2018 MLB Amateur Draft Preview for Dodgers By Always Compete
The 2018 MLB Amateur Draft begins on Monday June 4, and continues through Wednesday June 6. Rounds 1 and 2 will be completed on Monday; Rounds 3-10 will be completed on Tuesday; Rounds 11-40 will be completed on Wednesday. If you believe the organization has multiple good but not great prospects, this year’s draft does not figure to turn things around. The Dodgers will select only twice in the top 100; #30 and #68. They pick #104 in the third round and every 30 after that. In addition to the poor draft slots, the Dodgers have the least amount of bonus pool money of all 30 teams, with $5,288,200. Their first round slot is $2,275,800. Because of where they are drafting and the reduced bonus, the Dodgers cannot whiff on many of their draft picks, and certainly not the first two. I do not suspect they will draft for high ceiling, unless they also have a very high floor. That is not only safe, but should keep players within their bonus slots. The high ceiling guys are usually paid above slot.
Last year the discussions for the Dodgers pick centered on HS CF Bubba Thompson who also had a football scholarship offer to the University of Alabama as a QB. They were hoping that 2B/OF Keston Hiura (hitting machine) would fall to them. Unfortunately, Hiura was selected by the Brewers at #9. But another player was dropping…Jeren Kendall. Most draft pundits had Kendall going in the top 10, so when the Dodgers selected at 23, they jumped at Kendall. Bubba Thompson went 3 picks later to the Rangers. Jim Callis called the Kendall selection a great pick, but with risks. Callis is unconcerned about the strikeouts, as he projects Kendall to be 15-20 HR, 30 steal guy, and a GG CF.
Before we get to the Dodgers prediction, 3 of the 1st 4 picks are beginning to generate a consensus prediction. It appears that most think that the Tigers will be selecting 6’ 0” 195 lbs RHP Casey Mize out of Auburn with the 1st pick. For the 2nd overall pick, most are “guessing” that the Giants will be selecting 6’3” 225 lbs catcher out of Georgia Tech, Joey Bart. This makes huge sense as the Giants do not have any catching prospect in their organization. The other consensus pick appears to be 5’ 7” 2B/SS Nick Madrigal from Oregon State going to the Chisox with the #4 overall pick. University of Florida RHP Brady Singer, Wichita State 3B Alec Bohm, and HS LHP Matt Liberatore, all figure to go within the top 10 picks.
So who will the Dodgers select? Billy Gasparino is a college guy. His 1st round selections have included Trea Turner (North Carolina St), Hunter Renfroe (Mississippi St), Walker Buehler (Vanderbilt), and Jeren Kendall (Vanderbilt). Gavin Lux was out of his norm, but he was considered a very safe pick. Guys like Carter Kieboom, Delvin Perez, and Bo Bichette had higher ceilings, but lower floors. Most draft pundits think Gasparino sticks with a college OF bat or HS OF bat, but will select the best player available if they drop as did Kendall. Here is how some of the more respected draft pundits have selected as potential 1st round selections for the Dodgers.
Baseball America – Steele Walker – OF Oklahoma
Keith Law – Nick Schnell – HS OF (Indianapolis); Alek Thomas CF HS; Connor Scott CF HS, Jordan Groshans 3B HS
Jonathan Mayo – Steele Walker – OF Oklahoma
Jim Callis – Jameson Hannah – OF Dallas Baptist
John Sickels – Jeremy Eierman – SS Missouri State
Minor League Ball – Jeremy Eierman – SS Missouri State
Sporting News – Sean Hjelle – RHP Kentucky
Bleacher Report – Anthony Siegler – C HS
Fangraphs – Parker Meadows – CF HS
MLB Daily Dish – Seth Beer – OF Clemson
CBS Sports – Noah Naylor – C/1B/3B St. Joan of Arc HS (Ontario)
David Hood’s Top 10 potentials:
- Jordyn Adams OF – HS
- Jeremy Eierman SS – Missouri State:
- Jordan Groshans 3B – HS
- Alek Thomas CF – HS
- Griffin Roberts RHP – Wake Forest
Not likely, but maybe:
- Logan Gilbert RHP – Stetson
- Ryan Rolison LHP – Ole Miss
- JT Ginn RHP – HS
- Parker Meadows OF – HS
- Anthony Siegler C – HS
I do not see much chance of Gasparino picking Anthony Siegler or Noah Naylor as they are already very heavy in catching and figure to get even deeper with the top international player, 16 year old catcher Diego Cartaya leaning very heavy to the Dodgers. Although Naylor could be in play because he figures to get a long look at 3B. Noah is the brother of Padres prospect Josh Naylor. Jordyn Adams could be top ten, but he is going to have to be paid over slot bonus to buy him out of his North Carolina football scholarship offer. But if he drops to #30, Gasparino could be tempted. While some do, I do not like the Hannah choice as IMO he is a poor man’s Jeren Kendall.
For those that see the Dodgers select the big hit no position player (Edwin Rios and Willie Calhoun), there is Clemson’s Seth Beer. I do not see this either, as the Dodgers need to make no mistake on their 1st rounder.
Gasparino could go for SS Jeremy Eierman whose draft status has dropped considerably since the start of the year. This has a Billy Gasparino look all over it. He does have enough power and a good enough arm to make the transition to 3B.
The most likely picks per the pundits seem to be either Oklahoma OF Steele Walker, Dallas Baptist OF Jameson Hannah, Wichita State OF Greyson Jenista, or Oregon State OF Trevor Larnach. If signability is a significant concern, HS OF Parker Meadows figures to be a consideration. Another factor is that Meadows, brother of Pirates former 1st round pick CF Austin Meadows, is from the Georgia, and Gasparino loves players from the south. Other HS OF that figure to go around the 30 mark are Nick Schnell, Alek Thomas, and Connor Scott. Any of these HS OF prospects figure to go around this spot if not higher. As DC indicated, we know how much Gasparino loves the name Connor. You got to look at all the angles. Nick Schnell is from Indianapolis so maybe Mark has a local feel for the young OF.
If you are looking for a darkhorse and reach, the Dodgers could select 6’ 11’ RHP 2017 SEC Conference Pitcher of the Year, Sean Hjelle from Kentucky. Two SEC programs Gasparino is partial to are Vandy and Kentucky. Hjelle has been favorably compared to Chris Devinski. Somewhat of a thin projection for a 1st rounder that has to stick. If he is around for pick #68 (highly unlikely), Gasparino will look favorably on that.
Baseball America Scouting Reports for players that seem to have garnered the most attention by the draft pundits.
Steele Walker – OF
Ht: 5-11 | Wt: 190 | B-T: L-L | Commit/Drafted: Never Drafted
Scouting Report: Walker is one of the better pure hitters in the draft class and is in the midst of a career-best season with Oklahoma this spring, hitting .373/.469/.634 through 41 games with 11 home runs and a 13 percent walk rate. Each of those numbers are career-highs for Walker and speak to his impressive hand-eye coordination and pitch recognition from the left side. The bat will get Walker drafted because he lacks a true standout plus tool—unless a club puts a 60 on his bat, which is tough to do but might make some sense in Walker’s case—as a corner outfielder without blazing speed or a big arm. At just 5-foot-11, 190 pounds, it is difficult to project much more than average power for Walker, though he has already hit double-digit home runs this spring and hit seven in 53 games with a wood bat in the Northwoods League during the summer of 2016. Speaking of his wood bat track record, Walker has that as well, hitting .406/.479/.557 in the aforementioned Northwoods League, .280/.330.400 in a brief eight-game stint in the Cape Cod League last summer and an even more impressive .333/.417/.514 with two home runs and a team-best five doubles in 20 games with Team USA. Walker might not have an immensely high ceiling thanks to his lack of tools and corner profile, but college hitters who perform well seemingly always go high and Walker is among the safer bets in the class to have some sort of major league impact.
School: Dallas Baptist
Ht: 5-9 | Wt: 184 | B-T: L-L | Commit/Drafted: Never Drafted
Scouting Report: Hannah went undrafted out of Flower Mound (Texas) High in 2015, but was part of a Texas 5-A state championship team as a junior in 2014 and has hit at a high level in each of his three seasons at Dallas Baptist. Accounting for his first 41 games this spring, Hannah is a career .340/.420/.502 hitter with 16 home runs, 41 doubles and 28 stolen bases—caught stealing just twice in three seasons. A solid athlete who has gained strength since getting to college, Hannah profiles as a center fielder at the next level thanks to his 60-grade or better speed and a hit tool that grades out at 50 or better as well. Hannah is not overflowing with tools, but as a premium position defender with speed and a smooth swing, he has put himself in position to go on day one of the draft. He has also improved his plate discipline each year. After striking out 39 times (17.6 K%) and walking 20 times (9 BB%) in 2016, Hannah is now walking almost as much as he is striking out, with 25 walks (12.1 BB%) and 28 strikeouts (13.6 K%) as a junior. Hannah operates with a doubles-oriented approach but has the strength that could allow him to reach double-digit homers as a pro if a major league team wants to change his mentality in the batter’s box. Scouts also believe that Hannah could rack up more stolen bases with a more aggressive approach, as he has the speed and efficiency to do damage there as well. The knock on Hannah could be his performance in the Cape Cod League last summer, when he hit just .265/.331/.356 with the highest strikeout rate of his collegiate career, but his wood bat track record in the Coastal Plain League in 2016 was solid.
Trevor Larnach – OF
School: Oregon State
Ht: 6-4 | Wt: 205 | B-T: L-R | Commit/Drafted: Padres ’15 (40)
Scouting Report: A big, 6-foot-4, 210-pound outfielder, Larnach has shot up draft boards this season after finally tapping into the big power that he has long possessed. Through 34 games in a Pac-12 environment that tends to temper the long ball, Larnach has hit 11 home runs and 11 doubles with a .336/.452/.680 slash line. He ranks in the top 20 nationally in home runs, home runs per game, RBIs per game and slugging percentage. All that comes after hitting just three home runs through 88 games during his first two seasons with Oregon State. Larnach has made a mechanical change this year, quieting his load and better utilizing the strength in his lower half and letting the ball travel. He’s using his natural strength more effectively this spring and avoiding his previous tendency of reaching out and getting jumpy on his front side. That has allowed him to hit with power to the pull side and to the left-center field gap. With what he’s shown this spring, some area scouts believe he could tap into 25-plus home runs as a pro. Defensively, he’s likely a corner outfielder with below-average speed but enough athleticism to make the routine plays. He has an average arm that is starting to get stronger after elbow surgery a few years back.
Connor Scott – OF
School: Plant HS, Tampa
Ht: 6-4 | Wt: 180 | B-T: L-L | Commit/Drafted: Florida
Scouting Report: Scott draws some comparisons to current top Astros outfield prospect Kyle Tucker, who attended the same Plant HS in Tampa that Scott currently attends. Scott and Tucker have comparable swing paths and similar 6-foot-4, 180-pound frames, as well as the speed and athleticism that allow them both to be strong defensive outfielders. Scott wasn’t seen as much as scouts would have like on the summer showcase circuit, however, as he had his appendix removed and was forced to watch a few of the bigger showcases rather than take part. He got back on the field in the fall and started getting into a rhythm before impressing scouts during the spring, as he grew into more power and performed in front of a front office personnel in Florida who didn’t need to travel far from spring training facilities to see him. A toolsy player, Scott is at least a plus runner, with many evaluators throwing a double-plus grade on his speed to go along with a plus arm. There are questions whether he’ll be able to stay in center field or need to move to a corner as he continues to add weight, but he has enough arm strength for any outfield position. In fact, some scouts prefer Scott on the mound, where he’s in the low 90s as a lefthanded pitcher who fills up the strike zone and also has feel to spin a curveball and throw a changeup. Most teams appear to prefer the upside he offers as a potential impact hitter, however, with his speed and developing power leading to an intriguing all-around package. But having a fallback option as a pitcher should only help Scott’s draft stock. Some teams look at Scott as a no-doubt first rounder, while others see him going in the supplemental first round or later, and his lack of summer track record likely plays into that division.
Nick Schnell – OF
School: Roncalli HS, Indianapolis
Ht: 6-2 | Wt: 180 | B-T: L-R | Commit/Drafted: Louisville
Scouting Report: Schnell has done more than perhaps any prep hitter to improve his draft stock since last summer, going from a player with a real shot to enroll at Louisville to now being one of the most interesting bats in the class. All he has done since the fall is hit, hit and then hit some more. After a few solid but unspectacular summer events, Schnell began to hit for extra bases with regularity to all fields, using extremely loose hands and a fantastic feel to barrel the baseball. He has continued to hit this spring and was one of the best players at Prep Baseball Report’s Midwest Select event where many crosscheckers and higher-level decision-makers were in attendance. Schnell might not be a true plus runner, but he comes close once he’s underway and also has above-average arm strength from the outfield. He has the chance to play center field at least initially, but scouts think he’s likely to move to a corner position in the future.
School: Grayson (Ga.) HS
Ht: 6-4 | Wt: 195 | B-T: L-R | Commit/Drafted: Clemson
Scouting Report: The younger brother of current Pirates prospect Austin Meadows, Parker doesn’t have the same hype coming out of Georgia that his older brother did as a high schooler in 2013, but as a 6-foot-4 outfielder with a bevy of tools he still has a lot of teams interested. Meadows is a plus runner out of the box and better underway in center field, with plus raw power and a plus arm. As a long-armed lefthanded hitter with a hitch in his swing, his contact and hit tool have been questioned in the past, although he has hit against solid Georgia competition this spring. Regardless, Meadows will likely need to iron out some timing issues that coincide with his long swing once he reaches the professional ranks. If a team believes in Meadows’ ability to hit, then they are dreaming on a potential All-Star with tools across the board and the ability to stick in center field.
Jeremy Eierman – SS – Missouri Valley St.
Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 205 | B-T: R-R | Commit/Drafted: Never Drafted
Scouting Report: The son of former Red Sox minor league outfielder John Eierman and the younger brother of former Rays minor league outfielder Johnny Eierman, Jeremy Eierman has one of the longest track records of success of any college player in this year’s draft class. He hit .296/.336/.504 as Missouri State’s everyday shortstop as a freshman, and was even better as a sophomore, when he hit .313/.431/.675 with 23 home runs, which was fifth best in Division I. Eierman’s solid but less spectacular junior year has paled in comparison, as he’s not hitting for the same power. Scouts also have to factor in the fact he hasn’t hit with wood. He hit .125/.182/.225 with strikeouts in 25 percent of his at-bats for USA Baseball last summer and .185/.258/.277 in two summers in the Cape Cod League. But Eierman is still the best college shortstop in the class with plus speed, a plus arm (some scouts throw a 70 on it) and plus power potential. Eierman has excellent bat speed, but he generates that with a significant load that requires him to get started in his swing a little earlier. He modified his stance this year with a deeper squat, but it’s made him more vulnerable to being pitched inside. On the basepaths, Eierman uses his speed well—as of late April he had been successful on 18 of 20 stolen base attempts. Defensively, Eierman has the tools to stick at shortstop thanks to his arm and his ability to throw from multiple angles. His range is average, but his hands work well. He also could be a plus defender at second or third base with the bat to handle a position switch.
While the above are what the draft pundits believe the likely pick MIGHT be, it is also just as likely that it will be someone not even mentioned above. Me – I like Connor Scott if he is there, but I do see a Steele Walker as a good possible selection.
2018 MLB Amateur Draft Preview for Dodgers By Dodger Chatter
Dodger Chatter: 2018 First-Year Player Draft
What we know:
The 2018 MLB Draft takes place from June 4-6 in Secaucus, N.J. The Detroit Tigers, who finished 2017 with a league-worst record of 64-98, will make the first selection in this year’s draft. The Dodgers pick dead last in every round with their first selection at No. 30.
The draft starts at 7:00 p.m. ET on Monday with the Tigers perhaps taking right-hander Casey Mize out of Auburn or Florida ace, right-hander Brady Singer. Georgia Tech catcher Joey Bart or Oregon State second baseman Nick Madrigal are also possible first overall picks.
Through the first 10 rounds the Dodgers have just less than $5.3 million with which to woo draftees. They will have to be a bit creative and daring as that is the smallest bonus pool in MLB – the fruits of the best seasonal record in 2017. Perhaps they can again sign players towards the end of the 10th round in the same manner as they did last year. Right-hander Connor Strain and outfielder Zach Reks signed in the ninth and 10th rounds respectively each signing for $1,500. That allowed the Dodgers to sign high school shortstop Jacob Amaya in the 11th round for $247,500.
We know that the Dodgers have established a bit of a pattern by signing a high school prospect in the 11th round having done so with Amaya in 2017, right-hander A.J. Alexy in 2016 and right-hander Imani Abdullah in 2015.
We also know that the Dodgers are not adverse to selecting players who recently have had TJ surgery or are on a possible track to elbow surgery. Right-hander Walker Buehler and left-hander Caleb Ferguson would be but two of several TJ survivors signed by the Dodgers over the past few years. Does right-hander Ethan Hankins, a senior from Forsythe Central High School, fit that bill in 2018. He fell down the charts after suffering a shoulder injury earlier in the season and is now not projected to go in the top half of the current draft.
What we don’t know:
We have no idea what the drafting plan is for the Dodgers. That is, is there a plan set in stone or one that will simply unfold as the draft progresses. Will the usual line of drafting the “best player” possible at the time continue to be the Dodgers mantra? The “best player” available of course is in the eyes of the evaluation team? Were shortstop Gavin Lux (20), catcher Will Smith (32), pitchers Jordan Sheffield (36) and Mitchell White (65) all better than shortstop Bo Bichette (66) at the time in the 2016 draft? The drafting team must have thought that was the case and it may be too early to judge otherwise at this time.
The 2018 drafting class at both the college and high school level is reputed to be a relatively strong one when compared to the 2017 class. The 2018 crop is strong at the prep level especially for arms. Will the Dodgers go stronger on prep players rather than the usual plan to draft players more closely ready for MLB. With the depth the team has built there is time for more high school players to develop before being needed at the MLB level. Or will signability be an issue on which they will not take big chances because of their relatively small bonus pool?
Will they look for more mature prospective relief pitchers from the college ranks and fill some early spots with relief pitchers of the Zach Pop and Marshall Kasowski mold from the 2017 draft? Or will they fill relief spots in the middle rounds and later rounds with relief arms as they did in 2017 with Justin Hoyt (22) Mark Washington (25), Devin Hermmerick (26), Justin Lewis (28) and Dan Jagiello (34). Is there a Paco Rodriguez out there? Rodriguez, drafted in June of 2012, made his Dodger debut three months later on September 9th against the San Francisco Giants.
Will the Dodgers look to strengthen their infield especially at the second and third base levels? Will they select a player like 6’4”/180-pound shortstop Jordan Groshans out of Magnolia High School who projects more as a third baseman? Is Missouri State shortstop Jeremy Eierman and his cannon arm in the running for the Dodgers first selection? He has the grinder make-up that any team would love. Witchita’s Alex Bohm would be a very good option but will most likely go within the first 4-7 selections..
Will their decision be influenced more by analytics or by athleticism, character and versatility? Will they look more carefully at players who have tumbled a bit during the season yet at one time ranked high up on the leader boards? That is, pitchers such as left-hander Ryan Rolison out of Mississippi and high school right- handers Mason Denaburg (Merritt Island High School) and Kumar Rocker (North Oconee High School).
The mock drafts are all over the place after the first 20 selections or so. Several names have been connected to the Dodgers. Perhaps the most frequent connection has been Oklahoma outfielder Steele Walker. One report has Walker as the steal (no pun intended) of the first round.
“Oklahoma’s center fielder is probably the closest thing this draft has to a 5-tool batter. The 5-11/190
-pound Steele Walker may not be as big as MLB teams would like him to be, but that doesn’t change
the fact that he’s a top 10 talent on my board. He leads Oklahoma with a .358 batting average at
center fielder, and he also leads Oklahoma with 11 home runs, 49 RBI’s, 120 total bases, and a .597
slugging percentage. “
Other names connected to the Dodgers have oddly enough been mostly outfielders:
- Parker Meadows – OF Grayson High School
- Trevor Larnach – OF Oregon State
- Josh Stowers – OF Louisville
- Alex Thomas – OF Mount Carmel High School
- Cole Winn – RHP Orange Lutheran High School
- Cole Wilcox – RHP Heritage High School
Another choice may be 6’11”/215-pound right-hander Sean Hjelle out of the University of Kentucky. His success will depend somewhat on filling out that huge frame. He has just turned 21.
MLB Pipeline Scouting Report:
Hjelle’s best pitch is his low-80s knuckle-curve, which has impressive depth. His fastball velocity has improved from the upper 80s as a high school senior to the low 90s at Kentucky, and he intrigued scouts by hitting 96 mph during fall practice heading into 2018. He has good feel for a changeup, mixes in a slider/cutter and throws all four of his pitches for strikes.
Hjelle has remarkable coordination for such a tall pitcher and consistently repeats his delivery and throws strikes. While he’s not overpowering, his huge size adds plane and angle to his pitches that make them difficult to hit. His stuff has gotten better as he has gotten stronger, and his frame still has room to carry much more than his current 215 pounds.
Correctly predicting who the Dodgers will select with the No. 30 overall selection is akin to winning the lottery. However, it is much more fun as the results are rewarding for the next several years.
Let the games begin.