Image credit: Hunter Owen (Photo by Carly Mackler/Getty Images)
PHOENIX—Day two of the 2023 combine rolled on Wednesday, with more bullpen sessions, defensive workouts and batting practice.
Like the first day of the event, we’re tracking the data leaders and standout performers in today’s combine notebook. While there was no game played on the second day, there were still plenty of tools on display in Chase Field.
Let’s get right into it with our day two data leaders, followed by 10 standout players:
- TJ Nichols, RHP, Arizona — 97.9
- Magdiel Cotto, LHP, Kentucky — 97.4
- Zach Fruit, RHP, Troy — 97.3
- Hayden Durke, RHP, Rice — 96.8
- Cameron Johnson, LHP, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla. — 96.8
Bullpen Induced Vertical Break
- Cade Smith, RHP, Mississippi State — 21.7
- Sebastian Gongora, LHP, Wright State — 21.3
- Austin Troesser, RHP, Missouri — 20.8
- Mikey Tepper, RHP, Liberty — 20.4
- Adam Boucher, RHP, Duke — 20.1
Batting Practice Exit Velocity
- George Wolkow, OF, Downers Grove (Ill.) North HS — 116.2
- Brandon Winokur, OF, Edison HS, Huntington Beach, Calif. — 113.5
- Joe Vetrano, 1B, Boston College — 113.5
- TayShaun Walton, OF, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla. — 111.4
- Jackson Feltner, 1B, Morehead State — 110.6
- Kris Armstrong, 1B, Jacksonville — 110.2
- Sam Parker, 1B, Kennesaw (Ga.) Mountain HS — 109.8
- Andrew Wiggins, OF, Heritage Christian HS, Indianapolis — 109.1
- Andrew Pinckney, OF, Alabama — 108.8
- Alfonsin Rosario, OF, P27 Academy, Lexington, S.C. — 108.3
Batting Practice Distance
- Sam Parker, 1B, Kennesaw (Ga.) Mountain HS — 456
- Brandon Winokur, OF, Edison HS, Huntington Beach, Calif. — 437
- Andrew Wiggins, OF, Heritage Christian HS, Indianapolis — 435
- George Wolkow, OF, Downers Grove (Ill.) North HS — 431
- Sabin Ceballos, 3B, Oregon — 429
- Alfonsin Rosario, OF, P27 Academy, Lexington, S.C. — 424
- Eric Bitonti, SS/3B, Aquinas HS, San Bernardino, Calif. — 419
- Aidan Smith, OF, Lovejoy HS, Lucas, Texas — 417
- Braden Holcomb, SS, Foundation Academy, Winter Garden, Fla. — 417
- Tai Peete, 3B, Trinity Christian HS, Sharpsburg, Ga. — 415
Cole Carrigg, OF/SS, San Diego State
Carrigg entered the year known for his defensive versatility, and put on a show at a number of positions during fielding workouts. He took ground balls at shortstop, made throws from right field and also suited up behind the plate and threw down to second base.
It was clear that Carrigg possessed one of the best throwing arms in the draft class on Wednesday, because he clocked 100 mph on a throw across the diamond from shortstop to first and then recorded 101 mph and 102 mph throws from right field as well. His throws from all positions have tremendous carry and almost seem like they are speeding up after leaving his hand, despite the fact that’s impossible, and he consistently throws on a line and with accuracy.
Behind the plate Carrigg turned in pop times around the 1.90-second range.
TJ Nichols, RHP, Arizona
There was a lot more power during the second day of bullpens compared to the first, and Nichols was part of that. He had a strong bullpen session with three good pitches and solid feel for all three.
He pitched in the 95-98 mph range with his fastball, which had solid late life, and he generally threw the ball over the plate. He also mixed in a firm, 87-88 mph slider with spin rates in the low 2,000 rpm range, and threw an 82-83 mph changeup with good fading life and spin rates in the 1,300-1,700 rpm range.
It was more control over command in this session for Nichols, but he threw much better strikes than you would have expected given the 10.4% walk rate he posted this spring with Arizona.
TayShaun Walton, OF, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla.
IMG Academy lands multiple prospects on today’s draft notebook, with the first being Walton—an athletic outfielder who turned in a loud batting practice. He’s lean and strong with plenty of physicality and more room to add strength to his 6-foot-3, 220-pound frame and he showed good balance with impressive bat speed and a level path.
Walton made a lot of hard contact in all of his rounds and did a nice job sending the ball back up the middle to both gaps. He ranked No. 4 among all day two hitters in exit velocity, with his hardest hit checking in at 111.4 mph off the barrel. With 11 tracked balls, Walton averaged a 101 mph exit velocity.
Isaiah Drake, OF, North Atlanta HS
Drake was a standout from day one thanks to impressive in-game performance and speed on the bases. He once again stood out on day two thanks to an impressive BP round that showed off his fast, twitchy hands and compact swing.
Drake hit a few deep fly balls to center field, but the most impressive aspect of his rounds was the fact that he constantly put the barrel on the ball and drove hard contact and line drives—mostly to the pull side.
It’s a very simple swing with no extra moving pieces. He gets started with a small step toward the ball and keeps his hands and head quiet throughout the swing and does a nice job getting on plane and getting the bat head extended wherever the ball is pitched. It’s a quick and snappy swing that’s hard not to like.
Joe Vetrano, 1B, Boston College
Vetrano popped 22 home runs this spring with Boston College and showed some of the loudest contact and raw power among day two hitters. He was third in max exit velocity, with a 113.5 mph hit, and routinely created great impact and loud contact in his sessions.
The ball jumped off his bat and he hit plenty of deep, towering fly balls to straightaway center field. Vetrano is immensely physical with a filled-out and muscular 6-foot-3, 220-pound frame and great strength throughout his lower and upper halves with broad shoulders and plenty of power in his wrists and forearms.
He averaged more than 102 mph on nine logged balls in this session.
Magdiel Cotto, LHP, Kentucky
Cotto posted a 5.50 ERA in just 18 innings this spring with Kentucky, but was one of the most impressive pitchers on the second day of bullpens. He has a large, physical frame and worked from the third base side of the rubber, with a three-quarter slot and a bit of effort and recoil in his delivery, but threw solid strikes with three pitches.
He pitched in the 95-97 mph range with his fastball, and had the second-hardest heater of any pitcher at the combine, and the hardest of all lefthanders at 97.4 mph. He also mixed in a firm, 86-87 mph slider that has short cutting action and spin in the 2,100-2,200 rpm range and a firm changeup at 87-88 mph with some arm-side fading life and spin in the 1,500-1,600 rpm range.
AJ Ewing, SS, Springboro (Ohio) HS
Ewing showed a quick bat in batting practice on day two, and while there were players who showed bigger pure raw power, there weren’t many who were as consistently on the barrel as the 6-foot shortstop from Ohio.
Similar to Drake, Ewing has a simple and direct swing that allows him to get on plane with the baseball consistently and hit hard line drives to both gaps and use the opposite field naturally and effectively. His hardest bolt was 103.2 mph and he averaged 92.4 mph across 23 logged swings, and he still has room to fill out and add strength.
Cameron Johnson, LHP, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla.
Johnson was one of the highest ranking arms to throw a bullpen session at the combine, and he didn’t disappoint. He showed off all the pure stuff and tough angles that make him one of the top lefthanders in the class, and touched 97 mph from the left side.
He mostly pitched in the 95-96 mph range, but the ball jumps out of his hand from a difficult lower slot, and he adds further deception with a crossfire landing in his lower half. The fastball also has plenty of movement for hitters to contend with, thanks to sinking and running action. He did spike one ball and was a bit scattered, but not glaringly so.
Johnson also threw a changeup in the upper 80s that flashed a bit of glove-side cut in one instance, and threw a big breaking ball in the 79-82 mph range with lower spin rates but solid movement, especially when he landed the pitch to his glove side.
Hunter Owen, LHP, Vanderbilt
The top-ranked college southpaw to throw a bullpen session, Owen looked poised and in control of a quality four-pitch mix on Wednesday. He pitched mostly in the 90-92 mph range with his fastball and showed excellent feel for that pitch as well as an 81-82 mph changeup that came out easy with solid fading life and great touch around the bottom of the zone.
Owen spotted the fastball and changeup excellently, and showed good feel for his breaking stuff as well, though he did spike one slider to his glove side and left up a hanging curveball. His slider was in the 81-82 mph range with high spin rates around 2,500-2,600 rpm and his curveball checked in at 73-75 mph with spin rates up to the 2,800 rpm range.
Owen has a massive frame with an easy delivery that includes a crossfire landing and a balanced finish.
Brandon Winokur, 3B/OF, Edison HS, Huntington Beach, Calif.
Winokur’s batting practice session was one of the loudest at the combine, which was probably discernable from his exit velocity and distance metrics at the top of this post. He is a massive righthander with a 6-foot-5, 218-pound frame that still has plenty of room for more mass and strength gains.
Winokur’s swing is far from picturesque, with a big leg kick, a lot of bat waggle and a significant hand hitch in his load, but the results are hard to argue with. When he hits the ball he hits it hard and he hits it far. He produced a number of towering home runs to left field, including an upper deck homer to left that was out of reach for a vast majority of the players at the combine.
He hit the second-farthest ball of day two, had the second-hardest hit ball of day two, hit three balls more than 420 feet and averaged a 108 mph exit velocity across nine tracked swings. It was an impressive showing and he added to his day by showing a plus arm from right field for good measure.