The 2013 edition of USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team set a very high standard from a draft perspective, and this year’s team will be hard-pressed to surpass it. The 10 first-round picks produced by the 2013 team are the most in the last decade; the average during that period is 5.8.
Last summer team’s boasted the consensus No. 1 college pitcher in the class (Carlos Rodon) and depth of position players around the diamond. While the 2014 team doesn’t have a player who has separated himself from the rest of the draft class, like Rodon last year, the pitching staff boasts a depth of arms in both the bullpen and rotation, and is the strength of this year’s team. The position player depth is down from last year—when five of the seven college position players to go in the top 25 picks were on the team—but offers three of the top college position players for next year’s draft in Dansby Swanson, Alex Bregman and D.J. Stewart.
1. Kyle Funkhouser, rhp (Jr., Louisville)
After splitting time between the bullpen and rotation as a freshman, Funkhouser was the rotation bell cow that helped push Louisville to the College World Series in 2014. Funkhouser emerged as the top prospect on Team USA after throwing considerably more strikes this summer than in his first two seasons while offering pitchability, stuff and a four-pitch mix. The 6-foot-2, 218-pound Funkhouser has a strong, durable build with a physical lower half. His fastball largely sat 92-94 mph, touching 96, and it plays up because of its downhill plane, arm-side bore and sink when down in the zone, portending groundball tendencies. The offering also plays up because of his above-average fastball extension that is among the best on the team, and he offers some deception in his delivery, though his fastball played true when up in the zone.
Funkhouser’s top secondary offering is a slider that flashed plus potential with two-plane break that he varies the shape of. He also offers a curveball with average potential and 11-to-5 tilt. Funkhouser’s developing changeup shows at least average potential and is a weapon against lefthanded hitters. He was one of the top performers this summer, leading the team in strikeouts (36) with the best strikeout rate of any starter (11.4 per nine). To be one of the first college starters taken next spring, the improved strike-throwing ability he showed this summer (2.54 walks per nine innings) must continue next spring, because his career walk rate in school is more than two walks higher (4.63) over 175 innings. From 2009-2014, the average college first-rounder walked just 2.81 per nine innings.
2. Dansby Swanson, 2b/ss (Jr., Vanderbilt)
Considered a top-five-rounds talent out of high school (No. 138 in the Baseball America Top 500 for the 2012 draft), Swanson was a key piece of Vanderbilt’s recruiting class that ranked first in the country. A shoulder injury limited him to 24 plate appearances as a freshman, but Swanson flourished as a sophomore and was named the Most Outstanding Player at the College World Series, which limited his time with Team USA. Swanson is a plus athlete with quick-twitch athleticism that impacts the game offensively and defensively. The righthanded hitter has a quick, loose, line drive-oriented stroke that produces hard contact to all fields. He has a chance to develop into an above-average hitter and flashed power to his pull side, enabling scouts to project 10-12 home run power annually with high doubles production at the next level. A heady, alert baserunner with instincts, Swanson is at least a plus runner capable of posting some plus-plus times out of the box.
A second baseman this spring, Swanson will transition to shortstop this fall and could become one of the top college position players taken if he makes the transition successfully and continues to hit (.333/.411/.475 this spring). His transition will be one of the most heavily watched storylines of the draft next spring. He has above-average range with first-step quickness, soft hands and a quick release. Scouts think he has the arm strength for the position, but they need to see how it plays on the other side of the bag. The intelligent Swanson draws praise for his character, work ethic and energy. Some evaluators have said Swanson is similar to Trea Turner with less speed.
3. Carson Fulmer, rhp (Jr., Vanderbilt)
An alum of the 18U national team, Fulmer was a high-profile player out of high school (ranked No. 123) before serving as the closer for Vanderbilt as a freshman and early in his sophomore year, then transitioning into the rotation on the Commodores’ College World Series squad. Fulmer is likely to be one of the most heavily watched college players next spring because he offers some of the best stuff of any college pitcher in a way that elicits a range of opinions; some scouts project his power three-pitch mix in the rotation while others think he fits best in the bullpen. Fulmer pitches aggressively and attacks with a fastball that jumps out of his hand, sitting 93-95 while touching 97 in the rotation. Fulmer hides the ball well and gets above-average life with arm-side run and sink. His breaking ball shows plus potential while his changeup offers above-average potential.
Fulmer’s high-effort delivery produces audible grunts and features a prominent head whack. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Fulmer has a broad, powerful build with tremendous physical strength. He faces the industry-wide burden of proof on small righthanders, because over the last 40 seasons only 39 righthanders who are 5-foot-11 or shorter have made more than 30 career big league starts. His control is also a question mark, as his career walk rate of 4.13 per nine is well above the median (2.81) for college first-rounders from 2009-2014. But he has struck hitters out at an above-average clip of 9.1 per nine in his career. The energetic, intelligent and charismatic Fulmer is regarded as a supremely hard worker and a leader among his teammates.
4. Alex Bregman, ss (Jr., Louisiana State)
Bregman, the Freshman of the Year and No. 2 ranked prospect on this list one year ago, battled high expectations that evaluators carried over from last summer. He had something of an uneven summer, beginning very strong and routinely hitting the ball hard before finishing his time stateside by getting tied up inside regularly. Bregman, who hit .257/.317/.330 this summer (122 plate appearances), is a tough player for scouts to figure out and elicits a significant range of opinions because of his unique swing and other tools. The righthanded hitter has a two-part load that produces above-average bat speed from a quick, compact stoke and flat bat path capable of scalding hard line drives to his pull side. Bregman showed the ability to backspin balls consistently and flashes above-average raw power to his pull side in batting practice, though evaluators expect his home run power to play below that level, in part because of his flat bat path. Evaluators said he struggled when he became too pull-oriented and tried to lift balls, rarely using the opposite field. The coaching staff worked with him on driving balls the other way and said he did when international play began.
Bregman has superb hand-eye coordination, and his contact rates are among the best in the class, walking (7.3 percent) more than he struck out (5.7) this summer and spring (9.5 and 7.4 respectively). His swing produces inconsistent run times out of the box, as he posts times ranging from above-average (mid-4.20s) to below-average (mid-to-high 4.40s). Bregman has improved defensively over the last year and some teams believe he can play shortstop at the next level, while others like to see more looseness from their shortstops and believe he is best suited as a second baseman, where he could be an above-average defender. Bregman plays well on the run with active feet, funneling through balls well and throwing accurately from angles on the run with a quick release and a 55 arm. The 6-foot, 190-pound Bregman packs considerable strength and muscle into his frame, which is broad up top with strong forearms and wrists. The hard-nosed Bregman gets plaudits for his intensity, work ethic and drive to improve.
5. James Kaprielian, rhp (Jr., UCLA)
A prized recruit ranked No. 73 in the BA 500 out of high school, Kaprielian served as the Bruins’ closer his first year before moving into the rotation this spring and leading the Pacific-12 Conference in strikeouts (108). He had arguably the signature performance of Team USA’s stateside tour when he struck out 12 without allowing a walk against Japan on the Fourth of July. Kaprielian offers a great pitcher’s body, athleticism, high strikeout rates, advanced secondary stuff and pitchability. He could be one of the top college righthanders if his fastball takes a step forward. His fastball largely sat 89-91, touching 93 from a high three-quarters arm slot that produced downhill plane and above-average cutting action at times. Kaprielian offers tremendous feel for his curveball, which shows plus potential. He can vary the shape of it, and he complements it with a slider that flashes above-average. His changeup wasn’t used much this summer, but the offering has average to above-average potential with split-like tumble.
The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Kaprielian has a large frame and an athletic pitcher’s build with broad, sloped shoulders and significant room to get stronger. The coaching staff said he was likely the second-most athletic pitcher on the team and was a leader among the pitchers. Kaprielian cut his walk rate by more than two walks per nine (2.97) this spring and has a career strikeout rate of 9.86 per nine.
6. D.J. Stewart, of (Jr., Florida State)
The ACC player of the year, Stewart had a chance to solidify his position as the best college bat in the draft class in the eyes of many evaluators, but he did not have a standout summer, hitting .232/.362/.316 in 117 plate appearances. He could still claim that title, however, because of his hitting ability, advanced approach and power potential. The lefthanded hitter has above-average bat speed from a deep hitting load that approaches an arm bar. Stewart demonstrates strong strike zone awareness and sees the ball very well, especially pitches on or off the outer half. He hits from a pronounced wide crouch that leaves his back leg at nearly a 90-degree angle. Although Stewart has hit with this stance since he was young, some evaluators would like to see him up a little higher to allow his power to play better in game action.
Stewart has plus raw power to his pull side in batting practice, but his flat bat path in games is more conducive to line drives to the gaps. His home runs are typically a byproduct of the tremendous physical strength in his 6-foot, 230-pound frame. His weight bears monitoring, though his mother is a fitness instructor. Stewart came into Team USA overweight but quickly dropped some of the excess weight. He is a surprisingly good athlete for his build and is an average runner underway who produces run times out of the box that range from average to below-average, which is where evaluators project his speed to play. His below-average arm likely fits best in left field at the next level. Stewart, who has instincts for the game and plays with intensity, could be one of the first college position players picked with another strong spring.
7. Jake Lemoine, rhp (Jr., Houston)
Lemoine improved his performance significantly from his freshman to his sophomore year, more than doubling his strikeout-walk ratio to 3.0. Lemoine has the body, fastball and control to become one of the better college righthanders in the class if his secondary stuff improves and his performance takes another step forward. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Lemoine has an extra-large frame with the chance to have a workhorse starter’s build with significant physical projection remaining. Lemoine, who had inconsistent velocity this spring but touched 97 at his best, largely sat 91-93 this summer, touching 95 early in his outings before falling to 89-92 later in his starts. He is capable of pitching off his fastball because of the offering’s downhill plane and heaviness through the zone with arm-side run and sink that will likely produce groundballs at an above-average clip. His delivery works fairly easily, though he has a shorter than average stride for his height and gets inverted in the back.
Lemoine varies the shape of his slider, which offers at least average potential, and the development of the pitch will be one of the keys to his prospect status. Although he didn’t throw it often this summer, Lemoine demonstrated feel for a changeup with at least average potential, flashing better with significant tumble. He demonstrated more control than command this summer. An increase in Lemoine’s strikeout rate will help his draft status as his career rate of 6.7 per nine is well below the historical standards for first-round picks (9.3 per nine from 2009-2014), though his pure stuff could put him in that territory with a strong spring.
8. Tyler Jay, lhp (Jr., Illinois)
Undrafted out of high school, Jay was one of the top breakout players of the summer after entering the summer with little national pedigree. The top lefthander on the team, Jay made more appearances than any pitcher on Team USA’s roster, appearing in 15 games out of the ’pen while striking out 11.3 per nine with a 3.5 strikeout-walk ratio and not allowing an earned run.
Although Jay has never started a game at Illinois, he offers a starter’s repertoire and athleticism. Jay’s fastball sometimes sat 93-95, touching 97 at his best, and more frequently sat 90-93, touching 94. He has a loose, very quick arm from a three-quarters slot and very long stride. Jay pitches off a fastball that plays up as it jumps from his hand and offers varied life to both sides of the plate, with plane and sink when down in the zone. His breaking ball shows above-average potential, flashing plus at its best. Although his changeup was not used frequently in games, it shows at least above-average potential, and he has feel for it. He threw strikes this summer (3.2 walks per nine) and has in his career (3.3), striking out 9.7 per nine. Although the wiry, lean 6-foot-1, 170-pound Jay doesn’t have typical starter size, he was the best athlete of all the pitchers on the team, according to the coaching staff, and reportedly ran the 60-yard dash in 6.6 seconds at school. His role for the spring has not been determined yet, but scouts believe he could be one of the top college lefthanders in the country and go in the first-round if he maintains most of his stuff in the rotation.
9. Dillon Tate, rhp (Jr., UC Santa Barbara)
Some teams considered Tate a top-10-rounds talent out of high school when his BA 500 scouting report said he was “a classic projection for scouts”, adding that he “he pitches at 85-88 and could add velocity as he fills out his 6-foot-1, 167-pound frame.” The intelligent Tate, who threw three innings as a freshman, has worked extremely hard to capitalize on that projection, having gained 35 pounds of muscle since high school. Tate has become a physical specimen with a strapping, chiseled and athletic build featuring broad shoulders, a high waist and long extremities. Tate’s velocity has increased tremendously with his electric arm speed, sitting 95-97 and touching 99 at his best, though his velocity fell to 91-93, touching 95 during a three-inning stint. Tate hides the ball very well and it jumps out of his hand, offering plus life with arm-side run and sink that projects to produce groundballs at an above-average clip. His high-effort, herky-jerky delivery with a high leg kick and head movement offers deception.
The 20-year-old’s top secondary pitch is a cutter/slider that flashes 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale at its best with sharp, late bite. But the offering will need to become more consistent, as he will mix in some below-average ones that are “cement mixers.” Although he has never started a game in school, Tate has a changeup with plus potential that features big tumble. His delivery produces more control than command. He has a starter’s repertoire from a relief pitcher’s delivery and some scouts wonder how his stuff would play with a toned-down delivery in the rotation. Tate has a history of missing bats in school—with 9.2 strikeouts per nine versus 3.7 walks in his career—but scouts wonder why he didn’t miss more bats this summer, as his 5.6 strikeouts per nine in 11 1/3 innings was the lowest of any qualified pitcher on the team. Tate positioned himself as arguably the top college reliever who threw this summer.
10. Nick Banks, of (So., Texas A&M)
Banks suffered a foot injury during his senior season of high school and emerged as a vital cog in the Texas A&M lineup as a freshman, warranting freshman All-America honors. One of four freshman position players, Banks was arguably the toolsiest position player on Team USA, offering a true power-speed combo. The lefthanded hitter has plus raw power from a quick stroke and deep load. Banks was capable of hitting low-trajectory line drives that kept on traveling well beyond the right-field fence, as the ball really jumps off his bat. The 19-year-old offers plus speed with a chance to remain in center field, though his speed can play as average out of the box at times. His arm projects as at least average and could play in right field if moved off center field.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Banks has a strong, muscular physique, though he lost weight at the end of the long summer. The coaches said his swing and approach in batting practice did not carry over to the game, where he often hit the ball to the opposite field and was not aggressive in leverage counts. Banks, who struggled with spin at times, had the highest strikeout rate of any hitter this summer (23 percent of plate appearances) and the second-lowest walk rate (4 percent) while hitting .241/.290/.333. Banks has the tools and athleticism to become a very good player with continued development and improvement of his contact skills.
11. Zach Collins, c/1b (So., Miami)
Considered a top-five-rounds talent out of high school, Collins won BA Freshman of the Year honors after hitting .298/.427/.556 with 11 home runs this spring for his hometown ’Canes. Collins led Team USA with three home runs after hitting the most home runs of any freshman in the country this spring. His carrying tool is lefthanded power that is at least plus and produces towering batting practice shots to his pull side. He has a loose, handsy stroke with an advanced approach at the plate and projects to draw walks at an above-average clip after walking in 16.5 percent of his plate appearances this spring and 17.9 this summer. A pull-oriented hitter, Collins has some swing-and-miss to his game with some length to his stroke, and some scouts wonder how his hand hitch (which looks similar to Josh Hamilton’s) will play against better velocity on the inner half of the plate. Scouts and coaches alike wonder if Collins will be able to remain behind the plate, as he needs improvement with both his receiving and arm strength that doesn’t consistently play as average. Some scouts believe his best fit will be at first base. Collins is a bottom-of-the-scale runner with a big, strong and physical 6-foot-3, 220-pound build that has drawn comparisons to Mark Teixeira because of some softness to his build and large lower half. He could develop into an impact power bat with secondary skills.
12. Christin Stewart, of (Jr., Tennessee)
Stewart had an illustrious high school career, setting the Georgia single-season home run record (26) and tying the state’s career home run record (69) held by Micah Owings. The lefthanded hitter was the top offensive performer on Team USA, leading in all three triple-slash categories (.383/.474/.605) in 97 plate appearances while producing 14 extra-base hits, which was more than one-fifth of the team’s total. Evaluators have a wide range of opinions on Stewart, who showed very well at the outset and produced quality at-bats with lots of extra-base hits, but struggled later during his time stateside. He has above-average bat speed with natural leverage and extension in a swing that produces plus raw power. Stewart has swing-and-miss to his game with an 18 percent career strikeout rate at Tennessee (19 percent this summer). He is a fly ball-oriented hitter whose swing can get long and around the ball at times.
After walking in 12 percent of his plate appearances as a freshman, Stewart will need to draw walks at a higher clip than his 6 percent from this spring because of his bat-first profile at the bottom of the defensive spectrum. Stewart misplayed two balls in right field during Team USA’s second game and spent most of his time at DH thereafter. Some scouts aren’t sure if he has a position. If he plays the field his below-average arm and speed fit best in left field. Stewart, who was a catcher in high school and caught some bullpens for Team USA, will get some time behind the dish this fall to see if he can play there next spring. The 6-foot, 205-pound Stewart has a strong, muscular physique with a powerful lower half. He plays the game with energy and drew plaudits from the coaching staff for his makeup and eagerness to learn.
13. Mark Mathias, 2b/3b, (Jr., Cal Poly)
Undrafted out of high school, Mathias emerged this spring as a vital offensive cog, winning Big West Conference player of the year honors and becoming a second-team All-American. While his collection of tools is behind some of his teammates, Mathias’ carrying tool is his righthanded bat, and he was arguably the best pure hitter on the team. Mathias, who uses a toe tap, has a direct, compact and line-drive-oriented swing with quick hands. He works inside the ball with an up-the-middle approach. He recognizes and tracks pitches well, rarely swinging and missing in the zone and consistently producing quality at-bats. Mathias controls the zone well and has the lowest career strikeout rate of hitter on the team (7.5 percent) and was one of only two hitters to draw more walks (15.4 percent) than strikeouts (12.2) this summer.
Finding a defensive home will be a key to his prospect status, as his other tools do not fit a clear positional profile. The 6-foot, 185-pound Mathias has strength to his frame, especially in his lower half, but projects to hit for below-average power and has two career home runs with an isolated slugging of .100 in 295 plate appearances, though his doubles production projects to be high. A second baseman at school, Mathias saw time on the infield corners, and his fringe-average arm could play close to average at third, where his power doesn’t profile. Some believe he will be stretched at second base professionally with limited range and some stiffness through his hips. That causes some evaluators to believe his defensive ability may fit best on an outfield corner. Mathias, who can post average run times out of the box, is the youngest draft-eligible player on the team and won’t turn 21 until two months after the draft.
14. Justin Garza, rhp (Jr., Cal State Fullerton)
Garza garnered some interest in the top five rounds out of high school (when he ranked No. 130 on the BA 500), but scouts prefer to see small righthanders prove it in college. Garza has been a high performer, earning All-America honors as a freshman and compiling a 5.0 strikeout-walk ratio in his career. Although the competitive Garza is an aggressive strike-thrower (1.5 walks per nine in his career) with a starter’s repertoire, many evaluators project him in the bullpen because of his undersized 5-foot-11, 170-pound build that is lean, wiry and athletic and offers minimal projection. His fastball sat 90-92, touching 94 in the rotation with downhill plane and late giddyup through the zone, as well as some run to his arm side. The ball jumps out of Garza’s hand with his electric arm speed. He has a full-length arm circle and gets tilted in the back of his delivery, which has some effort. He shows feel for a changeup with plus potential that he throws to left and righthanded hitters. His breaking ball shows at least average potential, flashing better.
15. Bryan Reynolds, of/1b (So., Vanderbilt)
Undrafted out of high school, the switch-hitting Reynolds emerged as a force in the middle of Vanderbilt’s lineup, leading the national champs in batting average and slugging while finishing second in on-base percentage (.338/.395/.480). Evaluators liked his hitting ability with Team USA, as he showed natural feel for the barrel with a loose, quick inside-out stroke. Although he has a patient approach with some feel for the zone, Reynolds will need to cut down on his strikeout rate this summer, as it was nearly double (28 percent) his spring rate (15.4). A natural righthanded hitter, Reynolds’ swing path could get uphill from the left side, something the coaching staff worked on. Scouts can project power for the broad-shouldered, lean 6-foot-2, 195-pound Reynolds, who has significant room to get stronger, as his doubles power could turn into home runs down the road. He hit more doubles (24) than any other freshman in the country and tied for seventh among all players. The athletic Reynolds runs well enough to handle center field in college and play all three outfield spots. He saw some time at first base this summer after arriving late from the CWS.
16. Chris Okey, c (So., Clemson)
Okey, considered a top-three-rounds talent out of high school (No. 72 on the BA 500 in 2013), has deep history at Clemson with his grandfather helping found the booster club and his mother a former cheerleader. Okey, a USA Baseball veteran after playing on the 16U and 18U teams, is an above-average athlete for a catcher and could be one of the top college catchers in next year’s draft with continued improvement of his bat. He shows the receiving skills necessary to remain behind the plate—though he boxed some balls this summer—and has at least an average arm. He is at least an average runner, though his speed didn’t always play as average out of the box. The righthanded hitter has a quick, line-drive-oriented stroke with some length. The coaching staff worked on making his swing path more consistent in game action. Okey flashed pull side power in batting practice, but scouts would like to see him impact the ball more frequently in game action. He hit .248/.311/.350 this spring with an unsustainably low BABIP of .265 that should regress to the mean. The coaching staff praised his makeup off the field and his intensity on it.
17. Thomas Eshelman, rhp (Jr., Cal State Fullerton)
One of the top college performers in recent memory, Eshelman was a first-team All-American as a freshman and second-teamer as a sophomore. Eshelman is a supreme strike-thrower, and his control is one of the single best tools on the team, if not the draft class. He has a best-in-class career walk rate of .41 per nine and gets strikeouts at nearly an average rate of 6.8. His career strikeout-walk ratio of 16.5 is the highest of any Division I college pitcher with more than 100 innings pitched since at least 2002. For context, the highest ratio of any college pitcher who went in the top 10 rounds dating back to the 2009 draft is Stephen Strasburg‘s 7.50, which is less than half of Eshelman’s 16.5. This sort of unique track record of performance will certainly pique the interest of analytical teams.
Eshelman’s control allows him to work deep into games, as he has averaged 7.5 innings per start for his career. Eshelman’s fastball generally sits 88-90, touching 91, but he hides the ball exceptionally well in his deceptive delivery. His compact arm action and high three-quarters arm slot produce downhill plane, sink and varied life to his fastball, offering cut to his glove side and arm-side run to that side of the plate. Eshelman pitches off his fastball, which he spots on both outer thirds, and offers a four-pitch mix. His curveball flashes average potential, and his changeup offers at least average potential, if not better. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Eshelman has an athletic, angular build with a strong lower half. Eshelman is young for the class and won’t be 21 until after draft day.
18. Taylor Ward, c (Jr., Fresno State)
Ward served as the third catcher on the squad, accruing 23 plate appearances while playing behind the underclassmen. He has one of the single best tools on the team with his arm strength, which is at least plus and garners some 65 grades from scouts, though his release doesn’t always allow his arm to play at that level in game action. He has shown some receiving ability, however scouts believe he will need to improve his receiving of velocity. Ward is a good athlete for the position and can post average to fringe-average run times. The righthanded hitter produced in school (.320/.395/.438), but scouts feel his bat needs work and is unlikely to reach average, lacking plus bat speed. The coaching staff made several mechanical adjustments with Ward this summer. Ward flashed average raw power to his pull side in batting practice and hit six home runs this spring, but projects to hit for below-average power. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Ward has a high-waisted build with lean musculature and room to get stronger. Some evaluators have wondered how his arm strength would play on the mound. But Ward has a chance to emerge near the top of a below-average crop of college catchers this year.
19. Blake Trahan, ss/2b (Jr., Louisiana-Lafayette)
Trahan was a key piece of a Louisiana-Lafayette team that pushed to the top spot in the Baseball America Top 25 this season, earning second-team All-America honors (.339/.455/.465). The athletic gamer combines instincts and intensity with tools. A shortstop at ULL, Trahan saw time there early this summer but was moved to second base and third base. He has quick-twitch athleticism with first-step quickness, good hands and at least an average arm. His actions and range allowed him to get to many balls defensively, but his arm stroke and release caused some inaccurate throws when his feet weren’t underneath him. Although he has a chance to remain at shortstop, evaluators believe he is better suited for second base on an everyday basis, where he could become an above-average defender, or a utility role. His best tool is his speed, which rates at least plus and produced some times that were at least plus-plus out of the box, though his speed didn’t play there consistently later in the summer. He has stolen 28 bases in school without being thrown out.
The righthanded-hitting Trahan has an aggressive stroke with quick hands and a level, line-drive-oriented bat path. He uses a toe tap and has a loud barrel in his hitting load that evaluators would like to see quieted. Trahan, who proved adept at driving the ball to the opposite field in games after working with coaches, routinely hits the ball hard up the middle in batting practice, and the ball jumps off his bat. Despite a strong, compact and muscular build, the 5-foot-9, 180-pound Trahan has a small frame and projects to hit for below-average power but high doubles production considering his speed and strength for his size. He has a track record of controlling the zone with a 13.6 percent walk rate and 11.4 percent strikeout rate last year.
20. Ryan Burr, rhp (Jr., Arizona State)
Ranked No. 13 on this list one year ago after serving as the team’s closer, Burr was surpassed by many of the team’s other relievers this year. He worked out of the Arizona State bullpen as a freshman before attempting to transition into the rotation as a sophomore, where he lasted three starts after walking nearly one-fifth (18 percent) of all hitters. Neither his high-effort delivery nor his control are suited for the rotation. At his best, Burr sat 93-95, touching 97 from an over-the-top arm slot with a stab in the back and a head whack. Burr has a long stride and produces riding life through the zone to his fastball. His fastball is very straight, and he often pitches in the upper half of the strike zone or above it. But his fastball can be heavy when he leverages the ball downhill. Burr will need to maintain his velocity better, as it fell steadily while working three times in five days, sitting 89-91 in quick turnarounds.
Burr’s top secondary offering is a slider (with curveball tilt) that flashes average potential with two-plane break and downer action but often plays as below-average according to evaluators. He pitches aggressively off his fastball, so finding a reliable secondary offering will be key to his draft stock. His changeup is seldom used in game action. The 6-foot-4, 224-pounder has an extra-large frame and physical build that he has filled in, gaining significant strength over the last two years. He has struck out hitters at a well above-average clip—11.7 per nine in school and 14.7 per nine in 11 innings this summer—but his below-average control will need to improve after walking 7.7 per nine this spring and 6.2 in his career. No college pitcher with a career walk rate as high as Burr’s has went in the top four rounds of the draft in the last five years. Burr is young for the class and will turn 21 roughly one week before the draft.
21. A.J. Minter, lhp (Jr., Texas A&M)
Minter, who has accumulated just 37 innings in two springs in part because of thoracic outlet syndrome, got valuable innings this summer, throwing 12 innings without allowing an earned run before getting another 10 in the Texas Collegiate League. Minter, who worked exclusively from the stretch, sat 92-94 at his best and touched 96, but mostly pitched in the 90-92 range with arm-side run and sink. He has a quick arm and significant effort to his delivery, largely pitching off his fastball. Minter has a changeup to combat righthanded hitters and a cutter/slider in the mid-80s that reached 88 mph. He has only been used out of the pen at Texas A&M but will be a candidate to start next spring. Improved control will be a key to his transition, having walked 5.1 per nine this summer and 4.1 in his career with a strikeout rate of 9.7. Scouts think the effort to his delivery is better suited out of the bullpen at the next level. The 6-foot, 210-pound Minter has a strong, physical build without much projection remaining.
22. Tate Matheny, of (Jr., Missouri State)
The son of St. Louis Cardinals manager and former Gold Glove-winning catcher Mike Matheny, Tate was the Missouri Valley Conference freshman of the year and a freshman All-American before an even better sophomore year (.330/.421/.528). Matheny was the starting center fielder for Team USA, but his body, speed and routes are not typical of a center fielder at the next level, leaving many scouts to tab him as a fourth outfielder without any true plus tools. His best tool is his speed, which scouts graded as a 55 on the 20-80 scale, though his swing produced inconsistent times out of the box, making his speed play from above-average to below-average. Though Matheny has instincts for the game, scouts questioned some of his routes in center. If Matheny moves off center he will likely fit best in left field with an arm that projects as average at best, though some believe he has a chance to play right.
Matheny has some strength and length to his righthanded swing. He has an up-the-middle approach and routinely hits balls to the right-center-field gap and right side. Matheny flashed at least average raw power in batting practice, hit 10 home runs with a .198 isolated slugging this spring and has a chance to hit for some power at the next level, but rarely pulled the ball in game action. Scouts were puzzled when comparing his spring stats to his summer stats because he had an above-average walk rate in the spring (10 percent) with a low strikeout rate (7.5), but his on-base ability was not there this summer, sporting the lowest walk rate on the team (3.5 percent) and one of the highest strikeout rates (19.8 percent). The 6-foot, 190-pound Matheny has a strong build with some size and physicality to his lower half and broad chest.
23. Andrew Moore, rhp (Jr., Oregon State)
Undrafted out of high school, Moore became an immediate contributor for Oregon State and was a first-team All-American as a freshman. Moore is an undersized strike-throwing, pitchability righthander with a four-pitch mix and a track record of performance. His fastball sat 90-91, touching 92 from the windup early in games before sitting 87-90 over extended innings. Moore, who has length to his arm path and some effort to his delivery, throws from an over-the-top arm slot that can get downhill plane and some glove-side run. He relies on a pair of breaking balls, with his curveball flashing average potential with 12-6 break and depth, though the pitch needs to be more consistent and have sharper break to play at average. His slider offers three-quarters tilt and was a below-average offering according to evaluators. Moore’s changeup shows average potential. Although Moore has a below-average career strikeout rate (5.6 per nine), he has a history of throwing strikes (2.2 walks) and commanding his fastball. The 5-foot-11, 184-pound Moore has a medium frame and solid build without much projection remaining. Moore fits the profile of a fifth starter at the next level because of his ability to pitch and mix four offerings.