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More fast starts for 2018 draftees

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Nick Madrigal, Jordan Groshans, Jeremiah Jackson, and Kyle Isbel all off to hot starts

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-Mississippi State vs Oregon State
Nick Madrigal playing for Oregon State
Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday we took quick looks at fast starts for 2018 MLB Draftees Brice Turang, Seth Beer, and Nolan Gorman. Here are four more from the ‘18 class who are adapting rapidly to pro ball.

Jordan Groshans, 3B, Toronto Blue Jays: One of my favorite players in the 2018 draft class was Jordan Groshans, high school infielder from Magnolia, Texas. In the pre-draft report I mentioned that he seemed lost in the shuffle of high school bats when it came to mock drafts but that his power, defense, and overall athleticism really stood out, noting that “Jordan is generally mocked in the supplemental or second round but it would not surprise me to see him go earlier than that.”

Indeed, that happened, with Groshans going 12th-overall to the Toronto Blue Jays. And so far that looks like a terrific choice: he’s hitting .380/.439/.593 with four homers, 12 walks, and 19 strikeouts in 108 at-bats in the Gulf Coast League. I put a “young David Wright” comp on Groshans a few days ago. It seems early to make that sort of call, but, well, I believe. Your mileage may vary.

Kyle Isbel, OF, Kansas City Royals: The Royals need some good news and here’s a bit: third-rounder Kyle Isbel is crushing pro pitching in his debut, hitting .375/.448/.599 with five homers, 20 walks, and 25 strikeouts in 152 at-bats between the Pioneer and South Atlantic Leagues, while also stealing 18 bases in 21 attempts.

A third round pick out of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Isbel is noted for his strike zone judgment, speed, and defense. He also put up big power numbers in college (.357/.441/.643, 14 homers) but concerns that these Mountain West Conference stats might not carry into pro ball kept him out of the first two rounds. So far, they are carrying over. He could be something like Jason Kipnis or David DeJesus.

Jeremiah Jackson, SS, Los Angeles Angels: The Halos farm system has improved considerably over the last three years and they have another hot one in the pipeline: shortstop Jeremiah Jackson. He’s hitting .317/.375/.598 so far with five homers and six steals in seven attempts in the Arizona Rookie League. He was promoted to the Pioneer League yesterday.

Jackson was drafted in the second round out of high school in Mobile, Alabama. Scouts liked his hitting but felt he needed to use his speed more efficiently and might not stick at shortstop long-term. He does have some kinks to work out with the strike zone (seven walks, 25 strikeouts so far) but his power has been better than expected and he’s been a force on the bases.

Nick Madrigal, 2B, Chicago White Sox: When the White Sox nabbed Oregon State second baseman Nick Madrigal with the fourth-overall pick, it was with the expectation that he would reach the majors quickly. They are sticking with that timetable: he played five games in rookie ball to tune up, was promoted to Low-A and played 12 more, then was moved up to High-A last night. He’s combined to hit .298/.348/.351 so far, with two walks and zero strikeouts in 57 at-bats while playing error-less ball at second base.

Madrigal’s combination of plate discipline and preternatural contact hitting ability is impossible to overlook, as is his energy on the field. The big unanswered question: will he show sufficient pop to be a regular at higher levels? We still don’t know the answer to that one but the Sox will make sure we found out pretty quickly.