Featured Photo: Nick Madrigal, 2B, Oregon State Univ.
* * * * *
Check out our 2018 Draft Spotlight Library for more notes on the top prospects in the 2018 MLB Draft Class.
* * * * *
Last weekend Spencer Hansen was in Corvallis, Oregon to take in a big series between the Oregon State Beavers and the Stanford Cardinal. Below are spotlights on three players who stood out.
Nick Madrigal, 2B, Oregon State Univ.
Ht/Wt: 5’8”/165 B/T: R/R Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 21y, 3m
Despite being the smallest player on the field, Beavers’ second baseman Nick Madrigal displayed the loudest tools of any draft prospect in the series between Stanford and Oregon State. Madrigal stands just 5-foot-8’, 165 pounds, but showed the makings of an above-average regular.
The junior has tremendous hand-eye coordination, and bat-to-ball skills that allow him to impact the ball consistently to all fields. With above-average bat speed and a level stroke, Madrigal does have some pop, but it plays more to the gaps than over the fence. What stands out most about Madrigal offensively is his keen eye for the strike zone and his feel for situational hitting. Madrigal has plus speed, which plays up because of his instincts and aggressiveness on the base paths.
Defensively, Madrigal displays smooth actions and clean footwork. He has average arm strength, but makes up for any shortcomings with quick transfers and above-average accuracy, both when set and on the run. Madrigal could handle spot duty at shortstop, but his arm strength and range are better suited for second base.
While some evaluators have concerns about Madrigal’s size, his advanced feel for the game and his diverse skill set set him apart from the rest of the class. As a high floor, low risk prospect, Madrigal is a day one lock and likely comes off the board within the first ten picks of the MLB Draft. –Spencer Hansen, May 14, 2018
Tristan Beck, RHP, Stanford Univ.
Ht/Wt: 6’4”/190 B/T: R/R Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 21y, 11m
After a back injury caused him to miss all of his draft-eligible sophomore season in 2017, Beck has established that he’s healthy this year, making all his starts thus far. He struggled on Friday against a potent Oregon State offense, surrendering six runs, four of them earned, on nine hits over seven innings.
Tall, lean and high-waisted, Beck has a high three-quarters release which helps to create some downhill plane. His athleticism also helps him to repeat what is an unorthodox delivery, with a quick step-in from the third base side transitioning his back foot to the first base side. Beck’s fastball sat 90-to-93 mph with arm-side run during this viewing. Early in the outing, Beck had problems commanding his fastball and found some barrels, but he settled in as the game progressed began to draw weak contact in the later innings. Beck fluctuated his curveball during the game: pairing a slower 73-to-75 mph “get me over” pitch with an 11-to-5 break earlier in counts, with a harder “put away” variation at 77-to-78 with more slurvy action. Beck’s best secondary offering was an above-average changeup with deceptive arm speed and good velocity separation at 80-to-82 mph. Like his fastball, Beck struggled to command his off-speed stuff for most of the outing.
Beck profiles as a back end starter, though he’ll need to spin his curveball more consistently to reach his ceiling. He doesn’t overwhelm with velocity, but his pitchability makes the arsenal play up. One of the more consistent starters in the college game this year, Beck should come off the board sometime on day one. –Spencer Hansen, May 14, 2018
Nico Hoerner, SS/2B, Stanford Univ.
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/200 B/T: R/R Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 21y, 1m
Though he was undrafted out of high school, after a solid sophomore campaign and an impressive performance in the Cape Cod League, Hoerner has shot up draft boards this spring. There isn’t a single tool in his arsenal that carries the profile, but Hoerner does everything well enough to be a potential average big leaguer in the middle of the infield.
Hoerner has an advanced approach at the plate, with good bat-to-ball skills, and a compact, level stroke that allows him to spray the ball to all fields. During last weekend’s series against Oregon State, he did show some vulnerability to breaking pitches, occasionally stepping in the bucket, and allowing his front hip to leak open. Hoerner does have some pop though it’s mostly to the gaps, with limited over the fence potential. Defensively, Hoerner has clean actions, and shows some range to the six-hole, but he could be better suited at second base due to a lack of arm strength. Hoerner has above average raw speed, which allows him to take the extra base while also helping him to steal 13 bases this season.
Regardless of whether Hoerner is able to remain at shortstop or will need to move to second base, his advanced approach and hand-eye coordination should allow the bat to play at the next level. With collegiate hitters representing a premium in the draft, Hoerner has potential to come off the board late on day one, or early on day two. –Spencer Hansen, May 14, 2018