Featured Photo: Triston Casas, 1B/3B, American Heritage (Pantation, Fla.)
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2080 Baseball Resource Libraries
Positional Preview Series
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CREAM OF THE CROP
(Potential Day 1 Targets)
Having slashed .351/.399/.513 in the Cape Cod League last summer, Bohm entered the spring as a first round target. He’s continued to rake this season, finishing up the regular season with a 1.061 OPS and 16 homeruns over 57 games, solidifying his stock as one of the top bats in this draft class. Athletically built with broad shoulders and a narrow waist, Bohm is an average runner with uncommon athleticism for his size. His range at the hot corner is augmented by his vast wingspan, though his footwork through his exchange and release can get sloppy at times. His arm is above average, with plenty of carry across the diamond, though the aforementioned lower-half inconsistencies can cause his throws to sail.
At the plate, Bohm is a dangerous hitter with double-plus raw power to all fields, and the ability to control the barrel within the zone. There’s some length to Bohm’s swing, but he has displayed the ability to pull his hands in to get to pitches on the inner half of the plate and there’s enough bat speed to close the gap against higher-end velocity. While he provides more value if he can remain at third base, he’d profile nicely as a power hitting first baseman should the need for a move arise. He fits comfortably in the top half of the first round and could come off the board as early as the top five overall selections.
Highly regarded as a Florida prep product, India has been a mainstay in the Gators’ lineup since stepping foot on campus. After a solid, but unspectacular first two years in Gainesville, India entered the season as a potential top three round draft choice, but he’s since hit his way cleanly into the first round. As the Gators enter post-season play, India is slashing .365/.506/.730 while leading the Southeastern Conference in the OBP and SLG by sizeable margins.
India has seen time at both third base and shortstop over his collegiate career, but he profiles best at the hot corner where his athleticism and above-average arm will be assets. Though he’s modestly sized at 6-foot, 200 pounds, India produces good torque with core strength and plus bat speed, resulting in above-average raw power that plays pole-to-pole in games. Though India will occasionally struggle with pitch recognition, he controls the barrel well, adequately covering the plate and making consistent hard contact.
A veteran of the showcase circuit, Casas represented USA Baseball in the 18U World Cup in each of the past two summers, earning MVP honors in 2017 as the United States successfully defended its title. Among his prep counterparts, Casas offers the most appealing mix of hit and power, making consistent hard contact while displaying the ability to drive the ball out of the park to all fields. The Miami commit controls the strike zone with a patient approach, rarely chasing balls out of the zone and possesses uncommon pitch recognition skills for his age.
Big-bodied at 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, Casas moves better at third base than one might expect, though ultimately better suited for first base where he could develop into a solid average defender. His arm is above average, evidenced by a fastball that can reach 93 mph when he hops on the mound. Though Casas’ defensive future is uncertain, his offensive prowess and easy pop make him a day one target, likely fitting best in the top forty picks and as high as the mid-first round.
Gorman had a huge summer, displaying double-plus raw power in batting practice, home run derbies (of which he won two), and within games, while showing solid glove work at third base. Following some uneven performances this spring, his stock has slipped some. His power is generated from a healthy combination of plus bat speed, raw strength and leverage through a naturally uppercut swing. The power comes at a price, however, as he often over-swings, leaking out his front hip too early and creating holes on the inner-third of the plate.
Defensively, the University of Arizona commit has a plus arm and soft hands belied by his thick frame and at-times clunky lower-half. He is a solid defender within his one-step zone but will have to work to maintain enough mobility and agility to stick at the hot corner long term, as he may have difficulty closing on balls in front of him and to the glove side as the game speeds up at the next level. He’ll be in play as high as the top ten picks thanks to his top shelf raw pop but could slide to the lower-half of the first round if teams don’t believe the contact rate can be cleaned-up at the next level.
One of the more polarizing players in this class, those that like Beer will point out his .325/.493/.646 slash line with 53 homeruns over a storied collegiate career, while those that don’t will cling to his poor track record with wood over the past few summers and uncertain future defensive home. Beer’s carrying tool is his big game power, the result of above-average bat speed, sheer strength and a swing plane that produces easy, natural loft.
Beer controls the strike zone as well as anyone in this draft class, displaying excellent plate discipline and rarely chasing pitches out of the zone. At times, his swing lacks fluidity, and he’s tinkered with his load year-over-year, eschewing a toe tap timing mechanism he used as a sophomore for a leg kick this season. Although he’s spent a good amount of time on the grass for Clemson, his bottom of the scale speed and fringe-average arm could limit him to either first base or designated hitter as a professional. Beer could slip into the second round or come off the board as high as the top 30 picks to a club banking on his approach and top-of-the-scale power carrying the profile.
Grant Lavigne, 1B, Bedford (Bedford, NH)
Ht/Wt: 6’4”/230 B/T: L/R Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 18y, 9m
A big bodied left-handed slugger, Lavigne has plus raw power that shows up in batting practice and in games alike. He gets good extension through the zone with a pull-oriented uppercut swing path that plays particularly well to pull, with enough strength the muscle the ball out the other way, as well. His hit tool is still a question, as while the young slugger has impressed with his overall performance this spring, the competition has been uneven at best and his track record against higher-end arms is more inconsistent.
Though he’s maxed out physically, the Wake Forest commit moves well for his frame and has seen his physique tighten in the last six months in particular. While he spends some time at the hot corner now, Lavigne’s future home is likely at first base where the power would profile well. The profile fits cleanly in the top three rounds but his big power upside could push him into the top 50 picks come day one of the draft.
A Vanderbilt commit, Northcut’s bat could allow him to make immediate contributions in Nashville should he make it to school, as many scouts believe he will. He offers plenty of bat speed and natural loft with his right-handed stroke, which combined with his sheer strength, produces plus raw power that he taps into in-game. He swung a wood bat in high school games this spring, impressing evaluators with his ability to impact the baseball to either gap.
Also a pitcher with a low-90s fastball, Northcut’s arm is an asset at third base. He’s a sure handed defender at the hot corner who charges the ball well, though his lack of quickness limits his lateral range. A big bodied kid, Northcut will need to stay on top of his conditioning to remain at third base. He’s rumored to be a tough sign, but has enough offensive upside to warrant a look and potential over-slot deal outside of the first round on day one.
ADDITIONAL NAMES TO KNOW
Alfonso Rivas, 1B/OF, Univ. of Arizona
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/190 B/T: L/L Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 21y, 9m
Rivas leveraged a breakout sophomore campaign into a successful stint last summer in the Cape Cod League, slugging three homeruns with wood, and posting a .368 on base percentage. Rivas’ success continued this spring, slashing .342/.425/.529 with seven homeruns. Though he primarily plays first base for the Wildcats, he’s a two-way player with enough arm for right field. Rivas should be in play early on day two of the draft.
Luken Baker, 1B, Texas Christian Univ.
Ht/Wt: 6’4”/265 B/T: R/R Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 21y, 2m
A two-way prospect in high school, Baker continued to star both on the mound and the plate for the Horned Frogs as a freshman before giving up on pitching before his sophomore season. Now strictly a power hitting first baseman, Baker slashed .319/.443/.575 through 31 games this season before suffering a season ending broken leg. Baker’s season was also cut short last year following a fracture in his non-throwing arm. He has plus raw power and has demonstrated an ability to get to it in-game, but the profile is limited to first base and evaluators didn’t get a great look during his shortened junior campaign.
John Malcom, 1B, Detroit Country Day (Detroit, MI)
Ht/Wt: 6’4”/210 B/T: L/L Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 18y, 5m
Big and tall with a powerful frame, Malcom is an imposing figure in the batter’s box who swings with intent. Committed to Vanderbilt, there is a bit of unnecessary movement in Malcom’s swing, but the ball travels a long way when he’s able to square up an offering. He has cleaned-up his physique a lot since last summer and has seen an uptick in both bat speed and fluidity of movement. His exit velocities have reached as high as 105 mph this spring, and his hands and footwork around the bag at first all point net positive contributions on the defensive side of the game, as well. First base high school profiles without present plus power are tough push up draft boards, particularly with players boasting a commitment to a program like Vanderbilt’s. A team buying into the developmental trajectory of Malcom, however, could end up with a steal, as it’s easy to picture the Detroit prep product emerging as one of the top offensive talents in the 2021 class should he head to Nashville for three more years of development.
Kyle Datres, 3B/2B, Univ. of North Carolina
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/195 B/T: R/R Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 22y, 5m
Datres went unselected last year as a draft-eligible sophomore and is one of the older juniors in the class as a result. Utilizing a compact stroke with minimal load and a direct path to the baseball, Datres has slashed .339/.430/.487 while leading the Tar Heels in stolen bases (10) as they entered regional play. He has shown soft hands and an average arm at third base this season and has proven to be a capable defender at second base as well. He’s a fit in the fourth-to-sixth round range as a well-rounded profile without a true carrying tool.
Bren Spillane, 1B, Univ. of Illinois
Ht/Wt: 5’11”/190 B/T: L/R Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 18y, 6m
Spillane has been one of the best producers in all of college baseball this year, slashing .389/.498/.903 for the Illini while launching 23 homeruns over his 215 plate appearances. There’s lots of swing-and-miss to his game, and big questions as to whether the power will play with wood against advanced arms. He’s more strength that bat speed in generating his pop, adding to the concern he won’t be able to adjust to elite velocity at the next level. He’s an interesting upside play in the fifth-to-seventh round range for a team looking to add some power to their org.
Niko Delcolati, 3B/OF, Loyola Marymount Univ.
Ht/Wt: 6’5”/210 B/T: R/R Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 21y, 8m
Delcolati performed well over the summer, slashing .311/.364/.377 for the Orleans Firebirds in the Cape Cod League, though his game hasn’t progressed this spring as much as evaluators had hoped, resulting in a strikeout rate of nearly 25% paired to go with 16 errors in the field. Despite these flaws, Delcolati offers plus speed, an above-average arm, and some right-handed pop that could play at either third base or a corner outfield position.
Brendan Donovan, 3B/2B, Univ. of South Alabama
Ht/Wt: 6’2”/200 B/T: L/R Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 21y, 5m
Donovan boasts a balanced approach at the plate with a good feel for the zone and solid contact ability. Power isn’t a staple of his game but given his ability to barrel the ball and his strengthening frame it’s possible he reaches fringe-average-to-average pop at full maturity. His arm is a little light for the left side but could play well at second base where he would also profile best offensively. He’s a developmental play who could make sense in the middle of day two with some tweener risk but the upside of a solid average MLB contributor.
Jared Poland, 3B, Cathedral (Indianapolis, Ind.)
Ht/Wt: 5’11”/190 B/T: R/R Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 18y, 5m
A high school shortstop, Poland and his plus arm fit best at the hot corner long term due to a slow-twitch lower-half. His straight-line speed rates out as average to a tick-above, making him a potential fit at an outfield corner, as well. The Louisville commit has good feel for the barrel and has shown an ability to square-up good velocity. His power may ultimately top out at fringe-average, making the profile a bit of a tweener as a corner defender with up-the-middle pop. He’s an interesting target in the fourth-to-sixth round range and could grow his stock greatly after three more years of development in college.
C.J. Alexander, 3B, State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota
Ht/Wt: 6’5”/215 B/T: L/R Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft):
The older brother of rocket armed shortstop draft prospect Blaze Alexander, C.J. is one of the top junior college players in this draft class. He’s slashed .405/.488/.785 with 15 homeruns and seven triples for State College of Florida this season. Alexander has plenty of arm for third base, and the power bat profiles well at the hot corner.
Bryce Bush, 3B, De La Salle Collegiate (Birmingham, MI)
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/205 B/T: R/R Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 18y, 5m
Committed to Mississippi State, Bush has a well-proportioned, muscular physique and uses the powerful frame to punish baseballs. Though his swing is relatively compact, Bush has bat speed and generates torque to dive balls into his pull-side gap.
John Aiello, 3B, Wake Forest Univ.
Ht/Wt: 6’2”/210 B/T: R/R Age (as of 2018 MLB Draft): 21y, 3m
Playing in the cozy confines of Gene Hook Stadium, Aiello hit 20 homeruns as a sophomore. He’s failed to follow up that success this season, slashing just .231/.346/.389 with nine homeruns and a 30% strikeout rate. He plays a decent third base, with athletic actions, moderate range and a plus arm across the diamond.