MLB Draft 2015: An undrafted dozen
More than a thousand players are drafted by major league clubs every June, yet every year there are players who were expected to be drafted but weren’t. Many are high school players with signability concerns. Some are college players, usually seniors, who slip through the process, sign as undrafted free agents, and eventually find their way to the majors, sometimes to good success. Recent examples of the latter include Heath Bell, Matt Shoemaker, and Daniel Nava.
Here are a dozen interesting players who went undrafted in 2015.
Connor Barron, OF, University of Southern Mississippi: Barron was drafted early once: he was selected by the Marlins in the third round back in 2011 following his high school career. He elected to pass on pro ball and take his chances in college, but he struggled badly in his first three seasons. His senior season was much better: .290/.387/.450 with eight homers and 13 steals, plus he hit .344 with a .519 SLG in summer baseball last year. This wasn’t enough to re-interest scouts and he went undrafted this week. Someone should take a chance on Barron’s left-handed bat as a free agent.
Chase Boster, RHP, Marshall: Boster’s 90-93 MPH heater and very good change-up attracted middle round attention at Marshall but he ended up being undrafted. Although he went 7-1, 2.95 this spring, he fanned just 37 in 55 innings, reflecting scouting reports that he needs a better breaking ball and likely scaring off teams with sabermetric bents. If he eschews free agency and returns for his senior year he could be a nice budget pick in ’16.
Joe DeMers, RHP, College Park HS, Pleasant Hill, California: Seen as a potential second round choice, DeMers can hit 95 MPH and has lots of big-game experience with USA Baseball so he is very familiar to scouts. He also has a University of Washington scholarship and a good career there could position him for another shot at higher rounds in 2018.
Doak Dozier, OF, Arlington HS, Texas: Contact issues and a University of Virginia commitment kept Dozier from the draft headlines this week. College ball could bring out the best given his above-average speed and power potential but he’ll need to improve his contact hitting ability. If he does that, he could eventually be a first-rounder.
Evan Hill, LHP, University of Michigan: He’s a 6-5 lefty who can hit 93 and has a deceptive delivery. He also missed much of the season with a knee injury, wasn’t at full strength until late, and needs to add another pitch to his fastball and slider. He’ll likely return for his senior year and try to rebuild his stock.
Matt Honchel, OF, University of Miami-Ohio: This college senior hit .354 with a .416 OBP over four seasons in the MAC and hit well over .300 in summer ball in 2012 and 2013. He runs well, too, but lack of power and still-raw defense kept him off draft lists. He’d make a good undrafted free agent for someone.
Ryan Karstetter, 3B, IMG Academy: Another prep familiar to scouts for his amateur circuit exploits, Karstetter is a good gloveman at third base and has a chance to hit for both power and average. He could have gone as high as the third round, but his University of Virginia scholarship spooked teams. He’ll head to college and try for another high spot in 2018. Having both Karstetter and Dozier in the lineup should be a coup for the Cavaliers.
Stephen Kolek, RHP, Shepherd HS, Texas: The younger brother of Miami Marlins 2014 first-rounder Tyler Kolek, Stephen doesn’t throw as hard as his sibling but can still hit 92-93 with a chance for more power as he matures. His mechanics and command need work too and he’ll get to improve them with Texas A&M.
O’Neal Lochridge, SS, St. Thomas More HS, Lafayette, Louisiana: Another prep who could have been a mid-round pick on the merits of his athleticism, throwing arm, and line drive swing, Lochridge was also firmly committed to Louisiana State and his asking price was too high for his present skills. He’ll get a ton of exposure with the and if his power comes around he could be a very early choice in ’18.
Ryan Mason, RHP, University of California: He’s 6-7 and posted a 2.98 ERA in 100 innings with zero homers on the strength of his outstanding sinking fastball and change-up. He also threw 13 shutout innings as a reliever in the Cape Cod League in 2014 with a 12/0 K/BB. He is also a junior at a strong academic school who fanned just 41 hitters this spring. That adds up to senior draft in 2016.
Sati Santa Cruz, RHP, Sahuarita HS, Arizona: He’s big, can hit 93 MPH, and is well-known to scouts, but a mediocre spring, issues with his breaking stuff, and a home-state University of Arizona commitment kept Santa Cruz from being drafted. With proper development in college he should hear his name called in 2018.
Brandt Stallings, 1B-OF, King’s Ridge Christian School, Alpharetta, Georgia: Stallings had one of the top available bats in terms of raw power and was seen as a third round possiblity, but he strikes out a lot, isn’t great with the glove, and has a Georgia Tech commitment, a bad combination for signability. If he addresses the contact and defense issues in college he could be an early pick in 2018.