MLB Draft Report: New Top 10 targets for White Sox

We are just under two months away from the Major League Baseball draft. This is also the halfway point of the college baseball season, and the most significant high school baseball tournament took place last weekend in North Carolina. There is enough game data to sit down and sort out who the top prospects are but also understand that a lot can still change in the next two months. Especially on the college level as we are approaching big conference matchups later in April.

This makes it a good opportunity to formulate a mini-draft board of who would be the Top 10 prospects at this moment.

1. Casey Mize, RHP – Auburn University

I wrote about Mize last week and sat down with 2080’s Burke Granger to discuss his scouting report. In his past three starts against #6 Texas A&M, #8 Kentucky, and #24 Missouri, Mize has thrown 21.2 IP allowing 15 hits, five earned runs, with 32 strikeouts and zero walks. Mize has been a model of consistent excellence both in quality of his stuff but demonstrating he’s healthy enough to pitch at least seven innings per start in the SEC. A grip change in his slider has eased tightness in his forearm without impacting the pitch quality.

2. Matthew Liberatore, LHP – Mountain Ridge High School (AZ)

A big question of late regarding Matthew Liberatore is maintaining his fastball velocity. Some have said that Liberatore is reaching 97 mph with his fastball, but then later in games is having a hard time pushing past 90 mph. Before this season, many wrote about Liberatore’s secondary offerings (changeup, curveball) being better than his fastball. It was when Liberatore early this season was popping 97 mph in the mitt that his stock rising to the level to be considered 1-1.

With scouts in attendance last weekend at the NHSI, they saw Liberatore struggle in the first two innings allowing two runs. Then a switch turned on, as Liberatore struck out 10 of the next 17 batters he faced to have a very impressive stat line of seven innings, one hit, two earned runs, one walk, and 10 strikeouts. Liberatore has worked hard on his craft as Richard Morin of the Arizona Republic shared with us a couple of weeks ago on the podcast. With Ethan Hankins overcoming shoulder issues, Liberatore is the best prep pitcher in this class.

3. Nolan Gorman, 3B – Sandra Day O’Connor (AZ)

In a draft class with very few impact bats, Nolan Gorman’s power potential stands out from the crowd. He didn’t have the best NHSI performance as those who attended the showcase mention Gorman missing driveable pitches. Athletically limited, Gorman’s future position is at third base and if you don’t think he’s quick enough there, his home will be at first base. Despite those two concerns, Gorman is raking in this season hitting .458 with seven home runs and five doubles with 21 walks and 10 strikeouts. With Gorman’s bat speed, he should be crushing against his high school peers so it’s a good sign that he is. Later this month, Sandra Day O’Connor will meet Mountain Ridge which means Liberatore vs. Gorman. I’m sure there will be a few scouts in attendance.

4. Shane McClanahan, LHP – South Florida
5. Brady Singer, RHP – Florida
6. Logan Gilbert, RHP – Stetson

In my opinion, there is Casey Mize, and then there is the trio of Shane McClanahan, Logan Gilbert, and Brady Singer. You can arrange that three anyway you want and you’ll won’t get much of an argument from me.

I watched McClanahan’s start against North Carolina which was a view from behind home plate on the web stream so it was difficult to grasp the movement on his pitches. The good regarding McClanahan is his fastball is 97+ mph and has hit 99 mph this season, and he has a wipeout slider that is very effective against right-handed hitters. The bad is that McClanahan has average command. He has much better command pitching glove side than arm side, so while he can get his fastball to the inside corner on right-handed hitters, he often misses wide when aiming for the outside corner. By miss, I mean a couple of times I’ve seen McClanahan throw it straight to the backstop.

But when McClanahan is in rhythm and able to spot his fastball, his pure stuff is something teams can dream on. This is a pitcher which scouts will tell you to stay away from early in the draft, and then the White Sox take them, and those scouts change their tune because of the respect they have for Don Cooper’s ability to correct pitchers like McClanahan.

Brady Singer was at the top of many preseason MLB draft lists. He is having a very good season with 46 innings pitched over seven starts with a 2.74 ERA and 50 strikeouts to eight walks. I love his two-seam fastball and his changeup has made great strides. Why he isn’t number one on my list is because Mize has just been better than Singer, and Singer’s breaking pitches are average. Often they get hung up in the zone and would be punished in the minor leagues. Singer can get away with it now but he has to learn how to get more snap with that pitch or use it in a different manner. Auburn will be visiting Gainesville April 26-28th. Perhaps facing Mize will help elevate Singer’s play to what we saw from last year’s College World Series.

Logan Gilbert hails from the same program as Cory Kluber and Jacob DeGrom. Not entirely sure if he’ll reach their level of quality but Gilbert has been building hype since the summer in Cape Cod and is pitching well this college season. In seven starts, Gilbert has 69 strikeouts in 48 innings pitched while limiting the walks to just 13. Watching video of DeGrom, he has a mid-90’s fastball that he pairs with a breaking pitch that from the video looks like a slider.

As Fangraphs Kiley McDaniel writes,

Obviously, a card with all 50s and 55s doesn’t get you super excited for a top-10 pick from a mid-major college, but for a club that wants quick-moving help with a high probability of appearing in a big-league rotation in short order, Gilbert would be arguably the safest college arm on the board.

7. Ethan Hankins, RHP – Forsyth Central High

Ethan Hankins would be higher on this list if it weren’t missing time because of shoulder issues. If the shoulder checks out, Hankins could be a Top-3 pick in this year’s draft. For Team USA, Hankins dominated in 12 innings striking out 27 to three walks only allowing three hits and one earned run. Very good velocity on his fastball as scouts say it sits in the mid-90’s, but that slider is something to marvel at.

8. Nander De Sedas, SS –  Montverde Academy (HS)

I have been beating the Nander De Sedas drum for a while. A switch-hitting high school shortstop that displays power from both sides and scouts are delighted about his advanced approach at the plate. The concern is his ability to stay at shortstop. Does he have the food speed to meet the necessary range teams are looking for from their shortstops? That’s a question De Sedas will have to work on answering and there is a good video he shot with Perfect Game USA about how he works on his defense.

9. Nick Madrigal, 2B – Oregon State

I often wonder what Madrigal’s numbers would be if he didn’t break his wrist sliding into home plate earlier this season. All the second baseman has done since arriving at Corvallis is hit.

  • Freshman year: .333/.380/.456
  • Sophomore year: .380/.449/.532
  • Junior year (6 games): .560/.593/.880

A lot of eyes will be on Madrigal when he heals up from his injury to see if it impacts his swing. Without a doubt, Madrigal is the best college bat in this draft class. The problem is his size that limits him to second base. Looking at the top prospects with a White Sox lense, would that deter them from selecting Madrigal having Yoan Moncada occupy that position for the next six to seven years? Time will tell but if the White Sox continue their trend of going with college bats early in the draft, Madrigal should be towards the top of their board.

10. Alec Bohm, 3B – Wichita State

You can fill up a balloon and fly across the Atlantic ocean with the amount of helium surrounding Wichita State’s Alec Bohm’s draft status. I think the rise in hype is that there are so few impact college bats. Duke’s Griffin Conine is not hitting all that well. Missouri State’s Jeremy Eierman is starting to rebound but was slow out of the gates. South Alabama’s Travis Swaggerty is still performing well but is not better than he did last year. I expect Conine, Eierman, and Swaggerty to go in the first round, but it’s Bohm that has passed them. A third baseman, Bohm has excellent size at 6’5″  220 lbs that fits into a power profile bat. He’s improved on understanding the strike zone with an uptick in walks (20) while reducing strikeouts (9) with an impressive slash line of .347/.471/.653 with seven home runs and eight doubles. Watching Bohm play Wednesday night against Oklahoma State, he finished the night going 2-for-5 with both hits going for a single. Doing a nice job of going back up the middle on pitches located in the outer half of the plate. Bohm is worth keeping an eye on because with Jake Burger’s Achilles injury. Going back-to-back drafts selecting a third baseman would be weird but if Burger has to move over to first base after the injury, the Sox could slot Bohm in their future plans.

Circle May 11th on your calendar. It’ll be Shane McClanahan vs. Alec Bohm as South Florida comes to town. That’ll be a fun test for both.

 

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Josh Nelson
Josh Nelson

Josh Nelson is the host and producer of the Sox Machine Podcast. For show suggestions, guest appearances, and sponsorship opportunities, you can reach him via email at josh@soxmachine.com.

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PauliePaulie

1)Mize 2)Bohm 3)Liberatore 4)Turang

PauliePaulie

I don’t think the Sox are in on Liberatore or Turang. If they were serious about Manny, Burger shouldn’t stop them from Bohm.

lil jimmy

MLB on Bohm.
Bohm doesn’t offer much when he’s outside of the batter’s box, however. Though he has worked diligently to improve at third base, he lacks quickness and range, his hands are just fair and his arm is only average. He’ll probably wind up at first base but has the offensive upside to profile there.

Perfect for the Sox. They have a long history of slow RH first baseman.

PauliePaulie

That’s a preseason scouting report. All the new ones say he sticks at 3rd. Kiley McDaniel 2 days ago- “…and has sneaky quickness to project as average to a little above average at the hot corner.” He’s not Burger, Collins or Sheets. 3 picks I absolutely hated. (caveat 2 months to go)

lil jimmy

Although he might just be a right handed, Burger, Collins, or Sheets. His speed is 35. That’s Davidson slow.
What he is, is a refined College bat, with a good eye, and power. Hostetler is addicted to this profile. I wish he’d cut it out.

PauliePaulie

That 35 speed grade is also old. He’s showing more quickness and a leaner physique. IMO- What he has, which Burger, Sheets and Collins didn’t, is a clean swing with bat speed. Those 3 had flaws in their swing path and muscled the ball, rather than letting their wrists do the work. Can’t wait to see your list tomorrow.

lil jimmy

I think your’re projecting. So maybe 40 speed? I’d prefer a Shortstop that might have to move to 3rd, than a third baseman, that might have to go to first…or DH.

PauliePaulie

I’d prefer that as well. Unfortunately, I don’t see any of those at #4. I’ve soured on Gorman(hit tool). Don’t like DeSedas.(far too unpolished)

soxygen

Plus, de Sedas’ food speed is horrible. By the time he finishes his lunch, everyone else is starting to eat dinner. That sort of thing can really cause problems in the clubhouse.

I have a kid like that. She’s only 6 and a half years old, so there’s still a chance that her conversational skills, which are already a 55, might end up being good enough to carry her at a position that requires less food speed.

I don’t know enough about de Sedas’ other meal-related tools to really judge though. How is he with chopsticks? 

Smclean09

I guess one thing I’d point out is that if a player is worthy of going in the top 4 with that profile then they probably are closer to a Bryant or Senzel than Burger or Collins that were seen as mid first talents.

Trooper Galactus

That’s some impressive float on Hankins’ fastball. But I’m with you, Josh, in wanting the Sox to be REALLY vigilant on the top infielders available. Would either De Sedas and Madrigal be able to handle a switch to third base, since even with Burger that’s a pretty bare spot in our system?

PauliePaulie

Madrigal couldn’t play 3rd. Most think DeSedas ends up there. Bohm is starting to get Bryant comps.

Trooper Galactus

Does Madrigal not have enough arm for the position? I mean, a lot of people said that about Yolmer, and he’s turning out pretty damn well there.

PauliePaulie

The bat, range and arm don’t profile at 3B. He’s 5’7 150lbs. Forget Yolmer comps, he makes Altuve look big. IMO- if the Sox drafted him, Yoan would be the one who’d have to move somewhere.(or someone becomes trade bait)

Trooper Galactus

I can understand the arm limiting him, but bat and range? He’s touted as possibly the best bat in the draft and he has the range for second. I don’t understand how either of those precludes him from playing third.

PauliePaulie

40 grade power. Covering ground at 2B isn’t the same as 3B.

lil jimmy

Of course he can play 3rd. 2nd is his best position. Of all the hitters in this draft, Madrigal is the best fit for near term help. If drafted, he would be our top middle infield prospect by a mile. Maybe two.

karkovice squad

The question should just be whether Madrigal (or whoever) projects to be a better player than the other options available in the draft. They shouldn’t really let positional needs or surpluses trump talent. 2021 would be an aggressive MLB ETA for anyone drafted this season, especially a position player. Lots can change between now and then.

More importantly, as you noted, switching positions isn’t the only option in the worst-best case where a prospect and an MLB regular both look like perennial MVP candidates. Someone can be traded like Moncada was for Sale in the first place.

All of that is secondary to maximizing potential.

There’d really only be a minor consideration of how much of a logjam there is at OF in the low minors if for some reason they were looking in that direction.

PauliePaulie

Agreed. Always BPA.

Trooper Galactus

I agree you take the best player available, but I also think there’s a choice between best positional talent and best pitching talent at most times. Unless a pitcher is clearly a cut above all the positional talent, I say take the best positional talent available. For this draft, it seems like most of the pitchers who might have that sort of separation will be taken in the first three picks.

lil jimmy

Outfield logjam.
That still leaves all pitchers, and all infielders. Plus, there isn’t an out fielder worthy of the fourth pick. In later rounds, HS outfielders are fine. All of our prospects are 20 or older.

PauliePaulie

I agree that there’s a lot of depth in HS outfielders and arms for the 2nd round and beyond.

Smclean09

Hankin’s fastball reminds me of Strasburgs a bit just a nice late tail with the spin to stay on plain.

Bohm’s load just looks so awkward, has he shown much power in wood bat leagues?

PauliePaulie

Bohm- .351/.399/.513 in Cape Cod league. 15 extra base hits in 151 AB’s.

MrTopaz

That last pitch in Hankins video, good lord. A crazy sweeper combined with a desperation swing make for some cartoonish swings. I’m surprised the hitter didn’t corkscrew into the dirt like the old strike out animations they used to play at the park.

Trooper Galactus

STOP THE PRESSES!!!

lil jimmy

And still an ERA under 3.00, and a WHIP below 1.00.

Rock's Sox

Great stuff, Josh.

My top 5:
1) Nick Madrigal – 2B
2) Casey Mize – RHP
3) Ethan Hankins – RHP
4) Brady Singer – RHP
5) Nander De Sedas or Brice Turang – SS

Yoan Moncada is my favorite player on the Sox but if our draft room thinks Madrigal is the best player available, we should absolutely pick him. The kid can flat out hit and is a good defender at 2B. Good players find a way to get on the field. We’ve seen it with the Astros(Correa and Bregman) and Cubs(Russel and Baez). Giving Ricky two stud second basemen and have him find ways to play them is one of them good problems.

karkovice squad

At the moment–assuming Mize isn’t there and none of the pitchers behind him both further distinguish themselves and don’t get selected–I’m partial to De Sedas and Bohm. And, with a sustained performance, I’d probably give the edge to Bohm for the potentially lower risk profile.

Trooper Galactus

I think enough picks in the 2017 draft were used on “lower risk” profiles that I’d prefer they take a different approach.

PauliePaulie

Those were more lower ceiling than lower risk, IMO

karkovice squad

Yeah, Bohm seems to have a different profile than the previous picks. Yes, there’s some doubt he can stick at 3B but there’s much less doubt about his overall athleticism and whether the bat is likely to play.

The comparison is to a HS SS. HS to MLB is already a tricky development path. Adding in switch-hitting is tantalizing but also greatly increases the degree of difficulty in realizing the potential. And he might be likely headed to 3B, anyway.

I don’t see much daylight in the overall value of their profiles. And while the recent draft execution has been lacking, the process is sound. You don’t throw out good process to do something different just because of some bad results.

MrTopaz

I’ve been super high on Gorman for a while, but these concerns about his ability to stick at third, so soon after having to move off of short, are less than thrilling. I think I’d still take the risk there, and I’m honestly convinced I’d be excited with a Bohm pick, even though he’s pretty much exactly the sort of unathletic power bat I’d rather the Sox to avoid.

All of this is with the obvious caveat that, despite my preference for a young infielder, I’d learn to love Mize/Liberatore/Singer/Hankins/whoever pdq.

mikeyb

We have so many guys in the system who look like they’re going to have to move down the defensive spectrum from where they were initially drafted (Burger, Collins, about 6 different CFs), that it would be nice to take a guy we aren’t worried about having to move for a change. 

Regardless, I hope it ends up being a hitter. There’s an absurd amount of pitching depth in the organization right now, and it would be exciting to see the club develop a few great hitters from start to finish. Not that they should reach; I just would love to see a guy like Madrigal fall in our laps.

Greg Nix

What happened to Turang? Wasn’t he getting 1-1 buzz at some point?

lil jimmy

That would be Singer. Still, he’s maybe the best High School position player. The teams in front of us seem College player inclined. Turang is just old news. Come draft day there is nobody I would rather see the Sox pick.

lil jimmy

Here’s Perfect Game last week. Writing about NHSI

“Turang put on a solid performance, showing off his latent power and bat speed in batting practice while continuing his high average, high on-base approach in games, including reaching base four times in one game on three singles and a walk. He is a polished defender at shortstop with plus range, especially going back on pop ups.

Eagle Bones

Longenhagen laid out he and Kiley’s rough updated board during his chat this week:

Eric A Longenhagen: Kiley and I were talking about it yesterday as we’re prepping an draft board update. We agree Mize, Bohm and Madrigal are tier 1, Libby, Swaggerty and the rest of the premium college pitching are tier 2. Still time for some of the NE high schoolers to start playing and really blow up.

My vote is for Madrigal at his point, but I could get on board with a lot of different picks if he’s gone. I’d prefer they avoid the HS pitchers at #4 and I’m not crazy about Gorman with what I’ve heard about him at third.

https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/eric-longenhagen-prospects-chat-4-3/

soxygen

Best player available is of course what I want to see… but if the BPA is similar to other recent draft picks, then I guess I will still be wondering if Nick Hostetler is willing to draft a high schooler. Show me something a little different this year,Nick!