With June 4th finally here, major league teams are readying their offers and trying to negotiate with players ahead of time for possible under or at slot deals that can help them in later rounds. There appear to be a very strong crop and pool of young talent this year at both the college and high school level, which isn’t always the case. It is headlined by Auburn pitcher Casey Mize, a once skinny unheralded, undrafted prospect just a few years ago. He has transformed into a consensus number one overall talent, which is hard for any starter to do and the Detroit Tigers would be foolish to overthink this and let him slip away. His arsenal of pitches is unusual for an American stateside product and resembles that of someone in Japan with a devastating splitter, a pitch not thrown much outside of someone like Masahiro Tanaka. Likewise, Mize is not overpowering yet dominant as he pounds the zone better than anybody I have seen since Stephen Strasburg as evidenced by his ridiculous K-BB rate which is something like 100-10. To me, there is no one even close except for maybe Brady Singer who does many of the same things but with a ridiculously fast delivery. He is reminiscent of Kyle Hendricks with his similar combination of finesse and control; however, he’s had some struggles in his junior season meeting expectations after leading Florida to a national championship. This shouldn’t cause Singer to fall outside the top five as it would be head scratching for clubs such as the Cincinnati Reds to pass him up even if his program hasn’t produced as many aces as we’d all like which is not up to him. There is talk of Georgia Tech catcher Joey Bart possibly supplanting the both of them even if he is likely a lock at number two to the San Francisco Giants. I’m a big Bart fan, due to really few questions of his ability to catch in the majors along with the history of great backstops at his school as well as his cerebral mind behind the plate and hitting. Still, I feel going this can set up unfair expectations for him to be the next Buster Posey. People really discount how hard their jobs are and the amount of good fortune it takes for everything to go right with preventing the inevitable injuries. This is why I would instead look to someone like Wichita State’s Alec Bohm as he is as sure thing as far position players go that you can find. He’s big, powerful and is competent at third base while having the hitting ability to justify him at first if needed. What intrigues me about him is that he’s not yet a finished product, as I believe that when he irons out a few kinks, the game will only get easier for him a la a Kris Bryant. His ability to make constant contact despite a hitch and ill advised leg kick for someone his size over a toe tap is extremely promising as it’s a marvel he’s able to generate the kind of lift he does at all. All of this is why I have a hard time picturing the Phillies not selecting him, although the amount of love many have for Oregon State’s Nick Madrigal would not surprise me if he were a White Sox. I’m a little hesitant to call anyone the next Jose Altuve, as there are just not that many like him. In fact, he’s probably the most talented person in MLB for his stature as Mookie Betts is too. Madrigal no doubt has outstanding hitting and fielding ability; I still question why he’s seen so highly over his teammate Trevor Larnach who to me is pretty close to Michael Conforto some years ago with his swing that is a lot like Freddie Freeman’s and is likely going in the teens. Rounding out my top five is high school hurler Carter Stewart. Now, I know there’s no way he actually goes in this range for some strange reason. I feel many are scared of taking a righty like him because of the high bust possibility that doesn’t make any sense if you are going to draft a lefty in the mold of a Matthew Liberatore and not worry about that. There’s obviously a double standard here, since I cannot remember the last prep left hander to pan out in the last decade that was taken in the top ten but that won’t stop the Padres from getting him or Ryan Weathers. Why not shy away from him then? Stewart is exceptional, not because of his high spin rate. He seems poised with his boyish look, is tall and delivers the ball exactly like Max Scherzer. His velocity is only growing, peaking at 97 mph right now.
I would be jumping for joy if the Mets chose the best player available but it’s much more likely a team much later on will get him and thank their lucky stars that pitchers like Grayson Rodriguez who are just throwers went before he did. For some reason, many fans are strictly opposed to Jonathan India – one of the best college performers for a franchise that needs someone at the hot corner long term. I actually think he would be a fantastic choice as I envision him as a Josh Donaldson or Troy Tulowitzki type. It’s clear he has embraced the fly ball revolution and it has done him very well. He can also really pick it, and I wouldn’t be scared to throw him out at shortstop. Further, a sentiment is present where he’s only worth it at 6 with a discount which couldn’t be further from the truth. If you get one, great. If not, this is where he should and is deserving to go. An advanced bat, one that is disciplined, has sneaky speed on the base paths, he can do a little of everything and move quickly in two years. Being the sucker of scary potential that I am, Nolan Gorman is the name (with Carter) I’m not sure why I don’t hear more connected to New York. For god sakes, the kid is a huge Met fan in Las Vegas and can mash with possibly the most raw pop of anybody. Gorman is a splitting image of DBacks’ Jake Lamb with great hands and bat speed even if he strikes out a little. It’s going to be hell for them to face him with the Braves, if that’s where he is going as has been connected. It is great to see inklings of rumors involving Wisconsin’s own Jarred Kelenic, despite me not understanding why there isn’t a team that isn’t absolutely in awe of him. Yes, a toolsy left handed bat seems to be in every class but this guy is the real deal. I like his intangibles whole more than his outstanding tendency to go the other way naturally, saying a lot. His name might not jump off a page but the way he carries and conducts himself does. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a mature individual his age before since its hard to tell him apart from Chase Utley in that aspect alone. As someone who hated the Mickey Moniak selection, I can assure that he is something more with uber confidence and intensity. All business, the teenager shut off his internet to focus on training once New Years hit and even graduated a semester early to. With Brandon Nimmo exploding recently, it wouldn’t be a bad time to take another outfielder who doesn’t play for his high school team albeit opposite situations. Kelenic just wanted to challenge of travel ball and facing the best. In my opinion, I rather take a chance on an outstanding individual than Travis Swaggerty who disappointingly couldn’t hit much over .300 against bad competition. He has some Andrew Benintendi but history with wood linger even if he’ll make the majors quicker. How much, I don’t know. Shane McClanahan is the other person I’d take because I see potential in him even with injury concern of a shorter southpaw throwing 100. He is easily the third best college starting pitcher after Mize and Singer so it’d be amazing if he were treated with that same respect and not potentially fall into the late teens. I don’t have any questions on his ability to start like I didn’t with Chris Sale and he compares favorably to him. Interestingly a former NYM draft pick, he’d immediately become the number one talent in their pipeline if he were to be redrafted but this sadly doesn’t happen often. Cole Winn is the last arm I’d place in the first half of the first round, as it’s rare to see a senior as polished as he. It says something about him that upon transferring from Colorado to baseball hotbed California, he became the state’s top and most elite. With a chance at four potentially plus pitches, practically unheard of these days, Winn demolished the best junior league in the country by setting record after record and is Matt Cain.
As far as the Yankees are concerned, they have done an unbelievable job of building their deep reservoir of impact major leaguers and can afford to take risks most can’t at 23 because of it. If Jackson Kowar or Stetson’s Logan Gilbert are there, I’d pull the trigger immediately and push them rapidly in their assignments. Both can handle the pressure playing for great college programs, with Gilbert showing it this weekend with his 14 K’s and Kowar’s stellar outings closing out a national championship in the past. Their electric, free and easy motions make them seem underwhelming at times but the 6’5″ righties can use quality coaching to get them where they need to be. Combine their live arms with their plus change ups and you’ve got something special. Their high school equivalents to me are the duo Ethan Hankins and Kumar Rocker. They are two of my favorite prepsters and perhaps too much was put on them early because of their fastballs which are the best in the class. The Yanks would do well to get them here considering six months ago, there wasn’t this possibility of their fall. With Hankins, it’s all because of injury and shoulder tightness that has kept him out for much of the spring. His heater, like Kumar’s, has great movement and sink to it. Their command is impressive and Rocker sometimes does leave his pitches too high to hit but his slider can also do tricks. He is more athletic in his delivery than you’d think although I want to see him use his legs more and he does have a better secondary pitch. Needless to say, if either are there and not in pinstripes, the Bombers could be sorry when the two Georgians star at Vanderbilt’s pitching haven. Mason Denaburg is someone I expect to be available, and I like him just as much. Some are concerned about injury risk with him, but he has the ability that gets me to look past at this point. Similarly, he could easily become a Gator and catapult further. The Floridian has similar mechanics to Jose Fernandez, who I have no doubt he watched and the same height if maybe not the weight. I don’t buy the talk he doesn’t want to play baseball just because he’s not married to the mound yet. When it happens, I’d be very scared as the ceiling is enormous with his power breaking ball. The last person I consider here is outfielder Jordyn Adams. My fastest player in the draft isn’t just that, but the whole package as a true five tool player. I’m not saying he’ll become the next Aaron Judge but he plays hard and his raw power is more than many think. His setup can work and once he dedicates full focus and gets consistent at bats, his hard contact will turn into many extra base hits with his speed and gifts. While they seem to be just fine at third, Jordan Groshans who plays short now might be too good to not think about and is for me. I love the bat speed and he can turn on almost any pitch as he showed with an impressive homer at Petco Park. He is ridiculously strong and could one day hit forty homers like Todd Frazier at Yankee Stadium when he gets the ball in the air more instead of hitting laser beam line drives.
The second round has many interesting athletes who are as deserving of a high pick. JT Ginn, committed to Mississippi State, is indeed one of the older high schoolers but throws a bowling ball when he goes out every fifth day. It runs up on you, both outside and inside, leading to some very embarrassing swings. He’s so talented that Ginn hit almost twenty homers last year and no one considers a hitting prospect because that’s how good his arsenal is despite his stocky size that looks like a closer. Next, Adam Kloffenstein is your prototypical Texas gunslinger who’s giant but also smooth in his repetition of delivery. It’s hard not to think of Noah Syndergaard when I watch this kid from Magnolia. He’s growing into his body and will add velocity just like he did when selected not too far before. His slurve is appealing since it can turn into whichever one he wants or cutter as is his fiery competitiveness. This is a tough sign away from TCU for him to stay home but I think is within range from seeing his quote. Seth Beer or Greyson Jenista could slide, in which case I’d celebrate and do a double take because they are premier power hitters who haven’t fully tapped into it yet. With Beer, I don’t see why he can’t play left field like he has even with his fringy fielding. For someone who looked a lot like Bryce Harper when he entered the scene with Clemson, it’s hard to believe there are doubts about production after his two years. Jenista clearly doesn’t sell out for long balls and gets out shadowed by Bohm but he is excellent in his adjustments even with an up and down junior season. Like Seth, he’s patient and is often pitched around with his knack of putting the barrel every AB. They’re heads and shoulders better as left handed hitters than those lumped together with them like Griffin Conine and Tristan Pompey who have family bloodline. I’m also extremely excited about New York City kid and Beacon’s own Lenny Torres who oozes with potential. While he hasn’t faced the type of hitters elsewhere around the country, he’s done well at all sorts of summer events like Perfect Game. It would be amazing to bring him home like Dellin Betances, although I don’t think he’s a reliever at all even if his command isn’t the greatest. I really feel my comp of Chris Archer is very on point, with the way the ball pops out of their hands to surprise you. He has the youthful energy of a 17 year old and is animated which I really enjoy too. Wake Forest’s Griffin Roberts doesn’t spoke enough in my book for someone with easily the best slider in the entire draft. That’s quite the weapon to have and the most important offering in baseball, in my opinion to judge a person’s nastiness. He’s done outstanding in his first year back starting and for turning down the Twins in like the thirtieth round. While he might not top out in the high nineties as he did in relief, I think he throws enough strikes where you can safely bet for him to be an impact part of any rotation, in the mold of a Gerrit Cole if all things work out in his development. Nander De Sedas from the Montverde Academy would be a steal here like Mark Vientos was, in that he has a limitless ceiling as a tall shortstop who can really hit. He’s not Lindor but was mentioned in the running for 1-1, and I was quite saddened to hear him give up left hand hitting that I thought he looked quite comfortable with. He’s not fast but can stay at the position with his soft hands and competent arm.
Athletic right Owen White I could see slip into the third round, assuming some teams won’t be wanting to pay what he wants to rip up his future with the Gamecocks. It’s fun to watch pitchers with long arms and legs deal so he is no different with his past playing basketball. He has yet to fill out into his frame but will be just fine even if he doesn’t due to his advanced feel for pitching. Josh Breaux (pronounced bro – ironic because he played with his in college) is one of the best kept secrets as he plays in junior college and is my top JUCO product by far. He’s also one of my favorites because he is prodigious in his talents, not just as a catcher but throwing the baseball since he can reach triple digits. His pop with the bat stacks up just as much as he is a certified HR smasher that I don’t expect to change in professional leagues. A weakness of his is that he is sometimes too aggressive but you got to hand it to him that he doesn’t get cheated. I’m not sure why there are lingering questions about his hit tool as he hits .400, which is notable to me even in a lesser league. New Jersey high school outfielder Nick Decker can similarly swing the bat with lightning speed and his hits are some of the fastest you’ll see in terms of exit velocity as it jumps off. He’s no Mike Trout but has tantalizing skills nonetheless that you just can’t teach. He is a great one to watch in batting practice with his long swing and can get in a groove. Think of him as a lesser version Clint Frazier except from the left side who hasn’t gotten as much exposure and probably won’t even if he goes to Maryland. I don’t anticipate Daniel Lynch to be here but he should as far as rankings and I’d be willing to pluck him as he’s the rare projectable college lefty. I like the fact he’s resisted some of the changes other Virginia Cavaliers make as there’s still hope for his career. He does need to get stronger however, something that isn’t a problem for one Jaden Hill who has the rare attribute of getting better velo-wise as the game goes on. You can tell he was a former quarterback and decent too by him manipulating the angle of pitches by spinning them like you would the pigskin. If he can be talked out of attending LSU, this is a good one who knows how to use his lower half quite properly. Nick Northcut is a Casey McGhee type who can do what he wants situationally and can stick at the hot corner even if it’s not pretty. This can be in jeopardy if he doesn’t condition himself as he just may be the slowest player at his position in terms of foot. It means he can hit for a high average while putting on huge displays during derbies and can handle advanced assignments early on with his experience with the Canes. Another intriguing community college option is 6’5 lefty Brandon Williamson who’s put up video game numbers after attracting no collegiate offers as a Minnesota teen. It’s hard to find video on him but from what I’ve seen, he has nice balance and gets a tons of swing and misses working in the low nineties and reaching 95 when he has to. He is hard to pick up and tumbles down from the hill which must not be good to face.
We have reached MLB.com’s 100th best prospect in the class, equivalent to the fourth round in Garrett Wade. He is so fluid, and unlike most high school lefties, he was indeed pulled out of the outfield where he still plays. Pitching is his calling card and Alabama has a knack for producing the best high school southpaws recently. Like Braxton Garrett, he does a good job controlling what he throws for his age and his low three quarter arm slot adds deception even if he’s in the high eighties at times. Elijah Cabell is the classic right fielder with a hose of a cannon and true run producer. It’s not hard to guess who he admires with his quirky number 99 jersey as he hits dingers but he just needs to make more consistent contact to tap into all of that as there’s a different sound when he hits. Like IMG, his school has him focusing on ball. New Rochelle native Jo Jo Gray is new to pitching but you can’t tell at all from his demeanor and presence. In fact, he was a middle infielder until just this year! If that sounds like Jacob deGrom, you’d be right. He gives full effort with every pitch, concerning some but not me because he doesn’t have much mileage: an asset itself. There’s not much differentiating him between Justin Dunn and I like the Le Moyne ace better for where you can get him. He’s still learning and that’s not always a bad thing. Jimmy Rollins’ cousin Osiris Johnson is bigger and is blessed with more than him. He could end going two rounds before or after this juncture but I have him here for his emerging impact offense and improving defense. Like him, he was a swagger and cool factor apart from his package of five tools from the most valuable positions. Formerly Kameron Guangorena, the best running backstop recently changed his surname to Ojeda to honor his grandfather. A truly amazing story, he drops his swing to load beautifully too and has great pop times suggesting he can stay where he is. He’ll need to work on the fundamentals there but seems like a quality leader of men if he can be deterred from Cal State Fullerton like Johnson before him and patience. You don’t see too many from Tulane but Grant Witherspoon has obviously changed something in his stance to become what he is now. The scouting grades on him should be adjusted but understandably they are skeptical he’s for real like I think. Standing 6’3″, he could easily become a Corey Dickerson type people keep doubting. He is a player even if he gets home run happy with his ability to play many positions.
I’m a believer in small school college pitchers as you can get them often for cheap which is just amazing for a fifth round. It’s my belief that they have to overcome more than most and make for great signs. Aaron Ashby, to my knowledges leads the nation in strikeouts as another left hander who’s hard to pick up with a ridiculous two batters sent down per inning. His curveball is a thing of beauty and he throws a lot of garbage pitches they fall for. He’s not the tallest which is why I’d go over to Memphis to check out lesser known Jonathan Boylan who’s father was also a well known SP. He’s the definition of a workhouse at 260 pounds and has a 18 K game to his credit. There’s no reason why he can’t be a mid rotation starting pitcher who can eat up a lot of innings and give you some quality ones. The savings from either these two or from before can aid a run at two members of the best high school starter tandem in Mason Englert or Jonathan Childress, a stellar righty lefty combo. They have at also making MLB franchises kick themselves for not tempting them away from A&M. Englert had a crazy streak of 60 innings where he didn’t allow a run and Childress can regain his old form with his fastball that has seemed to flat out. I admire their arm action a ton as they seem like safe bets to perform for what they are. When I think of people who can hit out and in their sleep, Raynel Delgado is close to that. Unfortunately for him, he is the infamous man without a position as his trials in spots haven’t been able to stick but you’re drafting him for his. Switch hitting doesn’t hurt either to get in the lineup. Every year, there are just those players who just have the IT factor and Ty Madden belongs in this group not just because of his name. I can picture him in wowing in spring training with his unique mechanics that are painful to imagine doing yourself. He already has three 55 level pitches in his arsenal, with an amazing two seamer and just needs to upgrade one or two of them to become a difference maker. He won’t “wow” you but he’s steady just like Grant Little out of Texas Tech. I wonder if he can play the infield and if that would get people to respect him more for what he’s doing as an eligible sophomore with his 1000 OPS. His approach is a little like Ryan Braun’s since he does everything well and good enough, at least for me with no weaknesses. Bren Spillane is the other example of blatant overlooking of having the most big flies the country in a good conference. If he can become a corner outfielder like I think he can with his sneaky athleticism for a beast of a man, this is one of the bigger steals. The only thing preventing him from this is past concussions which are valid criticisms than hitting inside fastballs. He’s a cross between Daniel Murphy and Wilmer Flores.
I’m now going to go on a run of college players who I value more than the consensus who are probably going too low for their perceived limitations. The Navy’s Noah Song is in a bit of a predictable with future military service looking but is of exceptional character. He may appear to be average across the board but if there’s anyone to maximize this, it’d be him. As a late bloomer, it’s always possible he gets better overtime like most of the rest of these men with the worst case being a back end which is not really that bad at all for the deal you can get him with. DaShawn Keirsey (say that five times loud) from Utah is lucky to still be playing when he suffered a serious hip injury actually running into a wall. He checks out nearly twelve months later as fully healthy and is one of the best ballplayers in his entire geographic region. Like Dustin Fowler once was, he’s a dynamic and consistent threat from the top of the order and quite the bargain. My next center fielder is Louisville’s Josh Stowers who I saw Torii Hunter in even if I’m off a couple inches. He can do just about anything on a baseball field and is a joy even in the outfield with his grinder mentality that makes it look like he plays with a chip on his shoulder. Robert Neustom opened eyes at Cape Cod coming from Iowa and is not too far off from Anthony Rizzo in both his style and surprising speed and power mixed because of his gigantic build. He works at the craft of hitting very hard too, almost like a hitting coach which is always a positive. I’m going to take a bit of pit stop for now to talk about LHP Luke Bartnicki. He’s awesome to observe for a multiple of reasons, not just for stirrups but because he works fast. I’m of the thought process that this is a snag in the sixth round if you offer him enough money and reason to develop. It’s easy to glance and think this could be another Carlos Rodon, who I watched frequently in just a couple years in a regimen. He goes back into a little shimmy like Cueto and comes from a baseball powerhouse. Teams have an opportunity to find the next Bohm in FSU’s Cal Raleigh and there’s nothing better than a catcher who can bat both ways with significant power. He’s a lot better than he was his second year and could have found something out as well. All he needs to do now is ensure he remains behind the plate and he’s tough enough to. College catching is among the hardest commodities to find after all, with his resume? TJ Collett is a freshman who I’m not even sure can be drafted or not but if he can, he’s not all that distinguishable from another Indiana kid in Kyle Schwarber although he should stay in school and get drafted way higher than he probably will be in ranked. Jake Irvin out of Oklahoma is the type of pitcher to outperform expectations at every stop and has the ingredients with at a lanky 6’6″ hiding his weight well. He’s unbothered out there and appears like he is playing a game of catch with a partner.
The next several in this batch are players I wouldn’t be hesitant to call and make part of my organization anywhere in the beginning parts from from rounds 3-6 as their wild cards to the whole equation. This starts and ends with Pennsylvania’s Sean Guilbe who is a manchild. I have not seen a physical specimen in the diamond on many occasions and you can tell he doesn’t fit into his jersey. I was heads over heels on Mike Siani until I saw Guilbe. If you put him in the International League or PCL, he could well be one of the top power threats and break an all time minor league record. He’s a Gatorade Player of the Year and for good reason, and must not get to Tennessee. Vandy hurler Reid Schaller has a heavy fastball worthy of early rounds by itself and he’s a bulldog coming to challenge hitters. With his stuff he could blow past by you, he’s still coming back from missing all of last year so it’s a process that will only get better. It’s better to take a risk here than 2019 when he might not be available and it helps that he looks like he’s in his 30s like a veteran. The only division three prospect on here could be the most intriguing with Hugh Smith. His story is nuts as he quit pitching and the game of baseball after high school and saw his future studying biophysics at University of Washington until Whitworth called him. His itch came back and he went from throwing 80 to darts, in part to an unheard growth spurt as a 19 year old that took him from six feet to six feet ten inches two years later! The newfound gas lasts in games and he’s turned into a natural. Plus, with his experience of getting hit around and pitching to contact with less, he’s learned to utilize his weapon even more than most almost like he’s cheating with his obvious smarts. He has only needed to use one type of pitch but he’s been given a new life he’ll take full advantage of which is exciting. Simeon Woods-Richardson has been among the most perplexing cases this spring with him putting on clinics in showcase events that could serve him well in private visits. He tires easily early on which leads to reliever questions but could be because of how good he is as a hitter. I’d still try him as a two way and give him every opportunity to take the ball every fifth day which won’t be easy but potentially worth it if he takes off with his immense reward. Adam Wolf, unlike many before him, can’t dial it up but has been the absolute perfect replacement to Brendan McKay and those are big shoes to fill. He did effortlessly as he’s done since getting onto campus and you almost never see a bad start. He’s way more than just a situational lefty because he also has something in his back pocket – his cutter. Learned straight from the Internet after googling Mariano Rivera, this modern day experience has been fruitful and gave him his best pitch; one he can earn a living off. It’s cliche but he truly does do everything right, from fielding his position which is often accidental to holding runners on to not test him like Jon Lester does. I’m not going to blame anyone for rooting for Nick Sandlin who is every whiffle ball player’s fantasy with the way he moves everything. He has to being a short side armer and has like ten pitches. This might be a slight exaggeration but he actually does have that many ways of presenting to the batter with something new for them to see every time, overhand or underhand. He might seem like a fluke but his numbers don’t lie and he’s my pick for the Golden Spikes Award. If he can hold up physically since he’s like 150 pounds soaking wet, just let him be and sit back to watch him deal.
If I was a scouting director, I’d always be on the search for hidden gems flying under the radar. If I had the ear of one, I’d shout at the top of my lungs: GO GET TAJ BRADLEY. DO WHATEVER IT TAKES. I admit, it was jarring to see that Bradley was born in 2001. Almost four years after me. For someone who started extensively researching the draft when I was four years younger than the high schoolers, this is a big deal and makes me feel like I’ve been in this too long but I can’t give it up at least for now as it’s become a habit. He is a dead ringer of Taijuan Walker and will morph into a flamethrower just like him. What he’ll need to work on is slowing down some of his off speed but it shouldn’t be too hard to do since the most important is keeping them looking the same out of the hand to not telegraph it. I’m obsessed with how the Cardinals keep churning out low profile players into everyday lineup guys and Niko Decolati is a primer on how they usually come out from the draft. He hasn’t blown it up at Loyola Marymount and has frankly been underwhelming but can clearly smack the socket out as a super utility man and make you look past that with so many reinventions. There’s so much left for him to unpackage as he’s already has the bat of a Pedroia now and can tower over him. It’s conceivable he can morph into a DeJong. Second baseman Nick Dunn won’t have to do any retooling as he shows up ready and predictable. He’ll be a doubles machine and run into his fair share of balls that will leave the park with his high batting average and on base. He’s a version of Scooter Gennett pre-breakdown and might even have his own if doubling his homerun output is real but even if it isn’t, this is a big leaguer you can be confident about wherever. Reaching more deeper into the reservoir, Andrew Quezada brought himself back to the spotlight from Cypress and is what Matt Harvey wishes he could do with his limitations. He doesn’t get cute or nibble the corners but rather comes at you with all he got. Quezada’s stare is fitting because he gives it everything he’s got and will fight through things even when he fluctuates abnormally. He’s all precision and pitches in the right way, hitter by hitter and day by day through not getting ahead of himself. He’ll be that person who slowly but surely makes their way up a depth chart and stays to turn into a mainstay as a source of stability once he gets his first chance, promising to move quickly for whatever role whether it’s an extra, middle relief pitcher etc. Kingston Liniak is the hitting equivalent to Taj and a player I’d get on to talking to in order to see where his thinking is at because I envision the world if he wants it. Liniak is not just a speed demon as that’s the same mistake many sources made when evaluating one of my most memorable tapes of Trea Turner. He’s long and got a graceful cut with plus defense anywhere. He’s further along as a hitter than given credit for, standing straight which I like and is selectively aggressive which is the best way to describe Turner. It’ll be hard to convince him not to stay in sunny San Diego for college but if you do, you’re getting a NC State gem they didn’t know was there. Roger Clemens’ son Kody has balled this season after struggling mightily in college at first. The best of his brothers and bet to reach the majors, he has transformed into consciously trying to pull every pitch out which could be both good and bad if he connects enough times. Armed with nice instincts, he overcomes other shortcomings like a weak throwing motion but he could eventually fit offensive profile most places.
John Rooney coming out of Hofstra has kind of come out of nowhere too. He was flat out awful a year ago and has done a full 180. I’ve found this is stemming from a cerebral change and he finally looks sure of himself when I hear him speak, knowing he can compete against anyone with it be in the Colonial Athletic Association, China, Russia, you name it. He’s at peace with failure and not taking himself too seriously which is not the norm for young pitchers and hasn’t done much of it lately. All of his offerings slowly fade away from the batter and he is extraordinary in mixing them up. It’s refreshing to be witness to a discovery of self and he’s done it, philosophically in some ways. As a Friday night starter who is intimidating in his own way while coming down from the bump, there’s not much separating him from a David Peterson except for experience as both have an attitude and aura about them laser focused on game day while having a good time with their teammates. In an alternate universe, Eric Cole would be a Day 1 overachiever who could continue on his path. Instead, he’s marked a little harshly even with his excellent makeup and way of playing like his hair is on fire. He started all 60 games for Arkansas after suffering a stress fracture in his back previously and shouldn’t be just a replacement or backup who’s maxed out but a regular because his swings are identical both sides and ways who’s tough to stop when he gets going. Eric Cerantola on the other hand is a bit raw but the top Canadian to me for having to protect his baseball goals where it’s not always easiest and he’s played for their national team. For someone his height, he’s remarkably poised kind of like his fellow countrymen Mike Soroka and that’s what you’re hoping for. Everything else should follow as there are plenty of flashes here to be optimistic. Rutgers’ Jawuan Harris may not give you this same feeling or reassurance but is the definition of toolsy. As a dual sport safety, he swipes bags with ease and is patient as evidenced by a abysmal line that is saved by it. I much rather take a gamble later on with him than spend a ton of resources if it doesn’t happen like we’re used to seeing. His suspensions have been tied to maturity more than concrete personality problems and he has uber confidence not seen in most, whether or not others believe him on it. A relatively simple base, I’d want to see him try to do more than hit singles like I think he can with his body type and not do anything just to get on by focusing on slugging. The way he covers ground is like that of an NFL player that he’s also trying to be too. It’s head scratching that Adrian Del Castillo grew up rooting for the team in the Bronx but idolized Pudge Rodriguez. He stood out to me as a Jorge Posada level swinger without gloves and the resemblance is uncanny. Such a compliment is not given lightly as he possesses the wherewithal to wait out pitchers thinking like a catcher with his game plan up in the box. He’s disciplined and doesn’t chase whatever he can’t drive at a young age. His arm is below average but accurate so that’s positive. Posada wasn’t an amazing receiver either by the eye test or metrics as much as people hate to admit it like Jeter. They were still there to play because of their winning nature and if Del Castillo doesn’t follow through with Miami, he stands a shot to be decent at his craft and get to the majors faster. There needs to be more incentive than personalized instruction but he’s worth the time and investment to me. JJ Schwarz can attest to this fact. The situation with my last play is unique to Aidan Maldonado, a righty from Minnesota. Not only is he more ready than others in the high school ranks with his pitch-ability, he is extremely singable from Illinois. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind escaping for some warmer weather where his notable 94 MPH in bullpens is praiseworthy itself, never mind because he stands at exactly 6’0″ which could be why he has detractors but I’m far from one of them. Moreso, I want him to be the next Lance McCullers as I get that same mean strike vibe and edginess factor. He belongs in a category with all the others and maybe even deserves one himself. It’d be remiss to not at least mention Drew Rasmussen, 2017’s #31 overall pick who couldn’t reach a deal with the Rays because they noticed his MRIs that indicated another UCL tear. While negative for both parties involved, you can empathize with Drew for going through this Tommy John surgery again for the second time that he had in August. He won’t rush back this time to pitch well in the playoffs or a perfect game so it’s not the end of the world for him. What has to change is his role as it would no longer be safe to deploy him as a regular starter but instead a closer where his pitches would play up in shorter stints. He’s done relief before and will rehab with a new team that will have protections of their own while being supportive as possible.