A.J. Puk, LHP, University of Florida
The extra-large-framed left-hander from the University of Florida has all the ingredients to go 1-1 on Thursday, with three potential plus pitches. He throws from a three-quarters slot with a soft stab on the back side, with good extension and arm speed out front. The fastball sits 93-97 and jumps out of his hand with late arm-side run. He shows the ability to locate to both sides of the plate and isn't afraid to elevate for a strikeout. The slider is a potential 7 offering with nasty, late break that hitters struggle to pick up out his hand sitting 82-85. He can manipulate the pitch to both sides of the plate and isn't afraid to back foot it on right-handed hitters. The changeup has potential plus ceiling as well, with deception out of his hand and fade as it crosses the plate. Puk is around the zone enough with all of his pitches that while command will never be his strong suit, he will throw enough strikes to be effective as a starter. There are some warts here but the combination of size and stuff will be hard to pass up on draft day. —James Fisher
Dane Dunning, RHP, University of Florida
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Dunning is a right-handed starter with two above-average pitches. Dunning's frame is tailored for the pro game with broad shoulders and the ability to add muscle. He throws from a three-quarters slot and is clean in the back, with good extension out front. The fastball sits 90-94 mph, touching 95 with arm-side run and the ability to keep the ball down in the zone. Dunning’s slider sits 79-84 with quality rotation and short, explosive break at the plate. It will be his strikeout pitch at the next level. He also throws a changeup at 83-84 with proper arm speed but lacks feel at the moment. Dunning will be a back-of-the-rotation starter at the next level with the ability to eat innings. —James Fisher
Dunning is another college arm who is moving up boards with strong late-season showings, throwing well both in the SEC Tournament and the Gainesville regional the following week. The Gators have an embarrassment of riches on the mound, so much so that Dunning—a potential first-day pick—didn’t even crack their weekend rotation, stuck behind early picks A.J. Puk, Logan Shore, and Alex Faedo (2017 eligible). As such, Dunning was relegated mostly to bullpen work as a junior in 2016, where he’s been a multi-inning super reliever for Florida. His strikeout and walk rates both improved in shorter stints—where he showed his stuff is enough to overwhelm hitters working out of the bullpen—but has the tools to transition back into a starting pitcher’s development path once he signs professionally.
A wiry 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, with long arms and a tapered lower-half, Dunning shows a consistently above-average sinker and slider. His fastball is an extremely heavy pitch, with turbo sink, tunneling down in the zone to his arm-side. His slider flashes solid-average tilt in the 82-84 range. His delivery finishes fairly loosely, and on-line, and he’s able to keep both offerings around the zone. Dunning could be a sleeper in this draft class due to not pitching in the highly-scrutinized Gators rotation, with the best-case ceiling of a middle-rotation starter, possessing the sinker to be a groundball machine. If the move to the bullpen ultimately winds up fitting him better down the road, he demonstrated this season that both his fastball and slider are quality pitches. —Adam McInturff
T.J. Zeuch, RHP, University of Pittsburgh
Zeuch has been a pop-up guy this spring for many on the prospect scene. He has a large frame standing 6-foot-7, 225 pounds, with broad shoulders and lean limbs. Standing on the mound he reminds you of a young Roy Halladay, with similar mechanics to the former Blue Jays and Phillies starter. He throws from a high-three-quarters slot with no red flags on the back side but does feature significant hip blocking out front with a short stride.
In my viewing, he was 92-95 and touched 96 with arm-side run and the ability to locate the pitch to both sides of the plate. He showed the ability to hold his velocity deep into his start, sitting 92-93 in the seventh against a solid Notre Dame team. While his command wavered, especially early, he did show the ability to fight through it and wasn't afraid to challenge hitters inside.
Zeuch throws both a curveball and a slider, with the curveball sitting 74-78 with 11/5 shape and average rotation. He was reaching for the pitch early but found the release point later in the game and it flashed average when thrown with authority. His slider sits 83-88 with short break and tilt. He uses it mainly as a pitch starting on the plate, breaking off for a swinging strike. He shows enough separation between the two that he should be able to pitch with both breaking balls going forward. The changeup is an afterthought at present but does show limited fade in the zone. The arm speed will need work though.
Zeuch is a name that will go in the first round on Thursday and he deserves to do so with a solid four-pitch mix, ability to locate his fastball, and the size that scouts like to see. —James Fisher
Cory Wilder, RHP, North Carolina State
Wilder’s ceiling is that of a no. 5 starter; an innings-eater with enough control of a fringy four-pitch mix to keep his team in games. Sturdily built at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds with width through the middle, he pitches from a semi-windup that looks like it can hold up to pitching every fifth day. His delivery finishes with slight thwack and arm-recoil coming from a high-three-quarters slot, but Wilder finishes on-line to the plate, possessing the physical strength to pitch through a modest-effort delivery.
He will pitch with an average fastball at the pro level, mixing a four-seam at 89-93 and a small cutting fastball in the upper-80s. His mechanics allow basic strikes with the fastball, though the control will play above the actual command. His slider likely finishes closer to a fringy pitch, but one that is playable if located and able to pitch to contact. It’s a humpy three-quarters breaker at 77-82 that has different shape based on how hard he throws it: A sweeping slurve with more depth in the upper 70s, with tighter and more lateral true-slider tilt thrown closer to 81-82. In two looks, Wilder has leaned mostly on mixing his two fastballs with his slider, but he’ll flash a circle-changeup as a third pitch in the low 80s later in outings. At the ACC Tournament he struggled to get a feel for his change early in the outing, but was able to get a handful over the plate in later innings, flashing fair arm-side fade. Wilder offers a well-rounded, if unspectacular, mix of pitches on a durable frame—and likely will hear his name called on the second day of next week’s draft. —Adam McInturff
Eli White, SS, Clemson University
White looks the part: A physical, athletically-framed 6-foot-3, 190 pounds with long, tapered features that look like they belong on the left side of the infield. Currently Clemson's everyday shortstop, his actions are right on the fringes of everyday-caliber at the position, though he showcased a strong arm across the infield in Durham, and has the quickness to potentially profile at second, short, and third defensively. Eli White's size and athleticism give him more pullside juice in his bat than many college infielders. He's a toolsier more pro-framed middle infielder; looks the part and fits physically on a pro field. Both his batting average and slugging percentage have trended down as a junior, though White's patience at the plate has improved. A likely second-day selection who has been seen frequently as a teammate of Chris Okey and super-freshman Seth Beer, the team who pops White will hope to bring out more offensive consistency through the minor leagues, while valuing his frame, athleticism, and defensive profile. Realistically, if things can click for him at the next level, White fits the profile of a rangy utility infielder with some occasional juice in his bat. —Adam McInturff
Willie Abreu, RF, University of Miami
Abreu's physicality, raw power, and arm strength give his toolset the ingredients of a regular corner-outfield profile, and will be his calling cards entering the draft. His 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame and flashes of left-handed power intrigue scouts, but issues with contact and the consistency of his swing keep him from ranking alongside the top college outfielders in the class. A likely second-day selection next week, his swing gets stiff and long easily, showing plenty of swing-and-miss in games—especially against left-handed pitching. He'll show strong carry on his throws from right field at best, and has the mobility to at least start his professional career moving between both outfield corners. Abreu comes with more risk than many college hitters, but also has louder tools than many of the college positional players that will be selected around him. —Adam McInturff
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