With the annual June amateur draft scheduled for this Saturday afternoon (11 AM PST), here’s our best guess at how the first two rounds (42 picks) will unfold.
1. Connecticut Colonials: Piotr Rasputin, Starting Pitcher, Yale University
The 6’8, 275 pound Russian senior has had quite a collegiate career. “Colossus” as he’s known to friends and teammates, Rasputin posted a 1.35 ERA in 60 innings as a junior, decided to return for his senior season, and posted a 1.88 ERA in just over 62 innings this season.
Scouts feel he’s yet to fully tap into his massive potential, as his strikeout numbers are solid but not quite as dominant as one would expect given his natural ability and sheer size. With a fastball that has touched 96 MPH and four pitches that project as at least above average, Rasputin is the rare draft choice with a fairly high floor if he busts, because he should be able to at least develop two pitches and become a useful reliever.
Obviously, as the number one pick, Connecticut would expect Rasputin to develop into the anchor of their rotation, and after back-to-back standout years, that looks like a real possibility in the very near future.
2. St. Louis Sultans: Liam Castro, Shortstop, Rancho Bernardo High School Roosters
At 6’4, some scouts feel Liam Castro is too tall to remain at shortstop long-term, but Castro himself feels he’ll be able to play shortstop at the next level. If he continues to grow he’ll likely have to slide over to third base, but even if he does, he should be one of the league’s best defenders and the bat is very impressive.
Castro has improved every season of his high school career since debuting as a 15-year-old, and he hit .303/.412/.445 this past season. He finished his high school career with 30 steals in 33 tries, and scouts rave about his makeup. Despite being just 17-years-old, some scouts feel Castro could be a fast rising prospect, getting to the big leagues in a few seasons, much faster than the rest of his high school class. His game is advanced for his age.
3. Las Vegas Aces: Ronnie Chiappa, Third Base, Oregon State University
After back-to-back poor seasons for Oregon State, not a lot was expected from Ronnie Chiappa this season. So naturally, the 21-year-old third baseman lit college baseball on fire. After hitting .182 as a sophomore and just .226 as a junior, Chiappa broke out by hitting .335/.419/.585 with 12 home runs. He also walked 31 times while striking out just 11, so his bat control is sensational.
He projects as an above average infielder at any position, and he could be about an average corner outfielder although his long-term future is almost certainly in the infield. With a college resume and the added pressure of being a top pick, Chiappa may very well be the first player drafted to reach the CBL, wherever he ends up.
4. Portland Panthers: Malik Carr, Left Field, Rockford High School Blue Sox
“Poot” as he’s known affectionately around the halls of Rockford high school, Malik Carr has all the tools in the world to become a very special hitter one day. With light tower power and an approach at the plate well beyond his years, scouts have been flocking to see him play over the past two seasons.
In 3 seasons, Carr has walked twice as much as he’s struck out (92 to 46) while hitting .293/.388/.465. This season, Poot slashed .284/.389/.486, but improved his home run total while cutting back on his strikeouts. He should be at least an average defender in left field, although I think we all agree he will be a high draft pick in spite of his defense, not because of it.
5. Traverse City Bullet Club: Frank Gallagher, Center Field, East High School Orcas
Frank Gallagher is arguably the most talented all around prospect in the entire draft, but because he didn’t play this past season, seems unlikely to go number one overall. The highly sought after soon-to-be 17-year-old knocked his girlfriend Monica up, and spent the baseball season working after school to try and make ends meet.
Scouts are amazed by his leadership ability and his intelligence, but his poor decision making (there have been rumors of drugs and burglary, among other things) and lack of any high school season make him a risky proposition. For an organization like Traverse City, who could use a franchise player to build around, it may be worth the risk to roll the dice. If Gallagher develops, he could be the league’s best center fielder one day, and that would go a long way toward helping the Bullet Club return to decency.
6. Nashville Outlaws: Jimmy Donuts, Left Field, McDowell High School Gladiators
Nicknamed “Bag of” by his thoroughly uncreative coach, there’s no denying the young man can swing the bat with the best of them. A four year starter for McDowell high school, Donuts burst onto the scene as a freshman way back in 2029, hitting .327/.392/.561 with 13 home runs as a 14-year-old. At that point, he seemed well on his way to being a number one overall pick.
Donuts is certainly in the conversation for the top pick, but because his freshman season was his best season and he’s not exactly a great defender, it seems unlikely at this juncture. In his four full seasons, Donuts played in 197 games and hit .299/.351/.521 with 34 home runs. The declining home run totals each season are a bit worrisome, especially since his walks stayed basically the same, but the potential is there for Donuts to emerge as the draft’s best hitter.
7. Colorado Gold Sox: Scot Rutrough, Starting Pitcher, Union City High School Wheat Kings
Scot Rutrough’s strikeout numbers aren’t anywhere close to what you’d expect out of the ultra-talented lefty, but if his stats matched his overall potential there’s almost no chance he would have a chance to fall to the 7th pick. Despite scouts feeling he has at least 3 and potentially four future plus CBL pitches, Rutrough has just 87 strikeouts in 151 innings, but even with the lack of strikeouts he’s been successful.
CBL executives feel that his high school coaching has been terrible, and most teams think they can unlock his true potential. He’s a high-risk, high-reward choice, and ideally would go to a team with great minor league coaches that can get the most out of him.
8. Indianapolis Arrows: Noel Hafey, Starting Pitcher, Princeton University
The Princeton All-American has had quite the career, and because of that Noel Hafey should hear his name called very early on Saturday. In 32 career starts, Hafey posted a 2.20 ERA and allowed just 8 home runs. If he can continue to limit the home runs, his mediocre strikeout numbers (107 Ks in 188 innings) won’t be an issue.
Hafey is arguably the most CBL ready starting pitcher in the draft, and a 2033 debut at some point isn’t out of the question. Coming off a 2.26 ERA in 67 innings, Hafey likely should be able to throw another 70 innings or so at the minor league level this season. Anything beyond that is risky, so we’ll have to watch and see if whoever drafts him watches his innings closely at least for this season. Whoever drafts him will want to be sure to keep that durable injury rating in tact as long as possible.
9. Charlotte Knights: Chris Garthwaite, Starting Pitcher, Cathedral Catholic High School Oilers
As a six foot right hander with a fastball that currently can’t even reach 90 MPH, Garthwaite is a strange prospect to be in the first round discussion. However, those teams that have fallen in love with him have done so because of the outstanding potential of his changeup and curveball. With a fastball that’s more of a cutter, Garthwaite’s three pitch potential reminds some scouts of Erie starter Juan Perez.
Other scouts feel he doesn’t have the kind of upside teams prefer from their first round picks, which goes to show just how different some views are on Garthwaite. At this point, he’s expected to be a first round pick, but nobody would be surprised if he’s not. His stats were solid, though, as he posted a 2.77 ERA over three seasons, striking out 120 in 182 innings while walking 40. He allowed just 5 home runs in 3 full seasons.
10. California Dreamers: Ed Donoho, Starting Pitcher, General McClane High School Seminoles
With the draft’s best curveball and three years of very good high school stats, Donoho is as well-known as a 17-year-old prospect could be. Whether that means anything in his development is another story, though. If Donoho’s three pitch mix develops to it’s potential, he could be a very good top of the rotation starter, and even if he only develops his fastball and curveball, he should be a dominant late inning reliever. The curveball potential is that good.
In 3 years, Donoho struck out 137 batters in 188 innings, but walked just 48 while allowing 6 home runs. As the 6’2, 165 pound teenager continues to fill out, his velocity should increase and those strikeout numbers should only get better. Adding a high upside arm like Donoho to a very good system would be a coup for this organization.
11. Vancouver Canadians: Dirk Gently, Third Base, Northwestern High School Triplets
After playing only in a part-time role the previous two seasons, Gently was given the starting job for his senior season and he impressed on a daily basis. In 49 games this year he hit .346/.440/.527 with 7 home runs, walking 33 times and striking out just 13. Scouts are torn, however, on his long-term position.
Some scouts felt Gently has good enough feet and hands to stick at third long-term, and they feel he’ll be average defensively at the hot corner. Others think he’s already a massive liability and will only get worse as he adds weight. However, even those scouts agree he’d likely be a gold glove caliber first baseman, so it’s not all bad. If he can continue to rake in the minor leagues, they’ll find a position for him without issue.
12. Erie Seawolves: Henry Trojanowski, Starting Pitcher, Iroquois High School Spitfires
As the son of Erie Seawolves General Manager Troj, Henry Trojanowski seems like a virtual lock to be taken at #12 if he’s still available. We could be wrong, of course, but Mrs. Troj wouldn’t be too happy if Dad passes on Son.
Nepotism aside, Henry proved this season he’s worthy of being a first round pick. After biding his time at Iroqouis despite being a top prospect, Trojanowski finally got a chance to show what he had this season and he did very well. The 6’5, 210 pound right hander posted a 1.50 ERA in 11 starts this season.
It seems very unlikely the younger Troj will fall all the way to round two, so if Erie wants him, they’ll have to pounce here.
13. San Diego Surf Dawgs: Dave Minksy, Second Baseman, Modesto High School Ranchers
Dave Minsky might have the most power of anyone in the draft, although he didn’t always show it this season. After hitting 19 home runs combined over the last two seasons, Minsky hit just 3 home runs this year after fracturing his hand at mid-season. He likely won’t play at all in the minors this year, as he’s set to miss another two months, but as a 17-year-old with prodigious power he’s exactly the kind of player the Surf Dawgs love to dream on.
His best long-term position is likely third base, as he has a cannon of an arm and isn’t great around second base on double plays. Scouts feel he’d be a very good defender at third, and if his power develops, could be the next Miguel Sano, who was a gold glove caliber defender at third late into his career.
14. Fargo Nordiques: Rob Yakel, First Base, Cathedral Catholic High School Oilers
Arguably the best amateur hitter in the country this season at any level, Rob Yakel hit a very impressive .357/.460/.605, with 11 home runs and 37 walks, while striking out just 14 times. With an incredibly high work ethic and the kind of grit and determination organizations love to see, Yakel is the kind of player scouts who watch him multiple times fall in love with.
There’s no doubt he’s a long ways from the CBL and is a long-term project, but the potential to one day be a perennial MVP is too much to pass up on, and he could be the steal of the draft if he finds his way to the end of the first round.
15. Philadelphia Liberty: Joe Van Tassel, Closer, University of Wisconsin
In his most recent podcast, the Liberty general manager cited the importance of a great bullpen. While the Liberty obviously are looking at plenty of non-bullpen options at this point, Van Tassel is one of the rare relievers that is deserving of a first round draft choice. With two CBL-quality pitches right now, Van Tassel isn’t far from making his big league debut for whoever drafts him. Those two pitches project to be elite, and he should emerge as one of the best late-inning relievers for a decade or longer.
The 6’4″ right hander was overused this past season, throwing a ridiculous 37 innings in 22 appearances, and his ERA struggled in those longer outings. Over 4 seasons, in 103 career innings, Van Tassel posted a 2.10 ERA with 38 saves. He should be the first player from this entire class to make his CBL debut, possibly later this year.
16. Austin Bats: Chris Furgason, Right Field, Pepperdine University
The last thing a great offense like Austin needs (at least for the rest of the league) is another great young hitter, and Furgason is just that. He’s nearly CBL ready, which makes him less of a risk than the highly regarded high schoolers, and he has plenty of talent to give whichever team drafts him loads of upside.
In 50 games this year, Furgason hit a ridiculous .367/.473/.730 with 17 home runs. He works incredibly hard and should be an average defender at least early in his career. If all goes well, Furgason should be a CBL regular as soon as 2034, and might even make his debut before that.
17. Mahoning Valley Scrappers: Jonah Fiumefreddo, Starting Pitcher, Gainesville High School Rams
At 7’1, 230 pounds, Jonah Fiumefreddo is a lanky giant. It allows scouts to dream on what he’ll become as he grows into his massive frame. He can already touch 94 MPH, but there’s reason to believe he could one day reach 100 MPH with the right coaching and development plan. With a solid three pitch arsenal and an unbelievable amount of stamina for someone his size, it’s easy to envision the youngster throwing 250 innings a year.
In 175 innings over his last 3 seasons, Fiumefreddo posted a 2.21 ERA, but struck out just 85 batters in 175 innings. For someone as intimidating as Fiumefreddo looks, one would expect a lot more strikeouts. The hope, of course, is that as he fills out, he’ll also learn how to pitch and develop into a true anchor for a pitching staff.
18. Minneapolis Millers: Dave Curnutt, Center Field, Georgia Tech University
Without any real center field prospects and a clear desire to keep Honoria Gutierrez at shortstop, the Millers will almost certainly be looking at college center fielders with their three first round picks. Curnutt had two productive seasons at Georgia Tech, and with above average defense he’s likely to stay in center long-term.
He’s not all that developed for a college player, but he’s still leaps and bounds further along than the high school options remaining at this point. Curnutt would likely be pushed aggressively as the Millers look for a center field solution.
Supplemental First Round
19. Colorado Gold Sox: Ron Ruane, Starting Pitcher, Santa Monica High School Crows
20. Charlotte Knights: Bobby Smith, Starting Pitcher, Central High School Minutemen
21. Golden State Admirals: Rob Rempert, Closer, Florida State University
22. Manchester Marauders: Mitch Haubrich, Starting Pitcher, Fairview High School Crew
23. Minneapolis Millers: Dewitt Landy, Starting Pitcher, Girard High School Salmon Kings
24. Minneapolis Millers: Billy Moore, Starting Pitcher, UCLA
25. Connecticut Colonials: Johnny Clarno, Closer, LSU
26. St. Louis Sultans: Ron Sowle, Starting Pitcher/Closer, Mississippi University
27. Traverse City Bullet Club: Bob Mangino, Starting Pitcher, Fort Leboeuf High School Mustangs
28. Nashville Outlaws: Steve Stouder, Left Field, Baton Rouge High School Legion
29. Colorado Gold Sox: Ron Kicklighter, Starting Pitcher, Central High School Minutemen
30. Indianapolis Arrows: Conan Hasselberger, DH/Left Field, Iroquois High School Spitfires
31. Charlotte Knights: Antonio Martinez, Closer, Santa Monica High School Crows
32. California Dreamers: Ben Robards, First Base, Pasadena High School Revolution
33. Vancouver Canadians: Dan Cozmanca, Starting Pitcher, Rockford High School Blue Sox
34. Golden State Admirals: Jonathan Gangler, Right Field, Duke University
35. Erie Seawolves: Jesus Sustaita, Third Base, University of Oklahoma
36. San Diego Surf Dawgs: Phil Hunsucker, Left Field, Spring Valley High School Spinners
37. Manchester Marauders: Jim Marriner, Shortstop, Rice University
38. Fargo Nordiques: Jesus Sahagun, First Base, Nebraska University
39. Philadelphia Liberty: Jorge Valentin, Right Field, Spring Valley High School Spinners
40. Austin Bats: Tynan Ellen, Catcher, Girard High School Salmon Kings
41. Mahoning Valley Scrappers: Cal Bahm, Closer, University of Wisconsin
42. Minneapolis Millers: Kieran Vandehei, Third Base, UCLA