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The Bard’s Take: 2017 MLB Draft - Pavin, Haseley, and Bukauskas - Second Look

Following up on the previous scouting reports of three strong candidates for the seventh pick in the draft.

Since Mike already posted scouting reports on these three players, rather than doing my own full breakdown of each player, I will simply add my two cents for all three of them right here.

Pavin Smith, 1B, University of Virginia (Mike’s Report)

Largely considered the most-polished bat in the draft and one of the two best college bats available overall (with Brendan McKay), Pavin Smith represents one of the few options for a college bat that has first-round talent. The problem is that the bat is tied to a first baseman and does not project to be an all-star caliber bat. Pavin Smith’s close comps are James Loney and Lyle Oyerbay, both decent players in their primes, but not greast by any stretch of the imagination. Smith projects to be at least average with the glove if not above average. Being left-handed will give him a slight edge in that department. The lack of speed may or may not inhibit his overall range at the position though. It certainly prevents him from being even a somewhat average left fielder. Smith’s entire future is tied to playing first base or acting as a DH. The amount of pop in Smith’s bat is a matter of some disagreement in scouting circles. Some feel it is a 20-homer bat. Others feel it is a 12-15 home run bat. Not having seen him in workouts, it’s difficult for me to say, but watching him play, he sure looks like he is closer to a 15-homer bat than 20.

High OBP skills are something this organization lacks, and Smith brings those. Difficult to strike out, Smith is also gifted at drawing walks and just running up pitch counts in general. Smith also profiles to be a rapid riser once he starts playing in the minors. There is simply very little left to develop with Smith. Other than Smith adjusting to increasing levels of pitch difficulty and getting accustomed to the speed of play defensively, he is almost MLB-ready now. Assuming he sticks to the expected schedule of development, he should be ready to see some MLB at-bats by August or September of 2019.

Given his limited defensive profile, Smith has dropped outside of the top-10 on many boards. This should help increase the chances of signing him and possibly saving a few dollars. IT seems unlikely that the savings will be substantial though, given that the Diamondbacks are selecting outside of the realm of the excessively large bonus pool.

The Take:

There just is not nearly enough upside here to get excited about. Being limited to first base without possessing an all-star caliber bat puts Smith on track to be a decent regular at best, with a real risk of developing into a bench bat for a National League team, as there is no DH to stow him in. With the amount of upside that is guaranteed to be left on the board at #7, it feels like the team would be wasting a great opportunity for adding impact talent if they went with taking Smith as a safe pick at #7.

Adam Hasely, OF, University of Virginia (Mike’s Report)

Adam Haseley is the top overall college position player in the draft not named Brendan McKay. Like McKay, Haseley is yet another two-way player. Unlike McKay, Haseley’s future is clearly tied solely to his bat. There is no reason to debate which way to go with him.

While Haseley doesn’t have stellar speed, he does have a center fielder’s defensive instincts. He takes great routes to the ball, and while he doesn’t fly, he should have enough speed and range to be able to stick in center. However, if he is unable to stick in center, he has more than enough arm to play comfortably in right, and would have the range to play a very large corner.

At the plate, Haseley is a hitter that takes the ball to all fields. He’s fairly decent on staying back and letting the ball travel. It is only recently that his power has started to come around, which is part of why his stock has risen to where he is considered a top-10 selection now. Even without the pop in his bat though, being able to go gap-to-gap allowed him to use his speed to leg out plenty of doubles, a skill that would serve him nicely batting at the top of the order if he continues to use the entire field as he progresses through the minors.

On the bases, Haseley has shown to be more of a smart runner than a speedster. He picks and chooses his spots and seems to do well enough taking an extra base. Should he remain a strong OBP hitter, he has 20-stolen base potential.

The Take:

Haseley is by far the most likely pick for Arizona with the seventh pick. He represents the very definition of a “safe” pick. However, I find myself hoping that someone will draft under-slot and grab him, giving the Diamondbacks some other options. Haseley is just not a pick I am able to get excited over. He projects to be a decent hitter, but one with questionable power. While he has the speed to steal 20 bases, chances are that once he gets to the majors, the better pickoff moves and quicker delivery times probably curb that to around 10-12, and there would also be the success ratio to be concerned with. Haseley’s dream upside is to be a left-handed A.J. Pollock, without quite the defensive upside.

My issue with taking Haseley at #7 is the amount of upside they will be passing on. Other very possible candidates for #7 are J.B. Bukauskas and Austin Beck. Also, Jeren Kendall will still be available. If it weren’t for this organization’s poor track record of developing hitters as OBP threats instead of free-swingers, I would be all over Kendall. Sadly, I find myself voting for Haseley over Kendall not because of the talent, but because of the sad state of the organization’s track record. Kendall has a much higher ceiling, but also represents just the sort of talent that the Diamondbacks seem likely to waste.

Even without Kendall as a candidate, I still like both Beck and Bukauskas better than Haseley. Beck simply has a much higher upside, but will also take an additional two years to reach the majors. Haseley should be able to reach the majors by the end of 2019.

My guess is this is who the Diamondbacks select, opting to lean more towards a safe, sure thing than the upside.

J.B. Bukauskas, RHP, UNC (Mike’s Report)

If Bukauskas were three inches taller, he would be a top-four pick without a doubt, joining Greene, McKay, and Wright in the top tier of elite draft prospects. At only six feet tall, Bukauskas finds himself in the second tier of prospects instead. Bukauskas would have been a top-10 talent back in 2014 when the Diamondbacks last tried to select him, but he made it very clear at the time he was not interested in forgoing college. It seems to have worked out in his favour. He now has three useable pitches, two of which are already plus offerings. Bukauskas works off of his two fastballs. Mixing the two-seam and the four-seam up, he is able to keep hitters off balance, generating plenty of strikeouts and inducing groundballs at a good rate. While Bukauskas’ height means he gets less downward plane than some, he gets a ton of late movement on his fastball, and given the way he mixes the two fastball offerings, his sinking two-seamer plays up. Meanwhile, his four-seamer has very good velocity and gets plenty of swinging strikes up in the zone with 94-97 mph velocity.

Bukauskas also features a hard-biting slider with great angular movement. When he is commanding it well, he is able to throw it for strikes against both righties and lefties and at any point in the count. While it is more of a front-door pitch, the good movement it has allows him to get plenty of back-door strikes when he needs it. The key, of course, was just mentioned though. This is a plus offering when his command is on. His slider does sometimes abandon him. This is something that a bit of development should help with though.

While his final offering is merely an average pitch, Bukauskas also has a change-up. The pitch tends to run a bit hot (87-90 mph), it still works when he sets it up using his four-seamer up in the zone. Bukauskas already disguises the pitch well and is getting late fade out of the offering, which should make it a good weapon to keep lefties honest. Bukauskas’ issues with the change arise from his command. When his change-up is not working right, the fade is not there and it tends to hang in the zone. This results in pitches floating into the heart of the zone at a 90 mph, meaning he sets the ball on a tee and also provides enough velocity for the ball to go a long way in the wrong direction. With some more coaching and development, Bukauskas should be able to get those misses to drop down out of the zone into the dirt. These will still be ugly, but they won’t end up as souvenirs.

If Bukauskas can refine his command in the minors, there is very little keeping him from becoming a possible top-of-the-rotation arm. Command can be touchy thing. For some pitchers it develops easily with proper coaching. For others, various tweaks can simply add to the issues rather than correcting them. This though, could be where Bukauskas runs into trouble.

If there is one concern about Bukauskas, it is that he has some disturbing separation in the latter parts of his delivery. With the low elbow, there is some concern there that he might be a candidate for future TJ surgery. Other pitchers have managed to pitch through this sort of delivery without issue, but in this day and age of harder pitching, it’s nice to avoid tempting fate. Whoever takes him will probably want to clean that up some, elevating the elbow a few degrees in the delivery. Will this help with his command, or will it kill it? It is hard to say, but it seems inevitable that some team is going to try and find out.

The Take:

I do not share the same level of injury concern that many do regarding Bukauskas. The fix to his delivery is a pretty simple one. He shows a great load, has a strong lower body, and his timing is not being thrown off. All these things point to him being able to make minor corrections. In what I have seen of him this year, he has shown fairly strong mechanics and a great deal of stamina. Bukauskas has a very strong core and uses his legs to help him go deep into games. Assuming he can make the necessary minor adjustment to his delivery angle, he will eliminate the red flag and be a polished pitcher with ace upside. There are some that feel his size will eventually relegate him to the bullpen, but I think his strong repertoire of pitches will keep him in the rotation. If anything sends him to the bullpen, it will be his command, and that is fixable with proper coaching.

J.B. Bukauskas is who I would like to see the Diamondbacks select at number seven. Unfortunately, I have a hard time seeing Oakland pass on him at number six. However, in just about any scenario where Bukauskas reaches number seven, I say take him. Perhaps his two shaky outings in the College World Series will scare Oakland off (doubtful). The ace-potential upside is just too hard to pass up.