Another week in the books, another week closer to the 2015 MLB draft. This week I focus on a couple of catchers, two Wildcats and a whole bunch of power bats, including a red-shirt sophomore who has been scorching this season. There are, however, no pitchers this week. Here are 10 players who have impressed as of late:
Chris Shaw, OF/1B, Boston College
Shaw continues to obliterate the baseball. He is currently riding a 14-game hit streak in which he has gone 27-for-53 (.509) with six doubles, seven home runs and 22 RBI. The 6’-3”, 235 pound left-handed hitter is now hitting .339/.434/.696 over 31 games with eight doubles, 11 home runs and 17 walks to 22 strikeouts. He came into this season with a lot of expectations and has delivered. I have him going in the first round of my latest mock draft and his stock continues to soar even if he ends up at first base.
Matt Rose, 3B, Georgia State
Rose has gone 9-for-16 (.563) over his last five games and is now hitting .315/.426/.658 through 30 games with nine doubles, nine home runs and 19 walks to 23 strikeouts. The 6’-4”, 200 pound right-hander drew 17 walks over 52 games last season and has already surpassed that total this year, showing a much more patient approach at the plate. He also pitches but has more upside as a hitter where his plus arm and power potential would play well at the hot corner. His stock continues to rise.
Korey Dunbar, C, North Carolina
Always known for his defensive work behind the plate, Dunbar is starting to show the offensive potential that made him a top recruit out of Nitro HS in West Virginia. Through 32 games, the 6’-0”, 215 pound right-hander is hitting .330/.382/.574 with nine doubles, four home runs and leads the Tar Heels in most offensive categories. Dunbar has a quick release, an accurate arm and shows all the actions to stick behind the plate. After hitting just .238/.333/.326 as a sophomore, Dunbar’s stock is rising as fast as his batting average — hey-o!
Taylor Ward, C, Fresno State
In a class weak on catchers, Ward has a chance to slip into the first round as his bat is showing some serious potential this season. Through 33 games, the 6’-1” right-hander is hitting .322/.449/.602 with 11 doubles, six home runs and has drawn 24 walks to just 18 strikeouts. His raw power and advanced approach would be a major asset if teams believe he can stick behind the plate. With one of the strongest arms in this draft, and also being a very good athlete, he could easily hold down a corner outfield spot as well, but a first round selection would mean a team believes in his receiving skills.
David Thompson, 3B, Miami (FL)
Thompson has had his share of injuries throughout his career. He enjoyed a standout prep career at Westminster HS in Florida in which he broke Alex Rodriguez’ single season (19) and career (55) home run records despite playing through injuries that actually caused him to re-learn how to swing a bat. Last season, he had blood clots in his arm that forced him to have surgery and miss about half of the season. The surgery also required a rib to be taken out. Fully healthy this season, the 6’-2”, 220 pound right-hander is having a breakout season for the ‘Canes, hitting .344/.433/.649 with nine doubles, nine home runs and showing a great approach at the plate by drawing 20 walks to just 14 strikeouts. He’s a sound defender with a strong arm and the bat is finally here.
Brandon Lowe, 2B, Maryland
After hitting .348/.464/.464 with 12 doubles and one home run as a freshman, many were hoping to see a spike in power from the 5′-10″, 180 pound left-handed hitter. He already showed the ability to hit for a high average by spraying the ball to all fields, as well as a mature approach by drawing 34 walks to just 20 strikeouts over 54 games. The new baseball may be helping skew a lot of offensive numbers this season but Lowe has definitely upped his power game while maintaining his approach. Through 31 games, he is hitting .385/.490/.697 with 10 doubles, eight home runs and has drawn 20 walks to 13 strikeouts. He has the tools to stick at second base but his bat is what is sending his stock soaring.
Scott Kingery, 2B, Arizona
Kingery has been a hitting machine this season, especially of late. Over his last seven games, he has gone 19-for-30 (.633) with three doubles, two triples, three home runs and three stolen bases. For the season, the 5’-11” right-hander is now hitting an absurd .477 and leads the nation with 63 hits over 30 games. He adds a 1.237 OPS and has struck out just 10 times. As a sophomore, he hit .354 with a .456 OBP through 54 games, playing mostly in the outfield. He’s playing second base this season and shows good actions there. He’s a spray hitter with good pop and although he is aggressive at the plate, he doesn’t miss too many pitches.
Zander Wiel, 1B, Vanderbilt
Dansby Swanson, Walker Buehler, Rhett Wiseman and Carson Fulmer get all of the attention when talking about 2015 MLB draft prospects from Vanderbilt, but Wiel is having one hell of a season and is getting looks from every scout out there as they flock to see everyone else. The 6’-3”, 225 pound right-hander is hitting .363/.465/.597 through 34 games with nine doubles, six home runs and 22 walks to 23 strikeouts. He’s a good athlete and a very good defender at first. He has a good approach and the type of power to hold down first base. At 22 years of age, there isn’t much projection left, however, and what you see is what you get. He could be a steal in the middle rounds of the 2015 MLB draft.
Austin Byler, 1B, Nevada
Byler is a senior with a terrific hitting track record. A ninth-round pick by the Nationals last year, the 6’-3”, 225 pound left-handed hitter returned to improve his draft stock. The decision looks smart as he is hitting .345/.543/.727 through 33 games with 14 doubles, eight home runs and is third in the nation in walks with 37. He has tremendous power potential and can rake to all fields. Relatively new to first base, he shows all of the actions of a plus defender down the road and he is a good athlete who can steal some bases if you sleep on him.
Kevin Newman, SS, Arizona
The second Wildcat on this list, Newman has a legit shot to stick at shortstop in a pretty good class for the position. Defensively, he has soft hands and has excellent range with a strong enough arm. He projects to a top of the order hitter with good speed and an advanced approach. While he may not hit many home runs, he can hit the gaps and turn singles into doubles. Through 31 games, the right-hander is hitting .403/.453/.496 with 12 doubles, 12 stolen bases and has only struck out eight times.
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