(Photo via Twitter, MiLB, seen here)
When looking at prospects, many times top college athletes are often overlooked and/or placed behind high school and international players. This is mainly because they typically lack the raw talent that high school and international prospects have and are generally older in age. Most college players that are drafted are typically a little more draft-ready. This means that they tend to have a higher floor than most high school draftees because they’ve already played at the collegiate level.
Here are four prospects in the minors that were drafted from college and are currently performing very well at their respective levels. All four of these prospects are former college players who are undervalued by major publications, their own team, and are grinding every day to make the best of their situation. Even though these may not be the top prospects, these athletes are making it harder to ignore their success.
Chris Mariscal is a utility infielder currently in Double-A with the Arkansas Travelers. Mariscal, who was Seattle’s 14th-round pick in 2014, has been steadily climbing the ranks of the Mariners’ minor league system. Known for hitting the ball with hard contact, Mariscal, the former college teammate of the Yankees’ Aaron Judge at Fresno State, has a career BABIP of .360. Unlike Judge though, Mariscal is known more for creating hard line drive contact than massive home runs as his ISO is only .098 for his career. He struggled a fair amount to begin his time in Double-A, starting his time in Arkansas hitting .245 in 2017. Mariscal has a knack for outperforming expectations and playing better his second time at a given level. His second time in Low-A Clinton, Mariscal had an OPS of .761 compared to .617 his first go-round. Similarly, in Arkansas, he had a .626 OPS, whereas he currently owns a .954 OPS as of April 21st. This shows that he’s able to adjust to the competition in each level of play. In each season, Mariscal has also improved his defense and is now an MLB average defender and has the ability to be an above average defender depending where he plays – he has spent time at both middle infield positions and occasionally at third base and left field.
Zander Wiel is a strong, athletic first baseman out of Vanderbilt, drafted in the 12th round in 2015. Currently in Double-A Chattanooga, Wiel has average power that grades out to future plus. He is eighth in the league in isolated power (ISO), with a .250 and was only one of 14 hitters to have an ISO at or higher than .200. Wiel worked on his approach at the plate since the beginning of 2016, when he changed his load from a toe tap to a leg kick and had much improved results and better timing. Wiel’s leg kick was brought back to increase his power and is reminiscent of the one he used during his days in Vanderbilt. His plus bat speed and bat angle allows him to get good pitch recognition for pitches in his hot zones, however he has trouble with pitches low and away.
Aaron Slegers, a starting pitching prospect with the Minnesota Twins, was drafted in the 5th round of the 2013 draft out of Indiana. Slegers, who is 6-foot-10, throws a low 90s fastball, as well as a sinker, slider, and developing changeup. At Indiana, Slegers was a walk-on and only played one full year, in which he won Big Ten Pitcher of the Year. Slegers, who is known for being a control pitcher, since he does not have a high average velocity for his fastball. After dominating the International League last year, Slegers made his major league debut with the Twins although only pitched in four games. He is back in Triple-A with the Rochester Red Wings where he is 14th in the league in both Fielding Independent Pitching and FIP with a 2.75 and in ERA with a 2.00. He is able to dominate his competition by inducing an extreme number of groundballs and in fact has a career groundout to fly out ratio of 1.12.
Lukas Schiraldi has developed into a dominant relief pitcher in the Miami Marlins organization. The son of former MLB pitcher Calvin, Schiraldi is tied for the Florida State early lead in saves. As of April 21, he has not given up a single earned run in the 2018 season. Schiraldi’s success can be attributed to his dominance, as he has a .105 BABIP and a .292 FIP. Schiraldi is a converted reliever after being a starter since his days at Texas and after when he was drafted by the Mariners in the 15th round of the 2014 draft. After having two and a half years of inconsistent performance, mainly because of control issues, Schiraldi was asked to step into a relief role. This is where he scrapped his changeup and was able to focus more on his low 90s fastball and upper 70s curveball. Because he was able to hone his development on his curve, the pitch took more of a 12-6 shape after being a slurvy as a starter and would eventually become his out pitch. He was eventually traded to Miami as part of the package for David Phelps. Now in Advanced-A Jupiter, Schiraldi is being tasked with the closer’s role for the first time in his career, and so far he is living up to his expectations.