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Top Tennessee 2019 MLB Draft Prospects

Image credit: J.J. Bleday (Photo by John Byrum/Getty Images)

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State List Talent Ranking: ??????
(Stars are listed on a 1 to 5 scale relative to what the state typically produces, with 1 being the weakest)

1. J.J. Bleday, OF, Vanderbilt (BA RANK: 6)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-3 • Wt: 205 • B-T: L-L • Commitment/Drafted: Padres ’16 (39)

Bleday entered his junior season in 2019 as one of the most respected college hitters in the country. After pacing the Commodores in hitting during his sophomore season last spring (.368/.494/.511), Bleday went to the Cape Cod League. There, he showed solid power and hitting ability with a wood bat, posting a .311/.374/.500 slash line with five home runs in 36 games. With a balanced stance, smooth swing, solid bat speed and a refined approach with more walks than strikeouts in his college career, Bleday had the look of a high-floor hitter with a plus hit tool. However, there were initially some questions surrounding his ability to consistently impact the baseball. Bleday has answered those question this spring, as he has regularly tapped into the plus raw power that he’d previously been unable to reach during games. After hitting just six home runs through his first 90 games with Vanderbilt in 2017 and 2018, Bleday is among the country’s leaders in home runs in 2019. He hit 20 home runs through his first 41 games—upping his isolated power from .143 as a sophomore to over .420 as a junior—while continuing to post impressive strikeout and walk rates. Bleday’s power surge has increased his draft stock, going from a likely first-round corner outfield prospect with an impressive track record of hitting to one of the best impacts bats in the class and a player who should be selected at the top of the first round. Defensively, Bleday moves well and could handle center field in a pinch, but he profiles best as a corner outfielder—where his newfound power should allow him to succeed.

2. Maurice Hampton, OF, Memphis University HS (BA RANK: 35)
Source: HS • Ht: 6-0 • Wt: 210 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Louisiana State

A two-sport star committed to Louisiana State as both an outfielder and four-star defensive back, Hampton is among the most athletic players in the 2019 draft class. He hit well during the showcase circuit last summer, barreling up plenty of high-end arms while showing that he has the necessary bat speed to handle plus velocity. However, he also displayed an agressive, free-swinging approach at the plate that could use plenty of refinement. Hampton has impressive bat-to-ball skills and good hand-eye coordination that serves him well in the batter’s box, but because of his muscle-bound frame he can get a bit stiff and will need to make a few mechanical tweaks to make sure he routinely gets into a good hitting position. He has at least average raw power and will likely develop more in the future, but there’s some question as to how much power Hampton will ever reach in games. Defensively, Hampton has the speed—he’s a plus-plus runner—to stick in center field long term, and he has the athleticism to make highlight-reel plays look almost routine. But he will need to iron out both his reads and route-running ability to reach that potential. Hampton has flashed plus arm strength, but the power of his throws has been inconsistent, and like his mechanics in the box, Hampton’s arm action can look a bit stiff at times. If Hampton does get drafted high enough to forgo his commitment to LSU, he could take huge strides forward once he refines his game and is able to focus exclusively on his growth as a baseball player. He has the talent to fit in the back of the first or supplemental first round.

3. Hayden Mullins, LHP, Hendersonville (Tenn.) HS (BA RANK: 119)
Source: HS • Ht: 6-0 • Wt: 190 • B-T: L-L • Commitment/Drafted: Auburn

There were instances last summer when Mullins appeared to be following in the footsteps of 2018 first-round pick Ryan Weathers, potentially giving the Tennessee high school ranks back-to-back prep lefthanders selected in the first round. Instead, Mullins has battled injuries throughout the spring and scouts have seen him infrequently. He didn’t pitch at USA Baseball’s National High School Invitational in early April, and when he has taken the mound his stuff has not been at the level that it was last summer. Mullins has pitched mostly in the 86-90 mph range this spring, occasionally touching 92 mph with below-average control. That is a stark contrast to what he showed when fully healthy last summer, when he had a low-90s fastball that touched 94 mph and a plus curveball in the 72-79 mph range with great depth. Mullins put on a clinic at last summer’s East Coast Pro showcase, where he looked like one of the better pitching prospects in the class and certainly one of the top prep lefthanders. Mullins has a high leg kick in his delivery that’s reminiscent of MacKenzie Gore, and he’s previously shown the stuff and strike-throwing ability to be a Day 1 draft pick. However, the questions about his size—Mullins is listed at 6 feet, 190 pounds—and durability have grown louder this spring, to the point where he fits more in the third or fourth round. Mullins in an Auburn commit and could re-establish himself as a no-doubt first-round pick with a strong career in the Southeastern Conference.

4. Drake Fellows, RHP, Vanderbilt (BA RANK: 161)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-5 • Wt: 205 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

Fellows finished the regular season with the fifth-most strikeouts in the Southeastern Conference as Vanderbilt’s durable Friday night starter, a role he’s handled for two full years. While he’s reliable and strong, Fellows is still figuring out how to set up hitters. His 89-92 mph fastball gets some sink and he’ll touch 93-94 mph, but his fastball is often hittable because he struggles to hit his spots. He also led the SEC in wild pitches and hit-by-pitches. His plus slider is what will likely be his calling card in pro ball. It gives him a reasonable fallback option as a reliever if his fastball command and his fringe-average changeup don’t improve. Fellows’ lengthy track record of starting in a tough conference and solid Trackman numbers should help him go relatively quickly on Day 2 of the draft.

5. Philip Clarke, C, Vanderbilt (BA RANK: 162)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 5-11 • Wt: 190 • B-T: L-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

Clarke ranked No. 166 on the BA 500 coming out of high school, with plenty of scouts appreciating his lefthanded swing and power potential. But he was a strong commitment to Vanderbilt and there were plenty of questions about whether he would stick at catcher long term. Clarke didn’t allay those concerns in an impressive freshman season, when he filled the DH role while junior Stephen Scott was the Commodores’ primary catcher. Clarke caught only 13 games that year, but this spring Scott moved back to the outfield and first base while an improved Clarke has been the team’s regular backstop. Clarke is more consistent as a receiver and he’s more durable this season. A below-average receiver in high school, Clarke now is an average receiver. He has a below-average throwing arm, but he has thrown out 37 percent of basestealers in 2019. Clarke’s bat has long been his calling card. His swing can get a little long at times, but he has solid bat speed and power potential, giving him a chance to be an average hitter with average power. If Clarke can catch, he would make a very valuable bat-first catcher. But if he has to move off the position, he’s not ideally suited for first base because he’s only 5-foot-11. Clarke is a draft-eligible sophomore, giving him plenty of leverage this June.

6. Zach Linginfelter, RHP, Tennessee (BA RANK: 171)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-5 • Wt: 220 • B-T: L-R • Commitment/Drafted: Nationals ’18 (19)

A bout of mononucleosis ruined Linginfelter’s chances to be a top draft pick coming out of high school in 2016, and the Nationals’ 19th-round selection last year wasn’t enough to buy him out of returning to Knoxville for his junior season. This spring, Linginfelter has been very up and down. After two years working primarily out of the bullpen, he moved into Tennessee’s weekend rotation in 2019. He showed moments of greatness—including striking out 13 batters in six dominating, shutout innings against Indiana early this season. But he also had three other outings in which he was knocked out before the fourth inning began, which explains his 5.16 ERA. Repetition and consistency are key for Linginfelter going forward. He has a great arm, but his delivery too often falls apart as he closes himself off and loses feel for the strike zone. He can sit 92-95 mph and touch 97 mph with his plus fastball. His mid-80s slider and changeup are both average pitches with his breaking ball flashing above-average and even plus at times with power and depth. His control is average as he can find the strike zone, but his command lags far behind that. He frequently catches too much of the zone, which explains why he’s given up 10 home runs this year. Some scouts say he would be best off to move directly to the bullpen in pro ball, where his fastball and slider would potentially play as plus pitches. But a team with a long-term view may see him as a big, 6-foot-5, 220-pound righthander who just needs plenty of time to develop consistency.

7. Andrew Schultz, RHP, Tennessee (BA RANK: 180)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-3 • Wt: 185 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

Schultz is one of the hardest-throwing pitchers in college baseball. He’s also completed one of the most significant delivery makeovers in the college ranks as well. Schultz’s delivery was once extremely long in the back, as he brought his arm through a sweeping arc that brought the ball far behind his back. Thanks to an upper-90s fastball, it seemed to work as a freshman. He was wild—11 walks in 16 innings—but he managed to get out of trouble regularly and finished with a solid season (1-0, 3.31). It all fell apart as a sophomore, however. Schultz threw only eight innings in 15 appearances and 20 of the 42 batters he faced reached base. Now, Schultz has a completely reworked delivery. He cocks the ball behind his head in an extremely abbreviated takeaway that makes it look like he’s throwing a dart. Scouts don’t love his new delivery either, but it does make it tougher for hitters to pick up the ball. His new delivery also helped him improve to below-average control as a junior. He still walks too many batters—16 in 22 innings at the end of the regular season—but because of a 96-100 mph fastball that has touched 101 mph, it works. In addition to his plus-plus fastball, he shows a plus slider. Schultz is extremely athletic, which helps explain how he pulled off such a significant delivery tweak. It’s a reliever-only profile, but there is plenty of impact stuff to work with.which helps explain how he pulled off such a significant delivery tweak. It’s a reliever only profile, but there is plenty of impact stuff to work with.

8. Pat DeMarco, OF, Vanderbilt (BA RANK: 211)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 5-11 • Wt: 205 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Yankees ’17 (24)

A 24th-round pick of the Yankees out of high school in 2017, DeMarco impressed as a freshman and didn’t look overmatched in the Cape Cod League last summer as he started to improve his selectivity at the plate. A quad injury somewhat torpedoed his sophomore season, costing him a month. He started hitting like he had as a freshman upon his return, but both before and after the injury he has become a little too aggressive, trading plenty of strikeouts for a few home runs. He’s an above-average fielder in either corner outfield spot, but he is pretty physically maxed out right now. As a draft-eligible sophomore, DeMarco has plenty of leverage, but as a corner outfielder coming off a modest season (.287/.360/.490 as in the regular season), there’s a risk he won’t be drafted high enough to buy him out of his junior year at Vanderbilt.

9. Andre Lipcius, SS, Tennessee (BA RANK: 238)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-1 • Wt: 195 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

After playing shortstop nearly every day for Tennessee as a sophomore, the Vols slid Lipcius to third base this year, validating what pro scouts were already saying. Lipcius isn’t a shortstop, but he can be an average third baseman with an above-average arm. His hands work well and he has good body control despite slow feet. He’s a well-below average runner. At the plate, Lipcius is an average hitter. He uses the entire field with plenty of bat speed, but he has a long swing path. When he gets his foot down on time he has above-average power—his 16 home runs were second to only J.J. Bleday in the Southeastern Conference heading into the SEC Tournament. Lipcius’ twin brother, Luc, also plays for Tennessee and could be drafted.

10. Garrett Stallings, RHP, Tennessee (BA RANK: 299)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 205 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

It’s hard for scouts not to compare Stallings and Mississippi’s Will Ethridge, as both are Friday starters in the Southeastern Conference who succeed with average stuff. Ethridge’s stuff is a tick harder, but Stallings has a tick more feel for pitching. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound righthander has a four-pitch mix where no single pitch even flashes plus. But his 89-91 mph fringe-average fastball plays up because of his plus control and advanced command. He also has shown he can throw his average slider and average curveball for strikes as well. He will flip in a below-average change regularly to keep hitters guessing. Stallings doesn’t have enough stuff to miss even SEC bats, but he knows how to pitch in traffic and he is quite steady and reliable—he finished the seventh inning in nine of his 15 starts as of late May. That durability and reliability should get him picked somewhere between the fifth and ninth rounds.

11. Chris McElvain, RHP, Summit HS, Spring Hill, Tenn. (BA RANK: 329)
Source: HS • Ht: 6-1 • Wt: 180 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Vanderbilt

McElvain has had his eyes set on Vanderbilt for quite a while—he committed to the Commodores before he ever threw his first pitch in high school. It looks like there’s a good chance McElvain will get to Nashville because while he’s polished, his 87-91 mph velocity hasn’t really ticked up much. He throws an average 11-to-5 curveball that he spots well and shows confidence in. He has advanced control for his age. McElvain knows how to pitch, but scouts are inclined to let him prove his velocity can reach the low-90s over the next few years at Vandy.

12. Ethan Paul, 2B, Vanderbilt (BA RANK: 335)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 5-10 • Wt: 185 • B-T: L-R • Commitment/Drafted: Pirates ’18 (26)

A four-year starter for Vanderbilt, Paul slid over to shortstop this year after being the Commodores’ everyday second baseman the previous two seasons. A 26th-round pick of the Pirates in 2018, Paul will likely go much earlier this year as a senior money-saver. He’s a productive college player who is finishing his career with his best season (.322/.386/.513), and his fringe-average arm has looked better at shortstop than it did at second base. Paul doesn’t have many average tools—he’s a 40 hitter, a 40 runner and has 40 power—but he has a chance to be an average defender at second base as a pro. With his ability to handle shortstop in a pinch as well, he has a utility infielder profile as a pro.

13. Jackson Gillis, LHP, Vanderbilt (BA RANK: 337)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-3 • Wt: 225 • B-T: R-L • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

Getting to pitch at a college baseball power like Vanderbilt is the dream of a lot of pitchers. The one danger in that since there are a lot of pitchers with that dream, if a player doesn’t perform, he doesn’t get to pitch. Gillis was 91-94 mph last year with a promising breaking ball. This year, he struggled with his command and his curveball is less impressive as well. As a result, he barely pitched, allowing six runs (four earned) in seven appearances. A team that has seen Gillis better could take a chance on landing him at a bargain, but it’s been hard for scouts to even see him pitch this year considering how rarely he’s been used.

14. Patrick Raby, RHP, Vanderbilt (BA RANK: 448)
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-3 • Wt: 230 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted

A 6-foot-3, 230-pound righhander and four-year performer with Vanderbilt, Raby went undrafted after his junior season last year thanks to underwhelming stuff. He pitches in the mid-80s and tops out around 90, despite a fastball that was a bit more firm just a few years ago. He also has a mid-70s curveball and a low-80s changeup, but neither of those pitches projects to be anything more than average. Raby ticked his strikeout rate up to more than nine batters per nine this spring, but that has come with an increased walk rate (4.71 per nine) as well. Raby doesn’t have a high ceiling, but has a long track record of performing in the SEC.

15. Parker Noland, 3B, Farragut (Tenn.) HS (BA RANK: 459)
Source: HS • Ht: 6-1 • Wt: 200 • B-T: L-R • Commitment/Drafted: Vanderbilt

Noland helped lead Farragut to a state title in 2019, which is pretty much the expectation at one of the best high school programs in the country. Nick Senzel’s alma mater produces players most every year and Noland, a Vanderbilt signee, is the next in the long line. A lefthanded hitter, Noland has an advanced bat for his age with a consistent approach and average bat speed. He has average power as well. He’s a fringe-average defender at third base with an average arm and he’s a below-average runner. If Noland makes it to Vanderbilt, he’ll likely be a very productive hitter for the Commodores.

16. Alex Haynes, RHP, Walters State (Tenn.) JC (BA RANK: 473)
Source: JC • Ht: 6-3 • Wt: 205 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Mets ’16 (26)

Walters State (Tenn.) JC produces pitchers year after year, most notably Rays righthander Brent Honeywell. Haynes is the next in the line. A redshirt sophomore who spent a year recovering from Tommy John surgery, Haynes can touch 95 mph and mixes a below-average slider and average changeup. He has an athletic delivery. He’s committed to Tennessee.

17. Blaine McIntosh, OF, Sycamore HS, Pleasant View, Tenn. (BA RANK: 495)
Source: HS • Ht: 6-3 • Wt: 190 • B-T: L-L • Commitment/Drafted: Vanderbilt

A Vanderbilt commit, McIntosh is a plus-plus runner who has a chance to eventually be a plus defender in center field. He’s going to need to get plenty of innings out there to get to that point as his routes and reads need some polish. At the plate he’s a lefthanded hitter who can take advantage of his speed, but he is going to need plenty of time to improve his plate discipline and swing. At 6-foot-3, 190-pounds he has a good frame and there’s plenty of potential, but a team drafting him is going to have to patient to help him reach that ceiling.

18. Luc Lipcius, INF, Tennessee
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-2 • Wt: 215 • B-T: L-L • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted


19. Dalton Rushing, C, Brighton (Tenn.) HS
Source: HS • Ht: 6-0 • Wt: 220 • B-T: L-R • Commitment/Drafted: Louisville


20. Zach King, LHP, Vanderbilt
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-6 • Wt: 210 • B-T: L-L • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted


21. Zane Denton, 3B/1B, Ravenwood HS, Brentwood, Tenn.
Source: HS • Ht: 6-1 • Wt: 205 • B-T: B-R • Commitment/Drafted: Alabama


22. Stephen Scott, C/1B, Vanderbilt
Source: 4YR • Ht: 5-11 • Wt: 200 • B-T: L-R • Commitment/Drafted: Marlins ’18 (31)


23. Kevin Strohschein, OF, Tennessee Tech
Source: 4YR • Ht: 6-1 • Wt: 205 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted


24. Tyler Reichenborn, OF, Tennesse Weslyan
Source: 4YR • Ht: 5-11 • Wt: 185 • B-T: R-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted


25. Justin Ammons, OF, Tennessee
Source: 4YR • Ht: 5-10 • Wt: 180 • B-T: L-R • Commitment/Drafted: Never Drafted


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