Draft Odds & Ends

It’s strange that this year’s draft is already over and that some teams took as few as three players. Now we move into $20,000 undrafted free agent signing mode, a totally unprecedented exercise. In the coming days, I’ll add the drafted players to their new teams’ prospect lists over on The Board; you’ll see them on the 2020 Updated list on the Prospect List tab after I do. The farm system rankings will change as I do that. You can already see the approximate Top 100 landing spot for the 50 FV and above draftees on the MLB Draft tab of The Board.

Odds

Texas Rangers
Texas’ draft will be the talk of the industry today. After taking Justin Foscue in the first round (Fosuce was in the mix throughout the middle of round one) the Rangers went off the board (well, public boards anyway) and picked a bunch of six-figure high school types throughout the rest of the draft.

In round two, it was Tennessee prep outfielder Evan Carter, a high school two-way player committed to Duke. What I have on Carter at the moment is that he’s fast, has a big, rectangular frame, and that he has good bat speed but a swing path that may not work. This is next to nothing, and we’ll all learn more about Carter in the coming days. Based on what I know right now, he sounds like a 35+ FV prospect, a $600,000 type of high schooler. I also have a 35+ FV on Tekoah Roby, the club’s third rounder, who was up to 94 last summer, flashed a 55 changeup, and has a medium frame. Fourth rounder Dylan MacLean is an athletic, projectable lefty from Oregon whose stuff has coveted vertical action. His fastball was in the mid-80s last summer, up from the low-80s early the spring prior. It’s likely he’ll throw harder as he matures based on the frame and athleticism, or that we’d know he were throwing harder this spring had he played (and that Texas does, but successfully hid it), but he’s the kind of prospect who ends up in the honorable mention section of a team’s prospect list. Finally, their fifth rounder was Thomas Saggese, a contact-oriented SoCal high school infielder. A handful of teams were on Saggese, also a 35+ FV prospect, who could hit enough to play second base everyday. All of these kids are actual prospects, but unless we learn something new about a couple of them (Did MacLean have a velo spike? Did we whiff on Carter as an industry?), this draft will feel odd, and I wonder if Texas’ new stadium has impacted their financial situation and that that may mean they aren’t spending their whole pool.

University of Florida
Pitchers Tommy Mace (40+FV), Jack Leftwitch (40 FV), and Christian Scott (35+ FV) all went undrafted and will return to school as core elements of the Gators pitching staff (assuming an NBP team can’t poach one of them), while high school lefty Timmy Manning (35+ FV, a Florida commit) was undrafted. There are five other Gators on whom I currently have Day 1 grades for future drafts.

and

Baltimore Orioles
I think Baltimore crushed it. Cutting a deal with Heston Kjerstad at two enabled them to scoop up good high schoolers Coby Mayo (67th on my board, with huge power and arm strength, and who I have projected in right field) and Carter Baumler near the end of the draft. I also think Anthony Servideo’s 2020 breakout is for real.

Los Angeles Dodgers
A source told me the Dodgers ended up drafting all three pitchers they were considering at pick 29 and I can’t believe Clayton Beeter fell as far as he did given how elite his stuff his. Fourth round Virginia Tech catcher Carson Taylor was a draft-eligible sophomore who missed part of his freshman year due to a hamate break. He’s a switch-hitter who had two oppo doubles in a heavily-scouted Sunday matchup with Georgia Tech. Central Arkansas reliever Gavin Stone, fifth round, is an athletic 5-11 reliever who had a velo spike in the bullpen during the shutdown, topping out around 96.

San Diego Padres
Assuming Cole Wilcox’s deal gets done, the Padres left with three first round talents. They got relative certainty with Robert Hassell because of his bat, and two big, projectable frames and athletes in Justin Lange and Owen Caissie. Then they added a top 20 prospect in Wilcox, and a really interesting high school lefty in Jagger Haynes, a plus athlete with flat fastball approach angle who could throw harder with mechanical polish. They also picked up Troy righty Levi Thomas, who sits about 91 but has a 55 breaking ball and on-mound swagger.

Ends

Here’s some quick commentary on everyone else’s draft. If individual players aren’t mentioned here, check out my Day 1 recap and click on the scouting report clipboard on The Board.

Arizona drafted three more pitchers with backspinning fastballs, which makes at least seven drafted with early-round selections in the last two years; the one exception, Brennan Malone, has already been traded. Fifth rounder Brandon Pfaadt has a really fast arm and creates good depth on a two-plane breaking ball. Atlanta selected several “tip of the iceberg” types, players who have a shorter track record of performance, statistical or otherwise, or who missed time with injury.

I liked Boston’s fourth and fifth round arms, but I’m not on the Blaze Jordan bandwagon. I think some teams need to better contextualize age in their models (young in actual age, young in frame/physique, young from a reps perspective).

I mentioned in this week’s Cubs list that they’ve made important swing alterations to some of their recent draftees, and I think Michigan center fielder Jordan Nwogu really needs one but could mash if that gets dialed in.

In order to fit Jared Kelley into their pool, the White Sox grabbed likely underslot pitchers Adisyn Coffey, a converted junior college infielder who was on the Sox Area Code team three years ago, and GCU’s Kade Mechals, who lives in the upper-80s, has a plus change, and had TJ in May.

Cincinnati had a well-rounded draft that seemed like it was conducted with the big club in mind, with quick-moving college arms picked to fill behind a staff that needs it, and hitters who’ll take awhile and won’t push the major league core for a bit.

Cleveland’s first four picks were all 40+ FV players clustered in the 50s on The Board, a class facilitated by Carson Tucker taking an underslot deal in the first round. I non-prospect’ed Vanderbilt righty Mason Hickman, their fifth rounder, based on my February look at him (87-89, average curveball) but his heater has some carry.

Colorado got two high-probability college arms and an interesting local sleeper on Day 2.

Detroit collected lots of good college players on Day 2 and closed with a bat-first high school infield prospect in Colt Keith. I think Gage Workman is going to be a tough sign, though. He’s young for the class and had a rough start to this year, so his stock might be better a year from now and ASU is poised to let him give shortstop a try.

Alex Santos was a good get for Houston to start their draft. I’m not on Vanderbilt reliever Tyler Brown, who pitched with fringe stuff when I saw him in February. Zach Daniels has crude raw power. It’s fifth rounder Shay Whitcomb, from UC San Diego, who I like as a sleeper. He’s really short to the ball but still creates pull-side lift, and he’s an infield fit for me, but probably second base rather than short.

I think Kansas City probably overpaid Nick Loftin but I like every player they picked, and it sounds like Will Klein was at or near the top of most teams’ pref lists as a $20,000 UDFA had they not drafted him.

The Angels did their usual mix of young upside athletes and college performers. Werner Blakely has huge projection, and David Calabrese is very young. Fifth rounder Adam Seminaris is a four-pitch lefty from Long Beach with good secondary stuff. He doesn’t throw very hard but fills the zone and might be a 40-man arm eventually.

Miami went mono-pitching, and their last two selections, Jake Eder and Kyle Hurt, were prominent high school arms who didn’t really develop in college.

Milwaukee didn’t try to get too cute, taking two toolsy college players who fell below where they belonged on talent for superficial reasons, then grabbing three interesting college projects in Zavier Warren (a switch-hitting infielder who they announced as a catcher), Joey Wiemer (huge frame and bat speed, swing is rough), and Hayden Cantrelle (a switch-hitter who sprays line to line).

Minnesota had what looks like the literal shortest draft, with players averaging 6-foot-1. All their hitters’ carrying tool is their power, which has been true of every early-round Twins draftee for the last several years.

The Mets had to cut some deals after taking J.T. Ginn, likely overslot, in the second round. These were Arizona catcher Matt Dyer, who might have gotten six figures as a JuCo sophomore a couple years ago had he not gone to U of A. He’s lean, athletic, fast, has a great arm and some power. Roboumps will help him catch but his swing needs some love. Then they took redshirt senior Eric Orze from New Orleans (they’re the Privateers), who missed two seasons with injury but was up to 96 indoors with shorts on during quarantine, and has a split and slider, both of which are fringy.

I dragged the Yankees for doing away with the four corners area in yesterday’s recap; they then took a second player from Arizona, which is hilarious. Trevor Hauver has a real shot if he can play second base. He runs really deep counts, hits the ball in the air consistently, and has enough pop to do some damage. Beck Way has a good frame and arm strength, and New York is good at developing those types of guys.

Tyler Soderstrom overslot with Oakland meant they had to cut on Day 2, which they appeared to do in the third with Georgia outfielder Michael Guldberg, who has plus bat control but 40 bat speed. Oklahoma pitcher (the Sooners entire weekend rotation was drafted) Dane Acker went in the fourth. He gutted his way through a no-hitter versus LSU in front of most of the industry at the Shriner’s Classic. It’s on YouTube in its entirety.

Pound for pound, Philadelphia’s draft had the most upside because of Mick Abel and Casey Martin’s ceilings. Fourth rounder Carson Ragsdale has good vertical separation between his fastball and curveball but he’s 6-foot-8 and I’m not sure if the angle his size creates best suits that style.

Pittsburgh’s draft seemed driven by events that occurred in 2019: Nick Gonzales‘ and Carmen Mlodzinski’s Cape performance, Jared Jones’ pitch data, and Nick Garcia’s fall velocity (well above what I saw in February).

San Francisco’s draft was like Milwaukee’s, a college value cake with Kyle Harrison (a funky two-seam, changeup high school lefty) icing.

I think it’s likely any of Seattle’s Tyler Keenan, Kaden Polcovich, or Zach DeLoach could be everyday guys, but I think they all end up big league role players. Fifth rounder Taylor Dollard goes mostly fastball/slider, and I also saw a change and curve against UConn in February. He’s a fringe 40-man type.

The Cardinals went heavy on risky high schoolers early then balanced it nicely with college arms late. I wonder if they’ll develop Masyn Winn and Alec Burleson as two-way players.

Tampa had to cut a couple deals to fit Nick Bitsko into their pool but they didn’t mortgage their entire draft.

Toronto went mono-college after drafting Austin Martin, a sign he’s overslot at five.

Washington only deviated from college pitching in the second comp round to draft Florida high school infielder Sammy Infante.

We hoped you liked reading Draft Odds & Ends by Eric Longenhagen!

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Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

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Brandon Erickson
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Brandon Erickson

Great Job, Eric. Wonderful to all of your draft day coverage and thank you.