With 40 rounds consisting of 1,230-something individual picks spread out over three days, Major League Baseball’s amateur draft is the largest in professional sports.
But while public interest in the event tends to wane after the inaugural night, the actual draft is just starting to pick up. Throughout Days 2 and 3, every organization relies on their scouting department to identify value in the later rounds.
Call them “sleepers” if you must, but these seven prospects continue to be underrated and could be a steal for whoever lands them in the draft.
Alex Balog, RHP, San Francisco
Although Balog was on the draft radar headed into the season, the 6’5”, 210-pound right-hander’s stock didn’t take off until the second half of the spring. Behind a strong, durable frame, he boasts a heavy fastball that sits comfortably in the low-90s, and could conceivably add a few ticks with further development.
Balog’s secondary offerings are equally impressive, as the right-hander demonstrates a genuine feel for a hard slider and downer curveball, both of which flash at least above-average potential. And although he has a changeup, it’s a seldom-used pitch that will need development at the next level.
Jordan Paroubeck, OF, Serra HS (Calif.)
At 6’2”, 185 pounds, Paroubeck's combination of size, athleticism and tools offers something to dream on and has helped him climb the draft boards this spring. With the potential for five average or better tools, the switch-hitter’s bat already stands out thanks to a smooth, balanced swing from both sides of the plate.
On the other side of the ball, Paroubeck has the profile of a right fielder at the next level, especially if he adds significant strength as anticipated. Meanwhile, his arm is strong enough for all three outfield positions.
Daniel Ayers, LHP, Columbus North HS (Ind.)
Although Ayers doesn’t require much physical projection at 6’3”, 205 pounds, the fact that he already features two plus pitches makes it less of a concern.
While the left-hander’s stuff has fallen off a bit over the course of the spring, he’s still shown a live fastball in the low-90s that’s reached 94 mph. Ayers’ curveball remains one of the more underrated secondary pitches in the class, as it’s a true swing-and-miss offering in the upper-70s and effective against both right- and left-handed hitters.
Andrew Chruch, RHP, Basic HS (Nev.)
Church barely pitched in 2011 and 2012 after he was declared ineligible due to transferring schools and failed to get along with one of his coaches. However, after one more transfer, this time to Basic High School, the right-hander has been back on the mound this spring and moving up the draft board.
At 6’1”, 185 pounds, Church employs an athletic delivery that has been noticeably ironed out over the last year, but still requires some effort. His fastball usually sits in the low-90s but will bump 95 mph, and he complements it with a deep mix of secondary offerings that includes a slider and changeup as well as a curveball that flashes plus potential.
Jimmy Sherfy, RHP, Oregon
Viewed as one of the top relievers on the board this year, Sherfy has dominated as Oregon’s closer over the last two seasons thanks to two electric pitches.
An undersized right-hander at 6’0", 175 pounds, Sherfy showcases big-time arm strength with an explosive fastball in the mid-90s. Meanwhile, his slider is a legitimate swing-and-miss offering in the mid-80s, as it features excellent tilt with late diving action out of the zone.
Garrett Hampson, SS, Reno HS (Nev.)
At 6’0", 165 pounds, Hampson is an outstanding two-sport athlete who also served as the point guard on his high school basketball team. On the diamond, he’s a game-changer at the top of the order with plus speed and a compact right-handed swing.
Hampson also has better baseball skills than he’s given credit for, demonstrating a solid approach at the plate and a knowledge of his limitations. At shortstop, is already a solid defender with the quickness, range and instincts to remain at the position. His arm strength is currently a down tool, but stands to improve as he adds strength.
Ryan McMahon, 3B, Mater Dei HS (Calif.)
At 6’3”, 190-pound, McMahon is physically stronger since he's started to grow into his body over the last year—so much so that it's already forced off shortstop to third base. While his glove and arm have translated at the new position, his actions can be raw at times and highlight his lack of experience.
Offensively, the left-handed hitter has showcased impressive power this spring, driving the ball with authority to all fields with a balanced, leveraged swing. In general, McMahon has made strides as a hitter, suggesting the potential to hit for both power and average at the next level.