MLB Draft Feature: RJ Dabovich, RHP, Arizona State

We are within a week of the virtual MLB Draft, and today’s feature belongs to a intriguing prospect out of Arizona State in RJ Dabovich. The right-handed hurler has spent 1+ season with the Sun Devils, after playing a year in junior college with Central Arizona College. A former 18th round pick of the Kansas City Royals, Dabovich has excelled in the past few seasons, especially after transitioning to the bullpen, raising his stock to a likely selection in this year’s five-round draft. 

Projection

Dabovich lives mainly on two pitches, which means he likely projects long-term as a reliever, although potentially with spot-starting capabilities. His fastball sits 93-94 and plays up to 97, which he offsets with a hard low or mid-80s slider. Control has been an issue at times, but he is extremely tough to hit, as opposing batters managed a paltry .082 average in his 11 ⅔ innings of work in the shortened 2020 season. He walked nine but avoided damage, saving four games and giving up just one earned run. He flashed impressive potential out of the pen, escaping a bases-loaded, nobody out jam against Cal, and finishing off a save against #1 UCLA. In a do-or-die situation in the NCAA Tournament, Dabovich also returned to the rotation, striking out a season-high six batters to keep the ASU season alive. A hard-throwing righty with a tendency to step up in big games and situations, Dabovich will absolutely hear his name called in the draft, and scouts believe this JUCO and ASU product has big-league bullpen potential. 

Prediction: Round 5, Pick 135, Kansas City Royals

Full disclosure – Dabovich may go earlier than this, but the Royals have been rumored to be high on Dabovich, as multiple mocks have Kansas City going after the ASU righty. This draft class is ridiculously deep in pitchers, as 50 right-handed pitching prospects sit in MLB.com’s top 120 prospects, which is the only reason I have Dabovich slipping into the fifth round. Most years, he’s drafted in the top 3 rounds, no question. Either way, he’s great value at this spot in the draft, so Kansas City would gladly grab him here, although don’t be surprised if Dabovich is snapped off the board before the fifth round.

MLB Draft Feature: Nick Swiney, LHP, NC State

Despite being ranked 79th on MLB.com’s top 200 prospects, NC State left-handed pitcher Nick Swiney was projected as a first-round pick in Keith Law’s first mock draft for the Athletic? Why? Well there’s a few reasons why there will be more than a few teams hoping to secure his services in the upcoming 2020 draft. One of the most impressive stats about Swiney is his near-spotless record on the mound. Between 2+ seasons with the Wolfpack and his final two high school campaigns, Swiney is 32-3. At NC State, he is 15-1 over 50 appearances (8 starts). Despite not featuring what scouts traditionally label as ‘dominant’ stuff, opponents have struggled to hit the southpaw, managing just a .191 average against Swiney over his career. This year, the in-state product has seemingly fixed one of the pressing concerns in his game – his control – while transitioning into a starter for the Wolfpack. His dominant – albeit shortened – junior season has Swiney skyrocketing up draftboards. Heading into the season, Swiney was a projected late fourth round pick, possibly early in the fifth round. Recent predictions have Swiney slotting in as high as the first round, with very few seeing the Wolfpack lefty dropping too far past the second round. 

Projection

As mentioned above, Swiney transitioned to a starter this year for NC State, and he showed no signs of needing an adjustment period. He fired off 28 stellar innings over four starts, allowing just four earned runs, 13 hits, and six walks. After 49 walks in his first 87 ⅓ career innings, the improved control addressed a major concern in his game, and he didn’t seem to sacrifice his swing-and-miss stuff, striking out 42 batters. Swiney’s biggest improvement in his stuff has been an improved feel for his changeup, giving him the three-pitch combination necessary to be an effective starter. He’s got a solid fastball that plays up to 94 mph, sitting consistently in the low-90s, and he features a curveball that scouts are high on as an above-average offering with high upside. Swiney is absolutely a high-upside play for whoever selects him in the upcoming draft, and he can be developed as the starter, with the comfort of knowing he has two years of collegiate experience in the bullpen.

 Prediction: Round 2, Pick 55, Washington Nationals

Only seven teams in the MLB do not have a left-handed pitcher in their top 10 prospects, so it’s a tough need to identify within farm systems. The Nationals have southpaw Matt Cronin as their 10th-best prospect according to Bleacher Report. However, it’s a coveted position to be deep in, and if Swiney remains available this deep into the second round, the Nationals should definitely jump to secure his services. He could develop as a starter, or maybe provide some relief to Washington’s heart attack-inducing (albeit World Series-winning) bullpen. Definitely look for Swiney to be a high-upside pick in the first two or three rounds in a couple of weeks.

MLB Draft Feature: Aaron Sabato, 1B, UNC

Aaron Sabato started his collegiate career by hitting .186 in his first fourteen games, and questions were raised about whether UNC had made the right decision to recruit and start the undrafted Connecticut high school prospect. However, Sabato quickly quelled those doubts and answered the bell in a big way for the Tar Heels, absolutely tearing the cover off the ball for the rest of his freshman campaign. The right-handed hitting first baseman seemingly never missed a barrel in the last three-quarters of the season, hitting .343 with 18 home runs, 25 doubles, and 63 RBI. Not known for his speed, Sabato also legged out a triple en route to hitting for the cycle in a rivalry victory over NC State. His on-base percentage checked in at a stellar .453. Although his sophomore season waas cut short, Sabato had hardly cooled down, hitting .292 with seven dingers in just 19 contests. Sabato has transitioned from a little-hyped, slumping first baseman to one of the best collegiate prospects in the upcoming draft. After Arizona State’s Spencer Torkelson, Sabato is considered by many the next best first baseman available on this year’s draft board. He’s ranked 41st on MLB.com’s Top 200 prospects. 

The question is not whether Sabato will get drafted – as he is a fringe first-round pick, and certainly an early second-rounder – but whether he intends to turn pro, with three seasons of eligibility remaining at UNC. The Tar Heels won the 2019 ACC championship and were one game away from the College World Series last season, losing a Game 3 Super Regional contest at home to Auburn. This year, North Carolina was 12-7 when the season was cancelled, and despite some early season ACC struggles, they promised to be one of the premier programs in the country once again. Sabato may want to return to Chapel Hill, but he also may take advantage of being one of the most sought-after players at his position and head for pro ball right away. 

Projection

Sabato is most certainly a power and offense-first player, but his defense is certainly respectable – he had a .981 fielding percentage his freshman year, improving that mark to .991 in his most recent campaign. Offseason shoulder surgery placed some questions on his range, but scouts applaud his reliable hands, a much-needed attribute to stick at first base long-term, rather than projecting solely as a designated hitter. Comparisons have been made between Sabato and the New York Mets’ Pete Alonso, although Sabato has featured more raw power than Alonso did in college. Considering Alonso hit 53 home runs last season, that’s not a bad comparison at all for the UNC sophomore. Look for a team to jump at Sabato’s power and offensive upside early in this year’s draft, grooming him as their next great power hitter. 

Prediction: Round 1, Pick 22, Washington Nationals

Some may say this is a touch early, considering Sabato’s 41st ranking, and a first-round draft pick will only be spent on the UNC prospect if teams are convinced he’s returning to college. If he is, though, the Nationals have one of the worst farm systems in baseball, and they don’t have a standout prospect at first base. They’ve got franchise player Ryan Zimmerman manning the position now, along with Eric Thames, but they are 35 and 33 years old, respectively, and so now is a great time to scoop up a player like Sabato. It would be a great situation for the Tar Heels’ first baseman, as the Nationals are the defending champions, and with Zimmerman holding down first base, there’s no need to rush Sabato’s development. Give him a few years in the minors, and Sabato could be ready to slug it out with the best of them in America’s capital.

Spotlight Feature: Bobby Seymour, 1B, Wake Forest

Jumping from high school into the best conference in college baseball is supposed to be a difficult transition, but if Bobby Seymour felt it, he didn’t show it on the field. A Wake Forest commit since his sophomore year of his high school, Seymour jumped right into it, starting 52 games in his true freshman season for the Demon Deacons, hitting .286 while ripping seven home runs and twelve doubles. 

“You’re nervous, as a freshman, jumping right into that pace of play”, Seymour said, “But once you realize you belong and you can play there, everything kind of falls into place”. 

Everything has fallen into place and more for the Wake Forest first baseman, as Seymour followed up his impressive freshman campaign with one of the best sophomore seasons in program history. Seymour drilled his way to an ACC-leading .377 average, nine home runs and a stunning 92 RBI – a total that is a league-high since a guy named Buster Posey had 93 in 2008. His batting average led the league by 16 points, and when the lights shone bright, Seymour’s bat was at its hottest, hitting .485 with runners in scoring position. Seymoure noted the mentality shift that comes with getting the chance to drive some runs in: “Always want to drive in as many runs as I can – that’s something that’s big for me. Guys on base, I want to get the job done”. 

Seymour’s firepower brought Wake back to ACC relevance after a tough 2018 season, as the Demon Deacons were a run away from the ACC semifinals as the tenth seed in the tournament. His numbers also shot him up the draft boards, and even with the draft being shortened to 5 rounds, the Indiana product looks like a potential pick this season. Even if the shortened season throws a wrench in Seymour’s draft plans, his stock figures to only rise further. And while offense may be what catches the scout’s attention, Seymour has made vast improvements at first base ase well, a jump which he credits to his coaches: “Joey Hammond, Bill Cilento [assistant coaches], they’d harp on me constantly”, Seymour commented, “Have me come in before and after practice. Those guys just made my work ethic better, like it is when I hit, so definitely credit to my coaches for sure”. 

Seymour battled appendicitis last season, but he battled through it en route to his record-breaking season. One notable series Seymour recalled was their three-game home set versus NC State, a series where he went 5-13 with six RBI. In the rubber game to conclude the series, Seymour blasted a two-run shot to help the Demon Deacons rally from a 7-1 deficit and win a critical ACC series. The appendicitis did shorten his summer season, but Seymour still impressed in a short stint in the Cape Cod League. “Playing in the Cape was awesome – great area and great competition. Obviously it was cut short, but everything happens for a reason, and it’ll be alright. It was definitely the experience of a lifetime”. 

Seymour took the adversity in stride and was off to a strong start to his junior season before its cancellation; he hit .284 in 18 games with a home run and eleven RBI. On MLB.com’s Top 200, Seymour is ranked 180, but scouts laud his plus offensive ability, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see a team take a jump for his upside in the upcoming draft. “That’s my goal at the end of the day – to get drafted and start professional baseball”. 

Athlete Q&A
Q: Favorite MLB Team?
A: “I’m a big White Sox fan – ‘05 was a good year, so just gotta try and live off that” 

Q: Favorite players growing up?
A: “Growing up, Derek Jeter was always my guy. Jeter and Ryan Braun. 

Q: Socks or Stirrups?
A: “I’m more of a low-pants guy, so regular socks

Q: Any superstitions?
A: I’m very superstitious. Nothing too much pre-game, but lots of little things in game. If I strike out, I’ll switch to the other side of the bat. Always have to have wrist tape on, stuff like that.”

Q: Favorite seeds?
A: I’m a huge seed guy, but if I have to pick, I’d probably go Ranch.

Q: Bat-flip or all-business after a home run?
A: Normally all-business, but if it’s against a team we don’t like, or I’m not a fan of the guy, I’m not going to shy away from bat flipping.

Q: Any particular game you remember unleashing a bat-flip for then?
A: Last year against Virginia Tech – lots of chirping, bit of a chippy game back and forth. I hit a home run for the lead. I’m usually pretty composed, but that one got to me a little bit” 

Thanks to Bobby Seymour for joining us with the interview, and best of luck with your career moving forward. 

MLB Draft Feature: Parker Chavers, OF, Coastal Carolina

As far as pure tools go, Parker Chavers is one of the top college prospects available in the 2020 MLB Draft, but as a projected third or fourth-round pick, somebody is going to be getting a lot of upside in the Coastal Carolina outfielder. Chavers has consistently put up solid numbers, both with the Chanticleers and in the Cape Cod League. As a freshman, he led the team with a .323 average, making sixty starts, and appearing in 62 games.
He was named a freshman All-American by various publications, blasting seven home runs, knocking in 42 runs, while putting up a .442 on-base percentage in conference play. He was the most decorated freshman in Coastal Carolina history. His numbers were largely better in his sophomore campaign, as he knocked his way to a .315 average, fifteen long balls, and 54 RBI. The speedy outfielder also legged out four triples and nine doubles, along with 19 stolen bases over two seasons. Prospect Live ranked Chavers as the third-best prospect in the Cape this past summer, as he hit .270 with 5 HR and 3 SB. 

Projection
Chavers projects as a high-upside outfield prospect with the tools to put up 20/20 seasons, although some scouts have expressed concern about his strikeouts (101 in 426 career at-bats). He does swing and miss a lot, but trading strikeouts for power is the name of the game in the modern MLB, and Chavers certainly has the speed and the power – if he can season his game a little bit, the Coastal Carolina star could find his spot in the pros. Defensively, Chavers has the arm to play anywhere in the outfield, but general reviews of his play suggest he needs to hone his outfield instincts if he is to remain in center field past the collegiate level. Regardless, as the 108th-ranked prospect on MLB.com’s Top 200, Chavers figures to slot into the third or fourth round, so the upside that he brings will make him well worth the pick. 

Prediction: Round 4, Pick 104, Miami Marlins
The Marlins aren’t going anywhere particularly soon, so for them, getting maximum value at with every pick of their draft is very important. Chavers provides them really solid value late in the draft here, and at early in the fourth round, there’s a decent chance he’s still available. Miami’s got no real franchise players they seem to be building around, so they’re still a few years away from competing, which could fit in nicely with Chavers’ timeline to become a contributor at the major league level.

MLB Draft Feature: Grant Richardson, OF, Indiana

Next in our MLB draft feature series is Indiana outfielder Grant Richardson. Richardson has only played a little over one complete season of collegiate ball with the Hoosiers, but the in-state product made an immediate impact as a freshman, and he was one of the most impressive hitters in the country in his shortened sophomore campaign. 

Richardson was a high profile IU recruit from the end of his freshman year of high school, and he didn’t disappoint when he stepped on campus. Starting 42 games, and appearing in 46, Richardson knocked his way to a .264 average with nine home runs, He put the Big 10 on notice in a midseason blowout of Maryland, blasting three home runs in a 5-6 effort at the plate. Overall, Richardson boasted 11 multi-hit games, leading the Hoosiers to their third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. Richardson was named a freshman All-American.

Although the 2020 season was cut short after 15 games, both Richardson and Indiana were on pace for great seasons, as the Hoosiers were off to a 9-6 starts with ranked road victories over #11 LSU, #30 South Alabama, and #17 East Carolina. Richardson was front and center of a prolific Indiana offense that averaged 6.3 runs per contest. Starting fourteen games, the sophomore led the squad with a .424 average, banging five home runs, three doubles, and two triples, driving in 17 runs. His five long balls led the Big 10. In the season-opening road trip to LSU, Richardson rapped out six hits in 12 at-bats, hitting a double, triple and home run over the weekend, driving in five runs and scoring four. He finished the year with 9 multi-hit games. 

Projection

Grant Richardson still has four season of eligibility with the Hoosiers, so, with the shortened draft, the probability is that he returns to Indiana for at least one more season. Regardless, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Richardson’s name be called, as one team may definitely try to take a flier on the Indiana outfielder with a fourth or fifth round pick and try to lure him away from college with a signing bonus. Richardson has solid speed, running around a 6.7 60-yard dash, and his bat carries serious upside. A former pitching recruit with a 90 mph fastball, Richardson has a very solid arm. At 6’2 and 186 pounds, Richardson may also be able to fill out a little bit to add a little more power at the plate. As he continues to develop, Richardson looks like a guy that could roam center field in the MLB. Although this prediction will be for this year’s draft, don’t be surprised if Richardson returns to school, and his draft stock continues to skyrocket. 

Prediction: Round 5, Pick 155, Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays have one of the best farm systems in the league, and so they can afford to take a flier on Richardson, hoping that he opts to head to one of the best franchises at developing players. Tampa Bay does not have a Top-100 outfield prospect right now, and while Richardson probably would slot into that list, at least not right away, the Indiana outfielder could become a long-term replacement plan for 30-year old center fielder Kevin Kiermaier.

MLB Draft Feature: Garrett Crochet, P, Tennessee

Left-handed pitchers are always a commodity in the MLB, and Garrett Crochet will be one of the best available come the 2020 Draft, as the Tennessee junior is ranked as the 18th best prospect on MLB.com’s Top 200, and he slots in as the third best available southpaw.

Crochet was a 34th-round draft pick out of high school, but he elected to honor his commitment to the Volunteers, and that decision has paid off, with his draft stock skyrocketing over two full seasons of pitching in the very competitive SEC. Crochet has been utilized as both a starter and a reliever, coming up clutch in both situations. His freshman year, Crochet displayed ice in his veins, stranding the bases loaded against #13 Kentucky to earn his first career save.

Despite only six starts in his sophomore year, Crochet still made 18 appearances and was third on the team with five victories. He was second with 81 strikeouts. In his first appearance of the year, he faced nine batters from Appalachian State, and he struck out all nine of them in a dazzling performance that had Crochet on every scout’s radar from the start of the season. In his return from injury in the NCAA Tournament, Crochet fired 2 1/3 scoreless innings with four strikeouts to help the Vols to their first tournament win in nearly fifteen seasons.

Projection

Crochet is a power-first lefty, with his fastball touching 99 mph, but his slider, curve, and change-up combination complement his heater well. If all four pitches develop, Crochet projects as a above-average middle of the rotation starter. Even with his fastball and his slider, his top off-speed offering, and deceptive delivery, Crochet can be an elite and valuable asset out of the bullpen, so he will be a solid pick in the mid-to-late portion of the first half.

Prediction: Round 1, Pick 14, Texas Rangers

There’s a little injury risk when it comes to Crochet, but his upside is too teasing to pass up here. Touching 99 with his fastball, featuring a wipe-out slider with the potential for another consistent swing-and-miss pitch in his changeup, Crochet has the pieces to be a huge asset in Arlington, and if he continues to rebound well from his injury, he will be a great pick-up at 14th overall for the Rangers.

Spotlight Feature: Matt Mikulski, P, Fordham

Less than a year ago, Fordham ace Matt Mikulski was on his second Cape Cod League team in three days, sleeping on the floor of a temporary house with ten other guys that didn’t have host families yet. Coming off what Mikulski described as “one of the worst practices of my life”, the southpaw wasn’t sure he even wanted to stay and toss for the Brewster Whitecaps. Ultimately, Mikulski made the decision to stick it out and try to get his name out there. And for Mikulski, that’s been the story of his career. 

“In high school, I was not a highly touted prospect”, Mikulski said, “I was 5’8, maybe 5’9, and my biggest offers were St. Johns and Stony Brook”. However, Mikulski got a late offer from Fordham, and after seeing the campus, the Mohegan Lake product opted for the Rams – “I felt I would get a lot of opportunities to pitch early”. As the only left-handed pitcher on the roster, that much proved to be true, and Mikulski made 17 appearances in his initial collegiate campaign. He flashed a little of what was to come in his debut, striking out seven in 3 ⅔ innings against Wofford, earning Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week honors. He became Fordham’s midweek starter, and fired a seven-inning gem against Yale in late April. Despite the varied roles, Mikulski’s mentality was the same: “For me, I just want to throw. I just want to get in the game”. 

Courtesy of Matt Mikulski on YouTube

Mikulski slotted into Fordham’s weekend rotation in his sophomore year, and he even got the ball in the season opener on the road versus Texas A&M, a crazy environment that he considers one of the best he ever pitched in. Over the course of 18 starts and 14 appearances his sophomore season, Mikulski had quite a few standout performances, shutting out Rhode Island over seven innings, posting a career high ten strikeouts over St. Bonaventures, and tossing a career-high eight shutout innings against St. Josephs. In the A-10 championships, Mikulski tossed 2 ⅓ innings of relief in the opener, and then sealed the deal with 5 ⅓ shutout frames in the title game. Mikulski would also come out of the pen against #15 West Virginia in the NCAA Tournament opener, entering in the bottom of the third inning, with the Mountaineers leading 3-1 and the bases jammed with two outs. The power-throwing southpaw recorded a K to end the frame and keep Fordham within striking distance. “I love those environments” Mikulski said, referring to the loud and hostile West Virginia crowd, “I love going into someone’s backyard and just sucking the air out of them. I love that feeling – having that chip on your shoulder, that swagger”. Mikulski fired another two scoreless innings before finally giving up a RBI double in the sixth. 

His strong sophomore campaign earned Mikulski a spot in the Cape Cod League, but after two days he was released by Wareham, and Brewster picked him up. Despite the less than auspicious beginning, Mikulski fired some of the best innings of his career with Brewster, putting up a sparkling 1.86 ERA and making the All-Star Game. That justified his decision to stay in the Cape, as Mikulski began to shoot up on the draft boards, and entering his junior season, he was fielding a lot of interest from various scouts. But Mikulski’s pending draft eligibility wasn’t on the front of his mind “It wasn’t going to matter if I didn’t pitch well in the spring”.

Mikulski was on fire while pitching for Brewster in the Cape Cod League. Video courtesy of Prospect Live

But Mikulski didn’t slow down in the spring, allowing just three earned runs in 21 innings before the season was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Mikulski crept onto the MLB Top 200 draft board, and even with the draft shortened to five rounds, the Fordham product is definitely a contender to hear his name called. Mikulsi said however, that he is keeping his options open: “We’ll see what happens. I still have two years of eligibility. I would obviously love to go in the draft. It’s been a dream of mine since I was little, and then to take it to the next level, play 10, 20 years in the majors”. 

10 or 20 years may seem a lofty goal, but Mikulski pitches his best in adverse conditions; he threw some of his best innings after being cut once and sleeping on the floor in the Cape Cod League. He shined in the NCAA Tournament, and he developed from a small lefty with three offers into the Fordham ace and a high-level MLB draft-prospect with a fastball that touches 94 mph. Don’t count him out. 

SPOTLIGHT Q&A
Q: Favorite MLB Team?

A: “I’m a diehard Yankees fan”

Q: Favorite pitchers?
A: “Andy Pettite – He was a power lefty early in his career. I also really liked C.C [Sabathia], being a Yankees fan. If I’m picking non-Yankees guys, I love Blake Snell, but it sucks that he’s a Ray. I also really liked Barry Zito – he has one of my all-time favorite curveballs.”

Q: Regular Socks or Stirrups?
A: “I’m a big stirrups guy. I was upset because my freshman year, we had the real stirrups, but my sophomore year, we got these regular socks that were supposed to look like stirrups, and I didn’t like them. So I rolled my pants down that year. But I like to go high-pants though, show off the calves”

Q: Favorite Seeds?
A: I’m a big Spitz guy. It sucks, because it’s really not a Northeast thing. Crackpepper is my favorite”

Q: If you were to hit a home run, are you a bat-flip guy, or an all-business trot type?
A: “I’m usually an all-business guy, but I’m fiery, on the mound too. If I get a big out, I’m going to fist pump, because I know there are guys that, if they hit a big home run off me, they’re gonna fist bump, they’re gonna yell. So don’t get mad if I get fired up, because you would too”.

MLB Draft Feature: Kale Emshoff, C, Arkansas-Little Rock

The MLB draft may be different from other professional drafts in that teams aren’t often looking to address their current needs, as most draft picks need some developmental time and are a few years away from making an impact at the top level. So when you get a chance to snare a power-hitting catcher with strong defense, that’s a no-brainer, regardless of who you have manning the position in the majors. That’s what one team will be saying about our second MLB Draft feature, Kale Emshoff out of Arkansas-Little Rock. Even in this shortened five-round draft, Emshoff should hear his name called, and he will be an excellent find for whoever secures his services. Emshoff’s draft stock may have slipped due to his injury that forced him to redshirt his junior year. He was off to a very impressive start to his redshirt junior season, but the COVID-forced cancellation deprived Emshoff of a chance to truly rise up the draft boards. 

Projection

Emshoff was a starter at Little Rock from his freshman year, starting 30 games behind the dish, and then all 56 games his sophomore season. After his missed junior campaign, Emshoff was on pace for his best numbers yet in 2020, hitting .417 with a .527 on-base percentage and .800 slugging percentage. He led the league in that category as well as home runs, with seven in just seventeen games, a mark that ranked eighth in the country. Over his career, he hit .286 over 112 games. Defensively, Emshoff has excellent receiving skills and superb arm strength, gunning down nine of eighteen potential base stealers this past season. Emshoff projects as an offense-first player; his capabilities at the plate make him draftable, but his clear improvement behind the dish – make him a top-10 catcher in this class. While Emshoff could still choose to return to Little Rock, he would be an excellent value pick in the upcoming draft.

 Prediction: Round 5, Pick 135, Kansas City Royals
The Royals have a decent farm system, but they lack a standout catching prospect. It may not be their biggest need, given they do have a franchise catcher in Salvador Perez, but grabbing Emshoff late in the draft would be an excellent use of a pick. The projected slot value of this pick is $415,000, so whether that projected contract is enough to lure Emshoff to the draft remains to be seen, but keep an eye on this intriguing prospect.

MLB Draft Features: Logan Allen, LHP, Florida International

The first spotlight in our MLB Draft prospect profile series, Logan Allen is primarily a left-handed pitcher, although he also boasts a solid bat, for Florida International. After being drafted in the 19th round out of high school, Allen honored his commitment to FIU, and the southpaw has consistently raised his draft stock, and he’s a borderline first round draft pick, if he decides to forego his collegiate eligibility. 

This past season would have been Allen’s junior campaign, and although the NCAA is giving back a year of eligibility, the FIU lefty may capitalize on his high draft stock, which was boosted by a strong, if brief, start to the shortened season. In just four starts this season, he averaged over six innings per outing, boasting a sparkling 2.45 ERA. That followed up a sophomore year with a 3.11 ERA. Allen has also been a threat at the plate, hitting .311 in ten games this year after knocking his way to a .276 average last season. Although he will likely be drafted as a hurler, Allens’ dual abilities on the mound and on the plate are notable to say the least. 

Top Games
Allen has had more than a few memorable performances on the mound for the Panthers. He burst onto the scene his freshman year with eight shutout innings, sending FIU to the conference championship game. In his sophomore year, during which he made 14 starts, Allen recorded his career high of 13 strikeouts against Georgia Mason on Feburary 23, 2019. However, Allen seemed ready to hit a new level, as he was firing on all cylinders to start the season. Facing George Mason again in a non-conference game, Allen shut them down once more with seven innings of one-hit ball, once again punching out 13 batters. It was one of the finest performances of his career, and a potentially fitting punctuation mark on what has been a spectacular run with FIU. Projection
Logan Allen will be a useful talent for whoever lands him. Many believe Allen has the best changeup in the draft class, and with two full collegiate seasons behind him, after being a draft pick out of high school, Allen could be on the fast track towards the major if he acclimates to the professional lifestyle.
Prediction: Round 2, Pick 47, Chicago White Sox
The White Sox have only one left-handed pitcher in their Top 30 prospects, and their window to win is fast approaching. Grabbing Allen, a decently polished pitcher who could help out in the big leagues in just a few years would be a great asset, and a boost to the thinnest part of their farm system.