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2018 MLB Draft: JUCO Players - The Hitters

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Every year there are many JUCO players selected in the MLB draft. How about we learn about a few before they are potentially drafted.

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Los Angeles Dodgers Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

First let’s cover the boring basics of the Junior College realm.

First-Year Player Rules are that any Junior college player can enter the MLB draft regardless of what year they completed.

J1 = Two-Year College 1st Year

J2 = Two-Year College 2nd Year

J3 = Two-Year College 3rd Year

Fun fact: Did you know Craig Kimbrel was a J2 player from Wallace State Community College? Well he was and the Braves drafted him with the 96th pick back in 2008. He had a meager 123 strikeouts in 83 innings. The Braves went on to select a total of 21 JUCO players in 2008, which is a lot, though not all signed.

Some JUCO players will switch to a Division 1 school in the hopes of boosting their draft stock, while other players specifically go to Junior colleges so they don’t have to play 3 years before re-entering the draft.

Fast forward to the past couple of years and the Braves have selected a total of 15 JUCO players: 4 JUCO players in the 2016 draft, and 11 in the 2017 draft. A far cry from selecting 21 in one draft. However, some names that I like are:

Tucker Davidson, J2, 19th round 2016 (J2 season - 9.49 K/9, 2.53 BB/9, 1.15 WHIP)

Troy Bacon, J2, 4th round 2017 (J2 season - 14.40 K/9, 2.28 BB/9, 0.75 WHIP)

Justin Smith, J2, 20th round 2017 (J2 season - .355 AVG, .486 OBP, .380 SLG, 15 HRs, 32 XBH)

So what’s the big deal? The Braves haven’t been big players in the Junior college for years. Well, losing their 3rd round pick means money will be tight; it’s quite possible that the Braves will dip into the JUCO ranks for diamonds in the rough and save money for higher ceiling players at the college and HS ranks.

Please note that I’m only scouting stats and have not seen any of these players up close. I looked at power hitters, players with speed, players that hit for high average, players that walk a ton more than they strikeout, or some mix like power/speed combo.

PerfectGame.org also put out an article for the top JUCO players heading into the 2018 season (need a membership to see everything). The top 3 hitters are included below.

So let’s take a look at some players that drew my eyes.

JUCO Prospects

Player School Class Height Position Bats GP AVG OBP SLG OPS AB HR XBH BB/HBP SO BB% SO%
Player School Class Height Position Bats GP AVG OBP SLG OPS AB HR XBH BB/HBP SO BB% SO%
Hunter Wolfe Walters State J2 6'0" SS RHH 48 0.434 0.546 0.664 1.210 143 5 19 39 21 22% 11%
Josh Breaux McLennan J2 6'2" C RHH 39 0.380 0.516 0.736 1.252 121 10 21 36 23 23% 15%
Colton Onstott Dodge City J2 6'1" C LHH 42 0.482 0.538 0.829 1.367 164 11 33 21 11 11% 6%
Connor Hurst Butler J2 6'1" OF RHH 40 0.391 0.500 0.902 1.402 133 18 29 30 26 18% 16%
Alex Peterson Cowley County J1 5'10" OF LHH 41 0.515 0.582 0.800 1.382 165 7 27 28 13 15% 7%
Anthony Dominguez Cisco J2 5'10" OF LHH 42 0.373 0.479 0.603 1.082 126 6 17 31 9 20% 6%
Kobe Morris Crowder J2 6'3" SS/3B LHH 40 0.401 0.525 0.649 1.174 137 7 22 38 16 22% 9%
Kaden Fowler Barton J2 6'0" C LHH 44 0.442 0.497 0.814 1.311 172 11 37 22 21 12% 11%
Joey Polak Jefferson (MO) J1 6'5" 1B/3B LHH 42 0.484 0.589 0.992 1.581 128 17 31 37 37 22% 22%
Gunner Halter Seminole State (OK) J1 6'2" SS RHH 34 0.395 0.484 0.814 1.298 129 13 27 23 24 15% 16%
Mark Castelblanco Clarendon J2 5'7" CF LHH 40 0.419 0.515 0.985 1.500 136 19 35 31 20 19% 12%
Stats are through 4/17/2018

Colton Onstott

- 18% CS-rate

- .988 FLD% (3 errors)

- Tied for No. 4 in NJCAA with 20 doubles

- Tied for No. 9 in NJCAA with 60 RBI

Connor Hurst

- Flashing solid power/speed combo with 29 XBH & 16 SBs

- No. 3 in NJCAA with 18 HR

Alex Peterson

- Insanely high batting average w/ a super low strikeout rate

- No. 1 in NJCAA with 78 RBI

- Also showed off some speed with 20 SBs so far

Anthony Dominguez

- Has one of the best BB:K ratios I came across

Kobe Morris

- Seems to be a well rounded hitter

- .898 FLD%

- Got accepted to play for Alabama in 2019

Kaden Fowler

- High volume of XBH

- No. 1 in NJCAA with 21 doubles

- 25% CS-rate

- 1.000 FLD% (not a full time catcher)

Joey Polak

- Tied for No. 9 in NJCAA with 67 RBI

- Tied at No. 3 in NJCAA with 18 HR

- Big guy (listed anywhere from 6’2” to 6’5”) with lots of power, good walk rate, but will also strike out

- Transferred from South Carolina - missed 2017 with a knee injury

Gunner Halter

- Good mix of size, speed and hitting (defense needs work)

- 20 SBs

- Rated No. 5 by PerfectGame.org’s JUCO list

- Drafted in 22nd round by Blue Jays in 2017

Mark Castelblanco

- Power/speed combo that has 35 XBH & 15 SBs

- No. 2 in NJCAA with 72 RBI

- Tied at No. 2 in NJCAA with 19 HRs

Hunter Wolfe

- Rated No. 6 on PerfectGame.org’s JUCO list

- No. 2 in NJCAA with 34 SBs

- Selected in the 12th round by the Pirates in 2017

- Transferring to TCU for the 2019 season

Josh Breaux

- Rated No. 1 on PerfectGame.org’s JUCO list

- Selected in the 36th round by the Astros in the 2017 Draft as a J1 player

- Brother Joe was also selected in the 36th round by the Phillies, but transferred to Alabama (hitting .224)

I’d say the two players that stand out amongst the pack are Joey Polak and Mark Castelblanco. I find each intriguing in their own way, but the main thing is that they are putting up monster numbers. What are your thoughts? Did I miss anyone?

Look for part 2 to come out soon on JUCO pitchers with pumped up stats.