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2018 MLB Draft Notebook 2.0

* I can’t get the list done for Monday if I’m going to stop every last time I see a pitcher with crazy numbers, but a special exception has to be made for TCU JR RHP Durbin Feltman. Look at these numbers: 15.93 K/9, 2.22 BB/9, 0.74 ERA. Small sample size (24.1 IP), sure, but, again, did you look at those numbers? And Feltman is pretty famous, too! That’s kind of what happen when you dominate for three years at one of the best programs in the country while flirting with triple-digit velocity (91-96 FB, 98-99 peak) with a nasty above-average power breaking ball (84-87) that flashes plus. I don’t know how high he’ll go — though I’ll admit I peeked at his ranking at BA (94th for the curious) to see if I was nuts thinking he should go in the first few rounds — but I’m pretty damn sure that you’re looking at a player who could provide damn near immediate value at the big league level.

* Fellow Long Star Stater JR RHP Beau Ridgeway (Texas) had a year that can be charitably be called the opposite of what Feltman did. There’s no use in breaking it down as Ridgeway, despite decent stuff (88-92 FB with sink, 77-80 CU, mid-70s CB), will almost certainly go undrafted. So why bring him up? Google has failed me, but I have in my notes that somebody at D1 Baseball, the best college baseball site on the planet, once compared Ridgeway to Max Scherzer. I don’t know who it was or to what extent the comparison was made or if I just fever dreamed the whole thing, but it’s staring my in the face in my notes and I just can’t believe that a college junior coming off a season with these numbers — 4.81 K/9 and 6.55 BB/9 to add up to a 11.32 ERA — could have ever been compared to Scherzer in any way. Again, this isn’t meant to be a knock on D1 Baseball and I’m certainly not trying to disparage Ridgeway, a man far better at baseball than I am at any one thing I can think of, but rather a way of highlighting how crazy and unpredictable this sport can be, especially when trying to forecast at the amateur level. Not for nothing, but Ridgeway did have an awesome 1.89 ERA last season (admittedly with middling peripherals), so a senior season rebound is definitely within range.

* Speaking of Texas, I counted nine pitchers for them that could at least be considered draftable if you’re willing to be a little bit generous with the word. That’s the high water mark so far, though I still have an intimidatingly large number of teams to go before I’m done sorting through all my college notes.

* No team has given me the authority to draft for them yet, but if I had any say in what my team did this year I’d be pushing hard for a late (fortieth?) round pick on Winthrop rSR LHP Matt Crohan. The odds of him ever pitching effectively again don’t seem all that high, so this would be a pick made with Crohan’s next career move in mind. I have no knowledge of what that might be, but I’d love to bring him on board to discuss what he may be considering. The perspective of Crohan, a one-time top prospect who has had to endure some of the most grueling recovery imaginable after his shoulder exploded a few years back, would be something I’d love to be able to share with the 39 other players drafted along with him. And on that one-in-a-million chance he wakes up one day and his arm doesn’t feel as terrible as it has…

* I’m also drafting Long Beach State JR OF/LHP Clayton Andrews. Honestly, how have I not written about him before? He was somewhat on my radar coming into the season, but now I’m kicking myself for not delving deeper into him as a prospect sooner. What do I like about Andrews? First, he’s tiny. Long Beach lists him at 5-6, 160 pounds. That alone makes him stand out to me. It’s also cool — perhaps only to me, I’ll admit — that prior to coming to Long Beach Andrews played at Carrillo HS and then Cabrillo College. That’s kind of fun, right? What I like best about Andrews is that he’s really good at baseball. Last year at Cabrillo, Andrews did this: 15.68 K/9 and 0.45 BB/9 in 39.2 IP (0.91 ERA). He also did this: .399/.483/.528 with 26 BB/5 K in 178 AB. You might think that moving up a level in competition would slow him down, but nope. He hit .302/.382/.377 with 25 BB/6 K in 215 AB while doing this (10.66 K/9 – 1.54 BB/9 – 99.2 IP – 1.99 ERA) on the mound. The whole “video game numbers” line is a tired cliche — one that I’m guilty of using plenty in the past, FWIW — but if those aren’t Create A Player mode stats then I’m not sure what qualifies. Since the scouting stuff matters too, it should be noted that Andrews is a gifted defender in center with lots of speed and athleticism. He’s also been 87-90 MPH with his fastball while throwing a quality 75-77 changeup and a usable 73-75 breaking ball. In other words, he has the scouting chops to back up those wild stats. I’m all in on Andrews as a fun late round pick. Now the question is whether or not I can sneak him into my top 500…

(Spoiler: probably not. This draft class isn’t a great one — which for an “every draft class is full of players if you’re willing to dig deep” type like myself is as close as I’ll come to saying it’s a down year — but it’s shocking how quickly a top 500 can fill up with names once you get down to it. It’s a great big country, I guess.)

* I don’t think we can talk about crazy strikeout pitchers without mentioning Cole Knetz, a righthander from Miami (Ohio). The stuff is really good (plus CU, average or better SL) despite a lack of knockout velocity (89-91) and the numbers are insane. Again, we’re dealing with a really small sample (19.1 IP) and there are reasons for concern beyond the whiffs (notably a 6.99 BB/9 and a 5.59 ERA), but a 17.25 K/9 is a 17.25 K/9. That’s easily the highest I’ve seen so far out of potential 2018 draftees.

* A post that I’ll almost certainly never have the time to write would be based around the premise of my favorite college programs to a) watch/follow as a fan, and b) develop interesting pro prospects. If I had to pick one off the top of my head, I might go Dallas Baptist. Daniel Salters, Daniel Sweet, Darick Hall, and David Martinelli (sad face emoji here) were all hitters in recent years I particularly liked. Austin Listi has been great even if too old for his level so far. They always seem to churn out fun, hard throwing relief prospects. This year’s team will sent into pro ball favorites like Jameson Hannah, Devlin Granberg (another guy with a first name starting with D…), and Kody Funderburk (Hall 2.0?), not to mention a pair of quality catchers in Matt Duce and Garrett Wolforth. I also have nine different pitchers with draftable grades for 2018.  They’ve only produced two big leaguers in the decade I’ve been doing this — three if you add Brandon Bantz’s whole two at bats to what Ryan Goins and Vic Black have done so far — but there are a few guys on the cusp of the highest level that should bump that number up. Honestly, I’ll still love what Dallas Baptist does even if some of their guys stall in the pros. Good recruiting, good coaching, good prospects.