2017 MLB Draft: Full Count Trends 3-10

The college baseball season now hits the one month mark. Jeff Ellis breaks down who is on the rise and who is falling in his latest Full Count Trends of the year.

Editor’s Note: Every week 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.

After my stalwart promises to cut back on the trends total word length, I realized I had already failed just a month into the season. Rather than cut all that content, the new goal is to do a pair of weekly trends pieces. The Full Count Trends will go out first and highlight five players or matchups that stood out the most over the weekend. The second trends I will figure out some catchy title for and will focus on all the players that I thought needed mentioned, but didn’t make the top five. This will limit reading fatigue, but still give all the promised information. 

In addition, starting this weekend, I will be out scouting games quite a bit. This means that there might be some weeks where there is the typical Full Count Trends and that is it. The content will be here in many forms. This weekend, for example, I plan to head to Ohio State to check out Zac Lowther, who is a potential top three round selection out of Xavier. Ohio State has a few players to see, but they’re a program decimated by the fact that they had just had the most successful draft in school history.

3 Balls

Eli Morgan, RHP, Gonzaga 

My good friend and writing partner, Taylor Blake Ward, basically told me that I had to put Morgan in my review this week. Morgan was part of one of the best pitcher’s duels so far this year when he faced off against Fullerton’s sophomore ace, Connor Seabold. Both pitchers went nine innings in what ended up being a 1-0 affair. Seabold struck out eleven batters, but gave up one run on four hits and two walks. Most nights this would be good enough to get a win, but Morgan was masterful. He allowed just two hits and a walk while striking out 15 batters. He only faced 31 total batters, so he struck out nearly half of the players who came to the plate on Friday.

Morgan put up very good numbers a year ago, but his draft value is limited because of his size. Morgan is listed at 5’10”. It would be one thing if Morgan had more velocity, but he starts most games 91-93 and fades to 89-91. Teams get leery when a right hander is 6’1” let alone 5’10”. There are likely teams who would not even consider Morgan. If he had higher velocity, some teams would look past the height, as high velocity heals all manner of issues in some eyes.

Morgan has shown strong control and command, but pitching in a smaller conference (pun intended) along with height is going to reduce his value no matter how well he pitches. There are teams who don’t care about height, but the majority still do. Morgan is likely a fifth to tenth round selection, but that does nothing to change what was a stellar performance this week

Clarke Schmidt, RHP, South Carolina

If you followed me at all last year, then you know how high I am on the South Carolina staff this year. On top of Schmidt, Wil Crowe and Tyler Johnson should see their names called in the first three rounds. I wish Johnson was given a chance to start, as I think he is a potential starter.

Schmidt was facing off against Michigan State this week and has his best start of the year. Schmidt went 7.1 innings, allowing two runs on eight hits, no walks, and a wild pitch. He struck out 12 of the 31 batters he faced. 

Schmidt is a borderline first round talent. I personally think he is one of the top 25 players in this class. I know for others the fact that Schmidt is 6’1” is an issue. He has shown strong control and command in college, though this year has been his worst so far in terms of control. It’s still very early in the season, but his walks per nine is more than double a year ago. It’s such a deep college class but, barring injury, Schmidt is a top two round selection for sure come June.

Carl Chester, OF, Miami

Carl Chester is one of the fastest players in this year's class. His 60 time out of high school was a blazing 6.28 which, when added to his strong arm, makes him a very intriguing player this year for the University of Miami. He isn’t the fastest, that title probably belongs to Quentin Holmes, but Chester is close.

This weekend, ACC play began and Miami faced off against Georgia Tech. Chester went 8 for 12, with three doubles, two stolen bases, and two walks. After a rough start, it was nice to see Chester get his season on track. Entering the series, he was hitting under 200, but is now up to 250.  One of the joys of small sample size is how easily the numbers can jump and change. In this case, though, the numbers jumped because Georgia Tech could not keep Chester off the bases.

As I mentioned before, Chester’s speed is his best trait but, thanks to his arm, Chester is capable of playing any spot in the outfield. The issue here is that Chester has not been able to use his speed much in games, at least in terms of stealing bases. In addition, he has almost no power, and doesn't walk much. He has posted good contact numbers, though, which, along with his defensive abilities, give him a chance as a potential starting centerfielder. We have seen a few players with similar skill sets and production the last few years. They typically end up being drafted in rounds two or three, with the understanding that the there is a very safe floor as a potential fourth outfielder. 

2 Strikes

Michael Gigliotti, OF, Lipscomb 

Gigliotti turned a strong performance in the Cape to talk about him being a potential top 15 pick. It is a weak class of college hitters, but the ability for Gigliotti to be a potential starting centerfielder, thanks to his athleticism, speed, and hit tool, put him on more than a few people's lists of the top five college bats in this year's class.

Gigliotti and Lipscomb faced off against ranked Michigan. It was another rough weekend in what has become a rough start to the year for Gigliotti. One has to wonder if he is pressing a bit. Gigliotti went 3 for 12 this weekend with five strikeouts and a walk. On the season, his batting average is .188, but his on base percentage is .429. He has more walks this year than total bases. He is averaging more than a walk a game this year and is already halfway to his total walks from a year ago, in a little over a quarter of the games.

Gigliotti will start hitting at some point; it should get easier for him once he enters conference play. The fact that he struggled, though, when facing better non-conference competition will stick out. It should also be balanced by his performance in the Cape. The tools should lead to Gigliotti being a late first round pick. If this is the case, he will be just the third first rounder in Lipscomb history and the first player taken in the top ten rounds since Rex Brothers went in the first round in 2009.

Peter Solomon, RHP, Notre Dame

Solomon is another player who helped himself out with a strong performance in the Cape. He split time as a starter and working out of the pen. This is apropos, as there is major debate concerning whether Solomon will be a starter or a reliever in his future. 

Notre Dame faced Clemson this weekend and Solomon got on the call on Saturday to start. He went just two innings, giving up five runs on four hits, two walks, and two hit batters. He also struck out a batter. 

Solomon has been rated very highly in several places. I am not as bullish as others. Whereas I value a Clarke Schmidt because of his ready performances, I am leery about Solomon, whose control has been an issue and has shown little improvement over his time in school. I understand that he sits low to mid 90’s and the thought is that, as he fills out, his velocity could jump. This is especially the case when you consider the fact that he won’t turn 21 until August, making him a very young junior. He also doesn’t come from a program known for producing pitchers, which could be a plus or a negative, depending on your point of view. I am leery of players with control issues; it’s always the first thing I look at with pitchers. Solomon has upside, but it's going to take longer to develop than your typical college arm. 

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