The 2021 MLB draft is scheduled to take place during the All-Star break in July. Between now and then we will be profiling several players who the Yankees may be considering. Predicting who a team will draft is a crapshoot, so hopefully if we profile enough players we’ll profile the one the Yankees take with their first round pick. You can view the full archive here. Today’s profile: Gunnar Hoglund.
Hoglund is a 6-4, 220 lb RHP at Ole Miss. He was drafted in the supplemental 1st round by the Pirates in 2018, but ultimately decided to go to college. Unfortunately for Hoglund, he had to go under the knife for Tommy John surgery in the midst of a breakout season this year. Originally pegged as the best college pitcher other than the Vandy boys — Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker — Hoglund now finds himself likely to get selected in the mid-late first round.
The 2021 MLB draft is scheduled to take place during the All-Star break in July. Between now and then we will be profiling several players who the Yankees may be considering. Predicting who a team will draft is a crapshoot, so hopefully if we profile enough players we’ll profile the one the Yankees take with their first round pick. You can view the full archive here. Today’s profile: Andrew Painter.
In addition to an 80-grade pitcher’s name, Painter is a 6-foot-6 right-handed pitcher from Calvary Christian Academy in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He burst onto the scene during the 2020 summer showcase and many believe he is the top high school pitching prospect in the 2021 class.
With high school players you dream on projection not performance. Having said that, Painter has pitched to a 0.31 ERA across 45.1 innings this season racking up 91 strikeouts compared to 14 walks. He gives up around 3 H/9. Across his four years in high school, he has a 0.78 ERA and 233 strikeouts in 134 innings. Here’s some video of Painter:
Baseball America ranks Painter the 19th best prospect in the class, and most notably says he “has a great pitcher’s frame and perhaps the best command in the high school class.” They go on to say that very few high school pitchers offer the complete package of command and stuff that Painter has. He has an easy delivery and reaches the mid-90s on his fastball. They describe him as “as close to the ideal version of a prep arm as you could design.” In their latest mock draft, they have him going 20th overall to your New York Yankees.
MLB Pipeline ranks Painter 18th overall and the 2nd overall high school pitcher behind Jackson Jobe. The part of their scouting report worth highlighting says:
“There are high school pitchers who garner a lot of attention because of huge raw stuff, and there are prep arms who have an advanced feel for pitching. When the two come together in one prospect, there’s the chance for something special. Painter showed off that exciting combination of raw stuff and feel for pitching at a number of showcase events over the summer to establish himself as one of the best high school pitchers in the 2021 Draft class.”
In addition to his fastball, Painter throws a curve and slider as well as a changeup. The changeup has gotten rave reviews as the best in his class, and if the Yankees changeup philosophy is organization wide, you can see that exciting them.
Keith Law ranks Painter 24th in this draft class and mentions that Painter has improved of late to show better control. That scouting report stands out to me because Painter’s walk numbers are not overly impressive – averaging nearly 3 BB/9 – at the high school level. Which is a good reminder that with high school players, you dream on the projection and worry less about the performance. It also makes sense that after a COVID shortened season it has taken pitchers some time to bounce back to their normal levels.
Does He Make Sense?
In a sense, yes. As far as high school pitchers go, Painter is the one you want because he already has good stuff with his fastball and promising off-speed pitches as well as his great command.
The issue, of course, is that Painter is a high school pitcher and they are the riskiest draft commodity. In his book The Inside Game, Keith Law goes into detail about why it’s still a bad idea to draft high school pitchers in the first round. In that excerpt, Law breaks down the percentage of first round picks who do well, and high school pitchers were the least likely to achieve 10 WAR, with only 16% reaching that level compared to ~25% for college pitchers and high school hitters and 35% for college hitters.
For those reasons, teams tend to avoid high school pitchers in the first round. The last time the Yankees drafted a high school pitcher in round one was Ian Clarkin back in 2013. Before him was Ty Hensley in 2012 and Gerrit Cole (sounds familiar?) in 2008. Cole went to college and Hensley and Clarkin both flamed out.
The first high school pitcher taken last year was Mick Abel who went 15th overall to the Phillies. In the BA write-up, they compare Painter to Abel which is interesting. If there is any type of player who will fall, especially with teams still being risk-averse due to limited viewing of players due to COVID, it’s high school pitchers. I wonder if we will again see high school pitchers drop this year, leading Painter to fall in the Yankees lap.
One other point worth mentioning is that the Yankees historically have not drafted players from Florida despite it being such a baseball hotbed. The last time they took a Floridian in the first round was Dante Bichette Jr. in 2011. So, in terms of thinking which players the Yankees are looking at, a Florida prep arm is not the first place to look.
Having said all that, why did we bother writing up Painter? First because of the name. It rocks and after we tweeted about it we had to write him up. Second, Painter isn’t your typical high school pitcher because he has great command a feel for a changeup. The changeup is actually what intrigued me the post and spurred me to write this profile because of the Yankees’ increased changeup usage this season. That is clearly coming from an organization perspective, and if the Yankees do draft Painter, it will tell me the scouting and draft guys have also bought into the Yankees changeup revolution.
The 2021 MLB draft is scheduled to take place during the All-Star break in July. Between now and then we will be profiling several players who the Yankees may be considering. Predicting who a team will draft is a crapshoot, so hopefully if we profile enough players we’ll profile the one the Yankees take with their first round pick. Today’s profile: Michael McGreevy.
McGreevy is a 6-foot-4 right-handed pitcher who went undrafted out of high school and currently pitches for the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (an all-time great sports team name), which is also reigning AL Cy Young winner Shane Bieber’s alma mater.
It’s been a couple weeks since our last draft profile, so today we get back on track with Beck Way. The Yankees chose Way with the organization’s fourth round selection, which was also its last in the five round draft. A reminder, for the final time: the Yankees lost their fifth round pick as a result of signing Gerrit Cole. Ho hum.
Way, a 6-foot-4 right handed pitcher, was a quick riser after going undrafted in 2018 as a high schooler. He hails from central Pennsylvania but enrolled at Belmont Abbey, a Division II college located in North Carolina. Way didn’t spend to much time there, however. After spending his freshman year in the bullpen, Way transferred to Northwest Florida State Junior College.
Before we get to his one year in JuCo, we should touch upon Way’s performance in the Cape Cod League last summer. The righty appeared in 11 games, all but one in relief though he never threw more than two innings. He had a hard time with control (11 walks and 2 wild pitches in 13 2/3 innings), but impressed with 18 strikeouts. Various publications, including Baseball America, noted that his performance at the Cape helped Way gain recognition as a potential second or third rounder.
This year, Way got a chance to start primarily in JuCo. In seven games (six starts), Way threw 40 innings and recorded a microscopic 0.67 ERA. His control was much better (9 walks) and his strikeout tally remained excellent (58). The performance was impressive enough that Way committed to LSU for his junior season. That is, before the Yankees drafted him.
From the sound of it, Way is relatively deceptive on the mound. The Athletic’s Keith Law called his delivery “funky” while MLB Pipeline noted his three-quarters arm slot. Perhaps that’s why he struggled with his command in his freshman season and on the Cape, but he’s certainly projectable given his previously noted size.
Way sits in the low-to-mid 90s but can touch as high as 97, per BA. He complements his heater with a slider and changeup, with differing reports on which secondary pitch is better. According to BA, Way’s changeup is a plus pitch, whereas his slighty flashes solid-average but is inconsistent. Meanwhile, MLB Pipeline notes that his slider is the better pitch “when he stays on top of it”. The site also says he doesn’t use his changeup much, but there’s belief it can be an average pitch.
With his frame and three-pitch mix, there’s a chance that Way can be a starter long-term as long as his command remains in check. His JuCo performance as a starter certainly added some hope that he wouldn’t be relegated to relief down the road. Still, Fangraphs and BA both note that he’s probably better off as a reliever (though that’s always a fairly safe thing to say about any draftee pitcher). On the optimistic side, Law says that Way has “clear starter upside”. Further, Law believes that there’s room for velocity growth.
“There’s more in the tank with this guy when we get him in our strength and conditioning program…There’s just there’s a lot of room for growth here.”
And some more input from the Oppenheimer’s standpoint:
“Way made huge strides in Cape Cod last summer where his fastball’s been up to 98. He’s got good command of it to both sides of the plate. He has a loose, easy simple delivery to repeat (his mechanics). He’s got a really dynamic changeup that he feels comfortable using it any in any count. His breaking ball is going to be firmed up with our pitch-design guys and it’s going to be an effective out pitch also.”
Will he sign?
Way is the toughest sign of the Bombers’ three draftees. First rounder Austin Wells already signed for $2.5 million, which was just barely over slot. That leaves the Yankees with roughly $1,026,000 to play with for Hauver and Way. Slot value for Way is $438,700, but it’ll probably take more to keep him away from his LSU commitment. When I profiled Hauver, I noted that he seemed like an underslot candidate given that he was a college junior. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
The Yankees seem to make mountains out of molehills when it comes to college arms, so it’s hard not to give them the benefit of the doubt here. Way checks a lot of boxes: he’s tall, projectable, and already throws pretty hard. It certainly sounds like that’ll play in relief at the least, which would be a success for any fourth round pick. At best, it sounds like the Yankees might have a mid-to-back of the rotation starter on their hands. Of course, first the Yankees need to sign him away from his commitment.
After taking a college hitter with the organization’s first round pick, the Yankees did the same with its next selection. With no second round pick (thanks, Gerrit Cole!), the Yankees waited a long time to choose again after Austin Wells. Finally, in the third round, the Yankees drafted Arizona State outfielder Trevor Hauver with the 99th overall pick. Hauver was actually announced a second baseman, but we’ll get more into that in a bit. Let’s dive in to Hauver, who thankfully isn’t Trevor Bauer.
Hauver, a 21 year-old junior draftee, swings from the left side and throws from the right. This isn’t his first draft rodeo: the Royals took him in the 37th round back in 2017 following a strong high school career at Perry in Gilbert, Arizona. Perfect Game pegged Hauver as the state’s top shortstop, fourth-best prospect in Arizona, and 169th nationally. Rather than sign, Hauver chose to remain close to home and headed to Arizona State.
It took some time for Hauver to adjust to the collegiate ranks. As a freshman, he hit just .227/.344/.293 in 90 plate appearances. Perhaps some of his struggles can be linked to his positional switch, as he moved off of shortstop to play the outfield.
His freshman slump didn’t carry over to his sophomore season. Hauver spent most of the season in the leadoff spot and recorded an impressive .339/.433/.574 triple-slash along with 13 dingers in 289 plate appearances. Then, in his brief junior year, the left-handed hitter socked 5 homers in 83 trips to the dish while hitting .339/.494/.695.
Even though Hauver had a very good finish to his Arizona State career, he wasn’t close to being the Sun Devils’ best professional prospect. Spencer Torkelson (1st overall) and Alika Williams (37th) were off the board before Hauver’s name was called. Even Gage Workman, taken three picks after Hauver, probably is a better prospect depending on the publication of your choice. That said, for what it’s worth, Hauver was a better performer than Williams and Workman. Torkelson, of course, was on another level.
What the scouts say
From a big board perspective, Hauver could be considered a reach for pick number 99. Fangraphs, MLB Pipeline, and Baseball America ranked Hauver the 107th, 130th, and 201st best prospect in the 2020 draft. Those sites ranked the Yankees’ fourth rounder, Beck Way, higher than Hauver. Of course, the draft isn’t always about picking the best available given the bonus pool rules.
Hauver has some similarities to the Yankees’ first rounder, Wells. Now, the bat isn’t up to par with Wells, but Hauver is a bat-first prospect with defensive uncertainty. Moving off the infield as a freshman is already strike one. Strike two: Baseball America calls Hauver “an average defender or a tick below, with not enough range for center field or enough arm for right field”. If the infield is his end game, MLB Pipeline indicates that second base is the most likely landing spot. Hence the Yankees’ announcement of his position.
Fortunately, things look better for Hauver in the batters’ box. Scouts laud Hauver’s approach and barrel control. Both Baseball America and MLB Pipeline project him to have average game power or better, while Fangraphs adds that his swing has a lot of lift. That sort of offensive profile works well at second base, but would make him fringy in left field. Unsurprisingly, the Yankees want to give Hauver every opportunity to stick in the infield dirt. Damon Opponheimer elaborates:
“The idea is if he can play in the middle of the field and we can get that to be something that’s a doable thing, then you add his bat to the middle of the field,” Oppenheimer said. “It can make him even that more valuable. He’s got a desire to move back to the infield.”
On top of the keystone, the Yankees will give Hauver some reps at third base. Considering Baseball America’s note about his arm strength, it’s hard to envision him at the hot corner. Either way, second base seems to align best with Hauver’s defensive capabilities and offensive potential. The good news is that he still has plenty of time to fend off the third strike defensively.
Will he sign?
There’s little incentive for Hauver to return for a senior season, so I’d expect him to go pro. The 99th pick’s slot value is $587,400, but an underslot deal seems plausible considering his draft stock.
There’s a Nick Solak and Josh Smith vibe to this Hauver pick. Both Solak (2016) and Smith (2019) are recent collegiate bat-first middle infielders that the Yankees took in an early round (both Solak and Smith were second rounders). Solak, now with the Rangers, has hit well in his brief big league career while Smith raked in his professional debut with Staten Island last summer.
The Yankees seemingly have done well with this type of selection in recent years. That said, it’s somewhat concerning that Hauver is a tweener. He played just one game in the infield at Arizona State over three years, so the Yankees have some work to do to get him comfortable on the dirt again. And really, he’ll have to stick at second base for his bat to be playable.