Here’s the last of our 2018 MLB Draft recap. While most (all?) of these players won’t make it to the majors (and maybe won’t sign), some of the selections have fun profiles.
Here are the picks in list form.
31(944). LHP/OF Andrew Shaps, William Jessup
32(974). RHP Jacob Gilliland, Next Level Academy (Ala.)
33(1004). OF Drew Avans, Southeastern Louisiana
34(1034). LHP Austin Drury, North Florida
35(1064). OF Tyler Reichenborn, Iowa Western CC
36(1094). OF Jeremiah Vison, Golden West College
37(1124). OF Jon Littell, Oklahoma State
38(1154). RHP Connery Peters, Joshua HS (Texas)
39(1184). OF Jordan Myrow, San Jacinto North
40(1214). RHP Ben Specht, Evangelical Christian School (Fla.)
And now, the write-ups.
Round 31, Pick 944 (overall): LHP/OF Andrew Shaps, William Jessup University
6’1, 185 pounds
DOB: Dec. 5, 1995
There wasn’t a ton of information about the Dodgers’ 31st-rounder, but Shaps was a 2-way player at William Jessup, which is reason enough for the Dodgers to be interesting in him. He played three seasons at Arizona State before transferring to William Jessup for his senior season. With ASU, he hit .307/.357/.455 in 365 career plate appearances. He threw just 4 2/3 innings for the Sun Devils in which he allowed one hit, three runs, walked three and struck out 11. With WJU, he hit .453/.500/.676 in 36 plate appearances. On the bump, he struck out 19 in 14 1/3 innings. He also allowed 15 hits and 9 runs while walking 7.
Now, I say he “transferred” to WJU, but his time with ASU didn’t end well. He was dismissed from the team on May 6, 2017, after an online argument with Tracy Smith’s son. Smith is the ASU head baseball coach.
“There was no reason given for the departures as the program is leaving it at the statement above. However, a rumor surfaced that Shaps’ dismissal was due to an online exchange he had with Ty Smith, Tracy Smith’s eldest son. However, the aforementioned source said the dismissal had nothing to do with the various exchanges on different social media platforms.”
“In a tweet posted on Saturday evening, Shaps said he was informed he was being released on Saturday morning for “failure to buy into team culture.” However, Shaps insisted in the tweet that he was fully committed to ASU baseball and used an example from last summer to support his claim.”
And the tweet.
— Andrew Shaps (@ashaps08) May 7, 2017
Fun stuff! He missed the first five games of his final season with ASU because he was suspended, so there might be some character/off-the-field issues here, but there were no such incidents at WJU.
Anyway, he’s an interesting 2-way prospect for the Dodgers to grab this late in the draft. He should be an incredibly easy sign.
Round 32, Pick 974 (overall): RHP Jacob Gilliland, Next Level Academy (Ala.)
6’2, 180 pounds
DOB: Jan 16, 2000
Commitment: Chattahoochee Valley Community College
Gilliland was one of the few high school players the Dodgers selected in the draft, and he has a bit of potential. He has a 3-pitch mix — a fastball, curveball and changeup. Like with most prep pitchers, his curveball is ahead of his changeup and his fastball is ahead of his curveball. His fastball checks in at 89-92 MPH and has touched the 93. He doesn’t have the most projectable frame, but he could add some velocity down the road. His curveball is a mid-70s pitch while his changeup is a work in process.
Here’s what Perfect Game wrote about him back in March after one of its events.
“Jacob Gilliland (2018, Ocean Springs, Miss.) pitched Next Level Baseball Academy to a championship on Saturday evening. After a lightning delay pushed back the start of the semifinals and championship game, Gilliland finally received the ball and showed his ability on the mound. The righthander sat 90-92 mph in the first before settling in the 88-90 mph range for the remainder of his start. The commitment to junior college powerhouse Chattahoochee Valley has a good curveball that was mixed in and effective to get hitters to swing and miss especially when ahead in counts. Gilliland was ahead in counts often in this contest as he finished with five strikeouts 5 1/3 innings. His mechanics are more fluid than in previous viewings as his arm works fully through the arm circle. He gets good drive from his lower half and releases with minimal effort. In this outing the fastball was mostly straight and he commanded it well. Overall, the 6-foot-2 180-pounder is an interesting arm in this year’s loaded draft class.”
And some video.
Gilliland is going to be a tough sign, mostly because the Dodgers probably aren’t going to have a lot of extra money to sign draftees. The last high schooler drafted this late by the Dodgers was Logan Crouse, who signed for $500,000 (and he has since been released).
If they could get him or another of the prep guys they popped after the 10th round, that could help this draft look a bit better.
Round 33, Pick 1004 (overall): OF Drew Avans, Southeastern Louisiana University
5’10, 195 pounds
DOB: June 13, 1996
Avans is a college performer who ripped through the Southland Conference. He hit ..330/.462/.568 and walked more than he struck out. There’s not a whole lot of other information readily available, so here’s him hitting a home run.
He also has experience on the mound, so the Dodgers could try him as a 2-way player. He should be an easy sign as a college senior.
Round 34, Pick 1034 (overall): LHP Austin Drury, University of North Florida
5’11, 180 pounds
DOB: Aug. 13, 1997
There’s not a lo available on the Dodgers’ 34th-rounder. He started 13 games for North Florida this season and posted a 4.85 ERA in 68 2/3 innings. He had just a 7.6 K/9, so this pick is a bit different than most Dodger draftees and those in the organization already. But hey, he’s left-handed and breathing, so he’ll have a job somewhere.
He’s a senior pick and should be signed, if he isn’t officially already.
Round 35, Pick 1064 (overall): OF Tyler Reichenborn, Iowa Western CC
5’11, 190 pounds
DOB: June 23, 1998
The Dodgers added another premium athlete to the draft class in Reichenborn. He dominated the Scenic West Athletic Conference (yes, this is a real conference). He hit .418/.522/.670 with 28 of his 76 hits going for extra bases. He also walked 14 more times than he struck out.
He has a simply, compact stance, quick load and surprisingly decent bat speed — at least, better than I was expecting. If he signs, he could get to Ogden before the season ends.
Round 36, Pick 1094 (overall): OF Jeremiah Vison, Golden West College
5’4, 148 pounds
DOB: Aug. 27, 1997
Commitment: Abilene Christian University
Vison might be my favorite player of this entire draft class, and I’ll give you one guess why. Even Billy Gasparino said his listed height “might be stretching it.” Pun intended, I’m sure.
For Golden West College, Vison hit .361/.432/.444 and swiped 26 bases. Despite that, he’s not the fastest or most athletic player the Dodgers drafted, but he might be the most unique.
He’s probably going to struggle against higher velocity in the pros. Oh, and there’s this:
It appears he has signed, which isn’t surprising in the slightest.
Round 37, Pick 1124 (overall): OF Jon Littel, Oklahoma State
6’4, 190 pounds
DOB: June 23, 1998
On the surface, Littel looks like he has a good frame and the athleticism to succeed in baseball, but he was just OK at Oklahoma State (but he is coming off his best season as a Cowboy). He hit .266/.372/.454 in 218 plate appearances in 2018. He has the ability to draw a walk while minimizing his strikeouts. He was the Nationals’ 39th-round pick in 2014.
The video is four years old, but it was about the best I could find. As a senior, he’ll be an easy sign.
Round 38, Pick 1154 (overall): RHP Connery Peters, Joshua HS (Texas)
6’6, 235 pounds
DOB: Jan. 3, 2000
Commitment: Wichita State
Peters is a large human being already at 18 years old. I’d be a lot more excited about the possibility of the Dodgers adding a high school arm with four pitches (fastball, curveball, slider, changeup) this late in the draft. They popped Caleb Ferguson in the 38th round four years ago, so the hope was there.
Apologies for the video shot in portrait mode. But this is the pitcher the Dodgers could have had because Peters told the Cleburne Times-Review he’s going to Wichita State.
“While having his name called at the MLB Draft was a lifelong moment in the making, his desire to play college baseball outweighed his draft status. ‘Before the draft, I had serious talks with a few teams but I told them I wanted to go to college, so I didn’t expect to get picked up,’ Peters said. ‘I am going to attend Wichita State for the next three years and re-enter the draft. ‘I’m doing this so I can see what a college atmosphere is like and learn from [WSU Pitching] Coach Mike Steele and [WSU Head] Coach Todd Butler and to get constantly better. I’ll be put into tough situations which will help me grow as a player and a person.'”
Good luck to ya!
Round 39, Pick 1184 (overall): OF Jordan Myrow, San Jacinto College North
5’11, 175 pounds
DOB: July 18, 1996
Year: Redshirt Sophomore
Myrow was the second player of this draft the Dodgers selected from San Jacinto College North (Trey Dillard, 16th round). He originally was slated to go to UCLA, but plans changed after an injury and he ended up in Texas. Here’s his MLB.com draft video from three years ago as he was coming out of Notre Dame High School (Giancarlo Stanton‘s alma mater).
He was clocked at 99 MPH, according to his San Jacinto College North profile. I’m assuming that’s from the mound, because if that’s from the outfield, that’s the best arm in the game right now. He’s also Dave Roberts‘ godson. The last time the Dodgers chose the godson of someone in the organization later in the draft, he turned into a Hall of Fame catcher. So yes, Myrow is the next Mike Piazza.
But that’s not even the most interesting part. Myrow was once homeless.
The kid is a fighter. Here’s hoping the Dodgers can sign him and he can get to playing pro ball.
Round 40, Pick 1214 (overall): RHP Ben Specht, Evangelical Christian School (Fla.)
6’1, 205 pounds
DOB: Sept. 13, 1999
Mr. Irrelevant — a moniker I never much cared for when referring to the final pick of the draft — is the Dodgers taking a shot on another prep arm in Mr. Specht. He has a fastball that has gotten up to 93 MPH but settles in at 88-91 MPH right now. He backs it up with what appears to be a high-spin curveball, and we know the Dodgers like spin rates.
— Nathan Rode (@NathanRode) June 6, 2018
The ball comes out of his hand weird. I can’t tell if it adds to his deception or is a problem.
Perfect Game had a glowing write-up of him after a June 2017 showcase event. They gave him a 9.5 grade, which meant he could have been a Top 10 round (or higher) pick.
“Benjamin Specht is a 2018 RHP with a 6-1 205 lb. frame from Fort Myers, FL who attends Evangelical Christian HS. Solid athletic build with good present strength. Compact arm action, hides the ball well and has deception in his delivery, works the ball downhill well. Fastball up to 91 mph, ball gets on hitters quickly, mostly straight with command to both sides of the plate. Advanced curveball, throws it hard with tight spin and sharpness, can manipulate the shape, throws his curveball to spots and has feel for it. Strong fastball/curveball combination and the ability to use them. Good student, verbal commitment to Florida.”
That was almost a year ago, so something must have changed.
If the Dodgers can get him to sign, that’d be a massive steal. However, I’d expect him to honor his commitment to the University of Florida.
That concludes the draft recap. Stay tuned for draft signing updates (18th-rounder Niko Hulsizer has signed).