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2016 MLB Draft Prospects – Virginia Tech

rJR LHP Kit Scheetz (2016)
rSR LHP Jon Woodcock (2016)
JR RHP Aaron McGarity (2016)
JR RHP Luke Scherzer (2016)
rSO RHP Ryan Lauria (2016)
rJR 1B/LHP Phil Sciretta (2016)
rJR OF Saige Jenco (2016)
rSR OF Logan Bible (2016)
JR OF Mac Caples (2016)
JR 3B Ryan Tufts (2016)
rSO OF/LHP Tom Stoffel (2016)
SO LHP Packy Naughton (2017)
SO OF/3B Max Ponzurik (2017)
SO C Joe Freiday (2017)
FR RHP Nic Enright (2018)
FR RHP Culver Hughes (2018)
FR RHP Cole Kragel (2018)
FR RHP Payton Holdsworth (2018)
FR LHP/1B Patrick Hall (2018)
FR RHP Tim Salvadore (2018)
FR OF/1B Stevie Mangrum (2018)
FR C/OF Stephen Polansky (2018)

Last year around this time I was all over rJR OF Saige Jenco…

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.

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.

JR OF Mac Caples hasn’t done it yet, but those who have seen him more than I have insist he’s set for a big junior season. He’s a really smart young hitter with plenty of power and solid speed. His impressive summer showings the past two years give those that are bullish about his future a strong leg to stand on when arguing on his behalf. The same people who (wisely) turned me on to Jenco are the ones talking up Caples this year; take that however you’d like. I’m excited to see what he does in 2016.

Despite the eye-catching last name JR RHP Luke Scherzer (no relation) hasn’t received much (if any) attention at the national level. That’s not unusual for a college reliever without knockout stuff, but I still think many will regret not tracking him more closely as we get closer to the draft this June. He’s got good stuff (88-93 FB, low-80s SL with promise) and a knack for getting swings and misses when it counts. The college closer profiles more comfortably as a potential middle reliever as a pro, but that’s still a fine outcome for a pitcher not expected to go until the mid-rounds. JR RHP Aaron McGarity has similar stuff, better command and control, and a bit more projection, but hasn’t missed bats at the same rate of Scherzer. rSO RHP Ryan Lauria, a Louisville transfer, could be a quick riser as he continues to make the comeback from Tommy John surgery. His pinpoint command of a low-90s fastball make him a nice sleeper name to remember. rJR LHP Kit Scheetz and his upper-80s fastball could eventually work himself into a late-round relief prospect. That’s what he looked like over the summer for Orleans on the Cape.

rSO OF/LHP Tom Stoffel is a new name for me to follow, but there’s been some positive buzz on him as a hitter. I like his on-base skills (.412 OBP last year in limited PA), but a little more power would go a long way in getting him noticed. rJR 1B Phil Sciretta showed well with the bat in limited opportunities in 2014, but couldn’t follow it up in even more limited at bats in 2015. What trend is real: will he show improvement because it’s another even-numbered year or continue his decline by slipping a bit once again? All depends on what narrative you’re into, I guess. Or, you know, how he’s looked to those who have seen him up close. I haven’t, so I’m stuck making bad narrative jokes. There’s a reason why this site is free to read, after all.