Five Guys On The Rise

By Doug Freeman
Florida Scouting Director

Just past the halfway point of the spring season, we have traveled across the state evaluating players who may have the chance to hear their name call in the 2017 MLB Draft come June 12th, 2017. There are a lot of talented players across the state, but here are five guys who's tools have come together or made a jump and I feel have helped raise their draft status this spring.

No. 5

Hunter Ruth, RHP, Bucholz (2017)
Ruth looks to have filled out and gained some strength through the fall and into the spring. The arm slot is still over-the-top, but a bit lower than before and much more fluid. The fastball came out of the hand extremely well sitting 94-96 mph the first inning while also showing a plus slider at 84-85 mph and a changeup at 87 mph. The velocity dropped off a bit in the third and fourth to 88-91 mph. The arm is extremely quick and the slider has turned into a plus pitch with sharp, late action. Overall, he has always shown a quick arm with inconsistent velocity and command. Though the command has continued to improve, it still isn’t spotting up to both sides of the plate. The development of the slider is where the big jump has been made, he has shown a plus hard, late biting slider and is one of the best right handed breaking balls in the state. Although Ruth is a bit smaller, he has filled out and has an extremely quick arm with the plus slider.

No. 4 

Zach Jackson, C, Winter Haven HS (2017)
Florida recruit. The strong bodied left handed hitting catcher has shown a high end toolset, but the offense has been inconsistent at times. This spring, Jackson has shown a more patient, gap-to-gap approach as opposed to consistently trying to drive balls to the pull side. He has a balanced setup and when he works to the middle of the field,  the barrel stays in the zone a long time and he shows a feel for the barrel with a present hit and power tools with more power potential with a strong lower half. Defensively, he has a strong, stocky frame while also being flexible in his setup which should keep him healthy behind the plate. He can be weak in his wrists at times, but his hands work and he tends to be in the right position receiving. He shows solid footwork, with a clean and quick transfer with an above average arm resulting in pop times ranging from 1.85-2.0 with low accurate throws. The tool both defensively and offensively are there as well as the approach and still some projectability especially offensively.  

No. 3

Harrison Francis, RHP, Chiles HS (2017)
Chipola recruit. Francis has always had an athletic and projectable frame with a quick arm behind some effort in his delivery. He has previously shown an above average changeup, but the velocity on the fastball sat in the 87-89 mph rang. His fastball early this spring has worked in the 89-92 range touching 93 mph. Though he struggled a bit with command early, the fastball showed arm side life with some effort. He also featured a plus changeup at 81-82 mph that he threw to both right and left handed hitters with great arm speed and depth to the pitch which he would use for five of his nine strikeouts. He would also mix in a 74-77 mph slider. There is definitely some effort in the delivery, but he has late life on the fastball with still room to fill out and gain some velocity. The improved slider and changeup make him very even more intriguing than before.

No. 2 

Shane Drohan, LHP, Cardinal Newman (2017)
Florida State recruit. Immediately noticeable about Drohan is the fact he has put on 20 or so pounds of muscle on a still lean and projectable frame. Mechanically he is sound, staying balanced over the rubber with a good lower half. He has had some questions about command in the past, although he would get the ball out of his glove late at times leading to some arm side high misses, he would show much improved command. With a clean 3/4 arm action, he worked a fastball in the 88-91 mph range early settling in at 86-89 with some late life. He has always featured a plus curveball, but was not always able to throw for a strike. He showed the ability to use the pitch as a swing and miss pitch using it for four of his nine strikeouts, but also consistently threw it for strikes at 75-79 mph. To go along with a live fastball and plus curveball, he showed a much improved changeup at 85-88 mph with quality arm speed.

Overall, Drohan shows a feel for three pitches and is one of the arms that can project to be a starter in professional baseball. There is present stuff, he showed the ability to remain under control with runners on base and still a lot of upside left in the young, fresh left hander.

No. 1 

Chris Seise, SS, West Orange (2017)
Central Florida recruit. The standout shortstop has played solid defense up the middle in multiple outings this spring showcasing a quick first step, soft hands and a strong arm across the diamond. He shows easy, athletic actions with enough range and arm to stay at short. Offensively Siese’s tools have always been impressive, running a 4.01 down the line on a swinging bunt. Seise has become much more consistent offensively this spring, with the swing noticeably shorter through the zone with less swing and miss. He is balanced, with a strong lower half and power potential from gap-to-gap. Overall, the tools have always been present with Seise, but the overall consistent play has him on the rise.

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