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2018 MLB Draft Chat (March 22)

Carlos Collazo: What’s going on everyone? Hope you are all having a good Thursday. Thanks for joining me in today’s draft chat. I think we can be here for a while today talking the 2018 class, so if you haven’t submitted a question yet there’s still time. Let’s jump right into it.

Tim (California):

    Draft is tomorrow. You’re Avila. Who are you taking 1-1?

Carlos Collazo: Kyle would be so proud of me for starting with a question from the West Coast. I’m taking Auburn RHP Casey Mize. Stuff has been phenomenal, he throws strikes, he’s got a track record of success. Exceptional four-pitch repertoire. Sign me up.

Carlos Collazo: Additionally, Teddy Cahill has a piece on Mize after seeing him recently. Definitely check it out:

Carlos Collazo: Sorry for the delay already everyone, had to take a call! I’m back and ready to roll though.

Brady Singer (Gainesville, FL):

    Has my stock fallen at all this season?


Brent (Durham):

    Will Singer be the #1 overall selection or is his stock falling?

Carlos Collazo: A couple Brady Singer questions, so we can tackle them. I do think there is some merit to the talk of Singer’s draft stock falling, but he’s actually pitched very well this spring and is coming off of a good game against South Carolina to start SEC play. So he may no longer be the No. 1 guy (and he was never the lockdown consensus 1-1 guy), but he’s a pretty safe bet to be a major leaguer and has a great track record. I still think he will go pretty high.

Eric (Texas):

    What is a realistic range for Brice Turang to land in the draft? 10-15? 15-20?

Carlos Collazo: At this point I think he’s still in the top 10. The expectations for Turang are so high thanks to what he’s done to this point, but he has hit pretty well this spring so far based on what I’ve heard. We’ll get to see him at the NHSI next week and a lot of teams will be bearing down. He could slip into the 11-15 range but at this point I think it’s unlikely.

Mack (Naperville, IL):

    It seems like all of the top HS infielders (Turang, Gorman, De Sedas) have fallen off some. Do you see any of them rebounding or any other guys popping up that can make their way into the top half of the first round?

Carlos Collazo: I wouldn’t put Turang in the same category as the other two in regards to this. I have heard from several different people that Gorman has taken a step backward this spring in regards to his defense and looking a little more stiff. Still, he has some of the best power in the class and that’s still hard to come by. Additionally, if you’re drafting Gorman at the top you’re doing it for his bat, not his glove but I do get that more pressure falls on the bat if a team believes he’s going to have to move to 1B. De Sedas hasn’t hit great so far and he has some defensive questions as well but I think both of these guys can end up rebounding and going up before we get to June.

Casey (Connecticut):

    With weather playing a factor in the Northeast this spring, how much of a factor will this be for high school players, especially hitters, in evaluating their draft stock?

Carlos Collazo: Weather has actually been a challenge in a number of areas so far this year. Texas was brutal for a while the first few weeks with rain and scouts had nightmares getting to the guys they were trying to see. The weather in the northeast seems to be a more consistent year-to-year issue in evaluating talent on the pitching side and hitting side just because the teams start up so late. Definitely a challenge. Major props to those scouts freezing on benches at this time of the year.

Kevin (Chicago):

    With the Cubs pretty much solely focusing their draft picks on hitting, do you think they’ll switch their mindset towards developing young pitching? Any exciting pitching prospects you think will be available for them at the later part of the first round?

Carlos Collazo: I wouldn’t say the Cubs have focused solely on hitting in the draft, especially recently. They’ve actually been one of the most aggressive teams to go after pitching at the top of the draft the last five years. Their first five picks in last year’s draft were arms and their first four selections were pitchers in 2016. As for this year, there should be a ton of different routes they could go if they wanted to keep going after pitchers.

Ben (Jersey):

    Do any hitters in the class project both plus hitting and plus power?

Carlos Collazo: Seth Beer comes to mind, though he’s hitting .257 right now and that’s certainly not plus. Not sure if Alec Bohm could be that as well, he definitely has the power part down and he’s been mashing for Wichita State so far. Gorman also has the power, but you’d have to really love his bat at this point to project a plus hit tool I would imagine. Jarred Kelenic might be your best bet on the high school side, though some people really like Triston Casas as well. Projecting plus on the high school side is so tough though so I wouldn’t want to go that far yet.

DR (East Coast):

    Is Grayson Rodriguez firmly in the first round now? Is there still some projection there?


Craig (Seattle):

    Who would you say has improved their draft stock the most since the season started?

Carlos Collazo: The previous question is the answer for you, Craig. The Texas prep righthander has been throwing some ludicrous stuff during his first few starts this year and there is a lot of heat on him. I’ve heard he’s been as high as 97-98 with a legit four-pitch mix and it’s apparently been low effort as well. He’s 6-5, 230 pounds and has dramatically improved his body over the offseason. Essentially a different player now than when he was 90-92 in the Area Code Games last summer. It’s a remarkable jump and to get to the first question about whether he’s in the first round and it’s definitely legit possibility.

Sparhawk (Atlanta):

    Matt Mercer of East Tennesee. Is he McClanahan with worse control? 6’1″ and hit 100mph in a game. Is he a starter or reliever long term?

Carlos Collazo: I haven’t heard that sort of fastball velocity with Mercer at this point. I’ve heard 96-97 this spring at the top end and 98 in the fall. I think he’s a reliever, it’s a violent delivery with a lot of effort. I can see what you’re going for with the McClanahan comp, but they are still quite a bit different.

Glenn (North Carolina):

    Any chance Ethan Hankins is still around at #8 for the Braves?

Carlos Collazo: It’s a lot more possible now than I would have guessed before the season started. Definitely a chance.

Darrell (Milton Ga):

    How is Ethan Hankins? i know he recently missed some time during high school season with a sore shoulder. He pitched 1 inning on tuesday

Carlos Collazo: Yep, he threw one inning and it was good to see him back on the mound. I don’t think the shoulder injury is a huge issue at this point, but something to monitor.

Ben (Chicago, IL):

    As a White Sox fan I’m intrigued by a second round pick of a HS OFer type like Joe Gray Jr or Alek Thomas. Any word on how they are performing this year?

Carlos Collazo: I’ve heard good things about both players so far. I’ll get a chance to see both of them at the NHSI next week (as well as Brice Turang, Nolan Gorman and Triston Casas who have all been mentioned) and have more info on both of them. Don’t be too surprised if Joe Gray goes before that second round Sox pick.

John (Boston):

    Where is Ryan weathers going to get drafted at? Any chance he s wake into the top 10?

Carlos Collazo: I believe Weathers is just now getting started this spring, so we’ll see how he looks but at this point I would be surprised if he went that high. There are a lot of other arms who have better raw stuff.

Phil (Manitowoc, WI):

    Who do you think will get picked first between Jarred Kelenic and Travis Swaggerty? How do they compare and which would you rather take if you were a GM?

Carlos Collazo: I’d go with Swaggerty. Safer projection in the hit tool as a college guy with track record I would imagine. Kelenic is from Wisconsin where the competition isn’t great, but he has performed with Team USA and on the showcase circuit. The biggest thing might be how likely either player is to stick in CF and Swaggerty is the safer bet on that front I think. If you want the higher upside maybe go Kelenic and if you prefer a higher floor go with Swaggerty.

Rick (SC):

    Have you started to hear any rumblings about teams being connected to certain players?

Carlos Collazo: I’ve heard a few things here and there but nothing solid enough that I’d want to throw it out yet. That is just now starting to warm up and I’m sure we’ll start hearing more as we get into mid-April.

Andrew (Austin, TX):

    I could be wrong, but I seem to recall a year ago Triston Casas was regarded as one of the top 5-ish prospects for this year’s draft. If that memory is correct, what has caused his fall nearly to #30 on BA’s pre-draft rankings?

Carlos Collazo: Not sure where you heard that. I know BA never wrote that. It’s also not a “fall.” He’s a high school first baseman in the first round. That’s extremely impressive.

Roger (Greenville, SC):

    Would any teams seriously consider drafting Casas as a 3B? I know it’s hard to justify drafting a 1B very high, but the bat and the age relative to the class are very impressive.

Carlos Collazo: Let’s dig in a little more on Casas. I would love this idea. Personally, I was very impressed with the athleticism that Casas has shown despite how big he is and he also has a very strong arm that would be enough to play at the hot corner. It’s definitely much more likely that he’s a first baseman, but why not give him a shot? If he can’t figure it out you’re not going to lose anything by moving him back to first, but if he actually does then you’ve just increased his value tremendously. He’s got the right kind of work ethic to make it happen.

Roger (Greenville, SC):

    Is this draft deeper than normal in guys who’d normally go in the top 10-15 picks? 1st round? In reading reports and trying to make my own preference lists, it feels deeper.

Carlos Collazo: Yeah it’s definitely deeper than the last few years at the top.

Joe (Portland):

    Is Trevor Larnach moving into the top 20 with an impressive performance this year?

Carlos Collazo: I wouldn’t be surprised. He’s still hitting and I’ve talked to some scouts recently who love the changes he’s made at the plate. He’s letting the ball travel more and letting his natural strength do the job, going to left-center a lot with real power. It’s not easy to hit a ton of homers in the Pac-12. He also had a strong Cape.

Roger (Greenville, SC):

    Between the CoppyGate penalties and the turnover of GM and AGMs, do you foresee the Braves changing their draft strategy, or does the continuity of Brian Bridges and Roy Clark reign supreme?

Carlos Collazo: I would imagine Bridges continues to draft how he has in the past. It’s been working out pretty well.

Will (Florida):

    Will Banfield put up insane perfect game numbers for pop time, arm strength, bat speed, and exit velo. Is the risk of high school catchers the reason why he’s not in top 10 consideration?

Carlos Collazo: Yep, that and the questions about his hit tool. If you look at the high school catchers who went at the top of the draft they were mostly offensive-oriented guys. Go check out Joe Mauer’s draft report. His best tool was his bat. It’s a very tough demographic in general, but the hit tool trumps all. Just a random point, I don’t think any scouts put any stock at all in showcase pop times. They are pretty meaningless.

Russell (Chicago):

    Griffin Conine is slumping badly. Does he slip past the top 20 even with his pedigree?

Carlos Collazo: He definitely could. Still, I think every team wants Conine to make them think hard about letting him go that far because he has such impressive power from the left side. When I’ve been in to watch him there’s normally a very good crowd of scouts. Still… his strikeout rate is pushing 30 percent at this point. That is a real concern.

Jose (FL):

    Any under the radar players now who could go early? Like Adam Haseley last year.

Carlos Collazo: Was Adam Haseley under the radar? I don’t think he ever was. Andrew Benintendi might be the better example from 2015. Swaggerty has some of the same elements and wasn’t super well-known before Team USA last summer but even he was well on the radar by the time the season started. Arizona State outfielder Gage Canning is currently destroying everything. He’s hitting .494/.550/.851. He’s leading the nation in hits, is fourth in batting average and eighth in OBP and SLG. Hitting like that is a good way to shoot up.

Mark (Iowa):

    Who are some high school catchers in the back half of the BA top 300 that could shoot up the board with a big spring?

Carlos Collazo: It sounds like Nevada catcher Austin Wells (who attends the same Bishop Gorman high school that Joey Gallo went to) has been very good. Some teams will love Adam Hackenberg’s raw power and double-plus arm strength out of Virginia.

Aaron (Atlanta):

    Austin Cox of Mercer. What’s his velocity? His secondaries? He has a high K and BB rates. Is the stuff better than the results?

Carlos Collazo: Fringe-average to average fastball, he’s got a changeup, slider and a curveball. It sounds like the curve is his best pitch, but nothing is plus.

Craig (Seattle):

    I know you can’t really assign a type of player to a team’s first round pick, but a college pitcher has to seem likely for Seattle right? They usually go college, and their farm desperately needs arms. Someone like Kowar, Gilbert, or Rolison could conceivably be in play right?

Carlos Collazo: I wouldn’t call it likely but we have seen some teams recently draft with a real emphasis for farm need (check out the Nationals class last year). The Mariners have taken a position player with each of their previous four 1st round picks, all of them in this similar range. It will obviously depend on what happens in front of them but they will have some good arms to choose from at 14 if that’s the route they want to go. I would be a bit surprised if Mississippi lefty Ryan Rolison makes it that far based on what I’m hearing now though.

Logan (Oregon):

    With guys like Denaburg, Stewart, and Rodriguez shoving recently, who is your pick for third prep pitcher in the class at this point(behind Liberatore and a healthy Hankins)? Might there be a third prep pitcher in the top 10 mix?

Carlos Collazo: Would not be surprised at all if either Florida righthanders Mason Denaburg or Carter Stewart wound up in the top 10. Ga. righty Kumar Rocker has been very good to start as well. I’d put him in that top 10 discussion over Rodriguez at this point.

Joe (Alabama):

    Is Anthony Seigler seen as a top 3 rounds guy?


Carlos Collazo: Yes. I’ve thrown up a couple impressive home runs from him so far this spring on Twitter (subtle plug: @CarlosACollazo)

Paul (Orlando):

    Where would you rank Casas for 2019 draft, since that was his original class? Would he be at the top because he is a year older, or would you rank him lower because he would be a 19.5 year old 1B by the time the 2019 draft rolls around?

Carlos Collazo: We’re trying to rank the 2018 class accurately and you want me to go ahead and rank the 2019 class? Sheesh, high standards. No clue at this point. Age is a very big factor though so he’d probably get knocked for that to a varying degree depending on the team.

leprekhan (Georgia):

    The beginning of this draft season saw that many thought this draft class was deeper and better than the last few years. As things have gone on, have you heard that this class overall is being considered appreciably better or worse than first thought?

Carlos Collazo: It’s been pretty consistently talked about as a deep class and a better than average one. Hasn’t changed much as we’ve gotten closer to the actual draft.

Derek (Red Stick):

    As an LSU fan, how far would Brice Turang’s stock to fall to have a reasonable shot at making it to campus?

Carlos Collazo: Don’t tell me you’re rooting for Turang’s draft stock to fall Derek… That said, hitters in the first round almost always sign. Sorry LSU.

Roger (Greenville, SC):

    Given the modern summer showcase circuit, is it much harder now for a HS hitter who’s not in a strong baseball hotbed to help his case for the 1st round in the spring?

Carlos Collazo: I think there’s some truth to this. It’s definitely harder to move the needle for yourself if you’re not playing against good competition, although I don’t know if the modern showcase circuit has made the harder than in the past. I would think that only helps give hitters from those areas more opportunities to face better pitching. I’ll use Jarred Kelenic again as an example here. Almost nothing he does this spring is going to be more impressive than what he’s done in previous summers, but he’s still going in the first round.

Donny (Kansas City):

    Which 2nd round level high school pitchers have the highest upside?

Carlos Collazo: Based on our current rankings (which will change) I’d say Texas RHP Braxton Ashcraft, Florida RHP Slade Cecconi, Georgia LHP Luke Bartnicki and Mississippi RHP J.T. Ginn.

Tim (Missouri):

    Who are the most underrated hitters in this draft class?

Carlos Collazo: Alex McKenna hit .356 last year and is hitting pretty well this season with Cal Poly again. Josh Watson is hitting well with TCU. I don’t know how underrated they are but they’ve been hitting.

Eric (New York):

    Have you heard of any top 50 draft prospects who plan on going to college or have significant signability concerns?

Carlos Collazo: I know that Miami commit Slade Cecconi has been hard for teams to figure out. He’s one that jumps out.

Dan (MD):

    Is Logan Gilbert a top half of the first round guy? Does he have some risk being a small school guy if he struggles in conference play?

Carlos Collazo: I think so. And yes, he’ll need to perform in conference to go because of the strength of the class, but Stetson has a pretty good history turning out big league arms. He’s currently racking up strikeouts.

Brett (Chicago):

    What’s your prediction for the first 4 SS taken in the draft? In order for extra points

Carlos Collazo: This isn’t going to come back and haunt me at all. If we’re saying Nick Madrigal isn’t a shortstop I’ll go: 1. Brice Turang 2. Jeremy Eierman 3. Nander De Sedas 4. Cadyn Grenier

Eric R (Kitchener, Ontario):

    Have the Jays been connected to anyone with the 12’th pick, or is it too early?

Carlos Collazo: Too early.

Jack (California):

    Saw Austin Bergner was lights out against Pitt after some rocky starts. What have you heard about him this spring? Where do you see him going in the draft?

Carlos Collazo: I saw Bergner in relief early in the season out of the bullpen and it was a lukewarm look. A bit weird how UNC has been using him, but yes the start vs. Pitt was very encouraging. Let’s see how he continues to look against the ACC. He’s scheduled to start against Florida State this Saturday.

Randy (Michigan):

    Thoughts on LSU’s Zach Watson? The college OF crop is kind of unspectacular and he seems to have tools. Could he be sort of a poor-man’s Benintendi and shoot up the board this year?

Carlos Collazo: Yep, he’ll have every opportunity to shoot up playing in the SEC as well. He’s a better runner than Benintendi—some scouts have put a 70 on the speed—whereas everything else is around average to slightly above.

Rob (Georgia):

    It almost seems inevitable that the Tigers will take a “lower” ranked-player at a discount at 1-1 to grab better prospects in later rounds with overslot deals, right? Given the abundance of HS righty arms in the draft and teams wanting to find the next Correa/Lewis at a cheaper price

Carlos Collazo: Certainly a strategy that has paid off in the past for some teams, and if you don’t think there is a clear-cut No. 1 guy then why not? Still, if there’s much separation at all on Detroit’s draft board I would imagine they take the guy who’s at the top.

Bryce (Arkansas):

    Blaine Knight has looked pretty good so far. What are your thoughts on him?

Carlos Collazo: Yep. He didn’t have the longest outing against Kentucky last week, but he’s got a quick arm, a fastball into the mid 90s and a projectable frame.

leprekhan (Georgia):

    Joey Bart is having himself a year, but Will Banfield has opened some eyes lately at the plate…in particular at the PGHS Showdown as did Anthony Siegler. Who is the first catcher taken in the draft and do all three get taken in the first round?

Carlos Collazo: I would be surprised if all three went in the first round. Bart seems like the safest bet to go first at this point.

Phil (St. Louis):

    Do you see the Cardinals taking a shot on Seth Beer? He’s risky for a NL team but may be a rare chance to find that true impact bat the Cardinals have desperately needed.


Ryan (Atlanta):

    Luken Baker vs Seth Beer…who you got?


Charlie (Chicago):

    Draft twitter loves Seth Beer. Who do you think draft fans like the most on the high school side? I’m going with Joe Gray Jr or Nander De Sedas

Carlos Collazo: The only fitting way to end a draft chat is to empty out all of the Seth Beer questions. Let’s go down the line. 1. I would guess an AL team 2. Flip a coin 3. Indeed, draft twitter loves Seth Beer. As do BA draft chatters, which we appreciate! Joe Gray and Nander De Sedas are both good choices, and I think Blaze Alexander is another HS guy who Twitter loves.

Carlos Collazo: That’s it for today everyone! Thanks for sticking around and reading and submitting questions. We’ll do this again in a few weeks! Any more questions, be sure to throw them at me on Twitter (@CarlosACollazo) and get excited for a few big high school events coming up. USA Baseball’s National High School Invitational next week in Cary and the Boras Classic South the following week in California. Should be a blast.

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