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CREAM OF THE CROP
(Potential First Round Targets)
Background: A three-year starter for the Beavers, Rutschman followed-up his breakout sophomore campaign – one in which he played a crucial role in the Beavers national championship – by leading USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team in all three slash categories (.355/.432/.516) while demonstrating advanced feel for handling a talented staff full of future pro arms. This spring, the standout backstop has taken his game to the next level, slashing .411/.575/,751 with 17 home runs and a jaw-dropping 76 walks to just 38 strikeouts in 265 plate appearances.
Notes: Rutschman boasts easy plus arm strength and advanced defensive chops behind the plate, showing athletic actions side-to-side, in the dirt and through his transfer on throws. He’s a cerebral player and a leader on the field, demonstrating heads-up play both behind the plate and on the base paths. At bat, Rutschman brings to the box an advanced approach and excellent bat speed, helping to generate plus raw power from both sides of the plate. There is some drag in the barrel – particularly from the left side – but it hasn’t slowed him down at all, including with wood last summer. There’s some risk of increased strikeout rates at the pro ranks, but he’s such an advanced hitter and such a good athlete that the smart money is on Rutschman making the needed adjustments as he faces more advanced Major League arms. He’s an easy 1:1 target and has spent the entirety of the 2019 draft cycle as the top rated player on 2080 Baseball’s board. He’s a potential franchise player at an elite defensive spot and the heavy favorite to go first overall to Baltimore on June 3rd.
Background: Langeliers stood out as a true freshman in 2017, slashing .313/.388/.540 for the Bears before earning All-Star honors in the Cape Cod summer league as a rising sophomore. He struggled to produce with wood that summer and saw his contact issues carry over into a down sophomore spring. Langeliers righted the ship this past summer, slashing .346/.432/.500 with wood. After the start of his junior spring was sidetracked with a fractured hamate, Langeliers came on strong to finish with a solid .311/.376/.484 slash line and six home runs in just 38 games.
Notes: The best defensive catcher in the country, Langeliers is near MLB-ready now thanks to silky actions behind the plate and a firm, durable build that allows him to maintain his movements late into games and throughout the long season. His arm grades out as at least plus-plus and he’s capable of consistent “80” pop times behind the dish. Offensively, there’s above-average raw pop in the swing and an advanced enough feel for the barrel to project at least a fringe-average hit tool. The offensive bar for MLB catchers is so low at present that even with a below-average hit tool and fringe average power, the elite defense would earn Langeliers an easy everyday gig in the big leagues. He has a chance to be more than that, however, and should be off the board in the first half of the 1st Round.
Background: A South Carolina commit, Callihan put together one of the more impressive offensive showings on the summer showcase circuit, following-up his performance with a solid October showing in Jupiter and November run with USA Baseball’s gold medal 18U squad (slashing .528/.575/.889 in the process). His spring has been at times inconsistent, though evaluators have been grading him against a “best in class” standard when it comes to the hit tool.
Notes: Callihan is well put together, with a thick build but enough athleticism to profile at third base or even behind the plate (where he has logged time). There’s plenty of arm strength both behind the plate and at the hot corner and he moves relatively well given his thick build. Offensively, Callihan generates above-average raw power and is likely to grade out as at least plus at maturity, with easy loft and good leverage in his swing. He can get overly aggressive in the box and will benefit from narrowing his approach some and taking better advantage of free passes when pitchers attempt to work around his power zones. He’s a worthy target in the first round and should be off the board in the top 40 picks.
BEST OF THE REST
(Potential Day One Targets)
Ethan Hearn (C, Mobile Christian (Mobile, AL) | Video | Video 2 | Video 3): The top pure catcher at the prep ranks in this class, Hearn is a solid defender with a good foundation to build upon, showing soft hands, good side-to-side actions and an above-average arm with good accuracy. There’s plus raw pop developing in his lefty swing, but he can struggle at times to adjust to even average off-speed and breaking stuff, leaving to question his ultimate offensive upside. If he can make enough contact he could hit you 15-to-20 bombs a year while providing average or better defense behind the dish.
Kyle McCann (C, Georgia Tech | Video | Video 2): McCann enjoyed a loud junior year for the Jackets, launching 23 home runs while slashing .298/.469/.679 for the Ramblin’ Wreck. The big raw pop comes with a whole lot of swing-and-miss, however, as evidenced by McCann’s 26% whiff rate, though he counterbalances that well with his power and his patience (21% walk rate). Defensively, there’s some work to do in order to get McCann to where he needs to be to handle the arms and game speed at the big league level, but supporters envision him as a future five- or six-hole hitter that will hit you 25 homers a year while providing adequate defense behind the plate.
Korey Lee (C, California – Berkeley): Lee boosted his draft stock significantly this spring, slashing .338/.419/.626 and blasting 15 home runs, and he did it in front of a throng of scouts and decision-makers cycling through for up-close looks at potential top five selection and teammate Andrew Vaughn. Lee profiles as a power-hitting backstop that may not hit for much average but could blossom into a plus power threat. He’s a fringe-average defender with above-average arm strength.
Drew Millas (C, Missouri State Univ. | Video | Video 2): Millas displays advanced actions behind the plate and figures to grade out well in framing pitches at the next level thanks to his soft but firm hands and advanced athleticism. Offensively, Millas flashes above-average raw pop to the pull side but hasn’t yet put it all together in game action. He could profile as an everyday backstop with limited offensive development – otherwise he’s a glove-first back-up with enough athleticism to pick-up an extra position or two between draft day and his major league debut.
Hayden Dunhurst (C, Pearl River Central (Carriere, MS) | Video | Video 2): Dunhurst will flash solid pop from both sides of the plate and should develop into a decent power threat at maturity. He already shows some ability to drive the oppo gap and there’s lots of natural strength and leverage in the swing. A developing defender last summer, the Ole Miss has tightened up his defensive game over the past nine months to the point that he projects to a solid average glove down the line and there is plenty of arm for him to keep opposing runners in check. He fits comfortably in the top 150 picks and could come off the board as high as the second round.