Prep Baseball Report

College Crosscheck, Week 8: LSU, Vanderbilt, Mizzou and Florida

By: David Seifert
Director of College Scouting

Updates from Seifert's visit through the SEC, taking in contests featuring the likes of LSU, Vanderbilt, Mizzou and Florida... 


+ Luke Holman, RHP: The Tigers’ ace is a high-pitchability righthander, the type that moves quickly throughminors to AAA. At that point command becomes the telltale. One thing for certain is that Holman has the type of polished delivery with a consistent release point that has a high likelihood to develop plus-plus command at the Major League level and enable him to pitch for a long time. Against Vanderbilt his fastball peaked at 93 and lived at 91. It played as multiple pitches with his ability to spot on both edges of the plate, and he also elevated to the letters on occasion. However, he was mostly an east/west navigator with his fastball, while mixing three shapes of the same breaking ball – a slow 75 mph get-me-over that he uses to steal strikes early in the count, a firmer 79-81 even-count bender that got some swing-and-miss, and a slider-shaped offering at 83-84 that he mainly used with two strikes for chase and putaway. Of the three his slider was his main weapon. For the season it has produced a 56.9 whiff%, which ranks in the 99th percentile of college baseball this season (per 643 Charts). After striking out eight of the first 12 Commodores and retiring the first 13 in a row, Holman yielded a four-spot in the fifth and two unearned runs in the sixth before departing after 97 pitches in 5.2 innings. He struck out 10 and walked no one to improve his season totals to 71 strikeouts against 13 walks in 44.2 innings. Ironically, Holman is the pitcher that scouts love to watch pitch with his efficiency and strike-throwing ability, but he's also the type of college pitcher whose value gets suppressed in the draft due to the lack of big velo. His performance statistics will push him up boards, while his pitch analytics may drop him back down. Holman will likely be considered starting in the Competitive Balance Round A (around pick No. 35).

+ Thatcher Hurd, RHP: Currently carrying a 6.59 ERA, Hurd is not having the type of season that was forecast in the preseason. Brought into the game as a reliever during game two of the series, the power righthander showed a high-spin (2450 rpm) fastball up to 95 mph. His heater also spun very efficiently giving him 21+” of induced vertical break (IVB) for some swing-and-miss up in the zone. Hurd also showed two hard and high-spin breaking balls with a 84-85 mph slider (2700+ rpm) and a power curve at 80 and a 3000+ rpm spin rate. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound righty struggled to locate any of the pitches and faced just four batters, walking one and allowing one hit. While his spin data is very analytic-friendly, his performance data isn’t as enticing. Hurd does not currently have an offering that he consistently throws for strikes or one that consistently misses bats. To date this spring he has thrown his fastball for a strike 62% of the time which ranks in the 43rd percentile. He also throws it over the heart of the plate at a 36.6% clip which slots him into the 42nd percentile. With all of that stated the draft is not solely about a half season of performance data. Hurd still has the “stuff” worthy of an early-to-mid Day Three selection.

+ Jared Jones, 1B: Also known as Bear Jones, Jared has Paul Bunyon strength for 80-grade raw power. A draft-eligible sophomore, his top EV so far this season is 118 mph. Standing 6-foot-4, and weighing 250-pounds, Jones miss-hits balls 350’. He has good balance in the box with length to his swing. During an overall strong freshman season when he batted .302 with 14 home runs, he also struck out in 34% of his plate appearances. With this in mind he has focused this season on pitch selection and strike zone discipline while making improvements to his swing decisions. To date this season he has cut his strikeout rate to 24%. Still on the high side, but a remarkable improvement. Statistics also show that the right-handed power hitter does a very good job of utilizing his raw power by elevating the baseball. This season his fly ball rate is nearly 50%. Combined with a line drive rate of nearly 20%, Jones puts the ball in the air close to 70% of the time. During the Vanderbilt series he did show a flatter swing path with several low line drive singles to center field. He turned around a 99 mph fastball from Greysen Carter for a 112 mph EV single to center field. Another low line drive in game two was an RBI single to centerfield with an EV of 112. And a third was a 2-iron shot, again to centerfield with a 113 EV that was so hot it skipped right past Vanderbilt’s Calvin Hewett who looked fooled by the fast-hop velocity. A converted catcher, Jones now plays first base where his hands are solid and just the everyday experience of playing the position will improve his decisions and communications on ground balls with his fellow infielders, especially with the pitcher on when to cover the bag or pursue the slow chop tweener. Currently our No. 66 ranked college prospect, Jones is in the mix with other ‘23 draft-eligible college first basemen of similar profile (not named Caglianone or Kurtz) with power as their top tool; Blake Burke is the leader of that group with Hunter Hines, Jeremiah Jenkins, Corey Collins and Jacob Walsh all behind Jones.

+ Gage Jump, LHP: The Tigers game two starter, Jump worked quickly with some deception to his delivery. He filled the zone with a fastball up to 95 mph at 2400 rpm that spun 97-98% efficient for an IVB of 20-21”. It’s his primary weapon, one that he throws 64% of the time and mostly to his armside. It produces a chase rate of 28.2% which scores in the 98th percentile. The lefty also throws two breaking balls. His most consistent is an 82-85 mph slider spinning in the 2300s that grades out as average on the pro scale. It’s backed by a upper-70s curve of very similar quality and control. Jump also showed an occasional 84-87 mph changeup, although he does slow his arm prior to release. It showed good armside action with 14-17” of horizontal action and killed spin in the 1450-1600 rpm range. An average athlete, Jump did not look the greatest while fielding his position on a couple of occasions. Overall, he slots into the early to middle rounds on Day Two, behind other southpaws Tristan Smith (Clemson) and Mason Molina (Arkansas).

+ Tommy White, 3B: The alpha cat, Tommy Tanks leads the Tigers in batting average at .321 and is tied with Jones at 11 home runs. Two of those eleven home runs came in game two on Friday night against Vanderbilt. The first was a 105 mph big fly of 412’ to right center field. The second, a 107 EV, was belted 341’ to left field. White’s top EV this season of 113 mph equates to plus raw power on the pro scale. He has both bat strength and bat speed, but what separates White from most other power hitters is his ability to control the zone and use all fields. To date this season he has battled for 17 walks against 16 strikeouts and has five home runs to right field, six to left. At the pro level White projects to become above average in both his power production and hit ability. Defensively, his hands are soft enough with just enough arm strength to handle third base. Medium actioned at 6-foot-1 and 230-pounds, White will field what’s in his box for near average range and with sure hands he has committed just one error in 54 chances this spring. There is a greater than 50/50 chance that the pro game at the hot corner may get too fast for him as a permanent defensive home, especially with just playable feet, average arm strength and fringe throwing accuracy. With that stated, he’s shown improvement defensively this season and there’s good reason to think even more will be made. A bat-first prospect, White slots into the end of the first round at this point on my personal draft board.


+ Greysen Carter, RHP: After cruising through the first two innings against LSU with four ground ball outs from the first six batters, Carter yielded a leadoff home run to Josh Pearson in the third which altered the perfection of the ball game after he and Tigers’ starter Luke Holman had combined to retire the games’ first 15 hitters. Following Pearson’s blast and an error on a routine ground ball, Carter was not able to regain the weight on his fastball and his early inning dominance. With a physical build of 6-foot-4, 235-pounds, Carter simply overpowers the baseball from a high three-quarters slot (6-foot-3 release point). Featuring primarily a fastball dominant arsenal, his heavy, cutting heater can hit the barrel and the barrel typically loses. It was up to 99 in the first inning, settled mostly 96-97 in second, and did tickle 99 again, peaking at 99.2 in the fourth. For the season it has averaged 97.5 mph. His breaking ball is a higher-spinner at 2500-2700+ rpm and three-quarters shaped at 81-83 mph. However, with an earlier break and a 5-7” drop in his release point, the pitch can be early ID’d. He also struggles to control the pitch with just a 49.1% (20th percentile) strike rate this season (per 643 charts). After retiring the first six LSU hitters, the Tigers were able to differentiate between pitch release points and pounced on Carter for nine runs (seven earned) on seven hits over his final 1.2 innings. On this look his changeup was the better of his two secondary offerings, but when in trouble during the five-run third inning, he went more often to his breaker, shying away from his heater and not going to his change-of-pace. When he did throw his changeup it was firm and straight at 87-90 mph, but was an effective ground ball inducer with spin rates in the 1800-1900s. For the season he has thrown the pitch for a strike 46.7% of the time. A starter in this series for the Dores, Carter is likely to be one of the first reliever profiles to come off the board this summer, most likely early during Day Two.

+ Bryce Cunningham, RHP: Regardless of a subpar performance against LSU (4.1 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 2 BB, 6 SO) on 80 pitches, Cunningham has figured some things out this year. He has also leaned up physically and gained needed durability. Instead of tiring around 50 pitches to power through a lineup multiple times he can now strongly navigate deeper into the game. At his best his fastball will touch 98 and his changeup will play plus. It’s a high-spinning (2400 rpm) power changeup with up to 25” (average 21-22”) of late horizontal action to his armside and a swing/miss weapon that sports a 66.1 whiff% (100th percentile) this season. Against LSU his heater topped at 97, sat 94-95 and spun in the 2400-2500 rpm range. Cunningham’s slider is also very usable. It flashed average at 84-86 mph and spun in the 2400s. Although it is not as high quality as his changeup, he throws the pitch more often. He also showed a consistent release point 6-foot-4 to 6-foot-5 on his fastball and a couple inches lower on his secondaries. For an average hitter, a drop of a couple inches isn’t noticeable during game action, but becomes observable to the average hitter around 5-6” of release point change. Other than my first-ever scouting look at Cunningham when he was a freshman, I haven’t seen the “A” version of a prospect who many scouts project as a future #2/#3 Major League starting pitcher. With that said, the 6-foot-5, 230-pound right-hander was good enough to safely project to Day One for this summer’s draft.

+ Carter Holton, LHP: Vandy’s game three starter registered ten strikeouts during his six inning (105 pitches) outing and did not walk a batter. He scattered six hits, while allowing three runs. For the season the left-hander is 5-0 with a 3.27 ERA and has struck out 67 in just 44 innings against 13 walks. Holton features a fastball up to 96 with an average of 93.5 mph this season, but it’s his big bender of a curve ball that attracts much of my attention. At 79-80 mph it’s deep with 14” of vertical break while spinning in the upper 2300 rpm range. He can also manipulate it into another bender, this one with more power in the 83-85 mph range and similar spin rates. His slider draws more chase and swing/miss with a 47% whiff%, but he throws it less often for a strike at 60% (53rd percentile). Holton’s fourth pitch is also very effective in a low-80s changeup with 15-16” of horizontal action to his armside. He throws it less than 9% of the time, but percentage-wise, it draws the most swing/miss of any of his pitches (56%, 98th percentile). I also witnessed a couple of cutters at 86-87 mph to Tommy White in the third inning, but that was the extent of this offering that I noticed during this look. His entire arsenal is all delivered from a consistent high three-quarter release point, adding to his effectiveness. Holton will lose some value in the draft as clubs believe he is a reliever and at 5-foot-11, 195 pounds he then becomes a bit of an outlier. An obvious future big leaguer for me, I have been fortunate to see Holton at his best multiple times during his Vandy career. Therefore, I value him a little higher than the industry consensus at this point. Currently, not including two-way talent Jac Caglianone, Carter is my 5th ranked college lefthanded pitcher behind Hagen Smith (Arkansas), Jonathan Santucci (Duke), Josh Hartle (Wake Forest), and Ryan Prager (Texas A&M) and he is likely to be considered late during Day One.

+ Jonathan Vastine, SS: In Baton Rouge I was hoping to see the Cape Cod version of Vastine – the prospect who slashed .306/.397/.430 with a 19% strikeout rate. His struggles at Vanderbilt with swing/miss is well-known where he sits with a 26% career rate and 25% this season. His whiffs come mostly on the back/forth, speed up/speed down of a fastball to offspeed. Vastine really gets out and over his front side and loses his lower half while carrying his hands. He does have twitchy strength, solid bat speed and average raw power that has produced five home runs already this season. His fifth long ball was a 100 mph bolt to right center field during game one of the LSU series. Vastine also has very good raw tools on the defensive side of the ball with a plus arm, soft hands, athletic actions and plenty of range at shortstop. He can make both the routine and spectacular play. Collectively, the lefthanded hitter has Day One tools, but his strikeout rate is hard to ignore. Because of this, he will likely fall into rounds three-to-five this summer.


+ Jac Caglianone, LHP/1B: As much good fortune as I’ve had this season watching pitchers excel like Hagen Smith (Arkansas) in Week Two and Ryan Johnson (DBU) in Week Six, Caglianone joined Bryce Cunningham on this scouting trip as prospects who I want to see pitch again this season. Caglianone was off his “A” game at Missouri, throwing just 1.1 innings on 50 pitches. Of those, just 25 were for strikes. His arm action is much shorter than last season, but on this look it did appear a hair longer than what I saw on video earlier this spring. His direction to the plate was also inconsistent. Missouri batted around in the first, scoring four runs on three hits and three walks on 36 pitches. He worked just one more out into the second before being removed. Granted a couple hits were dropped popups caused by the high winds, but overall it was not an outing to get excited about. His normally hard to hit fastball was very hittable when thrown in the zone and ranged 92-95 mph. It’s a pitch that opponents have batted just .167 against this season with a whiff rate of 34.7% (99th percentile). Cags was also not able to get to his good 79-81 mph changeup, the one thrown with fastball arm speed and resulting in a 49.3% whiff rate (92nd percentile).

In the batter’s box Caglianone sets up with an extra wide stance. This setup becomes even more spread with two strikes when he literally has his back foot touching the back line of the batter’s box and his front foot almost touching the front line of the box. On Saturday he did not have much of a plan at the plate during his first two at-bats. His first at-bat was first pitch swinging at an off speed for a 4-6-3 DP. His second at-bat was a groundout to end the third, once again on questionable pitch selection which is my single greatest concern with him moving forward as a hitter. Too often he is just too overaggressive to maximize his production. His chase rate of 34.3% is an improvement from last year’s 39.1%, but it’s in the 1st percentile of college hitters.

Unlike many of his Gator teammates who have taken a dive offensively in the past few weeks, Jac continues to produce. His third at-bat on Saturday was an absolute no-doubter of a home run. He crushed it 382’ at 118 mph into a stiff wind. An exit velo like that translates to 80-grade raw power at the Major League level.

Caglianone homered again on Sunday against Missouri and again on Tuesday in Florida State’s drubbing of the Gators. Overall, he has homered in 8 of his last 11 games while posting a season slash of .397/.484/.802. He is striking out in just 9.2% of his plate appearances, down from 18.2% last season and he’s walked (18) and homered (17) more than he’s struckout (14). Still presiding over 1-1 in our prospect rankings, Cags has improved his “weakness” in the batter’s box, and until his last outing on the mound had also improved his control on the mound. Whether he is selected No. 1 overall or drops a few spots, there’s no doubt he’s a top of the first round talent.

+ Colby Shelton, SS: In a funk offensively coming into the series, I was able to see the good and the not so good sides of Shelton. He did homer twice on Sunday, but for the most part he showed an indecisive swing which made his bat slow with a long and sweepy path. It’s a swing good for rolling over offspeed or being behind an average fastball by a foot. He does struggle with offspeed overall, batting just .205 against breaking balls and .136 vs. changeups. Against the fastball he mashes, slugging .875 this season. Overall, Shelton is now slashing .262/.390/.651 with 15 home runs. The draft-eligible sophomore has fallen out of the top 50 picks for me and is now more likely to be considered early on Day Two.

Additional Gators Prospects

Like Shelton and much of the Gators’ lineup, catcher Luke Heyman has slumped recently in the batter’s box, going five for his last 41 and his average falling to .231. When at his best the draft-eligible sophomore shows above average raw power and plus arm strength from a 6-foot-4, 215 pound frame which all profile well for a pro catching prospect. Junior outfielder Ty Evans was at his best last summer at the CWS batting .400 with five home runs. His draft profile is highlighted by plus raw power. After homering nine times in 197 plate appearances as a sophomore, he’s on a similar pace with seven in 143 PAs this season. He also provides value in right field with his arm strength and ability to make highlight reel plays. However, dragging down his draft value is an increasing strikeout rate that now hovers around 29% this season. Junior righthander Brandon Neely touched 96 early on and was 92-94 most of the outing. He leaned heavily on a mid-80s slider that looked cutterish at times. Neely also threw a dozen changeups with fair feel. He pitched through a lot of traffic – 11 base runners in five innings, but for the most part found a way to wiggle out of trouble. 103 pitches and held stuff well. FB at 92-93 as he approached 100 pitches. As a proven college performer with an above average fastball and effective slider, Neely is likely to be considered in the 4th to 5th rounds.


+ Ryan Magdic, LHP: A couple days before my visit to Columbia I received word that a graduate transfer from Florida Southern had been making some noise on the mound for the Tigers. And as good fortune would allow, I was able to see the lefthander in a closing role during game two of the series. Standing 6-foot-5, 225 pounds, Magdic delivered easy 93-95 mph strikes to the plate. He topped at 96 on his fastball that spun in the upper 2200 rpm range. He also mixed in an occasional low-80s slurve, but mostly challenged the Gators in the zone with his heater. Magdic made it look easy, facing seven in his two innings while allowing a lone hit with two strikeouts. For the season he has posted a 2.40 ERA with 17 strikeouts against three walks in 15 innings. Not a high round talent due to his age, the southpaw will deepen an area scout’s draft list and has a chance to become yet another recent Mizzou Tiger senior to appear in the Major Leagues (Ryan Lollis, Reggie McClain, Bryce Montes de Oca).