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2021 Draft Preview No. 12: Persons of Interest Two, Baker’s Dozen Edition

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Trying to round up as many names as possible at the last minute, in miniature report form.

St Louis Cardinals v San Francisco Giants Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Okay, folks, down to the wire now, and what I’m doing here now is presenting scouting reports in literal rapid-fire fashion (no, seriously, I mean it this time), in order to get as many of the players I really wanted to cover but didn’t get around to writing up before now taken care of. On Sunday morning I will have up my final preview-slash-draft board for my imaginary Cardinals at eighteen, as well as some odds and ends about various subjects I haven’t yet gotten around to.

Let’s get right into it, shall we?

Dylan Dodd, LHP, Southeast Missouri

6’3”, 210 lbs; Left/Left

SWSGATG?

An older prospect at 23 years old, Dodd spent two years at an Illinois Juco before transferring to SEMO, where he has steadily improved over three years. (Well, two and a half, you understand.) Cut from the Marco Gonzales mold, Dodd’s best pitch is a tumbling low-80s changeup he’ll throw in pretty much any count, in or out of the strike zone. It’s at least a 60 pitch, maybe better. His fastball is also pretty good, with low-90s velocity and above-average life up in the zone, allowing him to get swings and misses from the belt to the letters pretty consistently. Also like Gonzales, he lacks a really reliable breaking pitch, throwing both a slider and a curve, neither of which is even average yet. He does have a starter’s build, starter’s mechanics, and remarkable control, all of which should help keep him in a rotation down the road. The challenge for whatever team drafts him will be to improve one of his breakers, probably the curveball, enough to give him a third weapon with which to attack hitters. He should go in the fifth or sixth round, could represent a bonus savings as an older prospect, and could be a steal. Feels like the Cardinals should be on this guy in their own backyard.

via MARK Dodd:

Dominic Hamel, RHP, Dallas Baptist

6’2”, 205 lbs; Right/Right

SWSGATG?

Another slightly older prospect who spent time at a Juco before transferring to DBU, Hamel might sneak into the top 100 picks this year, largely based on the strength of his measurables and ability to rack up strikeouts. He flashes elite-level spin rates on all his pitches, starting with a 92-94 mph fastball that hitters just can’t do much with when he locates it up. He throws both a curveball and slider and both are good, though occasionally he struggles to keep them separate. Again, both have well above-average spin, and his total package of stuff led to 136 strikeouts in just over 90 innings this spring pitching for the Patriots. His changeup is below average, and his command tends to come and go. I like him best long-term as a swiss army knife relief type, and could be a nice pick at 90 if you wanted both an intriguing arm and a little bit of bonus savings.

Braden Olthoff, RHP, Tulane

6’4”, 228 lbs; Right/Right

SWSGATG?

Stop me if you’ve heard this one, but Braden Olthoff spent two years at a Juco before heading off to Tulane, where he dominated in the abbreviated 2020 season, then continued to pitch well this spring, if not quite up to his standards of a year ago. Olthoff is all about funk on the mound, from his delivery to his stuff to his demeanor. He’s an extreme short-strider, staying very upright on the mound and using his height and high arm slot to create tough angle on all his pitches. He has below-average velocity on his fastball, sitting in the 89-90 range, but it has good plane and movement, keeping the pitch off barrels pretty effectively. He throws both a slider and curve, and which one prefers might depend which day you saw Olthoff pitch. The real jewel of his repertoire is his changeup, an easy plus offering that just disappears at the plate. He sells it with perfect arm speed, and the bottom just goes to hell at the end. Fifth round feels about right for Olthoff, and while the lower velocity is a little bit of a concern in terms of hittability, I think he has the control, feel, and smarts for pitching to succeed.

via Tanner Olthoff:

Doug Nikhazy, LHP, Mississippi

6’0”, 205 lbs; Left/Left

SWSGATG?

Undersized (a bit), and overlooked (a lot), Doug Nikhazy is one of my favourite pitching targets at either 54 or 70. He struck out 142 batters in 92 innings this spring, the result of plus stuff, plus command, and a strong measure of deception in his delivery. He works from a very high arm slot but also throws slightly across his body, closing down his front side and creating a very difficult angle to the plate. Hitters don’t pick up on his fastball, an 89-92 four-seamer with natural cut to it that he can work to all quadrants of the plate. He throws an above-average curveball with big waterfall break and a shorter slider that is almost a cutter, as well as an average changeup that he doesn’t locate as well as his other pitches but does sell with good arm speed. There’s a little Cliff Lee in Nikhazy’s delivery and fastball, and I think the team that nabs him in the secondish round is going to be very happy with the result.

via James Weisser:

Tyler McDonough, OF, North Carolina State

5’10”, 185 lbs; Switch/Right

SWSGATG?

McDonough has had some helium this spring, the result of his offensive profile steadily improving over three years at NC State. He’s always had a natural ability to put the bat on the ball, but he started to hit for more power before last spring’s shutdown, and he upped that ante in a big way this spring, socking fifteen dingers and 21 doubles in just 267 plate appearances. He’s a good hitter from both sides of the plate and is capable of doing damage either way, though his left-handed swing has a little more natural loft. He’s an above-average runner and solid center fielder, as well, giving him a chance at an above-average all-around game that could end up giving him a very substantial ceiling. He’s also played a little second and third base at times, meaning there could be a very intriguing super-utility package to be had here as well, sort of an Austin Martin lite.

via Prospects Live:

Richard Fitts, RHP, Auburn

6’3”, 215 lbs; Right/Right

SWSGATG?

I really have no idea what happened to Richard Fitts this season. He came into the spring with mid-first round buzz, and then just tanked his draft stock through a combination of time missed due to injury and flat-out poor pitching. He does still have a fastball that sits 93-96 and a sometimes-plus changeup that drops like a splitter, not to mention a decent slider that still needs work, so he has shown solid to plus stuff in the past. It’s not a bad delivery, and the injury was a foot issue, so not anything that should be a long-term concern. His performance, though, is, as well as the fact he just didn’t really look all that interested in pitching for a guy who you would think should be trying to maximise his payday. A team might still gamble on him in the first four or five rounds, but he could also head back to Auburn and try to turn things around in 2022.

Lonnie White, Jr., OF, Malvern Prep (PA)

6’3”, 210 lbs; Right/Right

SWSGATG?

Lonnie White is a capital-a Athlete, one who played three sports in high school and is committed to play both baseball and football at Penn State this fall. He’s a wide receiver, and runs like one, with plus-plus speed that allows him to cover vast chunks of territory in center field. He might lose a step as he continues to fill out, but even if he does he should still stick in center, and potentially be a plus fielder there. He also has a mechanically sound swing and big-time power potential, though so far he has shown some definite swing and miss tendencies, not surprising for a hitter whose attention has been so divided. If things come together for White he could have one of the higher ceilings of any hitter in the draft this year, with plus power, plus or better speed, and plus defense at a premium position all on the table. The questions are whether a team could sign him away from Penn State, and how much his hit tool improves once (or if), he focuses on baseball exclusively.

via Baseball America:

Tyler Black, 2B, Wright State

6’2”, 190 lbs; Left/Right

SWSGATG?

You know what’s a pain in the ass? Finding information on a baseball prospect when they happen to share a name with a rather famous professional wrestler. You know who’s good enough I just bit back my frustration every time I got a Seth Rollins result in a search? Tyler Black the former hockey prospect turned very good college hitting prospect. He’s Canadian, and so of course played hockey, and he looks like a guy who should be slamming somebody into the boards. I mean that in the nicest way possible, of course. Black also happens to be one of the most productive college bats in the nation, having posted an 1.179 OPS this spring for Wright State, a program that is starting to make a reputation for itself as a hot spot for sluggers. Black hit thirteen home runs and added fourteen doubles in 233 PAs this spring, while also putting up a 39:25 walk to strikeout ratio, and no I don’t have those reversed. He’s a flat-out fantastic hitter, would fit well at slot 54 if he makes it that far, and I’m a big fan. (Again, I really wish the Cardinals would trade for one of those draft slots in the early- to mid-30s.) He plays a solid second base, as well, with the only real concern being a previous shoulder injury that required surgery and has left him with a below-average arm.

via R McElhaney:

Max Debiec, RHP, O’Dea HS (WA)

6’6”, 190 lbs; Right/Right

SWSGATG?

If you like Chase Petty, but would maybe like to find an offbrand equivalent you wouldn’t have to spend a first round pick on, I just might have the guy for you. His name is Max Debiec, and while he doesn’t have the hype of Petty, he does have a better pitcher’s frame, one that allows him easier extension, already-solid velocity with hints there is way more in the tank, and a similar low arm slot delivery that gives his pitches plenty of movement. Debiec mostly works 91-94 mph with both his fastballs, two- and four-seam varieties, but he also threw a couple of 97s with the four-seamer on the showcase circuit last summer. Adrenaline and excitement to show his stuff certainly explain some of that velocity spike, but the fact also is that he did it, and once he starts to really fill out it’s a good bet he’ll do more of that. He throws both a curve and slider, also, with the curve the better of the two pitches, which is slightly surprising given his arm slot. It’s got great shape and spin, but could use a little more oomph from Debiec, who backs off both his breakers a bit more than is ideal. I have seen a few changeups, and, um, I mean, they’re changeups. He’s in high school and already throws four pitches. Give the kid a break.

via 2080 Baseball:

Carter Holton, LHP, Benedictine Military (GA)

5’11”, 195 lbs; Left/Left

SWSGATG?

One of the more precocious pitching talents in this year’s draft, Carter Holton is a Vanderbilt commit, which means he may very well be a tough sign, but could also be worth pushing some extra into the pile for. He’s an undersized but strong lefty with four present above-average pitches, all of which have, somewhat strangely, below-average spin rates. He gets tremendous movement without tremendous spin, one of those mysteries that physicists and rhapsodo technicians could explain, I’m sure, but which I find slightly baffling. Regardless, Holton has a very good delivery with an ultra-aggressive stepover, a pair of fastballs he can work up or down anywhere from 90-96 mph, and three distinct offspeed pitches he throws with impressive conviction for an eighteen year old kid. His slider, curve, and changeup are all strong offerings, with my personal favourite being the change, and Holton has surprising feel already for mixing and matching his pitches. His draft stock has always seemed lower than it should be to me, which I can only reasonably attribute to his modest stature. This kid can flat out pitch, though.

via Prospects Live:

Mack Anglin, RHP, Clemson

6’4”, 220 lbs; Right/Right

SWSGATG?

A little over a decade now, the Cardinals drafted a right-handed pitcher out of Arizona State named Seth Blair. Blair was an enigma; he had a mid-90s fastball, two plus breaking ball, and he was not a good pitcher. One of those facts is not like the others. His control was not great, even in college, but it disintegrated completely in the minors and he was released in 2014. He actually made a comeback in 2019, and is currently pitching at Double A for the Red Sox. Nice enough story.

Now, Mack Anglin. Mack Anglin can touch 98 with his fastball, throws two breaking balls that both look like whiffle balls, and is...kind of not a great pitcher. He’s also draft eligible as a second-year sophomore, so he could very well be a tough sign. What Anglin brings to the table is absolutely incredible arm speed, which allows him not only to throw hard, but to spin the ball like very few other pitchers in this draft class. The analytics love all his pitches, while the stat line thinks he still needs some work. His delivery definitely needs refinement and probably some toning down, and he’ll have to improve his control and command significantly to have a chance at a long-term rotation spot. A relief path would be easier to see, but also would feel like a bit of a wasted opportunity, the way Trevor Rosenthal always felt like a starter left to wither on the vine a bit, even as a closer. Anglin will, I think, head back to campus for 2022, his junior/sophomore season, and try to pitch his way into the earlier rounds of the draft next summer. But, a team that really loves his measurables and believes in their pitching development staff could also jump the line and take him early enough this year (or offer him a big enough bonus), to woo him away from a third year at Clemson.

Chad Dallas, RHP, Tennessee

5’11”, 205 lbs; Right/Right

SWSGATG?

Dallas is another pitcher with big stuff and a less than ideal frame whose future will likely hinge on how willing a team is to overlook the one in favour of the other. A former Juco transfer, Dallas took over the top spot in the Vols’ rotation this spring, throwing over 100 innings while putting together some pretty eye-popping peripherals. Dallas can push his fastball up to 97, but more often sits in the 93-94 range, with a little bit of ride to the pitch. The offering that really defines his game, though, is a mid-80s cutter that overmatches right-handed hitters and can even bust lefties inside effectively, although Dallas struggles to locate the cutter to opposite-handed hitters nearly as well. He also throws an average or maybe a touch above curveball with good, tight spin, but really struggles to find a solution to his platoon issues. His changeup is not very good and would need to improve markedly if he were to remain a starter in pro ball. For my money, Dallas looks like a late-inning reliever, complete with goggles, one who would need some judicious deployment to avoid overexposure to left-handed hitters. The other option, of course, would be for a player development staff to really drill down on his lefty problem and try to fix it, but that’s not guaranteed to work. (Dallas is the pitcher giving up that home run to Tyler Black up above, in case you’re wondering what it looks like when he faces a really good left-handed hitter.) If I were the team drafting him, Dallas would be an ideal candidate to have someone, maybe a Hall of Fame former closer who hangs around spring training all the time, teach him a splitter.

JT Schwartz, 1B, UCLA

6’4”, 215 lbs; Left/Right

SWSGATG?

JT Schwartz is draft-eligible as a redshirt sophomore, but I doubt he would want to return to UCLA and try to enhance his draft stock at the risk of losing what leverage he currently has. Schwartz is seen in the scouting community as a bit of an odd duck, as a big, physically strong-looking first baseman who simply doesn’t hit for that much power. I personally say that’s nonsense, and anyone capable of looking at anything other than the line that says ‘HR’ next to it should know better. Schwartz has some of the best on-base skills in college baseball, with a 17.3% walk rate this spring and a .514(!) OBP. His overall line for the season was .396/.514/.628, good for an 1.142 OPS in the Pac-12, but I still hear a lot of chatter that he only hit eight homers in 214 trips to the plate this year, and that’s with metal bats. I understand the concern, to a point, but he also knocked twelve doubles, posted an ISO of .232, and again, got on base over half the time he came to bat. It’s worth noting Jackie Robinson Field, where UCLA plays their home games, is a fairly hitter-friendly park, so those power concerns absolutely should be taken into consideration. But also, JT Schwartz might be Brandon Belt (or Matt Carpenter), and that would seem to very much be worth a fourth- or fifth-round pick.

via Baseball.:

That’s a lot of players, and I’m tired. And I still didn’t get to Patrick Wicklander, or Colson Montgomery, or Carter Jensen, or Steven Hajjar, or Seth Stephenson, or...

There are too many baseball players. That’s the only answer that makes sense.