Rounds 6-10 in the MLB draft can typically bring a veritable potpourri of approaches, with some clubs often utilizing these picks to finesse the investments they made with draft picks in the first five rounds, a plan the Dodgers have executed in the past, sometimes to great effect (Tony Gonsolin signed for $2500 as a 9th rounder, y’all, he’s a lottery jackpot).
This year, the club appears to have gone for varying degrees of upside with their second five picks of Day 2 of the 2023 MLB Draft.
Round 6, No. 190 overall, SS Bryan Gonzalez, Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy, Puerto Rico
Gonzalez is 17-year-old shortstop (he turns 18 on July 15th) who should stick at the position. Listed at 5’10, 161 lbs, the Illinois State commit hasn’t shown much pop yet, but he has shown solid bat to ball, and has a good amount of physical projection left.
Via Baseball America:
Gonzalez is one of the top prospects from Puerto Rico in the 2023 class, though he’s viewed as more of a 6-10 round talent than a potential day one prospect. Listed at 5-foot-10, 160 pounds, Gonzalez is undersized now, but should add a good amount of strength in the near future, and he has flashed solid hitting ability that’s backed up by sound defensive ability at shortstop. Gonzalez has shown good contact ability in high school, though his swing features a few moving parts that could create timing issues at the next level, especially a happy foot setup in the box that includes multiple toe taps and a big leg kick before his swing. He’s a deep projection prospect, but has talent on both sides of the ball at a premium defensive position. Gonzalez is committed to Illinois State and turns 18 just before the 2023 draft.
It’s no secret that the shortstop pool in the system is puddle-deep these days, the runway is clear, kid.
Round 7, No. 220 overall, Patrick Copen, Marshall University (W.V.)
Like fellow 2023 draft classmate, 137th overall pick Eriq Swan, 4th year junior Patrick Copen is a towering hard-throwing righty, listed at 6’6, 220 lbs, but control was problematic during his college career, as he issued 5.7 walks per 9 in his time as a member of the Thundering Herd.
Via Baseball America:
At 6-foot-6, 215 pounds, Copen’s frame alone makes him an intriguing option to draft. While Copen’s numbers don’t jump off the page with a career ERA of 6.30, his body and stuff gives whichever organization selects him great clay to mold. Copen largely relies on his fastball, which he threw 76% of the time this spring. He averaged 91-93 mph with the pitch, but has been clocked as high as 99. It’s an offering he supplements with a mid-80s slider that is inconsistent but shows promise as a potential out pitch down the road. He has also thrown a curveball around 80 mph with 11-to-5 shape but used the pitch less than 10% of the time this spring and doesn’t land it for strikes much. Copen will likely get an opportunity to start early in his professional career, but his future is likely in the back end of a bullpen thanks to below-average control. With some added weight and getting his lower half more engaged, it is easy to see Copen as a power reliever who routinely is touching triple digits with his fastball.
Prototypical frame and velo, scattershot command. As for getting the lower half more engaged, in the below video, you can clearly see the stiffness and room for growth in the hip hinge and drive down the hill:
Lots of scouts came out to watch this guy pitch this year… What are your thoughts?— Zach Rosenberg (@zrosenberg14) June 13, 2023
Patrick Copen Pitch Arsenal Comps
FB: Jose Leclerc
SL: Dylan Cease
CB: Merrill Kelly pic.twitter.com/gTPgSlp3W8
Once again, there are good ingredients in, but he’ll need some polishing up.
Round 8, No. 250 overall, OF Jaron Elkins, Goodpasture Christian School (TN)
Listed at a physical 6’1, 193 lbs, the 18-year-old Wright State commit was also a first team all-region running back for his high school’s football team. Showing no ill-effects from focusing on a second sport, Elkins stood out across the board in his senior season, batting .452, with 16 homers, with 43 RBI, and 37 stolen bases in 42 games. The strength needed to bust tackles on the gridiron was rather apparent, as he showed ample pop out of hit short, rotational, right-handed stroke:
That’s a lightning quick bat, and also, a rather balanced finish — he isn’t falling all over the place, which bodes well for a potential solid hit tool in the future. Additionally, you gotta love the fiery bat spike, and as Elkins played centerfield, the vert he showed celebrating the blast is fun, he was literally head and neck above his boy there. Lastly, when the catcher almost immediately turns around to ask for a new ball, you know that’s a big boy blast.
Elkins may end up sliding over to a corner OF spot, but as a former two-way player, his arm definitely profiles in right, as he was clocked as high as 95 mph at a PBR Showcase.
Round 9, No. 280 overall, RHP Ryan Brown, Ball State University (IN)
For the second time on Monday, the Dodgers drafted an intriguing arm talent that requires Tommy John surgery, with 20-year-old Ryan Brown getting the nod in a round that normally sees the Dodgers select signability seniors to conserve dollars.
The Mount Clemens, MI native saw his redshirt sophomore campaign cut short due to arm soreness following a play at the plate, but while that may have knocked him down draft boards, it did little to dissuade the Dodgers. If anything, the fact that the club popped a guy with significant upside in lieu of the typical low-bonus late day-two pick displays: 1) how how high the club is on the 6’2, 205 lbs righty, and 2) that the club is going a slightly different route in how they dole out bonus dollars.
That said, there is ample reason to be excited about Brown, since he brings a Cy Young Award-winning weapon from the past — a-la Eric Gagne, Brown throws a devastating Vulcan changeup.
Via Baseball America:
Brown is almost certainly a reliever at the professional level, but the pure stuff is undeniable. He’s an athletic mover on the mound who throws from a high, three-quarters slot that allows him to get nice carry on his fastball that has been up to 96 mph and averaged 93 this spring. Brown’s calling card is his changeup that he throws more than 50% of the time and at its best is a 70-grade pitch. He generated a whiff rate of 70% with the changeup, which has tremendous dropping action and around 13 inches of horizontal movement as well. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound righthander has thrown a low-80s slider as well, but rarely uses the pitch. He has lightning-quick arm speed, which allows the changeup to play up so well, but he’ll need to continue to refine his command to maximize his effectiveness. This spring he posted a 4.76 ERA over 28.1 innings, with a 44.4% strikeout rate and a 19% walk rate
I mean, it’s a weapon:
The Los Angeles Dodgers have selected RHP Ryan Brown (4-1, 4.76 ERA). Super athletic mover with big time arm speed, Brown's calling card is his ++ CH that may be the best of its kind in this year's draft. Had a 70% miss rate this spring. FB up to 96. pic.twitter.com/5ssEXbHzts— Peter Flaherty III (@PeterGFlaherty) July 10, 2023
Waldrep's Splitter has the 2nd highest Whiff% of any pitch in D1 (min. 250 pitches in 2023)— 6–4–3 Charts (@643charts) June 25, 2023
1. Ryan Brown – Ball State (CH) – 67%
2. Hurston Waldrep – Florida (SP) – 65%
3. Paul Skenes – LSU (SL) – 62%
4. Ryan Wentz – CSUN (SL) – 61%
5. Chase Burns – Tennessee (SL) – 60% https://t.co/xVDOv2Tdw2
Brown just had his UCL surgery in June, so it’ll be a minute before he takes the hill in this system, but the combination of youth, velo, and an incredibly elite secondary make him an exciting 9th rounder, and with a healthy return to action, he could fly through the system as a reliever.
Round 10, No. 310 overall, SS Sam Mongelli, Sacred Heart University (CT)
The Dodgers’ last pick on Monday was in fact a senior, albeit one with tools, in 22-year-old Sam Mongelli. The Newburgh, NY native had a breakout campaign in 2023, as he played in only 20 games combined as a freshman and a sophomore, and OPSed a decent .857 in 39 games as a junior. In 2023, Mongelli was named the NEC conference player of the year after slashing a huge .402/.495/.743, with 20 homers and 22 stolen bases in 55 games.
Sam Mongelli with a solo home run to put the Pios on the board! pic.twitter.com/EdFf3sewWY— SHU Baseball (@PioBaseball) March 31, 2023
Under this regime, the Dodgers have drafted pop-up guys to … middling results if you’re a fan expecting every pick to hit, but incredible results if you’re cool with landing the best catcher in baseball and one time allstar Will Smith 32nd overall. It’s a hit or miss proposition, but it takes guts, and the rewards can be huge.
As was the case with Ryan Brown, Mongelli doesn’t strike me as the typical signability senior, and while I know nothing one way or the other about potential bonus situations, he appears to be the sort who will receive more than the bag of nickels many 10th rounders receive.
That’s all for Monday’s draft excitement, there will be a post on Tuesday afternoon detailing the selections in rounds 11-15. Enjoy your Tuesday, folks.