I am going to be honest with you; I did not go into draft coverage season expecting to highlight Chase DeLauter. However, the combination of multiple people in the comments calling for DeLauter to Seattle and there being more and more buzz linking the two left me with no choice but to dive into DeLauter. The stats are impressive and all, which we’ll get to, but look at this swing and tell me honestly that you are not in love.
Pretty sure Chase DeLauter’s swing is the closest an amateur’s swing can get to perfect. Delays rotation until his back leg kicks to the side while his torso opens up/front leg stiffens up. Creative w/ backside to adjust to depth/pitches. pic.twitter.com/UG1wwaQFmF— (@mason_mcrae) August 4, 2021
I gasped the first time I saw it. DeLauter is an interesting case if he’s on the board for the Ms at #21. Baseball America has him at a 55 on the 20-80 grade scale for hitting and fielding. They gave him 60s at power, run, and arm. That’s a pretty balanced player, and his stats backed that up. His numbers are borderline Bondsian. He slashed an absurd .437/.576/.828. Both the average and OBP would’ve led all of college baseball if he played enough to qualify. The slugging would’ve ranked fourth in the country. He had 28 walks to just 21 strikeouts on the abbreviated season. He also tapped into a bit of power with eight home runs and eight doubles ver 24 games. If that wasn’t enough, he also showed some speed on the basepaths with ten stolen bases, and just one caught stealing. Those numbers describe a dream player, so let me pour some cold water on all that before teams picking in the top-20 get too excited.
Now the two caveats; First, he only played in 24 games before a broken bone in his foot ended his season prematurely in early April. As far as injuries go, a broken foot is relatively low on the concern scale compared to a shoulder or back. It is impossible to know if DeLauter would’ve been able to keep up those ridiculous numbers for the rest of the season, but it’s still an extremely impressive performance in 24 games.
The other caveat for DeLauter’s numbers is that he plays in Colonial Athletic Association. No disrespect to George Kirby or any other CAA alum, but it isn’t exactly the best of the best every night. If DeLauter put up anywhere in the neighborhood of those numbers in the SEC or ACC, he would undoubtedly be a top 10 at absolute worst, and that still may end being where he goes, but the concern over the competition level is the most significant question mark surrounding DeLauter.
You would think he did enough to silence most of those questions last summer when he was named the MVP of the Cape Cod league with a .298/.397/.589 slash line. He proved it against elite competition that he didn’t always get the chance to face at James Madison. He had 21 walks to 18 strikeouts over 34 games. Yes, it isn’t the biggest sample size, something that has plagued him twice in the last year, but it is extremely impressive nonetheless.
DeLauter was skyrocketing up draft rankings coming off the cape, but most of that helium evaporated during the opening series for James Madison. The Dukes visited Florida State, DeLauter’s best chance at facing elite competition until potentially the postseason. He was, um, not great. Delauter went 3/14 with eight strikeouts and not a single walk. I get it, those are not encouraging numbers, and I can see how it would scare a team off, but as the saying goes, you aren’t your worst day. Even the greats can stumble (Mike Trout’s 0-for-26 stretch comes to mind). The key is to focus on the tools...so here’s another look at his picture-perfect swing, just in case you forgot.
With the #8 pick in our 2022 Mock Draft ...— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) February 11, 2022
’ : He can hit. He has power ... Chase DeLauter performed well on the Cape. He's playing center field right now at JMU but I see him moving to a corner in the big leagues.https://t.co/UK1cOtXiFP pic.twitter.com/E9MCVwSlMm
Lord. Anyway, beyond that, .437/.576/.828 is impressive regardless, and one bad (brutal) series to open the year shouldn’t be as big of a factor as it appears with DeLauter still being on the board in a good chunk of these mock drafts.
Speaking of mock drafts, Baseball America has DeLuater landing in the Pacific Northwest in their latest staff draft. Jim Callis has DeLauter heading north of the border to the Blue Jays with the 23rd pick on July 17th. Keith Law has him going to the Astros at #28 but mentions DeLauter as a potential target for the Ms.
The Mariners have not been shy about taking small-school players in the past. The two most notable names are George Kirby from Elon and Logan Gilbert from Stetson. I can see how it would be easier to take a high-performing arm against inferior competition than to take a bat from somewhere like James Madison. If the stuff is there, it is there for a pitcher; it is a bit tougher to judge just how much DeLauter’s game will translate against superior competition at the next level.
The Mariners do not have an extensive history of targeting college bats high in the draft under Dipoto, but their track record is not especially encouraging for those hoping DeLauter ends up in Seattle. For the most part, Dipoto likes to target bats from power-five conferences. The recent list is extensive. We have Donovan Walton out of Oklahoma State, Evan White at Kentucky, Josh Stowers at Louisville, Cal Raleigh at Florida State, Zach DeLoach at Texas A&M, even Kaden Polcovich and Tyler Keenan hail from elite programs. We have to go back to 2016 when the Ms selected Kyle Lewis out of Mercer with the #11 pick and Bryson Brigman out of San Diego in the third round to find a bat from a smaller school that fits the mold of DeLauter taken in the first few rounds.
Dipoto’s track record is why I am not allowing myself to become too attached to the idea of DeLauter ending up in Seattle, and why if I had to bet right now, I think I would go with one of Drew Gilbert, Jordan Beck, or Brock Jones donning Northwest Green in a few years. Still, I want to dream of DeLauter unleashing balls over the T-Mobile fence until those dreams are likely shattered in just under three weeks.