2013 MLB Draft: The Ohio draft prospects
I always get questions about the local talent in Ohio. Sometimes it is from people who want to see these players live, or because there just is a natural interest in the local talent.
The state of Ohio baseball in general is a bit down this season. This will be the first time since 2009 a player from Ohio won't go in round one. Instead of just giving a boring top ten list, I thought it might be fun to target a few players and give each a label that explains why you should watch for these players during the draft.
The Top Guy
Tyler Skulina is continuing the Kent State tradition. Kent State is the top baseball program not just in Ohio but the best of any state that borders Ohio. If you are an Ohio kid and want to stay local, develop, and get drafted, go to Kent State. Every year they have a few kids drafted and this year is no different.
Skulina is big at 6'6", his fast ball is in the mid 90's and he has two solid breaking pitches. If he had improved on his sophomore year and taken a step this year he could have been an upper half of the first round pick. His numbers are very similar to last year, with a few tweaks. There are times where his mechanics break down and his velocity drops off. He needs to work on his consistency and mechanics, but he strikes me as a solid three-four type starter if he develops.
Bottom line, Skulina has the size and velocity teams look for. He has three pitches and could be a solid starter down the line. He should be a guy who goes in rounds two or three.
Josh Dezse was considered the top prospect in the state before the year began. He was a two way player for the Buckeyes who had plus power. He is big at 6'5" and that size projected him to have plus power as a first baseman. He was also the closer for the Buckeyes and had his fastball was in the high 90's.
I was intrigued to see what he could do with either position if he concentrated on it. The problem is that he did poorly in the Cape and the nagging injury meant he did not play once his junior year. He went from a possible first rounder to a guy who is completely up in the air. He is a candidate to go back and play as a senior to reestablish value, since he got a medical redshirt, so this might be the plan. Yet if a team is able to draft and sign him cheaper, it would be a major steal. It could end up being like getting a second first round pick. Then again, he is a major risk, after missing the entire year and already having back problems.
TJ Zeuch intrigues me with his size at 6'7". He played for the top high school team in the state this year, Mason. He sits in the low nineties but with his size and just natural development I expect him to be a guy who should sit in the mid 90's when he develops. The upside to a pitcher with his size is it allows for more of a downward sink on his fastball, which could make it a plus pitch down the road. He should go in the top ten rounds, but might end up going to Pittsburgh to pitch this fall.
Eric Lauer is my favorite high school player and I think most everyone would agree with me. He is committed to Kent State, and I have little doubt that if he does go there that in three years he will be a first round pick. Lauer is a left handed pitcher with good size and plus athleticism. His fastball sits in the low 90's but with development I would not be shocked to see it improve to the mid 90's, as he has hit 94 this spring from time to time.
He was unhittable all year and had one of the more dominant seasons I have seen in a while. The Indians last year failed to draft and sign a single left handed pitcher as they often target lefties. Lauer might be a name to watch in round three or four. A lefty with his natural feel and velocity could end up being special.
Taylor Williams gets overshadowed by his teammate Tyler Skulina in scouting circles but he was actually the top pitcher for Kent State this year statistically speaking. He sits in the mid 90's with a heavy sinking fastball, and his slider projects as a plus pitch as well. Every article you read him on will use the word nasty, not to describe his pitches but to describe his competitive nature and just the fire he shows on the mound.
I see him as a future closer because with this approach. He has that natural closer mindset. The reason I can't see him as a starter is that he is only 5'11", and there are just not a lot of sub six foot starters out there.
The Top Hitter
Drew Dosch out of Youngstown State is the best pure hitter in the state. He has a great eye, having more walks then strikeouts the last two years. Last year in the Cape he was just plain awesome, his left handed swing is a thing of beauty, and he hits the ball well to all fields.
The question is can his power emerge. I think he will stick at third base and with his bat right now he reminds me of a poor man's Colin Moran. Moran is a guy who has been mentioned as a player who might go first overall. Dosch should hear his name somewhere between rounds two and four.
The Senior Sign
It is hard for the majority of seniors when it comes to the draft. Just being a senior means you have little to no leverage and that the bonus you get will not be enough to sustain you through your minor league career. If this was not bad enough things have gotten worse with the new draft pools. The Red Sox for instance signed a player for a thousand dollar bonus so they could use that extra pool money on other picks. These players are now getting drafted earlier but in many cases for less money.
Brad Goldberg was the Friday night starter on a surprising Ohio State team. He has had a live arm dating back to high school and was able to hit 95 this year. He is an interesting senior sign because there might still be projection in his arm. He played very little his first year then transferred to Ohio State, then lost another year because of academic problems. So this year was really his first extended look during his college career, and he excelled. He is already 23 which will hurt, but there is value in an arm with some upside that you can sign under slot value. I would not be surprised to see him move to a pen role once drafted.
Andrew Benintendi was the state player of the year in both basketball and baseball as a junior. He set the state records for runs scored and hits this year as well, as well as setting the scoring record on his basketball team.
He is smaller at 5'10", but that size along with his speed and instincts in the outfield make him seem like a future centerfielder and leadoff man. His numbers have been dynamite, and his hit record might never be broken. He is committed to go to Arkansas this fall, but the Indians have made a habit of talking high school players out of going to Arkansas the last two years. Maybe this local kid could make it three years in a row for the Indians.
I am not sure if there has been a more dominant pitcher over the last four years in Ohio than Zach Farmer. His numbers speak for themselves: 0.98 ERA, 413 strikeouts, and he hit over .500 as well. He racked up those strikeouts in only 234 innings, so he averaged nearly two strikeouts an inning. He has good size and his fastball was hitting 94 at points this year. He is a lefty which along with having four projectable pitches should get him drafted in the first ten rounds. If he does fall on draft day it will be because teams do not think they can sign him away from Ohio State.
Eric Dorsch is another Kent State player in this draft who seems to be rising late. He is huge at 6'7". His size allows for his sinker to really move, which thanks to its velocity makes it look like a possible plus pitch. Look at the great sinker ball pitchers, they throw that pitch the majority of the time. If he continues to develop he is a possible top three round selection next year. Kent State is loaded with starters for next year and they might actually have too many. So if a team is aggressive, I think Dorsch is a very plausible signing in spite of the fact that he is a sophomore.
Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffmlbdraft, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
I also like Josh Dezse as a P over 1b. He would be an interesting flier pick outside the top 10 rounds IMHO.
However, I do agree Farmer would be a nice pick in the 3rd / 4th rd. As would Eric Lauer the power lefty.