Archive for 2019 MLB Draft

Prospect Dispatch: Two New Jersey High School Prospects

Since the inception of the MLB Draft in 1965, there have never been two players drafted in the first round from the same high school in the Northeast in the same draft class. Jack Leiter and Anthony Volpe, both senior Vanderbilt commits at Delbarton School in Morristown, New Jersey, have the potential to change that this year. I watched Delbarton face off against Red Bank Catholic High School on Saturday afternoon along with several dozen scouts. What follows are my takeaways from their respective performances in the game.

Jack Leiter, RHP
Current 2019 Draft Ranking: 28

Leiter is, as you might have extrapolated from his last name, the son of the former major leaguer Al Leiter, who accumulated nearly 2,400 career innings pitched and a total of 36.5 WAR across 19 seasons. Al’s brother, Mark, also pitched in the big leagues for 11 years, and Mark’s son, Mark, Jr., debuted with the Phillies in 2017. Jack’s performance on Saturday showed a glimpse of the potential that suggests he could one day join his dad, uncle, and cousin in a big league uniform.

Leiter stands at 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, with a fairly slim frame and well-distributed strength. I wouldn’t describe him as slight, but he’s relatively average-sized and doesn’t have a build you’d typically expect out of a high school right-handed pitching prospect. Leiter’s arm action and delivery are amongst the best I’ve seen from a high school prospect. He has a simple, uptempo delivery, delivering the ball from a high three-quarter slot with above average arm speed, and he stays on line with the plate very well. He has a medium length arm swing with a loose, easy path and is on time throughout his delivery. There is some stiffness on his front leg during his follow-through, but this isn’t a concern for me, as it occurs after release. Everything works in-sync and fluidly together, and he repeats his delivery extremely well for any prospect, especially one in high school.

Throughout the outing, Leiter showed flashes of a legitimate three pitch mix. He came out of the gates hot, touching 96 early and sitting 92-95 for the first three innings. His higher slot generated more plane than angle and he’ll likely look to work with more four-seamers than two-seamers long term because of it. His calling card is his curveball, a big breaking 74-77 mph downer that flashes plus. He spins the ball well, generating good tilt and depth to the pitch and enabling himself to miss bats below the zone.

Also a part of his arsenal was a slider, which worked 84-85, that he broke out a bit more often as the game went on. The slider is fringy, working between a 40- and 45- grade, as it had true shape but sort of rolled out of the hand. I do think it’ll be a nice supplement to the arsenal long-term, but I don’t think it has a chance to be anything better than average at best and will likely stay a supplementary offering. Leiter didn’t throw any changeups in game but threw several in warmups and showed some feel to command the pitch, although he did slow his arm down to throw it. Given the ease with which he throws and his consistent delivery, I would have no issue projecting a changeup of similar quality to his slider in his pitch mix long-term, which would round out a solid four-pitch mix for a starting pitcher.

All of the above information would place Leiter firmly in the first round of the draft as a right-handed pitcher showing two plus pitches and with a chance to stay as a starter long-term. The main issues I have in projecting him highly are his build and his age, which are, in some ways, connected. Leiter’s velocity tapered in the fourth inning of his outing and while he finished with 11 strikeouts in five innings, the opposing Red Bank Catholic lineup strung together some decent contact in the latter two frames of his outing. His fastball velocity was 88-92 for those two innings and his curveball, while still showing quality depth, did not flash plus like it had in the early innings. Leiter’s fastball doesn’t play any higher than its true velocity and as it tapered, it became more difficult for him to miss bats.

A high school pitcher’s velocity falling off is not a concern in and of itself. In fact, it’s fairly common. Leiter’s average size, however, could lead to some concerns long term about his durability or his ability to maintain effectiveness without mid-90s velocity. That, combined with the fact that Leiter will be 19-years-old at the time of the draft and will ostensibly be a year ahead of his 18-year-old peers developmentally, could lead some teams to shy away from him. The demographic of high school right-handed pitchers has not been great historically, and when you combine that with the fact that this particular pitcher is of average size and is older than his peers, it will likely lead to reservations in draft rooms.

With that being said, Leiter’s delivery and his stuff speaks for itself. He’s clearly talented enough to be a first round selection as a potential No. 4 or No. 5 starter long-term – with a mid-90s fastball, a curveball that flashes plus, a usable slider, and a plus delivery – and I think a team will take a chance on him. Leiter’s talent puts him in the back end of the first round typically, and I could see a team selecting him there or at some point in rounds two through four for what is the equivalent of late first round money.

Anthony Volpe, SS
Current 2019 Draft Ranking: 33

Volpe has long been a mainstay at the highest profile amateur baseball venues, playing for Team USA in Taiwan at 12-years-old and participating in several dozen showcase and tournament events in high school, including last year’s Perfect Game and Under Armour All-American games at Petco Park and Wrigley Field, respectively. His experience is evident on the field – Volpe shows plus feel to play on both sides of the ball, which helps to elevate his game above his collection of relatively average tools.

A right-handed hitting shortstop, Volpe is short and muscular, with especially strong legs and a lively look to his frame. He’s a good athlete who moves around the dirt well, showing average range and an average arm with instincts that might enable him to play slightly above those. He has good hands and takes very good angles to balls, seemingly never fielding an in-between hop and doing a good job getting around and fielding the ball. I think he has a chance to be average at shortstop and could provide good utility value moving around the dirt to both second base and third base long-term.

Offensively, Volpe hits from a spread stance with high hands, even with the pitcher. He’s compact to the ball and is an aggressive hitter who showed a pretty good approach at the plate, looking to drive the ball to the gaps. He is a 55 runner who runs hard and takes good angles around the bases. His swing – compact and consistent — showcases both fringy quickness and bat speed. He really pinches his hands in and artificially gets his bat on plane (think J.D. Martinez from gather to contact, and not Alex Bregman). This isn’t necessarily an issue, but Volpe has 40-grade raw power and is already relatively mature physically.

This type of swing path – one that pulls the hands in and then drives the barrel downward into the hitting plane and pushes it through with the hands – typically leads to an opposite field-heavy approach. Someone like the aforementioned Martinez, who artificially gets on plane, overcomes suboptimal contact points because he’s so strong. In 2017 and 2018, Martinez’s average exit velocity and launch angle to right field were 92.6 mph and 25.3 degrees, respectively, and he hit 54.6% of batted balls to right field at above 95 mph. It’s extremely difficult to imagine Volpe impacting the ball that much and with that much regularity long term.

Volpe showed his feel to hit and his opposite field approach on Saturday by driving a line drive to right center field for a home run, although the right center field fence was just 330 feet away so this ball would have likely been a double or a triple on most fields. My concern is not with his ability to make contact or his ability to hit the ball to right field; it’s with his ability to drive the ball with power and pull the ball consistently. I can see an average hit tool long-term due to the feel to hit and pitch recognition skills, but the lack of power and the artificial nature with which his barrel gets to the zone concern me with respect to his ability to drive the ball consistently.

Of course, none of the above concerns mean that a swing like Volpe’s isn’t fixable. He’s been lauded in the industry for his baseball IQ and showed nothing on Saturday to make me reach a different conclusion, so there is the possibility that he can make adjustments to his swing and drive the ball more consistently. And regardless, this is a well-rounded high school infielder with a high baseball IQ, a chance to stay at shortstop, and average hit tool potential. That’s an intriguing profile, and one that doesn’t last beyond the first few rounds of the draft, as there is bat-to-ball and utility value in the profile. His lack of a plus tool and the uncertainty about his ability to hit for better than 40-grade power push him into more second or third round contention for me, but I could see a team who values versatility and strong contact skills taking him a little higher than that and letting their minor league hitting coaches get to work.

Updating Our Draft Rankings

Once again, we’ve done a refresh of all of our draft rankings. They get tweaked multiple times per week in subtle ways, but every few weeks they need a larger overhaul when there are over a dozen guys who have moved around in the key spots. That’s what happened this weekend. We reset the trend arrows a few days ago to clean things up a bit visually. Here are some notes on where we stand now:

  • There is now a level of comfort amongst scouts with the hierarchy of college pitching in this year’s draft. TCU LHP Nick Lodolo is the consensus number one, West Virginia RHP Alek Manoah is the consensus number two, and Elon RHP George Kirby is most scouts’ third choice. Some scouts have Kentucky LHP Zack Thompson third, but he’s had durability issues dating back to high school, so when his medicals come out, he could go anywhere from 10th to 40th.
  • As for high school pitching, it’s a big more muddled. I’m heading out tonight to see the guy who most feel is the best prep pitcher in the draft, Florida prep RHP Matthew Allan. Behind him, most scouts have another Florida prep RHP (whom I’ll see Friday), Brennan Malone. Illinois prep RHP Quinn Priester’s area kicks off a bit later than the Sunshine State but some scouts had him up to 97 mph in his last start, so he may jump into that top tier with Allan and Malone after another couple starts. New Jersey prep RHP (and son of Al) Jack Leiter was good in front of lots of heat last week at NHSI, and he’s probably next in the pecking order, with months of speculation that it’ll take $3 million or more to keep him from going to Vanderbilt. This, along with the varied rankings of prep pitching from team to team, likely makes him a target for an overslot bonus later in the first round by a club with multiple picks (similar to how the Cardinals landed Jack Flaherty).
  • Some preferences in the early picks are becoming clearer. It still seems like Adley Rutschman at one (Orioles) and Andrew Vaughn at two (Royals) are the two easier ones to project with what we know at this point (the full draft order and slots can be found here). Rutschman’s lead at the top spot is still significant, so it would take a major injury or an uglier-than-expected medical to make Vaughn a real option at the first pick for Baltimore. The buzz is that the White Sox are leaning heavily to college prospects for the third pick, with Nick Lodolo in the mix along with the next tier of college hitters, which can be ranked any way at this point (UNLV SS Bryson Stott, North Carolina 1B Michael Busch, Vanderbilt RF J.J. Bleday, Arizona State LF Hunter Bishop, Missouri RF Kameron Misner is the way we have them lined up right now). There’s similar buzz that Miami is also looking hard at college options and that Lodolo is in their mix. Things get a bit hazier beyond that and also depend on the picks at three and four. The general feeling is that this top 10 isn’t strong enough to make every club just take the best player available, so there’s some chatter that clubs picking outside the top five may take a money saver with the first pick and move that money to float a prep prospect to their second pick. That strategy may be more fraught than normal this year with Arizona in possession of a $16 million bonus pool and set to pick 16th, 26th, 33rd, and 34th.
  • We’re up to 271 total players in the 2019 list now and we’re adding to the 2020 and 2021 lists weekly. We also have a handful of 2022 prep names ready for when the unsigned 2019 prep players join that class as college players. I’m starting a Florida swing this week and should see all of the potential first rounders in the state along with a couple Florida State League games. Last weekend, I saw Nasim Nunez, Louisville/Clemson, UNC/Georgia Tech, UNC Wilmington/Kennesaw State, Georgia/Vanderbilt, and a Triple-A game between the Braves and Orioles affiliates. Eric is running around the Pacific Northwest and he’s always bouncing around the backfields and local amateur games back in Arizona. We’ve got new Sony high speed cameras, so stay tuned to the FanGraphs Youtube page (Mackenzie Gore or Ryan Jensen) and Instagram account (Austin Riley or Michael Busch) to see what we’ve been seeing on the pro and amateur end of things, likely at 960 frames per second.
  • Georgia has seemed like it was on the verge of being a top tier program for decades, with all kinds of built-in advantages, and now it appears to be coming together. The 2020 group is strong, headlined by the top two pitchers in the class (RHP Emerson Hancock and Cole Wilcox) along with the Saturday starter (LHP C.J. Smith), and the 2019 class also has a potential first day headliner (3B Aaron Schunk) along with solid day two depth pieces (RHPs Tony Locey and Tim Elliott, SS Cam Shepherd). The top tier SEC programs (LSU, Vanderbilt, Florida have been the top tier recently) often have more than a half dozen top 5-7 round prospects for the next two drafts, a strong freshman class, and a strong high school senior crop. Georgia is joining a number of other strong programs (Arkansas, Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Auburn) in challenging for an extended stay in the top tier, and some would argue a few of those already have.
  • Along those lines, Miami hasn’t broken through yet, but has a very strong 2020 class with five players (SS Freddy Zamora, 3B Raymond Gil, 1B Alex Toral, RHPs Slade Cecconi and Chris McMahon) on THE BOARD, while only being slated to lose one player who’s on the 2019 list (RHP Evan McKendry).

2019 MLB Draft Signing Bonus Pool and Pick Values

We got a hold of the bonus slot values and, it follows, each team’s total pool amount for the upcoming 2019 MLB Draft. The PDF we acquired from an industry source was missing Washington’s comp pick for Bryce Harper at 138 overall, so we added that and manually recalculated each team’s pool total (which were incorrect on the PDF because of this missing pick).

(Update: After receiving additional clarification, it appears that Washington will not receive a comp pick for Harper; the pick that would have received as Harper compensation became the pick they gave up to sign Patrick Corbin.)

What follows is, first, the total draft bonus pool amounts for all thirty teams, followed by the individual slot values for each pick in the first ten rounds of the draft. Picks labeled “COMP” are compensatory selections for players lost via free agency or from last year’s unsigned draft picks. Picks labeled “CBA” or “CBB” are competitive balance picks (rounds A and B) allocated to teams in the spirit of parity. These can be traded, and several have been. In both the compensatory and traded competitive balance picks, we note the players for which the picks were received. The tables here will be updated if competitive balance picks change hands or if teams receive comp for a yet-to-sign free agent who received a qualifying offer, like Dallas Keuchel or Craig Kimbrel.

2019 Draft Bonus Pools
Team Aggregate Bonus Pool
ARI $16,093,700
BAL $13,821,300
KC $13,108,000
MIA $13,045,000
CWS $11,565,500
ATL $11,532,200
TEX $11,023,100
SD $10,758,900
DET $10,402,500
TB $10,333,800
PIT $9,944,000
MIN $9,905,800
CIN $9,528,600
SF $8,714,500
TOR $8,463,300
NYM $8,224,600
LAD $8,069,100
LAA $7,608,700
SEA $7,559,000
NYY $7,455,300
COL $7,092,300
STL $6,903,500
PHI $6,475,800
CLE $6,148,100
WSH $5,979,600
CHI $5,826,900
OAK $5,605,900
HOU $5,355,100
MIL $5,148,200
BOS $4,788,100

2019 Draft Signing Bonus Slot Values
Overall Pick Round Team Slot Amount
1 1 BAL $8,415,300
2 1 KC $7,789,900
3 1 CWS $7,221,200
4 1 MIA $6,664,000
5 1 DET $6,180,700
6 1 SD $5,742,900
7 1 CIN $5,432,400
8 1 TEX $5,176,900
9 COMP (Carter Stewart) ATL $4,949,100
10 1 SF $4,739,900
11 1 TOR $4,547,500
12 1 NYM $4,366,400
13 1 MIN $4,197,300
14 1 PHI $4,036,800
15 1 LAA $3,885,800
16 1 ARI $3,745,500
17 1 WSH $3,609,700
18 1 PIT $3,481,300
19 1 STL $3,359,000
20 1 SEA $3,242,900
21 1 ATL $3,132,300
22 1 TB $3,027,000
23 1 COL $2,926,800
24 1 CLE $2,831,300
25 1 LAD $2,740,300
26 COMP (Matt McLain) ARI $2,653,400
27 1 CHI $2,570,100
28 1 MIL $2,493,900
29 1 OAK $2,424,600
30 1 NYY $2,365,500
31 COMP (J.T. Ginn) LAD $2,312,000
32 1 HOU $2,257,300
33 COMP (Patrick Corbin) ARI $2,202,200
34 COMP (A.J. Pollock) ARI $2,148,100
35 CBA MIA $2,095,800
36 CBA TB $2,045,400
37 COMP (Gunnar Hoglund) PIT $1,999,300
38 CBA (via CIN, Sonny Gray trade) NYY $1,952,300
39 CBA MIN $1,906,800
40 CBA (via OAK, Jurikson Profar trade) TB $1,856,700
41 CBA (via MIL, Alex Claudio trade) TEX $1,813,500
42 2 BAL $1,771,100
43 1 (tax threshold penalty) BOS $1,729,800
44 2 KC $1,689,500
45 2 CWS $1,650,200
46 2 MIA $1,617,400
47 2 DET $1,580,200
48 2 SD $1,543,600
49 2 CIN $1,507,600
50 2 TEX $1,469,900
51 2 SF $1,436,900
52 2 TOR $1,403,200
53 2 NYM $1,370,400
54 2 MIN $1,338,500
55 2 LAA $1,307,000
56 2 ARI $1,276,400
57 2 PIT $1,243,600
58 2 STL $1,214,300
59 2 SEA $1,185,500
60 2 ATL $1,157,400
61 2 TB $1,129,700
62 2 COL $1,102,700
63 2 CLE $1,076,300
64 2 CHI $1,050,300
65 2 MIL $1,025,100
66 2 OAK $1,003,300
67 2 NYY $976,700
68 2 HOU $953,100
69 2 BOS $929,800
70 CBB KC $906,800
71 CBB BAL $884,200
72 CBB PIT $870,700
73 CBB SD $857,400
74 CBB ARI $844,200
75 CBB (via STL, Paul Goldschmidt trade) ARI $831,100
76 CBB (via CLE, Carlos Santana trade) SEA $818,200
77 CBB COL $805,600
78 COMP (Yasmani Grandal) LAD $793,000
79 3 BAL $780,400
80 3 KC $767,800
81 3 CWS $755,300
82 3 MIA $744,200
83 3 DET $733,100
84 3 SD $721,900
85 3 CIN $710,700
86 3 TEX $699,700
87 3 SF $689,300
88 3 TOR $678,600
89 3 NYM $667,900
90 3 MIN $657,600
91 3 PHI $647,300
92 3 LAA $637,600
93 3 ARI $627,900
94 3 WSH $618,200
95 3 PIT $610,800
96 3 STL $604,800
97 3 SEA $599,100
98 3 ATL $593,100
99 3 TB $587,400
100 3 COL $581,600
101 3 CLE $577,000
102 3 LAD $571,400
103 3 CHI $565,600
104 3 OAK $560,000
105 3 NYY $554,300
106 3 HOU $549,000
107 3 BOS $543,500
108 4 BAL $538,200
109 4 KC $533,000
110 4 CWS $527,800
111 4 MIA $522,600
112 4 DET $517,400
113 4 SD $512,400
114 4 CIN $507,400
115 4 TEX $502,300
116 4 SF $497,500
117 4 TOR $492,700
118 4 NYM $487,900
119 4 MIN $483,000
120 4 PHI $478,300
121 4 LAA $473,700
122 4 ARI $469,000
123 4 WSH $464,500
124 4 PIT $460,000
125 4 STL $455,600
126 4 SEA $451,800
127 4 ATL $447,400
128 4 TB $442,900
129 4 COL $438,700
130 4 CLE $434,300
131 4 LAD $430,800
132 4 CHI $426,600
133 4 MIL $422,300
134 4 OAK $418,200
135 4 NYY $414,000
136 4 HOU $410,100
137 4 BOS $406,000
138 5 BAL $402,000
139 5 KC $398,000
140 5 CWS $394,300
141 5 MIA $390,400
142 5 DET $386,600
143 5 SD $382,700
144 5 CIN $379,000
145 5 TEX $375,200
146 5 SF $371,600
147 5 TOR $367,900
148 5 NYM $364,400
149 5 MIN $360,800
150 5 PHI $357,100
151 5 LAA $353,700
152 5 ARI $350,300
153 5 WSH $346,800
154 5 PIT $343,400
155 5 STL $340,000
156 5 SEA $336,600
157 5 ATL $333,300
158 5 TB $330,100
159 5 COL $327,200
160 5 CLE $324,100
161 5 LAD $321,100
162 5 CHI $318,200
163 5 MIL $315,400
164 5 OAK $312,400
165 5 NYY $309,500
166 5 HOU $306,800
167 5 BOS $304,200
168 6 BAL $301,600
169 6 KC $299,000
170 6 CWS $296,400
171 6 MIA $293,800
172 6 DET $291,400
173 6 SD $289,000
174 6 CIN $286,500
175 6 TEX $284,200
176 6 SF $281,800
177 6 TOR $279,500
178 6 NYM $277,100
179 6 MIN $274,800
180 6 PHI $272,500
181 6 LAA $270,300
182 6 ARI $268,200
183 6 WSH $266,000
184 6 PIT $263,700
185 6 STL $261,600
186 6 SEA $259,400
187 6 ATL $257,400
188 6 TB $255,300
189 6 COL $253,300
190 6 CLE $251,100
191 6 LAD $249,000
192 6 CHI $247,000
193 6 MIL $244,900
194 6 OAK $243,000
195 6 NYY $241,000
196 6 HOU $239,000
197 6 BOS $237,000
198 7 BAL $235,100
199 7 KC $233,000
200 7 CWS $231,100
201 7 MIA $229,700
202 7 DET $227,700
203 7 SD $225,800
204 7 CIN $224,000
205 7 TEX $222,100
206 7 SF $220,200
207 7 TOR $218,500
208 7 NYM $216,600
209 7 MIN $214,900
210 7 PHI $213,300
211 7 LAA $211,500
212 7 ARI $209,800
213 7 WSH $208,200
214 7 PIT $206,500
215 7 STL $204,800
216 7 SEA $203,400
217 7 ATL $201,600
218 7 TB $200,100
219 7 COL $198,500
220 7 CLE $197,300
221 7 LAD $195,700
222 7 CHI $194,400
223 7 MIL $192,900
224 7 OAK $191,500
225 7 NYY $190,100
226 7 HOU $188,900
227 7 BOS $187,700
228 8 BAL $186,300
229 8 KC $184,700
230 8 CWS $183,700
231 8 MIA $182,300
232 8 DET $181,200
233 8 SD $179,800
234 8 CIN $178,600
235 8 TEX $177,400
236 8 SF $176,300
237 8 TOR $175,000
238 8 NYM $174,000
239 8 MIN $173,000
240 8 PHI $172,100
241 8 LAA $171,200
242 8 ARI $170,300
243 8 WSH $169,500
244 8 PIT $168,500
245 8 STL $167,800
246 8 SEA $167,000
247 8 ATL $166,100
248 8 TB $165,400
249 8 COL $164,700
250 8 CLE $163,900
251 8 LAD $163,400
252 8 CHI $162,700
253 8 MIL $162,000
254 8 OAK $161,400
255 8 NYY $160,800
256 8 HOU $160,300
257 8 BOS $159,700
258 9 BAL $159,200
259 9 KC $158,600
260 9 CWS $158,100
261 9 MIA $157,600
262 9 DET $157,200
263 9 SD $156,600
264 9 CIN $156,100
265 9 TEX $155,800
266 9 SF $155,300
267 9 TOR $154,900
268 9 NYM $154,600
269 9 MIN $154,100
270 9 PHI $153,600
271 9 LAA $153,300
272 9 ARI $152,900
273 9 WSH $152,600
274 9 PIT $152,300
275 9 STL $152,000
276 9 SEA $151,600
277 9 ATL $151,300
278 9 TB $150,800
279 9 COL $150,500
280 9 CLE $150,300
281 9 LAD $150,100
282 9 CHI $149,800
283 9 MIL $149,500
284 9 OAK $149,300
285 9 NYY $148,900
286 9 HOU $148,400
287 9 BOS $148,200
288 10 BAL $147,900
289 10 KC $147,700
290 10 CWS $147,400
291 10 MIA $147,200
292 10 DET $147,000
293 10 SD $146,800
294 10 CIN $146,300
295 10 TEX $146,100
296 10 SF $145,700
297 10 TOR $145,500
298 10 NYM $145,300
299 10 MIN $145,000
300 10 PHI $144,800
301 10 LAA $144,600
302 10 ARI $144,400
303 10 WSH $144,100
304 10 PIT $143,900
305 10 STL $143,600
306 10 SEA $143,500
307 10 ATL $143,200
308 10 TB $143,000
309 10 COL $142,700
310 10 CLE $142,500
311 10 LAD $142,300
312 10 CHI $142,200
313 10 MIL $142,200
314 10 OAK $142,200
315 10 NYY $142,200
316 10 HOU $142,200
317 10 BOS $142,200

More 2019 Draft Rankings Updates

Eric and I didn’t think that there would be weekly updates for the draft side of THE BOARD this early, but the information keeps rolling in. The latest updates are almost all 2019 in nature, though 2020 prep LHP Lucas Gordon was added and 2021 Florida State RF Robby Martin continues to rise. More players have been added to the others of note section at the bottom of the 2019 rankings, pushing us to well over 200 players total, but here are some notes on the ranked portion of the 2019 list:

  • Andrew Vaughn is now solidly No. 2 on the list and we’ve added a Top 100 ranking for him (52nd, just behind Mets 1B Peter Alonso). Vaughn has a little less raw power than Alonso, but the hit tool, frame, and defense are all superior, to go along with Vaughn being younger and also having comparable-to-better pitch selection. We still have Oregon State C Adley Rutschman solidly at No. 1 and well ahead of Vaughn (Rutschman would be 17th on the top 100), but catchers’ development paths are notoriously non-linear, so there is a little more uncertainty with Rutschman.
  • We were the high guys on UNLV SS Bryson Stott after a down summer because we saw him dominate in the previous spring. That faith has been rewarded with Stott’s hot start, so he’s stayed steady on our board at No. 5, just behind the top four players, though he’s rising for some in the industry with less history. There’s a similar story for Orlando-area prep RF Riley Greene, who showed more swing and miss late in the summer for some scouts, but has been blazing hot early and has an improved physique. He’s rising for many scouts but doesn’t have much further up to go for us.
  • The second tier of college bats behind Rutschman, Vaughn, and Stott is coming into focus, with North Carolina LF Michael Busch and Texas Tech 3B Josh Jung holding their spots, UCLA 1B Michael Toglia falling dramatically, Baylor C Shea Langeliers breaking his hamate, and Missouri RF Kameron Misner joining Vanderbilt RF J.J. Bleday in taking their spots. Bleday and Misner both have the look of above average regulars, with Bleday having more hit tool and Misner with more raw power.
  • On my current trip, I saw Arizona State LF Hunter Bishop twice. He has been going insane at the plate. He’s now solidly in the first round, with a chance to move into the top half if he continues at this rate (.414/.534/.948, 8 HR in 15 games) because the tools are real (65 raw power, 60 speed). Tonight, I’ll see Houston-area prep RHP Matthew Thompson, who is trending up after a velo dip, and was 93-96 mph in his last start. Wednesday, I’m planning to see dual-sport prep CFs Maurice Hampton and Jerrion Ealy in a tournament in Biloxi, Mississippi, where Hampton hit a homer on his first swing of the season. On Thursday (crosses fingers), there’s a great triple-up back in Houston, with JuCo RHP Jackson Rutledge at 2 pm, popup prep RHP Josh Wolf at 5 pm, and Thompson’s teammate RHP J.J. Goss at 7 pm; all three are projected for the top 50 picks right now. Wolf isn’t a new name, but his velo has spiked and he’s now just behind Thompson and Goss in the Houston prep arm hierarchy.
  • Other risers of note include Georgia prep SS Nasim Nunez, California preps 3B Keoni Cavaco and SS Kyren Paris, and Louisville 1B Logan Wyatt. Nunez has continued performing and is now seen as a potential plus hitter, runner, defender, and thrower, so his stature and lack of power are less of a negative. Cavaco popped up in the last few weeks and is getting top-two round buzz thanks to average to above tools across the board. Paris is the youngest player on THE BOARD and, as you may guess, is developing physically later than his class peers, but just in time to rise up the rankings. Wyatt is a totally different type of player but is a draft model darling with performance, tons of walks, and low-end everyday first base tools.
  • Well-known collegiate arms like Kentucky LHP Zack Thompson and TCU LHP Nick Lodolo are ticking up just a bit, but we knew they would rank in the late first/comp round area if they performed well. Some popup college arms are making bigger jumps behind them: UAB RHP Graham Ashcraft, Butler RHP Ryan Pepiot, Ball State RHP Drey Jamison, and Xavier RHP Connor Grammes. Ashcraft has developed more feel since high school and post-Tommy John, and is now showing starter traits and huge spin rates on his fastball and curve. Pepiot has a chance to start and is into the mid-90s. Jamison flashes three plus pitches at times but is still learning to harness them. Grammes was very strong (94-97 touching 98 mph with occasional plus life, a 60-flashing slider, and decent strikes) for a few innings against Arizona State until Bishop took him deep. Grammes’ arm action likely limits him to relief, but he’s a fresh-armed conversion case.
  • Auburn 2B Edouard Julien was ruled eligible by MLB last week, after it appeared he wouldn’t be. On draft day, he’ll be a 20-year-old sophomore, but he had a post-grad year in Québec at age 18 that counts as a year beyond high school. With so few Québécois in college baseball, this situation hadn’t arisen much in the past. Julien has plus raw power and a late-count approach, but may be a 40-45 bat and is fringy in the infield, so could move to LF/1B.
  • Another interesting eligibility case came to light yesterday in Maine prep CF Tre Fletcher. He’s transferred high schools and is set to graduate this year, but MLB hasn’t ruled on his 2019 draft eligibility yet, though he’s expected to get that soon. Fletcher repeated 9th grade, so he would be back on track for a traditional prep career with a reclassification, with a near-class-average 18.1 age on 2019 draft day should he be eligible. It’s unclear if Fletcher is reclassifying just to get to Vanderbilt a year early or to also enter the draft process, but he’ll be a tough evaluation for scouts. He was nationally scouted over the summer, standing out for his tools at East Coast Pro, but scouts weren’t bearing down on him and he’ll face very weak competition that will start in mid-April in Maine, so there won’t be a ton of certainty around his hit tool. Fletcher is similar to Rays 2015 1st round pick CF Garrett Whitley in that he has a strong frame, plus bat and foot speed, above average power potential and some questions on his hit tool. Fletcher is a high variance, high-end 40 FV for us, likely in the 50s or 60s in the overall rankings if eligible, somewhere at the end of round two, until we can learn more.

Another Draft Rankings Update

It’s not as significant as the Week One update, but we have about another dozen or so players that have moved around since we last updated THE BOARD. Here are some quick notes covering the most notable movers in the 2019 list, with trend arrows for all of these names and more available on THE BOARD:

  • Texas Tech 3B Josh Jung and Vanderbilt RF J.J. Bleday both have some buzz in the industry as being in the mix to be the third-best college bat behind Oregon State C Adley Rutschman and Cal 1B Andrew Vaughn (both recent risers themselves); Jung and Bleday have moved up to reflect this. Bleday is off to a quick start and looks more athletic than he has in the past, while Jung is a hit-first type who could improve considerably with more loft in his swing in pro ball, but compares favorably to some recent top-10 overall college bats. Others college bats in that mix are UNLV SS Bryson Stott, North Carolina LF Michael Busch, and the big riser in the last update, Missouri RF Kameron Misner.
  • North Carolina State SS Will Wilson is also a rising player, as a potential 5 hit, 5 power middle infielder who likely ends up at second base. Some scouts see plus makeup and versatility with a chance that he may end up catching in pro ball and being an Austin Barnes or Will Smith type who can play every position on the field. Wilson’s polish, performance, and fit in today’s game could push him into the top 15 picks.
  • Clemson SS Logan Davidson and UNC-Wilmington SS Greg Jones each face questions about their hit tool, but Jones stays slightly ahead of Davidson because his upside is still much higher. On the flip side, Arizona State LF Hunter Bishop has 7 raw power and 6 speed and is hitting much better this year, so he’s rising until further notice.
  • Duke LHP Graeme Stinson looked like the clear top pitcher in the class when the college season was set to start, with scouts having confidence that his mid-90s fastball and 70 slider could transition to starting full-time. He’s performed well, but the velocity has kept creeping down — he was into the 80s this weekend — to the point where scouts are openly questioning if there’s an arm problem or if Stinson simply can’t start and needs to be seen as a reliever going forward. Even a worst-case scenario still has him in the top 30 picks or so, but his stock has dipped a good bit.

There was further movement lower in the rankings, and some light changes in the 2020 and 2021 classes. A few fun notes on those future classes — for instance, fourth-ranked 2020 prospect Georgia RHP Cole Wilcox was 95-99 mph this weekend after a tough college debut, Florida State 2021 RF Robby Martin has really impressed scouts early, and 2020 Mississippi State RHP J.T. Ginn is showing more starter traits than he did in high school — have been folded into the rankings, as well.

Updated 2019, 2020 and 2021 Draft Rankings on THE BOARD

We’ve updated our 2019 MLB Draft rankings in a big way, moving a couple dozen players after two weeks of games, expanding to list 200 players total, and adding trend arrows. We also made some slight tweaks to the 2020 and 2021 rankings. Here’s a quick rundown of what we saw and heard over the last few weeks to prompt us to move some players into the top half of the first round on the 2019 list:

1. Adley Rutschman, C, Oregon State
After Eric watched him go off again this weekend, we’ve upgraded him to a 60 FV and would have him right behind Keibert Ruiz at 16 on the Top 100. He’s creating more distance between himself and the field for the top pick.

2. C.J. Abrams, SS, Blessed Trinity HS (GA)
The next couple players behind Rutschman are still pretty tightly packed, but Abrams looks stronger (55 present raw power) and is still a 70 runner, though scouts are still split on his best long-term positional fit. He appears to be solidly in every club’s top five, and is now the industry consensus for the Royals at pick number two.

9. Kameron Misner, RF, Missouri
We had Misner in a “wait and see” bucket after he skipped the summer, and the early returns are very positive. Scouts who generally hadn’t seen him other than in scrimmage looks in the fall are dropping 70 raw power grades on him, and think he’ll work his way into the conversation for the best college bat behind Rutschman, with some clubs in the top 10 rumored to have him on their shortlist already, including the White Sox at three.

12. Shea Langliers, C, Baylor
Langliers broke his hamate bone and will miss a few weeks. He likely won’t show much game power before the draft, so he may slide even lower than this after the prospects rising behind him have a chance to string together a month of performance at their new levels.

14. George Kirby, RHP, Elon
Kirby dealt in his first outing, delivering on the first round rumors we heard entering the spring. The stuff is above to plus and there are starter traits present.

15. Matthew Allan, RHP, Seminole HS (FL)
We noted last week in print and on the podcast that Allan was up to 97 and flashed a plus curveball in his season debut.

Other Movers

Jackson Rutledge and Alek Manoah both look more starter-ish and have maintained their plus stuff. Graeme Stinson’s velo was down in his starting debut and scouts are concerned. Logan Davidson’s hit tool has always been a question and it still is. Michael Toglia was too passive in Kiley’s look this weekend and his righty swing leaves a lot to be desired. J.J. Bleday looks more athletic than some expected. Hunter Barco has a higher slot and firmer stuff. Seth Johnson was up to 98 mph in his season debut and many think he can start. Carter Stewart had a really rough start after a couple that were fine. J.J. Goss has had better velocity and consistency than teammate Matthew Thompson.

Hunter Bishop, Brett Baty and Rece Hinds have all hit more than expected and all have huge power; one likely ends up in the first round. Hunter Gaddis is generating buzz early, showing both above average stuff and feel. Brandon Williamson and Drey Jamison were mentioned last week in Eric’s Arizona looks as deserving of the Top 100; Grant Gambrell was the top new arm he saw this week. Tyler Dyson and Ryan Zeferjahn have both come out of the gate slowly; Dyson is joined in that regard by teammates Austin Langworthy and Wil Dalton. JuCo righty Orlando Ribalta has been up to 97 and shown starter traits, gaining steam with scouts despite not pitching last season.

Our Week 1 College Scouting Notes

The first weekend of the 2019 NCAA baseball season is in the books, and the two of us were out in Georgia and an uncharacteristically chilly Arizona to see players. Presented here is the first of what will be a periodic collection of notes from games we’ve seen, as well as some things we’ve learned over the phone. We plan on updating our draft rankings in a week, after we have two weeks of college games under our belts; many of the players whose stock has changed are noted below.

An Update on College Pitching
In last week’s pre-season draft ranking update, we maligned the depth of the college pitching in this year’s draft. While the first weekend wasn’t universally sunny for college hurlers (more on that below), there were some strong performances. The game most heavily-attended by scouts in Arizona was Stanford left-hander Erik Miller’s start on Sunday (5IP, 4H, 2BB, 9K). Miller was consistently in the mid-90s last summer on Cape Cod, but was walk-prone. Sunday, his fastball was 89-92 for the meat of his start, but he threw strikes and was reaching back for 93-95 when he wanted it, even in his final few innings. His vertical arm slot (if you were to imagine a clock face, Miller’s arm swings through the 1 o’clock position) generates efficient backspin direction on the baseball and also creates tough plane for hitters both at the top and bottom of the strike zone, and he can get outs simply by varying the vertical location of his heater.

Miller’s changeup is his best secondary. When trying to fade it away from right-handed hitters, it was fairly easy to identify out of his hand, but beneath the strike zone it was often plus. At 82-86 mph, it was just bottoming out beneath hitters’ barrels and into the dirt, garnering several ugly swings. The better of his two breaking balls is a firm, mid-80s cut-action slider. It doesn’t have the vertical depth typical of a bat-missing slider (again, if you imagine a clock face, his slider moves from the 2 to the 8), but Miller uses it in a variety of creative ways (for early-count strikes, back door vs. righties, away from lefties) and it’s consistently average, flashing above. His loopy, 80 mph curveball gives hitters a different look, and is best deployed as a first-pitch surprise to get ahead of hitters looking to cheat on his fastball.

As a quick comparison, Stanford lefty Kris Bubic was drafted 40th overall last year as a changeup-heavy lefty, and Miller is much better than Bubic was when Eric saw him last year. With a future plus change, above-average slider, and average everything else, Miller is off to a start befitting a first rounder.

Scouts indicated to us that Texas Christian LHP Nick Lodolo was throwing harder in the fall, and he was mostly 92-94 on Friday after sitting 88-92 in each of Eric’s looks last year. The fastball didn’t miss many bats, though, and while Lodolo held Cal State Fullerton in check for five innings, he only struck out two. His slurvy, upper-70s breaking ball was often plus and he has great feel for dotting it on the edge of the plate; otherwise his usage was fairly limited. He threw just two, maybe three changeups and all were below-average. Lodolo has a well-made frame similar to Tyler Glasnow’s. His delivery is very smooth, there’s a lot to like, and the lefty velo and spin combo is enticing, but there is more pitch development necessary here than is typical for a college arm.

Meanwhile, TCU lefty Brandon Williamson seems to have made the right decision by not signing as a 36th round junior college draftee last year. He struck out seven Vanderbilt hitters in 3.2 innings on Sunday, and utilized four good pitches to do so. He was up to 93 but mostly sat 89-90, and commanded all of his secondary stuff. It took him a while to get feel for his changeup but once he did, it was great, and Williamson sometimes threw it three times in a row without diminished effectiveness. It was 84-86 mph and had surprising tail given Williamson’s vertical arm slot. He has advanced command of an average, low-80s slider, gave hitters a different look with a slower curveball a few times, and threw any pitch in any count. He executed several unpredictable sequences, and fought back with secondary stuff a few times when he had fallen behind hitters. We don’t yet know if he can retain this kind of stuff deep into games, but what he showed Sunday was better than some of last year’s third round pitchability college arms.

West Virginia righty Alek Manoah started the season ranked 44th on our latest rankings but will be higher in the re-rank next week after a loud season debut vs. Kennesaw State. The report on Manoah coming into this game was that he didn’t have the starter traits needed to comfortably see him turning a lineup over multiple times, but flashed two plus pitches in his mid-90s heater and slider. There was also some thought that he may need to watch his weight. His body composition was strong and likely contributed to improved feel to go along with the same high octane stuff: he sat 95-97 mph and located a 65-grade slider, occasionally mixing in an average changeup over the first few innings.

Manoah still had some reliever tendencies but they didn’t seem like long-term issues. Kennesaw State couldn’t hit 94-97 mph up in the zone, so Manoah just kept throwing it there and getting results. In pro ball, he’ll need to mix it up more, but you can’t blame him for taking the shortest path to 13 K’s over 6 innings. He held his stuff, sitting 93-96 just before he exited the game, and while his fastball was more of a blunt instrument, he showed good feel for locating his slider for a strike on his arm side and burying it as a chase pitch to his glove side. His control was average to slightly above and you can project the command to average if you believe he can be more precise with his fastball when he needs to be. When Manoah got in trouble a couple times, he kept his composure and worked his way out of it. Chatting with scouts and comparing this new version of Manoah to other players we just ranked, it seems like he’ll move into the 20’s along with rising, massive college arms like Jackson Rutledge and Miller.

Ball State RHP Drey Jameson, a draft-eligible sophomore, didn’t allow a single hit over six innings against Stanford on opening night. He was up to 97, flashed a plus breaking ball, and threw a few good changeups in the 88-90mph range, including one that struck out possible first round outfielder Kyle Stowers. Jameson is wiry and a little undersized, but is very athletic, has feel for locating the breaking ball, and his delivery is pretty deceptive. He could go in the first round.

**Editor’s note: Drey Jameson was originally in the 2020 section of this article, but he is a 2019 Draft-eligible Sophomore due to his age (he’s 21 on draft day)**

Jameson was opposed by Stanford right-hander Brendan Beck, who arguably out-pitched Jameson with lesser stuff. Beck was a two-way player in high school and his velocity was in the mid-80s as a prep senior and during his freshman year at Stanford. It’s not 88-90, but he hides the ball well and has plus command of a late-breaking curveball. Some other arms to watch for 2020 are Cal State Fullerton righty Tanner Bibee (90-92, some above-average curveballs, unleashed a diving split change late in his start, threw a ton of strikes) Vanderbilt lefty Hugh Fisher (94-97 with cut action, some plus sliders), and Virginia righty Griff McGarry (was wild but 92-93, good arm action, flashed plus curveball, change, average slider).

We had first round grades on right-handers Kumar Rocker and Mike Vasil when they were draft-eligible high schoolers last year. Vasil ended up at Virginia, Rocker at Vanderbilt. They each had rocky first collegiate starts. Vasil pitched pretty well but his velocity is down. He was 88-92 with feel for locating several fringe secondaries. Rocker’s first bolt was 97, then he settled into the 93-95 range for the rest of the first inning, but got hit around. His breaking ball was also well-struck several times and his upper-80s changeup was well-below average. It’s too early to be down on either of them; this is just a snapshot of where each of their stuff is right now.

On the Phone
Arizona St. righty Alec Marsh was up to 94 and threw four pitches for strikes on Friday. Gonzaga righty Casey Legumina has had a velocity spike. He used to sit 88-90 but was up to 97 over the weekend. Baylor catcher Shea Langliers is 11th on THE BOARD, but will be out for weeks with an injury that usually impacts power for a season or more, which is a hole in Langliers’ profile currently. Our 10th 2019 draft prospect, Duke lefty Graeme Stinson, was 89-93 in his season debut, down a good bit from his best relief outings when he’s be into the upper-90s. Stinson is moving to the rotation this year and maintaining his stuff over longer outings and showing more starter traits is key, so this is a down first note on the season.

On the other hand, our 58th-ranked prospect, Elon righty George Kirby, had lots of preseason late first round buzz and will now move into that range when we update our rankings next week. This week, he was up to 96, showing three above average-to-plus pitches and starter traits. Fresno State righty Ryan Jensen (who just missed the Top 100) threw a solid five innings on Saturday and is on scouts’ radar after hitting 99 mph in the fall with plus sink; the velo was still there, with him sitting 96-98 mph in his first inning. 2020 draft-eligible LSU freshman righty Cole Henry was 94-97 mph in his college debut.

On the prep side, there’s been a lot of velo in Florida lately. Our 27th prospect, righty Matthew Allan, was 93-97 and flashed a plus breaking ball Monday night; one scout said he was in the top half of the first round for him now. Our 49th-ranked prospect, lefty Hunter Barco, was 90-95 with an above average breaker and changeup, throwing from a higher arm slot (a concern scouts had over the summer) that delivered a tighter slider. Further down the list, our 93rd-ranked prospect, righty Joseph Charles, was 92-95 mph with a plus-flashing curveball in his first start last week, which helps his profile as a prep righty who’s 19.2 years old on draft day. Lastly, prep righties with velo in Texas are like death and taxes, and Houston-area righty J.J. Goss (57th in the 2019 rankings) has been 93-95 mph with a plus slider in his early starts, including on Saturday against our 36th-ranked 2020 draft prospect, catcher Drew Romo.

Updating the 2019, 2020, and 2021 Draft Rankings

With the 2019 NCAA Baseball season set to begin on Friday, we have updated our draft prospect rankings for this year, as well as the two drafts that follow. Each class can be found via this link to THE BOARD.

So what has changed since we last updated our rankings in the fall? There were more high school showcases throughout the autumn months, and college teams held fall practices and scrimmages, during which it was clear that some players had changed since the end of the previous season. Some January high school tournaments took place in warmer locales, and the junior college season began several weeks ago. We expect all of these rankings to change as the draft approaches, though our focus will be on the 2019 class for obvious reasons. The 2021 class rankings are mostly comprised of unsigned high school players from the 2018 draft, as well as a handful of high school players who have been identified early.

Does the 2019 class have any overarching themes, and how does it compare to other recent drafts?
It’s hard not to note the lack of exciting college pitching, though it’s also worth remembering that at this time last year, soon-to-be No. 1 overall pick Casey Mize was nowhere near the runaway, best-in-class arm he’d eventually become. We expect to have higher opinions of several college arms come June, but the list of guys who we’d bet on rising up our board is also just shorter than usual.

That’s not to say the entire class is bad. It currently appears well-stocked with college hitters (arguably the most widely-desired demographic by major league clubs), particularly college hitters who have a chance to stay up the middle.

Just how good is Adley Rutschman?
Rutschman, the Oregon State catcher, is currently our top prospect for the 2019 draft. At this point in the process, it’s natural for readers to ask if there’s a generational talent in this class, or if this year’s top prospect is better than past top picks. He’s better right now, for us and the scouts we talk to, than 2018 Georgia Tech catcher/Giants second overall pick Joey Bart, who is obviously an easier direct comparison than Mize, despite Mize going first overall last year. We have Rutschman as the only 55 FV player in this draft class; Bart was a 50 FV on our 2018 draft rankings, with the main difference being Rutschman’s superior hit tool. The rest of the tools are about the same. As you’ll see on our overall rankings later this week, Mize is at the lower end of the 55 FV tier, and we’d have Rutschman slightly above him, but sandwiched between the top catching prospect in the minor leagues (the Dodgers’ Keibert Ruiz) and the second one (Bart), which would slot Rutschman in the 21-40 overall range of a top 100, were he eligible.

Also, because the draft order is totally set, we can officially lay to rest the #PlayBadlyForAdley hashtag.

Will we have another Kyler Murray/Jordyn Adams situation?
It may not be as dramatic as the Murray soap opera has turned out to be, but there’s a good chance that we have two two-sport athletes with signability questions. High schoolers Maurice Hampton (No. 19 overall on THE BOARD, and a 4-star LSU WR recruit) and Jerrion Ealy (No. 38 for us, and a 5-star Ole Miss RB commit) are both premium two-sport talents whose signability major league teams will need to properly gauge and feel comfortable with if they’re going to take them, the way the Angels did with Adams last year and Oakland seemingly did not do with Murray.

Ealy’s narrative has already been quite dramatic, as he was once an Ole Miss commit before de-committing to consider other schools, including Alabama and Clemson. It was thought throughout the industry that if Ealy ended up in Clemson or Tuscaloosa, baseball would have no shot at him. He re-committed to Ole Miss last week; both he and Hampton are considered signable in the first round, at least.

What about two-way players?
Two of the names we find most intriguing as two-way possibilities are SoCal high school LHP/1B Spencer Jones and Houston-area MIF/CF/RHP Sanson Faltine III, also known as Trey Faltine. They’re both plus athletes with terrific breaking balls and presently fringy velocity (lots of 88-92), but they’re different hitters. Jones is a power projection bat while Faltine is more compact and speedy.

What about the next two classes?
2020 looks solid, led by two pitchers from the Georgia Bulldogs (right-handers Cole Wilcox and Emerson Hancock), and we’ve already identified about half of the top tier of talent (50 or better FV) that’s standard for a draft class. This class is also pretty balanced, with a solid mix of hitting and pitching, and prep and college talent, though the college talent leans heavily toward players from the SEC, ACC, and this summer’s collegiate Team USA. It seemed unusual this summer that there were so many 2020, and one 2021, prep pitchers getting into the mid-90s, but perhaps 15- and 16-year-olds hitting 95 mph is just normal now. 2021 is obviously leaning toward college talent at the moment, as many of the high school prospects are 15 years old today, so just a handful have emerged as elite talents (Brady House, Luke Leto, Nick Bitsko, Roc Riggio (!), Braylon Bishop, and Blaze Jordan).

Who has risen since the last rankings?
Missouri center fielder Kameron Misner was in the 90 to 100 area for us in the early fall, as he was a known tools type with injury issues who didn’t play over the summer, then started rising with a loud fall. San Jacinto JC (TX) right-hander Jackson Rutledge transferred from Arkansas and was in the mid-90s, touching 97 in the pen for the Razorbacks, but took a step forward at San Jac. He was solidly in the top 100 for us weeks ago until his season debut, when scouts told us it was a Nate Pearson starter kit, into the high-90s once again with two plus breaking balls and some starter traits, cementing his position further. TCU lefty Nick Lodolo finally had the velo bump in the fall we’ve been waiting years for. Florida righty Tyler Dyson started showing first round stuff in the fall as his rollercoaster is headed back up. Elon righty George Kirby is showing two pluses at times with some starter traits, and Campbell righty Seth Johnson is also in that general area, at another smaller North Carolina college.

On the prep side, Jacksonville-area third baseman Tyler Callihan slimmed down in the fall and got a little more athletic while also not looking bad in a short stint as a catcher, so his power bat is now in day one contention. Pennsylvania prep player, and younger brother of Reds center fielder Mike Siani, Sammy Siani also went from a solid follow to a real prospect with a loud showing in Jupiter in October.

How about all these Diamondbacks picks?
Because the Dbacks did not sign Matt McLain last year, got picks for losing Patrick Corbin and A.J. Pollock, and received a pick back from St. Louis in the Paul Goldschmidt deal, they’ll pick 16th, 26th, 33rd, 34th, 57th, 75th, 78th, and 94th in the upcoming draft. Not only does this mean Arizona will likely add eight 40 or better FV prospects to their farm system, it also means they have a ton of financial flexibility because their bonus pool size will be so large. Except for perhaps Atlanta, which also picks twice (at nine because they failed to sign Carter Stewart, and 21 as their normal pick), it could prove virtually impossible for teams to try to move over-slot high schoolers back to their second round picks, because the Dbacks will just be able to take them and meet their asking price if they want.

Will the current labor climate have any impact on the draft?
Amateur players get hosed by CBA negotiations because they don’t have a seat at the bargaining table, and the MLBPA (made up of players who have already been drafted and won’t ever have to be again) has continuously traded amateur players’ rights for its members’ own benefits, albeit insufficient ones. The lack of current free agent movement may begin to impact the decisions of high school athletes choosing between entering pro baseball now or waiting through three years of D-I college baseball before they re-enter the draft. If a college player is drafted at age 21 or 22 and takes two to three years to reach the Majors, their six-year service time clock will start when they’re 23-25 and they’ll hit the open market when they’re 29-31. The current state of free agency signals that those players may never have a big payday.

Mets first baseman Peter Alonso is a great example. He has done nothing but mash since he was a teen, but is the sort of prospect who doesn’t get paid out of high school, with clubs preferring to see less athletic corner types perform in college rather than take their prep versions in the first few rounds. Alonso kept hitting and now will be a 31-year-old R/R first baseman when he becomes a free agent. If 26-year-old superstars are struggling to get a fair shake in free agency, what kind of market can Alonso expect to have? We don’t know if this will impact the decision-making process of elite high school prospects, and perhaps a new CBA will soon make this a moot point. But it’s something we think players might start to consider.

Who could move up this spring?
We both picked a few guys we think will move up. Good luck to all the teams and players this spring.
Eric: J.J. Goss, Faltine, Gunnar Henderson, Kyren Paris, Tanner Morris
Kiley: Jackson Rutledge, Hunter Barco, Jack Kochanowicz, Kirby, Seth Johnson

Fall Equinox Draft Board Update

The summer, rich with relevant amateur baseball, has ended. With it ends an important stretch on the player-evaluation calendar, one that is being weighed more heavily with each passing draft. We consider this checkpoint to be a sensible time to revisit our draft prospect rankings and make a sweeping update to the amateur wing of THE BOARD. A link to the 2019 draft board is here, but it can also be accessed through our brand new prospect landing page, which encompasses all of our content (shout-out to Sean Dolinar!) here.

Below we’ve attempted to anticipate some questions readers might have and to answer them as well as possible.

Q. Why is the summer so important for draft evaluation?

A. The high concentration of talent in collegiate wood-bat leagues and in scout-run high-school showcase events (which are designed to be evaluation-friendly) more closely approximates the talent environment of pro baseball. It’s hard to know if a high-school hitter facing a lot of suburban varsity, upper-70s fastballs is actually any good, but watch a prep hitter face Division I breaking balls and 90-plus mph fastballs for eight weeks, and you’re going to learn a lot about him.

Read the rest of this entry »

Daily Prospect Notes: 7/23/18

Notes on prospects from lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen. Read previous installments here.

Luc Rennie, RHP, New York Mets (Profile)
Level: Low-A   Age: 24   Org Rank: NR   FV: 30
Line: 7 IP, 4 H, 0 BB, 0 R, 14 K

Rennie is four appearances deep into his first year back in affiliated ball since 2015, when he was with Baltimore. He’s spent the last several seasons with Evansville in the independent Frontier League and was injured for a portion of that time. He was dominant for the Otters this spring and signed with the Mets earlier this month. Last night he pitched the game of his life and struck out 14 hitters, a Columbia franchise record, with most of them coming on a plus upper-70s 12-6 curveball. Rennie has five pitches. His fastball has natural cut, he has a two-seamer, an average mid-80s slider, that curveball, and a below-average changeup. He’ll run the fastball up to 95 but sits 90-92 and mixes his breaking balls well. Rennie is carrying a 0.83 ERA through 21.1 innings at Low-A.

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