In his first batch of notes from the Cape Cod League, Skyler Kanfer discusses two future relievers and a potential top option for the 2019 draft. -Craig Goldstein
Michael Toglia, RF, UCLA (Cotuit Kettleers)
Toglia, a 6-foot-5 switch-hitter from UCLA, has dealt with a left foot injury for nearly the entirety of his summer on the Cape, but that didn’t stop him from showing why he has the makings of an elite-level talent for the 2019 draft. With a still developing body, the 18-year-old Toglia already boasts above-average to plus raw and game power from both sides of the plate to go along with a plus eye, plus bat speed, and an advanced approach at the plate. From the left side, Toglia uses his lower body to generate significant power and bat control despite a minor hitch in his swing. From his natural right-handed side, the incorporation of his lower body is presently a work in progress but the issues he has in that regard should be more than correctable over the next two years. He has the potential to grow into another grade of raw power from both sides in the coming years, given that he can make the necessary mechanical and physical improvements.
While Toglia is already a fine enough athlete to stick in the outfield, there is little reason to believe that he cannot or will not continue to improve athletically as he matures into his body. Given his above-average arm, he profiles best in right field, the position that he played for UCLA this past spring. The youngest position player in the entire Cape Cod League, Toglia has all the makings of being one of the first players selected in the 2019 draft and the ability to fill the prototypical major-league right fielder profile. While it would perhaps be a moderate surprise if a healthy Toglia is not playing for Team USA next summer, he is the most impressive 2019 bat on the Cape this summer and is the caliber of raw talent that you don’t often get to see on the Cape. He has improved considerably over the course of the summer and used the season’s latter stages to establish himself as one of the top hitters in the league despite his age and relative lack of experience. While there are more advanced and polished players on the Cape than Toglia, there might not be a single other prospect in the league with the upside to reach the heights that his remarkable talents could be able to take him.
Jason Bilous, RHP, Coastal Carolina (Cotuit Kettleers)
Few prospects are as simultaneously intriguing and frustrating as Coastal Carolina RHP Bilous, a big-name arm out of high school who fell to the 29th round in 2015 due to signability concerns. Had Bilous not already undergone Tommy John surgery by that point, it’s likely that he’s already in his third pro season by now. Given that is not the case, he has, through his first two seasons as Coastal Carolina, established himself as some sort of real life version of Ricky ‘Wild Thing’ Vaughn. He generally sits in the 93-97 mph range with his fastball, touching as high as 98. He complements his heater with a potential plus changeup and an intriguing slider that is currently in the development stages but has improved over the course of the summer. The raw stuff, in other words, is elite for this level and up there with anyone in the class.
On the other hand, Bilous has yet to sport a walk rate below seven walks per nine and his delivery and approach on the mound could be described as nothing short of max effort. The significant command issues, which are represented justly by his walk rate, will most likely push him into a relief role in pro ball. If he is able to better locate the strike zone and calm down his mechanics significantly, the upside is surely there to be a late-inning reliever. Given the magnitude of those issues and the injury history, he is about as risky of a college draft pick as you can make. Some team will probably pop Bilous in the first five rounds of the draft and do so hoping that they will be getting the next Bobby Parnell and not the next Jeff Soptic.
Mitchell Miller, LHP, Clemson (Falmouth Commodores)
After a freshman campaign in which he only threw 3 2/3 innings for the Clemson Tigers, the rising draft-eligible sophomore, Miller, has used the Cape Cod League as his coming out party for the 2018 draft. Beginning the season in relief, the long-limbed (6-foot-5) lefty sat in the 92-94 range with his fastball with outstanding extension, also flashing a potential above-average slider in the 79-82 mph range. In his first eight appearance (14 innings) for the Commodores, Miller posted a stellar 21:1 K:BB ratio and showcased a loose arm, easygoing delivery, and outstanding frame that provided the basis for Andrew Miller fever dreams. Since getting stretched out, however, Miller has seen his command and velocity both regress a bit, issuing six walks and sitting in the 89-92 mph range with his fastball over a seven-inning stretch. While the new role has brought along the reintroduction of a hard changeup in the 86-88 mph range for Miller, he has yet to prove himself capable of stretching out his early summer relief dominance over three trips through a batting order. If he is not able to do so at Clemson this spring, Miller still has the makings of a late inning relief pitcher at the next level and holds the projection to add more velocity before the 2018 draft rolls around.