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2020 Draft Preview No. 11: Persons of Interest Two

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A second group of non-first rounders to peruse and possibly drool over the prospect of drafting.

MLB: OCT 03 NLDS - Cardinals at Dodgers - Game 1 Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Alerick Soularie, OF, Tennessee

6’0”, 175 lbs; Bats/Throws: Right/Right

DOB: 5th July 1999

So, what’s so great about this guy?

Alerick Soularie is, aside from being an all-time great draft name, a classic ‘tweener-type bat. The thing is, Soularie looks like he should be fast. He has the wiry, high-waisted build of a premium outfield speedster, and on first glance one would assume he should be of the center field variety, chewing up turf as he ranges into the gaps to chase down hitters’ hopes. Unfortunately, he does not run the way he looks, checking in with just average speed, and will almost certainly be limited to an outfield corner. The fact his arm is on the weaker side probably pushes him over to left, and while the right field/left field thing doesn’t change a player’s profile as much as the center/corner designation does, it’s still a mark against Soularie.

The issue, then, is that Soularie is going to be a corner outfielder, suffering from a pretty bad positional adjustment penalty, and the bat may not be of the sort that makes up for it. Soularie is not a big guy, and that not being a big guy means that he’s also not an extremely strong guy. There is some power in his wrists and hands, certainly, but it’s hard to see him ever really hitting for more than average power, particularly when taking into account the difference in wood bats vs metal. What I’m saying is there is a somewhat limited profile here.

On the other hand, Alerick Soularie can really hit. And sometimes players who can really hit make every other concern moot.

Soularie has one of the best plate approaches in college baseball; before this spring’s shutdown he had posted a 12:8 walk to strikeout ratio in 74 plate appearances. That comes a year after his 2019 season, when he ranked in the top three in the SEC in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and total bases. What Alerick Soularie possesses, in spades, is pure, natural hitting ability, a feel for putting the barrel of the bat on the baseball, and a mind for the craft to match. Jon Jay was never a very good center fielder, playing the position very much like a guy who really should have been playing left field, but he managed to hit enough that a lot of his other limitations really fell by the wayside. Soularie has a higher ceiling as a hitter than Jay, I think, with more power potential at the expense of a little less bat control of the grounder-through-the-hole variety.

The Cardinals already drafted Soularie once, taking him in the 29th round in 2018 out of San Jacinto CC. I’m not certain what range he’ll go this time around, but if he were on the board still come the fourth round, he’d be a slam dunk for me to take. I’m a big fan.

via Big Tex Edits:

Ricky Tiedemann, LHP, Lakewood HS (CA)

6’4”, 200 lbs; Bats/Throws: Left/Left

DOB: 18th August 2002

So. what’s so great about this guy?

If you’ve been reading my prospect writeups over the years, you should know that natural athleticism in pitchers is one of my things, and here we have a lefty coming out of high school who brings a ton of that to the table, as well as improving stuff that I believe would have pushed him significantly further up draft boards had the season not ended when it did this spring.

Tiedemann is both a two-way baseball player and a multisport athlete, but going forward there’s not question that baseball, and the mound specifically, will be his meal ticket. He’s got a great pitcher’s build, with long arms and legs, and what looks like above-average body control borne of high school basketball. The delivery is simple, and the timing of his arm looks good to me.

Tiedemann was up to 93 mph this spring with his fastball, sitting in the 89-91 range most of the time, and the pitch is tough to square up because of its above-average movement. It usually runs to the armside, but you’ll occasionally see Tiedemann throw it with a bit of cut as well. Whether that’s on purpose or accidental I don’t know at this point; you obviously hope it’s intentional, but it’s definitely not a sure thing.

Beyond the fastball, Tiedemann throws a slider and changeup, and both have above-average potential. The changeup is more developed now, and is a pretty good weapon already against hitters from both sides of the plate. The slider, meanwhile, is a more nascent pitch, but will occasionally show big, sweeping break with good spin. He also hangs it quite a bit more often than the change, but the arm speed and feel for spin are there, so I have no real concerns about Tiedemann developing his breaking ball long term.

I think there are a couple more ticks in terms of velocity down the road for Tiedemann, and the natural movement he has should make him very tough to hit. He’s committed to San Diego State, and I’m not sure how tough a sign he would be, given this year’s restrictions. He’s more than worth a chance in my book, though. He’s also young for the class, not turning eighteen until this August.

via The Prospect Pipeline:

Nick Swiney, LHP, North Carolina State

6’3”, 185 lbs; Bats/Throws: Right/Left

DOB: 12th February 1999

So, what’s so great about this guy?

Nick Swiney was, up until this spring, one of the better long reliever weapons in college baseball. He moved into the rotation in 2020 and pitched well, but showed diminished stuff. What role a team sees as his long-term home will probably make a sizable difference in where he’s drafted, although with the changing usage patterns of pitchers in major league baseball I’m not sure that’s as true as it used to be.

Regardless of what role he’s pitching in, Swiney’s curveball never takes a day off. It’s his best pitch pretty easily, and he leans on it whenever he needs an out. It’s a big, slightly loopy pitch, but thrown with enough power to avoid getting lazy. Swiney locates the pitch very well most of the time, both in the zone and down in the dirt, and college hitters had very little luck dealing with his breaking ball. He also showed a much improved changeup this spring, potentially giving him a pair of above-average offspeed pitches he can work with.

The bigger question is really Swiney’s fastball, and that could end up dictating what role teams see him working in long term. Swiney’s fastball tends to be very straight and true, which on the one hand isn’t a problem when he’s working at the top of the zone, but it tends to be flat and hittable when he’s down. As a reliever, Swiney could push the heater up into the 93-95 range, and at that speed hitters had a tough time catching up. His velocity was much more inconsistent working in longer, starter-like stints, though. Sometimes the radar gun said 90-92, other days it said 87-89. If he’s in the 90s he can still be effective, even if not quite as strong as when he’s airing it out coming from the ‘pen. Throwing 88, though, probably isn’t going to work long term for Swiney, even if he mostly got away with it this spring.

For my money, the best fit long term for Swiney is probably like a left-handed John Gant, getting 4-8 outs at a time. Short enough outings he can let the fastball loose and work at the top of his velocity range, but not so short you’re wasting a reliever who really has the pitches to start. It’s tough to say what the industry consensus is, though.

via Gutter Towers:

Nate Wohlgemuth, RHP, Owasso HS (OK)

5’11”, 195 lbs; Bats/Throws: Right/Right

DOB: 30th May 2001

So, what’s so great about this guy?

If Owasso High School sounds familiar to you, it probably should. Once upon a time in the misty, mystical year of 2007, the Cardinals made Pete Kozma their first pick in the draft, and the warlock was, in fact, an alumnus of Owasso. No, that doesn’t tell us anything at all about Nate Wohlgemuth the player, but it’s always fun to see names from the past popping up in these pages. (Dylan Bundy also came out of Owasso, but that’s not Cardinal-related, so who cares?)

So now let me tell you something about Nate Wohlgemuth that is relevant to this scouting report. Nate Wohgemuth has one of the better potential one-two punches of any high school pitcher in this draft. To start with, he can run his fastball up to 98 already, and his low three-quarter delivery adds deception and a little zip to the pitch, particularly when working up in the zone. The thing is, Wohlgemuth doesn’t always hold that velocity all the way through outings, and he’s much more hittable at 93 than he is at 97, which probably goes without saying.

He complements that fastball with an extremely hard, tight curveball that’s nearly a slider. The pitch is at its best when Wohlgemuth throws it in the 80s, rather than trying to back off and make it slower and bigger, at which point it loses a lot of its effectiveness. The fastball up at the belt and the curve in the dirt make for a devastating combo at times, and Wohlgemuth can strike out pretty much any hitter he wants at his best. He has decent feel for a changeup, as well, and if he’s going to stay a starter long term that feel will need to develop into consistency, which is obviously not a sure thing.

The marks against Wohlgemuth are as follows: he’s old for his class, he’s under six feet tall, he’s developed physically already, meaning there’s not much room left for growth, and his delivery is pretty high risk, I think. Now, the lack of projection thing isn’t really a big deal for a kid who can push the high 90s already, but the other stuff is. If you’re thinking to yourself, “Boy, this kid actually sounds a lot like a Craig Kimbrel type,” well, congratulations! You are a remarkable baseball watcher. Long term I actually think that’s the best fit for Wohlgemuth, a late-inning relief job throwing an inning or two at a time and dialing everything he has up to eleven. Where that gets drafted, I really don’t know.

via 2080 Baseball:

Anthony Servideo, SS, Mississippi

5’10”, 170 lbs; Bats/Throws: Left/Right

DOB: 11th March 1999

So, what’s so great about this guy?

There are quite a few solid college middle infield talents in this draft, but Anthony Servideo might be my favourite of the bunch outside of the guys who will go in the top 5-7 picks. (Austin Martin and especially Nick Gonzales are who I mean.) A couple weeks ago I covered Casey Martin out of Arkansas as part of my super-high ceiling college players post, and Martin is an outrageously exciting athlete, with the single black mark of being sort of a terrible hitter. Well, what if you could take Martin’s athleticism slider and move it to the left, like, 10%, with the result being you could move the hitting slider over into actually being a pretty good hitter territory?

The result would be Anthony Servideo.

Now, to be fair, Servideo has had a pretty up and down college career as far as his offense goes. He’s always been a very patient hitter, not always an easy thing to be against the high level pitching of the SEC, but hadn’t really hit for much power in the past. This spring, though, Servideo burst out of the gate with an improved swing and an approach more geared toward hunting for pitches to damage. Impressively, he did so without his strikeout rate shooting up, and he actually walked 1.5 times as often as he struck out.

Servideo is an outstanding basestealer, having swiped 25 bases in 28 attempts in his college career, and he’s smart on the bases even when not trying to steal. He’s also an above-average shortstop with no questions about his long-term position, and has more than enough throwing arm and range to make any and all plays you could hope for.

To sum up, Anthony Servideo could be a plus on-base guy, a plus stolen base threat, have average power, and play an above-average shortstop long term. So what’s the catch?

Well, the catch is that we really don’t have a track record of Servideo being the kind of hitter he looked like this spring. He was absolutely terrible in the Cape Cod League last summer, leading to questions about his ability to hit with wood, and up until this very short spring season he had never really hit for much power even with metal bats. He’s not very big, so it’s an open question just how strong he really is, although certainly one has to take into account the fact he appeared to put in extra work in the weight room over the offseason and looked much more dynamic this spring.

This draft presents a remarkably tough job for scouting departments, and a player like Anthony Servideo really drives home that challenge. You have just shy of 90 plate appearances worth of a 1.200 OPS, when he drove the ball with authority and looked like an all-around crazy athlete. How much weight do you give that, compared to the previous two years when he looked like a slap-hitting shortstop with good, but not great, on-base skills? If this were a 27 year old we were talking about, you would write off the month in which he looked like a new player. At 20/21, though, it could be called development, rather than simple luck.

For my part, I’m pretty high on Servideo. I love the athleticism and the fact he has no questions about the position long term, and I’m buying into the improvements he made this spring. He’s not a first round pick by any means, simply because those 90 trips to the plate cannot be taken in isolation. But the Cardinals have three picks from number 54 to 70. If Servideo happened to be called in one of those spots, I would be thrilled to hear it.

via Wheels: