Baseball

Major League Baseball expected to draft many young players from South Florida

FIU pitcher Andres Nunez (45) could be drafted this season.
FIU pitcher Andres Nunez (45) could be drafted this season. Photo provided to the Miami Herald

When Major League Baseball’s annual draft for amateur players begins on June 4, dozens of players with South Florida connections are expected to be selected.

American Heritage third baseman / first baseman Triston Casas and former Pine Crest outfielder Griffin Conine are among the biggest local names.

But also getting plenty of attention from scouts are four local catchers: Gulliver Prep’s Adrian Del Castillo, Nova Southeastern University’s Jake Anchia and the St. Thomas University duo of Elih Marrero and Nelson Mompierre.

As with all high school baseball prospects, Del Castillo’s draft stock is tied into how likely the scouts think it is he will sign a pro contract or go to college first. Del Castillo, a strong lefty hitter, has committed to the University of Miami, but he could go pro if he goes high in the draft.

Two scouts, who spoke to The Herald off the record, believe Del Castillo will be selected in the first five rounds.

Anchia, who broke the NSU career home run record held previously by current major-league star JD Martinez, should get drafted between rounds four and eight based on his power bat.

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Nova Southeastern University catcher Jake Anchia is getting lots of attention from scouts. Photo provided to the Miami Herald

Marrero and Mompierre have helped St. Thomas reach the NAIA World Series while setting a school record with 56 wins. Marrero is a switch-hitter and a polished defender.

In addition, he hit .374 with nine homers and a 1053 OPS and led the team with 24 doubles and 79 RBIs.

“Elih is a complete catcher,” St. Thomas coach Jorge Perez said. “He’s more of a gap hitter from the left side. But he hit four homers from the left and five from the right.”

Marrero is also more athletic than most catchers, stealing 13 bases in 17 attempts and playing some center field.

Mompierre, a lefty hitter who transferred from the University of Missouri, hit .396 with 23 doubles, a team-high 15 homers, 74 RBIs and a 1283 OPS.

Aside from the catchers, here are other local players who figure to get drafted this year:

  • Casas, a 6-4, 240-pounder who has committed to UM, could get drafted as high as the 10th overall selection. MLB.com projects Casas going to the hometown Miami Marlins with the 13th pick in the first round. Casas’ power is top-two in the draft among high school hitters.

  • Florida Gators third baseman Jonathan India, who is from Coral Springs, started the season as a third-round prospect. But he has moved way up after a sensational 2018 season — he is leading the top-ranked Gators in batting average (.383) and homers (16). MLB.com predicts India will go 14th in the first round.

  • Xavier Edwards, a switch-hitting shortstop from North Broward Prep, is predicted to get picked 27th in the first round. Edwards, who has committed to Vanderbilt University, is only 5-10 and 155 pounds. But he has good speed and makes consistent contact.

  • Conine, a 6-1, 200-pound lefty hitter with power, should go in the top two rounds. His stock has seemingly dropped from the preseason, when he was viewed as one of the top 15 prospects in the nation. But he slumped a bit at Duke this year, hitting .260 with 12 doubles, 12 homers and a .926 OPS.

  • Calvary Christian shortstop Raynel Delgado, a switch-hitter from Miami Lakes, has committed to FIU. He should go in the top three rounds.

  • Rutgers outfielder Jawuan Harris, who is from St. Thomas Aquinas, is an outstanding athlete who also plays college football. He could get drafted between rounds three and 10.

  • Doral Academy shortstop Lency Delgado (no relation to Raynel) has committed to FIU and could go in the top three rounds. Along with Del Castillo, he has been the best prep hitter in Miami this year.

  • American Heritage’s Cory Acton, a lefty hitter who can play third or second base, has committed to Florida. He had perhaps the best offensive season of anyone in Broward, but he is likely headed to Florida if he doesn’t get drafted in the first round.

  • Calvary Christian right-hander Christian Scott may similarly play for the Gators if he doesn’t get drafted in the first rounds. The 6-4, 175-pounder has terrific potential.

  • Duke shortstop Zack Kone, a 6-3, 200-pounder from Pine Crest, hit .279 at Duke and could go in the top five rounds.

The Miami Hurricanes have four prospects who should go in the top 20 rounds: right-handers Frankie Bartow and Andrew Cabezas, corner outfielder Danny Reyes and corner infielder / outfielder Romy Gonzalez.

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FIU's Andres Nunez (45) pitches as the FIU Golden Panthers defeated the Marshall University Thundering Herd, 15-0, on April 28, 2018, at Infinity Insurance Park in Miami. Photo provided to the Miami Herald

Three other UM recruits are also expected to be drafted in the first 10 rounds: outfielder Brennan Davis, left-hander Jonathan Gates and right-hander Slade Cecconi.

FIU second baseman Eddie Silva, who recently hit his 15th homer of the season to lead Conference USA, has likely moved up draft boards and should be drafted in the top 20 rounds.

Three other FIU players are in the same range: right-handers Andres Nunez and Chandler Raiden and outfielder Lorenzo Hampton.

FIU recruit Kevin Vargas, a shortstop from Puerto Rico, could go in the top 10 rounds.

Barry University senior outfielder Jonathan Quintana could get drafted by the 20th round. He hit .342 this season with 11 doubles, two triples, 12 homers and a 1034 OPS.

Besides Anchia, NSU has top-20-round right-hander prospects Devin Conn, Brady Acker and Joe Strzelecki.

Miami Dade College has several prospects, including center fielder Brian Rey, who has committed to North Carolina State; and right-hander Yusniel Padron, a Cuban native who throws 93 mph. Both could be drafted between rounds six and 10.

Other MDC draft prospects include center fielder Gabriel Rodriguez; right-hander Nelson Alvarez, a University of South Florida recruit; left-hander Garrett Bye, who has committed to the University of Alabama; and shortstops Joshua Rivera and Abdiel Layer-Lugo.

Aside from Marrero and Mompierre, St. Thomas has prospects such as second baseman Jackie Urbaez and left-hander Ernie Valdes.

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