The MLB Draft has come and gone. After 40 rounds, hundreds of high school and college baseball players around the country heard their name called and it is the beginning of a childhood dream. For eight Cowboys, they heard their names called as well.
As a baseball scout, the last few days have been like Christmas for me. It has been fun to follow and see where guys end up and how they profile as a professional baseball player. So, I am going to try and explain what could make or break each of these eight guys as a ballplayer at the professional level, a ceiling for what kind of role they could have, and an ETA for when they could make it to the MLB.
Seeing time as both a starter and reliever this year, he became the first Cowboy off the board, going in the 8th round to the St. Louis Cardinals. On the season, Gragg had a 5.26 ERA and 35 K/19 BB in 39.1 innings.
Gragg started four games for the Cowboys early in the season before shifting to the bullpen after not seeing success starting the game. The move worked, and he was much more effective in later relief. He has a lively fastball that sits in the low 90’s, but can touch up to 95-96, and a slurvy slider that flashes as a plus pitch as well. Both of those pitches played up out of the bullpen because he could go max effort for an inning or two rather than needed.
The Cardinals love college pitchers, so it would not surprise me to see him develop into a solid relief pitcher that moves quick. Gragg’s numbers this year were not great, but sometimes teams draft for “stuff” over results. The fact that Gragg can reach 96 with a good breaking ball says there is potential, and that’s what the Cardinals are banking on.
Ceiling: Middle Relief
I talked about this on the Ten12 Podcast with Phillip, but I absolutely LOVE this fit for Battenfield. The Astros are one of the best organizations in baseball when it comes to player development. Battenfield was the best reliever for Oklahoma State this past season, and he will only get better, especially in the Astros organization. He struck out 71 batters in 58.2 innings, in 27 appearances. He also worked a 2.91 ERA.
Battenfield has been a workhorse this season, both as a one inning and multi-inning reliever. He has a four pitch mix, but throws two pitches in two different arm slots. He goes to a high 3⁄4 arm slot for his fastball and curveball, and drops down a little further for a cutter and changeup. His velocity saw a uptick towards the end of the season, seeing some mid 90’s after mostly sitting 88-92 throughout the year. Baseball America says there is a chance Battenfield has the stuff to become a starter moving forward, but I think his best move is staying in the bullpen.
The Astros love guys that can punch guys out every time they step on the mound. Battenfield has the stuff and the pitchability to be a great major league reliever. High leverage situation or not, he has ice in his veins and is going to attack the zone at all costs. Look for Battenfield to move pretty quickly, and I believe he could be the first Cowboy from this class to make it to the majors.
Ceiling: Middle Relief/Setup
The Cowboys had to wait for a little while on Day 3 for someone to get drafted, until Brady Basso was taken in the 16th Round by Oakland. After filling multiple roles in his three years at Oklahoma State, he found his spot in the bullpen as a lefty specialist. His numbers are not eye-popping, but he was effective. He had a 1.74 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 10.1 innings over 13 appearances.
Basso profiles in a much more fascinating way now because of the LOOGY (Lefty One Out Guy) role he took on this year. He has two average pitches with the fastball and curveball, and has shown he can be a Swiss Army Knife for a staff. The problem for Basso that because of the three-batter minimum rule for relievers that begins next season, the LOOGY is essentially going to be phased out of baseball. He’ll have to be able to expand his role and get right-handed hitters out consistently in order to continue to move up the chain. I believe Basso can do this, but it will be interesting to keep an eye on.
Ceiling: TBD, depends on how A’s use him
Trevor Boone became the first Cowboy position player off the board in the 18th Round, heading to the Colorado Rockies. I like this fit because of the raw tools that Boone possesses, it could play very nicely in Coors Field. Boone was power source in the lineup all season, and one of the best Cowboy hitters. He slashed .292/.370/.636/1.006, with 20 home runs and 54 RBI.
Boone carries the tools to be a great professional ballplayer. The power is there right now to be a great home run threat in the middle of a lineup, but he did struggle with a wood bat in a summer league last season. He also is a decent runner, though it mostly plays in running the bases and not stealing bags. His glove and arm have the chance to be plus, and there is a good shot that could lead him to stick in centerfield. Boone does have a lot of swing and miss in his game, but that negative is not as bothersome to people around baseball as it used to be. If he can walk at a little higher clip moving forward, he’ll be able to balance out the strikeouts.
If Boone makes the transition to wood bat more successfully, he could turn himself into a legitimate prospect. If he becomes something like a three true outcomes (walk, strikeout, home run) type of hitter, he could be a fourth outfielder with some serious thump off the bench. Either way, I have glorious visions of him hitting absolute TANKS at Coors Field.
Ceiling: Everyday Player
Be sure to be sure to be on the lookout for part two later in the day on Thursday!