Tag: MLB Draft

Tigers’ Clate Schmidt on Cancer Fight: "I’d Never Wish That Upon My Worst Enemy"

Clemson University’s Clate Schmidt was at Turner Field in July 2015 to meet Chicago Cubs star Jon Lester—anxious to discuss the many things they had in common.

Both are pitchers. Both were high school baseball prodigies—with Schmidt earning All-American honors. The Boston Red Sox drafted both, though Schmidt elected to return to Clemson for his senior season. He also chose not to sign after the Tigers selected him out of high school.

Unfortunately, they shared one more common bond.

Schmidt was amidst chemotherapy treatment for nodular sclerosing Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a diagnosis the right-handed flamethrower had received some three months prior. His hair had started to fall out. Schmidt looked pale that day.

Lester beat a different form of lymphoma in late 2006, when he was coming through Boston’s minor league system.

The conversation permeated a broad spectrum of topics, though Schmidt admits talking baseball with Lester was a particularly welcomed distraction.

Lester eased the nerves of Schmidt’s parents. He preached patience, underscoring that a return to the field will be as much a process as the treatment.

Chemotherapy took such a toll on Schmidt, it’s difficult for him to remember dates during that time. The conversation with Lester, though, is one etched in his memory.

“It was one of those conversations that I will always remember. … We got done talking about what was really worrying me and my mom and my dad and my family. It was just like, ‘OK,’” Schmidt, who is expected to be drafted, said. “Let’s take a break from all this stuff, and let’s just talk about [what] I really love, and that’s that mutual love for baseball.’”

Schmidt’s father, Dwight, a colonel and pilot in the Marines who also flies for Delta Airlines, called the meeting “a blessing.” He characterized Lester as a person “beyond measure” for his willingness to answer their questions.

Dwight asked Lester what his experiences were with treatment. He wanted to know how he overcame lymphoma. He wanted to know if his son would be all right. Lester answered every single question.

All Clate wanted to know was how he could get back on the mound.

Lester told him it wouldn’t be easy. He reminded Clate that immediately after treatment he would not look like the All-American who drew the attention of scouts around the country. Clate was cautioned he would, at times, be disappointed.

But that day, Schmidt was given a blueprint for an improbably quick comeback.

Before he could drive a car, Schmidt could already throw a baseball over 90 miles per hour.

By the time he was a sophomore, he received interest from schools around the country. As an upperclassman, he was invited to a wave of national showcases and was part of the USA Baseball program.

There, he became friendly with Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager (rated the game’s top prospect heading into the season) and Texas Rangers third baseman/outfielder Joey Gallo, currently rated by MLB.com as the seventh-best prospect in baseball.

“He was always very happy, funny,” Gallo said. “He’s quite a character. He’s a fun guy to play with.”

As a senior, Schmidt was throwing 96 miles per hour. Scouts descended on the Atlanta area to watch his games at Allatoona High School.

He had a serious decision to consider: go pro or go to school.

According to Schmidt, scouts told him he could be selected in the first round if he indicated he intended to sign. No team would want to burn a first-round pick on a player heavily considering accepting a college scholarship. And Schmidt isn’t the type of person to mislead them simply to see how high he’d be drafted.

He ultimately chose to play baseball at Clemson—rejecting the opportunity to become a millionaire before he even threw his first professional pitch. According to Baseball America, the No. 30 and final first-round slot bonus in the 2012 draft was $1.6 million.

“Knowing that baseball ends at some point, and you have to be able to further your education to be able to broaden your horizons as a human being and an athlete, that was something I really took to heart,” Schmidt said.

The Detroit Tigers drafted him anyway, making him the organization’s 36th-round selection in what’s called an “honor pick.” It was the Tigers’ way of showing their interest in advance of when Schmidt would ultimately decide to turn pro.

The plan was to remain at Clemson for three years, sign an MLB contract and finish his required classes in the offseason.

But that plan would eventually get thrown out the window with one fateful phone call.

As a freshman at Clemson, he immediately made an impact at one of the top baseball programs in the country. The team thrust him into a role as a weekend starter.

In college, teams start their best pitchers on the weekends, because that’s when the most important games are played—either against school rivals or conference foes.

That year, he started against heated rival South Carolina, pitching seven innings and allowing just two runs. Clate’s brother, Clarke, is now a sophomore pitcher with the Gamecocks.

“Both of the boys, you could see the talent level that they have,” Dwight said. “I’ve been around it long enough to know when you’ve got somebody that’s got that talent level, it’s pretty impressive.”

As a sophomore, Schmidt saw his ERA dip down to 3.68, an impressive number considering college hitters use metal bats. Again, scouts told him they were high on him. Schmidt said several teams expressed their interest.

Then, at the start of his junior season in February 2015, he found a lump in his neck while showering. He thought nothing of it, was prescribed antibiotics and the lump disappeared.

He found it again a month later but went through the season thinking it wasn’t a threatening health issue.

After all, at 21, cancer wasn’t even a consideration.

By May, the lump was becoming a mystery, so Schmidt skipped a weekend series with Florida State to get a biopsy. It came back inconclusive, but doctors told him he would need his entire lymph node removed.

Two days before his team left for the California regional of the 2015 NCAA Tournament, Schmidt drove back to Atlanta to have the procedure. He was so confident nothing was wrong that he had his bags packed—intent on meeting his team out West.

The Tigers lost their first two games in the double-elimination tournament, so Schmidt remained at home.

His doctor called the ensuing Tuesday and asked him to gather his family. They sat on the family’s porch while the doctor went through a preamble, which Schmidt doesn’t recall.

Schmidt’s earliest recollection of his diagnosis was hearing the word “cancer” through that phone. It didn’t take long to process before he did something Schmidt says most children in military families refrain from.

He cried.

His brother followed suit. Then his mom. Other surrounding family members were close behind.

“I just remember my mom’s dad had lung cancer, and I remember clearly helping him to the bathroom and all the stuff that goes with that and the chemo treatments and stuff. I remember how vigorous it is and how much it takes a toll on your body,” Schmidt said.

When emotion subsided, Schmidt asked the following, in specific order: Is it treatable? What are the chances of it being cured? Can I still play baseball?

Schmidt wanted to first tell his teammates, then baseball scouts, of his condition. He didn’t want to deceive anyone into drafting him without knowing the facts.

Then word spread among his friends. Seager first saw the news on social media. He thought he read it wrong.

“He texted me and it’s like, ‘Wow, it’s really true,’” Seager, then in the minors, said. “You don’t think of that happening to anybody you know. You don’t think of that happening to anybody you played with.”

While friends of his chased their MLB dreams, Schmidt’s was put on hold.

To deliver the chemotherapy—four treatments of which were given every Monday—doctors inserted a port into Schmidt’s chest that ran through his jugular vein.

He was specifically told not to throw a baseball. Doing so could rip the port through his vein, causing fatal injury.

Treatment came with some trepidation. But as Dwight recalls when asked at the time if he was ready, Clate replied: “Now or never.”

Schmidt sat down in a chair in the middle of last summer’s MLB draft. He was getting his blood work done when he was told to turn on the radio.

The Boston Red Sox were about to make their pick in the 32nd round. Schmidt’s name was called.

“I really cannot thank the Boston Red Sox organization for all that they’ve done for me just in support,” Schmidt said. “They called every chance they could. Every chance they could, they called. They helped push to meet Jon Lester and all those guys. Those guys, I can’t say enough about what they did for me.”

The chemo was wearing on Schmidt when he met with Lester, his dad recalled. But both knew the meeting was important.

Lester told him to be patient with his pitching repertoire. He said he would not instantaneously get his velocity back. The treatment would take a toll on Schmidt.

After chemotherapy, Schmidt underwent radiation on his neck and surrounding areas. It lasted between five and 15 minutes.

The treatment was so intense that it made it nearly impossible to swallow food. Schmidt lost a tremendous amount of weight.

“I would just force myself to eat,” he said. “It would suck. So I would try and get anything that was soft. So if I had a cheeseburger or something like that at the time, if it was soft. Macaroni and cheese, I would have to really, really, chew it up, and there were certain ways I would swallow it and just be able to choke it down.

“It was honestly the most miserable experience of my [life]. I would never wish that upon my worst enemy.”

When talking to him, though, friends were unable to tell.

“That’s the kind of guy he is, the kind of character he is,” Gallo said. “He’s not going to let that kind of thing drag him down and turn him into a different person.”

At the beginning of September 2015, Schmidt got the port removed from his chest. He had to wait two weeks until the scab healed to do anything with his arm, which happened the day of his final radiation treatment. Fresh from the hospital, with his truck packed his truck for school, despite still struggling to swallow, Schmidt immediately drove to Clemson.

He was on the field that afternoon.

With Lester’s advice top of mind, Schmidt only softly tossed the ball to his teammates. He didn’t put a gun on his pitches. It was simply about enjoying a return to the game.

“Let’s not have a care in the world,” Schmidt recalls. “Just throw it around and see how it feels.”

As Schmidt worked to develop his velocity, which he says came back in early May, he added a third pitch to his arsenal. He was primarily a fastball-slider guy, capable of getting hitters out with a limited repertoire.

But this fall, Schmidt began to better command his changeup. It helped him develop as a pitcher through a highly productive spring.

Even Lester might be impressed with how quickly he returned to form.

Schmidt started the first weekend of the 2016 season—some five months removed from his final treatment. He earned the win, too.

This past weekend, his brave comeback story received its first giant victory. He was selected in the 20th round of the MLB draft, again by the Tigers.

“I told him I would try to get him with the Rangers so we could play again,” Gallo said. “But obviously, I don’t have much say in that.”

The third time around, the path to his MLB dream is clearly in view.


Seth Gruen is a national baseball columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand. Follow him on Twitter: @SethGruen.

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2016 MLB Draft: Grades for Overall Team-by-Team Results

The 2016 MLB draft concluded Saturday, and every team hopes its scouting paid off in the form of an impact prospect.

The draft was a three-day process. The first and second rounds took place Thursday. Rounds 3 through 10 unfolded on Friday, and Saturday saw the fourth round through 40th round come to an end.

There was no surefire top prospect in the 2016 draft pool, but there was depth at all positions. This means that numerous players picked in later rounds could wind up becoming solid contributors one day in the majors.

Here is a look at the grades for each team, as well as a breakdown of several value picks that look to be destined for the sport’s highest level.


Bryan Reynolds, Pick No. 59 to San Francisco

The San Francisco Giants had to wait until midway through the second round to make their first pick, and they nailed it with Vanderbilt outfielder Bryan Reynolds.

Reynolds, a 6’4″ junior, is athletic and a strong hitter. As a freshman, he led the national champions in batting average and was named a freshman All-American. In 2015, he was second on the team in batting average, and this season, he hit .330 with 13 home runs and 57 RBI, per Vanderbilt athletics.

According to MLB.com‘s Chris Haft, the Giants feel they got a steal by taking a player who could have landed in the first round.

“We did feel that he was a guy who more than likely would be gone before we selected,” Giants scouting director John Barr said.

The pick received praise from ESPN’s Keith Law and D1Baseball’s Kendall Rogers:

Reynolds looks like a great bet to become an MLB leadoff hitter. He joins a franchise with a pedigree for developing top prospects such as Brandon Crawford and Buster Posey. Expect Reynolds to become an everyday player in the next three years.


Connor Jones, No. 70 to St. Louis

The St. Louis Cardinals had a phenomenal draft, as they snagged studs like Delvin Perez in the first round and a strong pitching arm in Connor Jones in the third round.

Jones anchored a strong Virginia pitching staff during the past two seasons. He threw 115.2 innings in 2015 before tossing 103.2 frames last season. This year, he went 11-1 while only allowing 27 earned runs, per Virginia athletics.

He has a strong arm with a fastball that reaches the mid-90s, but he also has a few other pitches. Here is a look at his profile, courtesy of MLB.com.

Jones is a first-round talent who fell to the Cardinals because other teams valued potential over a collegiate veteran. D1Baseball’s Aaron Fitt commended St. Louis’ pick:

As a college player with plenty of innings under his belt, Jones may find himself in the majors soon. Whether he can develop into a consistent starter is unknown, but he will have a long career as a reliever at the very least.


Mike Shawaryn, No. 148 to Boston

Mike Shawaryn entered this season as a player primed to go on Day 1 of the MLB draft, but an uneven junior season lowered his stock. Still, Boston picked up a potential starter in the fifth round.

Shawaryn finished this season at 6-4 after making 15 starts. He was Maryland’s Friday starter for most of the season, as he pitched 99 innings and allowed 35 runs. He holds the school record for wins, strikeouts and innings pitched, per Maryland athletics

He rebounded at the end of the season, as he was excellent in the Big Ten tournament. Maryland athletics provided a look at his impressive 16-strikeout performance against Indiana:

He also received some props from the Boston coaching staff, according to MLB.com’s Ian Browne.

“He can pitch; he’s got some deception and some pitchability, and at times his stuff has been really good,” Red Sox director of amateur scouting Mike Rikard said. “He’s been a real solid performer, and we’ve seen a lot of him. We believe in his makeup and look forward to getting him going.”

If Shawaryn can maintain his form from earlier in his career and at the end of last season, Boston will have another quality pitching prospect to pair with 2016 first-rounder Jason Groome. 

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MLB Draft 2016: Teams with Best Overall Results and Grades

Of the so-called four major professional sports leagues in the U.S., MLB‘s draft is by far the hardest to assess.

Even the best players won’t make their big league debuts for two or three seasons. The ones who get fast-tracked are more than likely to be short relievers—guys who aren’t typically drafted high enough to garner national attention.

Mike Trout didn’t become a full-time MLBer until nearly three years after his draft date. Bryce Harper wasn’t down quite two years. And these are all-time outliers.

First overall pick Mickey Moniak probably won’t be in a Philadelphia Phillies uniform until 2019, and he might not get there until 2020. By contrast, Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram will be selected by the Philadelphia 76ers later in June and be expected to be their best player. Instantly.

It just goes to show just how much things can change for baseball players in developmental. So when grading these picks, it’s important to look more for perceived value than going all hot take about the players. Twenty-four teams passed on Trout in 2009. The Los Angeles Angels selected Randal Grichuk one pick before him.

This isn’t an exact science. With that in mind, let’s check in on how things played out.


2016 MLB Draft Grades 

Best Classes

Boston Red Sox

Notable Selections: LHP Jason Groome (12), SS C.J. Chatham (51) and RHP Shaun Anderson (88).

Let’s start with the obvious: Getting Jason Groome at No. 12 is an absolute steal. No one would have batted an eye if the Barnegat High School product went off the board No. 1 overall. He’s a premium left-handed pitching talent equipped with a mid-90s fastball and two solid off-speed pitches (changeup and curve).

Concerns about Groome’s makeup caused him to slip more than anything physical. He has never been in any trouble, but as Zach Braziller of the New York Post noted, teams began scurrying away over “maturity” issues. What those issues are is unclear.

“I really didn’t feel that bad because everything happens for a reason,” Groome said on a conference call, per Braziller. “I always said I wanted to end up somewhere where I’m comfortable and feel protected. There’s no better spot to do that than Boston. They’re my favorite team.”

Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald categorized Groome as “someone who likes to have fun, perhaps too much fun at times.” These shadowy quotes bear nothing substantive. He’s a 17-year-old star athlete who likes to have fun and might be a little immature.

Cool. What 17-year-old kid doesn’t like to have fun and isn’t a little immature? Until there is fire to justify this smoke, the Red Sox landed arguably the best player in this whole class because teams were a little afraid of paying him and because he doesn’t have the mental makeup of a 40-year-old investment banker.

That’s good value.

The Boston Red Sox went a little safer at No. 51 with C.J. Chatham, the reigning Conference USA Player of the Year. He’ll probably wind up playing third base or outfield given his height (6’4″), but he could provide real two-way value if he sticks. 

Shaun Anderson is an interesting fit given the fact he closed at Florida despite having more starter-worthy stuff. That could mean his arm is fresh as he embarks on an MLB career or that Florida may wind up being justified if he can’t last long innings.


Oakland Athletics

Notable Selections: LHP A.J. Puk (6), RHP Daulton Jefferies (37) and RHP Logan Shore (47).

Another year, another solid Billy Beane draft. The Oakland Athletics general manager has built a reputation as a team-building demigod by drafting well, particularly in regard to young pitchers. He focused on the rotation early in this year’s draft, and that should result in a stocked rotation.

Like Boston, this starts with taking advantage of a top prospect who fell too far. A.J. Puk was Baseball America‘s top-rated player in this entire class. He lasted all the way to the sixth pick.

The Florida product is listed at 6’7″ and 230 pounds and struck out 95 batters in 70 innings as a junior. His command has been a little iffy, and his 2-3 overall record scared some teams off, but Puk is borderline unhittable when he’s firing on all cylinders.

“I probably did a little jig, to be honest,” A’s director of scouting Eric Kubota said of Puk’s availability, per John Shea of SFGate.com. “We started hearing this morning he was sliding for whatever reasons. We never thought we’d be able to talk about him with the sixth pick. We were pretty excited when he was there.”

Oakland continued its run on pitchers by selecting Cal’s Daulton Jefferies and Logan Shore, who played with Puk at Florida. Jefferies made only eight starts this season because of a shoulder injury. But he was 7-0 with a 1.08 ERA in those appearances, flashing a next-level command of his pitches in the strike zone.

Shore is 11-0 with a 2.44 ERA, and while he hasn’t had the national attention of his teammate, he has been a bastion of consistency.


Milwaukee Brewers

Notable Selections: OF Corey Ray (5), 3B Lucas Erceg (46), C Mario Feliciano (75) and RHP Braden Webb (82).

This draft should go a long way toward giving the Brewers’ minor league system some life. Louisville outfielder Corey Ray is one of the most ready-made hitters in the entire class. He’ll find his way on base and has the wheels to be a consistent threat on the basepaths. If he develops even average power, there’s a chance he’ll be a consistent 20-20 guy.

“He has the ability to impact the game in multiple ways, which is something we were looking for in this pick,” general manager David Stearns said, per Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “He’s an up-the-middle position player with above-average speed. He gets on base, and once he gets on base he has the ability to disrupt the other team.”

The Brewers continued their push toward better everyday players by taking third baseman Lucas Erceg, who has one of the best power bats in the class. The Menlo College star set a school record with 20 home runs this season after transferring from Cal. His departure from the Golden Bears because of eligibility issues hurt both him and the team, which struggled to find a middle-of-the-order replacement.

Puerto Rican catcher Mario Feliciano should also bring some pop at that spot if he can develop enough to stay there. Feliciano’s defensive development is paramount to his becoming a solid MLB player. If he has to switch positions—say, to first base—then his plus power becomes relative. But a guy who can hit 20 dingers from behind the plate is valuable in today’s game.

South Carolina’s Braden Webb was the first of five college pitchers the Brewers took on Day 2 of the draft and is by far the best. Webb went 10-5 during the regular season and struck out 123 batters in 94.1 innings.

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2016 MLB Draft Results: Biggest Winners and Losers of the Entire Draft

Exactly 1,216 picks later, the 2016 Major League Baseball draft is over. We’ll know how everyone made out in, oh, five years or so.

But while we could wait patiently until then, here’s a better idea: Let’s rush to judgment!

With choices ranging from pro and college teams to individual players to an entire league, we’re going to look at the five biggest winners and losers from this year’s draft. The analysis within is mostly tied to what went down on Day 1 of the draft Thursday, as those are the picks that matter most. It also pulls from expert opinions, scouting reports and farm-system rankings.

We’re basically here to say either “Great job, man!” or “Gee, I don’t know, man.”

Read on when ready.

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Ranking the 10 Biggest Steals of the 2016 MLB Draft

Soon-to-be Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza wasn’t drafted until the 62nd round of the 1988 MLB draft, when the Los Angeles Dodgers made him the 1,390th overall selection. Not only was he the biggest steal of that draft, but he stands as one of the biggest draft steals of all time.

We mention Piazza to tell you this: The biggest steal of the 2016 MLB draft may not be listed on the pages that follow, just as nobody pegged Piazza as a steal nearly 30 years ago. As noted Friday when we hit on the biggest winners and losers on Day 2, we simply lack the clairvoyance needed to see into the future.

All we can do is take what we know about the players drafted this year, what the scouting reports and prospect profiles tell us—mix it up with some gut instinct—and make our selections.

While a number of things, including a player’s signability, were taken into consideration, our rankings primarily revolve around two criteria:

  • Where the player was selected versus where he was expected to go, based on both mock drafts and Baseball America‘s Top 500 list. When you see a player’s rank mentioned like this (No. 1), that’s where it came from.
  • How great a player’s upside is thought to be. A position player with a chance to play everyday in the majors is more valuable than a solid-but-unspectacular No. 3 starter, for example.

That’s it. There’s no convoluted statistical formula involved that requires you to reach out to your eighth- grade calculus teacher on Facebook for assistance, and no inside information that’s so well-guarded that not even WikiLeaks knows of its existence.

As we’re limiting this to our top 10 steals, there were a few players who fell short of making the cut. So to Rice University’s Jon Duplantier (selected by Arizona with the 89th overall pick) and, once again, to Mercer College slugger Kyle Lewis (Seattle, 11th overall, who didn’t make our list of Day 1 steals), our apologies.


*Note: Players who would have been drafted before Day 3, were it not for their strong college commitments, were not considered steals, as there’s no chance they’ll sign. An example would be Florida State commit Drew Mendoza (No. 42), who was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 36th round.

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Ken Griffey Jr.’s Son Trey Selected by Seattle Mariners in 2016 MLB Draft

The Seattle Mariners found a new way to honor Ken Griffey Jr., selecting the Hall of Famer’s son, Trey Griffey, on the final day of the 2016 Major League Baseball draft.  

Per Greg Johns of MLB.com, the Mariners selected Griffey in the 24th round out of the University of Arizona.

Johns also noted the Mariners listed Griffey as a center fielder, while mentioning there was likely a reason he was taken in the 24th round. 

Griffey’s father, of course, wore No. 24 with the Mariners from 1989 to 1999 before they traded him to the Cincinnati Reds. 

In January, per Johns, the Mariners announced they were going to retire Griffey’s No. 24 in a ceremony at Safeco Field on August 6. The team made that news official 24 hours after the 1997 American League MVP was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame with the highest percentage of votes in history. 

This is likely just a tip-of-the-cap selection to the greatest player in Mariners history. 

The young Griffey is a football player who quit playing baseball in 2006, as he told Mitch Sherman of ESPN.com in 2012: “Baseball will always be in my genes. I’ll always know a lot about it because of my father and grandfather. But I don’t really have the love for it that I do for football.”

Griffey was able to honor his father on the football field last November, scoring a 95-yard touchdown against Arizona State on Junior’s birthday.

Because the MLB draft is so long—there are 40 rounds with more than 1,200 players selected—teams have the luxury of honoring former players and legends of the sport by drafting their children. It’s also a nice moment for the new generation to have their names called as draftees. 

An eventful year for the Griffey family was made a little bit sweeter with the Mariners taking the 22-year-old.

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Torii Hunter Jr.: Prospect Profile for Los Angeles Angels’ 23rd-Round Pick

Player: Torii Hunter Jr.

Position: OF

DOB: June 7, 1995 (21 years old)

Height/Weight: 6’2″, 180 lbs

Bats/Throws: R/R

School: Notre Dame

Previously Drafted: 2013 (36th round, DET)



A 4-star wide receiver recruit out of high school, per 247Sports, Torii Hunter Jr. opted to honor his commitment to play football at Notre Dame despite the Detroit Tigers selecting him in the 36th round of the 2013 MLB draft.

Hunter Jr. caught 71 passes for 1,235 yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior at Prosper High School in Texas, and ESPN ranked him as the No. 95 prospect in the nation.

However, he suffered a broken leg during practice for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and wound up missing his freshman season with the Fighting Irish as a result.

Once he was healthy, he appeared in 10 games in 2014, making seven receptions for 65 yards and one touchdown before stepping into a bigger role this past fall.

For a Notre Dame team that went 10-3 and earned a trip to the Fiesta Bowl, Hunter Jr. hauled in 28 receptions for 363 yards and two  touchdowns.

Now with first-round pick Will Fuller (62 catches, 1,258 yards, 14 TDs) joining the NFL and both Chris Brown (48 catches, 597 yards, 4 TDs) and Amir Carlisle (31 catches, 355 yards, 1 TD) graduated, Hunter Jr. ranks as the team’s leading returning receiver heading into the 2016 season.

Following that breakout performance on the gridiron, Hunter Jr. made the decision to try out for the baseball team this spring.

He hit .393 with six home runs, 27 RBI and 13 stolen bases during his junior year of high school, per UND.com, but missed his senior season while recovering from the aforementioned broken leg.

He’s been used sparingly this spring as he continues to shake off the rust. He appeared in 19 games and went 2-for-11 with seven runs scored and two stolen bases.


Pick Analysis

Hunter Jr. has the bloodlines as the son of 19-year MLB veteran and five-time All-Star Torii Hunter.

He’s on scholarship to play football, but the youngest Hunter grew up playing baseball, so it’s no surprise that he wanted to get back at it now that his leg injury is behind him.

Growing up, I played a lot of baseball because of who my dad is,” Hunter Jr. said in a video on the Notre Dame YouTube channel. “I wanted to continue it after high school even though I received a football scholarship.”

So how exactly does his superior athleticism translate to the baseball diamond?

Even when we watched him in high school, he was a kid that could go get the ball in the outfield,” Notre Dame baseball coach Mik Aoki said in the aforementioned video. “I think he could provide game-changing-type speed on the bases in terms of looking to steal, going first to third, first to home, that sort of stuff.”

That may not make him a future All-Star, but if Hunter Jr. doesn’t have the opportunity to play football at the highest level, he has the tools and upside to get a chance at pursuing a baseball career.


Pro Comparison: Kenny Lofton

All right, hear me out.

During his time at the University of Arizona, Kenny Lofton made a name for himself not on the baseball field but on the basketball court.

Serving as the Wildcats’ backup point guard, Lofton teamed with future NBA players Sean Elliott, Steve Kerr, Jud Buechler, Tom Tolbert and Anthony Cook to help lead the Wildcats to a Final Four appearance in 1988.

Despite his role as a reserve, he still made an impact, averaging 4.9 points, 2.3 assists and 1.6 steals per game.

That spring, he tried out for the baseball team, and despite appearing in just five games and recording just one plate appearance, he showed enough raw talent for the Houston Astros to select him in the 17th round.

Lofton would go on to establish himself as one of the best leadoff hitters in baseball history over the course of a 17-year career.

He racked up 2,428 hits and 622 stolen bases (15th on the all-time list) while making the All-Star Game six times and winning four Gold Gloves.

Now that sort of finished product is an absolute best-case scenario as far as Hunter is concerned, but it’s an intriguing comparison nonetheless.


Projection: Fourth outfielder, pinch runner, defensive replacement


Major League ETA: 2021


Chances of Signing: 20 percent

Hunter has a chance to be a breakout star this season for the Notre Dame football team as the leading candidate to take over as the No. 1 receiver. That should be enough to keep him on campus, and even if he does wind up going the baseball route, he stands to significantly boost his stock with more action on the diamond next spring.


All college stats courtesy of The Baseball Cube, unless otherwise noted, and current through Wednesday, June 8.

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Jacob Heyward: Prospect Profile for San Francisco Giants’ 18th-Round Pick

Player: Jacob Heyward

Position: OF

DOB: August 1, 1995 (20 years old)

Height/Weight: 6’2″, 210 lbs

Bats/Throws: R/R

School: Miami

Previously Drafted: 2013 (38th round by ATL)



The younger brother of Chicago Cubs star Jason Heyward, college outfielder Jacob Heyward may not have the same upside as his famous sibling, but he’s a legitimate MLB prospect in his own right.

The Atlanta Braves made him a 38th-round selection out of high school in 2013, but he honored his commitment to Miami, where he’s flashed the raw tools necessary to succeed at the next level.

He threw 94 off the mound, can run a little bit, hits for power,” the older Heyward told Carroll Rogers Walton of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution after his brother was drafted in 2013. “He’s got some growing to do. I don’t know if he’s going to be as tall as me, but as far as athleticism and all that stuff, he’s right up there with the next guy.”

The younger Heyward saw limited action as a freshman but put together a terrific sophomore campaign that saw him hit .327/.440/.473 with four doubles, four home runs, 24 RBI and 37 runs scored as the Hurricanes’ starting right fielder.

His batting average has dipped to .226 this season, but he’s still getting on base at a solid .389 clip thanks to a ratio of 44 walks to 50 strikeouts.

He’s also continued to show some intriguing raw power, tallying 10 doubles and six home runs while driving in 37 runs and scoring 41.


Pick Analysis

Heyward won’t move as quickly as some collegiate bats, but he’s shown good patience at the plate and more projectability than most players his age.

Baseball America ranked him as the No. 291 prospect in this year’s draft, providing this scouting report:

He has been inconsistent this spring, but his tools remain intriguing to scouts. Heyward has good bat speed that translates into above-average raw power thanks to his strong 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame. But he hasn’t been able to get to it consistently this spring.

Heyward has an average arm and average speed. Defensively, he fits best in left field. His bat will have to play more consistently to fit that profile, but he has good enough raw tools for a team to bet on his ability to improve.

Turning his raw power into game power will be his biggest challenge, but that tool is intriguing enough to make him worthy of a selection.


MLB Player Comparison: Brandon Barnes

Brandon Barnes has topped 300 at-bats just once in his career, but he’s been a useful fourth outfielder during his time with the Houston Astros and Colorado Rockies.

Heyward has better plate discipline and more power potential, while Barnes is a better defender who is capable of playing all three outfield spots.

However, in terms of the potential impact Heyward could make at the MLB level, it’s a fitting comparison.

Both guys are right-handed bats with pop and solid athleticism, and Heyward is a good enough athlete to add some outfield versatility as a pro.

The best-case scenario for Heyward might be something like Marlon Byrd during his time with the Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs.

For now, an offensive-minded fourth outfielder looks like the safest comparison.


Projection: Fourth outfielder, unless his power tool takes off


Major League ETA: Late 2021


Chances of Signing: 50 percent

After a standout sophomore season, Heyward has seen his numbers plummet across the board this year. He’s one of the few college juniors who could stand to benefit from a return to college for his final season of eligibility.


College statistics courtesy of The Baseball Cube, unless otherwise noted, and accurate through Wednesday, June 8.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

2017 MLB Mock Draft: Early Predictions for Top 1st-Round Baseball Prospects

The process of stocking and building in Major League Baseball is a never-ending process. As the 2016 MLB Draft comes to a conclusion Saturday, the 2017 Draft is already in the works and scouts already have a solid handle on the star players who will make headlines next June.

Scouts have a much greater handle on the college players who should go near the top of the 2017 draft, as it’s far more difficult to understand where prep players will rank in another year. However, there are a number of high-schoolers who have a chance to be taken near the top of the first round.

Many of the top players in the 2017 draft have turned down previous opportunities to play professionally because they wanted to go to college. As their games have matured and developed, their positions as draft headliners have solidified.


1. Pitcher J.B. Bukauskas, North Carolina 

Bukauskas was an elite high school prospect, but he decided to go the college route and he has a chance to be the top player in the MLB Draft in 2017. While the 5’11”, 190-pound  Bukauskas is not a physically imposing pitcher, he has a fastball that reaches the mid-90s and one of the best curveballs that scouts have seen. Mentally, Bukauskas has the kind of traits that scouts, general managers and coaches want to see from starting pitchers.

He believes that his approach on the mound has grown significantly since coming to North Carolina. 

“I’ve definitely learned that you can’t just throw the ball anywhere in the zone,” Bukauskas told Ben Trittipoe of Inside NoVA. “College hitters are way better than high school hitters, especially in the ACC. I’ve learned that you definitely have to be able to locate all of your pitches, especially your fastball.”

2. Catcher J.J. Schwarz, Florida

Schwarz has developed significantly during his career with the Gators. He has a .292 average with six home runs and 54 RBI along with a .451 slugging percentage this season. Schwarz had improved quite a bit as a hitter in his first two college seasons, and he has the tools to remain behind the plate at the next level, although he will still need some improvement in this area. 

3. Catcher K.J. Harrison, Oregon State

Harrison has shown the kind of power development in his game over the past two years to make him a legitimate top prospect in the 2017 MLB Draft. He has pounded 10 home runs for the Beavers this year, and he has driven in 47 runs with a .525 slugging percentage. Scouts would like to see more in the batting average department since he is hitting .265, but he is improving quite a bit as a receiver.

4. Shortstop Mark Vientos, Flanagan High School, Miami, FL; committed to Miami (FLA)

Vientos has a chance to be the top high school player in next year’s draft, and he has the size at 6’3″ and 170 pounds as well as the range at the position that scouts tend to get excited about. In a report by Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs, Vientos was compared to Manny Machado of the Baltimore Orioles. 

Vientos is concentrating on improving and figuring out new ways to develop his skills. 

“I need to work on my patience,” Vientos told Shawn Krest of USA Today. “I also want to work on hitting off-speed pitching, because that’s all I’m seeing right now.”

5. Pitcher Hunter Greene, Notre Dame High School, Sherman Oaks, CA; committed to UCLA

Greene may turn out to be the top prep pitching prospect in the 2017 draft. He had an impressive run at the 18U Team USA trials and he has the kind of fastball that has gotten the scouts on his side. Greene is a solid all-around athlete who plays shortstop when he is not on the mound. He has been able to develop his change-up (h/t Eric Sondheimer of the Los Angeles Times) this season to go along with his impressive fastball.


Fangraphs provided much of the scouting information for this article.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

MLB Draft 2016: Live Day 3 Results, Highlights and Reaction

Welcome to the third and final day of the 2016 MLB draft.

The first 10 rounds and 316 selections are in the books after a busy first two days, but there are still 30 rounds to go before this year’s amateur draft officially concludes.

The action picks up once again Saturday at noon ET with Rounds 11-40, as hundreds more amateur players will hear their names called and see their pro careers begin.

After running through each selection the past two days, we’re going to do things a little differently Saturday and just highlight notable names that come off the board—whether it is a highly regarded prospect who has slipped, a two-sport star who may be better known for wearing a different jersey, an All-American who doesn’t profile as well at the next level or a player with interesting bloodlines worth talking about.

At any rate, keep it locked right here to follow all of the Day 3 action of the 2016 MLB draft.


Note: Included alongside each selection is where they ranked in the Baseball America Top 500 Draft Prospects, to give an idea of where they stacked up to the rest of the class heading into the draft.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

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