Thoughts on some of the top MLB Draft prospects

LHP Shane McClanahan, South Florida

It’s early in the 2018 baseball season but in listening to podcasts, checking stats, and reviewing scouting takes on social media, I’m not sure I’ve seen anyone measure up to McClanahan.  A 6-1 lefty that pitches in the mid to upper 90s with the capability to reach back and touch triple digits.  He also features a nasty slider thrown from a 3/4 arm slot that is devastating hitters this season.  He’s gone under the knife in the past but has bounced back in a big way.  The stuff definitely backs up the numbers in this instance.  With his health intact, he’s my favorite pitcher in this draft.

SS Nick Madrigal, Oregon State

Madrigal is a quintessential grinder.  A throwback player.  Gritty, determined, and hard-nosed.  He’s also an elite talent with quick hands and the range to stick in the middle infield, although most have him pegged at second base because his arm isn’t elite.  At the plate, Madrigal has a refined approach and prior to a wrist injury to start the season, he was flashing some pop that hasn’t been seen in-game.  The bat to ball skills have always been there and should allow him to progress through the minor leagues relatively quickly.  Assuming he bounces back and continues his offensive onslaught, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the (maybe) 5-8 second baseman to be the first hitter picked in the draft.

LHP Matthew Liberatore, Mountain Ridge HS

Liberatore is a tall, projectable lefty that’s starting to get more an more buzz to go 1-1.  He’s seen an uptick in velocity and now pitches between 93-97 with his fastball.  He’s also got a cutter, a change-up, and an absolutely filthy curveball with big time depth on the 1 to 7 break.  The mechanics are solid and he’s a good athlete.  With a thin frame it’s not out of the realm of possibility to see his stuff get even better as he grows into his body, which is a scary thing for hitters.

SS Nander De Sedas, Monteverde Academy

Entering the 2018 season it seemed like some of the shine had begun to wear off on this switch hitting short stop.  Then De Sedas hit the field and he’s gladly reminded scouts and fans why he was seen as one of the top 3-5 high school hitters in the country.  De Sedas will have to continue to refine his approach at the plate and hone his contact skills but he’s a legitimate switch hitting prospect with power from both sides of the plate.  There’s talk that he may not be able to stick long term at short stop so a move to third base may be necessary but his bat and strong arm will play at the hot corner.

3B Alec Bohm, Wichita State

Since he arrived on campus at WSU, Bohm has done nothing but hit.  He’s hit in College and he’s hit with wood bats including at the prestigious Cape Cod league.  This season the raw power has been showing up in games (at this point in the season he already has 3 grand slams).  The biggest question with Bohm continues to be whether or not he can handle playing third base at the professional level but for now his rising stock as a hitter put the doubts at ease.

RHP Logan Gilbert, Stetson

Gilbert is a big guy with filthy stuff.  There’s no denying it.  Gilbert looks to follow in the footsteps of guys like Kluber and DeGrom as Stetson alums to frontline a big league rotation.  He’s put up gaudy stats at the small school but backed it up with his performance in the Cape.  He’s got a fastball that can reach the mid-90s to pair with his other offerings that should be at least average pitches.  Doubtful that he challenges for number 1 overall but there aren’t many college pitchers with as much upside.

RHP Mason Denaburg, Merritt Island HS

One of the best two-way players in the draft, Denaburg is likely going to make his money as a right handed pitcher at the next level.  He’s seen his mid-90s fastball jump up a bit this Spring, touching 97 in one outing.  The secondary stuff is the question as Denaburg isn’t quite as polished or experienced but along with the jump in velo it seems his breaking ball has also recently improved.  Denaburg is climbing draft boards right now and still has a ton of projection with his lanky 6-4 frame and limited track record.

RHP Carter Stewart, Eau Gallie HS

Stewart is a bit of a legend already.  Heading into the Summer prior to his senior year of high school Stewart was throwing his solid fastball in the lower 90s with consistency, but it was his curve that stood out.  Using Trackman, Stewart’s spin rate measured higher than anyone else recorded at any level.  Several big leaguers went on to post higher spin rates this past season but it’s still an impressive feat nonetheless.  This Spring Stewart was seen throwing his fastball as high as 98 mph.  He’s a long and lean 6-6, so there’s tons of room to fill out.  He’s definitely on the rise and one to watch.

1B Triston Casas, American Heritage HS

Casas seems to be flying under the radar a bit.  I’m not sure if that’s because he projects as a first baseman at the next level but he’s surely one of the best hitting prospects in the 2018 draft.  A powerful 6-4, 240 lb hitter that handles the hot corner in high school probably lacks the lateral mobility and quickness to stay there in the pros.  That said, he should be a solid defender at first.  He’s got an advanced approach at the plate and when he connects the ball can go a long way.  Likely the second best power prospect on the high school side behind Nolan Gorman.

LHP Ryan Weathers, Loretto HS

Among all of the flamethrowers and record breaking spin rates, Weathers is a guy that kind of seems to get lost in the shuffle.  An advanced prep lefty that can command his fastball in the low 90s that also has a plus curve and feel for his change up.  He may not have the impressive frame or velocity, but Weathers is one of the more polished prep pitchers in the class.

RHP Tristan Beck, Stanford

Beck is an absolutely intriguing arm.  He was a freshman All-American at Stanford 2 years ago before sitting out all of last season with an injury.  He’s picked up where he’s left off since returning.  He isn’t a flame thrower but he’s a gamer with a big curve and plus change up.  He has solid command of all three pitches and still has room to add weight which may help him add some velocity on his fastball.

OF Trevor Larnach, Oregon State

Larnach has seen his stock soar after a big start to the 2018 season.  Another potential first rounder from one of the best college programs in the country, Larnach will be a corner outfielder at the professional level.  It’s taken a couple of years to show up but his raw power has started to show up in games.  The 6-4, 205 lb athlete also draws plenty of walks and has a smooth swing from the left side of the plate.  If he continues his upward trajectory, Larnach may be taken much earlier.

RHP Mike Vasil, Boston College HS

There’s plenty of upside to Vasil’s game.  Tall, long, and projectable.  He already sports a fastball that can reach the mid-90s.  Vasil’s other two pitches are solid when he’s on.  Probably the only thing keeping him down no draft boards at this point is he’s rather raw and needs to gain command.

C Will Banfield, Brookwood HS

My favorite catcher in this draft, in several years in fact.  Banfield is athletic and checks all the boxes physically for a an elite level defensive catcher.  He’s got a big arm, quick twitch, and strength.  He’s already a highly thought of pitch framer and also has the best pop time of any high school player in this class.  The knock is the bat but early this season he’s been making hard contact and driving the ball well.  He’s answering the questions the best he can at this point.

LHP Luke Bartnicki, Walton HS

An big, strong lefty that also swims competitively when he’s not on the bump.  He’s listed by Perfect Game as the number 3 high school LHP in the draft.  Bartnicki can reach back for 95 mph heat when he needs it and he has a plus slider that he commands.  If the change catches up, look out.

OF Tristan Pompey, Kentucky

Younger brother of Dalton of the Blue Jays system, Tristan has some plus raw tools working his his favor.  The hit tool has been present in college games, but when he switches to wood he’s unable to carry the contact skills for some reason.  That said, he’s a fast player that could fit in center field with some route refining.  If not he’ll slot well in left.

OF Joe Gray Jr. Hattlesburg HS

Elite tools.  That’s how a lot of people describe Joe Gray Jr.  He’s got the speed, the raw power, and a cannon arm.  I really considered him taking him much earlier after hearing that the hit tool is catching up and becoming a present tool rather than a future one.  If the future tools pan out, somebody will get a huge steal here.

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