2019 MLB draft: College players rising, falling

A month into the Division I college baseball season, there are 2019 MLB draft prospects off to notable starts while others are struggling to find consistency.

Here are three players who are rising up 2019 MLB draft boards and three players whose draft stocks have fallen since the first game of the season:

Players Rising

George Kirby, RHP, Elon

Kirby made major strides as a sophomore between Elon and the Cape Cod League last season. Professional scouts noticed Kirby’s growth and pegged him as a second- or third-round selection before the season began.

The 6-foot-3, 205-pound righty is off to a notable start this season. He has a 1.71 ERA, 38 strikeouts and one walk allowed in 26 1/3 innings. Four of the five earned runs he allowed this season came in a loss to Wagner on March 2 when he lasted 3 2/3 innings and surrendered six runs (four earned).

Kirby’s best start was against Bryant on March 10. He pitched a complete game one-hitter while striking out 11 and not allowing any walks.

He should be a first-round pick in June and could even move into the top-15 if he continues his strong season.

Read an in-depth story on Kirby here.

Hunter Bishop, OF, Arizona State

Hunter Bishop wasn’t even on the radar as a potential first-round pick before the season. Scouts expected him to maybe go in the third round, but Bishop is off to an impressive start and quickly rising up draft boards.

The 6-foot-5, 210-pound left-handed hitting center fielder is batting .452 with 10 home runs and 25 RBIs in 62 at-bats. He also has struck out 10 times and drawn 13 walks.

It’s a remarkable start for Bishop, who totaled 10 home runs in his first two years at Arizona State. He also struggled with his plate discipline the last two years but has shown growth in that area this season.

He’s entered first-round consideration and will continue to move up draft boards if he continues to produce at an elite level.

Alek Manoah, RHP, West Virginia

After working mostly as a reliever and receiving an occasional start in his first two years, Manoah is West Virginia’s No. 1 starter this season. Even without a proven track record as a college starter, professional scouts considered the 6-foot-6, 260-pound right-handed hurler as a potential early-round selection before the season.

He was nearly unhittable in his first two starts before allowing seven runs (four earned) against Oregon State on March 1. He bounced back with a quality start against Kent State on March 9 and holds a 2.86 ERA with 36 strikeouts and six walks allowed in 22 innings this season.

He’s quickly solidifying himself as a first-round pick in the 2019 MLB draft.

Read an in-depth story on Manoah here.

Players Falling

Greg Jones, SS, UNC-Wilmington

Jones skyrocketed up draft boards as a senior at Cary High in North Carolina in 2017. Considered an early-round pick, Jones fell on draft day due to signability concerns. 

Major-league teams love Jones’ intangibles. He’s a switch-hitting shortstop whose best trait is his elite speed. But there are concerns about his plate discipline, as he struck out in about 33 percent of his at-bats between UNCW and the Cape Cod League last year.

He’s dealt with some shoulder issues this spring and just recently returned to playing shortstop. He’s hitting .267 with one home run, nine RBIs, 13 strikeouts and 19 walks in 18 games this spring. 

He’s a draft-eligible sophomore, which gives him more leverage when negotiating with teams. His speed could cause a team, especially later in the first round, to select him even if he doesn’t improve offensively this spring.

Read an in-depth story on Jones here.

Ricky DeVito, RHP, Seton Hall

DeVito has made one start this spring, which came against Ohio State on Feb. 15. He allowed one run, three hits and three walks while striking out one batter in four innings of work.

Seton Hall said the coaches are “just giving him a little rest” and that he doesn’t have an injury. He’s expected to return to game action “soon.”

DeVito is the reigning Big East Pitcher of the Year but doesn’t have a strong track record of starting at the college level. He moved into the rotation last year and made 12 starts after pitching a limited role as a reliever in 2017.

The right-hander has the intangibles to hear his name called in the first round. He will have to show consistency and dominate mid-major competition for that to happen, though.

Read an in-depth story on DeVito here.

Tyler Dyson, RHP, Florida

Florida has produced a first-round pitching prospect in each of the last three drafts. Most thought Dyson would be the next well-regarded hurler to leave Florida as a first-rounder, but that doesn’t seem likely right now.

The 6-foot-3, 225-pound right-hander started his college career in the bullpen before transitioning to the rotation last year. He posted a 4.47 ERA and struggled with his command as a sophomore last year.

He’s struggled against average competition in his first four starts this spring. He has a 3.57 ERA, 15 strikeouts and 10 walks in 17 2/3 innings. Florida also demoted him from being its No. 1 starter to its No. 3.

Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for four years. He’s interviewed 133 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he’s appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.

Dan Zielinski III
Dan Zielinski IIIhttp://BaseballProspectJournal.com
Dan Zielinski III is the creator of the Baseball Prospect Journal and has covered the MLB draft since 2015. His draft work originally appeared on The3rdManIn.com, a sports website he started in December 2011. He also covered the Milwaukee Brewers as a member of the credentialed media for four years. Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.

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    • Kameron is having a great year. He’s a guy scouts thought could be the first college position player selected in this draft, though. He’s having a great year and improving his draft stock, but it’s not necessarily a surprise, so that’s why he wasn’t included. Thank you for reading!


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