The Dodgers grabbed a few interesting prospects — powerful, athletic, versatile — in Rounds 21-30, headlined by a catcher, first baseman and 3-sport high school standout.
Keep in mind, the odds of any of the following players developing into even fringe-average MLB players is slim. But there are some things to like about these guys. At least, among the infornation I could find.
21(644). C Tre Todd, Liberty
22(674). 1B Simon Landry, Pearl River CC
23(704). RHP Justin Hagenman, Penn State
24(734). OF Jacen Roberson, Garces Memoria HS (Calif.)
25(764). RHP Hunter Speer, William Carey University
26(794). C Aaron Ackerman, University of Illinois, Chicago
27(824). LHP Connor Mitchell, Butler
28(854). RHP Reza Aleaziz, Oklahoma State
29(884). OF Daniel Robinson, Central Michigan
30(914). OF Matt Cogen, Belmont University
Now, onto the write-ups.
Round 21, Pick 644 (overall): C Tre Todd, Liberty
6’1, 205 pounds
DOB: Sept. 29, 1996
The Dodgers chose their second catcher of the draft in the 21st round, popping the 2-first-named Tre Todd. He hit .315/.479/.553 in his first season with Liberty. He also walked in 22.5 percent of his plate appearances (with a strikeout rate to match). He checked in at No. 371 on Baseball America’s Top 500 and was listed there an outfielder. Here’s what BA said about him:
“Todd transferred to Liberty after a 2017 season with Harford (Md.) JC, where he hit .408/.577/.856 with 20 home runs and 40 stolen bases. The numbers haven’t been quite as gaudy against much better competition in the Big South, but still managed a .315/.479/.553 triple slash with 10 home runs and has walked 60 times—which is among the most in the entire country. Todd has always walked at an extremely high rate, though he’s also struck out 61 times this spring. Defensively, Todd is a catcher and outfielder, though scouts have seen him more in left field and he’s currently throwing with 30-grade arm strength with a torn labrum. He’s played more in left field for Liberty this spring, where he’s a below-average runner (despite what his JuCo steals totals might have suggested) and a well-below average defender there. He has plus raw power that plays to the opposite field, and would profile much better behind the plate, but it’s currently hard to tell if he’ll ever throw enough to play there.”
If he can regain any of that throwing arm strength, he could be an interesting project behind the plate. Being athletic enough to also handle the outfield is a plus in his column. Oh, and the plus-raw power is never a bad thing. He has the option to go back to school for his senior season, which could improve his draft stock in terms of the round he’s chosen, but he might not actually make much more than what the Dodgers might offer him.
Round 22, Pick 674 (overall): 1B Simon Landry, Pearl River Community College
6’4, 230 pounds
Position: First base
DOB: Jan. 18, 1998
A large human being, Simon is a true right-right first baseman who doesn’t really have the speed, agility or quickness to play anywhere else on the diamond. He was the last player Baseball America ranked in its Top 500 draft prospects.
“Every year, at least one player pops out of the Mississippi junior college circuit. Last year it was Rangers’ eighth-round pick Tyreque Reed. This year it’s likely to be Landry, who hit .392/.447/.880 with 19 home runs this spring for the Wildcats. Landry’s raw power earns 70 grades from scouts and he has a simple swing that gives him a chance to be an fringe-average hitter as well. Landry is a righthanded hitting first baseman who is a below-average runner and his below-average speed limits his ability to slide to the outfield, so there’s somewhat of a ceiling on how high he can be drafted, but his power is real, which could sneak him into the back of day two of the draft.”
The Dodgers traded a right-right first baseman with double-plus raw power earlier in the season (Ibandel Isabel), so it seems they’re just trying to fill that “need.” Here’s what Billy Gasparino told Dodger Insider about the selection.
“‘It’s probably the best raw power we’ve ever seen at a workout,’ Gasparino said. ‘It would be better than any power in our system now, based on some of the measurements we have. If you go through exit velocity, he has better exit velocity than any minor or Major Leaguer we have in our organization. He’s 6–4 and he’s 225 pounds. It’s just a fun guy to watch, because he has extreme power.'”
He’s the mirror image of Isabel. You can quote me on that. He should be signable in the 22nd round, but he does have a commitment to the University of Houston. If he doesn’t get what he wants, he could end up with the Cougars.
Round 23, Pick 704 (overall): RHP Justin Hagenman, Penn State
6’3, 205 pounds
DOB: Oct. 7, 1996
Hagenman is the first Nittany Lion the Dodgers have ever drafted. He didn’t rank in the BA Top 500, but BA did rank him as the 26th-best prospect (out of 32) in the state of Pennsylvania. He started 14 games for Penn State and had a 4.60 ERA while striking out nearly a batter per inning. The best velocity reading I could find on him was from 2014, when he touched 88 MPH on the radar gun. With his strikeout rate, it’s probably safe to assume he improved the velo — even if only slightly.
Round 24, Pick 734 (overall): CF Jacen Roberson, Garces Memorial HS (Calif.)
6’1, 175 pounds
DOB: May 23, 2000
Commitment: CSU Bakersfield
One of five high school players the Dodgers drafted after the fourth round, Roberson is from local(ish) Bakersfield and has an athletic profile. He might be the most athletic player the Dodgers drafted this week. BA ranked him at No. 237 in its Top 500.
“Roberson is a throwback as the rare modern three-sport athlete. He was a wide receiver on his high school football team, a guard on the basketball team and the star center fielder of the baseball team. Roberson skipped the showcase circuit because of his other sports commitments, but evaluators found him and were immediately drawn to his lefthanded bat and supreme athleticism. Roberson is a twitchy, 6-foot-1, 170 pounds with some of the best hand speed in the region. That hand speed leads to exceptional bat speed and he makes consistent contact with superb hand-eye coordination. Some scouts project him as an average hitter with average power, but others see a raw bat path that takes his swing in and out of the zone quickly and worry he’ll struggle against higher-level pitching. Roberson is an above-average to plus runner who has a chance to be a plus defender in center field and he has a plus arm. Those who believe in Roberson’s bat are interested as high as the third round, but others don’t believe he’ll hit enough to project as more than a backup outfielder. He is committed to Cal State Bakersfield.”
And here’s a highlight of him playing handegg.
Conor Bruce to Jacen Roberson for 30 yd TD pass for Garces. Leads Tehachapi 14-0, 5:53, 1st pic.twitter.com/7S5zkdWbNQ
— BVarsityLive (@BVarsityLive) September 10, 2016
There’s also the slight possibility he could test his skills on the mound if the outfield doesn’t work out. This is from Team One Baseball.
“Two way, pitcher and outfielder. Throws well with a smooth delivery. Doesn’t force the ball, and is easy velocity. Fastball was 82-85 touching 86. Very good athlete and seems to have a easy sense to the game. Could easily play both ways at next level.”
He’s extremely raw and it woudn’t be surprising to see him get to campus. But he’d also be an interesting project for Brandon Gomes and the player development department, if for no other reason than he’s toolsy and young. If the Dodgers go over the $125,000 mark, it might be for a guy like Roberson.
Round 25, Pick 764 (overall): RHP Hunter Speer, William Carey University
6’0, 180 pounds
DOB: May 18, 1995
Year: Redshirt Senior
William Carey University? Hunter Speer? This might be the easiest sign of the entire draft class. He didn’t make any top lists and is a redshirt senior. This pick screams “org depth.” But at least his name is pretty wicked. Oh, and he has fabulous hair, as you can see in this video.
It looks like he went to what is similar to Driveline baseball and improved his velocity from 88 MPH to 94 MPH. It remains to be seen if it holds there or dips back down (as it does sometimes), but at least there’s some potential with a fastball that touches the mid-90s.
Round 26, Pick 794 (overall): C Aaron Ackerman, University of Illinois, Chicago
6’3, 210 pounds
DOB: May 1, 1997
Yesss, give me all the catchers. Ackerman is a big dude,but he wasn’t one of the Top 500 BA draft prospects, nor did he make a state-specific list. In his only season with Illinois-Chicago, he hit .295/.360/.464 with 5 home runs in 186 plate appearances. Here’s the only scouting note I could find on him.
Aaron Ackerman hit a pair of big home runs when I saw him. Fluid behind the plate with some pop
— jeff ellis (@jeffMLBdraft) June 6, 2018
And here’s a video from three years ago. I’m sure not a ton has changed, but it’s hard to draw any definitive conclusion from a video of a kid in high school who went to college for three years.
One thing I dig is a left-handed hitting catcher. The only thing I dig more is a switch-hitting catcher, and Ackerman is just that. The Dodgers should sign him for that fact alone. He has another year of eligibility, and it seems like a coin flip whether he’ll sign or go back to school.
Round 27, Pick 824 (overall): LHP Connor Mitchell, Butler University
6’4, 180 pounds
DOB: Sept. 11, 1995
Year: Redshirt Junior
Mitchell has a good frame. If he were a high school draftee, he’d be labeled as “projectable.” But because he’s from a 4-year school, he’s probably physically maxed out. In 68 2/3 inning with the Bulldogs this season, Mitchell pitched to a 4.85 ERA, but had a solid 4.2 K/BB ratio.
Like some other guys drafted in this range, there isn’t a lot of information out there about him. So, here’s a video from when he pitched in high school, for all the good it’ll do.
He has one more year of eligibility, if he chooses to go back to school. He’d be a nice guy to have if for no other reason than he throws left-handed and has the potential to miss bats.
Round 28, Pick 854 (overall): RHP Reza Aleaziz, Oklahoma State University
6’4, 225 pounds
DOB: July 11, 1995
Year: Redshirt Senior
Finally! I was wondering when we were going to not only get to another guy who has been through Tommy John surgery, but also the best name in the draft class. Seriously, this is an 80-grade name tool. He missed the 2016 campaign recovering from the procedure. In 2018, he pitched mostly out of the bullpen for the Cowboys. He had a 4.47 ERA and a not-great 6.4 K/9. It looks even worse when you put it up against his 5.0 BB/9.
Here’s another 5-year-old video because, well, no one really scouted this kid.
Here’s an interesting note — possibly just interesting to me — but his brother Hamed is a staff writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Yay journalism! More interesting for you, he attended Yavapai College in Arizona … the same college Willie Calhoun attended a few years ago.
Round 29, Pick 884 (overall): OF Daniel Robinson, Central Michigan University
6’2, 215 pounds
DOB: Oct. 30, 1996
Robinson is an athletic lefty-lefty outfielder who played well for the Central Michigan Chippewas. He hit .292/.397/.406 with a sparkling BB/K ratio (1.65). He’s not a power hitter by any means and is a bit of a throwback player. He wasn’t ranked in either BA Top 500 or its state rankings. Here’s a good piece on him by Evan Petzold, who also does some work for the Loons, about his rebounding from a slow start.
“Since CMU’s game against Northern Illinois on March 24, Robinson is batting .333, pushing his season average to .221 with one home run and 15 RBIs. ‘I’m starting to get some rhythm up there and am seeing the ball better,’ Robinson said. ‘My approach is coming more solid than at the beginning. I’ve improved.’ The 6-foot-3, 209-pound junior said his early season struggles had nothing to do with his swing, but everything to do with the mental side of the game. ‘It’s a mind thing,’ Robinson said. ‘You can’t think about it too much. You have to make sure your approach is solid, focus and stay positive.'”
And now, prepare to have your mind blown because there is recent video of Mr. Robinson.
His stance and swing seem a bit stiff. For a guy with a solid athletic frame, you’d think he’d be a little more loose at the dish. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him go back to school to try to improve his draft stock. But like Roberson, he’d be another athlete the Dodgers would love to get into their system.
Interesting tidbit: He attended Grosse Pointe North High School, which was the alma mater of John Cusak’s character in the film Gross Pointe Blank. I wasn’t able to 100 percent confirm this, but the circumstantial evidence is overwhelming.
Round 30, Pick 914 (overall): OF Matt Cogen, Belmont University
6’0, 195 pounds
DOB: Aug. 19, 1995
The captain of the Belmont baseball team, Cogen had a fantastic season for the Bruins. He hit .372/.418/.586 with 28 extra base hits in 263 plate appearances. He also had a near-1:1 BB/K ratio. As a senior, he should be a rather easy sign for the Dodgers. He reminds me a bit of Kyle Garlick in terms of profile, and the Dodgers have done a good job making Garlick’s name at least known by the sickest of prospectors (like myself).
If it sounds like I’m trying to fill space, you’re right. There’s no usable information about Cogen on the Internet. There’s not even a 5-year-old video I can embed. For now, just enjoy Belmont’s tweet that announced Cogen was drafted by LA.
— Belmont Baseball (@BelmontBaseball) June 6, 2018
Next Up: Rounds 31-40