Another week in the books and several of the nation’s top prospects were in action, playing big roles. Aside from injuries, there’s not many premier prospects doing much damage to their stock, though several are proving to be more talented than previously expected. With Seattle selecting no. 6 overall in this years draft, we’ll be highlighting three players each week whose stock is rising and whose stock is falling. It’s one of the strongest draft classes in quite some time, maybe the best since 2012, or 2013. The class is absolutely stacked with advanced college arms, which will likely anchor the first round.
Nick Gonzales - New Mexico State - 2B/SS
Three weeks in a row we’ve tabbed Gonzales as a riser. He’s been a presumptive lock in the Top 10 for a while now, so that should say a lot of his recent performances.
It’s hard to put into words just how explosive and impressive Gonzales has been in his first three weeks this season. In 13 games, Gonzales is slashing .500/.652/1.354 with 12 home runs and 15 extra base hits. He’s walked 18 times and has struck out just seven times. He’s also stolen four bags for good measure.
Gonzales is, quite literally, pacing to break every single offensive college baseball record ever.
In 1985, Pete Incaviglia hit 48 home runs in 75 games — a college baseball record. Gonzales will likely only get 55-61 games this year, yet he’s still on pace to hit 58-60 home runs this year.
If there’s any knock on Gonzales it’s the defense. New Mexico State has elected to play him at shortstop for a majority of this season, and it hasn’t gone too smoothly. He makes most of the plays that are hit in his immediate vicinity, but forcing him to take more than two steps to either side, as well as forcing him to charge a ball, has been an adventure at times. He’s is unequivocally at second baseman at the next level.
Still, the bat may be too good for a team selecting in the Top 5 to pass up. There’s been chatter that Gonzo’s bat may be on par with Arizona State first baseman Spencer Torkelson. Torkelson is almost a lock to go in the Top 3, even as a first baseman.
The top of this draft is so incredibly loaded. Seattle is going to be in a great spot with whomever they have access to at no. 6. If Gonzales is there, given the lack of infield upside in the system, it would be pretty hard for Dipoto to pass him up.
Cole Wilcox - Georgia - Starting Pitcher
Cole Wilcox has been on MLB scout’s radars for a good long time. He was a unanimous Top 20 draft prospect coming out of high school in 2018, but before the draft even began, he declared he’d be going to school instead.
At 6-foot-5, 232 pounds, Wilcox is built like you want ‘em. He’s got the physicality and personality on the mound that demands respect. His mid-to-high 90s fastball has incredible arm-side run and sink. When it’s on, it’s un-hittable. Couple that with an above average mid-80s slider and developing changeup and Wilcox has all the makings of an ace at the big league level.
The biggest question on Wilcox is, and always has been, the command. He walked 38 batters in 59.2 innings in 2019, but things are definitely ticking in the right direction this season. In 18 innings, the Georgia Bulldog has issued just two free passes while knocking out 26 batters.
If the draft were today, Wilcox would be my presumptive pick for Seattle at no. 6, given Gonzales, as well as Torkelson, Martin, Hancock and Lacy will all be gone by then.
Cole Wilcox, Filthy 95mph and 96mph Two Seamers. pic.twitter.com/tmwTrUPvzR— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) February 15, 2020
Garrett Mitchell - UCLA - CF
I’ve publicly been the low-man on Mitchell for some time now. In my eyes, his inability to find his power stroke in-game limits his upside for me. That being said, his production can’t be undersold. He’s putting up a fantastic 2020 campaign, and given how loud the rest of his tools are, it’s going to be hard for Seattle to pass him up at no. 6.
Through 11 games Mitchell is slashing .372/.472/.512 with six doubles. He’s walked six times and only struck out three times. He continues to play impressive defense, showing off his 80-grade speed and plus arm regularly. Mitchell has had a tendency to expand the strike zone, falling behind in the count on occasion, but that has improved since this past summer. He’s never produced alarming K-rates, it’s just a matter of Mitchell being more selected of which pitches to drive at the plate.
The batting practice juice can be a spectacle. He’s got big pull-side pop, and, if he finds it, projects as a 25+ home run hitter at the big league level. The ceiling for Mitchell is pretty undefined at this point, but if he can find that game power at some point, he could have perennial all-star written all over him.
Mitchell is also a Type I Diabetic, and that can’t go without mention. While I’m sure he would prefer it not affect his draft stock, it’s always going to be part of the conversation. Still, the talent may be far too loud to pass up.
Emerson Hancock - Georgia - Starting Pitcher
Hancock is still, more than likely, comfortably stapled into the Top 5 in this years draft, but it’s not as concrete as it once was.
For the second time in his first three starts of the season, Hancock struggled to stymie the opposition. In 5.2 innings, Hancock surrendered eight hits and four earned runs. He also issued two walks along the way. He did strikeout ten in the outing.
Hancock’s 5.40 ERA isn’t what many were expecting to this point, and it’s mostly been stuff related. The fastball hasn’t featured the ride it’s famous for, and because of it, he’s falling behind in counts. The secondary stuff hasn’t been featured as much as it usually would because of it. Hitters are simply waiting for a fastball in the zone and teeing up.
He’s still striking out well over a hitter per inning, so it’s not cause for concern just yet, but Hancock could certainly use a couple good starts to get his name back in the conversation for 1.1.
Jesse Franklin - Michigan - Outfielder
Franklin, a local kid from Seattle Prep, was one of the more explosive outfielders in the Big Ten last season as a freshman. At 6-foot-1, 215 pounds, Franklin is built to produce, and features a swing with explosive pop.
In two seasons with the Wolverines, Franklin has slashed .289/.385/.520 with 23 home runs. He’s drawn a ton of walks and plays plus defense. More impressively, Franklin has posted strong numbers with the wooden bat in the Cape Cod league. He was being mentioned as a guy that could go in the first three rounds in the draft.
Franklin is yet to play this season with an undisclosed injury.
Allbry Major - Xavier - Outfielder
Major, much like Franklin, was a standout with the wood bat the summer and had first few round aspirations in this years draft. Unfortunately, he too, it yet to take the field.
Major is a big, big outfielder. At 6-foot-6, he’s got the size and length to be an impact bat at the next level. He creates great leverage in his swing, considering his size. He’s a career .285 hitter at Xavier, and has added nine home runs and nine stolen bases along the way.
Both Major and Franklin, as well as previously mentioned pitchers Garrett Crochet and JT Ginn, need to find a way onto the diamond sooner rather than later. In such a deep draft, it’s easy to see durability concerns crater a prospect shine if they’re unable to put any tape on the field.
Final Thoughts and Honorable Mentions
Weekend 3 Stock Watch— Joe (@JoeDoyleMiLB) March 2, 2020
Brian Van Belle⬆️
Some Slight Fallers— Joe (@JoeDoyleMiLB) March 2, 2020
SP Carmen Mlodzinski
SP Emerson Hancock
SP Slade Cecconi
OF Joey Wiemer
OF Jesse Franklin
C/3B Brady Smith
SS Trei Cruz
OF Allbry Major #MLBDraft