Top MLB Draft Prospects In Northern California
1. Tristan Beck, RHP, Stanford (BA Rank: 31)
4YR • 6-4 • 165 • -R • Yankees '17 (29)
Beck is back this year, but how’s the back? That’ll be a question many teams will look to address before the draft, as Stanford’s Friday night starter missed the entire 2017 season—in which he was draft-eligible—with a stress fracture in his back. That injury came after a terrific freshman campaign in which Beck started 14 games and posted a 2.48 ERA with 76 strikeouts and 26 walks in 83 innings. At his best, Beck has a four-pitch mix of pitches that are all above-average or better and he’s comfortable getting hitters out with any of them, whether that be fastball, curveball, slider or changeup. After being sidelined for 630 days, the early returns on Beck in 2018 were positive and it seemed like he had returned to his freshman year form. Through his first three starts, Beck fanned 20 batters in 18 innings, compared to only four walks, and allowed just three earned runs. However, scouts say Beck’s stuff has backed up as the season has progressed and his fastball has been closer to average than plus. His breaking ball has lacked sharpness, as well, and Beck has struggled to pitch deep into games at times. He’ll be an arm that teams pay close attention to late in the season, just to see if there is any sort of jump in his stuff. When healthy, Beck has an impressive history of performing—both as a freshman at Stanford and as a high schooler in Southern California—and a true four-pitch mix.
2. Kris Bubic, LHP, Stanford (BA Rank: 40)
4YR • 6-3 • 210 • R-L • Never Drafted
Since joining Stanford in 2016, Bubic has been one of the most effective pitchers in the Pac-12. Bubic has improved from his freshman year, when he posted a 3.26 ERA in 21 games (including six starts), to his junior year, when he’s been the Cardinal’s best weekend starter. Through 10 starts this spring, Bubic has a 2.44 ERA, which ranks fifth in the Pac-12, and the best strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.42) of his career. A talented high school prospect out of Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.) High, Bubic has long shown a feel for spin and throws from a delivery in which he tries to emulate Dodgers ace lefthander Clayton Kershaw. However, that’s where the comparison with Kershaw stops, as Bubic doesn’t possess a single plus-plus pitch and is seen as more of a future back-end starter at the next level. Bubic regularly throws in the low 90s and can ratchet his fastball up to the 94-95 mph range at times, but his velocity this spring has been inconsistent and there have been times where he’s finishing games in the upper 80s. With a fastball ranging anywhere from a 45- to 55-grade pitch, Bubic’s changeup—which he locates well and throws with good arm speed—is easily his best offering, with some scouts considering it a plus pitch. Bubic has a solid curveball that’s average and occasionally shows better, but he’s frequently gone to the changeup as his out pitch. During the summer, Bubic pitched in the Cape Cod League, where he posted a 1.65 ERA with 41 strikeouts and 7 walks in 32.2 innings. Bubic pitched so well, in fact, that some scouts went a step further with his changeup, calling the pitch a plus-plus offering at the time. Pitchability and performance will get Bubic drafted more than his pure stuff, but there’s still a lot to like as a high-floor college lefthander with impressive track record and a chance to start in the majors.
3. Nico Hoerner, SS/2B, Stanford (BA Rank: 42)
4YR • Jr. • 5-11 • 195 • L-R • Never Drafted
Named to the All-Pac-12 team and All-Pac-12 defensive team after his sophomore season in 2017, Hoerner has a solid, all-around skillset and an impressive track record at Stanford and in the Cape Cod League last summer. While Hoerner has no true standout carrying tool, he’s played a respectable shortstop with the Cardinal the past two years after playing mostly at second base as a freshman. He also has an impressive history with the bat. In two summers in wood bat leagues, Hoerner has hit over .300 and teams are intrigued by the increase in power that the 5-foot-11 infielder showed after hitting six home runs in 40 games last summer on the Cape. Teams that like Hoerner will see a player with a shot to stick at shortstop with strong hands in the box, a good strikeout-to-walk ratio and impressive exit velocities. Teams who are on the opposite side will see a player who’s likely a second baseman without the power profile they are looking for. Either way, college infielders who perform tend to get drafted high and Hoerner has performed in both the spring and summer with no gaping holes in his game.
4. Tanner Dodson, RHP/OF, California (BA Rank: 62)
4YR • 6-2 • 180 • R-R • Mets '15 (31)
Scouts prefer Dodson on the mound, where his 92-94 mph fastball touches 98 mph with heavy sinking action. He also throws two breaking balls - a hard slider and a sharp curveball - and a changeup that has some depth. He has served as Cal’s closer this spring and has found success in the bullpen. If he stays a reliever, he could be a quick mover in the minor leagues. Dodson is an exceptional athlete and gets the most out of his tools as a hitter. The switch-hitter has good bat-to-ball skills and consistently barrels up balls. He is a disciplined hitter who doesn’t give at bats away. He has an unconventional setup at the plate, which limits his power. He is an above-average runner and uses his speed well on the bases. Dodson’s biggest impact figures to come as a pitcher, and he projects as a top-two rounds pick, but his strong performance at the plate over the last two years has convinced some that he can also make it as a hitter. That success means whichever team drafts him will have options.
5. Brett Hansen, LHP, Foothill HS, Pleasanton, Calif. (BA Rank: 71)
HS • 6-4 • 190 • B-L • Vanderbilt
Listed at 6-foot-4, 190 pounds, Hansen is a projectable lefthander with a fastball that gets up to 94 mph at its best, with a plus arm action that’s loose and easy. He more consistently sits in the 89-92 mph range with two average offspeed offerings in a changeup and curveball. He occasionally flashes a harder breaking ball with a slider look, but his big, sharp curveball is his main secondary offering. Neither of his secondary offerings are out-pitches just yet, but with his athleticism and an impressive arm action, scouts project both of those pitches as above-average down the line, with a fastball that’s a future plus pitch. This season, Hansen has pitched on Wednesdays and hasn’t missed a start, so teams have had scouting heat in to see him from his first start of the year through the end of the season. Potentially a top two round arm, signability will be a question mark with Hansen, who is seen as a hard sign out of his Vanderbilt commitment. Enough high-end decision makers have been in to see him this spring that scouts believe some team will like him enough to meet his big asking price. He has all the elements that teams like to see out of a prep lefthander.
6. Osiris Johnson, SS/OF, Encinal HS, Alameda, Calif. (BA Rank: 95)
HS • 6-1 • 185 • L-R • Cal State Fullerton
The second cousin of Jimmy Rollins, Johnson is a twitchy, athletic prospect who has played shortstop and center field but is committed to sticking in the dirt. Last summer, many scouts would have said that Johnson was destined to move to the outfield, where his athleticism would play well, but he’s made impressive strides on his defense throughout the fall and spring. He has immensely quick hands that allow him to react to late hops and he has enough arm strength for the position as well. He’s done enough to allow some teams to believe he can stick at shortstop, while others still believe he’s destined for the outfield. His quick hands translate to the batter’s box, where Johnson has plus bat speed and power, with scouts projecting plus power as he continues to fill out a 6-foot-1, 185-pound frame. The quality of his swings vary wildly, as does his pitch recognition. There are swing-and-miss concerns, but like his defensive work, Johnson has made improvements throughout the spring. In addition to Rollins—who has worked with Johnson on every part of his game, especially at shortstop where the former major leaguer recommended he raise his arm slot—Johnson’s father, Marcel, played three seasons in the minors with the Mets and Braves organizations. Johnson, a Cal State Fullerton commit, is one of the youngest players in the class.
7. Dominic Pipkin, RHP, Pinole (Calif.) Valley HS (BA Rank: 104)
HS • 6-4 • 170 • R-R • California
A 6-foot-4, 170-pound righthander out of Pinole Valley, Calif., Pipkin is a projection arm who’s been up to 96 mph and was one of the hardest throwers at the Area Code Games last summer. With a frame that can add significantly more weight, there is a lot of upside to be had and he might be able to increase his sitting fastball velocity—which tends to be in the low 90s—in the future. He’s shown flashes of an above-average breaking ball and changeup, though those pitches still need some work. His curveball is in the mid-70s with some impressive depth but tends to break early at times, while Pipkin’s changeup comes across in the low 80s. Pipkin operates with a slow delivery and a slight pause in his leg lift and throws from a three-quarter arm slot.
8. Jonah Davis, OF, California (BA Rank: 200)
4YR • Jr. • 5-10 • 206 • R-R • Never Drafted
Davis established himself as a regular in California’s lineup during his sophomore season, when he hit .275/.370/.403 in 45 games for the Bears, with most of his playing time coming in center field. As a junior, Davis has played left field, which is where he’ll likely profile in pro ball, and he’s had his best offensive season thanks to a career-best 13 home runs through 45 games. The power surge comes after the 5-foot-10 outfielder hit just two home runs in 164 at-bats as a freshman and sophomore. The breakthrough isn’t totally unprecedented, however, as Davis also hit nine home runs with a wood bat in the Northwoods League in 2016 before struggling in a brief stint in the Cape Cod League last summer. Davis doesn’t have an idyllic swing. There is a lot of movement in his hands during his load, which creates some timing issues, and his balance could improve. He has managed to find the barrel frequently enough for his plus raw power to translate into games, though his approach comes with a high strikeout rate that tracks back to every season and league he’s played in since getting to college. Most of Davis’ value is tied up in his bat as a corner outfielder, but he hit well early in the season in front of the right people, so a team might take a chance on his power potential and try to clean up the operation a bit in player development.
9. Tyrus Greene, C, California (BA Rank: 244)
4YR • Jr. • 5-11 • 185 • L-R • Never Drafted
A lefthanded-hitting catcher, Greene has hit at every level he’s ever played, including a .336/.423/.415 career slash line at California through 48 games this spring. He has good bat-to-ball skills with an unorthodox swing, and he’s athletic enough to make it work—as evidenced by his statistical performance. He has also hit well in wood-bat leagues, with a .307/.385/.353 line in the Northwoods League in 2017 and a .295/.439/.386 line in the Alaskan Summer League in 2016. Greene is just 5-foot-11, 185-pounds with well below-average power, but he has a chance to be an average defender with an average throwing arm.
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10. Ryan Holgate, OF, Davis (Calif.) HS (BA Rank: 362)
HS • 6-2 • 190 • L-L • Arizona
A bat-only outfielder, Holgate impressed offensively at last summer’s Area Code Games in Long Beach, Calif. He has a deep leg kick and bat wrap in his load, with a slight drop in his hands, but he has good bat speed and solid bat-to-ball skills with plus raw power. Holgate is an aggressive hitter who struggled early this spring with Davis (Calif.) High, but came on toward the middle and end of the season. He’ll need to hit, as he’s a well below-average runner and limited to a corner outfield position with fringe-average arm strength.
11. Aaron Shortridge, RHP, California (BA Rank: 365)
4YR • Jr. • 6-3 • 196 • L-R • Never Drafted
After leading California in ERA (1.99) as a reliever during his sophomore year, Shortridge made a successful transition to the starting rotation in 2018. He posted a 3.07 ERA in 16 games (11 starts) with 69 strikeouts and 13 walks in 82 innings. Scouts see more projection in Shortridge than a typical third-year college pitcher because of his 6-foot-3, 196-pound frame and immense athleticism. He is up to 93 mph at times with his fastball and throws a fringe-average, 78-81 mph slider. He also has an average changeup to give him a solid, three-pitch repertoire. With his good strike-throwing ability and remaining upside, Shortridge has the ceiling of a back-of-the-rotation starter in the future.
12. Nick Frank, RHP, St. Mary's (BA Rank: 369)
4YR • Jr. • 6-2 • 205 • R-R • Never Drafted
The No. 1 starter for St. Mary’s, Frank has a fringe-average fastball that sits 88-92 mph with an average slider and feel for a changeup. Above-average control has allowed Frank to succeed for three seasons in college, pitching two years at San Joaquin Delta (Calif.) JC before joining the Gaels in 2018. This spring, Frank has struck out 85 batters and walked just 16 in 83 innings. In more than 200 innings during his three-year college career, Frank has never had a walk rate above 1.87 batters per nine innings. With three solid pitches and above-average pitchability, Frank projects as a back-of-the-rotation starter at his best.
13. Shane Kelso, RHP, Feather RIver (Calif.) JC (BA Rank: 411)
JC • 6-3 • 220 • R-R • Never Drafted
The closer for Feather River (Calif.) JC, Kelso was seen as a player who could go around the 10th round entering the spring thanks to a fastball that was up into the 96-97 mph range and a solid slider. His stock has fallen this spring as he’s battled arm injury and ineffectiveness, with a fastball that’s still plus but more in the 93-94 range and a fringe-average slider. Kelso threw just 21.2 innings and struck out 36 batters—a 14.95 K/9—but was wild, walking 28 hitters, and had a 6.65 ERA.