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2019 MLB Draft Prep: Jaxx is better

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A few words about a catcher from Kansas, and other draft nuggets.

Jaxx Groshans
Kansas Athletics

As I meander through college games, a few names tend to get a bit familiar. One has been Jaxx Groshans, a Kansas catcher. His is the type of name that a batch of fans will tend to love if he signs with their team, but others will get very dismissive of when he signs elsewhere. This is how baseball fans tend to be. Groshans is a six-foot junior catcher who has been rather useful for the Jayhawks, and has had a very solid start to his junior campaign. As with most talent, the draft question with Groshans is when, rather than whether.

Groshans has been the primary backstop in his first two college years in Lawrence. His hitting wasn’t especially impressive in his freshman season, but his OPS as a sophomore was a valid .819 as a sophomore. His two campaigns in the elite Cape Cod Summer League have been acceptable and consistent, flashing an OPS of .771 and .772 with the Orleans Firebirds. Groshans will be drafted. At what point in the process should that happen?

A career catcher with limited offensive profile will often go late in the third day. Groshans has hit well, both in the Big 12, and in summer ball. He figures to go in the first half of the draft, off of his prior contributions. He has a bit of a backstory, as well. However, the reason I sought out information on Groshans was his blistering hot start to the 2019 season. Through three games, he had three homers.

How early of a draft selection would you sign off on for Groshans, if he appears to be a sought-after catcher (see his Cape stats) that can accidentally back into three homers in cold weather? It isn’t June yet, but he’s making an early push for second-day status. As usual, it’s not “what I say.” It’s much more about how much value a two-way catcher represents to you.

My hunch is Groshans is probably around a 12th-rounder now. If he keeps it up into warmer weather, he could go to the sixth-round range. Would you prefer what you’ve learned about Groshans over a college junior pitcher with some injury or command flags? Or, maybe a reliever. I encourage you to think, because assessing “this over that” is how the important choices are made. Many of you can do this, even if not at a “paid scout” level.

I got around to listening to a Kansas game on Monday. Groshans batted fourth. (It’s a bit odd for a “best hitter” to be hitting fourth anymore, even at the college level. Groshans was hitting fourth, and probably is their best hitter.) In the first, he hit with two outs and a runner on first, and drew his first of three walks. Later, he’d add a single and sacrifice fly to left. He seemed the best player in the game.

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Tuesday, I had a game lined up. My lineup page was printed. And the audio dropped as the game was ready to start. Nonetheless, Andy Atwood (shortstop, UT-Rio Grande Valley) represented early before I ventured away. He has some draft buzz, and the Cubs like to gorge on middle infielders. After that game went “dead to me,” I tried East Tennessee State at Virginia Tech, which was 7-0 after an inning. (ETSU Buccaneers second baseman Carson Smith roped a double in the first while the game was competitive.) The Tennessee-Northern Kentucky game was delayed until I switched to the Eastern Kentucky-Louisville game.

The Cardinals scored three in the first, as the EKU center fielder and left fielder gently collided after a lead-off walk. Nonetheless, Louisville’s first baseman Logan Wyatt has patience carved from the Joey Votto mold. He’d be a legitimate (guesses) third-round pick. He could be a DH, a first baseman, and his ACC OPS in 2018 was 1.012 with 22 doubles. The Cardinals announcer comped Wyatt’s zone-command to “better than Brendan McKay’s.” The other Louisville primary is shortstop Tyler Fitzgerald, who doubled to right-center in the first.

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Friday’s top matchups look to be the following. And, yes. Friday is often much more compelling than Saturday, as “the hitter” against “the best pitcher” is that much more compelling.

Schools & players to watch this weekend

Road team Draw Home team Draw
Road team Draw Home team Draw
UNLV SS Bryson Stott Stanford OF Josh Stowers
Arkansas OF Dominic Fletcher USC RHP Kyle Hurt
Grand Canyon OF Quin Cotton TCU LHP Nick Lodolo
Wake Forest SP McSweeney/Peluse Elon SP Kirby/Brnovich
Southern Miss OF Matt Wallner Mississippi State OF Jake Mangum
UCLA 2B Chase Strumpf Georgia Tech 1B/P Tristin English
Illinois 2B Michael Massey Florida Atlantic C Pedro Pages

If you want to check out a game with a result that matters, take your pick. All the names listed will be valued in their organizations, once signed. However, the southeast is getting rain this weekend. Let me know if you have your eyes on a game. I won’t know my preference until I know if the Elon/Wake Forest game is likely. UNLV/Stanford is the game of the night, though.

The college catch of the week goes to a Liberty University senior, Ayden Karraker.