Justin Dean. Logan Brown. Bruce Zimmermann. Those are just a few of the more recognizable names the Atlanta Braves have drafted in recent years that hail from NCAA Division II baseball. Is there a diamond in the rough waiting for the Braves in 2019?
Here’s a few names you should keep your ear out for come draft day.
Hunter Brown, Wayne State (Michigan)
You don’t draft stats, but Brown’s numbers speak for themselves. He was undefeated for the Warriors in 2019, going 9-0 with a 2.21 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and a nice 105:35 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 80 innings. He cleaned up in the postseason, earning conference and Midwest Region pitcher of the year, as well as All-American honors so people noticed. He has a three-pitch mix, although it looks like his fastball-slider combo are well ahead of the game. The junior righty — who’s frame is also ideal at 6’2, 203 — will most likely be the first DII pitcher, if not player, off the board.
Spencer Van Scoyoc, Central Oklahoma
Unlike Brown, disregard the stats with Scoyoc. The 6’3, 210 pound lefty was drafted out of high school in the 19th round by the Toronto Blue Jays, but went to Arizona State instead. After an impressive freshman debut, he struggled in his second year and then headed to Central Oklahoma for his junior season. The results weren’t there (6.18 ERA, 1.82 WHIP 42:44 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 39.1 innings), but he has a history of being scouted and baseball bloodlines. His fastball and curve are ahead of the game, so he could project as a nice reliever if he can get the command down.
Tyler Yankosky, Millersville
The junior righty certainly has the frame, standing at 6’6 and 225 pounds. He was also tremendously improved coming out of the Marauders bullpen, slicing his ERA in half and striking out 43 in 33.2 innings pitched, all while holding his opponents to a .179 batting average. He has a three-pitch mix highlighted by a mid-90s fastball that touches the uppers and an effective cutter. He’s a reliever, so if he’s drafted as such, he should provide value.
Matt Minnick, Mercyhurst
In 2017, Baseball America tabbed Minnick as the DII preseason pitcher of the year. Unfortunately, injuries struck and he barely pitched over the next two seasons. This year he bounced back in a big way, going 6-3 with a 2.77 ERA and 97 strikeouts over 65.1 innings. The 6’2 southpaw had a four pitch arsenal and is most effective with his fastball and changeup, but the slider plays. Though a bit older as a redshirt-injury, someone can benefit with a later round flyer on him.
Kolton Ingram, Columbus State
Ingram is a local (ish) arm who had a tremendous 2018, leading the Cougars to the finals in the DII baseball championship, piling up 150 strikeouts in 136.1 innings last season. He doesn’t have the frame of a front line starter, just 5’9 and 160, but the lefty proved effective nonetheless. Ingram didn’t look himself in 2019, a little more hittable, but he still showed the ability to strikeout people in bunches. He can touch the 90s and profiles more as a reliever at the next level, but playing down the highway from SunTrust Park may have helped get some eyes on him.
Parker Morrison, North Georgia
The Nighthawks anchor in the bullpen is another local (ish) arm that could get some eyes on him in the later rounds, although it’s likely he returns to North Georgia for one more season. He has some heat and clearly has no issues striking out his victims, posting a 74:18 K:BB rate in 49 innings.
Tyler Garbee, Mercyhurst
Garbee is another Mercyhurst arm worth watching. The 6’3, 200 pound right-hander has some DI experience at both Akron and Pittsburgh, but he really came into his own in Erie, Pennsylvania. His outing in the DII baseball championship was simply superb, striking out 12 while mixing a three-pitch arsenal all of which flashed plus potential at times. His fastball sat 92 reaching 94, but the big take away was he was still hitting 91 and 92 in the eighth inning after 100+ pitches. He may have pitched his last game for the Lakers, but if anyone was watching, it may have served as a strong audition.
Keven Pimentel, Tampa
The Miami (FL) transfer has been on the radar for awhile and his 2019 season certainly improved his stock, going 12-2 with 2.73 ERA and a 98:31 K:BB ratio. The 6-3, 230 pounder went toe-to-toe with Garbee in the DII baseball championship and it was a duel for the ages. Pimentel’s fastball and slider have heat and move. He works fast and gets quite a bit of ground balls. He has the frame and the stuff that is certainly worth a flier in the later rounds.
Others to watch: Ted Stucka, UC San Diego, Cole Waites, West Alabama, Kipp Rollings, North Greenville.
Brenton Doyle, Shepherd
Doyle caught our own Matt Powers’ eye who has him ranked as the 15th-best outfielder heading into the MLB Draft. The Rams outfielder’s calling cards are speed and contact, especially the ability to go all fields and show some pop the other way. The right-handed hitter was the 2019 Mountain East Conference player of the year, hitting .392 with 13 home runs, a 1.260 OPS and 19 stolen bases in 24 attempts. He also had a strong showing in the Coastal Plains League last summer, hitting .313 with three home runs and 15 stolen bases in just 44 games. Doyle should be amongst the first DII players off the board.
Micah Pries, Point Loma
Pries started 51 games for the Sea Lions in 2019 posting his second-straight strong season. He has a slightly open stance with a pretty easy swing that seems to generate nice contact and power. Pries has 61 hits in 192 at bats in 2019, 18 of which left the park. He also struck out just 16 times, while walking 23. Pries posted double-digit stolen bases last season, but was just 5-for-7 this year, but he still has enough speed to play. Only a junior, he’d benefit from one more year in DII, but could be a late flier.
Mason Janvrin, Central Missouri
Janvrin was impressive in his first game in Cary. The 6’2, 180 pound outfielder is more on the lanky side, with a lot of legs, but he blends speed and an ability to put the bat on the ball into a very toolsy outfielder that should get a look later on in the MLB draft. Janvrin will fight off pitches until he finds one to drive and he can turn singles into doubles, and has the baseball smarts to recognize when to lay down a bunt that plays in his favor. In five at bats in his first game in Cary, he swung at one bad pitch, advanced in his pitch recognition.
Adam Sasser, North Greenville
He certainly has the power, there’s simply no denying it. The 6’5, 220 pound first baseman had a monster season when he transferred into North Greenville. He hit .327 with 21 home runs and a 1.149 OPS for the Crusaders. It’s just a matter of which team invests a draft pick in the big lefty.