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2018 MLB Draft Profile – Pittsburgh

You could forgive SS Liam Sabino for struggling some in his redshirt-junior season at Pitt after accumulating only 68 AB in his previous three seasons coming into this one. I mean, you could…but you don’t have to. Sabino is hitting a team leading .345/.464/.678 through 110 PA so far in 2018. That’s good. He’s also 13/14 stealing bags and playing quality defense. That’s also good. In less good news, Sabino’s 30.9 K% is as bright a red flag as you can find for an otherwise good looking hitting prospect. This got me thinking….and not just that I really could use a thesaurus. I wish I had the time and data skimming ability to find out for sure, but it certainly seems like Sabino ranks at or near the top of this year’s Three True Outcomes college leaderboard. My very quick search at least puts him in the exclusive (and admittedly very silly) 20/30/7 club. That would be BB/K/HR for those scoring at home. Other members include Kevin Woodall, Nick Ames, and Seth Lancaster. Anyway, if we add Sabino’s K% with his high BB% (18.2) and seven homers (6.4% of his PA) then we see he’s whiffing, walking, or walloping in 55.5% of his total plate appearances. That puts him squarely in Sano/Judge territory and in the same zip code as Gallo. Of course, all of those guys are doing it in the MLB and not the ACC, but you get the idea. So in Sabino we have a Three True Outcomes star, a transfer from Vanderbilt (never a bad thing when they’ve recruited you), an above-average runner and athlete, and a capable enough defender to stick at shortstop (or, at worst, not slide down the defensive spectrum too far). This is a really, REALLY intriguing prospect. The strikeouts keep me from going all-in on Sabino as a prospect (though I’m close…), but as a draft curiosity he’s second to none.

SS/2B David Yanni is a really interesting young hitter who is likely to use at least one of his two remaining years of eligibility. Admittedly, Yanni’s numbers are what I find most interesting about him considering my present scouting notes on him are sparse. 1B/3B Nick Banman has size and power but also strikeouts and dangerously low contact rates. Unfortunately, the latter is too much to make the former worthwhile as a draft prospect.

Quality stuff, low- to mid-90s velocity, more than enough strikeouts, and questionable control. Now you know about RHP RJ Freure, RHP Blair Calvo, and RHP Derek West. Each guy obviously brings his own individual strengths and weaknesses to the mound, but that’s still the general gist.

RHP RJ Freure is the shortest at 6-1, 200 pounds, and the easiest to project to pro ball. He’s a reliever, he’s always been a reliever, he has the delivery and lack of a third pitch to remain a reliever, and he’s really good at being a reliever. If Freure can soften some of the rough edges around his game (namely his control, or lack thereof) then it’s not much of a stretch to imagine his deceptive low-90s heat continuing to pile up swings and misses in the pros. Much of that also applies to RHP Derek West, though his build (6-5, 225 pounds) and more diverse offspeed repertoire (cutter, curve, change) at least gives him some hope of transitioning to the rotation as he gains more experience. That last part is another big difference between him and Freure: West is a redshirt-sophomore coming off of two straight seasons lost due to injury while Freure is a draft-eligible true sophomore based on age with over fifty extra college innings to his name. West also has a couple extra present ticks of velocity (up to 95) working for him.

Then there’s RHP Blair Calvo, who is sort of a mix between the two. He’s got an up-and-down track record on the mound (very good year in junior college in 2016, missed all of 2017 coming back from Tommy John surgery) that combines the past of both Freure and West (more or less) with velocity (also up to 95) and a depth of secondary stuff (average slider, occasional curve and change) to match West. His size (6-3, 200) puts him smack dab in the middle of the two. Interestingly, Calvo has started seven games so far but has only gone 24.1 innings. West has a similar ratio of starts (4) to innings pitched (14.1). It’s still kind of early in the season so maybe there’s nothing to it, but it sure seems like a potential hint that the bullpen is where all three of these guys will wind up in the pros. Assuming that’s the case, I’d rank them Freure, Calvo, and West.

I don’t have much on RHP Matt Pidich, but the 2018 results to date speak for themselves. I’m intrigued to find out more about him, though I’ll admit that the clock is ticking mighty fast as we approach early June. There may not be enough time left to circle back. Hopefully pro teams do a better job than me investigating how Pidich is doing what he’s doing because he deserves some notice. RHP/OF Yaya Chentouf has been good on the mound in the past, but it took until this year for his peripherals to catch up. Now that he’s striking out a batter per inning, the small (5-9, 190) yet highly athletic Chentouf becomes far more appealing. There’s no denying his arm strength (up to 94). That should lead to some fun conversations in draft rooms come the late rounds. “He’s up to 94,” he says. “Yeah, but he’s 5-9,” they’ll counter. In a battle of You Can’t Teach Natural Arm Strength vs Short Righthanders are the Worst, who will win the day?

SO RHP RJ Freure (2018)
rJR RHP Blair Calvo (2018)
rSO RHP Derek West (2018)
rSR RHP Matt Pidich (2018)
SR RHP TJ Pagan (2018)
JR RHP/OF Yaya Chentouf (2018)
rJR SS Liam Sabino (2018)
rSR OF Frank Maldonado (2018)
rSO SS/2B David Yanni (2018)
JR OF Connor Perry (2018)
SR 1B/3B Nick Banman (2018)
rSR C Caleb Parry (2018)
SO RHP Dan Hammer (2019)
SO RHP Chris Gomez (2019)
rFR LHP Peyton Reesman (2019)
SO 2B Alex Amos (2019)
SO OF Nico Popa (2019)
FR LHP Chris Cappas (2020)
FR OF Ron Washington (2020)

2017 MLB Draft Report – Pittsburgh

Hard to say at this point how strong Pittsburgh is from a prospect perspective, but, man, are a lot of the notable players on this roster off to really good starts in 2017. Could be a case of a team with a lot of good college players overachieving, but it makes me wonder a bit if I should start asking around more about guys like Sam Mersing, Josh Mitchell, Josh Falk, and Matt Pidich. All have been good to start the season. The two guys I have exciting notes on — Isaac Mattson and Blair Calvo — both seem draft-worthy from here. Mattson is a control artist with solid stuff (88-92 FB, good CB) and consistently strong peripherals. Calvo is out in 2017 with a knee injury, but has a pair of pitches (90-95 FB, average SL) that should play well in pro ball even after missing these important developmental innings.

Liam Sabino should have “Vanderbilt transfer” listed prominently on his bio as that’s presently the most intriguing thing about him. That’s not a knock on Sabino, a talented guy with speed, athleticism, and plenty of defensive aptitude, but rather praise for Vanderbilt…and, fine, maybe a little bit of a knock on Sabino’s limited college experience to date. If he can get on the field, he could rise quickly. PJ DeMeo has ample power and considerable swing-and-miss. I like what I’ve seen so far out of Caleb Parry and am eager to learn more about him, especially defensively. Frank Maldonado and Jacob Wright both could eventually get opportunities as senior-signs down the line. Parry, Maldonado, and Wright all belong with the group of overachieving pitchers mentioned above as “hmm, maybe this guys are better than I thought” types. Both Maldonado and Wright are well-rounded overall players with disciplined approaches at the plate. Those in the know have pointed me towards Nick Banman as Pittsburgh’s top 2017 bat. His size and power are certainly eye-catching, so gathering more info about him will be a priority this spring.

*****

JR RHP Isaac Mattson (2017)
JR RHP Blair Calvo (2017)
SR RHP Sam Mersing (2017)
rJR LHP Josh Mitchell (2017)
rJR RHP Matt Pidich (2017)
SR RHP Josh Falk (2017)
JR 1B/3B Nick Banman (2017)
rJR OF Frank Maldonado (2017)
rSR OF Jacob Wright (2017)
JR 3B/1B Kaylor Kulina (2017)
rJR C Caleb Parry (2017)
SR 1B/3B PJ DeMeo (2017)
SR C Manny Pazos (2017)
rSO SS Liam Sabino (2017)
rFR RHP Derek West (2018)
SO RHP Tyler Garbee (2018)
SO RHP Collin Liberatore (2018)
SO RHP/OF Yaya Chentouf (2018)
SO SS/2B David Yanni (2018)
FR RHP Dan Hammer (2019)
FR LHP Peyton Reesman (2019)
FR RHP RJ Freure (2019)
FR OF Nico Popa (2019)
FR 1B Zach Zientarksi (2019)
FR 2B Alex Amos (2019)

2015 MLB Draft Prospects – ACC Follow List

Boston College 

JR 1B/OF Chris Shaw (2015)
JR 3B/SS Joe Cronin (2015)
SR 2B/SS Blake Butera (2015)
SR RHP John Gorman (2015)
SR LHP Nick Poore (2015)
JR RHP Jeff Burke (2015)
JR LHP Jesse Adams (2015)
SO RHP Justin Dunn (2016)
SO RHP Mike King (2016)
SO C Nick Sciortino (2016)
SO SS/3B Johnny Adams (2016)
SO RHP Bobby Skogsbergh (2016)

Clemson

JR LHP Matthew Crownover (2015)
JR LHP Zack Erwin (2015)
JR RHP Clate Schmidt (2015)
rSO RHP Wales Toney (2015)
rJR RHP Patrick Andrews (2015)
rSR RHP Kevin Pohle (2015)
rSR RHP Jake Long (2015)
JR RHP Brady Koerner (2015)
rSR RHP Clay Bates (2015)
rSO RHP Garrett Lovorn (2015)
JR RHP/3B Jackson Campana (2015)
JR OF Steven Duggar (2015)
SR OF Tyler Slaton (2015)
rSO 1B/OF Andrew Cox (2015)
rSO OF Maleeke Gibson (2015)
JR SS/2B Tyler Krieger (2015)
SO C Chris Okey (2016)
SO LHP Pat Krall (2016)
SO 3B/SS Weston Wilson (2016)
SO SS/2B Eli White (2016)
SO LHP Alex Bostic (2016)
SO RHP Drew Moyer (2016)
rFR 3B Glenn Batson (2016)
rFR OF Reed Rohlman (2016)
FR OF KJ Bryant (2017)
FR LHP Charlie Barnes (2017)
FR OF Drew Wharton (2017)
FR OF Chase Pinder (2017)

Duke

JR RHP Michael Matuella (2015)
SR RHP Sarkis Ohanian (2015)
SR RHP Andrew Istler (2015)
SR LHP Trent Swart (2015)
rJR LHP Remy Janco (2015)
rJR RHP Conner Stevens (2015)
JR LHP Nick Hendrix (2015)
rSR LHP Dillon Haviland (2015)
rSO RHP James Marvel (2015)
JR RHP/SS Kenny Koplove (2015)
rSR C Mike Rosenfeld (2015)
rSO OF Jalen Phillips (2015)
SR 2B Andy Perez (2015)
SO RHP Bailey Clark (2016)
SO RHP Karl Blum (2016)
SO LHP Kevin Lewallyn (2016)
SO C Cristian Perez (2016)
FR 1B Justin Bellinger (2017)
FR LHP Chris McGrath (2017)
FR SS Ryan Day (2017)
FR 3B Jack Labosky (2017)
FR LHP Mitch Stallings (2017)

Florida State

JR OF DJ Stewart (2015)
rSR 1B Chris Marconcini (2015)
JR 2B/SS John Sansone (2015)
SR C Daniel De La Calle (2015)
SR OF Josh Delph (2015)
rJR RHP Mike Compton (2015)
SR LHP Bryant Holtmann (2015)
JR RHP/OF Jameis Winston (2015)
JR LHP Alex Diese (2015)
JR LHP Dylan Silva (2015)
SR LHP Billy Strode (2015)
SO RHP Taylor Blatch (2016)
SO LHP Alec Byrd (2016)
SO RHP Boomer Biegalski (2016)
rFR RHP Andy Ward (2016)
rFR RHP Ed Voyles (2016)
SO RHP Jim Voyles (2016)
SO OF/SS Ben DeLuzio (2016)
SO 1B/C Quincy Nieporte (2016)
SO C/OF Gage West (2016)
SO INF Hank Truluck (2016)
FR RHP Cobi Johnson (2017)
FR RHP Andrew Karp (2017)
FR RHP Drew Carlton (2017)
FR SS/3B Dylan Busby (2017)
FR SS/2B Taylor Walls (2017)
FR C/1B Darren Miller (2017)
FR OF/RHP Steven Wells (2017)

Georgia Tech

SR 1B/C AJ Murray (2015)
rJR OF Dan Spingola (2015)
JR 3B/SS Matt Gonzalez (2015)
rSO 1B Cole Miller (2015)
SR 2B/SS Thomas Smith (2015)
JR LHP/OF Jonathan King (2015)
SR RHP Cole Pitts (2015)
SO OF Ryan Peurifoy (2016)
SO RHP Zac Ryan (2016)
SO C Arden Pabst (2016)
SO OF Keenan Innis (2016)
SO 3B/RHP Brandon Gold (2016)
SO LHP Ben Parr (2016)
SO SS Connor Justus (2016)
FR OF/1B Kel Johnson (2017)
FR LHP Daniel Gooden (2017)
FR RHP Patrick Wiseman (2017)

Louisville

JR RHP Kyle Funkhouser (2015)
rSO LHP Josh Rogers (2015)
rSO LHP Robert Strader (2015)
JR RHP/1B Anthony Kidston (2015)
SR 2B/SS Zach Lucas (2015)
JR 1B/3B Dan Rosenbaum (2015)
SR OF Michael White (2015)
SR SS/2B Sutton Whiting (2015)
SO RHP Zack Burdi (2016)
SO LHP Drew Harrington (2016)
SO RHP Jake Sparger (2016)
SO OF Corey Ray (2016)
SO 2B Nick Solak (2016)
rFR 3B/SS Blake Tiberi (2016)
rFR OF/C Ryan Summers (2016)
SO OF Colin Lyman (2016)
SO C Will Smith (2016)
rFR OF Mike White (2016)
FR LHP/1B Brendan McKay (2017)
FR SS Devin Hairston (2017)
FR RHP Lincoln Henzman (2017)
FR RHP Kade McClure (2017)
FR C/1B Colby Fritch (2017)

Miami

JR 3B/1B David Thompson (2015)
JR 3B/OF George Iskenderian (2015)
SR C Garrett Kennedy (2015)
rSO 1B/OF Chris Barr (2015)
JR OF Ricky Eusebio (2015)
JR SS/RHP Brandon Lopez (2015)
rJR LHP Andrew Suarez (2015)
JR LHP Thomas Woodrey (2015)
JR RHP Enrique Sosa (2015)
SO 1B/C Zack Collins (2016)
SO OF Willie Abreu (2016)
SO RHP/1B Derik Beauprez (2016)
SO OF Jacob Heyward (2016)
SO LHP Danny Garcia (2016)
SO RHP Bryan Garcia (2016)
SO SS Sebastian Diaz (2016)
SO 2B Johnny Ruiz (2016)
SO RHP Cooper Hammond (2016)
rFR RHP Andy Honiotes (2016)
FR OF Carl Chester (2017)
FR OF Justin Smith (2017)
FR LHP Michael Mediavilla (2017)
FR RHP Jesse Lepore (2017)
FR RHP Keven Pimentel (2017)
FR LHP Luke Spangler (2017)
FR RHP Devin Meyer (2017)

North Carolina

SR RHP Benton Moss (2015)
JR RHP Reilly Hovis (2015)
JR RHP Trent Thornton (2015)
rJR RHP Chris McCue (2015)
SR RHP Trevor Kelley (2015)
JR RHP Taylore Cherry (2015)
JR OF Skye Bolt (2015)
JR OF Josh Merrigan (2015)
JR 3B/2B Landon Lassiter (2015)
JR C Korey Dunbar (2015)
JR SS/OF Alex Raburn (2015)
SO RHP/SS Spencer Trayner (2016)
SO RHP AJ Bogucki (2016)
SO RHP Zac Gallen (2016)
SO LHP Zach Rice (2016)
SO C Adrian Chacon (2016)
SO 1B Joe Dudek (2016)
SO 2B/SS Wood Myers (2016)
SO OF Tyler Ramirez (2016)
SO OF Adam Pate (2016)
FR 3B/RHP Ryder Ryan (2016)
FR 1B/LHP Hunter Williams (2017)
FR SS/3B Zack Gahagan (2017)
FR RHP JB Bukauskas (2017)
FR RHP Hansen Butler (2017)
FR RHP Jason Morgan (2017)
FR OF/2B Logan Warmoth (2017)
FR RHP Brett Daniels (2017)
FR INF Brooks Kennedy (2017)

North Carolina State

JR RHP Jon Olczak (2015)
JR RHP Curt Britt (2015)
rJR LHP Travis Orwig (2015)
JR RHP Karl Keglovits (2015)
JR LHP Brad Stone (2015)
rSO RHP Johnny Piedmonte (2015)
SR OF Jake Fincher (2015)
JR SS Ryne Willard (2015)
SR OF Bubby Riley (2015)
SR 2B/3B Logan Ratledge (2015)
SR 1B/OF Jake Armstrong (2015)
JR C Chance Shepard (2015)
SO RHP Cory Wilder (2016)
SO 3B Andrew Knizner (2016)
SO OF Garrett Suggs (2016)
SO 1B Preston Palmeiro (2016)
SO RHP Joe O’Donnell (2016)
SO LHP Ryan Williamson (2016)
SO LHP Cody Beckman (2016)
FR RHP/INF Tommy DeJuneas (2017)
FR RHP Evan Mendoza (2017)
FR OF Storm Edwards (2017)
FR 3B Joe Dunand (2017)

Notre Dame

rSR RHP Cristian Torres (2015)
JR RHP Nick McCarty (2015)
SR RHP Scott Kerrigan (2015)
JR RHP David Hearne (2015)
JR LHP Michael Hearne (2015)
JR LHP/OF Zac Kutsulis (2015)
SR OF/LHP Robert Youngdahl (2015)
SR 3B Phil Mosey (2015)
SR OF/1B Ryan Bull (2015)
SR OF Mac Hudgins (2015)
SR OF Blaise Lezynski (2015)
SR OF Conor Biggio (2015)
JR SS Lane Richards (2015)
JR C/OF Ricky Sanchez (2015)
SO RHP Ryan Smoyer (2016)
SO 2B/SS Kyle Fiala (2016)
SO 2B/3B Cavan Biggio (2016)
SO C Ryan Lidge (2016)
rFR OF Torii Hunter (2016)
FR RHP Peter Solomon (2017)
FR RHP Brad Bass (2017)
FR RHP Brandon Bielak (2017)
FR LHP Sean Guenther (2017)

Pittsburgh

SR OF Boo Vazquez (2015)
SR 1B Eric Hess (2015)
SR SS/2B Matt Johnson (2015)
JR C Alex Kowalczyk (2015)
JR RHP Marc Berube (2015)
JR RHP Aaron Sandefur (2015)
JR LHP/OF Aaron Schnurbusch (2015)
SR RHP Hobie Harris (2015)
SO RHP Sam Mersing (2016)
SO RHP TJ Zeuch (2016)
FR 3B/SS Charles LeBlanc (2017)

Virginia

JR OF Joe McCarthy (2015)
JR 2B/3B John LaPrise (2015)
SO SS/3B Daniel Pinero (2015)
SR 3B Kenny Towns (2015)
JR C/RHP Robbie Coman (2015)
JR LHP Brandon Waddell (2015)
JR LHP Nathan Kirby (2015)
JR RHP Josh Sborz (2015)
JR LHP David Rosenberger (2015)
SO RHP Connor Jones (2016)
SO C Matt Thaiss (2016)
SO RHP Jack Roberts (2016)
SO RHP Alec Bettinger (2016)
FR 2B Jack Gerstenmaier (2017)
FR 1B/RHP Pavin Smith (2017)
FR RHP Derek Casey (2017)
FR RHP Tommy Doyle (2017)
FR OF/LHP Adam Haseley (2017)
FR LHP Bennett Sousa (2017)
FR 3B Charlie Cody (2017)
FR C/2B Justin Novak (2017)
FR OF Christian Lowry (2017)
FR 2B/OF Ernie Clement (2017)

Virginia Tech

rSO OF Saige Jenco (2015)
SR 2B/SS Alex Perez (2015)
rSR OF Kyle Wernicki (2015)
rJR OF Logan Bible (2015)
SR 1B/RHP Brendon Hayden (2015)
rSO 1B/LHP Phil Sciretta (2015)
SR LHP/1B Sean Keselica (2015)
rSO LHP Kit Scheetz (2015)
rJR LHP Jon Woodcock (2015)
SO RHP Luke Scherzer (2016)
SO SS Ricky Surum (2016)
SO RHP Aaron McGarity (2016)
SO 3B Ryan Tufts (2016)
SO OF/LHP Tom Stoffel (2016)
SO 3B/OF Miguel Ceballos (2016)
SO RHP Ryan Lauria (2016)
FR C Joe Freiday (2017)
FR 3B Max Ponzurik (2017)

Wake Forest

JR RHP/C Garrett Kelly (2015)
SR RHP Matt Pirro (2015)
rSO LHP Max Tishman (2015)
rJR RHP Aaron Fossas (2015)
rSR OF Kevin Jordan (2015)
JR OF/2B Joey Rodriguez (2015)
JR OF Luke Czajkowski (2015)
SO C Ben Breazeale (2016)
rFR RHP Chris Farish (2016)
SO 2B/OF Nate Mondou (2016)
SO 3B/RHP Will Craig (2016)
SO RHP John McCarren (2016)
SO RHP Connor Johnstone (2016)
SO RHP Parker Dunshee (2016)
FR OF Stuart Fairchild (2017)
FR INF Bruce Steel (2017)
FR 1B Gavin Sheets (2017)
FR SS Drew Freedman (2017)

2015 MLB Draft Prospects – Pittsburgh

SR OF Boo Vazquez (2015)
SR 1B Eric Hess (2015)
SR SS/2B Matt Johnson (2015)
SR RHP Hobie Harris (2015)
SO RHP Sam Mersing (2016)
SO RHP TJ Zeuch (2016)
FR 3B/SS Charles LeBlanc (2017)

Sometimes laziness can work to one’s benefit. If I had written similar college previews last year, I’m quite sure I would have championed SR OF Boo Vazquez as a breakout player to watch and a potential sleeper top ten round pick. He’s a big, strong corner outfielder (6-4, 215) with serious raw power, a strong arm, and decent speed. If I had written this last year, I would have been all-in after a .312/.405/.412 park/schedule adjusted season with more walks (27) than strikeouts (22) in 199 AB, all signs of growth after a really strong freshman year. Last year, however, Vazquez saw his number take a hit against the board. His still respectable .246/.312/.400 is nowhere near bad enough to have me jumping off the bandwagon, especially considering the consistency of which he’s shown his tools over his three years in school, so maybe my laziness isn’t as useful a virtue as I’d like to think. Perhaps my stubbornness — once I like a player, it takes an awful lot for me to turn on him — is the bigger flaw at work here. Vazquez’s relative struggles when many (like me) expected him to take off did play a part in dimming his draft prospects, but not so much that anybody is counting him out. There’s still time for him to turn it back around. The tools remain and the makeup gets high grades from all those who know him well. His composite raw college numbers (.302/.381/.427 with 64 BB and 78 K in 553 AB) are another point in his favor. Add it all up and you still have a prospect worthy of top fifteen round consideration. If anything, the decision to return to school could help his draft profile — though likely not his wallet — if a team hones in on him as an affordable senior sign target in rounds eight, nine, or ten. He’s Pittsburgh’s best 2015 prospect by a long shot and arguably one of the top ten returning bats in the conference. I can’t put him above DJ Stewart, Joe McCarthy, or Skye Bolt in the completely unimportant and entirely in my head All-Prospect ACC team, but he’s on the cusp.

(Did I start writing this with the premise that I overrated Vazquez coming into last year in mind? Yes. Did I wind up convincing myself in the process of writing the preceding paragraph that the expected breakout for Vazquez that didn’t come last year — when I was spared the public forum of predicting said unfulfilled breakout — might actually come this year, consequently opening myself up to the very same public ridicule (as if anybody really cared what I wrote, but let’s pretend) I avoided last year? Yes. I’m not a smart man.)