Feature Photo: Tanner Houck, RHP, Missouri
In this week’s Draft Bites, Burke Granger takes a look at another college arm who may have picked the perfect time to have the best start of his season, and checks in on a speedy outfielder who burst on the scene last summer in the Cape Cod League. Meanwhile, Ryan Ozella shares his thoughts on a couple of interesting San Diego State Aztecs who are turning heads with strong seasons.
Editor’s Note: 2080’s Nick J. Faleris and Burke Granger were also invited to participate in a 2017 MLB Mock Draft hosted by our friends at Perfect Game – the first of three mock drafts that will appear at PerfectGame.org leading up to the 2017 MLB First-Year Player Draft this June. Version 1 can be found right here. And don’t forget to check out our rapidly-growing 2017 MLB Draft Class Video Library here!
Tanner Houck, RHP, Univ. of Missouri | 2017 Draft Class
Ht/Wt: 6’5”/215 lbs B/T: R/R Age (as of 2017 MLB Draft): 20y, 11m
Though Toronto used a 12th-round pick on Houck in the 2014 MLB Draft, Houck chose instead to follow through on his commitment to Missouri, where he’s stood out for three years (included two stints with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team) as a likely first-rounder come June 2017. As has been the case with several of his collegiate pitching peers in this draft class, Houck has had an up-and-down season, though he’s been consistently solid throughout much of the conference schedule, keeping himself in discussions as a Day One selection.
Tall and lean with a swimmer’s physique, Houck’s frame offers projection as he continues to physically mature. Though he’s got long levers, Houck is more athletic and flexible than most pitchers his size. Employing a high leg kick, Houck hides the ball well, offering plenty of deception before opening up with a crossfire delivery. Houck doesn’t harness the full extent of his height, utilizing a low-3/4’s arm slot before falling off the mound to the first base side, the extent of which is exaggerated when he throws his slider. Houck’s velocity has dropped some this spring from it’s previous mid-90s heat, sitting 92-to-93 mph with late sinking movement. Like the fastball, his slider is an above-average pitch and he locates it well to both sides of the plate, while his changeup is a firm, inconsistent offering that still requires additional seasoning.
Squaring off against Vanderbilt’s Kyle Wright on Saturday in front of dozens of MLB personnel, Houck was impressive. Working eight strong innings, Houck didn’t allow a run, surrendering five hits while striking out nine Commodores compared to just one walk. On the season, Houck has a 3-7 record with a 2.88 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 81 1/3 innings. Though Houck hasn’t been as consistently impressive in 2017 as he had been in prior seasons, his combination of present stuff and projection could be enough to get him selected in the back-half of the first round. – Burke Granger
Michael Gigliotti, CF, Lipscomb Univ. | 2017 Draft Class
Ht/Wt: 6’1”/180 lbs B/T: L/L Age (as of 2017 MLB Draft): 21y, 3m
A solid performer in the Atlantic Sun Conference in each of his first two seasons at Lipscomb, Gigliotti truly broke out with an eye-opening showing in the Cape Cod League last summer where he slashed .310/.404/.426 with wood bats and stole 11 bases against premier competition.
Gigliotti is a quick-twitch athlete with a lean, well-proportioned frame, and his carrying tool is his speed, which plays up both on the bases and in the outfield. An opportunistic baserunner, Gigliotti reads pitchers well, getting good jumps off of first base before accelerating into a graceful stride at peak speed. When he’s not bunting for a base hit – a skill that he’s perfected – the left-handed hitting Gigliotti employs a balanced, level swing capable of driving the ball to the pull side and spraying line drives to every part of the field. Defensively, Gigliotti gets excellent reads off the bat, and uses his legs to get to balls that most other collegiate center fielders can’t run down, and his fringe-average arm has just enough carry in it to hold down the position.
Against Mississippi Valley State this weekend, Gigliotti stole five bases in the series opener on Saturday and added another on Sunday to give him 26 on the season in 30 attempts. While Gigliotti was positioned to be a potential first-rounder after his strong summer, he’s failed to dominate lower level competition this spring, evidenced by his pedestrian slash line of .270/.442/.362. There’s still enough appeal, particularly in the speed and the ability to state in center, for Gigliotti to be a potential Day One selection. – Burke Granger
Tyler Adkison, LF, San Diego State Univ. | 2017 Draft Class
Ht/Wt: 5’10”/190 lbs B/T: R/R Age (as of 2017 MLB Draft): 22y, 1m
Tyler Adkison may not have been a starter early in the season for San Diego State, but since entering the lineup, the junior left fielder has become a mainstay, and spark plug for the Aztecs’ offense. A slender left fielder with long arms and present strength in his upper body, Adkison hit his 12th and 13th home runs of the season this past weekend against San Jose State, helping to secure a series sweep. His slash line on the season currently sits at .356/.470/.712.
Starting with a crouched stance and a quiet bat on shoulder, Adkison utilizes a big leg kick, loading all the way to his back hip with a shallow load in his hands. He’s generally able to clear his hips on time, allowing for efficient rotation through his core and clearing the way for his quick hands to drive through contact. Adkison utilizes a pull-centric approach, often getting the bat head out front early and producing lots of hook on his hard contact. He’s shown patience at the plate this season (30 walks), and has been willing to battle off pitches on the outer half while waiting out mistakes left up in the zone. The swing can get a little uphill at times, but when he’s able to stay on plane the balls jump off the bat.
Defensively, Adkison has played both corner-outfield spots, but showed a fringe-average arm and limited range, making left field his likely landing spot at the next level. Despite fringe- to below-average speed (4.31-to-4.59 second home-to-first times) with short choppy steps, he’s capable of taking the extra base thanks to solid reads and an aggressive approach. With limited upside and projection he should fit as a mid-round talent come June thanks to his production this spring. – Ryan Ozella
MLB DRAFT BITES
- One of the only pitchers in the country who pitched better than Houck on Saturday was his opponent, Vanderbilt’s Kyle Wright (VIDEO). Matching Houck blow-for-blow like the heavyweight match that it was, Wright allowed just one run on three hits over nine innings, striking out 13 batters and walking just one. Wright sat 92-to-94 mph with his fastball (T96), while commanding all three of his off-speed pitches in a dominant performance. Riding a hot streak down the home stretch of the season, Wright seems securely positioned as a top five overall pick. – Burke Granger
- San Diego State’s Brett Seeburger (VIDEO) picked up his ninth win, going 6 2/3 innings against San Jose State. The senior ace battled through early control issues, settling in after the third inning and starting the Aztecs off on a weekend sweep as they try to overtake New Mexico atop the Mountain West Conference. The deceptive lefty kept the Spartans off balance, working a late sinking fastball in the 88-to-90 mph velo range to both sides of the plate and utilizing his three off-speed pitches to limit damage. On the year, Seeburger is 9-1 over 11 starts and 70 innings, holding opposing bats to a .260 average against. – Ryan Ozella
- Stanford outfielder Quinn Brodey (VIDEO) is helping to lead the 14th-ranked Cardinal, one of the hottest teams in the country, through the final few weeks of the season. Last week against San Jose State, Quinn had an inside the park home run, then followed up the performance by robbing a home run on Sunday at Arizona State. The left-handed junior had two doubles, a triple and the home run, to go along with six runs and six runs batted in during last week’s action, and is currently slashing .306/.348/.517 on the season. He should hear his name called early on Day Two of the draft this June. – Ryan Ozella