the baseball life debt I owe former Husky Adam Ottavino that I pledged to him — unbeknownst to him, naturally — after witnessing my first and only live no-hitter above the high school level. Maybe that explains why I liked Aaron Civale (51) as much as I do. Or maybe it’s because he’s an outstanding young pitcher who can throw four pitches for strikes with the kind of pitchability more typically seen in ten-year big league veterans. Civale’s assortment of hard stuff (upper-80s two-seam, low-90s four-seam up to 95, and above-average to plus upper-80s cutter/slider hybrid) beautifully complements his slightly softer stuff (above-average 78-82 curve with plus upside, occasional changeup, and he has a long track record of sterling command and control (1.93 BB/9 in 2015, 1.18 BB/9 in 2016). Civale is what you get when you combine a traditional Cleveland amateur draft pitching prospect (command! control!) with the big-time stuff the 29 other teams seemingly prioritize.

4.122 – RHP Shane Bieber

Consistency is a good thing when you’re consistently good. That’s a saying I heard once that I thought was kind of stupid, but it seems applicable here. Look at these numbers…

7.57 K/9 – 1.04 BB/9 – 112.2 IP – 2.23 ERA
7.22 K/9 – 1.13 BB/9 – 119.2 IP – 2.86 ERA
7.88 K/9 – 0.75 BB/9 – 24.0 IP – 0.38 ERA

That’s Shane Bieber (226) as a sophomore, Shane Bieber as a junior, and Shane Bieber in his pro debut. I’d say consistently good is an apt qualifying remark. If you knew nothing of his stuff, I think you’d get some idea of what kind of pitcher he was just by looking at that line and knowing that Cleveland, the most command loving drafting team around, identified him as a pitcher of interest. Thankfully, we don’t have to sit around and guess at his stuff. Here’s some Bieber chatter from March 2016…

This post would have been lengthier, but a way too long love letter to Justin Bieber’s latest album has been deleted. After a few drinks I might share my working theory on how Bieber is the evolutionary Justin Timberlake, but we’ll table that for now. We’ll actually go a step further and declare this site a NO BIEBER joke zone henceforth. That’s the first last time I’ll connect Justin to Shane Bieber all spring. Shane is a fascinating enough prospect to talk about even without the musical interludes.

He was a pre-season FAVORITE who hasn’t yet missed a ton of bats at the college level, but I’ll continue to tout his 85-90 (92 peak) sinking fastball, above-average yet still frustratingly inconsistent 79-85 changeup, and true hybrid 78-81 breaking ball as the right type of mix of a big league starting pitcher. We’ve seen college righthanders with below-average fastball velocity, intriguing offspeed stuff, plus command, and above-average athleticism and deception go high on draft day before, and Bieber could follow suit. I’d feel a lot more comfortable if he was missing more bats, but the overall package is still enticing. It’s the Thomas Eshelman starter kit.

First, I kept my word and avoided any and all Justin Bieber mentions from that point on. Feel good about that. Second, I stand by Bieber being on the Thomas Eshelman path. If anything, I’m encouraged that a smart front office like Cleveland’s would place the same kind of premium on Bieber’s strengths as I do. I’d like to think it’s pretty clear I’m cool doing my own thing here in this tiny corner of the internet, but a little validation never hurts every now and then. Cleveland clearly targeted a certain type of pitcher this year in prioritizing command/control over gun-popping velocity. Aaron Civale, Bieber, and Andrew Lantrip all fit that mold. Maybe that’s two-fifths of a rotation one day. Maybe it’s one starter and one reliever. Maybe you really hit the jackpot and all three are quality big leaguers. That’s clearly the preferred option, but even getting hitting on one of the three would be a win. It goes back to the idea of doubling (or, in this case, tripling) down on a position or archetype of interest. If you keep trying, eventually you’ll get it right.

5.152 – OF Conner Capel

I didn’t remember that Baseball America had compared Conner Capel (149) to Tyler Naquin before the draft before I wrote the Trenton Brooks pick review below. I’ll save you the trouble of scrolling down. This is what I wrote about Brooks, Cleveland’s seventeenth round pick: “I’ll throw out a maybe irresponsible (depending on how “real” you think his rookie season was…) comparison to Tyler Naquin with a bit less power upside.” So does that make Brooks a reasonable comp for Conner Capel? Sure, why not! The lefty from Texas is an excellent athlete with a well-rounded skill set (above-average arm and speed) and an advanced hit tool. He’s a bit of a tweener as only a “maybe” center fielder with average at best power for a corner, but I like Cleveland betting on a guy who has shown he can make consistent hard contact against quality prep pitching.

Two more Capel facts before we call it a day. First, I just noticed I had him ranked one spot behind Nick Banks on my overall pre-draft list. That’s not particularly noteworthy but for the fact that D1 Baseball had compared Banks to Tyler Naquin at some point during the season. I didn’t really see that one personally — I went with Hunter Renfroe, for what it’s worth — but still funny to see Naquin’s name popping up everywhere. Secondly, I had Conner Capel listed as Connor Capel in my notes. I hate messing up names. Not only is it disrespectful to the player (if you write about a guy, you should have the right name), but it also makes searching for him years later a chore. Sorry, Conner.

6.182 – 3B Ulysses Cantu

A quick timeline of Ulysses Cantu (95) thoughts over the past year. First, from December 2015…

You want some really high praise for Cantu as a hitter? I’ve now heard the name Youkilis mentioned twice in conversations about him. That’s big time. Kevin Millar was another name that came up, as did a fun blast from the past Conor Jackson. I really like the Jackson comp and not just because I really liked him as a player. When was the last time you heard his name mentioned? He was a pretty interesting player for a while there. I liked that guy. Good talk.

And then from May 2016…

Ulysses Cantu is Joe Rizzo’s mirror image. Almost everything written above about the lefthanded Rizzo applies to righty swinging Cantu. I’m even less bullish on Cantu sticking anywhere but first base as a professional, so the pressure will be on for him to hit early and often upon signing his first contract. I see a little less hit tool, similar power, and an arguably better (trying to sort this out in limited PA for HS hitters is damn near impossible) approach. I think all that adds up to an overall offensive edge for Rizzo, but it’s really close.

After much industry chatter about Cantu playing just about anywhere but first base in the pros, he debuted with Cleveland at…first base. His strong arm is wasted a bit there, but it’s still probably the best fit for him in the long run. Playing first base should also have the added bonus of allowing more time for him to focus on his hitting, his once and future meal ticket to the big leagues. His pro debut saw him struggle at the plate for what I have to imagine was the first time ever. I think his natural gifts take over next spring and he emerges as one of the minors most interesting righthanded hitting first base prospects.

7.212 – C Michael Tinsley

Cleveland signed three college catchers. I love the idea of teams loading up on one spot in the draft. There’s a certain organizational piece of mind that comes with solidifying depth at one position over the course of one weekend’s worth of work. But trying to do that with three similarly aged catching prospects is better in theory than in practice. Where are these guys all going to play? Cleveland answered that by keeping Logan Ice behind the dish (duh) and moving both Michael Tinsley (138) and Gavin Collins to other defensive spots. Collins playing third is hardly a surprise — it’s where he played the majority of his draft year, after all — but Tinsley starting his pro career as a left fielder came out of, well, left field. Time will tell if this is part of a larger plan by Cleveland or merely a short-term fit to get everybody their rookie ball plate appearances. In any event, Tinsley certainly has the athleticism to thrive in a corner outfield spot. That same athleticism is what made him such an intriguing catching prospect to me. The lefthanded hitting Tinsley is a great athlete with average or better speed, arm strength, and mobility behind the plate. His approach as a hitter has long been a strength (63 BB/44 K in his three years at Kansas). He’s a keeper at any position, though it goes without saying that a return to catching would make Tinsley that much more appealing as a prospect.

8.242 – RHP Andrew Lantrip

On Andrew Lantrip (176) from March 2016…

Kay is a lot more famous among college fans, but Andrew Lantrip in many ways resembles a righthanded alternative. Kay’s changeup is ahead and he has the added bonus of mixing in a curve every now and then, but Lantrip can really command his fastball (like Kay’s, 87-92 MPH peaking at 94) and his delivery gives him that little extra pop of deception that makes everything he throws play up. Needless to say, I’m a fan. Lantrip will surely be dinged for being a slight college righthander without premium fastball velocity, but, again like Kay, the combination of a deep enough reservoir of offspeed stuff and a long track record of missing bats makes him an interesting high-floor back-end starting pitching option.

Andrew Lantrip walked 1.28 batters per nine in his 246.2 innings at Houston. That’s 35 walks in 246.2 innings. That’s good. A 1.28 BB/9 would have put him second in baseball this past year among qualified pitchers. The one pitcher with a better BB/9? Josh Tomlin. Hmm. I understand plus control not being something that seems all that exciting, but Lantrip’s never-ending story of strike after strike after strike is fun to watch. And it’s not just his expert control, either: Lantrip’s command of his fastball, a pitch he leans on heavily (and wisely), is exceptional. Watching him do this thing on the mound is a lot of fun. Will that fun translate in pro ball? Cleveland sure seems to think so. And I’d agree.

My “not a scout” observations on Lantrip showed me a quality breaking ball — not sure what it was exactly, but he threw it mostly 77-81 and when ahead in the count — and a usable change as at least a “show-me” pitch. That’s not anything to write home about, but, as we’ve covered, fastball command is so damn important and Lantrip has it in spades. Honestly, his profile would otherwise be pretty ordinary — fringe fifth starter type, maybe a middle reliever — were it not for his fastball command. It’s good enough I’ll bump everything up one step on the projection ladder: Lantrip could be a mid-rotation starter (closer to a fifth than a third, but still) with a pretty safe mid-relief floor. Barring another injury setback, I think he’s a sure-fire big leaguer. Josh Tomlin 2.0.

9.272 – OF Hosea Nelson

Huge raw power, good runner, great athleticism, and tons of swing-and-miss. Now you know what I know about Hosea Nelson. At Clarendon JC, Nelson hit .531/.606/1.020 with 27 BB/30 K and 17/21 SB in 237 PA. That 1.020 slugging isn’t a typo. It is, however, such a crazy number that my fingers don’t know how to type it. Muscle memory keeps getting in the way of putting the decimal where it should be. Nelson hit 20 homers in 196 AB, an impressive enough feat on its own made all the better when you realize his teammates combined for 14 total home runs in their aggregate 1630 AB. I have no idea how to project a guy like this, but I’m damn sure going to move heaven and earth to find a way to see him play in person in 2017.

10.302 – SS Samad Taylor

I had nothing on Samad Taylor before the draft, but everything I’ve heard and read since then has been fantastic. The only knock that I’ve heard was about his arm making him a more likely second baseman than a shortstop, something that played out as predicted in his debut season. Beyond that, his game is incredibly well-rounded for the mature beyond his years 17-year-old draftee with a chance for average (hit, power, arm) or better (speed, glove) tools across the board. Some might say TINSTAA2BP and maybe they are right, but, if you’re part of the 2B prospects are people too crowd (as I am), then Taylor should instantly move near the top of the list of most interesting second base prospects in the game.

11.332 – OF Andrew Calica

Andrew Calica’s .382/.474/.556 in 178 AB to start his pro career puts him on the short list of best 2016 debuts across baseball. Add in stealing 15 of 19 bags for good measure and Calica’s case as having the very best debut grows. The genius you’re reading right now didn’t rank him in the pre-draft top 500 despite going on and on and on about him back in March…

Of all the non-obvious (say, those unlikely to be first day selections) prospects in this class, Calica might be the guy closest to the Platonic ideal of what it means to be a FAVORITE on this site. Calica’s impressive hit tool, easy center field range, above-average to plus speed, and solid arm strength all give him the look of at least a potential quality backup at the pro level. I’d go a step further: Calica has consistently shown every tool save power throughout his career, and even his weakest area isn’t all that weak. He’s able to put himself into enough advantageous hitting counts to allow his sneaky pop (“burgeoning” is how it was recently described to me) to make him some degree of a threat to opposing pitchers who think they can sneak good fastballs by him. Center field tools, an advanced approach, and just enough pop all add up to a pretty intriguing talent.

I’m hopeful that not ranking Calica was an oversight — like my Dane Dunning omission that drives me nuts — but considering Calica was included on the “Draft Note Resource” pages I published meant to catch all the non-top 500 guys, I’d say it was just a major whiff. Is this an overreaction to a small (but undeniably awesome) sample to start his pro career? Maybe a little, I can admit that much. But Calica is legit. It’s a very strong backup outfielder profile with the chance for more if his recent power bump is real.

12.362 – RHP Zach Plesac

On Zach Plesac (356) back in February 2016…

Plesac has the obvious bloodlines working in his favor, but it’s his unusual athleticism and deep reservoir of offspeed pitches that make him a favorite of mine.

For whatever reason, Plesac never seemed to get the kind of credit he deserved for his outstanding junior season. He struck out more batters than ever (9.07 K/9), walked fewer guys (2.96 BB/9), and saw an uptick in stuff across the board. Assuming a return to full health after this past May’s Tommy John surgery, I think Plesac could move quickly as a potential mid-rotation starting pitcher. That’s typically what I see when I see an exceptionally athletic righthander with projection left who is already capable of throwing three pitches (86-92 FB, 94 peak; above-average low-80s CU; 75-77 CB, average upside) for strikes.

13.392 – C Gavin Collins

The vote of confidence in Gavin Collins (250) before the draft from me was predicated on the idea that his drafting team would move him back behind the plate. Here’s what I wrote about that in April 2016…

Gavin Collins has played third base the bulk of the season – very well, I should note – but still profiles best as a potential above-average defender as a professional catcher. My notes on him include one of the better lines I’ve gotten this year: “big arm, loves to show it off.” How can you not like a catcher like that?

Well, 41 of his 42 starts in the field in his debut with the Cleveland organization were at third base. I don’t know if that’s indicative of the long-term defensive plan for Collins or what, but it’s certainly a strong hint that they believe his best fit in the pros is at the hot corner. It’s also possible that he was playing third only in deference to second round pick Logan Ice, though that theory is cloudy at best when you factor in the two prospects having similar timetables going forward. I think he has the chance to be an average hit/average power type of bat (.250ish hitter with 15 homers?) with solid defense at either third or catcher. Depending on how offense continues to climb, that could be a potential regular. Falling short of that ceiling could still produce a useful bench asset. One name that comes to mind there is Adam Rosales without the middle infield versatility.

14.422 – OF Mitch Longo

The pre-season take on Mitch Longo back in February 2016…

Longo has some “scouty” questions to answer this spring, but I’m sold on the bat.

And how can you not be sold on Longo as a hitter? Seriously, all the guy does is hit. I don’t often do this, but, come on, look at the college production…

2014: .346/.416/.474 – 13 BB/13 K – 7/12 SB – 133 AB
2015: .357/.421/.498 – 22 BB/16 K – 10/13 SB – 241 AB
2016: .360/.438/.467 – 25 BB/19 K – 12/17 SB – 214 AB

That’s really good stuff right there. I got some answers on those “scouty” questions during his junior season — namely he’s a legit above-average runner who knows how to pick his spots and his arm can now be upgraded to “good enough,” which is, you know, good enough — but there were still some I talked to who think he’s a great college player who will be in over his head in pro ball. Too dependent on the admittedly solid hit tool with questionable power, speed, and defensive value, they say. Maybe, though I’d at least counter with pointing out that maybe those were fair reasons why he fell to the the fourteenth round but now that he’s actually in pro ball — and off to a fine start, I should add — anything you get from him is gravy. I don’t personally see why he can’t hit his way to the big leagues, fourteenth rounder or not.

16.482 – LHP Ben Krauth

Just about all I had on Ben Krauth heading into the draft were his numbers. That’s not entirely a bad thing for him as those numbers were really damn impressive: 10.08 K/9, 2.93 BB/9, 3.33 ERA in 92.0 IP. The notes portion for Krause was a bit less kind: “backwards pitching junk-thrower.” Pretty good debut for a backwards pitching junk-thrower, I’d say: 10.89 K/9, 1.66 BB/9, 1.66 ERA in 38.0 IP. I enjoy rooting for non-traditional players to succeed, and Krauth’s steady diet of offspeed stuff would certainly qualify him for that mantle.

17.512 – OF Trenton Brooks

On Trenton Brooks (195) from March 2016…

Trenton Brooks has gotten off to a relatively slow start at the plate so far, but I remain firmly on his bandwagon heading into June. His athleticism, defensive upside (CF range and a strong arm befitting a two-way player), and flashes of offensive promise make him a really intriguing future pro, especially if you believe (as I do) that focusing solely on one side of the ball will help take his game to the next level professionally. Between that belief and the possibility he could always be shifted back to the mound down the line if need be – two points that are almost but not quite contradictory – Brooks has a chance to be a better pro than what he’s shown at Nevada.

I’m still very much a believer in Trenton Brooks, future big league player. The ceiling may now be more fourth outfielder/spot starter than potential regular, but that’s still some serious value down in the seventeenth round. I’ll throw out a maybe irresponsible (depending on how “real” you think his rookie season was…) comparison to Tyler Naquin with a bit less power upside.

18.542 – LHP Raymond Burgos

Really nice work by Cleveland here in getting Raymond Burgos signed and on board in the eighteenth round. I write that knowing very little about Burgos as a pitcher. What I do know, I like: his pre-draft notes here had him up to 89 MPH with his fastball and in the mid-70s with his breaking stuff. He’s also listed at 6-5, 175 pounds, lefthanded, athletic, and, by all accounts, a hard worker. Toss in the fact that he’s really young for his class — he won’t turn 18 until the end of November — and all the ingredients here are for a major draft sleeper. It would be completely irresponsible (again) to compare him to a lefty version of Triston McKenzie in any way other than their relative youth and frames to dream on, so I won’t.

19.572 – RHP Dakody Clemmer

I really like this one. Dakody Clemmer is a potential surprise quick-moving reliever. Armed with a power sinker/slider mix, the strong righthander has a chance to shoot through the Cleveland system in a hurry if allowed to focus on keeping the ball down with his low-90s heat and above-average slider. The only thing that could slow him down is needing some time to find a way to more consistently harness his stuff; plus movement can be a blessing and a curse for young pitchers sometimes.

23.692 – RHP Mike Letkewicz

Mike Letkewicz had himself an interesting senior season at Augustana. His final year stats (7.76 K/9 and 3.59 BB/9) dropped his career strikeout mark to 9.46 (boo) but came with the added benefit of dropping his career walks to 4.62 (progress!). He’s a middling middle relief prospect unafraid to throw back-to-back changeups when needed. That’s all I’ve got.

24.722 – LHP Skylar Arias

Searched “Skylar Arias” on my site not expecting to find anything (name wasn’t ringing a bell and it’s the kind of name that ought to, right?), but, lo and behold, some notes on him from his HS days…

LHP Skylar Arias (Oakleaf HS, Florida): 86-88 FB; CB; CU; 6-3, 165 pounds

His year at Tallahassee CC was a successful one with the young lefty sitting down 10.82 batters per nine. There’s some funk to his delivery that is either appealing or not (I’m into it) and the projection left in his 6-3, 190 pound frame (note the positive weight gain since his time at Oakleaf) suggest even more velocity to come. The only negative on his ledger for now is the 56-game suspension handed to him after testing positive to Nandrolone in August. That’s a bummer.

25.752 – 3B Jonathan Laureano

Jonathan Laureano had about as bad a debut as you can have after putting up a -14 wRC+ in his first 86 PA. Fortunately, that small sample nightmare came on the heels of an excellent freshman season at Connors State: .347/.472/.595 with 39 BB/33 K in 218 PA. I don’t have anything on him beyond that other than to say that somebody out there has his last name wrong. He’s listed as Laureno as Baseball Reference, but Laureano at both MiLB.com and his Connors State player page. I tend to think that the latter spelling is likely correct, but admitting that means I’m saying B-R is wrong and that makes me sad. Love you, Baseball Reference.

26.782 – LHP Tanner Tully

By law, Cleveland is required to draft at least one Ohio State player every year. Ignore the fact that they haven’t drafted anybody from the Buckeyes since 2004; can’t let that get in the way of a good narrative. Tanner Tully is a solid pick on merit, Ohio State connection aside. I like Tully even though I can’t quite figure him out. His stuff is solid — 88-92 FB, 93 peak; nice low-80s SL — and both his command and control are exceptional, but he’s never been able to miss bats even as he puts up sterling run prevention numbers. He kept up his confusing ways as a pro: 5.09 K/9 and a 1.17 ERA in 46.0 IP. Years of watching the numbers have me convinced he can’t keep this up forever, but strike-throwing lefties with decent stuff and good athleticism are tough guys to figure.

28.842 – SS Jamal Rutledge

I take it back. Jonathan Laureno is off the hook. Turns out you can have an ever worse debut as Jamal Rutledge managed a -18 wRC+ in the 48 PA to begin his pro career. This came after hitting .267/.295/.336 with 5 BB/27 K in 126 PA at Contra Costa as a freshman. The small sample size pro debut isn’t that big a deal — more of a “fun fact” than anything, and one I hope becomes but a footnote in his long, successful pro career — but that junior college line has me scratching my head a bit. If Rutledge makes it, I think we could chalk this up as one of the bigger mid-round scouting over stats wins of all-time.

30.902 – RHP Ryder Ryan

As an age-eligible two-way prospect with virtually no competitive innings played the last two seasons, Ryder Ryan ranked as one of the draft’s bigger mysteries heading into June. Older scouting reports were favorable — most notably those citing a big-time arm capable of living 90-94 MPH and touching 96 — and his obvious athleticism as a legit power-hitting prospect make this a chance well worth taking by Cleveland. Ryder is as strong a candidate of any as becoming one of this year’s “where did HE come from” thirtieth round picks.

Unsigned Prospects and Where You Can Find Them in 2017

Austin Shenton (Washington), Spencer Steer (Oregon), Mike Amditis (Miami), Blake Sabol (USC), Zack Smith (Charlotte), Pedro Alfonseca (Black Hawk CC), Armani Smith (UC Santa Barbara), Dan Sinatro (Washington State), Ben Baird (Washington), Andrew Baker (Florida), Nelson Alvarez (Miami-Dade CC), Mason Studstill (Miami), Kramer Robertson (LSU), Jacob DeVries (Air Force), Chris Farish (Wake Forest), Wil Crowe (South Carolina)

2016 MLB Draft Reviews – Los Angeles Dodgers

Top 500 Prospects Drafted by Los Angeles in 2016

34 – Jordan Sheffield
41 – Will Smith
73 – Gavin Lux
173 – Dustin May
238 – Devin Smeltzer
303 – DJ Peters
322 – Kevin Lachance
447 – Andre Scrubb
463 – Errol Robinson

Complete List of 2016 Los Angeles Dodgers Draftees

1.20 – SS Gavin Lux

(This is one of my more meandering first round pick breakdowns, so bear with me here. Something about Gavin Lux has me more turned around than I’m used to. Let’s try to figure this one out together…)

Many smart people were on Gavin Lux (73) going back well over a year. I wish I had listened to them. If not them, I should have at least listened to myself…

I’m a huge fan of Gavin Lux and think he could wind up in the first round conversation come June.

That was me in December 2015. Then six months later…

Lux is a really intriguing young hitter with the chance to come out of this draft as arguably the best all-around hitter (contact, pop, patience) in this high school class. That may be a bit rich, but I’d at least say his straight hit tool ranks only below Mickey Moniak, Carlos Cortes, and Joe Rizzo. If his bat plays above-average in all three phases – he could/should be there with contact and approach while his raw power floats somewhere in that average to above-average range – then he’d certainly be in the mix. A fun name that I’ve heard on Lux that may or may not have been influenced by geography: a bigger, stronger Scooter Gennett. Here’s some of what Baseball America had on Gennett in his draft year…

He profiles as an offensive second baseman, while Florida State intends for him to start at shortstop as a freshman. He’s a grinder with surprising power and bat speed for his size (a listed 5-foot-10, 170 pounds), and though he can be streaky, his bat is his best tool. He’s a better runner on the field than in showcase events, but he’s closer to average than above-average in that department. Defensively he gets the most of his ability, with his range and arm better suited for the right side of the infield than the left. He’s agile, though, and a solid athlete. Gennett would be a crucial get for Florida State, if he gets there. Most scouts consider him a third-to-fifth round talent.

A bigger, stronger, and arguably better (especially when likelihood to stick at short is factored in) Gennett feels about right, both in terms of draft stock (second to fourth round talent, maybe with a shot to sneak into the late first) and potential pro outcome. It should be noted that Lux’s defensive future is somewhat in flux. I think he’s athletic enough with enough arm to stick at short for a while, but there are many others who think he’s got second base written all over him. A lot of that likely has to do with his arm – it’s looked strong to me with a really quick release, but there’s debate on that – so I’d bet that there’s little consensus from team to team about his long-term position. Teams that like him to pick him high in the draft will like him best as a shortstop, so it’s my hunch that he’ll at least get a shot to play in the six-spot as a pro to begin his career.

Because I’m a completist, here’s a Gennett (top) and Lux (bottom) first year in pro ball comparison…

.309/.354/.463 with 5.9 BB% and 17.3 K% in 525 PA
.296/.375/.399 with 11.1 BB% and 20.2 K% in 253 PA

This doesn’t tell you much as we’re comparing Gennett’s first full year in low-A as a 20-year-old (he didn’t play after signing late in 2009) with Lux’s age-18 season in rookie ball, but, like I said, I’m a completist. Now that’s complete, at least for now.

As for Lux, the guy checks every box from a physical standpoint and his feel for hitting is damn impressive. He’s a deceptively high floor player (a 2016 MLB Draft theme I’ve been pushing of late) because his defense is either going to be good enough for shortstop or very good at second or possibly center. There’s really nothing not to like here. I’m trying to go back and audit my rankings some to figure out why I did what I did in some spots, and all I can figure with Lux is that the general dearth of quality shortstops in this class actually caused me to move everybody at short down rather than push up the top guys. Lux wound up ranking behind only Delvin Perez and Carter Kieboom among all shortstops in this class, yet he still barely cracked my top 75. Seems silly in hindsight considering the importance of the position. Another reason why I think Lux fell on my board is because I saw that top 75 or so as particularly strong. There were a few drop-off points that you could make into separate tiers along the way, but I think the truly elite draft prospects began to peter out right around 75. I don’t know what it means exactly, but players ranked 71st (Christian Jones), 72nd (TJ Collett), 74th (Austin Bergner), Charles King (75), Jeff Belge (78), Tyler Lawrence (80), Nick Lodolo (84), and Roberto Peto (85) all can be found at a local college near you this spring. I switched what went in the parentheses mid-sentence there, but I think the confusion fits the general feeling of this section so I’ll leave it. Plus, I’m lazy.

Of course, I’m not trying to completely walk back the ranking. I think the Dodgers made a good pick here because a) there were close to fifty players (at least) available at pick 20 that would have been easily justifiable in that spot, and b) I can admit that my evaluations, while obviously brilliant, are not the final word. I’m still not entirely sold on Lux hitting enough to be an impact regular and much of the feedback I’ve gotten on his arm puts him as a second baseman over the long haul. Part of what I missed in my pre-draft evaluation was that Lux could be a pretty useful player — and a guy worthy of a pick in the mid- to late-first round — even if the bat isn’t all it can be and he has to move off of shortstop. That’s big. High ceiling/moderate floor hitters typically find a home in the mid-first round, just as Lux did. I get it now.

1.32 – C Will Smith

If you toss out Zack Collins and Matt Thaiss for defensive reasons, you could make a case for Will Smith (41) as the draft’s top college catching prospect. I had him right behind Sean Murphy (longer track record), but it was pretty much a coin flip. Slick grab by Los Angeles here to nab their catcher of the future. Still, it’s a little odd to me to see the Dodgers use a premium pick on a player with a profile so similar to a minor league player they seem unwilling to give extended playing time at the big league level — note to 29 MLB teams: trade for Austin Barnes while you can — but what do I know. Let’s look at some college numbers for fun…

.308/.379/.429 with 30 BB/29 K in 312 AB
.291/.392/.410 with 48 BB/50 K in 412 AB

Top was Barnes at Arizona State, bottom was Will Smith at Louisville. Smith went off in his junior year in a way that Barnes never did — .382/.480/.567 with 19 BB/14 K — and is the better all-around defensive player, but the numbers are still pretty interesting. Also interesting was the way Smith was used by the Dodgers in his debut: 39 games at catcher, 8 games at third, and 6 games at second. That usage feels a little Austin Barnes-ish, doesn’t it? Clearly Los Angeles values that skill set. Something to consider going forward.

As for Smith, that aforementioned junior year explosion clearly paid a large part in his selection. That’s a good thing, clearly, but also a bit of a red flag. Most college hitters taken in the top one hundred picks or so have extended track records of success. Smith didn’t do much his freshman year in 77 AB, upped his power slightly in 2015, and then had the monster junior season. That’s one concern. Another would be Smith’s lack of a clear carrying tool. He’s a really good runner — and not just for a catcher! — and his approach is beyond reproach, but you’re probably hoping for an average hit/average power offensive game at best. That’s the negative portion of our Will Smith section. I mean, it’s not even all that negative — who wouldn’t be intrigued by an average offensive catcher? — but it’s negative by my alleged Pollyanna standards. Now let’s get into some good news.

I’ve heard three names for Smith that could make for intriguing career arcs. I think the first two work best when combined: Jason Kendall and Brad Ausmus. I’d put Smith in between those two in terms of physical ability, so maybe something like .275/.350/.375 with around a dozen steals a year (or a Kendall/Ausmus 162-game average middle ground) would be a fair ceiling. That’s not entirely dissimilar to what Carlos Ruiz has done in his career. Ruiz with speed is something I could buy. A little more power that pushes him to that .275/.350/.400 range feels right to me. The third comp besides Kendall/Ausmus was fellow prospect Chance Sisco. You’d get more speed and less hit with Smith, but it’s not too far off the mark. A .260ish hitter with double-digit homers (close to that 50 hit/50 power expectation) and steals with crazy athleticism behind the plate is a really nice player.

1.36 – RHP Jordan Sheffield

On Jordan Sheffield (34) from May 2016…

For as much as we as fans, writers, and/or internet scouts want to believe otherwise, prospects don’t really have anything to prove to anybody. Control what you can control on the field and let the chips fall where they may beyond that. Having said that, the young Vanderbilt righthander has done just about everything I had hoped to see out of him in 2016. Others may still have questions about how his command and smaller stature will hold up pitching every fifth day professionally – perfectly valid concerns, for what it’s worth – but I’m personally all-in on Sheffield as a starting pitching prospect. He knows how to pitch off the fastball (if anything you can make the case he falls in love with it at times), his curve and/or his change can serve as an above-average to plus pitch on any given day, and his junior year leap can’t be ignored. Let’s look at the pre-season take…

It’s a lazy comp, sure, but the possibility that Sheffield could wind up as this year’s Dillon Tate has stuck with me for almost a full calendar year. He’s undersized yet athletic and well-built enough to handle a starter’s workload, plus he has the three pitches (FB, CU, CB) to get past lineups multiple times. If his two average-ish offspeed that flash above-average to plus can more consistently get there, he’s a potential top ten guy no matter his height.

…so that we can revisit that lazy comp. By the numbers, here’s what we’ve got…

11.09 K/9 – 3.31 BB/9 – 2.29 ERA – 70.2 IP
9.67 K/9 – 2.44 BB/9 – 2.26 ERA – 103.1 IP

Top is Sheffield so far, bottom is Tate’s draft year. I asked around and nobody particularly liked the Tate comparison, but more because of the belief that Sheffield is a fairly unique pitcher than that it’s a bad comp. The only alternate name I heard was a tepid Edinson Volquez 2.0 endorsement. I actually kind of dig that one. At the same age, Volquez was listed at a mere 6-1, 160 pounds, a far cry from his current listed 6-0, 220 pounds. He was known back then for his electric fastball (check), plus changeup (check), and above-average slider, a pitch that eventually morphed into his present above-average curve (check). I can definitely some young Volquez in Sheffield’s game.

Again, as a completist I’m obligated to update you on Sheffield’s final 2016 numbers…

10.00 K/9 – 3.54 BB/9 – 3.01 ERA – 101.2 IP

Similar strikeouts to Tate with an extra walk per nine and a little less in the way of run prevention. It was an imperfect comp from the start, so, you know, no harm no foul. I still like the Volquez the comp, especially the 2008 version of Volquez. You could also draw some parallels between Sheffield and Volquez’s teammate in Kansas City, Yordano Ventura. Electric fastball, two offspeed pitches he can get swings and misses with, and inconsistent at best command of it all. Sheffield will be a good, if occasionally frustrating, pitcher to watch over the next decade plus.

2.65 – RHP Mitchell White

Let’s talk a little about how amazing Mitchell White’s debut with the Dodgers organization turned out. First, the most basic of exciting peripherals: White struck out 12.27 batters per nine and walked 2.45 batters per nine in 22.0 innings across three levels, the majority of which were spent in Low-A. His combined WHIP during those 22.0 IP: 0.59. That’s seven hits allowed to go along with those six walks in his twenty-two innings. Via the great MLB Farm, 31 of the 44 (70.45%) recorded batted balls against him as a pro were hit on the ground. Also via MLB Farm, White threw 278 pitches in his 22.0 innings. That’s 12.64 pitches thrown per inning worked. Only one qualified pitcher in baseball (Ivan Nova at 14.26 P/IP) came within two pitches of that. I don’t really know what that means or if there’s any predictive value there, but it’s pretty cool to me.

That was fun. Now for something less fun. Let’s talk about why Mitchell White, the sixty-fifth player selected in the 2016 MLB Draft, didn’t make my top 500. Off the top, I’ll admit that I goofed. What I had on his stuff — 87-93 FB, above-average SL, above-average cutter — and his size (6-4, 210) and his track record (11.25 K/9 in 2015, 11.54 K/9 in 2016) all should have been enough to get ranked. Heck, I even wrote this about him back in March…

Mitchell White is a redshirt-sophomore with a fastball that dances (87-93 with serious movement), an above-average slider, and an intriguing cutter. On his best days, the three pitches seem to morph into one unhittable to square up offering. I like him a whole heck of a lot right now.

Not ranking him was a clear oversight on my part. That said, I also missed on him in part because what I had on him was increasingly dated information. Every start White made from about midway through the year onward revealed something new about his repertoire. I literally couldn’t keep up with him past a certain point in the season. If that’s not the definition of an ascending talent, then I’m not sure what is. Dodgers fans should be really excited about this guy.

3.101 – RHP Dustin May

If you can tell me what 6-6, 180 pound righthander Dustin May (173) is going to look like three to five years down the line, then do yourself a favor and play your lucky numbers in tonight’s lottery. If I’ve learned but one thing in the eight drafts I’ve covered since starting this site, it’s that the path for any prep righthander from boy to man is rife with twists and turns. Figuring out which young pitcher is going to blossom into an effective professional — let alone a star — can feel like equal parts art, science, and fortune. Sometimes it feels like the only way you can guarantee success in the high school pitching racket is to try, try, try and then try again. Little of this has to do with Dustin May specifically, save for the fact that the long and lean Texan’s listed 6-6, 180 pound frame makes him the unofficial poster boy for non-first round but still early round high school projection picks.

May’s awesome start to his pro career (10.09 K/9 and 1.19 BB/9 in 30.1 IP) and quality present stuff that includes an already solid fastball (87-91, 93 peak) and a pair of breaking balls with promise (79-81 SL, 72-76 CB) gives him a fantastic starting point to work from even if some of that promised projection never quite comes as hoped. May was described to me over the summer as a prospect who might be little more than a consistent refined breaking ball, effective changeup, and a few ticks on the fastball away from really skyrocketed up prospect lists. Well, sure, is that all it will take? I mean, just give me those three things and I guarantee I’d be a #1 starter. But the reason why it makes sense to set such a lofty goal for May is that those benchmarks are well within his reach. He’s really, really close to potentially putting it all together. And, if he doesn’t put it ALL together, then he’s still got a great shot of putting most of it together. Or at least some of it.

As I wrote about in the Brandon Marsh section in the Angels review, I think boom/bust prospects — a designation often ascribed to prep pitchers — aren’t quite as boom/bust as they may seem at face value. Guys are typically called boom/bust types when they have obvious physical gifts and equally obvious distance to cover in putting those gifts to use on the diamond. What is often missed is that just having those gifts in the first place can literally be enough to get you to the big leagues; we can crack wise about how velocity-obsessed we are now, but if you can hit upper-90s (even if it’s straight and your secondaries are iffy and your control isn’t great) then your chances of at least reaching AAA, a level you’re literally just a phone call from the big leagues, are high. Same thing if you’re like the aforementioned Marsh (or any other toolsy prep position player prospect who can run and defend): you don’t have to profile as a .300 hitter or a 20+ homer threat if you can do other valuable things that fill a role.

All of this is a long-winded way of saying that I think Dustin May, assuming decent health, will pitch in the big leagues in some capacity before he decides to hang up his cleats. A perfect outcome could lead to him starting playoff games at or near the top of a rotation. A more likely outcome would be a long career as a mid-rotation starter with flashes of better mixed in along the way. A less good (but still fine!) outcome would be pitching out of the bullpen or as an up-and-down fifth starter who teases with his stuff but is never fully able to have everything working for him at the same time for an extended stretch.

(This ridiculous tweet was supposed to be linked to that #1 starter joke above, but WordPress embedded it instead. You get the idea.)

4.131 – OF DJ Peters

Hold on, let me write an email real quick to a buddy of mine who is always on the lookout for some minor league fantasy sleepers. Don’t mind me, it’ll only take a minute…

Here’s a guy you might like. DJ Peters from Western Nevada CC. Fourth round pick of the Dodgers. Great size (6-6, 225), good approach, solid defender in a corner, plus arm, average speed, and at least above-average raw power. Hit .419/.510/.734 with 34 BB/33 K and 7/10 SB in 203 AB at Western Nevada. Then he hit .351/.437/.615 with 11.6 BB% and 21.9 K% in 302 PA in rookie ball. He’ll be 21-years-old in December and should start next season in the Midwest League. Looks like the prototypical right field prospect to me and potentially a really good one at that. Kicking myself for ranking him so low (303) back in June.

Back! Fantasy is fantasy, but there’s obviously some real crossover when it comes to assessing a player’s future value. My friend in particular is always on the hunt for the three P’s: power, patience, and position. Peters hits on all three. And his name begins with a P! Illuminati? Probably. I like this pick a lot.

5.161 – LHP Devin Smeltzer

If deception is your thing, then prepare to enjoy the work of Devin Smeltzer (238) quite a bit. The 6-2, 180 pound lefthander has a delivery that makes it really tough to pick up the ball until it’s almost too late. Smeltzer also has outstanding command of his fastball, a pitch that he’ll throw at any speed between 85-91 with very rare dalliances all the way up to the mid-90s. He throws both a mid-80s cut-slider (flashes plus) and an average or better true slider (76-82), as well as a slower curve and a low-80s change. I’ve been slow to embrace Smeltzer in the past, but I think I’m ready now. Streamlining his repertoire and continuing to put good weight on could make him a potential mid-rotation arm in the big leagues.

6.191 – SS Errol Robinson

The tools are clearly there for Errol Robinson (463) to have a long, successful big league career. Knowing that makes this pick worth it right off the top. Having a developmental plan in place to help Robinson bridge the gap from said tools to consistent effective on-field performances could make this pick a smashing success. I have little doubt that Robinson can at least have a long career in pro ball due to the strength of his glove, speed, athleticism, and willingness to work deep counts, but assessing his upside is tricky from the outside looking in. It’s a cop-out to be sure, but so much of what will happen next with Robinson will depend on Robinson. Well, Robinson and Los Angeles’s minor league staff tasked with working with Robinson. This is obviously true of any draft pick — attempting to tease out the amateur evaluation side of drafting with eventual pro development is impossible, a conclusion that makes grading drafts years after the fact an exercise in missing information — but I think it’s more true of some guys, like Robinson for one, than others.

Lack of pop could mean the difference between a potential career arc of utility work versus getting regular time up the middle, but I keep coming back to Robinson’s pro debut (.282/.336/.395) as a potential sign of things to come. Predicting a player’s rookie ball stats will wind up aligning with his upside as a big league hitter might be silly, but, if you’re willing to go out on that limb with me, projecting a future somewhere in the Jordy Mercer universe (more speed, less strength) doesn’t feel out of line.

7.221 – OF Luke Raley

Luke Raley was a career .379/.471/.654 (56 BB/42 K) hitter at Lake Erie College with 27/33 SB. That line included a junior year that saw him hit a robust .424/.528/.747 (28 BB/11 K) in 158 AB. He seemed to come by those numbers honestly, too: his average led the team by 45 points and his OBP was best by 99 points. Guys who hit like Raley did at whatever level they are at deserve attention, so I’m glad the Dodgers dug deep in finding him. And I’m a little annoyed I missed on him. I’ll be watching his career closely. Incidentally, I really wanted Lake Erie College to be super close to the Dodgers low-A affiliate (Great Lake Loons), but, alas, my geographical hunch proved incorrect. The two locations are almost five hours apart. Would have been nice for him to get some “home” games in after being drafted. “I like him better than [Ryan] Rua,” was the only bit of info I could grab on Raley post-draft outside of the quoted stats above.

8.251 – RHP Andre Scrubb

Andre Scrubb (447) has it in him to be a quick-moving reliever now that he’s entered pro ball. From February 2016…

Scrubb’s heft and arm action have me leaning towards more of a bullpen future for him – fair or not – but he can throw two breaking balls for strikes, so starting as a pro shouldn’t be off the table. He’s coming off a really impressive 2015 season, so I could see teams that value performance giving him the edge.

He followed up his strong 2015 with a very interesting 2016 campaign. His strikeouts were up (11.43 K/9 from 8.00 K/9), his walks were up (6.57 BB/9 from 3.17 BB/9, though closer to his freshman year mark of 6.25 BB/9), and his ERA just about doubled (2.50 ERA to a 4.86 ERA). So, some good and some not so good there. Most importantly, his stuff remained strong. His heater continued to be a weapon (88-94, up to 96 in relief) and his breaking ball flashes plus (hard curve that might as well be a slider at this point). It’s easy to see it all working as an effective yet frustrating big league reliever. You’ll get your strikeouts, ground balls, and walks as Scrubb does the tightrope thing for years to come.

9.281 – RHP Anthony Gonsolin

Two-way players have always fascinated me. Good two-way players that profile both offensively and on the mound in the pros are even better. That’s Anthony Gonsolin, a righthanded pitcher/outfielder from St. Mary’s that generated as close to a 50/50 split among those “in the know” I talked to pre-draft as to what side of the ball he’d play as a pro. As a position player, Gonsolin could run, throw, and hit a mistake a long way. That’s all on the back burner for now as the Dodgers made the wise choice to see what he’s got on the mound first. With a fastball up to 95 (90-94 mostly) and a quality upper-70s curve, he’s got the one-two punch needed to pitch in middle relief someday. It’s not a thrilling profile at face value, but the hope that comes with any two-way player giving up hitting for pitching (the preferred two-way move, all else being equal) taking a leap forward on the mound could mean there’s still some hidden value left in Gonsolin’s right arm.

10.311 – SS Kevin Lachance

Kevin Lachance (322) is a quality senior-sign who agreed to terms with the Dodgers for the low low price of $2,500. I’m a little skeptical that his senior year power spike was anything more than a typical senior year power spike (ISO by year: .098, .044, .085, .166), but that doesn’t mean Lachance can’t have a long pro career as a utility infielder who can run, capably defend multiple spots (arm is a touch stretched for the left side, but it should do in a pinch), and sneak his fair share of mistakes into the gaps.

11.341 – RHP AJ Alexy

AJ Alexy played his high school ball about 45 minutes west of me at Twin Valley HS. I saw him throw once in January and then again during the spring season. He’s pretty good. The 164-Pitch Man has an upper-80s fastball (up to 92), a low-70s curve that steadily improved as the season went on, and a usable changeup that could be a decent third pitch in time. I didn’t see him drop the occasional knuckleball in, but I certainly heard plenty about it. All in all, Alexy is your typical high school righthander with solid present stuff, a frame (6-4, 190) you can project some additional growth on, and a cold weather/non-baseball background that could indicate some hidden value to come.

13.401 – OF Cody Thomas

On Cody Thomas from April 2016…

When it comes to straight draft intrigue, few players in this class can match Oklahoma outfielder Cody Thomas. With Thomas you’d essentially be drafting a high school player in terms of experience and present skill levels, but the upside is very real. Size, athleticism, power, arm strength, speed…if he can hit, a significant if, then he’s a potential monster.

His pro debut was Cody Thomas in a nutshell: prodigious power, impressive speed, lots of swing-and-miss. He’s still a big project, but the payoff could be huge.

14.431 – RHP Dean Kremer

Dean Kremer’s unspectacular sophomore year (5.03 K/9 and 2.50 BB/9) at UNLV felt like it could be enough to keep him in school another year, but the Dodgers clearly felt differently. If his pro debut is any indication (9.97 K/9 and 1.99 BB/9), then they know what they are doing. Perhaps they focused more on his emerging velocity (low-90s, up to 95), depth of offspeed stuff (CB, SL, CU), and relative youth (he won’t turn 21 until January) than his iffy peripherals. He’ll have the advantage (and pressure) of a built-in fan base in pro ball as Kremer is the first Israeli citizen drafted and signed by a MLB team. I’m personally looking forward to dropping that fact on my Jewish in-laws at Thanksgiving this year. Or not, if they read the site between now and then. They don’t, though. Let’s not kid ourselves.

15.461 – OF Brayan Morales

Brayan Morales hit .354/.425/.566 with 19 BB/28 K and 24/32 SB in 218 PA at Hillsborough CC this past spring. That’s all I’ve got.

16.491 – OF Darien Tubbs

Fun little tidbit (in bold for you convenience) from the January 2016 piece on Darien Tubbs…

JR OF Darien Tubbs leaps past the field as Memphis’s best position player prospect. He’s got the type of build (5-9, 190) that inspires the “sneaky pop” disclaimer in my notes, but his days of catching opposing pitchers by surprise might be over after his breakout sophomore campaign. Tubbs can run, defend in center, work deep counts, and knock a ball or ten to the gaps when you’re not careful. Tubbs isn’t quite a FAVORITE yet, but he’s as close as you can get without tempting me into holding down the shift key. A friend who knows how much I went on about Saige Jenco over the past year reached out to me to let me know that he believed Tubbs was a better version of the same guy. Fun player.

The Dodgers went on to draft Jenco eight rounds later! Neat. Tubbs went on to have a junior season just a hair worse across the board than his breakout sophomore season, but he still flashed all the of the positive traits (speed, range, occasional pop) that made him a noteworthy prospect in the first place. Fourth outfielder upside if it all keeps clicking for him.

19.581 – RHP Chris Mathewson

This one makes me mad. I wrote 3811 words about the Big West’s 2016 MLB Draft prospects this past March. I felt really good about it. The piece originally was a few hundred words longer, but I cut out a section on Chris Mathewson. Despite hearing that he was 2016 draft-eligible (forget where I heard it, but I know I did), I cut him out. The reason for this was simple: I reached out to a pretty solid contact who absolutely should have known definitively one way or another about Mathewson’s draft eligibility, and was told he was a 2017 guy. I was still skeptical because I knew I had heard otherwise (really wish I could remember where), so I checked into it myself. He was drafted in 2014 out of high school. He spent two years at Long Beach State without redshirting. He wouldn’t be turning 21-years-old until a month before the 2017 MLB Draft, much like many of his age-appropriate sophomore year classmates. What was I missing? Heck, what am I currently missing? I can’t figure out for the life of me why Chris Mathewson was eligible for the 2016 MLB Draft. Anybody?

Anyway, Mathewson is a good pitching prospect and an absolute steal at this stage in the draft. His fastball is all over the place — I have readings that hit every number from 85-95, though I’d put him in the 86-90 (92 peak) range for now if I had to make a judgment call on the pitch — and his 78-82 MPH breaking ball could be a real weapon in time. Add in an average or so changeup and a sturdy (if not filled out already) 6-1, 200 pound frame, and you’ve got a potential average big league starter. I forget the exact nature of the comp, but I recall Sam Monroy dropping Vicente Padilla’s name when writing about Mathewson this past spring. I like that one.

20.611 – 3B Brock Carpenter

There’s a lot to like about Brock Carpenter’s game. His strong arm is the first thing that jumps out at you with his intriguing power upside and physical 6-3, 200 pound frame coming in neck-and-neck for second. He’ll work lots of deep counts and pile up the walks (and strikeouts) that come with such an approach. All in all, it’s a nice package in the twentieth round, especially if you’re a believer in him as a long-term defender at third.

21.641 – RHP James Carter

On James Carter from March 2016…

James Carter brings pinpoint fastball command of a pitch that also hits 94 (88-92 otherwise); he’s still on the mend from 2015 Tommy John surgery, but I could see a team that’s done a deep dive on him prior to the elbow explosion keeping interest in him through the ups and downs of recovery.

It only makes sense that a team based out of Los Angeles would take a talented but underexposed (15.2 college IP since start of 2015) pitching prospect out of UC Santa Barbara. Sometimes geographical proximity can be a really good thing. A healthy Carter could move very quickly through the low-minors.

22.671 – RHP Jeff Paschke

From UC Santa Barbara to USC, the Dodgers stay at home with the selection of Jeff Paschke in the twenty-second round. Paschke, a legit two-way prospect in his high school days, is still in the early stages of his pitching development, but any pro coach would be happy to work with a 6-5, 215 pound righthander with a fastball up to 95 (87-93 normally), a steadily improving low-80s slider, and plenty of athleticism. It’s another homer pick by the Dodgers, but, like the James Carter selection one round earlier, it’s another good one.

24.731 – OF Saige Jenco

Saige Jenco just missed out on the top 500 this year, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a big personal favorite. Jenco, the 494th ranked draft prospect in the 2015 MLB Draft per this very site, is a lot of fun to watch. Here’s some history on him, first going back to December 2014…

rSO OF Saige Jenco is a really good ballplayer. His plus to plus-plus speed is a game-changing tool, and, best of all, his understanding of how and when to utilize his special gift helps it play up even more. It’s rare to find a young player who knows what kind of player he truly is; the ability to play within yourself is so often overlooked by those scouring the nation for potential pros, but it can be the difference between a guy who gets by and a guy who gets the most out of his ability. Jenco knows how and when to use his speed to every advantage possible. From running down mistakes in the outfield, swiping bags at a solid rate, working deep counts and driving pitchers to frustration (40 BB/23 K), to knowing adopting the swing and approach of a power hitter would lead to ruin, Jenco fully understands and appreciates his strengths and weaknesses. While it’s true the lack of present power is a significant weakness (.032 ISO is mind-boggling low), Jenco’s strengths remain more interesting than what he can’t do well. A career along the lines of Ben Revere, Juan Pierre, Dee Gordon, or Craig Gentry, who had an ISO of just .087 in his junior year at Arkansas before returning for a senior season that helped him show off enough of a power spike (.167 ISO) to get drafted as a $10,000 senior sign, is on the table with continued growth.

We checked back in on Jenco again in January 2016…

Jenco followed the Gentry college career path fairly well by putting up an improved .136 ISO last year. The Red Sox couldn’t get him to put his name on a pro contract last summer and their loss is the Hokies gain. Not much has changed in his overall profile from a year ago — he’s still fast, he still has an advanced approach, he can still chase down deep flies in center — so the ceiling of a fourth outfielder remains. Of course, guys with fourth outfielder ceilings with similar skill sets (speed, patience, defense) have turned into starting players for some teams as the dearth of power in the modern game has shifted the balance back to the Jenco’s of the world.

Not all of these guys are great examples of that archetype, but a quick search of 2015 seasons of corner outfielders (200 PA minimum) who slugged less than .400 but still finished with positive fWAR includes Brett Gardner, Nori Aoki, Jarrod Dyson, Ben Revere, Delino Deshields, Rusney Castillo, and Chris Denorfia. David DeJesus, a pretty good tweener who feels like a really good fourth outfielder or a competent starting corner guy that is often one of the first names I think of when I think of this type, fell just short of the list. I’m not necessarily comparing Jenco to any of those guys — while some of those guys are great in a corner and stretched in center, Jenco is really good as a CF — so consider this more of an exercise in theoretical player comparisons as we attempt to define the various types of players that teams seem to like these days. As far as comps go, I’ll stick with my Gentry one for now.

Let’s check on that Craig Gentry comp now that Jenco has some pro data to go on…

.308/.395/.422 in 248 PA with 22/23 SB (11.7 BB% and 16.5 K%)
.281/.350/.385 in 246 PA with 20/26 SB (3.7 BB% and 15.0 K%)

Top was Jenco’s debut, bottom was Gentry’s. Jenco did his while younger and at a level higher than Gentry, FWIW. I still think a career approximating Gentry’s would be a more than acceptable outcome for the perpetually underrated Jenco. After all, Gentry has played over 450 games in the big leagues and pocketed over $5 million for his hard work. If the Dodgers get that out of a twenty-fourth round pick, then that’s a major win.

25.761 – RHP Chandler Eden

There are notes on the site that follow Chandler Eden from high school to junior college to his final stop at a four-year college. A well-traveled arm like his — Oregon State to Yavapai to Texas Tech — can sometimes be viewed in one of two ways. The pessimistic view is that all that movement means Eden’s never been able to settle down in one spot and make one school his true home away from home. Without knowing the exact reasons for a given player’s thought processes that lead them to each transfer, it’s useless to speculate. That’s why I opt for the optimistic view: three college stops just means that Eden is a talented guy that’s frequently in demand. From a straight stuff standpoint, such a description certainly fits the thrice-drafted Eden. His fastball is a knockout offering (90-95, 97 peak), his 75-80 MPH breaking ball is easily above-average when right (often better than that, too), and he can even mix in a usable change when he’s really feeling it.

So, how does a player like that wind up in a round like this? Control, or a serious lack thereof. Eden’s busiest year was his 2015 season at Yavapai. That year he tossed 41 innings with a BB/9 of 7.90. Yikes. He followed that up with an insane season line at Texas Tech: 9 IP 8 H 8 ER 7 BB 10 K. But that’s not all! He also threw 12 wild pitches, hit 8 batters, and even added in a balk for good measure. I’m not even mad at that line; that’s amazing. A complete overhaul of Eden at the pro level that magically fixes his control woes (an obvious super-duper long shot) would be fantastic, but it doesn’t even have to be that drastic. Just a little bit more control would still make him a potentially lethal late-inning option. Easy to say here, but far more difficult to actually pull off with a real living breathing human baseball player. I would have loved to have been there for the first conversation between the amateur draft side of the Dodgers organization and the lucky player development staffers tasked with “fixing” Eden. Whether or works out or not — I’m oddly bullish, for what it’s worth — those coaches all deserve a raise.

26.791 – 2B Brandon Montgomery

Love this one. Brandon Montgomery makes a ton of contact. Brandon Montgomery has some serious juice in his bat. Brandon Montgomery can run. That’s a heck of an enticing prospect starter’s kit, especially in round twenty-six. Montgomery played both second base and center field in his debut. Keeping him in the infield is obviously ideal, but the thought of him using his plus speed to run down balls in center is a pretty appealing fallback plan.

27.821 – LHP Austin French

I have a side gig where I see players sometimes and share those thoughts with somebody willing to pay me a few bucks for those observations. I saw Austin French pitch this past year for Brown and came away with a positive report. Secondaries remain underdeveloped and his control isn’t great, but his size (6-4, 215) and fastball (87-92, 94 peak) were worth a mid-round draft pick. Glad the Dodgers pulled the trigger on him. I’ll be rooting for it to work out.

28.851 – RHP Jake Perkins

Jake Perkins was off my radar, but the righthander from Ferrum College pitched really well (10.64 K/9 and 3.62 BB/9 in 77.0 IP) as a senior. Results like that and a low-90s fastball (up to 93) are a pretty nice combination to land in the twenty-eighth round.

30.911 – C Ramon Rodriguez

“Very young for his class” was all I had on Ramon Rodriguez prior to the draft. Baseball Reference lists 17 players named Ramon Rodriguez who have played pro ball; none, unbelievably enough, have reached the big leagues. This Ramon Rodriguez got one hundred grand to sign, so it stands to reason he’s got a shot.

31.941 – C Steve Berman

Love this one. Maybe even LOVE it, in as much as anybody can love a thirty-first round pick. Steve Berman can play. From March 2016…

Berman’s case is a little tougher to make, but he’s a dependable catcher with an above-average arm who puts his natural strength to good use at the plate. In a class loaded with noteworthy catchers, Berman flies comfortably under the radar. Feels like a potential steal to me.

Give me a potential big league backup catcher in the thirty-first round any time. Berman can throw, defend, work a count, and drive a mistake. Works for me.

32.971 – RHP Conor Costello

If you wanted to call Conor Costello a rich man’s version of ninth round pick Anthony Gonsolin, I wouldn’t stop you. From March 2015…

Oklahoma State is loaded in its own right with draft-eligible pitchers. rJR RHP/OF Conor Costello has the depth of stuff to start and the athleticism to repeat his delivery through long outings. He’s also a decent enough hitter that letting him start in the National League could lead to some fun at bats.

Costello went on to hit more than pitch in 2016, though he didn’t do a whole lot of either (111 AB and 6.1 IP) on a stacked Cowboys squad. He made more of an impression as a hitter, but one look at him on the mound (92-96 fastball, quality upper-80s cutter, effective 78-82 spike-curve) is enough to realize the Dodgers were wise to start him out as a pitcher. That’s not to say he’s not a fine position player in his own right — good runner, solid approach, big raw power, and all the arm strength you’d expect — but his fastest path to the big leagues looks to be from the starting position of the bullpen. Maybe I’m just too optimistic about draft prospects — if all the players I liked actually made it, they’d need to expand by a few teams to fit everybody — but I can’t deny a strong instinctual hunch with Costello. Good arm, good athlete, not a lot of wasted bullets, growth potential from finally devoting himself full-time as a pitcher…those are all things to be excited about.

33.1001 – SS Zach McKinstry

Seeing Zach McKinstry sign with the Dodgers was a pleasant surprise. I was excited to see if because it meant that I’d get one last chance to write about him. Of course, it’s a slight bummer that he won’t be around Central Michigan to do his thing for another year in college ball, but onward and upward, I say. McKinstry has an undeniable hit tool, above-average speed, and a rock solid glove wherever you put him in the infield. The Dodgers played him primarily at second in his debut with some shortstop sprinkled in. I think he showed enough as a Chippewa to get an honest shot at shortstop in the pros, but showing multi-position versatility is likely his most direct line to the big leagues anyway. A lack of pop could ultimately be his undoing, but he’ll do his part to fight the good fight for high-contact, patient, speedy middle infielders everywhere.

34.1031 – RHP Joel Toribio

Here’s a really sweet article that includes the fun anecdote about Joel Toribio’s barber being the one to break the news to him that he was drafted by the Dodgers. How can you not love that? Also lovable for Dodgers fans should be Toribio’s fastball (my not super helpful notes: “throws hard”) and success missing bats (13.16 K/9) at Western Oklahoma State. Iffy control (5.03 BB/9) and underdeveloped secondary stuff explain how a big arm with a fun backstory fell to the thirty-fourth round.

35.1061 – OF Nick Yarnall

If you can grab an ACC outfielder in the thirty-fifth round coming off back-to-back excellent seasons (.330/.436/.580 in 2015, .309/.439/.556 in 2016), you do it.

38.1151 – RHP Kevin Malisheski

A torn ACL kept Kevin Malisheski under the radar this past spring, but the Dodgers stuck with him, gave him close to a quarter million bucks, and could soon begin to reap the rewards. He’s a great athlete with a promising breaking ball and as much upside as anybody signed in the thirty-eighth round. That’s only a pool of nine guys, but still. Malisheski is legit.

Unsigned Prospects and Where You Can Find Them in 2017

Graham Ashcraft (Mississippi State), Dillon Persinger (Cal State Fullerton), Cole Freeman (LSU), Bailey Ober (College of Charleston), Cal Stevenson (Arizona), Enrique Zamora (?), Zach Taglieri (The Citadel), Will Kincanon (Triton JC), Ryan Watson (Auburn)

2016 MLB Draft Reviews – Los Angeles Angels

Top 500 Prospects Drafted by Los Angeles in 2016

27 – Matt Thaiss
56 – Brandon Marsh
137 – Nonie Williams
197 – Connor Justus
181 – Francisco Del Valle
252 – Jordan Zimmerman
264 – Troy Montgomery
272 – Cole Duensing
280 – Chris Rodriguez
345 – Brennon Lund
378 – Andrew Vinson
382 – Mike Kaelin

Complete List of 2016 Los Angeles Angels Draftees

And now a few words on some Angels draft picks…

1.16 – C Matt Thaiss

One of the fun things about the draft for me is finding out how my opinions stack up against real live MLB decision-makers. I thought I was super into Matt Thaiss (27) this spring. I thought his pre-draft ranking (27, just in case you missed it the first time) was indicative of how much I liked him. I thought that actual teams would look at his questionable defensive future behind the plate and downgrade him in a way that I didn’t. I thought that his greatest offensive strengths, namely a special awareness of balls and strikes with the added dimension of knowing what to do with those “good” strikes he battles so hard to see when ahead in the count, would be undervalued (slightly) by big league teams chasing upside and athleticism instead. Turns out, I thought wrong. I may have been super into Matt Thaiss relative to the draft boards of 29 other teams (or not, who really knows), but my interest in him paled in comparison to where the Angels valued him.

That creates an interesting dynamic that I find hard to properly explain. I really like Matt Thaiss. His bat stacks up with just about any college hitter in this class. As a catcher, this pick would make all the sense in the world. The Angels would have picked him sooner than I might have, but, hey, an offensive catcher with a long history of stellar production? Sign me up. Oh, for this situation to be so simple. The Angels decision to have Thaiss shift from catcher to first base makes judging his offensive future a little trickier. Yes, Thaiss will hit. He’ll probably even hit a lot. But the bar is obviously raised with such a position switch. Will he hit enough to bring value as a regular first baseman?

A positive offensive score at first base this year (per Fangraphs) requires a .270/.350/.410 (give or take) line. That’s what David Freese has done so far. I don’t see why Thaiss couldn’t do that, but the Angels surely didn’t use the sixteenth overall pick on a player that breaks even offensively. You figure you want at least a top ten offensive first baseman at that point in the draft, right? The bar there this year is right around a .270/.350/.500 line, not unlike what Sean Rodriguez, Carlos Santana, and Hanley Ramirez (ranked 10th, 11th, and 12th, respectively, in wRC+ among 1B) have done so far in 2016. That line feels within reach for Thaiss as well, though the power would take a little bit of a leap of faith at this point to get there. One of the benchmarks mentioned above (Carlos Santana) has joined old school cool comp Wally Joyner (heard this more than once in the spring) as possible career paths that would have to be viewed as favorable outcomes for the young lefty slugger. I think you take six years of Santana or Joyner at first base with the sixteenth overall pick in a vacuum, though I understand the trepidation some Angels fans surely feel passing up higher upside teenage bats such as Delvin Perez, Nolan Jones, Blake Rutherford, and Carter Kieboom. It’s a solid B pick if you like Thaiss as I do, but I can see it argued down to something closer to the C range (maybe a C+) when you factor in position, ceiling, and what else was on the board. Future upside gambles in rounds two and three made the relative safety of this pick a little easier to swallow.

Now that Thaiss seems locked in as a first baseman, his potential defense behind the plate could be something that forever goes down as one of baseball’s little mysteries. As such, it’s easy to stand on my side of the aisle and claim that Thaiss could hack it as a big league backstop because it’s likely to go down as a wholly unverifiable assertion. I can never be totally wrong now! I’ll go to the grave believing Thaiss could have made it work as a catcher, but that no longer matters. The Angels want him hitting, so first base it is. I think he can clear the offensive bar and become an above-average regular there; that’s pretty appropriate value for a mid-first round pick, right?

2.60 – OF Brandon Marsh

There’s Mickey Moniak, Blake Rutherford, and Alex Kirilloff. Everybody had those three as their top prep outfielders in this class. The fourth spot was very much up for grabs. Some liked Will Benson, others liked Dylan Carlson, and others still preferred Taylor Trammell. Certainly decision-makers with the Indians, Cardinals, and Reds, respectively, believed those guys were best. I liked Brandon Marsh (56). Here’s what was said about him back in May 2016…

My current lean is Brandon Marsh, the highly athletic plus to plus-plus runner out of Georgia. We know he’s got four average or better tools (you can add a plus arm, average or better raw power, and easy center field range to his hot wheels), but, like many prospects of his ilk, we don’t know how his bat will play against professional pitching. Between the swing, the bat speed, and his approach to date, there are lots of encouraging signs, so gambling you at least get an average-ish hit tool out of him seems more than fair. Combined with his other tools, that player is a potential monster.

Obviously nothing since then would have happened to change my mind. If Marsh hits, he’s a monster. If not, he’s got enough physical gifts to keep rising up and potentially serve a useful big league role. That’s one of the nice perks about drafting athletes; the speed and defense gives them a little bit more floor than many otherwise assume. Doubling up with the guy picked one round after Marsh gives the Angels two boom/bust potential center fielders if they are patient. I like the diversification of selecting Marsh (upside!), Nonie Williams (upside!), and Matt Thaiss (safety?) with their first three picks.

3.96 – SS Nonie Williams

Raw. Raw. Raw, raw, raw. And raw. That’s what I’ve heard from those who saw Nonie Williams (137) play this past summer. Makes sense based on what we saw from him in the calendar year leading up to the draft, but always interesting to get confirmation (or a dissenting view, it’s all good) from pro eyes. The tools and athleticism are eye-popping, and his approach improved enough over the course of his spring season that I thought he might hit the ground running a little bit more than he did in pro ball. No matter, as the 18-year-old has plenty of time to turn his plus speed, average to above-average raw power from both sides of the plate, and quick bat all to work for him offensively. I’m very much in on Williams, but it’s going to take some time.

4.126 – RHP Chris Rodriguez

Chris Rodriguez (280) has a big-time arm. You get the “big-time arm” treatment when you have two potential plus pitches (90-95 FB, impressive hard cut-SL) and youth (17 when drafted) on your side. There’s really no telling where Rodriguez will go from here, but with those two pitches at the ready he’s off got a chance to make some noise. It’s easy to envision him as a nasty late-inning reliever if something softer can’t be developed over the years, though (of course) the Angels will make every effort to develop him as a starter first.

5.156 – SS Connor Justus

A “friend” of mine who is actually a great big jerk likes to point out how much I liked Kyle Holder in last year’s draft every time we talk. He tried to talk me out of it by saying he thought Holder would never hit enough to make any kind of impact at the big league level. We’ll see. I bring it up because he was insistent this spring that anybody who liked Holder last year (as I did) should be all about Connor Justus (197) in 2016. I think he’s right. Justus can play. There are no questions here about his ability to stick at short; in fact, he’ll do more than just stick there, he’ll thrive there. That alone makes him a prospect of some value, so anything you get with the bat is gravy. Something between a reliable fielding utility type and an average or so regular feels like a realistic outcome. I like that value in round five quite a bit.

6.186 – RHP Cole Duensing

If you’re an Angels fan, you have to be excited about the front office drafting and signing both Chris Rodriguez and Cole Duensing (272) in the first six rounds. I mean, I’m not an Angels fan and I’m excited so that should tell you something. Duensing is long on projection with a frame (6-4, 180 pounds) that seems ready willing and able to pack on a few good pounds and up his already solid (88-92, 94 peak) fastball velocity a few ticks before we call him a finished product. His slider looks like a potential weapon as is and his athleticism is exactly where you want it to be for a prep righthander.

7.216 – 2B Jordan Zimmerman

Jordan Zimmerman (252) is a nice prospect. His draft ranking shows that I like him. Forthcoming words will confirm this. So please don’t take this the wrong way. But…

.422/.478/.639 in 92 PA
.154/.236/.208 in 148 PA

Top is Zimmerman in rookie ball. Bottom is Zimmerman in Low-A. Plenty of guys have come back from slow starts in full-season ball, so, again, this isn’t a knock on Zimmerman as a prospect. All I’m trying to say is DAMN pro baseball is tough. Zimmerman is a really good hitter. His rookie ball numbers line up nicely with his junior year stats at Michigan State. He can hit. But the jump to a full-season league is no joke. Anyway, here what was written about Zimmerman in April…

The one non-catcher in the group is Jordan Zimmerman. The offseason buzz on Zimmerman was that he was a good runner with an above-average arm and a chance to hit right away. All true so far. The only issue I have with Zimmerman as a prospect is where he’ll play defensively as a professional. I had him as a second baseman in my notes throughout the offseason, but he’s played a ton of first base so far for the Spartans. If he’s athletic enough to make the switch to second as a pro, then he’s a prospect of note. If not, then all the standard disclaimers about his bat needing to play big to keep finding work as a first baseman apply. I believe in the bat and skew positive that he can handle a non-first infield spot (again, likely second), but those beliefs don’t change the fact that I need to find out more about him.

Zimmerman played exclusively second in his debut, both in rookie ball and Low-A. That’s a promising sign. Getting back to those rookie ball/college ways AND continuing to play a passable second base would make Zimmerman some kind of prospect. A potential big league player even. If that’s the case, then he’ll be the second player with that name with that name to get to the highest level. Not that one, though. Jordan Zimmermann is one of a kind. We’re talking Jordan Zimmerman, reliever on the 1999 Mariners. Go win yourself a bar bet with that one.

8.246 – OF Troy Montgomery

OF Troy Montgomery (264) is such a good ballplayer. Underrated for almost all of his three years at Ohio State, his pro debut opened seriously opened some eyes around the game. Here was the chatter from April…

Montgomery is built just a little differently – he stands in at 5-10, 180 pounds, giving the OSU faithful a fun visual contrast to Dawson’s stacked 6-2, 225 pound frame – but is an area scout favorite for his smart, relentless style of play. Every single one of his tools play up because of how he approaches the game, and said tools aren’t too shabby to begin with. Montgomery can hit, run, and field at a high level, and his lack smaller frame belies power good enough to help him profile as a regular with continued overall development. I’m bullish on both Buckeyes.

I just really like Montgomery. Sometimes guys you just plain like are the hardest to write about. Love Montgomery, love this pick. I think Montgomery is a future regular with sneaky star upside.

9.276 – C Michael Barash

It was surprising to me to see Michael Barash go before a few other college catching favorites, but his nice debut in Low-A has made the Angels look pretty smart so far. He certainly has the defensive chops to remain behind the plate — as noted below, he was the only one of the four college catchers selected by Los Angeles to play regularly as a catcher this season — so the onus will be on his bat to see how high up the system he’ll advance. If he keeps hitting, I could see him logging some time as a big league backup down the line.

10.306 – RHP Andrew Vinson

Andrew Vinson (378) does a lot well. His fastball is fine if a tad short (86-91), his offspeed is solid (CB and CU), he’s a really good athlete, and he put up stellar numbers every single season he was at Texas A&M. I could see him soaking up innings as a starter in the low-minors before eventually getting shifted to the bullpen in the high-minors, a spot that should give him his best shot at pitching in the big leagues one day. I have a hard time betting against a guy coming off consecutive dominant years in the SEC — 9.00 K/9 and 1.97 BB/9 in 2015 (2.11 ERA), 10.19 K/9 and 1.48 BB/9 in 2016 (2.40 ERA) — with just enough stuff that shows he did it with more than just smoke and mirrors. Vinson is my kind of senior-sign.

11.336 – OF Brennon Lund

We go way back with Brennon Lund (345), as you can see from these notes from his high school days…

OF Brennon Lund (Bingham HS, Utah): quick bat; really good defender; CF range; plus speed; leadoff profile; above-average to plus arm; great athlete; not a ton of power, but enough; plays within himself offensively; 5-10, 180 pounds

That evaluation was enough to rank him exactly one spot ahead of fellow prep outfielder Corey Ray. Old rankings are fun. In the not-so-distant past (March 2016), this was said…

Lund is putting it all together this year for BYU. In his case, “all” refers to plus speed, easy center field range, a plus arm, and above-average raw power. My soft spot for Jones has to be evident because the player I just described in Lund sounds pretty damn exciting. I’d consider it a minor upset if he doesn’t overtake the field as the second highest WCC hitter drafted (and ranked by me) this June.

He wound up the fifth highest WCC hitter drafted behind Bryson Brigman (87), Gio Brusa (185), and Nate Nolan (236), and Joey Harris (274). So there’s your minor upset. His solid debut, much of which was spent in Low-A, reinforces his upside as a potential average-ish regular player or damn fine backup piece. I think the tools are starter quality while his approach might make him more of a bench bat.

12.366 – LHP Bo Tucker

Here we have an age-eligible sophomore pitcher who I had no idea was an age-eligible sophomore pitcher. There are limits to my knowledge, it appears. Here were my notes on him from my 2017 MLB Draft file…

SO LHP Bo Tucker (2017): 87-90 FB; good CU; good 75 CB; good deception; 6-4, 210 pounds (2015: 8.13 K/9 – 4.65 BB/9 – 31.0 IP – 2.03 ERA) (2016: 8.61 K/9 – 3.88 BB/9 – 53.1 IP – 3.71 ERA)

It’s a little weird (and encouraging!) how steady his peripherals have remained. You can see what he did in his first two years at Georgia. Then he did this in his pro debut: 8.33 K/9 – 3.45 BB/9 – 31.1 IP – 5.17 ERA. Could be an interesting matchup lefty if he can keep it up.

14.426 – OF Francisco Del Valle

OF Francisco Del Valle (181) has monster lefthanded power and loads of strength in his 6-1, 190 pound 18-year-old frame. There is a very long way from what he could be from where he is now, but the upside is exciting. Prototypical boom/bust prospect that is outstanding value this late in the game.

15.456 – RHP Mike Kaelin

I love Mike Kaelin (382), as that number in parentheses may suggest. Undersized righthanded relievers who can crank it up to 95 are almost always going to be favorites in my book. Add on to that Kaelin’s long history of missing bats (12.14 K/9 in 2015, 11.31 K/9 in 2016) and impeccable control, and the Angels very well could have just nabbed a handy middle reliever in round fifteen.

16.486 – SS Keith Grieshaber

The name Keith Grieshaber did not ring a bell at first, but after a quick search it all came back to me. I’m not 100% sure if this is the only draft site on the internet to have Keith Grieshaber notes, but I can’t imagine the list is very long…

2B/SS Keith Grieshaber (Marquette HS, Missouri): good athlete; good speed; good arm; good bat speed; power upside; 6-2, 185 pounds

Those were his notes after his high school season wrapped up in 2014. He went from there to Arkansas before eventually finding a home at Jefferson JC. A good redshirt-freshman season there gave the middle infielder notoriety to get drafted in the sixteenth round by the Angels. I’ll be curious to learn more about his defense, but the bat is enough to get my attention for now.

17.516 – OF Zach Gibbons

You can skip down to the John Schuknecht to save a little time here. Like Schuknecht, Zach Gibbons torched pro pitching in his first shot playing in the Pioneer League. Like Schuknecht, Gibbons was a 22-year-old beating up on teenage pitching in a short-season league. We don’t really know what it all means just yet, but we do know it’s better to hit than to not hit. Gibbons brings interesting power and a strong arm to the fold, and his plate discipline indicators were consistently excellent over his years at Arizona. He’s off to a good start. Let’s see if he can keep it up.

19.576 – SS Cody Ramer

In part of the pre-draft notes on Cody Ramer here, it was said that he “has flashed more pop than thought possible” noting that “whether or not it is sustainable is the question.” Ramer’s most substantial run of playing time before his breakthrough senior season at Arizona came during his sophomore campaign. That year he hit .250/.392/.290 in 124 AB. In his senior season, he hit .356/.452/.494. That’s some transformation. Questioning the realness of said changes felt more than fair at the time, but we’re getting close to the point that maybe accepting the new Cody Ramer would be a smart move. His more than solid (and completely out of nowhere) senior year ISO of .138 was actually lower than the .154 ISO he had in his pro debut. Small samples all around, but certainly encouraging. If Ramer is anything close to the hitter he has shown himself to be in his last 250 or so AB split between Arizona and the pros, then his utility player upside could tick up to potential big league regular at second base.

20.606 – C Jack Kruger

Jack Kruger was the third of four college catchers taken by the Angels in 2016. It might not seem like it, but that’s a lot. I remember wondering on draft weekend how they’d find a way to get each guy enough reps behind the plate to keep them developing as backstops. Well, it turns out that doing so wasn’t part of the plan after all. Matt Thaiss played first base and first base only. Brennan Morgan saw some time behind the plate, but the majority of his on-field innings were at first. Michael Barash actually caught, so that’s cool. And here we have Kruger, who might be a catcher…or not. Maybe he’s a utility guy who can catch. Maybe he’s just a plain old regular utility guy. No matter where he lands defensively, I think he can hit. From April 2016…

Jack Kruger, the best of the bunch, is an advanced bat and consistently reliable defender behind the plate. He’s got the best shot at playing regularly in the big leagues, especially if you’re buying into his hit tool and power both playing average or better. I think I do, but his “newness” as a prospect works against him some. Of course, like almost all real draft prospects, Kruger isn’t new. Here was his quick report written on this very site back in 2013…

C Jack Kruger (Oaks Christian HS, California): outstanding defensive tools, very strong presently; gap power

For area guys covering him this spring, however, he’s “new.” From limited at bats as a freshman at Oregon to solid but unspectacular junior college numbers at Orange Coast to his solid and borderline spectacular start to 2016 at Mississippi State, there’s not the kind of extended track record that some teams want to see in a potential top ten round college bat. Maybe I’m overstating that concern – he was a big HS prospect, Orange Coast College is a juco that gets lots of scout coverage, he played well last summer in the California Collegiate League, and both Oregon and Mississippi State are big-time programs – but players have slipped on draft day for sillier reasons. Any potential fall – no matter the reason — could make Kruger one of the draft’s better catching value picks.

I think getting Kruger in round twenty qualifies as enough of a fall to call him one of the draft’s better catching value picks. Of course, that assumes he’ll be tried behind the plate again. Kruger played only designated hitter in his debut pro season. I think he can catch, but the backup plan of him hopping around the diamond as needed is fun, too. He’s versatile enough to play a variety of positions including both second base and third base. I haven’t seen enough of Kruger to feel great about this comparison, but a lot of the notes I have on him remind me of what we were saying about Austin Barnes back in his Arizona State days. Have to like that in the twentieth round.

21.636 – OF LJ Kalawaia

I know nothing of LJ Kalawaia except for his stellar senior year stats (.396/.493/.578 with 40 BB/32 K and 23/31 SB), plus speed, and muscle-packed 5-11, 180 pound frame. As I always say (and will likely repeat a few times before this very draft review concludes), if you’re going to take a chance on a mid- to late-round college guy, find an ultra-productive one. Kalawaia fits the bill.

23.696 – OF Torii Hunter

Notre Dame rSO OF Torii Hunter: plus-plus speed; CF range; 40th round pick to Twins lock; 6-0, 190 pounds (2016: .182/.308/.182 – 2 BB/6 K – 2/2 SB – 11 AB)

That’s what I wrote about Hunter before the draft. The speed and range are legit, but my Minnesota prediction can be tossed out. My only solace comes in the wondering if the Twins were actually planning on taking Hunter later, but were cut off at the pass by the Angels. If that’s the case, I don’t think anybody could blame the Twins for being caught flat-footed. Never in my wildest imagination could I have seen Hunter going in the twenty-third round. Thirty-third? Maybe. I had assumed he was a final three round nepotism pick. Not only did the Angels take him with a “real” pick, but they also gave him $100,000 to sign. Whether or not he ever suits up for an Angels affiliate remains to be seen. He’s currently in the midst of his redshirt-junior season as a wide receiver on the Notre Dame football team. He can a) enter the NFL Draft in 2017, b) return to Notre Dame for a final post-grad season in 2017, or c) give up football for baseball and report for spring training next year. He could also combine option a or b with option c, assuming all parties involved are cool with the agreement. The first option seems most likely considering Hunter is set to graduate at the halfway point of the current school year. From there, who knows if or when he’ll return to the diamond.

So there you go: 235 words on a football player coming off a draft year of 11 whole at bats who may or may not ever play a single inning in pro baseball. I regret nothing.

24.726 – C Brennan Morgan

We’ll know more about Brennan Morgan after he gets challenged with full-season ball next year, but so far so good. He hit for the Orem Owlz just like he did for the Kennesaw State Owls. I guess you can think of him as the twenty-fourth round version of Matt Thaiss. Both are accomplished college hitters that I think are good enough to catch a little bit (admittedly a minority opinion at this point), but played tons of first base to kick off their pro careers. Even at first, Morgan’s bat could make him an actual prospect in this system. Maybe you can turn this mid-round pick into a platoon bat down the line. That are worse outcomes here.

25.756 – OF Cameron Williams

I can’t say with any certainty what the Angels saw in Cameron Williams, but if I had to guess I’d lean towards his burgeoning power and solid speed tempting them into taking a mid-round chance on him. Too much swing-and-miss for me personally, but I saw Williams up close far less than Los Angeles did. Like, take the number of times they saw him and subtract that by itself. That’s how many times I saw Williams play this past year.

26.786 – OF Derek Jenkins

Speed and center field range are the calling cards for Derek Jenkins. His complete lack of power could be his undoing. Check him out through his years at Seton Hall: .023 ISO in 2014, .018 ISO in 2015, and .039 ISO in 2016. Predictably, his biggest problem in pro ball as a rookie came in the way of a .009 ISO. That’s one double 127 plate appearances. Not going to cut it.

27.816 – RHP Greg Belton

If results are your thing, then Greg Belton is a guy to know. The Sam Houston State alum has a knack for sitting down a batter per inning with decent control to boot. His stuff mostly fits the generic righthanded reliever mold (88-93 MPH fastball, solid curve), but a changeup that flashes plus could be a separator for him in the pros. Like many of the Angels later round college picks, time is against him. Belton will be 24-years-old to start his first full pro season in 2017.

29.876 – RHP Blake Smith

Size (6-5, 230), heat (up to 94-95), and a potent breaking ball (knuckle-curve in my notes, but I’ve seen it listed as a few different things elsewhere) give Blake Smith a chance to keep pitching late in games as a pro. He’ll have to curtail some of his wildness to hit that ceiling, but his physical gifts are impressive and his mound presence imposing.

31.936 – RHP Johnny Morell

I could have sworn I’ve written about Johnny Morell at some point here, but it doesn’t appear to be the case. Kind of a shame, as the $100,000 prep righthander has more promise than most draftees taken this late in the process. Doug Miller wrote a really cool story about Morrell and his relationship with Ryan Madson; come for the heartwarming tale, stay for the details about Morell’s stuff (e.g., fastball up to 94).

32.966 – RHP Doug Willey

All I have on Doug Willey in my notes on the site: “Franklin Pierce transfer.” Good senior year numbers at Arkansas, too. He’ll be 25 (!) in January.

33.966 – LHP Justin Kelly

Justin Kelly had a fantastic final season for UC Santa Barbara: 14.37 K/9 and 3.50 BB/9 in 20.2 IP. His debut with the Angels had solid peripherals (maybe a little too wild) and ugly run prevention stats. He’ll be 24-years-old next April, so his career will really have to get moving quickly if he has a shot in this game. I’m rooting for him because I root for everybody, but I don’t quite know what to do with a player who’s name is a living reminder of this. Can’t tell if it makes me like him more or less. I’m leaning…more.

34.1026 – LHP JD Nielsen

You could do worse than a lefty with size (6-6, 240) and a solid breaking ball in the thirty-fourth round. JD Nielsen can run it up to the upper-80s and has consistently found a way to miss bats while a member of the Fighting Illini. Interesting thing that may not actually be all the interesting: Nielsen walked over twice as many batters in half as many innings as a pro than he did as a college senior. He walked five guys in thirty innings as a senior before walking eleven guys in fifteen innings as a pro.

35.1056 – RHP Sean Isaac

Sean Isaac was an absolute workhorse for Vanguard this past spring. He averaged over seven innings per start and accounted for almost 40% of his team’s strikeouts on the mound. He whiffed over one hundred more batters than his next closest teammate. That’s all I really know about him. Fangraphs has him incorrectly listed as “Sean Issac,” so I guess there’s that, too. Get it together, Fangraphs!

36.1086 – SS Jose Rojas

Vanguard University is fifteen minutes away from Angel Stadium. I think that’s noteworthy, but maybe that’s just me. I go back and forth when it comes to teams using multiple picks from players from the same school (pros: they’ve seen them often and know them best; cons: the odds that an entire nation’s [plus Canada and Puerto Rico] worth of prospects both attend a small local university seem…remote), but I realize I’m just one tiny voice railing against a fairly obscure draft idiosyncrasy that nobody else seems to worry too much about. Anyway, Jose Rojas had a really nice season at Vanguard (.361/.430/.673 – 30 BB/14 K – 16/18 SB) and a solid pro debut. He played both second and third in said debut, so a long shot future as a utility guy seems like the dream here. This means nothing at all, but it intrigued me: his favorite player, per the Vanguard website, is Mo Vaughn. Fun favorite player to have.

37.1116 – OF John Schuknecht

Coming off a legitimately great debut as a professional, John Schuknecht is ready for a bigger challenge. Many times a great debut from a late round pick is not much more than the vagaries of small sample size leaning to the positive, but it’s still worth it to explore a bit deeper just in case. I can’t imagine the pressure late round picks must feel in their first few months in pro ball. A bad debut often means an offseason release. A good debut, like Schuknecht’s, can get you a longer look during instructs and potentially set you up for a full season “sink or swim” assignment. Hope Schuknecht is ready to dive into the deep end.

38.1146 – OF Tyler Bates

As far as I can tell, Tyler Bates is the first player drafted out of East Texas Baptist in forty years. He hit .407/.495/.751 (22 BB/19 K and 12/15 SB) in his final season as a Tiger. Then he went out and had a fine debut in the AZL. He’s got my attention.

39.1176 – 2B Richard Fecteau

Richard Fecteau is the second ever draftee from Salem State. Though listed as a second baseman during the draft, the 22-year-old infielder played the majority of his innings at third base in his debut. He struggled adjusted to pro pitching in his debut, but at least managed to keep his reputation as a patient, smart hitter very much intact. Between that and his senior line of .393/.478/.601 (24 BB/11 K and 14/15 SB), I’m intrigued enough to put him on the super duper mega deep sleeper list. I like these last two picks by the Angels a lot. Taking highly productive small school players shows that they value these late round picks.

40.1206 – 1B Brad Anderson

Brad Anderson was one of five fortieth round picks to sign this year across baseball. That alone is pretty cool to me. The last signed fortieth round pick to reach the big leagues is Brandon Kintzler, a still active reliever out of Dixie State who has pitched in the big leagues with both Milwaukee and Minnesota. That was back in 2004. Since then there have been plenty of quality players drafted in the last round (many have gone back to school and eventually reached the big leagues), but none have reached the majors using their round forty draft position as their jumping off point. Anderson and his four fortieth round brothers will attempt to be the first to climb the major league mountain in a dozen years. The odds are obviously against them, but the precedent set by Kintzler and others like him give the glimmer of hope needed to make a run at it. Lost in this somewhat is the fact that Anderson is a pretty decent prospect. The approach isn’t what you’d want, but his power is legit. Can’t argue with getting a guy with a clear big league tool with pick 1206.

Unsigned Prospects and Where You Can Find Them in 2017

David Oppenheim (USC), David Hamilton (Texas), Robbie Peto (North Carolina), Anthony Molina (Northwest Florida JC), Troy Rallings (unsigned as he recovers from TJ surgery, but out of college eligibility and the Angels still hold his rights)

If Rallings does eventually sign, he’d be a fine addition to the system. He’s one of the best of this year’s sinker (88-92)/slider (78-84) reliever archetype with pinpoint control and a long track record of success as a collegiate closer at Washington. If the recovery goes well, I think he’s a future big league pitcher.

2016 MLB Draft Reviews – Philadelphia Phillies

Top 500 Prospects Drafted by Philadelphia in 2016

3 – Mickey Moniak
22 – Kevin Gowdy
152 – Cole Stobbe
175 – Jake Kelzer
182 – Josh Stephen
216 – David Martinelli
219 – Darick Hall
289 – Cole Irvin
316 – JoJo Romero
457 – Danny Zardon

Complete List of 2016 Philadelphia Phillies Draftees

And now a few words on some Phillies draft picks…

1.1 – OF Mickey Moniak

Ten thoughts on Mickey Moniak (3)…

1. This was not a good year to have the first overall pick.

2. I actually think that the Phillies looked at this past year’s draft landscape, saw a disappointing lack of high-end talent, and decided to “settle” for a guy they considered to be the safest bet to be a long-term quality big league player. If that decision came at the expense of some star upside, so be it. That belief runs seemingly counter to the fact that they took a 17-year-old hitter with marginal power as a “safe” choice, but this was a weird year. I think they viewed Moniak’s package of speed (above-average to plus), center field range (same), and arm (average) as being enough to get him to the big leagues. Beyond that, his feel for hitting, bat speed, and textbook swing mechanics would make up for any supposed offensive deficiencies. Moniak may never be a conventional star, but he stands as good a chance as any other prospect in this class to be an above-average offensive contributor at a premium defensive position. An Adam Eaton who can play a credible center isn’t the kind of flashy upside (or topside, as Marti Wolever used to say) typically associated with 1-1, but it’s still pretty damn valuable. The risk-benefit ratio makes sense here. Better chance to hit than Kyle Lewis or Corey Ray, fewer defensive questions than Zack Collins and Nick Senzel* (it’s my own list, but this is the only one I’d quibble with myself on…), no red flags like Delvin Perez, not a pitcher like AJ Puk, not a HIGH SCHOOL pitcher like Jay Groome or Riley Pint…there’s a clear reason for preferring Moniak and his relative certainty over just about any of his peers.

* Going back to Senzel a bit, I wonder if the Phillies liked him — he checks many of the boxes we’ve seen appeal to Johnny Almaraz since he took over drafting in Philadelphia — but didn’t like him so much more than a guy like Moniak that putting up with the eventual positional traffic jam would be worth it. It’s silly to pretend in 2016, a year in which we’ve seen many fast-rising college bats reach the big leagues at unprecedented speeds for the modern game, that need should be completely ignored in the MLB Draft. Should you go best player available (whatever that means) when there’s a clear best player available sitting on your board? Of course. But if things are muddled and different voices are championing different prospects, the composition of your big league club and organizational depth chart absolutely should come into play. Why shouldn’t it matter? I know the situation is very different, but it brings to mind what has happened to one of the other rebuilding teams in Philadelphia in recent years. I’m one of those Cult of Hinkie devotees (shocker, right?), but even I can’t fully understand how he (if it was him…still not entirely convinced there wasn’t strong ownership pressure that led him to Okafor, but maybe that’s just me being an apologist) thought the accumulation of assets (a good thing) could withstand the real life consequences of drafting three straight centers. Now they are left with a problem that can only be solved via trading a depressed asset (bad) or watching attrition and/or injury work things out for them (also bad). The Phillies could have put themselves in a similar spot with a potential Senzel, Maikel Franco, and Scott Kingery playing time triangle. The counter to all of this is that projecting a ballplayer’s future is hard and patience will eventually win out. Since June, Franco has struggled, Senzel has taken off, and Kingery has been up and down (more up than down, though he ended on a relative low note in AA). Maybe you’d be forced to move Franco for less than he’s worth a year from now when Senzel is ready to take over, but you’d a) still be getting something for Franco, and b) you’d have the guy you want playing third every day after all. Would a team with Senzel and whatever they got for Franco be better in the long run than a team with Franco and Moniak? We’ll see.

3. I still would have taken Groome with the first pick. As frustrating as he was to watch at times this past spring, it was still clear that what he has you just can’t teach. My alternate timeline has Groome and Nolan Jones as the 1-2 high school punch at the top of the draft for the Phillies. Shockingly enough, nobody from the Phillies asked my opinion on the matter. Hopefully, Moniak, Kevin Gowdy, Groome, and Jones go on to long, successful big league careers, rendering this entire hypothetical moot.

4. The player Moniak was most compared to during the draft process, Christian Yelich, was six months older than Moniak when drafted. Yelich went on to spend his entire first season tearing up Low-A. That got him recognized as a top fifty or so prospect (on average) on a combined ranking from Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and MLB.com. If Moniak does what Yelich did in his full season debut, I don’t know how you could reasonably keep him out of the top ten heading into 2018. Not that prospect rankings matter all that much, but national recognition certainly doesn’t hurt. That’s especially true when it comes to a player’s trade value…which we’ll get to later. Anyway, from that point in his career on Yelich was a level-to-level player before skipping AAA altogether and making the leap to the big leagues in his age-21 season. That would mean Lakewood for Moniak in 2017, Clearwater in 2018 (AFL after that), and a half-season in Reading before getting the call to Philadelphia in July 2019. Aggressive to be sure and yeah yeah yeah I know that’s not how comps work, but still fun to dream on. Clock is ticking, Mickey.

5. Speaking of minor league assignments, the same glut you’ll read about below concerning starting pitchers in the system also applies to outfielders. Moniak is a lock to begin next year in Lakewood, but figuring out the pieces around him takes some serious mental gymnastics. Moniak should presumably be flanked by his former GCL teammates, Jhailyn Ortiz and Josh Stephen. That part is easy enough, at least from where I’m sitting. They’ll also have to find at bats for Jesus Alastre and Malvin Matos. Then there’s sixth round pick David Martinelli, a quality hitter potentially capable of double-jumping his way to Clearwater. Those plans might have been foiled, however, by Martinelli’s lackluster pro debut in short-season ball. That might be for the best considering the glut of talent in High-A. Cornelius Randolph, Jose Pujols, and Jiandido Tromp are the headliners, but guys like Cord Sandberg and Herlis Rodriguez are still interesting enough to warrant steady time if possible. Then there’s the question of figuring out what to do with Zack Coppola and Mark Laird, two players seen as organizational types at the onset of their careers who have hit their way (albeit with no power) into some degree of meaningful prospect consideration. You could bump one or both of those guys to a thin Reading outfield (Carlos Tocci, Aaron Brown, Joey Curletta, Derek Campbell) depending on their apparent readiness this spring. There’s a refreshing amount of options for the Phillies for the first time in what feels like a lifetime.

6. Adam Eaton and Christian Yelich were some of the pre-draft names mentioned when discussing Moniak. Some post-draft digging revealed three additional comps worth passing along. These are from two different sources who saw Moniak play down in Florida this summer. One called him a “Jackie Bradley/Andrew Benintendi type,” but with more functional speed on offense. Bold. The other one was a lefthanded AJ Pollock, a somewhat ironic comp (or not, I give up on knowing what that word really means anymore) because that was one of the ideas I threw out there for Benintendi in his draft year. Would you take that for a first overall pick? I think it’s an emphatic YES, caveats about the imperfect nature of comps and all expected developmental trials and tribulations acknowledged.

7. You can search the site for updated information — or just look below to see the final pre-draft notes piece I wrote about Moniak in June — but I thought it would be more interesting to look back at the first time I wrote about Moniak here. The following is from December 2015 just before the Moniak vs Blake Rutherford battles began…

The extra bit of youth isn’t what gives Moniak the edge for me, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. What separates Moniak at this present moment is his ability to hit the ball hard everywhere. Sometimes simplistic analysis works. The manner in which Moniak sprays line drives and deep flies to all fields resembles something a ten-year veteran who flirts with batting titles season after season does during BP. Trading off a little bit of Rutherford’s power for Moniak’s hit tool and approach (both in his mindfulness as a hitter and his plate discipline) are worth it for me. Of course, check back with me in a few months…I had Meadows ahead of Frazier for a long time before giving in to the latter’s arm, power, and approach (as a whole-fields power hitter, not necessarily as an OBP machine). History may yet repeat itself, but I’ll take Moniak for now.

8. It’s fun to imagine a future outfield in Philadelphia with Cornelius Randolph, Moniak, and Dylan Cozens (note: this is for entertainment purposes only and not a prediction as the Phillies are currently well-stocked with high-variance outfielders, so predicting which three will make it is damn near impossible at this point) where one outfielder (Cozens) stands to double up the combined power output of his outfield partners. I wonder how many times one outfielder had twice the total home runs of the other two starting outfielders in big league history. Probably more than I think. Barry Bonds hit 3.65 times as many homers as Calvin Murray and Armando Rios in 2001. It dips to around 2.5 times if you sub in Marvin Bernard for Murray. All of Bonds’s fellow outfielders (starter, backup, whatever) combined for 51 dingers that year. 73 for Bonds, 51 for all other Giants outfielders. That seems crazy to me. Turns out my hunch that it’s not all that rare to have one outfielder double up on two outfielders is correct, so feel free to email me about a full refund for the thirty seconds of reading you’ve just wasted. If you’re the curious type, you might be interested in my quick research focused on the best power season for outfielders on the all-time top ten home run list. Turns out every one of them doubled up their outfield mates at least once in their career. Hank Aaron did it in 1969 (44 HR to 21 HR), Babe Ruth did in 1927 (60 to 14), Mays did it in 1965 (52 to 13), Griffey did it in 1998 (56 to 27), and Sosa also did it in 1998 (66 to 33). Some of those figures are dependent on which player Baseball Reference deemed the starter at a position, but the general idea remains the same. Now obviously all of those players were literally the very best at hitting home runs in the history of the sport, so, yeah, keep that in mind as well. Wait, what were we talking about again? Right, Mickey Moniak…

9. Here’s the last thing I posted about the eventual first overall pick before the draft got rolling…

OF Mickey Moniak (La Costa Canyon HS, California): plus bat speed; legit plus hit tool; above-average to plus speed; pretty swing; average raw power; great approach; hits it everywhere; average arm; massive improvements to arm and bat this spring; ESPN comp: Trenton Clark; BA comp: Christian Yelich and Steve Finley; have heard Adam Eaton; really like Sam Monroy’s Joe Mauer swing comp; defense and hit tool make him a very good prospect, development of functional power and a more refined approach (with a great willingness to work deeper counts) could make him a star; FAVORITE; LHH; 6-2, 190 pounds

10. I made a non-public prediction last year via email to a pal that Cornelius Randolph would grow up to be the centerpiece of a trade to Oakland. The Phillies would land one of the final pieces needed in their return to glory, staff ace Sonny Gray. That prediction now seems…off. You might think that would discourage me from trading away another recent first round pick, but my deep love of making terrible roster predictions simply can not be stopped. So, here we go: the Angels will make Mike Trout available next offseason and, thanks in large part to his Philadelphia or bust request, Mickey Moniak becomes the big piece sent to the Angels to make it work.

2.42 – RHP Kevin Gowdy

A minor injury cost Kevin Gowdy (22) some time in his debut run as a professional, but his out-of-sight first few months in the organization should not diminish any of the excitement Phillies fans had for this guy back in early June. Gowdy is the real deal. The pre-draft report on him sums up why…

RHP Kevin Gowdy (Santa Barbara HS, California): 86-92 FB with sink, 94-95 peak; plus FB command; average 78-82 CU, above-average upside; well above-average 77-84 CB/SL, plus upside; ample deception; very good overall command; love his delivery; wise beyond his years on the mound, can look like a college pitcher mowing down overmatched competition on his best days; FAVORITE; 6-4, 170 pounds

In April, I went in on Gowdy a little bit in the comments…

Love Gowdy. Command, deception, and frame are all really promising. Puts his fastball where he wants it better than most of his college-aged peers. Velocity is good and breaking ball looks legit. And on top of all that, his delivery is a thing of beauty to me. I normally leave mechanics alone — don’t care what it looks long as long as the pitcher can repeat it consistently — but Gowdy’s stand out as being particularly efficient. I’m a big fan. Likely a top five prep pitcher in this class.

He wound up as my sixth overall high school pitching prospect in this class. Only Jay Groome, Riley Pint, Ian Anderson (a similar prospect to Gowdy in many ways), Braxton Garrett, and Alex Speas finished higher. Getting the sixth best high school pitching prospect in this class with the forty-second overall pick is a very good thing for Philadelphia. Whatever games they had to play with wink-wink signing bonus agreements was worth it. Gowdy has future postseason starter upside.

It’ll be fascinating to see where many of the experts rank Gowdy and Sixto Sanchez this offseason on Phillies lists. Franklyn Kilome is pretty obviously the best pitching prospect in the system — this felt obvious to me even before the Jake Thompson promotion, but what do I know — so the real battle will be for second place in the Philadephia pitching prospect pipeline pecking order. I think I might go full hypocrite and give Gowdy the edge based largely on the height/weight bias that I’ve tried to fight for years on this site. Sanchez has the bigger fastball (92-96, 99 peak), the more advanced present changeup (close call), and arguably the more impressive breaking ball (a POWER slider deserving of all CAPS that has been up to 92) at times. He also has the benefit of a season of dominant stateside ball in his back pocket. Gowdy gets the obvious edge in frame (6-4, 170ish), amateur pedigree (though it’s fair to ask how much this matters once pro games begin), fastball command, and mechanics (something I only point out in extreme cases…I think Gowdy’s delivery, in terms of both his ability to repeat it and the extra layer of deception it causes hitters to contend with, is that nice). I’d like to conclude that it’s ultimately a matter of preferring ceiling (Sanchez) or floor (Gowdy), but I think doing so undersells the other guy in each facet of his game. Assuming reasonably good health, Sanchez is a guy you can easily begin to dream on excelling in a late-inning relief role. Gowdy, meanwhile, is no slouch in the upside department; he’s a little bit light on velocity to perhaps think of him as a future ace, but believing in him as a future excellent number two doesn’t seem crazy to me. Maybe that’s the real conclusion here: both guys are potentially great, so let’s just enjoy the ride.

3.78 – SS Cole Stobbe

If you’re the type who values comps, then Cole Stobbe (152) is your man. Perfect Game dropped pre-draft comps of Jed Lowrie and Mark Ellis on him. I’ve always gotten a Brian Dozier vibe, though, to be fair, that was before 40-homer Brian Dozier came into our lives. Stobbe’s relatively high floor (for a HS hitter, anyway) fits a larger Phillies draft trend of selecting exactly this kind of player in 2016. Obviously Mickey Moniak got it started, but later picks like Stobbe and eleventh rounder Josh Stephen officially make the high character, advanced hit tool, well-rounded high school prospect a thing with the Phillies. Stobbe’s card is full of future five’s: hit tool, power, speed, and arm (maybe a touch more here) are all right around average tools. Many overlook the value of what an average tool really is; in Stobbe’s case, the idea of him being a well-rounded high floor prospect (again, relative to his teenage peers) sells his actual ceiling short. There’s a reason that Stobbe’s game elicited comparisons to so many above-average big league infielders. He brings an unusually mature whole-field approach to the table and a great deal of strength is packed into his 6-1, 200 pound frame. His intriguing defensive skill set makes him playable at short for now, but I see him as being particularly interesting at either third or second, my preferred long-term destination for him. Depending on where you slot him on the diamond, he’s either the best (3B) or second-best (SS behind JP Crawford, 2B behind Scott Kingery) prospect at that position in the system.

4.107 – LHP JoJo Romero

The Phillies won big betting on Yavapai Roughrider Kenny Giles in the seventh round in 2011. They’ve gone back to the well in selecting JoJo Romero (316) in 2016. The two young pitchers are about as different as can be. Romero is a highly athletic lefthander who gets by with a pair of average offspeed pitches (slider and change) that can flash better when his back is against the wall. His fastball velocity doesn’t quite reach the same heights as “100 Miles Giles,” but it’s average to above-average (88-92, 94 peak) for a lefty with his build. I didn’t have Romero as a fourth round value on my personal board (saw him more as a potential slightly overslot eleventh round type), but the logic behind the pick is sound. Romero has the stuff, pitchability, and track record to suggest he can continue to start as a professional. Whether he eventually has to shift to the pen or not remains to be seen, but I’m coming around to liking his chances to fulfill his back of the rotation destiny.

Romero’s long-term prospects are one thing, but I’m just as intrigued about his 2017 assignment. It’s easy to mentally pair him with Cole Irvin — “college” lefties with fairly similar stuff selected in back-to-back rounds (same bonus!) who both started together in Williamsport — but that ignores the fact that Romero is a whopping 2.5 years younger than Irvin. Pushing him to Clearwater would be exciting, but it seems more likely he’ll get treated more like a high school draftee and begin at Lakewood. Although, even that could pose a problem. Simply put, something has to give when it comes to the Phillies low-minors pitching surplus. By my preliminary count, there are 21 potential starting pitching options ready for full-season ball that will need to find a way to share ten to twelve potential rotation openings to start the year. Clearwater (High-A) could have Franklyn Kilome, Alberto Tirado, Drew Anderson, Cole Irvin, Shane Watson, Jose Taveras, Harold Arauz, Tyler Gilbert, and Luke Leftwich. Lakewood (Low-A) is even more loaded. They’ll have to find homes for names like Sixto Sanchez, Kevin Gowdy, Adonis Medina, Edgar Garcia, Bailey Falter, Seranthony Dominguez, Nick Fanti, Mauricio Llovera, Julian Garcia, Ranger Suarez, and Felix Paulino. I don’t think this is pie-in-the-sky local guy optimism, either. All of these names are legitimate prospects, though admittedly some at the back end of each list might be best served switching to relief down the line.

Even if they get aggressive with some of the Clearwater guys (Anderson, Watson, and Tirado?), there’s no real clear place to put them yet in AA where Tyler Viza, Thomas Eshelman, and Elniery Garcia, among others, are set to begin the year. The bullpen is always an option for some, as is being left behind in extended for some of the younger arms (a less than ideal solution to be sure), but this pile-up is real. So squeezing Romero into either rotation is going to be a challenge. His stuff and draft pedigree make it extremely likely (99%, give or take) that they’ll find a way, but I couldn’t tell you at which pitcher’s expense. Too many prospects for the Phillies…who would have ever thought?

5.137 – LHP Cole Irvin

Cole Irvin (289) does a lot of things well but no one thing exceptionally well. Players of this ilk are often undervalued on draft day — I’ve certainly been guilty of underrating them in the past, though I’m not sure that’s necessarily something to amend going forward — but the Phillies obviously liked what they saw out of the Oregon lefthander enough to pop him in the fifth round. As much as I personally like to see a knockout pitch (or exceptional command or athleticism or performance indicators), I can at least see the merit of taking a well-rounded veteran arm like Irvin. We’ve seen a lot of guys with similar scouting profiles wind up as better big league players than minor league prospects due in large part to making their “jack of all trades, master of none” tag obsolete through hard work, the right coaching, and unlocked physical gifts. If you can be a “jack of all trades, master of one” pitcher, then you’ve got a chance to outplay expectations at every turn.

Maybe that’ll be Irvin. Maybe not. His debut was certainly encouraging. In fact, it brought to mind a decent little organizational comp. To the numbers…

7.21 K/9 and 2.35 BB/9 in 53.2 IP (2.01 ERA)
7.29 K/9 and 1.58 BB/9 in 45.2 IP (1.97 ERA)

Adam Morgan’s debut is on top, Irvin’s debut is on bottom. Morgan was the 120th pick in the draft. Irvin was selected with pick 137. If we take the comparison to the next logical step, it’s worth noting that Morgan made a very successful double-jump to Clearwater in his first full season. I think there’s little chance Morgan doesn’t start next season with the Threshers as well.

Here’s a quick take on Irvin from April 2016 that gets to the heart of what kind of pitcher I think he’ll be…

Krook’s teammate with the Ducks, Cole Irvin, has seen his stuff rebound this year close to his own pre-TJ surgery levels. I was off Irvin early last season when he was more upper-80s with a loopy curve, but he is now capable of getting it back up to 92 (still sits 85-90) with a sharper upper-70s slider that complements his firmer than before curve and consistently excellent 78-81 change. It’s back of the rotation type starter stuff if it continues to come back.

6.167 – OF David Martinelli

David Martinelli (216) got off to a surprisingly slow start to his pro career, but that doesn’t obscure the fact that he’s one of this draft’s finer mid-tier (18th at the position here) college outfield prospects. His scouting blurb on this site said this about his game: “shows all five tools as consistently as almost any college hitter in this class.” Now that’s a fairly bold claim — albeit one with a key qualifier snuck in there — but it speaks to Martinelli’s extremely well-rounded game. Athletically, he checks every box with four of the five tools consistently showing at least average or better. His lone underwhelming tool has been his raw hit tool. Fortunately, he’s made some very encouraging progress in the batter’s box over the years: his BB/K ratios have moved from 28/59 to 22/67 to 24/30 from freshman to sophomore to junior year. If those gains can be maintained and he can keep up his brand of hard contact at the next level, Martinelli could have a long, fruitful career as a fourth outfielder.

Also, his name makes me want apple juice. So that’s reason enough to root for him.

Final tangential thought that can be skipped if you’re more into learning about what players the Phillies drafted than whatever it is we’ll categorize this as: Martinelli is the first of three Dallas Baptist Patriots selected by the Phillies in this draft. It seems that taking multiple players from the same school is something done by just about every team at some point in every draft. Logically, it makes sense: good teams have good players that are covered more frequently than other less good teams with less good players. I won’t dispute any of that. However, it does get me a little bit curious about the actual amount of canvassing that goes on by big league clubs tasked with covering as much ground as possible. My weird analogy for this takes us to Hollywood. I find acting silly. It’s pretending to be somebody else, something I considered a lot of fun when I was four but quickly grew out of. I can still enjoy a great performance, so maybe I’m just a big old hypocrite but I generally don’t respect the profession. One of the many gripes about acting is how actors are chosen for given roles. Nine times out of ten, it’s more about getting the right “look” rather than finding the “best” actor. That’s why I like sports: they might not perfect, but they represent the closest thing to a meritocracy in our present day society. If you’re good, you play. Anyway, Hollywood doesn’t feel the same way to me. Consider the top twenty most famous actors in the world. How many would you consider great at what they do? How many would actually rank in the top twenty solely on merit? Take somebody like Scarlett Johansson. Or a Gerard Butler. You really mean to tell me that they are two of the very best actors in a world of over seven billion people? There’s no way. They had the opportunity and the look, they took advantage of an opportunity (fair or not), and they let inertia do the rest. I’m very confident when I’m watching Major League Baseball that I’m watching 750 of the very best people on the planet doing their thing. Can’t feel the same way about TV or movies.

All of this gets us back to the idea of how odd spending 7.5% of your draft on players from one university comes across. I like Martinelli. I like Darick Hall. I like the unsigned Camden Duzenack. I have no problem with each individual pick. I understand the reality (good players, good team, trust in area scout, more frequent looks, etc.) that led the Phillies to tripling up at a school, too. However, I find it hard to believe that they deemed Martinelli, Hall, and Duzenack three of their forty favorite realistic targets in this draft. It’s just a little bit of a wake-up call to counter those who often speak about how infallible pro teams are in their amateur scouting process. Teams have tons of information at their disposal, but it is a a finite amount. There are limits to what they can possibly cover and sometimes shortcuts are taken. This isn’t a knock on the Phillies (or every other MLB team that does the same thing), but rather a tiny attempt to chip away at the long-standing logical fallacy that bogs down many conversations about sports. So many rush to appeal to authority when it comes to any sports-related disagreement — if the pro team thinks so, then it must be true — instead of trying to understand individual situations on a deeper level. Pro teams know a lot, obviously, but if you’re only argument to defend a specific move is “well, they must know what they are doing…” then maybe it’s all right to wonder if they actually do know in this singular instance. Nobody likes the smug know-it-all sports analyst who insists at every turn that he or she is more qualified to run a team than those who actually do so. But those who defend pro teams on the basis of “well, THEY are the professionals so they are automatically smarter, cooler, and handsomer than you nerds who dare question them” need to chill out, too.

Anyway, since I feel guilty my tangent is longer than the actual Martinelli content above, here’s a quick note on him from March 2016…

David Martinelli is another quality Dallas Baptist outfielder who has shown all five tools and plenty of athleticism. His power has always been the main draw, but his improved approach makes him even more appealing. I’m in on Martinelli.

Nice pick.

7.197 – C Henri Lartigue

Criticizing a team’s selections in the MLB Draft is a tricky thing. Scouting amateur talent is a challenging endeavor, and one that ultimately generates more opinions about more players than any rational human being could ever effectively process. This country (plus Canada and Puerto Rico!) is just too big to have a strong opinion about every draft-worthy player, yet that’s exactly what weirdos like me set out to do. I don’t think it’s wrong to at least try to have some general feelings about as many players as possible, so long as one understands the limitations inherent in the process. This is a long way of saying that I wasn’t all that enamored with the Philadelphia Phillies seventh round pick. Lartigue is fine — he’s a good athlete for the position with a strong arm and some power upside who’s better days could very well be ahead of him — but he was the 29th ranked college catcher on my board for a reason. Tyler Lawrence, Michael Tinsley, Gavin Stupienski, Jack Kruger, and Tyler Lancaster, among others, would have been my preferred choice. Heck, even Keith Skinner and his $10,000 price tag might have been the better option.

That said, I don’t think it was a “bad” pick. I don’t think Lartigue is a “bad” prospect. It’s not what I would have done based on what I’ve seen, heard, and read, but, let’s be real, that doesn’t amount to much in the grand scheme of things. Firm opinions on seventh round picks are part of what make following the draft fun (if you can’t have an opinion, then what’s the point of all this, right?), but unflinching priggish opinions are a bummer. Acceptance that different sets of eyes can see two entirely different futures for a young ballplayer is a freeing thing. Maybe I’m right. Maybe the Phillies, a team with far more combined resources, brain power, and experience than myself are right. Maybe the very idea of “right” is off the mark here; the blurred lines between a singular amateur evaluation and all subsequent professional development muddle the process/results matrix a great deal. As a native Philadelphian and a fan of literally all draft prospects, I hope it works out for the Phillies and Lartigue.

8.227 – RHP Grant Dyer

I like the pick of Grant Dyer a lot and not just because of a pro debut as good as any reliever in this class. Dyer checks a lot of college draft sleeper boxes that are often overlooked (I speak from experience here) when trying to find a college draft sleeper: early contributor (69 IP as freshman), lots of big game experience (UCLA is pretty good, I’ve heard), and, most interesting to me, a draft year shift in role that benefited the team but not the player’s pro prospects. Dyer’s stuff took a predictably dip in 2016 as he was asked to do more than he’d ever done before by pitching out of the rotation rather than the bullpen. This turned some short-sighted thinkers off from him — I’ll note that he wasn’t ranked in my top 500, so feel free to do with that what you may — but those, like the Phillies front office, who stuck with him look pretty smart after his sterling debut back in his comfortable relief role. Dyer’s stuff jumps from 88-92 as a starter to 92-94 in relief (up to 95) with an outstanding curve (flashes plus) holding up no matter how he’s used. I thought his mid-80s changeup had a chance to develop into a pretty nice third pitch with continued use, but the firmness of the pitch combined with his diminished velocity as a starter caused him to more or less scrap it at UCLA. Changeup or not, Dyer’s 1-2 punch of two above-average pitches and impressive command should be his ticket to a long, successful career of middle relief.

9.257 – RHP Blake Quinn

I write these out of order for some reason and the Trevor Bettencourt pick has already been written, so feel free to scan down a little bit and read that one as a reasonable substitute for what I think about Blake Quinn. Both guys have missed bats in the past (9.32 K/9 for Quinn in 2016 at Cal State Fullerton), both guys have gone from one good baseball school to another (Quinn started at Fresno State), both guys sat out the 2015 season, both guys have had their bouts of wildness (4.32 BB/9 for Quinn this past college year), and both are fastball-leaning relief arms. Quinn was taken sixteen rounds ahead of Bettencourt for some good reasons — better stuff, better body (6-5, 210), longer track record — but the two are closer than that gap might suggest.

10.287 – RHP Julian Garcia

I knew very little about Julian Garcia before the draft, so learning more about him in the months that followed has been a lot of fun. I’m in on this guy. Garcia has a starter’s repertoire and a history of backing it up on the mound. My only concern about him at this point is finding him innings in the Phillies crowded low minors. Very slick pick in the tenth round.

11.317 – OF Josh Stephen

I don’t know what to make of Josh Stephen (182), one of the 2016 MLB Draft’s most divisive prospects. Those who like him point to his above-average or better speed, mature approach at the plate, burgeoning lefthanded pop, and solid chance to remain a center fielder over the long haul. Those who are more bearish on him paint him as more of a future reserve outfielder good enough to hang in center only occasionally with not quite the kind of all-around offensive game (average speed, power, and on-base skills) to make it in a corner. Most, however, do agree that Stephen can really hit. I’ve had more than one contact tell me he’s a future .300 hitter in the big leagues. If that’s the case, almost all of that other stuff won’t matter beyond being icing on the cake; a .300 hitter in a corner with modest power and speed is still pretty damn useful. If you’re a believer in the rest of his game coming through, then an above-average regular with sneaky star upside isn’t out of the question.

12.347 – RHP Justin Miller

Coincidental or not, the Phillies selection of Justin Miller is the first of a back-to-back run on high school pitchers out of California with only junior college commitments keeping them from the pros. Miller has an upper-80s fastball that has gotten better over the years, plus a 6-4, 180 pound frame; both of those things suggest more growth to come, at least potentially. He’s a long way away and a long shot even if things break right, but a worthwhile shot in round twelve.

13.377 – RHP Andrew Brown

Andrew Brown is a little bit of a post-tenth round $100,000 bonus prep pitching oddity in that he’s got more present stuff than long-term projection. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is somewhat unusual. Look no further than the pick directly above this one for a small slice of evidence. We spend so much time talking up teenage arms with physical upside remaining (with good reason, I should add; scouting and development is all about playing the long game) that the guys with more of the “now” stuff can get overlooked. That’s part of my rationale for personally overlooking Brown before the draft. Now that I am looking at him, I see a fairly generic (a term many assume is a slight, but not necessarily so) righthanded pitching prospect — his present 88-92 fastball MPH band is by far the most common in my scouting notes — with average or slightly below height, some room to fill out his 180 pound frame, and underdeveloped yet playable secondary stuff. The good news for Brown is that the opportunity is going to be there, at least in the short-term. International prospects and 2017 draftees will make the short-season leagues a lot more crowded next summer than they currently look now, but it still has to be nice for some of the youngest prospects in the system to see very little in their way presently at the GCL and New York-Penn League levels. Innings will be there for Brown, Kyle Young, and Justin Miller for the taking.

14.407 – 1B Darick Hall

I really like Philadelphia’s selection of Darick Hall (219) in the fourteenth round. It might be asking for too much, but a breakout at Lakewood a la Rhys Hoskins in early 2015 is within the realm of possibility for the former Dallas Baptist two-way star. Hoskins kept it going at Clearwater later that season and then cemented his status as a “real” prospect in Reading this year, so the bar for Hall is high but not completely unreachable. For entertainment purposes only, here’s what Hall (top) and Hoskins (bottom) did as college juniors…

.298/.417/.615 with 30 BB/49 K in 218 AB
.319/.428/.573 with 39 BB/31 K in 213 AB

Hall gets the slight edge in power (plus raw), though the Hoskins of today would surely give that a run for its money. I’m inclined to give Hoskins the edge as a hitter, but it’s really close. Approach is a win for Hoskins, but with the caveat that the move away from the mound could help Hall see some gains in this area. On balance, I like the Hoskins of 2014 a little more than I do Hall today, but it’s close enough that the wishful thinking that Hall can be one of baseball’s next under-the-radar first base prospects feels warranted.

16.467 – C Brett Barbier

If Brett Barbier can catch, he’s worth following. If he can hang in the outfield, he’s still fairly intriguing. If he’s a first baseman, he’ll need to find an extra offensive gear to keep climbing the ladder. The reports I have on his glove behind the dish are mixed, so we’ll have to wait and see what his defensive future holds. I do like his bat, wherever he winds up. He’s a little like Danny Zardon in that his most realistic outcome is as an organizational player capable of playing a variety of spots while piling up big hits to help his minor league clubs win games. You need guys like that.

17.497 – 3B Danny Zardon

My preliminary notes on Danny Zardon (457) after his first professional season wrapped up: “great debut, wish he did it in Williamsport.” With a few more days to reflect on his year, I’d say…well, pretty much the same thing. Zardon’s tools (average power and speed, solid glove with an above-average arm), pedigree (one-time LSU recruit), and junior year performance (.318/.420/.613 with 39 BB/45 K in 217 AB at Nova Southeastern) add up to make him far more interesting than your typical seventeenth round selection. There’s a chance he makes it as a bat-first utility infielder and a smaller chance he keeps hitting enough to be a league average starting third baseman. If neither upside is ultimately reached, he should still serve a very useful purpose as a quintessential minor league “professional hitter” capable of filling in at multiple spots on the diamond.

18.527 – RHP Jake Kelzer

The run on righthanded relievers started very strong for the Phillies with the selection of Jake Kelzer (175) in the eighteenth round. My very aggressive pre-draft ranking (sixth round equivalency) speaks to what I believe is major upside as a reliever. Beware the too tall pitcher, they say. It took me too long, but I’ve finally listened. Big guys jump out at you in person, on the tube, and on the listed roster, but the track record for pitchers over 6-6 isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. That’s all based on observation and not data, so feel free to dismiss those conclusions if you like. Tall pitchers tend to have more difficulty coordinating their bodies and uncoordinated bodies tend to have command issues. It’s practically science, right? Beware the too tall pitcher.

But this time it’ll be different! In all seriousness, Kelzer is such a great athlete that many of the concerns associated with too tall pitchers are less likely to come into play. Apparently I’ve been banging this drum for a while…

March 2015

Kelzer is the rare big pitcher (6-8, 235) with the fluidity and athleticism in his movements as a smaller man. I’ve yet to hear/see of a true offspeed pitch of note (he’s got the good hard slider and a promising slower curve), but something a touch softer (change, splitter) would be nice.

April 2016

Jake Kelzer is an incredible athlete who just so happens to be 6-8, 235 pounds. Those two things alone are cool, but together are really damn exciting. Enough of a fastball (88-92, 94 peak…but could play up in shorter bursts) and a nasty hard slider (87-88) give him a chance to be a quick-moving reliever, but the overall package could be worth trying as a starter first.

I don’t know if the Phillies plan to try Kelzer as a starter. Doing the math on their current starting pitching, I think it’s probably doubtful. A pessimist would be bummed at this likely development, but I’ll choose to look on the bright side and champion Kelzer as a potential surprisingly swift mover through the system as a reliever. My pre-draft infatuation with him looks a bit silly in hindsight, but a quality reliever is a quality reliever.

19.557 – RHP Will Hibbs

From one tall rightander to another, the Phillies go from Jake Kelzer to Will Hibbs. The Lamar product stands in at 6-7, 235 pounds — a whole inch shorter than Kelzer, so he’s basically tiny, right? — with a solid heater (88-93), better than expected change, and a pair of usable breaking balls. His senior year was strong (9.07 K/9 and 2.73 BB/9 in 96.IP of 3.27 ERA ball) and his pro debut kept it going. This is about all you can ask for in a nineteenth round middle relief prospect.

20.587 – 1B Caleb Eldridge

Caleb Eldrige, a big first baseman from Cowley County CC (via Oklahoma State), has the power you’d hope for in a 6-4, 235 pound human with more speed than you’d expect. Copious amounts of swing-and-miss keep him from being much more than a lottery ticket, but power is always worth gambling on.

21.617 – LHP Jonathan Hennigan

I wouldn’t call any of the late-round lefthanders signed by the Phillies better than top five round selections JoJo Romero and Cole Irvin, but I think it’s fair to say they are more intriguing on the whole. Kyle Young (6-10), Alexander Kline (6-5), and Jonathan Hennigan (6-4) all have enough height to be Sixers. Hennigan’s frame (6-4, 180 with room to fill out), present fastball (88-92), and ever-improving breaking ball make him a particularly worthwhile mid-round get. My semi-bold prediction for the Hennigan-Young-Kline triumvirate: two of the three will pitch in the big leagues one day.

22.647 – LHP Kyle Young

A 6-10, 220 pound overslot lefthander who already lives 87-91 with impressive athleticism, repeatable mechanics, and unusually strong early control (2 BB in 27 IP)? Consider my interest sufficiently piqued.

24.707 – RHP Tyler Hallead

The Phillies have liked guys from College of Southern Nevada in the past. That’s all I’ve got to explain the otherwise underwhelming Tyler Hallead pick.

25.737 – RHP Trevor Bettencourt

The well-traveled Trevor Bettencourt — UC Santa Barbara by way of Tennessee — is your fairly typical low-90s reliever capable of cranking it a little bit higher than that in big moments. His final college year showed the kind of impressive strikeout rate (9.66 K/9) and questionable control (5.21 BB/9) that have been a part of his up-and-down college career going back to 2013. A long shot reliever like this is fine in the twenty-fifth round.

26.767 – OF Tyler Kent

Tyler Kent retired after hitting .333/.333/.444 in 9 PA. If you’re going to go out, that’s not a bad way to do it. Get a little bonus, play in a couple games, knock two singles and a double, and leave on a high note. He now has something interesting to point to on future résumés and a fun bar story.

28.827 – RHP Jordan Kurokawa

His last name makes me think of this. That’s something, I guess.

29.857 – LHP Alexander Kline

I didn’t have anything on Alexander Kline, the big lefty from Nova Southeastern (same school as Danny Zardon, FWIW), before the draft. Between June and right this very second, however, public reports on his velocity have trickled in and almost all are positive. Getting ai power-armed lefthanded big league reliever, as many I’ve checked in with see Kline developing into, in the twenty-ninth round would be a coup.

31.917 – RHP Tyler Frohwirth

23-year-old righthander Tyler Frohwirth had ten saves in his debut season in the Gulf Coast League. If you can figure out the good and the bad found in that sentence, then you know a little something something about prospecting. I’m personally still scratching my head a bit about what the Phillies could have seen out of an overaged college reliever with a career 6.75 K/9 and 4.50 ERA in 32.0 career innings at Minnesota State. I’m hoping they saw something special in his funky delivery and didn’t burn a thirty-first round pick on a legacy guy — father Todd was a thirteenth round pick of the Phillies in 1984 — but I suppose only time will tell. Between Frohwirth and Alex Wojciechowski, really great year for the area guy in Minnesota, though.

32.947 – C Daniel Garner

Big power, big arm. That’s the short version of Daniel Garner’s game. Interesting (or not), one-time Mississippi State Bulldog Garner is the second Phillies draft pick that transferred out of an SEC school.

34.1007 – OF Luke Maglich

Luke Maglich has too much swing-and-miss for me, but his size, power, and arm strength give him some universal appeal. He’s about as long as any of the late-round long shots signed by the Phillies this year.

For fun, here’s a Phillies top thirty with 2016 draftees showing up in bold…

  1. SS JP Crawford
  2. OF Mickey Moniak
  3. C Jorge Alfaro
  4. OF Dylan Cozens
  5. OF Roman Quinn
  6. 1B Rhys Hoskins
  7. SP Franklyn Kilome
  8. OF Jhailyn Ortiz
  9. OF Cornelius Randolph
  10. 2B Scott Kingery
  11. SP Sixto Sanchez
  12. SP Kevin Gowdy
  13. OF Nick Williams
  14. SS Cole Stobbe
  15. SP Nick Pivetta
  16. C Deivi Grullon
  17. C Andrew Knapp
  18. SP Drew Anderson
  19. OF Andrew Pullin
  20. SP Bailey Falter
  21. SP Alberto Tirado
  22. SP Edgar Garcia
  23. OF Josh Stephen
  24. SP Elniery Garcia
  25. SP Mark Appel
  26. SP Ricardo Pinto
  27. SP Adonis Medina
  28. SP Thomas Eshelman
  29. OF Jose Pujols
  30. SS Jonathan Guzman

Just missing the cut were names like Cole Irvin, Arquimedes Gamboa, Victor Arano, Ben Lively, Tyler Viza, Jose Taveras, David Martinelli, and JoJo Romero. What the system might lack for sure-thing future stars it makes it up in crazy depth. I’ll take it.

Unsigned Prospects and Where You Can Find Them in 2017

Alex Wojciechowski (FA), Carter Bins (Fresno State), Dante Baldelli (Boston College), Trevor Hillhouse (Auburn), Logan Davidson (Clemson), Trey Morris (TCU), James Ziemba (Duke), Mac Sceroler (Southeastern Louisiana), Jack Klein (Stanford), Davis Agle (Spartanburg Methodist CC)

2016 MLB Draft Reviews – Baltimore Orioles

Top 500 Prospects Drafted by Baltimore in 2016

67 – Cody Sedlock
68 – Keegan Akin
145 – Preston Palmeiro
153 – Alexis Torres
209 – Matthias Dietz
242 – Tobias Myers
300 – Austin Hays

Complete List of 2016 Baltimore Orioles Draftees

And now a few words on some Orioles draft picks…

1.27 – RHP Cody Sedlock

It’s very easy to like Cody Sedlock (67). Getting to the love stage is a little more challenging, but isn’t that how it goes? Or at least that’s what I’ve heard: everybody loves me from the very first moment they meet me, so I can’t really relate. It’s easy to like him because he’s a rock solid bet to be a long-term rotation fixture. It’s hard to love him because the ceiling feels more mid-rotation than upper-echelon MLB starting pitcher. There’s nothing wrong with that when you’re picking at the back of the first round, by the way. Sedlock’s sinker/slider stuff is complemented very nicely by a curve and a circle-change, both of which that flash enough to be called potential weapons on any given day. Writing this felt familiar, so I decided to look back at what I’ve written about Sedlock in the past…

Properly rated by many of the experts yet likely underrated by the more casual amateur draft fans, Sedlock is a four-pitch guy – there is a weirdly awesome high number of these pitchers in the Big 10 this year — with the ability to command three intriguing offspeed pitches (SL, CB, CU) well enough for mid-rotation big league potential. I try not to throw mid-rotation starter upside around lightly; Sedlock is really good.

Oh, yeah. That would have sufficed. In addition to maybe not loving Sedlock’s ceiling — again, I really really like it and I don’t mean to downplay it — it’s also a little bit hard to love him because of the red flag that has been repeated over and over again since mid-May: the big righty’s workload at Illinois. It’s hard to say much positive about how he was used as a junior, at least in terms of his long-term prospects. What I find more interesting is Sedlock’s previous two seasons coming out of the Fighting Illini bullpen. His college innings by year: 31.2 in 2014, 31.1 in 2015, and 101.1 in 2016. Depending on your personal baseball innings worldview, you can look at his two years in relief as a good thing (keeps his overall innings down!) or a worrisome thing (big innings jump…). Any opinion I have on the matter is purely anecdotal — I haven’t done the necessary empirical research to blow my lid about his usage and Baltimore’s subsequent gamble that he’ll hold up physically in the coming years — so I’ll put that issue on the back burner for now. It’s obviously something to consider when evaluating the selection, but, again, you’re not going to get a perfect player with the twenty-seventh pick in the first round. A high-floor potential mid-rotation arm coming off some questionable late-season pitch totals is about what you should expect.

In a really thoughtful interview with Chris Cotillo before the draft, Sedlock compared his game with former Oriole prospect Jake Arrieta. Baseball has a great sense of humor sometimes.

2.54 – LHP Keegan Akin

When I saw Keegan Akin (68) pitch as a sophomore, I’m pretty sure he threw 85% fastballs. I’d give the exact number, but the finer details of that game and many others were lost in the Great Washing Machine Incident that I don’t like to talk about. I do remember that watching Akin was like watching a younger, lefthanded Bart Colon in terms of pitch usage. He’s come a long way since then — and he was really good then! — thanks to an above-average to plus 78-82 change and an average or better low-80s cut-slider. That’s some serious progress in fourteen months! Either that or I’m not nearly as good a “scout” as I’d like to think I am. I did (and still do) like his fastball a lot; it checks every box you need (velocity, movement, command) to be a really successful pitch and it plays up a half-grade higher thanks to the natural deception in his delivery. I had him pegged as a potential reliever back then — he could still be a serious late-inning weapon if it comes to it — but now I see no reason why he can’t be a successful mid-rotation arm. Baltimore may have nabbed two-fifths of their next playoff team’s rotation with their first two picks.

2.69 – RHP Matthias Dietz

Illinois for Sedlock, Western Michigan for Akin, and now John A. Logan JC (Illinois again!) for Matthias Dietz (209). If three picks is enough to make a trend, then we’ve got ourselves an official run linking Midwestern arms to Baltimore to track going forward. Dietz’s stuff has by all accounts looked much better in shorter bursts than it has as a starter (94-98 FB as a reliever, 90-95 as a starter; slider much sharper in relief), but his eye-popping junior college numbers (10.22 K/9 and 0.96 BB/9 in 103. IP with a 1.22 ERA), frame (6-5, 230), and lofty draft standing should get him a chance to keep starting in the pros. A much improved changeup — still a raw pitch, but improving at a rapid enough rate to intrigue — and outstanding control help bolster his case as a future starter. The fact that he has realistic late-inning reliever potential as a backup plan makes him a nice gamble here if you believe in him as a starter. It’s not a direct skill set comparison, but his situation reminds me some of Zack Burdi’s with Chicago.

3.91 – OF Austin Hays

The pre-season take on Austin Hays (300) is quite interesting, in part due to my wrongness, when viewed through the magic of hindsight…

Thankfully, Austin Hays, a pre-season FAVORITE due to his patient approach (easiest way to become a FAVORITE as a hitter), plus arm, strong glove, and above-average speed, has done his part in the early going. Hays may get stuck with the tweener label for some – not quite enough pop for a corner, not quite enough glove for center – but a more open-minded team might view perceived negative as a strength: Hays isn’t a tweener, he’s versatile! I’m not sure I’d go quite that far, but I still like Hays a whole lot.

I don’t think he’s a tweener any longer; he’s good enough to play center if they let him and his power breakthrough in 2016 solidifies his offensive potential in a way that should please traditionalists if he’s moved to a corner. That should mean I like a guy I had tabbed as a pre-season FAVORITE even more, right? Yes and no. I still like Hays a whole lot; really, what’s not to like? But his approach, a big part of the appeal coming into the year, took a minor step back as he sold out for a little more pop. If this is who he is now, he’s still a really fun prospect with above-average regular upside. If he can find a way to bridge the new with the old, however, he could be a star.

4.121 – RHP Brenan Hanifee

An athletic prep arm from your own backyard who has already been up to 93 with minimum wear and tear on his arm? I’m buying what Brenan Hanifee is selling. This was a pre-draft miss on my end that shows the limits of what a staff of one can’t do. The O’s had a few more resources at their disposal and appeared to use them to their full advantage here. I like this pick a lot.

5.151 – SS Alexis Torres

A friend of mine who saw Alexis Torres (153) in his pro debut down in Florida told me that he he felt the shortstop from Puerto Rico was more advanced with the bat than he had been led to believe. That’s obviously good to hear, especially in light of Torres’s relative struggles in the GCL. He also said that he felt that Torres’s glove was oversold some by some of the “draft people.” Not sure if he was talking about me, actual draft “experts,” or some of his pro ball colleagues, but thought it was interesting all the same. My pre-draft notes on him were all about his glove, speed, arm, raw power, and athleticism rating comfortably average or better with his bat being the one true question mark. Funny how that works out. I don’t normally bother to cross-reference my rankings with where guys are actually picked, but the O’s and I were on the same page with Torres. Or, pretty dang close at least.

6.181 – RHP Tobias Myers

There are a lot of similarities between fourth round pick Brenan Hanifee and Tobias Myers. The two share similar present fastballs (88-92, 93 peak), similar athleticism, and similar two-way multi-sport backgrounds. Hanifee has the edge in physical projection, but Myers has the more advanced offspeed stuff, especially his good upper-70s changeup. Information for the “do with it what you may” department: I’ve seen and heard his height listed at 5-11, 6-0 (the “official” measurement for now), and 6-2 depending on the source. Anyway, I ranked Myers ahead of Hanifee before the draft, but, knowing what I do now, I’d definitely flip the two without much second thought.

7.211 – 1B Preston Palmeiro

On Preston Palmeiro (145) from way back in December 2015…

I’m still on the fence some about JR 1B Preston Palmeiro, but he has some very vocal fans out there who love his swing and think he has a chance to be an average or better hitter with above-average power production. Being a primary first base prospect at the amateur level is a tricky thing with a bit more to it than many — myself included — think about. On the one hand, it’s obvious that being limited defensively to first base drastically increases the threshold of entry to professional baseball as a hitter. You need to hit and hit and hit to make it. On the other hand, there simply isn’t the same competition at first base at the amateur level as there is at other spots. I know that many a big league first baseman played elsewhere along the way, but if we’re just talking about getting drafted in the first place then the competitive field begins to look a lot thinner. In other words, if Palmeiro goes out and hits the shit out of the ball all spring, then what’s to stop a team from valuing that bat higher than we’re conditioned to think because of the relative lack of options to be found later in the draft? Up the middle players are wonderful and we know they dominate these drafts for a reason, but with offensive production (power, especially) growing increasingly scarce at the highest level perhaps the place for a big bat a team believes in will come sooner on draft day.

The Orioles got good value nabbing Palmeiro when they did. That makes it a good pick in my eyes. Now whether or not it’ll actually work out remains very much up in the air. I realize we can say that about literally every single pick, but I think saying so actually serves a greater purpose beyond debating the merits of Palmeiro’s future. As we covered back in December, up-the-middle athletes are coveted for a reason during the draft. This is irrefutable. But I think teams (and well-meaning fans) sometimes get too comfortable with the belief that the rest of the diamond — namely first base and the outfield corners — will work itself out with minimal resources invested. I don’t think that’s the case. There’s nothing wrong with taking top ten round first basemen and corner outfielders. Is Palmeiro good enough to be a big league contributor as a first baseman? Beats me. But good for Baltimore for taking a shot.

8.241 – RHP Ryan Moseley

On Ryan Moseley from March 2015…

I’ve long been a fan of the sinker/slider archetype and Moseley does it about as well as any pitcher in this class. When I start digging into batted ball data to find GB% in the coming weeks, he’ll be the first name I look up. On physical ability, a case could be made that Moseley deserves this first round spot. If we’re talking early season production…not so much. As we mentioned before, some young pitchers throw with so much natural movement that they are unable to effectively harness the raw stuff with which they’ve been blessed. Moseley’s track record suggests just that.

Find a way to get Moseley’s power sinker working for good instead of evil and you’ve got yourself a keeper. Until then, he goes into the maybe starter/maybe reliever pile as we wait and see how he takes to pro coaching. On talent, this is worth a shot. On production, it’s questionable. So long as you diversify your draft portfolio to have a nice blend of each side, you’re fine with taking shots like this.

9.271 – RHP Lucas Humpal

Already 23-years-old, Lucas Humpal will have to move quick early on to keep his prospect status alive in the eyes of the fan base. The senior righthander from Texas State has a good enough fastball (88-92) and an outstanding changeup. There’s middle relief upside here.

10.301 – RHP Cody Dube

Baltimore lands another potential middle reliever in $5,000 man Cody Dube. The Keene State righthander with impressive college numbers (11.18 K/9 and 1.73 BB/9) and fairly generic middle relief stuff (low-90s FB, solid SL) could get enough ground balls and whiffs to keep getting work. Or not. I’ll be real here, I don’t have all that strong an opinion on this one.

11.331 – LHP Zach Muckenhirn

One of the recurring comments I got on Zach Muckenhirn all spring long was that he’s got a long future in the game after his playing days are through if he wants to coach. There’s a lot of respect out there for his approach to his craft and high baseball IQ. There should be plenty of time before he worries about his post-playing career, though. Muckenhirn throws an upper-80s fastball (up to 92-93) with above-average command of a trio of respectable offspeed pitches. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but he’s right on the edge of back-end starting pitcher and middle reliever as of now.

12.361 – LHP Max Knutson

Max Knutson is a hard-throwing (87-93, 94-96 peak) athletic lefthander who has struggled with both bouts of inconsistent command and below-average control throughout his college career. He’s not entirely dissimilar stuff-wise to the player drafted just one round later…

13.391 – LHP Brandon Bonilla

Baltimore finally gets their man. After being rebuffed by Brandon Bonilla in the twenty-fifth round back in 2014, the Orioles convinced the big lefty to sign on the dotted line here in the thirteenth round in 2016. Better late than never. Of course, as it turned out they’ll have to wait until 2017 to see him pitch in a competitive game as a bad back kept him off the mound after signing. Like many of the lefties drafted by Baltimore in 2016, Bonilla has power stuff and questionable control. Makes sense to bet on these guys while the cost is still just mid-round draft picks and a couple hundred thousand bucks total as it sure beats trying to buy them down the line on the free agent market. Draft five of these guys, hit on one (or more!), and profit.

As it turns out, despite writing about Bonilla for the site plenty over the years I didn’t feature him this year. HOWEVER, we did talk about him in the comments section…

It appears that Bonilla has resurfaced at Hawai’i Pacific. Pitching really well for them so far: 8.1 IP 4 H 0 ER 4 BB 14 K. I appreciate you bringing him up because now I can re-add him to my database, assuming the rumored reports on a 97 MPH peak FB (he lost the FB for a while, but allegedly has it back) and SL that flashes plus are true.

How about that?

14.421 – RHP Ruben Garcia

I’ve mentioned before that I write these reviews in a completely scattershot order. More often than not I start with round forty and work my way up; writing up mid- to late-round picks is a lot more fun for me, and I suppose I’m not one for delayed gratification. Anyway, I’ve already written the Matt De La Rosa pick up below, so feel free to skip down there to get my thoughts on Ruben Garcia. Different players, obviously, but the two picks are very much connected contextually.

If you came here just for Garcia, I’ll give you the quick version: I know little to nothing about Garcia as a player, but as a pick I think he’s awesome. Garcia was a marginal 3B/OF for Eastern Florida State, but the O’s saw something special enough in him to give him a shot as a pitcher in pro ball. He did pitch three clean innings for the Titans in the spring: 3 IP 0 H 0 ER 2 BB 5 K. I’d bet a pretty penny that Baltimore’s scouting relationship began before that, but it’s still fun to pretend that it was those two random games that caused them to fall in love with his arm. This all makes Garcia’s start in pro ball that much more remarkable. It’s only 15.1 innings, but a 12.33 K/9, 2.35 BB/9, and 1.76 ERA is a heck of a way to justify your place in the game. Garcia belongs.

15.451 – RHP Nick Jobst

Nick Jobst’s name never made it on the site, but seeing it pop up during the draft reminded me of a text I got about him way back in February. The message came after Jobst tossed his fifth scoreless inning to start the year. His line at that point: 5 IP 2 H 0 ER 1 BB 10 K. As a big man (6-3, 260) capable of throwing hard (mid- to upper-90s) who was doing what he was doing in the middle of the slow start to the season, it made perfect sense I’d be getting a text about such a cool guy, especially when you consider my life goal of finding the next Todd Coffey (minus the casual racism!) being well-known in certain social circles. Turned out to be a good call by the texter as the big righthander finished the year blowing away 15.09 batters per nine with a 5.03 BB/9 to go with it. That was good enough to get him drafted in the fifteenth round and good enough to make him a fun off-the-radar prospect to root for.

16.481 – LHP Willie Rios

Maybe the Orioles got a number of good long looks at Willie Rios in his one season playing in their backyard at Maryland. His sophomore season at Florida Southwestern State had a little good (88-93 FB, 95 peak; low-80s SL with promise; athleticism; 10.96 K/9) and a little not so good (underdeveloped slower stuff including a low-80s CU and a mid-70s CB; 7.79 BB/9), but there’s clearly enough here to work with as a potential effectively wild matchup lefty.

18.541 – LHP Layne Bruner

The last take I had on Layne Bruner on the site came after his senior year of high school…

LHP Layne Bruner (Aberdeen HS, Washington): 84-87 FB, 89 peak; interesting 74 CB; good athlete; 6-2, 170 pounds

He only pitched 46.2 total innings at Washington State, but that didn’t stop Baltimore from drafting him a second time after first making a run at him back in 2013. They clearly see something in him they like. His fastball velocity has ticked up a bit since then — more upper-80s, occasional low-90s — and his curve has become an even more consistent go-to offspeed pitch, so maybe they are on to something here. Maybe he’s another effectively wild (11.85 BB/9 in 2014, 10.96 BB/9 in 2015, 15.30 BB/9 in 2016…but only 3.77 BB/9 in his pro debut!) matchup lefty down the line.

19.571 – OF Cole Billingsley

Nice to see Cole Billingsley get his shot in the pros here in the nineteenth round. Here are a few words on him from early in the college season that still apply today…

The top two names on the hitting list are scuffling so far in the early going. Cole Billingsley, a favorite of mine thanks to outstanding athleticism, easy CF range, and above-average to plus speed, has had a slow start, but figures to get things rolling before too long. He’s a high-contact hitter who doubles as one of college ball’s best bunters. The entire package adds up to standout fourth outfielder if it all works in pro ball.

I think that holds up pretty well. Twenty-nine other teams in baseball would be cool with landing a potential backup outfielder in the nineteenth round, so Baltimore definitely did well here.

20.601 – LHP Yelin Rodriguez

I don’t have much on Yelin Rodriguez, but the fact that the prep lefty doesn’t turn 18-years-old until November 3 is a good thing. The fact that he held his own as a 17-year-old in pro ball this summer is an even better thing. He’s on my list as a pro guy that I’d like to know more about in the coming years. Very deep sleeper.

21.631 – SS Chris Clare

Chris Clare got a mention in my notes for having a steady glove at both second base and shortstop. That alone should keep him cashing minor league checks for the foreseeable future. If he hits more than I think, then maybe he’s a utility guy.

22.661 – RHP Nick Gruener

Little bit surprising to see Nick Gruener sign with the Orioles after only his junior season at Harvard. Most of the non-premium Ivy League prospects that I can remember through the years tend to stay until their eligibility is exhausted. Good for him for betting on himself, I suppose. On a somewhat related but not super related note, the head coach for Harvard isn’t called the head coach. He’s the Joseph J. O’Donnell ’67 Head Coach for Harvard Baseball. That’s something.

I’m terrible with name pronunciations, but it just occurred to me that the Orioles selected a Bruner and a Gruener within four rounds of each other. Maybe that’s funny, maybe it isn’t.

23.691 – LHP Tyler Erwin

Tyler Erwin is the great-great-great nephew of former United States President James K. Polk. He also struck out 10.69 batters per nine in his junior year at New Mexico State. It’s likely only of those two things will help him advance up the professional ladder. Which one is it? Time will tell.

24.721 – LHP Zach Matson

Roughriders is one of the best sports team names out there. I’m writing that in for any and all future expansion teams if the team name voting goes public. Zach Matson was a Crowder Roughrider. He struck out 12.41 batters per nine over 48.2 innings pitched. Only thing I’ve heard on him was that he was effective when he was doing it with more offspeed than gas, but as his fastball grew and grew — mid-80s to upper-80s to low-90s over the last few seasons — his overall game flourished.

26.781 – 1B Jaime Estrada

Though called out as a third baseman during the draft, Jaime Estrada split time in his pro debut fairly evenly between both third AND second. That makes an intriguing prospect all the more…intriguing. It’s past time for me to invest in a thesaurus. Anyway, all Estrada did in his two years at Central Arizona was hit .373/.515/.536 with 83 BB/41 K and 18/20 SB in 338 AB. Numbers are a little inflated there, sure, but that kind of approach plays in any environment. I’m firmly on his bandwagon. I also really just like that Central Arizona team. In this past draft, Brent Gibbs, Dakody Clemmer, and Estrada all signed with pro teams. Caleb Henderson was drafted, but instead opted to enroll at New Mexico State. George Castillo is going to Long Beach. Mitchell Robinson is off to Portland. Ernie De La Trinidad is now at UNLV. That was one loaded roster. And they reloaded again for what looks like another very intriguing (there’s that word again) 2017 squad with all kinds of draft implications. Reviewing the 2016 draft is fun and all, but I’m so ready to start talking 2017…

28.841 – RHP Matt De La Rosa

I absolutely LOVE this pick. Not because I knew anything about Matt De La Rosa before the draft. Heck, I had never even heard of Lenoir-Rhyne College. I’m still not convinced it’s a real place. But I love when a team takes an accomplished amateur hitter — De La Rosa hit .357/.459/.605 with 31 BB/36 K and 4/5 SB in 185 senior AB — and decides he’s better off as a pitcher instead. I love the idea that an area guy saw enough in De La Rosa’s rocky 5.1 innings this year (6 H 5 ER 6 BB 5 K) to give him a shot at doing his thing on the mound professionally. Sometimes I can be a little hard on the baseball writers of the world who speak of scouting in hushed reverential tones, so forgive me for the exact corniness I’d normally mock them for…but this is scouting at it was meant to be.

30.901 – 2B Garrett Copeland

Once upon a time this was written here about Baltimore’s eventual thirtieth round pick…

Garrett Copeland is one of the best second base prospects in the country that nobody talks about. He’s got nice speed, pop, and a sound approach at the plate.

Good for Baltimore for paying attention to one of college ball’s better kept secrets. Copeland faces an uphill battle to make it as a primary second baseman, so it was nice to see him get some time at the hot corner in his debut to help make him that much more versatile. I believe in the stick.

31.931 – OF Jake Ring

It’s pretty shocking that a sure-fire center fielder who has produced the way Jake Ring has in the SEC fell all the way to the thirty-first round. I’m sure the Orioles don’t mind it one bit. Ring has above-average to plus speed, a strong arm, that aforementioned easy center field range, and an approach at the plate that could make him a future leadoff hitter. Expecting a player nabbed this late in the game to make it as a regular is a bit optimistic even for me, but Ring could be that kind of outlier. More realistically, a long career as a backup outfielder could await. If he hits that ceiling from all the way down in the thirty-first round basement then everybody will come out a winner here.

33.991 – OF Markel Jones

I won’t pretend to know a lot about Markel Jones, but he’s another one of those guys that I’ve gotten nothing but positive feedback about since draft day. I’ve noticed that happens more often than not with junior college prospects. It’s one of the best parts of still having this site. He’s a great athlete who can run and defend, so at least there’s that. He also hit a whopping .406/.494/.699 with 37 BB/39 K and 23/26 SB in his final year at Brunswick CC.

34.1021 – RHP Lucas Brown

Undersized college righthander with average stuff across the board (86-90 FB, average SL and CU) with an effective (2.86 ERA in 2015, 3.10 ERA in 2016) yet underwhelming (6.14 K/9 in 2015, 6.29 K/9 in 2016) track record. That’s Lucas Brown.

35.1051 – 2B Tanner Kirk

Baltimore had Tanner Kirk do a little bit of everything in his pro debut. The former Wichita State shortstop played second, third, left, and right for the GCL Orioles. He even pitched two scoreless innings for good measure. That kind of versatility is likely his only shot at the big leagues as his bat is a little light cross the board. I was honestly a little surprised to see him drafted, but defensive do-everything types tend to be more valued by organizations who know the grind of minor league ball requires plug-and-play guys like Kirk than the outside work might think.

37.1111 – RHP James Teague

No problem taking a chance on a reliever out of the SEC in the thirty-seventh round. James Teague has a decent fastball (88-92) and an average or better slider. If he throws strikes, he’s got a chance.

38.1141 – 3B Collin Woody

As a first baseman/third baseman, Collin Woody’s got some power and a strong arm going for him. That’s where the O’s want him for the time being. I actually like him on the mound, a spot where his upper-80s sinker and solid change could look decent as a reliever. Long shot prospect either way.

40.1201 – RHP Joe Johnson

I really do love the MLB Draft. Joe Johnson, pick 1201, is an actual prospect of note. To be this far down the line and find a real prospect is so cool. Johnson saw his ups and downs over the years at Erskine College, but the submariner with a college career 9.83 K/9 and 2.47 BB/9 is just funky enough to make a little noise in pro ball.

Unsigned Prospects and Where You Can Find Them in 2017

Seth Shuman (Georgia Southern), Ben Brecht (UC Santa Barbara), Ryan Mauch (Long Beach State), Wil Dalton (San Jacinto JC), Daniel Bakst (Stanford), Will Toffey (Vanderbilt), Tyler Blohm (Maryland)

2016 MLB Draft Reviews – Chicago White Sox

Top 500 Prospects Drafted by Chicago in 2016

6 – Zack Collins
33 – Zack Burdi
38 – Jameson Fisher
64 – Alec Hansen
94 – Luis Curbelo
266 – Alex Call
357 – Ian Hamilton
418 – Mitch Roman

Complete List of 2016 Chicago White Sox Draftees 

And now a few words on some White Sox draft picks…

1.10 – C Zack Collins

The quick ascension of Zack Collins (6) to High-A ball got me curious as to how often a player reaches that level in his draft year. I decided to look back on every high profile college hitter drafted in the first round since this site started up in 2009 to see which hitters, if any, pulled off the same feat. The last college hitter that I found to get any High-A time in his draft season was Kyle Schwarber, who got 120 PA at levels below A+ before getting 191 PA in the Florida State League. I suppose the Cubs figured that Schwarber could handle a path similar to the one they had Kris Bryant embark on the year before. Bryant, the second overall pick in 2013, got 84 PA at levels below A+ before getting 62 PA at High-A. Pittsburgh’s Tony Sanchez also played at High-A in his rookie year, though his appearance at the level amounted to little more than a late season taste (13 PA). Three additional cases jumped out as particularly unique. Mike Zunino got 133 PA in Low-A before skipping High-A altogether and getting 57 PA in AA during his draft year. Then there’s Christian Colon and Grant Green. Both of the alliterative middle infielders were skipped immediately to High-A after their drafts concluded; Colon played the whole year there while Green, a later sign, managed to get his name on a contract just in time to get his first 20 professional PA there. Then there’s Corey Ray, fifth overall pick in the very same draft as Collins (and a native Chicagoan to boot!), who went right from signing to High-A right around the same time Collins was pulling it off. So, you know, maybe it’s not THAT rare after all, but it’s still kind of cool.

Anyway, Zack Collins! I’ve written a lot about this guy here over the years. Lots of love letters and poetry, but some actual baseball analysis mixed in as well. My favorite two blurbs…

April 2016…

I’m close to out of superlatives for Zack Collins’s bat. If he can catch, he’s a superstar. If he can’t, then he’s still a potential big league power bat capable of hitting in the middle of the championship lineup for the next decade. I realize first basemen aren’t typically sought after at the top of the draft. There are perfectly valid reasons for that. But any time you have the chance at a potential top five bat at any given position, I think it’s all right to bend the rules a little. Positional value is important, but so is premium offensive production. Collins hitting and hitting a lot as a professional is one of the things I’m most sure about in this draft class.

May 2016…

He’s the one I’ve comped to Schwarber stylistically. I actually think Collins is the better catcher and could stick there as a pro. Still might be best moving him out from behind the plate. I’ve just come up with a terrifying comp for him…Joey Votto. Maybe he’s one of those hitters that we shouldn’t compare young guys to, but then again…at the same age, Votto hit .256/.330/.425 with 52 BB/122 K in A+ ball. I could see Collins going to A/A+ this year after the draft and doing similar stuff.

As it turns out, we now know that Collins did go to A+ and do similar stuff! Here we go…

.258/.418/.467 – 25.5 K% and 21.6 BB% – 153 PA
.256/.330/.425 – 23.1 K% and 9.8 BB% – 529 PA

Top was Collins, bottom was Votto. Both were 21-years-old at High-A. Votto obviously had more pro time under his belt being a high school draftee. Votto is also obviously Votto. He’s one of a kind. It’s silly to compare anybody to him. But here we are. If moved to first base, I think Collins can be about 90% as good as Votto as a hitter. As a full-time catcher (give or take), I could see him being 80% as good a hitter as Votto. That’s enough for either a .280/.380/.480 line or a .250/.340/.425 line. The former is a little like 2016 Paul Goldschimdt (minus the steals) and the latter is something akin to fellow Hurricane Yasmani Grandal. That’s not Votto, but it’s still a tremendously valuable hitter.

I wrestled with whether or not there was enough value in the following sentence to bother including it here, but why not…I mean, we’re all pals here, right? My gut still says that Collins has a chance to go full Votto performance-wise if things break right. I just have to get that in writing to see how crazy it looks. I don’t know. I’m leaving it. My takes are typically fairly restrained around here, so I think I’m entitled to a scorcher every now and then. I love Zack Collins as a hitter. I can’t hide it.

1.26 – RHP Zack Burdi

On Zack Burdi (33) from October 2015…

Of all the rankings outside of the top ten, this is the one that could make me look dumbest by June. Burdi is a really tough evaluation for him right now because even after multiple years of being on the prospect stage it’s unclear (to me, at least) what role will eventually lead to him maximizing his ability. I’m reticent to throw him in the bullpen right away — many do this because of his last name, I think — because he’s shown the kind of diversity of stuff to stay in a rotation. Whether or not he has the command or consistency remain to be seen. Still, those concerns aren’t all that concerning when your fallback plan means getting to go full-tilt in the bullpen as you unleash a triple-digit fastball on hitters also guarding against two impressive offspeed pitches (CU, SL). It’s almost a win-win for scouting directors at this point. If he has a great spring, then you can believe him in as a starter long-term and grade him accordingly. If there’s still doubt, then you can drop him some but keep a close eye on his slip while being ready to pounce if he falls outside of those first few “don’t screw up or you’re fired” picks. You don’t want to spend a premium pick on a potential reliever, clearly, but if he falls outside of the top twenty picks or so then all of a sudden that backup bullpen plan is good enough to return value on your investment.

I actually try not to quote older stuff in these draft reviews (fine, that’s a lie…), but this felt like a special case to me. Despite a wildly successful junior season at Louisville, I approached Burdi with much the same confusion in June as I did way back in fall ball of last year. Here I sit staring at updated scouting reports and 38.0 quality pro innings (mostly in AA and AAA), and I still don’t know what to make of Burdi. At this rate he’ll be kicking back on a beach somewhere long retired before I make any kind of definitive statement about what kind of pitcher Burdi will be. Thankfully, we don’t have to know anything concrete at this stage of his development; all we need to know is that he’s really good at pitching. That last sentence from October summed it up then as it sums it up now: “You don’t want to spend a premium pick on a potential reliever, clearly, but if he falls outside of the top twenty picks or so then all of a sudden that backup bullpen plan is good enough to return value on your investment.” Even with Burdi’s potentially translatable gifts working in a starting role, I would have been way too risk-averse to draft a future reliever early in the draft to make a move on him in the top twenty or so picks. The White Sox took him at twenty-six, a spot that felt just about right — I had him 33rd — when it came to balancing the pros and cons of his two potential career paths.

It occurs to me now that Burdi will enter 2017 in a fairly similar position to the one Edwin Diaz of Seattle came into this present season. Hmm…

2.49 – RHP Alec Hansen

On Alec Hansen (64) from April 2016…

The biggest current question mark in the college game has to be Alec Hansen. He’s steadily pitched his way from the 1-1 conversation to the top five to the top ten to potentially all the way out of the first round. I’m no doctor — just a man who loves him some unsourced speculation — but the dots that connect Hansen’s summer away from the mound (forearm tightness) to his dreadful 2016 start are enough to raise an eyebrow. Truthfully, disclosure of a potential injury might just be the best thing that could happen to his draft stock at this point. I’ve linked Hansen’s rise and (as it has turned out) fall to that of Michael Matuella’s from last year. Still think that’s likely how this all plays out come June, but we’ll see. A healthy Hansen with the right kind of professional coaching could front a rotation.

Both the lack of an officially diagnosed injury and the delightfully aggressive drafting of the White Sox kept Hansen from falling quite as far as Matuella did (78th overall in 2015). I’d imagine Chicago was pretty pleased with that turn of events. All Hansen did after inking his name to a pro contract was pitch his ass off: 13.35 K/9 and 3.30 BB/9 in 54.2 IP (1.32 ERA). Hindsight is a beautiful thing and 54.2 knockout innings do not a career make, but I have a sneaking suspicion that many, many, many teams will regret not risking a second round pick on a talent like Hansen. Heck, I ranked him 64th and I’m kicking myself over not being more daring on draft day right there with them. As we said in April: “A healthy Hansen with the right kind of professional coaching could front a rotation.” We might be seeing that transformation take place right in front of our faces. Good for Hansen and good for the White Sox.

3.86 – OF Alex Call

The White Sox liked Alex Call (266) about six more rounds than I did, and the early returns have made them look smarter than some weird guy on the internet. Good work, Chicago. Call destroyed opposing pitching while at Ball State to the tune of a .358/.443/.667 line with 29 BB/29 K and 17/21 SB in 243 AB. He then went out and hit .308/.394/.445 with 34 BB/58 K and 14/20 SB in 337 PA split between the Pioneer League and Low-A. Not a bad little pro debut for the well-rounded righthander. Whenever I’m off with a guess like Call’s pre-draft ranking, I like to reach out to smarter people than myself to get more information and create a fuller picture of the player I whiffed on. One person said they “couldn’t see Call not” (quoting this part to point out I’m innocent of the questionable yet emphatic grammar choice) being a useful big league player; his floor is a Ryan Raburn type, a handy fourth outfielder who can knock around lefthanded pitching as well as anybody. The most optimistic comp I got for Call was former White Sox outfielder Nick Swisher, minus the switch-hitting. A comp like that warrants a closer look…

.348/.470/.620 with 43 BB/33 K in 184 AB
.358/.443/.667 with 29 BB/29 K in 243 AB

Top was Swisher’s junior season at Ohio State, bottom was Call at Ball State. I wouldn’t have guessed them as being that close going off of memory. Here’s more…

.242/.360/.410 with 39 BB/59 K in 274 PA (majority in High-A)
.308/.394/.445 with 34 BB/58 K in 337 PA (majority in Low-A)

Top was Swisher’s pro debut, bottom was Call’s pro debut. How about that? Call is a fine prospect that I overlooked to a degree because of this year’s loaded college outfield class. When a guy has his kind of approach with average or better tools across the board, you take notice. I’m noticing later than I would have liked, but still early enough in his pro career that I’ll be ready to bust out the extra obnoxious told-you-so’s if he takes off. That’s one of the joys of having a website, after all. I’m only in it for the sweet sweet told-you-so’s.

4.116 – OF Jameson Fisher

I liked Jameson Fisher (38) enough to rank him in my top 500 — 499th, to be fair — in 2015 even as he was coming off an entire season lost to injury. Now that he’s put together an excellent final season at Southeastern Louisiana and a highly successful run in the Pioneer League, I like him even more. A little history, first going back to March 2015…

In fairness, Southeastern Louisiana JR C Jameson Fisher is a really, really good prospect. The injury is an undeniable bummer not only because it’s a year of lost development in a critical time for a player’s long-term future but also because it brings further into question his long-term defensive home (even more than his raw glove originally did). If Fisher can’t catch, I don’t know what to think about him as a pro prospect. Like many college backstops, so much is dependent on how long and how well they can hold up defensively behind the dish. I believe in Fisher’s bat as being potentially league average or better both in terms of contact rates and power upside, but the doubt about his defense is an issue not to be taken lightly. I know nothing about Fisher’s mindset heading into June, but if I had to guess I’d assume that it’s very unlikely that a team will draft him high enough (and offer enough cold hard cash) to get him to leave college after a year away from the field. If that’s the case, we’re in for another year’s worth of “can he or can’t he” defensive debate. Can’t wait.

And then about a year later in February 2016…

I’ve been on record as being a big C/1B Jameson Fisher fan, so consider me damn excited for his return to the field in 2016. If his arm allows him to show off behind the plate this spring, I could see him rising up into that round five to ten area where he belongs.

So much of the conversation about Fisher on this site has been about his glove that I can only explain the lack of chatter about his bat as proof that I never wavered about it being big league quality. Fisher can flat hit. In a perfect world he’d be healthy and a catcher and one of the best prospects in baseball. In reality, he’s an outfielder with enough stick to be a fixture in a big league club’s lineup. That’ll play. Incidentally, I really like my pre-draft comp to Mark Zagunis, especially now that the two are on crosstown rivals.

5.146 – RHP Jimmy Lambert

A weird line in Low-A is what initially caught my eye about Jimmy Lambert: good peripherals (9.10 K/9 and 3.34 BB/9), iffy run prevention (5.76 ERA), and some rotten luck with his record (0-5 in just 29.2 IP). Losing five games in 29.2 innings of work seems kind of hard to do, no? Whatever. Since none of that tells us all that much about his future, let’s get into what convinced Chicago to take him in this past year’s fifth round. Lambert has a live arm (88-92, 94 peak), plenty of baseball smarts (high degree of pitchability, if you care for the term), and solid control. It’s a back-end starter strike-throwing profile that could ultimately prove more effective in a relief role. That’s where I see Lambert making it, if he does in fact make it at all. I’m bearish on his future. Baseball is hard, you know?

6.176 – SS Luis Curbelo

Luis Curbelo (94), drafted as a shortstop, was expected by many (including me) to make the transition to third base sooner rather than later as a pro. So far, that hasn’t been the case as the native Puerto Rican has instead played predominantly short and second in his young career. You never know what you’re going to get with a high school hitter due to the varying levels of competition, so the narrative on Curbelo isn’t entirely dissimilar to many of his 2016 prep peers. The tools — power and arm strength, most notably — are impressive, as is the very high likelihood that he’ll remain an infielder in some capacity be it second, third, or maybe against all odds short. Whether or not he can hit advanced pitching, however, will remain a question until it’s not. There was enough good in his rocky debut to keep the same hope felt pre-draft alive for now.

(I wasn’t sure where to wedge this in above because I’m a bad/lazy writer, so I’ll do it parenthetically after the fact: one of the post-draft comps I got on Curbelo is former third round pick and current Phillies minor leaguer Jan Hernandez. Do what you will with that.)

7.206 – LHP Bernardo Flores

For some players, timing is everything. Bernando Flores, a lefty with plenty of good days and plenty of not so good days this past spring at USC, is one of those players. On his best days, Flores threw darts. We’re talking consistent low-90s heat (up to 95) with a pair of average or better offspeed pitches. On those not so good days, he was more mid- to upper-80s with his fastball with little to no confidence in his otherwise solid changeup. On a good day, that’s an arm worth a top five round pick. On a less good day, it’s a profile more typical of a mid-teens lottery ticket. The White Sox split the difference (favoring the good) and popped Flores in the seventh round. If he can achieve his back-end starting pitcher destiny, then he’ll have done more than enough to justify Chicago’s faith in him. Even if he has to transition to the pen at some point — a distinct possibility as shorter outings could lead to more consistency stuff-wise from game to game — Flores remains talented enough to bring back more than his share of value. I’ll borrow from the White Sox thinking and split the difference: I see him as a fifth starter/swingman good enough to reach the highest level, though perhaps not without a few ups and downs (and maybe a different organization or two) along the way.

8.236 – C Nate Nolan

I say it often, but one of the few pieces of interesting constructive criticism I frequently get here is that I’m too positive. Anybody who knows me in real life would surely disagree with such claims, but when it comes to talking on the internet about young baseball players chasing a dream, I suppose I can get a little too “best case scenario” at times. Well, there’s no way to sugarcoat Nate Nolan’s start in pro ball. The former St. Mary’s catcher had just about as bad a debut as possible. The most depressing thing about his bad start is that it was wholly predictable; there’s a reason why he didn’t crack my top 500 (and landed 66th among college catchers), so when the White Sox took him at 236 I was a little taken aback. There’s no questioning Nolan’s plus raw power and above-average or better arm strength. Those two factors alone are enough to get a chance in pro ball. His approach, however, is a mess.

Nolan hit .264/.364/.481 as a junior at St. Mary’s with 28 BB and 81 (!) K. His college career BB to K ratio was 47 to 167. Then he went out and hit .138/.241/.203 with 14 BB and 62 K in his pro debut. That’s 61 BB to 229 K total. There isn’t a baseball fan among us who doesn’t enjoy catchers with big power and strong arms, but that approach is too much to get past. I don’t understand this pick at all.

9.266 – SS Max Dutto

Everybody who’s into this draft thing knows about Lucas Erceg going from Cal to Menlo College. Few realized (myself included) that he wasn’t the only Golden Bear to jump ship. Max Dutto went from hitting .222/.411/.346 with 22 BB/28 K in 81 AB in the PAC-12 to a far more robust .276/.456/.594 with 44 BB/56 K in 170 AB in the Golden State Athletics Conference. I’ll be honest: his pop, glove, and plate discipline make me mad that I missed on him this past spring. He’s interesting.

10.296 – 3B Zach Remillard

The White Sox continue to be one of the most refreshingly aggressive franchises when it comes to where they opt to place their most recent class of draftees. Getting a tenth round pick like Zach Remillard up to full-season ball (Kannapolis in the South Atlantic League) for 116 PA is Exhibit Z for supporting said aggression. One might wonder about the wisdom of pushing a guy like Remillard — ironically enough, “too aggressive for his own good” was a phrase used in his pre-draft report here — but I support the decision. There are no rules that can’t be broken, but, generally speaking, if you think enough of a college prospect to draft him in the first place, then he should be ready enough to spend at least a little time outside of short-season ball in his debut. Major college players, especially hitters, don’t need to go to rookie ball. Good for Chicago for realizing this.

As for Remillard the player and not the abstract organizational concept, not much has changed from when I wrote about him way back in January 2015…

The breakout season for JR 3B Zach Remillard (Coastal Carolina) is coming. It has to be since it hasn’t happened yet. That’s infallible logic if I’ve ever heard it. Remillard is a really well-rounded talent who sometimes gets himself in trouble by expanding the zone and trying to do too much at the plate. If he can just ease up just a touch with his overly aggressive approach, then he could begin to produce enough overall offensive value to project as a potential regular at the hot corner. The more realistic forecast is as an offense-first utility player capable of playing 1B, 2B, 3B, and maybe the outfield corners.

Still waiting on a true breakout season, so it seems like it is time to accept the reality that he’s a bat-first utility guy if he makes it all. I’m less hopeful than I’d like to be based on his approach, but his physical gifts give him a shot.

11.326 – RHP Ian Hamilton

I’m pretty comfortable with where I finished with Ian Hamilton (357) back in April…

It’s back of the rotation type starter stuff if it continues to come back. Ian Hamilton could have similar upside (or better) if you’re the type who believes in him as a starter at the next level. He’s got the offspeed stuff (above-average 80-86 SL that flashes plus and an average 80-84 CU) to go through a lineup multiple times. He’s also highly athletic. Those are the points in his favor if you like him as a starter. I’m willing to be talked into it, but the way his fastball plays up in short bursts (consistently 92-96, up to 99) as opposed to the 90-93 he sits as a starter has me still liking him more as a fireman out of the pen.

The White Sox had him get a few starts in at Low-A before the season finished, so clearly they want to see him starting up close and personal before making any long-term change to his role. I can certainly appreciate that. It could be because I recently finished up a draft review for Philadelphia, but I can’t help but see some similarities between Hamilton and Grant Dyer, formerly of UCLA and currently part of the Phillies organization. Both profile best (to me) as pro relievers, but were pushed into starting roles by their PAC-12 school for the good of the team. I could see both having long fruitful careers pitching out of big league bullpens, with Dyer being more the middle innings type and Hamilton potentially working the late inning relief. I don’t question Chicago doing everything in their power to make it work in the rotation first, but I still see Hamilton eventually becoming a reliever, though potentially a very good one. All else being equal, give me upper-90s in relief over low-90s as a starter.

12.356 – SS Mitch Roman

Mitch Roman (418) played SS and 2B after signing and pretty well at both spots. As a potential high-contact, solid fielding, above-average to plus running utility infielder, the former Wright State standout was very good value in the twelfth round. I approve.

13.386 – C Michael Hickman

Michael Hickman is living proof that sometimes players fall through the cracks here. That’s the downside of this being a one-man show. Hickman went from being ranked 242 out of high school in 2015 to being unranked after a solid junior college season (.345/.442/.610 with 17 BB/38 K in 177 AB) at powerhouse Chipola in 2016. Technically he was only unranked nationally on the final board; he came in 48th on my college catcher list. Buying Hickman is buying his lefthanded power and impressive bat speed while living with some swing-and-miss and rough defensive edges. At this point in the draft, that trade-off is well worth a shot.

14.416 – RHP Bryan Saucedo

I had nothing on Bryan Saucedo before the draft. Big, Canadian, and a Hard Thrower. That’s what should go on Saucedo’s business cards. He was one of four player selected out of Davenport University, a NAIA school in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Davenport University! Of course! I really should have seen it coming. I’ll do better next year.

15.446 – RHP Jake Elliott

The White Sox drafted both Alec Hansen and Jake Elliott from the Sooners staff, so that makes the following from April all the more relevant…

I had some friends come into the season armed and ready with a Jake Elliott is the better long-term prospect than Alec Hansen take. That talk has quieted down as Elliott’s start has just about equaled Hansen’s…and not in a good way. His arm talent is still really impressive: 86-92 FB (94 peak), average 75-80 breaking ball, and a 77-80 change that borders on plus.

Elliott’s disastrous 2016 season at Oklahoma knocked him way down draft boards this spring. The White Sox had him fall into their laps in round fifteen. I’ll bust out the all-caps to announce this pick as one of the draft’s biggest STEALS. There’s no other way to look at it. Elliott has a great arm, great frame, and has shown flashes of great all-around stuff. Whatever issues he had in his draft year — I know nothing concrete, but one source said it was nothing more than “draft year-itis” — seem well on their way to getting sorted out in the professional ranks. Things fell apart quickly for Elliott in the college half of his 2016. Things appeared to come back together just as quickly on the pro side. Things could swing back the other way at some point in the near future. Nobody knows. But gambling on a talent like Elliott figuring things out (again, so far so good here) for the low low price of a fifteenth round pick and $100,000? That’s a no-brainer. This isn’t just one of my favorite Chicago picks, this is one of my favorite picks in the entire 2016 MLB Draft. If the breaking ball doesn’t improve, then stick him in the bullpen and let him do his best Ryan Madson impression.

16.476 – RHP Ben Wright

Ben Wright was challenged with an assignment to Low-A. Ben Wright succeeded in said challenge, holding his own in 30.2 solid if unspectacular innings for the Intimidators. I can’t quite say for sure what drew the White Sox to Ben Wright in the first place (I have no scouting buzz to offer on him and his 2016 college stats were #bad), but, hey, so far so good.

17.506 – RHP Brad Haymes

Upper-80s fastball that can scrape 90, a decent curve, and good size. Those are the things a scout might use to try to sell his or her team on Brad Haymes. A more analytically motivated thinker could point to his outstanding four years at Gardner-Webb, a run that culminated in a year-long stretch of ace-level pitching as a senior. Put those two approaches together and you’ve got yourself a seventeenth round draft pick.

18.536 – RHP Lane Hobbs

I’m not a Lane Hobbs expert. I could pretend, but that would only kill whatever shred of credibility I still possess. I do know that he had a good debut. I also know that the White Sox saw enough in him coming out of Concordia (where I know he had an awesome junior year) to give him a nifty little $80,000 bonus. I know that he’s big. If you didn’t know those things, well, now you do. If you did know them, then maybe it’s time to start your own draft site. I’d read it.

19.566 – 1B Anthony Villa

A fine if otherwise nondescript debut for Anthony Villa’s pro career was made notable (for me) by his starting four games at the hot corner in addition to his regular duty at first base. If he can handle third, a position he does have experience at going back to his days at St. Mary’s (second Gael taken by the White Sox, if you’re scoring at home), then he’s got a sliver of a shot of making it. As a first baseman only, however, it would be a steep uphill battle.

20.596 – RHP Matt Foster

Size doesn’t really seem to matter much to the White Sox as they continue to tick off college relievers with the selection of Matt Foster. What Foster lacks in size, he makes up for with an above-average fastball (90-94) and breaking ball mix. It’s rare that a pitcher from the SEC with good stuff and great results (11.03 K/9 and 2.92 ERA in 40.0 IP) could be this overlooked. Nice work by Chicago here as Foster did more of the same (12.47 K/9 and 0.61 ERA in 29.2 IP) as a pro.

21.626 – LHP Michael Horejsei

Michael Horejsei is on the older side for a recent draft pick — he turned 24-years-old about a month into his pro career — but there’s no denying his effectiveness. His final year at Ohio State: 11.32 K/9 and 2.61 BB/9 in 31.0 IP (2.61 ERA). His first year in the pros, the majority of which was spent in Low-A: 9.23 K/9 and 2.48 BB/9 in 40.0 IP (0.90 ERA). I’ve heard from a source who told me that the White Sox believe Horejsei is more or less ready to pitch in the big leagues now (in part because he’s done developing and is what he is at this point) and expect him to potentially get a shot at doing just that as early as mid-season next year. There’s nothing sexy about taking an undersized matchup lefty lacking premium stuff, but that’s a pretty damn sexy potential outcome for a twenty-first round pick.

22.656 – OF Joel Booker

On Joel Booker from March 2015…

Iowa JR OF Joel Booker remains a bit of a mystery man to me, but crazy speed, premium athleticism, and considerable arm strength paint the picture of a strong overall prospect. Booker destroyed junior college ball the past two seasons (.403/.451/.699 last year) and has adjusted fairly well to big time college ball so far this year. The big question even as he was annihilating juco pitching was how his high-contact, minimal bases on ball approach would play as the competition tightened. It’s still a concern, but it might just be one of those tradeoffs we have to accept in a flawed prospect. Booker’s aggression nature defines him at the plate; pushing him into more of a leadoff approach could neuter his unusually adept bat-to-ball ability just as easily as it could take him to the next level as a prospect.

He wound up struggling for much of his junior season at Iowa before taking off as a senior in 2016. He kept those positive vibes going with a really strong debut pro season. His approach is still a little too aggressive for his own good and his in-game power remains a bit of a question mark, but, as I said back in the day, crazy speed, premium athleticism, and considerable arm strength paint the picture of a strong overall prospect. There’s enough here to think of him as a potential quality backup outfielder.

23.686 – SS Sam Dexter

The pride of Southern Maine, Sam Dexter is now one of the four players named Dexter to get a mention on this site. Previously, they’ve all been first names: Dexter Kjerstad, Dexter Spitsnogle, and Dexter Bobo. Sam Dexter, announced as a shortstop at the time of the draft, played exclusively second and third in his pro debut. He’s also just one of an even dozen players to be drafted out of Southern Maine in the school’s history.

24.716 – 3B Brady Conlan

I didn’t have have Brady Conlan in my notes prior to the draft, but if I had I think I would have championed his cause leading up to the big day. His numbers at Cal State Dominguez were excellent (.413/.469/.550 with 14 BB/12 K in 189 AB), though the usual caution that comes with senior season stats applies for the 23-year-old third baseman. “Older, but a little interesting” is how I jotted down my feelings on Conlan as the draft concluded. Sounds about right.

27.806 – RHP Mike Morrison

I don’t quite know how one of college baseball’s best relievers lasted past pick eight hundred. Mike Morrison has come up huge on the biggest stages of college ball, put up consistently stellar strikeout rates (10.04 K/9 in 2014, 11.37 K/9 in 2015, 12.81 K/9 in 2016), and improved his control with every season at Coastal Carolina. That’s all well and good, one might think, but maybe he’s one of those great college pitchers who lack the stuff to make it in the pros. Lots of guys can get by with junk right up until the exact moment that they can’t. Morrison isn’t that kind of guy. Nobody will tell you he has big league closer stuff (nobody I know, anyway) and nor should they, but what Morrison brings to the mound is more than enough to get pro hitters swinging and missing. Morrison’s average fastball (87-92) plays up thanks to good command, and his 75-78 curve is a potential out pitch against even the most advanced hitting. I’ll admit that it’s at least possible that Morrison will be one of those guys consistently gets results at lower-levels until the moment opposing offenses begin to outclass his stuff (some guys sell their souls for college magic and can never replicate that success in the pros…I get it), but I’m not going to be the one to bet against him. Mike Morrison: twenty-seventh round pick and future big league pitcher.

28.836 – OF Aaron Schnurbusch

It’s hard not to be a little intrigued at Aaron Schnurbusch after his outstanding debut. He gets even more appealing when you consider his two-way past. The big (6-5, 235), athletic, power-hitting lefty could be set to take off now that he can focus 100% of his attention on the finer aspects of mashing taters. Or he could just be another mid-round slugger taking advantage of younger competition in a relatively small sample. Hopefully, some of those questions will begin to be answered next spring. Like Fisher and Booker, Schnurbusch should get a chance to go right to High-A next season. All of these guys will be 23-years-old, so the clock is ticking a little louder than it would normally be for such recent picks. Between those three and Alex Call, the Winston-Salem outfield could be quite interesting next season. I had initially worried that there could be a logjam there, but it should work out. Landon Lassiter and Michael Suiter should both move to AA while Louie Lechich, one of my all-time biggest draft whiffs, could be heading towards unemployment. Micker Adolfo could join the aforementioned four to start the year in the Carolina League, as could Tyler Sullivan. All in all, it’s a fun group. Knowing the White Sox, it wouldn’t be a shocker if one (Call) or more (Fisher) either start the year in AA or move there very quickly.

30.896 – RHP Pat Cashman

Undersized righthander with a nice fastball (up to 93) coming off a senior season with strong peripherals (9.13 K/9 and 2.68 BB/9). That’s Pat Cashman.

32.956 – RHP Sean Renzi

I think the White Sox did very well for themselves as they shopped for late-round senior-sign relief help. The odds against any of these guys making it are obviously quite long, but it seems to me they took some smart chances. Perhaps more importantly, they took a lot of chances. You have to play to win, they say, and more lottery tickets equals more chances at that jackpot. In this case, the big money prize likely amounts to a decent middle reliever, but every little bit of cheap, homegrown talent helps in the big picture. Anyway, Sean Renzi is a big guy with a good arm (low-90s heat) and a delivery that’s tough on righthanders to pick up. He’s got some wildness to overcome, but the raw arm talent is appealing.

33.986 – LHP Ryan Boelter

I’m not sure he has the potential to move quite as quick as Michael Horejsei (see my slightly informed speculation about that above), but Ryan Boelter seems to have the two-pitch combo working enough for him that a quick rise up the chain wouldn’t come as much of a shock. With a solid fastball (86-91) and a similarly useful change, the big lefty can miss bats. He’s the second pitcher selected by the White Sox out of Gardner-Webb here in 2016. That makes the White Sox guilty of doubling up at six different universities this spring: Chipola JC, Coastal Carolina, Gardner-Webb, Oklahoma, Southeastern Louisiana, and St. Mary’s. That means 30% of their total 2016 MLB Draft picks came from just six schools. Around 300 universities play DI baseball. Around 500 schools offer junior college baseball. Out of 800+ D1 and junior college schools (to say nothing of the roughly 800 or so combined D2, D3, and NAIA baseball schools), the White Sox found 40% of their college talent from six schools. I don’t know what to make of that. 30% total and 40% college, all from six schools. Are pro teams really doing all that they can be doing to cover as much ground as possible in 2016? Or are we still taking shortcuts and relying too much on narrow views and old school connections?

Unsigned Prospects and Where You Can Find Them in 2017

Caleb Henderson (New Mexico State), Reese Cooley (Miami), Drew Puglielli (Barry), Tyler Gordon (Prairie View A&M), Zach Farrar (Oklahoma), Leo Kaplan (Northwestern), Justin Lavey (Louisville), Brandon Bossard (Heartland CC), Garrett Acton (Saint Louis), Charlie Madden (Mercer)

2016 MLB Draft First Round Analysis

Digging through the archives to give a little context on some of the first round picks so far. This will update as long as I stay awake tonight…

1.1 – Philadelphia Phillies | La Costa Canyon HS OF Mickey Moniak (3rd on BDR BIG 500)

December 2015…

The extra bit of youth isn’t what gives Moniak the edge for me, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. What separates Moniak at this present moment is his ability to hit the ball hard everywhere. Sometimes simplistic analysis works. The manner in which Moniak sprays line drives and deep flies to all fields resembles something a ten-year veteran who flirts with batting titles season after season does during BP. Trading off a little bit of Rutherford’s power for Moniak’s hit tool and approach (both in his mindfulness as a hitter and his plate discipline) are worth it for me. Of course, check back with me in a few months…I had Meadows ahead of Frazier for a long time before giving in to the latter’s arm, power, and approach (as a whole-fields power hitter, not necessarily as an OBP machine). History may yet repeat itself, but I’ll take Moniak for now.

May 2016…

Actually, the Moniak and Nimmo parallels aren’t too far off besides the level of competition discrepancy. Check Baseball America’s pre-draft notes on Nimmo…

He’s an above-average runner when he’s healthy, which helps him on the basepaths and in center field, and there’s more to his game than just speed. Nimmo has a pretty, efficient lefthanded swing. He’s short to the ball and has outstanding barrel awareness, consistently squaring balls up and shooting line drives to all fields. He has a good eye at the plate and should be an above-average hitter. As he gets stronger, he could add loft to his swing to turn doubles into home runs.

I still believe in Nimmo as being a useful big league player, but perhaps the scouting profile similarities between the two ought to serve as a little bit of a warning for those already all-in on Moniak. Same could be said for the Starling/Rutherford tie-in, though that’s significantly less worrisome because of the latter being far more of a ballplayer than the former ever was; Starling’s issues weren’t simply because he was older for his class but rather because he was older and underdeveloped from a skills standpoint. Making up for lost time while learning the finer points of the game is hard work, but Rutherford’s actual on-field abilities should make the curve much shorter than Starling’s.

(Incidentally, I learned that we’re taken what a steep learning curve should be and flipped it to mean the opposite of the original intent. We talk about steep learning curves as if they note a difficult initial learning process, but a steep increase translates to a quick increment of skill. Wikipedia notes that the error is likely because of how we’ve taken to interpret the idea as climbing a hill. Climbing a steep hill is more difficult than attempting the same on a less steep version, so we assume a steep learning curve means learning something new will be tricky. Maybe this is all common knowledge, but I’ve been using steep learning curve wrong my whole life. If you’re like me, then you can at least walk away from this post learning something new…even if you think all my baseball takes are nonsense.)

Or maybe all of these forced comps are no more than false flags since, you know, comparing distinct individuals to other distinct individuals may not always tell us what we think (hope?) it does. I do, however, think there’s something to identifying players with similar physical traits, skills, and tools, and analyzing their respective career paths, at least on a very general, very preliminary level. I think we can all (mostly) agree that certain player types seem to succeed while others don’t, so there’s value in using historical data to see what has worked and what hasn’t. Besides Trenton Clark, Moniak has also been compared to Christian Yelich (source: everybody) and Steve Finley (Baseball America); I see a little Adam Eaton in his game, but Moniak is far more physical (bigger, too) at the same stage. One other recent draft name that reminded me of Moniak was this guy

He tied Hinch’s USA Baseball record by playing on his sixth national team, and scouts love his grinder approach and in-game savvy. What’s more, Almora has outstanding tools. The Miami signee, in one scout’s words, “has no issues. He’s got above-average tools everywhere, and they all play. He has tools and he uses them.” He doesn’t turn in blazing times when he runs in showcases (generally he’s a 6.8-second runner in the 60), but his game instincts help him steal bases and cover plenty of ground in center field. Scouts consider his defense major league-ready right now, with plus grades for his accurate throwing arm. With natural hitting rhythm and plenty of bat speed, [he] is a line-drive machine with a loose swing who stays inside the ball, relishes velocity and handles spin. He should have 20-homer power down the line, sufficient if he slows down and can’t play center, and a definite bonus if (as expected) he stays in the middle garden. He plays the game with both ease and energy and may have some projection left in his athletic 6-foot-1, 175-pound frame. The Miami signee is considered one of the draft’s safer picks and could sneak into the first 10 selections.

No comp is perfect, but as far as draft prospect parallels go, that’s not half-bad. If I’m alone on this so be it, but I believe thinking of Moniak as a lefthanded version of Albert Almora, the sixth overall pick in 2012, kind of works. Because we’re already up to five comps, what’s one more? A contact I trust dropped Ender Inciarte as a possible career path and production point of comparison for Moniak, assuming the power never really comes around. I see Moniak as a hitter just a tweak or three away from tapping into some of his average raw power more consistently, so anything in that 45/50 scouting grade band (12-18 HR) feels within reach for him at maturity. For all the comps thrown Moniak’s way this spring, it’s really hard to top the Yelich one. I think that’s one of the better comps of any prospect in recent years. I really like Yelich. I really like Moniak.

1.2 – Cincinnati Reds | Tennessee 3B Nick Senzel (7th)

April 2016…

Nick Senzel is really good. I’ve compared him to Anthony Rendon in the past – the exact phrasing from my notes is “Rendon lite?” – and I think he’ll have a good long career as an above-average big league player. He also reminds me a little bit of this guy…

.338/.452/.561 – 31 BB/14 K – 16/17 SB – 148 AB
.393/.487/.592 – 45 BB/38 K – 13/14 SB – 262 AB

Top is Senzel, bottom is Kyle Seager. I’ve used the Seager comp a few (too many) times over the years, most recently on Max Schrock last season. Speaking of Schrock, how did he fall as far as he did last year? That one still blows my mind. Anyway, in an attempt to move away from the tired Seager comp, another name popped up…

.338/.452/.561 – 31 BB/14 K – 16/17 SB – 148 AB
.351/.479/.530 – 46 BB/26 K – 11/14 SB – 185 AB

Top is still Senzel. Mystery bottom guy was written up like so by Baseball America after his pro debut…

“He has a short, compact swing and hits the ball to all fields, and he handles breaking pitches well because of strong balance. Though he’s a physical 6-foot-1 and has good strength, [REDACTED] has a line-drive swing that doesn’t produce natural loft, leading some to project him to have below-average power. He earns high marks for his defense, with good feet and hands to go with an above-average arm at third base. He’s also versatile enough to have played second base, shortstop and left field for Team USA. He’s a good athlete and a solid-average runner.”

I would have linked his pre-draft report from BA, but they have the absolute worst log-in page on the entire internet. Anyway, the passage above was typed up from the 2009 Prospect Handbook. We’re talking about a guy who once played infield in the SEC. He had a similar draft year statistically. And he’s really broken out in his late-20s. Any guesses? When I’ve done mystery comps like this in the past I wouldn’t reveal the player. Then I’d search my site about a different player years later, come across the mystery comp post, and have no idea myself who I was talking about. So, yeah, it’s Logan Forsythe. My future self thanks my present self. I like Senzel to hit the big leagues running a bit more easily than Forsythe (i.e., I don’t think Senzel will enter his age-28 season with an OPS+ of 85), so maybe that would bump Senzel up over Forsythe as a guy with a higher floor. A couple of peak years like Forsythe’s seems like a reasonable ceiling projection. That’s a damn fine player. Supports the original claim: Nick Senzel is really good.

1.3 – Atlanta Braves | Shenendehowa HS RHP Ian Anderson (17th)

Early April 2016…

A pre-season FAVORITE who has only gone on to bigger and better things in the interim, Ian Anderson can make a case for being the top prep righthander in this class. He’s one of the handful of young arms with the potential for three plus pitches — 88-94 fastball (95 peak), 77-80 breaking ball, and a 80-85 change — but what truly separates him from the pack is his ten years in the big league veteran command. Fantasy owners rightfully scared off by high school pitchers — so far from the big leagues with so much time to get hurt! — not named Groome and Pint would be wise to include Anderson in that big three on draft day. One scout friend of mine called Anderson a “more explosive Aaron Nola.” A little bit of upside (or a lot), a little bit of certainty (very little, but still more than most HS arms)…where do I sign up?

Late April 2016…

Ian Anderson, a dark-horse 1-1 candidate, has everything you’d want to see in a high school righthander with worlds of projection left. He also helps my pet theory that there’s an easy shortcut to amateur scouting: just follow the recruits. If a player is committed to Vanderbilt, like Ian Anderson is, move him up ___ spots on your board. Let the college teams do the hard work for you! Vanderbilt, Florida, UCLA, LSU…if a guy has a commitment to a school on that level, then you should want to draft him. I loved Anderson as much as anybody as he began to put his name on the national map, but once he had that Vandy commit in his back pocket he started looking better than ever.

1.4 – Colorado Rockies | Saint Thomas Aquinas HS RHP Riley Pint (2nd)

April 2016…

A fantasy pick on a guy like Riley Pint is truly going all-in on upside. There have been a lot of challengers to his throne this spring, but Pint’s raw stuff is still the most impressive of any high school arm in this class. He’s the only prep prospect that I’m confident in putting future plus grades on three different pitches. Jay Groome, Ian Anderson, Alex Speas, Austin Bergner, and Forrest Whitley all could get there, but Pint’s already convinced me. He’s the singular most talented pitching prospect in the country. So why is listed as a mid-first round pick and not a slam dunk 1-1 here? If you’re reading this on your own volition — and I certainly hope there’s no crazed lunatic out there forcing random people to visit my site; that’s my job! — then you already know. Pint’s delivery has many of the smarter public talent evaluators concerned about how he’ll hold up pitching every fifth day. I’m less concerned about that because I’m fairly stubborn in my belief that there’s no such thing as “bad mechanics” since the mere act of throwing a baseball is bad and unnatural by definition. I’m just looking for a guy with athleticism who can repeat whatever he is doing on the mound consistently with an open-mindedness to receiving instruction and a willingness to adjust aspects of his craft as needed. I think Pint fits that bill. The one knock on the fire-balling righthander that I think could have some merit is the concern over his risk of injury going forward. Again, this isn’t something that I’m crazy with concern about — pitchers get hurt, so you have to be ready for that inevitability with any pitching prospect — but the idea that Pint’s most obvious selling point (100 MPH!) could also be his biggest red flag (too much velocity too soon) intrigues the heck out of me. That’s straight out of Shakespeare or The Twilight Zone or something. Red flags or not, Pint’s arm talent is unmistakable. He’s well worth a shot here and likely a whole heck of a lot higher. He’d be on my shortlist at 1-1 if I had a say.

1.5 – Milwaukee Brewers | Louisville OF Corey Ray (8th)

April 2016…

I don’t have much to add about all of the good that Ray brings to the field each game. If you’ve made your way here, you already know. Instead of rehashing Ray’s positives, let’s focus on some of his potential weaknesses. In all honesty, the knocks on Ray are fairly benign. His body is closer to maxed-out than most top amateur prospects. His base running success and long-term utility in center field may not always be there as said body thickens up and loses some athleticism. Earlier in the season Andrew Krause of Perfect Game (who is excellent, by the way) noted an unwillingness or inability to pull the ball with authority as often as some might like to see. Some might disagree that a young hitter can be too open to hitting it to all fields – my take: it’s generally a good thing, but, as we’ve all been taught at a young age, all things in moderation – but easy pull-side power will always be something scouts want to see. At times, it appeared Ray was almost fighting it. Finally, Ray’s improved plate discipline, while part of a larger trend in the right direction, could be a sample size and/or physical advantage thing more than a learned skill that can be expected each year going forward. Is he really the player who has drastically upped his BB% while knocking his K%? Or is just a hot hitter using his experience and intimidating presence – everybody knows and fears Corey Ray at the college level – to help goose the numbers? It should also pointed out that Ray’s gaudy start only ranks him seventh on the Louisville team in batting average, fourth in slugging, and ninth in on-base percentage. I’m not sure what that means, but it’s worth noting.

(I mentioned weaknesses I’ve heard, so I think it’s only fair to share my thoughts on what they mean for him going forward. I think he’s a center fielder at least until he hits thirty, so that’s a non-issue for me. The swing thing is interesting, but it’s not something I’m qualified to comment on at this time. And I think the truth about his plate discipline likely falls in between those two theories: I’d lean more towards the changes being real, though maybe not quite as real as they’ve looked on the stat sheet so far this year.)

So what do we have with Ray as we head into June? He’s the rare prospect to get the same comp from two separate sources this spring. Both D1Baseball and Baseball America have dropped a Ray Lankford comp on him. I’ve tried to top that, but I think it’s tough to beat, especially if you look at Lankford’s 162 game average: .272/.364/.477 with 23 HR, 25 SB, and 79 BB/148 K. Diamond Minds has some really cool old scouting reports on Lankford including a few gems from none other than Mike Rizzo if you are under thirty and don’t have as clear a picture of what type of player we’re talking about when we talk about a young Ray Lankford. One non-Lankford comparison that came to mind – besides the old BA comp of Jackie Bradley and alternatives at D1 that include Carlos Gonzalez and Curtis Granderson – was Charlie Blackmon. It’s not perfect and I admittedly went there in part because I saw Blackmon multiple teams at Georgia Tech, but Ray was a harder player than anticipated to find a good comparison for (must-haves: pop, speed, CF defense; bonus points: lefthanded hitter, similar short maxed-out athletic physique, past production similarities) than I initially thought. I think Blackmon hits a lot of the targets with the most notable difference being body type. Here’s a quick draft year comparison…

.396/.469/.564 – 20 BB/21 K – 25/30 SB – 250 AB
.331/.398/.611 – 18 BB/20 K – 31/36 SB – 157 AB

Top is Blackmon’s last year at Georgia Tech, bottom is Corey Ray (so far) in 2016. Here is Blackmon’s 162 game average to date: .287/.334/.435 with 16 HR, 29 SB, and 32 BB/98 K. Something in between Lankford (great physical comp) and Blackmon (better tools comp) could look like this: .280/.350/.450 with 18 HR, 27 SB, and 50 BB/120 K. That could be AJ Pollock at maturity. From his pre-draft report at Baseball America (I’d link to it but BA’s site is so bad that I have to log in and log out almost a half-dozen times any time I want to see old draft reports like this)…

Pollock stands out most for his athleticism and pure hitting ability from the right side. He has a simple approach, a quick bat and strong hands. Scouts do say he’ll have to stop cheating out on his front side and stay back more on pitches in pro ball…He projects as a 30 doubles/15 homers threat in the majors, and he’s a slightly above-average runner who has plus speed once he gets going. Pollock also has good instincts and a solid arm in center field.

Minus the part about the right side, that could easily fit for Ray. For good measure, here’s the Pollock (top) and Ray (bottom) draft year comparison…

.365/.445/.610 – 30 BB/24 K – 21/25 SB – 241 AB
.331/.398/.611 – 18 BB/20 K – 31/36 SB – 157 AB

Not too far off the mark. I’m coming around on Pollock as a potential big league peak comp for Ray. I think there are a lot of shared traits, assuming you’re as open to looking past the difference in handedness as I am. A friend offered Starling Marte, another righthanded bat, as an additional point of reference. I can dig it. Blackmon, Pollock, and Marte have each had above-average offensive seasons while showing the physical ability to man center field and swipe a bunch of bags. I also keep coming back to Odubel Herrera as a comparable talent, but I’m not sure I’m ready to go there just yet. He fits that overall profile, though. A well-rounded up-the-middle defender with above-average upside at the plate and on the bases who has the raw talent to put up a few star seasons in his peak: that’s the hope with Ray. The few red flags laid out above are enough to make that best case scenario less than a certainty than I’d want in a potential 1-1 pick, but his flaws aren’t so damning that the top ten (possibly top five) should be off the table.

1.6 – Oakland Athletics | Florida LHP AJ Puk (12th)

Late April 2016…

I’ve been tough on AJ Puk in the past, but I think I’m finally ready to give in. I’m at peace with him being the first overall pick in this year’s draft. I mean, we all knew the Phillies were all over him going back to when Pat Gillick went south down to Gainesville to watch him throw during fall ball, but only know am I ready to accept it as a good thing. Or, perhaps more accurately, I can now accept it at least as a non-bad thing. This was written here back in October…

If I had to predict what player will actually go number one this June, I’d piggy-back on what others have already said and put my vote in for AJ Puk. The Phillies are my hometown team and while I’m not as well-connected to their thinking as I am with a few other teams, based on the snippets of behind the scenes things I’ve heard (not much considering it’s October, but it’s not like they aren’t thinking about it yet) and the common sense reporting elsewhere (they lean towards a quick-moving college player, preferably a pitcher) all point to Puk. He’s healthy, a good kid (harmless crane climbing incident aside), and a starting pitcher all the way. Puk joining Alfaro, Knapp, Crawford, Franco, Williams, Quinn, Herrera, Altherr, Nola, Thompson, Eickhoff, Eflin, and Giles by September 2017 makes for a pretty intriguing cost-controlled core.

(It’s pretty great for Phillies fans that they can now swap out Giles’s name for Velasquez, Appel, and Eshelman. I’ve saved this analysis for friends and family I like to annoy with this sort of thing via email, but there are so many Cubs/Phillies rebuild parallels that it’s freaky. The only bummer is that there is no Kris Bryant in this class and that the Phillies might be too good in 2016 to land a Kyle Schwarber type next June. Still, where the Cubs were last year, I expect the Phillies to be in 2018. Enjoy this down time while you can, Mets and Nationals. The Phillies are coming fast.)

Now that May is here it’s time to accept the inevitability of Puk wearing red pinstripes…or, more immediately, Clearwater Thresher red and blue. I’ve long been in the “like but not love” camp when it comes to Puk, partly because of my belief there were superior talents ahead of him in this class and partly because of the handful of red flags that dot his dossier. The three biggest knocks on Puk coming into the season were, in some order, 1) command, 2) inconsistent quality of offspeed offerings, and 3) good but not great athleticism. It says a lot about what he does well that he’s risen as a prospect in my mind despite not really answering any of the questions we had for him coming into the season. All of this has held up so far…

Extension, deception, and power would be three words that come immediately to mind when describing Puk. He’s every bit of 6-7, 225 with a delivery that hides the ball damn well. His power comes both with his left arm (92-96, 98 peak) and at the plate (he’d quickly be among the better hitting pitchers in the game), so it’s no big shock that some guy on the internet (that’s me) sees some similarities between him and the prospect version of Madison Bumgarner.

I’ll be quick to point out again that it says “prospect version of Madison Bumgarner” without speaking to what the San Francisco ace grew into as a finished product in the big leagues. Bumgarner is a kind of special player who just kept adding on and getting better as he progressed up the chain. That’s not something that you can predict for any other prospect, though you can’t really rule it out either. You don’t know either way, is the point. Putting Bumgarner aside for now, I think there are two recent-ish draft lefthanders that can help create a basis for what to expect out of AJ Puk in the early stages of his pro career. In terms of a realistic prospect upside, Puk reminds me a great deal of recently promoted big league pitcher Sean Manaea.

Their deliveries are hardly identical – Puk is more over the top while Manaea slings it from more of an angle, plus Puk has a more pronounced step-back with his right foot at the onset and a longer stride, both aspects of his delivery that I personally like as it gives him better balance throughout – but they aren’t so different that you’d point to mechanics as a reason for tossing the comparison aside. They have similar stuff starting with fastballs close in velocity and movement (Puk has been 90-94 this year, up to 97), inconsistent yet promising low- to mid-80s sliders that flash above-average to plus (82-86 and more frequently showing above-average this year for Puk), and changeups still in need of development that clearly would be classified as distant third pitches (Puk’s has been 82-88 so far). Both have missed a lot of bats while also having their ups and downs in the control department with Puk being better at the former while Manaea maintained a slight edge at the latter. Both are also very well-proportioned, physical lefthanders with intimidating size with which they know how to use to their advantage.

A cautionary comparison for Puk might be current Mariners minor leaguer James Paxton. Paxton and Puk are closer mechanically – more similar with the height of their leg kick and overall arm action, though Paxton is more deliberate across the board — than Manaea and Puk, but the big difference between the former SEC lefthander and the current SEC lefthander is the breaking ball. Paxton’s bread and butter is a big overhand curve, a pitch that remains unhittable to this day when he can command it. Puk’s slider has its moments and it’s fair to expect it to develop into a true big league out-pitch (I do), but it’s not quite on that level yet. Paxton’s career has stalled for many of the same reasons some weren’t particularly high on Puk coming into the season: up and down fastball velocity partly attributable to a series of nagging injuries (also a problem of Manaea’s at times), an underdeveloped changeup, and consistently inconsistent command. I think Puk is ahead of where Paxton was at similar points in their development and prefer his ceiling to what we’ve seen out of Paxton to date, but the realistic floor comp remains in play.

One additional notable (or not) similarity between Puk, Manaea, Paxton, and Sean Newcomb, a fourth player often thrown into the mix as a potential Puk point of reference (it’s not bad, but Newcomb’s control issues are greater than anything Puk has dealt with), comes via each player’s respective hometown. We’ve got Cedar Rapids (IA), Valparaiso (IN), Ladner (BC), and Brockton (MA). That’s two raised in the Midwest, one in Canada, and one in New England. When you start to piece everything together, the similar career trajectories for each young pitcher (so far) begin to make some sense. All come from cold weather locales, all are large men with long limbs (thus making coordinating said limbs more of a challenge), and all are lefthanders, a fact that may or may not matter to you depending on your view of whether or not lefties really do develop later than their righthanded counterparts.

Put me down for a realistic Sean Manaea type of upside, a James Paxton floor, and the crazy pipe dream where literally everything works out developmentally ceiling of Madison Bumgarner. Do those potential career paths add up to a 1-1 draft pick? I’m not sure I have a good answer for that yet.

Early May 2016…

I’m cheating and tacking Puk back on at the end here even after he got his own post last week. Like many draft-obsessed individuals, I watched his most recent start against South Carolina with great interest. I’ve seen Puk a few times in person and tons of times on the tube, but it wasn’t until Saturday night that the comparison between him and Andrew Miller really hit me. I saw about a dozen Miller starts in person back in his Tar Heel days (in a very different time in my life) and watching Puk throw brings back all kinds of memories, good and bad. The frustrating thing about this comp is that it doesn’t really tell us much. Maybe we can use it as a baseline floor for what Puk could become – though Miller’s dominance out of the pen is a tough expectation to put on anybody as a realistic worst case scenario – but pointing out the similarities between the two (size, length, extension, delivery, mound demeanor, fastball, slider, underdeveloped change…even similar facially minus Miller’s draft year mustache) hardly means that Puk is destined to the same failed starter fate. I mean, sure, maybe it does, but there’s so much more that goes into being a successful big league starter than what gets put down on a scouting card. I love comps, but they are meant to serve as a starting point to the conversation, not to be the parting shot. Every player is unique and whatever extra reasons are out there for Miller not making it in the rotation should not be held against Puk. Maybe that’s obvious, but it doesn’t hurt to say it again. I do think that Puk, barring injury, has a pretty clear big league skill set in some capacity (maybe not -0.15 FIP out of the bullpen good, but still good) even if he doesn’t reach his ultimate ceiling. In that way he is similar to Miller, so at least there’s that to fall back on. The odds that you get nothing out of Puk, again barring injury, are slim to none. For the risk-averse out there, that’s a comforting thought.

1.7 – Miami Marlins | Florence HS LHP Braxton Garrett (18th)

LHP Braxton Garrett (Florence HS, Alabama): 87-92 FB, 94 peak; above-average to plus 74-81 CB, best at 80-83 this spring; average to above-average 79-86 CU with plus upside, best at 82-86; 87 cut-SL; plus command; impressive control; damn smart; ESPN comps: Cole Hamels and Jon Lester; FAVORITE; 6-3, 190 pounds

1.8 – San Diego Padres | Stanford RHP Cal Quantrill (20th) 

October 2015…

A case could be made that Quantrill is the most complete, pro-ready college arm in this year’s class. The fact that one could make that claim even after losing almost an entire season of development speaks to the kind of mature talent we’re talking about. Pitchability is a nebulous thing that isn’t easy to pin down, but you know it when you see it. Quantrill has it. He also has a plus changeup and a fastball with serious giddy-up.

April 2016…

On talent alone, Cal Quantrill deserves to be right there with Jefferies as a potential top ten overall pick contender. Last year’s Tommy John surgery and the subsequent lost time in 2016, however, complicate the matter, though it’s hard to say how much. Quantrill’s 77-81 MPH change-up is one of my favorite pitches in this entire class. Easy velocity (89-95, 96 peak), a pair of interesting breaking balls, all kinds of pitchability, and that change-up…what more could you want? Good health, I suppose. A few late season starts would go a very long way in easing the minds of big league scouting directors charged with making the decision whether or not to cut a multi-million dollar check (or cheque in the case of the Canadian born Quantrill) to the Stanford righthander. I recently wondered aloud about how teams will perceive Quantrill in this his draft year…

The attrition at the top of the college pitching pile has left Cal Quantrill, yet to pitch in 2016 as he recovers from last year’s Tommy John surgery, one of the college game’s most intriguing mound prospects. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right? I wonder if the star student out of Stanford knew this and staged the whole elbow injury to allow time for his competition to implode all over the place. That’s a joke. Not a good one, but a joke all the same.

I also have said on the record that I’d consider taking him sight unseen (in 2016) with a pick just outside the draft’s top ten. You might say I’m bullish on Quantrill’s pro prospects.

1.9 – Detroit Tigers | Sheldon HS RHP Matt Manning (23rd)

RHP Matt Manning (Sheldon HS, California): 90-96 FB with sink, 98-99 peak; above-average 73-79 CB, plus upside; CB runs into an above-average 77-80 SL; 86 CU; plus athlete; Mike Rooney comp: Phil Bickford; leans heavily on FB, pitching off it as well as any other arm in this class; FAVORITE; 6-6, 190 pounds

1.10 – Chicago White Sox | Miami C Zack Collins (6th)

December 2015…

I love JR C/1B Zack Collins as a prospect. His brand of power isn’t typically seen in amateur prospects. His approach, which will always include lots of swings and misses especially on the slow stuff, has matured enough that I think he’ll post average or better on-base numbers as a pro. He’s what we would charitably call a “work in progress” behind the plate, but all of the buzz out of fall practice (always positive and player-friendly, it should be noted) seems to indicate he may have turned the corner defensively. The comparisons to Kyle Schwarber make all the sense in the world right now: they are both big guys who move better than you’d think with defensive questions at their primary position, massive raw power, the ability to unleash said power in game action, and a patient approach that leads to loads of walks and whiffs. The edge for Schwarber comes in his hit tool; I think Schwarber’s was and will be ahead of Collins’s, so we’re talking the difference between above-average to average/slightly below-average. That hit tool combined with plus raw power, an approach I’m fond of, and the chance of playing regularly behind the plate (with an all-around offensive profile good enough to thrive elsewhere) make Collins one of my favorite 2016 draft prospects.

In what has to be a sign that I’ve been doing this too long (and/or I’m getting old and my brain is turning into mush), I kept coming back to a lefthanded hitting Mike Napoli comparison for Collins. I remembered seeing that for Kyle Schwarber (first mentioned by Aaron Fitt, I believe) and liking it, so the continued connection made sense. What I didn’t remember was this…

1B/C Zack Collins (American Heritage HS, Florida): impressive bat speed; good approach; really advanced bat, close to best in class; above-average to plus raw power; really good at 1B; might be athletic enough for corner OF; much improved defender behind plate; Mike Napoli comp by me; FAVORITE; 6-3, 215 pounds

That was from June of 2013. I had no idea I went with the Napoli comparison already. I’m plagiarizing myself at this point. Speaking of things I’ve written about Collins in the past…

Collins’ monster freshman season has me reevaluating so much of what I thought I knew about college hitters. I see his line (.298/.427/.556 with 42 BB/47 K in 205 AB) and my first instinct is to nitpick it. That’s insane! In the pre-BBCOR era, you might be able to get away with parsing those numbers and finding some tiny things to get on him about, but in today’s offensive landscape those numbers are as close to perfection as any reasonable human being could expect to see out of a freshman. Player development is rarely linear, but if Collins can stay on or close to the path he’s started, he’s going to an unholy terror by the time the 2016 draft rolls around. Here’s a quick look at what the college hitters taken in the first dozen picks in the BBCOR era (and Collins) did as freshmen (ranked in order of statistical goodness according to me)…

Kris Bryant: .365/.482/.599 – 33 BB/55 K – 197 AB
Michael Conforto: .349/.437/.601 – 24 BB/37 K – 218 AB
Colin Moran: .335/.442/.540 – 47 BB/33 K – 248 AB
ZACK COLLINS: .298/.427/.556 – 42 BB/47 K – 205 AB
Kyle Schwarber: .300/.390/.513 – 30 BB/24 K – 230 AB
Casey Gillaspie: .274/.378/.442 – 34 BB/43 K – 215 AB
DJ Peterson: .317/.377/.545 – 15 BB/52 K – 246 AB
Hunter Dozier: .315/.363/.467 – 12 BB/34 K – 197 AB
Max Pentecost: .277/.364/.393 – 21 BB/32 K – 191 AB

I’d say Collins stacks up pretty darn well at this point. Looking at this list also helps me feel better about their being a touch too much swing-and-miss in Collins’ game (see previous heretofore ignored inclination to nitpick). It is also another data point in favor of that popular and so logical it can’t be ignored comparison between Collins and fellow “catcher” Kyle Schwarber. Baseball America also threw out a Mark Teixeira comp, which is damn intriguing. I won’t include Teixeira’s freshmen numbers because that was back in the toy bat years, but from a scouting standpoint it’s a comp that makes a good bit of sense.

Hinting at a comparison to a Hall of Very Good player like Teixeira was jumping the gun a little, but I’m as bullish on Collins’s future than ever after his strong sophomore season at the plate. Here’s the same comparison as above updated with sophomore season statistics…

Kris Bryant: .366/.483/.671 – 39 BB/38 K – 213 AB
Michael Conforto: .328/.447/.526 – 41 BB/47 K – 247 AB
Colin Moran: .365/.434/.494 – 21 BB/24 K – 170 AB
ZACK COLLINS: .302/.445/.587 – 57 BB/64 K – 242 AB
Kyle Schwarber: .366/.456/.647 – 42 BB/37 K – 235 AB
Casey Gillaspie: .299/.447/.517 – 62 BB/35 K – 234 AB
DJ Peterson: .419/.490/.734 – 33 BB/29 K – 248 AB
Hunter Dozier: .357/.431/.595 – 29 BB/42 K – 227 AB
Max Pentecost: .302/.374/.410 – 22 BB/27 K – 212 AB

Just going off of raw numbers, I’d put Collins fourth out of this group in 2014. Using the numbers above, I’d probably knock him down to the fifth spot with a couple of new names now ahead of him. Also, I erroneously claimed that all those guys were taken in the draft’s first dozen picks when Casey Gillaspie didn’t get selected until the twentieth pick. Doesn’t change the premise, but still worth noting. If we go back to the first dozen picks as a cut-off, then we’d have to add these guys from 2015…

Dansby Swanson: .333/.411/.475 – 37 BB/49 K – 22/27 SB – 282 AB
Alex Bregman: .316/.397/.455 – 27 BB/21 K – 12/18 SB – 244 AB
Andrew Benintendi: .376/.488/.717 – 50 BB/32 K – 24/28 SB – 226 AB
Ian Happ: .322/.443/.497 – 32 BB/35 K – 19/24 SB – 171 AB
ZACK COLLINS: .302/.445/.587 – 57 BB/64 K – 7/8 SB – 242 AB

Seeing Swanson and Bregman at the top like that makes you appreciate how historically significant having so many college shortstops go early last really was. If we expanded this to the top twenty, we’d have to add fellow shortstops Kevin Newman and Richie Martin. Having players with real defensive value skews the data some, but if we all agree to put it in context in our own terms then we should be fine. Long story short here: Zack Collins is in very good company when stacked up against peers who went very high in the draft. As a first baseman only, I’d predict (maybe boldly, maybe not) that he still would be selected on the draft’s first day. If his rumored improvements behind the plate are real, then I don’t see why he can’t keep mashing his way into top ten consideration just like Kyle Schwarber before him.

April 2016…

I’m close to out of superlatives for Zack Collins’s bat. If he can catch, he’s a superstar. If he can’t, then he’s still a potential big league power bat capable of hitting in the middle of the championship lineup for the next decade. I realize first basemen aren’t typically sought after at the top of the draft. There are perfectly valid reasons for that. But any time you have the chance at a potential top five bat at any given position, I think it’s all right to bend the rules a little. Positional value is important, but so is premium offensive production. Collins hitting and hitting a lot as a professional is one of the things I’m most sure about in this draft class.

May 2016…

He’s the one I’ve comped to Schwarber stylistically. I actually think Collins is the better catcher and could stick there as a pro. Still might be best moving him out from behind the plate. I’ve just come up with a terrifying comp for him…Joey Votto. Maybe he’s one of those hitters that we shouldn’t compare young guys to, but then again…at the same age, Votto hit .256/.330/.425 with 52 BB/122 K in A+ ball. I could see Collins going to A/A+ this year after the draft and doing similar stuff.

1.11 – Seattle Mariners | Mercer OF Kyle Lewis (4th)

February 2016…

I’m an unabashed Kyle Lewis fan. I’m also a fan of hitters who can control the strike zone, spoil pitchers’s pitches, work favorable counts, and punish baseballs when ahead. Right now, that description only partially describes Lewis…and even that requires a more optimistic outlook than some are willing to take at this point in time. So how can those two statements be reconciled? It’s a dangerous thing for my credibility to admit, but call it an educated hunch that the 20-year-old Lewis will figure things out as a hitter. It goes back to something I mentioned in the comments section a few weeks back: guys either learn to hit or they don’t. That’s my paraphrased take from this scout’s quote talking about the likelihood of Jahlil Okafor improving his outside shot as a professional: “He needs to become a better shooter and free throw shooter. He either will or he won’t.” Scouts work very hard evaluating amateur and minor league talent across the country, so their collective insight into projecting a young hitter’s future is not to be dismissed. But…can we ever really know how a guy is going to react when thrown into the professional environment? A 95 MPH fastball with movement is a 95 MPH fastball with movement at any level. Plus speed, outstanding glove work, and the ability to miss bats are all translatable skills when honed properly. Hitting is an entirely different animal.

A big part of what makes hitting unique is that it can mean different things to different evaluators. There’s no wrong way to define “hitting,” so long as it remains consistent report to report. When I personally talk hitting, I’m including everything that I think goes into what separates a good hitter from a not so good hitter. If that means there’s overlap with other tools (power, most notably) and abilities (athleticism, hand-eye coordination, work ethic), then so be it. Hitting can be broken up into all kinds of smaller sub-components, but the three central facets are “hitting” (contact skills, bat-to-ball ability, mechanics), power (fairly self-explanatory), and approach (having a plan at the plate, both early and late in counts). The hitting and power components are relatively easy to identify with practice — there’s a reason they are two of the oft-cited five tools — but approach has always been the great mystery of amateur scouting. This is problematic for guys like me who place a great deal of importance on the approach piece of the pie; without an approach up to a certain standard, the hit and power tools will suffer greatly. I know some scouts will argue for hit over power (i.e., the Kansas City and Pittsburgh approach to scouting and development) or power over hit (where many teams are still at as they struggle to adjust to a post-PED world), but I’ll always be approach over hit/power, with no real preference on the last decision.

So what do I look for in young hitters and what does this ultimately have to do with liking Kyle Lewis and his current sub-optimal (per performance metrics) approach so much? I want to see athleticism (both traditional and baseball-specific), ease of mechanical repeatability (swing path, pre-swing movements, and upper- to lower-half coordination are all interesting to me, but ultimately I’m pragmatic: don’t really care how it looks as long as the hitter is comfortable, productive against top competition, and able to consistently do the same thing over and over), a high frequency of “hard” contact (easier judged now thanks to new technology at the pro level, but still a subjective call at the amateur level), and evidence of a planned approach (more about “self-scouting” and less about trying to guess what the hitter is seeing out of the pitcher’s hand — often labelled “pitch recognition,” but a really hard thing for an outsider to claim in my opinion) with every single plate appearance.

The relative importance of hitting the ball to all fields is something I go back and forth on; it’s obviously a good thing, but I think there’s still room in our shift-filled game for a slugger with extreme pull-side power to succeed if he’s good enough at it. For now, I consider it a bonus and not a prerequisite for being an average or better pro hitter. I’m also somewhat divided in thought when it comes to bat speed. As somebody who grew up with a front row seat — well, upper-deck  (sections 420/421!) but it still counts — to watching Chase Utley play every day, I’m not about to downplay the importance of swinging a quick bat. Bat speed is undeniably important, but damn hard to judge in a nuanced way. That could be a personal failing of mine and not a universal issue among real deal scouts, but I’m not sure how the human eye can possibly determine bat speed beyond differentiating between “whoa,” “decent,” and “slow.” Maybe you could attempt to circle back to existing scouting language and separate a bit more (plus, above-average, average, below-average), but even that only teases out one extra descriptive layer. Short of measuring bat speed electronically, we’re left at doing our best to approximate what we see in an instant.

There’s also always going to be the most basic aspect of scouting: how does he look when he’s doing what he does. Think of this as an informed “gut” instinct. That’s so much of what scouting is: educated guesses. I wish I had access to some kind of special proprietary video library of every hitter of the past few decades to compare what I’m seeing right this second to what has worked for others historically, but I don’t. Thankfully, our brains are designed to cycle through all that our eyes have perceived and form patterns based on positive outcomes. That magic video library is inside each and every one of us obsessives who watches baseball on a daily basis. This will always be the most subjective aspect of scouting — everybody has a “type” and we’re all preconditioned to prefer those who fit that mold — but that doesn’t mean it’s not without value. And, yes, Kyle Lewis is my type, thank you very much.

Acknowledging that we all have our own preconceived notions about what is best lends further credence to the idea that sweeping proclamations about whether or not a young guy will hit aren’t wise. We can all make our best guesses — some of us having to do so with millions of dollars on the line — but ultimately these hitters will or won’t hit as pros. There’s already some interesting “expert” noise out there about Florida OF Buddy Reed’s swing being unsuitable to the challenges of the pro game. That’s a fair criticism (when substantiated beyond the boring blanket statement of “I just don’t like that swing”), but consider me preemptively bummed out to read (in the event of him being a great pro) how it wasn’t a scouting miss per se but rather a developmental success. No way could it be that his swing wasn’t misidentified as a bad one. Nooo, it was the impossible to predict reworking of his swing as a pro that led to his (again, entirely hypothetical) pro success. In other words, be careful what you read about a young hitter’s ability to adjust to the pro game. Nobody on the outside really knows — heck, neither do the supposed insiders! — so beware anybody who claims to have some kind of soothsaying abilities when prognosticating raw amateur bats. These guys are often the first to explain away their misses under the guise of unforeseen pro development. Here I am thinking that making that determination was part of the scouting process — silly me!

Kyle Lewis hit .367/.423/.677 last year in a decent college conference. That’s good, clearly. His 19 BB/41 K ratio is less good. So why buy the bat? As a hitter, I like what I’ve seen and heard about his righthanded swing. I like that he seemingly improved his approach (aggressively hunting for “his” pitch showed good self-scouting while getting ahead more frequently late in the year demonstrated a fuller understanding of what it will take to succeed against top-level competition) and started chasing fewer pitchers’s pitches as the season went on. I like his physical projection, public and privately shared intel about his work ethic, bat speed (I’ve seen some “whoa” cuts from him), and how his athleticism allows his upper- and lower-body to work in concern with one another with each swing. Believe me, I understand doubting him now as a potential top ten pick and dark horse to go 1-1 in this draft based on a wait-and-see approach to his plate discipline; if improvements aren’t made in his draft year BB/K ratio, all the positive scouting buzz will matter a lot less to me come June. But part of college scouting early in the season is identifying players set to make the leap as juniors. I think Lewis’s leap as a more mature, thoughtful, and explosive hitter has already begun, and it’ll be reflected on the field this upcoming season. I’ve thrown out a Yasiel Puig comp in the past for his ceiling and I’m sticking with that for now. As an added prospect to prospect bonus, his game reminds me some of Anthony Alford. Your mileage might vary on how in the draft a player like that could go, but it sure sounds like a potential premium pick to me.

1.12 – Boston Red Sox | Barnegat HS LHP Jay Groome (1st)

April 2016…

Working in Jay Groome’s favor is how advanced he is for a teenager. Unlike with many high school prospects, the expectation of a five year (give or take) waiting period does not apply. A big league cameo in September 2019 a month after turning 21-years-old is in play. Whether we’re talking fantasy or real life, nobody has to be told how rare true big league ace upside is. Adding Groome to the Phillies sudden — love how only in a baseball rebuild could eighteen months or so be considered sudden — pitching surplus would give them a potential difference-maker to pair with their otherwise more good than great (yet plentiful) collection of young hurlers.

May 2016…

I’ll warn everybody now that what you are about to read is the most annoyingly negative report on a pitcher coming off of a six-inning, fourteen strikeout performance as you could possibly imagine. That may be a pretty big stunner (or not, I’m no mind reader) to regular readers who ought to know two things about me by now: 1) I’m relentlessly positive about prospects, and 2) I’ve had Groome as my first overall prospect in this draft since late last summer and never really considered making a switch after seeing the big lefty throw three earlier times this winter/spring. I walked away from last night’s effort wondering if Groome’s stranglehold on the top spot should finally be loosened. Part of the thinking there is that Groome came into this start with an almost impossibly high bar set by his previous performances over the past calendar year. I wanted to see him go out there tonight and cement his status as the draft’s clear top prospect, and finally, mercifully, end the 1-1 discussion once and for all. If that sounds like the idiocy of getting on a player for not meeting my own arbitrarily set standards for his performance, then you’re exactly right. I’m not proud of that attitude, but I think a hyper-critical eye is needed when trying to separate a top ten talent (which Groome certainly is) from a potential 1-1 candidate (which he was 100% going in…and still could be even after a dominating statistical night that somehow left me wanting more).

Groome came out firing in the first with a string of low-90s fastballs (93, 94, 92, 93) before dropping a picture perfect 78 MPH curveball that made the Gloucester Catholic’s leadoff man’s knees buckle and the crowd of scouts and execs behind home plate (as well as a few thousand of their closest friends) audibly “oooh.” Incredibly, that was just the first of five different “oooh” curves he’d throw all night: there were two more in the fifth inning and two more after that in his sixth and final frame. I had that pitch ranging from 74-78 on the evening. Everything about the pitch is plus to plus-plus, though I think you could quibble some with a slightly slowed arm speed on the offering that tips it just enough for HS hitters to notice, but not nearly enough for them to react. The pitch is so good that there’s a chance he can get away with the slight pause in pro ball for a while; obvious point is obvious, but that’s really high praise. Groome’s curve is special and that alone makes him a top ten prospect in this class.

After going 93, 94, 92, 93, and 78 on the first batter, Groome went 93, 77, 92, 94, and 93 to the second hitter. That basic pattern — work off the fastball, mix in one curve per plate appearance — was followed by Groome for much of the game. I won’t say my notes were perfect — my focus on the fast-paced, well-pitched (though admittedly not particularly crisply played otherwise) game was a solid 98% throughout, but taking in the atmosphere occasionally led to a missed radar reading or two — but I only had Groome dropping two curves to the same batter on four occasions. This strategy obviously worked (14 strikeouts is 14 strikeouts) with the threat of a bigger fastball than he wound up showing, average fastball command that flashed better in certain at bats, and that devastating curve ranking as the reasons why in ascending order of importance.

Everything you’ve already seen, read, or heard about Groome’s mechanics held up. They are close to picture perfect. I’ve long been on the record of only caring about mechanical extremes, and I’d say with great confidence that Groome’s arm action and delivery are on that happy tail of the bell curve. With his frame, bulked up from a boy late last summer to a rock solid man by now (though I’d argue with some loss of athleticism), his age, and those textbook mechanics, it’s easy to imagine a day in the not so distant future where Groome is a consistent mid-90s arm if he wants to be. Of course, that’s all projection at this point: Groome’s velocity on this day fluctuated from those early game low-90s peaks to a strange middle inning dip to the mid- to upper-80s. I was almost positive while watching live that he wasn’t working in his changeup — some around me thought otherwise, for what it’s worth* — but I had him with an 85, 86, 87, and four 89’s between innings three and five. After thinking about it some more I could buy the mid-80s pitches being his attempt at the change to give the scouts a little taste of his third pitch; if so, I’ve seen it look better, but the arm action sure looked like the fastball, so at least there was that. Still, the 89’s for a well-rested teenage arm on a nice night weren’t exactly typical of what we’ve come to expect out of a potential first overall pick. He rebounded some in his final inning, sitting 90-91 with his fastball while relying more on the curve than in any other part of the game to that point. His final pitch of the night was a 92 MPH fastball that was swung through for eighth strikeout in a row to end the game and fourteenth overall.

(* Groome himself identified the pitch as a change: “As far as my command goes, I think that’s pretty good, but I need to show a little more depth to my changeup. I’m not really getting out in front of it and left a couple up high today. They fouled it off, they didn’t really make me pay. Later on down the road, I have to get that good depth on it.”)

This is the point in the report where I’m supposed to make a grand conclusion about what I saw out of Groome on the night. Well, I’ve got nothing. I selfishly wanted to see Groome at his very best — again, it’s worth pointing out that the man had fourteen strikeouts in six innings and that’s not his best — so that I could walk away ready to declare the race for 1-1 and top spot on my board over. The obvious good news is the confirmation that his curve and mechanics are both 1-1 caliber. His fastball has been in the past, but wasn’t on this night. I’m not terribly concerned about one good but not great velocity night — the fastball was still commanded fairly well (average to above-average), had such obvious late life that even my old eyes could see it, and came out of a deceptive enough slot that it had hitters taking bad swings all evening long — but I think the summer showcase version of Groome’s heater is (unsurprisingly) less the real thing than what we’ve seen out of him this spring. His changeup remains an open question, but that’s not atypical for a big-time high school arm with Groome’s brand of one-two punch locked and loaded for bear most starts. The development of his physique continues to surprise me — it’s as if he finds a way to pack on a pound or three of good weight every time I see him — but I do worry some that he’s getting close to the danger zone of sacrificing some looseness and athleticism, both facets of his game that excited me so much about him last summer, for strength. Add it all up (above-average fastball with plus upside, clear plus curve, changeup with a chance to be average, elegant mechanics, and a pro-ready body) and it’s clear that Jay Groome is a really, really good pitching prospect. What isn’t clear, however, is whether or not he’s the best amateur prospect in the country. For some, not yet knowing is knowing; when the risk of taking a teenage arm gets factored in, Groome not being a slam dunk pick above the rest means the risk is too great to pass on similarly valued peers (Puk, Lewis, Moniak, Rutherford, Perez, Ray, whomever) with more certainty. I think that’s where the Phillies are currently at in their evaluation. Between Groome’s staggering perfect world ceiling and moderate (for a HS arm) floor (less projection in his body than most, plus his mechanics portend good things to come) and the less than thrilling options that surround him at the top of the class, I’d have a hard time removing his name from 1-1 consideration if I was in charge of such a pick.

1.13 – Tampa Bay Rays | Pope HS 3B Josh Lowe (9th)

December 2015…

When I go through my mental rolodex of every player I’ve seen up close, few stand out as more impressive than Lowe. He makes the most challenging sport to play well look easy, often comically so. As a third baseman, I’d put him down for plus tools in foot speed, arm strength, and raw power. Then there’s also his obvious exceptional athleticism – guys who can pitch and hit and field at his level tend to only get away with it by being pretty special athletically – and a measured, smart approach to hitting that is almost as if he has the strike zone knowledge of, you guessed it, a top pitching prospect.

April 2016…

I know Mickey Moniak has the alliterative name thing going for him, but Josh Lowe is the closest thing to a Marvel-style super hero in this year’s high school class. What can’t he do? Three clear plus tools (power, arm, speed) with two sure to help in fantasy, stellar defense at the hot corner, elite athleticism, and the fallback option of taking his talents (90-95 FB, intriguing CU and SL) to the mound. Lowe has the raw talent to be one of the best third basemen in baseball.

May 2016…

He’s a little bit of a higher variance prospect than [Nolan] Jones – more upside if it all clicks, but less certainty he turns into a solid professional than I’d put on Jones – so if I was a real scouting director with real future earnings on the line, I’m not sure I’d take him quite as high as he could wind up on my final rankings. The possibility, however, that he winds up as the best player to come out of this class is very real. He reminds me just a little bit of an opposite-hand version of this guy

Bryant entered the summer with lofty expectations, but he often looked overmatched at the plate during the showcase circuit last summer. When he’s on, he’s a treat to watch. He has a lean, 6-foot-5, 195-pound frame and light-tower power that draws comparisons to a young Troy Glaus. The power, however, mostly shows up during batting practice or when he has a metal bat in his hands. There are a lot of moving parts to his swing and he has trouble barreling balls up with wood, so how much usable power he ends up having is a big question. He has a long, loopy swing and he never changes his approach when he’s struggling. He’s athletic for a big guy and may be able to handle third base. He has the arm for it, and some scouts said they wouldn’t be shocked if he eventually ended up on the mound. Some scouts love Bryant’s power enough to take him in the back half of the first round, while others turned him in as a token gesture and have little interest in him–especially for the price it will take to lure him away from his San Diego commitment.

I really, really like Josh Lowe, if that’s not already clear. I mean, I did once kind of compare him to Babe Ruth. I think a team would be justified taking either Lowe or Jones in the top ten…and quite possibly the top five…or maybe even top three. Let me stop now before I really get too far ahead of myself.

 1.14 – Cleveland Indians | Westminster Schools OF Will Benson (57th)

December 2015…

Will Benson has gotten the Jason Heyward comp for just about a full year now because that’s what happens when you’re a Georgia high school player built like he is (6-6, 220) with a future right fielder profile. The comparison ceases to work when you factor in pesky factors beyond size and geography; the inclusion of baseball ability (defense and plate discipline, most notably) muddles it up, but it’s still good fun at this point in the draft process. Even though he’s not Heyward, Benson does a lot well. He’s got electric bat speed, he moves really well for a big guy, and he’s as strong as you’d expect from looking at him. If he cleans up his approach and keeps working on his defense then maybe those Heyward comparisons will begin to look a little bit smarter. Or not! It’s December and we’re talking about teenagers, so nothing is written in ink.

April 2016…

The name Will Benson brings about all kinds of colorful opinions from those paid to watch him regularly. To call him a divisive prospect at this point would be an understatement. If you love him, then you love his power upside, defensive aptitude, and overwhelming physicality. If you’re cool on him, then he’s more of a future first baseman with a questionable hit tool, inconsistent approach, and overrated athleticism. I’m closer to the love said than not, but I think both the lovers and the haters can at least agree that his bat speed is explosive, his frame is intriguing, and his sheer strength as a human being should beget some monstrous BP performances.

May 2016…

I never really got the Jason Heyward comp for Benson – the most Heyward thing about Heyward is his plus defense, something that Benson is a long way from, if he ever gets there at all – but I like the connection between him and Kyle Lewis. I don’t think he lasts until the second, but he would make for an excellent consolation prize for a team picking at the top of the first round that misses out on the Mercer star with their first pick. Or just grab them both and begin hoping that you’ve just taken care of your outfield corners for the next decade.

 1.15 – Minnesota Twins | Plum Senior HS OF Alex Kirilloff (15th)

December 2015…

Alex Kirilloff is a clear step down athletically from the rest of the top tier, but, man, can he hit. If I would have kept him at first base on these rankings then there’s no question he would have finished atop that position list. He’s behind potential stars like Moniak, Rutherford, McIlwain, Benson, and Tuck for now, but that’s for reasons of defensive upside and athleticism more than anything. By June, Kirilloff’s bat might be too loud to be behind a few of those names. Seeing him this spring is a high priority for me; considering his high school plays home games about five hours away from me (to those that don’t know: Pennsylvania is a sneaky long state), that should say a lot about what I think of him as a prospect. The fact that I could stop off and get a Colossal Fish & Cheese sandwich (delicious on its own and made better with the side of nostalgia that comes with it as it was part of my first official meal as a married man last summer) only sweetens the deal. Recent draft trends have pushed athletic prep outfielders up draft boards at the expense of bigger bats, but I think Kirilloff is good enough to break through.

April 2016…

As a hitter, Kirilloff can really do it all: big raw power, plus bat speed, a mature approach, and a hit tool so promising that almost every scout has agreed that he’s an advanced hitter who happens to hit for power rather than the other way around. He’s the rare high school prospect who could hit enough to have confidence in him as a pro even if eventually confined to first base.

May 2016…

Another potential angle with this year’s prep outfielders is one that has been generally underplayed by the experts so far this spring. My sources, such as they are, have led me to believe that there is serious internal debate among many scouting staffs about the respective merits of [Blake] Rutherford and Kirilloff. The idea that there’s a consensus favorite between the two among big league scouting departments is apparently way off the mark. This may surprise many draft fans who have read about 100x more on Rutherford this spring than Kirilloff, but I think the confusion at the top of the high school outfield class is real. I’d guess that most teams have either [Mickey] Moniak or Rutherford in the first spot; the teams that Moniak first, however, might not necessarily have Rutherford behind him at second. Kirilloff is far more liked by teams than many of the expert boards I’ve seen this spring.

It’s really hard to break down two different high school hitters from two different coasts, but I’ll do my best with what I have to compare Rutherford and Kirilloff. This is hardly a definitive take because, like just about any of my evaluations, I’m just one guy making one final call based on various inputs unique to the information I have on hand. I’m not a scout; I’m just a guy who pretends to know things on the internet. I give Kirilloff the slight edge in raw power, a definite arm strength advantage, and a very narrow lead in bat speed. Rutherford has the better swing (very close call), defensive upside (his decent chance to stay in center for a few years trumps Kirilloff’s average corner outfield/plus first base grades), and hit tool. The two are very close when it comes to approach (both plate discipline and ability to drive it to all fields), athleticism (another slight lean Rutherford, but Kirilloff is underrated here), and foot speed. I actually had Kirilloff ahead by a hair going into the NHSI, but Rutherford’s run of fantastic plate appearances on day two were too much to ignore. Both are great prospects and very much worth top half of the first round selections. I can’t wait to see how high they wind up on my final board.

1.16 – Los Angeles Angels | Virginia C Matt Thaiss (27th)

October 2015…

Comps aren’t everybody’s cup of tea, but I’ve always defended them because they provide the needed frame of reference for prospects to gain some modicum of public recognition and leap past the indignity of being known only as soulless, nameless abstract ideas on a page until they have the good fortune of reaching the big leagues. Matt Thaiss played HS ball not too far off from where I live, so I saw him a few times before he packed things up and headed south to Virginia. I never could find the words to describe him just right to friends who were curious as to why I’d drive over an hour after work to see a random high school hitter. It wasn’t until Baseball America dropped a Brian McCann comp on him that they began to understand. You can talk about his power upside, mature approach, and playable defense all you want, but there’s something extra that crystallizes in your mind when a player everybody knows enters the conversation. Nobody with any sense expects Thaiss to have a carbon copy of McCann’s excellent professional career, but the comp gives you some general idea of what style of player is being discussed.

December 2015…

I still like Matt Thaiss as the draft’s top college catcher (with Zack Collins and the reports of his improved defense coming on very fast), but Okey and a host of others remain just a half-step behind as we enter the spring season.

March 2016…

Not everybody is convinced that Thaiss is the real deal, but I am. His one big remaining question heading into the year (defense) has been answered in a decidedly positive manner this spring. He showed enough in high school to garner Brian McCann comps from Baseball America, he hit as a sophomore, and he’s off to a blistering start (including a nifty 15 BB/2 K ratio) in 2016. He’s going early in this draft due in part to our odd rules, but he’s a first round selection on merit.

1.17 – Houston Astros | Alamo Heights HS RHP Forrest Whitley (26th)

April 2016…

You really shouldn’t have a first round mock draft that doesn’t include at least one big prep righthander from Texas. It just doesn’t feel right. Whitley, standing in at a strapping 6-7, 240 pounds, has the requisite fastball velocity (88-94, 96 peak) to pair with a cadre of power offspeed stuff. We’re talking a devastating when on upper-80s cut-slider and an average or better mid-80s split-change that has been clocked as high as 90 MPH. I’m not sure how power on power on power would work against pro hitters — this is NOT a comp, but I guess Jake Arrieta has found a way to do it — but I’m looking forward to finding out.

RHP Forrest Whitley (Alamo Heights HS, Texas): 88-94 FB, 96-97 peak; above-average to plus 82-90 cut-SL; above-average 76-81 CB, flashes plus (some call truer SL); average or better 79-87 split-CU, up to 90; legit four-pitch mix; 6-7, 225 pounds

1.18 – New York Yankees | Chaminade Prep HS OF Blake Rutherford (11th)

December 2015…

Despite some internet comparisons that paint him as the Meadows, I think the better proxy for Rutherford is Frazier. Issues with handedness, height, and hair hue aside, Frazier as a starting point for Rutherford (offensively only as Frazier’s arm strength blows the average-ish arm of Rutherford away) can be used because the two both have really good looking well-balanced swings, tons of bat speed, and significant raw power. The parallel gets a little bit of extra juice when you consider Frazier and Rutherford were/are also both a little bit older than their draft counterparts.

April 2016…

At some point it’s prudent to move away from the safety of college hitters and roll the dice on one of the best high school athletes in the country. Blake Rutherford is just that. Him being older than ideal for a high school senior gives real MLB teams drafting in the top five something extra to consider, but it could work to his advantage developmentally in terms of fantasy. He’s a little bit older, a little bit more filled-out, and a little bit more equipped to deal with the daily rigors of professional ball than your typical high school prospect. That’s some extreme spin about one of Rutherford’s bigger red flags — admittedly one that is easily resolved within a scouting department: either his age matters or not since it’s not like it’s changing (except up by one day like us all) any time soon — but talking oneself into glossing over a weakness is exactly what fantasy drafting is all about. I like Rutherford more in this range in the real draft than in the mix at 1-1.

May 2016…

We already ran down a number of the popular comps for Moniak, so we might as well give in to the same temptation with Rutherford. This has surely been a very painful read for the anti-comps crowd out there. My bad. As for Rutherford, the list of comps out there is impressive: Grady Sizemore (Fangraphs), Jim Edmonds (Baseball America), David Justice (swing only from Perfect Game), and Trot Nixon (I forget) are just a few of the big names tossed around this spring. I’ve likened Rutherford to a remixed version of both Austin Meadows and Clint Frazier in the past, and I think there’s a chance that he might wind up as a player who has the best qualities of both of his soon-to-be fellow minor league outfield prospects. One fun outside the box comp that I heard recently was a young, lefthanded version of Moises Alou. It’s not totally crazy. Here are some of the old Alou scouting reports I could dig up…

1990: “All tools above. Good hitting approach – with power. Not good base stealer – as yet. Great body for speed and power. Good stroke – stays inside ball. Very strong arm. Confident young man…plus tools. Good outfielder. Future All Star…perhaps not in CF but in RF. Would exhaust CF first.”

1992: 7 hit, 6 power, 6 speed, 5 arm, 7 glove, 6 range “Good young player. Live body, All Star potential. Good contact type. 10-15 HR. SB potential 20-25. Everyday OF.”

Funny that 6 power meant 10-15 home runs to that one scout (doubly so when we remember the offensive environment at the time), but grades aren’t as easily translated as the bigger publications who push grading every prospect in every tool because that’s the only way to cover minor league prospects would have you think. Did that get a little ranty? Whoops. Anyway, I think a lot of those grades and notes on Alou could be very easily be lifted instead from a report on Rutherford. His upside is that of a consistently above-average offensive regular outfielder while defensively being capable of either hanging in center for a bit (a few years of average glove work out there would be nice) or excelling in an outfield corner (making this switch early could take a tiny bit of pressure off him as he adjusts to pro pitching). His floor, like almost all high school hitters, is AA bat with holes in his swing that are exploited by savvier arms.

1.19 – New York Mets | Boston College RHP Justin Dunn (35th)

December 2014…

There are some interesting pitchers to monitor including strong senior sign candidate RHP John Gorman and statistical favorite JR LHP Jesse Adams, but the best two arms on the staff from where I’m sitting are both 2016 prospects (SO RHPs Justin Dunn [huge fan of his] and Mike King).

December 2015…

JR RHP Justin Dunn has the chance to have the kind of big junior season that puts him in the top five round conversation this June. Like Adams and Nicklas, Dunn’s size might be a turn-off for some teams. Unlike those guys, it figures to be easier to overlook because of a potent fastball/breaking ball one-two punch. Though he’s matured as a pitcher in many ways since enrolling at BC, he’s still a little rough around the edges with respect to both his command and control. His arm speed (consistently 90-94, up to 96) and that aforementioned low-80s slider are what put him in the early round mix. If he can continue to make strides with his command and control and gain a little consistency with a third pitch (he’s shown both a CB and a CU already, but both need work), then he’ll really rise. That’s a pretty obvious statement now that I read it back, but I think it probably can apply to about 75% of draft prospects before the season begins. No sense in hiding from it, I suppose.

April 2016…

I came very close to putting Justin Dunn in the top spot. If he continues to show that he can hold up as a starting pitcher, then there’s a chance he winds up as the best pitching prospect in this conference by June. I’d love to see a better change-up between now and then as well.

1.20 – Los Angeles Dodgers | Indian Trail HS SS Gavin Lux (73rd)

December 2015…

I’m a huge fan of Gavin Lux and think he could wind up in the first round conversation come June.

May 2016…

Lux is a really intriguing young hitter with the chance to come out of this draft as arguably the best all-around hitter (contact, pop, patience) in this high school class. That may be a bit rich, but I’d at least say his straight hit tool ranks only below Mickey Moniak, Carlos Cortes, and Joe Rizzo. If his bat plays above-average in all three phases – he could/should be there with contact and approach while his raw power floats somewhere in that average to above-average range – then he’d certainly be in the mix. A fun name that I’ve heard on Lux that may or may not have been influenced by geography: a bigger, stronger Scooter Gennett. Here’s some of what Baseball America had on Gennett in his draft year…

He profiles as an offensive second baseman, while Florida State intends for him to start at shortstop as a freshman. He’s a grinder with surprising power and bat speed for his size (a listed 5-foot-10, 170 pounds), and though he can be streaky, his bat is his best tool. He’s a better runner on the field than in showcase events, but he’s closer to average than above-average in that department. Defensively he gets the most of his ability, with his range and arm better suited for the right side of the infield than the left. He’s agile, though, and a solid athlete. Gennett would be a crucial get for Florida State, if he gets there. Most scouts consider him a third-to-fifth round talent.

A bigger, stronger, and arguably better (especially when likelihood to stick at short is factored in) Gennett feels about right, both in terms of draft stock (second to fourth round talent, maybe with a shot to sneak into the late first) and potential pro outcome. It should be noted that Lux’s defensive future is somewhat in flux. I think he’s athletic enough with enough arm to stick at short for a while, but there are many others who think he’s got second base written all over him. A lot of that likely has to do with his arm – it’s looked strong to me with a really quick release, but there’s debate on that – so I’d bet that there’s little consensus from team to team about his long-term position. Teams that like him to pick him high in the draft will like him best as a shortstop, so it’s my hunch that he’ll at least get a shot to play in the six-spot as a pro to begin his career.

1.21 – Toronto Blue Jays | Pittsburgh RHP TJ Zeuch (30th)

April 2016…

TJ Zeuch has come back from injury seemingly without missing a beat. I’m a big fan of just about everything he does. He’s got the size (6-7, 225), body control, tempo, and temperament to hold up as a starting pitcher for a long time. He’s also got a legit four-pitch mix that allows him to mix and match in ways that routinely leave even good ACC hitters guessing.

Pittsburgh JR RHP TJ Zeuch: 88-94 FB with plus sink, 96-97 peak; average or better 74-81 CB, flashes plus; 82-88 cut-SL, flashes average; 82-86 CU, flashes above-average; legit four-pitch mix; young for class; FAVORITE; 6-7, 225 pounds (2014: 6.63 K/9 – 2.75 BB/9 – 55.2 IP – 2.75 ERA) (2015: 9.20 K/9 – 2.56 BB/9 – 88.1 IP – 3.89 ERA) (2016: 9.57 K/9 – 2.46 BB/9 – 69.2 IP – 3.10 ERA)

1.22 – Pittsburgh Pirates | Wake Forest 1B Will Craig (13th)

January 2016…

I think I’m going to keep touting JR 1B/RHP Will Craig as the righthanded AJ Reed until he starts getting some serious national recognition. I cited that name in the college draft preview from October, so might as well keep mentioning it over and over and over…

Do you like power? How about patience? What about a guy with power, patience, and the athleticism to pull off collegiate two-way duty? For everybody who missed on AJ Reed the first time around, Will Craig is here to give you a second chance. I won’t say he’ll be the first base prospect that finally tests how high a first base prospect can go in a post-PED draft landscape, but if he has a big enough junior season…

I love Craig. In past years I might back down some from the love from reasons both fair (positional value, certain scouty quibbles about bat speed and timing) and not (seeing him ignored by all the major media outlets so much that I start to question my own judgment), but I see little way that will be the case with Craig. Sure, he could force my hand by cratering out with a disappointing junior season (a la Ryan Howard back in the day), but that would only shift him from sleeper first round talent to sleeper fifth round value. His is a bat I believe in and I’m willing to ride or die with it.

1.23 – St. Louis Cardinals | Colegio Individualizado PJ Education School SS Delvin Perez (5th)

December 2015…

One of the few things I’m sure about with this is class is that it’s loaded with prospects who have the glove to stick at short. Perez leads the way as a no-doubt shortstop who might just be able to hit his way into the top half of the first round. I’d like to see (and hear) more about his bat, but the glove (range, footwork, release, instincts, everything), arm strength, athleticism, and speed add up a potential first round prospect. If that feels like me hedging a bit, you’re exactly right. Teams have and will continue to fall in love with his glove, but the all-mighty bat still lords above every other tool. In some ways, he reminds me of a bigger version of Jalen Miller from last year. He won’t fall as far as Miller (95th overall pick), but if we could all agree that mid-third is his draft floor then I’d feel a lot better about myself.

The Miller half-comp splits the difference (as a prospect, not as a pro) between two other recent comps for Perez that I see: Francisco Lindor and Oscar Mercado. Long-time readers might remember that I was driving the Mercado bandwagon back in the November before his draft year…

I’m on board with the Mercado as Elvis Andrus 2.0 comps and was out ahead of the “hey, he’s ahead of where Francisco Lindor was at the same stage just a few years ago” talk, so, yeah, you could say I’m a pretty big fan. That came out way smarmier than I would have liked – I’m sorry. The big thing to watch with Mercado this spring will be how he physically looks at the plate; with added strength he could be a serious contender for the top five or so picks, but many of the veteran evaluators who have seen him question whether or not he has the frame to support any additional bulk. Everything else about his game is above-average or better: swing, arm strength, speed, range, hands, release, pitch recognition, instincts.

I bet big on his bat coming around and lost. Mercado went from fifth on my very first board (ten months ahead of the draft, but it still counts) to 81st on the final version to the 57thoverall pick of the draft in June. He’s the cautionary tale (for now) of what a young plus glove at shortstop with a questionable bat can turn out to be. On the flip side, there’s Francisco Lindor…

Lindor’s defensive skills really are exemplary and there is no doubt that he’ll stick at shortstop through his first big league contract (at least). As for time/age, well, consider this a preemptive plea in the event Lindor struggles at the plate next season: the guy will be playing his entire first full pro season at just eighteen years old. For reference’s sake, Jimmy Rollins, the player I compared Lindor’s upside to leading up to the draft, played his entire Age-18 season at Low-A in the South Atlantic League and hit .270/.330/.370 in 624 plate appearances. A year like that wouldn’t be a shocker unless he goes all Jurickson Profar, a name Baseball Prospectus’ Jason Parks recently evoked after watching Lindor, on the low minors. Either way, I’m much happier with this pick now than I would have been a few months ago. Cleveland saw the opportunity to land a superstar talent at a premium defensive position and went for it, high risk and all.

That pick (and I really shouldn’t say just the pick itself: all of the subsequent development credited to both the individual player and the team should be noted as well) has obviously gone about as well as humanly possible. It’s like the total opposite of what happened to Mercado! Lindor is already a star and looks to be one of the game’s best shortstops for years to come. I’m not ready to hang that kind of outcome on Perez, but I think it’s at least within the realm of realistic paths. I’d say not quite Lindor (15th ranked prospect by me), not quite Mercado (81st), and something more like Miller (46th) is my most honest take on how I generally view Perez at this precise point in time. As the Mercado example shows, drastic change can never be ruled out.

May 2016…

The MLB Draft: go big on upside or go home, especially early on day one. And if you’ve got the smarts/guts enough to do just that, then make it a shortstop when possible. And if you’re going to gamble on a high risk/high reward shortstop, make it as young a shortstop as you can find. And if that young shortstop also happens to have game-changing speed, an above-average to plus arm, plus raw power, and a frame to dream on, then…well, maybe Delvin Perez should be talked more about as the potential top overall prospect in this class then he is. I know there’s some chatter, but maybe it should be louder. What stands out most to me about Perez is how much better he’s gotten over the past few months. That, combined with his youth, has his arrow pointed up in a major way.

For what it’s worth, I’ve heard from a few different independent sources that are steadfast in their belief that Perez will be the clear best player from this class within three years or less. To say that said reports have helped push me in the recent direction of Perez as a serious candidate to finish in the top spot on my own board would be more than fair. When I think of Perez, I can’t help but draw parallels to Brandon Ingram, freshman star at Duke and sure-fire top two pick in next month’s NBA Draft; more specifically, I think of Perez as the baseball draft version of Ingram (young, indicative of where the game is headed, and the next evolutionary step that can be traced back to a long line of similar yet steadily improving players over the years) when stacked up to Blake Rutherford’s Ben Simmons (both excellent yet perhaps slightly overhyped prospects getting too much love due to physical advantages that won’t always be there). I’m not sure even I buy all of that to the letter (and I lean towards Simmons as the better NBA prospect, so the thing falls apart quickly), but there are certain characteristics that make it fit…and it’s a fun hook.

Also for what it’s worth, I’ve heard from a few friends who are far from sold on Perez the hitter. That’s obviously a fair counterpoint to all of the enthusiasm found in the preceding avalanche of words. Will Perez hit enough to make the kind of impact worthy of the first overall selection? This takes me back to something tangentially related to Kyle Mercer, another potential 1-1 candidate, back in February

It goes back to something I mentioned in the comments section a few weeks back: guys either learn to hit or they don’t. That’s my paraphrased take from this scout’s quote talking about the likelihood of Jahlil Okafor improving his outside shot as a professional: “He needs to become a better shooter and free throw shooter. He either will or he won’t.” Scouts work very hard evaluating amateur and minor league talent across the country, so their collective insight into projecting a young hitter’s future is not to be dismissed. But…can we ever really know how a guy is going to react when thrown into the professional environment? A 95 MPH fastball with movement is a 95 MPH fastball with movement at any level. Plus speed, outstanding glove work, and the ability to miss bats are all translatable skills when honed properly. Hitting is an entirely different animal.

In other words, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. The Perez supporters –myself included, naturally – obviously believe in his bat, but also believe that he won’t necessarily have to hit a ton to be a damn fine player when you factor in his defensive gifts and plus to plus-plus speed. That’s part of what makes drafting a highly athletic shortstop prospect with tons of youth on his side so appealing. Even if the bat doesn’t fulfill all your hopes and dreams, the chances you walk away with at least something is high…or at least higher than at any other position. It gives players like Perez a deceptively high floor. I’ll annoyingly repeat what I said about Rodgers here one more time…

That’s a player worthy of going 1-1 if it all clicks, but there’s enough risk in the overall package that I’m not willing to call him the best player in this class. Second best, maybe. Third best, likely.

That’s what I said last year about Rodgers before eventually ranking him third overall in his class. I have similar thoughts about Perez, but now I’m reconsidering the logic in hedging on putting him anywhere but first overall. A sky high ceiling if he hits and a reasonably realistic useful big league floor if he doesn’t makes him hard to pass on, especially in a class with so few potential stars at the top. He’s blown past Oscar Mercado and Jalen Miller, and now shares a lot of the same traits that have made Francisco Lindor a future star. I don’t see Perez as the type of player you get fired for taking high, but rather the kind of player that has ownership looking at you funny for passing up after he makes it big. All that for a guy who nobody can say with compelling certainty will ever hit. I love the draft.

1.24 – San Diego Padres | Carroll HS SS Hudson Sanchez (248th)

December 2015…

Hudson Sanchez is another favorite and I’m intrigued to see if he’s still got any significant growing left in him; if so, he might be one of those players who can hang at short, but winds up so close to what we envision the ideal third baseman to be that there’s really no other option but to play him at the hot corner in pro ball. Have to appease the Baseball Gods, after all.

May 2016…

Hudson Sanchez, a righthanded bat with some thump out of Texas, is on the opposite side of the age spectrum as one of this class’s youngest prospects. Though not quite the same prospect, it’s worth keeping in mind that Sanchez is just a few weeks behind Perez.

1.25 – San Diego Padres | Kent State LHP Eric Lauer (52nd)

October 2015…

I loved Andrew Chafin as a prospect. Everybody who has been around the Kent State program for a while that I’ve talked to agree that Lauer is better. I can see it: he’s more athletic, has better fastball command, and comes with a cleaner medical history.

February 2016…

As much as I like all three of those pitchers, there’s still a decent-sized gap between Eric Lauer and the field. Lauer, the third lefthander in my MAC top four, combines the best of all of the prospects below him on the rankings. There isn’t a box that he doesn’t check when looking for a potentially quick-moving above-average mid-rotation big league starting pitcher. He’s an athletic (like Plesac) lefthander (like Deeg/Akin), with good size (like Deeg/Plesac), very strong performance indicators (10.78 K/9 and 2.72 BB/9), above-average heat (88-94) that he commands like a pro, and a complete assortment of offspeed pitches (74-77 CB, 78-82 SL, emerging CU) he can throw in any count. One could quibble by noting there’s no singular knockout pitch here – maybe with continued work one of his secondaries can become a consistent plus pitch, but certainly not presently – so maybe Lauer’s best case scenario outcome isn’t quite that of some of his peers across the country, but that’s a nitpick for a still impressive ceiling/high floor starting arm. Maybe you don’t love him – I kind of do, clearly…but maybe you don’t – but he’s still a prospect that’s hard not to at least like.

1.26 – Chicago White Sox | Louisville RHP Zack Burdi (33rd)

October 2015…

Of all the rankings outside of the top ten, this is the one that could make me look dumbest by June. Burdi is a really tough evaluation for him right now because even after multiple years of being on the prospect stage it’s unclear (to me, at least) what role will eventually lead to him maximizing his ability. I’m reticent to throw him in the bullpen right away — many do this because of his last name, I think — because he’s shown the kind of diversity of stuff to stay in a rotation. Whether or not he has the command or consistency remain to be seen. Still, those concerns aren’t all that concerning when your fallback plan means getting to go full-tilt in the bullpen as you unleash a triple-digit fastball on hitters also guarding against two impressive offspeed pitches (CU, SL). It’s almost a win-win for scouting directors at this point. If he has a great spring, then you can believe him in as a starter long-term and grade him accordingly. If there’s still doubt, then you can drop him some but keep a close eye on his slip while being ready to pounce if he falls outside of those first few “don’t screw up or you’re fired” picks. You don’t want to spend a premium pick on a potential reliever, clearly, but if he falls outside of the top twenty picks or so then all of a sudden that backup bullpen plan is good enough to return value on your investment.

1.27 – Baltimore Orioles | Illinois RHP Cody Sedlock (67th)

April 2016…

Despite all the words and attention spent on Shawaryn, I gave very serious consideration to putting Cody Sedlock in the top spot. Properly rated by many of the experts yet likely underrated by the more casual amateur draft fans, Sedlock is a four-pitch guy – there is a weirdly awesome high number of these pitchers in the Big 10 this year — with the ability to command three intriguing offspeed pitches (SL, CB, CU) well enough for mid-rotation big league potential. I try not to throw mid-rotation starter upside around lightly; Sedlock is really good.

1.28 – Washington Nationals | Walton HS 3B Carter Kieboom (14th)

May 2016…

Carter Kieboom was with the third base prospects in my notes up until about a month or so ago. The buzz on him being good enough to stick at shortstop for at least a few years grew too loud to ignore. In fact, said buzz reminds me quite a bit about how the slow yet steady drumbeat for Alex Bregman, Shortstop grew throughout the spring last season. Beyond the defensive comparison, I think there’s actually a little something to looking at Kieboom developing as a potential Bregman type impact bat over the next few seasons. He checks every box you’d want to see out of a high school infielder: hit (above-average), power (above-average raw), bat speed (yes), approach (mature beyond his years), athleticism (well above-average), speed (average), glove (average at short, could be better yet at third), and arm (average to above-average, more than enough for the left side). He’d be neck and neck with Drew Mendoza for third place on my third base list, but he gets the bump to second here with the shortstops. At either spot, he’s a definite first round talent for me.

1.29 Washington Nationals | Florida RHP Dane Dunning (-)

A copy/paste error this morning kept Dunning off of the top 500 rankings. Now I’m paranoid that he’s not the only name missing since I tend to copy/paste in bunches. Anyway, Dunning has a really good arm. Going off memory, I think he was ranked somewhere just after the 200 mark near the Matt Krook, Matthias Dietz, Greg Veliz, and Tyler Mondile band of pitchers. My inexplicably unpublished notes on him…

JR RHP Dane Dunning: 88-94 FB with plus sink, 96 peak; average or better 81-83 SL; no longer uses good mid-70s CB as much; average 82-87 CU, flashes above-average with plus upside; improved command; good athlete; 6-3, 200 pounds

2014: 11.57 K/9 – 4.71 BB/9 – 21 IP – 5.14 ERA
2015: 8.25 K/9 – 3.45 BB/9 – 60.1 IP – 4.05 ERA
2016: 10.28 K/9 – 1.45 BB/9 – 68.1 IP – 2.50 ERA

1.30 – Texas Rangers | North Florida Christian LHP Cole Ragans (86th)

LHP Cole Ragans (North Florida Christian HS, Florida): 86-92 FB, 93 peak; average or better 71-77 CB, above-average upside; average 74-81 CU with sink; plus athlete; good deception; Sean Newcomb 2.0; PG comp: Jon Lester; 6-4, 185 pounds

1.31 – New York Mets | Connecticut LHP Anthony Kay (69th)

March 2016…

Much as I like him, I don’t necessarily view Anthony Kay as a first round arm. However, the second he falls past the first thirty or so picks he’ll represent immediate value for whatever team gives him a shot. He’s a relatively high-floor future big league starter who can throw four pitches for strikes but lacks that one true put-away offering. Maybe continued refinement of his low-80s changeup or his 78-84 slider gets him there, but for now it’s more of a steady yet unspectacular back of the rotation. Nathan Kirby (pick 40 last year) seems like a reasonable draft ceiling for him, though there are some similarities in Kay’s profile to Marco Gonzales, who went 19th in his draft year. I like Kay for his relative certainty depending on what a team does before selecting him; his high-floor makes him an interesting way to diversity the draft portfolio of a team that otherwise likes to gamble on boom/bust upside plays.

1.32 – Los Angeles Dodgers | Louisville C Will Smith (41st)

Louisville JR C Will Smith: average hit tool with a swing geared towards contact; average to above-average arm; steady glove; average at best power; easy average or better speed; plus athleticism is what separates him from a long list of comparable bats below him; 6-0, 190 pounds

2014: .221/.333/.273 – 10 BB/9 K – 3/3 SB – 77 AB
2015: .242/.333/.331 – 19 BB/27 K – 2/4 SB – 178 AB
2016: .380/.476/.573 – 18 BB/12 K – 9/10 SB – 150 AB

1.33 – St. Louis Cardinals | Elk Grove HS OF Dylan Carlson (151st)

May 2016…

Dylan Carlson (fast-rising bat I’ve heard called a “second round version of Kirilloff”)

1.34 – St. Louis Cardinals | Mississippi State RHP Dakota Hudson (19th)

October 2015…

Hudson is the biggest mystery man out of the SEC Four Horsemen (TM pending…with apologies to all the Vandy guys and Kyle Serrano) because buying on him is buying a largely untested college reliever (so far) with control red flags and a limited overall track record. Those are all fair reasons to doubt him right now, but when Hudson has it working there are few pitchers who look more dominant. His easy plus 86-92 cut-slider is right up there with Jackson’s curve as one of the best breaking balls in the entire class.

April 2016…

As for the actual data above, I’d say that Hudson’s number is eye-opening and wholly consistent with the kind of stuff he throws. Are we sure he isn’t the best college pitching prospect in the country?

May 2016…

No comp is perfect, but I still like the Taijuan Walker ceiling on Hudson. I don’t know if he hits the same peaks as Walker – the Seattle star is the better athlete, plus took full advantage of the strength training, pro coaching, and King Felix good vibes osmosis available to him after signing as a teenager – but the two share a lot of stuff similarities.

Draft Note Research Page (Pitchers) 4 of 4

UCLA JR RHP Grant Dyer: 88-92 FB, 93 peak; really good 74-81 CB, flashes plus; underdeveloped 84-85 CU; 6-1, 200 pounds (2014: 5.66 K/9 – 3.86 BB/9 – 69 IP – 4.11 ERA) (2015: 9.92 K/9 – 2.29 BB/9 – 59.0 IP – 1.83 ERA) (2016: 7.88 K/9 – 2.70 BB/9 – 80.0 IP – 4.50 ERA)
UCLA JR RHP Moises Ceja: good athlete; 6-0, 170 pounds (2016: 7.50 K/9 – 3.59 BB/9 – 27.2 IP – 2.60 ERA)
UCLA JR RHP Scott Burke: 88-90 FB; good CB; emerging CU; 6-3, 185 pounds (2014: 7.20 K/9 – 3.15 BB/9 – 20 IP – 5.40 ERA) (2016: 7.30 K/9 – 4.38 BB/9 – 37.0 IP – 4.38 ERA)
UCLA rJR LHP Hunter Virant: missing 2014 season (back); 87-90 FB, 93 peak; low-70s CB; emerging 80-82 SL with plus upside; flashes good 82 CU that is difficult to pick up, easily above-average; good athlete; 2015: 88-91 FB; 79-81 SL; 81-83 CU, flashes plus; 6-4, 180 pounds (2015: 4.97 K/9 – 4.03 BB/9 – 28.2 IP – 3.41 ERA) (2016: 7.05 K/9 – 7.05 BB/9 – 16.2 IP – 8.10 ERA)
UCLA rJR RHP Nick Kern: 90-94 FB; plus 77-81 kCB; CU; SL; good athlete; good command; not on 2016 roster; 5-11, 185 pounds (2014: 10.06 K/9 – 2.65 BB/9 – 34 IP – 5.03 ERA)
UCLA rJR RHP Tucker Forbes: 90-93 FB; 80-85 SL; CU; 6-9, 235 pounds (2015: 10.66 K/9 – 2.13 BB/9 – 38.1 IP – 2.13 ERA) (2016: 9.00 K/9 – 7.41 BB/9 – 17.0 IP – 4.24 ERA)
UMBC rJR RHP Riley Stephenson: 6-3, 200 pounds (2016: 7.25 K/9 – 3.03 BB/9 – 44.2 IP – 5.44 ERA)
UMBC SR RHP Conrad Wozniak: upper-80s FB with sink; good cutter; plus command; 6-1, 240 pounds (2015: 6.90 K/9 – 2.34 BB/9 – 73.0 IP – 1.48 ERA) (2016: 6.75 K/9 – 2.84 BB/9 – 76.0 IP – 3.32 ERA)
UMBC SR RHP Denis Mikush: 5-11, 185 pounds (2015: 12.07 K/9 – 6.59 BB/9 – 41.1 IP – 2.41 ERA) (2016: 10.55 K/9 – 4.34 BB/9 – 29.0 IP – 4.03 ERA)
UMBC SR RHP Jonny Dierks: 6-4, 215 pounds (2016: 7.25 K/9 – 4.00 BB/9 – 36.0 IP – 5.00 ERA)
UNC Asheville JR RHP Joe Zayatz: good command; 5-11, 165 pounds (2014: 4.38 K/9 – 1.62 BB/9 – 78 IP – 3.92 ERA) (2015: 5.82 K/9 – 1.16 BB/9 – 85.1 IP – 4.76 ERA) (2015: .288/.356/.388 – 9 BB/20 K – 1/1 SB – 80 AB) (2016: .300/.483/.550 – 8 BB/8 K – 0/0 SB – 20 AB) (2016: 7.20 K/9 – 0.90 BB/9 – 20.0 IP – 2.25 ERA)
UNC Asheville SR RHP Corey Randall: plus CU; 6-1, 185 pounds (2013: 5.72 K/9 | 4.11 BB/9 | 4.48 FIP | 61.1 IP) (2014: 8.41 K/9 – 3.25 BB/9 – 60 IP – 4.43 ERA) (2015: 4.15 K/9 – 3.63 BB/9 – 51.2 IP – 7.27 ERA) (2016: 5.11 K/9 – 4.09 BB/9 – 17.2 IP – 6.62 ERA)
UNC Pembroke SR RHP Logan Cook: 90-92 FB; good 78-80 CB; 6-2, 190 pounds (2016: 7.99 K/9 – 4.00 BB/9 – 47.1 IP – 5.51 ERA)
UNC Wilmington rSO LHP Clay Lockamon: good CU; 6-2, 200 pounds (2015: 12.38 K/9 – 5.63 BB/9 – 8.0 IP – 3.38 ERA) (2016: 6.59 K/9 – 6.59 BB/9 – 12.1 IP – 9.49 ERA)
UNC Wilmington SR LHP Taylor Hyssong: 87-89 FB; 6-3, 190 pounds (2016: 6.30 K/9 – 3.41 BB/9 – 34.1 IP – 4.19 ERA)
UNC Wilmington SR RHP Jared Gesell: 88-94 FB, 95 peak; above-average 78-83 CU with plus upside; 77-80 SL with upside; plus deception; FAVORITE; 6-4, 200 pounds (2014: 8.44 K/9 – 7.31 BB/9 – 16 IP – 4.50 ERA) (2015: 8.44 K/9 – 4.50 BB/9 – 31.2 IP – 2.25 ERA) (2016: 12.18 K/9 – 5.35 BB/9 – 30.1 IP – 4.15 ERA)
UNC Wilmington SR RHP Ryan Foster: 87-90 FB with sink; good cutter; CB; CU; 6-0, 200 pounds (2014: 5.23 K/9 – 3.48 BB/9 – 62 IP – 3.48 ERA) (2015: 6.75 K/9 – 3.38 BB/9 – 88.1 IP – 4.09 ERA) (2016: 5.68 K/9 – 2.07 BB/9 – 104.2 IP – 2.41 ERA)
UNLV JR RHP DJ Myers: 6-5, 250 pounds (2015: 7.65 K/9 – 2.59 BB/9 – 80.0 IP – 4.50 ERA) (2016: 7.47 K/9 – 3.10 BB/9 – 84.1 IP – 5.23 ERA)
UNLV SR LHP Brayden Torres: 88-93 FB; splitter; SL; CU; 6-5, 190 pounds (2013: 9.67 K/9 | 2.33 BB/9 | 3.26 FIP | 27 IP) (2014: 9.82 K/9 – 3.00 BB/9 – 32 IP – 1.91 ERA) (2015: 9.86 K/9 – 2.57 BB/9 – 21.0 IP – 1.71 ERA)
UNLV SR RHP Cody Roper: 6-3, 225 pounds (2015: 7.14 K/9 – 5.59 BB/9 – 29.1 IP – 4.97 ERA) (2016: 6.64 K/9 – 5.02 BB/9 – 55.2 IP – 5.98 ERA)
UNLV SR RHP Kenny Oakley: 88-92 FB; good CU; good command; 6-3, 200 pounds (2013: 8.10 K/9 | 2.87 BB/9 | 4.35 FIP | 53.1 IP) (2014: 7.33 K/9 – 3.15 BB/9 – 97 IP – 3.06 ERA) (2015: 7.94 K/9 – 2.91 BB/9 – 68.0 IP – 3.18 ERA) (2016: 5.89 K/9 – 3.56 BB/9 – 88.2 IP – 4.36 ERA)
USC JR LHP Bernardo Flores: 85-91 FB, 95 peak; velocity depends on role; good CU, flashes plus; cut-SL; CB; 2016: 93-94 FB; average 81 CU; 77-81 breaking ball; 6-3, 170 pounds (2015: 9.00 K/9 – 3.40 BB/9 – 44.2 IP – 3.80 ERA) (2016: 7.79 K/9 – 3.46 BB/9 – 41.2 IP – 6.70 ERA)
USC JR LHP/OF Andrew Wright: 90-94 FB, 95 peak; up from earlier 85-88 FB; above-average speed; 6-5, 225 pounds (2016: 6.92 K/9 – 10.70 BB/9 – 14.1 IP – 8.16 ERA)
USC JR RHP/3B Jeff Paschke: above-average raw power; 87-93 FB, 95 peak; good 80-84 SL; 6-5, 215 pounds (2014: 7.07 K/9 – 4.50 BB/9 – 28 IP – 4.82 ERA) (2015: 7.20 K/9 – 5.40 BB/9 – 14.2 IP – 6.00 ERA) (2016: 8.51 K/9 – 6.39 BB/9 – 29.2 IP – 4.25 ERA)
USC rJR RHP Joe Navilhon: 88-92 FB; good 81-84 CU; mid-70s CB/SL; Fullerton transfer; TJ survivor; 6-0, 200 pounds (2016: 7.74 K/9 – 2.62 BB/9 – 82.2 IP – 3.38 ERA)
USC SR LHP Marc Huberman: 86-92 FB, 94 peak; 75-78 CB; good 76-82 CU, flashes plus; strong command; 6-2, 180 pounds (2013: 9.00 K/9 | 5.14 BB/9 | 2.80 FIP | 14 IP) (2014: 11.37 K/9 – 7.11 BB/9 – 12.2 IP – 4.26 ERA) (2015: 8.64 K/9 – 6.12 BB/9 – 49.2 IP – 2.34 ERA) (2016: 9.74 K/9 – 6.92 BB/9 – 41.2 IP – 1.94 ERA)
USC SR RHP Brent Wheatley: 88-92 FB, 93 peak; 80 CU; average 74-75 CB; above-average 82 cut-SL; 6-4, 210 pounds (2013: 6.33 K/9 | 4.43 BB/9 | 3.82 FIP | 42.2 IP) (2014: 4.07 K/9 – 4.07 BB/9 – 73 IP – 3.58 ERA) (2015: 8.10 K/9 – 4.37 BB/9 – 70.0 IP – 4.50 ERA) (2016: 9.71 K/9 – 5.77 BB/9 – 34.1 IP – 6.03 ERA)
USC SR RHP Brooks Kriske: 88-94 FB, 95 peak; good 81 SL; improved 86 CU; 6-3, 190 pounds (2013: 6.43 K/9 | 3.86 BB/9 | 4.83 FIP | 21 IP) (2014: 6.21 K/9 – 4.32 BB/9 – 33.1 IP – 3.51 ERA) (2015: 7.84 K/9 – 4.06 BB/9 – 31.0 IP – 2.90 ERA) (2016: 10.71 K/9 – 3.82 BB/9 – 35.1 IP – 2.55 ERA)
USC SR RHP Kyle Davis: 86-92 FB, 93 peak; good 78-86 SL; good 79-83 CU with sink; really good 73-80 CB, flashes plus at 80-82; good defensive tools; 6-0, 200 pounds (2013: 5.70 K/9 | 4.22 BB/9 | 4.50 FIP | 42.2 IP) (2014: 9.11 K/9 – 2.88 BB/9 – 56.1 IP – 1.12 ERA) (2015: 7.64 K/9 – 3.06 BB/9 – 53.1 IP – 4.08 ERA) (2016: 6.78 K/9 – 3.50 BB/9 – 82.1 IP – 4.70 ERA)
Utah JR LHP Dylan Drachler: 84-87 FB; 6-1, 180 pounds (2014: 9.20 K/9 – 6.75 BB/9 – 29.1 IP – 7.98 ERA) (2016: 10.95 K/9 – 7.78 BB/9 – 37.0 IP – 2.92 ERA)
Utah SR RHP Dalton Carroll: 88-92 FB, 94 peak; good 83-85 CU; 6-0, 200 pounds (2013: 4.81 K/9 | 3.20 BB/9 | 4.09 FIP | 78.2 IP) (2014: 5.76 K/9 – 1.67 BB/9 – 59.1 IP – 5.31 ERA) (2015: 5.42 K/9 – 2.71 BB/9 – 93 IP – 4.94 ERA) (2016: 5.15 K/9 – 4.31 BB/9 – 85.2 IP – 5.04 ERA)
Utah SR RHP Nolan Stouder: 88-91 FB; average SL; 6-3, 200 pounds (2015: 6.62 K/9 – 2.89 BB/9 – 53.0 IP – 6.11 ERA) (2016: 4.29 K/9 – 3.00 BB/9 – 21.0 IP – 6.00 ERA)
Utah Valley JR LHP Patrick Wolfe: low-90s FB; good CU; 6-1, 225 pounds (2015: 4.61 K/9 – 7.06 BB/9 – 29.1 IP – 9.20 ERA) (2016: 7.44 K/9 – 4.46 BB/9 – 72.2 IP – 5.57 ERA)
Utah Valley JR RHP Danny Beddes: 90-95 FB; 85-87 cutter; 80-82 CB; 6-6, 250 pounds (2013: 4.55 K/9 | 6.51 BB/9 | 4.23 FIP | 27.2 IP) (2014: 4.70 K/9 – 4.70 BB/9 – 88 IP – 4.09 ERA) (2015: 7.18 K/9 – 6.32 BB/9 – 84.0 IP – 4.71 ERA) (2016: 8.67 K/9 – 4.61 BB/9 – 99.2 IP – 4.33 ERA)
Utah Valley JR RHP Logan Hold: 6-0, 185 pounds (2016: 6.16 K/9 – 1.61 BB/9 – 33.2 IP – 1.87 ERA)
Utah Valley SR RHP Kyle Valgardson: 6-4, 225 pounds (2016: 7.93 K/9 – 2.80 BB/9 – 38.2 IP – 1.63 ERA)
Valparaiso JR RHP Mario Losi: 6-3, 190 pounds (2016: 6.72 K/9 – 2.78 BB/9 – 61.2 IP – 4.96 ERA)
Valparaiso SR LHP Dalton Lundeen: 85-88 FB; SL; 6-3, 200 pounds (2013: 5.60 K/9 | 2.86 BB/9 | 4.12 FIP | 72.1 IP) (2014: 7.05 K/9 – 1.30 BB/9 – 83 IP – 1.95 ERA) (2015: 9.00 K/9 – 2.01 BB/9 – 93.2 IP – 3.73 ERA) (2016: 6.65 K/9 – 1.91 BB/9 – 89.1 IP – 3.12 ERA)
Valparaiso SR LHP/OF Luke Syens: 93 FB; good breaking ball; 6-3, 200 pounds
Valparaiso SR RHP Ryan Fritze: 6-2, 190 pounds (2015: 7.13 K/9 – 3.74 BB/9 – 77.1 IP – 4.56 ERA) (2016: 8.57 K/9 – 4.29 BB/9 – 33.2 IP – 6.42 ERA)
Valparaiso SR RHP Trevor Haas: upper-80s FB; 6-2, 200 pounds (2013: 1.57 K/9 | 4.08 BB/9 | 5.08 FIP | 28.2 IP) (2014: 4.91 K/9 – 1.91 BB/9 – 33 IP – 3.55 ERA) (2015: 3.38 K/9 – 1.88 BB/9 – 24.1 IP – 4.88 ERA) (2016: 5.58 K/9 – 2.19 BB/9 – 82.1 IP – 2.95 ERA)
Villanova JR LHP Hunter Schryver: 6-0, 180 pounds (2014: 6.79 K/9 – 3.95 BB/9 – 57 IP – 4.58 ERA) (2015: 5.59 K/9 – 4.66 BB/9 – 57.2 IP – 5.43 ERA) (2016: 8.02 K/9 – 3.05 BB/9 – 88.2 IP – 2.64 ERA)
Villanova JR LHP Woody Bryson: 6-4, 210 pounds (2016: 10.72 K/9 – 4.02 BB/9 – 40.1 IP – 3.35 ERA)
Virginia Commonwealth JR LHP Brooks Vial: good athlete; 5-10, 165 pounds (2016: 7.72 K/9 – 3.76 BB/9 – 93.1 IP – 4.05 ERA)
Virginia Commonwealth JR RHP Sam Donko: 6-2, 235 pounds (2016: 8.74 K/9 – 2.31 BB/9 – 54.2 IP – 2.63 ERA)
Virginia JR RHP Alec Bettinger: 85-91 FB with sink, 93-94 peak; good 76-80 SL/CB; 82-84 CU; 6-2, 180 pounds (2014: 7.78 K/9 – 3.65 BB/9 – 36 IP – 1.22 ERA) (2015: 10.70 K/9 – 3.91 BB/9 – 53.1 IP – 5.43 ERA) (2016: 7.78 K/9 – 4.40 BB/9 – 61.1 IP – 5.43 ERA)
Virginia JR RHP Holden Grounds: 90 FB; 6-0, 190 pounds (2016: 6.56 K/9 – 6.56 BB/9 – 9.2 IP – 2.79 ERA)
Virginia JR RHP Tyler Shambora: 90 FB; 5-11, 185 pounds (2016: 6.26 K/9 – 2.33 BB/9 – 50.1 IP – 3.22 ERA)
Virginia Military Institute JR RHP Blaine Lafin: 6-1, 185 pounds (2016: 9.25 K/9 – 6.05 BB/9 – 25.1 IP – 6.39 ERA)
Virginia Military Institute rSO RHP Jack Gomersall: upper-80s FB; good SL; 6-0, 185 pounds (2015: 8.33 K/9 – 6.00 BB/9 – 26.2 IP – 5.33 ERA) (2016: 7.13 K/9 – 3.74 BB/9 – 53.0 IP – 4.42 ERA)
Virginia Military Institute SR RHP Micah Gorman: 6-0, 200 pounds (2015: 6.39 K/9 – 4.94 BB/9 – 30.2 IP – 7.26 ERA) (2016: 7.53 K/9 – 4.83 BB/9 – 46.2 IP – 7.71 ERA)
Virginia Military Institute SR RHP Taylor Edens: 85-88 FB with sink; good SL; plus command; good deception; 6-1, 200 pounds (2014: 5.36 K/9 – 1.07 BB/9 – 41 IP – 2.79 ERA) (2015: 8.80 K/9 – 1.57 BB/9 – 45.2 IP – 4.89 ERA) (2016: 7.72 K/9 – 2.23 BB/9 – 44.1 IP – 5.89 ERA)
Virginia rJR LHP/OF Kevin Doherty: 85-87 FB; good 79-80 SL; good deception; 6-0, 185 pounds (2015: 7.40 K/9 – 2.00 BB/9 – 45.0 IP – 3.40 ERA) (2015: .215/.354/.308 – 28 BB/34 K – 4/6 SB – 130 AB) (2016: 6.03 K/9 – 3.38 BB/9 – 37.1 IP – 3.86 ERA)
Virginia rSO RHP Jack Roberts: 88-92 FB, 94 peak; good CU; 6-4, 200 pounds (2015: 8.25 K/9 – 7.50 BB/9 – 23.2 IP – 6.00 ERA) (2016: 11.19 K/9 – 8.86 BB/9 – 19.1 IP – 3.26 ERA)
Virginia SR LHP David Rosenberger: 84-86 FB; good breaking ball; 6-0, 185 pounds (2013: 6.61 K/9 | 0.83 BB/9 | 3.79 FIP | 32.2 IP) (2014: 6.55 K/9 – 3.27 BB/9 – 22 IP – 2.86 ERA) (2015: 5.03 K/9 – 2.65 BB/9 – 34.0 IP – 5.03 ERA) (2016: 7.48 K/9 – 2.30 BB/9 – 31.1 IP – 7.76 ERA)
Virginia Tech JR RHP Aaron McGarity: 88-92 FB, 93 peak; good 81-83 SL; good command; 6-3, 180 pounds (2014: 6.11 K/9 – 2.55 BB/9 – 52 IP – 4.58 ERA) (2015: 6.72 K/9 – 2.87 BB/9 – 67.0 IP – 4.57 ERA) (2016: 15.13 K/9 – 3.19 BB/9 – 11.1 IP – 2.38 ERA)
Virginia Tech JR RHP Luke Scherzer: 88-92 FB, 93 peak; 80-81 SL with above-average to plus upside; 6-0, 185 pounds (2014: 5.62 K/9 – 3.60 BB/9 – 40 IP – 4.05 ERA) (2015: 11.05 K/9 – 5.53 BB/9 – 45.2 IP – 4.73 ERA)
Virginia Tech rJR LHP Kit Scheetz: 87-89 FB; CU; 5-10, 170 pounds (2014: 41 K/18 BB – 50 IP – 5.76 ERA) (2015: 5.40 K/9 – 2.52 BB/9 – 50.0 IP – 5.22 ERA) (2016: 5.68 K/9 – 2.68 BB/9 – 84.0 IP – 4.82 ERA)
Virginia Tech rSO RHP Ryan Lauria: 91 FB; plus command; TJ survivor; Louisville transfer; 6-1, 190 pounds (2014: 9.00 K/9 – 7.00 BB/9 – 9 IP – 4.00 ERA) (2016: 7.06 K/9 – 4.71 BB/9 – 30.2 IP – 5.58 ERA)
Virginia Tech rSR LHP Jon Woodcock: 6-0, 180 pounds (2014: 7.36 K/9 – 5.73 BB/9 – 43 IP – 3.68 ERA) (2015: 8.63 K/9 – 4.75 BB/9 – 72.1 IP – 3.73 ERA) (2016: 6.35 K/9 – 3.92 BB/9 – 66.2 IP – 6.21 ERA)
Volunteer State FR RHP/C Justin Wilson (2016): 88-92 FB, 94 peak; 77 CB; plus arm; good athlete; FAVORITE; 6-0, 175 pounds (2016: 7.53 K/9 – 4.41 BB/9 – 14.1 IP – 2.51 ERA)
Wagner JR RHP Austin Goeke: 86-91 FB; above-average CU; 6-5, 200 pounds (2015: 10.06 K/9 – 6.35 BB/9 – 34.1 IP – 5.29 ERA) (2016: 7.49 K/9 – 3.52 BB/9 – 79.1 IP – 3.06 ERA)
Wagner JR RHP Danny Marsh: 86-90 FB; 6-0, 200 pounds (2014: 5.00 K/9 – 1.83 BB/9 – 54 IP – 4.67 ERA) (4 IP)
Wagner SR RHP Mike Adams: 89-93 FB, 94 peak; SL; CU; 5-11, 170 pounds (2013: 5.31 K/9 | 8.12 BB/9 | 4.40 FIP | 57.2 IP) (2014: 8.40 K/9 – 5.10 BB/9 – 29 IP – 4.80 ERA) (2015: 7.29 K/9 – 4.50 BB/9 – 58.0 IP – 5.59 ERA) (2016: 6.10 K/9 – 4.42 BB/9 – 75.1 IP – 5.38 ERA)
Wagner SR RHP Nathan Hunt: 6-3, 210 pounds (2016: 6.94 K/9 – 3.60 BB/9 – 35.0 IP – 2.31 ERA)
Wake Forest JR RHP Connor Johnstone: 86-91 FB with sink; good low-80s CU; good command; 6-1, 185 pounds (2014: 4.21 K/9 – 1.34 BB/9 – 47 IP – 3.06 ERA) (2015: 3.41 K/9 – 3.41 BB/9 – 58.0 IP – 6.36 ERA) (2016: 3.84 K/9 – 1.40 BB/9 – 77.1 IP – 5.70 ERA)
Wake Forest JR RHP John McCarren: 88-92 FB; 6-3, 200 pounds (2014: 6.75 K/9 – 3.54 BB/9 – 28 IP – 4.18 ERA) (2015: 5.51 K/9 – 3.56 BB/9 – 50.2 IP – 5.51 ERA) (2016: 5.57 K/9 – 2.31 BB/9 – 66.1 IP – 3.66 ERA)
Wake Forest rSO RHP Chris Farish: 88-92 FB, 94 peak; good 78-81 CB/SL; emerging CU; 6-4, 210 pounds (2016: 11.25 K/9 – 9.64 BB/9 – 28.0 IP – 4.82 ERA)
Wake Forest rSO RHP Parker Johnson: 6-0, 225 pounds (2015: 7.08 K/9 – 3.75 BB/9 – 21.2 IP – 9.14 ERA) (2016: 12.74 K/9 – 4.25 BB/9 – 10.2 IP – 9.28 ERA)
Wake Forest rSR RHP Aaron Fossas: good SL; Tommy John survivor; 6-2, 200 pounds (2014: 5.49 K/9 – 3.51 BB/9 – 41 IP – 3.51 ERA) (2015: 3.10 K/9 – 2.33 BB/9 – 11.2 IP – 4.63 ERA)
Wake Forest SO RHP Donnie Sellers: 90-94 FB, 95 peak; good SL; 6-0, 185 pounds (2015: 5.34 K/9 – 5.06 BB/9 – 32.0 IP – 5.34 ERA) (2016: 5.23 K/9 – 4.40 BB/9 – 43.0 IP – 5.65 ERA)
Wake Forest SR RHP/C Garrett Kelly: 88-94 FB; SL with upside; fresh arm; 6-0, 200 pounds (2014: 8.55 K/9 – 4.95 BB/9 – 19 IP – 4.95 ERA) (2015: 5.63 K/9 – 8.18 BB/9 – 17.2 IP – 9.68 ERA) (2016: 11.08 K/9 – 7.30 BB/9 – 33.1 IP – 4.86 ERA)
Washington JR LHP Henry Baker: 88-92 FB; potential plus CB; 6-2, 235 pounds (2014: 9.00 K/9 – 3.38 BB/9 – 16 IP – 7.31 ERA) (1.0 IP)
Washington JR RHP Westin Wuethrich: 90-95 FB with sink; good SL; 6-2, 215 pounds (3.1 IP)
Washington SR LHP Will Ballowe: 93 peak; 6-5, 250 pounds (2014: 4.12 K/9 – 1.48 BB/9 – 54.2 IP – 2.30 ERA) (2016: 11.42 K/9 – 6.58 BB/9 – 26.0 IP – 3.46 ERA)
Washington SR RHP Alex Nesbitt: 88-94 FB, 95 peak; 82-85 SL flashes plus; raw CU; 5-11, 200 pounds (2014: 6.94 K/9 – 5.40 BB/9 – 11.2 IP – 4.63 ERA) (2015: 5.14 K/9 – 6.43 BB/9 – 13.2 IP – 6.43 ERA) (2016: 9.32 K/9 – 4.77 BB/9 – 39.2 IP – 4.99 ERA)
Washington SR RHP Ryan Schmitten: 87-90 FB; plus SL; 81 CU with screwball action; sidearm delivery; 6-4, 160 pounds (2015: 5.35 K/9 – 2.19 BB/9 – 37.1 IP – 3.65 ERA) (2016: 7.08 K/9 – 3.08 BB/9 – 49.2 IP – 5.44 ERA)
Washington SR RHP Spencer Jones: FB with sink; SL; plus CU; 6-5, 200 pounds (2015: 8.03 K/9 – 2.35 BB/9 – 65.1 IP – 2.91 ERA) (2016: 7.37 K/9 – 2.76 BB/9 – 58.2 IP – 4.14 ERA)
Washington SR RHP Troy Rallings: 88-92 FB with plus sink, 94 peak; above-average to plus 78-84 SL; 6-2, 210 pounds (2013: 7.79 K/9 | 4.15 BB/9 | 3.78 FIP | 17.1 IP) (2014: 7.12 K/9 – 1.88 BB/9 – 43 IP – 2.30 ERA) (2015: 6.88 K/9 – 1.38 BB/9 – 71.2 IP – 2.00 ERA) (2016: 8.85 K/9 – 1.77 BB/9 – 61.0 IP – 0.89 ERA)
Washington State rSO LHP Damon Jones: 6-5, 225 pounds (2016: 5.52 K/9 – 4.50 BB/9 – 44.0 IP – 5.09 ERA)
West Virginia JR RHP Brandon Boone: 6-3, 200 pounds (2016: 12.10 K/9 – 7.74 BB/9 – 18.2 IP – 3.38 ERA)
West Virginia JR RHP Jackson Sigman: 6-1, 200 pounds (2016: 6.76 K/9 – 4.68 BB/9 – 17.1 IP – 3.63 ERA)
West Virginia rSO RHP Nick Wernke: 90-94 FB; low-80s SL; 6-4, 200 pounds (6.0 IP)
West Virginia rSR LHP Ross Vance: FB with sink; submarine angle; 6-0, 180 pounds (2014: 7.91 K/9 – 2.95 BB/9 – 58 IP – 3.41 ERA) (2015: 7.55 K/9 – 3.07 BB/9 – 96.2 IP – 3.26 ERA) (2016: 8.94 K/9 – 2.95 BB/9 – 91.2 IP – 4.91 ERA)
West Virginia SR RHP Jeff Hardy: 94 FB; 6-4, 175 pounds (2015: 8.72 K/9 – 2.81 BB/9 – 32 IP – 5.62 ERA) (2016: 8.74 K/9 – 4.37 BB/9 – 20.2 IP – 7.84 ERA)
Western Carolina JR LHP Bryan Sammons: 88-90 FB; 6-4, 235 pounds (2014: 8.55 K/9 – 5.40 BB/9 – 60 IP – 4.50 ERA) (2015: 8.52 K/9 – 6.72 BB/9 – 75.0 IP – 5.64 ERA) (2016: 8.08 K/9 – 5.05 BB/9 – 98.0 IP – 5.51 ERA)
Western Carolina JR RHP BJ Nobles: SL; 6-2, 210 pounds (2015: 10.62 K/9 – 6.05 BB/9 – 61.1 IP – 4.87 ERA) (2016: 10.18 K/9 – 3.32 BB/9 – 38.0 IP – 3.32 ERA)
Western Carolina JR RHP Korey Anderson: 6-2, 200 pounds (2015: 8.71 K/9 – 5.37 BB/9 – 62.0 IP – 7.69 ERA) (2016: 9.09 K/9 – 5.19 BB/9 – 41.2 IP – 8.21 ERA)
Western Carolina rJR LHP Dillon Bray: 6-0, 230 pounds (2015: 8.00 K/9 – 6.50 BB/9 – 17.2 IP – 10.50 ERA) (2016: 9.90 K/9 – 3.83 BB/9 – 40.0 IP – 9.45 ERA)
Western Carolina SR LHP Taylor Durand: 88-91 FB; 6-5, 225 pounds (2015: 8.45 K/9 – 7.64 BB/9 – 33.0 IP – 4.64 ERA) (2016: 8.07 K/9 – 5.65 BB/9 – 22.1 IP – 5.64 ERA)
Western Carolina SR RHP Colton Davis: 90-94 FB; 6-1, 200 pounds (2014: 10.09 K/9 – 5.45 BB/9 – 33 IP – 4.64 ERA) (2015: 10.93 K/9 – 8.04 BB/9 – 28.0 IP – 6.21 ERA) (2016: 12.05 K/9 – 5.12 BB/9 – 65.0 IP – 4.85 ERA)
Western Illinois JR LHP Nate Westfahl: 6-3, 210 pounds (2016: 8.74 K/9 – 4.37 BB/9 – 20.2 IP – 4.79 ERA)
Western Illinois JR LHP Preston Church: 87-91 FB; good deception; 6-3, 210 pounds (2014: 9.32 K/9 – 7.71 BB/9 – 28 IP – 9.00 ERA) (2015: 8.75 K/9 – 6.16 BB/9 – 73.1 IP – 3.95 ERA) (2016: 6.85 K/9 – 4.57 BB/9 – 27.2 IP – 4.88 ERA)
Western Illinois SR RHP Joe Mortillaro: 90-94 FB with sink; 6-2, 215 pounds (2015: 7.10 K/9 – 4.82 BB/9 – 70.2 IP – 5.20 ERA) (2016: 8.21 K/9 – 3.76 BB/9 – 52.2 IP – 6.66 ERA)
Western Illinois SR RHP Jordan Pannell: 6-5, 200 pounds (2016: 9.09 K/9 – 3.86 BB/9 – 39.2 IP – 2.95 ERA)
Western Illinois SR RHP Nick Milligan: 94 peak; 6-4, 230 pounds (2015: 16.32 K/9 – 9.79 BB/9 – 19.1 IP – 4.19 ERA) (2016: 7.67 K/9 – 4.09 BB/9 – 17.2 IP – 12.74 ERA)
Western Kentucky JR LHP Ryan Thurston: 6-2 (2015: 4.75 K/9 – 4.75 BB/9 – 36.0 IP – 6.00 ERA) (2016: 8.97 K/9 – 4.35 BB/9 – 79.1 IP – 4.20 ERA)
Western Kentucky JR RHP Ben Morrison: 90-94 FB; average 82 SL, flashes plus; good deception; above-average athlete; 5-10 (2015: 10.71 K/9 – 4.71 BB/9 – 20.2 IP – 4.71 ERA)
Western Kentucky JR RHP Sam Higgs: (2014: 5.32 K/9 – 3.07 BB/9 – 43 IP – 5.11 ERA) (2015: 4.05 K/9 – 3.60 BB/9 – 20.0 IP – 6.30 ERA) (2016: 6.53 K/9 – 2.03 BB/9 – 40.0 IP – 3.83 ERA)
Western Kentucky rJR RHP Jackson Sowell: 6-0 (2016: 11.84 K/9 – 5.41 BB/9 – 26.2 IP – 2.36 ERA)
Western Kentucky rJR RHP Kevin Elder: 6-0 (2015: 8.58 K/9 – 3.35 BB/9 – 43.1 IP – 1.88 ERA) (2016: 10.24 K/9 – 3.05 BB/9 – 41.1 IP – 4.35 ERA)
Western Kentucky SR LHP Austin King: 6-0 (2015: 6.05 K/9 – 1.86 BB/9 – 57.2 IP – 5.43 ERA) (2016: 7.57 K/9 – 2.27 BB/9 – 71.1 IP – 6.56 ERA)
Western Kentucky SR RHP Josh Bartley: 88-91 FB; 5-9 (2014: 5.18 K/9 – 3.95 BB/9 – 66 IP – 4.64 ERA) (2015: 4.42 K/9 – 3.97 BB/9 – 59.1 IP – 4.88 ERA) (2016: 6.81 K/9 – 4.37 BB/9 – 70.0 IP – 5.14 ERA)
Western Michigan SR LHP Derek Schneider: leans on CB; 6-1, 185 pounds (2013: 5.06 K/9 | 2.65 BB/9 | 4.19 FIP | 37.1 IP) (2014: 7.75 K/9 – 5.50 BB/9 – 36 IP – 5.25 ERA) (2015: 7.34 K/9 – 3.91 BB/9 – 76.1 IP – 3.55 ERA) (2016: 8.02 K/9 – 6.47 BB/9 – 64.0 IP – 7.73 ERA)
Western Michigan SR RHP Gabe Berman: 88-92 FB; CB; CU; not on 2016 roster; 6-2, 220 pounds (2013: 5.72 K/9 | 4.13 BB/9 | 3.74 FIP | 28.1 IP) (2014: 10.85 K/9 – 5.03 BB/9 – 34 IP – 2.65 ERA) (2015: 9.97 K/9 – 4.14 BB/9 – 37.0 IP – 2.68 ERA)
Wichita State JR LHP Reagan Biechler: 6-1, 200 pounds (2015: 9.33 K/9 – 5.33 BB/9 – 27.0 IP – 5.33 ERA) (2016: 7.17 K/9 – 3.58 BB/9 – 22.2 IP – 3.97 ERA)
Wichita State JR RHP Tyler Gibson: 90-93 FB; 80-84 SL; good command; Oklahoma transfer; 6-4, 185 pounds (2016: 3.27 K/9 – 4.91 BB/9 – 11.0 IP – 7.36 ERA)
Wichita State JR RHP Zach Lewis: 6-4, 210 pounds (2016: 8.03 K/9 – 3.28 BB/9 – 74.0 IP – 5.96 ERA)
Wichita State rJR RHP/3B Willie Schwanke: 88-92 FB, 94 peak; good cut-SL; like his approach a lot; Arkansas transfer; 6-1, 190 pounds (2013: .200/.349/.243 – 16 BB/19 K – 0/0 SB – 70 AB) (2014*: .324/.426/.532 – 32 BB/26 K – 1 SB – 173 AB) (2014*: 26 K/24 BB – 52.1 IP – 4.64 ERA) (2015: 6.82 K/9 – 3.00 BB/9 – 33.0 IP – 3.00 ERA) (2015: .182/.280/.273 – 2 BB/3 K – 0/0 SB – 22 AB) (2016: 5.94 K/9 – 2.55 BB/9 – 53.0 IP – 3.40 ERA)
Wichita State rSO RHP Sam Tewes: 88-94 FB, 95 peak; good CB; TJ surgery (3/31/16); 6-5, 200 pounds (2014: 5.42 K/9 – 3.25 BB/9 – 82 IP – 3.25 ERA) (2015: 9.00 K/9 – 1.23 BB/9 – 22.1 IP – 2.45 ERA) (2016: 11.10 K/9 – 4.93 BB/9 – 14.2 IP – 7.36 ERA)
Wichita State rSR RHP Chase Williams: 90-95 FB; good 84-86 SL/CB; 6-5, 225 pounds (2015: 9.16 K/9 – 6.75 BB/9 – 56.1 IP – 5.63 ERA) (2016: 9.16 K/9 – 7.05 BB/9 – 38.1 IP – 6.10 ERA)
Wichita State rSR RHP John Hayes: 88-93 FB; good CU; SL; 6-6, 225 pounds (2015: 9.52 K/9 – 3.81 BB/9 – 51.2 IP – 2.77 ERA) (2016: 10.57 K/9 – 4.92 BB/9 – 36.2 IP – 7.12 ERA)
Wichita State SR RHP/OF Jon Ferendelli: 88-91 FB; 6-1, 190 pounds (2015: 8.25 K/9 – 7.50 BB/9 – 12.1 IP – 6.00 ERA)
William & Mary JR RHP Daniel Powers: good CU; 6-2, 185 pounds (2016: 3.86 K/9 – 2.23 BB/9 – 88.2 IP – 3.96 ERA)
William & Mary JR RHP Nick Brown: 88-91 FB; good SL; CU; 6-0, 185 pounds (2014: 7.02 K/9 – 3.05 BB/9 – 59 IP – 4.27 ERA) (2015: 6.33 K/9 – 3.46 BB/9 – 90.2 IP – 3.36 ERA) (2016: 8.29 K/9 – 3.84 BB/9 – 89.0 IP – 5.76 ERA)
William & Mary SR LHP Andrew White: sidearm delivery; 5-9, 160 pounds (2014: 8.40 K/9 – 3.60 BB/9 – 14 IP – 1.20 ERA) (2015: 7.36 K/9 – 5.73 BB/9 – 11.0 IP – 0.00 ERA) (2016: 11.32 K/9 – 8.83 BB/9 – 32.2 IP – 3.31 ERA)
William & Mary SR RHP Joseph Gaouette: low-90s FB; good CB; 6-4, 220 pounds (2014: 9.00 K/9 – 3.50 BB/9 – 53 IP – 1.83 ERA) (2015: 11.57 K/9 – 2.57 BB/9 – 14.1 IP – 5.79 ERA) (2016: 9.21 K/9 – 3.27 BB/9 – 30.1 IP – 2.97 ERA)
William & Mary SR RHP Mitchell Aker: 90-92 FB, 93-94 peak; 74-76 CB needs work; 6-2, 185 pounds (2013: 6.66 K/9 | 3.86 BB/9 | 5.84 FIP | 25.2 IP) (2013: 6.66 K/9 | 3.86 BB/9 | 5.84 FIP | 25.2 IP) (2014: 5.44 K/9 – 2.63 BB/9 – 48 IP – 4.12 ERA) (2015: 6.00 K/9 – 4.50 BB/9 – 48.0 IP – 7.31 ERA) (2016: 5.82 K/9 – 4.79 BB/9 – 52.2 IP – 5.98 ERA)
Winthrop JR RHP Reece Green: good command; 6-3, 200 pounds (2016: 6.47 K/9 – 3.23 BB/9 – 47.1 IP – 4.56 ERA)
Winthrop rSO RHP Zach Cook: 93-94 peak; good CB; 6-1, 190 pounds (2015: 9.00 K/9 – 15.75 BB/9 – 8.1 IP – 5.63 ERA) (2016: 7.63 K/9 – 3.27 BB/9 – 41.1 IP – 3.48 ERA)
Winthrop rSR LHP Sam Kmiec: 84-88 FB; 70-73 CB; good 76-79 CU; good command; deceptive; 6-0, 215 pounds (2013: 6.55 K/9 | 0.57 BB/9 | 3.25 FIP | 78.1 IP) (2014: 6.32 K/9 – 1.47 BB/9 – 103 IP – 2.94 ERA) (2015: 10.16 K/9 – 2.22 BB/9 – 85.1 IP – 3.92 ERA) (2016: 6.71 K/9 – 1.58 BB/9 – 96.2 IP – 3.82 ERA)
Winthrop SR RHP Zach Sightler: 88-92 FB, 93 peak; good low- to mid-80s SL/CB; CU; 6-4, 210 pounds (2014: 5.12 K/9 – 4.15 BB/9 – 65 IP – 3.46 ERA) (2015: 5.79 K/9 – 4.29 BB/9 – 42.1 IP – 6.00 ERA) (2016: 4.35 K/9 – 3.89 BB/9 – 78.2 IP – 3.89 ERA)
Winthrop SR RHP/SS Kyle Edwards: good glove; 88-91 FB; good CB; 6-0, 190 pounds (2015: .255/.327/.337 – 18 BB/44 K – 2/5 SB – 184 AB) (1.1 IP)
Wisconsin-Milwaukee JR RHP Jay Peters: low-90s FB; 6-5, 200 pounds (2016: 6.45 K/9 – 3.60 BB/9 – 72.2 IP – 3.34 ERA)
Wisconsin-Milwaukee JR RHP Zach Brenner: 6-3, 190 pounds (2015: 12.86 K/9 – 10.93 BB/9 – 14.1 IP – 4.50 ERA) (2016: 8.88 K/9 – 6.46 BB/9 – 22.1 IP – 6.45 ERA)
Wisconsin-Milwaukee rSR LHP Jake Tuttle: 6-3, 180 pounds (2016: 12.65 K/9 – 7.06 BB/9 – 3.52 ERA)
Wisconsin-Milwaukee rSR RHP Cal Haley: 6-1, 215 pounds (2015: 6.95 K/9 – 4.09 BB/9 – 22.0 IP – 4.09 ERA) (2016: 7.88 K/9 – 2.25 BB/9 – 24.0 IP – 3.00 ERA)
Wisconsin-Milwaukee SR RHP Brian Keller: 93 FB; good command; 6-3, 170 pounds (2014: 5.93 K/9 – 2.63 BB/9 – 82 IP – 4.28 ERA) (2015: 5.97 K/9 – 1.84 BB/9 – 97.2 IP – 3.49 ERA) (2016: 8.91 K/9 – 1.80 BB/9 – 100.0 IP – 2.88 ERA)
Wofford JR RHP Jacob Condra-Bogan: 90-94 FB; good CU; 6-3, 215 pounds (2014: 9.45 K/9 – 7.65 BB/9 – 20 IP – 4.95 ERA) (2015: 11.17 K/9 – 5.59 BB/9 – 29.0 IP – 4.66 ERA) (2016: 6.98 K/9 – 2.86 BB/9 – 78.2 IP – 5.95 ERA)
Wofford JR RHP John Caskey: 6-3, 200 pounds (2015: 8.04 K/9 – 1.29 BB/9 – 28.0 IP – 6.43 ERA) (2016: 11.25 K/9 – 0.90 BB/9 – 8.0 IP – 2.25 ERA)
Wofford JR RHP Jordan Accetta: 6-1, 200 pounds (2015: 5.68 K/9 – 3.79 BB/9 – 38.1 IP – 7.82 ERA) (2016: 8.69 K/9 – 3.05 BB/9 – 38.1 IP – 5.87 ERA)
Wofford JR RHP Spencer Kulman: 6-1, 210 pounds (2015: 9.26 K/9 – 7.68 BB/9 – 33.2 IP – 5.56 ERA) (2016: 12.52 K/9 – 4.06 BB/9 – 26.2 IP – 5.74 ERA)
Wofford SR RHP Matthew Milburn: 6-2, 210 pounds (2013: 8.18 K/9 | 4.30 BB/9 | 4.66 FIP | 44 IP) (2014: 7.45 K/9 – 2.61 BB/9 – 93 IP – 3.97 ERA) (2015: 7.68 K/9 – 2.21 BB/9 – 102.0 IP – 4.32 ERA) (2016: 9.40 K/9 – 2.65 BB/9 – 98.2 IP – 4.47 ERA)
Wofford SR RHP Will Stillman: 88-92 FB; good CB; good CU; 6-4, 180 pounds (2014: 11.74 K/9 – 5.09 BB/9 – 46 IP – 1.57 ERA) (2015: 15.52 K/9 – 6.52 BB/9 – 29.1 IP – 4.66 ERA) (2016: 15.22 K/9 – 4.99 BB/9 – 34.1 IP – 3.93 ERA)
Wright State JR RHP Derek Hendrixson: low-90s FB; cutter; 5-9, 155 pounds (2015*: 9.88 K/9 – 0.80 BB/9 – 78.1 IP – 1.15 ERA)
Wright State rJR LHP Robby Sexton: 87-90 FB with sink; SL; good athlete; TJ survivor; 6-0, 220 pounds (2013: 5.79 K/9 | 6.64 BB/9 | 3.97 FIP | 42 IP) (2014: 6.70 K/9 – 3.73 BB/9 – 82 IP – 2.96 ERA) (2015: 4.85 K/9 – 6.23 BB/9 – 13.0 IP – 6.23 ERA) (2016: 7.81 K/9 – 1.62 BB/9 – 61.0 IP – 3.39 ERA)
Wright State rSR RHP Jack Van Horn: 6-0, 200 pounds (2012: 7.68 K/9 | 1.06 BB/9 | 3.71 FIP | 34 IP) (2014: 4.40 K/9 – 4.40 BB/9 – 45 IP – 3.80 ERA) (2015: 6.45 K/9 – 2.21 BB/9 – 53.0 IP – 3.06 ERA) (2016: 7.50 K/9 – 1.63 BB/9 – 27.2 IP – 4.55 ERA)
Wright State SR LHP EJ Trapino: deceptive; sidearmer; 5-9, 150 pounds (2015: 11.21 K/9 – 4.92 BB/9 – 53.0 IP – 2.55 ERA) (2016: 10.25 K/9 – 3.99 BB/9 – 31.2 IP – 6.25 ERA)
Wright State SR RHP Jesse Scholtens: 88-94 FB; average or better 82-86 SL; average CU; Arizona transfer; BP comp: Alec Asher; 6-4, 225 pounds (2015: 7.12 K/9 – 2.08 BB/9 – 90.2 IP – 3.07 ERA) (2016: 8.19 K/9 – 1.60 BB/9 – 95.2 IP – 2.63 ERA)
Xavier JR LHP Greg Jacknewitz: upper-80s FB; SL; CU; 6-3, 210 pounds (2015: 6.86 K/9 – 5.34 BB/9 – 58.2 IP – 3.05 ERA) (2016: 6.67 K/9 – 5.74 BB/9 – 48.2 IP – 7.21 ERA)
Yale JR RHP Chasen Ford: 87-92 FB; good CB/SL; 6-3, 215 pounds (2014: 5.33 K/9 – 3.33 BB/9 – 53 IP – 5.33 ERA) (2015: 7.02 K/9 – 3.06 BB/9 – 49.2 IP – 6.84 ERA) (2016: 4.65 K/9 – 3.05 BB/9 – 62.0 IP – 5.08 ERA)
Yale SR RHP Chris Lanham: 88 FB; CB; CU; 6-3, 185 pounds (2014: 6.68 K/9 – 2.32 BB/9 – 62 IP – 3.77 ERA) (2015: 7.33 K/9 – 3.50 BB/9 – 53.2 IP – 5.67 ERA) (2016: 6.75 K/9 – 4.88 BB/9 – 24.0 IP – 9.00 ERA)
Youngstown State JR LHP Michael Semonsen: 6-2, 190 pounds (2016: 6.81 K/9 – 6.58 BB/9 – 38.1 IP – 5.87 ERA)
Youngstown State JR RHP Jeremy Quinlan: 6-4, 200 pounds (2015: 6.82 K/9 – 3.48 BB/9 – 61.2 IP – 4.79 ERA) (2016: 7.28 K/9 – 4.76 BB/9 – 68.0 IP – 5.16 ERA)
Youngstown State JR RHP Kevin Yarabinec: 88-92 FB; plus low- to mid-80s SL; 6-3, 190 pounds (2014: 9.00 K/9 – 6.00 BB/9 – 24 IP – 2.25 ERA) (2015: 2.40 K/9 – 3.60 BB/9 – 15.1 IP – 4.80 ERA) (2016: 5.31 K/9 – 3.46 BB/9 – 39.0 IP – 4.15 ERA)
Youngstown State SR LHP Jared Wight: 85-87 FB; 6-5, 215 pounds (2014: 4.71 K/9 – 5.14 BB/9 – 42 IP – 7.93 ERA) (2015: 5.40 K/9 – 5.40 BB/9 – 35.0 IP – 6.69 ERA) (2016: 6.91 K/9 – 4.81 BB/9 – 43.0 IP – 6.49 ERA)

Draft Note Research Page (Pitchers) 3 of 4

RHP AJ Alexy (Twin Valley HS, Pennsylvania): 88-92 FB; improved low-70s CB; CU with upside; mixes in occasional knuckleball; 6-4, 190 pounds
RHP Alec Creel (North Carolina): 89-91 FB; 74 SL; 6-3, 200 pounds
RHP Alex Moore (Mountain Grove HS, Missouri): 90 FB; 6-7, 250 pounds
RHP Alex Moore (West Hills HS, California): 85 FB; young for class; 6-0, 175 pounds
RHP Alfredo Villarreal (Veterans Memorial HS, Texas): 88-92 FB; mid-70s CB; 5-10, 180 pounds
RHP Andrew Belcik (East Lake HS, Florida): 85-92 FB; 78-80 CB; CU; 6-2, 225 pounds
RHP Andrew Jones (Sarasota HS, Florida): 87-90 FB; good 76-77 SL; young for class; 6-5, 220 pounds
RHP Andrew Tovsky (TC Williams HS, Virginia): 85-88 FB; old for class; 6-5, 225 pounds
RHP Andrew Wilkinson (IMG Academy, Florida): 85-89 FB; 6-3, 200 pounds
RHP Anthony Espinal (Sarasota HS, Florida): 89 FB; good breaking ball; 6-3, 200 pounds
RHP Anthony Holubecki (IMG Academy, Florida): 88-92 FB with sink, 93 peak; 77-78 SL; CB; good CU; good deception; improved command; 6-4, 200 pounds
RHP Austin Wood (Silver Creek HS, Colorado): 86-91 FB; CB; CU; 6-5, 210 pounds
RHP Ben Anderson (Shenendehowa HS, New York): 85-87 FB; 6-4, 175 pounds
RHP Ben Moralez (Murrieta Valley HS, California): 85-88 FB; mid-70s CB; older for class; 6-2, 190 pounds
RHP Blair Henley (Arlington Heights HS, Texas): 86-92 FB, 93 peak; average 77-79 SL; 73 CB; average CU; older for class; 6-2, 200 pounds
RHP Blake Beyel (Cocoa HS, Florida): 84-86 FB; 73 breaking ball; young for class; 6-2, 175 pounds
RHP Blake Frost (Ballard HS, Kentucky): 85-88 FB; good 71-73 CU; 6-4, 200 pounds
RHP Braden Minor (Goddard HS, Kansas): 85-87 FB; mid-70s SL; young for class; 6-0, 180 pounds
RHP Brandon Reitz (Trinity Catholic HS, Florida): 87-91 FB; 81-84 CU; 78-80 SL; 6-1, 170 pounds
RHP Braydon Cook (Francis Howell HS, Missouri): 87-90 FB with sink; CU; good command; young for class; 6-1, 185 pounds
RHP Brian Brown (Countryside HS, Florida): 89 FB; 6-5, 190 pounds
RHP Brock Daugherty (Valley Center HS, California): 85-87 FB; 5-11, 175 pounds
RHP Brock Figueroa (Palmer HS, Texas): 88-90 FB; 6-2, 190 pounds
RHP Brody Gugat (North HS, Iowa): 87 FB; good CB; 6-4, 215 pounds
RHP Bryce Charipar (Xavier HS, Iowa): 87 FB; good athlete; 6-1, 180 pounds
RHP Bryson Wheatley (Perry HS, Arizona): 83-86 FB; young for class; 6-6, 200 pounds
RHP Cade Warren (Custer County HS, Montana): 88 FB; 6-0, 160 pounds
RHP Cameron Junker (Moeller HS, Ohio): 87-91 FB; 6-5, 200 pounds
RHP Cameron Kovachik (Masuk HS, Connecticut): 88-90 FB; good 79 SL; 6-6, 200 pounds
RHP Carter Camp (McKinney North HS, Texas): 88 FB; 6-4, 200 pounds
RHP Casey Legumina (Basha HS, Arizona): 86-92 FB; good upper-70s breaking ball; 6-1, 190 pounds
RHP Casey Pelton (All Saints Episcopal HS, Texas): 84-88 FB; 6-3, 185 pounds
RHP Chavez Fernander (Faith Baptist Academy, Florida): 88-92 FB, 93 peak; CB; 6-3, 170 pounds
RHP Chris Clarke (Newbury Park HS, California): 87-91 FB; really good 82-83 SL; 6-6, 210 pounds
RHP Christian Bunting (Woodward Academy, Georgia): 88-90 FB; 78-79 SL; 6-2, 220 pounds
RHP Christian Camacho (Elk Grove HS, Illinois): 85-90 FB; good 70-72 CB; young for class; 6-0, 165 pounds
RHP Christian Del Toro (Perkiomen HS, Puerto Rico): 88 FB with sink; CB; 5-11, 155 pounds
RHP Christian James (East Lake HS, Florida): 88-92 FB, 93 peak; 6-4, 210 pounds
RHP Christian Ryder (North Paulding HS, Georgia): 86-90 FB with sink; SL with upside; good command; 6-4, 200 pounds
RHP Christopher Patterson (Klein HS, Texas): 83-87 FB; low-70s breaking ball; 75-78 CU; 6-7, 190 pounds
RHP Cody Dye (Walnut HS, California): 86-88 FB; 77 CB; young for class; 6-0, 180 pounds
RHP Cole Bartels (Belmont HS, Massachusetts): 90 FB; 6-2, 170 pounds
RHP Cole Milam (Waterloo HS, Illinois): 90 FB; 6-4, 235 pounds
RHP Cole Tracey (Neville HS, Louisiana): 84-87 FB; plus 76 CU; 68-70 CB; plus athlete; 6-2, 185 pounds
RHP Collin Lollar (Columbus North HS, Indiana): 87-91 FB; 6-1, 185 pounds
RHP Collin Sullivan (Fort Pierce Central HS, Florida): 87-91 FB; SL; CU; 6-1, 190 pounds
RHP Colten Rendon (William T. Dwyer HS, Florida): 83-87 FB; good CB; 6-3, 220 pounds
RHP Connor Darling (North Gwinnett HS, Georgia): 88-93 FB; 78-81 CB; 6-5, 205 pounds
RHP Connor Riley (Redondo Union HS, California): 84-88 FB; 71-73 CB; 6-5, 200 pounds
RHP Connor Stroh (Lakeville South HS, Minnesota): 84-87 FB with sink; 6-3, 180 pounds
RHP Connor Yoder (East Pennsboro Area HS, Pennsylvania): 85-92 FB; 80 SL; 66-70 CB; 6-4, 220 pounds
RHP Cooper Gallion (Redondo Union HS, California): 85-89 FB; CB with upside; 6-3, 210 pounds
RHP Corey Ireson (Osceola HS, Florida): 85-87 FB; mid-70s CU with upside; CB; young for class; 6-2, 175 pounds
RHP Dalton Leighty (Western HS, Indiana): 88-91 FB; 73 CB; 80 CU; 6-3, 185 pounds
RHP Dan Hammer (Father Judge HS, Pennsylvania): 86-92 FB with sink; good CU; 6-2, 170 pounds
RHP Daniel Fischer (St. Xavier HS, Kentucky): 86-91 FB; good 80-81 SL; 69-71 CB; 72-73 CU; good athlete; 6-3, 180 pounds
RHP Dariel Rivera (Dr. Juan J. Osuna HS, Puerto Rico): 86-90 FB; 77 SL; 6-3, 160 pounds
RHP David Ellis (Princeton HS, Indiana): 86-89 FB; 6-1, 160 pounds
RHP Deacon Medders (American Christian Academy, Alabama): 87 FB; good 72 CB; old for class; 6-3, 190 pounds
RHP Declan Kearney (St. Monica Catholic HS, California): 86-88 FB with sink; 6-2, 165 pounds
RHP Derek Sanderson (Colchester HS, Vermont): 88 FB; young for class; 5-10, 185 pounds
RHP Drew Gillespie (Sandia HS, New Mexico): 87-91 FB; upper-70s SL; good CU; good athlete; 6-1, 185 pounds
RHP Dylan Bohnert (Anderson-Shiro HS, Texas): 80-85 FB; young for class; 6-3, 200 pounds
RHP Dylan Mulvihill (Evanston HS, Illinois): 88-90 FB; SL with upside; good FB command; 6-5, 220 pounds
RHP Elliot Zoellner (St. Mary’s HS, Maryland): 88-92 FB; CB with upside; 6-2, 185 pounds
RHP Ethan McGregor (Walnut Grove SS, British Columbia): 86 FB; good SL; 6-1, 160 pounds
RHP Ethan Routzahn (Illinois): 85-88 FB with plus sink; good mid- to upper-70s SL; CB with upside; CU; plus deception; 6-2, 190 pounds
RHP Evan Odum (Lumberton HS, North Carolina): 88-91 FB; above-average upper-70s CB, plus upside; 6-3, 180 pound
RHP Garrett Acton (Lemont HS, Illinois): 88-93 FB; low-70s CB; 79-81 CU; 6-2, 210 pounds
RHP Gavin Hollowell (Montgomery HS, New Jersey): 87-92 FB, 95 pek; 6-6, 190 pounds
RHP Grayson Harbin (Allatoona HS, Georgia): 89 FB; CB; CU; young for class; 6-3, 200 pounds
RHP Griffin Jolliff (Buford HS, Georgia): 87-91 FB with sink; CB with upside; 6-2, 200 pounds
RHP Haden Erbe (Crowley HS, Louisiana): 88-93 FB; 75-78 SL/CB; 6-3, 200 pounds
RHP Henry Ryan (Ardrey Kell HS, North Carolina): 85-90 FB, 94 peak; 6-5, 230 pounds
RHP Hunter Britt (Hobbton HS, North Carolina): 87-91 FB; 76-78 CB; young for class; 6-5, 230 pounds
RHP Hunter Sullivan (Elizabethtown HS, Kentucky): 86-88 FB; 74-76 SL; 6-0, 170 pounds
RHP Isander Perez (Colegio Santa Gema HS, Puerto Rico): 86 FB; plus 78 CU; 6-0, 160 pounds
RHP Jack Eagan (Wautoma HS, Wisconsin): 88-91 FB; 6-3, 225 pounds
RHP Jack Moberg (Vista Murrieta HS, California): 82-86 FB; CB with upside; 74-77 CU with upside; good command; 6-1, 185 pounds
RHP Jackson Rivera (Prince George HS, Virginia): 86-90 FB; good deception; 6-5, 180 pounds
RHP Jake Eissler (Thunderridge HS, Colorado): 86-90 FB; 78-80 CU; 6-2, 210 pounds
RHP Jalen Evans (Warren Mott HS, Michigan): 90 FB; CB; SL; CU; young for class; 6-3, 200 pounds
RHP James Acuna (Cypress HS, California): 88-91 FB with sink; upper-70s SL; 6-4, 160 pounds
RHP James Bradwell (British Columbia): 86 FB with sink; 77 CU; 72 CB/SL; young for class; 6-5, 200 pounds
RHP Jared Cenal (Tampa Catholic HS, Florida): 87-90 FB; 6-5, 185 pounds
RHP Jason Barber (Oxford HS, Mississippi): 86-90 FB; CB; 79 CU; average or better 77 SL; 6-1, 190 pounds
RHP Jerry Burke (La Salle Institute, New York): 88 FB; younger for class; 6-2, 210 pounds
RHP Jesse Fajardo (Antilles HS, Puerto Rico): 87-90 FB; good 72-74 CB; 6-0, 180 pounds
RHP Jesus Dicuru (Elev8 Sports Institute, Florida): 88-91 FB; 79-80 CB; old for class; 5-10, 170 pounds
RHP Jim Jarecki (Marquette HS, Wisconsin): 87-89 FB; good CU; 6-7, 225 pounds
RHP John Mullis (White County HS, Georgia): 87-89 FB; 72 CB; 74 CU; 5-11, 160 pounds
RHP Jonathan Ortiz (Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy, Puerto Rico): 84-88 FB; good 77-80 CU; 75-76 CB; 77-79 SL; young for class; 6-0, 170 pounds
RHP Josh Burgmann (Vauxhall Academy of Baseball, British Columbia): 87-90 FB with serious sink; CU; CB; good command; 6-2, 200 pounds
RHP Josh Winckowski (Estero HS, Florida): 85-89 FB; CB; good CU; young for class; 6-5, 190 pounds
RHP Julio Blanco (Faith Baptist Academy, Florida): 88-92 FB, 94 peak; 74-75 CB; 80 CU; old for class; 5-9, 165 pounds
RHP Kieran Casey (The Benjamin School, Florida): 87-91 FB; good CU; good SL; 6-3, 210 pounds
RHP Kyle Brnovich (Kings Ridge Christian HS, Georgia): 89-90 FB; 6-3, 180 pounds
RHP Kyle McMullen (Jupiter HS, Florida): 82-88 FB; young for class; 6-2, 175 pounds
RHP Kyle Mora (Los Alamitos HS, California): 85-88 FB; 72 CB; young for class; 6-3, 180 pounds
RHP Liam Heath (Naperville HS, Illinois): 82-85 FB; 6-5, 180 pounds
RHP Logan McCall (Westminster Christian Academy, Missouri): 84 FB; upper-60s CB; mid-70s CU; 6-2, 200 pounds
RHP Luke Eldred (Mount Vernon HS, Iowa): 88 FB; 6-4, 240 pounds
RHP Mason Cole (Round Rock HS, Texas): 85-90 FB; SL; CU; good command; 6-5, 175 pounds
RHP Mason Studstill (Rockledge HS, Florida): 88-92 FB, 94 peak; good CB; good athlete; 6-2, 200 pounds
RHP Mathieu Gauthier (Quebec): 86-91 FB; mid-70s SL; upper-80s CU; 6-1, 150 pounds
RHP Matt Rowland (Pope HS, Georgia): 86-91 FB; 80-82 SL; 75-77 CB; good command; 6-3, 180 pounds
RHP Matthew Beck (Alexandria HS, Louisiana): 90 FB; 6-7, 220 pounds
RHP Matthew Elliott (Cambridge-South Dorchester HS, Maryland): 87 FB; good CB; 6-3, 210 pounds
RHP Matthew Gill (Avon Old Farms HS, Connecticut): 88-91 FB with plus sink; 72-73 breaking ball; 81-83 CU; 6-5, 240 pounds
RHP Michael Bechtold (Garnet Valley HS, Pennsylvania): 87-90 FB; 6-3, 175 pounds
RHP Michael McAvene (Roncalli HS, Indiana): 85-92 FB with sink, 94-95 peak; 74-78 CB; 80-85 SL; good command; 6-5, 210 pounds
RHP Michael Mokma (Holland Christian HS, Michigan): 87-90 FB; 6-6, 220 pounds
RHP Michael Ruff (Lake Brantley HS, Florida): 88-89 FB; really good CB; good command; 6-3, 210 pounds
RHP Mike Pascoe (Arlington HS, New York): 85-90 FB; above-average CB; 5-11, 170 pounds
RHP Mitchell Allen (Boulder Creek HS, Arizona): 84-89 FB; mid-70s CB; 83 CU; young for class; 6-2, 200 pounds
RHP Mitchell Verburg (Lake Oswego HS, Oregon): 87-92 FB; upper-70s CB, flashes average; CU flashes average; low-80s SL; good athlete; 6-4, 200 pounds
RHP Morgan Harrison (All Saints Academy, Florida): 84-87 FB, 90 peak; 6-1, 190 pounds
RHP Nate Dahle (Bear River HS, Utah): 80-86 FB; 6-5, 200 pounds
RHP Nathan Sweeney (Cherry Creek HS, Colorado): 87-92 FB; good upper-60s to low-70s CB; 6-4, 185 pounds
RHP Nelson Alvarez (G. Holmes Braddock HS, Florida): 90 FB; young for class; 6-6, 230 pounds
RHP Nick Borek (Charles W. Baker HS, New York): 87-88 FB; 6-2, 180 pounds
RHP Nick Long (Sarasota HS, Florida): 88-92 FB; mid-70s SL/CB (throws both); CU; good athlete; good deception; 6-2, 200 pounds
RHP Nick Morreale (IMG Academy, Florida): 88-90 FB; good breaking ball; 6-5, 220 pounds
RHP Nick Silber (The Lawrenceville School, New York): 85-90 FB; upper-70s breaking ball; 6-4, 200 pounds
RHP Nick Trogrlic-Iverson (Abbey Park HS, Ontario): 85-89 FB; low-70s CB; mid-70s SL; upper-70s CU; 6-1, 165 pounds
RHP Nik Malachowski (Shenendehowa HS, New York): 81-85 FB; 72-74 CU; 70-73 SL; 6-1, 185 pounds
RHP Peyton Long (Valley HS, Iowa): 86-88 FB; 6-4, 200 pounds
RHP Phillip Sanderson (DH Conley HS, North Carolina): 84-88 FB; CU; CB; young for class; 6-2, 165 pounds
RHP Preston Price (Cathedral Catholic HS, California): 87-92 FB; mid-70s CB; 6-1, 200 pounds
RHP Radd Thomas (Placer HS, California): 86-90 FB; 6-2, 185 pounds
RHP Rhyse Dee (Paradise Valley HS, Arizona): 86-90 FB; 69-71 CB; 76 SL; good command; 6-2, 225 pounds
RHP RJ Freure (Robert Bateman SS, Ontario): 88-91 FB; good breaking ball; 6-1, 200 pounds
RHP Rob Riddick (Flint Hill Academy, Virginia): 85-87 FB; young for class; 6-4, 220 pounds
RHP Ross Korosec (Winter Springs HS, Florida): 88-90 FB; good 79-81 CU; CB; 5-11, 150 pounds
RHP Ryan Anderson (Palatine HS, Illinois): 83-87 FB; 79 CU; 6-2, 185 pounds
RHP Ryan Garcia (La Salle HS, California): 85-91 FB; 6-0, 165 pounds
RHP Ryan McDonald (West Ashley HS, South Carolina): 85-89 FB with sink; old for class; 6-7, 210 pounds
RHP Ryan Schmitt (Arrowhead HS, Wisconsin): 90 FB; SL with upside; 5-10, 190 pounds
RHP Ryne Nelson (Basic HS, Nevada): 88-91 FB; 78-80 SL/CB, plus upside; good athlete; 6-4, 175 pounds
RHP Sam Behrens (College Park HS, California): 83-86 FB; SL; CU; 6-0, 210 pounds
RHP Sawyer Bridges (Summerville HS, South Carolina): 88-92 FB; breaking ball with promise; old for class; 6-0, 165 pounds
RHP Sean Mooney (Ocean City HS, New Jersey): 84-90 FB; 70-72 CB; 6-1, 200 pounds
RHP Shea Barry (Simi Valley HS, California): 88-90 FB; 6-2, 165 pounds
RHP Spencer Henson (Pryor HS, Oklahoma): 84-88 FB; 77 SL with plus upside; plus FB command; 73-75 CU; good athlete; 6-1, 215 pounds
RHP Sylvester Toe (Landmark Christian HS, Georgia): 90 FB; good SL; 6-3, 200 pounds
RHP Tanner Lohaus (Iowa City West HS, Iowa): 89 FB; 6-7, 200 pounds
RHP Taylor Wilkes (Jefferson HS, Georgia): 86-91 FB; 6-0, 165 pounds
RHP Tommy Koloski (South Anchorage HS, Alaska): 85 FB; 6-4, 200 pounds
RHP Tony Contreras (Santa Paula HS, California): 83-85 FB; CB with upside; 6-3, 175 pounds
RHP Trent Rider (Southern Fulton HS, Pennsylvania): 86-89 FB; low-70s CB; CU with upside; good deception; 6-5, 215 pounds
RHP Trevor Holloway (Venice HS, Florida): 88-92 FB; 74-78 breaking ball with upside; 6-2, 180 pounds
RHP Tristan Duncan (El Capitan HS, California): 87-90 FB; 83 CU; mid- to upper-70s CB; 6-3, 200 pounds
RHP Troy Watson (Gunter HS, Texas): 87-91 FB; 71-74 breaking ball; older for class; 6-3, 180 pounds
RHP Tyler Follis (Sulphur Springs HS, Texas): 85-88 FB; low-70s breaking ball; 6-4, 200 pounds
RHP Tyler Perez (Mater Academy Charter HS, Florida): 85-90 FB; 73-75 SL; young for class; 6-1, 150 pounds
RHP Tyler Santana (Coral Gables HS, Florida): 86-89 FB; 66-67 CB with upside; good deception; good command; 6-1, 200 pounds
RHP Tyler Thompson (Hardin Valley HS, Tennessee): 87-91 FB; good 76 CU; 75 CB; 6-5, 190 pounds
RHP Tyler Webb (Cookeville HS, Tennessee): 87-88 FB; 6-2, 200 pounds
RHP William Jensen (Cottonwood HS, Utah): 86-89 FB; good mid-70s CB/SL; CU; 6-3, 165 pounds
RHP Winston Cannon (Upperman HS, Tennessee): 89 FB; 6-3, 200 pounds
RHP Wyatt Tyson (Red Lion Area HS, Pennsylvania): 85-88 FB; mid-70s CB; 6-2, 200 pounds
RHP Yadiel Fonseca (Benjamin Harrison HS, Puerto Rico): 88 FB; good 76 SL; 5-9, 170 pounds
RHP Zac Kristofak (Walton HS, Georgia): 89 FB; 72 CB; 77 CU; 5-11, 175 pounds
RHP Zach Graveno (Lambert HS, Georgia): 85-89 FB; 76 CB; 79 CU; 6-2, 210 pounds
RHP Zach Reed (Liberty HS, Nevada): 80-85 FB with plus sink; good SL; good command; good deception; young for class; 5-10, 165 pounds
RHP Zachary Strickland (Ware County HS, Georgia): 92 FB; 6-2, 200 pounds
RHP/1B Kasey Ford (Bentonville HS, Arkansas): 86-90 FB; 72-75 CB; CU; 6-6, 250 pounds
RHP/1B Logan Pouelsen (Huntington Beach HS, California): 87-88 FB; 79-80 CU; plus 81-84 cut-SL; 6-1, 200 pounds
RHP/1B Sean Keating (Bingham HS, Utah): 90 FB; good SL; good athlete; 6-3, 180 pounds
RHP/3B Brett Vosik (Creighton Prep HS, Nebraska): 88-92 FB; 74 SL; 75 CU; good athlete; power upside; 6-4, 210 pounds
RHP/3B Brian Rodriguez (Berkshire HS, New York): 88-89 FB with plus sink; good deception; 6-0, 200 pounds
RHP/3B Garrett Milchin (Windermere Prep, Florida): 87-90 FB; good 75-78 CB; groundball stuff; LHH; 6-4, 190 pounds
RHP/3B Isaiah Kearns (Mifflin County HS, Pennsylvania): 88-92 FB; low-80s CU; mid-70s breaking ball; strong; RHH; 6-1, 190 pounds
RHP/3B Jacob Castillo (San Dimas HS, California): strong; good arm; steady glove; 86-89 FB; 72 CB; 78 CU; 5-11, 185 pounds
RHP/C Bryce O’Brien (Etowah HS, Georgia): 86-89 FB; 6-1, 200 pounds
RHP/C Giovon Soto (Gulliver HS, Florida): 87-92 FB; 74 CB; 6-1, 190 pounds
RHP/C Logan Boyer (Hamilton HS, Arizona): 86-92 FB; good CU; CB; 6-3, 215 pounds
RHP/C Patrick Martin (Kennesaw Mountain HS, Georgia): 87-88 FB; good CB; old for class; 5-11, 185 pounds
RHP/C Ryan Bunse (Cajon HS, California): 86-89 FB; 76 breaking ball; CU; 6-1, 200 pounds
RHP/C Zachary Cable (River Ridge HS, Georgia): 88-89 FB; good arm; good glove; 6-0, 200 pounds
RHP/OF Austin Bodrato (St. Joseph Regional HS, New Jersey): 88-91 FB; good mid-70s (74) CB; plus FB command; D1 comp: Seth Maness; good speed; old for class; 6-2, 200 pounds
RHP/OF Cade Bullinger (Boerne-Samuel V Champion HS, Texas): 85-87 FB; 6-4, 185 pounds
RHP/OF Frank Vesuvio (Byram Hills HS, New York): good speed; good athlete; strong arm; 86-89 FB; good low-80s CU; SL; 5-11, 170 pounds
RHP/OF Geoff McCalley (Scripps Ranch HS, California): 85 FB; 5-11, 185 pounds
RHP/OF Matthew Becker (Harris County HS, Georgia): 86-87 FB; young for class; 6-1, 190 pounds
RHP/SS Aaron Hammann (Chaparral HS, Colorado): 85-88 FB; mid-70s breaking ball; older for class; 5-10, 170 pounds
RHP/SS Aaron Schunk (The Lovett School, Georgia): 85-88 FB; 76 CB; power upside; good glove; RHH; 6-2, 180 pounds
RHP/SS Brenan Hanifee (Turner Ashby HS, Virginia): 88-92 FB, 93 peak; low-80s SL; CU; good athlete; 6-4, 180 pounds
RHP/SS Daniel Martinez (Kennedy HS, California): 83-86 FB; 76-78 CU; SL; LHH; 5-11, 170 pounds
RHP/SS Jimmy Titus (East Catholic HS, Connecticut): 86-90 FB; good 74-75 SL/CB; sidearmer; plus speed; plus arm; power upside; 6-1, 190 pounds
RHP/SS Keegan McCarville (Sandra Day O’Connor HS, Arizona): 87-88 FB; 75 CB; 6-1, 175 pounds
RHP/SS Peter Nielsen (James Madison HS, Virginia): 87-90 FB; 6-2, 190 pounds
RHP/SS Xzavion Curry (Mays HS, Georgia): 85-90 FB, 92 peak; leans on 74 CB with upside; young for class; 6-0, 180 pounds
Rice rSO RHP/C Andrew Dunlap: 94-95 FB, 97-98 peak; emerging SL; raw CU; big raw power; 5-11, 210 pounds (2016: .200/.206/.433 – 1 BB/23 K – 0/0 SB – 60 AB)
Rice SO RHP Josh Pettite: out in 2016 (UCL); 90 FB; CB; 6-2, 200 pounds (2015: 12.79 K/9 – 5.21 BB/9 – 19.0 IP – 6.16 ERA)
Rice SR LHP Austin Solecitto: upper-80s FB; CB; CU; Boston College transfer; 6-2, 200 pounds (2015: 9.56 K/9 – 6.19 BB/9 – 16.0 IP – 3.38 ERA) (2016: 8.60 K/9 – 7.94 BB/9 – 13.2 IP – 4.61 ERA)
Rice SR LHP Blake Fox: 85-90 FB, 92 peak; good 72-76 CB; good 73-79 CU; SL; 76-81 SL; legit four-pitch mix; good command; 6-4, 220 pounds (2013: 5.59 K/9 | 3.16 BB/9 | 4.35 FIP | 37 IP) (2014: 5.91 K/9 – 2.31 BB/9 – 104 IP – 1.46 ERA) (2015: 5.81 K/9 – 2.62 BB/9 – 79.0 IP – 3.30 ERA) (2016: 8.11 K/9 – 2.32 BB/9 – 101.0 IP – 2.76 ERA)
Richmond SR RHP Dan Martinson: good CU; occasional SL; 6-0, 185 pounds (2015: 8.04 K/9 – 3.54 BB/9 – 28.1 IP – 9.64 ERA) (2016: 5.35 K/9 – 1.94 BB/9 – 79.0 IP – 4.10 ERA)
Rider rJR RHP Vincenzo Aiello: 88-92 FB; 74-78 CB/SL; CU; 6-3, 225 pounds (2013: 7.31 K/9 | 3.38 BB/9 | 3.38 BB/9 | 3.34 FIP | 16 IP) (2014: 6.08 K/9 – 4.14 BB/9 – 37 IP – 4.14 ERA) (2015: 5.73 K/9 – 4.09 BB/9 – 22.0 IP – 1.64 ERA) (2016: 6.75 K/9 – 3.83 BB/9 – 80.0 IP – 4.61 ERA)
Rutgers JR LHP Ryan Fleming: 5-11, 200 pounds (2014: 5.48 K/9 – 5.48 BB/9 – 46 IP – 5.67 ERA) (2015: 7.00 K/9 – 4.67 BB/9 – 27.1 IP – 7.00 ERA) (2016: 7.43 K/9 – 5.64 BB/9 – 30.1 IP – 3.56 ERA)
Rutgers JR RHP/SS Christian Campbell: good athlete; 6-2, 185 pounds (2015: .206/.306/.283 – 23 BB/27 K – 8/11 SB – 180 AB) (2016: 8.15 K/9 – 4.57 BB/9 – 27.2 IP – 5.53 ERA)
Rutgers rJR LHP Max Herrmann: FB with sink; SL; LOOGY upside; 6-3, 210 pounds (2014: 6.43 K/9 – 3.64 BB/9 – 42 IP – 2.57 ERA) (2015: 5.04 K/9 – 7.56 BB/9 – 25.0 IP – 6.84 ERA) (2016: 6.04 K/9 – 6.04 BB/9 – 28.1 IP – 4.13 ERA)
Rutgers rJR RHP Kyle Driscoll: 6-7, 250 pounds (2015: 6.75 K/9 – 7.00 BB/9 – 36.0 IP – 8.00 ERA) (2016: 7.87 K/9 – 7.87 BB/9 – 44.2 IP – 6.04 ERA)
Rutgers SR LHP Howie Brey: 5-10, 200 pounds (2013: 7.15 K/9 | 2.65 BB/9 | 4.85 FIP | 34 IP) (2014: 4.72 K/9 – 3.18 BB/9 – 76.1 IP – 2.36 ERA) (2015: 6.22 K/9 – 4.00 BB/9 – 80.2 IP – 5.56 ERA) (2016: 7.54 K/9 – 2.06 BB/9 – 100.1 IP – 3.50 ERA)
Rutgers SR RHP Reed Shuttle: 6-5, 225 pounds (2016: 9.82 K/9 – 6.55 BB/9 – 22.0 IP – 5.73 ERA)
Sacramento State JR LHP Sam Long: 86-92 FB; above-average CU; above-average command; 6-1, 185 pounds (2014: 4.74 K/9 – 2.46 BB/9 – 95 IP – 3.03 ERA) (2015: 6.30 K/9 – 1.60 BB/9 – 89.2 IP – 2.80 ERA) (2016: 7.14 K/9 – 3.68 BB/9 – 85.2 IP – 3.99 ERA)
Sacramento State JR RHP Max Karnos: 87-90 FB; 6-4, 215 pounds (2016: 4.43 K/9 – 2.95 BB/9 – 85.1 IP – 3.38 ERA)
Sacramento State rJR RHP Justin Dillon: 88-92 FB, 94 peak; SL with above-average upside; 78-79 CB; TJ survivor; 6-4, 225 pounds (2014: 4.59 K/9 – 4.59 BB/9 – 51 IP – 3.88 ERA) (2015: 6.00 K/9 – 2.09 BB/9 – 68.2 IP – 3.65 ERA) (2016: 11.12 K/9 – 6.43 BB/9 – 5.2 IP – 4.76 ERA)
Sacramento State rSO RHP Matt Gorgolinski: 88-94 FB, 96 peak; Loyola Marymount transfer; 6-6, 240 pounds (*2015: 7.56 K/9 – 11.45 BB/9 – 39.1 IP – 4.12 ERA) (2016: 7.16 K/9 – 11.60 BB/9 – 16.1 IP – 5.00 ERA)
Sacramento State SR RHP Tyler Beardsley: mid-90s peak; 6-4, 225 pounds (2016: 4.56 K/9 – 3.04 BB/9 – 47.1 IP – 1.71 ERA)
Sacred Heart JR RHP Jason Foley: 88-92 FB, 93 peak; really good 81-85 split-CU; good 75-78 CB; 6-4, 200 pounds (2014: 7.57 K/9 – 4.29 BB/9 – 62 IP – 3.29 ERA) (2015: 7.20 K/9 – 4.37 BB/9 – 70.1 IP – 5.53 ERA) (2016: 7.21 K/9 – 4.30 BB/9 – 58.2 IP – 5.68 ERA)
Saint Louis JR LHP Brett Shimanovsky: 6-1, 180 pounds (2014: 10.12 K/9 – 4.13 BB/9 – 24 IP – 3.37 ERA) (2015: 5.82 K/9 – 2.12 BB/9 – 51.1 IP – 2.47 ERA) (2016: 9.12 K/9 – 3.95 BB/9 – 29.2 IP – 3.03 ERA)
Saint Louis JR RHP Nick Vichio: 90-93 FB; good CU; 6-2, 200 pounds (2014: 2.77 K/9 – 2.77 BB/9 – 13 IP – 5.54 ERA) (2015: 10.00 K/9 – 11.00 BB/9 – 8.2 IP – 6.00 ERA) (2016: 7.90 K/9 – 2.80 BB/9 – 35.1 IP – 4.58 ERA)
Saint Louis JR RHP Zach Girrens: 86-92 FB, 94 peak; good SL; CB; CU; 6-4, 200 pounds (2014: 6.39 K/9 – 6.10 BB/9 – 31 IP – 4.94 ERA) (2015: 9.51 K/9 – 3.55 BB/9 – 70.2 IP – 4.18 ERA) (6.1 IP)
Saint Louis SR LHP Josh Moore: 87-91 FB; good CU; 6-2, 200 pounds (2013: 9.23 K/9 | 6.00 BB/9 | 2.77 FIP | 39 IP) (2014: 6.82 K/9 – 4.65 BB/9 – 62 IP – 3.63 ERA) (2015: 7.10 K/9 – 3.30 BB/9 – 71.1 IP – 4.82 ERA) (2016: 7.44 K/9 – 3.47 BB/9 – 36.1 IP – 3.22 ERA)
Saint Louis SR RHP Matt Eckelman: 87-92 FB; 74-78 CB; SL; low-80s CU; 6-4, 240 pounds (2013: 7.66 K/9 | 2.37 BB/9 | 3.84 FIP | 49.1 IP) (2014: 5.16 K/9 – 1.77 BB/9 – 60 IP – 1.62 ERA) (2015: 5.79 K/9 – 1.29 BB/9 – 14.0 IP – 5.79 ERA) (2016: 7.22 K/9 – 2.58 BB/9 – 101.0 IP – 3.12 ERA)
Sam Houston State JR RHP Cody Brown: 88-92 FB; good low-80s SL; CU; 6-2, 190 pounds (2016: 3.87 K/9 – 7.74 BB/9 – 18.2 IP – 7.71 ERA)
Sam Houston State JR RHP Heath Donica: 85-87 FB; good CU; CB; 6-2, 200 pounds (2016: 7.71 K/9 – 1.99 BB/9 – 108.2 IP – 3.23 ERA)
Sam Houston State JR RHP Sam Odom: 89-91 FB; 6-2, 225 pounds (2015: 7.05 K/9 – 2.28 BB/9 – 83.0 IP – 4.45 ERA) (2016: 6.30 K/9 – 2.54 BB/9 – 88.2 IP – 2.33 ERA)
Sam Houston State rSO RHP Dakota Mills: low-90s FB; SL; CU; plus FB command; 6-2, 220 pounds (2016: 5.66 K/9 – 3.44 BB/9 – 36.2 IP – 3.44 ERA)
Sam Houston State SR RHP Greg Belton: 6-0, 190 pounds (2015: 8.27 K/9 – 3.41 BB/9 – 37.0 IP – 2.19 ERA) (2016: 9.23 K/9 – 2.97 BB/9 – 54.2 IP – 3.29 ERA)
Sam Houston State SR RHP/SS Miles Manning: 5-9, 180 pounds (2015: .277/.369/.347 – 21 BB/45 K – 6/9 SB – 173 AB) (2016: 6.55 K/9 – 3.27 BB/9 – 44.0 IP – 3.68 ERA)
Samford JR RHP Jared Brasher: 90-94 FB, 96 peak; good SL; 6-1, 200 pounds (2014: 7.79 K/9 – 7.27 BB/9 – 52 IP – 5.54 ERA) (2015: 7.58 K/9 – 4.74 BB/9 – 37.2 IP – 6.87 ERA) (2016: 9.35 K/9 – 9.52 BB/9 – 52.1 IP – 4.85 ERA)
Samford JR RHP Mikhail Cazenave: 6-0, 175 pounds (2016: 8.00 K/9 – 3.00 BB/9 – 45.1 IP – 5.40 ERA)
Samford SR RHP Parker Curry: 5-10, 165 pounds (2013: 5.93 K/9 | 3.56 BB/9 | 4.52 FIP | 30.1 IP) (2014: 9.69 K/9 – 2.77 BB/9 – 52 IP – 3.29 ERA) (2015: 7.29 K/9 – 1.82 BB/9 – 78.2 IP – 4.78 ERA) (2016: 6.92 K/9 – 2.65 BB/9 – 78.0 IP – 3.69 ERA)
San Diego JR RHP CJ Burdick: 87-91 FB; good FB command; SL; CU; smart; 6-6, 200 pounds (2014: 6.63 K/9 – 5.21 BB/9 – 38 IP – 2.61 ERA) (2015: 8.68 K/9 – 2.21 BB/9 – 57.1 IP – 4.26 ERA) (2016: 13.33 K/9 – 2.08 BB/9 – 21.2 IP – 2.49 ERA)
San Diego JR RHP Nathan Kuchta: 88-92 FB, 94 peak; 85-86 cut-SL; mid-70s CB; 5-10, 175 pounds (2016: 7.53 K/9 – 4.42 BB/9 – 55.0 IP – 4.75 ERA)
San Diego JR RHP Sean Barry: 6-2, 190 pounds (2016: 8.63 K/9 – 5.75 BB/9 – 31.1 IP – 4.88 ERA)
San Diego rJR LHP/1B Troy Conyers: 85-89 FB, 91 peak; really good 75-77 CU, plus upside; 76-78 CB/SL, throws both; TJ surgery in 2014; 6-5, 225 pounds (2013: 10.65 K/9 | 5.32 BB/9 | 3.79 FIP | 23.2 IP) (2014: .171/.255/.415 – 5 B/11 K – 0/0 SB – 41 AB) (2014: 7.20 K/9 – 2.70 BB/9 – 39 IP – 2.70 ERA) (2016: 8.97 K/9 – 4.37 BB/9 – 78.1 IP – 5.17 ERA)
San Diego rJR RHP Wes Judish: 88-93 FB, 94 peak; plus split-CU; emerging SL/CB; TJ survivor; 6-2, 200 pounds (2013: 8.37 K/9 | 6.85 BB/9 | 4.08 FIP | 23.2 IP) (2014: 9.90 K/9 – 4.50 BB/9 – 10 IP – 3.60 ERA) (2016: 7.39 K/9 – 6.75 BB/9 – 28.0 IP – 6.75 ERA)
San Diego rSR RHP Drew Jacobs: 88-91 FB; 76-78 breaking ball; 6-0, 200 pounds (2012: 5.67 K/9 | 3.86 BB/9 | 4.36 FIP | 39.2 IP) (2014: 5.14 K/9 – 2.57 BB/9 – 21 IP – 4.29 ERA) (2015: 6.80 K/9 – 3.31 BB/9 – 49.1 IP – 4.22 ERA) (2016: 4.66 K/9 – 1.55 BB/9 – 11.2 IP – 3.86 ERA)
San Diego SR LHP Jacob Hill: 87-90 FB; SL; good 73-76 CB; good CU; good command; good deception; 6-3, 205 pounds (2014*: 61 K/22 BB – 71 IP – 1.27 ERA) (2015: 9.31 K/9 – 8.69 BB/9 – 28.2 IP – 7.45 ERA) (2016: 13.50 K/9 – 14.63 BB/9 – 8.0 IP – 7.88 ERA)
San Diego SR RHP Gary Cornish: 85-91 FB with good sink, 93-94 peak; 74-78 CB/SL; 84-85 CU; plus command; gets ground balls; St. Mary’s transfer; 6-3, 200 pounds (2015: 9.36 K/9 – 3.60 BB/9 – 25.0 IP – 5.76 ERA) (2016: 8.93 K/9 – 2.79 BB/9 – 80.2 IP – 4.57 ERA)
San Diego State JR LHP Marcus Reyes: 85-88 FB; 5-9, 180 pounds (2015: 5.11 K/9 – 3.52 BB/9 – 79.1 IP – 4.20 ERA) (2016: 7.57 K/9 – 3.11 BB/9 – 66.2 IP – 6.21 ERA)
San Diego State JR RHP Brett Seeburger: 6-1, 220 pounds (2014: 6.25 K/9 – 2.25 BB/9 – 35 IP – 4.75 ERA) (2015: 6.94 K/9 – 2.83 BB/9 – 35.1 IP – 7.46 ERA) (2016: 6.57 K/9 – 1.47 BB/9 – 67.1 IP – 4.81 ERA)
San Diego State JR RHP Mike Diamond: 93-94 peak; good SL; 6-0, 170 pounds (2016: 6.47 K/9 – 2.35 BB/9 – 30.2 IP – 4.70 ERA)
San Diego State rSO RHP Orlando Meza: low-90s FB; plus SL; good athlete; not on roster in 2016; 6-1, 190 pounds (2014: 4.50 K/9 – 7.20 BB/9 – 10 IP – 4.50 ERA)
San Diego State rSR RHP Brian Heldman: 6-3, 200 pounds (2015: 7.34 K/9 – 3.55 BB/9 – 38.1 IP – 3.55 ERA) (2016: 6.68 K/9 – 3.16 BB/9 – 25.2 IP – 6.31 ERA)
San Diego State rSR RHP Dalton Douty: low-90s FB; good SL; 6-5, 210 pounds (2015: 7.94 K/9 – 2.12 BB/9 – 17.0 IP – 5.29 ERA) (2016: 6.12 K/9 – 3.06 BB/9 – 20.2 IP – 3.48 ERA)
San Francisco rJR RHP Joey Carney: 6-2, 180 pounds (2016: 10.59 K/9 – 4.71 BB/9 – 15.1 IP – 4.70 ERA)
San Francisco rSO RHP Grant Goodman: 88-92 FB; TJ survivor; 6-1, 180 pounds (2014: 5.02 K/9 – 3.84 BB/9 – 61 IP – 4.57 ERA) (2016: 7.26 K/9 – 6.29 BB/9 – 18.2 IP – 13.02 ERA)
San Francisco SR RHP Anthony Shew: good splitter; 6-2, 200 pounds (2015: 6.70 K/9 – 1.82 BB/9 – 94.0 IP – 3.64 ERA) (2016: 7.40 K/9 – 2.35 BB/9 – 80.1 IP – 4.71 ERA)
San Jose State JR RHP Logan Handzlik: low-90s FB; 6-3, 220 pounds (2016: 4.47 K/9 – 7.87 BB/9 – 42.1 IP – 8.29 ERA)
Santa Clara JR LHP Jason Seever: plus command; 5-10, 175 pounds (2014: 6.75 K/9 – 3.15 BB/9 – 40 IP – 3.15 ERA) (2015: 5.46 K/9 – 4.50 BB/9 – 28.1 IP – 6.11 ERA) (2016: 6.32 K/9 – 3.60 BB/9 – 72.2 IP – 5.20 ERA)
Santa Clara JR RHP Max Kuhns: 6-3, 210 pounds (2014: 5.62 K/9 – 3.38 BB/9 – 7 IP – 9.00 ERA) (2015: 5.68 K/9 – 4.74 BB/9 – 19.1 IP – 3.32 ERA) (2016: 8.19 K/9 – 3.55 BB/9 – 40.2 IP – 2.21 ERA)
Santa Clara rJR RHP Steven Wilson: 88-94 FB, 96 peak; good upper-70s CB; mid-70s CU; 6-3, 220 pounds (2015: 6.86 K/9 – 2.36 BB/9 – 80 IP – 3.94 ERA) (2016: 7.39 K/9 – 3.14 BB/9 – 80.1 IP – 3.92 ERA)
Santa Clara rSO RHP Mitchell White: 87-93 FB; above-average SL; good cutter; 6-4, 210 pounds (2015: 11.25 K/9 – 3.66 BB/9 – 32.1 IP – 3.66 ERA) (2016: 11.54 K/9 – 2.64 BB/9 – 92.0 IP – 3.72 ERA)
Santa Clara SR RHP Jake Steffens: 87-90 FB with sink, 92-93 peak; average or better 80-82 SL; TJ surgery 3/15; 6-3, 200 pounds (2013: 2.57 K/9 | 2.57 BB/9 | 5.78 FIP | 21 IP) (2014: 5.95 K/9 – 1.80 BB/9 – 64 IP – 3.88 ERA) (2015: 10.20 K/9 – 1.41 BB/9 – 25.2 IP – 3.51 ERA) (2016: 6.23 K/9 – 2.92 BB/9 – 21.2 IP – 5.40 ERA)
Santa Clara SR RHP Nick Medeiros: 88-92 FB; 6-0, 200 pounds (2015: 6.65 K/9 – 6.65 BB/9 – 23.0 IP – 4.70 ERA) (2016: 8.51 K/9 – 5.59 BB/9 – 30.2 IP – 3.82 ERA)
Seattle rJR LHP Connor Moore: plus breaking ball; great athlete; 5-11, 185 pounds (2014: 7.71 K/9 – 4.11 BB/9 – 70 IP – 3.86 ERA) (2016: 8.13 K/9 – 2.64 BB/9 – 44.1 IP – 2.84 ERA)
Seattle rSO RHP Austin Hansen: 6-2, 215 pounds (2016: 7.94 K/9 – 3.18 BB/9 – 17.0 IP – 5.29 ERA)
Seattle rSR RHP Grant Gunning: good CU; 6-5, 210 pounds (2014: 6.64 K/9 – 4.29 BB/9 – 42 IP – 2.36 ERA) (2015: 6.60 K/9 – 2.40 BB/9 – 15.1 IP – 9.00 ERA) (2016: 5.85 K/9 – 2.79 BB/9 – 32.1 IP – 4.18 ERA)
Seattle SR RHP Ted Hammond: 88-91 FB; good cutter; CU; 6-2, 200 pounds (2013: 4.06 K/9 | 3.50 BB/9 | 6.21 FIP | 64.1 IP) (2014: 4.71 K/9 – 2.57 BB/9 – 21 IP – 3.43 ERA) (2015: 6.82 K/9 – 2.61 BB/9 – 61.2 IP – 2.61 ERA) (2016: 8.00 K/9 – 2.60 BB/9 – 4.20 ERA – 90.0 IP)
Seton Hall JR LHP Anthony Pacillo: mid-80s FB; plus CB; good command; 6-1, 200 pounds (2015: 5.57 K/9 – 2.29 BB/9 – 63.1 IP – 4.43 ERA) (2016: 8.26 K/9 – 3.13 BB/9 – 31.2 IP – 2.84 ERA)
Seton Hall JR RHP Zach Prendergast: 87-89 FB; good athlete; 6-2, 175 pounds (2014: 8.31 K/9 – 4.85 BB/9 – 13 IP – 3.46 ERA) (2015: 6.43 K/9 – 3.14 BB/9 – 63.1 IP – 3.86 ERA) (2016: 7.39 K/9 – 2.43 BB/9 – 81.2 IP – 3.97 ERA)
Seton Hall SR RHP Sam Burum: 6-5, 200 pounds (2014: 6.43 K/9 – 2.57 BB/9 – 28 IP – 3.86 ERA) (2015: 6.21 K/9 – 2.57 BB/9 – 42 IP – 2.79 ERA) (2016: 7.43 K/9 – 1.31 BB/9 – 20.2 IP – 1.74 ERA)
Seward County (KS) CC LHP Jakob Hernandez: 87-91 FB; 80 CB/SL; good upper-70s CU; plus deception; 6-4, 230 pounds (2016: 16.08 K/9 – 2.33 BB/9 – 89.0 IP – 2.33 ERA)
Siena JR LHP Chris Amorosi: good CU; 6-0, 190 pounds (2014: 5.50 K/9 – 3.50 BB/9 – 17 IP – 4.50 ERA) (2015: 5.88 K/9 – 2.02 BB/9 – 48.2 IP – 3.49 ERA) (2016: 6.35 K/9 – 4.05 BB/9 – 66.2 IP – 6.35 ERA)
Siena SR LHP Kyano Cummings: plus splitter; 6-1, 200 pounds (2014: 6.55 K/9 – 4.70 BB/9 – 44 IP – 5.32 ERA) (2015: 7.88 K/9 – 3.75 BB/9 – 48.0 IP – 3.94 ERA) (2016: 8.78 K/9 – 4.63 BB/9 – 93.1 IP – 3.76 ERA)
Siena SR RHP Bryan Goossens: 88-92 FB, 94 peak; low-70s CB; 79 CU; 6-3, 210 pounds (2015: 7.50 K/9 – 2.00 BB/9 – 72.1 IP – 4.88 ERA) (2016: 4.62 K/9 – 2.89 BB/9 – 62.1 IP – 6.79 ERA)
South Alabama JR RHP Randy Bell: 88-92 FB; good CB; CU; 5-10, 185 pounds (2016: 5.90 K/9 – 2.27 BB/9 – 79.1 IP – 2.38 ERA)
South Alabama rSO RHP Avery Geyer: 90-93 FB; good SL; 5-10, 200 pounds (2016: 5.29 K/9 – 1.59 BB/9 – 17.0 IP – 3.18 ERA)
South Alabama rSR LHP James Traylor: 5-10, 170 pounds (2016: 7.03 K/9 – 4.92 BB/9 – 25.2 IP – 4.56 ERA)
South Alabama rSR RHP Austin Bembnowski: 6-2, 225 pounds (2015: 6.82 K/9 – 3.00 BB/9 – 65.2 IP – 3.27 ERA) (2016: 6.66 K/9 – 3.99 BB/9 – 67.2 IP – 3.72 ERA)
South Alabama rSR RHP Kevin Hill: 88-92 FB with sink, 93 peak; CB; SL; CU; plus command; great athlete; 6-0, 210 pounds (2014: 10.21 K/9 – 3.73 BB/9 – 82.0 IP – 4.72 ERA) (2015: 10.24 K/9 – 3.64 BB/9 – 93.2 IP – 1.72 ERA) (2016: 9.59 K/9 – 2.23 BB/9 – 117.1 IP – 2.53 ERA)
South Alabama rSR RHP Mike Dolloff: 88-92 FB; SL; 5-11, 200 pounds (2015: 2.91 K/9 – 4.50 BB/9 – 34.0 IP – 2.91 ERA) (2016: 4.91 K/9 – 3.55 BB/9 – 33.0 IP – 3.00 ERA)
South Alabama SR RHP Justin Flores: 90-95 FB; good SL; 5-11, 200 pounds (2015: 13.09 K/9 – 5.73 BB/9 – 11.1 IP – 8.18 ERA) (1.1 IP)
South Carolina JR LHP John Parke: out in 2016 (TJ); 89-91 FB; CU; breaking ball; 6-4, 200 pounds (2015: 10.00 K/9 – 10.00 BB/9 – 9.1 IP – 0.00 ERA)
South Carolina JR LHP Josh Reagan: 82-88 FB; 6-0, 185 pounds (2014: 7.56 K/9 – 1.44 BB/9 – 25 IP – 0.36 ERA) (2015: 6.38 K/9 – 1.88 BB/9 – 47.2 IP – 4.69 ERA) (2016: 7.94 K/9 – 3.21 BB/9 – 53.1 IP – 1.69 ERA)
South Carolina JR RHP Colie Bowers: 5-11, 175 pounds (2016: 10.15 K/9 – 5.41 BB/9 – 13.1 IP – 2.03 ERA)
South Carolina JR RHP Matt Vogel: 90-95 FB, 96-97 peak; above-average CB; better 85-86 SL; 6-0, 180 pounds (2014: 9.64 K/9 – 7.07 BB/9 – 14 IP – 7.07 ERA) (2015: 8.47 K/9 – 9.53 BB/9 – 17.0 IP – 5.82 ERA) (2016: 14.14 K/9 – 15.43 BB/9 – 7.0 IP – 3.86 ERA)
South Carolina JR RHP Reed Scott: 6-1, 185 pounds (2014: 6.64 K/9 – 1.71 BB/9 – 41 IP – 1.93 ERA) (2015: 6.18 K/9 – 3.35 BB/9 – 50.2 IP – 3.18 ERA) (2016: 6.20 K/9 – 3.00 BB/9 – 45.0 IP – 2.40 ERA)
South Carolina rSO RHP Canaan Cropper: 88-92 FB, 94 peak; upper-70s CU with above-average upside; average SL; sidearm delivery; TJ survivor; 5-11, 175 pounds (2015: 5.25 K/9 – 5.25 BB/9 – 12.1 IP – 1.50 ERA) (2016: 12.86 K/9 – 6.43 BB/9 – 7.0 IP – 5.14 ERA)
South Carolina Upstate JR RHP Eric Birklund: 6-2, 200 pounds (2015: 7.75 K/9 – 6.00 BB/9 – 36.1 IP – 6.50 ERA) (2016: 7.98 K/9 – 4.50 BB/9 – 44.0 IP – 3.48 ERA)
South Carolina Upstate JR RHP Richie Lacell: 5-11, 200 pounds (2015: 7.75 K/9 – 3.50 BB/9 – 35.2 IP – 5.75 ERA) (2016: 9.47 K/9 – 5.02 BB/9 – 32.1 IP – 6.96 ERA)
South Carolina Upstate JR RHP Zach Mitchell: 6-2, 200 pounds (2015: 8.00 K/9 – 3.50 BB/9 – 36.1 IP – 8.00 ERA) (2016: 8.18 K/9 – 2.34 BB/9 – 61.2 IP – 5.40 ERA)
South Carolina Upstate rJR RHP Tyler Jackson: 6-5, 200 pounds (2015: 5.49 K/9 – 2.63 BB/9 – 40.2 IP – 8.34 ERA) (2016: 10.38 K/9 – 2.05 BB/9 – 74.2 IP – 4.10 ERA)
South Carolina Upstate SR RHP/OF Cody Brittain: 91 FB; good athlete; 5-10, 200 pounds (2015: 18.00 K/9 – 7.88 BB/9 – 8.1 IP – 6.75 ERA) (2016: .343/.381/.547 – 10 BB/38 K – 4/5 SB – 181 AB) (2016: 9.50 K/9 – 7.00 BB/9 – 36.0 IP – 6.75 ERA)
South Dakota State JR LHP Landon Busch: Kansas State transfer; 6-2, 210 pounds (2016: 8.96 K/9 – 3.78 BB/9 – 64.1 IP – 3.50 ERA)
South Dakota State JR RHP Austin Kost: 6-1, 180 pounds (2016: 11.25 K/9 – 6.19 BB/9 – 16.0 IP – 6.75 ERA)
South Dakota State JR RHP Ethan Kenkel: 87-91 FB; 6-5, 210 pounds (2014: 4.00 K/9 – 3.00 BB/9 – 8 IP – 6.00 ERA) (2015: 5.68 K/9 – 2.84 BB/9 – 19.0 IP – 2.84 ERA) (2016: 7.71 K/9 – 5.46 BB/9 – 28.0 IP – 7.39 ERA)
South Dakota State JR RHP Ryan Froom: 88-92 FB; good CB; 6-1, 190 pounds (2015: 6.45 K/9 – 2.42 BB/9 – 67.0 IP – 3.22 ERA) (2016: 6.37 K/9 – 4.46 BB/9 – 70.2 IP – 6.75 ERA)
South Dakota State SR RHP Andrew Clemen: 88-92 FB; breaking ball; CU; 6-3, 215 pounds (2014: 7.84 K/9 – 2.32 BB/9 – 31 IP – 2.61 ERA) (2015: 10.85 K/9 – 2.77 BB/9 – 39.1 IP – 3.23 ERA) (2016: 7.37 K/9 – 3.52 BB/9 – 84.1 IP – 5.66 ERA)
South Florida JR RHP Brandon Lawson: 6-2, 200 pounds (2014: 4.58 K/9 – 2.89 BB/9 – 53 IP – 3.74 ERA) (2015: 9.40 K/9 – 4.60 BB/9 – 45.1 IP – 6.40 ERA) (2016: 9.89 K/9 – 2.67 BB/9 – 101.0 IP – 2.50 ERA)
South Florida JR RHP Mark Savarese: 6-0, 200 pounds (2016: 10.49 K/9 – 6.99 BB/9 – 10.1 IP – 7.84 ERA)
South Florida JR RHP Phoenix Sanders: 88-91 FB; good breaking ball; good command; 5-10, 180 pounds (2016: 8.97 K/9 – 2.55 BB/9 – 95.1 IP – 4.15 ERA)
South Florida rJR RHP Brad Labozzetta: 88-92 FB, 93 peak; 6-3, 205 pounds (2016: 8.76 K/9 – 7.54 BB/9 – 37.0 IP – 6.08 ERA)
South Florida rJR RHP Tommy Eveld: low-90s FB; great athlete; 6-5, 190 pounds (2015: 8.04 K/9 – 6.75 BB/9 – 28.0 IP – 6.11 ERA) (2016: 11.38 K/9 – 4.08 BB/9 – 53.0 IP – 2.21 ERA)
South Florida rSO RHP Peter Strzelecki: will miss 2016 season (TJ surgery); 90-93 FB; above-average SL; 6-2, 200 pounds
South Florida rSR RHP Michael Clarkson: 6-1, 210 pounds (2016: 7.39 K/9 – 5.54 BB/9 – 53.2 IP – 4.86 ERA)
South Florida SR RHP/OF Ryan Valdes: 88-92 FB; cutter; good athlete; 6-0, 165 pounds (2015: 7.92 K/9 – 4.23 BB/9 – 83.0 IP – 3.47 ERA) (3.0 IP)
Southeast Missouri State JR LHP Robert Beltran: upper-80s FB; 6-1, 180 pounds (2016: 8.37 K/9 – 2.94 BB/9 – 79.2 IP – 3.95 ERA)
Southeast Missouri State JR RHP Clay Chandler: upper-80s FB; 6-3, 180 pounds (2016: 9.20 K/9 – 1.72 BB/9 – 89.0 IP – 3.84 ERA)
Southeast Missouri State JR RHP Justin Murphy: upper-80s FB with sink; 6-0, 175 pounds (2016: 7.18 K/9 – 2.76 BB/9 – 32.2 IP – 2.20 ERA)
Southeast Missouri State SR LHP Jake Busiek: 6-3, 200 pounds (2016: 10.36 K/9 – 4.36 BB/9 – 33.0 IP – 4.09 ERA)
Southeast Missouri State SR LHP Joey Lucchesi: 88-92 FB; CB; CU; deceptive; 6-4, 200 pounds (2015: 9.51 K/9 – 4.81 BB/9 – 88.0 IP – 3.17 ERA) (2016: 13.08 K/9 – 3.27 BB/9 – 93.2 IP – 2.11 ERA)
Southeast Missouri State SR RHP Jacob Lawrence: 6-5, 190 pounds (2015: 7.64 K/9 – 4.36 BB/9 – 33.1 IP – 6.27 ERA) (2016: 9.94 K/9 – 4.36 BB/9 – 48.0 IP – 3.94 ERA)
Southeastern Louisiana JR RHP Cliff Hurst: 88-91 FB; mis-80s SL: 5-11, 240 pounds (2016: 7.32 K/9 – 8.05 BB/9 – 12.1 IP – 2.19 ERA)
Southeastern Louisiana JR RHP/1B Derrick Mount: 88-92 FB; power upside; 5-11, 180 pounds (2016: .278/.366/.426 – 10 BB/20 K – 5/9 SB – 115 AB) (2016: 7.86 K/9 – 6.12 BB/9 – 10.1 IP – 6.10 ERA)
Southeastern Louisiana rJR RHP Gabe Von Rosenberg: 6-0, 210 pounds (2016: 8.12 K/9 – 3.38 BB/9 – 26.2 IP – 2.70 ERA)
Southeastern Louisiana SO RHP Mac Sceroler: 87-92 FB; good 73-75 CB; CU; good command; 6-3, 200 pounds (2015: 8.07 K/9 – 1.55 BB/9 – 29.1 IP – 2.48 ERA) (2016: 9.14 K/9 – 3.18 BB/9 – 90.2 IP – 2.18 ERA)
Southeastern Louisiana SR LHP Domenick Carlini: 85-91 FB; good SL; low-70s (72) CB; 6-2, 175 pounds (2015: 11.25 K/9 – 4.50 BB/9 – 24.0 IP – 6.38 ERA) (2016: 5.82 K/9 – 3.35 BB/9 – 91.1 IP – 2.07 ERA)
Southeastern Louisiana SR LHP Kyle Cedotal: 86-90 FB; CB; CU; cutter; 6-1, 190 pounds (2013: 6.44 K/9 | 4.78 BB/9 | 4.38 FIP | 43.1 IP) (2014: .260/.377/.306 – 20 BB/32 K – 11/21 SB – 173 AB) (2014: 5.57 K/9 – 2.79 BB/9 – 42 IP – 2.14 ERA) (2015: 8.55 K/9 – 1.71 BB/9 – 99.2 IP – 2.07 ERA) (2016: 7.84 K/9 – 2.42 BB/9 – 93.0 IP – 3.19 ERA)
Southeastern Louisiana SR RHP Pat Cashman: 93 FB; 6-0, 190 pounds (2015: 6.43 K/9 – 2.57 BB/9 – 48.2 IP – 3.31 ERA) (2016: 9.13 K/9 – 2.68 BB/9 – 50.1 IP – 5.01 ERA)
Southern Illinois Edwardsville JR LHP DJ Hickey: 6-2, 200 pounds (2016: 7.20 K/9 – 6.30 BB/9 – 20.0 IP – 9.90 ERA)
Southern Illinois Edwardsville JR RHP Connor Buenger: 86-89 FB; good SL; good command; 6-0, 185 pounds (2016: 3.15 K/9 – 3.15 BB/9 – 48.2 IP – 11.28 ERA)
Southern Illinois Edwardsville SR LHP Zach Malach: 5-11, 200 pounds (2014: 6.69 K/9 – 4.11 BB/9 – 35 IP – 5.14 ERA) (2015: 8.18 K/9 – 5.32 BB/9 – 44.1 IP – 5.52 ERA) (2016: 10.32 K/9 – 6.77 BB/9 – 22.2 IP – 9.13 ERA)
Southern Illinois Edwardsville SR RHP Jarrett Bednar: 88-89 FB; 6-6, 190 pounds (2014: 5.25 K/9 – 3.45 BB/9 – 60 IP – 6.75 ERA) (2015: 6.68 K/9 – 3.14 BB/9 – 66.0 IP – 7.50 ERA) (2016: 5.92 K/9 – 2.47 BB/9 – 73.0 IP – 6.66 ERA)
Southern Illinois Edwardsville SR RHP PJ Schuster: 88-91 FB; above-average CU; 6-3, 220 pounds (2013: 6.95 K/9 | 3.40 BB/9 | 4.32 FIP | 55.2 IP) (2014: 8.29 K/9 – 4.03 BB/9 – 38 IP – 7.11 ERA) (2015: 8.32 K/9 – 1.94 BB/9 – 79.0 IP – 5.01 ERA) (2016: 5.13 K/9 – 3.25 BB/9 – 72.0 IP – 5.88 ERA)
Southern Illinois Edwardsville SR RHP Ryan Agnitsch: 6-0, 215 pounds (2015: 5.12 K/9 – 3.10 BB/9 – 58.1 IP – 5.74 ERA) (2016: 8.51 K/9 – 6.81 BB/9 – 37.0 IP – 7.30 ERA)
Southern Illinois JR LHP Joey Marciano: upper-80s FB; good SL; CB; 6-5, 260 pounds (2016: 6.37 K/9 – 3.67 BB/9 – 83.1 IP – 3.78 ERA)
Southern Illinois JR RHP Chad Whitmer: 6-3, 200 pounds (2014: 7.25 K/9 – 3.75 BB/9 – 36.0 IP – 4.00 ERA) (2015: 6.38 K/9 – 4.31 BB/9 – 48.0 IP – 5.81 ERA) (2016: 6.30 K/9 – 2.20 BB/9 – 94.1 IP – 2.77 ERA)
Southern Illinois rJR RHP Connor McFadden: 88-92 FB; 6-3, 210 pounds (2015: 8.00 K/9 – 10.00 BB/9 – 18 IP – 7.00 ERA) (2016: 6.35 K/9 – 6.88 BB/9 – 17.0 IP – 3.18 ERA)
Southern Illinois SR RHP Alex Lesiak: 87-89 FB; average CU; average breaking ball; good command; 6-4, 220 pounds (2015: 5.69 K/9 – 4.27 BB/9 – 25.1 IP – 8.53 ERA) (2.1 IP)
Southern Illinois SR RHP Colten Selvey: 88-92 FB; CB flashes plus; 5-11, 230 pounds (2015: 4.17 K/9 – 6.67 BB/9 – 21.2 IP – 2.49 ERA) (2016: 6.63 K/9 – 4.74 BB/9 – 19.0 IP – 6.16 ERA)
Southern JR LHP J’Markus George: 5-10, 175 pounds (2016: 8.39 K/9 – 6.23 BB/9 – 67.2 IP – 5.72 ERA)
Southern Mississippi JR RHP Hunter Stevens: 6-5, 225 pounds (2016: 12.23 K/9 – 7.86 BB/9 – 10.1 IP – 9.58 ERA)
Southern Mississippi JR RHP Mason Walley: 6-0, 180 pounds (2016: 7.71 K/9 – 6.00 BB/9 – 21.0 IP – 5.57 ERA)
Southern Mississippi rSR LHP Cody Livingston: 87-91 FB, 92 peak; good deception; good CU; 6-3, 200 pounds (2012: 6.67 K/9 | 3.64 BB/9 | 5.20 FIP | 29.2 IP) (2013: 7.58 K/9 | 3.79 BB/9 | 4.06 FIP | 19 IP) (2015: 10.00 K/9 – 4.50 BB/9 – 18.1 IP – 4.00 ERA) (2016: 10.05 K/9 – 3.50 BB/9 – 20.2 IP – 5.66 ERA)
Southern Mississippi rSR LHP Luke Lowery: 6-0, 200 pounds (2013: 9.22 K/9 | 8.56 BB/9 | 3.49 FIP | 13.2 IP) (2014: 5.29 K/9 – 2.12 BB/9 – 16 IP – 2.65 ERA) (2015: 6.95 K/9 – 3.68 BB/9 – 22.1 IP – 3.68 ERA) (2016: 8.00 K/9 – 3.00 BB/9 – 18.0 IP – 5.50 ERA)
Southern Mississippi rSR RHP Cord Cockrell: 82-88 FB; above-average CU; mid-70s SL; good command; deceptive; Louisiana-Lafayette transfer; 6-0, 180 pounds (2012: 7.20 K/9 | 2.03 BB/9 | 4.09 FIP | 40 IP) (2013: 4.93 K/9 | 1.17 BB/9 | 5.48 FIP | 38.1 IP) (2015: 4.00 K/9 – 1.40 BB/9 – 45.1 IP – 4.40 ERA) (2016: 5.82 K/9 – 0.93 BB/9 – 68.0 IP – 3.97 ERA)
Southern Mississippi SR RHP Clay Tageant: 6-0, 200 pounds (2016: 8.53 K/9 – 7.76 BB/9 – 11.2 IP – 0.77 ERA)
Southern Mississippi SR RHP Jake Winston: 87-92 FB with sink, 94 peak; good SL; good command; 6-3, 200 pounds (2013: 8.40 K/9 | 6.60 BB/9 | 4.12 FIP | 15 IP) (2014: 6.35 K/9 – 3.71 BB/9 – 34 IP – 4.50 ERA) (2015: 6.87 K/9 – 3.32 BB/9 – 38.1 IP – 2.61 ERA) (2016: 6.45 K/9 – 3.43 BB/9 – 65.2 IP – 4.39 ERA)
Southern Mississippi SR RHP Nick Johnson: 6-1, 200 pounds (2014: 9.00 K/9 – 5.79 BB/9 – 13 IP – 7.71 ERA) (2015: 9.64 K/9 – 3.86 BB/9 – 27.2 IP – 2.89 ERA) (2016: 8.04 K/9 – 3.86 BB/9 – 56.0 IP – 3.86 ERA)
SR RHP Blake Smith: 94 peak; kCB; 6-5, 230 pounds (2015: 11.55 K/9 – 6.08 BB/9 – 29.2 IP – 3.64 ERA) (2016: 11.60 K/9 – 4.14 BB/9 – 32.2 IP – 2.20 ERA)
SR RHP Cameron Mingo: 87-91 FB; 80-83 SL; 6-4, 180 pounds (2013: 6.02 K/9 | 2.74 BB/9 | 3.43 FIP | 49.1 IP) (2014: 3.60 K/9 – 3.60 BB/9 – 25 IP – 5.04 ERA) (2016: 5.03 K/9 – 3.51 BB/9 – 59.0 IP – 3.81 ERA)
St. Bonaventure SR RHP Connor Grey: 6-0, 170 pounds (2014: 5.50 K/9 – 3.75 BB/9 – 72 IP – 4.37 ERA) (2015: 6.14 K/9 – 3.14 BB/9 – 66.0 IP – 5.45 ERA) (2016: 9.29 K/9 – 3.23 BB/9 – 92.0 IP – 2.84 ERA)
St. Bonaventure SR RHP Drew Teller: 6-4, 200 pounds (2014: 5.43 K/9 – 2.64 BB/9 – 57 IP – 7.14 ERA) (2015: 4.42 K/9 – 3.11 BB/9 – 55.0 IP – 5.24 ERA) (2016: 7.74 K/9 – 1.39 BB/9 – 45.1 IP – 2.58 ERA)
St. John’s JR RHP Ryan McAuliffe: 90-94 FB; 6-4, 200 pounds (2016: 5.14 K/9 – 2.69 BB/9 – 77.0 IP – 4.32 ERA)
St. John’s rJR RHP Michael Sheppard: 88-92 FB; CB flashes above-average; iffy command; iffy control; 6-1, 180 pounds (2013: 4.43 K/9 | 5.31 BB/9 | 4.98 FIP | 20.1 IP) (2014: 6.75 K/9 – 11.25 BB/9 – 8 IP – 9.00 ERA) (0.1 IP)
St. John’s rSR RHP Joe Napolitano: Wake Forest transfer; 6-3, 220 pounds (2016: 6.64 K/9 – 2.57 BB/9 – 42.0 IP – 1.93 ERA)
St. John’s rSR RHP Joey Christopher: 87-90 FB; mid-70s CB; 6-4, 230 pounds (2013: 4.26 K/9 | 6.04 BB/9 | 4.47 FIP | 25.1 IP) (2014: 6.55 K/9 – 3.68 BB/9 – 22 IP – 3.68 ERA) (2015: 6.00 K/9 – 6.00 BB/9 – 12.1 IP – 7.50 ERA) (2016: 5.98 K/9 – 4.68 BB/9 – 34.2 IP – 7.27 ERA)
St. John’s SR RHP Joey Graziano: 88-92 FB, 93 peak; average CB; 6-1, 185 pounds (2013: 8.21 K/9 | 4.97 BB/9 | 3.89 FIP | 41.2 IP) (2014: 6.50 K/9 – 8.75 BB/9 – 35 IP – 6.00 ERA) (2015: 9.00 K/9 – 6.00 BB/9 – 17.2 IP – 6.00 ERA) (2016: 9.00 K/9 – 9.56 BB/9 – 16.0 IP – 7.88 ERA)
St. Joseph’s JR RHP Ryan Kelly: 6-3, 200 pounds (2014: 9.00 K/9 – 9.00 BB/9 – 17 IP – 5.50 ERA) (2015: 8.55 K/9 – 7.20 BB/9 – 19.2 IP – 5.85 ERA) (2016: 11.84 K/9 – 3.38 BB/9 – 26.2 IP – 2.36 ERA)
St. Joseph’s JR RHP Zach DeVincenzo: 5-11, 175 pounds (2016: 7.08 K/9 – 4.58 BB/9 – 21.2 IP – 4.57 ERA)
St. Joseph’s JR RHP/C Brian Lau: 88-92 FB; good upper-70s CB; 6-3, 200 pounds (2016: 15.71 K/9 – 5.00 BB/9 – 12.2 IP – 6.39 ERA)
St. Joseph’s rSR RHP Tim Ponto: good command; missed two full seasons to injury; FAVORITE; 6-8, 220 pounds (2012: 7.16 K/9 | 3.90 BB/9 | 4.45 FIP | 27.2 IP) (2015: 6.00 K/9 – 5.44 BB/9 – 48.1 IP – 5.81 ERA) (2016: 7.16 K/9 – 2.66 BB/9 – 44.0 IP – 4.91 ERA)
St. Mary’s JR LHP Johnny York: 81-85 FB; 72-75 CU; 67-71 CB; 72-75 SL; 6-0, 175 pounds (2015: 7.64 K/9 – 3.14 BB/9 – 86.0 IP – 3.24 ERA) (2016: 4.98 K/9 – 1.75 BB/9 – 97.2 IP – 3.13 ERA)
St. Mary’s JR RHP Cameron Neff: 88-92 FB; above-average to plus 83-84 SL; plus CU; CB; AJ Griffin comp; 6-3, 200 pounds (2014: 6.07 K/9 – 2.22 BB/9 – 88 IP – 4.25 ERA) (2015: 8.33 K/9 – 2.70 BB/9 – 40.1 IP – 2.25 ERA) (2016: 8.55 K/9 – 2.59 BB/9 – 80.0 IP – 3.71 ERA)
St. Mary’s SR RHP Nathan Simmons: 5-11, 200 pounds (2016: 7.50 K/9 – 1.50 BB/9 – 12.0 IP – 3.00 ERA)
St. Mary’s SR RHP/OF Anthony Gonsolin: above-average speed; above-average arm; power upside; good glove; good athlete; 92-95 FB; upper-70s CB; 6-2, 180 pounds (2014: .308/.372/.457 – 22 BB/48 K – 8/10 SB – 208 AB) (2014: 5.74 K/9 – 4.50 BB/9 – 58 IP – 4.34 ERA) (2015: 8.45 K/9 – 3.86 BB/9 – 48.2 IP – 3.12 ERA) (2015: .316/.391/.454 – 22 BB/43 K – 12/19 SB – 196 AB) (2016: .304/.393/.466 – 27 BB/48 K – 0/3 SB – 204 AB) (2016: 8.36 K/9 – 3.43 BB/9 – 42.0 IP – 3.86 ERA)
St. Peter’s JR RHP Paul Schifilliti: 6-2, 190 pounds (2016: 10.13 K/9 – 6.19 BB/9 – 16.0 IP – 11.25 ERA)
St. Peter’s SR RHP John Leiter: 6-0, 200 pounds (2015: 6.78 K/9 – 4.02 BB/9 – 64.2 IP – 4.71 ERA) (2016: 9.23 K/9 – 3.92 BB/9 – 78.0 IP – 6.58 ERA)
Stanford JR LHP Chris Castellanos: 80-82 FB; 68-71 CB; 5-10, 185 pounds (2014: 5.63 K/9 – 4.13 BB/9 – 24 IP – 4.13 ERA) (2015: 6.66 K/9 – 2.34 BB/9 – 49.2 IP – 3.42 ERA) (2016: 4.34 K/9 – 1.55 BB/9 – 87.0 IP – 3.41 ERA)
Stanford JR RHP Chris Viall: 89-95 FB, 96-97 peak; SL; 74-82 CB, flashes above-average; iffy command; 6-9, 230 pounds (2014: 3.71 K/9 – 6.39 BB/9 – 43.2 IP – 4.74 ERA) (2015: 5.91 K/9 – 6.19 BB/9 – 32.1 IP – 4.78 ERA) (2016: 11.35 K/9 – 7.43 BB/9 – 23.1 IP – 5.09 ERA)
Stanford JR RHP Tyler Thorne: 88-90 FB; good 78-81 CB; 6-4, 210 pounds (2014: 5.40 K/9 – 5.08 BB/9 – 28.1 IP – 4.76 ERA) (2015: 6.80 K/9 – 5.88 BB/9 – 48.2 IP – 5.14 ERA) (2016: 6.80 K/9 – 5.00 BB/9 – 45.1 IP – 3.40 ERA)
Stanford JR RHP/3B Brett Hanewich: 92 FB; power upside; 6-3, 215 pounds (2014: 5.75 K/9 – 3.64 BB/9 – 76.2 IP – 3.17 ERA) (2015: 7.06 K/9 – 5.58 BB/9 – 78.2 IP – 3.99 ERA) (2016: 6.14 K/9 – 4.50 BB/9 – 43.2 IP – 3.89 ERA)
Stanford SR RHP Daniel Starwalt: 88-92 FB, 94-95 peak; flashes plus 72-75 CB; missed season due to shoulder injury; 6-3, 210 pounds (2013: 4.10 K/9 | 3.08 BB/9 | 5.62 FIP | 26.1 IP) (2014: 8.10 K/9 – 5.40 BB/9 – 10 IP – 4.50 ERA)
Stephen F. Austin JR LHP Patrick Ledet: 6-0, 175 pounds (2014: 5.54 K/9 – 3.12 BB/9 – 26 IP – 6.23 ERA) (2015: 5.28 K/9 – 2.79 BB/9 – 29.1 IP – 1.55 ERA) (2016: 7.62 K/9 – 2.65 BB/9 – 85.0 IP – 3.92 ERA)
Stetson JR LHP Tyler Keller: 5-10, 170 pounds (2015: 11.63 K/9 – 4.13 BB/9 – 24.0 IP – 1.88 ERA) (2016: 13.90 K/9 – 4.99 BB/9 – 13.2 IP – 7.24 ERA)
Stetson JR RHP Walker Sheller: 87-93 FB; average 80-82 SL; 76 CB; 6-3, 200 pounds (2015: 5.88 K/9 – 2.75 BB/9 – 71.2 IP – 4.63 ERA) (2016: 8.68 K/9 – 4.04 BB/9 – 44.2 IP – 1.21 ERA)
Stetson rJR RHP Frankie Romano: low-90s FB; low-80s SL; good command; 6-4, 225 pounds (2015: 5.81 K/9 – 4.94 BB/9 – 30.2 IP – 2.61 ERA)
Stetson SR LHP Adam Schaly: 84-86 FB; 6-1, 190 pounds (2013: 5.36 K/9 | 5.54 BB/9 | 4.33 FIP | 50.1 IP) (2014: 6.81 K/9 – 3.16 BB/9 – 37 IP – 3.65 ERA) (2015: 3.73 K/9 – 3.29 BB/9 – 41.1 IP – 6.59 ERA) (2016: 7.80 K/9 – 1.71 BB/9 – 47.1 IP – 5.32 ERA)
Stetson SR RHP Josh Thorne: 92-93 FB; 6-2, 200 pounds (2013: 6.63 K/9 | 6.14 BB/9 | 4.64 FIP | 36.2 IP) (2014: 5.62 K/9 – 2.81 BB/9 – 32 IP – 6.47 ERA) (2015: 6.90 K/9 – 4.20 BB/9 – 30.1 IP – 4.80 ERA) (2016: 7.55 K/9 – 1.19 BB/9 – 45.1 IP – 2.78 ERA)
Stony Brook JR RHP Cameron Stone: 93 FB; plus CU; 6-0, 190 pounds (2014: 10.95 K/9 – 4.86 BB/9 – 36 IP – 1.95 ERA) (2015: 11.42 K/9 – 2.77 BB/9 – 26.0 IP – 1.04 ERA) (2016: 4.95 K/9 – 5.40 BB/9 – 20.0 IP – 9.00 ERA)
Stony Brook SR LHP Tyler Honahan: 88-92 FB, 93 peak; 77-83 CU with upside; CB; 6-2, 195 pounds (2013: 9.87 K/9 | 3.48 BB/9 | 3.91 FIP | 31 IP) (2014: 6.87 K/9 – 4.13 BB/9 – 71 IP – 2.87 ERA) (2015: 7.70 K/9 – 4.14 BB/9 – 76.1 IP – 4.14 ERA) (2016: 7.94 K/9 – 4.61 BB/9 – 70.1 IP – 5.25 ERA)
Stony Brook SR RHP Chad Lee: 5-11, 170 pounds (2013: 5.82 K/9 | 2.33 BB/9 | 4.10 FIP | 38.2 IP) (2014: 2.57 K/9 – 3.86 BB/9 – 14 IP – 3.86 ERA) (2015: 5.25 K/9 – 1.75 BB/9 – 36.1 IP – 4.00 ERA) (2016: 6.12 K/9 – 2.30 BB/9 – 82.1 IP – 1.97 ERA)
Stony Brook SR RHP Tim Knesnik: 6-2, 190 pounds (2013: 5.93 K/9 | 3.29 BB/9 | 4.25 FIP | 41 IP) (2014: 5.60 K/9 – 3.91 BB/9 – 52 IP – 2.38 ERA) (2015: 5.12 K/9 – 3.88 BB/9 – 50.2 IP – 4.76 ERA) (2016: 6.67 K/9 – 4.17 BB/9 – 21.2 IP – 3.32 ERA)
Tampa JR RHP Brett Morales: 87-93 FB, 95 peak; above-average 75-81 CU, flashes plus to plus-plus; average or better 73-75 CB; Florida transfer; 6-1, 200 pounds (2014: 6.26 K/9 – 3.91 BB/9 – 23 IP – 6.65 ERA)
TCU JR LHP Rex Hill: 86-90 FB; above-average 77-81 CU; good upper-70s CB/SL; Texas A&M transfer; 6-3, 190 pounds (2016: 8.88 K/9 – 3.55 BB/9 – 45.2 IP – 5.91 ERA)
TCU JR RHP Mitch Sewald: 92-96 FB, 98 peak; good SL; CU; LSU transfer; 6-6, 225 pounds (1.0 IP)
TCU rJR RHP Brian Trieglaff: 90-96 FB; good 83-84 SL; 6-1, 190 pounds (2014: 10.06 K/9 – 4.24 BB/9 – 17 IP – 4.76 ERA) (2015: 10.93 K/9 – 1.61 BB/9 – 28.1 IP – 3.21 ERA) (2016: 7.42 K/9 – 3.83 BB/9 – 37.2 IP – 2.63 ERA)
TCU rSO LHP Ryan Burnett: 87-92 FB; good 77-80 SL, flashes plus; 75-78 CB; 79-80 CU; 6-2, 210 pounds (2014: 10.80 K/9 – 3.24 BB/9 – 8.1 IP – 0.00 ERA) (2015: 11.25 K/9 – 1.50 BB/9 – 12.1 IP – 2.25 ERA) (2016: 9.35 K/9 – 2.08 BB/9 – 26.0 IP – 2.42 ERA)
TCU SR RHP Preston Guillory: 88-90 FB; good CU; sidearm delivery; 6-3, 200 pounds (2015: 7.96 K/9 – 2.42 BB/9 – 26.1 IP – 0.35 ERA) (2016: 7.52 K/9 – 2.58 BB/9 – 38.1 IP – 4.70 ERA)
Tennessee JR RHP Hunter Martin: 88-90 FB; good CU; 6-1, 200 pounds (2014: 6.08 K/9 – 3.53 BB/9 – 63.2 IP – 3.25 ERA) (2015: 7.46 K/9 – 7.20 BB/9 – 35.1 IP – 5.40 ERA) (2016: 4.50 K/9 – 4.05 BB/9 – 40.0 IP – 2.03 ERA)
Tennessee JR RHP Jon Lipinski: low-90s FB; 6-2, 210 pounds (2016: 7.80 K/9 – 4.20 BB/9 – 30.0 IP – 5.40 ERA)
Tennessee rSO RHP Eric Freeman: 6-5, 210 pounds (2016: 6.83 K/9 – 2.83 BB/9 – 54.0 IP – 3.00 ERA)
Tennessee SR LHP Andy Cox: 88-91 FB; good low-80s SL; good CU; 6-2, 180 pounds (2013: 6.04 K/9 | 3.59 BB/9 | 5.24 FIP | 47.2 IP) (2014: 8.15 K/9 – 3.84 BB/9 – 77.1 IP – 2.44 ERA) (2015: 8.46 K/9 – 4.70 BB/9 – 67 IP – 3.36 ERA) (2016: 8.70 K/9 – 6.59 BB/9 – 68.1 IP – 6.72 ERA)
Tennessee SR RHP Steven Kane: 88-92 FB; good CU; good command; 6-4, 200 pounds (2015: 7.09 K/9 – 4.36 BB/9 – 33 IP – 4.64 ERA) (2016: 5.73 K/9 – 2.98 BB/9 – 39.1 IP – 4.12 ERA)
Tennessee Tech JR RHP Evan Fraliex: 6-2, 220 pounds (2014: 5.54 K/9 – 3.05 BB/9 – 65 IP – 3.74 ERA) (2015: 4.89 K/9 – 1.89 BB/9 – 81.0 IP – 5.89 ERA) (2016: 8.69 K/9 – 4.59 BB/9 – 19.2 IP – 6.41 ERA)
Tennessee Tech JR RHP Jake Usher: 88-92 FB; good CB; 6-1, 200 pounds (2016: 10.91 K/9 – 4.44 BB/9 – 48.2 IP – 4.07 ERA)
Tennessee Tech JR RHP Michael Wood: 6-1, 190 pounds (2016: 8.61 K/9 – 1.80 BB/9 – 70.0 IP – 3.47 ERA)
Tennessee Tech rJR RHP Kit Fowler: TJ survivor; 6-2, 180 pounds (2016: 9.85 K/9 – 4.02 BB/9 – 24.2 IP – 5.11 ERA)
Tennessee Tech SR RHP Trevor Maloney: 88-92 FB; good command; 6-2, 200 pounds (2015: 6.39 K/9 – 3.79 BB/9 – 37.2 IP – 8.29 ERA) (2016: 10.30 K/9 – 7.56 BB/9 – 39.1 IP – 6.18 ERA)
Tennessee-Martin JR RHP Hayden Bailey: 6-2, 170 pounds (2016: 13.77 K/9 – 9.84 BB/9 – 18.1 IP – 9.82 ERA)
Tennessee-Martin SR RHP Patrick Bernard: 6-1, 190 pounds (2015: 8.12 K/9 – 5.12 BB/9 – 50.2 IP – 5.65 ERA) (2016: 7.03 K/9 – 4.12 BB/9 – 74.1 IP – 6.78 ERA)
Texas A&M SR LHP Ty Schlottmann: 90 FB; good SL; good CU; plus athlete; 6-2, 200 pounds (2014: 7.55 K/9 – 2.90 BB/9 – 31 IP – 2.61 ERA) (2015: 8.28 K/9 – 2.88 BB/9 – 25.0 IP – 3.96 ERA) (2016: 14.63 K/9 – 4.50 BB/9 – 8.0 IP – 2.25 ERA)
Texas A&M SR RHP Kyle Simonds: 86-92 FB with plus sink, 93 peak; above-average to plus 82-83 SL; average to above-average 78-84 CU, flashes plus; good command; plus athlete; 6-4, 200 pounds (2015: 5.43 K/9 – 3.06 BB/9 – 52.2 IP – 2.38 ERA) (2016: 7.22 K/9 – 2.24 BB/9 – 92.1 IP – 2.73 ERA)
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi JR LHP Chris Falwell: 87-92 FB; good CB; CU; 6-7, 210 pounds (2016: 9.14 K/9 – 3.01 BB/9 – 86.2 IP – 2.91 ERA)
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi JR RHP Devin Skapura: 88-92 FB; 6-3, 200 pounds (2015: 5.91 K/9 – 2.67 BB/9 – 64.1 IP – 3.94 ERA) (2016: 5.84 K/9 – 2.54 BB/9 – 81.2 IP – 3.64 ERA)
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi rJR RHP Nolan Holland: 91-93 FB with sink; good SL; 6-0, 200 pounds (2015: 9.28 K/9 – 3.38 BB/9 – 32.1 IP – 2.25 ERA) (2016: 4.30 K/9 – 2.87 BB/9 – 37.2 IP – 2.87 ERA)
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi SR RHP Dalton D’Spain: 90 FB; 5-11, 175 pounds (2014: 8.13 K/9 – 6.68 BB/9 – 31 IP – 3.77 ERA) (2015: 7.33 K/9 – 5.67 BB/9 – 26.2 IP – 3.67 ERA) (2016: 7.79 K/9 – 11.45 BB/9 – 17.1 IP – 12.46 ERA)
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi SR RHP Garrett Harris: 6-2, 210 pounds (2016: 9.37 K/9 – 5.58 BB/9 – 40.1 IP – 3.79 ERA)
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi SR RHP Kaleb Keith: 88-92 FB with good sink; SL with upside; 6-4, 270 pounds (2013: 6.00 K/9 | 3.60 BB/9 | 4.32 FIP | 15 IP) (2014: 7.20 K/9 – 2.25 BB/9 – 40 IP – 5.62 ERA) (2015: 3.38 K/9 – 2.25 BB/9 – 16.0 IP – 6.19 ERA)
Texas JR LHP Jon Malmin: 84-87 FB; 72-73 SL; 6-0, 180 pounds (2015: 6.16 K/9 – 3.79 BB/9 – 19.0 IP – 3.79 ERA) (2016: 11.71 K/9 – 7.32 BB/9 – 12.1 IP – 7.30 ERA)
Texas JR LHP Josh Sawyer: 85-90 FB, 92 peak; 74-80 CB with upside; CU; 6-2, 215 pounds (2014: 7.45 K/9 – 5.59 BB/9 – 9.2 IP – 5.59 ERA) (2015: 6.13 K/9 – 4.40 BB/9 – 46.2 IP – 4.79 ERA) (2016: 15.00 K/9 – 1.50 BB/9 – 6.0 IP – 0.00 ERA)
Texas Rio Grande Valley JR RHP Andrew Garcia: 88-92 FB; good SL; 5-11, 180 pounds (2016: 5.31 K/9 – 3.21 BB/9 – 81.1 IP – 3.65 ERA)
Texas rSO RHP Eric Dunbar: 5-10, 200 pounds (2016: 5.50 K/9 – 3.00 BB/9 – 18.0 IP – 3.00 ERA)
Texas Southern rSR RHP Robert Pearson: 90-94 FB, 96 peak; solid SL; 6-0, 185 pounds (2013: 6.49 K/9 | 3.71 BB/9 | 4.24 FIP | 68 IP) (2014: 12.37 K/9 – 9.00 BB/9 – 8 IP – 6.75 ERA) (2015: 7.00 K/9 – 5.71 BB/9 – 62 IP – 5.14 ERA) (2016: 7.84 K/9 – 3.51 BB/9 – 43.2 IP – 4.12 ERA)
Texas SR LHP Travis Duke: 83-87 FB; 72-74 CB; 77-79 CU; 6-2, 235 pounds (2013: 6.62 K/9 | 3.06 BB/9 | 4.14 FIP | 35.1 IP) (2014: 7.92 K/9 – 2.05 BB/9 – 30.2 IP – 0.29 ERA) (2015: 4.80 K/9 – 1.50 BB/9 – 30.0 IP – 3.30 ERA) (2016: 6.57 K/9 – 2.70 BB/9 – 23.1 IP – 3.86 ERA)
Texas SR LHP Ty Culbreth: 86-90 FB; good 77 CB; CU; 5-10, 190 pounds (2014: 6.59 K/9 – 5.93 BB/9 – 27.1 IP – 1.98 ERA) (2015: 7.20 K/9 – 2.45 BB/9 – 54.2 IP – 3.93 ERA) (2016: 8.11 K/9 – 1.77 BB/9 – 86.2 IP – 3.74 ERA)
Texas State rJR LHP Jonathan Hennigan: 88-92 FB; good breaking ball; 6-4, 180 pounds (2016: 9.10 K/9 – 5.26 BB/9 – 63.1 IP – 3.13 ERA)
Texas State rSR RHP Chase Hodson: 6-1, 200 pounds (2016: 12.45 K/9 – 4.07 BB/9 – 37.2 IP – 3.11 ERA)
Texas State rSR RHP Jeremy Hallonquist: 88-93 FB with sink; plus SL; CB; sinking CU; TJ survivor; 6-3, 200 pounds (2013: 7.40 K/9 | 2.61 BB/9 | 3.24 FIP | 20.2 IP) (2015: 6.28 K/9 – 4.60 BB/9 – 42.2 IP – 6.49 ERA) (2016: 5.31 K/9 – 2.08 BB/9 – 78.0 IP – 3.92 ERA)
Texas State rSR RHP Pasquale Mazzoccoli: 6-5, 200 pounds (2015: 5.55 K/9 – 4.40 BB/9 – 47.0 IP – 4.02 ERA) (2016: 10.64 K/9 – 4.43 BB/9 – 40.2 IP – 4.43 ERA)
Texas State SR LHP/OF Cory Geisler: upper-80s FB; 6-0, 200 pounds (2013: .204/.259/.241 – 4 BB/12 K – 1/2 SB – 54 AB) (2014: .293/.358/.360 – 12 BB/33 K – 11/11 SB – 150 AB) (2014: 6.19 K/9 – 2.81 BB/9 – 32 IP – 1.97 ER) (2015: 6.89 K/9 – 4.37 BB/9 – 35.1 IP – 4.89 ERA) (2015: .274/.347/.420 – 20 BB/39 K – 4/6 SB – 212 AB) (2016: .340/.364/.500 – 2 BB/17 K – 3/4 SB – 106 AB) (2016: 8.06 K/9 – 2.82 BB/9 – 67.0 IP – 2.69 ERA)
Texas State SR RHP Lucas Humpal: 88-92 FB; plus CU; good command; 6-3, 200 pounds (2013: 6.03 K/9 | 2.30 BB/9 | 4.51 FIP | 62.2 IP) (2014: 8.29 K/9 – 2.73 BB/9 – 88 IP – 3.74 ERA) (2015: 6.92 K/9 – 3.03 BB/9 – 104.0 IP – 5.28 ERA) (2016: 7.04 K/9 – 2.24 BB/9 – 108.2 IP – 3.06 ERA)
Texas Tech JR LHP Dylan Dusek: 88-91 FB with sink; not on 2016 roster; 6-2, 200 pounds (2014: 4.62 K/9 – 1.70 BB/9 – 74 IP – 1.95 ERA) (2015: 6.00 K/9 – 3.82 BB/9 – 33.0 IP – 3.82 ERA)
Texas Tech JR LHP Hayden Howard: 87-92 FB; low-80s CU; low-70s CB; 6-4, 190 pounds (2016: 5.66 K/9 – 2.06 BB/9 – 70.0 IP – 3.09 ERA)
Texas Tech JR LHP Ty Damron: 88-93 FB; 78-81 SL; good upper-70s CB, flashes plus; average CU; 6-2, 200 pounds (2014: 9.00 K/9 – 9.90 BB/9 – 10 IP – 5.40 ERA) (2015: 5.56 K/9 – 2.45 BB/9 – 55.1 IP – 3.60 ERA) (2016: 8.13 K/9 – 4.54 BB/9 – 47.2 IP – 6.04 ERA)
Texas Tech JR RHP Chandler Eden: 90-95 FB, 97 peak; above-average to plus 75-80 CB/SL; average CU; Oregon State transfer; 6-2, 185 pounds (2015*: 11.41 K/9 – 7.90 BB/9 – 41 IP – 5.49 ERA) (2016: 10.00 K/9 – 7.00 BB/9 – 9.0 IP – 8.00 ERA)
Texas Tech JR RHP Robert Dugger: 6-2, 180 pounds (2016: 7.36 K/9 – 3.08 BB/9 – 52.2 IP – 2.56 ERA)
Texas Tech JR RHP Ryan Moseley: 88-94 FB, 96 peak; plus FB sink; 79-82 SL, flashes above-average to plus; above-average 79-81 CU; 76-79 CB with upside; Derek Lowe comp; 6-3, 185 pounds (2014: 7.24 K/9 – 4.41 BB/9 – 50 IP – 2.82 ERA) (2015: 7.48 K/9 – 4.15 BB/9 – 65.0 IP – 3.46 ERA) (2016: 5.55 K/9 – 6.13 BB/9 – 47.0 IP – 5.74 ERA)
Texas Tech SR RHP Dalton Brown: 91 FB; 6-4, 250 pounds (2013: 7.04 K/9 | 8.22 BB/9 | 4.72 FIP | 15.1 IP) (2014: 7.65 K/9 – 4.95 BB/9 – 20 IP – 4.05 ERA) (2015: 6.63 K/9 – 5.21 BB/9 – 18.2 IP – 3.79 ERA) (2016: 9.00 K/9 – 1.50 BB/9 – 12.0 IP – 3.75 ERA)
Texas-Arlington JR RHP Joel Kuhnel: 90-95 FB, 97 peak; 86-87 SL, flashes plus; CU; 76 CB; reminds me of one of the Dallas Baptist guys from last year; 6-4, 260 pounds (2015: 4.82 K/9 – 1.93 BB/9 – 83.2 IP – 3.54 ERA) (2016: 6.35 K/9 – 1.99 BB/9 – 72.1 IP – 2.99 ERA)
Texas-San Antonio JR RHP Andre Shewcraft: 5-11, 220 pounds (2014: 6.60 K/9 – 1.80 BB/9 – 14 IP – 4.80 ERA) (2015: 6.60 K/9 – 1.20 BB/9 – 15.0 IP – 4.80 ERA) (2016: 6.83 K/9 – 5.06 BB/9 – 35.2 IP – 5.30 ERA)
Texas-San Antonio SR RHP Patrick Herbelin: 6-0, 175 pounds (2015: 7.41 K/9 – 4.24 BB/9 – 33.2 IP – 4.50 ERA) (2016: 7.15 K/9 – 2.23 BB/9 – 40.1 IP – 6.47 ERA)
The Citadel JR RHP Beau Strickland: 6-3, 215 pounds (2016: 6.92 K/9 – 2.42 BB/9 – 26.0 IP – 6.58 ERA)
Toledo SR LHP Ross Achter: good SL; 6-4, 185 pounds (2016: 6.20 K/9 – 3.50 BB/9 – 90.0 IP – 3.10 ERA)
Toledo SR RHP Kyle Slack: 87-92 FB; raw CU; breaking ball; iffy command; TJ survivor; 6-8, 270 pounds (2013: 6.92 K/9 | 7.15 BB/9 | 4.74 FIP | 39 IP) (2014: 6.11 K/9 – 4.92 BB/9 – 52 IP – 5.43 ERA) (2016: 7.83 K/9 – 8.18 BB/9 – 25.1 IP – 9.95 ERA)
Towson rJR RHP Kevin Ross: 88-92 FB; average CU; 6-0, 190 pounds (2014: 5.06 K/9 – 3.38 BB/9 – 31 IP – 5.62 ERA) (2015: 5.05 K/9 – 2.10 BB/9 – 72.2 IP – 4.81 ERA) (2016: 4.75 K/9 – 3.67 BB/9 – 66.1 IP – 4.88 ERA)
Towson SR RHP Lee Lawler: 84-87 FB; good breaking ball; 5-10, 180 pounds (2015: 5.95 K/9 – 4.27 BB/9 – 59.1 IP – 6.25 ERA) (2016: 8.90 K/9 – 8.21 BB/9 – 26.1 IP – 7.52 ERA)
Troy JR LHP Evan Hebert: low-90s FB; good CU; Arizona transfer; 6-1, 200 pounds (2016: 3.86 K/9 – 3.66 K/9 – 44.1 IP – 6.29 ERA)
Troy JR RHP Marc Skinner: 86-89 FB; good CB; good command; 5-10, 180 pounds (2014: 9.69 K/9 – 2.22 BB/9 – 65 IP – 1.52 ERA) (2015: 4.97 K/9 – 3.55 BB/9 – 38.1 IP – 4.50 ERA) (2016: 7.50 K/9 – 3.25 BB/9 – 36.0 IP – 3.50 ERA)
Troy SR RHP Grant Bennett: good breaking ball; 6-2, 215 pounds (2015: 7.09 K/9 – 2.45 BB/9 – 106.2 IP – 3.12 ERA) (2016: 6.71 K/9 – 1.68 BB/9 – 102.0 IP – 2.29 ERA)
Troy SR RHP Lucas Brown: 86-90 FB; good SL; average CU; 6-0, 175 pounds (2015: 6.14 K/9 – 2.86 BB/9 – 88.1 IP – 2.86 ERA) (2016: 6.29 K/9 – 2.48 BB/9 – 101.2 IP – 3.10 ERA)
Troy SR RHP Robert Harris: 6-1, 200 pounds (2016: 8.21 K/9 – 3.18 BB/9 – 34.0 IP – 6.88 ERA)
Tulane JR RHP Corey Merrill: 87-92 FB with sink; 87-88 cut-SL; CB; CU; 6-4, 230 pounds (2014: 5.40 K/9 – 4.42 BB/9 – 55 IP – 3.60 ERA) (2015: 7.15 K/9 – 3.79 BB/9 – 102.0 IP – 2.12 ERA) (2016: 10.71 K/9 – 3.08 BB/9 – 49.2 IP – 1.99 ERA)
Tulane rJR LHP Christian Colletti: Connecticut transfer; 6-3, 210 pounds (2016: 6.59 K/9 – 2.20 BB/9 – 12.1 IP – 5.11 ERA)
Tulane rJR RHP Daniel Rankin: 88-92 FB, 94 peak; 69-71 CB; 78-79 CU; 77-79 SL; 6-3, 185 pounds (2013: 3.08 K/9 | 4.10 BB/9 | 5.58 FIP | 26.1 IP) (2014: 6.14 K/9 – 4.91 BB/9 – 7.1 IP – 2.45 ERA) (2015: 5.70 K/9 – 3.90 BB/9 – 30.0 IP – 4.80 ERA) (2016: 10.49 K/9 – 5.68 BB/9 – 20.2 IP – 3.05 ERA)
Tulane rJR RHP Eric Steel: 5-10, 170 pounds (2015: 4.91 K/9 – 1.64 BB/9 – 21.2 IP – 3.68 ERA) (2016: 10.24 K/9 – 0.73 BB/9 – 12.1 IP – 4.38 ERA)
Tulane rSO LHP Sam Bjorngjeld: 6-5, 220 pounds (2016: 8.85 K/9 – 3.93 BB/9 – 18.1 IP – 3.44 ERA)
Tulane rSO RHP Chris Oakley: 92-94 FB with sink; UNC transfer; 6-6, 225 pounds
Tulane rSO RHP JP France: 94 FB; plus CB; have heard Lance McCullers comp; 6-1, 200 pounds (2014: 9.26 K/9 – 1.80 BB/9 – 35 IP – 5.91 ERA) (2016: 7.93 K/9 – 3.35 BB/9 – 72.2 IP – 3.22 ERA)
Tulane rSR RHP Alex Massey: 88-92 FB, 94-95 peak; above-average SL; CB; 6-2, 200 pounds (2012: 8.06 K/9 | 2.45 BB/9 | 3.52 FIP | 51.1 IP) (2014: 9.92 K/9 – 4.13 BB/9 – 32.2 IP – 5.79 ERA) (2015: 7.47 K/9 – 4.70 BB/9 – 88.1 IP – 3.68 ERA) (2016: 7.92 K/9 – 3.24 BB/9 – 75.0 IP – 4.08 ERA)
Tulane rSR RHP/OF Trevor Simms: low- to mid-90s FB, 95 peak; West Virginia transfer; 6-3, 200 pounds (2016: 11.12 K/9 – 5.29 BB/9 – 17.0 IP – 3.18 ERA)
Tulane SR RHP Emerson Gibbs: 88-92 FB with sink; average 77-81 CB, flashes better; CU; plus control; plus command; 6-2, 200 pounds (2014: 4.30 K/9 – 2.66 BB/9 – 44 IP – 6.14 ERA) (2015: 6.15 K/9 – 2.16 BB/9 – 79.0 IP – 2.73 ERA) (2016: 7.18 K/9 – 1.14 BB/9 – 110.3 IP – 2.61 ERA)
Tulane SR RHP Patrick Duester: 88-92 FB with sink; SL/CB; CU; 6-6, 220 pounds (2015: 7.84 K/9 – 4.11 BB/9 – 70.0 IP – 3.21 ERA) (2016: 7.91 K/9 – 6.27 BB/9 – 33.0 IP – 4.64 ERA)
Tulane SR RHP/OF Tim Yandel: strong arm; above-average power; PG comp: Hunter Renfroe; 86-91 FB with sink, 92 peak; mid-70s CB; once plus 78-83 SL that has faded; mid-70s CU; 6-1, 200 pounds (2013: .250/.317/.320 – 11 BB/33 K – 0/0 SB – 128 AB) (2014: .042/.179/.042 – 4 BB/10 K – 0/0 SB – 24 AB) (2014: 5.50 K/9 – 3.50 BB/9 – 18 IP – 0.50 ERA) (2015: 4.66 K/9 – 4.18 BB/9 – 56.1 IP – 4.34 ERA) (2016: 9.72 K/9 – 5.11 BB/9 – 17.2 IP – 6.11 ERA)
UAB JR LHP Thomas Lowery: 87-90 FB; good SL; 5-8, 175 pounds (2014: 7.94 K/9 – 4.59 BB/9 – 50 IP – 3.00 ERA) (2015: 10.15 K/9 – 2.78 BB/9 – 55.1 IP – 2.13 ERA) (2016: 8.65 K/9 – 3.71 BB/9 – 51.0 IP – 2.82 ERA)
UAB rJR LHP Dylan Munger: 87-90 FB, 92 peak; good 76-77 breaking ball; emerging CU with upside; 6-3, 190 pounds (2012: 9.07 K/9 | 3.98 BB/9 | 3.98 FIP | 40.2 IP) (2015: 5.40 K/9 – 8.55 BB/9 – 19.2 IP – 4.50 ERA) (2016: 6.94 K/9 – 7.46 BB/9 – 35.0 IP – 4.11 ERA)
UAB SR LHP Stephen Baggett: 6-1, 235 pounds (2016: 8.55 K/9 – 4.95 BB/9 – 40.0 IP – 4.50 ERA)
UC Davis JR RHP Justin Mullins: 6-4, 190 pounds (2014: 7.09 K/9 – 2.45 BB/9 – 33 IP – 3.00 ERA) (2015: 5.28 K/9 – 4.66 BB/9 – 29.1 IP – 4.34 ERA) (2016: 8.25 K/9 – 1.73 BB/9 – 67.2 IP – 4.79 ERA)
UC Davis JR RHP Zach Stone: upper-80s FB; 6-1, 200 pounds (2014: 7.14 K/9 – 3.72 BB/9 – 28 IP – 3.10 ERA) (2015: 9.69 K/9 – 1.62 BB/9 – 39.1 IP – 1.13 ERA) (2016: 10.13 K/9 – 7.88 BB/9 – 8.0 IP – 7.88 ERA)
UC Irvine JR RHP Ben Ritchey: 6-0, 190 pounds (2016: 5.71 K/9 – 2.41 BB/9 – 41.0 IP – 5.05 ERA)
UC Irvine JR RHP Calvin Faucher: 6-1, 170 pounds (2016: 12.09 K/9 – 5.69 BB/9 – 25.1 IP – 0.71 ERA)
UC Irvine JR RHP Chris Vargas: 5-10, 190 pounds (2016: 9.38 K/9 – 4.50 BB/9 – 24.0 IP – 2.62 ERA)
UC Irvine SR LHP Elliot Surrey: 82-87 FB; cutter; good CU; CB/SL; 6-0, 190 pounds (2014: 6.05 K/9 – 2.31 BB/9 – 112 IP – 2.31 ERA) (2015: 7.69 K/9 – 1.57 BB/9 – 103.0 IP – 4.02 ERA) (2016: 6.41 K/9 – 2.56 BB/9 – 91.1 IP – 3.65 ERA)
UC Riverside JR LHP Austin Sodders: 88-92 FB; good command; 6-3, 185 pounds (2016: 7.70 K/9 – 4.13 BB/9 – 80.2 IP – 2.57 ERA)
UC Riverside JR RHP Alex Fagalde: 6-3, 220 pounds (2016: 10.53 K/9 – 2.48 BB/9 – 43.2 IP – 2.47 ERA)
UC Riverside JR RHP Jacob Worrell: 6-4, 225 pounds (2016: 8.36 K/9 – 9.34 BB/9 – 18.1 IP – 5.89 ERA)
UC Riverside SR RHP Keaton Leach: low-90s FB; 6-2, 190 pounds (2015: 5.74 K/9 – 3.26 BB/9 – 58.0 IP – 5.74 ERA) (2016: 6.25 K/9 – 3.13 BB/9 – 40.1 IP – 2.90 ERA)
UC Riverside SR RHP/C Matthew Ellis: 88-92 FB, 94 peak; plus arm; good glove; 6-1, 170 pounds (2014: .249/.335/.272 – 22 BB/31 K – 2/4 SB – 169 AB) (2015: .207/.246/.259 – 4 BB/23 K – 0/0 SB – 116 AB) (2016: 11.82 K/9 – 5.72 BB/9 – 23.2 IP – 4.56 ERA)
UC Santa Barbara rJR RHP James Carter: 88-92 FB, 94 peak; plus FB command; above-average overall command; TJ surgery in 2015; 6-3, 185 pounds (2015: 10.80 K/9 – 2.70 BB/9 – 9.2 IP – 0.00 ERA) (2016: 4.50 K/9 – 3.00 BB/9 – 6.0 IP – 1.50 ERA)
UC Santa Barbara rJR RHP Kenny Chapman: 88-91 FB; good breaking ball; 6-4, 200 pounds (2013: 5.04 K/9 | 3.60 BB/9 | 4.87 FIP | 25 IP) (2014: 5.50 K/9 – 6.50 BB/9 – 18 IP – 4.50 ERA) (2016: 5.11 K/9 – 13.90 BB/9 – 12.1 IP – 12.41 ERA)
UC Santa Barbara rJR RHP Trevor Bettencourt: 86-91 FB; Tennessee transfer; 6-1, 185 pounds (2013: 6.49 K/9 | 4.41 BB/9 | 4.59 FIP | 34.2 IP) (2014: 8.13 K/9 – 3.25 BB/9 – 27.2 IP – 2.93 ERA) (2016: 9.66 K/9 – 5.21 BB/9 – 36.1 IP – 3.96 ERA)
UC Santa Barbara rSO RHP Joe Record: 6-3, 210 pounds (2015: 8.10 K/9 – 3.60 BB/9 – 10.0 IP – 2.70 ERA) (2016: 6.48 K/9 – 3.40 BB/9 – 84.2 IP – 3.83 ERA)
UC Santa Barbara rSR LHP Justin Kelly: 6-1, 175 pounds (2016: 14.37 K/9 – 3.50 BB/9 – 20.2 IP – 3.05 ERA)