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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)

2016 MLB Draft Prospects – Boston College

SR LHP Jesse Adams (2016)
SR RHP John Nicklas (2016)
JR RHP Justin Dunn (2016)
JR RHP Mike King (2016)
JR RHP Bobby Skogsbergh (2016)
SR 3B/SS Joe Cronin (2016)
SR OF Logan Hoggarth (2016)
SR C Stephen Sauter (2016)
JR SS/3B Johnny Adams (2016)
JR C Nick Sciortino (2016)
JR OF/RHP Michael Strem (2016)
SO RHP/OF Donovan Casey (2017)
SO 3B Jake Palomaki (2017)
FR RHP Jacob Stevens (2017)
FR C Gian Martellini (2018)

SR LHP Jesse Adams is not particularly big nor does he throw particularly hard, but he’s been consistently effective and figures to remain so as a professional. I think there’s clear matchup lefthanded reliever upside to him with the chance that a team less concerned about his size and more enamored with his three-pitch mix (87-91 FB, above-average mid-70s CB, upper-70s CU) will let him keep starting. SR RHP John Nicklas is a step below as a prospect, but has some of the qualities (88-92 FB, interesting low-80s breaking ball, undersized) you see in late round relief fliers.

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.

For as much as I personally like Dunn, others have JR RHP Mike King as Boston College’s top prospect (pitching or otherwise) heading into 2016. Frankly, it’s hard to argue. I mean, I had planned to do just that in this very space, but have mentally backtracked before I even got the chance to start. King has a solid heater (88-92, 93 peak), above-average low-80s changeup, and outstanding overall command. If one of his two breaking pitches sharpens up, then he’s a threat to crash the top five rounds just like Dunn. If you’re keeping score, I’d give the advantages of command, control, frame, and track record to King. It also shouldn’t be discounted that his name sounds like “viking” when said quickly. Dunn gets the edge in fastball velocity, all-around bat-missing stuff (this is double-counting his fastball some, but I’d say his slider is more of a strikeout pitch than King’s change, even while acknowledging that they are both more or less equally effective pitches) and athleticism. I’ll stick with the claim that both have top five round upside, but hedge some and say it’s more likely they wind up in the six to ten round range, where they’d be potential steals. Bonus prediction: Dunn gets drafted higher this June, but King winds up the (slightly) better long-term professional player.

Offensively, there’s no Chris Shaw to carry the prospect mantle this year. I don’t know much about JR OF Michael Strem, but he hit well last year (.296/.379/.437 in 206 AB) so he’s on the radar for me now. SR 3B/SS Joe Cronin and JR SS/3B Johnny Adams are steady gloves who can hold down any infield spot with relative ease. I think Adams still has upside he’s not yet tapped into, so keep his name in the back of your mind when thinking deep sleeper college middle infielders. SR C Stephen Sauter (little more offense) and JR C Nick Sciortino (little more defense) form a pretty nice college catching tandem with a little bit of pro upside.