Continuing on our journey of examining position groups by the level they play, today we glance at college hitters. This draft isn’t likely to turn out a college bat that will go number 1 overall but it’s perhaps the most intriguing and hotly debated group in this draft.
Alec Bohm, 1B/3B, Wichita State
6’5″ 240 lbs
Listed at 6’5” 240 lbs, Bohm is one of the bigger corner IF prospects in this draft. He’s had great success at Wichita State over that past two seasons slashing .304/.368/.506. Those are outstanding numbers, but consider his work in the Cape this past summer where he slashed .351/.399/.513 in the best collegiate wood bat league in the country.
The point is confidence is high that his bat will play at either corner IF position, no matter where he lands. The biggest question marks for Bohm stem from his ability in the field and his lack of speed/range. If Bohm can improve his footwork and range this offseason, he may see his draft stock rise by proving he can remain at third base. Regardless, the hit tool and power upside will potentially carry Alec into the first round.
Travis Swaggerty, OF, South Alabama
5’11” 180 lbs
There is quite a bit to like about Travis Swaggerty aside from his awesome last name. Swaggerty has a profile that fits quite well if he were to play CF at The K. The hit tool is a plus with average power, though there may be some more down the line with his quick, left-handed swing.
The speed is plus, while the defense and arm are both likely above average. These are profiles that fit nicely in the vast confines of Kauffman Stadium. The only knock right now may be that he doesn’t exactly play the best competition in college, BUT Swaggerty did have a successful summer playing for team USA using lumber. Ultimately, this is the type of young man who projects to stay in CF and hit at or near the top of a line up.
Jeremy Eierman, SS/3B, Missouri State
6’0″ 195 lbs
A native of Warsaw, Missouri, Eierman manned the left-side of the infield at Missouri State with 2017 first round draft pick Jake Burger. Eierman (6’1” 205 lbs) currently plays short stop for the Bears, but there are some in the scouting community that see him as a better fit defensively at third base. Eierman lacks traditional quick-twitch actions that players usually exhibit at short. What he does have is a good glove and a cannon for an arm. The rub with Eierman seems to be the lack of a track record hitting with wood. In 39 Cape Cod league games he slashed .185/.252/.277. He didn’t fare much better this past summer with Team USA, where the most recent batting stats I had shown Jeremy batting a measly .125 in 40 ABs. Now these are relatively small sample sizes but it is a concern. When it comes to his offense in Springfield, Eierman has shown surprising power (23 HR in 2017) in his short right-handed swing.
Griffin Conine, OF, Duke
6’11” 195 lbs
Conine, son of former Major Leaguer Jeff, projects as a solid corner outfielder at the professional level. Previously drafted in the 31st round by the Marlins, Griffin chose to attend Duke. Last season Conine slashed an impressive .298/.425/.546 for the Blue Devils. He follwed that up with a oustanding summer in the Cape, going .329/.406/.537. Conine isn’t a speedster but he’s a solid athlete with the arm that will play in right field.
Some worry about his strike out rate but he’s also proven to be a solid on-base guy, drawing plenty of walks. If he carries his trend upward at the current rate, Conine could easily play himself into the top half of the first round.
Joey Bart, C, Georgia Tech
6’3″ 230 lbs
Bart is a very interesting player to profile. Joey is a big-bodied (6’3″ 220lb) catcher out of Georgia Tech with plus raw power, improving defense and a strong-arm. Bart has slashed .297/.361/.487 in his time with the Yellow Jackets and seems to be tapping into that raw power (1 HR in ’16, 13 HR in ’17). He’s also found some success in the Summer months in the Cape (.276/.352/.386). Bart will never be much of a threat on the basepaths and there is some swing and miss to his game but scouts like his work ethic. The questions will be ongoing for Bart, but if he can continue to hone his defensive skills, cut down on his strike out rate, and continue to tap into the raw power he could be the first catcher off the board in June.
Tristan Pompey, OF, Kentucky
6’4″ 195 lbs
Tristan is the younger brother of one time top 100 prospect Dalton Pompey of the Toronto Blue Jays organization. Tristan displays many of the same tools as his older brother, but perhaps a little louder. Tristan stands an imposing 6’4” and 200 lbs with blazing speed and the type of power you would expect out of such tall and powerful athlete. Previously drafted in the 31st round by the Twins, Pompey opted instead to attend the University of Kentucky.
After a slow freshman campaign, Tristan lit up opponents, batting .361 with 10 home runs and 9 stolen bases. Pompey will have to work on his routes if he wants to play in center field, though he could certainly be more than adequate in left. The biggest question mark may be his limited success using wood bats, which saw him struggle in the Cape this past season. That said, he has a solid approach at the plate, walking nearly as much as he struck out this past season (56 K, 46 BB). Pompey is the kind of high upside/athletic outfielder that the Royals covet, and it looks like Tristan is only grazing thesurface of that talent.
Luken Baker, 1B, Texas Christian
6’4″ 240 lbs
Baker was once considered one of the top two-way players in the talented 2015 high school crop. As a pitcher, Baker featured a fastball that could reach the mid-90s, with a nice slider and developing change-up. At the plate, his right-handed swing was a bit rough, but the power was obvious. Fast forward two seasons after signing with TCU and Baker has developed nicely, albeit very much the player the scouts foresaw in the high school ranks. At an even more imposing 6’4”, 265 lbs, Baker is a power-hitting first baseman for the Horned Frogs. He’s seemingly moved on from the mound at this point after not pitching in 2017. Baker is a good athlete for his size, but he’s probably going to be relegated to first base or even designated hitter, which will likely limit his value come draft day.
The bat will ultimately be what gets Luken drafted. He definitely has a mature approach to hitting, drawing more walks (85) than strike outs (75) in his collegiate career. Coupled with a slashline of .355/.471/.557 and it’s easy to see why Baker may hear his name called early in June.
Seth Beer, 1B, Clemson
6’2″ 195 lbs
Finally we come to Beer who has been nothing short of phenomenal at the plate since stepping foot on campus at Clemson. Simply put, he’s the best hitter in the college game. In two seasons, Beer has played in 125 games. He’s hit 34 homers, has 123 RBI, and has 126 walks vs only 62 strikeouts. His slashline is an absurd .333/.506/.651. He hits a home run every 12.4 at bats. So why is he not the consensus number one position player in the college ranks? Unfortunately, the rest of Beer’s game is littered with question marks or is viewed as below average across the board.
Although he sports a frame that suggests he moves well (6’2” 195 lbs) Beer is a well below average runner. His range is also limited and although it’s something he’s worked on he will probably never play in the field unless it’s at first base. Even there, scouts project a below average player. This raises the question (much like Baker) of how early do you take a player who’s best position is likely DH? The last knock is his track record (or lack thereof) with wood bats. The last two seasons with team USA has seen Beer struggle mightily with the lumber. Just this past season he slashed .232/.317/.321 in 19 games. To be sure this isn’t enough to make teams remove Beer from their board, but it will scare some teams away from making an early pick out of Seth.
Photo Credits: Missouri State Photo Services