There’s now less than a month until the 2015 MLB draft, held June 8-10 in Secaucus, NJ. With the college season winding down, it’s time to take a look at some players who have helped their draft stock the most this spring with their performance and improvements to their game. Here are ten guys that I feel made the biggest jumps this spring:
Andrew Benintendi, OF, Arkansas
A good way to improve your draft stock is to put up a .514/.620/.931 slash line over a 21-game span late in the season. That is what Benintendi has done, and he has added 10 stolen bases, eight home runs and 18 walks to just three strikeouts during his recent incredible display of hitting. The 5’-11” right-hander could go in the top 15 due to his offensive potential and ability to stick in center field. Overall, he is hitting .405/.500/.763 through 49 games with 16 home runs, 20 stolen bases and 34 walks to just 25 strikeouts. Not bad for a kid who wasn’t on many top-100 lists prior to the season.
Jon Harris, RHP, Missouri State
Another player who was on the outside looking in on many top-50 draft prospect lists, Harris is now among the best arms in the 2015 MLB draft and could go as high as third overall to the Rockies. The 6’-3” right-hander has the ideal size you want in a frontline starter and he also has the stuff. He features a four-pitch mix headlined by a change-up that flashes plus and a 90-94 mph fastball with good command. Both his slider and curveball are solid offerings, and he keeps the ball down, having yet to allow a home run this spring. He now has a 2.08 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 99 K/29 BB over 82.1 innings. He has been especially dominant in his last two starts striking out 21 to just one walk over 15.2 innings, allowing one run on six hits.
Donnie Dewees, OF, North Florida
Through his first 10 games, Dewees was hitting .238/.289/.405 with one home run and a stolen base. He came into the spring on most people’s radar as he hit .340/.427/.473 at the Cape Cod League over the summer but wasn’t seen as a top-two rounds guy and wasn’t exactly wowing anyone early on. But then something clicked and Dewees has been on a blistering tear ever since. Over his last 40 games, he has hit .485/.552/.846 with 12 doubles, five triples, 13 home runs and 54 RBI. He has drawn 23 walks to just 11 strikeouts and has stolen 19 bases. The 6’-0” left-handed hitter may not have a stand out tool but he simply knows how to hit and has shown good power and speed this season. He is also solid in the outfield where he uses his instincts and above-average speed to make all the plays in center field. He seems like a lock for the second round and could go in the supplemental round.
Kevin Newman, SS, Arizona
Newman was in the 40-60 range by most entering the spring. Scouts knew he could hit, had average to above-average speed and had a good shot to stick at shortstop but they wanted to see him continue to prove it this season. Well, he has more than proved it and some think he could go in the first five picks. The 6’-1”, 185 pound right-hander has shown all the tools to stick at shortstop and, although he may not hit for much power, he has a mature approach at the plate, can hit the gaps and should hit for a high average. He also has shown improved wheels and some give him plus grades for his speed. Through 47 games, he is hitting .364/.422/.472 with 16 doubles, 18 stolen bases and 18 walks to just 11 strikeouts. The Derek Jeter comp has been thrown around lately and that ain’t a bad thing.
Tyler Jay, LHP, Illinois
Jay was widely known coming into the spring. The 6’-1” southpaw was touching the upper-90s with the Collegiate National Team and was a dominate closer for the Illini as a sophomore. He wasn’t considered a first-round pick by most, however, mostly because he was seen strictly as a bullpen arm. Even though he has primarily been the closer again this season, he has shown in a couple of stretched out appearances, including one start, that he has what it takes to be a starter at the next level. A very good one at that. Along with his plus fastball, he adds a plus curveball and a change-up that flashes plus. He has a 0.70 ERA, 0.62 WHIP and 57 K/4 BB over 51.1 innings, allowing just 28 hits. He could go top-10 if teams believe in his future as a starter. He should still go first round as a closer.
Carson Fulmer, RHP, Vanderbilt
Fulmer was already considered a first-round pick coming into the spring. There were a lot of questions that needed to be answered, however. Inserted into the starting rotation halfway through last season, scouts wanted to see how he would hold up over the course of an entire season. They also wanted to see continued improvement of his command and secondary offerings. He has done all of those things and, even though he will continue to draw concerns about his size (5’-11” 195), he has been a stud this season for the ‘Dores. He was especially brilliant in his last start against a potent Florida lineup, tossing a six-hit shutout, striking out 11 to two walks. It was the kind of start that could secure a pick for some GMs. Through 13 starts, he has a 1.56 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 118 K/33 BB over 86.2 innings. His 12.3 K/9 ranks near the top for starters.
Dillon Tate, RHP, UC Santa Barbara
Most thought Tate was going to be working out of the pen again this season, even though he had the best stuff of his staff. The 6’-3”, 200 pound right-hander put scouts on notice as a member of the Collegiate National Team where he was touching 98 mph while showing off a plus slider and easy delivery. His coaches came to their senses and inserted him into the rotation, and the rest is history as Tate has emerged as arguably the best arm in the 2015 MLB draft with a chance to go first overall. Through 12 starts, he has a 1.73 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 92 K/26 BB over 88.1 innings, allowing just 52 hits. His 7.36 innings-per-start shows he also has the stamina to be a frontline starter.
Harrison Bader, OF, Florida
Coming into this season, Bader hit a total of three home runs over 390 career at-bats as a Gator. He equaled that total just seven at-bats into this season and has been hitting the ball hard all season. The 6’-0” right-hander may not have a defined position, but he does have good speed, a solid approach and some good pop in his bat. He could go in the top three rounds and no one saw that coming into the spring. Through 49 games, he is hitting .306/.416/.585 with 13 doubles, 12 home runs and 28 walks to 37 strikeouts.
Andrew Stevenson, OF, LSU
The best defensive center fielder in the 2015 MLB draft, Stevenson is a human highlight reel, and his plus speed, instincts and athleticism make for some ridiculous, acrobatic plays. Scouts already knew that, however, and wanted to see more offense from him this season. After leading the Cape Cod League with 21 stolen bases over the summer, he has doubled his total from last season and is 18-for-23 for the Tigers. Through 47 games, the 6’-0” left-hander is hitting .348/.410/.467 with nine doubles, five triples, a home run and 16 walks to juts 19 strikeouts, showing improvement in his approach. He isn’t going to hit for a lot of power, but he makes good contact and can hit to all fields. His defense gives him a chance to be an everyday regular, and he could go in the second round.
David Thompson, 3B/OF, Miami (FL)
People have been waiting to see what a full and healthy season from Thompson would look like. 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. Even in high school at Westminster in Florida, in which he broke Alex Rodriguez’ single season (19) and career (55) home run records, he had to play through injuries that actually caused him to re-learn how to swing a bat. This season, he is finally healthy and has been making up for lost time by hurting every baseball thrown to him. Through 51 games, the 6’-2”, 220 pound right-hander is hitting .335/.439/.649 with 15 doubles, 14 home runs, 66 RBI and 34 walks to just 23 strikeouts. He has tremendous power, an advanced approach and a strong enough arm to hold down the hot corner, although many believe left field is his future. He shouldn’t make it out of the second round.
- Blake Hickman, RHP, Iowa
- Kevin Duchene, LHP, Illinois
- Rhett Wiseman, OF, Vanderbilt
- Scott Kingery, 2B, Arizona
- Paul DeJong, 3B/1B, Illinois State
Feel free to follow me on Twitter @DanMKirby for 2015 MLB draft updates, high school and college news, as well as Chicago Cubs ramblings.