TrivanaNews.com – Menlo College to pay close attention to MLB Draft, Since 2011, four baseball players at Menlo College have been selected in the MLB Draft. This week alone, the Oaks could match that total.
It all starts with third baseman Lucas Erceg, a transfer from Cal who spent one season at the NAIA program in Atherton. He set a school record with 20 home runs, while batting .308 with 56 RBI in as many games.
Listed as the No. 72 prospect by Baseball America, Erceg is poised to be taken during Friday’s portion of the draft, in which rounds 2-10 will occur.
“He played under tremendous pressure this year,” third-year coach Jake McKinley said. “The guy couldn’t even stretch in the outfield without scouts watching that, and I think he did a good job. He handled himself well and he produced.”
The highest selection out of Menlo College was outfielder Jimmy Bosco, who went in the 13th round in 2013 to the St. Louis Cardinals. Erceg could go at least 10 rounds before that, raising the recruiting profile for the Oaks, who set a program record with 35 victories this season.
“I think it gives us credibility in the eyes of very high-level players, and that’s kind of showing in the recruiting classes that we are getting,” McKinley said. “So it’s a two-way street.”
A 6-foot-3, 205-pound two-way player out of Westmont High in Campbell, Erceg his .303 with 11 home runs as a sophomore at Cal, earning All-Pac-12 First-Team distinction. Ruled academically ineligible at Cal, he had to pass 24 units of classes in the fall to be eligible for the spring with the Oaks, according to D1Baseball.com.
Now he’s ready to make the leap to the next level.
“He’s got some tremendous tools,” McKinley said. “Is there some polishing that needs to take place? Yes, of course, there is with every 21-year-old baseball player. But he’s got an incredible arm. If he was playing the big leagues right now, he’d have one of the better arms, I think, at that position. From an offensive standpoint, he’s got really, really good power at the plate. He’s shown that he’s got good bat control and he’s probably a guy that will be able to hit for average at the next level. He’s just a very complete player.”
Erceg also possesses a plus-fastball that was clocked at 96-97 mph and posted a 0.78 ERA and struck out 32 over 23 innings, allowing 16 hits and eight walks.
“Because the arm is so good and because he is such an athlete, it wouldn’t shock me if he was moved to right field, it wouldn’t shock me if he was moved to first base at some point in his career, and quite honestly, who knows, he might end up pitching,” McKinley said. “He’s got top-10 round stuff on the mound. I think that’s the other attractive thing about him, is he’s got multiple roads to the big leagues.”
McKinley thinks a handful of players on the roster could find a home in pro baseball, including right-handed pitcher Jason Alexander and shortstop Max Dutto.
Alexander, a 6-2, 190-pound junior, underwent Tommy John surgery a year and a half ago to repair an elbow ligament, and after the rehab process only seemed to get stronger as the season progressed.
“We really didn’t get him at his best until the very end, but that’s OK,” McKinley said of the transfer from Long Beach State. “I would love to have him back for another year. Obviously I’m rooting for him to get drafted and I’m rooting for him to sign, but if he’s back at school for his senior year I’d be pretty happy.”
His fastball sits at 91 to 93 mph, throws strikes and keeps the ball down, according to McKinley’s scouting report.
“I think the biggest thing with him is he doesn’t throw anything straight,” McKinley said. “So not only is it low-to-mid 90s, but the ball moves on two planes. He’s the kind of guy that can just throw a bunch of fastballs to get people out because it moves so much. But on top of that, he has an above-average change-up and he has an above-average breaking ball, so it complements a plus-fastball.”
Dutto is another potential draft target, more likely to go in rounds 11-40 on Saturday. The left-handed bat, another transfer from Cal, ended up with a .276 average and 13 home runs as a senior.
“He was without question the best defensive shortstop that I saw this year,” McKinley said. “So the defense alone makes him extremely valuable, but he’s got lights-out power, and I think that’s going to give him the opportunity to play at the next level.”
Then there’s the case of Oaks slugger Garrett Gemgnani, a transfer from Monterey Peninsula College, who originally broke the program record with 17 home runs, before Erceg surpassed him with a late surge.
“I think he’s put himself in a position to play professional baseball, whether that’s at the draft, whether that’s as a free agent or whether that’s the independent ball road,” McKinley said. “Because of the work ethic and the kind of person he is, I’m very confident that he’s going to put himself in a good position to make it.”
MLB Draft 2016: RHP Justin Dunn could be on Tigers’ radar
With the MLB draft later Thursday evening, we are starting to get some more clarity on how things will shake out. The exact details are still muddled, but trends themselves are becoming quite apparent. The Detroit Tigers are said to be interested in pitching with the ninth overall pick, and several names are presenting themselves as options.
Boston College ace Justin Dunn has flown quietly under the radar, but Baseball America has him landing 11th in their final mock draft. He’s a prototypical right-handed starter out of college that the Tigers organization loves, and his availability brings him appeal.
Dunn has taken an odd path to becoming a top prospect. Originally, he came out of Boston College’s bullpen, but he transitioned into a starting role in dominant fashion this year, posting a 1.49 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and 9.85 strikeouts per nine innings in 17 appearances (seven starts). John Sickels of Minor League Ball has this glowing review of Dunn’s 2016 season.
Dunn opened 2016 in the bullpen again, giving up three runs in 13 innings with a 17/3 K/BB. He moved into the starting rotation in April and has continued to dominate in longer outings, with particularly strong performances against tough competition like Virginia (five shutout innings in his first start) and Louisville (one run in six innings).
The righty uses a four-pitch mix, as our friends at Lookout Landing report:
Dunn’s bread and butter will always be his hard fastball, which will sit 93-95 mph, but it will be interesting to see if he manages to develop either his curveball or slider into a plus pitch. The slider can look deadly at times with late, sharp movement, but I’m not sold on his ability to consistently command it. The curveball is a big looper that is occasionally left up, but he mixes it amongst his pitches well and frequently catches hitters off guard with it.
Dunn also has a changeup that has been described as “show-me,” but I think literally every college pitcher’s changeup is like that.
I think it’s fair to wonder whether or not Dunn can hold up to the rigors of starting. Even in his dominant 2016 season, he has only thrown about 60 total innings. Asking him to throw another 30 or 40 in Connecticut this year may be a stretch, and he likely would not be able to elevate to 160 innings for a few years. It’s possible he moves to the bullpen, although his transition to a starter has worked quite well so far.
So why would the Tigers consider him? Simply put, Dunn is an athletic freak with the ability to make the most on his talent. MLB.com says:
His command is fringy at present, but his outstanding stuff helps make up for it. Many teams feel Dunn has a very good chance to start as a Yordano Ventura type athletic, yet slightly undersized, right-hander. As a result, he was flying up boards, with some feeling he could be gone by the end of the first round.
Obviously, he’s gone and improved his stock even more since then. It’s reported that the Seattle Mariners are very interested in him with the No. 11 pick, but it remains to be seen if the Tigers want to move in and take him before then. If so, his solid arsenal provides him with a good chance to be a contributor at the big league level.