Editor’s Note: Every Monday through the draft we will have a Full Count Trends piece running here on SCOUT. Every weekend I will look at three players who had a strong weekend and two who had a down week or had their draft stock impacted by something negative (health or otherwise). I am looking at a full count from the hitter's perceptive, so players on the rise will be in the three-balls category and those who have had negative performances or health news will be in the two-strikes category. Think of this feature as a running stock watch on draft prospects. A player in the two-strikes category may recover in plenty of time before the draft commences. You will also likely see names jump into the three-balls category that may not have a high profile yet but will be worth watching in the lead-up to the draft.
Now that the NFL draft is over, the next draft up is officially the Major League Baseball draft. There is little more than a month left before the draft happens. It is now the homestretch. After a two week hiatus, we are back to the typical format for the Full Count Trends piece. I will say that this weekend a lot of players really excelled and many could have made the top spots. I leaned towards guys that I had not spotlighted in trends earlier this year so readers could find out more about players in this draft before it happens.
Thomas Eshelman, RHP, Cal State Fullerton – Eshelman is a name on the radar that I don’t think I have mentioned once this year. He was very good on Friday, and frankly is good every Friday. He went seven innings on Friday, striking out seven and allowing no runs, no walks, and only four hits. On the year, Eshelman has walked just five batters in 88.1 innings. He has struck out 86 in those innings and basically been everything a team could want. In 45 starts over his college career, he as a 1.76 ERA. His 1.94 ERA this year is a career worst. Eshelman doesn’t walk anyone; 16 total guys in three years over 300 innings. He is a command, control righty. If he was a lefty, Eshelman would be a first-rounder. However, since he is a right-hander, he is a likely second- or third-rounder. He is a fast-moving, back-end starter who hasn’t been challenged at all during his college career. He would be a guy who would be in the discussion for the first starter to the majors from this class.
Kyle Martin, 1B, South Carolina – Martin was a 20th round selection last year by the Los Angeles Angels. He decided to go back for his senior year and it was a decision which undoubtedly has made him money. He is one of the top-10 seniors in the college class this year. In a draft class that has some weakness saving some money with a good senior sign could push Martin up into the second round. Martin had a big Saturday and a solid weekend. He was 4-9 with three walks and two homeruns. He is exploding this year. His ISO is almost triple his career best. He has more homeruns than the last three years combined. As a matter of fact, he has one less extra base hit this year than his career total before this year, which he will surely eclipse. He is also walking more than he strikes out this year. Martin’s slash line numbers are all career highs even though his BABIP is below his career average. He showed up for the Gamecocks bigger this year, having added some muscle, and it shows in-game.
Donnie Dewees, CF, North Florida – Dewees was talked about before the year thanks to a hit tool which had impressed scouts. He plays for North Florida in Atlantic Sun Conference. He was not a big name coming out of high school. Dewees had a really nice freshman year, but then he got hurt. He played in only 12 games as a sophomore and then went out on the Cape and raked. This got him a lot of notice and he was a bit of an under-the-radar guy to start the year. Over the weekend against Stetson, Dewees was 7-11 with two walks, five runs, a double, a homerun and a stolen base. On the year, his numbers are positively video game like: 31 extra-base hits, 14 via the homerun, 20-for-23 in stolen bases, and a slash line of .435/.493/.780. At last check, he was leading the nation in slugging percentage. His hit-and-speed tools were always potential plus tools for him. Dewees is clearly better than his current competition. I expect Dewees to be a first-rounder to a team that sees his potential as a lead-off hitter and solid defender in centerfield. If his power is a mirage based on his level then oh well but if it’s legitimate then even better. He does have two years of eligibility left because of the injury but I expect him to sign this June.
Philip Pfeifer, LHP, Vanderbilt – On the year, Pfeifer is a guy who is trending up but this weekend didn’t help him. He went 4.2 innings on Saturday, giving up 10 runs, six earned, on nine hits and three walks. He struck out four. Pfeifer was actually a starter as a sophomore. He lost his spot because the Commodores have two future first-round picks in Walker Buehler and Carson Fulmer. Fulmer and Pfeifer switched roles and it worked out best for both of them. Pfeifer was solid but not great as a starter. He moved into the closer role and really found a home this year. He has worked well as a lefty who can get out lefties and righties in the bullpen. He would, of course, be more valuable if he could start, but his future seems clear in the bullpen. He is an undersized red-shirt junior who will turn 23 this summer. I expect him to go in rounds 3-6 as a fast moving lefty bullpen arm with the potential to be more than lefty specialist.
Scott Kingery, 2B, Arizona – Kingery was hitting .467 at one point this year. He has struggled a bit of late. Of course, when you are hitting .467, struggling is relative. Still entering the game, Kingery’s average has dropped to .422. It was only a matter of time as his BABIP at its peak was nearing .500. This weekend was a struggle for him, as well. He was 2-15 over the weekend with a run scored and strikeout. His bat is what is going to get him drafted and the worst time to start struggling is early May. Kingery is still, at worst, a second- to third-rounder because of his ability to be an above-average hitter at second base and one who should move quickly. Hopefully he can bounce back and be the player he has shown to be this season.