And the penultimate piece of our Mets draft coverage:
Round 31: Tanner Dodson
Dodson might be one of the brightest talents in this entire draft class. At the plate, the 6-foot-2, 175-pound switch-hitter has bat speed and power potential. He would have a legitimate chance down the road as a right fielder, but his future is clearly on the mound.
There, Dodson, a righty, throws 88-93 from a low arm three-quarters arm slot, and there were reports of him even hitting 97 earlier this spring. The fastball even has a little arm-side run, making it a potentially plus pitch with consistent mid-90s velocity. His breaking stuff is very much a work in progress. The curve is his best breaking pitch, and it will flash above average but he has trouble getting tight spin, and it’ll often look wobbly. He’ll also throw a slider and a changeup, but neither pitch even looks average at a glimpse.
His mechanics are pretty rough. He’s got a little bit of a Tim Lincecum thing going with an exaggeratedly wide leg kick, and a slingshot arm action, but his arm isn’t as quick as Lincecum’s and it mostly just throws his tempo off. It’s also complicated enough that he has big trouble replicating the delivery, and that is the biggest reason for the all-over-the-place velocity readings.
He’s a good prospect but far from a sure thing, and the only reason the Mets drafted him was to act as insurance in case Desmond Lindsay and/or Max Wotell didn’t sign. He announced his intention to go to California almost immediately after being drafted.
Round 32: Dustin Beggs
Beggs was drafted in the 17th round a year ago as a juco player in Georgia, but he elected to attend the University of Kentucky instead. The move does not appear to have paid off, dropping 15 rounds in 2015.
For the record, I like Beggs a lot. I caught him twice this year, and he’s a smart, finesse righty. He has average height at 6 feet, 3 inches, but below average velocity for a righty, sitting 87-90 and grazing 92 from time to time. But he throws strikes, and I like his curveball a lot--it’s a tight pitch with good depth, an above average offering for me. He also brings a decent changeup and a slider, giving him a four-pitch mix. His fastball is unfortunately very straight, however, and he’ll need to be very fine with his command, as he can definitely be homer-prone.
He repeats his delivery rather well, and the arm works well enough. Despite that, he’s probably a reliever in the end, but it wouldn’t shock me to see the Mets start him for a while.
I have no idea if he’ll sign. You usually expect to sign juniors, but he’s close to graduating, and he doesn’t stand to lose much by returning for a senior year and may be able to find his way to a higher draft position next year.
Round 33: Brendan Illies
Illies, a Washington native, was a two-sport star for his high school, serving as the school’s quarterback as well as a pitcher and catcher on the baseball team. Baseball is likely his better sport, and most scouts consider him a catcher through and through.
An athletic 6 feet and 200 pounds, Illies is considered a potentially above average defensive catcher with power potential. He obviously has a very strong arm, and he’s been clocked as high as 89 miles per hour from the mound. His feet are very quick, and he has good hands and energy behind the plate. He still needs some polish, but I think he’s going to stick back there and has the chance to excel.
At the plate, he needs work. While he has raw power and a swing that will provide plenty of loft, it’s too long right now and has way too much of an uppercut to it. He also needs to time his swing better from top to bottom and vastly improve his pitch recognition. Quite frankly, good pitching will eat him alive unless he refines his swing mechanics and approach at the plate.
A very good student, Illies has a scholarship to North Carolina, and I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t fulfill it.
Round 34: L.T. Tolbert
Tolbert, a high school prospect currently attending IMG Academy, a baseball factory in Bradenton, has a tall, lean build (6-foot-3, 180 pounds) that scouts love to see. Right now he’s a shortstop, but I can’t see him staying there, especially as he begins to fill out. Even now, his range is clearly not enough for shortstop, and it’s very likely that he’ll end up at third. With nice hands, fluid infield actions, and a strong arm, he could be a good one. He’s a well below average runner on the basepaths, which may suggest that he’d be forced to move to first if third base doesn’t work out.
At the plate, he has raw power, but right it doesn’t show up in games as tall. A left-handed hitter, Tolbert has a smooth, compact swing, dropping his hands as the pitch approaches and slashing at the ball with his hands. There’s some noticeable batspeed, but the swing path is very flat right now, and what power he has is of the gap variety. He also needs to do a better job of keeping his weight back so that his hip rotation and weight transfer can work to their full effect.
If he doesn’t make it as a hitter, he could move to the mound where he’s been clocked at 88 miles-per-hour with his fastball.
With a commitment to perennial baseball powerhouse South Carolina, it’s clear that Tolbert is not going to sign with the Mets.
Round 35: George Thanopoulos
Columbia junior George Thanopoulos served as the ace of the Lions’ staff, and he has fringe-average stuff, but a lack of command and the lack of predictability in terms of signability intrinsic to all Ivy Leaguers pushed him down draft boards. Thanopoulos brings a fastball in the 88-92 range with plenty of life to it, and he’ll pair it with a slider that will flash above average and a fringy changeup.
Mechanically, he looks pretty good to me: drifts through his settling point, takes a nice long stride, arm action is pretty short with early-ish pronation. Some timing issues, but nobody’s perfect. It is a little concerning that he’s having command issues, because there isn’t an obvious fix, so the only real hope is that Thanopoulos has his own moment at the pump and figures everything out.
As I said, Ivy Leaguers are unpredictable in terms of signability, especially this late in the draft. There’s a good chance Thanopoulos doesn’t sign.