Scouting The Stat Line: 2015 Draftees, Part Three
Because I’m a man of the people, I began a series speculating on 2015 draftees two weeks ago. The guessing is tolerable on first rounders with solid scouting reports to back up statistical performance, it tends towards irresponsibility when discussing 2nd-4th rounders, and reaches full-on dart throw mode today, as I discuss a few more Day Two selections before moving on to lottery tickets.
Paul DeJong, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals (4th Round, 131st Overall)
DeJong was a standout at Illinois State and he garnered first-team all-conference honors for the second straight year, in large part because of his MVC-leading 15 home runs. In case you’re not familiar, the Missouri Valley is a solid conference, with Dallas Baptist and Bradley both making the NCAA tournament while Missouri State made the Super Regionals. After ten games in the Appalachian League, where DeJong hit an absurd .486/.578/.973, the Cardinals moved him up to the Midwest League and he’s continued to flourish. DeJong is slashing .308/.400/.462 in Peoria and though his 180 plate appearances aren’t enough to qualify, his 154 wRC+ would rank fourth in the league. DeJong has played exclusively at third base as a professional but was a utility guy in college, taking a turn at second, third, short, catcher, and outfield. The Cardinals, man.
Drew Jackson, SS, Seattle Mariners (5th Round, 155th Overall)
Jackson has 40 steals in 49 Northwest League games. That is not a typo. He was pretty bad his first two years at Stanford but broke out in his junior season, adding more than 300 points to his OPS, year-over-year. Low minors stolen base totals should always be taken with a grain of salt and Jackson swiped a total of 21 bags in three college seasons and two summers on the Cape, so it’s a little difficult to decipher what this performance means. He’ll likely be a near zero in the power department but Jackson is showing a solid approach, walking nearly as much as he’s gone down on strikes. There may be impact speed from a shallow position here, provided he can hit enough to play.
Austin Byler, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks (11th round, 316th Overall)
Ready to get excited about a first baseman taken in the eleventh round? By the Diamondbacks brain trust? Easy knocks aside, Byler looks like a solid pick this late. His big junior season shows up all over the Mountain West leaderboard, as Byler finished in the top five in runs, doubles, homers, RBI, walks, hit by pitch, strikeouts, OBP, and slugging. The biggest improvement was his walk rate, which nearly doubled from his junior season. Besides residing on the bottom rung of the defensive spectrum, it’s not clear why Byler was available in the eleventh round, as he was well-regarded by Baseball America (ranked 115th), Kiley McDaniel (132nd) and MLB.com (199th). It wasn’t a signability issue since he had no leverage as a senior and ultimately inked for $85,000 but whatever the case, Byler is torching the Pioneer League. He’s hit a whopping 13 long balls in 51 games as part of a .316/.449/.690 line.
LeDarious Clark, OF, Texas Rangers (12th Round, 348th Overall)
Clark comes from West Florida Junior College by way of East Mississippi Community College, so suffice it to say he doesn’t have much track record against strong competition. What the former football standout lacks in meaningful experience, he makes up for in tools, including 70+ grade speed and surprising pop from a guy that stands 5’10”. His 23 stolen bases are 4th best in the Northwest League and go well with his eight home runs and .293/.369/.502 triple-slash. Clark is striking out 22.9 percent of the time, underscoring how raw he is and how far he has to go before you can reasonably project him to succeed against quality competition, but this is a nice start. Clark’s premium athleticism is something I covet, and I’ll be keeping a close eye on his progress. The Rangers aren’t exactly bad at developing outfielders.
Logan Hill, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates (25th Round, 757th Overall)
Like Clark, Hill began his post-high school career at a Florida community college but unlike Clark, Hill played one year of Division 1 ball. He was impressive at Troy, finishing sixth in the Sun Belt conference in OPS and adding 13 steals. Acknowledging I have nothing in the way of scouting on this guy, I’ll assume he’s a good athlete since he’s listed at a hulking 6’3″/230 pounds and can add value on the basepaths. As a professional, Hill has been the best hitter in the New York-Penn League, statistically speaking. His 174 wRC+ is tops in the league and he’s stolen ten bases. There were four Logans among the Baseball America top 500 draft eligible prospects and none of them was Logan Hill. Whoops.
Some quick hitters:
Patrick Mazeika, C, New York Mets (8th Round, 239th Overall)
Mazeika hails from Stetson University, which you may know as the place where Jake deGrom and Corey Kluber attended college. Mazeika is a catcher but has seen time at first base and DH too, no doubt because the Mets want his bat in the lineup as often as possible. His .461 wOBA leads the Appalachian League. If he can stick behind the plate (and I have no idea if he can), it will obviously be a big lift for his dynasty value.
LaMonte Wade, OF, Minnesota Twins (9th Round, 260th Overall)
Wade’s .428 wOBA comes in right behind Mazeika on the Appy leaderboard. A three-year player at Maryland who took a big step forward in his junior season – one could argue because of the worse competition after Maryland moved from the ACC to the Big Ten – Wade has always walked more than he strikes out and is doing the same as a professional, while showing off a nice power-speed combination (8 home runs, 7 steals).
Mylz Jones, SS, Colorado Rockies (13th Round, 377th Overall)
Besydz being a shortstop in the Rockyz organization, there’s not much in Jones’ track record to suggest he’ll be a valuable big leaguer. He got worse every year at Cal State Bakersfield but if he has a breakout year in one of the Colorado system’s many favorable parks, remember you heard about him here fyrzt.
Trey Amburgey, OF, New York Yankees (13th Round, 393rd Overall)
Another JUCO guy, Amburgey stole 32 bases in 47 games at St. Petersburg College last season. He posted a solid 13.3 percent strikeout rate with 14 steals in 36 GCL games before getting bumped up to the NYPL and has a .355/.424/.493 triple-slash across the two levels.