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2020 MLB Draft 2nd to 5th Round Primer: Vanderbilt Edition

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Which Vanderbilt players and/or commits have a chance to hear their names called today? *Note: This post will also serve as the Live Thread for today’s draft.

College World Series - Vanderbilt v Michigan - Game Two Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images

When: 4pm CT

Where: ESPN2 and MLB Network

37 players were taken last night. With only 5 rounds (as opposed to the normal 40), there will only be 160 players drafted in total (123 taken today). Most years, we see lists of the top 500 prospects, and know that more that double that will hear their names called. Not this year. Still, here’s MLB.com’s list of the top 200 prospects.

Last night saw Austin Martin (#5 to the Toronto Blue Jays), Robert Hassell III (#8 to the San Diego Padres), and Pete Crow-Armstrong (#19 to the NY Mets) drafted in the first round.

In previous years, every single current Vanderbilt Commodore player I profile below would have been expected to be drafted and sign. This year is not previous years (in case you haven’t noticed).

So Which Current and Committed Players Could Hear Their Names Called Today (Rounds 2-5; 4pm CT ESPN2)?


The Current Players:

#39 Jr. LHP Jake “The Eder of Souls” Eder

You know Eder as the man with the ball in his hand, collecting the three inning save when we won our 2nd title last June. The truth is, Jake was always expected to be a starter when he passed up a pretty sizable MLB bonus to pitch at Hawkins Field, and MLB teams will likely draft him knowing that if he can’t hack it as a starter, they have a back end of the bullpen lefty for 10 years.

Extremely small sample size aside, Jake more than held his own in his 4 starts this shortened season, as he went 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA.

Range: Round 2-3.

MLB.com Top 200 Ranking: #59.

Prediction: Round 2.

Chance He is Drafted and Signs: 99.99%.

#21 Jr. RHP Tyler “The Deliveryman” Brown

Though Brown scuffled in limited innings in the 2020 shortened season (1-2; 2.53 ERA), he has been the best closer in college baseball for his Vanderbilt career. I’ll do him one better: Brown is the greatest closer in Vanderbilt history. Full stop. He currently has the mid-90s heat, ability to spot his curve for strikes, and temperament to succeed in a MLB bullpen.

He was 3-1, 2.19 ERA in 31 games (0 starts; 17 saves) in ‘19.

Though there is no baseball, Brown is still putting in work.

Range: Round 3 to Undrafted.

MLB.com Top 200 Ranking: #133.

Prediction: Round 4.

Chance He is Drafted and Signs: 50%. Here’s the rub: Brown is 100% draftable and someone who could be fast-tracked to the majors as a reliever. Chris Lee reported in April that Brown would be returning to the Commodores in 2021. Of course, a lot has changed from April to now. My hair, for one, looks ridiculous, as I was scheduled to get it cut in March, and then (gestures vaguely). If Lee’s report is true, he will not be drafted. If he is drafted, however, it means his advisor has given teams a dollar amount that Brown would be willing to sign for, and a team met that mark. I still think there’s a chance teams don’t meet his number, as total bonus pools are lower this year (though that’s at least 50% wishful thinking).

I’m not hearing that Brown has taken his name out of the draft, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. As such, the “50%” figure just means “If he’s drafted, he’s gone; if he’s not drafted, he’s coming back to Vanderbilt.” Hold onto your butts.

#32 Jr. LHP Hugh “Big Fish” Fisher

Fisher was out this season after shaking hands with Tommy John. Fisher was electric, though erratic in his sophomore season in ‘19. He went 2-0, 4.41 ERA in 22 games (0 starts; 4 saves). Based on production and health, you would expect Fisher to return in 2021. However, there are not many 6’5” LHPs who can throw north of 95mph on the planet. As such, I expect some team to take him in rounds 3-5 and work on getting his delivery more consistent and repeatable. However, that is a lot of work to do when there will likely be no minor league season. Perhaps MLB teams would prefer Fisher do his rehab on West End and draft him next year?

Big Fish, like many prospects in an era of no games and no scouting opportunities, has been putting his progress on Twitter. Again, there are only so many left handers on the planet who can do this:

Range: Round 3-5.

MLB.com Top 200 Ranking: #153.

Prediction: Round 4.

Chance He is Drafted and Signs: 75%. I think at least one team will be intrigued enough by Fisher’s potential to take him and give him enough to sign.

#44 Jr. RHP Mason “The Stonecutter” Hickman

The Stonecutter has been a 3 year starter at the most difficult school in the nation in which to crack the starting rotation. Beyond that, he was the Friday starter this year—in a rotation that included Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter—and he more that performed up to that designation. Though he only got 3 starts before the world ended, he was 2-0 with a 0.48 ERA, 26 Ks, and 3 BBs in 18 and 23 IP. As a sophomore, he was 9-0, 2.05 ERA in 20 games (13 starts).

But MLB seems to be all about velo right now, so we might just luck into getting Mr. Reliable back for one more season. I know. Insane.

Range: Round 3 to Undrafted.

MLB.com Top 200 Ranking: Unranked.

Prediction: Round 3.

Chance He is Drafted and Signs: 50%. You might notice the “unranked” ranking and my 3rd round prediction and think I made a mistake. Nope. I think MLB.com made a mistake in their rankings. In a draft filled with so much uncertainty, do you really think no one will take the most steady RHP in college baseball??? I, for one, am skeptical, though I hope MLB teams are dumb enough to cause The Stonecutter to keep mowing them down in Hawkins field for one more year.

#27 So. RHP Ethan Smith

Not sure if I have given Ethan a nickname yet, but a draft eligible sophomore, his arm is talented enough to be ranked in the top 100 in any draft. But here we are. Smith moved into the starting rotation last year and looked phenomenal through 4 starts—going 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA. He was solid as a freshman, as well—going 4-0 with a 3.27 ERA in 17 appearances out of the bullpen. He is not nearly as polished as Hickman—who in this draft besides Emerson Hancock is?—but he throws the high heat that gets GMs hard.

Range: Round 3 to Undrafted.

MLB.com Top 200 Ranking: Unranked.

Prediction: Undrafted.

Chance He is Drafted and Signs: 50%. I disagree with MLB.com on Ethan Smith’s ranking (or lack thereof), as well. Perhaps they forgot he was a draft eligible sophomore? Either way, his velo is high enough to be chosen, but again, there’s only 5 rounds this year, so we may luck into the deepest staff in... ever?

*Other players with a chance of being drafted: Jr. OF Cooper “The Ontario Barrel-Maker” Davis, Sr. 2B Harry Ray, Sr. C Ty Duvall, and Jr. RHP Erik Kaiser. All will have the option of returning if they don’t sign—even the seniors—due to spring sports being cancelled in 2020.


The Commits:

It should not surprise you that Vanderbilt has yet another excellent class scheduled to come to campus this fall. Here are the players whose names we hope not to hear today, as with 5 total rounds this year—hence no room for error from MLB teams—you have to assume everyone drafted will sign.

OF Enrique “Shockwave” Bradfield, Jr.

Here’s what you need to know about Bradfield—he’s fast. Faaaaaaaaaast. 6.26 in the 60 fast (for comparison, Pete Crow-Armstrong, who is also crazy fast, ran a 6.51). He’s the fastest kid in this draft, to be honest. True 80 speed. He’s also really thin right now—6’0” 155 lbs—and subsequently lacks strength.

We’re talking a Juan Pierre type player, but he’s far from ready for prime time. His bat speed and exit velo is... suboptimal. For comparison, Pete Crow-Armstrong, who is not exactly a power hitter, is at 99mph off the bat. Bradfield is at 83mph.

Bradfield’s max barrel speed (how fast he swings the bat) is even worse. He’s currently at 61mph, which is pitcher at the plate slow... and that pitcher is Hideki Irabu. His bat speed is in the 16th percentile relative to his peers.

If I were advising the kid, I’d tell him to go to college, get to the training table, bulk up, improve core, hand, and forearm strength, take every hitting tip from Astronaut Mike Baxter, and we’re looking at a 1st rounder three years from now. Luckily, that is the current scuttlebutt on Bradfield—that teams will have to buy him out of a “strong Vanderbilt commitment.”

Let’s hope it’s real skrong, tho.

Here’s what Perfect Game has to say about him:

Enrique A. Bradfield Jr. is a 2020 OF with a 6-0 155 lb. frame from Hialeah, FL who attends American Heritage. Slender athletic build, not the type of frame that is going to fill out much but has plenty of room for some wiry strength. Outstanding runner, 6.26 in the sixty, has game impacting speed on the bases and in centerfield on defense. Left handed hitter, hits from a straight tall stance with a hanging left lift load, has quick hands and a compact short swing, hands driven swing with contact to all fields, has consistently shown the ability to take pitches and square up the ball, prototype leadoff hitter. Has easy and fluid footwork and actions in the outfield, runs very good routes and charges the ball hard, playable arm strength with a quick release. Polished player who understands his strengths and plays to them. Excellent student, verbal commitment to Vanderbilt.

MLB.com Top 200 Ranking: #103.

Perfect Game Rating: 10.

Chance He is Drafted and Signs: 50%. He’s certainly fast enough to be drafted and developed, but has a strong commitment to the West End. If you don’t hear his name by the end of round 3, I think he’s ours. Cautiously optimistic on this one.

RHP Patrick “Life of” Reilly

Corbs has always done well with players from the Northeast, and Reilly’s from Freehold, NJ. Reilly isn’t as well known on the touring circuit as the other HS pitchers in the MLB Top 200 (again, Perfect Game doesn’t even have a grade on him), but he’s already been clocked at 96mph on the mound. As you saw from this year’s RHP freshman class of Leiter, Hliboki, Doolin et al, it’s a good thing to be able to throw that fast. Let’s sneak him through this 5 round draft and let Brownie work with him.

MLB.com Top 200 Ranking: #181.

Perfect Game Rating: Unranked.

Chance He is Drafted and Signs: 25%.

C Jack “Whitey” Bulger

Bulger is the polar opposite of Enrique Bradfield at the plate, as he can muscle anything over the fencing they’ve got set up. The exit velocity off his bat is an eye-popping 105mph. If we get him to campus, he might have a tough time taking catching reps from C.J. “Chi Chi” Rodriguez, but he’s got the power bat to get early ABs at 1st and DH.

Here’s what Perfect Game has to say about him:

Jack Bulger is a 2020 C/RHP/3B with a 6-0 205 lb. frame from Bowie, MD who attends Dematha Catholic. Very strong and athletic build, pretty mature physically, especially strong lower half. 6.79 runner, is very quick behind the plate, stays low and flexible in his set up, gets rid of the ball very quickly with plus arm strength, very clean overall actions, definitely has the physical tools to stay behind the plate defensively. Right handed hitter, rotational hitter with good use of his strong hips, line drive swing plane with a bit of lift out front, makes loud and hard contact with excellent exit velocity speeds, works the middle of the field and repeats his mechanics and timing well. Well rounded tool set for a catcher. Very good student, verbal commitment to Vanderbilt. Named to play in the Perfect Game All-American Classic.

MLB.com Top 200 Ranking: Unranked.

Perfect Game Rating: 10.

Chance He is Drafted and Signs: 25%.

SS/2B Jack O’Dowd

Here’s what Perfect Game has to say about him:

Jack O’Dowd is a 2020 SS/2B/3B with a 6-2 190 lb. frame from Nashville, TN who attends Lipscomb Academy. Long and lean projectable build, lots of room to get stronger especially in the upper half. Left handed hitter, hits from an upright and open stance with a high hand load, long power oriented swing with plenty of barrel whip, looking to pull and lift the ball, hands are loose and fast through the one, projects big power with this approach as he continues to get stronger and mature physically. 6.83 runner, works side to side well and is light on his feet for his size, soft hands out front, profiles to second or third base in the future. Very good student, verbal commitment to Vanderbilt. Named to play in the Perfect Game All-American Classic.

MLB.com Top 200 Ranking: Unranked.

Perfect Game Rating: 10.

Chance He is Drafted and Signs: 20%.

RHP/OF Grayson Moore

Here’s what Perfect Game has to say about him:

Grayson Moore is a 2020 OF/RHP with a 6-4 185 lb. frame from Longwood, FL who attends Lake Mary. Big athletic build, looks bigger and stronger than his listed weight, has filled out and got stronger over the last year. 6.65 runner, very athletic in the outfield with clean actions through the ball and soft hands, outstanding raw arm strength, makes very accurate on line one-hop throws, potential top level defender. Switch-hitter, has a bit better bat speed and barrel whip from the right side but creates leverage and torque from both sides, middle to pull approach, legit switch-hitter with projectable power. Also pitches, high leg lift delivery, slow pace through release, over the top arm slot with some body lean, deep arm action in back. Primary fastball pitcher, topped out at 91 mph, showed some feel for his change up and picked up a strike out on it, developing curveball. Excellent student, verbal commitment to Central Florida.

*Note: Moore switched his commitment to Vanderbilt last July.

MLB.com Top 200 Ranking: Unranked.

Perfect Game Rating: 10.

Chance He is Drafted and Signs: 20%.

RHP/OF Miles Garrett

Here’s what Perfect Game has to say about him:

Miles Garrett is a 2020 RHP/OF with a 5-10 160 lb. frame from Stone Mountain, GA who attends Parkview. Slender athletic middle infielder’s type build. Athletic multi-part delivery he repeats well, some energy at release, cross body release out front, plenty of deception for the hitter. Fastball worked mostly in the upper 80’s with good angle to the plate, topped out at 91 mph, good arm side running action at times. Throws both a curveball and a slider with distinct shapes, big downer shape to the curveball, slider has nice late biting action. Tends to drop his arm slot on his change up. Works all his pitches and throws strikes, has a long history of performance and maintaining his stuff deep into games. Good student, verbal commitment to Vanderbilt.

MLB.com Top 200 Ranking: Unranked.

Perfect Game Rating: 10.

Chance He is Drafted and Signs: 10%.

LHP Ryan Stefiuk

Here’s what Perfect Game has to say about him:

Ryan Stefiuk is a 2020 LHP/1B with a 6-4 195 lb. frame from Green Bay, WI who attends Preble. Tall well proportioned athletic build, lots of room to get stronger. Multi-part delivery with lots of moving parts and energy, holds it together well, lands a bit closed at release. Upper 80’s fastball, topped out at 91 mph early, worked down in the strike zone very well and missed low when he missed, fastball is mostly straight, worked to both sides of the plate well. Firm change up with nice life. Nice curveball with good depth, was consistently able to backdoor right handed hitters with his curveball. Interesting three-pitch lefty with deception and feel for mixing. Good student, verbal commitment to Vanderbilt.

MLB.com Top 200 Ranking: Unranked.

Perfect Game Rating: 10.

Chance He is Drafted and Signs: 20%.

There are 9 more members to this class, and if the draft was the normal 40 rounds, I would profile them more in depth. This is not to say no one from the remaining 9 commits will be drafted, but a lot of uber-talented high school players who would normally be tempted with MLB money will only be offered $20K after the 5th round is over. There is a quite good chance we will get all but Hassell and Crow-Armstrong to campus, and our worst case scenario is that we will lose only 1 or 2 of the names listed above. Be happy.


*Reminder: First Baseman Gavin Casas, another Perfect Game 10/10 rated Vanderbilt commit, has already informed MLB teams he is coming to Vanderbilt, and has requested they not draft him. He’s got a 100mph exit velo power bat. His name is Gavin Casas and he hits dingers. He’s ours.