Seifert’s Prospect Mailbag: Dec. 18Mailbag
Who do you believe has improved their draft stock more than any other player coming into this year?
Without a doubt, the hitter who has improved his stock the most is outfielder Greyson Jenista (Wichita State). Previously considered more of a mid-round (4-7) prospect, Jenista elevated his game, becoming the Cape Cod League M.V.P. and a potential first round pick. Logan Gilbert (Stetson) achieved similar notoriety with an outstanding summer in the Cape (1.31 ERA, 31 IP, 4 BB, 31 SO) while showing mid-90s heat and jumping into the conversation as a top ten overall pick. Out west righthanders Jake Wong (Grand Canyon) and Noah Davis (UC Santa Barbara) had outstanding falls, pitching in the mid-90s with improved breaking balls.
What are some of the top early season matchups?
Opening weekend (February 14-16) of the Division I season boasts several good matchups, as well as a couple of very good tournaments. As far as three-game series go, Duke travels to Nashville where Griffin Conine and company will face many top arms from another talented Vanderbilt staff. Colton Eastman, Brett Conine and the Titans (Cal State Fullerton) travel to Stanford to face Kris Bubic, Nico Hoerner and the rest of the Cardinal. North Carolina heads to South Florida where a potential pitching matchup of Shane McClanahan vs Austin Bergner awaits. UL Lafayette with top-round prospect lefty pitcher Hogan Harris, head to Austin to face a staff full of draft eligible, right handed pitching prospects for the Longhorns; Nolan Kingham, Blair Henley, Chase Shugart, Beau Ridgeway, Bryce Verplank, Matteo Bocchi. The potential Friday matchup of Harris vs. Kingham is especially intriguing. Scouts’ eyes will be intently focused on how each performs in front of 5,000 plus passionate Longhorn fans.
If you’re a college baseball junkie and you want three full days of non-stop action, you can check out one of several tournaments. In Arizona, you can find Cal Poly, Gonzaga, New Mexico and Oregon State square off in Surprise. Then head 30 minutes crosstown to catch Texas Christian with its stable of top arms; Nick Lodolo (2019 eligible), Sean Wymer, Jared Janczak, Durbin Feltman and the big bat of Luken Baker battle Grand Canyon and another top round pitching prospect Jake Wong. Or head to South Carolina where there’s more baseball than you could ever see: In Myrtle Beach, Coastal Carolina hosts Indiana, Oklahoma, Kansas State, South Alabama, and Virginia Tech. Scouts will flock to see potential first round bats of Steele Walker (Oklahoma) and Travis Swaggerty (South Alabama) square off in the Saturday morning matchup. The second tournament is further down the coast in Charleston as The Citadel hosts Louisville, Richmond and George Mason in their annual tournament. At the same time, the College of Charleston hosts Southeast Missouri and Charleston Southern hosts Delaware for three game series. If that’s not enough you can also head over to the Shipyard Park, also in Charleston, for a tournament with Morehead State, Massachusetts and Ball State.
What is your most memorable moment in scouting?
The first time I saw 100. In 1997 I attended an Arizona Fall League game in Phoenix to see Matt Anderson, the recent first overall pick out of Rice by the Detroit Tigers. I had read the reports of his blazing fastball and wanted to see it for myself. On his third pitch of the game, there it was…100 mph…on the Decatur Ray gun of the scout next to me. These days when most organizations have three or four, or more, pitchers who can touch or exceed 100, and Aroldis Chapman AVERAGES over 100 mph during his playoff outings, the century mark is not nearly as impressive. But back in 1997, guys who threw this kind of cheese, especially on the old ray gun which measured velocity as the ball crossed the plate (not out of the hand), were rare. I was impressed, to say the least, and will remember that moment forever.
Who are some of the better prospects from smaller colleges around the country?
Division II power Colorado Mesa boasts a sleeper in 6-foot-5, 195-pound Kyle Leahy. He’s a long bodied, athletic righty who had an outstanding sophomore season last spring (13-0, 1.41 ERA, 108.2 IP, 85 H, 13 BB, 96 SO). These are great numbers for anyone, but Colorado Mesa plays its home games in the high desert, making his statistics even more exceptional. Leahy was also 4-0, 1.20 ERA in 37 innings for Waterloo (Northwoods League), earning all-star honors. He works in the 88-93 range with his top secondary offering an average slider. Also out west are a pair of tall, strong armed righthanders in Justin Montgomery (Cal Baptist), a Cape Cod League All-Star this past summer, and Isaiah Carranza (Azusa Pacific), who is a transfer from Oregon. Kendall Rogers saw Isaiah this August in the Northwoods League Major League Dreams Showcase and noted: “Carranza showed a live and easy arm, sitting 91-93 with his fastball and keeping it at the bottom of the zone in two shutout innings. He also showed good feel for an effective 79-80 mph changeup.” Montgomery was seen by former D1 prospect writer, Frankie Piliere in the Cape. He noted “Montgomery has been efficient and dominant for the Wareham Gatemen so far this summer, proving to be one of the league’s breakout pitching stars. What scouts and fans saw Saturday night was exactly what he’s been all summer. He worked a perfect first at 90-92 mph with his fastball, generated outstanding downhill plane from his long 6-foot-5 frame and mixed in a sharp, well-located 85-86 mph slider with late action.”
The middle of the country boasts a long-bodied lefty with a fastball touching the low 90s in 6-foot-6 Grant Wolfram (Davenport U, MI). Wolfram emerged two summers ago in the Northwoods League and followed it up with a decent showing this summer in the Cape. His fastball will touch the low 90s in short stints, settling in the upper 80s with a two pitch repertoire and solid command. Also, towering 1B Michael Rothmund (Illinois-Springfield) has some length to his swing, but 6-foot-6 guys usually do. He has bat strength and you can’t overlook his 24 home runs last spring with two more bombs this fall in a scrimmage against Illinois. Another pitching prospect Kendall Rogers saw this summer in the Northwoods League is righty Gus Varland (Concordia College, MN). “Varland raised a few eyebrows with his performance this summer. Varland is a 6-foot-1, 190-pounder, who tallied a 1.42 ERA in 50.2 innings. He showed good command. In the showcase, Varland showed some good velocity on his fastball at 92-93, though the offering was rather straight. He also showed a low-80s slider with some tilt.”
On the east coast, our Aaron Fitt, was impressed by Cash Gladfelter this summer in the Valley League All-Star game. His report reads: “Gladfelter stood out for his athletic 6-foot-3, 195-pound frame and his solid defense at shortstop, where he has sound actions. He turned in competitive at-bats and showed some strength to the gaps. He’s a fringy runner at best, but he did show good base running instincts, stealing second and third after singling Saturday. After hitting .370 as a sophomore for Shippensburg, Gladfelter is hitting .337 for Woodstock in the Valley League, and his all-around package makes him a Division II prospect to monitor.”