Breaking Down the ACC's Monday Night MLB Draft Picks
Monday night held a few surprises for some of the ACC's top talent in the often unpredictable MLB Draft. Florida State slugger DJ Stewart go much earlier than expected, while Louisville ace Kyle Funkhouser, once projected in the top 10, went later but still in the first round.
Below is a breakdown of each ACC baseball player selected in Monday night.
OF D.J. Stewart-Florida State-25th Pick to Baltimore
This unexpected first pick for the league would hint at how the rest of the night would go for the conference. FSU outfielder D.J. Stewart was tabbed first from the ACC, selected 25th overall - a surprise to some, but he had also been on Baseball America's board at 20. The junior batted .318 while leading the nation in walks this past season, but he struggled with the wood bat in collegiate national play last summer. He provides a ton of pop from the left side of the plate, a trait which is the basis for his early selection. He doesn't have the prototypical build for an outfielder, but he's a much better athlete than his stocky build would suggest. Stewart was drafted in the 28th round out of high school by the Yankees and, although the draft is almost impossible to predict, it was suggested early last week that New York might pick him again. His power should play well in Camden Yards, a good home park for Stewart because his future success will hinge solely upon his ability to hit home runs.
1B/OF Chris Shaw-Boston College-31st pick to San Francisco
Much like Stewart, Chris Shaw's future as a pro largely depends upon his ability to hit for power. He tore up the Cape Cod League with a couple tape-measure homers, a quality the Giants are banking on developing further as he progresses through the minors. Shaw has the swing and pop to do damage at any level, but he doesn't have the patience to allow his power to fully shine. Should he develop that power, there's no doubt that he will hit a few home runs into McCovey Cove in the next few years. Shaw was ranked #45 in the Baseball America pre-draft rankings, but San Francisco chose to reach for him because of his power potential. He played in 40 games for Boston College this season, hitting .319 with 11 home runs and a .611 slugging percentage.
RHP Kyle Funkhouser-Louisville-35th pick to Los Angeles
This pick was a stunner, due in large part to the fact that Funkhouser was a projected-Top 10 pick just a couple weeks ago. The Louisville ace was ranked #14 in the Baseball America pre-draft rankings, posting a 3.20 ERA over 112 1/3 innings in 2015. His overall ERA is a bit inflated when compared to where it was mid-season, due in large part to the fact that Funkhouser posted a couple rocky starts late in the season. The Cards' ace suggested earlier in the week that he would be disappointed if drafted outside the first 20 picks, a far cry from where he was actually selected. Funkhouser posted a 1.94 ERA in 2014, in addition to pitching for Team USA and being a top 10 prospect in the Cape Cod League. He isn't overpowering, but Funkhouser will almost certainly be a top of the rotation type of starter in the next few years. His falling to 35th was an absolute gift for the Dodgers, but depending on his level of disappointment, it could be interesting to see what develops between them in the coming days.
LHP Nathan Kirby-Virginia-40th pick to Milwaukee
This was a great value pick for the Brewers, as the NL Central cellar-dwellers are getting an All-American who could quickly progress through the minor leagues. If you only know one thing about Kirby, know this: In 2014 he threw a no-hitter during which he recorded 18 strikeouts. Kirby walked nearly five batters per nine innings, a BB/K rate that is pretty common in young left-handed pitchers, but he has an effective fastball and a nasty slider that he commonly uses as his out pitch. Many considered Kirby the best lefty starter in the country heading into the season and, while 2015 was a disappointment due to injury, he still has ace ability.
LHP Andrew Suarez-Miami-61st pick to San Francisco
Left-hander Andrew Suarez, the first MLB Draft selection of the Omaha-bound Miami Hurricanes, is a power pitcher with swing-and-miss ability. His fastball tops out at around 95 mph, but he also has a change-up and an above-average slider. The Giants seem to like taking lefties late on the first day of drafts, so this pick wasn't a big surprise compared to other ACC players taken with earlier picks. Suarez has had some trouble with injuries, including an oblique problem this season, but when he's healthy he's an effective starter. While he certainly has a chance to crack a major league rotation, he isn't perceived as being as talented as Funkhouser or Kirby, so becoming a third to fifth starter might be Suarez reaching his full potential. He's been the best starter for the Canes in 2015, posting an 8-1 record to go with a 2.96 ERA across 79.0 IP. Overall a really solid selection by San Francisco, as Suarez undoubtedly has the potential to become a staple in the big league rotation if he can stay healthy.
RHP Josh Sborz-Virginia-74th pick to Los Angeles
The Dodgers continued their early-round trend of drafting ACC pitching by selecting Virginia's Josh Sborz with the next-to-last pick of the night Monday. Los Angeles reportedly likes Sborz in either a starting or closing role, both of which the righty has done this season. After a year during which he predominantly started games, Sborz recorded 14 saves in 2015 while posting a 1.95 ERA with 52 strikeouts in 60 innings. The junior's fastball can touch up to 95 on a semi-regular basis and his effective curveball adds further deception to his game. He was ranked as the #153 overall prospect by Baseball America heading into the draft, so his early selection could be LA picking a guy they like while also attempting to save some money. Sborz, like Miami's Andrew Suarez, will also be heading to the College World Series in Omaha this weekend.
Duke pitcher Michael Matuella, a junior right-hander, has the potential to develop into a player whose talent rivals that of any ACC player picked before him, but he has yet to be. His past injuries are likely raising red flags to teams, including Tommy John surgery and extended back issues. Still, the 6-foot-6 ace has the potential to be a star if he can stay healthy. He posted a 1.08 ERA over 25.0 IP this season.
Day Two of the MLB draft begins Tuesday at 1 p.m. when rounds 3-10 will be completed, followed by rounds 11-40 on Wednesday.