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2019 MLB Draft Prep: NAIA weekend

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Plus, some video of high school prospects.

Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images

A decent bit of my weekend was spent toggling between Junior College and NAIA baseball games. The standard is “one camera behind home plate.” Sometimes, there is audio. When you get audio, the announcer is often on the beginning end of his journalism career. Nonetheless, it’s baseball.

One thing that isn’t discussed on lower-rung college games is velocity. When watching the telecast, the “92” doesn’t pop onto the screen. Nor does the announcer fill you in on the speed gun, in part because many small schools don’t have that built into their scoreboard. This happens, to a lesser degree, with D-1 and minor league tilts. What I’m looking for in these games is something “that might translate.”

Among the more interesting arms I saw was Chad Tworek, a six-foot-five right-hander from Keiser University. Sans velocity readings, I was left without numbers, but the opposing hitters weren’t doing much with him. If he puts up quality numbers for a full-season, he merits a bit of draft interest. His catcher Shane Olive seemed to handle him rather well. The most intriguing player from Keiser was third baseman Garrett Hall. He sounded like he was playing solid defense (angles of plays at third are dicey with only one camera), and showed some pop at the plate.

In my other games, Cal Koga from Jessup University played a bit of catcher and a bit of second base, hitting all the while. As the Cubs love drafting catchers late, he’s probably my favorite of the weekend. His teammate Austin Swift went with a first-at bat opposite field homer to back up a solid junior season. Swift, though, appears to be a left field-type, mostly. Opposing Jessup was Corban University, and their best is shortstop Jordan Freiberger.

From games I wasn’t watching, San Jacinto Junior College’s Jackson Rutledge was on-point this weekend, showing high-90s velocity.

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I short-shrift preps once college gets going. I doubt that changes this cycle. Before D-1 games begin, I’ll highlight a few names likely to go early in June. Mind that “Kid hits .583 against high 70’s pitching with limited movement” isn’t especially predictive.

Bobby Witt, Junior. Coffeyville HS (TX) shortstop

Son of the former MLB pitcher, Witt will come of the board quite early. In a game playing for Team USA this summer, he completed a cycle in the fifth inning. He represents the entire package, and figures to get his names called quite early. The Cubs have about no chance at Witt.

Jerrion Ealy. Jackson Prep (MS) outfielder

The key point here is his speed, which MLB.com pegs as a 75. His other tools represent, as well. It makes him look like a very realistic lead-off option. Of course, three barriers prevent that from helping the Cubs. An above average bat for a prep won’t necessarily develop. He would take until at least 2022 to be ready, if all goes well. And, he won’t last until 27. He will, though, leave one other player more available when the Cubs select. He’s a potential footballer, as well. Kyler Murray alert.

Jack Leiter. Right-handed pitcher. Delbarton HS (NJ)

If the name looks familiar, Jack is former MLB pitcher Al Leiter’s son. A Vanderbilt commit, he combines savvy, a four-pitch mix, and a mid-90’s fastball. He also figures to be gone a bit before the 27 spot, but things can change.