The 2021 MLB draft is scheduled to take place during the All-Star break in July (starting this Sunday!). 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: Ryan Cusick.
Cusick is a huge 6′-6″, 225 lb righthanded pitcher out of Wake Forest. He pitched out of the bullpen his freshman year in 2019 before moving into the rotation for 4 starts in last year’s pandemic season. This year, he has worked as a starter for the Demon Deacons. Cusick was ranked as the 115th best prospect in the 2018 draft, and was selected by the Reds in the 40th round but turned them down to play college ball.
The 2021 MLB draft is scheduled to take place during the All-Star break in July (starting this Sunday!). 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: Colson Montgomery.
Montgomery is a 6′-4″, 200 lb shortstop out of Southridge High School in Indiana. In addition to playing baseball, he stars on the football and of course, basketball teams. He is currently committed to Indiana University – both as a baseball and basketball recruit, though his athletic future likely lies in baseball. Montgomery is one of the more interesting draft prospects this year because he has rocketed up draft boards this spring though there are questions about his signability and concerns that he is an older high schooler.
Like most high schoolers, finding stats is difficult and ultimately meaningless. High schoolers make their mark in showcases and other events against top competition, and that is how Montgomery has improved his draft stock. He was a standout player at the World Wood Bat Association World Championship last year and recently attended the MLB Draft Combine where Jim Callis called him the best player he saw on that day:
Since Colson jumped up draft boards throughout the spring, the ratings are all over the place. The one thing everyone agrees on, though, is that Montgomery has good power that will play at the next level.
MLB Pipeline ranks him as the 25th best prospect in this year’s class giving him an overall grade of 50 with a 55 for both his power and his arm. All his grades are in the 45-55 range. Here is some of their scouting report:
Montgomery has a good left-handed swing that should allow him to hit for average and power. He’s most effective when he uses the entire field rather than trying to pull pitches out of the park, and his approach got more consistent throughout the summer. His frame resembles Corey Seager’s at the same stage of their careers and he has the strength and bat speed to develop similar pop.
Though he plays shortstop in high school, Montgomery has fringy speed and figures to outgrow the position once he fills out his 6-foot-4 frame. He moves well for his size and should become at least an average defender with a solid arm at the hot corner. If he attends college at Indiana, he’ll be eligible for the 2023 Draft.
Baseball America ranks Montgomery 43rd overall – though they recently bumped him up from 121 showing his meteoric rise after leading his high school to a state championship this spring. They give him similar grades to MLB Pipeline, saying “scouts have lauded his athleticism even though he’s not a great runner, but his impressive reactions and average arm strength should give him a shot to handle third base at the next level. He has the frame, bat speed and swing to grow into more than enough power to profile at a corner position, with some scouts thinking he has plus raw power now and could grow into more at his physical peak.”
FanGraphs ranks him 45th saying he needs to move to 3rd base but has great power and Keith Law of The Athletic puts him at 84th overall saying he has a good swing but there are questions about his overall hit tool at the higher level.
Does he make sense?
Montgomery is such an interesting prospect, and I wonder if he is gaining helium because after the top 5 shortstop prospects there is a dearth of infielders in the 15-30 range. Although you don’t draft for need in the MLB draft, a guy like Montgomery may stand out because there aren’t similar players to him in the middle-late first round.
On the whole, Montgomery is intriguing as a high school lefty bat with strong power and a good looking swing. It’s easy to dream about any lefty hitters in Yankee Stadium – especially when Rougned Odor is currently leading the team in LH homeruns.
Montgomery strikes me as a solid and safe prospect as far as high schoolers go but without the star potential you can dream on. We already know he most likely needs to move to 3rd base which limits his upside, although he is athletic and has strong defensive instincts.
On the offensive side, he has already struggled with high-end velocity and that is a concern with the continued increase of high-speed fastballs in the game today.
The other concerns with Montgomery are about age and signability. Let’s start with age. Having already turned 19, he is old for a high school player which means he is closer to fully developed, further limiting the upside you dream on for high schoolers. 2016 draftee Blake Rutherford was a similar age when he was drafted, for example, and he never reached the potential scouts saw in him. Being 19 also means that Montgomery can go to IU and become draft eligible in 2 years instead of 3. That gives him leverage in the draft this year.
Because of that leverage, mocks have Montgomery all over the place because they don’t know if he might sign an underslot deal with a top 10 team or fall because teams don’t think they can sign him. There’s this from Jim Callis:
So anywhere from 10th overall to the 2nd round.
One thing we’ve barely touched on is the MLB Combine which Montgomery attended, where players had a chance to be seen by scouts and teams gained additional data on them. And that is the real mystery with Montgomery because the Yankees are a team that values data highly, and if Montgomery had a standout showing at the Combine (which we have not heard much about), that could increase their interest in him – which is why we’re profiling him.
Having said all that, Montgomery is not the type of draft prospect that excites him as someone who likely has to move to a corner infield position and there are questions about his hit tool. That’s the kind of guy you take in the middle rounds, not the first in my opinion. But, the Yankees and other teams know far more than we do so we’ll find out Sunday where he goes.
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: Will Bednar.
Bednar is a 6-foot-2, 230 pound right-handed pitcher for Mississippi State. His brother is David Bednar who is in the midst of a breakout season as a reliever for the Pirates. The younger Bednar drew draft attention out of his Pennsylvania high school, but ultimately went to pitch in college after a biceps injury ended his high school career early. Bednar pitched out of the bullpen as a freshman during last year’s pandemic season and has been a rotation mainstay for the Bulldogs this season, who notably made the NCAA College World Series Championship.
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: Benny Montgomery.
Montgomery is a 6′-4″ 195 lb outfielder for Red Land High School in Lewisberry, Pennsylvania. It is rare to see Northeast prospects ranked so highly which speaks to the talent that Montgomery is. He made his claim to fame last summer when he won the home run derby at the Perfect Game Showcase. His raw tools are exciting – he has already hit exit velocities over 104 mph on a tee, has a barrel speed of 85 mph, and has clocked 97 mph on a throw from the outfield. He is committed to play for UVA this fall, though he appears likely to sign with the MLB team who drafts him in the 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: Will Taylor.
Taylor is a 6′-0″ 175 lb outfielder out of Dutch Fork High School in South Carolina. In addition to starring on the baseball diamond, as you can see in the photo above, he also plays football (and wrestles), though his professional future is likely in baseball. He has been recruited by Clemson for both baseball and football, though there are no reports out that he won’t sign with an MLB team that drafts him.
For some reason, I cannot find any stats on Taylor from high school, so instead we’ll rely on reports. According to Baseball America, he turned heads at the East Coast Pro showcase last August and has been moving up draft boards since. BA notes that his performance at East Coast Pro was on of the best all-around at the event. Here is some more recent video of him:
For a multi-sport prospect, the reports on Taylor are more encouraging than usual, with the general consensus that he has more than just raw skills as a baseball player.
MLB Pipeline ranks him as the 27th overall prospect, and here is a snippet of their scouting report:
Taylor is more advanced than the typical multisport athlete who hasn’t devoted himself to baseball full-time and could get significantly better once he does. He has a loose right-handed swing and made consistent contact on the showcase circuit this summer, displaying the ability to make in-game adjustments against quality competition. The biggest question is how much impact he’ll have at the plate, though he does have some wiry strength and should develop into at least a 15-homer threat with more pop possible if he adds some loft to his stroke.
They also have a nice video scouting report
Baseball America ranks Taylor 31st in the class, and notably moved him up from 68th earlier in the spring which says that they view Taylor as an improving prospect which is always encouraging. They rave about his speed claiming it may be “double plus” and that he has natural instincts as a center fielder and at the plate. For someone who has not focused on baseball full-time, it is great that he already has those instincts.
Keith Law of The Athletic is the highest on Taylor ranking him 15th in this year’s draft class, interestingly ranking him ahead of Braden Montgomery who is the other top prep-outfielder this year. Law mentions that Taylor is “flying up draft boards because of his athleticism, plus speed, and feel to hit.” Law and BA also note that Taylor has put on muscle this year which could improve his power in the future.
In their recent mock drafts, Mike Axisa of CBS Sports and Kiley McDaniel of ESPN both have the Yankees taking Taylor in the first round. Axisa notes the Yankees tend to draft position players early and that Taylor fits the mold of “bat over power.”
Does he make sense?
Betting on upside with a late first-round pick is never a bad idea, and Taylor has upside in spades. What makes him different is that according to scouts, Taylor has a baseline floor to fall back on.
The natural comparison to Taylor for the Yankees is Blake Rutherford because they are both high school outfielders who were considered old for their draft class and had a better hit tool than raw power. Like Axisa pointed out, the Yankees prioritize bat-to-ball skills over raw power in their first round picks because they believe high schoolers will grow into their power as they develop.
We have seen this trend in two of the Yankees recent draft picks – Anthony Volpe and Anthony Siegler. Both were taken in the first round out of high school with better hit tools than power tools. That bet is certainly paying off for Volpe who two years after being drafted is slugging .545 in Low-A Tampa this year. Siegler, on the other hand, has only slugged .337 in his MiLB career to date, with only one home run since being drafted whereas Volpe has 6 already this year. Siegler has been plagued by injuries, however.
Taylor’s speed also provides a safety net because you know that he can remain in CF long-term. Even if the power does not develop, with his speed and bat skills he can carve out a productive career as a center fielder. One notable encouraging aspect of the BA write-up is that Taylor has “great natural feel for the barrel” and can already recognize breaking balls. The hope is that once Taylor commits to baseball full-time he can grow even more and further develop his approach at the plate.
With the way Taylor is rising up draft boards, it is possible some other team could view him like Keith Law does as the top prep outfielder and he may not make it to the Yankees selection. If he does though, he would be a great pick because he combines upside with instincts and a decent floor.