June 9, 2016

MLB Draft -- Tonight!

Tonight at 7:00 pm on the MLB Network, Big League teams will draft 77 players: the 1st round (23 picks), comp picks (24-34), Lottery Round A (35-41), 2nd round (42-70) and Lottery Round B (71-77). The 3rd thru 10th round is Friday. Rounds 11 thru 40 are Saturday.

For Virginia Baseball purposes, we're really monitoring seven players, as follows...

C Matt Thaiss
Seems to be a lock for Thursday, with a signing bonus way too handsome to turn down.  Consider our junior catcher and resident big stick to be as good as gone. (It's around a $1.2 million signing bonus for 1st/2nd round juniors and HS seniors, far better than the $5,000 bonus that leverage-void college seniors get to enjoy.)

RHP Connor Jones
Two months ago, he was a top-15 pick.  His stock has slid since then, but I still think he's a Thursday lock, and gone.

SS/3B Nolan Jones
Jones is a HS senior committed to the Hoos, but he's risen up draft boards to around the late 1st / comp / lottery A realm.  I personally think it'd be a miracle if he ever makes it to UVA.

LHP Joey Wentz
Another HS senior, this flamethrower peaked as a top-15 kind of guy, but has slid down the board due to a springtime decline in velocity and some reported "signability" issues (as in, he wants a bigger signing bonus that the potential draft slot suggests).  I'd say there's about a 20% chance he ends up in Charlottesville... but I'll take that chance!  Wentz has the potential to be the best pitcher in the history of the program.  Yeah, I'm putting Seth Greisinger and Danny Hultzen on notice!

Wentz was 9-0 with a 0.00 ERA and 104 strikeouts with 12 walks and seven hits allowed this spring. He did not allow a hit in his first four starts. He hit .392 with 22 RBI and 25 runs in 75 at-bats. A Virginia commit, the 6-5 Wentz routinely has hit 90-95 this spring – an increase of about 5 mph from last spring – and become more consistent and crisper with his pitches.

Fastball: Wentz’ fastball sat 91-92 mph (touching 93) when I saw him and has reportedly been up to 96 this spring. Coming from a downhill plane with arm side run, this has the makings of an above average pitch, and should be a solid foundation from which to build the remainder of his repertoire.

Curveball: At 75-76 mph with good depth, Wentz can spin a curveball. Featuring a 1-7 break, this is Wentz’ most advanced secondary offering.

Changeup: At 79-82 mph, the changeup is more of a work in progress. Wentz will need to refine the consistency of his of this pitch to neutralize right-handed hitters. When right, it shows fade, and I can see this developing into a potentially average pitch.

DELIVERY: A good athlete, Wentz displays balance and control in his delivery that is unmatched from even the college pitchers I’ve seen this spring who are 6’5″ and taller. Leveraging his height with a high 3/4 release point, Wentz has clean arm action and repeatability in the delivery.

FUTURE: Wentz has been climbing up draft lists this spring, and having gotten one of the first looks at him of the year, I’m not surprised. There’s some projection left in his frame and MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis recently stated on a podcast that Wentz has a chance to go in top 10-15 overall picks. I view his ceiling every bit as high as Florida’s A.J. Puk, though he’s a higher risk to reach that potential. That’s no knock on Wentz but rather a testament to what three years of elite college experience can do for your development.

SS Daniel Pinero
Danny went in the 25th round as a draft-eligible sophomore, and decided to return to Virginia.  This draft will be his last chance to cash in on the underclassmen leverage... but he won't be drafted tonight and he's no lock to be drafted tomorrow.  If he slips past the 10th round, might he be tempted to return to the Hoos for one last chance to improve his draft stock and base salary slotting?  I'm guessing no... but stranger things have happened.

RHP Noah Murdock
This 6'7 beanpole has a world of talent, and has stated his strong desire to pitch in college.  Still, he's rated as a borderline top-150 prospect, and will be drafted tomorrow.  As a Hoofan, pull for him to go closer to the 10th round than the 3rd.  We need this kid in orange and blue for the 2017, 2018, and 2019 seasons.

Colonial Heights pitcher Noah Murdock keeps getting better

At 6-foot-7, Colonial Heights pitcher Noah Murdock makes the most of his abilities

Colonial Heights' Noah Murdock Shines On The Diamond

RHP Alec Bettinger
Betty had an up-and-down season and has had an up-and-down career as a Hoo, but he's draft eligible and has been seen by scouts.  He might (probably?) hear his name called at some point on Saturday.  I think there's about a 90-95% chance he's back with the Hoos in 2017, but you never know.

I'll have a 2017 roster projection soon... maybe...  probably?

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