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CREAM OF THE CROP
(Potential First Round Targets)
Background: Vaughn did not quite match his monstrous output from 2018, but still managed to slash .385/.539/.728 while hitting 15 home runs and drawing 53 walks to just 30 strikeouts in 228 plate appearances. He improved his walk rate to an elite 23.4% and was one of the most dangerous bats in all of college baseball for the second straight spring. It was a much needed outburst after a ho-hum showing with the Collegiate National Team last summer and enough to solidify Vaughn as a likely top five selection.
Notes: After dominating as a sophomore last spring, Vaughn has continued to display the traits of a future impact bat in the middle of a Major League lineup. There’s big time leverage and strength in his compact and powerful build, and the first baseman shows an knack for lifting and driving the ball to all parts of the park from all parts of the zone. He’s a well below-average runner and is likely limited to first base at the next level, though some evaluators have wondered if he couldn’t play a passable third base thanks to solid hands and an above-average arm. Vaughn appears to be one of the safer potential impact bats in the draft, though his limited run and defensive utility will place a lot of pressure on the bat reaching its utmost potential should a club invest a top five pick in the Cal slugger.
Background: A three-year starter for the Red Raiders, Jung has never batted under .306 for Tech and absolutely exploded on the scene last spring slashing .392/.491/.639 with 12 home runs. He followed-up that performance with a solid showing last summer with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team, slashing .283/.377/.377 with wood. His 2019 spring was not quite as loud as last year, but the feel for the barrel and the potential to develop his power game were apparent as the left-side defender slashed .333/.471/.597 with more walks (46) than strikeouts (34) in his 49 games.
Notes: Jung is a natural hitter with instinctual feel for the barrel and natural swing and pitch plane overlap, leading to regular hard contact and an ability to utilize the whole field when his timing is on. Though his swing got flat at times this spring, he has shown in the past an ability to lift and drive the ball and there is little doubt he can repeat that success at the next level, thanks to his advanced approach and ability to find the ball with the barrel. He projects as an above-average hitter that could rack-up 25-plus homers on an annual bases, slotting somewhere in the middle of a big league lineup. Defensively, Jung has solid hands and a very strong arm from the left side. While he has handled shortstop at the collegiate level thanks to his soft hands and impressive arm, he lacks the range for the position at the next level and should settle in as an above-average defender at the hot corner. He has the profile to come off the board in the top ten picks and would be a great value anywhere in the top 20 picks.
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.
Michael Busch, 1B/OF, Univ. of North Carolina
Ht/Wt: 6’0”/207 B/T: L/R Age (as of 2019 MLB Draft): 21y, 7m
Background: Busch was one of the loudest bats on the Cape last summer, slashing .322/.450/.567 with wood, notching more walks (19) than strikeouts (17), and finishing tied for fifth in the league with six home runs. While the average has lagged this spring, the peripherals have been strong, with the first baseman showing a .163 OBP delta off his average and a solid .242 ISO, all while posting a 20.7% walk rate.
Notes: Busch has a smooth, balanced swing and at his best exhibits a strong control of the zone, showing enough patience to work a walk but plenty of selective aggression to pound balls he finds in his hit zone. He projects as a potential above-average hit tool with above-average playable power. Defensively, Busch is a solid defender at first base and has enough athleticism to move over to second or perhaps hold it down on the grass in left. The arm is fringy – as is the foot speed – but the body moves and works well enough for a dev staff to get creative. Busch fits anywhere from the mid-first round through the comp round depending on how the board falls.
Brett Baty, 3B, Lake Travis (Spicewood, TX)
Ht/Wt: 6’3”/210 B/T: L/R Age (as of 2019 MLB Draft): 19y, 6m
Background: Baty is the oldest of the top tier prep prospects in this draft class by a fair margin, though the impact from a developmental standpoint is lessened some due to the fact that the Texas commit is already so physical and shows such an advanced feel for the barrel. Baty regularly registers triple digit exit velocity and may have the best combination of future power and hit tool of any draft-eligible high school talent available. He put together a noteworthy performance during the World Wood Bat Association World Championship in Jupiter last October as part of a talented Texas Rangers Scout Team and maintained that momentum through a very loud spring.
Notes: Baty is a supremely physical player with a sturdy build and explosive swing. The ball jumps off the barrel with lots of lift and carry, and the lefty-swinging slugger shows no issues driving the ball out of the park from pole-to-pole both in BP and in game action. He’s a quality he projects as an adequate defender at third with plus arm strength and a quick release. Baty doesn’t run particularly well, but he isn’t a base clogger and should be able to avoid being a value drain on the base paths. Were he a year younger, Baty would be in the discussion for top five selection. As it is, it wouldn’t be a surprise seeing him come off the board as high as the top fifteen picks and he’s a lock to go in Round 1.
Background: Wendzel didn’t put up big numbers on the Cape, but scouts who sat on the Hyannis club saw a quality right-hand bat capable of producing regular loud contact and over-the-fence pop to pull. Fast forward to the spring and the Baylor third baseman has raked his way to a .385/.500.647 slash line with eight home runs while maintaining solid walk and strikeout rates (13.6% and 16.1%, respectively).
Notes: Wendzel has good strength and natural leverage in his swing, showing comfort driving the ball to the gaps and enough raw pop to drop the barrel and lift it over the left field wall. At present, the swing more consistently plays to the middle third of the field, but it’s easy to envision Wendzel working to more consistently elevate the ball at the next level and generating at least average power. Defensively, Wendzel has soft hands and a plus arm, and while his side-to-side range isn’t spectacular he has no trouble chargin the ball and delivering it on the run. He projects as a solid average regular with a chance to grow into a quality run producer for his big league club.
Kody Hoese, 3B, Tulane Univ.
Ht/Wt: 6’4”/200 B/T: R/R Age (as of 2019 MLB Draft): 21y, 5m
Background: After being selected late in the 2018 MLB Draft as a sophomore-eligible prospect, Hoese elected to forgo the start of his pro career and return to Tulane for another year. That decision will end up paying off big time for Hoese, as the Green Wave slugger erupted for one of the most impressive offensive performances this spring across all of college baseball, slashing .392/.487/.789 with 23 home runs in 56 games.
Notes: Hoese has an unconventional swing but it works for him, generating good lift and carry – particularly to the pull side. He controls the zone well and has excelled at working counts to hunt pitches he can drive, feasting in particular on balls up in the zone. Defensively, Hoese has a solid left-side arm and enough glove to hold down the hot corner at the next level. He fits best in the 20-to-40 pick range and could develop into a solid everyday contributor who will hold the line defensively while providing 20-plus home runs a year and an average hit tool. His on-base ability and bat-to-ball skills could make him a nice future two-hole stick.
Keoni Cavaco, 3B, Eastlake (Chula Vista, CA)
Ht/Wt: 6’1”/185 B/T: R/R Age (as of 2019 MLB Draft): 18y, 0m
Background: Cavaco wasn’t a heavy participant in the summer scouting circuit in 2018 and was just “okay” in Jupiter as part of a talented San Diego Show program. This spring, however, the San Diego State has shown consistent above-average to plus raw pop to go with smooth actions on the dirt, plus speed and a plus arm, vaulting him into Day One consideration.
Notes: Cavaco brings a shed full of tools to the field, with a chance to grade out as above-average or better in at least four categories, including power, speed, defense and arm. There are not insignificant questions about the hit tool and while his impactful spring performance helped to boost his stock, the quality of competition in his high school league was inconsistent (as you’d expect) and looks against more advanced arms showed weakness to quality spin and velocity. Still, this is one of the loudest collection of tools in the draft class and Cavaco is on the younger side, giving further room for projection and dev opportunities. He could come off the board early in the first round to a team valuing the tools and trusting in its dev staff and seems certain to be selected in the first 50 picks.
BEST OF THE REST
(Potential Day One Targets)