By Michael Coker, Black College Nines
With 40 rounds of the Major League Baseball(MLB) draft coming up June 12th, the 2017 draft class is expected to be stacked with top HBCU pitching prospects and good hitting position players. Here is a list of ten possible selections.
According to information from a scouting source, the Phillies are looking more towards collegiate arms particularly early to mid-rounds. I rank Norfolk State’s Devin Hemmerich as HBCU Baseball top overall draft pick for 2017. Athletic, throws in the 90s, has one of the draft’s best breaking ball, an 86-87 mph slider, nice curveball and a durable 6-foot-1, 190-pound frame. He struck out 118 batters in his senior season. His slider can be a big part of his future.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants are looking for an outfielder whose overall profile resembles that of current Giants center fielder Denard Span, according to reports. Scouts could consider North Carolina A&T’s Miles Sowell (6’2″ 180), one of the better pure hitters in the MEAC. Sowell has a smooth swing and mature, all-fields approach this past season. Hit for more power this year, showing the upside of 6 doubles, 5 triples and was a .345 hitter. His record of success could get him in the late rounds.
The Pirates look to add a college hitter with plate discipline, more than likely suited as a lead-off hitter. At 6’2″, 200 lbs, Demetrius Sims ofBethune Cookman is one of the better lead-off hitters in HBCU baseball that I have seen this year. Sims has elite speed and the ability to cover a lot of ground in the infield. His offensive success is pretty high. He’s got good pop in his swing and enough contact to tap into his power, get on base enough and play top-notch defense at short. He would be a steal threat for a team like the Pirates. Possible late round pick.
The Braves have opened drafts with athletic outfielders. This year, Benedict’s David White Jr. (6’6″ 216), whose 16 doubles, 11 home runs, 53 RBI’s in 41 games this season makes him too difficult to go undrafted especially when tough non-conference opponents brought the heat and got lit up. White, SIAC Player of the Year and Black College Nines Small School Player of the Year, has been an offensive force. He hit .408 this year and was at the top of NCAA DII batting average much of the season. Good outfielder but his bat should give him an opportunity at the next level.
Edward Waters’ Richard Edwards (6’2″ 170) has an easy delivery and consistently throws strikes using all square inch of the strike zone and outer plate for outs. He won’t strike out too many batters but his entire prep and collegiate career, he’ll induce ground outs or pop-ups at a high rate. Can reach 90, has Kyle Hendricks type stuff, an excellent rate for his level. His change up, ability to spin the curveball, quality breaking pitch draws good grades and should bode well for his ability to develop with pro instruction at the next level.
Chicago White Sox
A solid relief pitcher, ranked near the top in NCAA Division I in ERA (2.91), appearances (38), innings pitched (111.1) and strikeouts (137) out of the bullpen. Alabama A&M’s Brandon Marsonek has been unstoppable in relief. Listed at 6’1″ and 190 lbs, his fastball has gone up since high school… 85-88 then, up to 89-91 now and touches 92 mph. His best pitch two years ago was both fast ball and change-up, but he’s since refined his curveball, throws all three pitches for quality strikes and has given up only 4 home runs this past season. Viewed as a late round pick last season, but now is a potential mid-round pick due to his excellent spring.
Jarvis Christian’s DeAndre McGuire (6′ 2″ 175) maintained his momentum as a three year starter in swiping bases. This year, his senior year, he was 53 for 53 in the stolen base department. During his collegiate career, McGuire has stolen over a 86% of his 154 attempts, while showing plenty of range in center field. He profiles well as a leadoff man with a .352 batting average, 10 doubles, 3 triples, 1 home run and 30 runs batted in. Combined with his speed, McGuire can be a regular or a fourth outfielder at the higher levels.
Kansas City Royals
Harris-Stowe State’s Dylan Yankle (6′ 0″ 195) is probably one of the best catchers in HBCU baseball and one of the most underrated college players, period. Solid behind the plate with very good plate discipline. Senior year batted .421 to go along with 15 doubles, 8 home runs and 44 runs batted in. Solid line-drive hitter with the potential to add more power if he hits enough to play regularly. Can drive in a ton of runs. An all-conference performer, Yankle had several personal workouts with major league scouts and has spent the past 3 weeks working with former Royals catcher Mike McFarland to prepare for the draft. My projections… mid-to-late round pick.
Virginia State’s David Markins (5′ 11″ 175) is another top HBCU catcher. A very good athlete behind the plate as well as having plate appearance. Hit for a .387 average with 16 doubles, 9 home runs and 52 runs batted in. Combination of power, speed and defense makes him a pro prospect. His senior season production gives promise for the next level.
Winston Salem State’s Ivan Acuna (5′ 11″ 215) brings a great deal of raw athleticism In the field and at the plate. His power, sound swing, bat speed and range in the infield translates to fourth or fifth hitter in the lineup in the minors. A gap-to-gap hitter, Acuna hit .367 with 21 doubles and 11 home runs this season to go along with 59 runs driven in. He could provide teams with plenty of run support.
Michael Coker is the lead contributing writer for Black College Nines (www.blackcollegenines.com). He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org