5 Stats to Know about Major League Baseball College Draftees
So you think you know everything about the MLB college draftees? There's often more than meets the eye.
Most draftees earn a reputation based on their carrying tools, which is fair, but that doesn’t always tell the whole story. Many players, including those on this list, have skill sets that exceed the reputations that they have earned to this point of their career.
Some of the stats on this list come from the players’ strong suits, while others may seem odd or unusual. Whatever the case may be, we may want to think twice about evaluating these players without first giving careful consideration to these (and all of their) statistics.
Without further ado, here are five statistics about recent college draftees that you need to know.
Trea Turner’s .516 Slugging Percentage
A rare college shortstop with the ability to stick at shortstop, Turner is best known for his speed and defensive ability. The speed is special (MLB.com grades it as a future 8 on the 2 to 8 scouting scale), and the defense should also be above average. But what about the bat and the potential power?
Turner’s hit tool is his third-best tool, and could play to Major League average at its peak. Little has been made of his power profile though. A college shortstop whose game is based on speed and defense shouldn’t hit for any power, right? That's usually the case, but Turner could certainly be an exception.
Sure, Turner may not have a .516 slugging percentage at the next level, but he is not merely a singles hitter. In 215 at-bats, the former NC State shortstop totaled 12 doubles, 2 triples, and 8 home runs, proving that he has the potential to be a five-tool talent.
Those numbers lead to a .195 isolated power, a figure which would rank 40th among 168 qualified MLB hitters if he posted that number in the Major Leagues. It may regress against advanced pitching, but increased strength could counter the effect and allow his power to play. His game is still based on elite speed and solid defense, but do not ignore the power in Turner’s game.
Max Pentecost’s 17 Steals in 17 Attempts
The appeal of Max Pentecost in this year’s draft was his defensive ability behind the plate and hit tool, the latter of which is evidenced by his .418 batting average. While these tools are great and should carry him to the Majors, his speed is an underrated tool that makes him a complete player.
The common MLB catcher these days is typically a player displaying defensive ability, a strong arm, and occasional pop. If a team is lucky they may stumble across someone with a solid hit tool, but the most common tools are brute strength, defense, and arm strength.
Pentecost bucks this trend. He has the solid defensive ability and arm strength that teams are looking for, but his carrying tools will be his hit tool and his speed, not his power. It's conceivable that he will slow down a bit as he ages, but MLB.com still projects him to have league average speed in the future at the Major League level.
Furthermore, Pentecost has proven to be very smart on the base paths. Stealing 17 bases doesn't result in a net gain for the club if the runner is also caught frequently, but Pentecost wasn't caught once all year. His defense, arm, and hit tool give him a solid base of tools that give him great value, but his speed is an underrated tool that boosts his overall profile.
Nick Howard’s 15.34 Strikeouts Per Nine
Arguably the best closer in the country this season, Nick Howard was an essential part of Virginia’s dominant season. Sitting in the mid-90s with a hard curveball, Howard was simply untouchable at times for the Cavaliers.
Untouchable is not just a figure of speech. 15.34 strikeouts per nine innings against premier college competition in high-leverage situations is downright absurd. In 29.1 innings, the hard-throwing righty surrendered only 19 hits and 12 walks while amassing 50 strikeouts. That’s more Ks than baserunners allowed, and it's not particularly close.
The Reds may move Howard to the rotation, but if he stays in the pen, expect him to continue to rack up the strikeouts. His stuff is lethal and he has the poise and want necessary to dominate the late innings at the next level. If he stays in a relief role, expect him to be a nice addition to their Major League bullpen relatively soon.
Kyle Shwarber’s 28 Ks in 270 At-Bats
Shwarber is a big, strong power hitter who hits a lot of home runs and walks a lot, so he must strikeout a lot too, right? Wrong. While many sluggers with his profile are three true result hitters, Shwarber does not often take empty hacks.
The elite power is here, demonstrated by his 13 home runs and .643 slugging percentage, but the lack of Ks are equally as impressive. Many sluggers have faltered when facing elite hurlers who can take advantage of holes in their swings, but Shwarber does not seem to be among them. Instead, he has demonstrated a good knowledge of the strike zone by walking substantially more than he has struck out.
His 10.4% strikeout rate may increase when he faces advanced pitching at the next level, but Shwarber is still in much better shape than most other power prospects when it comes to being a complete hitter. The Cubs have a recent track record of success with acquiring and developing prospects, and even though many thought Shwarber was a reach as the fourth overall pick, it should surprise no one to see him continue to be an elite power hitter at the next level.
Ben Wetzler’s 0.78 ERA
Wetzler has been in the limelight for a lot of the wrong reasons recently, from a suspension from the NCAA for using an agent in negotiations with the Phillies, to some other off-the-field issues during the year. However, putting those issues aside, we can all appreciate how this kid can really pitch.
In addition to the sparkling ERA, Wetzler owned a 12-1 record, a 0.77 WHIP, and only allowed 4.24 hits per nine. Sure, he won’t repeat those numbers at the professional level, but this kid has proven that he can get prevent runs arguably as well as any other pitcher in the country.
The left-hander was a fifth rounder a year ago, but slipped to the ninth round this season, where he could be a steal. Elite college numbers don't always translate to elite professional numbers if the tools to repeat the numbers at the next level aren't there, but we can still appreciate Wetzler’s sheer dominance this season. Let’s hope that he can stay in the news for the right reasons and if so, this kid will be one of the more intriguing names to follow at the professional level.