MAC Baseball Players Selected in the Draft

The Major League Baseball draft ended Wednesday and nine MAC players were selected over the three day draft. Drey Jameson was the headliner of the MAC group, as was always going to be the case. Fifteen players were drafted in 2018, so I thought that there would be a few more than nine. I’m going to bet not all of them go sign their minor league deals.

No matter. Five of the players drafted are underclassmen and could return to college to get taken in the 2020 draft. That is a real option for the players taken in the much later rounds but it is a gamble. For those wondering what your favorite pro team just acquired, this should explain a little.

 

#34 Arizona Diamondbacks – Drey Jameson

Ball State, RHP

Drey Jameson was selected 34th overall, a pick they received for not signing A.J. Pollock this past off-season. The MAC pitcher of the year touches 98 on the gun as a draft eligible sophomore with a small frame. He stands 6 feet tall and weighs 165 pounds. He has some filling out to do, to say the least.

Strikeout Heavy, Power Arm

That said, he had an amazing season to follow up being the freshman pitcher of the year in 2018. He set the conference single season strikeout record with 146 in 91 and two thirds innings. He is a k machine at the college level, more than half of the outs he recorded came from strikeouts. To close out the season, he had seven starts and one for just one inning where he totaled 64 strikeouts, 12 walks, and only 7 earned runs over 40 innings.

No Real Concerns

The concerns with Jameson are the same with any pitching prospect. Will he stay healthy? Will the secondary pitches develop to match the fastball? The ERA was a little elevated at 3.24 in 2019, but that isn’t always indicative of problems. He showed improvement from his freshman year in all areas.

Why didn’t he go higher? I don’t know but there is some conventional wisdom about the size of pitchers. His numbers aren’t totally in a league of their own so the bigger player at a university with a higher profile feels safer. The Diamondbacks got a good one.

 

#235 Texas Rangers – John Matthews

Kent State, RHP

The Rangers took the 6’1″ righty in the eighth round on Tuesday. He was the Golden Flashes day two starter and had his ups and downs this season. In five starts he gave 5 or more earned runs and in seven other appearances he gave up 2 or fewer. His better season was 2018 when he made 21 appearances from the bullpen.

Matthew’s two summer seasons in the Northwoods League he worked mainly out of the bullpen and was effective. His total summer league line was 61.2 innings, 66 punch outs, and a nice ERA of 2.19.

Good Strikeout numbers, low walks

Every season, except his freshman season when he only got 5 innings, he’s been at least 9.5 strikeouts per nine and lower than three walks per nine. It’s clear that the Rangers see a player with the correct size, good control, and strikeout stuff at mid major college baseball.

No disrespect to any college coaching staff, but with major league level development and instruction the upside is there. It remains to be seen how far Matthews can make it into professional ball.

 

#238 New York Mets – Connor Wollersheim

Kent State, LHP

Three picks after Matthews, the Mets took his teammate Connor Wollersheim. Wollersheim was the day one starter from start to finish. The Flashes had some issues with their starting pitching but not with Wollersheim. He’s a senior lefty that throws in the low 90’s.

Strikeout Breakout

In his senior season, his strikeouts per nine jumped from 7.1 to 10.4. At the same time increasing his workload by 27 innings. Wollersheim was second in the conference in total strikeouts this spring. Seventy two of the ninety seven were swing and miss variety.

His 2017 summer in the Northwoods League was excellent. In ten starts and 55 innings, he posted a 2.44 ERA with 56 strikeouts. His control has never been a problem but has never been amazing. He walks a handful every game.

Fly Ball Revolution Victim?

He did give up 10 home runs in 83 innings. That’s tied for most in the conference for every pitcher with an ERA below 8 (there was one pitcher that gave up 16 but I’m not going to put him in the discussion of drafted players). His opponent batting average is about where it should be but the home runs got away from him this spring.

 

#270 Philadelphia Phillies – Rudy Rott

Ohio, First Base

The two time MAC player of the year finally got taken in the draft. As a junior he posted a 1.094 OPS and went undrafted. I don’t know why MLB teams didn’t at least make a late round selection but Ohio was happy they did not. He was selected as in the ninth round after a senior season mashing a 1.082 OPS.

Professional Hitter

Rott didn’t hit quite as many home runs his senior season as he did in his junior year but he still kept most of his power numbers. The lefty hit for a higher average, decreased his strikeouts, and lifted the ball in the air more this spring. Any one of those reasons could’ve been the cause for the ninth round selection.

His first base defense seems fine if not good. He has a very high fielding percentage for the volume of chances a first basemen gets. Only five total errors in overhttps://miamistudent.net/spencer-mraz-used-only-his-fastball-in-near-no-hitter/ 1000 chances the last two seasons. His resume warrants his selection.

 

#645 New York Yankees – Zach Kohn

Central Michigan, RHP

Zach Kohn was taken in the 21st round of the draft as a reliever from Central Michigan. He was a spot starter for them and a reliever with strikeout stuff. The strikeouts have always been there in college, he’s over 9 strikeouts per nine in every season. It’s exactly what a reliever needs to be. Sometimes the only way out of the jam is a strikeout and he can do it.

Aside from playing ball in Mount Pleasant, he spent 2018 in the Cape Cod League where he was a spot starter and a multi inning reliever. Kohn is a junior and has  the option to return to the Chippewas.

Base Traffic Control

In 2019 his WHIP made a huge improvement from previous seasons. During the 2017 season he allowed 1.91 walks and hits per inning and in 2018 it went up to 2.37. In 2019, however he dropped it to 1.41 with a larger sample than either previous season.

His 2019 WHIP still isn’t elite but the Yankees saw enough upside in his 94 mph fastball and frame to take with a late pick.

 

#861 Miami Marlins – John Baker

Ball State, RHP

John Baker has improved every season at Ball State. His batting average allowed went from 0.268 as a freshman to 0.190 as a junior. He has a four pitch mix with a fastball that can touch 94.

Baker was another MAC pitcher to pitch in the Cape Cod League and was stellar in 2018. He wowed enough to earn a mention in an article by Baseball America for rising pitchers in the Cape Cod League.

To go along with a low opponent batting average he surrendered the lowest allowed OPS for qualified pitchers. The outlook for players in the 29th round isn’t great but if he can keep improving and suppressing batters OPS, it’ll be interesting to see how high he can reach.

 

#981 Miami Marlins – Zachary Owings

Eastern Michigan, First Base

Zachary Owings is a two time MAC Team of the year award winner. In 2018 he made the first team all MAC at third base and second team this season. He played third base at Eastern Michigan but was listed as a first baseman in the draft.

Owings peripheral numbers are great. Despite not showing plus power, he had 16 steals, and a low strikeout rate. When I say he didn’t show plus power, he didn’t hit a ton of home runs. He still slugged over 0.500 in his sophomore and junior seasons.

It’s a long road to the show for a 33rd round draft pick but Zachary Owings is a solid ball player.

 

#985 Texas Rangers – Spencer Mraz

Miami, RHP

Spencer Mraz is a tall junior. He’s 6’10” and throws 94. His numbers probably aren’t where he wants them to be but he’s a good pitcher. I’m sure someone in the Rangers organization saw a 6’10” pitcher and thought they can get more than 94 out of that arm. Baseball teams are smarter than they’ve ever been and they may be right.

He’s got three pitches: fastball, curveball, and a change up. He’s doesn’t walk a ton of guys but he doesn’t mind throwing inside a hitting a batter now and again. He has 39 hit by pitches in 142 innings over the last two seasons. That’s a lot.

Fun fact and reason to believe the fastball is real: he lost a no hitter in the eighth this season throwing only his fastball and getting 13 strike outs.

 

#1072 Detroit Tigers – Pavin Parks

Kent State, Third Base

Pavin Parks is the cautionary tale to all of the juniors thinking about betting on himself and going back to school. Finishing a degree and ensuring you always have that is never a bad thing, but after being taken in the 24th round of the 2018 draft, the 36th round is really disappointing.

Kent State used Parks as a pitcher and third basemen. He doesn’t have enough innings or the rest of a pitching resume to be looked at seriously as a pitcher. On top of that, his numbers regressed from 2018 as a hitter. He jumped from 7 to 11 home runs, but outside of that he didn’t show improvement.

Maybe the Tigers are getting an early twenty rounds true talent player in the 36th round. Hopefully the regression is just small sample stuff that happens when a season is only 200 at bats.

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