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Draft Prospect Watch: Two Top College Bats in the 2020 Draft


Two weeks ago we received reports that the 2020 MLB draft will be held on June 10-11, and it will consist of five rounds. Teams will also be able to sign non-drafted players for a maximum $20,000 bonus.

The Pittsburgh Pirates own the seventh overall pick in this draft, as well as the 31st and 44th overall picks. Their draft bonus pool for five rounds was announced last month (that link has been updated since the Red Sox lost their second round draft pick). Each Saturday, we have been taking an in depth look at draft prospects who could be a good fit for that seventh overall pick, as well as players who fits better with those two lower picks. In case you missed it, here’s our draft preview article.

We have posted 16 Draft Prospect Watch articles so far, which are all linked here:

Nick Gonzales and Jordan Westburg

Asa Lacy, JT Ginn and Emerson Hancock

Jordan Walker and Zac Veen

Garrett Mitchell and Freddy Zamora

Austin Wells and Patrick Bailey

Tyler Soderstrom and Drew Romo

Jared Kelley and Alex Santos

Max Meyer and CJ Van Eyk

Heston Kjerstad and Daniel Cabrera

Carson Tucker

Robert Hassell and Pete Crow-Armstrong

Cade Cavalli and Bryce Jarvis

Mick Abel and Reid Detmers

Carson Montgomery and Tanner Witt

Nick Bitsko and Ed Howard

Austin Hendrick and Garrett Crochet

Today we look at two of the best college bats who haven’t been covered here yet. We’ve already looked at the players who have been mentioned most often for the seventh overall pick. There are rumors that the Pirates are looking for a college bat with that pick, so it’s possible that they may want (or settle) for a college bat at 31st/44th overall as well. The most recent draft rankings update from MLB Pipeline gives us our two names for today’s article.

We start with Dillon Dingler and he covers a position that lacks true prospects for the Pirates. He’s a catcher for Ohio State, who stands 6’3″, 210 pounds and is ranked #24 by MLB Pipeline. He went undrafted out of high school, then put up solid stats as a freshman in 53 games. Despite a hamate injury, he took a step forward as a sophomore last year, but he’s being profiled here because he was crushing the ball this year as a junior before play was halted. In 13 games, he hit .340/.404/.760 in 50 at-bats, setting a career high with five homers.

Dingler falls into the category of players who may have been helped by the stoppage of play. His stock has soared with his quick start and power display, but there’s no real proof that this small sample size was real. His best tools were actually everything else besides his bat/power before this year. He’s very athletic for a catcher and runs well. His defensive game is all-around above average and he has one of the strongest arms in this draft class at any position.

You have a big, athletic, above average catcher, who took a big step forward with the bat this year. His defense alone makes his interesting, but the improved bat, assuming it’s legit, take him from profiling as a future backup catcher to being a starter. Because his stock was on the rise, he might not be around when the Pirates make their second selection.

Here’s a video from 2080 Baseball that was posted earlier this month

Our second player is shortstop Casey Martin from Arkansas. He’s quite a bit different than Dingler. Martin’s biggest asset is plus-plus speed. He’s also a bit smaller at 5’11”, 175 pounds. Don’t let that fool you though, he has above average power, banging out 30 homers in 146 college games. He offers a unique combo of blazing speed and power, along with being a player who profiles as a shortstop in the majors. Pipeline has him ranked 30th overall.

There are obviously things that keeps Martin from ranking higher, because let’s face it, that combo of tools and position value are a scout’s dream. Martin went undrafted out of high school, then had a huge year for a freshman, posting a .974 OPS in 67 games. He had a .915 OPS as a sophomore last year. That’s still a good number, but it’s a downward trend that continued into the early part of this year. He had an .844 OPS in 15 games when play halted.

Those are still solid overall college numbers, but it’s the trend behind the drop that causes concern. Martin had a very high (for college) strikeout rate as a freshman (25.4%). It went up to 27% last year, and stood at 37.3% when play halted this year. He has also failed to properly utilize his speed as a college player, stealing just 18 bases in three years.

There’s a chance here that you get a solid defensive shortstop, who doesn’t get on base enough to take advantage of his speed or make enough contact to take full advantage of the power. There’s also a chance that you end up with a power/speed guy at a key defensive position. He’s definitely a high risk, high reward player.

Here’s a video from Prospect Pipeline

Here’s a second video from YouTube user joeemarlin

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John Dreker
John Dreker
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball. When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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