The June amateur draft is due to kick off on Monday, June 12, with the first two rounds and supplemental rounds due to be selected that day.  Rounds 3-40 will be selected June 13-14.  Talent-wise this is considered to be a very weak draft overall.  I like the quote from one Area Scout; “I feel like a beachcomber with a metal detector, and all I keep finding is a broken earring here and there.”  So Billy Gasparino and his scouting department will have their work cut out for them.  The Dodgers will select 23rd, 62nd, and 100.  The MLB Amateur Draft is a lot more difficult to predict than the NFL and NBA.  With both the NFL and NBA, the teams are looking for the talent they need the next season.  In the MLB draft, the scouting directors are projecting the talent level for future years.

Gasparino has been a MLB Scouting Director and responsible for the Amateur Draft for four years; 2013-2014 San Diego and 2015-2016 Dodgers.  His first three drafts he selected college juniors.  In 2013, his 1st round selection was OF Hunter Renfroe and Mississippi State.  In 2014, his 1st round selection was INF Trea Turner and North Carolina State.  In 2015, RHP Walker Buehler and Vanderbilt was his first selection as a Dodger Scouting Director.  Last year, Billy selected a HS SS, Gavin Lux.  Renfroe and Turner have already made a mark at the ML level, and Buehler is on his way.  Lux, we do not know yet.  Gavin was considered in the top group of HS SS behind Delvin Perez and Carter Kieboom, and perhaps the highest offensive ceiling.  Current projections have him perhaps sliding over to 2B where his arm is more projectable.

There were rumors of failed drug tests that dropped Delvin Perez from a probable Top 10 to #23 overall (Cardinals).  Kieboom went #28 overall to the Nationals.  The other 1st round HS SS selected was Hudson Sanchez #24 overall (Padres), somewhat of a surprise.  Two other highly rated HS SS were Grae Kessinger (Grandson of Don Kessinger) and Nicholas Quintana.  Both were considered tough signs, drafted in the later rounds, and ultimately did not sign.  Many were surprised that the Dodgers did not draft Kieboom, but with Gasparino’s track record for 1st round selections, I will continue to have high hopes, regardless as to how well Kieboom and Bo Bichette are playing.  Bichette is absolutely tearing up the Midwest League, while Lux is struggling.

So what happens this year?  In general, most evaluators believe the Dodgers 1st priority is the one area where this year’s draft is weakest…a college bat.  A college 3B would be ideal.  However, there is really only one projected in the first round, Jake Burger, Missouri State. Burger is labeled as a bad-bodied 3B who can hit, and hit well.  He is one of the best power bats in the draft, also with a good idea of the strike zone.  He has good pitch recognition, and has the bat speed to catch up to high velocity fastballs.  Defensively while lacking a good first step, he has good feet work.  He has an average arm and limited range.

Overall there are seven college position players that the Dodgers are probably considering, but only five that may be available when their pick comes around:

Jeren Kendell                OF                    Vanderbilt (L)

Evan White                   1B/OF               Kentucky (R)

Jake Burger                  3B                    Missouri State (R)

Pavin Smith                  1B                    Virginia (L)

Logan Warmoth             SS                    North Carolina (R)

Keston Hiura                 2B/OF               UC Irvine (R)

The Dodgers second priority is LHP, another 2017 draft weakness.  There are six projectable first round LHP prospects.  Billy Gasparino is not inclined to select HS pitchers in the first round, leaving three potential candidates.  Of the three, Brendan McKay will be going in the first five picks, and Seth Romero has a questionable character after being suspended two times for team rule violations, and then being kicked off the University of Houston team altogether.  He is a top ten prospect, and he will be selected in the first round.  It is possible (probable) that he will be available with the Dodgers 23rd pick, but Dodgers consider character quite a bit in their decision making process.  That would leave one potential LHP the Dodgers may have a chance at, David Peterson, Oregon.  Peterson is a strike out pitcher with plus command.  His fastball is generally around 91 (up to 94 without overthrowing) with pin-point control.  He has a swing and miss slider that he can deliver all night long.  He will mix in an average curveball that is getting better.  Baseball America rates Peterson as the #15 draft prospect, and with the very few projectable LHP, Peterson will probably not be available when #23 comes around.  Ironically, only the Baseball America mock draft considers Peterson to be available for the Dodgers first round pick, and they do not think the Dodgers will select him.

There should be several Dodger selections of high school bats, but there is only one projectable in the first round for LAD, Bubba Thompson, OF, McGill-Toolen HS, Mobile Alabama.  Thompson is a two sport star getting several scholarship offers for both baseball and football.  He received multiple SEC offers as a quarterback, including Tennessee.  Bubba has dropped football, and has accepted a baseball scholarship to the University of Alabama.  Thompson grades out as a 70 speed, and has shown plus power.  Scouts are divided as to whether he will be a premium hitter for average.  He is raw in the OF.  What Bubba is, is an athlete with a couple of skills that cannot be taught (speed and power).  Interestingly, Bubba represents a very high ceiling but a low floor project.  This seems contrary to Gasparino’s (and FAZ) line of thinking, but many talent evaluators think this will be the Dodgers #1 selection.

So who will the Dodgers select?  While Thompson is the favorite choice for many, others believe that UC Irvine 2B/OF, Keston Hiura will be that selection.  Hiura is considered the best pure hitter in the draft.  Hiura hit an amazing .482 in Big West Conference (.442 overall), and led the nation with a .567 OBP.  He is a consensus All American, and was the 2017 Big West Player of the year.  I am sort of partial to that label, as my son was the Big West Player of the Year 20 years ago in 1997.

“He doesn’t demand attention, but commands attention,” said Oregon coach George Horton, who coached Hiura on the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team last summer. With the score tied in the deciding game of a three-game series against Cuba, Hiura hit a winning, pinch-hit home run in the eighth inning.  “I’ve been coaching for 40 years,” Horton said, “and I’ll never forget about that at-bat.”

So how is a player with that kind of skill set projected by many to be available with the 23rd selection?  Unfortunately Hiura sprained his UCL on a throw to the plate from CF on April 19, 2016. That turned out to be the last game he has played defensively.  He was a DH all summer with the USA Baseball Collegiate National team and all season with his Anteaters.

Per Baseball America, Hiura experienced no setbacks, and was cleared to play the field. Unfortunately for Keston, towards the end of the fall ball, Hiura re-injured himself as he turned a double play from second base. He again shut things down and ultimately opted for a platelet rich plasma shot in January with the goal of speeding up his recovery.  It has been suggested that Hiura might undergo TJ surgery after the draft.  Ironically, Dr. Neal ElAttrache performed the PRP procedure, so the Dodgers should have good medical information on the elbow.

With the Dodgers depth, they can afford to wait for Hiura to get his elbow repaired.  IMO the two best hitters to come out of the LA area were George Brett and Jason Kendall.  Some local scouts have called him a RH George Brett with the bat. Keston has unbelievable hand/eye coordination with some pop (not plus power), and is the same size and weight as both Brett and Kendall, so it was easy for me to see the comparisons.

The consensus is that the Dodgers will select, if available, either Bubba Thompson or Keston Hiura.  Most do not believe that Evan White, Logan Warmoth, or Jake Burger will be around for pick #23, but if they are, they would be considerations. My two favorite draft evaluators are Baseball America and MLB’s Jim Callis.  They are split on Thompson and Hiura.  I am going with Baseball America’s projection, Keston Hiura.

I am heading out on vacation this week, but I will have my computer with me and will be following the draft on Monday, June 12.  Most of my friends and family follow the NFL draft religiously, but I have always been a MLB draft follower.

For more information on Keston Hiura, I recommend that you Read more at http://www.baseballamerica.com/draft/keston-hiuras-injury-bat-present-unique-situation/#AxRcthRDVIBUAE00.99

Posted by Always Compete

This article has 37 Comments

  1. How does Hiura differ significantly from Willie Calhoun? Both can hit really well but are defensively questionable. Really like the White kid from UK (1B/OF) Also has excellent skills and is outstanding defensively so I hope he’s available at 23.

  2. Well, I am hoping for Hunter Greene, or I would take Jake Burger, but I suspect AC is closer to right.

    A hui hou

  3. Aloha AC. I am heading out this week to Park City, Utah for a week. The baseball draft is such a crap shoot. I would think the most important aspect would be the mental makeup of the ball player. Even that is hard to judge.

    Good win yesterday. I went outside to do some yard work. I thought they lost. Good thing MLBTV records the game. I had to go back and watch the 8th inning.

  4. Great synopsis AC – lays things out very clearly.
    That was a very good sweep of the Reds – they have some potent bats.
    Schleber looks ok as does Peraza.
    Sometimes you just need to play & get in a groove – that is probably the downside to all the Platooning.
    As ex Dodgers, it’s good to see them
    Doing well.

  5. Another great post AC! Enjoy your vacation.
    .
    The draft is always fun to anticipate and follow. I’m more excited about our recent drafts. It appears we are selecting (or developing) players that have a better chance to contribute to the big club or who, at minimum, have some trade value to other clubs. With their limited draft budget, I suspect that they will draft an “easier” sign in the 1st round and shoot for a gamble or 2 in rounds 2 and 3. If we can’t get Greene as Mark wants, then I would love for them to be able to get Hiura, Peterson or Kendall with the 1st pick. It would be nice to select, at some point, a 2nd baseman who can absolutely rake and who can be slotted into the lead off position. Here’s to a fun day enjoying the draft. Cheers everyone!

  6. Sorry, but the site is now holding some posts in moderation.

    You should drink in moderation, but not post. I’ll try and fix it…

    1. Mark

      I think moderation is the key to life.

      Why not do or have, what you like, as long as you do it, in moderation, that is the key.

  7. I guess we know what part of the world that AC is going to, so I guess the question is, what island, is he going to.

    My guess is that he will be visiting Kilauea, and then drive down, to the black sand beach.

    AC I hope you are having a nice relaxing, vacation!

    Like Mark said, in his previous thread, Kike did have a very good at bat, yesterday.

    He not only stayed alive in that at bat, he gave the hitters that followed him, a lot of info, about that pitcher, and what the pitcher was throwing, and throwing well, right then.

    And Kike has got a lot of flack, from me, and others, so we should not feel bad, about eating a little crow, after Kike had an at bat, like that.

    It was also nice to see Corey get the game ending hit, in the previous game, and also see him, hit that first pitch out, yesterday!

    Maybe this will help Corey to really heat up, and continue to step up, even more, as the season goes along.

    And I have called the way, that this team has come back in the last two years, the Robert’s affect.

    Because this team never did much after the seventh inning, before Roberts, was the manager.

    And I do think Roberts and his coaches, have been the reason this team, never counts themselves down, in the last few innings, of a game.

    I also always try to remember this, even when Roberts makes a move, I might not like.

    1. I probably shouldn’t tell you, but I will anyway. I can’t keep a secret.

      His son’s name is Always Compete, Jr.

  8. Nice breakdown AC. I would be happy with a right-handed George Brett. Definitely had a full weekend of baseball. My son hit his first real HR. It was what looked like a winning 2-run HR only to have the opposing team hit one in the bottom of the inning for a walk-off. Game 2 Saturday looked similar. We looked like we were going to upset a much higher rated team. My son was trying to close out the last 3 innings. Our shortstop booted a ball with two outs that would have ended the game. You can guess what happens when you give a team four or 5 outs. We lost by one. Both a fun and tough day to be a Dad and coach.

    Fun watching Belly hit 3 bombs this weekend. Everyone had to love Kike’s AB that set up the Granny. You could feel the implosion coming from the Reds after that AB. Also overlooked on Saturday was Puig. Great defense all night and got a big hit that setup Seager’s double. Winning the series won me a case of Ying Ling. One of my friends in Indy was feeling a little too good after the Reds swept the Deadbirds and wanted to bet. Since they now sell Ying Ling in Indiana it seemed like a good prize. Indy is pretty much split between Cubs and Reds if Mark hasn’t shared that info before.

    1. Hawkeye

      I am sorry your son’s team didn’t upset that higher ranked team, this weekend.

      At least they know they can beat a team like that now!

      Because if they wouldn’t have made that error, and gave the other team to many outs, that game could have turned out, much differently.

      You must have been really proud when your son hit that real HR out, this weekend.

      It is just to bad that other team came back in the bottom of the ninth.

  9. Dodgers draft an LH hitting OF in the 1st round. By all accounts, this guy is a good player, but really, another lefty?

    1. By the time anyone drafted today is up in the majors, the teams’ major league level need and team comp will be different.
      ~
      You don’t draft for current needs, you draft for future needs.

  10. Mark wanted Hunter Greene who went 2nd overall or Jake Burger who went 11; AC wanted Keston Hiura who went #9. Pavin Smith went #7, Evan White #17, and Logan Warmoth #22 so AC had it dead on as the only player left at #23 for the Dodgers to select from his list of 7 this morning was Jeren Kendall, an OF from Vanderbilt who (gulp) bats left.

    Hoping for a RH power hitting 3B and 1B and OF in the next few rounds.

    1. The Dodgers wanted a RH power bat for 3B or OF, but they wanted that player to be a college hitter. The last of the top collegiate bats was Jeren Kendall. Yes he’s left handed. They will draft high school right field bats, and probably a few other secondary level college players.
      .
      This was actually an outstanding pick for the Dodgers. Every legitimate mock draft had Kendall going from 10-12, mostly at 11 to the White Sox. Baseball America writes that Kendall has the best tools of any college position player in the draft. He’s an 80 runner, plus arm and accuracy, plus CF defense. Raw power. Now the bad points. He strikes out A LOT. He swings and misses at a lot of balls out of the strike zone. He gets overanxious with less quality pitchers and is too often fooled. But he is a good student of the game. Vanderbilt and the SEC play special baseball, so he saw the best talent for three years.
      .
      Keston Hiura going to the Brewers was a surprise. Every mock draft I saw showed Jordon Adell HS OF going to the Brewers. Another surprise was Heliot Ramos, Puerto Rico Academy OF, was selected by the Giants. Ramos is certainly first round talent, and was projected to being selected the last 1/3 of the first round. What the surprise was is that the Giants did not select a college bat, which is what they usually do. Most had them selecting Logan Warmoth (SS, North Carolina) if he was available (and he was). That allowed the Blue Jays to select Warmoth one pick before the Dodgers, leaving one top collegiate bat remaining, Jeren Kendall. It was a good pick (on paper).

      1. I really liked these comments about Kendall:
        .
        “Every player has a development piece, sometimes more than one,” Gasparino said. “It’s definitely an area of improvement. When he puts the ball in play, there’s a premium of speed and power. If we can raise the contact rate up, he can be a very productive Major Leaguer.”
        .
        “I just love him,” Vandy coach Tim Corbin told Michael Lananna of Baseball America. “I think he’s a wonderful kid. Personality is plus. He’s good looking. He’s very easy to be with. Low, low maintenance. He’s comfortable with people. He’s comfortable with himself … I just wish he was here longer.”
        .
        I like this pick

  11. LA’s 2nd Round pick is Morgan Cooper, a 6’5″ RHP from Texas who is 22.

    Moderation was my New Year’s Resolution so it works out pretty well!

  12. And another RHP in the 2nd round. So much for prognosticators who said that the Dodgers would focus on right hand hitters and left hand pitchers.

    And the pitcher has already had TJ surgery too. Great

    1. You make a judgement on focus for the draft after two rounds of 40??? Their Dodgers’ primary focus for the first round was always collegiate bat. The biggest weakness of this draft was/is quality collegiate bats. So the first round was where they were hoping to land one of seven consensus quality collegiate bats. Jeren Kendall was the last of the pre-draft quality collegiate bats available. The Dodgers did what every talent evaluator said they would…select a collegiate bat.
      .
      Per Jim Callis, one of the best minor league and amateur talent evaluators in all of baseball, Kendall is one of the three best values of the first round. “Though his 25 percent strikeout rate depressed his stock, he still had the best all-around tools in the college class and performed well for three years at one of college baseball’s top programs. Even if Kendall doesn’t hit for a high average, he still can be a 15-homer, 30-steal guy who chases down everything in center field.” But in your wisdom, you would have undoubtedly passed because he is left handed. You will take every opportunity to blast any move this FO makes.
      .
      Morgan Cooper did have TJ surgery. That does not seem to be the problem now that it was in previous years. The Dodgers/Mets/Nationals and countless other teams have had success with pitchers after TJ surgery. But to criticize it based on the TJ surgery and that he is RH alone sits well with your distaste for this FO. He is a quality pitcher for a quality college program with 15 starts, 110 strikeouts and 33 walks in 89.1 innings, and a 2.32 ERA, who has a 4 pitch repertoire. If you spent any time learning who Billy Gasparino is, you would know that he believes collegiate draft choices are far more safe in the early rounds than high school choices. This was a very good 2nd round pick. Both selections should move quickly through the organization.
      .
      You wrote “So much for prognosticators who said that the Dodgers would focus on right hand hitters and left hand pitchers.” It is great that you waited a whole two rounds out of 40 to make that determination. You would have a problem with this FO if they traded Mitch Hansen for Mike Trout straight up.

    1. I think I am going to really like this guy. But let’s be cautious. If we don’t like Joc’s strikeouts, we are not going to like Kendal’s.

      1. Bum

        One thing I do know, is that you are a Joc’s guy to the end!

        And you do seem to have a lot of patience, and that is a good thing!

        And loyalty and patience, are good qualities, to have!

  13. Bleacher Report:

    First Round (No. 23 Overall): Jeren Kendall, OF, Vanderbilt

    At the start of spring, Jeren Kendall was the consensus top college bat in this year’s class.

    The Vanderbilt outfielder possesses five-tool potential and was one of the nation’s top hitters as a sophomore, batting .332 with a .964 OPS.

    However, what was a relatively high strikeout rate last year (21.5 percent) has actually gotten worse (25.1 percent) during his junior season, raising some red flags and causing his stock to slip.

    Still, he hit .307/.372/.556 with 15 home runs and 20 stolen bases this spring.

    Grade: A

    Kendall came with some risk in the top half of the first round, but outside the top 20, his tools are well worth a roll of the dice. This could be a great get for the Dodgers.

    1. I like that he is already 21 and could be ready as soon as 2018 if he learns pitch recognition and patience, and a swing that adds contact. Love the speed and potential power and defense. Love that he is a really great guy that would add to the clubhouse.

  14. We got at least a solid player in Kendall, and if he improves, we got an absolute stud.

    Great pick. I like it.

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