The Grind: Prospect evaluations From a veteran scout (USA Baseball Notes, Vol. 2)

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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Travis Swaggerty, OF, Univ. of South Alabama
Ht/Wt:  5’11”/185 lbs.       B/T: L/L        Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 21y, 9m 

Background:  Swaggerty played all three outfield spots this summer for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team, showing well across the grass. One of the more consistent performers on the club, Swaggerty slashed .328/.449/.406 this summer in 19 games and 79 plate appearances, drawing 11 walks to 18 strikeouts and swiping six bags in seven attempts. Already a 2016 Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American after hitting .303 in his first season with South Alabama, Swaggerty enjoyed a breakout follow-up campaign this past spring for the Jaguars, slashing .356/.484/.571 while walking more than he struck out (49/45 BB/SO rate) and reaching double digits in both home runs (11) and doubles (12). He was also successful in 19 of his 25 steal attempts.

Notes: Played both center and left field in viewings; compact, athletic frame with both present strength and room for additional weight and strength gain over course of physical maturation; plus athlete; slight open stance to start, closes with good trigger; quick bat with ability to manipulate the barrel and use the entire field; comfortable will going the other way; good plate discipline, ability to make adjustments; will fight off pitches he can’t handle to get counts in his favor; good pull power with loft and leverage in his swing; projects to plus hit/power guy; arm plays average to above-average with good carry; average glove, steady fielder; plus runner underway with fringe average times out of the box (4.25 seconds home-to-first times). 

Early Designation:  Top Follow (Potential Day 1)



Jeremy Eierman, 3B/SS, Missouri State Univ.
Ht/Wt: 6’1”/205 lbs.       B/T: R/R        Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 21y, 9m 

Background:  After holding down the six-spot for Missouri State this spring, Eierman shifted around between third base and the outfield for the Collegiate National Team this summer. An underclass standout for a loud Missouri State offense this past spring, Eireman slashed .313/.431/.675 over 63 games and 301 plate appearances for the Bears, with 40 of his 76 hits going for extra bases (23 home runs, 15 doubles and two triples). Eierman didn’t maintain that same production with the Collegiate National Team, slashing just .125/.182/.225 and striking out 10 times in his 44 plate appearances.

Notes: Played third base in viewings; strong, compact, athletic frame; hits from a wide base and slightly open stance; quick hands and wrists at the plate; looks to get extended, although he can also work effectively to the opposite field; needs more consistency in swing path and finish but shows strength, loft and leverage to his swing, power to all fields; plus arm with ability to throw from multiple angles, including coming in on balls and throwing on the run; above-average fielder with steady, quick, soft, sure hands; solid-average range; average runner with home-to-first times clocking 4.25-to-4.32.

Early Designation:  High Follow (Potential Top 5 Rounds)


Nick Madrigal, 2B, Oregon State Univ.
Ht/Wt:  5’8”/161 lbs.        B/T: R/R        Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft):  21y, 3m 

Background:  Madrigal was drafted by Cleveland in the 17th Round of the 2015 MLB Draft but elected to honor his commitment to Oregon State, where he was a Freshman All-American in 2016 (hitting .333 with 17 extra base hits and 8 stolen bases) and emerged this spring as one of the top offensive producers at the collegiate level (slashing .380/.449/.532 over 282 plate appearances, walking 27 times while striking out just 16 times, and racking-up 20 doubles).  This A shortstop this spring, Madrigal spent most of his time at the keystone this summer in addition to some time at short. With Oregon State’s late run into the College World Series, Madrigal was limited to just 65 plate appearances with the Collegiate National Team and slashed .258/.292/.323 over that span.

Notes: Smaller in stature, needs some additional strength; good baseball player with good instincts for the game; played both second base and shortstop in viewings; arm is playable at short but fits better at second base; pesky, aggressive hitter who makes good contact and sprays the ball around to all fields; good bat control, barrels up balls; singles/doubles hitter with projection to average hit tool (50); limited pull power which will play below-average at maturity; 80-grade runner clocking home-to-first times in the 3.94-to-4.10 second range; good instincts on the bases with ability to be a quality base stealer; average quickness in hands with average fielding actions; average range at second base; defensive tools likely too limited to overexpose at shortstop.

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


On the Other Side of the Ball…

While sitting on the USACNT bats, one non-USACNT arm jumped out to Ted – an underclass pitcher making his way to Norman this fall for his freshman year at Oklahoma… 


Cade Cavalli, RHP/INF, Univ. of Oklahoma
HT/WT:  6’6”/200 lbs.       B/T: R/R          Age (as of 2020 Draft) 18y, 10m 

Background:  Cavalli was a 2017 high school graduate drafted out of Bixby (Okla.) High School by the Atlanta Braves in the 29th Round of this year’s MLB Draft. Rather than starting his pro career this summer, Cavalli elected to log time with the Pittsfield Suns of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League this summer before heading off to the University of Oklahoma in the fall. A two-way talent, Cavalli made just three appearances on the mound this summer, working 2 1/3 innings and allowing no runs, one hit and two walks while striking out three. As part of the Futures League All-Star squad that faced off against the Collegiate National Team, Cavalli threw one inning, facing seven batters, and allowed one unearned run on one hit and one walk while striking out two. 15 of his 25 pitches were thrown for strikes.

Notes:  Tall, projectable frame with additional room for weight gain and strength through normal maturation; long armer; quick arm with a three-quarters arm slot and upright delivery; double-plus arm strength; fastball sat 92-to-96 mph, sitting primarily at 93 mph, with projectable, plus movement (run, tail and bore); currently has below average fastball command but should reach average command in time given coordination evident in delivery and his ability to repeat mechanics; projectable, above-average slider (82-to-86 mph) with tilt and depth on a few occasions; good spin action on breaking ball, but needs to keep arm up and stay on top of the pitch; good feel for projectable, above-average changeup (84-to-86 mph) with fade, but seldom used; projects to three above-average pitches at maturity.

Early Designation:  High Follow (Potential Top 5 Rounds) for 2020 MLB Draft