15th rounder Phil Evans is a steal for the Mets
Not every star in baseball was an early round draft pick. Just ask Albert Pujols, a former 13th round selection. Also, being drafted in a late round doesn’t mean scouts and clubs don’t think highly of the player either. Signability plays a big role in many cases as well. In any case, let’s take a look at some late round picks who could be be diamonds in the rough.
Something important to keep in mind is only a select few of these late round picks taken out of high school, particularly the ones taken beyond the 20th round are likely to sign. If they do, they are likely to be given well above slot bonuses because they were previously considered top few round type talents. But, there are still plenty of players who can be talked out of signing and out of their college commitments.
Hawtin Buchanan, RHP, Biloxi H.S. (Miss.) | Picked By: Nationals | Round: 19
It all boils down to whether Washington can get Buchanan signed and talk him out of his commitment to Mississippi. But, if they can get him into their system, the Nationals will have locked up one of the draft’s most projectable pitchers. Standing at 6-foot-8, Buchanan is just a picture of projection and figures to only get bigger and stronger in the next few years. Currently, Buchanan works at 89-92 mph with his fastball and has reached as high as 93-94 mph this spring. He has a long, easy arm action and produces this velocity with the greatest of ease. Buchanan also mixes in a potential quality curveball at 71-74 mph. Again, he’s a long term project with the framework in place to be a front end type starter. And, he may be a guy we look back on and wonder just how Washington got this type of talent in the 19th round.
Blake Forslund, RHP, Liberty University | Picked By: Red Sox | Round: 17
You don’t find too many arms in the 17th round like Blake Forslund. Command for him right now is a major problem, but this is the type of arm you take gambles on. Scouts in the area have compared him favorably to Rockies’ reliever, Matt Lindstrom. He works consistently at 94-95 mph and has been has high as 97-98 mph this spring. Considering his very poor college season, Boston also is likely to get him inked for a relatively reasonable bonus. If they can get him consistently in the strike zone, they may have a future closer on their hands.
Phil Evans, SS, LaCosta Canyon H.S. (Calif.) | Picked By: Mets | Round: 15
It was a real head scratcher for many in the industry as to why Evans slipped all the way to the 15th round. He did make it clear that he was asking for a significant bonus and was more than prepared to go to San Diego State. Most projected Evans to go off the board anywhere between the compensation and third or fourth round. Any one of his physical tools may not jump off the page, but Evans is as well rounded a position player as anyone in the country. He has the tools to stick at shortstop, an advanced hit tool, plus speed, and intangibles to spare. Evans is also the type of player that figures to go to college, put up big numbers for three years and become a top pick in 2014. The Mets will do their best, however, to ink one of the steals of the draft in the next couple months.
Dillon Maples, RHP, Pinecrest H.S. (N.C.) | Picked By: Cubs | Round: 14
There’s a good reason Dillon Maples ended up sliding to the 14th round. He has a strong commitment to UNC and was asking for a $3 million signing bonus to keep him from going to college. Whether the Cubs are willing to give him close to what he’s asking for is a big question mark right now. But, if they can get him in the fold, they will have gotten one of the best five or six high school arms in the country. Maples has a fastball that sits 92-95 mph and flashes a plus slider. If not for the bonus demands, Maples would have been a near lock to go off the board in the compensation round or perhaps even in the back of the first.
Josh Osich, LHP, Oregon State | Picked By: Giants | Round: 6
Timing wasn’t working in Josh Osich’s favor this week, as he was forced to leave his last outing before the draft with a back problem. He’s also coming off Tommy John Surgery, and it’s possible these last minute issues spooked some clubs. Most in the industry had projected the OSU lefty as a back of the first round or compensation round pick. Assuming San Francisco can get him signed, that’s the type of talent San Francisco is getting in the sixth round. Osich works at 91-94 mph with his fastball and is capable of reaching 95-96 mph. He's also the owner of a plus changeup, which figures to be a swing and miss offering at the professional level. The further Osich gets away from arm surgery, we also figure to see his breaking ball mixed in more and more.
Brandon Woodruff, RHP, Wheeler H.S. (Miss.) | Picked By: Rangers | Round: 5
Pitchers like Woodruff don’t typically make it all the way to the fifth round. He has three pitches he can throw for strikes, including a 90-93 mph fastball and a quality curveball. Woodruff also has a large, durable frame and repeats his delivery very well. He’s a rare combination of pitchability and raw stuff from a prep pitcher. The big right-hander also figures to add a tick or two to his fastball as he matures and refine an already very usable changeup. This is one of the most likely players on this list to one day be looked back on as an absolute steal in the fifth round. Texas got themselves one of the best prep pitchers in the country with this selection.
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