2018 MLB Draft Prospects From Maryland
1. Noah Song, RHP, Navy (BA Rank: 135)
4YR • Jr. • 6-4 • 200 • R-R •
Much like Air Force righthander Griffin Jax in 2016—a Twins third-round pick—there’s an air of mystery surrounding Song heading into the draft. Song has a commitment to the Naval Academy that he’d need to work out in order to pitch in pro ball right away. A three-year starter for the Midshipmen, Song has been one of the Patriot League’s most dominating arms, going 21-10, 2.61 across 227.1 career innings and going 6-3, 1.42 with 106 strikeouts to 33 walks through 76 innings this spring. Song’s best attributes are his durable, 6-foot-4, 200-pound frame and his sheer arm strength. He has touched as high as 98 mph this spring, but generally sits in the low to mid-90s with average control. While both his body and arm are attractive to scouts, Song throws a below-average breaking ball and lacks a third pitch, making him a long-term project and capping his ceiling. Song’s fastball alone is usually enough to put away hitters in the Patriot League. That kind of arm strength normally would be enough for a team to take a flier, but Song’s Navy commitment makes him a riskier draft-day investment than most.
2. Richie Palacios, SS, Towson (BA Rank: 142)
4YR • Jr. • 5-10 • 180 • L-R •
The first Towson player ever named the Colonial Athletic Association’s Rookie of the Year, Palacios is an intriguing infielder with professional bloodlines. His father, Richard, played in the Tigers organization, his uncle, Rey, played parts of three seasons with the Royals and his brother, Josh, played for San Jacinto (Texas) JC and Auburn before being selected by the Blue Jays in the fourth round of the 2016 draft. Richie has shown a knack for hitting throughout his time with Towson, following up his record-setting freshman campaign (.329/.415/.480) with an even better sophomore season in 2017, when he hit .338/.417/.502 with five home runs. Palacios was the only member of Towson’s club to start all 54 games in 2017 and he led the Tigers in hits (72), runs (43) and stolen bases (19). This spring, he’s continued to do more of the same at the plate, hitting .316/.463/.542 with a career-high eight home runs through 49 games. Palacios, who currently has average raw power, has added more pop in each of his seasons at Towson, culminating this spring with an OPS over 1.000 and an isolated slugging over .200—both of which are career highs. With that power has also come a dramatically improved strikeout-to-walk ratio, as Palacios had a walk rate around 19 percent compared to a strikeout rate below seven percent after 49 games. Both of those are career bests, though Palacios has walked more than he’s struck out in each of his three seasons at Towson. Defensively, Palacios has the twitchy athleticism and speed—he ran a plus-plus 60-yard dash at Towson’s scout day—to give himself a chance to stick at shortstop. His arm is fringe-average, however, so he might be better suited to move to second base or take on a utility role. His run times to first base are not as regularly impressive as his 60-yard dash time would indicate, but he has stolen 74 bases at an 86 percent success rate through parts of three seasons. If a team thinks Palacios can handle shortstop, he may be drafted as high as the third or fourth round.
3. Nick Dunn, 2B, Maryland (BA Rank: 153)
4YR • Jr. • 5-10 • 175 • L-R •
Dunn has started every game of his Maryland career and has compiled a long track record of hitting. He was the Terrapins’ leading hitter as a freshman and is again leading the team this spring. He had two productive summers in the Cape Cod League, where he was an all-star in 2016 and the co-playoff MVP in 2017. Dunn stands out most for his pure hitting ability. The lefthanded hitter has fast hands and a mature approach at the plate, enabling him to spray line drives to all fields. He has above-average command of the strike zone and has walked more than he has struck out during his college career. Listed at 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, he can flash power and this year he has nearly doubled his career home run total, but power is unlikely to ever be a big part of his game. Dunn has improved defensively, but his range is still fringy for a second baseman. His bat is critical to his profile and if he continues to hit, he’ll find a home defensively.
4. Spencer Smith , C, Harford (Md.) JC (BA Rank: 375)
JC • Fr. • 6-1 • 205 • R-R •
A highly-touted backstop out of high school, Smith was ranked the No. 158 prospect on the BA 500 in 2017, but made it to campus at East Carolina in the fall before transferring to Harford (Md.) JC prior to the spring season. A torn labrum kept him from catching at all this spring, but scouts got to see him hit a team-high 19 home runs with a .319/.472/.779 line through 163 at-bats. There are real strikeout concerns with Smith—as there were when he was a high schooler—and he whiffed 70 times compared to 42 walks. There’s real power in the tank and a lot strength out of Smith’s 6-foot-1, 205-pound frame, but it’s an all-or-nothing sort of swing and there’s more pressure on his bat now than previously with less of an idea of what kind of defender he could be. Teams who draft Smith as a backstop will be doing so with much of his defensive evaluation coming from 2017 reports which saw him as a fringe-average defender with an average arm.
5. Stephen Pelli, RHP, St. Mary's HS, Annapolis, Md. (BA Rank: 395)
HS • 6-0 • 215 • R-R •
A thick-bodied, 6-foot, 215-pound righthander out of Maryland, Pelli doesn’t have a ton of physical projection left and he’s not a hard thrower, but his changeup showed the making of a plus pitch throughout the summer. Pelli used his changeup, which he throws with terrific arm speed, to get swings and misses against some of the best hitters in the 2018 prep class at Perfect Game’s National Showcase, including Nander De Sedas, Triston Casas and Kendrick Calilao. Pelli has been into the low 90s with his fastball in shorter stints, but this spring he’s mostly settled into the 84-88 mph range. The lack of physical projection, velocity and the fact that Pelli doesn’t have much in the way of a breaking ball means he’ll likely get to North Carolina. He’s shown swing-and-miss stuff in the past and could raise his draft stock with improvements in Chapel Hill.
6. Corey Rosier, OF, Riverdale Baptist HS, Marlboro, Md. (BA Rank: N/A)
HS • 5-10 • 175 • L-R •
7. A.J. Lee, 3B, Maryland (BA Rank: N/A)
4YR • Jr. • 6-0 • 175 • R-R •
8. Marty Costes, OF, Maryland (BA Rank: N/A)
4YR • Jr. • 5-9 • 200 • R-R •
9. Jose Rivera, 3B/C/MIF, Riverdale Baptist HS, Marlboro, Md. (BA Rank: N/A)
10. Justin Meekins, OF, Salisbury (Md.) (BA Rank: N/A)
4YR • DE-So.
Meekins draws walks and hit-by-pitches in bushels, which explains his otherworldly .542 on-base percentage. He also runs well and is a solid defender in the outfield.
11. Ryan Archibald, 3B, Carroll HS, Bel Air, Md. (BA Rank: N/A)
12. Zach Guth, LHP, Harford (Md.) JC (BA Rank: N/A)
JC • So.
Guth throws in the 89-91 mph range with solid offspeed offerings.
13. Braydon Parr, SS, Harford (Md.) JC (BA Rank: N/A)
A solid defensive player with an above-average arm and some pop in the bat.
14. Chase Ragsdale, OF, Harford (Md.) JC (BA Rank: N/A)
A plus runner with a strong arm and some potential for power, but a lot of rawness to his game.
15. Truman Thomas, RHP, Harford (Md.) JC (BA Rank: N/A)
In the 89-90 range mostly, but has been up to 93 with a solid slider.
16. Ryan Calhoun, 1B/OF, Harford (Md.) JC (BA Rank: N/A)
17. Kody Milton, 1B/3B, Severna Park (Md.) HS (BA Rank: N/A)
18. Tristan McDonough, RHP/INF, Decatur HS, Whaleyville, Md. (BA Rank: N/A)
19. Nolan Matsko, SS, Dulaney HS, Timonium, Md. (BA Rank: N/A)
. Zach Jancarski, OF, Maryland (BA Rank: N/A)
4YR • Sr.