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2018 MLB Draft: Second round highlights

It’s not as high profile, but stars can still arise.

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Miami Marlins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

In a now-ancient-history study in The Hardball Times, Alex Pandici analyzed WAR by round and player type for the MLB Draft circa 2010. We know for a fact that the first round is the more sure thing, and position players, especially college ones, generally yield more fruit than others. In this piece, let’s zero-in on the second round in particular:

“Second Round

College hitters– .773 WAR/year

High School hitters– .672 WAR/year

College pitchers– .087 WAR/year

High School pitchers– .084 WAR/year”

This is players between 1992 and 1999, and evaluates their first six seasons, so consider that a big grain of salt. The draft is noticeably more and more accurate over time as methods improve, so assume that it is in later periods (just an intuition).

This brings us to the 2018 second round in particular. At this point we know the stars of the draft—Casey Mize, Joey Bart, Alec Bohm, Brady Singer, and Nick Madrigal, for example, will all be under the microscope for the next half-decade at least. What you don’t hear about as much are the possible second-rounders, the lesser-heard names, yet they still produce possibly a few wins over the next six years! So, they matter!

Grayson Rodriguez | RHP | Central Heights HS TX

Rodriguez very well could land in the first round, but he’s here because signability issues could send him to the following round if a team wants to go under-slot in the first round. Rodriguez is a right-hander committed to Texas A&M, and FanGraphs’ BOARD lists him as a 45 Future Value.

Via FanGraphs:

“Rodriguez was up to 92 last summer but has been up to 98 mph regularly this spring after he dropped about 25 pounds during the offseason. His slider is above average to plus and he has four average or better offerings, along with the feel to start.”

Via Minor League Ball:

“Rodriguez has a big time fastball, touching 98 mph and sitting in the mid-90s, with BA calling it a potential 70 grade pitch and MLB Pipeline putting it at 65. Rodriguez also throws a slider and a curve, and has a change up that is behind those other pitches... [He is] someone who, like most high school pitchers, carries injury risk and needs work on his secondaries. There also has to be a certain amount of concern about his size, given the weight issues he has had in the past -- as an 18 year old, its fair to assume he’s likely to get bulkier as he gets older.”

Griffin Conine | RF | Duke

Yes, this is indeed the son of Jeff Conine. He made splashes in the Cape Cod League last year, and was given the award of top prospect in said league, leading his team, both Cape and at Duke, in all major offensive categories.

Via Bless You Boys:

“When Conine is at his best, he’s a well-rounded corner outfielder who will hit for average and power. He looked like one of the most polished college bats in America last summer... Conine should be a solid defender with an above-average arm in right field, but the bat is the carrying tool here. Conine has plus bat speed, along with the plus barrel control noted above... While he has been praised as a good athlete, Conine doesn’t run particularly well. MLB Pipeline graded his speed as a below-average (40) tool... Conine’s draft stock has plummeted not because of his speed, but because of serious concerns about his ability to make contact at the plate. He has fanned 57 times in 229 plate appearances this season, a 25 percent clip.”

Via FanGraphs:

“The son of Jeff Conine posts huge exit velos and performed well on the Cape last summer, but is out of sorts this spring, selling out for power and not making much contact.”

Via 2080 Baseball:

“Athletic right fielder with plus bat and power potential; good, sound approach at the plate from a slight open stance; good balance; plus bat speed with quick hands and quick wrists; plus barrel control, barrels up balls and projects as a plus hitter; present strength; loft and leverage to all fields, projects to plus power; below-average run; did not produce home-to-first run time; above-average arm strength (55) with good carry; average defensive actions; tools to be above-average major league regular contributor.”

Seth Beer | DH | Clemson

Not only does Beer have the best name in the upper rounds, he probably has the best bat, too. That’s the issue as well. Because he is being drafted as an essentially bat-only prospect, his slightly fallen stock over the past year has pushed him from what would have been top ten to something like a second round steal if a team believes he can hit.

Via Viva El Birdos:

“He’s a well-below-average runner, has no real business in the outfield, and adds nothing on the bases. He’s about as bat-only as a bat-only prospect can possibly be, and the fact that bat comes with questions attached has to give teams considering him in the first round pause. He does have a pretty good throwing arm, which I suppose qualifies as a non-bat tool he possesses. He has plus power potential, though admittedly not in quite the same class as the other two players featured here today. Beer gets to more of his power in game, though, which is, all things considered, better than hitting 450’+ batting practice bombs.”

Via 2080 Baseball:

“While he was able to double his season home run count in this one series, and no one questions his raw power, the bat speed and pitch-ID concerns expressed by evaluators last summer persist. So long as Beer continues to hit home runs and get on base, he should have a spot reserved for the first day of the draft. His shaky defensive play and too-frequent awkward cuts, however, could place a limit on his ascent up draft boards.”

J.T. Ginn | RHP | Brandon HS MS

He’s one of the better, but older, prep arms in the class, but the concern is most definitely command and developing a third pitch. Even if the risk is high, which is inherent for a pick like this, it doesn’t take much squinting to see a high-leverage reliever at worst and an ace at best.

Via Minor League Ball:

“He is able to crank his powerful heater up to 97 miles per hour, and it has good running action. It easily has the potential to reach double-plus status and is the bread and butter that it anchors his arsenal. The offering is able to incite ugly swings and plays well off his other deadly offering, his slider. Ginn’s slider is a weapon with sharp horizontal bite. The pitch has the potential to become plus and at times flashes better than plus. He struggles at times with control of his pitches, but when he is able to locate the slider, it is downright unfair. His command was on at the Perfect Game’s World Wood Bat Association Championship, and the competition was unable to touch him.”

Via FanGraphs:

“Ginn is very old for the class and doesn’t have an ideal projectable frame or quiet delivery, but he’ll flash two 70 pitches in his heater and sharp breaking ball, the former of which has been recorded in the high 90 this spring (and 100 mph on some guns).”

Jameson Hannah | OF | Dallas Baptist

Here is where you see a precipitous drop-off from the flashy tools of above to more mid-second round players. Hannah has decent base running and defensive abilities, but the bat’s potential to carry power and average has a long way to go.

Via 2080 Baseball:

“Hannah has potential to develop into a plus power/speed talent, though there is still work to be done with respect to his approach at the plate. He has a high foundational value thanks to his glove and base running, giving his offensive profile some time to gel.”

Via Twins Daily:

“Keeping up with the trend of undersized position players so far, Jameson Hannah fits that mold as well. A few years older, than Alek Thomas, Hannah has developed into the kind of player at Dallas Baptist that you would hope Thomas becomes as he ages. Hannah doesn’t have the power to hit the ball out of the park with any regularity (just 3 HR in 45 games this season) but he does have enough power and speed to be a good doubles hitter. Hannah also has plus contact ability along with a patient eye at the plate that helps him draw his share of walks without striking out much. So far this season, Hannah has drawn 29 walks while only striking out 29 times.”

Mike Siani | CF | William Penn Charter

Here’s another player whose landing spot in the draft is in question. A high school prep bat in a cold weather area is a traditionally overlooked and under-scouted area, so this could be a deal in the first round; or, like with Rodriguez, he could go in the second as a combination move with an under-slot first round. Siani already looks to have a more low-risk offensive profile than most high school bats, and he has the arm, speed, and base running abilities you look for in a budding outfielder.

Via FanGraphs:

“Siani’s baseball instincts, especially his feel for contact, are advanced for a cold-weather prospect. His speed enables him to profile comfortably in center field, and he’s probably going to hit for whatever power he grows into because the bat control is already in place and his swing has natural loft.”

Via River Avenue Blues:

“At 6-foot-1 and 180 lbs., Siani looks the part of a future big leaguer, and right now he stands out most for his center field defense. He’s a great athlete with above-average speed, and his outfield instincts allow that speed to play up in center. Add in a very strong arm — Siani has been up to 94 mph off the mound — and you’ve got a no-doubt long-term center fielder and potential Gold Glover. At the plate, the left-handed swinging Siani has good power, but mostly employs a slash-and-dash approach that allows him to use his speed. Once he reaches base, he’s a threat to steal as well. Siani has performed well against elite competition during showcase events, though he has not faced great competition as an amateur overall. It’s worth noting Siani has drawn praise for his worth ethic and high energy play.”