The MLB First Year Players Draft is all wrapped up, and the third day was by far the busiest for Mizzou Tigers. After seeing Michael Plassmeyer and Bryce Montes De Oca go during rounds 4 and 9 yesterday, four more players were chosen in rounds 11-40 today. Let’s take a look at where these Tigers are (or could be) headed, and how things are looking for them as they start their professional careers.
Notable Numbers: 2.53 ERA at Mizzou; 0.94 home runs per nine innings pitched in 2018
Outlook: Toelken made much of his impact out of Steve Bieser’s bullpen in his two years as a Tiger. And he was pretty darn effective. He pitched 127.2 combined innings between 11 starts and 21 relief appearances and tallied a pretty nice 2.53 ERA along the way. His strikeout and walk numbers aren’t anything magnificent, though he does have pretty good control.
His likely ceiling is in a bullpen role in the majors, though there’s a scenario where he gets emergency starts or maybe even works his way onto the back end of a rotation. Like many mid-to-late round picks, he’s going to have a steep climb, and he’ll be hard-pressed to make an impression quickly: a lot of these types of picks ended up being drafted over. Regardless, he was still chosen in the first half of the draft, so clearly the Diamondbacks saw a player they could work with.
Notable Numbers: 14 relief appearances; 3.86 ERA; 1.5 strikeouts per inning
Outlook: Mizzou fans haven’t had much of a look at Lopez as he only spent one season in Columbia after transferring from Central Arizona College. He made 14 appearances out of the bullpen, amassing a respectable 3.86 ERA while striking out 17 and walking 11. He was also part of Mizzou’s combined no-hitter against UMBC in March, along with previous draftee Bryce Montes De Oca. He’s got strikeout stuff, but still struggles with his command, which isn’t that unusual for a college reliever.
This is probably the first of Mizzou’s draftees who will face a tough choice on whether to stay in school or go to the minors. Lopez has clearly piqued some interest amongst major league teams, but he could stand to boost his stock if he were to stay another year and prove he can shore up his command. It all depends on what kind of money the Marlins have for him this late in the draft, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see Lopez return to Columbia for his senior year.
Notable Numbers: .321/.418/.500 slash line in 2018; 8 home runs; 3.38 ERA as a pitcher in 2018; 1.22 WHIP in 2018
Outlook: Another junior came off the board in the 26th round, when the Mets took their second flyer on a Mizzou player in this draft. Sharp is an intriguing two-way talent who has developed into a reliable hitter AND pitcher, specifically in 2018. He slashed an impressive 3-4-5 - .300 average, .400 on-base percentage, .500 slugging percentage - in almost 200 at-bats and added 32 innings on the mound with a 3.38 ERA. As a hitter, he’s clearly developed some power, as evidenced by his 8 home runs and .179 isolated slugging percentage. He’s also got decent command and could develop more power stuff as a pitcher with added development.
It’s hard to say what Sharp does here. A lot of two-way players this late end up developing into pitchers, specifically relievers. But Sharp has made big strides as a hitter, and it’ll be up to him to see what major league teams want from him. He could talk things over with the Mets, learn why they valued him, and come back to Mizzou to strengthen those qualities. Or he could decide he likes the Mets plan and develop with them. After all, his youth will give him an upper hand on a lot of other prospects. I think his size and improving offensive tools give him a little more upside as an infielder, but he’s been a more consistent pitcher in his college career.
Personally, I’d love to see Sharp come back as I think he’ll play a major role on next year’s team and he can boost his draft stock up from the 26th round. I’m more split on whether or not he’ll go.
Notable Numbers: .316/.413/.516 slash line in 2018; 28 career home runs; 13.33% strikeout rate; 12 for 15 in stolen base attempts
Outlook: I’ve got to be honest, this pick made me incredibly happy. Harris has been the heart and soul of Mizzou’s lineup for the past two years, and it’s good to not only see him getting a chance in the pros, but with his hometown team, no less. Harris capped off a fine career at Mizzou with a 3-4-5 slash line and 11 home runs to go with the fact that he’s a good base runner. Offensively, there’s a lot of value.
The problem with Harris is his size. He’s short... probably too short to be an MLB outfielder given the fact he doesn’t have an incredibly strong throwing arm. His power is also not as likely to project against professional pitchers, which means a positional switch is probably in order. His size probably makes him a second (or third) baseman long term, which is where his offense and speed will play best. Unfortunately, he’s been almost exclusively an outfielder in college and will need to undergo a change in positions on the fly.
Given that he’s a low pick, I would imagine the Braves will let him play rookie ball as an outfielder while giving him a lot of work on the infield. If he can prove his merits there, he’s got an outside shot at making the majors. Projecting any further than that wouldn’t be fair to him through. Many players picked where he was don’t make it to The Show, but if Harris is able to stick on the infield, I could see him being a useful utility guy or pinch runner down the road. His outfield experience could help him there as well.
In one of my earlier pieces at Rock M, I remember writing that Harris needed to step up and be a big part of what Mizzou was doing moving forward if they were to be successful long term. He really took that mantra on when Steve Bieser arrived, and he’s leaving the baseball program better than when he arrived.
Also, a fun note about Harris and the Braves: