After taking a hitter and pitcher on Day 1 of the 2017 MLB Draft, the Los Angeles Dodgers emphasized pitching on Day 2. The club took five pitchers on Tuesday, including four straight selections from Round 4 to Round 7.
Round 3 – Connor Wong, C, Houston
The Dodgers certainly have a type. They love athletic catchers and Wong fits the bill. Listed at 5’10, 180 lbs. (which may be generous), Wong has above-average speed for a backstop and he stole 26 of 30 bases as a junior.
Wong began his collegiate career as a shortstop and has also played third base and the outfield. Behind the plate, there’s some room for improvement but he has the actions to stick.
At the plate, Wong has a free and easy swing and controls the strike zone. He batted .313/.354/.442 last year in the Cape Cod League so there’s some history of him hitting with a wood bat. He also hit 12 home runs this spring.
Overall, Wong’s profile is similar to that of Austin Barnes and Will Smith, and he could move quickly through the Minors.
Round 4 – James Marinan, RHP, Park Vista High Sschool
While the Dodgers no longer take high school pitchers in the first round, they don’t shy away from them early in the draft. Last year, they popped Dustin May in the third round and he’s pitching very well in his first full season.
This year, the Dodgers took another big right-hander in Marinan. He has excellent size at 6’5 and 210 lbs.
Marinan is projectable but he already throws in the low to mid 90s. His delivery is simple and he’s athletic enough to repeat it, giving him the potential for good command and control.
Marinan’s breaking ball falls somewhere between a slider and a curve, with scouts projecting a future above-average or better slider. His changeup lags behind his other pitches, and Marinan will need time to develop, but the upside is considerable.
Round 5 – Riley Ottesen, RHP, Utah
Although he’s only pitched two years in college, Ottesen is old for the class at 22 because he went on a Mormon mission to Japan out of high school. He pitched mainly out of the bullpen last year, then moved to the rotation in 2017 where he posted a 4.93 ERA in 16 games (15 starts) with 72 strikeouts in 95 innings.
Ottesen is eerily similar to the Dodgers’ 2014 fourth-rounder Jeff Brigham. Both were 22 years old when drafted, both throw hard, both didn’t strike out as many batters as you’d imagine they would, both will likely end up in the bullpen.
The Dodgers should give Ottesen an opportunity to start in the Minors, but he could eventually profile as a setup man.
Round 6 – Wills Montgomerie, RHP, UConn
A Connecticut native, Montgomerie was draft-eligible in 2016 but wasn’t selected. He went to the Cape Cod League and pitched very well, posting a 1.71 ERA in 26.1 innings with 28 strikeouts. He followed that up by striking out 116 batters in 89.1 innings this past spring.
With a strong build at 6’3 and 220 lbs., Montgomerie gets plenty of swings-and-misses on his fastball that sits in the low-to-mid 90s. It plays up because of its good life and high spin rate.
Montgomerie’s breaking ball and changeup need work, as does his command, as he walked 40 batters this year. He recently turned 22, so Montgomerie will have less time to develop and could end up in the bullpen.
Round 7 – Zachery Pop, RHP, Kentucky
The Canadian-born hurler served as a reliever in Kentucky’s bullpen for most of his three years in college. He started six games in the Cape Cod League last summer, where he sat 92-96 mph, but touches 99 mpg in relief.
Pop’s fastball has good movement thanks to his low arm slot and he generates plenty of groundballs. The rest of his profile is raw. He doesn’t throw a ton of strikes, as evidenced by his 14 walks in 20.2 innings during the spring.
He throws a slider in the high-80s but it’s inconsistent. Pop threw a changeup in the Cape Cod League but didn’t really have use for it out of the bullpen. If the Dodgers can develop his command and slider, Pop could profile in the back of a big league bullpen down the road.
Round 8 – Rylan Bannon, 3B, Xavier
Normally, the eight round is right about where teams start saving money by signing players who may not have a long future in professional baseball. However, Bannon could end up having a fairly long pro, if not Major League, career.
The junior infielder played second base in high school but moved to third after he got to campus. He’s excelled there, and there’s a chance that he can still play second, giving him the defensive versatility that the Dodgers covet.
Bannon is no slouch on offense, either. He sported a 1.082 on-base plus slugging percentage this season, with 15 home runs and 17 stolen bases. Bannon is exactly the type of player Minor League managers love to have on their team.
Round 9 – Connor Strain, RHP, Evansville
A redshirt senior, Strain made only five starts in 2016 due to injury. He used his extra year of eligibility to lead Evansville’s staff with a 2.62 ERA and 68 strikeouts in 68.1 innings in 2017.
He’s already the third player the Dodgers have drafted with a 1994 birthday, and he’s likely to sign for well under slot.
Round 10 – Zach Reks, OF, Kentucky
The second Zach from Kentucky that the Dodgers took on Tuesday, Reks almost wasn’t a baseball player. After playing a year for the Air Force Academy, he and a friend transferred to Kentucky.
Reks wanted to try out for the team but was told by an assistant coach he was too small to play. He then took a year off from school to work at Toyota Motor Manufacturing.
In the summer of 2015, Reks decided to give baseball another chance and, this time, the coaches welcomed him with open arms. He hit .331 with a .925 OPS in 2016, and .351 with a .932 OPS this past spring. I’m sure that assistant who didn’t want him on the team is singing a different tune now.
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