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2016 Draft Preview No. 16: Persons of Interest One

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The first edition of the less-heralded prospect report.

Kevin Siegrist, unheralded draft prospect once upon a time.
Kevin Siegrist, unheralded draft prospect once upon a time.
Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, all. I had planned on writing this post up ahead of time, but unfortunately, did not manage to. Thus, I begin this post not even an hour and a half ahead of my scheduled posting time, putting me in a terrific time bind. Nonetheless, I will attempt to still write what I had hoped to, and instead cut out my usual flowery intro in favour of a direct route to the scouting reports.

To review, for anyone unaware of the format: Persons of Interest draft posts cover draft prospects I find intriguing, for one reason or another, but are not in the kind of top two round consideration sort of space I usually focus on. I typically cover five or six players per post, nearly double the normal amount, but with the caveat that many of these players I have significantly less information on, and are often presented only as names to watch, rather than the full, detailed reports I usually try to provide.

Anyhow, four home runs and nine extra-base hits was fun last night. right? Now if only the record wasn't still barely over .500, and the club could at least occasionally do something like that against a good team, or a good pitcher... I'm getting super tired of trying to tell myself they don't really change from the '27 Yankees into the Indians of Major League depending on who they're playing.

Andrew Miller, C, Frisco HS (Texas)

6'3", 205 lbs

Bats: Right

Throws: Right

So, what's so great about this guy?

If you asked me for one name of a player in this draft I think could end up being a real hidden gem for someone, Miller might be my first pick. Lost in the fray of a fairly remarkable high school catching crop (as well as being literally impossible to easily google, especially since there was another baseball prospect named Andrew Miller from Frisco, Texas in 2012, throwing up an additional level of frustration), Miller has committed to Grayson College, a junior college in Texas known for a successful baseball program, suggesting he has an eye firmly on either turning pro this year or reentering the draft next season before heading off to a four-year school.

Miller is an all-around exciting player as a catcher, with remarkably refined hand skills behind the plate and a sweet, natural right-handed stroke in the batter's box. It's probably more of a line drive gap to gap swing, rather than a slugger's loft-generating approach, but there's enough natural strength in the hands and wrists here that I think he'll offer plus power down the line. Behind the plate, he's surprisingly quiet and soft in his receiving, not often qualities you see in high school aged players, and seems to have some understanding already of the finer points of the position. Good blocking, good movement, soft hands, and quick up out of the crouch to throw. All the defensive skills look, to my eye, remarkably well developed for his age.

The arm is probably only average, but accurate. He throws with a 3/4 release that I wonder about in pro ball, not because I think it's a huge deal, but because I have a feeling pro coaches will force him to change it.

The tools are not as loud for Miller as a guy like Ben Rortvedt, probably the top high school catching prospect this year, or even Herbert Iser, who has shown huge power at least on occasion, but I think the pure hit tool and advanced feel for the catching position could potentially make him a huge steal for a club willing to take a chance on him and make it worth his while to turn pro immediately.

via Jerry Miller:

Carlos Cortes, 2B(ish), Lake Howell HS (Florida)

5'8", 185 lbs

Bats: Left

Throws: Both(!)

So, what's so great about this guy?

Well, to begin with, Cortes can throw equally well with either hand, and actually switches over to throw lefty whenever he's playing in the outfield.

Second, he looks more than a little like a Jose Altuve starter kit at second base, which is pretty exciting.

The problem, of course, is the fact that high school second basemen are almost never a thing, as the position is usually the province of players whose athletic gifts simply prove a little short of short, if that makes sense. And by short of short, I mean pro-level second basemen are shortstops in high school and college and Low-A ball, but prove to be slightly less than adequate for the toughest position on the infield at the highest levels.

Well, Cortes is that, only at the high school level. And it's perfectly reasonable to question how far that level of athleticism will actually be able to take him.

On the other hand, Cortes can really hit. He has much better power than you would expect from a player listed at 5'8" (he definitely has that Kolten Wong/Dustin Pedroia thing going on in that way), and is able to take strong hacks without sacrificing contact ability, due to tremendous hand-eye coordination, even by baseball player standards.

Forecasting a position for Cortes long-term is kind of tough. He doesn't have great speed (the one thing he really lacks in that Altuve comp), so it's an open question how good he would be in the outfield, and his arm likely won't allow him to play on the left side of the infield. Any team thinking of drafting Cortes will really have to believe in the bat, and be willing to believe in the bat even without a standard baseball body backing it up.

But I'll say it again: Cortes can really hit. Oh, and maybe he could serve as an extra lefty reliever.

via Baseball America:

Hudson Sanchez, SS/3B/??, Carroll HS (Texas)

6'3", 195 lbs

Bats: Right

Throws: Right

So, what's so great about this guy?

If Carlos Cortes represents a bet on a player without a clear position, but with superior bat to ball skills, developing into both a productive hitter and overall valuable pro-level player, Hudson Sanchez represents a bet on a player with elite pure bat speed (but still plenty of other questions), translating that one superior tool into long-term production.

In a way, Sanchez feels very similar to Bryce Denton, the high school third baseman from Tennessee the Cardinals selected in the second round last year, in that Denton was a pure upside bet based on batspeed and power potential, but there were questions about where he would play. Personally, I think Denton will be a fine third baseman long term, but some project him moving to a corner outfield spot, at which point the bat takes on a lot more pressure to perform.

Sanchez has a similar level of natural thunder in his batting stroke, as he's capable of generating well above-average batspeed with a buggywhip sort of swing that takes advantage of what appear to be extraordinarily strong wrists and forearms. Unlike Denton, though, who is compact and strong already in his build, Sanchez is taller and still lanky, with room to add significant size and strength down the road. How much power that might add to his projection I can't honestly say, but there's definitely room for growth here.

Defensively, Sanchez has a very strong arm, but isn't quick enough to play in the middle infield, and looks very raw at third. He could shift to an outfield corner down the line, in which case the arm would fit in right. Basically, at the moment Sanchez could safely be listed as either 'Hitter' or 'ATH' in terms of position, and you wouldn't be lying, nor saying anything untoward. The ceiling is pretty significant, if the hitting approach comes together, but the lack of position and overall rawness could make him either a mid-round pick or an above-slot later round guy. He could also head off to college for a few years and come back a no-doubt first rounder.

Final note: Sanchez is one of the youngest players in the draft, not turning eighteen until this October. Another similarity to Bryce Denton, and a data point I know at least some teams put real emphasis on.

via The Prospect Pipeline:

Hayden Stone, RHP, Vanderbilt

6'3", 185 lbs

Bats: Right

Throws: Right

So, what's so great about this guy?

You wouldn't think a Vanderbilt pitcher could possibly be overlooked, but that's exactly where Hayden Stone is sitting right now. Of course, there are reasons for that, as he's a relief-only prospect with just average velocity who's already had arm issues, but all the same. The bat boy from Vanderbilt has been drafted each of the last three years, so a productive reliever for the Commodores would get some play, one would think.

Actually, relief-only isn't quite fair; Stone has made a few starts in college, and a team might consider sending him out as a starter, at least to begin his career. For my money, though, he's a reliever all the way, and could potentially be a very good one.

As I said, the velocity is just average, topping out around 92, but there are other things to like about Stone. For one, a deceptive delivery with a hesitation that throws hitters' timing off. For two, above-average control, at least when fully healthy and not returning from Tommy John, as he has been this spring. And for three, an absolutely wicked breaking ball that has allowed him to strike out well over a batter per inning in the SEC, even when battling the aforementioned injury issues. You can call it a big, slurvy slider or a hard, tilty curveball, but either way, it can be devastating when Stone is on.

There's some definite risk with Stone, considering the injuries and limited ceiling. If a team with lots of extra picks to try and budget were looking for a guy to take in the middle rounds and potentially save a little money on, though, and still hopefully have a chance to contribute at a high level in the shortish term, he's a very intriguing name. I know these kinds of players, who represent limited-ceiling options and possible strategic or budgetary concerns tend to not be all that exciting, but they're valuable considerations to make all the same.

Lake Bachar, RHP, Wisconsin-Whitewater

6'2", 205 lbs

Bats: Switch

Throws: Right

So, what's so great about this guy?

One of the biggest pop-up names this spring, Bachar is a two-sport athlete (and really, was a football player only until last spring), who has put himself in position to potentially be drafted in the top five rounds by showcasing plenty of potential and an aptitude for learning since joining his college's baseball team.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I love an athlete who pitches, and Bachar brings that in spades. He's physically mature, very strong, and could pass for a third baseman pretty easily. The delivery is interesting, as he's short in the back and I don't love the way he gets to foot plant, but the timing is quite good, as best as I can tell from limited resources, and he utilises his legs in a great way to drive down the mound.

Bachar works with a low-90s fastball that has shown 95 but isn't going to get there in anything but relief appearances, I don't believe. He keeps it down, though his command is still fairly raw at this point. Probably his best quality as a pitcher is an ability to spin the baseball, as he throws both a curve and slider, and each of them have times when I might be coerced into putting a 55 or even 60 on them. Most impressively, the two pitches are distinct and separate, without the typical bleeding together you often see with young pitchers who throw multiple breaking balls.

He has yet to show much feel for a changeup, but that's the sort of thing I worry about less with such an inexperienced pitcher. You're buying the arm speed and aptitude for spin that Bachar brings to the table, and hoping you're getting a steal on a guy who's taken a very unorthodox route to being a draft-eligible baseball player. The rawness and short track record will probably frighten some teams away, but I think there's a chance Bachar could actually jump up on draft day into a range that would probably disqualify him from this Persons of Interest format, if a certain club liked him and got wind of another potential suitor.

There's plenty of potential in a guy with above-average athleticism, a fast arm, and relatively low mileage on that arm. The fact he's already shown intriguing feel for multiple offspeed offerings without even committing to the sport full-time is somewhat amazing, and could make him one of the more volatile stocks come June.

via Steve Givarz:

Okay, I'm going to call this here, so as to try to be a bit more punctual. I'll probably try to do two more of these before the draft, in order to put some interesting names out there, if possible. Enjoy your Wednesday, folks.