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2021 Atlanta Braves MLB draft preview: DII baseball players to watch

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The 2021 MLB draft is quickly approaching. Here’s a look at some players from the DII level to keep an eye on next week.

DII baseball championship Wayne Cavadi

Justin Dean, Logan Brown and Bryson Horne are three of many former NCAA DII baseball alum in the Atlanta Braves minor-league system. As the draft quickly approaches — commencing on Sunday, July 11 — which DII players should be on the Braves radar?

It should be said that with the MLB draft just 20 rounds and an abundance of college players on the board due to the 2020 COVID campaign, predicting where these players will go with any accuracy is a difficult task. There is no Josiah Gray in this DII class — who was taken at the end of the second round of the 2018 draft by the Cincinnati Reds — but there are a few that can sneak in between rounds 5-10.

Keep in mind, this is not a definitive list. These are players that feel like they could be a right fit in the Braves organization.

Dylan Heid, RHP, Pitt Johnstown: Heading into the summer, Heid was likely the DII alum who was going to be drafted the highest. However, he has since entered the transfer portal despite still hoping to go pro. He’s a big righty, listed at 6’2 and 205 pounds and has a 94-96 mph fastball that led to 105 strikeouts in 59.1 innings for the Mountain Cats. He then went on to the MLB Draft League where his fastball was frequently listed among the best pitches of week. Heid tossed 18 innings in the MLB Draft League, striking out 35 and allowing just one earned run. Throw in a slider and changeup, along with a loose arm that doesn’t require much effort and you have a stud pitcher in the making.

Jacob Teter, 1B, Florida Southern: Teter has been on the MLB draft radar for some time. He’s a huge target at first base, standing at 6’6 and 225 pounds. He was already a big-time DII player to watch after taking Sunshine State Conference freshman of the year honors in 2018 and then put himself on the national radar with an All-Star performance in the Cape Cod Baseball League in 2019, hitting .293 with two home runs and 31 RBI in 46 games. He is a pull-friendly hitter that doesn’t strike out much with plenty of raw power to unhinge. Teter appeared in one MLB Draft League game and naturally registered a hit and an RBI.

Larson Kindreich, LHP, Biola: Kindreich is a big lefty, checking in at 6’4 and 210 pounds. He was impressive in the shortened 2020 season, not allowing a run in 30 innings. That shot him up the prospect board, but 2021 did come with its highs and lows: he can strike people out, but he does lose his command at times. Kindreich has a nice three-pitch mix with a low-90s fastball, a changeup that touches 81 and a slider that sits in the high-70s. He tossed just six innings in the Cape Cod Baseball League this summer, striking out eight and walking four.

Chad Patrick, RHP, Purdue Northwest: Patrick was an All-American in 2021 and has already thrown for a couple of big-league squads. He has a big fastball that can get to the upper 90s and a slider that is a strikeout weapon. On the season, Patrick pitched to a 1.83 ERA, 0.78 WHIP and a 97-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 64 IP.

Zach Parish, LHP, Missouri Southern: Listed at 6’2, 180, Parish had a historic run through DII, ending his career as the all-time leader in strikeouts. He doesn’t overpower you with a big fastball, sitting in the low-90s, but he has an advanced four-pitch mix highlighted by a changeup that was nearly untouchable at the DII level. He finished this season with a 1.21 ERA and a .162 batting-average-against and 136 strikeouts in 89.1 innings pitched. Parish had a nice two-week run through the MLB Draft League, so is certainly on the radar.

Andres Perez, C, North Georgia: The Braves already drafted the son of fan-favorite Eddie Perez out of high school and that was before he sprouted into the Nighthawks single-season and career leader in home runs. Perez is not high on MLB draft lists, but the Braves often find talent in the Southeast. He’s an absolute monster behind the plate, standing at 6’7 — which may be generous as he is the height of some umpires when he squats behind the plate — and 260 pounds. Perez missed 2019 with a torn rotator cuff and then 2020 happened, so the big numbers aren’t there, but that’s no fault of his own. He has a smooth right-handed swing and when he connects it goes a long way.

Lance Logsdon, UT, Quincy: If the purpose of the MLB Draft League was to improve your draft stock, then Logsdon has succeeded. The Hawks’ infielder/DH/pitcher hit .458 with 12 extra base hits in the shortened 2020 and came back with a vengeance in 2021, hitting .365 with a 1.123 OPS with 12 doubles and 12 home runs. Logsdon now leads the Williamsport Crosscutters in hitting in the MLB Draft League, hitting .338 with an .856 OPS. His path to the pros is at the plate as a hitter that can use all fields and is showing he can handle higher-level pitching. The Braves took Cody Birdsong out of Quincy in 2019, perhaps Logsdon is next.

Chase Plymell, RHP, Central Missouri: Plymell has had a long season. The Mules were among the first teams to return to the diamond this year and then went all the way to the final game of the DII baseball season. Along the way he went 3-1 with a 1.88 ERA with two saves, while striking out 49 with just five walks in 38.1 innings. Now he is in the MLB Draft League, where he’s struck out nine in six innings. He’s big — 6’4, 205 — and a strike thrower, so definitely worth a look. Plymell has several Central Missouri teammates worth looking at as well:

  • Mason Green, SP: The Mules ace never lost in his collegiate career. That’s not a typo — he was 27-0 in his three seasons as a starter.
  • Erik Webb, CF: Earned player of the year honors once and leaves DII as the active leader in just about every offensive category.
  • Dusty Stroup, INF: Hit 30 home runs the past two seasons, including a monster .385/.456/.934, 20-home run, 19-double campaign in 2021.

Zion Pettigrew, 2B/3B, Illinois Springfield: Pettigrew can do it all. He has a cannon of an arm and smooth feet and hands that he can play up the middle or at the hot corner. His bat speed is explosive from the right side: he hit 440 with a 1.454 OPS this past spring, adding 20 doubles and 17 home runs. Pettigrew then headed to the Draft League where he it .316, although surprisingly, didn’t connect for any long balls. H’s still an exciting one to watch.

A few others to watch:

  • Dan Oberst, 1B, West Georgia: There’s not much draft hype around the 2021 All-American, but he did play right down the road and the Braves have drafted local talent before. He hit .409 with a .1.333 OPS last year, adding 11 doubles and 17 home runs.
  • Robert Brooks, C, Columbus State: Another “local” player with not much draft buzz, the Braves did grab Bryson Horne from the Cougars last year, so they definitely have eyes in Columbus. Brooks erupted in 2021, hitting .396 with 22 home runs.
  • Ben Terwilliger, RHP, Barry: Terwilliger was absurd out of the Bucs bullpen in 2021, going 1-0 with four saves, a 0.69 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 13 innings. He’s also looked sharp in the MLB Draft League, so the success seems real.
  • Logan VanWey, RP, Missouri Southern: VanWey has been a solid reliever for the Lions, but has looked particularly sharp in the Draft League, posting a 1.17 ERA with 18 strikeouts in 15.1 innings and a league-best three saves.
  • Logan Workman, RHP, Lee: Workman was outstanding for the Flames in ‘21. He’s gone 13-1 over the past two seasons with a dazzling 1.21 ERA. He struck out 110 in 79.2 innings last year, but does have eligibility remaining.