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2019 MLB Draft: Where’s The Next Diamond In The Rough?

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There might be a few diamonds in the rough. And I make a bold prediction on who I think can be the next Patrick Weigel type pick.

Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

We are a little over a third of the way through the college baseball season, which brings us another day closer to the 2019 MLB Draft.

In recent news, Baseball American expanded their prospect list for the draft from 200 players to 300. They also dropped their 3rd mock draft, and are really the only major sports publication to have mock drafts out this early.

Prospect lists:

Fangraphs Big Board 200

Baseball America Top 300

MLB Pipeline Top 50

Mock Drafts:

Baseball America (3/21) - Hunter Bishop & Brennan Malone

Also, here’s my spreadsheet that has stats (through 3/23) and some additional info. With that, let’s start discussing college prospects.

College player stock trending up

Nate Fassnacht, SS/2B, George Washington - The 5’11” shortstop had a very good freshman year, but followed it up with a pretty disappointing sophomore year. Now a junior, he’s made quite the turn. Before he didn’t walk much and carried a K-rate close to 20%. However, this year he has a 23% BB-rate vs a 4% K-rate. No, that’s not an error. Nate has struck out a minuscule five times on the year. He’s never shown much power, so the 15 doubles on the season have been nice to see. His slash line of .425/.553/.736 is quite good, but he does have a rather high BABIP of .439.

Matthew Barefoot, OF, Campbell - Matt has hit over .300 each season at Campbell as well as reduce his K-rate, which is now under 10%. All solid stuff to go with a little bit of pop in his bat. He’s on pace for back to back 30 SB seasons despite not having elite speed. MLB teams might want him to transition to CF (currently playing LF for Campbell), since his bat likely won’t profile for a corner OF spot. He has just an average arm, so if he has to be in LF, he’s going to have to be a plus hitter.

Cory Wood, 2B, Coastal Carolina - By no means is Wood a big name in this year’s draft. However, one thing that Wood does extremely well is get on base. He’s carried an OBP well over .400 every season and is currently sitting at an even .500. He does have above avg speed and is willing to steal a base. If he can shore up his defense, he could make a pretty decent pick in the later rounds.

Logan Driscoll, C/OF, George Mason - Another under the radar catcher. Like Barefoot, Driscoll has also hit over .300 every season at George Mason. For his career he’s walked just as much as he’s struck out. He’s also not a slow footed catcher, because Driscoll will play CF when not catching. Not many have tried running on him this season, but he does have a 43% CS-rate. The 7 HRs hit on the season are a career high already and is just one shy from the previous 2 years combined. There’s a lot to like here.

Josh Smith, SS, LSU - After a reasonably good freshman season, he got hurt and missed most of the 2018 season. There was reason to be a bit excited about Smith coming back for a full season. So far, things are looking up. He has an above average arm and plays good defense, which could keep him at SS long term. The one thing he is lacking is power. He has just two home runs on the season and a total of eight extra base hits. He’s also fueled by a very high .424 BABIP, so not sure how real the bat is. He is walking more than striking out, so that’s definitely another positive. Since power won’t be a part of his game, it’ll come down as to whether scouts think his defense is elite level.

Cody Scroggins, RHP, Arkansas - Scroggins hasn’t pitched much in the past few years as he was recovering from TJS back in 2017. Due to his injuries and previously pitching out of the pen, it wasn’t until this season that Scroggins earned his first victory. With 33 strikeouts in 19 innings, he can certainly get after a hitter. His fastball sits in the mid 90’s to go along with a high 80’s slider and a change. He’s still a bit raw and coupled with the injury, he’s a bit of a gamble. The Braves are very good at finding those diamonds in the rough. Enjoy this clip of Nelson striking out Hunter Bishop.

Rick DeVito, RHP, Seton Hall - After a solid sophomore season and a decent cape cod, DeVito was one to watch out for as an early riser. While that hasn’t happened due to missing time early with an injury, he is back on the mound. DeVito has a fastball that can tough 99 as a reliever, but as a starter he’ll sit 92-94 and max around 96. Both the curve and change can flash above average, so there’s a good base here for a team willing to take a chance on him. Might be this year’s Patrick Weigel, though they have different body types. He’s not even listed on BA’s top 300. Now that he’s back from injury, he’s one to keep a close eye on.

Jacob Wallace, RHP, UCONN - The only closer on the list today. Wallace has a live fastball that reaches 97 and has a mid 80’s slider. He currently has a 0.71 WHIP with a 11.57 K/9 and a 1.93 BB/9. He’s positioning himself to be one of the top closers taken in the draft.

College player stock trending down

Logan Wyatt, 1B, Louisville - Wyatt has been seen as a first round talent, unfortunately as a first baseman, a lot of his stock will be dependent upon his bat. He’s currently hitting .282/.514/.380. He’s walking at an elite level, so that’s the good. But with just one home run and four total extra base hits on the season? Ouch. He only hit six home runs the year before. If Wyatt just hit more doubles, maybe you can be convinced those will turn to home runs, however it is going to be difficult convincing a team to draft a first baseman that relies on walks in the first round.

Ryne Nelson, RHP, Oregon - This season, Oregon shifted him from reliever to starter and things haven’t worked out that well. He’s sporting a 4.94 ERA due to him giving up a hit per inning and has a 4.94 BB/9. Nelson has electric stuff, but fastball command is certainly an issue. His fastball sits mid 90’s (max 98 mph) and he also throws a slider and change.

Tyler Dyson, RHP, Florida - With the amount of high talent that’s been drafted over the years for Florida, this was supposed to be Dyson’s year to stand out. Dyson has been up and down through his first five starts and has looked just average. The stuff is still there with a fastball that’s low to mid 90’s and a slider that flashes plus. The key for Dyson is to find that consistency and develop the change.

Ryan Jensen, RHP, Fresno State - Jensen has a big time fastball that sits mid 90’s and will max out at 98; his slider hasn’t really developed and he still has issues with walks. If he can get the slider or change to step up in a big way, he would be a very good reliever. He did strikeout Bryson Stott three times in a game, and Stott will be a top 10 pick.

Tyler Baum, RHP, North Carolina - Like Dyson, Baum is another pitcher at a big school that has good stuff, but just can’t seem to put it all together for stretches. He is certainly better at getting strikeouts than Dyson, but just allows too many base runners. The one positive is that he has reduced his BB rate from over 4 per 9 innings to around 2.43. He’ll raise his stock if he continues to limit the free passes, and finds more consistency. Baum’s fastball sits 90-94 and pairs that with a curve that flashes above average and an average change.

That’s it for this week. Let me know your thoughts on how some players performed this week on the diamond.