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Toolsy College Prospects in the 2020 MLB Draft

The Marlins’ front office has made a point of selecting college players with big tools in their drafts to date. Who fits that bill in 2020?

NCAA Baseball: Super Regional-Mississippi at Arkansas Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

College players with big tools don’t grow on trees. Due to the nature of the MLB Draft and minor league infrastructure, the toolsiest prospects usually end up being paid handsomely to skip NCAA ball. Those that do make it to campus are usually there either because they were too raw as prep prospects to attract high-end draft interest, or because they had an especially high bonus demand for one reason or another. Since taking over, the Marlins current front office has mined this group pretty aggressively, selecting Tristan Pompey in the fourth round in 2018, and following that up with Kameron Misner in the compensatory round and Peyton Burdick in the fourth in 2019.

This year’s truncated draft proceedings could complicate team’s preferences, but there are a handful of players who seemingly fit into the toolsy college bucket in 2020 that might appeal to the Marlins. Here’s a look at some names.

Casey Martin, SS, Arkansas

Martin is one of the more enigmatic prospects in the class regardless of category, and makes for a tough evaluation. He possesses some of the best speed in the amateur game, rating somewhere between 70 and 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale, and his raw power is in above average to plus territory as well. Martin projects as a long-term shortstop, but has overall consistency issues that hold back his profile. While his package of tools looks a lot like Trea Turner’s at first blush, Martin lacks that kind of bat, struggling with strikeout issues throughout his career.

If a team is able to nudge his approach in the right direction and rein him in a bit on defense, Martin could be a highly valuable top-of-the-order threat; without improvements, he could end up looking more like a faster Chris Owings. Martin projects as a fringe first-round pick.

Parker Chavers, CF, Coastal Carolina

With more runway to improve his draft stock, Chavers likely could’ve worked his way into at least comp round consideration, but he ended up missing the 2020 season entirely as he was injured before the COVID-19 shutdown. He has a diverse array of impressive tools, the strongest of which is his run, which is in plus to plus-plus territory. His arm is above average, making him a strong center fielder, and he also shows raw power in the solid average to above average range. He was also quite a strong performer at the college level, with his bat showing well and his speed and power showing up in live action—in 2019, he hit .320/.435/.621 with 15 homers and 10 steals, though he did strike out 45 times in 56 games. Chavers’ hit tool doesn’t project as plus, but he should be able to make enough hard contact for his other tools to be impactful. I’d expect Chavers to go off the board somewhere between picks 50 and 100 and move quickly in the minor leagues.

Anthony Servideo, SS, Ole Miss

A flashy SEC shortstop, Servideo’s calling card has always been his infield defense. He had to wait until 2020 to take over short for the Rebels, and thus evaluators have only been able to see him there in a handful of NCAA games. Nonetheless, they project him to stick at the position all the way up the ladder. In addition to an above average glove and arm, Servideo packs plus speed and some nascent raw power. He stole 34 bases in 38 attempts across three campaigns with Ole Miss, and appeared to be in the midst of a power breakout when the 2020 season was cut short.

Despite all of these positives, Servideo currently projects to be drafted in the third round or later. Much of that has to do with his brutal Cape Cod League performance in 2019, where he hit a paltry .149/.277/.228 with 37 strikeouts in 119 PAs. The track record for prospects with such poor Cape performances is strikingly weak, and teams don’t just overlook that. However, Servideo wasn’t an especially strong offensive performer in the regular season as an underclassman and appeared to be in the midst of an offensive metamorphosis with a .390/.575/.695 line through 17 games in 2020, so perhaps he could’ve handled the Cape with another crack at it.

Hudson Haskin, CF, Tulane

Tulane consistently churns out quality pro prospects, and this year their top name is outfielder Hudson Haskin, a draft-eligible sophomore who projects as a long-term center fielder. Obviously, his tools stand out at the college level—Haskin is a plus runner, and is also a very instinctive outfielder with clean actions. His arm is no worse than above average, so overall he projects as a potential above average to plus center fielder in the pro game. Offensively, Haskin isn’t quite as dreamy but still brings a lot to the table. His 6’2” frame packs a punch, with above average raw power. The hit tool is the most difficult to project (likely as below average or worse). Haskin lunges at the ball, making contact from a uniquely broad base with an overall funky swing.

That said, evaluators have been impressed with Haskin’s eye and bat control, and it’s hard to argue with his results in college ball. After hitting .372/.459/.647 with 10 homers as a freshman, Haskin was working on a .333/.452/.500 line in his abbreviated 2020 sample.

Jordan Nwogu, OF, Michigan

Nwogu made a name for himself during the Wolverines’ outstanding 2019 College World Series run, and many thought he had a chance to hit his way into the 2020 first round before complications intervened. With a 6’3”, 235 lbs. frame, Nwogu has a football body and had D-1 football offers before opting for the diamond. Despite his mammoth size, Nwogu moves well in the outfield and projects to stay there, even if it’s unlikely it’ll be in his current center field role. His chance for real impact is in the batter’s box, where he packs roughly 70 grade raw power and plus bat speed. His swing and approach are something of a mixed bag, but he has a knack for contact and could develop into a heart of the order threat with the right mix of coaching. Nwogu hit .327/.442/.580 as a sophomore and was working on a .353/.389/.456 line in 2020.

Riley Tirotta, 3B, Dayton

It feels odd to place a third baseman on a list like this one, but Tirotta isn’t your typical NCAA third base prospect. The Flyers infielder has a lean, athletic 6’3” frame, and his foot speed is close to the top of the scale. His arm strength is standout, and somewhere in his build some substantial raw power is surely hiding.

All that said, he’s never been able to get it going in the college game and will represent a project for pro teams. He was able to generate a bit of momentum during his sophomore campaign in 2019, hitting .260/.351/.405 with 18 steals in 20 attempts, but things went off the rails when he competed in the Cape Cod League that summer. He hit just .130/.268/.217 while striking out 15 times in 56 PAs, putting a serious damper on his stock entering his draft year. He didn’t get out of the gates hot in 2020 and was hitting just .228 when the season came to a close, so he could be a candidate to head back to school as he’s unlikely to be drafted in this year’s five round proceedings. However, if he’s amenable to an underslot or UDFA bonus, there’s enough to work with here to bring Tirotta in on a flyer (no pun intended).