Over on minorleagueball.com, a post written by someone with the twitter handle of @mattstockhausen names four college outfielders who are “under the radar” for the upcoming June MLB draft. Two of the four have played in the Valley League. Matt also includes a lengthy writeup on each player, so there is plenty to unpack. Let’s take a look:
Bryson Bowman, Western Carolina (Charles Town 2015):
I’m surprised to be mentioning a Senior hitter from a high-octane hitting environment like Western Carolina, but Bowman’s 2016 was so good it overcomes the discounts my method applies to it. A CC transfer, Bowman in 2016 showed patience (15% BB), power (19 HR in 283 PA, supported by solid 2B and 3B totals), contact ability (8.8% K, a decent-under-the-circumstances .326 average) and enough speed (10 SB, 3 3B) and defense in RF (played a few games in CF, too) to make him more than just a bat-only prospect. All of this got him drafted in the 33rd round last year. There are several reasons to question his pro future, beyond the offensive environment that unquestionably inflates his hitting stats, and he certainly might prove just an organizational player. His 5′-11″, 200 physique and the athletic limitations implied in his being with the Catamounts are one; his somewhat spotty summer league record is another: he hit .281 with decent speed and contact back in 2015, but with so-so patience and power, in the relatively low-level Valley League, then went 3 for 18 last year in the CPL. Still, his 2016 looks awfully similar to what fellow Western Carolina Catamount Tyler White, now of the Astros, did in 2013, the differences being that (1) Bowman’s K/BB data is better, (2) White was a Senior at the time, and (3) Bowman appears to be a quality defender in RF, where White was always a 1B/DH in training. While White found success out of round 33, I think Bowman could make a fine Senior sign in rounds 8-10 this year, despite a relatively low-power start to 2017.
So, first of all, it’s awesome that Bowman is being compared (favorably) with Tyler White, because White also played in the Valley (Haymarket 2010). I’m also pretty curious about the adjective “low-level” connected with the VBL. Has the Valley’s stock fallen that far in the last number of years? And by the way, Bryson hit 281/329/366 over 153 at-bats with the Cannons in 2015. He’s currently hitting (through Tuesday, March 21) 297/424/500 in 74 at-bats for the Catamounts.
Kyle Davis, West Virginia (Charlottesville 2015):
The 6′-0″, 195 Davis has played all over the place for the Mountaineers, but makes the most sense as a corner OF, given that he has limited but acceptable speed for the position, enough athleticism to have played the middle infield, and enough arm to have been an occasional regular at third. Davis has cut his strikeout rate markedly during his career, from 15.5% as a Freshman, to 11% last year, to 7% early this season, and appears able to hit for a quality average; he did whiff in about a third of his 47 Cape Cod PA last year, but that’s an extremely small sample size. He has at times shown strong ability to get on base, too (15% BB last year, for example), but that ability hasn’t been as consistent. He’s a notably bad base stealer, now under 50% for his career. He has shown good power, even allowing for playing his home games at altitude, including in that otherwise-unhappy Cape Cod League stint, along with solid gap power to back it up. While his hitting ability doesn’t jump off the page the way that Bowman’s does, Davis seems capable of contributing in multiple areas, providing both on-base and slugging. He’s probably an interesting org guy unless his power develops further; if it does, he could be a sneaky candidate to be a bench bat in the majors.
No digs at the VBL in this one. Excellent that Kyle is reducing his strikeout rate as well as he has. Kyle batted 78 times for the Tom Sox in 2015, hitting 256/310/321. The current junior is hitting 295/375/436 in 78 at-bats for the Mountaineers.
One thing is certain: if either or both of these young men are drafted in June, ATVL will let you know!