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2020 MLB Draft: The effects of Driveline catapult a Duke pitcher to stardom

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Duke pitcher Bryce Jarvis went to Driveline this offseason and has seen his velocity and secondaries take leaps forward

2019 Major League Baseball Draft
2019 Atlanta Braves MLB draft
Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB via Getty Images

With the fourth week of college baseball under wraps, one thing is clear: pitching is starting to rule. That’s not to say that the top of the draft isn’t loaded with hitting talent, but there’s just a lot of pitching depth right now. Even high school pitching is looking better and better.

This also means that a hitter could easily fall right into the Braves lap when they pick at 25 or there will just be plenty of pitching fish in the sea to choose from. A little more MLB draft news is that the Braves only lose their second round pick for the Will Smith signing. Essentially, the Ozuna signing cancels out the comp pick they would have received for the Twins signing Donaldson. Losing the second round pick costs the Braves around a $1 million in pool money. Read more here.

We’ll have to see how losing a 2nd round pick impacts their draft strategy vs the 2018 draft where the Braves forfeited their 3rd round pick for Coppy-gate. It could mean signing a JUCO player early or a senior player that has no room to negotiate. The Mets signed three high school players in the first three rounds and then cheap senior signings in rounds 4 through 10. Obviously that’s the extreme version, but the same strategy in 2019 most likely won’t work in 2020.

College player stock trending up

Bryce Jarvis, RHP, Duke - A sophomore eligible player in the 2019 draft, Jarvis was selected in the 37th round by the New York Yankees. After the 10th round, anything over $125K would count against the Yankees pool. I don’t know what he was offered, but needless to say Jarvis was determined to increase his stock next year. DI Baseball’s Aaron Fitt put out a fantastic article on Byrce Jarvis that I highly recommend you read. Jarvis ended up going to Driveline (you know I love Driveline!) to work on increasing velocity and pitch creation. His velo sat around 88-92 and he already had a very good change-up, but his breaking ball was still lacking. This season Jarvis is sitting 92-95 (max 96) and both his newly designed slider and change-up flash above average to plus. He even added a curveball to give him a solid four pitch mix.

He threw a complete game no hitter against Cornell on 2/21. Jarvis also has 10+ strikes in three straight starts (just four starts on the season), so he’s cookin’! If he can maintain the newfound velocity and performance all season, he’ll be a 1st round pick. You know you did good when you get the Pitching Ninja treatment. Also, Duke sucks!

Bobby Miller, RHP, Louisville - Started 2019 in relief, but transitioned to started about mid year. He hasn’t let up so far in 2020 and continues to boost his stock. Miller is a big guy at 6’5 and around 220 lbs. He has a pretty interesting arsenal, but let’s start with the fastball that sits 94-97 and maxes out at 99 mph. His slider is his next best pitch and he’ll also throw a cutter, a split change and regular change. The negatives on Miller is that he throws with a lot of effort which also causes some poor control, though he has improved his walk rates so far through four games this season. There’s reliever risk here.

Brett Auerbach, C/3B/OF, Alabama - Gutsy. He’s a gutsy player. He plays the right way and he plays hard all the way. The guy does not slack. Auerback is another senior too, and isn’t on any prospect lists. However, I like the way the guy plays and he’ll get drafted. His first year at Alabama was last season and he hit .270 as a junior and didn’t get drafted. He helped himself with a solid Cap Cod where he hit close to .300 and showed more power (three homers) than he did all season with Alabama (just one homer). This season, he’s hitting .347 with a 1.137 OPS which includes three home runs already. He’s also sporting a riduculous 22% BB-rate and 8% K-rate. Someone is going to take a chance on Auerbach and it helps that he shows positional flexibility.

Brooks Carlson, IF, Samford - As a freshman, Carlson his .343 with 10 home runs. He followed that up his sophomore season hitting .345, but did see a decrease in power production as he hit only 6 home runs. In his first 13 games, he has been hitting everything in sight posting a .523 avg. His power production has decreased, but he does have 3 home runs. Another positive for Carlson is despite hitting everything he also has a 27% walk rate. So his OBP is sitting well over .600! His strikeout rate is a meager 7%. Carlson is not on any prospect lists right now, and while he won’t hit over .500 all season, he’s definitely going to make some lists.

Landon Knack, RHP, East Tennessee - Spent two season in junior college before transferring last year; he was a two way player, but has only pitched at East Tenneessee. He pitched fairly well last season posting a 1.09 WHIP and averaging 8.35 K/9. He’s blowing those numbers out of the water this season as he has an incredible 18.36 K/9 and a 0.46 WHIP. He has walked just one batter in 25 innings. Knack has 10+ strikeouts in all four starts including his latest start where he struck out 16 over six innings. I can’t find East Tennessee games to watch and can’t find much info, but he can run his fastball up to 98 mph. What he’s doing is amazing so I had to mention him.

College player stock trending down

John McMillon, RHP, Texas Tech - Picked in the 11th round in 2019, but ultimately didn’t sign. He is a senior, so this could be a potential cheap senior sign. He’s very much a reliever as he mainly just has a fastball that can hit 100 mph. McMillon’s slider has always been inconsistent and will sit mid to high 80’s. McMillon has been a high walk guy (35 BBs in 47.2 IN in 2019). So far he has five walks in seven innings pitched this season, but does have sixteen strikeouts. He can hit 100 mph, so he’s going to get drafted. Whether he’s successful or not depends on if the slider and control improve.

Nander De Sedas, SS, Florida State - Once a big time high school prospect, Sedas decided to go to school as he started to fall out of the 1st round on draft day (2018). Sedas is a draft eligible sophomore by just a few days since draft day got moved. As a freshman, he hit .241 with a .717 OPS. There were concerns that his K-rate was high at 22%. Through 14 games, he’s hitting a robust .160 (no XBH) with a 29% K-rate. De Sedas is most likely returning for his junior season as he still has a lot to work on.

Alerick Soularie, LF, Tennessee - Another JUCO transfer, Soularie was drafted after his J1 season with San Jacinto, but opted to go to Tenneseee. The former shortstop is now the primary left fielder, but has played some in center. Soularie was coming off a fantastic sophomore season where he hit .357 and hit 11 home runs. For a guy with power he showed restraint at the plate walking almost as much as he struck out (15% BB rate vs 16% K-rate in 2019). After a solid season, he hurt himself as he struggled a bit in the Cape Cod league hitting .207, though a small sample. This season has seen his walk rate spike while he’s decreased his strikeout rate. However, he’s just been terribly unlucky at the plate riding a .242 BABIP and currently hitting .236. So while his overall offensive numbers don’t look great, when his luck starts to improve/stabilize he’s going to go ham. However, I don’t think his stock will increase much since he’s likely relegated to LF, so I’m putting him in the trending down as I think other players will simply leap him forcing him down on lists. He does have a good arm, but is a fringey average runner.

Gage Workman, 3B, Arizona State - The 6’4” switch hitter can play SS and 3B. He was coming off a good 2019 where he posted a .941 OPS and played well in the Cape league too. The main question marks for Workman have popped up early. Can he walk more? Can he cut down on the strikeouts? Can he tap into more in game power? Sadly, the answer is no to everything so far. His walk rate is not good at 7%; his strikeout rate is an ugly 28% and he’s only hit one home run so far this season (.707) OPS. Workman’s BABIP is over .300 so it’s not like he’s been unlucky. Things are not looking good for Workman right now.

Other notes

Just a quick shoutout this week to Marquis Grissom Jr. If he doesn’t get drafted he’ll end up attending Georgia Tech. If he does, I’ll be able to watch him for 3 years and 2 years with Zach Maxwell. There’s also a prep catcher named Kevin Parada who is also a Georgia Tech commit, though he’s unlikely to make it there. Parada is currently rated the 78th best prospect according to Fangraphs.