Preseason Gems

By Jared Stanger

I’ve been meaning to post some 2018 draft prospects and their videos for a few weeks now, but I’ve kept having those life interruptions. So forgive the delay. The following is just a random collection of prospects that I’m looking forward to studying in the fall. If you’re not familiar, I generally prefer to point out the guys that aren’t getting as much hype.

DE/OLB, Kansas, Dorance Armstrong, Jr

The “Jr” in his listing is both because Dorance’s dad was the Sr, but also because Dorance is entering his Junior year of college. In 2016 he posted 56 tackles, 20.0 TFL, 10.0 sacks, 5 hurries, and 3 forced fumbles. Listed at 6’4″/246lbs last year, Dorance has the ideal build a speed LEO player.

Armstrong has a very instinctive sense of how to bend the edge:

Another example, this time on Patrick Mahomes:

Dorance will be dogged all year for his ability against the run, he’ll be projected to move off the line to stand-up LB…none of these things should be concerning as long as he keeps disrupting backfields on 3rd downs.

OT, Oregon, Tyrell Crosby

Listed 6’5″/320, Tyrell is a bit of a wildcard due to the number of games he’s missed due to injury. After playing 12 games at Right Tackle in 2015, Tyrell played only two games at Left Tackle in 2016 before injury sidelined him.

I watched both of Tyrell’s 2016 games and there’s something very interesting in his game. There’s a certain effortlessness to his performance. Does this mean the game is easy for him? Does this mean he’s not giving 100%? Does this mean he has more untapped potential still in the tank that he hasn’t needed yet?

I’ll reserve final judgment until I’ve seen him play 5-6 games this year, but for now, what he did in limited time in 2016 was REALLY compelling:

Very good in pass-pro:

Tyrell tells me he’s ready to go this year. So I’m very hopeful.

RB, Florida, Jordan Scarlett

Another 2017 Junior, Jordan Scarlett is a 5’10″/213lb back with huge SPARQ numbers, and who is coming off a 179 carry, 889 yard, 6 TD season for the Gators. With Barkley, Guice, Chubb, Freeman taking more of the headlines in the next RB class; Scarlett is more of a quiet name. But I like that.

I also like that Scarlett’s size is very much in the Seahawks’ wheelhouse for RB’s. Obviously they’re trying some things with the 250lb Lacy, and the 6’1″ Prosise; but more often than not, Seattle RB’s are built like Scarlett.

Here’s the tape:

I like some of the details I see in Jordan’s running: ability to hand-switch, great feet, choosing contact and the extra yard over going out of bounds.

The other less-heralded RB’s I’m watching this year are UW’s Lavon Coleman, LaTech’s Jarred Craft, and Arizona’s Nick Wilson (if he can stay healthy).

TE, South Dakota State, Dallas Goedert

I think Mike Gesicki is the #1 TE this year, but if Dallas Goedert went to a bigger school, he’d give him a run for his money. Listed around 6’5″/255, Goedert moves really well, catches unbelievably, and posted a 92 catch, 1293 yard, 11 TD season last year. 92 catches would have put Dallas tied for 12th place nationally if he were in the FBS, and 1293 yards would have been 14th. That’s amongst all receivers.

I love scouting cornerbacks probably most out of all positions, and I’d like to show you some really cool 2018 CB that will sneak up on us…but as things generally go in the world of NFL draft, the year after a really good class at one position, there is inevitably a large drop-off the next year.

I don’t have much under the radar to talk about at CB right now. The Alabama trio of Averett, Brown, Fitzpatrick are known. The Virginia Tech duo of Alexander and Facyson are known, but didn’t play well in 2016. Iman Marshall of USC and Jordan Thomas of Oklahoma are known, but inconsistent on tape.

ECU has a 6’4″/198lb Senior corner named Bobby Fulp that I will be watching for. Illinois State has a 6’0″/200lb corner named Davontae Harris that showed some cool traits in limited pass plays in the one game I watched of him. A&M corner Priest Willis is 6’2″/200lbs and showing the foundation of solid step-kick technique:

That’s all for now, but I intend to do these more often as we get closer to football.

 

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Mariner draft recap

The 2017 MLB Draft concluded Wednesday with 30 rapid-fire draft rounds, after the first ten rounds split Monday and Tuesday. These are some of the observations from the second draft conducted under Jerry Dipoto, and the first under new scouting director Scott Hunter.

Here is the complete draft listing: 2017 Mariner Draft

In 2016, the draft went 29 college players, 11 high school. 8 of the HS were picked 30-40.
In 2017, the draft went 32 college players, 8 high school. 5 of the HS were picked 35-40.

Seattle wasn’t able to sign 11 of their 40 picks in 2016, and 9 of the 11 unsigned were high schoolers. They signed their entire top 15 picks, and 23 of their top 24. This year, they drafted fewer HS, presumably increasing their signing-ratio. The final four picks this year were from NW schools (three WA, one OR).

In 2016, the position breakdown went 21 bats, 19 arms. 7 of the first 10 picks were bats.
In 2017, the position breakdown went 17 bats, 23 arms. 7 of the first 10 picks were pitchers.

Further breakdown of the 2017 position picks:

15- RHP
8- LHP
5- CF
5- SS
3- C
2- 1B
2- 3B

13 of 17 bats play up the middle. No corner-outfielders. Jerry will play three centerfielders when/wherever possible, I think. Pretty standard that all shortstops in the system will cross-train as 2B.

At least two of the players drafted as pitchers were primarily position-players in college (Alvarado, Wade).

Of the college pitchers, 12 were primarily starters and 7 were primarily relievers.

But here’s this most-interesting thing about this draft class of college pitchers: 16 of 19 averaged over 8.00 SO/9, and 15 of 19 averaged over 3.00 SO/BB (all 19 averaged over 2.50 SO/BB). If I had to distill Jerry’s tendencies for pitching acquisition down to one stat since he’s been here, it is the SO/BB rate.

Now for some individual player stats.

The best strikeout rate comes from 17th round Maryland IF/RHP Jamal Wade who, in his only year of college used as a pitcher, averaged 15.10 SO/9. He also had the worst BB/9 rate of Mariner draftpicks at 5.95.

The best in SO/BB was 3rd rounder Wyatt Mills, who posted a mark of 14.50, which would have been the best in NCAA if he had enough innings to qualify.

The best WHIP comes from 12th rounder Darren McCaughan, who finished 4th in the country at 0.83.

The most Saves came from 4th rounder Seth Elledge (13 saves – 17th in the country), followed by Mills (12 saves).

11th round pick from the Citadel, J.P. Sears led the class in strikeouts with 142.

1st round pick Evan White led all the hitters drafted in doubles with 24, followed by 31st rounder Ryan Costello. Costello had the most walks among this group with 45.

19th round pick Kevin Santa, a shortstop, led the class in batting average and OBP: .423/.502. The Puerto Rican born Santa has a very sweet, lefthanded swing:

Another SS, 21st rounder Connor Hoover, leads in HR and RBI: 18 HR/74 RBI.

14th round catcher Trevor Casanova tied for the lead in triples at 7 with 28th round OF Johnny Slater.

Slater was also 2nd in stolen bases, going 15×15. He was behind 8th round CF Billy Cooke who had 21 SB.

The best caught-stealing rate has to be David Banuelos, who gunned-down 61% of would be stealers.

It certainly seems this draft had a large tilt towards run-prevention. Evan White is a stud defensive 1B, Banuelos a cannon at C, 20th round C Troy Dixon reportedly only committed 2 errors in three years at St. John’s. Here are some great defensive plays from the M’s draft picks:

8th rounder Billy Cooke

22nd rounder Johnny Adams

28th rounder Johnny Slater

Some of the hitters:

40th rounder from Edmonds CC, Zach Needham

37th rounder from Seattle Prep, Jesse Franklin

20th rounder Troy Dixon

Mariner Mock 2.0

By Jared Stanger

The 2017 MLB Draft starts at 4pm on Monday, June 12th with the Mariners drafting at #17 overall. Here is my second attempt at projecting a look at their top few rounds.

Since my last mock, a few things have changed across the draft landscape. Oregon LHP David Peterson is now frequently seen more in the #13-15 range, as opposed to the 16-18 range we were seeing. Oregon State LHP Luke Heimlich had the bombshell dropped of his teenage conviction for sexual assault of a minor; completely laying waste to his draft potential. And there’s now rumor that UCLA RHP Griffin Canning may have something structurally wrong with his arm.

The Peterson news is most disappointing because I think his mix of control, stuff, size and being left-handed would make him really appealing to Jerry Dipoto for Safeco Field. In the event he drops for some reason (like Kyle Lewis did last year), he might still be the pick.

I had been thinking the pitching options at #17 were generally better than the bats, but there are potentially three fewer arm options there now. The bats are still kinda “meh” for me. The one connected to Seattle the most is Missouri State 3B Jake Burger, who I just flat don’t like. Monster stats, but not a great athlete and his future position might be DH. Other potential bats with projection near #17: Vandy OF Jeren Kendall, UNC SS Logan Warmoth, Kentucky 1B Evan White (I’d vote the latter).

Not only is the draft at #17 not great for me; the story kinda goes that this isn’t a great draft in general. So, the thought occurs to me…get creative. Also…take risks.

Maybe you don’t sweat one of your first two picks as much as you would normally, and instead settle into being okay taking a risk on a tough-sign high school talent. If you get him signed…awesome. If you don’t; either your #17 this year becomes #18 next year, or #55 this year becomes #56 next year in a better class.

At first I was thinking, “go ahead and take the HS player at #17”, but if you don’t sign him there; not only do you lose him this year, but you also lose his signing bonus allotment for the entire 2017 draft class. Whereas, if you draft, say, an underslot college player at #17, then shoot for an overslot HS player at 55…you will have the bigger, 1st round chunk of bonus pool active. Essentially, you want to make sure you have the biggest check available first, before determining how to spend it. So that first round pick needs to be signed.

With all this in mind, and looking at where players are projecting, I think it would be really interesting to go underslot at #17 with a college bat (the rumored preference for Jerry), and take former Seattle Prep player and current Wake Forest CF: Stuart Fairchild.

#17- OF, Wake Forest, Stuart Fairchild

Fairchild is hitting .364 this year with a .441 OBP, roughly a .286 ISO and .464 secA, 17 HR, 67 RBI, 18 2B, 21 SB in 26 attempts, and he plays a really solid CF. As I’m writing this, Stuart is 2×2 off probable 1st-rounder Alex Faedo in the CWS super regional (before the rain delay hit). He’s also a semi-finalist (top 25) for the 2017 Golden Spikes Award.

Baseball America currently has Fairchild as their #43 overall player. So drafting him at #17 in his hometown, you might get a decent discount on signing (Seattle has a bonus pool of $6,737,300 to work with, and #17 is worth $3,333,200 of that). If you sign Fairchild for what slot #40 is worth, you would gain $1,618,700 of space to go after a hard-sign at #55.

Draft slot #55 is valued at $1,206,900. Plus the surplus just from going under slot at 17; you’re potentially looking at having $2,825,600 to work with at 55. That dollar amount is somewhere between the allotment for pick #21-22 overall. In theory, if a player is more concerned with the signing bonus than the label of being a “1st round pick”, you should be able to get a tough-sign for 1st round money at #55.

And I would target high school RHP Alex Scherff.

#55- RHP, Colleyville Heritage HS, Alex Scherff

BA has Scherff ranked at #60 overall. With his max of high-90’s fastball, and potentially the best change-up in the entire draft; I have no clue why he is ranked that low. Maybe it’s his signability (committed to Texas A&M). But that’s why I’m targeting this strategy. It may not be all that different from how they got 2016 second-pick, HS 3B Joe Rizzo to sign.

If Jerry and Tom McNamara have info that leads them away from Scherff for signability; I think there are great options at 1B from the college ranks here. Take your pick of LSU’s Gregg Deichmann, Wake Forest’s Gavin Sheets, Oregon State’s KJ Harrison, Arizona’s JJ Matijevic. I’m currently very high on Matijevic. His lefty swing is so clean, and he’s hit .383/.436/1.069 this year with 10 HR, 65 RBI, 30 doubles (*1st in the country), and 9 SB in 10 attempts. His strikeout to walk (38-23) isn’t as good as some others at 1B, but I think there is still more upside to him coming.

Moving into the 3rd round, I think the best options for Seattle at #93 are between a LHP, a C, and a SS. Baseball America has Wisconsin-Milwaukee C Daulton Varsho at #100, St. John’s SS Jesse Berardi at #105, and Xavier LHP Zac Lowther at #112.

Varsho is a lefty-swinging catcher that has easily the best offensive season of all college catchers this year: .362/.490/1.133 slash, 11 HR, 39 RBI, 11 doubles, 6 triples, 10 SB in 10 attempts, and 46-39 BB-SO. Gets on-base a ton, and he’s really athletic for a catcher (6 triples and 10 steals?!).

Berardi is one of the few college shortstops I like in a bad year for SS. His hands are great, and offensively he went: .356/.456/.918 with 4 HR, 47 RBI, 12 SB, 38 BB, 35 SO.

Lowther posted a 2.92 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 13.28 SO/9 (*4th in the country), and 3.73 SO/BB this year. He was also very effective in the 2016 Cape Cod League. As far as I can tell he’s working only 90-91mph with his fastball, but he’s getting a ton of swing-and-miss with a pretty nasty curve.

#93- LHP, Xavier, Zac Lowther

In the 4th round, having passed on Berardi, there are even fewer SS available. NC State’s Joe Dunand played SS this year, but probably projects more as a 3B. He’s lacking a bit in plate discipline (19 BB, 45 SO), but probably the best power tool from all SS this year (18 HR, 51 RBI, 12 double, 3 triple, 2 SB, .287/.368/1.000 slash. If he can refine his pitch selection, his .344 ISO is pretty attractive. He does have a great arm, as well. Oh, and he’s Alex Rodriguez’ nephew.

One of the only other options I like at #123 would be Auburn RHP Keegan Thompson. 7-4, 2.41 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 7.23 SO/9, 4.41 SO/BB.

#123- SS, NC State, Joe Dunand

The 5th round has a pretty nice collection of players: Louisville closer Lincoln Henzman, Vandy 3B Will Toffey, Arkansas C/1B Chad Spanberger, LSU 2B Cole Freeman, Arkansas RHP Trevor Stephan, etc. I’m going with Florida State LHP Tyler Holton.

6’2″/200lbs, Holton doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but gets great results from his pitchability. 10-2, 2.22 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 11.28 SO/9, 5.28 SO/BB.

#153- LHP, Florida State, Tyler Holton

Part of the reason I decided to pass on Daulton Varsho earlier is because I’ve actually found a few lefty-hitting catchers this year that I really like. There’s also St. John’s Troy Dixon and Hartford’s Erik Ostberg.

I’m leaning toward Ostberg and his .500/.596/1.456 slash, 6 HR, 23 RBI, 11 doubles, 1 triple, 22 BB, 10 SO in only 24 games. Really good bat-speed.

At this point in the mock we take a turn. At this point we look specifically for college seniors that will sign well under slot. I’m not sure how much the order matters as none are sort of the “ranked” prospects.

#213- UT, Dallas Baptist, Austin Listi

I’m not sure where he ends up position-wise, but with a slash of .336/.454/1.189, 24 HR, 55 RBI, 23 doubles, .399 ISO, .588 secA I think he’s an interesting righthanded power bat.

#243- 1B, Southern Missouri, Dylan Burdeaux

Looking for some athleticism to add to a MILB lineup at first base, I found Burdeaux with 21 SB on 23 attempts this year. Then I looked at the rest of his line: .337/.409/.944, 12 HR, 69 RBI, 24 doubles.

#273- RHP, Minnesota, Brian Glowicki

The closer for the Gophers, Glowicki is tied for 1st in the country in saves with 16. He also sports a 2.20 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 10.74 SO/9, and 5.57 SO/BB.

#303- LHP, Norfolk State, Devin Hemmerich

10-2, 1.97 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 10.08 SO/9, 7.38 SO/BB.

Summary:

1- OF Stuart Fairchild
2- RHP Alex Scherff
3- LHP Zac Lowther
4- SS Joe Dunand
5- LHP Tyler Holton
6- C Erik Ostberg
7- UT Austin Listi
8-1B Dylan Burdeaux
9- RHP Brian Glowicki
10- LHP Devin Hemmerich