While the 2017 Miami Hurricanes baseball season ended earlier than any season in the last 45 years, there’s still things to watch relative to this team.
That’s right kids, it’s MLB Draft time!
I wrote this piece last year, looking at the draft prospects of incoming players, and did a lot of research into it. So, I’m gonna quote myself here as for the foundation of what to watch for.
Ready? Let’s begin.
The Major League Baseball First-Year Player draft is a 40 round draft where amateur players are selected by various MLB organizations. There are 2 “competitive balance” rounds after the 1st and 2nd rounds of the draft, compensation for free agents lost to other teams in the previous year. There are additional “compensation picks” as well. Yeah, there’s a lot.
This year’s MLB Draft begins on Monday, June 12. The first 2 rounds (and their associated competitive balance rounds) will be on Monday, with the rest of the draft occurring over the next 2 days.
The MLB Draft goes in reverse order of finish from the previous year, with additional picks for unsigned 2016 draftees, and the aforementioned “Competitive Balance” and compensation picks. The full 2017 draft order is right here for you.
Players who have either just completed HS or are 3 years removed from their HS graduations are eligible for the MLB Draft.
Draft Pick Compensation (aka THE MONEY)
MLB recently changed the draft pick compensation system, providing a cap for what each team can spend on the signing bonuses for their picks through the first 10 rounds of the draft. This is the 6th year since the switch, and there's finally starting to be a consensus feeling of understand of how things are going to work.
There's all kinds of machinations about signing draft picks for more or less money than what is projected for their draft pick (over or under the market value for a given pick, known as the “slot”), but that's largely beside the point for our discussion. Here are team bonus allocations and draft slot values for every pick in the first 10 rounds. Picks after the 10th Round don’t have guaranteed bonuses, as most of these picks are organizational filler, with a few who may develop into major leaguers down the line.
Here’s where slot values come into play: certain players (High Schoolers and college Juniors, mainly) will be signed for more than their slot value to get them away from their college team and into the professional organization, while others (college seniors, mainly) will be picked a bit ahead of their talent level in the top 10 rounds, then signed for way under slot, because, in that case, the organization has all the leverage (seniors can’t go back to school, so they don’t have that option to use in negotiations).
“The Danger Zone”
Why am I even writing this article? Because several players who have signed to go to Miami to play baseball could be drafted and choose to go to the pros instead of school. This has happened many, many times recently to nearly every school, but Miami in particular.
In 2016, Miami lost their 3 top recruits — P Jesus Luzardo, 3B Colton Welker, and SS Luis Curbelo — to the pros after being drafted. Luzardo is still recovering from Tommy John surgery, Curbelo is struggled a bit in his first chance at pro ball but hasn’t played in 2017, and Welker is RAKING. Man, his bat has really developed in the last 2 years.
So, this is really an evaluation to see if that could happen again.
For our considerations, the top 8 rounds of the MLB Draft are the "danger zone". The extremely vast majority of players, whether high schoolers or college athletes, drafted in the top 8 rounds of the MLB draft sign professional contracts. By my count, in the 2016 MLB draft there was 1 player taken in the first 8 rounds who didn't sign: LHP Nick Lodolo. He was a HS player who, after being selected 41st overall (last pick of the 1st competitive balance round) turned down $1.75M from the Pirates to instead attend TCU. Lodolo where he went 5-1 with a 4.28 ERA in 15 games (14 starts) as a freshman.
But yeah. That’s the entire list of players drafted in the top 8 rounds who didn’t sign last year. 1 dude. Nick Lodolo. Now you see why the top 8 rounds matter in terms of getting guys to campus or not so, SO much.
For further reference, there were 5 players (3 high schoolers and 2 collegians) who were drafted in the top 8 rounds in 2015 who went unsigned.
As a general practice, MLB teams have usually spoken to players they might potentially pick in the top 8 rounds to get a sense of their signability. If a player has made it clear he won't sign, he'll probably fall down past the 10th round. He might still get picked, but it's symbolic and nothing more. If you get a 1st round talent in the 27th round, rest assured that player isn't signing.
For the players who are drafted, they will have until sometime in August to decide if they’ll be signing or not. That exact date has not been released yet, but last year it was 11:59:59pm on August 15th. I would expect something a week or so later this year, since the draft is later as well. Regardless of that date, however, players will need to make their intentions known before the deadline. Or, if not, the deadline kind of makes that decision for them, yanno?
Unlike last year, when Miami had several top draft talents (all of whom were drafted and signed by MLB organizations), the Canes’ roster shouldn’t be affected much by players getting drafted.
OF Carl Chester
Hometown: Longwood, FL
Draft History: 38th round by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2014
Chester is the only player on the active roster that is a draft candidate. He has above average speed, and has developed at the plate. He still has a ways to go with the bat, but as a 3 tool (Run, Field, Throw) player right away, he can impact an organization.
Much like with Jacob Heyward last year, I think this may come down to whether Chester wants to stay in college or move on to the professional level. I do not expect Chester to be selected in the top 8 rounds, but I’d still watch what happens here.
Upon further investigation (i.e. looking up and reading about 17 mock drafts), I saw several that had Chester in the 4-8 round range. Seems there are some who are enamored with his bat moving forward more than I am, and that makes Chester an immediate 4-tool player, and a plus athlete. He may not stick in CF in the pros, but the more I read, the more I think somebody takes Chester squarely in the Danger Zone.
Others: Juniors Micheal Mediavilla, Jeb Bargfeldt, Jesse Lepore, James Davison and Hunter Tackett all figure to return to campus unless something outrageous happens.
2017 Signing Class
Another year, another stellar recruiting class for Miami. The Canes have the 3rd ranked recruiting class according to scouting service Perfect Game, with 22 total signees, and 6 top 100 players. That's a lot of talent, and high end talent to boot. Any school in America would be happy with that haul, and Miami should be ecstatic with this group.
BUT, as always, there’s a catch.
MLB organizations like talented HS players. They have arguably the most value of any players in the draft, because of their potential longevity with the drafting organization. So, not only will Miami have to be on the lookout for their top-100 signees, there are several other players with good talent who have elevated their draft stock with stellar showings in their senior years.
Like I said before, Miami lost their top 3 signees to MLB organizations last year, and there will surely be several players from the forthcoming list who will join them in skipping college to go to the pros.
Here begins the list:
SS/3B Mark Vientos
Hometown: Pembroke Pines, FL
A player with top end potential, the 6’4” Vientos has been a known commodity for years. The former Flanagan (HS) player transferred to American Heritage for his senior year, and has continued to show why he’s a top draft prospect. Rated as the #38 Draft Prospect by Baseball America, Vientos has MLB organizations hoping he’s available by the time their 2nd pick comes up.
Here’s part of Vientos’ evaluation from PerfectGame.org
Tall and lanky athletic build, narrow waist and broad shoulders, young athlete who is very projectable physically. Very smooth actions defensively, light on his feet with soft and quick hands at the ball, compact arm action with good arm strength, has the athleticism to stay at shortstop even as he matures physically. Right handed hitter, deep hand load, has strength and lift in his swing, hands will occasionally get under the ball, can create carry to the opposite field ally, swing mechanics and timing weren't consistent but the tools are there to develop. Is the type of player who scouts dream about his potential.
A standout prep shortstop, Vientos will likely transition to 3B at the professional level. I’ve seen favorable comparisons of Vientos to Manny Machado in terms of size, defensive prowess, and offensive potential. In case you didn’t know, that’s high, high praise.
Not only is Vientos revered for his talents, he is looked at as a doubly great prospect because he’s so young. At just 17 years 6 months old, he’s one of the youngest draft-eligible players in 2017. A player with Vientos’ tools, build, potential, and youth? Teams are drooling at the possibilities.
In recent mock drafts, Vientos has been projected to go 34th overall to the Milwaukee Brewers, and 36th overall to the Miami Marlins by Baseball America and Perfect Game, respectively. Both of those picks are in the first Competitive Balance round, and would all but guarantee Vientos would sign with the team that drafts him.
There’s been some talk that Vientos could choose to tell teams that he wants to play college baseball, but a top 2 round selection, and likely an over-slot signing bonus will probably be too much to pass up.
SS Jeter Downs
Hometown: Miami, FL
Named after the legendary Yankees SS (who should have moved to 2B when A-Rod came to the Brox, BUT I DIGRESS), and one of the fastest rising players in the 2017 draft class, Downs is a SS/3B prospect with very good potential. He’s more than a year older than Vientos, but he has very good skills. Here’s Downs’ evaluation from Perfect Game:
Compact strong athletic build. Quick twitch athlete, ran a 6.45 sixty and has a very quick first step. Right handed hitter, narrow stance with a high hand load, has quick and loose hands, generates lots of bat speed and has plenty of strength for his size, ball comes off the barrel hard, line drive swing path with pull to mid field contact. Shows lots of range to both sides on defense, very good raw arm strength, ball jumps out of his hand, can clean up his footwork throwing for a quicker release but his arm strength masks that for now. High level athlete with big tools.
Downs has continued to ascend charts based on his strong play in summer showcases last year, and equally stellar play through the travel and HS seasons, as well. Downs is listed as the #57 draft prospect by Perfect Game, and the #68 prospect by Baseball America. Downs was also recently mocked 36th overall to the Miami Marlins by Baseball America.
Should he be picked at his “draft prospect” number — basically a top 2 round selection including Competitive Balance rounds — or at the mock draft slot above, I find it hard to see Downs ever setting foot on Campus in Coral Gables.
RHP/1B James Marinan
Hometown: Boynton Beach, FL
A big, strong kid, Marinan who plays both ways and could be good either on the hill or in the field. Here’s his evaluation from Perfect Game:
Long and lean athletic build, very athletic look, has some projection physically. High energy delivery, falls off to the first base side on release, arm tends to stay behind, tight high 3/4's arm slot. Fastball topped out at 88 mph, mostly straight, will have to improve ability to get fastball glove side. Change up was his best pitch, stays more directional in his delivery and throws quality strikes down and glove side. Slurve type breaking ball.
Two-way prospect who might have a higher ceiling in the field. Very athletic actions at first base, could be a plus defender at that position. Right handed hitter who hits from a wide base with a deep load, has quick hands and a direct path to the ball, lots of bat speed and strength at contact, line drive swing plane, has leverage at contact.
While the eval above — from June 2016 — says that he may be better as a hitter, every draft listing has Marinan being picked as a pitcher, so I’ll stick with that consensus. And that’s with good reason: Marinan’s velocity spiked from 92-93 to 96-97 in the last year, with advancement in his breaking ball as well. Marinan is listed as the #59 draft prospect by Baseball America, and the #48 draft prospect by Perfect Game. Both of those placements would have Marinan taken squarely in the top 2 rounds (competitive balance rounds included).
Miami could use a player of Marinan’s abilities as either a pitcher or 1B. But, unless he drops like a rock during the draft, I don’t see how Marinan makes it to campus.
RHP/3B Joe Perez
Hometown: Pembroke Pines, FL
Another 2 way player, Perez has plenty of tools and skill to go along with them. Here’s his evaluation from Perfect Game:
Big and strong athletic build, pretty mature physically. Right handed hitter, took an outstanding BP, showed big bat speed and raw pull power, used his lower half very well, ball explodes off the bat. Swings were more tentative in the games without the same aggressiveness and bat speed. Big arm strength at third base, stays balanced well and fields the ball out front, also plays first base.
Potential primary pitcher in the future, has limited present experience on the mound. Shows big arm strength from a high energy delivery, big downhill plane to the plate, fastball topped out at 96 mph early before settling down. Slider flashed big vertical depth at times. Power arm with a power bat.
Since the time of this eval (June 2016), Perez has done very well pitching. And, with a fastball that has already topped out at 97mph, that may be where teams look to take him. Even with a fastball already touching 97 — which grades out as a 70 (elite) pitch on baseball’s 20-80 scouting tree — some evaluators think that Perez may have more gas in the tank that will be seen once he isn’t also expending energy playing 3B on the days he doesn’t pitch. With heat like that, and only 1 developing breaking pitch (slider), Perez likely profiles as a reliever at the professional level.
Perez was shut down from pitching last summer due to a tired arm. That was just from overuse and wasn’t structural. He got back on the hill this season for his team and continued to showcase the elite fastball, and developing breaking pitch, that is described above.
BUT, Perez is also a very dangerous hitter and was a dynamic force for Archbishop McCarthy this season. He has a great arm (see above) and could be a plus-plus defender at 3B along with an above average power hitter in time.
While he’s highly regarded, Perez isn’t as highly ranked as the players previously listed. Baseball America has him as the #75 Draft prospect, while Perfect Game has him at #185. Regardless, either of those draft slots would be in the top 6 rounds. Squarely in the Danger Zone.
Most see Perez as a 6th-10th round bat, but a top 4 round arm from the mound. He profiles best as a reliever due to his electric fastball, but HS pitchers who profile as closers down the line are a hit or miss draft commodity. Either way, Perez is a prospect who will likely draw plenty of draft attention.
Should Perez make it to Coral Gables, Miami has plans to use him both in the field and on the mound. But, yet again, I don’t see that happening, especially if a team takes him at the top of his draft ceiling (2nd-3rd round).
1B Alex Toral
Hometown: Pembroke Pines, FL
Once one of the top 5 players in this Draft class, Toral has seen his stock fall slightly over the last year. Even still, Toral is an elite talent and has the game to back that up. Here’s his evaluation from Perfect Game:
Big and strong build, mature physically. Left handed hitter, creates big bat speed with ideal lower half use, hands are loose and smooth coming through the zone, has some lift in his swing without selling out for power, will hit the ball the other way and drive it with authority, polished and mature hitter with outstanding swing mechanics. 7.37 runner, moves well for his size at first base, advanced footwork with soft hands and good balance, will be an asset defensively at first. Can also play left field.
Toral has been the lynchpin for 2-time National Champion Archbishop McCarthy for years, and he has the power hitting potential that will play well anywhere. He could play LF at times, too, but 1B is where Toral figures to stay long term.
Baseball America lists Toral as the #182 draft prospect, while Perfect Game has him at #123. This is a fall from the top of the 1st round where Toral had been billed since his sophomore year of HS, but still in the top 6 rounds of the Draft.
While I never considered the possibility that Toral would come to campus, I’ve seen a couple draft analysts say that he MIGHT be a guy who chooses to go to school and build his draft stock further. I still don’t think we’ll ever see Toral in Orange and Green, but man, I would love to be wrong about that. Toral would step in and be the starting 1B and middle of the order hitter for the Canes right away.
RHP Chris McMahon
Hometown: West Chester, PA
A talented pitcher, McMahon is another top draft prospect among Miami’s 2017 signees. He has a good fastball, and solid if still developing secondary pitches.
McMahon had a big growth spurt as a HS Sophomore, going from 5’9” 145 to 6’2” 190 in a little over a year. His physical development help unlock his velocity, jumping a low 80s fastball up to the mid-90s. McMahon has a nice 3 pitch mix, and the build to be a solid starter in the future, whether at the collegiate or professional level.
A top 15 prep RHP in this class, McMahon is also rated as the top prep player in Pennsylvania. Baseball America has McMahon as the #71 MLB draft prospect, while Perfect Game has him at #42.
For even more discussion on McMahon, here’s a piece from our SBNation brothers over at Fish Stripes.
McMahon’s ranking should have him taken in the first 3 rounds of the draft, if not earlier. That’s rare air and, unfortunately, mean that this talented pitcher will likely be plying his trade for a professional organization rather than the University of Miami.
RHP Daniel Federman
Hometown: Pembroke Pines, FL
The Ace for National Powerhouse Archbishop McCarthy, and teammates with previously-listed Joe Perez and Alex Toral, Federman is a pitcher with good makeup and solid stuff. Here’s his evaluation from Perfect Game:
Slender upper half with a firm and strong lower half. Full hands over the head delivery with a high 3/4's arm slot, has some energy moving to the plate, gets the ball downhill well and repeats his mechanics. Steady upper 80's fastball, lots of running life to his fastball and commands it well, works ahead aggressively. Spotted his slider well also, will show good 2-plane depth at times. Flashed a change up that can be further developed. Mature pitcher who has an idea on the mound.
Federman is less physically developed than the other pitcher signees listed here, but he’s a solid player. His fastball is only in the upper 80s-low 90s right now, but could add mph’s as he continues to mature.
I think that Federman will likely get drafted, but outside of the Danger Zone. This is one that I think will be in Coral Gables next year.
From the remainder of Miami’s signing class, the names to know are RHP Robert Touron, 3B Raymond Gil, LHP Brandon Kaminer, and SS Freddy Zamora. The first 2 are teammates at Miami (FL) Gulliver Prep and ranked 404 and 458 by Perfect Game, respectively. Kaminer is the Ace for Stoneman Douglas, having taken over that slot once 2016 signee Jesus Luzardo went down with an arm injury. He’s the Broward County Pitcher of the Year, a testament to his talent. Zamora is a toolsy player from Miami (FL) Killian. He’s the 3rd best SS in this class behind Vientos and Downs, but he’s got game.
While all 4 of these players could hear their name called in the upcoming MLB Draft, I don’t think they’ll sign. They should all be in Coral Gables next year, unless something really unforeseen happens...and it might. The MLB draft is funny like that.
Vientos - 1st round or Competitive Balance round A
Downs - Competitive Balance Round A or 2nd Round
Marinan - 2nd round/Competitive Balance Round B to 4th round
Perez - 3rd to 5th round
McMahon - 3rd to 5th round
Toral - 4th to 8th round
Gil/Touron/Kaminer/Zamora - Teens or later.
It’s great that Miami got the sextet of Mark Vientos, Jeter Downs, James Marinan, Joe Perez, Chris McMahon, and Alex Toral to sign with the Canes. It’s not great that, in my estimation, the only 1 of those guys who has a chance to hit campus is the guy who was at one time the top-rated of all these players: Toral.
Miami lost 3 key signees to the pros last year, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the Canes lost all 6 of their top signees to the pros this year, as well.
Miami will still get a much-needed influx of talent to the roster in 2017, but, from where I sit, it’s looking like the top end gamechangers won’t be among that group.
Check back after the MLB Draft as we recap who got drafted, who signed, and what that means for Miami.
How many 2017 recruits will Canes Baseball lose to the pros this year?
This poll is closed
More than 6
4 or less