The MLB Draft is always full of twists, turns and excitement unpredicted by any mock draft or pregame analysis. For two straight years, the Miami Marlins have been a part of such happenings frequently. After selecting Max Meyer over Asa Lacy in the first round of the 2020 Draft and used the savings to select Daxton Fulton. That pair accounted for 1/3 of the six pitchers Marlins selected in the abbreviated five round event. On Sunday night, Miami made a huge splash with both of their first round picks, selecting standout prep athletes before drafting established collegiate players with 16 of their last 17 picks.
According to Marlins scouting director DJ Svihlik, this was exactly how he and his team saw the event going.
“We anticipated this; we knew how this was going to happen or we felt like we knew how this was going to go down,” Svihlik said. “The whole front of the board from Rounds 5 and above is heavy, heavy high school this year.”
Although the draft went the way Svihlik expected overall, there were a few surprising moments for the Marlins draft team, namely surrounding their first acquisition of the event. Here is a look at that pick and the rest of the Marlins’ 20 picks in the 2021 MLB Draft.
Round 1, Pick 16 – SS Kahlil Watson, Wake Forest (N.C.) HS
Running better than ever as a senior, Watson consistently displays well-above-average speed and is a basestealing threat. The North Carolina State recruit has the actions and instincts to play a solid shortstop.”
Coming into the Draft, the newly turned 18-year-old Kahlil Watson was ranked the fourth best shortstop in the country by Perfect Game and was tabbed to go no later than seventh by most major mock drafts, including MLB Pipeline’s final version posted by Jim Callis (link) just moments before the event began. The Draft began and rolled on: the top five picks were made, 10 names were posted to the board, and finally the top 15 names were spoken into the microphone by Rob Manfred. Watson was somehow not one of them. After spending the last hour “sweating” in his conference room, Marlins scouting director DJ Svihlik perspiration ceased and he was filled with elation as he delivered the pick to the draft war room down the hall.
“To have him fall down to us, that’s extremely exciting,” Svihlik said. “We were very surprised that he was available. He was one of the most dynamic players on the board.”
How unlikely did Svihlik think it was heading into Sunday night that the Marlins would have the opportunity to select Watson?
“I would say, ‘You’re crazy, no way, not going to happen,” he said.
Scouting the 5’”, 178 pound lefty hitting shortstop, Svihlik stated that Watson is well beyond his years in terms of overall polish on all five of his tools.
“You’re talking about a guy that has a plus arm, plus run, electric bat speed combined with a great swing and athleticism,” Svihlik said. “He plays right up the middle of the field which is everything which is everything we stress in the organization. So he checked all the boxes.”
With 55+ grade tools throughout his profile and a 60 grade overall future value, Watson has an explosive swing, supreme bat speed (which Svihlik pointed out as arguably his best tool), and lightning quick wrists and hands which give him above average raw power with plenty of time to grow into more. The hands follow Watson into the field where scouts and evaluators agree he can make easy transfers. There seems to be some disconnect between reports when it comes to his readability and consistency going to both sides of the ball at short. Some say he may move to second base as he fills out in order to take some pressure off his bat but that he should maintain 55-60 grade speed, giving him the potential to be an annual 20/20 threat at a premium offensive position.
With the bat, seemingly the only barrier that will stand in Watson’s way is the ability to get his raw power to match his game power at the next level but with an infinitesimal amount of time to clear that hurdle and with already so much shine on his hit, run and field tools, Watson’s future looks very bright. He should enter the Marlins’ stacked system as a top five prospect immediately.
When scouts compare his big league ceiling, several names are coming up including Francisco Lindor but the name that will stand out to Marlins fans is Jazz Chisholm Jr. Asked about the prospect of sharing an infield with Jazz long term, Watson, who also shares an interest with Chisholm in the same video game, could not stop smiling.
“I’ll be playing (MLB) The Show 24/7. I’ll be using Miami. Him on The Show is unbelievable,” Watson said. “I’d love to play right across from each other.”
Looking at the future of the Marlins infield with names like Chisholm, Lewin Diaz, Jose Salas and now with the massive addition of Watson who is being called the steal of the draft, it is easy to see why Svihlik and company are so please with this pick.
Round CB-A, Pick 31 – C Joe Mack, Williamsville East High (NY)
On the financial side of things, Watson said he received the call from his agent describing the offer from the Marlins as “a great deal”. He is projected to make up to $1 million over his slot value of $3.7 million. So with this pick, the Marlins, who have a total bonus pool around $10 million, had a decision to make: spend now on another over slot player or go under slot value and save for later on in the draft. But when Joe Mack, the third best prep prospect at the thinnest position in the Marlins’ organization, fell to Svihlik at 31, the path was clear.
Before we even get to the baseball tools, what stands out about this 6’1” 210 pound backstop who will be 18 for the rest of the 2021 season is his infinite athleticism and compete level. When not in class, Mack’s time was spent either on the baseball field or on one of two courts: basketball or volleyball. During his visit to see Mack leading up to the draft, Svihlik saw this up close and personally and was very impressed.
“To watch him play basketball all winter, and for me to fly up there, watch him play volleyball and the next morning, be on the field, hitting (batting practice) at 8:00 in the morning, that’s very impressive when young players do that,” Svihlik said. “You can’t understate how important it is that they are playing multiple sports.”
Ultimately, Mack settled on playing baseball at the next level and he has all the tools to do. Each of his four plus tools are well ahead of his current level of development.
We will start with a 55 grade hit tool made possible by great bat speed, good posture and an approach which he modified midway through his senior year and after getting a late start to the season due to his volleyball team’s season going long. From a more closed stance and with a much less pronounced front leg kick during game action, Mack is a much more simplistic hitter and looks very smooth. The vertical power transfer is present: he starts with his elbows high and drops the barrel to the ball with his aforementioned fantastic bat speed. With an advanced knowledge of the strike zone and good vision, he prolongs at bats and can hit in all counts, including two strike counts. The swing is short without much uppercut. All in all, Mack shows the blueprint to hit for a plus average.
Mack’s power is rated at a 50 grade by multiple evaluators. Scouts say that he hits to all fields and, while at present he is more of a gap to gap guy, he should be able to unlock more power as his body matures and he is developed at the pro level. The bat speed and explosive finish is definitely there; he just needs to create more loft on the baseball and get his mostly stationary legs a bit more involved in his swing.
The tools don’t stop on the offensive side. His highest graded tool overall is a 60+ throwing arm coupled with pop times in the 1.9 range and hand to hand transfers that are instantaneous. He even shows the absurd ability to start to get out of his crouch on pitches down even before the ball reaches the glove. The athleticism and fluid motions are a thing of beauty and his awareness and attention to runners will keep guys close to the pillows. Coupled with great receiving and lateral movements to block pitches out of the zone, the high schooler looks close to being big league ready defensively.
Though the Marlins spent most of their bonus pool on the first two of their 20 picks, they did so for very good reason. Mack will enter the system as the highest rated catcher within the organization’s top 15 overall.
Round 2, Pick 52 – SS Cody Morissette, Boston College
After going over slot and spending an approximated $7 million of their $10 million pool on their first two picks, the Marlins go collegiate for the first of seven times in their first ten picks.
Morissette is a 21-year-old lefty hitter from Exeter, New Hampshire. After the 218th nationally ranked shortstop went undrafted out of high school in 2018, the 59th ranked prospect in the 2021 draft went 52nd overall to Miami.
So what happened?
As Prospects Live notes, Morissette first garnered attention by making an immediate impact in his NCAA career. In his freshman year in 2019, he started every game at second base over upperclassmen and hit .320/.371/.476. That paved the way for a .336/.400/.507 NCAA career with three solid summer league showings mixed in. Included was a .340/.480/.511 28 game tenure in the Futures League in 2020 after the COVID shortened NCAA season.
His future power production is dependent on his ability to see pitching (particularly good breaking stuff) at the next level as well as showing added impact with the wood bat. At the very least, he is a picky hitter who will also settle for singles, average, walks and OBP. He can also disrupt the game on the bases with good acceleration and above average top foot speed.
Defensively, Morissette has spent most of his time at shortstop but evaluators believe his long term home may be at second base if not in center field.
A floor utility man at the next level with room to be more if he comes by more power, Morissette and his plus plus hit tool was a strategically great selection in this spot. The Marlins should be able to sign him under slot value.
Round 3, Pick 88 – SS Jordan McCants – Pensacola Catholic High School
The Marlins went back to the high school ranks in a slot worth just under $700K. The pick was McCants, a Mississippi State commit, the 33rd ranked prep shortstop in the nation and the 133rd ranked draftee overall. In his senior year consisting of 27 games, the McCants slashed .450/.451/.670.
This was a bit of a surprising selection by the Marlins but they clearly saw something in McCants to once again commit what will very likely be over slot money to take this 6’1”, 165 pound lefty away from his college commitment.
There are some good tools, namely a quick, slashy and mature for-average approach, 60-grade speed, great hands in the field and impressive athleticism. What McCants lacks is power and the physical projection to come by it. He comps closely to (a lefty only hitting) Nasim Nunez as a guy who approaches from the back of the box, recognizes pitches well, swings at strikes with a hack and slash cut, settles for singles or walks then lets his speed do damage on the base paths. Due to an average arm, scouts project his long term future to be at either second base or perhaps in center field where he can further utilize his best tool, the speed.
Round 4, Pick 118: OF Tanner Allen, Mississippi State
Svihlik’s plan to take from the deep prep crop early then sign established collegiate hitters late fully came to fruition starting with this pick. It began a run on six straight three and four year NCAA picks. The pick at 118 was Tanner Allen who the Marlins had their eye on last year but due to the abbreviated Draft and a hamate joke injury limiting him to just eight games, he went unselected. Allen comes to Miami after a .336/.411/.522 collegiate career in the SEC at Mississippi State.
Allen who just turned 23, was a force in the SEC for three years and a handful of games, hitting .336/.411/.522. His exports in a .383/.456/.621 senior season earned him the SEC Player of the Year Award and helped lead the Bulldogs to a national title.
Svihlik said before the draft that this draft is full of Peyton Burdick type selections. This pick screams Peyton Burdick. Per MLB.com’s Jim Callis, Allen is a “top discount hitter”. Looking at Allen at the plate, he looks a bit like Peyton, who signed for well under slot in 2018, from the opposite side. They even wear similar war paint.
5’11, 190 to Burdick’s 6’, 205, Allen exhibits a quick, short swing with good bat speed and a feel for the gaps. Where Allen differs from Burdick is in the raw strength department (not a lot of guys can match Peyton here), making Allen a hit over power guy at present but if he puts on some muscle at pro facilities and begins to create loft more consistently, he will garner the ability to find more fences. Per MLBPipeline, Allen did a lot of work with his run tool this past season and is showing a better ability to cover more advantageous ground. Due to the fact his arm has just average strength but good accuracy, he could move to left field long term if he sticks as an outfielder. He’s also done work at both third base and first base.
Allen, with good college pedigree, a plus hit tool from the left side with the ability to polish into a bit more, this is a value pick that has the ability to become a bit more and arrive pretty quickly.
Round 5, Pick 179: OF Brady Allen, South Carolina
Back-to-back outfielders, back-to-back Allens. This time it’s Brady Allen, the 193rd ranked drafted per MLB Pipeline that comes to the Marlins at pick 149.
Per MLBPipeline, Brady is a player who does “a little bit of everything”. After a power surge in his senior year, that tool rose a bit higher over his hit tool. To improve the hit tool, the 6’1”, 218 pounder will need to create more consistent contact against quality offspeed pitches. At just 21, there’s time for Allen to become a quality all-around lefty bat. Scouts have his big league future stamped as either a platoon player or fourth outfielder.
Round 6, Pick 179 – C Sam Praytor, Alabama
Praytor is a fourth year guy out of the SEC where he hit .285/.392/.500 over 126 games. He suffered an arm injury in 2019 which required Tommy John surgery which then parlayed into the missed 2020 season. Per reports, he is still considered one of the best receivers in the nation and he was able to build his arm strength back well enough to catch 24% of his runners in 2021.
At the plate, Praytor, 5’10”, 205, hits for good power but has also stayed away from the strikeout, posting a 38/29 K/BB in 59 games this past season. A guy who missed a lot of tile in 2019 and of course 2020, the Marlins hope they caught Praytor at an advantageous time.
Still just 22, there’s some more room to grow as he transitions to the professional ranks. A good find for the Marlins in this spot.
Round 7, Pick 209: RHP Gabe Bierman, RHP Indiana
A pitcher and the start of a run on pitchers for Miami.
A 6’2”, 200 pounder, Bierman began his career at Indiana as a reliever in 2018 before transitioning to a starting role this season. The numbers pop: 74 IP, 2.68 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 80/30 K/BB against Big 10 competition. That K total ranked 11th in the league.
Bierman won’t overpower with velocity, sitting in the low 90s but he has four pitches and a good feel for the strike zone and ability to attack it with confidence. It’s a professional approach to hitters and a guy with a simple delivery. Ranked 24th in the nation in hits per nine innings at 5.72, Bierman recently spoke to the ability to get outs in multiple ways.
“I don’t mind pitching to contact, to soft contact, and trusting in my defense to make plays. My change-up will always be a weapon for me, but I need my fastball to set that up,” Bierman said. “When they’re both going well, and I can beat guys with my fastball when they’re sitting on my change, too. It’s all about keeping them guessing. keeping them off-balance.”
With a multitude of weapons including a sinker which induces ground balls and his best pitch, a plus changeup, a mature pitcher’s IQ and a good feel for his delivery and repetition, Bierman is a seventh rounder who is satisfied with getting outs however possible. He could play above his selection slot in the future as a back end rotational piece or at the very least, a multiple inning reliever out of the pen.
Round 8, Pick 239: RHP Pat Monteverde, Texas Tech
From D-III Marlins to MLB Marlins.
Monteverde is a 6’2”, 190 pound lefty who attended three different colleges over a five year collegiate career. After starting his career at Virginia Wesleyan (a team whose mascot is ironically the Marlins), Monteverde went back to his home state to attend Seton Hill in 2018. After a solid year in which he limited damage as a sophomore that year (71 IP, 3.04 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 78/27 K/BB), Monteverde suffered an elbow injury early in 2019. He underwent Tommy John surgery that wiped out the rest of 2019 then COVID-19 wiped out all of 2020.
But Monteverde and his rep Ben Simon didn’t let the pandemic hold them back. After graduating from D-II Seton Hill, he joined the transfer portal. Per reports, he did so with enhanced velo and another weapon in his arsenal, earning him a ton of attention and a multitude of D-I offers. According to the same report, Monteverde nearly became a Florida resident before today.
“Monteverde’s stock was heating up, as his velocity was up to 95 mph and a slider was added to a repertoire that already included his fastball, curveball and changeup. Simon would have Monteverde pitch simulated games and then send the video to college coaches. Monteverde was bombarded with 43 total offers, including 24 from Power Five programs. He ultimately picked Texas Tech over Miami.”
In a single season for the Red Raiders, Monteverde, with his ticked up velo and arsenal widened posted good starter numbers in his first D-I showing and in the most single season innings he had thrown (again, after a very long lay off): 86.1 IP, 3.75 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and a fantastic 101/21 K/BB.
Showing a wide variety of pitches, good command, and plus velo, Monteverde is a great find for the Marlins and a feel-good story of constant progression no matter what obstacles have been placed in his path. Born one month and one day before the Marlins won their first World Series in 1997, this soon-to-be 24-year-old is a great find whose newly enhanced stuff plays up to a back end rotation spot.
Round 9, Pick 269: RHP Jake Schrand, Wright State University
The Wright State Factor rolls on.
Hailing from the same alma mater as Peyton Burdick and JD Orr, Schrand is a 6’, 180 pound righty who pitched out of the pen most of his collegiate career before starting in 2021.
The standout tool here: fiery velo. Schrand is up to 97 with movement. He needs to polish off the secondaries whether it be his curveball or newly added changeup but per what we hear from his coaches, he certainly has the work ethic and drive to do so.
“He’s the hardest worker I’ve ever seen. He’s an animal. I personally think he’s a back end guy. He would run it up 95-97 when closing games and in the first inning of starts and then settle in 92-95. He has some jump to his fastball and his curveball is 12/6. He learned a split change this year that was effective as the year went on. He’s got the closer/bulldog mindset so I think he’ll have success as a reliever as some guys don’t have that.” — WSU head coach Alex Sogard
“He is definition of a bulldog. He competes and really works; one of hardest workers I’ve ever coached. He is quiet and just goes about his business. Obsessed with success. Likely a back-end bullpen guy as stuff will play up in shorter stints.” — WSU assistant coach Nate Metzger
Schrand could go a long way as an MLB pen piece because of his velo, mentality and compete level. The soon-to-be 22-year-old has the ceiling of a future high leverage arm.
Round 10, Pick 229: Hunter Perdue, Florida State
Perdue is a 6’3”, 208 pound righty who began his collegiate career as a starter in JuCo where he threw to a 3.97 ERA via a 74/32 K/BB in 90.2 IP to become a top recruit. In 2019, Perdue was recruited to FSU only to undergo Tommy John surgery, wiping out his entire season.
Perdue redshirted as a freshman in 2021 and transitioned to bullpen work. In 22 IP, he posted a 3.27 ERA by way of a 1.32 ERA and 28/10 K/BB.
Perdue’s arsenal consists of three pitches. The anchor is a 93-95 mph fastball with good sinking action that he can throw all over the zone for swings and misses and weak contact. His best secondary is a snappy breaking pitch with 11/5 action and some solid vertical drop. Fifteen MPH slower than the heat, Perdue has good velo separation that keeps hitters off balance. He will also throw an affective changeup with fade away from opposite side hitters that shows room for growth.
Despite missing a ton of time, Perdue was good in limited showings out of the FSU pen. The 22-year-old holds a solid mid-relief ceiling.
Round 11, Pick 329 – RHP Jesse Bergin, UCLA
An attendee of Harvard-Westlake High School, the same program that produced the likes of Pete Crow-Armstrong, Jack Flaherty, Lucas Giolito and Max Fried, Bergin held down a 3.91 ERA via a 1.25 WHIP and 168/55 K/BB in 168 IP in his career with the Bruins.
Bergin stands 6’4”, 205 and has three pitches: a 90-93 mph sinking fastball, a best pitch sweeping slider with good vertical drop at 80-82 and an average changeup that shows flashes. Per reports, Bergin’s crux is the ability to repeat his delivery and throw everything from a consistent arm slot. The amount of effort and tendency to get hit later in starts might make him a bullpen candidate but if he can iron out his mechanics and build up his changeup, he has a chance to stick as a back end starter. He’s in no better place to develop those two facets of his game.
Round 12, Pick 359: RHP Brandon White, Washington State
The arm train rolled on with White, a junior from Washington State. White, a co-area MVP in his senior year of high school (0.34 ERA and 92 Ks in 55 IP), posted a 4.98 ERA via a 61/39 K/BB and 1.6 WHIP in 13 starts and 68.2 IP in his junior season. He made it into the sixth inning in all but two of them.
What stands out immediately: size. White is 6’8”, 220. The next thing is his wide array of pitches.
With natural downward plane on the fastball which he can pump up to 97, good movement on a tunneling cutter, both horizontal and vertical action on his slider which he can place on both sides of the plate, and a changeup (which is probably his best weapon) that has great two plane fade to his arm side and is virtually unhittable when he’s dotting it against opposite side hitters as seen above, this is four usable pitches. He doesn’t have too much in the way of velo separation and he will get In trouble when he misses his spots but he has shown the ability to work all over the zone.
The mechanics look pretty smooth and free and the short arm actions are consistent from a very high slot. Despite the gaudy ERA and WHIP, there’s plenty of potential here for White gain more consistent command within the Marlins organization. At the very least, he’s a multiple innings reliever.
Round 13, Pick 389: LHP Chandler Jozwiak, Texas A&M
Jozwiak is a 6’, 180 pound lefty who comes off of a great senior year in the SEC after he was transitioned full time to the bullpen. In 2021, he was as reliable as they come for the Aggies, appearing in 28 games and staking himself to a 3.48 ERA in 62 IP by way of a 1.16 WHIP and 79/18 K/BB.
Up to 95 with the fastball coupled with a high 80s slider all from a low 3/4 slot and a quick and explosive stretch delivery with which he hides the ball well, Jozwiak lines up as a potential high leverage arm. If he is to reach that ceiling, work will need to be done with his finish and hitting release points to enhance his control which wavers at times. The Marlins pitching development team will get to work on that shortly.
Round 14, Pick 419: RHP Holt Jones Jr., Kentucky
He’s not to be confused with Indiana Jones (aka Henry Jones Jr.) but Holt can definitely whip it and whip it good. During his collegiate career, he pitched for two highly heralded programs including the ACC’s Clemson Tigers and the SEC’s Kentucky Wildcats. According to the Wildcats’ Twitter account, Jones Jr. certainly brings the compete level up on the mound.
Holt is another massive 6’8” specimen with good fastball velo in the upper 90s. His size allows him to shorten distance to the plate giving the fastball the ability to jump all over hitters but what he lacks is the ability to keep his long limbs under control. These issues compound when he throws his breaking ball, a high 70s curveball. The pitch shows good shape but the feel for the pitch is just okay, leading to the tendency to get wild.
Holt Jr comes to the Marlins with a projectable mid-late relief future due to the size, velo and velo mix but he will need to work a few things out as he progresses through the system.
Round 15, Pick 449: LHP Caleb Wurster, UConn
Wurster is a 6’, 180 pound lefty out of UConn who has enjoyed a lot of success out of the back end of the Huskies’ bullpen. In three years, he compiled a 2.64 ERA via a 100/32 K/BB and 1.05 WHIP in 95.1 IP.
Wurster’s best tool is his deception. Tossing from the first base side, he comes home with a quick delivery from a low sidearm slot, giving him the ability to throw his low 90s fastball with movement and both rise and sink. He has two breaking pitches, the best being a low 80s slider that sweeps away from same side hitters. It has a natural downward arc because of his release point. When commanding, he can place it at will. His changeup is a mid-80s offering with some tumble. All three of Wurster’s pitches are thrown with similar velo and the stuff though good isn’t overwhelmingX However, his ability to hit release points and mask pitches with the same arm speed frustrates hitters and gives him an edge.
At the collegiate level, Wurster was affective as a closer. At the next level, the softer tossing lefty is more likely a floor middle reliever or ceiling 7th/8th inning guy.
Round 16, Pick 479: 3B Ivan Melendez, Texas
Melendez is a 6’3”, 220 pound third baseman who was recruited to Texas after the 2019 season. He had a fantastic first season in D-I ball at one point hitting seven homers in six games and finished strong, helping Texas through the College World Series with some clutch performances. He provided one of the most exciting moments of the CWS with a go-ahead three run homer against Mississippi State. Overall, Melendez hit .319/.438/.603 with 13 homers and a 65/34 K/BB.
Known as the Hispanic Titanic, Melendez is an athletically built specimen with a plus hit tool and power. His quick hands and feel for the barrel allow him to get to any pitch, impact the baseball consistently and go to all fields. Melendez recently described his approach at the plate, saying it changes depending on the situation and that he doesn’t force power but just lets it come naturally. Melendez’s hit and power tools each project to grade highly on the 20-80 scale.
On the other side of the ball, there’s not much to say because there hasn’t been much to be seen. A pitcher in high school, Melendez underwent labrum surgery on his non-throwing arm before making the move to the field. After the College World Series this year, he suffered an injury to his left wrist which also required surgery. Because of the health concerns and inexperience in the field, he could be a regular DH at the next level.
The Marlins took the lottery ticket on Melendez late in the draft but the likelihood of the Marlins, who wouldn’t be able to offer much over slot value, signing him isn’t great. After a special sophomore year, safe money is on Melendez to return to Texas and improve his draft stock for next season. With similar success, he could make himself a mid-late first round pick, earning himself a much bigger signing bonus.
Round 17, Pick 509: LHP Justin Fall, Arizona State
Another massive human being, Fall is a 6’6”, 240 pound southpaw who redshirted in his senior year at ASU. After starting the season in the bullpen, multiple injuries to starters moved Fall into the rotation. He ended the year with a 4.08 ERA and 1.44 WHIP in 77 IP.
While those numbers weren’t bad for a guy who expected to transition to the pen only to be asked to rejoin the rotation early on, Fall didn’t create much in the way of whiffs. He struck out just 47 on the season, a concerning sign for MLBPipeline’s Will Boor.
This is another value pick for the Marlins and their top-tier pitching development team. Fall is said to have improved his command greatly in 2021 with a sinking fastball that hits 95 with natural downward plane and a slider in the mid-high 80s with good tilt. After missing a lot of time in his collegiate career due to injury and the canceled 2020 season, the recently turned 22 year old will need to be developed swiftly and advantageously but if there’s one system that can bring out his full potential, it’s Miami.
Round 18, Pick 539: SS Bennett Hostetler, North Dakota State
Hostetler is a 23-year-old righty hitting shortstop and left fielder who played five years at NDSU. In an extra year of eligibility due to COVID-19 wiping out most of his senior year in 2020, Hostetler had a big year in 2021, hitting .394/.513/.606. He won the Summit League’s Player of the Year award and helped the Bison win their first ever NCAA tournament game. He caught the eye of the Marlins who held a private workout with him at the Missoula Paddleheads’ facility this offseason.
6’, 195, Hostetler, a two-sport collegiate athlete, drew little to no interest the first three years of his baseball career before lighting the world on fire in a lesser-heralded conference, a conference you need to do that in if you’re going to play pro ball out of the draft. It is a testament to Hostetler’s drive and ability to make the most of the opportunity to do so in an extra year of eligibility.
As an out-of-nowhere guy, not much is printed or published on Hostetler’s tools. What is clear from his stat lines is that he’s always been a patient hitter that limits strikeouts. He’s fourth all time in NDSU history in OBP via a 170/108 K/BB across five collegiate seasons. What he greatly improved upon this season was his bat to ball skills and ability to make loud contact, moving his batting average from .250 in 2019 to .394. He also clubbed 10 homers, up from six. In a recent interview, Hostetler attributed the rise in average and power to being even more selective not only swinging at strikes but swinging at pitches he knows he can do something with.
“Just because I have the ability to hit certain pitches pretty much anywhere in the strike zone doesn’t mean I should swing at them,” Hostetler said.
At 24, Hostetler should be challenged and pushed pretty quickly.
Round 19, Pick 569: OF Noah Williamson, Everett Community College
The Marlins go to the JuCo ranks with their second-to-last selection and grab Williamson, a sophomore who only competed in four games with his community college in 2021 but really turned heads this summer in the wood bat West Coast League. In 24 games with Yakima Valley, Williamson hit .280/.348/.620 with six homers. He posted those numbers after he agreed to a 10-day contract with the summer ball club. After he went 2-5 in his first game, he received a full season offer.
Along with the offer from the Marlins, Williamson also reportedly has an offer from D-I Oregon. He’s expected to decide whether to sign or not within the next two weeks.
Scouting reports are few and far between on this player but what we do know from what has been said by Svihlik and from his coach this summer Kyle Krustangel, Williamson is a dynamic outfielder with plus power, plus speed and a good arm, checking the boxes for three of five potential tools.
If Williamson signs, he will be an interesting story to follow as a purely out of nowhere discovery who has barely played much affiliated baseball.
Round 20, Pick 599: 1B Zach Zubia, Texas
Miami rounded out the draft by selecting Zubia who played all four years with Texas and helped them to the College World Series on the same team as a previous pick, Ivan Melendez last season. In 201 NCAA games, Zubia hit .274/.399/.476 with 30 homers and a 190/140 K/BB including .286/.412/.502, 11 HR, 67/49 K/BB this past spring.
A quarterback and pitcher as well as first baseman in high school, there’s some real athleticism here especially for a larger built guy. Zubia is a thick framed 6’4”, 230 pounder who packs on muscle. The best tool is the raw power which Zubia comes by naturally. The swing looks pretty smooth; Zubia doesn’t overdo it or try to force power at the plate and he will settle for base hits and take walks. In his sophomore year, he walked more than he struck out, uncanny for a power-first bat.
What you’d like to see more of from Zubia is more consistent bat to ball contact because they go far when he barrels up. If he can be taught to get extended more consistently and keep his bat in the zone longer which he definitely has the size to do, Zubia is a guy who could hit for both a good average and 20+ homer power while playing a solid first base and/or DHing at the next level. He will need to do so quickly and while getting facing a tall challenge though. At nearly 26, he will be pushed aggressively.