Hey y’all. Since the draft was last week, I thought it would be interesting to shine some light on some players who were drafted last year and are performing quite well. I’m bringing you two hitters drafted in the second round with some power and speed upside. Also making their debut are two pitchers drafted in the fifth and seventh round performing well in the lower levels. Let’s go!
Alek Thomas – (ARI A) OF – ETA 2022
Alek Thomas was drafted by the Diamondbacks in the second round of last years draft. After being drafted the Diamondbacks sent Thomas to the Arizona League. Thomas showed a bit of power, with 2 home runs but he also hit eleven doubles. The above average hit tool has shown, as he had a .341 AVG. His average eye also showed with a 0.396 OBP during that time and flashed his 60-grade speed with 4 stolen bases. He finished his season in rookie ball with a 0.325 AVG and 0.394 OBP with another 8 swiped bags.
The Diamondbacks assigned Thomas, to A ball to start the season and he is continuing to perform well. His average sits at 0.302 with a 0.392 OBP. What I have been encouraged is the six home runs to go along with the twelve doubles. He is still running as well, with 6 swipes this year. Scouts have also dinged Thomas for his lack of size, he is only 5’11” and 175 pounds. He does have the arm and speed to be able to stick in center field. There are some scouts that fear Thomas will be a fourth outfield type but I would take a chance on a guy who has shown an above-average hit tool throughout all the amateur showcases and his short time in professional ball. Don’t be a Doubting Thomas.
Brennen Davis – (CHC A) OF – ETA 2022
After being drafted by the Cubs in the second round of last years draft, he played in eighteen games in rookie ball. During that very small sample size, Davis had a 0.298 AVG with 0.431 OBP with six stolen bases. To start the 2019 season, the Cubs assigned Davis to Cubs extended minor league training camp. There were a couple of reasons for this. Davis struggled with a couple of hamstring injuries in 2018 so the Cubs wanted to start him off a bit slow to make sure the injuries were properly healed. The other reason is Davis was a two-sport prep player.
The son of Reggie Theus, an All-Star in the NBA, played basketball along with baseball. He had an offer from the University of Miami before deciding to sign with the Cubs. While during extended spring training, scouts were impressed with the swing change Davis made as well as the 20 pounds of muscle he put on his frame. The Cubs have recently assigned Davis to A ball. In the fifteen games so far, Davis is hitting 0.347 with a 0.439, buoyed by a 12.3 BB%. He has smacked two balls out of the park and also swiped a bag. I would grab all the shares I could of Davis, as he brings power and speed. Get in on the ground floor with this one!
Joe Ryan – (TB A+) RHP – ETA 2021
The Tampa Bay Rays chose Joe Ryan in the seventh round of last years draft. The 6’1 right-hand pitcher from Cal State Stanislaus was chosen by the Tampa Bay Rays in the seventh round during last years draft. He had an excellent senior year. In 98.1 innings he struck out 127 batters while limiting walks to only 13 batters. After being drafted, the Rays assigned him to low A ball. In 36.1 innings, he picked up another 51 strikeouts while walking 14 batters. To start out this season, the Rays assigned him to A ball, where he continued to impress. In 27.2 innings, he struck out 47 batters and only walked 11.
What was more impressive was Ryan’s increase in SwStr%, from 13.7% in 2018 to 18.2% to begin his 2019 campaign. Ryan was quickly promoted to A+. In 27 innings, he has struck out 35 batters and only walked 5 batters! As of this post, Ryan has a 2.33 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, and a 14.9 SwStk%. Ryan has a high eighties to low nineties fastball with average secondaries. He should be a fast mover in the Rays system and I would take a chance on him in deeper league formats.
Thad Ward – (BOS A) RHP – ETA 2021
In the fifth round of the draft, the Red Sox picked Thad Ward, a 6’3 righty from the University of Central Florida after his strikeouts jumped to 11.94 K/9 his junior year. After being draft, the Red Sox assigned him to low A where he pitched another 31 innings. In those 31 innings, Ward did not really impress. He was giving up more than a hit per inning and also had a BB% of 9%. That combination led to a 3.77 ERA and 1.45 WHIP. Not exactly what you want to see. However, the Red Sox assigned him to A ball to start off the year. What is interesting is Ward has picked up some velocity in the offseason, sitting low to mid-nineties with the fastball.
The increase in velocity, along with an uptick in cutter usage, has really improved Ward’s game. In 72 innings, Ward has a 1.99 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. His K% has also increased to 29% with a decrease in BB% down to 8.4%. I’m pretty sure we will see the all-star game promotion to A+ Salem and will be interesting to see how he handles the more advanced hitters. For dynasty league purposes, Ward should only be stashed in the deepest of leagues but monitored in all other leagues.