The Major League Baseball Draft kicks off tonight at 7 PM with the hopes and dreams of thousands of young baseball players cradled in its grasps. For Boston College, the chance to contribute to the next chapter in the legacy of the Eagles pro selections falls on any one of the names potentially called by any of the franchises dotting North America.
17 Boston College Eagles are eligible for the MLB Entry Draft. They are the following:
|Nick Colucci (R-Jr.)||OF|
|Blake Butera (Sr.)||IF|
|Joe Cronin (Jr.)||IF|
|Logan Hoggarth (Jr.)||OF|
|Travis Ferrick (Sr.)||UTIL|
|Stephen Sauter (Jr.)||C|
|John Gorman (Sr.)||RHP|
|Jeff Burke (Jr.)||RHP|
|John Nicklas (Jr.)||RHP|
|Jesse Adams (Jr.)||LHP|
|Luke Fernandes (R-So.)||RHP|
|Eric Stone (Sr.)||RHP|
|Tyler Hinchcliffe (R-Jr.)||LHP|
|Gabriel Hernandez (Jr.)||UTIL|
|Chris Shaw (Jr.)||1B|
|Nick Poore (Sr.)||LHP|
|Geoffrey Murphy (R-Jr.)||UTIL|
Of the eligible players, we know only that Chris Shaw is definitely going to be picked. Shaw, who played outfield for the Eagles over the past two seasons, was projected as high as the first round before he broke a hamate bone this season.
Previously selected by the New York Mets in the 26th round of the 2012 Draft, Shaw is the 46th best prospect by the MLB.com central scouting list. He enjoyed a breakout year last year, and he skyrocketed up the scouting charts as a left-handed power hitter. While he lacks a couple of tools - speed among them - he is considered one of the best raw hitters in the draft. Since teams typically favor that, it's possible he could become the third first round selection from a Boston College uniform.
What is going to dog Shaw in the draft, however, is his broken hamate bone. The broken bone robbed him of his power after he returned, and he never really impacted the lineup after the injury as the season slipped away from the Eagles. While the draft is about raw talent and ability, a first round pick needs to be able to project to the big leagues within a couple of years. A team could feel they could get him later in the draft at a cheaper signing bonus price, then spend time bringing him back. Scout.com's mock draft has him going 60th overall to the Seattle Mariners.
Shaw is the biggest name in the draft, and he's all but guaranteed to have his name called. Beyond him, here's who we might find called in this year's draft:
I thought Gorman was going to be called last year, but he was passed over. So I'm going to try this again this year.
A 50th round pick by the Boston Red Sox after playing for Catholic Memorial High School, the Norwood, MA native led the team in strikeouts last year and went 5-4 in 13 starts this year. He upped his strikeout total to 77 and led all pitchers with 77 innings. He is a big body at 6'1", 232 pounds, with a fastball capable of hitting into the 90s. He needs to be able to develop better out pitches since hitters rocked him to the tune of .270, which means he'll need to improve the breaking stuff when he can't blow pitches by people. Remember - everyone can hit a 90 mph fastball where he's going.
While he wasn't a starter last summer, Gorman made waves as a relief pitcher with four saves for the Bourne Braves in the Cape Cod Baseball League. That was the first time we got to see what he could do out of the bullpen, and it's likely he could land in someone's system under those auspices.
Gorman is the #7 prospect in the New England region, according to the New England Baseball Journal.
Adams is a left-handed utility pitcher, which means he's going to fall on someone's radar at some point. He made 19 appearances this past season with eight starts but finished with 62 innings, third most on the team. Opposing hitters only hit .205 against him, and he struck out 70 guys opposite 26 walks - right in the same ballpark as Gorman. He also finished with one of the better ERAs on the team at 3.05, comparable to Mike King, who was the undeniable ace of the staff by the end of the year.
Adams doesn't overpower with his fastball but is very good at using his repertoire of pitches to get guys out. He kept getting considerably better over the past two years, and when you think about pro teams want, every team needs depth players capable of either being a specialist or eating innings. Adams can fit both bills depending on how teams want to train him - he's either going to be a left-handed specialist type pitcher or develop into a long reliever who can make spot starts as a #4 or #5 guy. That's a juicy possibility for development and could land him on someone's draft board.
That his name isn't being mentioned probably means Oakland would be a good fit.
Of all the draft eligible players, Sauter is one of those guys who should hear his name called but might not be drafted at all. He didn't hit well his first two years at The Heights, going .226 in his freshman year and .198 in his sophomore year. But this year he exploded up into the .270 range, hitting .272 with 17 RBI. He's not terribly fast, and he wasn't the full time catcher behind Nick Sciortino, but he's the type of grinder that could fall into the lower rounds. Don't expect him to be a name called until Wednesday at the earliest, if at all, but he's the type of player a scout who showed up to watch either Gorman or Shaw would walk away saying, "I kind of like that kid."
That he has another year of eligibility leans towards not selecting him and putting him on a low round watch list for next year.
I thought Burke was going to be selected this year as long as he didn't allow as many runs as he did last year. He was third on the team in strikeouts in 2014 in transitioning to a starting role, and I felt he would be a good backbone starter for the team to build around for the next two seasons. Unfortunately, however, his season ended with Tommy John surgery right around the same time that Shaw was injured with the broken bone.
Tommy John surgery used to be a giant red flag for teams, but advances in medicine have made it more and more common. Pitchers typically have a much better bounce back from the injury, but that it happened means Burke is unlikely to be available for the start of the 2016 season. If a team is willing to rehab him and bring him along according to their auspices, then that's one thing. I don't think anyone's going to be willing to gamble on it, at least not this year.
There's a part of me that would really like to see Blake Butera or Gabriel Hernandez selected. But Hernandez bounced from the infield to the outfield to out of the lineup after battling injuries early in the season, overshadowed by the freshmen like Jake Palomaki and Donovan Casey. He played in only 30 games this year, making 23 starts. He will likely receive a chance to return to starting next year in his senior season with Butera's departure.
Butera, meanwhile, played in 49 games and batted .284, and was a steady hand for the Eagles. With a very good eye and penchant for drawing walks, his ability to get on base should make him attractive to SABRmetric-driven teams. After a dip in production from 2012 to 2013, he rebounded last year and continued to improve this year. He is still undersized at only 5'8".
John Nicklas made leaps and bounds this past season in a setup role, one of the major beneficiaries of the Boston College pitching improvements. But it may be hard for teams to overlook the fact that he really struggled at times before this past year.