NCAA DII baseball is pumping out more and more players to the MLB Draft each season. Some of these names, like Nova Southeastern’s J.D. Martinez and UTPB’s Evan Gattis, are becoming household names on an annual basis.
The San Francisco Giants made Tampa’s Garrett Cave the earliest pick in 2017, selecting him in the fourth round. Cave is currently with Augusta having a nice run in full-season ball.
Here are a few quick hits on players that made an impact for me this season and will likely hear their names called early on. Keep in mind, while junior arms tend to fly off the board, junior bats have a much harder time. A guy like catcher Jake Anchia out of Nova Southeastern is definitely draftable, but as a junior, will likely get one more year of seasoning in South Florida.
Josiah “JoJo” Gray, Le Moyne: Perhaps no DII baseball player has garnered more attention than Le Moyne’s former shortstop now flame-throwing ace. He hit 97 on the Cape last summer and was lights out in his first go as a full-time starter this year. He’s likely the first off the board, and early too. (Here’s our draft profile)
Zack Shannon, Delta State: Shannon IS DII baseball the past two seasons. His numbers are insane, ending his two-year career with a .420/.501/.853 slash line and 50 home runs. He is a two-time DII National Player of the Year and the first DII player to ever be named a Golden Spikes semifinalist. (Interview with him from earlier in the season)
Giovanni Dingong, St. Thomas Aquinas: The man with the coolest name in DII Baseball also has true 20/20 potential and is a good corner outfielder as well. He is living proof that junior bats need more time to develop, as he went 20/20 last year in STAC’s run to the DII baseball semifinals and went undrafted.
Logan Browning, Florida Southern: One of DII baseball’s best two-way stars, Browning began his career at Florida before transferring to Lakeland. He led the team in hitting, batting over .400, but his easiest path to the pros may be on the mound, where he pitched an 11-strikeout performance in an elimination game just days ago in the DII baseball championship.
David Lebron and Keven Pimentel, Tampa: The Spartans always have success with starting pitching. Lebron, a senior righty, is one of the best pitchers in the South Region. For anyone that knows DII baseball, the South Region is to DII what the SEC is to DI. Pimentel, a junior righty, transferred in from The U, and looked good in his first year in DII, but he could be back for a senior run.
Kyle Leahy, Colorado Mesa: The junior righty had a down year, but has been on the radar for sometime. He and JR McDermott were two draftable names to start the year, but a down year for Leahy and an elbow injury to McDermott could see both return to Grand Junction, Colorado and that would be bad news for the RMAC. (Jake Mielock is another name to watch here, although the numbers don’t support it, I was told scouts were enamored with his stuff).
Eli Nabholz and Cordell Shannon, Millersville: Another school that has found some recent success with pro pitching, the Pennsylvania powerhouse have a few on the draft radar, but Nabholz and Shannon stand out the most in my opinion. Nabholz, a junior righty, has garnered attention for some time, while Shannon, a junior lefty, really came into his own this season.
Justin Montgomery, California Baptist: The Lancers are set to jump to the Big West Conference and Montgomery will likely be the last of the Lancers DII arms to make the pros. He was a little more wild than expected this season, but he made his mark last summer on the Cape and has been on the radar ever since.
Devin Conn, Nova Southeastern: The redshirt-sophomore righty strikes people out, end of story. He sat down 128 in 85.1 innings while hitting 92 and showing a nice curve and slider combo.
Jacob Blank, Augustana: The 2017 DII Pitcher of the Year had another phenomenal season. He capped it off by pitching the final game of 2018, a 12-strikeout complete game in winning Augustana its first-ever national championship. His command is a thing of beauty, and he has a nice fastball that he works a really nice breaker with.
Isaiah Carranza, Azusa Pacific: The Cougars had a historic 2018 and the Oregon transfer is a big reason why. He has a big fastball and quality changeup and put himself on the map last summer in the Northwoods League.
Chris Vallimont, Mercyhurst: The Lakers big, junior righty (6’5”, 230) is DII’s best strikeout artist, sitting down an unthinkable 16.47-per-nine as a starter. You can be sure he’s on everyone’s radar, especially after being on the big stage in Cary, North Carolina for the championship.
Other names to know:
Reagan Todd, Keenan Eaton, Colorado Mesa; Dalton Roach, RHP, Minnesota State; Mitch Hickey, RHP, UC San Diego; Gus Varland, Concordia-St. Paul; Nick Beinlich, OF, Belmont Abbey; Michael Rothmund, 1B, Illinois-Springfield; Hayden Marze, OF, Florida Southern; Logan Mattix, OF, Georgia College; Joseph Pena, INF, St. Thomas Aquinas