2019 Draft Stock Watch: Pop-Up Prospects And Regional Risers
The draft is now less than three months away. In the scouting community, area scouts, crosscheckers and directors have been fighting against cold weather and rain—including Southern California, where it normally isn’t allowed to rain—to get schedules lined up and get looks at priority players.
Even with some elemental barriers, there has been plenty of movement on both the college and prep side, with most high schools in the southern half of the country a few weeks into their seasons.
After taking a look at small school arms in last week’s stock watch, this week we’re going to touch on the biggest risers on the West Coast, in the Midwest and on the East Coast. Before we get into those, however, let’s talk about a few big-time pop-up players on the high school side. Every year there are a few players who come from almost entirely off the radar to being a name that teams are considering in the first round. Last year, it was Grayson Rodriguez, and in 2017 it was Michael Mercado—who now goes by David.
The former was a Texas product, and the latter came out of Southern California. The 2019 draft class is offering pop-up prospects out of both areas.
Before we dive in though, there are a few players to note in regards to classification. Auburn INF Edouard Julien is draft-eligible this year despite being a 19-year-old sophomore. His 2017 secondary school year in Canada counts as equivalent to a year in JuCo, giving him three years of college ball. It's an unusual situation, but he is eligible to be selected this June. He'll be a difficult one for teams to figure out because of his defensive profile questions (he's currently playing third base, but teams believe he'll move to second in pro ball), but could go early on Day 2 or later.
Additionally, 2020 OF/RHP Trejyn Fletcher is graduating early from high school and will be enrolling early at Vanderbilt, but at this moment he has not been declared eligible for the 2019 draft. Fletcher could have a bigger impact at the top of the 2019 draft if he is declared eligible and has been thought of as one of the top 2020 high school prospects.
Previous stock watches:
Keoni Cavaco, 3B, Eastlake HS, Chula Vista, Calif.
We reported last week that Cavaco was blowing up, and after talking with multiple scouts around the country we have a bit more information on the San Diego commit.
A strong third baseman with plus arm strength, Cavaco has impressed with his bat and offers plus raw power—if not more—to all fields, and he is standing out in a Southern California field that lacks many top-end hitters outside of prep shortstop Brooks Lee. Cavaco is also a solid runner and an impressive athlete. The challenge in figuring out Cavaco is that most teams don't have a lot history with him and therefore will need to spend a lot of time this spring bearing down on his hit tool—which currently projects as average—while getting as much information as possible.
Because of that, the Angels have an advantage over most teams, as Cavaco worked out at their major league stadium, giving the club valuable data and TrackMan information that other clubs might not have. Los Angeles could target him with their second-round pick (No. 55 overall), but there's a real chance he doesn't fall that far, especially with the D-backs selecting four times prior to that pick. Perhaps the Angels' first pick (No. 15) would be a reach given the fact that Cavaco was not a household name a week ago, but there's serious heat on him at this point and legitimate first-round discussion.
While most teams are probably in on the bat, Cavaco has been in the low 90s on the mound as well.
Josh Wolf, RHP, St. Thomas HS, Houston
Another prep player with helium is Houston-area righthander Josh Wolf. While Wolf has more immediate competition in the area with fellow righthanders Matthew Thompson and J.J. Goss (who we'll touch on below), Wolf has impressed enough to shoot up boards and might be in consideration in the supplemental first round range for teams that are highest on him.
Wolf has more history with teams than Cavaco, and he was at several high-profile summer showcase events, including the Area Code Games, where he was sitting 88-91 mph with a 75-79 mph curveball and a low-80s slider. At the time, his curveball had slurvy shape, but he still used the pitch to generate five whiffs in his first inning at Area Code Games.
Wolf's stuff has ticked up in a big way this spring, and he has been consistently in the 90-96 mph range with a future plus breaking ball during most of his outings. That uptick puts him in the same range as Thompson and Goss, and it gives Texas area scouts plenty of prep arms to check out throughout the season. Like Rodriguez a year ago, and Thompson and Goss this year, Wolf is also a Texas A&M commit.
Perhaps identifying next year's pop-up player is as simple as taking your pick of the 2020 Texas A&M commits.
West Coast Risers
Bryson Stott, SS, Nevada-Las Vegas
Stott has been the best performing college shortstop in a draft class where five or six entered the season with a legitimate shot to go in the first round. After 16 games played, Stott is hitting .362/.543/.793 with five home runs, three triples, six doubles and 22 walks to 13 strikeouts.
Last summer with USA Baseball's Collegiate National Team there were concerns that Stott was too much of a slap-oriented hitter, and scouts questioned his impact ability and the offensive environment that Stott plays at in Las Vegas, where the ball travels well. Stott has exceeded expectations to this point and has hit for power to all fields and on the road at more difficult hitter parks, including two homers at Stanford and one at Fresno State.
At this point, Stott should be safely in the top-15 range of the draft. He has an impressive track record with both metal and wood bats at the college level, and he's a lefthanded-hitting shortstop with a chance to stick, defensively.
Hunter Bishop, OF, Arizona State
While Stott is still ahead at this point, there might not be a bigger riser in the country than Hunter Bishop at the college level.
Highly regarded out of high school thanks to an enticing package of tools that included 70-grade running ability and twitchy bat speed, Bishop made it to campus thanks to some concerns about his offensive approach. Those concerns proved valid, as Bishop struggled during his first two seasons in the Pac-12 and during both of his stints in the Cape Cod League during the summer.
He's finally figured it out this spring, though, and Bishop leads an Arizona State team that includes first baseman Spencer Torkelson in home runs, with eight. Bishop ranks fifth in the country in home runs per game and has hit six long balls in his last seven games, with a .414/.534/.948 slash line to go alongside 12 walks and 10 strikeouts. With plus running ability and a chance to stick in center field at the next level, Bishop's toolset and defensive profile should allow him to stand out in a class that lacks many high-end college center fielders.
Bishop is solidly in first-round consideration at this point.
Carter Bins, C, Fresno State
College catchers get pushed up boards in the opposite way that high school catchers get pushed down. Bins has hit well early this season, and while his power production is down from what he managed in 2018 and 2017, he's been hitting hard line drives to all fields and is posting a .298/.365/.404 slash line over 12 games.
Bins was drafted out of high school in 2016, when the Phillies took him in the 35th round, but he will go significantly higher after a consistent three-year career in the Mountain West Conference. His coaches laud his athleticism behind the plate, intelligence and toughness, and if he starts hitting for more power in the next few months he could increase his draft stock even more. As it stands, Bins is probably in the range of the third to fifth rounds.
Kyren Paris, SS, Freedom HS, Oakley, Calif.
One of the youngest players in the 2019 draft class—and the youngest player on the BA Draft 200—Paris won't turn 18 until November, and the reports out of Northern California have him crushing balls regularly. He's gotten taller and more physical as well and, similar to Cavaco, won't have a ton of high school players in the region to compete against, which could allow him to stand out even more.
There are some similarities here with 2018 shortstop Osiris Johnson, who was also a young, athletic shortstop out of Northern California who went in the second round to the Marlins. Paris could be in that second round round range as well. He's committed to California.
Andrew Dalquist, RHP, Redondo Union HS, Redondo Beach, Calif.
Dalquist could be one of the better prep arms in Southern California this year and will be one to watch. He's been 90-95 mph with a solid changeup and slider, and he has a repeatable delivery and thin frame that could add plenty of weight moving forward. Dalquist is committed to Arizona.
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Kameron Misner, OF, Missouri
Misner has hit .373/.529/.588 with 16 walks to eight strikeouts and three home runs through 14 games this season. He's done enough so far this year to vault himself into the upper-echelon of the first round, with names like Texas Tech third baseman Josh Jung and Baylor catcher Shea Langeliers. Staying healthy and showing his contact ability were the two items on Misner's to-do list this spring, and he's checked both of those boxes to this point.
With a large, 6-foot-4, 210-pound frame, Misner likely fits best in a corner at the next level, though he is a good runner. He has more than enough power to profile at the position, with some scouts going as far as putting 70-grade raw power on him. That sort of juice out of a college performer in the Southeastern Conference typically does not last long in the draft.
J.J. Goss, RHP, Cypress Ranch HS, Houston
Goss and his high school teammate Matthew Thompson create one of the best high school pitching duos in the country, and Goss has looked good out of the gate for scouts in Texas. A second-team preseason All-American, Goss has closed the gap between himself and his first-team preseason All-American teammate. He's pitched in the 90-95 mph range with a plus slider and even flashed an above-average changeup from time to time as well.
John Doxakis, LHP, Texas A&M
Doxakis is coming off his worst start of the season (4 IP, 7 H, 3 ER vs. Gonzaga) this weekend, but he has been extremely effective over his first four starts this year, with a 1.44 ERA and 34 strikeouts to just two walks in 25 innings.
Doxakis' stuff isn't overpowering and is mostly average across the board, but college lefthanders who perform in big conferences tend to get pushed up boards. The Texas A&M southpaw is coming off of an impressive 2018 season in which he posted a 2.70 ERA and impressed in front of plenty of high-level evaluators during the SEC Tournament.
Brandon Williamson, LHP, Texas Christian
Williamson got hit around a bit in his last start against Long Beach State (2 IP, 6 H, 3 ER), but he's got more upside than Doxakis with more risk. After transferring to TCU following two seasons with North Iowa Area JC, Williamson has shown a solid four-pitch mix that includes a 90-94 mph fastball as well as two separate breaking balls and a changeup.
He's walked too many batters this season and previously in his junior college career, but he's looked good early and shown the ability to miss bats. Prior to his Long Beach State outing, Williamson had a 1.98 ERA, though that got bumped to 3.45 after this weekend. He'll need to work deeper into games and improve the strike-throwing ability, but there's a lot of potential here. Williamson has opened plenty of eyes this spring.
East Coast Risers
Logan Wyatt, 1B, Louisville
Wyatt has one of the most discerning eyes in the 2019 class. After ranking third in the nation in walks per game in 2018, Wyatt is first in the country after 15 games this season with 1.53 walks per game. This season, he is hitting .356/.580/.511 with 23 walks and 13 strikeouts, although he has hit just one home run. There are some questions surrounding his extremely passive approach and how it will play at the next level.
Still, his track record in the Atlantic Coast Conference is impressive, he has an encouraging wood-bat pedigree and he's got a naturally strong, 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame that should allow him to tap into more power in the future. The first base profile limits his upside, but Wyatt seems like a safe Day 1 pick.
Noah Song, RHP, Navy
The discussions surrounding Song will always be tricky considering the hoops he'll have to jump through to pursue a professional career with his Naval commitment, but it's hard to ask for anything more than what he's done on the field. After a 2018 season in which Song posted a 1.92 ERA in 89 innings with a 12.24 K/9, Song is back at it again early in 2019.
He ranks first in the country with 52 strikeouts, and he's gotten into double-digits in that category in each of his first four starts, including a 16-strikeout effort in his most recent outing against Cornell. The level of his competition isn't great, relatively, but it's hard to knock an 18.23 K/9—especially considering Song's pure stuff, which includes a plus fastball that's been in the upper 90s.
Thomas Dillard, C/OF, Mississippi
A switch-hitting outfielder for Mississippi, Dillard brings a huge amount of raw power to the table and has taken another step forward this spring after hitting .310/.439/.563 in 2018 with 13 home runs in his second year in the SEC. Through 15 games this season, Dillard is hitting .434/.559/.906 with a team-high seven home runs (good for seventh in the country).
Dillard is somewhat polarizing at this point because of a poor defensive profile, but he might be doing enough with the bat to make those concerns a non-issue. He's a poor catcher and has spent most of his time in the outfield for Mississippi, where he grades out as below-average or fringe-average. He might have to move to first base in the future, which would also ding his upside, but he's got plus power and an advanced hit tool that should fit wherever he winds up defensively.
Dillard has fairly distinct platoon splits, but they are good side splits, as he's been more effective as a lefthanded hitter against righties.
Andrew McDaniel, RHP, St. Thomas More HS, Lafayette, La.
A Mississippi commit, McDaniel has impressed early this season in Louisiana. After pitching in the upper 80s and low 90s with some effort over the summer, McDaniel has been up into the 94-95 mph range while sitting in the low 90s with his fastball. He's also got a pair of distinct breaking balls and good feel for spin.
Trevor McDonald, RHP, George County HS, Lucedale, Miss.
McDonald has had plenty of scouts running in to see him after blowing up at a Perfect Game event in January, where he showed improved fastball velocity and reached the mid-90s. He's been in the 91-95 mph range this spring, and he has natural feel to spin that allow future above-average breaking ball projections. He could be in consideration for early Day 2 at this point.