2018 MLB Draft: Day 2 Notes

Nathan Rode
National Supervisor

At the end of Monday night of the 2018 MLB Draft, a host of top prospects were left on the board, leading to the anticipation of who might be picked early in Tuesday’s action after late night and early morning negotiations. In 2017, the Twins kicked the second day off with RHP Blayne Enlow (St. Amant HS, LA). There were nine high school prospects taken in the third round last year, including six of the first seven picks. This year, while there were eight high schoolers taken, the third round started out with nine straight college picks before the Blue Jays took RHP Adam Kloffenstein (Magnolia HS, TX). Interestingly, that gave them a pair of teammates as they took SS Jordan Groshans (Magnolia HS, TX) in the first round.

As bonus slots decrease and teams shift to taking deeply discounted players, the chance of high school guys falling and getting to their college commitment increases. The Cincinnati Reds arguably pulled off one of the biggest surprises, popping OF Mike Siani (Penn Charter School, PA) in the fourth round. Virginia recruits are tough signs in the first place, much less when they’re not taken in the top two or three rounds. Siani is a premium defender with a plus arm and left-handed power. Getting him in the fourth round is a steal.

The Minnesota Twins got a steal of their own with Charlie Mack (Williamsville East HS, NY) in the sixth round. They announced him as a third baseman, though second base and even catcher are potential positions for him. But that hardly matters as he’s one of the better pure hitters in the class and has tremendous strength in his left-handed swing.

In the ninth round, the Philadelphia Phillies landed a high school pitcher with excellent upside in RHP Dominic Pipkin (Pinole Valley HS, CA). A California recruit, Pipkin was inconsistent this spring, but he can run his fastball into the mid 90s while flashing a cutter/slider and feel for a changeup.

With 10 rounds in the books, here are a few drafts that have stood out…

ARIZONA: The Diamondbacks took SS Matt McLain (Beckman HS, CA) in the first round. He fit more as a second or third round prospect, but when things got to the second round, Arizona took OF Alek Thomas (Mount Carmel HS, IL), who could have snuck into the back of the first round. They also got OF Jake McCarthy (Virginia) in the Competitive Balance Round A, who could have gone higher if he hadn’t missed most of the season with a wrist injury.

CINCINNATI: The Reds got one of the nation’s best hitters in 3B Jonathan India (Florida) at fifth overall and then balanced their draft portfolio with a mix of high school and college picks. They took RHP Lyon Richardson (Jensen Beach HS, FL), who has an electric arm, in the second round and then one of the top Division II prospects in RHP Josiah Gray (Le Moyne College) in Competitive Balance Round B. In the third round, they got an athletic power hitter in Bren Spillane (Illinois). And, as mentioned above, they got a fourth-round steal in Siani.

CLEVELAND: I mentioned after Monday the Indians’ picks and they added another interesting one SS Raynel Delgado (Calvary Christian Academy, FL). Delgado can hit for average and power from both sides of the plate and has the versatility to play all over the field.

KANSAS CITY: The Royals loaded up on college arms on the first day with their first five picks and added two top 100 college hitters in OFs Kyle Isbel (Nevada-Las Vegas) and Eric Cole (Arkansas), giving them seven PBR Draft Board prospects in the top 10 rounds.

TAMPA BAY: With five picks on the first day and the second-largest bonus pool, it’d be hard not to take notice of the Rays. But they have done well to strike some balance in their draft while also snagging a couple prospects that really shouldn’t have gotten to them. They got the No. 3 prospect, LHP Matt Liberatore (Mountain Ridge HS, AZ), with the 16th pick, and the No. 17 prospect, LHP Shane McClanahan (South Florida), at 31st overall. After that, they mixed in an offensive high school outfielder in Nick Schnell (Roncalli HS, IN). All five of their picks on the first day were in the top 50 of the PBR Draft Board. They picked up four more top 200 prospects on Tuesday, reeling in OF Grant Witherspoon (Tulane), SS Ford Proctor (Rice), RHP Nick Lee (Louisiana-Lafayette) and RHP Taj Bradley (Redan HS, GA).

Recruiting Ramifications

College recruiters really sweat the first two days of the draft. In the slotting era (2012-present), 98 percent of players picked in the top 10 rounds have signed. So, any high schoolers taken are unlikely to make it to campus. Arizona lost Liberatore and 3B Nolan Gorman (O’Connor HS, AZ), but that hardly came as a shock. Mississippi probably expected to lose OF Joe Gray (Hattiesburg HS, MS) all along, but RHP Gunnar Hoglund (Fivay HS, FL) making the jump he did surely stings. Mississippi State is currently enjoying an unexpected trip to Super Regionals, but lost a chunk of it’s recruiting class to the draft. RHP Cole Winn (Orange Lutheran HS, CA) had de-committed and switched to Texas Christian, but the Bulldogs also saw RHP Carter Stewart (Eau Gallie HS, FL), RHP J.T. Ginn (Brandon HS, MS) and SS Jeremiah Jackson (St. Luke’s Episcopal HS, AL) get picked on the first day, plus RHP/OF Regi Grace (Madison Central HS, MS) on the second.

South Carolina’s future pitching staff took a hit with RHP Owen White (Jesse Carson HS, NC) and Bradley going in the top 10 rounds. Texas A&M was also crushed as they stand to lose RHP Grayson Rodriguez (Central Heights HS, TX), C Noah Naylor (St. Joan of Arc SS, ON) and RHP Mason Englert (Forney HS, TX).

Florida and Vanderbilt both had five recruits taken early, but don’t expect anyone to feel bad for them. The depth of their recruiting classes should easily make up for what is lost.

Florida State, Louisiana State and Louisville, on the other hand, are probably feeling pretty good. The Seminoles probably didn’t expect to get SS Nander De Sedas (Montverde Academy, FL) after last summer, but could get him now after he fell past the 10th round. Barring a discount deal early on the third day, he and 3B Brandon Howlett (George Jenkins HS, FL) will also make it to Tallahassee. Louisiana State never really fully counted on getting SS Brice Turang (Santiago HS, CA), but there was a chance the Tigers could have been decimated in the first two days. Instead, they only saw two recruits—Turang and RHP Levi Kelly (IMG Academy, FL)—get picked in the top 10 rounds. Louisville won’t get OF Jarred Kelenic (Waukesha West HS, WI) or Schnell, but RHP Kerry Wright (Montverde Academy, FL), 2B Jared Poland (Cathedral HS, IN) and RHP Jack Perkins (Kokomo HS, IN) have yet to be picked.

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