Hondo S. Carpenter, Sr. Spartan Nation

2017 MLB Draft: Kent State vs. Youngstown State

In his latest scouting report, Jeff Ellis breaks down the matchup between Kent State and Youngstown State from early last week.

When one goes to a Tuesday game, you know what you are going to get. The teams will not use their top arms and, typically, it's mostly underclassmen pitching, often resulting in very high scores. In a midweek game, you are seeing a team's fourth or fifth best starter, or maybe a young arm they think might move into the rotation next year. 

On this particular day, the pitchers were mostly underclassmen, and I got to see a lot of them. I saw a total of seven pitchers that day and only two of them were draft eligible. Again, as a general rule, anyone you're seeing midweek is not a draft prospect. 

The draw for this game was at first base for both teams. There was a scout there who paid a lot of attention to both first basemen on the field that day. While neither Dylan Rosa nor Andrew Kendrick are going to be high picks, my prediction is that both are going to be drafted and signed this year. 

Dylan Rosa is what would be described in the vernacular as a “big boy”. He is 6’2” and 200 pounds. He played quite a bit as a freshman but, last year, as a sophomore, he got my attention. On a veteran team, Rosa, as a sophomore, was put in the number four spot. This speaks to his ability as then junior, Conner Simonetti, had lead the team in homeruns and RBI the year before and was instead put in the five spot in the order. Simonetti would go on to hit 17 homeruns and be drafted and signed by the Nationals in the 13th round. 

Rosa, on the Saturday before, had absolutely killed a fastball to the deepest part of Kent’s field. It ended up being a 400 ft. double, because of the size of the park in Kent. It got out in a hurry. It was one of the more impressive hits I have seen at the stadium over the last three years. 

Rosa’s numbers this year have been, for the most part, in line with what he did a year ago. The one issue is that his walk rate has fallen off a cliff. A year ago, he walked 11% of the time he came to the plate; this year, it's down to 5%. This is a concern for me, because his already high strikeout percentage has climbed from 25 to 28 percent this year. These numbers are too high and his offensive performance hasn’t jumped enough to justify these changes. 

I had expected Rosa to take a step forward as a junior. The games I have seen him in so far have shown a swing happy player who swings at everything. I have seen him strike out on bad pitches, ones he should not be swinging at. The profile is going to be close to Conner Simonetti, his teammate from a year ago. Rosa has a chance to go in the top ten rounds, but I would expect him to be a post 10th round selection, because of the issues therein. 

Andrew Kendrick has been a surprise this year. He is currently tied, as of this writing, for fourth in the NCAA, with 14 home runs, after hitting just four a year ago. As a matter of fact, outside of walking more than he struck out and a high walk rate in general, there was nothing about Andrew Kendrick which would have put him on my draft radar heading into the year. He was not on any list I saw heading into the winter. 

It's been a long trip for Kendrick to get to this point. He was a strong high school player in the Springfield, Missouri area. Now, one can’t blame Missouri State for missing on the local talent, as everyone else did, too. Yet, it is fun to think of what a Kendrick-Burger combo could look like right now. Kendrick went to Lindenwood, which is a D2 school, and redshirted as a freshman. He transferred to Highland CC the next year and, after one year there, transferred to Youngstown State. 

Kendrick’s power rise also coincided with a big jump in strike outs. He has struck out more times this year than he did a year ago, in 70 fewer plate appearances. His walk rate which, a year ago, was higher than his strikeout rate, has dropped significantly, from 17% to 12%. It is also necessary to comment on the home field of Youngstown State. It is also the rookie league stadium for the Indians. It is a strong hitter’s park, traditionally, for minor league players. It has not appeared that way as much this year, but that might be due to the teams that are playing there. 

Kendrick is picking a great year to break out. He was draft eligible a year ago and, while he has another season of eligibility, it would behoove him to sign this year, because of his age. 

Kendrick’s age, level of competition, and position will limit him in the draft. In addition, Youngstown State, as a program, has not been as strong the last few years, which prompted a coaching change after last year. Kendrick has a chance to go in the top ten rounds, especially if he is willing to sign for a lower amount. The power he has shown this year has taken him from undrafted a year ago to a sure draft pick this summer.

Other Notes

  • Kent has a pair of catchers who split time behind the plate. Pete Schuler is a sophomore, who threw out a pair of runners against YSU. Tim DalPorto is starting regularly for the first time as a junior. He will turn 21 in May, making him young for the class. He has hit well in the games I went to and was able to hit a ball to the opposite field that had an exit velocity of 95 mph. 
  • Austin Havekost is a sophomore right hander I have seen twice. He was sitting 88-91 and hitting 92. He should be the next arm up for Kent next year. 
  • I have yet to see Joel Murray, but the sophomore might be Kent’s best pitcher this year. His performance and numbers are impressive. He is one of the top pitchers in the country, in terms of strikeouts per nine this year. Keep him in mind for next year and to follow on the Cape.
  • Zach Spangler was the only pitcher to get Andrew Kendrick out in the game I saw. Spangler is a right handed side arm thrower. His strikeouts have jumped this year, which gives him a chance, especially as a depth pen arm who could sign for a lower amount.
  • Luke Burch will get a longer write up later. I am a big fan of the senior. He is hitting .409 this year and his worst batting average in college was .357. He can hit, run, and play center. His BABIP in college is .446, which is an amazing number and shows a kid making excellent contact. High BABIP in college and the minors is a very good thing. He will be 23 soon but, as a potential senior sign, I would be all over Burch. 
  • The site had video up of YSU shortstop, Lorenzo Arcuri. I did not get a chance to see Arcuri, but he has tailed off from a hot start. 
  • Kevin Yarabinec has worked as a starter and out of the pen. He has been on the radar for a few years, but his performance has not matched his freshman year numbers. 

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