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MLB Draft Preview: The Commits

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My best guess at who will suit up in gangster pinstripes, and who will take the money and run.

Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

The MLB First Year Player Draft starts tomorrow at 6pm CT on MLB Network (and continues until Wednesday with streaming coverage on mlb.com). Over the past few years, I have attempted the Sisyphean task of positing an educated guess at who will make it to Hawkins Field v. who will take the money. I have put this off for a while now, due to our current commit list not having any sure fire first rounders, and the hope that a win last night would extend our season. Today, I will continue this tradition.

This article will provide a look at the incoming class of Freshmen currently committed to Vanderbilt. Being a powerhouse in college baseball is a double-edged sword: on the plus side, some of the top talent in the country lines up to commit to play for you; on the minus side, some of them prove so talented that MLB teams back up the Brinks truck to get them to forego their college commitment. C'est la vie.

Caveat: I have no inside knowledge of what any of these kids are thinking, no knowledge beyond various prospect rankings (Baseball America, MLB.com, various mock drafts, things people say on Twitter, etc.), and no freaking clue what any of these MLB teams might do (teams have been known to commit obscene amounts of money to a teenager having only seen a recent bullpen session, for Pete’s sake). Further, I have no idea (at the moment), what number any of these kids’ advisors (read: agents who are not allowed to be called agents until the kid signs the contract) have floated out to MLB teams, nor do I know how flexible those given numbers actually are. For example, consider the case of Tyler Beede. His advisor purportedly floated a “$3 million bonus or bust” number, which pushed him down to the Toronto Blue Jays. The Canadian BJ’s (this should definitely be their team nickname and you know it) decided to get cute and only offer $2.5 million. Beede became a Commodore. On the other side of things, Isan Diaz was largely thought to be a 5th or later round pick in his draft year, but the Arizona D’Bags took him high in the 2nd, threw gobs of money at his face, and the dream of him becoming Dansby Swanson Part Deux died on the operating table.

Last year, we were hit hard by the draft... let’s hope this year goes better. To quote Kafka: “Again, this was just a report.”

*Note: This is the most up to date list of commits listed by Perfect Game. They have been known to leave people off in the past, or leave someone on their list who has since decommitted and committed to another school. Take that as it is. Here are some links to peruse: Perfect Game list of Vanderbilt Commits; MLB.com Latest Buzz; Baseball America Mock Draft; Baseball America Top 500 Prospects.

The First Rounders

None.

Last year, three Vanderbilt commits found themselves in this category, with Ian Anderson, Braxon Garrett, and Jason Groome (not even a commit at that point, as he had switched to a junior college for some reason) all going in the top half of the first round. I got all correct, as all signed for the big bucks. We could certainly have used any of their arms this year.

This year, Baseball America does not project any of the Vanderbilt commits to be selected in the first round. Of course, this does not mean none will be; only that none currently project to be. If this bears out, it will be the first time in a long time than no Vanderbilt commit was taken in the first round. Perhaps Corbs has taken a lesson from recent drafts, and not gone after kids who will likely sign, or perhaps we simply had a bit of a down round w/r/t recruiting. I honestly don’t know, but it does pique my interest. I’d be interested in hearing what Corbs has to say on the matter, but he cannot technically answer such a question until the kid makes it to campus as per NCAA rules, so I won’t badger him until then. Of course, by then, I’ll probably forget. However, as you’ll see below, this is still a very strong class, with many BA top 500 prospects and PG All-Americans.

Potential 2nd-10th Rounders

Here is where you’ll need to watch closely, as 10 Vanderbilt commits could plausibly hear their names called, and hence be offered gobs of money—but certainly not anything close to what Tyler Beede asked for. However, the very fact that their names are called in the top ten rounds indicates teams believe they will be able to sign them.

Seeing as teams are allocated a specific bonus pool for players signed in the top 10 rounds, it does not necessarily matter in which of the top 10 rounds a player was taken, as teams could stock up on some lower money senior signs (see: Jason Delay) higher in the draft so as to allocate more money for riskier, high bonus high school signings later in the top 10 rounds. Further, the rules dictate that teams lose the amount slotted for that pick if a pick doesn’t sign. Teams are not in the business of losing allocated slot money, so more and more, pretty much everyone picked in the top 10 rounds signs. Just an FYI.

LHP Jake Eder

6'4" 210lbs Ocean Ridge, FL

BA Mock Draft: Not chosen.

BA Top 500: #69

Perfect Game Showcase Report:

PG Grade: 10

Jake Eder is a 2017 LHP/OF with a 6-4 210 lb. frame from Ocean Ridge, FL who attends Atlantic HS. Very athletic well proportioned build, plenty of projection still there physically. Smooth delivery with a long stride out front, body tends to get ahead of his arm, arm is very loose and smooth coming through, low effort release, high 3/4's arm slot creates angle and plane, bit cross body on release. Fastball topped out at 91 mph, lots more velocity in there, could easily end up as a mid-90's left hander, showed the ability to get to both sides of the plate with his fastball. Soft curveball spin at present, effected by long stride out front, has feel for locating curveball but can improve getting out front with it with adjustments. High ceiling young pitcher. Good student, verbal commitment to Vanderbilt.

Prediction: Eder is a big lefty who could compete with Drake Fellows and Chandler Day for a spot in the weekend rotation right away. If his Velo was higher, he would be a no doubt first rounder. Teams who think he has the frame to add a few ticks to the fastball will look to draft him in round 2. It will be a minor coup to get him to campus.Unless the number floated by his advisor is too high, he signs. I’ll put it at 25% likely to be a Commodore.

SS Austin Martin

6'0" 170lbs Orange Park, FL

BA Mock Draft: Not chosen.

BA Top 500: #134

Perfect Game Showcase Report: N/A

Prediction: Perfect Game and Baseball America have wildly divergent opinions on Martin. While BA projects him as a top 5 round prospect, Perfect Game has him at a 2nd Team All American, and does not provide a showcase report. I’m shooting blind here, but I’ll put it at 50% likely to be a Commodore.

C Philip Clarke

5'11" 190lbs Franklin, TN

BA Mock Draft: Not chosen.

BA Top 500: #167

Perfect Game Showcase Report:

PG Grade: 10

Philip Clarke is a 2017 C with a 5-11 190 lb. frame from Franklin, TN who attends Christ Presbyterian Academy. Very strong athletic build, pretty mature physically. Left handed hitter, narrow stance with a direct stride to the ball, good balance, short and fast swing with good loose extension out front, has very good bat speed, hits the ball out front and pulls it hard, loud off the barrel. 7.12 runner, has quick feet behind the plate and good fundamental footwork, compact arm action with a quick transfer, makes accurate throws, 1.87 best pop time. Solid defender with impressive quickness but left handed bat potential is the separator. Excellent student, verbal commitment to Vanderbilt. Selected for the Perfect Game All-American Classic.

Prediction: With Jason Delay graduating, Clarke will be able to compete with Ty Duvall for the starting catcher gig. Further, he’s a local boy, and you can’t discount the lure he will feel to live his dream of being a Commodore. However, MLB teams throw craploads of money at catchers with the potential to hit and stay behind the plate. I’ll put it at 50% likely to be a Commodore.

RHP Tyler Brown

6'2" 230lbs Ashland, OH

BA Mock Draft: Not chosen.

BA Top 500: #213

Perfect Game Showcase Report: N/A, but has recorded a 92mph fastball.

Prediction: I know very little about this player. BA and PG disagree on him, with BA having him as a top 5 round prospect, and PG as only an Honorable Mention All-American. I’ll put it at 60% likely to be a Commodore.

3B Jayson Gonzales

6'2" 205lbs Covina, CA

BA Mock Draft: Not chosen.

BA Top 500: #242

Perfect Game Showcase Report:

PG Grade: 10

Jayson Gonzalez is a 2017 3B/ss with a 6-2 205 lb. frame from Covina, CA who attends Bishop Amat HS. Extra big and strong athletic build, strong all over, pretty mature physically. Right handed hitter, hits from a narrow stance with a big shift into contact, timing of shift not always consistent, has outstanding raw bat speed, best swings when timed are line drive, middle of the field oriented, has the strength to hit the ball out of the part to any field, ball really comes off the barrel hard when squared. Very good arm strength at third base, arm is loose and whippy, has soft hands and moves well enough laterally, can throw from multiple arm slots, should be a high level defensive third baseman if he maintains his quickness. Very good student, verbal commitment to Vanderbilt.

Prediction: Gonzales will have the opportunity for immediate playing time at third base, as Youth Hockey Toffey will all but certainly be drafted for the third and final time in the first 5 rounds of the MLB draft. He has the potential to be a much needed power bat in the Vanderbilt lineup. The draw of immediate playing time, plus the ability, like Will Toffey, to improve his draft prospects with 3 years in Nashville are too much for the big third baseman to turn down. I’ll put it at 80% likely to be a Commodore.

LHP Joe Gobillot

6'6" 240lbs Houston, TX

BA Mock Draft: Not chosen.

BA Top 500: #275

Perfect Game Showcase Report: N/A

Prediction: Here’s another Vandy commit that BA and PG disagree on (he’s only an Honorable Mention PG All American). Gobillot is a huge lefty who currently tops out at 90mph. I’ll put it at 80% likely to be a Commodore.

LHP Hugh Fisher

6'5" 185lbs Eads, TN

BA Mock Draft: Not chosen.

BA Top 500: #326

Perfect Game Showcase Report:

PG Grade: 10

Hugh Fisher is a 2017 LHP/OF with a 6-5 185 lb. frame from Eads, TN who attends Briarcrest Christian HS. Tall and very projectable profile build. Multi-part delivery with some energy at release, has very good raw arm speed, is a bit cross body at release, high 3/4's arm slot. Fastball topped out at 92 mph, mostly straight with occasional arm side running life. Flashed hard spin and bite on a curveball up to 74 mph, not consistent with its release yet but a big potential pitch. Shows a present feel for his change up and confidence in the pitch. Has the arm strength and the pitches to be a high level starter with adjustments to his delivery. Has a steady and sustained history of improvement. Verbal commitment to Vanderbilt.

Prediction: You only need one MLB scout to believe in a tall, projectable lefty who already throws 92mph to throw a high six figure bonus his way. However, the draw of 3 years in Nashville, following in the footsteps of David Price and Mike Minor, and working with pitching coach Scott Brown, could be too much for the big lefty to turn down. I’ll put it at 60% likely to be a Commodore.

OF Pat DeMarco

5'11" 205lbs Winder, GA

BA Mock Draft: Not chosen.

BA Top 500: #364

Perfect Game Showcase Report:

PG Grade: 10

Pat DeMarco is a 2017 OF/2B with a 5-11 205 lb. frame from Winder, GA who attends Winder-Barrow HS. Strong athletic build, carries his weight well and may have some physical projection left. 6.57 runner, has good arm strength with carry, gets rid of the ball quickly, has the speed to play centerfield even with his strength. Bat is his best tool, right handed hitter with a spread open stance, shifts early, short and quick line drive swing, gets good extension through contact, keeps things pretty simple and on time, has fast hands and impacts the ball hard, middle of the field approach but will flash his pull power. Interesting all around athlete. Very good student, verbal commitment to Vanderbilt.

Prediction: There will be two open outfield spots next year, so there’s a very good chance DeMarco will be able to compete for one of them. The draw of immediate playing time, plus the ability, like Jeren Kendall, to improve his draft prospects with 3 years in Nashville are too much for DeMarco to turn down. I’ll put it at 90% likely to be a Commodore.

OF Cooper Davis

5'10" 185lbs Mississauga, ON CAN

BA Mock Draft: Not chosen.

BA Top 500: #368

Perfect Game Showcase Report:

PG Grade: 10

Cooper Davis is a 2017 OF with a 5-10 185 lb. frame from Mississauga, ON who attends St. Aloysius Gonzaga HS. Compact athletic build with good present strength. Very good runner, 6.53 in the sixty, has a quick first step on the bases and in the outfield. Can use his lower half more throwing in the outfield to improve his arm strength but has centerfield speed and athleticism. Left handed hitter, open stance, short quick swing with an inside swing path, has a feel for the barrel and makes consistent contact, busy hands, has the strength to drive the ball but mostly concentrates on inside the ball opposite field to mid field contact, has hitting tools that he isn't using at present. Good student, verbal commitment to Vanderbilt.

Prediction: Like Pat DeMarco above, Davis will likely be drawn by the prospect of immediate playing time in the outfield. I’ll put it at 90% likely to be a Commodore.

RHP Mason Hickman

6'6" 230lbs Hendersonville, TN

BA Mock Draft: Not chosen.

BA Top 500: #437

Perfect Game Showcase Report:

PG Grade: 10

Mason Hickman is a 2017 RHP with a 6-6 229 lb. frame from Hendersonville, TN who attends Pope John Paul II HS. Big and strong athletic build, still very projectable physically. Deep arm circle in back coming around to a high 3/4's arm slot, creates very good plane to the plate on his pitches. Fastball topped out at 91 mph, mostly straight but very hard to square up down in the zone due to the angle. Slider is best at lower velos, gets some bite and shape at 78-79 mph, tends to overthrow his slider at times and have it straighten out. Firm change up with some fading action. Very interesting prospect with a high ceiling. Excellent student, verbal commitment to Vanderbilt.

Prediction: Are you sensing a pattern with our pitching commits? Let’s just say it won’t shock me if they all sound like Andre the Giant. I’ll put it at 90% likely to be a Commodore.

Other Vanderbilt Signees not on BA’s Top 500 Prospects

RHP Corbin Brooksbank

6’0” 185lbs Signal Mountain, TN

PG Grade: 10

Corbin Brooksbank is a 2017 RHP/OF with a 6-0 185 lb. frame from Signal Mountain, TN who attends McCallie School. Medium athletic build, has some physical projection and room to get stronger. Long stride out front, lacks ideal plane to the plate, fast arm coming through to a 3/4's arm slot, medium effort on release. Topped out at 91 mph early, gets good arm side running action at times, has been up to 94 mph at previous PG events this year. Slurve type breaking ball has good spin and some sweeping depth, might naturally move to a true slider at some point in the future. Got some fading action to his change up at times. Has the pitches to develop and lots of arm strength. Good student, verbal commitment to Vanderbilt.

SS Garrett Blaylock

6’3” 208lbs Asheville, NC

PG Grade: 10

Garrett Blaylock is a 2017 SS with a 6-3 208 lb. frame from Asheville, NC who attends T C Roberson HS. Outstanding athletic build, big frame with room to get stronger. Third base profile and tools defensively, especially as he gets bigger, 6.98 runner, long action with a lower slot and lots of arm strength, gets on top of his throws well enough, solid athletic actions and balance. Left handed hitter, hits from a narrow base with good rhythm and shift into contact, sees the ball well and is timed up, good bat speed that projects to keep improving, stays pretty short for his size, repeats his mechanics well and has bat speed, smooth and easy low tension swing. Projects very well offensively. Excellent student, verbal commitment to Vanderbilt.

RHP Erik Kaiser

6’5” 205lbs Waterloo, IL

PG Grade: 9.5

Erik Kaiser is a 2017 RHP/SS with a 6-5 205 lb. frame from Waterloo, IL who attends Waterloo HS. Big broad shouldered build, lots of room to get stronger. Deep arm action in back, lands closed with his front side and cuts off his arm extension out front, tends to fall off direction due to closed landing. Fastball topped out at 91 mph early, mostly mid to upper 80's. Soft curveball with occasional depth. Has a very good pitcher's build and a fast arm but will need delivery adjustments to reach his potential. Verbal commitment to Vanderbilt.

C Tyler Solomon

6’4” 215lbs Haymarket, VA

PG Grade: 9.5

Tyler Solomon is a 2017 C/1B with a 6-4 215 lb. frame from Haymarket, VA who attends Battlefield HS. Extra tall and large for a catcher, may be outgrowing the position physically. Has quick feet behind , plate, receives the ball well out front, has a long exchange and release, accurate throws, 1.98 best pop time. Switch-hitter, big leg lift load from the right side, busy hands, lots going on to time well, has strength and an uppercut swing plane. Better swing and timing left handed, creates better extension, still a power approach with plenty of lift in his approach, has some barrel control and showed game ability to make adjustments. Good student, verbal commitment to Vanderbilt.

OF Hayden Leatherwood

6’0” 190lbs Collierville, TN

PG Grade: 9

Hayden Leatherwood is a 2017 OF/ with a 5-11 185 lb. frame from Collierville, TN who attends Christian Brothers. Strong athletic build with room to fill out. Hits from a square stance and wide base. Hands start high, short swing plane to ball with a line drive swing plane. Repeats mechanics well and makes consistent contact. Showed gap to gap power with lift and strength in swing. Good feel for barrel. Good Student. Verbally Committed to Vanderbilt.

RHP Justin Willis

5’11” 180lbs West New York, NJ

PG Grade: 9

Justin Willis is a 2017 RHP with a 5-11 180 lb. frame from West New York, NJ who attends Memorial HS. Medium athletic build with good present strength. 3/4's arm slot with a very compact arm action in back, hides the ball very well and hitters don't see it. Upper 80's fastball, topped out at 90 mph, gets good sinking action at the plate and fills up the strike zone with the pitch. Throws two different breaking balls; curveball has very tight spin and big downer depth at times, will intentionally get under the pitch at times for more of a sweeping slider break. Works quickly and has a feel for pitching and mixing it up. Good student with a verbal commitment to Vanderbilt, very similar to fellow Vanderbilt commit Weston Bizzle.

RHP Aaron Brown

6’4” 205lbs Mount Juliet, TN

RHP David Bates

6’5” 215lbs Nashville, TN

*Note: Former commit RHP Weston Bizzle has committed to Chipola JC.