*The 2023 MLB Draft takes place on Sunday July 9th through Tuesday July 11th. In the coming days, I will give you Vanderbilt centric primers of the current players and prospects, and my best guesses at where they are likely to be drafted. With the commits, I will also hazard my best guess at the probability they will eschew the MLB Bonus money and suit up in gangster pajamas in 2023. Today, we look at the current draft eligible players most likely to be chosen in rounds 2-20. Click here for more on the possible first round current players and commits, and here for commits with a chance to be chosen in rounds 2-20.
Current Players Likely to Hear Their Names Called on Day Two (Rounds 2-10) or Day Three (Rounds 11-20):
#33 Jr. LHP Hunter “Mr. Manager” Owen
2023 Stats: 4-0, 3.52 ERA, 10.7 K/9.
Here’s his MLB.com scouting report:
Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 50 | Slider: 60 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 50 | Overall: 50
A product of a South Portland (Maine) HS program that has produced four big league pitchers, most notably Bill Swift, Owen was his state’s top prospect in 2020 but opted to attend Vanderbilt rather than turn pro. After spending his first two college seasons as a reliever, he has made a successful transition to the rotation and may be the best lefty college starter in the Draft. But his status was clouded when he missed four starts in six weeks down the stretch with a tired arm after sitting out the final two months of last season with an unspecified ailment.
Before he was sidelined, Owen displayed a fastball that sat at 92-94 mph and touched 97 with a flat approach angle and good carry. He favors his upper-70s curveball over his mid-80s slider but scouts prefer the latter breaking ball because it has more power and misses significantly more bats. He also shows aptitude for throwing a mid-80s changeup with some sink.
One of the biggest pitchers in the Draft at 6-foot-6 and 261 pounds, Owen is strong and physical. He’s an efficient strike-thrower with all of his offerings and there are no red flags with his delivery, so he should be built for durability. Missing time in consecutive seasons leads to questions about his ability to hold up as a starter, however.
Here’s his ESPN write-up:
93. Hunter Owen (21.3), LHP, Vanderbilt
Looked like a second rounder early in the spring but missed time with arm fatigue. Big 6-foot-6 lefty relies on an above-to-plus slider and low-90s heater.
Range: Rounds 2-5.
Prediction: Unless the concerns over his injuries this year are serious (and I have no reason to believe they will be), Mr. Manager will likely be taken in the top 3 rounds and given money commensurate to that slot. It would be one hell of a surprise for that not to happen. He’s one of the great developmental successes for Brownie’s Pitching Lab (tm), and his jump in velocity, movement, spin-rate, and consistency are a testament to our developmental staff. He jumped from being the 205th overall player in his graduating class according to Perfect Game to being a possible 2nd rounder in just three years in The Pitching Lab (tm). That’s a whale of an advertisement to potential commits. Wish him well in his future endeavors, because if you think the MLB will just ignore a big lefty who can potentially start, you don’t know baseball.
Chance He Signs With an MLB Team: 99.999%.
#88 Jr. RHP Patrick “Life of” Reilly
2023 Stats: 5-4, 5.77 ERA, 12.1 K/9.
Here’s his MLB.com scouting report:
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 40 | Overall: 40
New Jersey’s best prospect for the 2020 Draft, Reilly flashed a mid-90s fastball but went unselected because he was strongly committed to Vanderbilt. He showcased electric stuff in college yet never harnessed it enough to claim a regular rotation spot. He got that opportunity in 2023 but lasted just two starts before getting banished to the bullpen for most of the rest of the season.
Reilly’s greatest strength is his ability to produce 93-96 mph fastballs that top out at 98 with arm-side run and downhill plane. His tight mid-80s slider can be a plus pitch as well, though he doesn’t land it for strikes frequently enough, and he can turn it into an upper-80s cutter. He has less faith in his mid-80s changeup, which has some fading action.
While Reilly has a quick arm, there’s effort in his delivery, and he struggles to keep his mechanics in sync. He walked 5.8 batters per nine innings in three years with the Commodores and 6.8 in the Cape Cod League last summer. He has the stuff to be a late-inning reliever but also would need to upgrade his control in that role.
Range: Rounds 5-20.
Prediction: While Reilly never blossomed into the top-of-rotation Ace his stuff and potential tantalized us with, it’s still easy to see why an MLB team would want him in their system. While Reilly might not have what it takes to become a starting pitcher, he has demonstrated the ability to be a lock-down back of the bullpen reliever with the potential to close for an MLB team. While that profile won’t get him taken highly in the draft, it should still get him taken and offered enough to sign. While he will have to continue to work on the mental aspect of things—specifically, avoiding the big inning—no one who watched him come out of the pen this year could possibly say he doesn’t have the potential to be in a big league bullpen within a year or two after signing. While not the safest of bets, if I were a scout, I would be pounding the table for him after the top four rounds or so.
Chance He Signs With an MLB Team: 75%.
#29 Sr. RHP Nick “Maldo” Maldonado
2023 Stats: 1-1, 1.45 ERA, 11.6 K/9, 8 SV.
Range: Rounds 5-10.
Prediction: Why do I have Maldo’s range at rounds 5-10 and Reilly’s at 5-20? Because as a senior draftee, it’s likely Maldo has less leverage in his negotiations. Further, you will notice that most MLB teams take like 3-4 tough signs and the rest of their picks are safe ones at pre-draft agreement numbers, as MLB teams get a total draft bonus pool for rounds 1-10, and can spend it regardless of where a player was taken within those 10 rounds. As such, though Maldo went undrafted last year, it was because of the following reasons: 1) the failed starting pitcher experiment, 2) his desire to return to the Dores to play with his brother (Chris had just flipped from Clemson and would be a freshman at VU), and 3) a signing bonus number that was likely a bit higher than MLB teams wanted to pay. This year, they didn’t fuck around. Rather, they kept him at closer, and he was one of the best in the game. He’s got a pretty high floor, though a low ceiling, as he is definitely a reliever only. Still, I expect him to go within the first 10 rounds and sign quickly.
Chance He Signs With an MLB Team: 99.999%.
Other Current Diamond Dores Who May Get Drafted:
The following players do not show up on either the MLB Top 250 or ESPN Top 300 prospects lists, but could hear their names called in rounds 11-20, or sign with a team as an undrafted free agent.
#66 Sr. RHP Thomas “Mr. Mayor” Schultz
2023 Stats: 2-2, 4.05 ERA, 10.0 K/9, 2 SV.
#3 Grad OF RJ “Ogre” Schrek
2023 Stats: .306/.454/.588 with 15 2B, 2 3B, 14 HR, 59 RBI, and 6-8 Stolen Bases.
#45 Jr. C Alan “Espy” Espinal
2023 Stats: .275/.359/.495 with 5 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 21 RBI, and 1-1 Stolen Bases.
#16 Jr. C Jack “The Bulge” Bulger
2023 Stats: .240/.348/.370 with 5 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 30 RBI, and 3-3 Stolen Bases.
#40 Sr. RHP Sam “The Perfect Stranger” Hliboki
2023 Stats: 3-3, 4.88 ERA, 9.2 K/9.
#36 Jr. RHP Grayson “Gitmo” Moore
2023 Stats: 1-0, 3.08 ERA, 12.3 K/9.
#25 Sr. IF Parker “Can’t Lose” Noland
2023 Stats: .277/.367/.455 with 12 2B, 1 3B, 9 HR, 39 RBI.
*Note: Noland has transferred to South Cackalacky, so he will not return regardless.