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2018 MLB Draft Profile – Boston College

It feels that RHP Jacob Stevens has been around forever, but he’s still only a 22-year-old third-year junior. I guess getting drafted by my hometown team (Phillies) out of high school and then being an draft-eligible sophomore (and Yankees draft pick) has kept him in the draft conversation a bit more than your typical New England area college prospect. Or maybe it’s just because the ACC is typically the first conference I write about each year and Boston College is the first team alphabetically in the conference, so…here we are again. Whatever the reason, Stevens has been on the draft map for years now, though it looks as though he’s just a few months away from finally making his pro debut. Stevens’s sophomore season wasn’t as pretty as his freshman campaign, but his peripherals remained more or less the same. More importantly, by all accounts his stuff looked more like what his high school self threw. As a three-pitch righthander with strong fastball command and ideal pro size, Stevens seems ready to make the leap in 2018 both as a college performer and draft prospect. It’s hard to say where a potential backend starting pitcher/quality middle reliever like this fits on a big board without stacking it all up, but I’d have to think he’d get some top ten round consideration for teams that value certainty over ceiling.

RHP Brendan Spagnuolo‘s past as a Vanderbilt transfer gives him a little something extra to get excited about. I’ve long said that drafting from schools with sterling recruiting reputations — both by poaching their on-field talent and the names on their incoming recruiting sheets — would produce a damn interesting draft class. Even better for a lazy man like me, doing this would come with the added bonus of being a heck of a lot easier for your scouting staff. In fact, why have a scouting staff at all when you can outsource all the work to the Tim Corbin’s, Kevin O’Sullivan’s, and Mike Fox’s of the world? Think of the money you’d save! Jokes aside, there is something to the idea that the Vanderbilt (or Florida or North Carolina or whatever program sits atop your personal ranking) seal of approval means something. When a staff that has had so much success identifying quality high school prospects comes after you, then you might just have a little talent after all. Spagnuolo’s pedigree makes him intriguing, especially when tacked on to his existing solid fastball/breaking ball combination. Now he has to show it on the field.

I’m shocked that RHP Brian Rapp, who has decidedly done it on the field already, is back for his senior season and not in Florida or Arizona getting ready for his first full year in pro ball. As mentioned, the 2018 MLB Draft big board is but a twinkle in this author’s eye at this point but it doesn’t feel like a stretch at all to call Rapp one of my favorite senior-signs for 2018. Rapp has power stuff with a fastball that can reach the mid-90s and two breaking balls that flash above-average. The big thing holding him back (I’d assume) is his frame. No matter how smart baseball gets, the bias against short righthanders remains. Rapp’s power stuff doesn’t come in a body (5-11, 200 pounds) we typically associate with power stuff. That’s not a problem for me, but maybe that’s easier to say when you’re not in a position where you need to sell anybody else (besides the readers on a free website, of course) on who you like and dislike as a prospect. I’m happy to advocate for Rapp and players like him as long as I’m around.

RHP Thomas Lane is a big man (6-5, 255 pounds) with a hard sinking low-90s fastball. RHP John Witkowski has the size teams like and a sinker/slider combination with promise, but the results last year weren’t pretty. RHP Sean Hughes can crank it up to 94 MPH. Over/under on how many of these three get popped this June is 1.5. I lean towards the over, but I skew optimistic like that.

C Gian Martellini has his fans, but I think the powerful backstop fits best as a 2019 senior-sign. Catchers are always in demand, however, so it would be no surprise to see him selected way earlier than I’ll likely have him ranked. If he does wind up a senior-sign, then he’d be lucky to be as high priority a follow as present senior-sign extraordinaire 2B/3B Jake Palomaki. When it comes to senior-signs and mid-round value picks (who aren’t technically “senior-signs” because senior-signs, to me, have to be top ten round types who both have the talent to warrant such a draft spot AND save their drafting team money by taking underslot bonuses), it’s important to identify players with skill sets that can work in pro ball. Palomaki’s defensive versatility (he’s steady at all the infield spots) and patient approach at the plate give him a path to playing time at the next level. He’ll not a star and very likely not a starting caliber prospect, but what he does well gives him an honest floor as a useful minor league plug-and-play type with the upside as a utility infielder. Franchises need to fill out low-level minor league teams every summer. Getting a guy like Palomaki who can play multiple spots in the minors (thus helping out the development of others as his versatility could allow other more highly regarded prospects time to play their natural spots, not to mention other meaningful benefits as outlined in this very cool recent piece at Baseball America) while also being skilled enough to potentially develop into something a little more than just your friendly neighborhood org guy could be a very nice win for a team picking late. In any event, Palomaki is my favorite 2018 MLB Draft position player prospect on the Eagles.

JR RHP Jacob Stevens (2018)
JR RHP Thomas Lane (2018)
rJR RHP Brendan Spagnuolo (2018)
JR RHP John Witkowski (2018)
SR RHP Brian Rapp (2018)
SR LHP Carmen Giampetruzzi (2018)
JR LHP Dan Metzdorf (2018)
JR LHP Zach Stromberg (2018)
JR RHP Sean Hughes (2018)
JR RHP Jack Nelson (2018)
SR 1B/LHP Mitch Bigras (2018)
JR C Gian Martellini (2018)
SR 2B/3B Jake Palomaki (2018)
rJR OF Scott Braren (2018)
JR 2B/OF Jake Alu (2018)
SO RHP Matt Gill (2019)
rFR LHP Joey Walsh (2019)
SO OF/RHP Jack Cunningham (2019)
SO OF Dante Baldelli (2019)
SO SS Brian Dempsey (2019)
SO C Aaron Soucy (2019)
SO OF Jacob Yish (2019)
FR RHP Jack Hodgson (2020)
FR OF Chris Galland (2020)

2017 MLB Draft Report – Boston College

Jacob Stevens has looked more like his senior year of high school self than his BC freshman year self, and that’s a really good thing for his prospect stock going forward. Stevens, damn impressive in his first year as an Eagle (8.48 K/9 and 2.54 ERA in 74.1 IP), saw a slight dip in stuff across the board as he made the otherwise seamless transition from high school star to college ace. His velocity is back up to his teenage highs (89-93) and a pair of average-ish offspeed pitches (75-78 breaking ball, low-80s change) should allow him to remain in the rotation. A sturdy frame, clean mechanics, and pinpoint fastball command all help the cause as well. I’m not in love with the profile — inconsistent control, limited projection, and the lack of a clear knockout pitch give me pause — but I get the appeal.

John Witkowski and Brian Rapp are both solid relief prospects worth watching; the former fits the sinker/slider middle relief archetype while the latter has a little more velocity (up to 95), a little more offspeed depth, and a little more upside. Despite his lack of traditional starter size, I don’t hate the idea of keeping Rapp stretched out in the pros. Vanderbilt transfer Brendan Spagnuolo is interesting – Vanderbilt doesn’t recruit guys who aren’t interesting, after all – but needs innings to showcase his stuff. Carmen Giampetruzzi is a new name for me (and what a name at that), so all I’ve got on him is what anybody else can read from his impressive early season stat page.

Meanwhile Donovan Casey is one of the better two-way prospects in this class. A case can be made for him either as a pitcher (88-92 FB, 94 peak; really good CU; breaking ball that’ll flash) or as a hitter (above-average to plus speed/arm, intriguing power upside), though I now think I’m finally on board with putting the plus athlete on the mound and letting his athleticism and arm strength take over from there. It’s funny because I’ve always been left cold by Casey as a position player — the raw tools are thrilling, but you’ve got to start hitting eventually — yet am now pretty damn excited about Casey as a pitching prospect. ABoA: Always Bet on Athleticism.

In terms of guys who strictly play the field, Boston College doesn’t have a ton to offer in 2017. Your best bet is to look strictly up the middle with players like Casey, Johnny Adams, and Jake Palomaki. Adams, a steady glove at short, has some talent, but it’s probably time to put an end to any real pro prospect chatter with him. His bat has stalled to the point of no return for me. I love Palomaki’s glove at second, base running acumen, and approach, but his lack of pop puts a hard cap on his ceiling. He will probably be somewhere on my 2017 draft list, but he’d look even better as a 2018 senior-sign prospect.

*****

SO RHP Jacob Stevens (2017)
rSO RHP Brendan Spagnuolo (2017)
rSR RHP Luke Fernandes (2017)
SO RHP John Witkowski (2017)
JR LHP Carmen Giampetruzzi (2017)
JR RHP Brian Rapp (2017)
rJR RHP Bobby Skogsbergh (2017)
SR OF/RHP Michael Strem (2017)
JR RHP/OF Donovan Casey (2017)
SR SS/3B Johnny Adams (2017)
JR 2B/3B Jake Palomaki (2017)
JR OF Scott Braren (2017)
JR 1B Mitch Bigras (2017)
SO LHP Dan Metzdorf (2018)
SO LHP Zach Stromberg (2018)
SO RHP Thomas Lane (2018)
SO RHP Sean Hughes (2018)
SO RHP Jack Nelson (2018)
SO C Gian Martellini (2018)
SO OF Dominic Hardaway (2018)
FR RHP Matt Gill (2019)
FR OF Dante Baldelli (2019)
FR SS Brian Dempsey (2019)
FR OF Jack Cunningham (2019)
FR C Aaron Soucy (2019)