As Spring comes to a close and the 2016 draft looms larger than ever, scouts are finishing up evaluations on players and trying to get one last look. One of the most difficult things for them to do is line up their pref list. The pref list is where they rank each player in order of how they would select them in a vacuum. It mainly follows an OFP (Overall Future Potential) number but sometimes a player will be ranked higher on the list because of intangibles or an area scout’s feel on a player. Most clubs take it a step further at the cross-checker level and have them rank their players by position as well. When all is said and done, there will be a master pref list, or big board, and several smaller lists by position. The team will use this list as the draft unfolds and it allows them to keep track of priority guys and trends that are happening within the draft.
The debates between scouts on particular player positioning can be intense, especially when two area scouts or cross-checkers are pit against each other, but eventually the scouting director will make a decision based on his evaluations of the particular players. In an effort to shed some light on the process, we will take a look at two college right-handed starters that are positioned to go in the back half of the first round in 2016. In many ways they are similar but each team will value them differently. The two players we will attempt to nail down are Boston College’s dynamic starter Justin Dunn and University of Illinois’ workhorse Cody Sedlock.
Drafted in the 37th-round of the 2013 draft by the Dodgers, Dunn chose to attend Boston College instead. He was mainly a bullpen arm in his first several years at BC. As he has matured and gained muscle on his wiry 6-foot-2, 185-pound frame, his stuff has matured and allowed the BC staff to believe in him as a starter.
Throwing from a high-three-quarters slot, Dunn has no major issues on the back side and flashes premium arm speed combined with extension that really allows the ball to get on hitters quickly. The command of the pitch is still developing but he has shown the ability to locate the fastball to both sides of the plate and elevate it when he wants a strikeout. Unfortunately for my viewing, which was early in the year when he was still pitching out of the pen, I only saw one of his two breaking balls, the slider. It flashes above-average potential with feel to both sides, and quality spin that will make it a strikeout pitch at the next level. In warmups the curveball has bigger 11/5 shape and while he did show the ability to spin it, it will likely be replaced by the slider as his main off-speed offering. Dunn’s changeup is another pitch that has a chance to be average. He throws it with proper arm speed and it flashes fade down in the zone.
Although Dunn’s command has improved significantly, the biggest question mark for scouts will be his ability to throw enough strikes and limit walks. Dunn has the stuff to pitch in the rotation but the questions as to whether he can throw strikes will most likely limit him to a back-of-the-rotation starter or a power reliever with two plus pitches.
After going undrafted in the 2013 draft, Sedlock started his career at the University of Illinois as a reliever and spot starter till his Junior year, where his four-pitch mix has really started to take off. His frame has filled out since his original draft year and he now stands 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, with some projection remaining in his long and lean frame.
Sedlock gets it all started from a three-quarters slot with only a soft stab in the back that doesn’t hinder him. The arm is loose and whippy with quality arm speed and extension out front. His fastball sits 90-94 and touches 96 with heavy movement down in the zone. Sedlock’s command of the pitch is better arm-side but he can get the pitch glove-side down when he needs to. The fastball will be an above-average pitch at the next level and will get plenty of groundballs. He throws two breaking balls most outings, slider and curveball, with the slider being the better of the two long-term. He throws the slider 81-85 with at least plus late action and depth. He has plenty of confidence in the pitch and will throw it in any count, also showing the ability to locate it back and front door. The curve is a pitch that he likes to throw early in counts to steal a strike, featuring 11/5 shape. The changeup is a seldom used offering, but it flashes tumble and proper arm speed, and should be an average offering at the next level.
Sedlock’s command of his arsenal has improved as the year has gone on and it gives rise to optimism that he will have at least average command of a four-pitch mix; something that will be very valuable at the next level. Sedlock will be a no. 3 starter down the road.
The debate will come down to whether scouts are willing to choose the continued development of Dunn with his electric fastball and slider at present, versus the more finished product in Sedlock that throws a heavy fastball capable of racking up the groundouts. In the end it boils down to future and present value and if the choice were up to me, I would take Cody Sedlock with my pick late in the first round. What about you?