The Grind: Prospect evaluations From a veteran scout (USA Baseball Notes, Vol. 1)

Veteran pro scout and 2080 Baseball senior advisor Ted Lekas continues his MLB Draft work, offering his thoughts on some of the top talent he observed in his looks at USA Baseballs Collegiate National Team this summer in this two-part series.  All players are 2018 draft-eligible unless otherwise indicated.

For purposes of these writeups, and summer evaluations at 2080 Baseball, “early designations” fall into three categories: Top Follow (Potential Day One — Top 2 Rounds), High Follow (Potential Top 5 Rounds), and Follow (Potential Draftee/More Information Needed). Players are shifted from early designation to a more specific “suggested slot/suggested investment” during the spring, leading up to draft day.


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Series Links: Volume 1 | Volume 2

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Tim Cate, LHP, Univ. of Connecticut
Ht/Wt:  6’0”/187 lbs.       B/T: L/L       Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft):  20y, 8m 

Background:  2017 marked Cate’s second season with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team, with the lefty showing well over 12 IP in five relief appearances. Cate allowed just one earned run (0.75 ERA) on three hits (.081 BAA) and four walks (3.00 BB/9) while striking out 20 (15.0 SO/9). This past spring with UConn, Cate made 12 starts, posting a 3.33 ERA and 1.44 WHIP with opposing hitters batting .273 against him. He walked 31 (3.69 BB/9) and struck out 102 (12.13) in his 75 2/3 innings of work. Cate previously had Tommy John Surgery in high school.

Notes:  Medium frame; wirey strong, though it looks like he could benefit from some additional strength; no windup, simple delivery; loose arm and good extension from his 3/4’s arm slot; projectable, plus fastball (90-to-93 mph), sitting mostly at 91 mph with plus movement (run and tail to both sides of the plate); throws both two- and four-seam fastball; plus curveball (78-to-82 mph) with hard, downer break, two-plane action, good depth, and late bite; can throw breaking ball for strikes; good arm speed and deception on future plus changeup (85-to-86 mph); projects to three plus pitches; only question is durability due to body type.

Early Designation: Top Follow (Potential Day 1)



Bryce Tucker, LHP, Univ. of Central Florida
Ht/Wt:  6’3”/205 lbs.       B/T: L/L       Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 21y, 6m 

Background:  Tucker through exclusively out of the pen both this spring and this summer, closing out games for Central Florida and used as a left-handed middle-man and situational lefty on the Collegiate National Team.  The southpaw made 27 appearances for the Knights, totaling 38 innings and punching out 55 batters (13.03 SO/9) while walking 12 (2.84 BB/9) and posting a 1.66 ERA, all while holding opposing hitters to a .154 batting average against. He showed the same swing-and-miss stuff this summer, striking out 18 batters in 10 innings of relief work (16.20 SO/9) while allowing five hits, six walks (5.40 BB/9) and a .152 BAA.

Notes:  Well–proportioned, athletic frame; works out of the stretch; long armer with a shallow wrap; three-quarters arm slot; below-average, erratic command in 2 1/3 innings observed; fringe-average control (contrary to spring stats at UCF); control ahead of command; solid-average fastball (89-to-93 mph), sitting 92 mph with run and tail to both sides of the plate; average fastball movement; average slurve/slider (80-to-82 mph) with ability to change shapes for effect; will continue his role as a late-game left-handed reliever at UCF in 2018.

Early Designation:  Follow (Potential Draftee/More Information Needed)


Ryley Gilliam, RHP, Clemson Univ.
Ht/Wt:  5’10”/175 lbs.      B/T: R/R       Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 21y, 10m

Background:  Gilliam served as a closer/late-inning arm for the Collegiate National Team after providing the same services for Clemson this past spring. He made 27 appearances for the Tigers in 2017, working 35 innings while walking 14 (3.60 BB/9) and striking out 50 (12.86 SO/9).  He followed-up that performance with 8 1/3 dominant innings for the Collegiate National Team this summer, allowing no earned runs (five unearned) on four hits and two walks (2.16 BB/9) while striking out nine (9.72 SO/9).

Notes:  Right-handed reliever who throws from a 3/4’s arm slot; compact arm, no-windup delivery; in spite of his size, creates good downward plane with plus arm strength; aggressive; attacks hitters; plus fastball (92-to-95 mph) with hard run and tail action to both sides of the plate (occasional boring action); projectable above-average movement on heater; command of fastball can be spotty at times; overall command across arsenal will be average; plus curveball (79-to-80 mph); hard, power downer with good two-plane action, depth and break; biggest question is size but he should be durable enough to be a solid major league reliever.

Early Designation:  Follow (Potential Draftee/More Information Needed)


Jake Irvin, RHP, Univ. of Oklahoma
Ht/Wt:  6’5”/205 lbs.       B/T: R/R       Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft):  21y, 3m 

Background:  Irvin entered the summer off of a 13-start season for the Sooners where he tossed 71 1/3 innings and posted 75 strikeouts (9.46 SO/9) with 29 walks (3.66 BB/9). He made just two appearances for the Collegiate National Team (both starts), totaling seven innings, striking out 10 (12.86 SO/9) and walking four (5.14 BB/9). Three of his five hits allowed went for extras (two home runs and a double), all against the Futures League All-Stars.

Notes:  Well-proportioned, athletic frame; wears glasses; long armer with a loose arm, good tempo and rhythm; Solid-average fastball (89-to-93 mph), sits 91 mph, projects to plus at maturity; average fastball movement with run and tail, occasional cut action at lower velocity; slider (77-to-80 mph) is a work in progress with a lot of play and inconsistency; action ranges from long, slurvier to tight, and projects to average; above-average changeup (84-to-86 mph) with fade action to both sides of the plate; ability to sell the pitch with good arm speed; swing-and-miss offering; command/control of his arsenal is erratic, leaves a lot of fastballs center cut; control needs to improve after showing below-average 3.66 BB/9 during the collegiate season and regression to 5.14 BB/9 in limited work with Collegiate National Team.

Early Designation:  High Follow (Potential Top 5 Rounds)