The Baseball Draft Report

2018 MLB Draft – Top College Talent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2018 MLB Draft Profile – UMBC

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

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

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

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

2018 MLB Draft Profile – UMass-Lowell

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

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

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

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

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

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

2018 MLB Draft Profile – Stony Brook

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

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

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

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

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

2018 MLB Draft Profile – Maine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2018 MLB Draft Profile – Hartford

OF Ashton Bardzell is awesome and I won’t hear a word saying otherwise. He may get dinged by real scouts for the lack of a true carrying tool and underwhelming college competition, but that’s an evaluation that focuses on what he doesn’t do all that well as opposed to zeroing in on what he does really best. I’m not about that. When I look at Bardzell, I see an athletic outfielder who can play all three spots, hit for above-average power, post above-average to plus run times, and throw with the best of them. As importantly, I see a guy who has flat out raked over three years at Hartford. Was I a little aggressive calling him a potential top three round pick (and first round sleeper) back in October? Yes. It’s easy to get a little carried away in October. Maybe a more realistic expectation would be closer to where Erik Ostberg (round 13) went last year. That said, recalibrating my draft expectations for Bardzell in no way changes how I feel about him as a player and a prospect. All it really means is that some team is going to get a ridiculous value at whatever point they are willing to spend a pick on the massively underrated Bardzell.

Down final year or not, I’d still take a shot on 3B/SS TJ Ward based on his defensive acumen and overall body of work as a hitter. OF/1B Chris Sullivan makes more sense as a 2019 senior-sign (if that), though I can appreciate any prospect who can play multiple spots (Sullivan can also play third) while being a non-zero on offense. OF Nick Campana has been an offensive revelation as a senior. How much of that is him figuring something out versus simply getting older, stronger, and wiser enough to beat up on younger pitching is something the scouts on the ground get to determine. From the outside looking in, however, I’d say he’s well on his way to getting some draft late-round draft love from a team that heavily weighs performance. I’m only a man and not a team, but he’s certainly pushing for a spot late on my hypothetical big (500? 750? 1000?) board.

RHP Billy DeVito, RHP Seth Pinkerton, and RHP Justin Cashman all seemed like draftable talents coming into the year. Now I’m a little less sure. DeVito is a fairly straightforward prospect: size (6-4, 210), arm strength (88-92, 94 peak), breaking ball (78-82, flashes above-average), athleticism, and well below-average control. Do the many smaller positives outweigh that one massive negative? I’m inclined to say no for now, but have the feeling we’ll have the opportunity to revisit the discussion in a year. Pinkerton, the Hawks closer, has had a much better junior season than anything he’s shown before. His stuff (90-94 FB, above-average SL) is ready for a minor league bullpen. Cashman has a similar fastball (up to 93), but nowhere near the same track record. He’s 99.99% certain to need another year in college before getting his name into the draft conversation. All in all, one out of three ain’t bad.

I’m excited to see (or at least hear about) RHP/OF Sebastian DiMauro when he gets himself healthy and back on the mound. The word I wrote about him as my placeholder in my notes was “curious.” For now, DiMauro is a curiosity. We know he’s crazy athletic, sits 89-92 MPH with his fastball, and capable of throwing an impressive at times breaking ball. That’s about it. I don’t think there’s enough there to get him drafted as of this second, but a return to the mound — whether it’s this year or next year or whatever — could send his prospect stock flying. A more accomplished version of the same prospect genus, sophomore RHP Nathan Florence, figures to be a high priority follow next season.

JR RHP Billy DeVito (2018)
JR RHP Seth Pinkerton (2018)
rJR RHP Jake Regula (2018)
SR RHP Collin Ferguson (2018)
JR RHP Justin Cashman (2018)
rSO RHP Connor Lewis (2018)
rJR RHP/OF Sebastian DiMauro (2018)
JR OF Ashton Bardzell (2018)
SR 3B/SS TJ Ward (2018)
SR OF Nick Campana (2018)
rJR 2B Cam Belliveau (2018)
JR OF/1B Chris Sullivan (2018)
SO RHP Nathan Florence (2019)
SO RHP Jason Johndrow (2019)
SO RHP Alex Moconyi (2019)
SO LHP Drew Farkas (2019)
SO 2B Bryce Walker (2019)
SO 3B Zachary Ardito (2019)
SO SS Jackson Olson (2019)
SO C Bryce Ramsay (2019)
SO C Robert Carmody (2019)
FR LHP Nick Dombkowski (2020)
FR RHP Jarod Norcross Plourde (2020)
FR OF John Thrasher (2020)

2018 MLB Draft Profile – Binghamton

I should not be in charge of any team’s draft…but if I were then OF/2B CJ Krowiak would be at or near the top of my pile of potential senior-signs. Krowiak is a glider in center with the plus speed to chew up plus range in the outfield. He’s also an outstanding athlete with phenomenal hand-eye coordination who puts a ton of balls in play without striking out much. He’s going to fall much further (farther?) on draft day than he should. This isn’t to say that I think he’s a lock to have pro success and turn into a big league regular. I’m just saying I think Krowiak has a high probability of having a long career as a useful pro with enough upside to turn into a contributing big league role player if everything breaks right. There’s certainly value there and my hypothetical team would be more than happy to scoop Krowiak up once some of the higher upside priority targets were off the board.

C/1B Jason Agresti is another quality Binghamton senior-sign. He’s solid enough defensively to stick with enough power and patience to give you a little something at the plate. A capable defensive catcher with enough offensive promise to be a non-zero with the bat in his hands? It may sound like damning with faint praise, but that’s a good enough all-around package to get a shot in pro ball for me. This may shock you, but I think SS Paul Rufo could also be a useful senior-sign. He’s not flashy at the plate or in the field, but he consistently gets results. Like both Krowiak and Agresti before him, Rufo is good enough to stick at a premium defensive position while giving you enough offensive punch to potentially move up level by level in pro ball. You can’t ask for more than that as you fill out minor league rosters late in the draft.

Ouch, ouch, and ouch. Those were literally the words I wrote down next to each of Binghamton’s most promising 2018 pitching prospects after checking in on their early season results to date. All three of these guys have been unusually wild while posting ugly ERAs. For RHP Jacob Wloczewski, a redshirt-senior facing his last shot going through the draft process, the timing could not be much worse. A strong 2017 made it seem like he had turned the corner, but now more digging would be needed to see what version is the real version of the 6-3, 180 pound righthander. He has enough in the way of stuff to at least be moderately interesting — 88-92 FB (93 peak) with a quality 79-80 SL — but will have to turn it around in a hurry to convince teams he’s worth a late pick. RHP Joe Orlando, also a senior, has his back up against the proverbial draft prospect wall as well. He’s shorter with less of a breaking ball — though no less velocity, so at least there’s that — and a reliever all the way. Even in today’s game where seemingly every pro reliever comes in throwing mid-90s missiles, any guy who can pop 93 MPH is at least some kind of draft prospect for me. Orlando may not be a particularly promising one, unfortunately, but at least he is one. That’s more than my rag arm can say. The guy with the lowest current velocity (upper-80s) of the trio, RHP Nick Gallagher, may be in the best spot. That’s not necessarily because of his great changeup, but because he’s a junior who will get another shot to prove himself next season.

rSR RHP Jacob Wloczewski (2018)
JR RHP Nick Gallagher (2018)
SR RHP Joe Orlando (2018)
SR RHP Jake Erhard (2018)
JR RHP Cal Lawrence (2018)
JR LHP Robert Brown (2018)
SR LHP/1B Nick Wegmann (2018)
SR OF/2B CJ Krowiak (2018)
SR C/1B Jason Agresti (2018)
SR SS Paul Rufo (2018)
SR 3B/1B Luke Tevlin (2018)
SR OF Pat Britt (2018)
rSO OF Daniel Franchi (2018)
JR OF Anthony Meduri (2018)
SO RHP Ben Anderson (2019)
SO RHP Jake Miller (2019)
SO 3B Justin Drpich (2019)
FR LHP Reid VanScoter (2020)
FR OF Andrew Eng (2020)

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