North Carolina and South Carolina, somewhat natural geographical rivals, played against each other in the Super Regionals. Since both are big college programs, both schools had several players drafted in the Major League draft last weekend. This post is just some observations on some of these players from watching the Super Regionals.
Brian Holberton, Junior, Catcher, North Carolina, Astros, 257th overall.
Holberton was actually the backup catcher for a lot of the year for North Carolina with a very pedestrian Tool WAA, not even close to the top 100. He moves a lot behind the plate, and seems to glove and receive the ball pretty well. It also looks like he has a strong arm behind the dish. I got a 2.03 pop time for him, which is below average (the same time I have Miguel Montero, usually considered an offensive first catcher). However, he had a quick pop to first when he nearly picked a runner off, and I got a 2 flat pop time on a steal of second and 1.96 on a pitch out.
Left-handed hitting catchers always has value, and that is what Holberton is. He has a groundball swing, but has some bat speed and can pull the ball with authority on a line.. He may be a little pull happy, especially for a guy without a lot of power, so he probably makes a lot of outs to 2nd base, but did drive some balls up the middle well. He is not a big guy so is probably a little more athletic than you would expect a catcher, something that seems to mesh with what I saw from him behind the plate. He also can play left-field, and is probably athletic enough to do so competently, but the bat is clearly not suited for that position, and he needs to excel behind the plate to be successful professionally.
Tyler Webb, the senior left-handed reliever from South Carolina was drafted by the Yankees 314th overall:
He had a pretty crazy strikeout rate in 2013 and has that sort or short arm action that you hear about giving a pitcher deception. He threw 89-91 MPH coming out of the bullpen on his fastball and liked to throw it high and inside to lefties. He also threw something 85 MPH, which may have just been a gun error, because I couldn’t tell what it was. He quickly got down to 87-88 MPH on the fastball, which made him less interesting. His 79 MPH change breaks down, but is too soft. Very fastball heavy, Webb needs a real out pitch for any kind of professional success.
Adam Westmoreland is a big lefty drafted by the Marlins from South Carolina 772nd overall.
He started out 83-84 MPH, but was up to 86-92 MPH after a couple of batters. His mechanics are pretty standard. His 78-83 MPH change moves glove side more than down. Throws it even with platoon advantage, but it is clearly not a plus pitch. Just like Webb, he needs an out pitch.
Hobbs Johnson North Carolina, drafted by the Brewers 422nd overall.
The left-handed starter is not huge, though not small. He has a hip turn in his delivery that seemed to impede him from repeating his delivery very well in his outing. Johnson was 85-90 MPH to begin the game, working mostly glove side, with good movement, not flat or straight. It almost cuts, though he throws away from lefties, outside to righties. He got up to 91-93 MPH, touching 94 MPH. A poor 76-80 MPH change that just hung up there (when it was thrown well, it moved horizontally and vertically into the right-handed hitters’ batters box), was too soft, with not enough movement. Very fastball heavy (no real breaking pitch), had control problems and couldn’t put lefties away very well.
Chaz Frank an OF for North Carolina picked by Blue Jays at 595th overall.
Tool WAA liked him. A leadoff hitter, he played center. A relatively small guy at 5-10 175. The bat speed doesn’t look very good, and he sort of overswings. He’s not going to pull the ball with much authority. In the field, his arm is below average, though acceptable at centerfield. Frank doesn’t have the size or bat skills to move to a corner, so he needs to display good speed and range to stick in center. I got him at about 4.06 to first, which is fast, but his centerfield range seemed average and he made a lot of unnecessary dives.