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2018 MLB Draft Primer - Hitters

Let’s scope out some bats, shall we?

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-LSU vs Oregon State Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday I took a look around at the pitchers whom the Reds might fancy in the upcoming draft. Today, I wanna look at the hitters. So let’s jam on with it.

College Hitters

Nick Madrigal

Madrigal is the starting second baseman at Oregon State and is one of the most highly rated hitters in this draft class. He is just 5’7”, but his elite approach at the plate is way all up ons.

He broke his wrist early this season and missed some time, but upon his return he just kept on hitting the tar out of the ball. In his three seasons with the Beavers, he has walked 52 times and struck out just 34 times. He doesn’t have much big-time home run power, but his amazing eye and elite bat control make him an extra-base machine.

The Reds have done well to draft the Best Player Available in recent years, and if Madrigal is still available at No. 5 (the White Sox at No. 4 have been all over him, though) it would be really difficult to pass him up. Of course, they have plenty of depth in the middle infield at their upper levels, but this kid draws comparisons to Jose Altuve and Dustin Pedroia. He plays a Gold Glove-caliber second base, but his supreme athleticism should equip him to play just about anywhere.

Travis Swaggerty

A junior center fielder at South Alabama, Swaggerty is an impressive tool shed. He is a good defensive center fielder and there is little doubt he can stick there due to his speed. He has a strong arm to match.

His speed is probably his best tool, but his patient approach at the plate is not too far behind it. He walks just as much as he strikes out, which is critical to his success because he can be prone to chasing breaking pitches and striking out.

He is no doubt a top prospect in this draft class, but overall I think there are more than five of these guys above him. I wouldn’t be sad if they Reds take him, but it would also mean they probably left a more attractive player on the board.

Joey Bart

Bart is a catcher at Georgia Tech, just like Jason Varitek and Matt Wieters before him. He reminds me quite a bit of Devin Mesoraco, as he is a big-bodied right-handed masher at the plate with good-not-great skills behind the dish.

Drafting a catcher so high in the draft is probably the riskiest gambit a team can roll with, even when it comes to college fellas from elite programs. For every Buster Posey there is a Tony Sanchez. The word on the street is that the Giants are locked in on him at the No. 2 pick, so he may not make it to the Reds at all.

Jonathan India

Yet another hot shot from the University of Florida, India has been the team’s starting third baseman this season. But he has the range and athleticism to play just about anywhere on the diamond.

He has been a fairly unspectacular prospect going all the way back to his high school days (he was taken in the 26th round back in 2015), but has had one of the best seasons in all of college baseball this year and has catapulted up the draft boards. None of his tools are off-the-charts elite, but he has absolutely no weaknesses. He hits for average, some power, has an advanced approach, and he runs well. If the Reds are set on getting a refined college bat that can move through the system quickly (a la Nick Senzel), I’d take Madrigal. But India is not far behind him at all.

Alec Bohm

Bohm, a third baseman at Wichita State, is probably the best pure hitter in this class. He has a very advanced approach at the plate and buckets of raw power that he translates well from batting practice to the game.

However, he is really no great shakes with the glove. He is not all that athletic and his arm is merely average at best. If he is unable to make appreciable advancements with his defense, he will end up at first base. Which isn’t at all bad, as he sure looks like he’ll hit more than well enough to make up for it.

Prep Hitters

Jarred Kelenic

Kelenic is a toolsy dreamboat from Waukesha, Wisconsin. He was the anchor in the lineup of the US U18 squad that won back-to-back gold medals in 2016 and 2017. He has a great feel for the strikezone, is capable of consistently barreling up the baseball, and has the speed to be a modest stolen-base threat. He can beat you in a number of ways.

Some folks worry that he will end up in right field, which isn’t all that bad. His arm will play well there and he has good instincts. He may be able to stay in center, but we’ll see, I guess.

Nolan Gorman

Gorman is kinda like the high school version of Bohm. Some scouts give him a 70 in raw power and he has won more home run derbies than the kid in grade school who hit puberty before everyone else.

Not only does he have the ability to clean up at derbies, but it easily translates to the game as well. He might have the quickest hands through the zone in this entire draft class. But as you might imagine, with all that power comes a few holes in his swing.

Connor Scott

Scott is a long and lean center fielder with elite speed in the grass and on the basepaths. He should easily stick in center and has the tools to develop into one of the best defenders in baseball out there, but his bat is appreciably behind his glove. He should develop good power as his body matures (he has just 185 lbs on his 6’4” frame), but he is not as advanced right now as some of the other fellas listed here. He can also hit the mid-90s with a workable breaking ball if the outfield thing doesn’t really work out for him.

That pretty much covers any and all players the Reds might entertain selecting at No. 5. This class, outside of Casey Mize, is relatively broad and deep, at least through the top ten. There isn’t really any one of these guys that has really set himself apart.

As I’m sure the Reds read everything I write religiously, I wanna share with them my Certified Authentic Charlie Scrabbles Draft Board® presented by Hankook Tires. So here goes:

Casey Mize
Nick Madrigal
Shane McClanahan
Brady Singer
Jonathan India
Matthew Liberatore
Jarred Kelenic
Travis Swaggerty
Carter Stewart
Alec Bohm

I’m high enough on all of these guys that I could reasonably defend the selection of any one of them, but I would be especially sugared up if they were able to snag Madrigal, McClanahan, or Singer (I really doubt Mize would drop to them). It is also worth mentioning that I am a terrifying genius when it comes to scouting amateur talent so if I was you I wouldn’t bother trying to engage in any kind of conversation with me about any of this.