Prep Baseball Report

MLB Draft League: Data Darlings (June 4 - June 23)

Seth Fromowitz, JD Linhardt, Jackson Gormley & Alex Cullen

One aspect of the MLB Draft League that distinguishes it from other collegiate summer leagues is its technology and data integration. Through the league’s data coordinators, all Draft League players have readily available information to help evaluate, scout and develop their skill set while directly distributing that information to all 30 Major League teams. Taking a deeper look into the numbers that have stood out across the first two weeks of the season, we’ve picked out “data darlings” from each team to highlight the players who have displayed eye-opening metrics early in the MLB Draft League season.

Frederick Keys

OF JoJo Jackson (Georgia) - After posting a 1.049 OPS with 15 tanks and 13 doubles in fewer than 200 plate appearances as a Georgia State senior, Jackson has continued to sting the ball in the Draft League, posting a max exit velo of 104.6 mph along with a 28.6% hard-hit rate and .467 xSLG, while also drawing walks at a 16.7% clip. The 6-foot-2 switch-hitter has done damage against sliders, posting a .543 xBA, .551 xSLG and a .486 xwOBA. (Data from June 19, 2024) 

RHP Dawson Netz (Arizona) - One of the Wildcats’ go-to relievers in their Pac-12 championship run, Netz has attacked the zone and forced opposing batters to put the ball in play. Striking out 40.7% of batters faced with zero walks, his arsenal of a fastball, curveball and slider have been thrown for strikes 69.7% of the time. With his arsenal, Netz has produced softer contact this season with an average exit velocity of 82.2 mph and two out of 16 balls put in play over 95 mph. (Data from June 19, 2024)

Mahoning Valley Scrappers

3B John Schroeder (Florida Atlantic) - Performing beyond the expected numbers, Schroeder hit .344 (.292 xBA) and slugged .656 (.548 xSLG) through his first 10 games in the Draft League. The Florida native not only has hit the ball well but has hit for power, displaying an average exit velocity of 90.9 mph, a max exit velocity of 103.1 mph, a hard-hit rate of 43.5% and has found the barrel in 13.2% of his plate appearances. Overall, Schroeder has found success, but even more so, he has excelled against the fastball. Whiffing at only 8.7% of fastballs seen, chasing 4.3% and showing zone awareness and swinging at 81.5% of the pitch in-zone. With the discipline, 50% of his hits off fastballs have registered over 95 mph, slashing an average of .556, slugging 1.556 and a wOBA of .816. (Data from June 21, 2024)

RHP Andrew Morones (Cal State Fullerton) - Morones’ arsenal brings hit-or-miss stuff that has always brought soft contact. Between a fastball (91.9 mph, 2,557 rpm, 17” IVB), cutter (87.8 mph, 2,498 rpm, -5.1” HB) and curveball (80.4 mph, 2,794 rpm, -13.4” IVB, -16.9” HB), he’s yet to allow a hard hit or barrel while opposing batters consistently get on top of the ball for a ground ball rate of 53.3%. When batters aren’t putting the ball in play, Morones has struck out 41.4% of batters with a 31.3% chase rate and 36.1% whiff rate. While he has had his fair share of being hit around, Morones excels when throwing his curve. With opponents hitting and slugging just .077 against the pitch, it performs better than its expected numbers of .147 and .154, respectively, highlighted more by its 53.8% strikeout rate. (Data from June 21, 2024)

State College Spikes

3B/DH Deniel Ortiz (Walters State) - Ortiz is making waves with impressive power at the dish, slugging an average exit velocity of 90.9 mph with a max exit velocity of 104.2 mph. Recording 15 batted ball events above 95 mph for a hard-hit rate of 46.9%. His .539 xSLG outshines his actual SLG by 82 points, reflecting his ability to drive the ball consistently. Ortiz's .437 wOBA and .445 expected wOBA underscore his strong approach and penchant for driving the baseball. With a 40.6% line drive rate and a 21.9% fly ball rate, Ortiz demonstrates a natural ability to hit the ball in the air. (Data from June 18, 2024)

RHP Jason Flores (Naaman Forest HS, Texas commit) - One of the 30 high school prospects in the league, Flores shows impressive arm strength on the mound with more potential to gain velocity as he matures. Consisting of a fastball that ranges 92-95 mph, he also features flashes of a real sinker and a hard mix between a slider and cutter to give opposing batters a different look with each pitch. With his two velocity pitches, an interesting look is how similarly inverted their movements are. He throws the fastball with 14.1” of IVB and 7.2” HB and flips those numbers with the sinker at 8.1” IVB and 15.7” HB. The results Flores induces on his fastball are relatively true to its expectations as batters are hitting .231 off of the pitch to its xBA of .229. However, his sinker has performed a little less compared to projections, with opponents hitting .143 compared to an xBA of .032. Yet, opponents have struggled to drive the ball overall, with an average exit velocity of 79.7 mph, with the sinker not allowing any hard-hit balls. (Data from June 19, 2024)

Trenton Thunder

OF Jackson Strong (Kentucky) - Strong provides consistent contact with a plus run tool after an impressive first-team all-MAAC performance with Canisius, where he stole 42 bases -- first in the MAAC and third in the nation -- while slashing .342/.458/.621. Getting on base hasn’t been an issue for the outfielder either in the Draft League, where he's performed well against all pitch types. He's batting .400 with a .500 slugging percentage against the fastball and boasts a 0.0% whiff rate with a .333 expected batting average against the curveball. Against changeups, Strong continues to impress with a .378 expected batting average, a .438 expected slugging percentage, and a .359 expected wOBA, backed by a solid 25.0% hard-hit rate. (Data from June 21, 2024)

RHP Luke Gabrysh (St. Joseph’s) - Gabrysh has done an impressive job preventing opponents from hitting for extra bases with a sinker/slider combination that has nearly two feet of horizontal difference. With his sinker (94.7 mph T97.1 mph) moving 15.3” arm-side, the slider moves between 10” and 12” from release in the opposite direction. With the movement between both pitches, Gabrysh has caused opposing hitters to whiff one-third of the time, chasing 30.7% and striking out at a rate of 51.6%. Attacking hitters in the zone effectively, opponents only hit .148 overall and slugging the same. (Data from June 21, 2024)

West Virginia Black Bears

OF Jordan Rogers (Wichita State) - A lot has been going right at the plate for Rogers, combining all aspects of a polished bat. Barreling 25.8% of balls in play, he’s showcased an ability to make solid contact consistently. An aggressive approach has seen some swing and miss, but Rogers' ability to put the ball in play (85.3% BIP) has helped him maintain a low 10.2% strikeout rate. Despite batting in the low .200s, his ability to see and pounce on off-speed pitches has brought him success. Slugging .833 against changeups and .915 xSLG, plus a .652 xwOBA and a perfect contact rate against the curveball, highlights his ability to handle breaking pitches effectively. (Data from June 18, 2024)

RHP Ryan Lambert (Oklahoma) - One of the bigger stories this season is the pure dominance shown by the Minnesota native in a stacked Black Bear bullpen. After flirting with triple digits in his first outing, when he threw a 99.4 mph fastball on the last pitch of the game, Lambert, in his subsequent appearance, eclipsed the century mark at 100.4 mph while picking up the save. Through three games and five innings of work, he’s effectively thrown his fastball, cutter and slider to prevent runners of any kind on the bases. Despite his impressive fastball landing in the zone only 42.9% of the time, Lambert’s thrown the pitch at a 74.3% clip for strikes, thanks in part to a 35% chase rate and 50% whiff rate. (Data from June 19, 2024)

Williamsport Crosscutters

RHP Alex Clemons (South Dakota State) - Clemons offers a difficult look for hitters with a three-pitch mix where each pitch offers a unique and dynamic look. Averaging 93.2 mph and topping at 95.8 mph, the fastball features 2-seam action with 20.3” IVB and 9.2” HB. Attacking the zone, Clemons’ heater has generated an in-zone whiff rate of 26.3% with a 34.6% chase rate as he runs it in the top of the zone. The slider is tight with only -3.9” HB but still creates batters to whiff ⅔ of the time overall and 100% of the time in the zone with nothing hard-hit. The curveball has seen more balls land safely and put runners on, but the pitch also has generated a 62.5% whiff rate and 42.9% chase rate, with nothing hard-hit. Altogether, Clemons has demonstrated the ability to create soft contact with off-balanced bats as his expected line is .141 xBA, .189 xSLG and a .215 xwOBA.

OF Jackson Mayo (South Florida) - Mayo has done a lot well offensively with the Crosscutters, extending his at-bats by averaging almost five pitches per plate appearance and under seven per at-bat and playing above league average in not whiffing, all while hitting the ball hard and finding the barrel. Due to his advanced approach and knack for lengthening at-bats, seven of Mayo’s 11 hits have come from two- or three-ball counts. Overall, he's reached base 47.5% of the time, thanks to a league-best 16 walks. Across the league, players have a whiff rate of 29.8%, a hard-hit rate of 17.8%, and a barrel rate of 8.6%. Mayo, however, trends in a positive percentage of 10% better than the rest of the league in each category, with a whiff rate of 16.3% and hard-hit and barrel rates of 34.6% and 23.1%, respectively. (Data from June 18, 2024)