The Dodgers started off Day 2 of the 2016 MLB Draft by selecting Dustin May, D.J. Peters, and Devin Smeltzer in rounds 3-5. It’s a rather odd collection of players, but we’ll probably need to wait until the draft is over to understand where they all slot into the Dodgers plans.
Dustin May – 3rd Round
May is a 6’6″ right-handed pitcher out of Northwest High School in Texas. He was ranked #117 by Baseball America, #106 by Baseball Prospectus, and #166 by MLB.com.
Here’s what Baseball America had to say about him…
In yet another talented year for Texas high school arms, a team taking May will be taking a gamble on a potentially very promising future. He’s hard to miss as a 6-foot-6, 190-pound redhead with some of the best flow in the class. May is less consistent than some of the pitchers in Texas, but he’s ranked high due to the combination of a potentially plus breaking ball with slider shape, an 88-92 mph fastball that touches 93-94 and a projectable body that gives him a chance to grow into more velocity. May does not repeat his delivery consistently yet and his velocity tails off deeper into games, but the Texas Tech signee has a chance to grow into a mid-rotation starter if it all comes together.
…and MLB.com had a quality write-up as well…
Early in the spring, May looked like the best high school pitching prospect in Texas after potential first-rounders Forrest Whitley and Kyle Muller. His stock cooled a bit when his velocity did the same, though he should be the first player ever drafted out of Northwest High (Justin, Texas), the alma mater of big leaguer Tyler Collins.
May threw in the low 80s as a sophomore but has added significant velocity as his 6-foot-6 frame has started to fill out. He dealt at 90-93 mph and reached 95 at the outset of his senior season, and he still has room for additional projection. His fastball had one of the highest spin rates (2649 rpm) at the World Wood Bat Association World Championship in October, which translates into riding life that makes it hard to hit.
May’s curveball had the best spin rate (3105 rpm) at the WWBA event, though this spring he has gone more to a harder slider that may be a better fit for his slingy delivery. He hasn’t had much need for a changeup and will need to develop one at the next level to remain a starter. A Texas Tech recruit, he’s an efficient strike-thrower but also will have to clean up his mechanics so he can stay on top of his pitches and reduce the stress on his arm.
…as did ESPN.
A lanky 6-foot-6 right-hander with a flaming red mane rushing out the back of his cap, May is unpolished but talented and teeming with physical projection. His fastball will reach 93 mph and sit just below that, while his breaking ball sits in the low to mid-70s and has promising but inconsistent bite and shape. May also has one the “safer” deliveries among this draft’s high school arms, loading his arm nice and early and using his size well.
May is indeed raw. His pitch quality is inconsistent, his velocity will fall off late in outings and he will have issues repeating his delivery. Teenagers this size don’t usually have dictatorial control over their limbs, and May should iron things out as he gets older and stronger. He’s also one of the older Top 100 arms; he’ll turn 19 in a few months.
Given his inconsistencies and lack of a third pitch, May is firmly behind the mass of arms tussling for draft position in the late first or early second round.
The slot bonus for this pick is $590,800, and May is a Texas Tech commit, though I’m not sure if he’ll be over or under slot by much. Most importantly, if he signs, the Dodgers need to include a clause that he must keep his glorious hair. Otherwise, what is the point, really?
The approach in this draft has been interesting for the Dodgers, as they went with safer position players at premium positions that could stick there to start with, but have since gone for a three upside arms in a row. All of them, May included, seem promising because of their velocity readings and potential off-speed stuff.
The Dodgers are probably banking on the fact that at one or two of them should figure it out, but the more projects the Dodgers draft, the bigger test it’ll be for the player development staff than anything else.
#Dodgers take projectable, big righty Dustin May. 6-6 kid, sits 91-93 with more coming. Excellent choice. Sharp breaking ball
— Frankie Piliere (@FPiliereD1) June 10, 2016
D.J. Peters – 4th Round
Peters is a 6’6″ right-handed outfielder drafted out of Western Nevada. In 2016, he hit .419/.510/.734/1.244 with 16 dingers, and though we know the competition level probably wasn’t great, that’s … impressive regardless.
He was ranked #290 by Baseball America, who had this to say:
A Cal State Fullerton signee, Peters thrived in the final season of Western Nevada’s program, cut due to budget issues. Peters was drafted each of the previous two years (36th round each time), and he should go out higher if he’s signable this year thanks to the strength and raw power in his 6-foot-6, 225-pound frame. He’s also an average runner underway who has a plus arm and played center field for WNCC.
Peters is a Call State Fullerton commit, but the slot bonus of $442,400 should be more than enough. I would say Peters looks like a pick that might sign underslot given that his own coach thought he would go just somewhere in the first 10 rounds, much less the fourth.
Seems like the idea here is for him to eventually hit many dingers for the Dodgers very far, because this is a big dude. #Analysis
— Steve Fiorindo (@SoCalSteve9) June 10, 2016
Devin Smeltzer – 5th Round
Smeltzer is a 6’2″ left-handed pitcher out of San Jacinto College, where he had a 1.20 ERA and 13 K/9.
2080 Baseball had a great report on him…
Smeltzer entered the season as the top-ranked left-handed pitcher in the JUCO ranks by Perfect Game and he certainly hasn’t disappointed. He’s posted a 1.20 ERA and struck out 88 in only 67.2 IP. The stuff has a lot of traits that will translate into success at the next level. There is deception from the left side, with his low ¾ arm slot and with fastball command allowing him to work to both sides of the plate while setting up his devastating slider. The Texas Tech commit sits 88-to-91 mph with the fastball and he hides it well. His changeup is a work in progress, but it has improved of late and is starting to become a real weapon vs. right-handed hitters. Smeltzer’s put away pitch is his 79-to-82 mph slider that he will throw out of the zone vs. lefties to get them to chase and burry it in the dirt vs. righties. With the deception and pitchability Smeltzer presents, he should be one of the highest-drafted JUCO players come June.
…and he was ranked at #244 by Baseball America, who had this to say:
A cancer survivor, Smeltzer has long endeared himself to scouts with his never-say-never attitude and work ethic. He inspired the annual Swing For The Cure Camp, an event held in the northeast each year to raise money for children with health concerns. Smeltzer was a 33rd-round pick of the Padres out of high school in 2014, didn’t sign and attended Florida Gulf Coast. After a year of pitching for FGCU, Smeltzer transferred to San Jacinto (Texas) and posted an excellent 2016 campaign. His fastball works in the upper 80s and sneaks into the low 90s when he needs a little extra oomph. His best offspeed pitch is his changeup, which he throws for strikes and uses to induce poor contact. Smeltzer has a slider that earns fringe-average reviews from scouts, but flashes sharp break when it’s on. He’ll need to continue getting stronger, but he has good control of a three-pitch mix and he’s lefthanded, so teams will be interested in signing him. He struck out 20 in his final start, though he threw 140 pitches in the NJCAA World Series outing.
Okay, so I’m guessing mental toughness probably won’t be an issue with guy, though perhaps the pitcher abuse he suffered might be.
Smeltzer is a Texas Tech commit, but did express he’d like to start his pro career, and should come in right around the slot of $331,100.
Dodgers fifth rounder Devin Smeltzer, fast moving LOOGY for me, potential plus slider, upper-80s fastball. https://t.co/YnmfmXTBP3
— Eric Longenhagen (@longenhagen) June 10, 2016
So one projectable upside arm, one projectable power bat, and a rather safe and polished pitcher that probably projects best in relief. Hard to pretend I know enough about players this far down in the draft to say whether this is good or bad, but most seem to think the Dodgers have done well so far, and the players themselves look quite solid.