2018 MLB Draft Top 50 Prospects: 41-50
50. Nico Hoerner, Stanford
Pos: 2B/SS | B/T: R/R | Height: 5’11” | Weight: 195 | Age: 20
Previously Drafted: Never
Hit: 55 Power: 40 Run: 50 Arm: 50 Field: 50 Overall: 50
The Stanford Cardinal have been a top 5 team in the country all season, and Junior shortstop Nico Hoerner has had a lot to do with that. Hoerner has a been one of the offensive leaders for the Cardinal with a .335/.385/.492 slash line this year.
Despite playing short at the college level, Hoerner profiles more as a second-baseman in the professional ranks. Hoerner is a solid player defensively, but his range and arm strength are what will force the move to second.
As a hitter, Hoerner doesn’t feature the power bat that has become more common than not at second base of late. However, he can still be an above average player offensively with his plus-plus contact ability, having struck out just 10% of the time in over 700 career plate appearances at Stanford. Hoerner has also developed the ability to steal bases this year, going 13 for 17 after just three stolen bases in his first two years combined.
49. Alek Thomas, Mount Carmel (Ill.)
Pos: OF | B/T: L/L | Height: 5’11” | Weight: 175 | Age: 18
Hit: 55 Power: 45 Run: 60 Arm: 40 Field: 60 Overall: 50
When compared to other high school prospects, Alek Thomas is more of a high floor and low ceiling type of player. His speed and defense will play right away at the highest levels and will make him a valuable player even if the bat is a little bit slow to develop.
Thomas also has above average contact ability, but his small frame will keep him from ever being much of a power hitter. Thomas’s best chance of success offensively is developing a patient eye at the plate and becoming a high on-base guy that can take advantage of his speed.
Personally, I give Thomas a Zack Granite with a little bit more upside comp. His defense might not be quite as elite as Granite’s, but if he continues to grow a little more he will add at least some power potential, as opposed to the next to none that Granite has.
48. Jameson Hannah, Dallas Baptist
Pos: OF | B/T: L/L | Height: 5’9” | Wight: 184 | Age: 20
Previously Drafted: Never
Hit: 55 Power: 45 Run: 60 Arm: 40 Field: 55 Overall: 50
Keeping up with the trend of undersized position players so far, Jameson Hannah fits that mold as well. A few years older, than Alek Thomas, Hannah has developed into the kind of player at Dallas Baptist that you would hope Thomas becomes as he ages.
Hannah doesn’t have the power to hit the ball out of the park with any regularity (just 3 HR in 45 games this season) but he does have enough power and speed to be a good doubles hitter.
Hannah also has plus contact ability along with a patient eye at the plate that helps him draw his share of walks without striking out much. So far this season, Hannah has drawn 29 walks while only striking out 29 times.
47. Lineras Torres Jr., Beacon (N.Y.)
Pos: RHP | Height: 6’2” | Weight: 185 | Age: 17
Commitment: St. John’s
Fastball: 60 Slider: 50 Changeup: 45 Control: 50 Overall: 50
Lineras Torres Jr. is one of the more raw pitching talents in this year’s draft. He features a high velocity fastball that sits in the mid 90s and has touched as high as 98 MPH. Torres also throws a slider and a changeup, but both pitches are still pretty underdeveloped.
His lack of a plus secondary offering has many worried that he won’t be able to stick as a starter long term. There is some potential in his slider, but his changeup is still a shot in the dark. If teams don’t see him making a long term run at the rotation, it will cause him to drop on their boards.
One thing Torres has going for him is his young age, even for a high school prospect, as he won’t turn 18 until October. If you recall when Royce Lewis was drafted last year, one thing many people loved was how young he was having just turned 18 right before he was drafted, and Torres will be a full 4 months younger than that.
46. Seth Beer, Clemson
Pos: 1B/OF | B/T: L/R | Height: 6’2” | Weight: 195 | Age: 21
Previously Drafted: Never
Hit: 50 Power: 55 Run: 20 Arm: 45 Field: 35 Overall: 50
Seth Beer brings one of the top college power bats that is available this year. Now in his junior year at Clemson, Beer has belted 50 career home runs, including 16 this year.
Unlike many power hitters these days, strikeouts aren’t much of a concern for Beer as he has just an 11 percent career strikeout rate. Additionally, Beer is a guy who will draw his fair share of walks and hit-by-pitches, having walked over 20 percent of the time in his career and drawn an additional 39 hit-by-pitches.
The biggest concern for Beer is his lack of athletic ability. While he has played both outfield and first base during his time at Clemson, many scouts don’t see him being able to stick at either position, and will most likely become a DH at the highest levels.
45. Griffin Conine, Duke
Pos: OF | B/T: L/R | Height: 6’1” | Weight: 195 | Age: 20
Previously Drafted: Never
Hit: 45 Power: 55 Run: 40 Arm: 55 Field: 50 Overall: 50
2017 was a breakout year for Griffin Conine (son of Jeff Conine). After hitting 13 of Duke’s 38 home runs during the college season, Conine went to the Cape Code League where he hit a league leading nine home runs in 42 games with a wood bat.
Conine has hit another 12 home runs for Duke so far this year, but his contact numbers have dipped, as both his batting average and on-base percentage have dropped off by 40 points this season.
Defensively, Conine projects to stay in right field, as he doesn’t have the range of a centerfielder, but his big arm will allow him to make the long throw from right to third.
44. Griffin Roberts, Wake Forrest
Pos: RHP | Height: 6’3” | Weight: 210 | Age: 21
Previously Drafted: 29th Round, 2017 (MIN)
Fastball: 55 Slider: 70 Changeup: 50 Control: 50 Overall: 50
After being selected as a reliever in the 29th round by the Minnesota Twins in last year’s draft, Griffin Roberts decided to go back to Wake Forrest for another season to transition into a starting role, and boy has that paid off for him. Roberts has vaulted up the prospect rankings this year and should get an early enough round selection to potentially sign for seven figures.
On the mound, Roberts’ has one of the best pitches in this draft in his 70-grade slider. Roberts also features a plus fastball as well. This dominant two-pitch mix made him one of college baseball’s most effective relief pitchers in baseball over his first two years at Wake Forrest, where he struck out a school record 13.5 batters per 9 innings last season.
If teams think Roberts can develop his changeup into an effective third offering he has a chance to become a starter. If not, Roberts is a guy who could move up quickly through a farm system as a reliever and could potentially help a big-league team toward the end of the 2019 season.
43. Nick Schnell, Roncalli (Ind.)
Pos: OF | B/T: L/R | Height: 6’2” | Weight: 180 | Age: 18
Hit: 55 Power: 50 Run: 60 Arm: 60 Field: 60 Overall: 50
Coming out of the Indiana prep ranks, Nick Schnell has the ability to become a five-tool player if his bat continues to develop. He doesn’t flash a lot of home run power now, but as he continues to grow into his body the power should come with it.
In the outfield, Schnell has both the range to possibly stick at center, but if he loses a step as he continues to fill out his body, he has the arm to be a plus defensive outfielder in right.
While he isn’t the most perfect comp in the world, I do see Schnell developing into a Max Kepler type of player. By that I mean as an outfielder he doesn’t have any one skill that jumps off the map but could have average or better skills everywhere across the board.
42. Joe Gray Jr., Hattiesburg (Miss.)
Pos: OF | B/T: R/R | Height: 6’3” | Weight: 195 | Age: 18
Commitment: Ole Miss
Hit: 45 Power: 55 Run: 55 Arm: 70 Field: 55 Overall: 50
Joe Gray Jr. might be the biggest gamble pick of any player in the draft. He features two tools in his power and arm that could make Gray an all-star caliber player, but the questions around his hitting ability could make it hard for him to make it to the big leagues all together.
At the plate, Gray has a lot of movement in his hands and it creates an unnatural looking swing with a lot of holes in it. For whichever team drafts him, Gray’s swing will become a long-term project for their hitting coaches.
Gray has the athletic ability to start in center, but if he needs to move to right that won’t be a concern as he has maybe the biggest arm of any outfielder in this draft.
41. J.T. Ginn, Brandon (Miss.)
Pos: RHP | Height: 6’2” | Weight: 199 | Age: 19
Commitment: Mississippi St.
Fastball: 70 Slider: 60 Changeup: 50 Control: 50 Overall: 50
Just like Joe Gray Jr., J.T. Ginn is another Mississippi high school prospect with a large amount of upside potential, though Ginn’s potential comes on the mound. Ginn’s fastball and breaking ball combo is one of the best two-pitch mixes from a high school pitcher in the class.
There are, however, a few hesitations with Ginn that are preventing him from being considered a potential Top 10 pick in the draft. The first is his lack of a third offering. Ginn has been working on a changeup, but he hasn’t really shown it in game use. The other concern is his delivery, which while deceptive to opposing hitters, can be hard to repeat.
If Ginn can clean up his delivery and add a decent changeup to his repertoire, he could be an impact starter at the major league level. If not, his dominant fastball-breaking ball combo could make him an ideal fit in the back end of the bullpen.
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