Photo courtesy of Miami athletics
The schedules are getting revealed, and ACC baseball is just around the corner.
On Feb. 19, teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference will begin a 50-game slate that includes 12 three-game conference series. With the season just about a month away, we look at some of the top Major League Baseball prospects to keep an eye on this year.
Adrian Del Castillo, C — Miami
Career Stats: .336/.430./.571, 14 HR
Del Castillo is most known for his ability at the plate. The left-handed hitter has elite power, but his most impressive tool is plate discipline. Del Castillo has 43 career walks on 349 plate appearances, compared to just 32 punch-outs. Although he is not the highest quality defender behind the dish, Del Castillo’s bat projects him as an early first-round draft pick.
Alex Binelas, 3B — Louisville
Career Stats: .286/.376/.596, 14 HR
Binelas is a very refined hitter. He has the ability to make solid contact to all fields and draw plenty of walks. Binelas also fits the characteristics that excites the analytics-driven scouts. On balls put in play, he had an average exit velocity of 95 miles per hour, which is in the 97th percentile of college baseball. Binelas is also a capable glove in the infield, with enough versatility to be moved to the corner outfield spots if necessary. He could certainly be a top-10 draft pick.
Henry Davis, C — Louisville
Career Stats: .303/.381/.463, 6 HR
Unlike Del Castillo, Davis is most touted for his defensive ability. He has a quick pop time and an absolute cannon for an arm. Davis’s mechanics do need to be refined, but he is certainly athletic enough to save a few wild pitches. He has a ton of strength as a hitter, topping out with an exit velocity of 112 MPH. Davis’ stock will largely be determined by his performance this season, but he currently projects as a mid-first-round pick.
Sal Frelick, OF — Boston College
Career Stats: .322/.428/.486, 6 HR
Frelick was a multi-sport athlete in high school who was Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year in football. He sits at just 5-foot-9, but has a ton of speed to run down balls in center field. Frelick’s speed is a weapon on the base paths as well, where he has stolen 25 career bases on 28 attempts. He may not stand out as a power hitter, but his bat quickness has certainly allowed him to be a plus bat. Frelick projects as a late-first-round pick.
Ryan Cusick, RHP — Wake Forest
Career Stats: 5.63 ERA, 1.76 WHIP, 2.09 K/BB
Cusick had a rough freshman year, which explains his subpar stats, but has been dominant since then. He is certainly a fastball pitcher. Cusick threw that pitch approximately 75% of the time, topping out at 98 MPH. He also has a quality breaking ball to fall back on, best characterized as a slurve. If Cusick can improve the command of his changeup, he can certainly elevate into the mid-first-round. Adding a fourth pitch would be valuable to his stock as well, perhaps a two-seam fastball.
Mason Pelio, RHP — Boston College
Career Stats: 3.37 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 1.72 K/BB
Pelio may be a work in progress, but certainly shows some intrigue as a prospect. He has a fastball that approaches triple digits and a plus changeup. Pelio’s breaking ball, which has progressed from a curveball to more of a slider, is where the questions lie. In order to keep a starting pitcher status throughout the minor league levels, it is necessary to have at least three quality pitches. If Pelio can progress this year in that respect, he can sneak into the first round.
Robby Martin, OF — Florida State
Career Stats: .318/.408/.440, 4 HR
As Martin’s numbers suggest, he’s not the biggest home run hitter, but has gap to gap power. Martin’s ability to consistently make solid contact puts him on this list. However, there are two major question marks about Martin. The first is his tendency to swing and miss, leading to a career strikeout rate of over 22%. The second is his lack of range in the field, which will make him a corner outfielder at best. Regardless, Martin’s upside at the plate should make him a top-45 pick.
Luca Tresh, C — NC State
Career Stats: .317/.408./.440, 4 HR
When people think of Wolfpack catchers, the first thought that comes to mind is Patrick Bailey, the 13th overall pick this past year by the San Fransisco Giants. However, Tresh leaves NC State’s backstop in perfectly capable hands. He is definitely a prototypical slugger, showing strength and quick bat speed, but high strikeout rates. The thing that is yet to be seen with Tresh is his true defensive ability. The 2021 season will provide him with more catching experience than ever before at this level, and will determine whether he is able to elevate through his current second-round status.
Zack Gelof, 3B — Virginia
Career Stats: .321/.399/.472, 7 HR
Gelof is a very polished hitter who is particularly quick to the ball with minimal leg movement. Like Tresh, he has a ton of raw power, but a tendency to swing and miss. Gelof has plenty of speed, but some scouts think he belongs in the outfield long-term. He certainly has a ton of tools to make him a high-upside pick in the draft. Still, Gelof projects as a middle- to late-pick in the second round.
Jose Torres, SS — NC State
Career Stats: .333/.369/.533, 3 HR
Torres is widely considered the best defensive player in the conference. He has great hands, a plus arm, and covers plenty of ground. His hitting in 2021 will determine if he can rise in the mock drafts. While he has very good instincts in the field, Torres must continue to work on his plate discipline. He also must show the ability to consistently hit for power. Because of his potential as a fielder, Torres’ name may be called in the top two rounds.