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2018 MLB Draft: Day One Notes

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Triston Casas (Photo by Christian J. Stewart)

Best Of The Best

The top pick in the draft was the top talent in the draft. But as the Tigers see it, it’s Casey Mize’s command and control that was a separator even more than the quality of his four pitches.

“Casey, first of all, he’s got four pitches and what makes him, what separates him I should say, is we see guys with power, we see guys that might have a good breaking ball, good slider, good changeup, something like that,” Tigers scouting director Scott Pleis said. “But you very rarely see a guy with power up to 97, a plus split, a plus slider, a plus cutter, with plus-plus command. We see guys with maybe one good pitch with fringy command, fringy control but Casey’s done a great job in what he’s done. Like I said, we rarely see guys that have all the stuff with the command, which is huge, obviously to be a good major league pitcher.”

A Lively Fastball

The Dodgers landed one of the best fastballs in the draft class when they drafted righthander J.T. Ginn with their first-round pick. And they made it clear that they see the short righthander as a starter, noting that a number of teams have had success with players with similar frames.

“We’ve seen him over the course of last year with improving velocity that goes with a lot of movement,” scouting director Billy Gasparino said. “We think he has one of the best fastball qualities in the draft. He’s got a power breaking ball that he can throw for strikes. He actually showed a change last summer when he was facing the better hitters, so we’ve see him kind of develop a better and better delivery as the spring went along. Now, we think he’s a potential starter. Maybe like a Marcus Stroman, a Lance McCullers, one of those power righties that really have premium stuff.”

The Dodgers' second pick, West Virginia righthander Michael Grove, didn’t pitch this year. But as the team sees it, that may have created an opportunity to land a premium talent at a later pick.

“Grove is a little bit of a unique case,” Gasparino said. “A lot of credit goes to our area scout, Jonah Rosenthal. He was able to see Grove both his freshman and sophomore year and gain some comfortability with Grove’s ability. So when he actually did get hurt with Tommy John, we felt like we were pretty prepared with what kind of pitcher we were getting there. He’s right about at his 12 month mark now, and from all accounts, his background check would be seeing how his physical capacity as he was before before. So we felt like it was a really good talent level max at that pick and a comfort level with just where he was with his post-Tommy John Surgery. It made sense for us.”

A Healthy Comfort Level

The Diamondbacks didn’t get to see Jake McCarthy all that much this spring. No one did because he missed much of the season with a wrist injury. But Arizona scouts saw a lot of McCarthy last year when they were scouting their 2017 first round pick Pavin Smith. That familiarity helped them be comfortable with taking McCarthy with their second pick.

“We saw him early and saw him when he got back and he was pretty much kind of in spring training mode, but this guy we’ve known for a very long time. We watched his career and he was a guy that we targeted for a long time and we felt comfortable being able to take him where we did,” D-backs scouting director Deric Ladnier said. “The makeup is outstanding and when I talked to him this evening he said his phone was being blown up by all the UVA guys and I would assume Pavin would probably send him a text, too.”

Bet On The Bat

There’s a lot of questions about whether Triston Casas will stick at third base long-term or if he’ll end up sliding over to first base, where he could be a plus defender. But Casas knows why the Red Sox picked him in the first round and where his greatest strength is. He’s been drafted to hit.

“My greatest comfort on the field is probably in the lineup. To me, it doesn’t matter where I play and I feel like that’s what makes me pretty valuable to a team. I’m pretty versatile. I can play multiple numbers of positions pretty well, so whether it be third base, or first base, or left field, or right field, catcher, shortstop, center field. To me, it doesn’t matter. I love making an impact at the plate and the field is just a little bit of a bonus.”

Casas played at traditional baseball power American Heritage School in Plantation Florida, which brings some advantages for a player, like advice from alumni.

“Thankfully, he (Eric Hosmer) went to my high school, and he heard I was pretty good and in the area,” Casas said. “So he’s invited me to his house a couple times to hit and talk about baseball and just talk life in general, so I’m really appreciative of the way he’s taking me under his wing and basically given me advice all the way through my career for the past three, four years. He was in my shoes before and I feel like he’s just trying to pass it down.”

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A Byrd And A Beer

Seth Beer has one of the best batting eyes in this draft class, as evidenced by his 54 walks (compared to 36 strikeouts) this season. In his eyes, the key to his pitch recognition is the work he got to do as a pre-teen. Not many 12 years old get to sit in against a big leaguer, but Beer did regularly.

“I think growing up I have to give credit to Paul Byrd, he pitched in the big leagues for a long time and he actually played at Clemson,” Beer said. “At 12 years old I was seeing changeups, split fingers, different arm slots, all that stuff and I would step into the box and just watch the pitches and every pitch he threw he would tell me if it was a ball or a strike. I did it all the time, every time he was going into the tent getting ready to go or we were just hitting in the cage. He would throw to us like this and it taught me at a young age what the strike zone is.”

Let Him Leadoff

The Padres love athleticism and they got that in second-round pick Xavier Edwards, but the Padres are even more excited about Edwards on-base skills, which make him a potentially prototypical leadoff hitter.

“It’s hard to find leadoff hitters and it’s hard to find guys that can make things happen at the top of the order—swing the bat, control the strike zone. He’s a guy that, the way we had him evaluated, one of the more advanced high school bats in terms of plate discipline, seeing pitches and doing the things you want to see from good leadoff hitters. For us, he’s an infielder. He’s a shortstop,” Padres GM A.J. Preller said. “He’ll go out and play shortstop. Like a lot of our young infielders he’ll move around a little bit in Rookie ball and get a taste for left side, right side, etc., but we see him as a middle-infield, top-of-the-order guy that has a dynamic skill set.”

The Padres supplemental second-round pick Grant Little has some of the same skills along with plenty of versatility.

“I think our scouts like that he played shortstop, he played high school basketball—he’s an athlete. We’ve talked about, ‘Could he play center field? Could he play left field?’ That’s what we’re going to see here in pro baseball,” Preller said. “He’s athletic. He has some twitch and obvious athleticism. He’s made some tremendous catches in left field, some diving catches that have been on SportsCenter, some highlight-type things. So I think from our standpoint we’ll get him out and my guess is most likely start playing in the outfield and we’ll take a look at the infield as well and see where it factors in for us.”

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