It happens every draft season. Players expected to shine have struggles. This year is no different. So far, more players have been playing their way into second round range than first round viability, and more than a few have gone kerplunk more than expected. Jaden Hill, Louisiana State’s Friday night starting pitcher, has been very hittable in two of his first five starts. You expect a periodic clunker from pitchers, but to be considered as highly as 21 in the annual Draft, effectiveness should be more regular than sixty percent of the time. What if my draft board for the Cubs’ first round pick ends up with too few names?
My list finally has 24 names on page one. I’ve added a handful of names who are preps I haven’t had the pleasure of following in a game. However, plenty of them belong on page one. As of now. I finally broke down and added names from the Fangraphs list toward the top. There are a few names near the top that I’ve booted to page two, such as Boston College’s Cody Morrisette and Tennessee’s Max Ferguson. I’ve heard enough of them to not have them on the top page. As events occur, page one and two can flip-flop.
In Hill’s clunker against Tennessee, Evan Russell, ninth-place hitter for the Volunteers, took Hill deep twice. Neither was a cheapie. Russell went yard his third time up, claiming a ninth-round list spot in the process. The Vols swept LSU over week six by 3-1, 9-8 (11), and 3-2 scores.
I’m not sure how deep the Cubs’ list will be for the 21st spot. A few on my first page are toward the bottom of my preference list, but some of those will be gone, anyway. Feel free to ask about college names on any of my pages. I’ve usually added them for a reason. They usually have one skill or another well above the standard. The first page guys are the most likely (for me) to have a 10-or-better WAR career in their cost-controlled seasons.
Easter weekend is an interesting one for scheduling. Usually, most of the four major conferences (SEC, ACC, PAC-12, and Big 12) have Thursday through Saturday match-ups. Many Friday guys go on Thursday, on a day with mid-majors not playing. The games that were played leaned toward some ascendancy for scouting. However, with the limited numbers, the timing for first pitch is what it is. The obvious one this week put Boston College (with Sal Frelick) against a Virginia Tech team loaded with players not draft-eligible. Eight Hokies line-up starters are first- or second-year freshmen. Tech’s starting pitcher, senior Peyton Alford, would have fit in well on Opening Day in Wrigley. He fanned Frelick and first-day likely Cody Morrisette, but also walked six before being hooked in the third. (Alford was added to my 11th Round list.)
BC ran up a 6-0 lead through the road third inning. BC’s starting pitcher was Mason Pelio, a third guy likely to get selected from the Eagles roster on the first day. Pelio is in the mid-90s range rather regularly, but is prone to the bad inning. That is a definite selection type. The teams that are useful with that sort of arm has an edge over teams that misfire on that sort. Pelio was useful with a big lead, despite giving up two homers over 100 pitches. Should Pelio be drafted by (a certain team) in the second or third round? With which options above him in the pecking order?
The light-but-loaded schedule allowed me to select a Kansas State game next. Jordan Wicks was getting a stern test after Mason McRae mocked him to the Cubs recently. It wasn’t entirely Wicks’ fault, but the Jayhawks lost 17-1 to a very good Texas Tech team. Again, not enough to permanently bsar him from consideration at 21, but I’m more comfortable with Wicks (and Pelio/Morrisette) on my second round list. After that game began spinning out of control, I switched to the Arizona/Arizona State game. The Wildcats usually have a valid professional hitter or two on their roster. This year is no different, and as many intriguing names aren’t draft-eligible in July as are. First baseman Brandon Bossierre and outfielder (?) Ryan Holgate will mash as professional. Both teams had big innings, keyed by wobbly defense on Thursday, as the Wildcats won 10-5 over the Sun Devils. That Holgate nominally played right field pushed me to list him as an outfielder instead of a DH.
Mailbag pieces are fun, but they often lean well above “pick 21”.
Alex Mooney is a prep not previously on my radar. The bat-flip may have been epic, but not sure. He’s a Michigander who is Duke-bound if unsigned.
Elijah Cabell, omigoodness
#HeatSheet Alert here in Louisville as Ryan Cusick (RHP, @WakeBaseball) touched 101 mph on this bolt to Henry Davis. Sat 97-99 with the heater and threw a couple downer breakers in the 82-84 range in a 1-2-3 first. #MLBDraft pic.twitter.com/snNX4SYoKH— Burke Granger (@burkegranger) April 2, 2021
Full inning from Ryan Cusick (RHP | @WakeBaseball). 6'6"/235. First round talent; struggled to command arsenal. Was 97-99 early, 94-95 late. Inconsistent breaker, potential 55 when he stays on top.— Burke Granger (@burkegranger) April 3, 2021
5.1IP, 8H, 5R, 5ER, 3BB, 4K (L, 1-1).
FB: 94-98 (t101)
CH: 87-88 pic.twitter.com/gkyV2JWxS6
Uh, oh, Jaden Hill:
LSU righthander Jaden Hill is leaving with a trainer in the second inning. Threw 32 pitches tonight.— Teddy Cahill (@tedcahill) April 3, 2021
This was the best that I've seen Michael Kirian (LHP, @LouisvilleBSB), who bounced back nicely after a shaky start last weekend. 6'6"/260 lefty showed feel and missed bats with all three pitches today.— Burke Granger (@burkegranger) April 3, 2021
6IP, 7H, 3R, 3ER, 4BB, 11K (W, 5-0).
CH: 82-84 pic.twitter.com/hp7eETDfdd
Ty Madden is toggling between my first and second round lists.
Ty Madden, high-90s four-seamer w/ accidental cut. Low raw spin/efficiency.pic.twitter.com/kuOOfNctvT— (@mason_mcrae) March 30, 2021
Two-way guys, anyone?
Garrett Delano @MercerBaseball 2-way player and Friday night starter has hit a HR in the first inning in each of the last three games in which he started also on the mound. Insane. pic.twitter.com/oW4Yemjk9J— 11Point7: The College Baseball Podcast (@11point7) April 2, 2021
McCade Brown (Indiana) versus Seth Lonsway (Ohio State) on Saturday. Lonsway had an immaculate inning.
Video of immaculate inning (3⃣⬆️, 3⃣⬇️, 3⃣ Ks |9⃣ pitches) from Seth Lonsway (lhp, @OhioStateBASE). Was the most aggressive I've seen him in a half dozen career viewings.— Burke Granger (@burkegranger) April 4, 2021
95 pitches | 64 strikes | 24 swings & misses.
7IP, 2H, 0R, 1BB, 17K (W, 1-3) pic.twitter.com/cTmeyEuW3Z
Hopefully, the parent club keeps representing. Toss in some success from the affiliates, and it can be a well-rounded baseball summer.