Thoughts Before the MLB Draft

Sorry for the long time between the last posts and this one, just been really busy. I did get a chance to watch some of the Super Regionals, and this year’s Super Regionals has been nuts so far. With the rain delays and the extra inning games, and the rain delayed extra inning games, there has been a lot going on. Unfortunately, my upset pick was wrong, even though Davidson and Texas A&M gave us two of the most exciting games this season. The rest of my picks have seemed to go well so far, and I am excited who wins the Florida Wake Forest game.

Anyways, we have a big night tonight! The draft starts at 7 EST on MLB network for those who are able to watch. I am just going to give my short thoughts on just some of the stories I find interesting.

Obviously, the big question is whether or not Luke Heimlich will be drafted tonight. With the trend going on right now about teams valuing character just as much as talent, I doubt that he will be taken. This leaves an opportunity for any team looking to get a bargain, but will that team be willing to accept the harsh criticism that understandably be thrown at that team? This is just an awful situation, but if Joe Mixon can get drafted, I think Heimlich will be able to as well.

The player that I thought was going to be the biggest “character issues” player before the Heimlich dilemma was Houston lefty Seth Romero. Unlike Heimlich, I do believe Romero will be taken tonight, but he will definitely not be a first rounder or even a compensatory pick in my opinion. Two suspensions in fourteen months is not a good look. Houston did not announce what the second suspension was for, the first was a drug suspension so it might have been another drug suspension we do not know. The team that picks him will get a steal; he is a top 20 prospect who apparently can’t stay out of trouble. Hopefully they will figure it out.

As far as who I think the Twins will pick, I am guessing they will take Vanderbilt pitcher Kyle Wright. Baseball America says that they will be taking McKay, my guess it that they are running out of headlines and want something fresh. However, if they do take McKay, props to them.Hunter Greene is the best player in this draft, but I do not think that the Twins will offer him the signing bonus that he wants. That is not to say Wright is a bad pick though, he has lots of upside even as a college player. Since there is no generational talent, it will be fun to see who they end up picking.

That will wrap up my thoughts, have fun watching the draft everyone.

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Super Regionals Part Two

College Station Super Regional (Texas A&M vs. Davidson)

Here is the Cinderella series of the entire tournament, Texas A&M vs. Davidson. Davidson has never reached the NCAA tournament before, yet they have been playing like they have been here before. They knocked off number 2 North Carolina and top 10 prospect J.B Bukauskas, and have had stellar pitching. The offense is concern for Davidson, but nobody has predicted this from Davidson. Texas A&M were on and off this season; they lost 6 of 7 going into the regionals, so it will be hard to tell which team will show up. Since I have to have an upset, I’m taking Davidson, just because I do not know what Texas A&M team will show up.

Louisville Super Regional (Louisville vs. Kentucky)

I am interested in seeing this one because it features Louisville, the only team remaining that I have seen live. Louisville has an excellent pitching staff lead by two way star Brendan McKay, and the feature the best bullpen in college baseball. They also have an excellent lineup lead by McKay(.356 and 17 home runs) and Drew Ellis(.362 and 17 home runs).This is also interesting because Kentucky is making their first ever Super Regional appearance. They have one of the highest scoring offenses, with top 50 prospect Evan White having a great season(.368/.450/.627). This is a tough series, but I believe Louisville will win in 3.

Fort Worth Super Regional (TCU vs. Missouri State)

TCU has been able to hit the ball well, even without star Luke Baker, and they scored 29 runs in the their regional. Evan Skoug is one of the best power bats in the country with 18 home runs, even if his BB/K ratio is scary. TCU’s hitting is scary however, their pitching, with the exception Jared Janczak, is a bit rough. Missouri State had a tough time scoring runs in the regional, but they were picked up by their excellent pitching staff. They went 18-3 in conference play this season, but they only played one non conference team that made it to the NCAA tournament. I am not sure what to make of this series, but I am going to take TCU based on their lineup and their strength of schedule.

Gainesville Super Regional (Florida vs. Wake Forest)

Florida has a premier pitching staff with starters Alex Faedo, Jackson Kowar, and Brady Singer, and Michael Byrne as the closer. Florida has never won the College World Series, so it will be interesting to see if they can. Their do not score many runs, but their pitching staff is able to carry them. Wake Forest is the opposite; they have the ninth best runs per game(7.9) in the entire country. Along with that, they also have hit the most home runs in the country and they average close to two per game.Their pitching staff does not match the batting, but I think it is good enough for the offense to carry them. I am picking Wake Forest in this series, their offense is so dominant, but this should be a fun series to watch.

Thanks for reading this, and have fun watching the Super Regionals.

Super Regionals Picks Part One

Thought we would take a break from the prospect profiles and give some predictions for the Super Regionals, which start tomorrow. I will split this into two parts, since it would be a very large post if I didn’t.

Corvallis Super Regional(Oregon State vs. Vanderbilt)

Number one ranked Oregon State is taking on a Vanderbilt team that struggled this year, despite having potential number one pick Kyle Wright and top 15 draft prospect Jeren Kendall. On the other hand, Oregon State had a 52-4 record lead by ace Luke Heimlich, who I wrote about yesterday. Even though Vandy had a difficult season, they were able to knock off Clemson in their own regional convincingly. Even though they have done well in the postseason, I can’t bet against Oregon State, who had an incredible season and rolled through Yale and Holy Cross, and I have them winning in 3.

Long Beach Super Regional (Long Beach State vs. CSU Fullerton)

I am excited to watch this series, if only for the Long Beach State jerseys. LBS has not made the College World Series since 1998, and it will be a fun series to watch. They have an incredible pitching staff, with Dave Smith leading the way, and they have the sixth best ERA. In the season series, the Dirtbags shut them out twice and have only allowed 2.7 runs per game. However, CSU Fullerton has had a great season too, with a great pitching staff of their own as well. Anything can happen in a three game series, but I have Long Beach State taking this and making their first CWS appearance in 19 years.

Tallahassee Super Regional (Florida State vs. Sam Houston State)

Florida State has had a rough season this year, who started off the season well but then completely dropped out of the rankings. After losing their first game in their regional, they managed to win four straight and advance to the Super Regional. On the other side, Sam Houston State is a Cinderella story along with Davidson, and they have never made the Super Regionals before. To get here, they needed to upset previous runner up Arizona and number five seed Texas Tech. The Bearkats certainly have the hot hand, but if Florida State reaches their potential, they will win this series since they have much more talent. However, do not be surprised if Sam Houston State wins, since Florida State has been super streaky. I predict Florida State in 3 though.

Baton Rouge Super Regional (LSU vs. Mississippi State)

Mississippi State might have the most dominant player in the super regionals in Brent Rooker. He has been an absolute stud for the Bulldogs, but he has carried this team that does not feature a particularly impressive pitching staff or lineup. LSU has three stud pitchers in Alex Lange, Eric Walker and Jared Poche’. With the exception of Walker, they have not lived up to expectations in the postseason. They also have a great lineup, with top power threat Greg Deichmann leading the way. I have LSU sweeping this series, even though Mississippi State has had a good season.

Luke Heimlich(Oregon State) Report

There is two days left before the start of the Oregon State and Vanderbilt Super Regional, which is arguably the most exciting matchup of the Super Regionals this year. Today we will be discussing Luke Heimlich, a 6’1” lefty who has had a breakout season this year for the Beavers and is projected as a late first round pick. Being the ace on the number one ranked team in the nation will get you a lot of attention, and Heimlich has pitched well under the stress. Heimlich will have a tough matchup against Vanderbilt and it will be interesting to see how this series will go.

Going undrafted out of high school, Heimlich has gotten better every year he has played with the Beavers. In his freshman year, Heimlich came out of the bullpen, making 29 appearances for a total of 52.1 innings and 35/17(2.05) K/BB ratio and a 3.61 ERA. He was a swingman his sophomore year, he made 11 starts and improved both his ERA(3.53) and his K/BB(63/25) in 86.2 innings. This season so far, he has put in a near flawless season with a 0.76 ERA and has a 9.76 K/9 and an excellent 1.68 BB/9. His control has been outstanding, and he has been able to strikeout hitters even without outstanding velocity. Since he does not have overpowering stuff, it is critical that he has good control, and it is obvious that he does. His control over all of his pitches makes me believe that he will have success at the next level.

One of his many bright spots is his offspeed pitches. Both his changeup and his curveball are plus pitches and he has been able to use them effectively. Heimlich’s curveball has sweeping movement and does not have much late break to it, which might be a detractor based on how you view it. Personally, since he has good control of it, the lack of a late break does not bother me as much but it will be interesting to see. His changeup has been considered better by many scouts; it sits in the high 70’s low 80’s with lots of downward movement to it. They are both great pitches and it is hard to tell which is better.

His fastball has not reached the same levels that his offspeed offering have. The pitch is in the low 90’s and does not have much movement to it. Heimlich has been successful with it because of his plus control, but the pitch is not very intimidating. I do not see him being able to increase the velocity significantly, but I think he might be able to develop some more movement on the pitch. In my opinion, I think that his fastball has the potential to be a slightly above average pitch, but nothing too dominant.

My forecast for Heimlich is that he has a ceiling to grow into a middle of the rotation pitcher. He already has great control overall all of his pitches, as well as having two plus offspeed pitches, which is rare for a college pitcher. The one concern is his fastball, but as long as he is able to have the same level of control of his pitches in the pros as he is in college, I think he will be fine even without an overpowering fastball. He was slated to go in the 3rd or 4th round at the start of the year, but I would be surprised if he is still on the board after pick 40.

THE JUCO REVIEW: ANDREW BECHTOLD(CHIPOLA JC)

Well seeing as I got my first view ever today, thought I would have to make another post to celebrate it. And the reader was from Alaska, a state that does not have much baseball going on, so I was extra excited. So to whomever that was, thank you for stopping by and hopefully you read again.

Now onto the important stuff. Our next write up is on Andrew Bechtold, the one of the best JUCO hitters in the draft this year. Bechtold originally went to play for Maryland, where he hit an unimpressive .218 and committed 11 errors. He is now playing for Chipola Junior College in Florida and has committed to LSU next year, should he not sign. He was originally drafted by the Rangers in the 37th round of the 2014 draft, but obviously did not sign. Bechtold has played both 3rd and shortstop, so it will be interesting to see what position he gets drafted to play.

Bechtold is an interesting prospect. He struggled mightily in his first year of college ball after having a tough transition going from shortstop to third base. The main concern with Bechtold is that his fielding will not catch up with his bat, which is pretty impressive. As previously stated, Bechtold had 11 errors in his first season with the Terrapins, but we can chalk that up to a position change and inexperience. However, he had another uninspiring year in the field, committing 11 errors and finishing with an ugly .896 fielding percentage at Chipola. Errors can be subjective of course, but its is still concerning, especially at the JUCO level. However, he does have a strong arm which makes up for his fielding deficiencies somewhat. If Bechtold wants to have any success at the next level, he will have to prove that he is not a liability in the field. I wonder if he might end up transitioning to first, but that might just be me overreacting.

Now it is not all doom and gloom with Bechtold, he is the one of the highest touted JUCO hitters after all. This season, he put up an impressive .419/.523/.676 slash line while hitting 12 home runs in 210 at bats. He also had more walks(49) than strikeouts(44) which is always impressive, although the website does not say how many were intentional. Either way, the plate discipline is impressive, and I think it will translate at the next level.

Finding video of Bechtold was hard, but I was able to find a clip from MLB draft countdown, so shout out to them I guess. From what I saw, I was very impressed with how compact his swing was. He has a slightly open stance, and there is no hitches or loops in his swing. He is very mechanically sound, and I think he will be a good hitter in the pros.

The ceiling for Bechtold is that he is an everyday third baseman who hits around .250 with 15 home runs and is able to get on base. This might be a bit of a stretch though for two reasons. The first is obviously the fielding; I am a bit skeptical that it will turn around. The second is that he did not hit for much power this season, even at a low level. That’s the trick with JUCO players, they do not play against the stiffest competition so it is hard to get a good read. My projection is that he will end up being a solid bench bat for a team in the majors. Look to see him drafted between rounds 3-6.

THE JUCO REVIEW: NATE PEARSON(CENTRAL FLORIDA JC)

Yesterday I discussed Brendon Little, the State JC of Florida lefty who is considered to be one of the best JUCO draft prospects this year. His combination of a fastball that sits in the mid 90’s and a plus curveball that can hit the mid 80’s makes him a favorite amongst scouts. But he is not the only dominant JUCO pitcher from Florida. Nate Pearson is a giant 6’6” righty out of Central Florida JC who in 13 starts, had just a 1.56 ERA this season with the Patriots. Unlike Little, Pearson went undrafted out of high school and he committed to Florida International. After one season at FIU, he transferred to Central Florida and has blossomed into a top 50 pick. Pearson did commit to LSU next year, but I highly doubt that he will be playing for them next year and will sign this year.

Pearson has had an amazing season so far with the Panthers this year. Over the course of the season, he pitched 81 innings while striking out 188 and walking just 23. This translates to a 13.11 K/9 and a 2.56 BB/9. Obviously, college numbers are not a great indicator of future success, especially JUCO numbers, but the 2.56 BB/9 really stands out to me, since he is primarily a “power” pitcher. While he has had great numbers this year at Central Florida JC, the reason he is so highly touted is because of the velocity. Pearson has hit 100 on numerous occasions during bullpen sessions and sits in the mid nineties. Everyone loves those high gun numbers, especially right now, and Pearson will definitely benefit from that. The other part that I like about Pearson is that his mechanics are very fluid and I think they are better than Little if you want to compare the two. I think he will benefit from this when he starts to develop his offspeed offerings, which we will get to.

My one area of concern is his offspeed pitches. I have watched some of his video on YouTube, and it seems like he does have somewhat of a handle on his curveball, and I was unable to find him throwing a changeup, so it is assumed that he has only worked on it in bullpen sessions. In my opinion, I think his curveball can become an plus pitch that will complement his fastball nicely. Since he does have solid mechanics, I think he will be able to develop a third offering, whether it be a changeup or a slider. Pearson’s offspeed pitches have been vary polarizing amongst scouting reports that I have read; some scouts believe his curve has potential to be an above average pitch and others think the opposite. Only time will tell, I believe that he will be able to get his curve to the point where it is an above average offering. I do doubt that he will develop a third pitch however, which leads me to believe he will end up in the bullpen in the majors.

In conclusion, Pearson has a lot of work to do. His fastball is lights out and there is no denying that. He also has shown great control and does not give up many walks. But he will have to improve his offspeed pitches if he wants to have any shot at becoming a successful MLB starter. I am a bit more bearish on Pearson compared to others because I am not sure if his offspeed will catch up to his fastball, but I expect him to go in the late first to early second round.

THE JUCO REVIEW: BRENDON LITTLE(STATE JC OF FLORIDA)

There is lots of craziness going on right now in the world of amateur baseball as the draft is rapidly approaching! The playoffs have begun across the nation to see who will make it to Omaha this year. I was able to watch the Louisville vs. Xavier game, which was absolutely crazy. Give props to Xavier, they fought really hard against an obviously superior Louisville team and gave them their money’s worth. There’s lots of great stories going on in college baseball, but we’ll save those for later. Today I will give my opinion on Brendon Little, who I find to be one of the most intriguing prospects in this draft and in the top 3 of JUCO draft prospects this year.

Little is a former University of North Carolina recruit who transferred to the State Junior College of Florida after one shaky season with the Tar Heels in which he only threw four innings. This was strange considering he was drafted by the Giants out of high school and was a highly touted prospect from Pennsylvania. After the disappointing season, Little dominated the Cape Cod League with 29 strikeouts in just 22 innings. For his sophomore season, Brendon Little transferred to the State JC of Florida, where he threw 85 innings this season. He was a strikeout machine this season with 133 strikeouts while giving up just 24 earned runs.

The most noticeable thing about Little is his fastball, which has hit 97 and sits between 92-95. While this pitch does not have a lot of movement because of his 12 o’clock arm slot, he has been able to keep it low in the zone. While he does not always have control of the pitch, which we will get to later on, 97 is still impressive. He also been very successful with his curveball, which some scouts say is his best pitch. Because of the true over the top arm slot, he is able to generate plenty of 12-6 action on it while throwing it in the low to mid 80’s. If he is able to improve his control on it, this will be a great strikeout pitch for him in the future.

One area of concern is that he is mechanics are not very smooth. His windup is a bit jerky, which has lead to some control issues with his offspeed pitches. When watching his tape some of his tape that I was able to find, he also has problems with his landing foot veering off to the glove side, which is concerning. If he is not able to correct these problems and increase his control, Little might just end up becoming a bullpen pitcher. He was able to keep his walks down this season, with only a 3.49 BB/9, but college stats are obviously not a perfect indicator of future success. Since the biggest problem with his delivery does seem to be the landing foot, I think this will be a relatively minor fix and that he will be able to work it out without to many problems.

Overall, I think that Little is a solid prospect with lots of room to grow. He already has a plus fastball and curveball. From all the reports that I have read, he seems to have a strong character, something that teams are valuing more and more now, as they should. With two above average pitches and a good character, I expect Little to be drafted within picks 25-50, depending on how much he is asking for. If he is able to improve on his control and clean up his mechanics, as well as putting some serious work in on his changeup, I could see Little becoming a solid #3 starter.

A Short Introduction

Well this is awkward. By now, with the draft almost upon us, most of the blogs are making their final positional rankings, their last mock drafts, and preparing to wrap up yet another year of draft coverage. Nobody is just starting up when the draft is only a few weeks away, and yet here we are. Perhaps that is what makes this site unique. I guess it’s the procrastinator in me; I wanted to get started on this before the start of college season, but a combination of school and life seems to get in the way sometimes. And laziness too, you can never forget that. I’d like to believe that my laziness filters out what is important in life; it makes me feel a lot better at night.

I think it would be best for me to explain what made me want to start a blog devoted to the baseball draft, and since us readers are all in love with lists, I’ll make a list for everyone. It goes something like this:

  1. I love the game
  2. I am bored with school
  3. I want to improve my writing skills
  4. Scouting and statistics are two of the things that I have found most interesting, even when I was a younger kid. I met a scout when I was 6 years old, and I still think that would be an amazing job.

Hopefully that wasn’t too cheesy. As far as where I want to take this; the answer is that I am not a hundred percent sure. Obviously I will be covering 2018 draft prospects, that much is a given. Also, I want to focus on lesser known D1’s, as well as D2, D3, and JUCOs since it seems like they do not get a ton of love. But between now and before the draft, I am not sure what I will be posting. I will definitely be doing College World Series coverage; that is always a blast and I am jealous of the people who have been there. If anyone reads this and has been, please comment and tell me how it was, I would love to hear your stories. Besides that, I might do a couple reaction posts for the draft; I am a big Mets fan so maybe my reaction on who the Mets got. It’s all up in the air at this point, who knows. Just get ready for some College World Series content when its time, and thanks for making it this far.