Tuesday, June 5, 2018

2018 MLB Draft: Rounds 3-10

So here's a quick(er) rundown on Rounds 3-10 of the 2018 MLB Draft. Get the updated big picture details here.

Round 3 - 102nd pick: Jeremy Pena
Slot: $549,700

Pena is a 6'0" 179lb right-handed 21-year old shortstop from the University of Maine - Orono, where he hit .308/.393/.469 with 42K:27BB in his junior season and posted a .957 Fielding % and started every single game for the...Maines.

It's his defensive ability that shines at the moment. MLB.com's Draft Tracker:
Pena profiles as a solid to plus defender who can play shortstop at any level. He has good speed that leads to excellent range and possesses the strong arm and footwork necessary to excel at the demanding position. At the plate, Pena does have some strength and raw power, enough where some see 15 homers annually as a reasonable projection. But that's only if he makes enough consistent contact to reach that power...With his defensive profile, being able to unlock a more consistent bat could produce an everyday big league shortstop.

Pena was Baseball America's America East Pre-Season Player of the Year after having a good summer in the Cape Cod League and was the 193rd-ranked college prospect coming into the draft:
He established himself as a premium defensive shortstop with above-average speed. He his for more power than his 6-foot, 183-pound frame would suggest, but scouts are unsure how well that will play in pro ball.

Baseball America wrote last week, after naming him the top-ranked prospect in the state of Maine:
Offensively there's work to do, as evidenced by Pena's .228/.315/.323 slash line in 36 games last summer in the Cape Cod League, where he struck out 30 times to 14 walks with just three extra-base hits. He did make the Cape All-Star team in spite of that line, which speaks to Pena's defensive ability, which will also get him drafted in spite of a light bat with below-average power. 

Maine's head coach Nick Derba:
I think he's the best defensive shortstop in the country. I played with nine major league shortstops and he's as good as any of them. 

Maine's DH/C Jonathan Bennett:
He's one of the best shortstops I've ever played with. The only other one who was as good is Addison Russell.

Pena's AAU coach, back in 2014:
He has the smoothest hands, for his age, of any kid I've ever had. He makes the hard plays look easy. He reminds me of Xander Bogaerts. It's very rare you'll see him swing out of the zone. He's patient, has quick hands. 

His father, Geronimo Pena, played in the Majors for seven seasons (Cardinals, 1990-1995; Indians, 1996), and hit .262/.345/.427 in 378 career games, a 110 OPS+.

Round 4 - 132nd pick: Alex McKenna
Slot: $410,400

Alex McKenna is a 6'2" 200lb 21-year old outfielder from Cal Poly - San Luis Obispo, where he hit .339/.424/.506 with 39K:27BB and 25 extra-base hits. McKenna also stole six of nine bases for CPSLO in 2018. He was named to Baseball America's 2018 Pre-Season All-America third team.

MLB.com's Draft Tracker:
McKenna's loudest tool is his bat, with an advanced approach and line-drive oriented swing. He does have good bat speed and some raw power to tap into, though he hasn't done so yet collegiately. Where the main divergence in opinion about McKenna is where he profiles defensively. Some feel he can stay in center long-term, which obviously improves his profile.

In the Cape Cod League last summer McKenna hit .298 and stole 15 of 22 bases.

McKenna was Baseball America's #2-ranked Big West Conference prospect and, like Pena, was BA's pre-season conference player of the year.

Cal Poly's head coach:
(McKenna) had a real good year for us, and his potential is still untapped. Now he has to develop into more of a power guy at the next level.

Round 5 - 162nd pick: Cody Deason
Slot: $306,100

Deason, a 6'4" 205lb 21-year old righty started his career at Arizona as a reliever, then swingman in his sophomore year. After a strong Cape Cod League showing he became Arizona's Friday night starter where he has three pitches: a 90-94mph fastball, a 79-83mph out pitch curve, and an average changeup. This season for the Wildcats Deason threw 91IP, 70H/29ER, 84K:37BB and held opponents to a .216 average, with only two home runs.

MLB.com's Draft Tracker:
Deason has proven he can handle starting and any team taking him will likely send him out in that role until he proves he can't handle it. His stuff will tick up in shorter relief stints, and some scouts do see him as a seventh or eighth inning set-up man when all is said and done.

Arizona head coach Jay Johnson:
I actually expected him to go way higher. I think he has all the makings of a major league pitcher, probably out of the bullpen because the velocity stays up in short stints.

Deason, who grew up a Dodgers fan, also had the best quote of the day:
As of about three hours ago, I am an Astros fan. That was heartbreaking to see last year (in the World Series). But now I look back on it and say, 'Wow, this is the greatest thing that's ever happened.'

I feel like I should have gone earlier, but everything happens for a reason. I'm glad I got picked where I got picked. I'm just ready for the next step.

Round 6 - 192nd pick: R.J. Freure
Slot: $237,600

Freure is a 6'1" 210lb RHP out of Pitt, finishing up his sophomore season, and will be 21 in July. The Burlington, Ontario native appeared in relief in 26 of his 27 outings in 2017, throwing 58.2IP, 49H/28ER, 95K:35BB, with opponents hitting .227. In 96.2 career IP at Pitt, Freure struck out 141 batters.

Perfect Game:
While Freure has been used almost exclusively out of the bullpen this spring, his delivery isn't an up-tempo, high effort type often associated with power-armed relievers, and in fact he has just the opposite with a simple, balanced delivery that you'd be more likely to find in a starting arm. 

Pitt head coach Joe Jordano:
In my opinion, RJ has a major league pitch in his breaking ball, and couple that with a mid- to upper-90s fastball, when he develops consistency and potential of a quality third pitch, he's a big league pitcher sooner than later. 

Round 7 - 222nd pick: Cesar Salazar
Slot: $187,000

Also out of Arizona, the 5'9" 185lb Salazar was Deason's catcher, and also 2017 3rd Round pick JJ Mativejic's roommate last season. Salazar hit .339/.432/.471 in 189 ABs (53 games) for Arizona last season, with 26K:21BB.

Check out this story from 2016 about Salazar's path to the United States from Hermosillo, Mexico. Salazar:
Just work my butt off and overcome adversity. That's basically what my whole life has been based off.

Arizona head coach Jay Johnson, on Salazar's value:
Unquantifiablee. He just has a way of making everyone around him better. There may be more physically talented catchers around the country. I don't know if anybody means as much to their team as means to our team.

Round 8 - 252nd pick: Austin Hansen
Slot: $156,500

Hansen, a 6'0" 195lb righty reliever out of Oklahoma who will be 22 in August, threw 38.1IP for the (Boomer) Sooners, allowing 32H/14ER, 52K:15BB. Opponents hit .224 off of him. Given that Hansen had struck out 54 batters in his previous two seasons combined (60.1IP), 2018 was a marked improvement.

MLB.com's Draft Tracker:
Hansen's fastball reaches 96mph, but the velocity tends to fade fast as gets deeper into a start. But the right-hander has a good changeup and an improving hybrid pitch - a slurve - with a quick arm.

Round 9 - 282nd pick: Scott Schreiber
Slot: $144,100

Schreiber is a 22-year old 6'3" 230lb righty outfielder from the University of Nebraska. Interesting that the Astros drafted him as an outfielder, considering Schreiber was Nebraska's 1B. Tampa Bay drafted Schreiber in the 26th Round last year by Tampa Bay, but he returned for his senior season and hit .369/.446/.692 with 48K:28BB in 52 games.

Schreiber led the Big Ten in runs scored (62), tied for first in hits (79), second in home runs (18) and total bases (148) and his .369 average was 6th. He was Wisconsin's Gatorade Player of the Year as a high-school junior and an all-state QB. He's one of 25 semifinalists for the Golden Spikes Award.

For his career as a Husker, Schreiber hit .332/.392/.555 with 37 home runs.

Round 10 - 312th pick: Chandler Taylor
Slot: $136,800

A 6'1" 210lb 22-year old junior out of the University of Alabama, the lefty-hitting left fielder hit just .223, but with a .373 OBP and a .512 SLG, thanks to a team-high 13 home runs. He struck out 54 times in 166 ABs, with 38 walks. He missed six games during the season due to an oblique injury, and was suspended for the first three games of the season due to an unspecified violation of team rules. Could be that he just didn't have all that long to find a groove.