Ranking 14 Late-Round Sleepers From The 2019 MLB Draft
You never know where the next big prospect is going to come from.
For every No. 1 overall draft pick like Chipper Jones or Ken Griffey Jr. who goes on to a Hall of Fame career, there are players like Albert Pujols (13th round), Mike Piazza (62nd round) and Roy Oswalt (23rd round) who saw hundreds of players drafted in front of them but went on to have phenomenal major league careers.
While it would be overzealous and irresponsible to try to predict the next Albert Pujols, here are 14 late-round draft picks from the 2019 class who you need to keep an eye on.
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1. Jasiah Dixon, OF, Pirates (23rd round)
Dixon was seen frequently by Southern California area scouts throughout his amateur career because he was a four-year starter for SoCal powerhouse Orange (Calif.) Lutheran High.
He ranked as the No. 177 prospect on the BA 500 draft ranking and was seen as high-upside righthanded hitter who figured to be drafted inside the top 10 rounds. Instead, Dixon fell to the Pirates in the 23rd round and turned in an impressive pro debut in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. He hit .329/.417/.425 with eight stolen bases, 10 walks and 11 strikeouts in 22 games.
Dixon is a plus-plus runner and the fastest player in the Pirates’ 2019 draft class, with plus arm strength and impressive athleticism. He showed bat-to-ball skills and raw power as an amateur, but scouts wondered about his natural timing and future hitting ability. His GCL performance might have changed a few minds.
2. Trevor McDonald, RHP, Giants (11th round)
After gaining around 20 pounds during the offseason before his senior year, McDonald elevated his draft stock to the point that he ranked as the No. 151 prospect on the BA 500.
The Mississippi high school righthander has a fastball that has touched 95 mph and also has the makings of a future plus curveball with depth and impressive top-to-bottom break that makes it look like a future swing-and-miss offering.
McDonald threw just four innings in the Rookie-level Arizona League this summer, but he struck out eight in that time. The Giants prioritized him as an early day three selection—the range where toolsy high school players get drafted in the current system.
3. Carter Bins, C, Mariners (11th round)
Bins isn’t a huge sleeper if you followed Baseball America’s draft coverage. The Fresno State catcher ranked as the No. 92 prospect in the 2019 draft class—but fell to the 11th round.
Bins has some of the best power in Seattle’s draft class and has a history of making hard contact. He continued that with big exit velocity numbers and seven home runs in 49 games for short-season Everett and has high upside as a solid defender with a big arm and some offensive upside.
4. Bryce Ball, 1B, Braves (24th round)
Ball had one of the best pro debuts of any 2019 draftee. The Dallas Baptist product earned the MVP award in the Rookie-level Appalachian League and ranked as the league’s No. 15 prospect after hitting .324/.410/.676 with 13 home runs in 41 games.
Ball has easy plus raw power that will be his carrying tool, and his hitting ability was well beyond what one would typically expect of a long-limbed, first-year player drafted in the 24th round.
5. Jeff Belge, LHP, Dodgers (18th round)
Belge is legally blind in his right eye after multiple freak injuries—including one stone skipping incident that led to a shattered cornea and one wrestling accident that led to a second surgery on the same cornea. But his stuff offers real appeal to scouts.
Belge has a 93-95 mph fastball and a plus curveball from the left side. The St. John’s product has a great frame and is listed at 6-foot-5, 225 pounds. He posted a 1.16 ERA over 23.1 innings across three leagues in a pro debut that culminated at low Class A Great Lakes.
Control will be the key or Belge’s development, but if he can improve that area of his game, he has the stuff to impact a major league bullpen.
6. Nelson Alvarez, RHP, Yankees (13th round)
The Yankees covet velocity, and they added another flamethrower early on day three of the draft by selecting Alvarez out of South Florida.
The 6-foot-4, 220-pound righthander has a fastball that has touched 100 mph and can sit in the mid-90s with carrying life that generates plenty of whiffs up in the zone. He’s got a solid slider that should pair well with the fastball and make him an intriguing reliever to follow.
7. Greg Veliz, RHP, Angels (15th round)
The Angels drafted several hard-throwing collegians on day three, including Veliz out of Miami. He has a mid-90s fastball and posted a 3.68 ERA over 29.1 innings in the Pioneer and Midwest leagues. He pairs that pitch with a slider that could become an above-average offering and a split-changeup, giving him more than enough weapons out of the bullpen.
8. Andre Nnebe, OF, Brewers (28th round)
The 6-foot-6, 230-pound outfielder from Santa Clara has huge raw power in the tank. Nnebe hit well in his pro debut in the Rookie-level Arizona League. He hit .302/.394/.496 with four home runs and nine doubles in 34 games and has big upside if he can learn to tap into his power more consistently.
9. Chandler Redmond, 2B, Cardinals (32nd round)
Redmond signed for just $3,000 as a senior out of Gardner-Webb but has a track record of lefthanded power production out of a strong, 6-foot-2, 230-pound frame. He was old for the Rookie-level Appalachian League as a 22-year-old but produced in his first year of pro ball and was near the top of the Cardinals’ scale in exit velocity. If Redmond continues to produce against better competition, his bat is worth monitoring. Redmond played second base, third base and first base with Johnson City this summer.
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10. Deion Walker, OF, Pirates (35th round)
Walker signed for $200,000 on day three and brings an exciting package of tools, including above-average running ability, future power potential and some bat-to-ball skill. The Powder Springs, Ga., high school product hit .270/.329/.459 in his pro debut in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and has plenty of projection with a 6-foot-4, 180-pound frame.
11. Damon Gladney, 3B, White Sox (16th round)
Thought to be a hit-over-power high school bat during the spring, Gladney showed more pop than expected in predraft workouts. Scouts now put above-average future power on him, which elevates a profile built around his standout athleticism and pure hitting ability. He hit eight home runs in 50 games in the Rookie-level Arizona League.
12. Dustin Harris, 1B/3B, Athletics (11th round)
The Athletics have done a nice job developing hitters the last few seasons, and it will be interesting to see what they do with Harris, a product of St. Petersburg (Fla.) JC. He hit .361/.466/.443 with 20 walks and 29 strikeouts as a 19-year-old in the Rookie-level Arizona League. Harris’ bat is his carrying tool and he shows solid hands and good rhythm in the box, but he’ll need to get better defensively to stick at third base.
13. Shane Kelso, RHP, Angels (24th round)
Another hard-throwing arm in the Angels draft class, Kelso can run his fastball up into the mid-90s and showed bat-missing stuff in the Pioneer and Midwest Leagues. He struck out 24 batters in 20.2 innings between both levels, but will need to improve his control (15 walks) to make the most of his stuff.
14. Blaine Crim, 1B, Rangers (19th round)
Crim hit .335/.398/.528 in the Northwest League during his pro debut and won the league’s most valuable player award. That’s a strong debut, but the 22-year-old first baseman will need to keep mashing in more age-appropriate leagues and tap into a bit more power to standout as an undersized, right-right first baseman.